open thread – March 27-28, 2020

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

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

{ 1,238 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m giving up on trying to contain the coronavirus-related questions in one place, at least for this week. Let’s see how it goes today without any restrictions (other than, of course, it still needs to be work-related).

    1. Morningstar*

      I’m not sure if it is possible for all of us to separate our daily lives from this widespread issue, but I’d love a break from coronavirus news … it seems there is no place on the internet to escape for a brief respite. Maybe there could be two separate weekend open threads (or a thread devoted to pure silliness or positive developments)? I appreciated the post about what employers are doing right … maybe there could be an open thread about “helpers” or positive things people are seeing in their communities.

    2. Kara*

      If we do have another coronavirus specific post (and I hope not, I like seeing non-coronavirus content somewhere on the internet) a good topic might be tips for working/managing remotely – maybe an ask-the-readers for people who have experience to tell people who dont

  2. Emmie*

    What’s your favorite thing about working from home? Is there anything you need help with now? I’ve worked from home for about ten years. I’d love to share my tips with you – if I have something that will help your issue.

    1. Not a Girl Boss*

      + My favorite thing about WFH is getting chores done over lunch so I’m “free” after work.
      – My biggest challenge is getting out of bed in time. It’s so much nicer to have some time before work starts, but it’s hard to remind myself of that when the alarm goes off.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        No traffic! Extra hour each not driving. Hubs works at home so that’s a plus. TV if I want it on. Small chores get done during the day.

      2. Western Rover*

        I’m surprised at myself. I used to always wake up naturally around 6am on days when my alarm wasn’t set (e.g. weekends). Now that my alarm is seldom set, I find myself waking up around 7:30 and fear it may grow even later.

        1. Mid*

          I’m having the opposite happen! I used to drag myself out of bed 5 minutes before I needed to leave for work, and now I’m happily waking up before my alarm, working out, and starting my day in a much better mood. But, I’m only on week 2 of quarantine so I’m fully expecting a backslide soon.

      3. StressedButOkay*

        I am also struggling to get out of bed earlier than 5 minutes before I need to start working, hah! It managed it today, got up about 50 minutes before hand as I couldn’t sleep anymore, got showered and made a nice hot breakfast. It was nice but I know that Monday morning I’ll likely reset my alarm from 45 minutes before working to 5. I’ve got to figure out how to stop that….

      4. Snow globe*

        I still set my alarm every morning at the same time. My commute was about 1/2 hour, so now I try to do a 1/2 hour walk in the morning, so start time is the same. It helps me to keep to a regular schedule. (Been WFH for 2 years.)

        1. Jdc*

          Oh the walk is a good idea. I’m a fan of a bit of a slow wake up and not jumping right into any work. Now that it’s warming up I think I’ll do this.

        2. Christina*

          I’ve been doing this all week (except this evening when it was raining) to help me start and end my day, otherwise I end up working right up until dinner. It’s also helping as I don’t have much space at home to work out or be active and my anxiety release is moving my body.

          So far I’ve walked 18 miles! I’m hoping to get to 40 by next Sunday.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      My favourite thing is that if I have a break between lessons then I don’t have to go to a café or something to fill the time, I can do some writing or read some of my book, do the laundry that’s been piling up or even take my dog out for a walk. I feel so much better at the end of the day when I’ve done things other than work between lessons.

    3. Hermione*

      I haven’t worn ‘real’ pants for like 2 weeks – it’s all leggings and joggers over here.

      Also, I’ve been rewarding myself for productivity by making 10:30 am bacon. It’s been ah-mazing.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Yup – yoga pants and leggings. Technically I’m still in my pajamas right now since I had a bunch of stuff come in overnight I had to consolidate for a noon meeting. Denying all video calls

      2. Llama Face!*

        “Also, I’ve been rewarding myself for productivity by making 10:30 am bacon. It’s been ah-mazing.”
        I may need to do this. <3

      3. Not a Girl Boss*

        Yesterday I did laundry and had zero dirty bras, but no yoga pants left. Life is good.

    4. Stephanie*

      Figuring out lunch. My department is in the “Hey! You’re all at home and can be at the computer all day on WebEx” mode and I sometimes have so much trouble figuring out lunch. I thought I could cook more for lunch, but that is difficult.

      1. Panthera uncia*

        Yes, having to actually make the food myself means my 30 minutes to eat is actually 25 minutes to prep a healthy meal, then 5 minutes to shove it down my throat like a snake. I was so freaking spoiled by a subsidized cafeteria with fresh, healthy foods.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I may just need to act like I was commuting into the office and eat leftovers from the night before. I’ve had a lot of 2 pm lunches or cooking while on WebEx (like muting while I’m chopping onions or something).

        2. SarahKay*

          Oh, yeah, I miss my (also subsidised) work cafe. I’m not a huge fan of ‘everyday’ cooking, so usually I eat a good lunch at work and have a couple of pieces of toast and some fruit for supper. Suddenly I’m having to cook fairly regularly; so dull!

          1. Julia*

            Can you roast something in the oven? My “I’m lazy but want something kinda healthy” meals are roasted (sweet) potato or baked chickpeas with frozen veggies.

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              You just reminded me to throw a pot roast in the slow cooker for dinner tonight! My husband and I are both home but I’m 8 months pregnant and constantly exhausted so our house is in worse shape than when we were both working from the office, ha.

              1. Julia*

                I only clean when I expect guests, and I’m the laziest cook ever. You can even microwave the potato by poking holes in it with a fork first, it takes ten minutes to cook depending on the size.

          2. Not A Girl Boss*

            Ive been meal prepping just like usual, which at least contains the suck to a few hours on Sunday for the most part.
            Also, we’ve been ordering delivery from local restaurants who are working hard to be safe and keep people employed. They’ve all expanded their delivery radius.

          3. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

            A slow cooker is your best friend. Everything goes in the morning and dinner is ready.

        3. snoopythedog*

          I continue to meal prep/make lunches the night before as if I’m going into my office to work. Otherwise lunch because a dash to make something AND eat it quickly.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        I get a 30 minute lunch whether in the office or working from home. I work from home full time now and lunch is still leftovers much like when I worked in the office. I might make a salad (mostly pour the salad from a bag and add dressing and other things) or a sandwich, but other than that I cannot cook and eat within 30 minutes.

        Often even though I’m supposed to have a lunch meetings run into each other so I warm leftovers and eat during the meeting.

        I guess if we had an hour lunch and I found an hour break on my calendar, I could actually cook. TBH the 30 minute lunch break while working in the office was very limiting too. Couldn’t actually go out to eat. Could manage to grab lunch from the café downstairs but the lunch line could take most for your 30 minutes

      3. Audiophile*

        I’ve been cooking dinner a lot and that’s helped with lunch because I have leftovers. Currently eating leftover Mexican I cooked last night. Earlier in the week, I had leftover chili and spaghetti.

        When this first started last week (ugh that feels so long ago) I was definitely having trouble figuring out lunch and ended up ordering out a lot. Since I won’t be commuting for the foreseeable future, I’d like to use some of that money for grocery shopping and make more meals for myself. We’ll see how that goes as this continues.

      4. Two Dog Night*

        I’ve been known to block out time for lunch on my calendar when it starts filling up–can you get away with that?

        Cooking lunch is hard. I’ve been wfh for years, and at first I thought there would be cooking, but it’s leftovers or sandwiches all the way.

    5. merp*

      Oh, it’s just so nice. Cat on my lap, animal crossing over lunch, grabbing a snack when I need one without taking a formal break… I actually sincerely hope I get tired of it because at this rate, going back to work in the office is going to be rough.

      1. Seifer*

        I’m so spoiled by Animal Crossing over lunch too!! It’s going to be so hard to go back to work because of that. And being able to putter around with my plants during the day. And NO. BRA. I will cry when I finally have to put a bra back on.

        1. Quinalla*

          Not having to wear a bra + being able to put on lots of clothes and blankets if I’m cold = winning

        2. blepkitty*

          Every time someone wants to have a videos-on Skype meeting, I grumble to myself about having to put a bra on.

          1. Alex*

            Wait, we’re supposed to wear bras even to video meetings?

            I face my camera just on the neck up….

    6. SarahKay*

      I walk to work and back, 1.5 miles each way, so I really miss the exercise. However, I love being able to nip out to the garden and hang out washing in my morning tea break, and then bring it in during my afternoon tea break.

    7. londonedit*

      Having more time because I’m not commuting. I don’t mind my commute, but it’s nice being able to go for a run, or go out and do my shopping (sticking to my government-mandated one trip outdoors per day!) before work. And it’s nice being able to get up a bit later! I’ve been using the hour at the other end of the day to do a bit of cleaning and tidying before I start cooking dinner. Oh and that’s another thing, I actually have time to cook properly! I can start something that needs a longer cooking time at 4 or 5pm so it’s ready for dinner, rather than having to always make something quick when I get home. And I’m totally on top of all of my washing, because I can just pop a load in the machine while I’m working!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’ve been using the hour at the other end of the day to do a bit of cleaning and tidying before I start cooking dinner. Oh and that’s another thing, I actually have time to cook properly! I can start something that needs a longer cooking time at 4 or 5pm so it’s ready for dinner, rather than having to always make something quick when I get home. And I’m totally on top of all of my washing, because I can just pop a load in the machine while I’m working!

        This has been my life for the past 10 months (I WFH full-time independent of this virus situation). I’ve saved so much money on eating out – I cook most of my meals from scratch now. When I worked in an office, I ate breakfast and lunch out at restaurants for the most part.

        I also love having the ability to do yoga during the day (before my building’s gym was closed down, I used to go run for a half hour either before lunch or before logging off for the day). My evenings are free to binge watch my favorite shows and FaceTime with my niece.

        But my absolute favorite part of working from home is having my own bathroom. I hate using public restrooms to the point where I would hold it until I went home for lunch and the end of the day (thank god I always worked within walking distance of my apartment) – that’s terrible for your body though, so I’m glad I can stop wrecking my bladder due to other people’s nastiness and my fear of contamination.

    8. EA in CA*

      I’m enjoying not having to commute (even though it’s 35 minutes each way). I haven’t had to fill my gas tank since we started working from home two weeks ago.

      I just don’t know how to turn my brain off and allow myself my allotted lunch breaks. I work in IT services, so we are support so many clients making the transition to WFH. I am the administrative arm of the client management team. I see the others (support and techs especially) working their buns off. But I feel guilty for taking half hour to make lunch for myself and my kid. I keep my status as available and can see my screen from the kitchen. If anything pops in, I rush in.

      How do you stop feeling like you always need to be available or show that you are being uber productive?

      1. Professional Cat Herder*

        I have been full-time WFH and block my lunch in my calendar every day as a recurring appointment. As the day goes by, I adjust the lunch appointment accordingly. We also use Zoom and I make sure to set my status as “Do Not Disturb” or away for the time I’m stepping away from my desk.

        I also contextualize it as “if I was in the office and stepped away from my desk to get coffee/use the bathroom/eat lunch/take a break, this would be 100% acceptable. It’s OK to do this at my home office.”

      2. reluctant attorney*

        I haven’t and to be honest, I won’t. It’s not my firm’s culture and clients are needing us around the clock, so I am legit working longer hours now than I ever have in 20 years of practice. I keep my status as on from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, just in case.

      3. Public Health Nerd*

        I’ve been WFH for two years, and I still have to set phone alarms for lunch breaks and when it’s time to log off. If your office likes to plunk meetings on top of lunch, then schedule your lunch break as a meeting between you and your home email address.

      4. Emmie*

        I still feel like I always need to be available and hyper-responsive. I think I need to focus on emails for the last ten minutes of the hour, and work on getting immersed in my projects. I feel that I get more emails working from home because people cannot walk into my office. Guilt about lunch is normal, but do it anyways. Leave your laptop in another room and enjoy the well deserved break!

    9. eshrai*

      My favorite thing is wearing yoga pants or sweat pants every day. But other than that it has been a struggle for me. I have three kids in my home, so I can hear them all day. My daughter screamed at the top of her lungs during a conference call yesterday. No fun. I have noise cancelling headphones (and someone else watching the kids) but it is a struggle. Also, I am new at my job so working alone from home is difficult. We are a team that requires strong collaboration, and I thrive on a social, and honestly faster-paced environment. Oh, and I have ADHD and am super struggling with concentration. So much to distract me at home!

      1. Emmie*

        There are a lot of distractions. The screening sounds stressful! You’ll be in the office soon!

    10. Western Rover*

      Taking a break by walking around my yard (I live in a semi-rural area) is so much nicer than walking around the industrial/warehouse part of town where my office is.

    11. Panthera uncia*

      I have an hour commute. Suddenly my day is two hours longer, it’s effin’ amazing! Getting up after 0600 is a whole new world to me. I’m definitely feeling healthier and better rested.

      1. Windchime*

        I usually have to get up at 4:30 AM on a weekday when I commute. Now I get up at 6 or 6:30 and I can sit around and drink tea for a few minutes before I have to log in. Then I shower during my morning break (unless I need to be on video before that). I make a sandwich or eat leftovers for lunch. When I’m done for the day, I close the office door and that’s it.

        I’m loving it. No more driving through bumper-to-bumper traffic, buying lunch out, spending a fortune on parking and gas. I would hope that they will let me stay working from home forever, but that’s a pipe dream.

    12. Rebecca*

      I love the peace and quiet! I’m able to concentrate better, no commute, when I clock out, I’m already home, radio, TV available, etc. Love it!! I don’t have to pack a lunch the day before, remember to take it with me, etc. I’m hoping to work from home ATV (after the virus) 1 or 2 days per week.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      + Kitties! Not commuting 2 hours a day. Getting in a bit more sleep/later wake-up time.
      – Tendency to eat/snack as the kitchen is right there. Making sure I get showered/dressed before I really dig into work. Miss wearing my dressy clothes sometimes. Easy to be distracted by personal things.

      I’ve worked at home often, but never full-time 5 days a week like this. It’s interesting.
      While I don’t miss commuting, I sometimes do miss wearing my nicer clothes (I’m a bit of a clothes horse!) although the quarantine is also affecting other going out opportunities. It can be hard not to get distracted by personal things around the house. Plus my SO is also on quarantine, and he can be a pain and distracting.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m a clothes horse, and I still wear my dressy clothes during the work week even though I WFH full-time and have been since May, lol. Well, I did until February and I decided to self-isolate and not use my building’s gym – now that I exercise during my workday, I live in yoga pants. Once the weather stays consistently nice and my state’s shelter in place order is lifted, I’m going to go back to really dressing, doing my full face of makeup, and taking walks down to the park.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I never thought I’d say I miss the clothes and makeup I typically wear to work, but now I kinda do! LOL!
          I just got some killer red sandals and I can’t wait to wear them… somewhere.

          I think that even when I did WFH a lot, I still had meetings and trade shows and the like. But now I don’t and that’s what is weird.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I still keep buying shoes too, lol. I am determined to wear all 85 pairs I own (okay, not all – a lot of them are fall/winter shoes) this summer.

    14. StressedButOkay*

      Favorite things:

      – Listening to music louder than I normally would or without headphones
      – Seeing my SO on our lunch breaks and then immediately after work
      – Being able to do those chores throughout the day when I need to take a break

    15. Jostling*

      Getting some time back (lunch, 20-30 minute commute each way) and not just wanting to collapse at home at the end of the day (since I’ve been here all day) have been nice! We are not under shelter-in-place orders (yet) so we’ve been taking long walks most evenings. Getting to open the windows to spring is nice, too!

      Definitely struggling with productivity, though. I was recently promoted to a new role with a lot more autonomy, received very little training, and then switched to WFH. It’s been very challenging to know what I should be working on and how to accomplish those tasks in the first place, much less how to stay focused while doing it. I am also missing accountability, and it’s showing in my work quantity. I’ve tried creating some accountability by emailing coworkers my to-do lists, etc, but haven’t found anything that works yet. If I have an unproductive day, I’ll tell myself that I’ll make up the work in the evening, and that… never happens.

      1. Emmie*

        That feels awful. I struggled in my early days with my current job for the same reasons. As I learned my job more, it became a lot easier to have a robust to do list. I also started getting more responsibility too, which meant more meetings and accountability. I’m sorry there was no training.

    16. WantonSeedStitch*

      My favorite thing is getting to snuggle with my cats every now and then throughout the day. It’s a great emotional boost.

    17. little e*

      My least favorite thing is the loss of my favorite walking spot. My office had a pond with a ton of waterfowl that I loved watching. I was looking forward to watching ducklings grow up this spring. Also if I never heard about peoples’ Zoom backgrounds again, I’d be ecstatic.

      My favorite thing is absolute control of my environment – windows open, music on, comfy clothes and no bra! Also I’ve found I’ve been able to control my eating better without a constant rotation of snacks and baked goods.

    18. JanetM*

      I am wearing my regular work clothes to keep myself on track, but slippers! Instead of shoes!

      I seem to be okay WFH; my manager is checking in on MS Teams once a day (he normally tries to walk past my cube and check in once a day, so this is not new). My work teams are checking in with email, Zoom, and Teams.

      I do miss the getting up and walking to someone’s desk when I have a question, but it’s still pretty okay.

      And my husband is being *excellent* about not interrupting me during work hours.

    19. Taylor*

      Having my pets around! My cat is not much of a lap sitter but he’s been doing it a lot now that I work from home. Having him look at me adoringly as I QA data really makes me feel like I’m good at my job haha. And breaks during the day consist of taking my dog on a leisurely stroll around the block instead of complaining to my coworkers. So much more pleasant!

    20. Anon for now*

      I can sleep later, and don’t have the stress of coming in to work.

      My main issue is that my job isn’t really designed well to be done from home, so I generally run out of ways to stay productive after a couple of days, and then I have to go in to the office to do the tasks that can’t be done remotely.

      The time drags a lot more than when I’m in the office.

      My boss also requires that we be logged in to our Outlook chat program the entire time, and I feel like I can’t really step away that often for an extended period.

    21. Mazzy*

      I don’t really like it, but I do like that I’m not distracted by what other people are doing. I did need a vacation from getting to BEC with people because of their habits, be it not cleaning the kitchen or doing personal stuff all day. At home, I don’t need to watch any of that, but managing people becomes more difficult. In the office, we talk often, when we’re remote, I feel like any attempts at contacting them are viewed as micromanaging. I email them early or late, I’m afraid they think I’m checking if they’re working. Or if I IM them around lunch, I think they think I’m checking how long it takes for them to come up. In reality, I’m not keeping track of this stuff unless they never answer at all.

      That being said, my one coworker is MIA most of the time and it is pissing me off. Three million people filing for unemployment this week should scare people and make us feel grateful that we have white collar jobs we can do from home and are still employed. But I’m afraid he’s still planning vacations and reading the news, except from home. It really annoys me!

    22. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      Seconding lots of these favorites :) Do you have any advice for not getting super tired of video calls?

      1. Academic Library Manager still*

        seconding. the video calls are exhausting. Do I have to stare into the screen the whole time?

      2. Emmie*

        Hahaha! I hated video calls at first. I had to be camera ready, and I liked working in my gym clothes. If it’s true my something you dislike, that’s how you feel. I started appreciating seeing my coworker’s faces, and their non-verbal reactions. I also recommend pushing back on some video calls. Is a meeting really needed? Do we need one that often? If it’s just two people, send your phone number. Sometimes I send video meetings (since it’s easier for groups) and tell folks to not worry about turning on the camera.

    23. CupcakeCounter*

      Impromptu dance parties. I have a great little speaker and can get up and boogie for a little break when a fun song comes on. Before we went on full lockdown, my son’s best friend was here for a few hours and they were playing all sorts of goofy and fun songs on the Echo and dancing around like goofballs. Nice break for me.

    24. Roy G. Biv*

      Strange-ish thing, anyone else experiencing this? I am easily getting 8.5 – 9 hours of sleep per night. As in, I get sleepy around 9:30 pm and get to bed by 10, and then get up around 7 am. And I feel like I NEED that much sleep. Is it low level stress? Have I been transported back to the pre-industrial revolution days, so save the lamp light, and just go to bed?
      Challenges: trying to find a comfortable way to sit at my home desk. I just got a gel seat cushion thing to put on the crummy office chair I have at home, and so far, so good. Also, not mindlessly snacking all day, just because I can. I have instated a new rule: each time I get up from my desk, I have to go up and down the stairs twice.
      Bonuses: No commute. No need to press a shirt. Comfy yoga pants. Music, if I want it.

      1. PrincessTayla*

        Same here on the sleep – 9 to 9.5 hours per night though it isn’t all sound sleep. I think it is the low level constant stress that exhausts me by the end of the day.

      2. Hibiscus*

        Yes, it’s stress and trauma. Your body is doing a low level scared thing all the time so it gets tired. I told the kids there’s no reason not to sleep as much as your body wants.

      3. Quinalla*

        I know I am low level anxiety/stressed all day and am pretty exhausted by the end of the day. However, I’ve been making sure to get in at least 5 days of 30-40 minutes of exercise which is the best thing to help my body offload stress. Been helping a lot!

      4. Noblepower*

        Same here, I’m really tired, not sure if it’s stress or a side effect from less exercise? I’m getting up every hour and doing jumping jacks and marching in place , whatever I can think of to get moving and my heart rate up a bit. I’m also struggling with food – I find myself eating or at least craving food when usually I don’t snack outside of mealtimes.

        1. Emmie*

          I have the same food issue. It helps when I meal prep and eat lots of protein, but I fail often at that.

    25. HamlindigoBlue*

      My favorite thing is being able to regularly run a couple of miles each day on the treadmill during my lunch break. The extra time to sleep is nice too since I usually have about an hour commute. The cat is loving it, but I’m really not because she’s suddenly decided that she identifies with being a lap cat, and that was never the case before. She was Miss Independent before, but now she’s just clingy and mouthy. It’s a bit weird.

      1. Skeptical Squirrel*

        My puppy chewed through the cord (unplugged!) of my treadmill in early February, before this all started in my state. Timing sucks because I really want to use it. I do take my dog for walks but since he’s still young, I can’t take him running yet.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          Oh no! That really is bad timing. Any chance of getting a new power adapter sent to you?

    26. WindowSeat*

      I could use advice on getting up in the morning while WFH. I normally only WFH one day a week and it’s not a problem. But now, I find myself actually logging in a few minutes late each morning as I just can’t seem to get myself out of bed. Before I had a little more motivation: a 45 minute commute to take into account. Now work is just in the other room and I lie there in the morning hitting snooze until I end up late (like 5- 10 minutes).

      For what it’s worth, my job doesn’t have super strict end and start times. It’s just that, if you said you’re going to be logged in from 7 to 4, well then, they rightly expect you to be logged in at 7 and logout at 4.

      1. Someone On-Line*

        Throwing this out there – could this be some anxiety and depression related to the current state of world affairs? Because the strategies to deal with getting up on time are different from the strategies of handling our emotions during a pandemic.

      2. Emmie*

        It’s so natural to wake up late for your WFH job! I sometimes did a lunchtime shower because of it. Are you waking up at the same time as you do on the weekend? If you’re still having trouble, I sometimes force myself to wake up at a specific time. Or I treat myself to an extra relaxing shower, or a good breakfast. It’s really about building a routine. It’s also a bargain to myself. If I wake up at 7, I can stop working at 5:30 then go for a walk. That’s motivating too.

    27. Sydney Bristow*

      Honestly, I love everything about it. I’m such a homebody that not needing to leave my apartment is amazing, avoiding the crushing subway commute, not having to work in a room full of cubicles where I have to tune things out to do my job, using my evening commute time to actually make a healthy dinner, just eating better in general because I have my entire kitchen available to me, etc.

      The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I still have to use headphones since my husband is also working from home. If it was just me, I’d be loving the fact that I don’t need headphones all day.

      I’ve been encouraging my department to at least partially switch to remote work (we already do it on nights and weekends) and they’ve been going down the path of getting approvals. This is a great test and proof of what we can accomplish. Plus, it is great that everyone will have a much better sense of whether it will work for them or not. I know some people are really struggling with it and don’t like it at all, which is important to know.

      1. allathian*

        Good luck! I hope you get it.
        I’m the same way, really loving WFH all the time. At some point I suppose I’ll start missing the coffee and lunch break chats with those coworkers who aren’t my teammates, but not yet. I’ve also realized just how much the noise of a normal office sucks my energy. I have a very reasonable commute, only 45 minutes each way, but it’s still 90 minutes a day I’d rather spend doing something else.
        We’re not in full lockdown yet, so I can still go on my daily walks, weather permitting.

    28. Missouri Girl in Louisiana*

      Just before the social distancing happened, I got a Golden Retriever (he’s a year old) so I can get back into dog agility. I also have 5 other dogs (including 1 who is senior and clingy). I’ve been able to be with my dogs all day and create some good habits and spend quality time with all of them.

    29. Llama Face!*

      I only started work from home this week. We are an essential service that is complicated to do from a distance but the higher-ups finally figured out a way to have some staff at home partnered with colleagues still in the workplace.
      My favourite things so far? My own private *clean!* bathroom to use whenever I need. Also, being able to get up and make tea or get a drink whenever I run out. I am amazingly thirsty now that I am not distracted by all the noisy chaos at work.
      My struggles? Trying to communicate effectively and efficiently with coworkers back in the office. We can communicate by chat or email or phone and our matters are generally urgent. I avoid phone if possible because they are already taking a lot of calls in the office. I tend to be wordy (can you tell from this comment?) and a quick replier on chat but some collleagues are slow, one-unclear-word answerers. They also don’t close the loop sometimes so I don’t know if the matter is settled or they just haven’t yet replied. Sigh.
      Tips on effective communication with different styles would be appreciated!

      1. Emmie*

        I’m wordy too! I recommend figuring out people’s preferred communication styles, or asking them what their preferences are. I have a hard time knowing if people will close the loop. So, I started adding comments to my communications like –
        – I assume you’ll run with this unless I hear otherwise.
        – Boss wants this by x. Let me know if you need my help.
        – Here’s X. If I don’t hear back from you by 5 pm on Thursday, I’ll turn it in / send it to the client / etc….
        – Any objections? (People give me less changes on the objection language than with “any feedback” language.)

    30. Elizabeth Bennet*

      I love to drive, so I’m surprised at how much I am not missing commuting. I’m enjoying the extra time at home, particularly when it’s time to prepare dinner.

    31. Alex*

      Things I love: Not wearing a bra. Wearing sweatpants all day. Listening to music or podcasts as I see fit, no earbuds. No commuting (that really should be #1!), not listening to my awful coworker talk to himself all day. Not being tempted by the office snacks. Being able to control the temperature. Not having to pack a lunch. Being able to throw in a load of laundry while I work. Watching daytime TV during my lunch break and/or while doing mindless data entry. Sleeping in! (see earlier entry, no commuting).

      Things that are less fun: The fact that my job requires a lot of work on shared servers, that are accessed via a VPN, that EVERYONE is trying to access at the same time, and so they are sllooooooooooooooowww and some of my work is just so hard to physically complete due to connectivity issues. And also, my office keeps wanting us to “be connected” which just means more meetings. WHY MORE MEETINGS. I don’t even want to attend the ones we already had scheduled, let alone add more, even if they are all on Zoom.

      I do miss one of my coworkers. But really only one. In normal times I can just see her outside of the office, so I’d be really happy to never go back to cubicle life ever again!

      1. Sydney Bristow*

        Ah yes, temperature control is a wonderful thing about working from home! As is having natural light and fresh air from open windows.

    32. Nacho*

      My favorate thing is that I am goofing off at least 20% of the time. For instance, right now I’m supposed to be doing grunt work, but instead I’m replying to you.

    33. PepperVL*

      Favorites: Being able to sleep in later. My cats (the only micro-managers I can deal with!) being around. Being able to use 5 minute breaks to put something away or start a load of laundry.

      Challenges: Staying focused. Only having my laptop screen (I have a second monitor but am missing cords that should arrive Monday). The complete lack of in-person social interaction (I live alone and while my cats are great, they are not stellar conversationalists).

    34. Random commenter*

      The commute.
      I didn’t have a bad commute anyway, but I like the feeling that I can get to whatever I want immediately when the work day ends.
      I also like being able to do a bit of meal prep during the day.

    35. WineNot*

      My favorite thing other than being able to sleep an entra hour and a half every morning, is able to finish work and immediately begin my workout. No need to drive an hour home and to the gym. Plus I’ve gotten to spend it on the ocean, so that in itself is calming during a crazy crazy time.

    36. NewReadingGlasses*

      I’ll say it: Not having to deal with certain coworkers. Ahh, so relaxing.

      Sweatpants is a close second.

    37. Prairie*

      No commute! I use my normal after-work-commute time for a bike ride.
      And dealing with first trimester symptoms at home. How do women hide these when they are at work!?
      And since I’m here all the time I’m more annoyed by little messes so my house is cleaner. (Like, I can ignore piles of mail to sort or art that i bought but hadn’t hung if I walk past them twice a day, but now I see them constantly. So they have been dealt with!)

    38. Marion Ravenwood*

      No commute! I was lucky that I didn’t have a particularly long one anyway (which in London is like gold dust), but I’m really enjoying having that extra hour a day. I’m still using it as reading time as per a tip from a colleague though.

      Also having cats around to fuss all day every day, and being able to wear my geeky clothes without fear of judgement (I’m typing this wearing a Wonder Woman hoodie, a TARDIS T shirt, jeans, and Daily Prophet trainers).

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Challenges are missing social interaction, and still struggling with getting into a routine – but in all honesty that’s something I find challenging anyway, so I’m not sure if that’s specific to WFH.

    39. Elizabeth West*

      That I can actually cook my lunch. If I want a fried egg, I can have one. I can toast things in the toaster oven.

      If I know I’ll be working from home, I prep a little the night before, so I don’t have to waste my lunchtime hunting stuff down. I lived close enough to OldExjob that I could sometimes go home to eat. It was soooo nice to make something on the stove, a thing I could not do at work, instead of eating microwaved food or a sandwich I packed four hours ago.

    40. CatMintCat*

      I only started working from home yesterday – it’s not something I ever even thought remotely possible for a primary school teacher. But, here we are. Our school has a roster for supervision of the 3-5 children of essential workers who are turning up,but I’m not on it for medical reasons. I’m at home. We spent the week MacGyver-ing how we thought online learning for 5-12 year olds should look and put it together. We are exhausted but damn proud of ourselves.
      Now, we see if it works.

      1. allathian*

        Yay! My 10-year-old is doing online learning through Google Classroom and Hangouts, they have a Hangouts online meeting every morning instead of assembly. He’s been online learning for the past two weeks. He’s doing really well, even if he says that he’d prefer to go to school, as it’s easier to ask questions if he needs help. But he loves the fact that there’s no homework in addition to the schoolwork. He also likes being able to complete assignments in one go. He’s diligent but a bit slower at doing some things than some of his classmates, so he often brings assignments home to be completed. Now he can take the time he needs, without spending all day doing schoolwork.
        Good luck, I’m sure you’ll do fine.

    41. !*

      Not seeing my asshat co-irker in person! I was on vacation for two weeks and wfh this week…it’s been bliss.

    42. Beth ANNE*

      For me it’s that we can eat dinner earlier. Yesterday we were done eating by 5:30pm. Where most days that is when I am starting to cook dinner.

    43. Maryann M.*

      A lot of people I’ve talked to have said it actually makes them feel so much more whole and healthy and sane. Less stress about what your wearing, the commute, being in an office around people you don’t know, vs. being where you’re most comfortable, around your animals or significant other, access to your own kitchen and bathroom, etc etc. I hope that it is a test that has lasting effects on US work culture.. I think that working remotely should be an option for everyone, at least occasionally, and we need to get rid of this “butts in seats” crap.

      I feel much more productive. My house has never been cleaner. I’ve had to be on calls and on hold for a lot this past week, and usually, I would just be sitting there eating whatever snacks I had and staring blankly at my screen waiting for someone to answer. Instead, I’m able to clean some, step out on my front porch, and come back feeling refreshed.. I just love it. I think it’s so healthy for everyone to be staying home for a bit and getting away from the grind, and parking tickets, traffic accidents, etc., as much as they can. I’m very introverted so for me, working from home is heaven, and although the circumstances are terrible I’m really happy my company was forced to be more lenient on their WFH policy, and I hope whenever we reopen they examine how productive people were and reconsider it.. my company currently is always adamantly “you don’t work from home, ever.” and we have to use PTO as sick days.

      That being said, my team has started only communicating through slack and it’s really frustrating! None of us are used to it. It’s so hard to keep up with a list of tasks when you’re unable to search and reference stuff like you are through email. That’s the one thing I really don’t like about WFH.. our company started out with a pretty strict “video meeting every day at 10” schedule that quickly got cancelled and has devolved into just slacking each other from 8AM-8PM. Hard to shut it off. I got into a bad habit of only wearing pajamas after our video meetings got cancelled the third day in the row, but have started to re-wire my BF and I to still get into normal (yet comfy) clothes as to not start being lazy and keep a routine. Wish my managers would keep doing weekly video checkins.

  3. Not a Girl Boss*

    Mini rant:
    When all of a sudden people have time to get involved in projects they’ve been ignoring.
    And they want to change all of the things and rehash all of the decisions. So many, many opinions.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      Agree, but have a (related) counter rant — when people exclude the people who needed to be involved in the project and then are upset when it turns out that the project doesn’t do the things that it needed to do.
      I’m not saying that that is your situation — it’s just that I identified three problems with a process a year ago, have been pointing out that it needs to be fixed and have been asking about it frequently only to find out two weeks ago that they are about to finish the project, but they only addressed one of the problems and the “fix” that they are putting in creates several other problems. Now everyone is mad because they didn’t know about all three problems and no one pointed out the new errors, but that’s on them since they didn’t even tell me they were working on the project. Rant over.

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        I agree, stakeholder identification is really really key to a successful project.

        In this case, we’ve gone out of our way to beg stakeholders to be involved. Begged. They didn’t. Now we’re months into the project, and meeting attendance for our biweekly report out suddenly skyrocketed from ~5 to 30+, and all of those 30+ want changes. The changes are good suggestions, they make sense. I just wish we’d had them 2 months ago.
        And its bad enough to have to backtrack and start over (without impacting the delivery timeline), but all of these people are so righteously indignant that they weren’t “given a chance” to weigh in earlier. I literally have emails to them captioned “ACTION REQUIRED: NEED APPROVAL BY TUESDAY or we will assume you approve”

      2. Sam Buca*

        That’s my life. I deal with reporting and analysis. Nobody invites me to front end origination meetings on process/system changes, and so when I finally learn about it and bring up the fact that management will want to know how things are working, there is no solution to the request and it takes weeks to make sure things work well from beginning to end. Everyone is focused on their own grain silo and I am the only one thinking about the farm (while the says people just say moo louder until their deals get done the way they want).

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          My company finally went to an “opt out” vs “opt in” system and it’s working well. Basically when you start a project the authorization form has a huge list of every department ever, and you need initials from everyone saying “I don’t care to hear more about this.”

        2. Grapey*

          fistbump of solidarity. I like the farm analogy. We do have people that “own the farm” but treat our team of analysts like the property managers.

          Fortunately (and crucially) the owners will take us seriously when we bring up concerns, but, like you, there’s a time delay between initial scope vs when my group reports back on the crap that wasn’t hashed out with us at the beginning.
          We’ve pointed this out with management and they would rather have ideas get implemented quickly and fixed later (“we’re agile!”) which is their prerogative, but they at least understand. They also definitely don’t breathe down our necks or give us hard deadlines, so I’m not as grumpy as I would be in OP’s situation.

          I use my soft skills here for people that moo louder at our group to go over their original specs and point out where their request should have been considered the first time. This helps subsequent projects be set up correctly. I try to be compassionate since we have a super complex farm and the grain threshers don’t often interact with the mill workers.

    2. Generic Name*

      I was literally going to come here and ask a question on how to deal with this. I am in charge of various processes, and time and time again I will ask people for input at the front end, and people will say they are too busy to help or will just ignore me. Then, inevitably, when I roll out a process, hordes of people come out of the woodwork with Opinions. It drives me insane.

      The worst was this one particular form that people had to fill out to complete a particular workflow. People complained and complained about the form. They said the form didn’t apply to their group (it did). They said the form didn’t meet their needs (super valid). So we said, “We hear your complaints, and we will be updating the form to meet each group’s needs. Please work to modify/develop a form for your group/provide us feedback to develop a new form.” The answer was echoing silence. I suppose some people just don’t want to follow a process or they just like to complain. I don’t know. I’m sure the answer is I need to take all this less personally.

      1. Grapey*

        Definitely don’t take it personally. People don’t like dealing with forms OR speaking for an entire group.

        I do a senior level of what your job sounds like and it’s on us to figure out the requirements, not expect them to hand them to us. Using language like “what is the form helping you do?” goes a lot further than “just give us what you need”. Teams often need our help figuring out what they need. Sometimes the data entry itself is cumbersome even if the forms themselves are asking for the correct information.

        1. Not a Girl Boss*

          So true, I like this perspective.

          We use process mapping a lot to understand what we are actually trying to accomplish. You wouldn’t believe how often the conversation goes “OK, so then we add an order of free breadsticks to the meal, the customers love it.” and the customer goes “What? You do that on purpose? For us?? We don’t even eat bread, we just throw it away!”

      2. Not a Girl Boss*

        What I’ve been doing to try to combat it is to get something out there to throw stones at. Somehow “this is what we’re planning to roll out, you have 1 week to tell me not to” gets more people coming out of the woodwork than “Hey, we’d love your input on how to improve something.”
        People are way more passionate about things they hate than on helping you make something you don’t hate in the first place.

        The danger is that its basically an Agile approach, where the thing you roll out for people to look at is a rough draft, and sometimes you get people who don’t get that, and are horrified by how low-quality it is or don’t understand why xyz isn’t in it yet.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          This makes a lot of sense. I’m a writer, and I often have projects where I have to deal with or get approval from people without much sense of the writing/editorial process. It never works to say “What do you want me to write?” I always have to produce a rough draft and let them say what they don’t like. People only know what they want when they see what they don’t want.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            It’s much easier to edit than to create.

            I was a contributor to a project that had Incompetent Project Manager (ICPM) once. I ended up writing the draft, and walking people through review and approvals, just because I got so tired of the meetings where nothing happened. Lessons learned were:
            – Give people a proposal or draft to critique in the brainstorming phase
            – Ask if the proposal should be scrapped / ‘is there a better way’
            – When you get to sign off, ask ‘does anyone object’ rather than ‘do each of you approve’

        2. Genetic Name*

          Oooh, I like this idea. We’ve been trying to do more “soft” roll outs and having people do beta testing. At the end of the day I think there are some people who just hate change

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            People do hate change, but at least if you give them something to tweak their resistance level goes down (a bit).

      3. Maryann M.*

        I manage the finances for a company and I have so much empathy for you! It’s a problem with the decision-making people who don’t have any idea of what a hassle it creates on the backend when they: 1. Are not able to come up with a feasible plan for their projects in the first place and 2. Don’t know how to deal with it when it doesn’t work out! So frustrating.

        I’m in charge of creating invoices for reimbursements to our company for services, and I’ve trained everyone multiple times on what information I need in order to issue a timely reimbursement request. Over and over they still email me months after an event happens like “can you wrap this up and get all our information together,” by ~2 days from now? (when I have no follow up information from them). It’s very irritating. I’ve started re-directing them to my own emails I sent out about getting reimbursement for specific projects, and also low-key threatening that I can’t get it done unless they can provide receipts. Petty, but it works.

    3. CM*

      I had a boss who used to do this — blow me off for about six months while I tried to give her project updates and then burst through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man a week before it was due, demanding to change everything, because this was the first time she paid attention.

  4. Furlough*

    I’m being furloughed starting next week. Not too surprised as I work for an event planning company and we have no revenue coming in with all events getting cancelled but it still sucks. I’m grateful it’s a furlough and not a lay-off. Just hope it passes in a month or two. I have savings to get by and family to lean on but it’s still a scary situation to be in.

    1. Hermione*

      I’m so sorry. I hope for many reasons that this doesn’t go on too long, but now I’ll hope even extra for your to be able to get back to work. <3

    2. Annony*

      If you are in the US you should look into filing for unemployment. Furloughed employees are generally eligible and it will help stretch out your savings.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      That stinks. A mass email went out a few days ago about cutting salaries between 5-30% based on salary band, and no more work for consultants. I’m currently contract to hire, so I’m still waiting to find out how this affects me since they use “consultants” and also “contractors.” I don’t really know what the difference is, only that there is one. Nobody has told me I’m out of a job at this point, but anything can happen.

    4. Escapee*

      As a fellow member of the furloughed club, I sympathize. I am furloughed until the end of May, but was told it could be extended. I’m in one of the hardest hit industries of this pandemic.

      Also, grateful not to be laid off and I moved in with my parents to save money so I’m in a better position than most. My main concern is filing for unemployment. My state’s unemployment website and helpline was not great in normal times, but it seemingly impossible to apply now. The website keeps crashing and no one is answering the helplines. A few state reps are trying to get answers, but to no avail. I know people are filing for unemployment in unprecedented numbers, but my state’s unemployment benefits are notoriously bad.

    5. Unpaid Vacation*

      I’m in the same furlough boat with you. 95% of the staff of the company I work for is being furloughed starting Monday with everyone else either being moved to part-time or taking a pay cut. They want to bring us back as soon as possible and are still paying their portion of our health insurance, but I am gobsmacked and sad. I know it was a difficult decision, but with no end in sight and no money coming in to the company, I just don’t know how long this will last for my coworkers and I. The irrational part of my brain is feeling shame for being unemployed when so many of my peers are still employed.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        The irrational part of my brain is feeling shame for being unemployed when so many of my peers are still employed.

        I suspect many people feel exactly the opposite.

    6. Green Goose*

      This just happened at my husband’s company today, and it was so out of left-field that I am feeling pretty unnerved at the moment. They have to take an intermittent furlough and everyone’s salary got reduced effective immediately. And he’s in an industry that should be pretty okay during the recession and until their announcement today we thought everything was fine (at least with his job). Unsettling times.

  5. Foreign Octopus*

    I’ve heard a lot of work from home horror stories this week from students and friends and it’s made me super appreciative of my parents who have always been very respectful of my schedule, which is never the same one day to the next, and respectful of my need for a quiet environment. Does anyone else have positive work from home stories to offset the negative ones?

    1. Blueberry*

      My roommate who is She Who Must Be Obeyed has been using her social/family capital to make everything work as smoothly as possible. She has arranged different spots in the house for everyone to work in, is running interference between us all, and has been really kind. I appreciate her applying her office management expertise to this situation SO MUCH. *makes a note to tell her so*

      1. Eleaner*

        Just curious, how many people and how are you dividing? Concrete apartment with no door to the 1 bedroom is driving both of us nuts.

        1. Blueberry*

          4 people, 3 of whom work, and 4 bedrooms with doors. My bedroom doesn’t have a desk, unlike the others, so I’m working at the dining room table and I really appreciate her help in managing that.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        My flatmate has been similarly supportive (setting us up with an ‘office’ in the living room so I wouldn’t have to work in my room, encouraging us all to go for walks etc). It’s really helped strengthen our relationship and I really appreciate it. I’m going to miss her (and her fiancé, and the cats) when I move.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My middle-schooler’s grades have gone up enough to counteract a bad start to the quarter, and she says she’s remembering more. “I guess I was doing the work by rote to get it done before the end of class, and the next day it was gone.” Some days she does 3 hours of classwork in 1 hour… some days she spends 2 hours in one class. It is apparently working for her.
      She’s using the exercise bike every day, too. (Admittedly that’s because that’s when she gets to use the big-screen TV with Amazon prime.)

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        Thats great! I think some students really do learn better that way – I know I did better when self paced. It might be worth looking into remote schooling for her after this is over.

      2. Quill*

        I too would be using the excercise bike for an hour a day if that was when I had my best access to media…

    3. EA in CA*

      Since working from home and school being cancelled, I get to see my daughter more. I’ve taught her how to make sandwiches for lunch, help pull all the ingredients for dinner out of the fridge, and how to make my coffee in the Keurig. She has become more independent and has taken pride in her assigned chores. It’s not necessarily related to my work, but this has allowed me to connect with her more than the 3 hours I would typically get in a normal work day.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I do, yes. I’ve spoken about it on here before so I guess I forgot to give a bit of background.

    4. Alianora*

      My parents have been really good about respecting my time when I’m working. (I don’t usually live with them, but I’m staying with them for this to help with grocery shopping and other public errands, since they’re in a higher risk group.)

    5. RemoteHealthWorker*

      Ive been able to connect with my husband and pets more. Ive lost weight due to hitting the bike each day. I feel overall surprisingly relaxed.

    6. Clisby*

      I’m retired now, but worked 100% remotely for about 18 years before that, and absolutely loved working from home.

      My 18-year-old son is now having to do e-learning (1 class at his high school, 3 dual-enrollment classes at a college here in town), and his schoolwork seems to be going smoothly. I know he misses seeing his classmates, especially the high-school friends he made in 9th grade and has continued to be close with. The school is hoping to somehow pull together a graduation, but no telling.

    7. writerbecc*

      I have my own home office because I work from home regularly and honestly I find I can focus better at home. It’s quiet, no one bugs me except the dog, and I don’t have to deal with traffic or office lighting. I have chronic migraine and it’s easier for me to work in a dark, cool room. I can control my environment at home, I can’t at work.
      My boss is a good guy and I will sometimes tell him I’ve hit my limit of being able to focus in the office, I’m going home to finish out the day, and he’s usually okay with it.
      I wish I could find a fully remote position, honestly.

    8. Beth*

      I’m still going in to work most days, but I can work from home at need.

      Early Monday morning, I was at my home desk doing the essential work that gets our systems updated so everyone else can do their work when they start at 9. My wife, who is a morning person (I am not) was looking at stuff online and started to call my attention to a funny item (this is a regular event when we’re both home).

      Then she interrupted herself and apologized, simply and sincerely, for interrupting me when I was working.

      About half an hour later, I reached a stopping point and paused, and she showed me her share-worthy item.

      This is what it’s like to be with her, and I am SO grateful.

    9. Jules the 3rd*

      School’s not running smoothly yet, but Little Jules is voluntarily taking a lunch walk with me, and *finally* ‘got into’ the Terry Pratchett I’ve been telling him he’d like for *years*.

      Spoiler alert: he likes it. Swamp dragons for the win…

      1. Kettricken Farseer*

        +1000 a new generation of Terry Pratchett fans!

        I turned my son onto Pratchett when he was in his teens – he loves Sam Vimes

    10. designbot*

      My husband has made me lunch every day of the week and not complained that I never have time to do any more than shove it in my face while I continue meetings.

    11. KR*

      My husband is still getting paid but all of his work is postponed until further notice so he has decided to be in charge of most of the chores around the house and done several big projects without me asking. Which is really nice because I can focus on work.

    12. Green Goose*

      Home: My husband has been really calm and it’s helped me feel better about everything. We’ve created four work stations in the house so that we can both move around and go the bedroom if we need to take a conference call.

      Work: My coworkers have really been trying to make the most of this situation so we’re doing surveys of “whose pet is this?” or “whose workspace?” and having people submit pictures and others to guess, another coworker is going to do a weekly yoga class online that anyone can participate in, and we’re going to do a book club.

    13. allathian*

      I’m loving it! I could honestly see myself going 100% WFH after this is over, my employer permitting. Or at least 90%. I do like seeing people occasionally, but I have so much more emotional energy now that I’m not all peopled out after a workday. I’ve realized that I need very little social interaction to thrive. My son’s doing great online learning and my husband’s WFH as well, but luckily I we have separate rooms to work/study in so we’re not in each other’s way all the time.

  6. Hermione*

    With so many folks working remotely, we’re turning to web conference/video meetings over Zoom and similar. Does anybody have any funny stories about that transition?

    (My thoughts are with the poor woman who forgot she was on camera and brought her laptop with her to the bathroom to pee).

    1. VAP*

      Someone couldn’t figure out why she had a square of pink instead of video, until she realized that she had a pink post-it over her camera.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        That wasn’t me, but I do have a pink post it over my camera and that’s what pops up on my video when teams starts before I tell it not to use my camera.

    2. Anon for this one*

      My husband works for the courts and I’m an attorney. We share an L shaped desk in our home office. He was in a court wide zoom call (that he had previously warned me about) when I walked into the room in a towel post-shower to check my email. Luckily no one saw me and he was on mute when I yelled “oh shit” and ducked back out of the room. I had totally spaced his call.

      1. LunaLena*

        Ahaha, that reminds me of a video I saw this morning: a woman was on a teleconferencing when her significant other wandered over to talk to her. Clearly he didn’t realize she was on a video call because he wasn’t wearing any pants. If you Google “Coronavirus lockdown flop as man in underpants accidentally interrupts girlfriend’s conference call” an article from The Sun should be the first hit and includes the video.

      2. NotAdapting*

        I just had an online interview this morning. When speaking with my potential grandboss and great-grandboss my three year old came in, bare bottomed, yelled “I pooped my pants, but my hands are clean, I need my baby doll!”
        At least she was off camera, but I was Not on mute.
        Oh well, times are crazy. If this is why I don’t get the job. Not the place I’d want to work.

        1. Amavelle*

          Yeah, this is at least a test of who really means family-friendly workplace. I’m definitely taking notes not just about my employer but those similar ones in the area.

    3. Grace*

      HoD’s young son launching himself into frame to yell “Daddy, I need to charge the iPad!” during a very boring discussion on company financials. (He and his wife are switching off duties throughout the day to minimise stuff like that, but these things happen.)

      Someone realising, very wisely, that in the all-company meeting where she doesn’t have to say anything, everyone is best served by her pointing her laptop camera at her cat for the entire half-hour meeting.

      Coworker informing us all that we’ve had so many meetings that her rabbit is starting to recognise our voices.

      1. Cinnamon*

        Ugh I wish I could just showcase my cat for all of my meetings. Was in one yesterday where the only sound I made was me aniffli

      2. Seifer*

        Our cat is starting to recognize people on the call too! She’s usually in my roommate’s room while I have my morning huddle, but as soon as she hears my one coworker, I hear a “mrow?” come from his room. And then screaming, but I just think it’s so funny.

      3. AnotherAlison*

        Lots of screaming kids on the calls, for sure. My department seems to have a weird divide of people with kids under 5 and grown kids. One guy’s seem to be the worst so far, lol. The other day, his son was repeating everything he said for a while, then kept repeating, “Daddy, my pencil broke.” Today, his kids were just fighting in the background.

    4. Emilitron*

      I’m thankful my team is anti-video, we’re all just on voice calls. But when coworker A’s dog barks in the background and coworker B yelps because the cat on her lap freaked out, I do wish the cameras had been on.

    5. OperaArt*

      WebEx-based presentation meeting yesterday, one of the few people with an unmuted microphone started to snore. Loudly.

      In his defense, were all new to larger Web based meetings so we don’t have our mute/unmute reflexes developed.

    6. Jostling*

      In our small apartment, we hang-dry our delicates and sweaters wherever we can find space. I hosted an entire Zoom meeting today with a lacy nightgown hanging in the background. (Didn’t realize it until I turned my video on, and I figured it would be more distracting if I got up and removed it so I just tried to keep my head strategically positioned in front of it for an hour.)

    7. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Our 6yo crashed spouse’s high level meeting by sitting down next to him and saying “OI DADDY DON’T PUT YOUR DRINK ON MY TABLET YOU KNOBHEAD*”. Spouse was indeed using the Kids Fire as a coaster.

      Fortunately, spouse’s boss thought it was hilarious.

      * Trying to translate the exact tone of “knobhead” for an American audience is tricky. It would be unremarkable on daytime tv but is (ahem) startling from a 6yo. Offence level probably similar to “jerk” but funnier.

    8. ArtK*

      Not funny, but important. Make sure you know how to control who is in the call and are able to mute, stop video and throw people out. Apparently, we now have “Zoombomber” who will crash a Zoom session and share pornographic videos and make vile racist comments to the other participants via chat. I’ll share a link in a follow-up comment.

      1. Product Person*

        Zoombombers can be entirely avoided by changing Zoom’s default settings so only the presenter(s) can share their screen or be unmuted. Sadly many people don’t know or don’t care about adjusting the settings for public meetings. Even children joining a school meeting have been exposed to harmful content as a result.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Yikes, thanks for posting the link to that article. I forwarded it to my dharma group in OldCity (they’ve gone to online meditation so I’ve been able to participate again).

    9. Gatomon*

      Not my story, but my mom’s. She was working for an all-WFH company a few years ago and someone joined a webconference buck naked and the webcam auto enabled itself. Everything was on display, folks. Apparently he was easy on the eyes… so no one said anything until one of the managers joined and saw what was happening.

      So I have been working from home fully dressed and with a post-it over the webcam… just in case…

    10. I'm just here for the cats*

      My supervisor said suddenly, I’ll be right back and left the meeting. 5 minutes later she comes back on and apologizes. Her wireless keyboard was still connected and her son was playing with it, causing her computer to do all sorts of weird stuff.

    11. Applesauced*

      if you’re using Zoom, you can change your background to any image… yesterday we had a staff happy hour from a beach, the hotel in the Shining, and castle made of TP rolls, and the Red Room from Twin Peaks.

      1. Lucky*

        If you follow Pee Wee Herman on Facebook, he has provided a high-res photo of the playhouse for this purpose. Just remember to tell your team today’s magic word (and when you hear the magic word, SCREAM REAL LOUD.)

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        We used Zoom for a family catch-up earlier this week, and my sister used a photo she took in her garden in the summer as her background. I’m not sure what was funnier – the fact that it kept cutting out so you could occasionally see the wall of her house through the picture, or the fact that my mum thought that she was actually outside (the picture was in blazing sunshine and we were having the call at 8pm).

      3. OtterB*

        I’ve found this helpful for the fact that the background to my video calls is cluttered. You have to log into your zoom account, click the little gear-wheel settings icon, and the select “virtual background.” I’m using a picture we took on a trip last spring. One of my colleagues is using a picture of a 1960s era computer room with tape drives, etc.

        1. allathian*

          Too bad Skype doesn’t have the same option. I’d love to display something nice instead of just a boring blank wall…

    12. Managing to Get By*

      We just had an urgent call around COVID policy with over 1000 participants, maybe 2000+. It was over the capacity for Webex, so most of us just called direct on one of the lines since we couldn’t connect to the meeting. A few hundred people who called in first selected the “call me” option for audio connection. It seemed like it didn’t work.

      Then, 20 minutes into the meeting, ALL the callbacks when through at once. It was a joyous cacaphony of dogs barking, people randomly talking, multiple voicemail greetings, echoes from people who had tried their laptop mic when the call didn’t come through, a lot of swearing, all overlayed by the meeting presenters yelling “everybody mute! Mute your phones! MUUUUTE!!!” This went on for a full 10 minutes.

      It was awesome, the high point of the year so far. We are all hoping it was recorded. I want to record that song from the ’90s “gonna make you sweat” as “everybody mute now, bark, bark-bark-bark” and splice in bits from the call.

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

      It’s not really a funny story per se, but it’s been interesting (not in a creepy way I promise!) seeing what my colleagues’ home spaces are like – I’ve seen minimalist, messy, ultra-modern, traditional, 1970s… it puts them into a context a bit more than when we work at the office, where you leave at 5.00 and they just sort of stop existing until you go to work the next day…

      I bet there have been some hasty rearrangements of backgrounds and selective angling of webcams to make their place more ‘instagrammable’ or whatever the equivalent is!

      My office is very messy and I’m not ashamed of it but even I had an emergency tidy up and selective webcam angle… there’s a bookcase behind me and I just noticed today (I’ve been enforced WFH for 1.5 weeks) that there’s a book on there with a possibly offensive title which may have been visible in the background! (I won’t write the title here, but it’s John Lydon’s (Johnny Rotten) autobiography.)

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Not work, but my dharma group is having online meditations now instead of meeting in person. So I can participate now even though I’m not in OldCity anymore.

      Last week was the first one. During our discussion following meditation, we had at least two four-legged participants of the doggo persuasion who REALLY wanted to be front and center on camera. If this were a job, I would definitely encourage these coworkers to attend each and every meeting. :)

    15. Windchime*

      I’ve been enjoying seeing people’s pets and little ones make cameo appearances. Some people are also using the custom Zoom backgrounds; our director has a beach scene and wears a lei when she is on camera.

      Speaking of pets, yesterday my coworker was talking and I could hear chirping sounds. I thought maybe it was her guinea pigs but no…..she reached down for her pet and held it to the camera and it was a chicken. In her house. Apparently it was being bullied by the other chickens. We all just moved on with the meeting and then this morning I thought…..”Wait a minute!?? She has a chicken in her house and we all just shrugged and moved on??” It’s a topsy-turvy world, I tell ya.

  7. Jen in Oregon*

    I thought I would love working from home!! I actually hate it. I wonder if it would still hate it under other circumstances.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      This is a really good point. I’ve been working from home for three years and I love it under normal circumstances but, honestly, I’m beginning to feel a little frustrated just because I know I can’t go out, so I feel you.

    2. Stephanie*

      I hate it. But I think my boss is not comfortable supervising remote workers and just assumes we are free to meet and work constantly. I’ve been working more hours at home than I did in the office, actually.

      1. Uncle Bob*

        That’s oddly the biggest challenge of WFH – without a clear division from home vs office, it’s easy to just work, after all your laptop is right beside you. I’ve worked hard to have a separate office and only use my work laptop in the office.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          I have a 5 o’clock wine alarm and a bunch of the teams have a standing 4:30 video happy hour for the duration

        2. Please make it stop*

          I used to have my laptop with me all over the house, but after eye surgery last fall have had to leave the work computer docked to my ginormous monitors. It’s actually been really delightful! I guess the silver lining of eye surgery was better work-life balance!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly. I wfh full-time and have been managing ok, but I am noticing some moments of frustration and anxiety that have affected my work. And now my partner’s here too, so it’s very different. Usually when we’re both working from home one of us goes somewhere else for a portion of the day but we can’t do that anymore and it’s a big deal. Also, this sounds silly, but I used to break up my days with grocery trips and coffee runs and nail appointments every couple of weeks, and not being able to do that is throwing off my rhythm.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I used to do the same thing (run errands and go get my eyebrows done to break up my work day) – that’s done. I’m sad about this.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        I completely agree. I used to be self-employed and worked when I needed to, which meant if the afternoon was sunny and I felt like going for a walk, I could. And if I had to work for six hours on a Saturday afternoon, so be it. Not any more.

        I know some people are having a hard time, because they have kids at home trying to learn, and some are loving it because their pets are loving having them home all day, but I don’t have any of that. I have a plant. And he keeps pretty quiet. I have to have the television on just for some background noise. It’s much lonelier this time around.

    3. Eleanor Knope*

      I’ve been having the same thought! My company has been doing everything right, but I think the circumstances have made it hard for me to enjoy it. Where I live it’s been rainy and cold, so we haven’t even been able to get out for walks or anything.

    4. NW Mossy*

      I’ve always felt like I would hate it, and while in some ways it’s not as bad as I feared, I definitely miss being able to be physically present. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on hallway conversations as a tool for relationship-building and getting things done until they disappeared on me. I haven’t figured out how to replicate that effect virtually yet, and it’s wearing on me.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This is what I fear most for my team. We are doing just fine working at home mostly. However, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before some handoff gets dropped or some information goes missing because it’s precisely the kind of thing that would have been handled in those informal, in-person encounters in the office.

      2. Tau*

        Same. I’m more productive than I was afraid I’d be, but I really really miss just being able to chat with people. What came as a real surprise is that I also hate video conferences – I figured “oh, I’ll chat with people over video for tea and fill a bit of that hole” but what happens is that after a meeting I can’t face Google Hangouts for the rest of the day.

      3. Marion Ravenwood*

        I have definitely missed the social aspect of work. We’re a really social workplace anyway – regular pub trips, I play D&D with colleagues etc – so for that to suddenly be gone, along with things like being able to go talk to people about stuff in person, has been really challenging, and replacing it with virtual options just isn’t quite the same.

    5. Batty Twerp*

      Technically (and according to our HR system) I’m on leave today. But since I can’t go anywhere, or do anything, one of the supervisors has decided I’m available to answer queries! These are internal queries, not client-based, so I feel a little more altruistic about it. In reality, this has meant sitting in my garden with my mobile phone (that I can answer emails on, or Skype if absolutely necessary), while reading a decent book.
      What concerns me is the blurring of boundaries between being on for work and on leave, when I’m still getting up, getting dressed and going nowhere.

      (I did let my hair dry naturally this morning though, and I’m rocking some cute curls that I wouldn’t normally have for a work day!)

    6. Anon just in case*

      Yeah, normally I love working from home, but I’ve been doing it since the first week of March (was possibly near a COVID-19 case, didn’t get any symptoms but my 14 days of self-isolation ended literally the day after the company recommended WFH for everyone) and I’m getting a little sick of it. At least the company upgraded the servers so things stopped being super laggy this week. (We went from ~3k prople WFH to ~70k, if I’m remembering the numbers right…)

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I think some of the ‘hating it’ might be more due to overall quarantine factors than actually WFH.
      But this is making me rethink a full-time WFH scenario a bit more for sure.

    8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’d been WFH ~2days/week before this all happened and I didn’t really like it. I never bothered to get a workspace set up so I was just sitting on the couch all day; it was quiet and lonely; my two dogs seemed to need constant attention and always wanted to go in and out of the house. Now my husband is also at home (paid leave) and I love it! He wrangles the dogs while I work from my new setup in the dining room.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Really? I LOVED doing WFH 2 or 3 days a week and it was such a nice break from getting up at 6am and driving an hour to the office. I always thought I’d want to do it 100%
        But now I’m kind of rethinking if that might drive me bonkers? Although for me it’s not so much the WFH part, I’m ok with that when I’m busy, but it’s that you can’t really go out ANYWHERE at all before or after work. No stores, shopping, bars, dining, etc.

    9. violet04*

      For me, WFH is not much different than being in the office because all my meetings are always conference calls. The people I work with are scattered across the country or in India. Even my boss is in a different state. It’s been years since I’ve had a boss and co-workers all in the same physical office building.

      Having said that, even if things were normal I know that I would not like WFH full time. I like getting ready in the morning and getting out of the house for a change in scenery. I like the physical separation of work and home.

      I know I can still get ready and put on real clothes, etc. but I’m just having a really hard time getting motivated to do any of that.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I find it’s a lot of the “forced” to do anything factor makes it suck. Lack of control tends to make us all a bit annoyed and anxious.

      Also we were thrown into it! No time to really prepare. Many of us don’t have the setups we nee to be comfortable, let alone very productive. If I had a home office set up, I’d be so much better off and happier. But it’s this setup of “just whatever you can find, duct tape something together, patchwork of things to keep the essentials going.”

      It will make us all so much more aware of loose ends in the end. We can’t even take in coming phone calls because we didn’t think of how that would work in the event that our team was working for home. Everyone is using their cells for internal stuff but clients get a message telling them to email us.

    11. MonteCristo85*

      I actually assumed I would hate it, and lo and behold, I was right. It’s one thing if it is :finger quotes: WFH :fingerquotes: which basically functions like being on call, but when I have my normal 12 hours of work to squeeze into 8 hours of day, then no, I hate it with the white hot intensity of a thousand burning suns.

      But as to would you still hate it…what are the reasons you hate it? If it is stuff like, too anxious, not set up properly, coworkers are distracted, then yeah, you might like it under different circumstances. If you are grumpy because you are home yet can’t do anything fun, or get distracted by your pets, or just flat out like to see people from time to time, probably not. :shrug:

    12. Lucette Kensack*

      I hate it, even in the best of circumstances. But I like it a lot more when I spend a chunk of the day working at the coffee shop instead of in my house.

    13. Nott the Brave*

      I used to work from home, and hated it. I need that human contact! I was so happy to go back to an office 2 years ago, and now I’m stuck working at home again. :(

    14. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      It’s definitely not for everyone. I went from working in an office of 1000, to an office of 4, to WFH full time. I like not having to set an alarm (I’m always awake by 7:30/8, usually earlier thanks to my bladder), not having to sit in rush hour traffic and not having to wear anything more than sweats. I do miss the social aspect of being in a large office, but I do not miss the gossip and high school behavior. I’m always more productive at home, and it’s nice to be able to throw a load of laundry in during the day, and take care of other household things when I get up and away from my desk and not having to cram it all in on the weekends.

    15. whocanpickone*

      It took me about 6 months to settle into it. I think the perfect schedule is 2/3 days in the office & 2/3 days at home.

    16. Quinalla*

      WFH was 10000x better when I was WFH alone (for about 6 months recovering from an injury) vs. WFH with my husband WFH and also 3 kids. And yeah, no way to really get out and go anywhere also sucks. I don’t have an issue any more than usual stopping work as I WFH about once a week on average.

    17. allathian*

      Thank goodness I live in fairly sparsely built suburbs with lots of walkways. I think I’d go loopy fairly quickly if I couldn’t go and get some fresh air during the day. I would hate to be stuck in a studio apartment, though, so I hear you.

  8. Anon for This*

    We are a small business (35 employees total) but we have been designated an essential business by our city. There are now only five employees coming into the office on a daily basis – 3 supervisors and 2 support staff (I am support staff). To be clear, I have been granted permission to work from home, but I am choosing to work at the office. I leave my house from inside my own garage, drive directly to work and into the building garage, and come up in the elevator. I come in contact with no one during this process each day. I wear protective gloves each morning/afternoon and also wear gloves to handle deliveries, mail, FedEx, etc. The five of us are spread out or working behind closed doors. Earlier this week, three members of the support staff came into the office on the same day to work for a short time and collect files. They each took it upon themselves to angrily quiz me about why I wasn’t working from home, telling me point-blank that I should be home or asking me why I don’t have equipment to work at home, etc. I confirmed with my supervisor that it continues to be okay for me to be physically present at work. HR (made up of two people, one with zero power) refuses to come into the office at all (that person’s choice, which I fully support), so I cannot speak with them in person about this matter. I am feeling deflated and bullied and don’t like being made to feel bad for my choice. I attempted to discuss the matter with my supervisor, and the response was “maybe they think you are making them look bad”. What? That thought never occurred to me until the supervisor spoke those words. That is not what this is about. I feel more comfortable and productive working from the office. My husband is already working from home (has been for over 2 weeks). I have below-basic equipment at home to do my job. I choose to be here. I am not feeling any more or any less valuable in my role just because I am at the office. Am I wrong? Am I overreacting? Thanks

    1. Triplehiccup*

      I would let it roll off my back. People are scared and stressed out right now. It doesn’t sound like these people have any power over you or will have routine opportunities to bother you, so it doesn’t really matter what they say or think. They were rude, nosy, and bossy, but it wasn’t bullying.

    2. Blueberry*

      I think your supervisor is technically right, as in their feeling you make them look bad may be their reaction and their reason for performatively scolding you, but it is by no means a justification or even an excuse for their bullying you. They should manage their own feelings and not lash out at you. I don’t think you’re overreacting, especially with all the precautions you’ve been taking. I wish I had more advice for you on how to get them to stop, but I wanted to tell you this at least.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      You can always contact HR remotely, and should do if you are being bullied or harrassed.

      Advice in most places is if you can work from home, you should. That doesn’t excuse treating you badly.

      I know you don’t like feeling people are making you feel bad for your choices… but honestly, it would be a good idea to reconsider going in if you can. In this scenario it can reasonably be seen as a selfish choice which is endangering other people’s lives, despite the precautions you are taking.

      Many people don’t have the option, and are relying on people like you for their protection.

    4. Not a Girl Boss*

      I think these are highly stressful and emotional times, and people react in unexpectedly strong ways. I think it would be best for all of you if you forgave them, and then continued to make your own informed decisions in conjunction with your boss.

      To be fair, part of the level of passion is that many people have legitimate reason to fear for their life or the life of loved ones, and when you compare “I’m less productive at home” to “There is a 0.00001% chance that coming into work increases the risk of someone else getting sick.” I can see why they would be emotionally invested in getting you to change your mind. And I see some hints that you are taking this less seriously than many of us with the “HR refuses to come in” comment – of course they do! But you can still call them!
      But the good reasons to encourage you to WFH don’t mean that the way your coworkers acted is ok. It just means that maybe we can give them some grace. It might make sense to reach out to them and provide a list of the precautions you’re taking. It might also make sense to work with your supervisor to get the equipment you need at home.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        To be fair, part of the level of passion is that many people have legitimate reason to fear for their life or the life of loved ones, and when you compare “I’m less productive at home” to “There is a 0.00001% chance that coming into work increases the risk of someone else getting sick.” I can see why they would be emotionally invested in getting you to change your mind.

        THIS. If I was one of the coworkers who had to come into the office and OP was coming in, but didn’t actually have to, I’d probably be as annoyed as they are (though I wouldn’t get anywhere near her to criticize her choice). I agree with you that OP should give her coworkers grace right now – they’re scared they’ll get infected and it’s making them act in ways they probably wouldn’t under normal circumstances.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        The problem is that violating the shelter-in-place orders when you can work from home, is undermining the whole point of the shelter in place order. Which is to nip the spread of the disease, so the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed.

        If you choose to go outside when it’s optional, then you are increasing the spread of disease. And if you get critically ill and need a ventilator, well, we are short ventilators. So a person who’s young and healthy enough to, say, opt to accept the risk of going into work will get priorities over someone else who is older and less healthy. You are effectively stealing an elderly person’s ventilator and causing their death.

        That’s why people are upset, and it’s why you should STAY HOME.

    5. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      I think those things can be true simultaneously — you’re not out to make anyone look bad, of course you aren’t. You’re doing what works best for you to keep working and to keep your essential business running during the crisis. But your coworkers may feel guilt that they’re working from home and you aren’t, or they may feel (rightly or wrongly) like they aren’t being as productive as normal because they’re working from home, and that they look bad in comparison to you because of it.

      I’m also essential, and I’ll admit that part of the reason I’ve resisted the opportunity to WFH is that I know I won’t do a good job, and that’ll be hard on my confidence as a worker.

      I would say, don’t worry about what they’re feeling or not. Everyone is very on edge right now. They shouldn’t have treated you like that, they were wrong to do so. As best you can, try to accept that you didn’t deserve that, that you aren’t doing anything wrong, but that they are probably not at their best right now. I would let it go, keep your focus on doing your job and keeping up with your safety regimen.

      If it happens again, though, I think a stronger conversation with your supervisor is in order. You’re doing your job as instructed and they shouldn’t be yelling at you about it.

    6. Akcipitrokulo*

      How did you discuss wuth supervisir btw? If you were both in the same office, then yes, it is an irresponsible choice you are making, and is endangering people.

    7. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      You can also look at it this way: with everyone else out of the office, leaving only 5 of you, there is plenty of space for you to practice the social distancing that is required, and your group each day is no larger than the recommended amount of people, so you’re fine. But yes, people are scared and anxious and they’ll take it out on anyone for any reason. I’m sorry it has to be you, in this case!

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This. I have spent the last 3-4 weeks IMMERSED in the medical and health literature on this because it’s my responsibility to draft policy on these issues for my office. And it’s important to me that these policies be based on actual science, not on the 6:00 Scare News or on some anecdotal evidence of what their cousin’s daughter’s school administrator may or may not have said.

        Based on what Anon for This presents here, they are doing NOTHING that elevates any risk of coronavirus transmission. They are behaving very prudently and intelligently, and I wouldn’t let the browbeating get you down.

    8. Adric*

      You’re probably not wrong. You might be over-reacting a bit.

      I think a big part of the whole thing is there’s a lot of if-you’re-not-doing-exactly-what-I-think-I-would-do-in-the-situation-I-think-you’re-in-then-you’re-wrong-and-my-anger-is-righteous-and-justified going around. And that’s not just driving their reaction, but also your reaction to their reaction.

      There’s a lot of uncertainty and a fair amount of room for reasonable disagreement about the right way to manage risks right now.

      My advice, relax, take a deep breath, remember that a lot of people are acting out of fear rather than meanness, and try to cultivate forgiveness and an attitude of charity.

      1. Natalie*

        It’s the classic problem of the commons – only one person can benefit from not following the rules, once other people make the same decision, the benefit is no longer there for anyone.

    9. Jostling*

      I have a colleague doing something similar. He is the ONLY person still going into our office, and the building itself is mostly shut down. Arguably, he is not endangering himself or others because he is alone on his commute and alone in the office, if not the entire building, but I am still a little bit upset with him. I’m not sure I can articulate why – perhaps jealousy that he is “getting” to work from the office even though I (and everyone else) have been voluntarily self-isolating for two weeks? Perhaps my concern for his well-being is transmuting into anger? Perhaps I think he’s being a jerk for putting himself and potentially others at risk when I’m stuck at home? I am not concerned about the optics of him “working harder” than me, but that is a personal and workplace cultural thing that will vary.

      1. Mazzy*

        But if he commutes alone and works alone, how can he be putting others at risk? I think there is currently a taboo about going back to normal life. I saw two separate people wearing masks on a deserted street with wide sidewalks this morning, which goes well above and beyond any infection prevention protocol, which have to do with people congregating in groups. I also am seeing people use gloves like they’re magic disease prevention devices, not realizing that if you touch something and then touch your face, the glove makes no difference. What I’m saying is that I see some people investing in the optics of being careful, even if the particular measures they’re taking are overkill or not helpful. Eventually people will get tired of these actions, and we’ll have to transition back to normal life.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          But if he commutes alone and works alone, how can he be putting others at risk?

          This is my question. It sounds like he’s going into a deserted building – unless Jostling’s concerned he may be asymptomatic and leaving virus particles everywhere that won’t die by the time everyone comes back? Otherwise, I’m not understanding that concern.

        2. Ka is a wheel*

          Where I am the example given is, what if their car breaks down and they need a roadside rescue service? That’s something completely avoided if they stay at home.

        3. Jostling*

          – There are mandatory security and cleaning staff in our office building with whom my coworker is still interacting with, even briefly and in passing. Any of these interactions, or just touching the same door handle, could transmit the virus and we have no way of knowing. It will never be perfect, but reducing opportunities for contact WHERE WE CAN will slow the spread. If you can slow the spread by NOT touching that door knob/elevator button/etc because you can stay at home and only touch the door knobs in your house… why not?
          – Commuting to and from work uses gas. Using gas means you have to go to the gas station, which is an additional, unnecessary interaction. Same for road-side assistance or potentially getting into a car accident.
          – I know my coworker has health concerns that make him more likely to require intensive care. If he gets sick, he WILL burden the medical system. If he can stay home, reduce his chances of getting sick, and prevent or prolong taking an ICU bed… why wouldn’t he?

          Just to be clear, our jobs are incredibly WFH-friendly. We were given permission to take home any equipment we need. Work pays for our phones and our telephony solution can be used on our laptops and cell phones. I HATE working from home, and I have been doing it anyway to reduce the chance that I contract or spread the virus. I am trying my best to be a stationary dot in the NYT dots-bouncing-around model, only going to shared spaces for necessities and then minimizing my trips. I resent that he is not doing the same.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This added detail makes more sense, and now I completely get your frustration. People who can need to stay their asses home.

      2. Tau*

        I think I’d be a little frustrated with any coworker who keeps going into the office regularly even when they can WFH as well. Trying to drill down on that emotion, I think it’s the categorical imperative: this only works if only very few people do it. What happens when twenty people say “actually, we’re more productive in the office so we’d like to keep coming in?” Who decides who gets to keep stopping by and who doesn’t? In a lot of ways, it’s easier and fairer to say “nope, nobody who can WFH gets to keep coming into the office, period.”

        I can also see staff who *have* to come into the office infrequently being frustrated by anyone who’s there and doesn’t have to be, since it means you’re making life a little harder for them – now they have another person to carefully avoid, they have to worry about the surfaces you might have touched, etc. etc.

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

          A bit of a sidebar (so let’s not get derailed!) but thank you for the reference to the “categorical imperative” and “this only works if very few people do it”.

          For a long time I’ve had a sort of informal ideological approach of things passing or failing (as it may be) the “what would it be like if everyone did this?” test as a basis for behaviour of all kinds… and hadn’t really linked it to Kant and his ideas.

          … Brb, I have some reading to do

      3. Not a Girl Boss*

        I think it feels kind of like a “privilege” thing – that they are acting “more important” than the rest of us at a time where we’re supposed to be coming together for a common cause.
        Even if technically its ok if some people go in to work, it feels kind of selfish to determine you get to be THAT person who its ok for. Its kind of like how one vote doesn’t really matter, but voting only works if everyone does it . If everyone decided their “needs” were most important, social distancing wouldn’t work.

    10. Mazzy*

      I was in the same exact situation last week! My feelings actually got really hurt and I wanted to yell “if you’re so afraid why are YOU here!” But I didn’t have that type of relationship with the few people who showed up.

      They forgot that the “stay at home” thing is shorthand for “do this regiment of things to stop the spread of diseases.” It doesn’t literally mean “never leave your house.” Or people would not be grocery shopping at all or walking their dogs or watering outdoor plants or whatever other things people do outside.

      If my part of our building was empty and there was no lockdown type measures in place at the time, there was nothing wrong with me being there.

      I think what got to me the most was that everyone was suddenly an infectious disease expert based on a few articles. How can I be spreading something when I’m not coming into contact with anyone? Please stop with the “I’m not concerned about you, I’m concerned about your friends’ elderly mother” type comments, because I’m alone, so I cannot be transmitting anything to anyone! Why are you assuming I’m going to visit immuno-compromised people, because I’m in the office alone, until you showed up!

      1. TechWorker*

        I mean actually in many places it *does* mean ‘stay at home unless you can possibly avoid it’. The virus lives on surfaces and can be transmitted if you’re asymptomatic too, so social distancing reduces but not eliminates the risk.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Stay-at-home or shelter-in-place means you stay in your house unless is it absolutely necessary. It doesn’t mean “Target is essential so I can go wander around Target and window shop just to get out of the house.” It means you can go to Target when you’re out of groceries, medicine, cleaning supplies and that’s it.

    11. Ana*

      Your coworkers probably don’t know the steps you are taking to mitigate risk. What they see is you NOT taking the one big step many of us have been asked to take if we’re able to: working from home.

      1. valentine*

        What they see is you NOT taking the one big step many of us have been asked to take if we’re able to
        This is a good point. (I hope they kept their distance!)

        Not wanting to work from home isn’t a good reason to take the risk of going in. In your place, I would stop handling the mail, ask my manager for proper equipment, then stay home.

    12. Bex*

      Honestly, if I was one of your coworkers, I would be pretty frustrated. Every extra person in the office is another possible disease vector. If a person who COULD be working at home was choosing to come into the office when I HAD to be there, then that’s another set of germs swirling about and it increases the chances that I get sick. And frankly, if someone was refusing to stay home I would kind of assume that they were also making other choices that I would consider highly questionable.

      I definitely don’t think you deserve to be bullied, but I also think that if you can stay home then you should stay home.

    13. Grapey*

      I have chosen different actions than you despite similar facts (I am more productive in office; I have below basic equipment at home; I could avoid contact with other people; the vast majority of my office is also WFH) but part of “being comfortable at work” for me means not pissing my coworkers off over reasonable requests.

      If your supervisor expects the same level of work then you have a stronger case for going in. Perhaps you could ask your supervisor if the company would help bring your equipment up to what’s needed to meet your baseline performance in office. Otherwise though, I disagree with your decision to go in given current events. Not saying right or wrong since opinions don’t work like that.

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

      You didn’t say where you are, but official (i.e. government) policy in a lot of places is WFH if at all possible. I realize you have a “below-basic” setup at home but it’s possible that in the future there may be further restrictions in place… I would suggest you look into whether anything can be done to improve your home setup, as it may be mandated later.

      Other commenters suggested what to do about the coworker aspect which is good as I don’t know what to suggest about that :)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a good point; some articles have said that the peak hasn’t yet been reached in many areas. If it gets worse where OP is, the local or state government could very well mandate it.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          My state’s peak isn’t until May according to my governor – this is crazy to think we’ll be stuck inside until then.

    15. A Teacher*

      Frankly, and in all kindness, you should not be doing this. You appear to think you are a special case and from what you’ve written here, you are not. I’m sorry, but we all have to do our part. Stay home.

    16. ThanksForListeningToMyTEDTalk*

      I would agree with others who have said if you can work from home, even if you don’t prefer it or won’t be as productive, please do. You mention that no one else is in your part of the office, but are you having to stop at a gas station to get gas to put in your car? You, and every doctor/nurse/truck driver/etc who NEEDS to be there have touched the same gas pump, and you risk becoming a host for the virus, or if you are already infected, transmitting it to some essential worker who still needs to get to and from work. Even if you use your own personal Clorox wipes to wipe the gas pump and all of the buttons you push, let’s say you get into a car accident on the way to/from the office… that’s one less team of paramedics to come rescue someone who can’t breathe, or if your accident is severe enough, one less ventilator for someone in need. Yes, these things are always risks, and the chances of one of these things happening is low, but this disease spreads like wildfire. If you get sick, you’ll probably give it to 2 people, who will then give it to 2 people, and suddenly there are 5 of you sick. Then 13. Then 29… your coworkers are upset because any time any of us leave the house, we’re putting many other lives at risk, so the kind and responsible thing to do is leave as little as possible (with the exception of walks outside, where you stay at least 6′ away from anyone else and don’t touch anything).

    17. Oak*

      I’m really sorry if your coworkers are bullying you. “She’s making us look bad” is a silly thing to say. However, you are more in the wrong than they are, and you are putting their health at risk. Many, many of us have less-than-ideal setups to work from home, but we are still staying home because it’s the responsible thing to do. For most of the reasons outlined above.

    18. Eeeek*

      You should be staying home if your job can be done from home that’s the entire point. Make a small sacrifice and do something you don’t love to save lives.

    19. allathian*

      Sorry, but being more productive at work than WFH doesn’t cut it here. I completely understand why your coworkers, who are probably stressed out right now, are mad at you for choosing to come to the office. I bet they’d rather WFH 100% but their job is such that they can’t.

      Since you commute by car, it should be possible for your employer to provide you with the equipment you need to work effectively at home, even if it means lugging a desktop computer and monitor home.

      Even if you’re taking all possible safety precautions by driving out of your garage and driving in to your office’s parking facility, you’re still taking more risks than necessary, because you could WFH but you’re choosing not to. You’re facing some IMO well-deserved blowback for your choice. And your supervisor is also in the wrong for okaying you to come in to work in the office. Both of you are breaking the shelter-in-place orders. In some places, you can currently be fined for that.

    20. Cartographical*

      First, I don’t think you’re increasing anyone’s risk by your actions here alone. If anyone is coming in and out of the building, it’s far from sterile. If the ventilation is good and you’re taking precautions, then you’re not likely making things worse.

      That said, voluntary isolation requirements are less and less effective when people don’t follow them — and it’s not just because of the contagion of the virus, it’s about the memetic contagion. No one but you knows you’re taking the precautions that you are, but every time you’re seen out and about and not isolating, you chip away at the pressure to isolate that is keeping others in place and, therefore, keeping people safe.

      Eventually, you may be required to isolate, so if I were you I would take steps to upgrade your material at home so you can do your job there. And then, I would step down your excursions to the office. Just because you CAN, that doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Using your lack of equipment is an excuse that reflects poorly on you — as an employee of a critical enterprise, it is on you and your management to make sure you can do your job effectively from home. Excusing your presence in the office because you haven’t done so is disingenuous, as your colleagues have obviously taken steps to WFH effectively.

      I think people are frustrated partly out of fear but also partly because you are reaping the benefits of their self-isolation, which they may well not want to do. You can be in the office because they are not. If your office provides proper cleaning services, it may be more fair to work out a rota of people being present in the office. But if you are stubbornly going into the office because you “can” and someone else is staying home because they know you will be there, and they don’t want to hit some critical mass of people in one place, then they’re going to be irritated, and rightly so.

      I think this does come down to “you can probably solve this if you talk to your co-workers”, as Alison likes to remind us.

  9. Western Rover*

    A conversation I had IRL makes me want to reply to a comment I read on AAM a while back, defending state unemployment agencies that don’t judge impartially, but favor employees over employers, as part of society’s safety net.
    I talked to the ex-owner of the laundromat in a small town where I used to live. He had fired his sole employee for stealing cash. She was the only one who could have, but the state unemployment agency said he had to have video evidence, or face paying higher UI premiums. Instead he closed that laundromat and opened another one a few miles away across the border, in a state that he deems less biased. Consequently that town has no laundromat any more, which is hardest for residents without a car, as the old location was on the town’s one bus route, but there is no public transit going across the border.
    So when people advocate for the state to put a thumb on the scale, remember it’s not just the fatcat employer on the other side but the customers too, many of whom are in just as dire straits as the worker. If bias for the worker in evaluating UI claims is part of society’s safety net, then maybe that safety net should be spread across the taxpayers instead of Russian roulette landing on the employer who hired a thief. (Of course I think that employers should still bear the burden themselves of an unjustified firing.)

    1. Uncle Bob*

      My only conclusion from your apocryphal story is that this guy sounds like a real piece of work.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Yup. And it’s a business opportunity for someone else to open a laundromat in that town.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Agreed. Empty building just sitting there, wired and plumbed and waiting for new owner who is also a better manager.

          1. Western Rover*

            And yet it’s been a few years now and there’s still no laundromat. Several other businesses in that town have also closed although similar businesses thrive across the state border. The full-service grocery store that was there for decades has been replaced by a dollar store, although the same grocery chain still seems to do OK in its original home state, yes, across the same border.

            1. Jedi Squirrel*

              Sounds like the state across the border has lower taxes and this owner was just using this incident as an excuse for moving to a new state.

              1. Western Rover*

                This state has for decades had a reputation for higher taxes, and I’m sure its taxes have always been higher than its neighbor, yet this city has also been here for over a century and until recently had all the core businesses you would find in a small town: grocery, drugstore, bank, clothing store, movie theater, phone and cable company with a local office, etc. Residents were presumably happy with the better services they got for their higher taxes and businesses were happy to be where their customers were, until the last 10-15 years when the above-mentioned businesses left or simply closed, but this is not really about the workplace anymore so I should probably stop.

    2. Blueberry*

      And if he were allowed to own his employees he could have sold the thief at a profit instead of paying UI. Your point is…?

    3. Kiwiii*

      Maybe it’s just me, but this sounds mostly like an employer who made a mistake in hiring, didn’t have adequate security, and is willing to let a town in need go without his services rather than pay unemployment for that employee. Hopefully someone else will open another laundromat in the town.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed. “She’s the only one who could have done it” sounds to me like there was no actual evidence he could present. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a false accusation, but even the smallest business I’ve worked for had a camera trained on the register.

        1. valentine*

          an employer who made a mistake in hiring, didn’t have adequate security, and is willing to let a town in need go without his services rather than pay unemployment for that employee.
          This is what I see. If he’s helpless, it’s his own doing. He took his ball and went home! Did no one but the two of them ever enter the space where the money was? Really? He never had friends or family in there? Is there someone who was such a constant presence, the tomato to his lettuce, that he didn’t think of them as a possible suspect?

          It probably took a lot of work to set the protocol, and he would’ve done well to look into that before taking his ball and going home. He obviously didn’t pride himself in serving his community.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        Adequate security? I kind of wondered about this, too. I mean, it’s a laundry. Either she embezzled funds electronically, or she walked out with $600 of quarters in her pockets. A few security precautions could have prevented either one.

      3. Trout 'Waver*

        You’re talking about the victim of theft here. Victim-blaming is gross. Talking about security measures he could have taken or people he should have not trusted isn’t really helpful.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          It is actually helpful. There are measures he could have taken to prevent this, but didn’t. If he hasn’t taken those steps already with his new business, he needs to.

    4. Yorick*

      I’m guessing he isn’t really telling the full story. I’m quite sure the UI agency wouldn’t require video evidence to consider a termination a firing for cause.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah, this is a good point too. Keep in mind, Western Rover, that you’re naturally hearing the story from a biased source.

    5. eshrai*

      I don’t know employment taxes outside of California, but I do know California is typically considered the highest taxes around, and the most in favor of employees over employers. So in California, the intro UI rate for employers is 3.4% of the first $7,000 paid to each employee a year. So, at 3.4% UI for one worker would be $238. The max rate for UI is 6.2% of the first $7,000 paid to a worker in a year, or $434. So for a tax difference of less than $200 (a year), the employer shut down his business, moved states, and re-opened somewhere else. His issue wasn’t the affordability of the taxes, he threw a fit and spent waaay more money to prove a point. It’s his prerogative, don’t get me wrong. He is free to move his business where he feels the laws support him better, but it isn’t about some insane, unsupportable taxes. He was asked to prove she stole, but couldn’t (though I understand his logic and sympathize with his plight), so the unemployment office was obligated to provide benefits, which would effect his rates, though not permanently.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, seems like a lot of reaction for what happened. I wish him the best of luck with future endeavors.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      Counterpoint: An employee at a previous employer was accused of stealing the nightly cash deposit, because she was the one responsible for it. She had been hired on as part of a welfare-to-work program. She quit, and my employer declined to press charges, since she had been on welfare and “didn’t know any better.” The cash deposit was found by the cleaning crew, under another employee’s desk, where it had apparently fallen. My employer told the former employee she was welcome to return, and she told them to go fuck themselves.

      I think about her every time I hear about an employer complaining about their employees when they “just know” the employee did something, because who else could it have been? I hope everything turned out OK for her and her kids in the end. She was a diligent employee with a lot of potential. (My employer had been blacklisted by every temporary agency in the county, even for manual labor, in case you’re thinking that was a one-off. At that point, the welfare to work program cut them off, too.)

    7. Mazzy*

      I have to keep this vague, but my friend is fighting two unemployment cases like this. In one of them, the employee got fired a while back and got another job and got fired again, and he still had to go to court and defend why they fired the person. The other person stopped showing up then filed for unemployment and the state sided with them and they appealed the decision and the state very much seems on the employee’s side, they’re getting into the minutia of day to day work, and I feel like they just want to give as many people unemployment as possible, but that’s also setting up a precedent where people can just quit and get unemployment. And this was before coronavirus.

      1. zora*

        Unemployment payouts are pretty limited, though, you get a percentage of your previous salary for a limited number of months. It’s often not enough to actually live on, especially if you are coming from low-wage jobs. So, why is it such a big deal for people to collect unemployment?
        As ehrai said above, employers pay a fraction of that, like 3-4%. It’s a very small safety net, and I’m in favor of more safety nets for everyone, since wages have been stagnant in the US for many, many decades and many people don’t make enough to live on as it is.

        1. Western Rover*

          I too am in favor of safety nets, and I hadn’t realized until eshrai posted how small UI premiums are. I had assumed that, like all insurance, premiums collected cover benefits plus other costs, and guessed they would have to be larger. I do think that if an employer hasn’t done anything wrong they shouldn’t be singled out for a penalty over and above other employers, which doesn’t mean you can’t have safety nets — it just means that safety nets should be paid for by the taxpayers in general, or employers in general, rather than random employers.

          1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

            It isn’t random, though. If you’re an employer and you term people, they file for UI, and your premiums go up. It’s an incentive to be more careful in hiring and to avoid terming people for fileable reasons.

            1. zora*

              Exactly. And from what I remember from labor history studies (which isn’t much) it is also considered a disincentive for companies to layoff large swaths of people when business is slow, and then hire when business picks up as a matter of course. Thereby dumping huge populations of people on the government to take care of.

      2. Blueberry*

        What state is this!? After I left a job with a negotiated departure that included a [verbal] promise of unemployment, I was denied unemployment because that employer told them I quit.

        Plus, the whole narrative of Undeserving Lazy People Get Huge Unemployment Payments At The Expense Of The Hardworking Business Owners Who Are Making America Great serves certain groups more than it serves others, doesn’t it?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I think there is an overall tendency in our country to err on the side of caution, to offer people a chance to mend whatever needs mending.
        I guess the thinking is when we give the benefit of the doubt to 10 people, maybe 9 deserve it. Why punish those 9 for the 1 who does not deserve the benefit of the doubt.

        I think with the limits they now have on unemployment it’s up to each individual to make sure it is wise for them to apply and start to use up their limited time. I know there were times I did not apply. We could live on one income, why take that benefit if I did not need it? We still ate and had a roof over our heads.

    8. MoopySwarpet*

      Way back when, I was responsible for reconciling cash drawers for a large department store and handing off to the armored car drivers. One day the deposit was $100 short. I was called in and interrogated about the missing money. I wasn’t fired on the spot because my performance to that point had been impeccable, but still written up. A few days later, the bank found the $100. It was their miscount.

      I’ve also been on the side of knowing without a doubt someone was misappropriating funds. Even with copious documentation, the person still received UI. Fortunately, our UI was not impacted because we had documentation. They deemed it wasn’t “proof” of wrong doing, but was sufficient to justify termination.

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

    Advice for job searching during pregnancy? I”m pretty far along (20 weeks) so while I can “hide” it now during video interviews, I’m not sure I’ll be able to hide it if I have to go back to an office in a month or two.

    I’ve made peace with:
    -a lower salary (I was making 70k as an accounting services manager but I’m applying for senior accountant/staff accountant positions, not managerial so not expecting the same salary
    -the fact that I’ll have unpaid maternity leave and no job protection or benefits
    -health insurance

    From what I have read here and heard from others over the years, 90 days to wait for benefits is standard. I’ve also read that the benefits discussion happens after an offer is made.

    If I am to get an offer, how would I negotiate maternity leave? > I found verbiage in an thread earlier this week so that’s helpful.

    Would I even need to negotiate it if I know I am not eligible for FMLA? My current company had no actual leave policy, only short term disability and then FMLA when it became legal in our city.

    Would it even be possible to build up capital in my 2-3 months there?

    I’m scouring the archives and saving links to read, but any firsthand advice or links to posts I might’ve missed, would be greatly appreciated as well. Thank you.

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

        lmaooooo it’s from the office. I’ve been watching The Office for the first time ever. Michael Scott hit Meredith with his car and she had a crack in her pelvis. Meredith comes back and has Jim sign her cast….which is on her crotch.

      2. The Office*

        I think it’s an Office reference. Meredith breaks her pelvis and asks Jim to sign her cast.

        At least, that’s where my mind went when I read it!

      3. always a nurse*

        I can’t even come up with a condition that would require an adult to have a casted crotch.

    1. HospitalAnon*

      Benefits can be discussed before the offer. A lot of places have a call or sit down with HR to review the packet. At the very least a detailed benefits package should be included at the offer. If not ask for the written offer and benefits before accepting.

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

        Thank you! Based on what I’ve read here over the years, if the company balks at providing this information, that’s a huge red flag yea?

    2. valentine*

      Would I even need to negotiate it if I know I am not eligible for FMLA?
      Definitely. Just because they’re not required to provide it doesn’t mean they can’t.

    3. Gumby*

      Depends on where you work. Every place I have worked, benefits kick in your first day on the job. My siblings have had places that made them wait 30 or 60 days so I know it happens, but I wouldn’t assume a 90 day waiting period is standard.

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

        Oh I didn’t even know that. is it a red flag or bad sign if they have a 90 day period?

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I think the 90 day waiting period used to be more common before the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, which included a tax penalty for anyone who didn’t carry insurance for 60 (or maybe 90?) days out of the year. I think I worked one job with that policy, the others had insurance kick in either the first day of the next month after you were hired (so if you start work on January 7 your benefits begin February 1) or the second month (hired in January, benefits in March). I don’t think I’d consider a 90 day waiting period a red flag per se, just make sure it works for your needs! If you’re 20 weeks you’ve likely already had your anatomy scan, but you’ll still need constant prenatal care until you deliver. I’m almost 31 weeks and my practitioner is now seeing me every two weeks, then weekly after 36 weeks.

          A word of caution – job searching takes time, especially in the current climate. You have roughly 4 months until your due date; let’s say it takes two months to land a job, then another two weeks to start. It’s now week ~30-32 for you, which means you’d be delivering within the next 8-10 weeks, possibly sooner. I would be very nervous about having a gap of insurance for any length of time that close to delivery, but obviously you’ll make the best decision for your situation. Best of luck!

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

            Interesting – I can’t recall exactly when ACA was enacted, but I wasn’t able to get benefits until 7 months after my start date, which ended up being in mid-2015.

            For now my company said they have put me on “unpaid active leave” status which means I can still have my insurance active as long as I pay the employee-portion that was normally being taken out of my paycheck. HR mentioned up until July. So let’s see.

            1. Hamburke*

              After that, you should be eligible for COBRA which is more expensive but might be worth it for a hospital stay.

        2. Fikly*

          I don’t know if it’s a red flag, but I would take it as a sign of how the company views how much it will do for its employees. 90 days of insurance premiums for an individual, assuming the company pays some of it, is really not that much. And if you are fired/leave, the insurance ends, so they are done paying. So what is their reason for not letting you be covered immediately?

          A huge red flag is companies that have a no sick day policy for the first 90 days.

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

            That makes sense. I remember at my previous (current?) company, I was hired as a seasonal in December. I became permanent in April and I wasnt’ eligible for benefits until July…I thought that was really crappy of them. I don’t recall ever getting sick (or needing to take a sick day) so I can’t remember what their policy was. Now I have no idea what it is, it’s still 90 days for benefits but not sure about specific sick leave.

  11. Fair Weather Manager*

    My unhappiness with my company (serious sexism, severe underpay) has always been tempered by my awesome boss. We are a department of two, we get along great, and she’s flexible and understanding.

    Once Covid hit, everything turned upside down. My manager was running around begging for info and refusing to make an actual decision without guidance from HER manager, a VP who was too busy dealing with high-level crises to worry about our tiny department. We ended up having to report to work while our governor demanded that people shelter in place, only to be issued letters from the CEO stating that we got an exemption (which is based on flimsy nonsense, we’re NOT essential). We have to show these letters if we get pulled over and questioned by police. Normally I work from home one day per week, but now that’s been RESCINDED because it “isn’t fair to the people who can’t work remotely”. I could absolutely WFH five days a week with no transition or set-up needed.

    I have realized that my manager was “great” because everything was going well, and because I’m a low-maintenance person to get along with. It turns out that, when the chips are down, she’s not actually good at this. She’s a doormat who doesn’t advocate for her direct reports. Just when the economy is plunging into a giant bottomless hole, I have tossed my last GAF about my company into the ocean. My personal motivation and drive is below zero.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      So sorry to hear this. What do you think reaction would be if you told them you understand concerns, but you have to stay home; how do we make this work?

      Also get the hell out of there if you can. They are showing how little they care about your safety.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Things sound chaotic and broken to be frank.

      I think, however, that speaking with your manager to try and work through some of these issues may still be worth it. It sounds like it wasn’t that long ago that you felt she was really on your side and quite an asset. I imagine it’s hard, but remember that she has never been a manager during a global pandemic. This is brand new for her, and the stakes are unusually high. Instead of seeing this situation as somehow revealing the “true her”, is it possible to reframe this as: “Suddenly other people’s lives are literally in her hands, and she may not immediately be able to see all the angles of it right away.” If there’s some room for discussion, maybe you could both be better off afterwards.

    3. Emma*

      Hmm…is this by chance a large bank??? Because this sounds like my husband’s soon-to-be-ex-employer, exactly.
      When they refused to consider letting his team WAH (they are back-office and have worked from home regularly in the past), he resigned, with my support.

    4. snoopythedog*

      Ooooh, I’ve been there. I’m so sorry. For me it was such a demoralizing blow, partially because I looked at this manager as a mentor. Then I realized she was only able to cope in good situations (good stakeholders/clients/employees) and when stuff got tough her protective mechanism was to take a step back from it all and not do anything but also fret about everything (while not doing anything about it and waiting for orders from above, which were never going to come).

      Can you use Alison’s advice for banding together with coworkers (on different teams) to try and advocate for WFH privileges? I get that it feels shitty to try to get something done laterally when you manager is being useless, but it’s worth a try.
      If not….you gotta mentally detatch yourself as much as possible. Identify what is in your control. Identify what you can continually flag as issues for your manager (and continue to do so and ask about timelines for updates).

      Alison also posted a list of contacts for some states to report workplaces that are not following shelter in place orders. If your state is listed there, I’d strongly consider reaching out.

      Search for support and start building your life raft to get the heck out of there.

    5. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      This sounds like my manager. She is very nice, social and personable with a few failings that didn’t really matter. However, these past weeks when the virus hit the fan, she proved to be incapable of dealing with anything out of the ordinary. The usual practice of putting things off and not being able to improvise or make changes as required is painfully obvious. Two meetings about the crisis since it started isn’t enough. We are implementing procedures that the health/medical boards advised (sanitizer, handwashing, more frequent cleaning) are only done fully this week for the first time. Some people just aren’t good in a crisis. When this is over, I will also be seriously looking for another job.

    6. Marthooh*

      Ya know what’s actually not fair to the people who can’t work remotely? The big boss deciding to keep the workplace as crowded as possible, so everyone’s risk of infection goes up. In the name of fairness. Sometimes I just hate people.

  12. Basement designer*

    Next week is our department’s turn to Work From Home (our office takes it in turns). Wish me luck in having the discipline to actually WORK from home.

    1. Emilitron*

      It’s easier than I thought it would be. It turns out that feeling good about myself when I get things done is a strong enough motivator to actually focus. Also staying focused while staring at my work laptop all day is a lot easier than trying to create focus to do a work task one-off on a weekend to catch up (my previous experience). That said, things were really rough the first couple of days, so be patient with yourself, keep trying, and hold off on self-judgement until at least Wednesday. Good luck!

    2. ArtK*

      A few thoughts. Start by following your usual routine in the morning. Get up, bathe, get dressed in your work clothes. Keep your routine going during the day, just as if you were in the office. Take breaks when you normally would. Eat lunch when you normally would. The more you can keep to a routine, the more productive you’ll be.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        All of this – this makes it easy for me to get things done when I treat my home like it’s an actual office.

    3. Windchime*

      It’s actually easier to work from home, I think. I’m fortunate that I have a good setup (nice workspace, two monitors, etc) but it’s just so much quieter. I’m wearing comfortable clothes and I can go make tea whenever I want. I can listen to music or a podcast, or I can have it quiet. My cat comes to visit me (when he’s not napping) and it is just so comfortable. I feel like I get a lot more done at home and I’m dreading going back to the office.

  13. Virginia*

    Advice for college senior looking for a job? I’m just worried I won’t find something.

    If matters, history major, 3.67 GPA, 3 summer internships, and a on-campus job that I got the second week of my first semester.

    Thank you!

    1. merp*

      Not the advice you’re asking for necessarily — but you don’t have to take the first thing you get offered. It’s a bit of a numbers game but you will find things. If you would hate the job offered and can afford to keep job searching a bit more, it’s not worth it. I say this as someone who felt like I had to take any job that was offered and was miserable when I started one that was a bad fit until I quit and left it off my resume.

    2. Grits McGee*

      Do you have any particular career paths/industries you’re interested in?

      General career advice- don’t go to grad school unless you know exactly what you will use it for and already have work experience in that field.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right – without knowing what you want to do, none of us would be able to give you super useful advice beyond the normal stuff you can read in Alison’s columns.

    3. peachie*

      I don’t have any advice for this specific situation, but I have a similar background (degrees in theater and history) and I got my first full-time, non-theater jobs after college through an employment agency. In my experience, you don’t need a ton of ‘relevant’ experience for a lot of entry-level office work — many companies are happy to find someone who’s responsible, shows up, acts professionally, and has at least basic computer skills. (If you’re looking for something more history-related, I’m afraid I don’t have any advice — I got my history degree via a combination of “I need to take more classes” and “Crusades sound interesting.”)

    4. Military Prof*

      I recommend spending some time on, which is the federal government’s hiring portal. The federal government employs more history majors than any other employer in the country–and does so nationwide. You can use the skills you learned in studying history but apply them in a wide variety of roles–being able to identify the trends and patterns of human behavior is a very handy thing.

    5. MissBookworm*

      Temporary jobs. Not only do they help you with office experience (and money) while you’re job hunting for the first permanent job, but you can see what different industries and companies are like. And sometimes that temp job might result in a job offer.

    6. Tuckerman*

      Don’t get too hung up on finding your “ideal” job right now. Focus on finding something that pays your bills/ticks most of the important boxes (commute, stability, benefits).

      1. Fikly*

        But also don’t take a job where you will be so unhappy that you will be unable to sustain the energy to look for a better job.

    7. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Be careful taking something service sector or non-career track to pay the bills while you job search. I graduated into the last bad recession and did that. It slowed down the job search and left me with a resume full of “unrelated experience” that made it harder for me to get subsequent jobs, and ultimately derailed my chances at a stable career.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Next question: Would staying unemployed instead, leaving you with a resume containing a gap, have made it easier for you to get subsequent jobs and a stable career?

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      Work with your school’s job office. I’d hope they’re doing virtual job fairs for you…

    9. MissDisplaced*

      Well, there ARE companies still hiring. Healthcare, Logistics, Grocery, Automation/Robotics, and certain retailers like Amazon. Plus, software companies. Amazon is supposed to be hiring a lot of new workers, and not just for the warehouse either.

  14. merp*

    Having to work from home exclusively in the office 365/outlook web environment and y’all…. it’s so broken. I should be able to get a VPN shortly (they are still figuring out licensing issues) but I don’t have outlook anyway so I think I’m stuck. Not complaining, very happy to be at home, but it’s almost funny how bad office 365 is to use.

    1. Stephanie*

      lol, it’s horrible. Getting it up and running every morning is a trial. It’s interesting to see what combination of closing it out/signing into the VPN/signing off the VPN/entering the confirmation code/burning sage finally lets me read my email.

      1. merp*

        oh my gosh yes! light some candles, pray to the microsoft gods, try the same thing 3 times until it works. really looking forward to the challenges the VPN will bring when my work finally figures it out.

    2. Not a Girl Boss*

      OMG, my company is transitioning to 365 100% in the next few months and I am dreading it.

      1. HamlindigoBlue*

        It actually works pretty well as long as it’s properly implemented. Fingers crossed that your company has a good plan to roll it out!

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          yeah, I haven’t had major issues. Outlook is still not great and always has been, but I am loving Teams and the integration with Word, PPT, Excel, etc. Being able to really edit a doc in teams while on a call with someone is magic. I fell like I’m getting much better communication from my team now that I ever did.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          It actually works pretty well as long as it’s properly implemented.

          Yup – my company has had no problems with this (but we’re a Microsoft partner and software company, so that probably helps).

          1. Quinalla*

            Yup, if set up well, it works fine. Sure, outlook has problems and probably always well but Teams is pretty great and integrates well with the rest for sure. We are loving Teams right now as my entire company of 150ish is WFH except for 3 key people in the office. Our IT guy has done a lot of work to implement Office 365 and to keep our VPN going, it doesn’t just happen without someone making it so.

      2. merp*

        Yeah, I should clarify at my last job it was set up well and I never had these issues! So it’s just in this workplace where none of us were set up to work at home before this so I doubt there’s been much love and care put into the implementation.

        1. HamlindigoBlue*

          My completely random guess is that your company’s IT department probably planned to roll it out later in the year, but because of recent events they had to quickly make it available whether it was totally ready or not. I’m in IT, and it’s been pretty rough. It’s especially maddening when some companies have claimed “it’s not possible to work from home,” yet here we are, making the “impossible” possible without much of a budget. Of course, it feels like it’s being held together with chewing gum and string. -But I digress. I could rant about this for hours.

    3. Alternative Person*

      Same, I’m in the process of setting up for work from home. I couldn’t open outlook got a ‘LazyModule’ error. Turned out one of my ad-blockers was preventing the page from opening. *Facepalm*

    4. Silver Radicand*

      That’s so interesting to hear ya’lls complaints about Office 365. I have only very rarely had any issues accessing it at home or my client’s office.

    5. Jostling*

      Check with your IT department – depending on your license, you can download, install, and license Office on up to 5 computers at once. If you have web access to those products, you should be able to install them locally using the download links on (after you authenticate). The basic Office suite should take <30min to install, depending on the age of your computer.

    6. robotique*

      the outlook web environment is HORRID. email searching (when i’m searching exact phrases that i know showed up in the email) does not work, and shows me irrelevant emails from 2 years in a row. plus, the scrolling is awful and it’s a lot harder to ‘organize’ stuff, especially when things get conversationed. using the old, desktop version of outlook is the one thing i’m looking forward to going back to the office.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        We’ve been complaining about this for YEARS in my office, and now of course it matters more than ever.

      2. noahwynn*

        You can turn the conversation part off. Sometimes if I can’t find something on the desktop version, I’ll search on the web version and it will come right up. So they definitely seem to use a different search engine. Never really had any issues, but I also use the desktop version 99% of the time and even at home. We don’t need a VPN or anything to access email though, just files stored on the network drives and some specific programs that have to connect to our data center or through our work IP addresses.

      3. Windchime*

        Yeah, I can’t stand the outlook web client. We are lucky enough to have a solid VPN and then I just use my normal Outlook app in conjunction with Office 365.

    7. Snark no more!*

      So broken…
      My folks wonder why I tell them to use the full apps instead and every time they can’t do something, I gleefully point out that it can be done… offline!

  15. Anon Engineer*

    Hi all! This is a lightly edited version of a question I sent in this week that Alison suggested I post in the open thread for advice: I was wondering if any of y’all have suggestions on finding roles helping respond to the pandemic and its related issues, whether paid or unpaid, for those of us who have specific skillsets for which there is a need or it seems likely there will be a need–e.g. in my case, I’m an early-career chemical engineer with some manufacturing experience.

    More than anything, I want to help out, and personally I’m able and willing to volunteer my time unpaid for a few months (my goal is to help, not to engage in some sort of job-search-profiteering off the pandemic!) But as someone currently unemployed and job hunting, it’s frustrating to carry on with a business-as-usual job hunt when the world is in crisis and every third article [I’m in the U.S.] is about medical supply and manufacturing shortages and the efforts being made to mitigate them; something I could potentially help with. (I realize job hunts are by nature unengaging, but in this situation I feel there’s legitimate cause for extra frustration in carrying on with a regular job hunt when my skills could potentially be useful responding to the crisis if I could figure out how/where.)

    I applied this week to a local company that I know is manufacturing relevant supplies, and I’m also looking into participating in some open-source ventilator projects. But meanwhile I’m still generally job hunting and still wondering about this. There are so many local and remote volunteer opportunities; e.g. I’m signed up to volunteer with my state’s Medical Reserve Corps since they need both medical and non-medical volunteers. Yet at the same time, I have specific skills I know are needed elsewhere–and, well, not being able to use them to more directly help is driving me up the wall.

    I emailed some former professors, but since I’m early-career, I don’t have many professional contacts to reach out to. Esp. now that I’m asking in open thread, I wondered if any of y’all have suggestions for how engineers can get involved, or more general suggestions on finding job/volunteer opportunities for those of us who have specific skills we want to put towards responding to the current crisis. Thanks!

    1. The Green Lawintern*

      I’ve seen a couple of grassroots projects regarding either sewing facemasks or 3D printing face shields, if those sound like interesting options?

      1. Anon Engineer*

        I’m also preparing to sew face masks this weekend (just need to dig out my sewing machine, lol) but thanks for the heads up!

      2. Aitch Arr*

        Be mindful of your local hospitals and what they are saying they need.

        Several local to me hospitals (I’m in the Boston area) are saying no to sewn masks and to ‘amateur’ 3D printing.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          But local clinics are often interested. so be flexible.

          But as a chem e with manufacturing experience: maybe check with a local large hospital. They could probably use someone helping manage inventory / getting it out, and if you can help put the ‘4 – 8 people on one ventilator’ in place, you’ll save lives.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      Where are you? (What state/city) NYC/NYS has websites, hotlines, etc. to match up skilled people with work. I imagine at least some other states/cities do, too. Don’t overlook city agencies/city websites. The call is going out from a lot of different angles. It’s going to be a little disorganized/chaotic because people are wearing a lot of different hats right now, sometimes new hats. Hell, I’d call the Army Corps of Engineers and ask if they know where civilian engineers can get COVID-19 response related work/volunteer opportunities. This is not the right website to be trawling right now.

      1. Anon Engineer*

        I’m in the Minnesota metro area, and thanks, I will do that! I didn’t think about contacting the gov’t beyond MRC but it’s promising to know New York is working on such things–time to make some calls/emails here!

        1. Genius with Food Additives*

          Neighbor! I hesitated to comment because there’s at least a 95% chance you’re all over this, but for your job hunt, if you have not considered food manufacturers and possibly pharmaceuticals in your job hunt, definitely consider those paths. I work in food (sister works in generic pharma), and many many of the food companies in the area hire chemical engineers, and let me tell you we are running full out right now.

          1. Anon Engineer*

            Thank you–while I’m definitely interested in food manufacturers (just restarted my job search recently) I haven’t been living here long and don’t have many local connections, so the info on ChemEs being needed in food companies locally is very welcome!

            1. Not a Girl Boss*

              Yep, my friend who works for a major beer manufacturer 1) loves the job and 2) is running full out right now.

    3. Not a Girl Boss*

      Honestly, chances are you’ll make more of an impact as a “pair of helping hands” than an “engineering professional” – this said kindly, as a manufacturing engineer.

      A good place to start is reaching out to your local emergency response departments (fire, EMS, police). They can tell you what they need and you can pick what best fits your capabilities.

      My dad is an EMT, in his case their department needs help hunting down PPE (or sewing PPE if none can be found), but also coming in to cook in the department’s kitchen (using proper food safety protocol) because their call volume is so high and number of workers so low that they don’t have time to feed themselves. Depending on their volunteer policy, some will allow you to help sterilize the ambulances between calls or cruisers between shifts.

      Also, I’ve seen people volunteering on town facebook pages (see if your town has a “Buy Nothing” group) to do shopping and other general errands for people who cannot safely leave their house.

      1. Anon Engineer*

        Thanks! There are lots of mutual aid spreadsheets and volunteer opportunities in my area floating by on social media/in the news; I’ll definitely look into them.

      2. Venus*

        It has occurred to me that a good way to support local businesses and the first-responder community is to buy gift certificates for local restaurants who are doing take-out, and donate them to hospitals, fire fighters, police, and EMTs…

        1. Windchime*

          Make sure to check before doing this. My son is a police officer and they are very particular about people on the force accepting gifts. Maybe it would be different if it was donated to the department, but he can’t even accept free coffee from Starbucks.

    4. Maya Elena*

      Check out
      It’s an effort started by Yaneer Bar-Yam and Nassim Taleb to spread the message to take Covid19 seriously and to, a they say, “crush the curve” (vs flatten it).
      They basically have a slack channel with a bunch of projects, including coordinating PPE production and collection, messaging to policymakers, sharing news, etc.

      1. Anon Engineer*

        Thank you! I’m on that Slack (*waves if you are as well*) but haven’t participated much yet as I’ve been trying to suss out where I can be most useful; I think I’ll jump into it more this weekend.

    5. Tea Earl Grey Hot*

      My state (Georgia) put out a call asking for volunteers. You fill out a profile with your skills and they get in touch and tell you where they need you. Perhaps your area has something like that?

      Just to give you an idea, here’s the link Georgia set up:

      1. Anon Engineer*

        Thanks! MN has “Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps” as one entity and I’m signed up there.
        Love the username–hope you’re enjoying the new show! :)

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Maybe you could look at universities? Some universities with big engineering programs are working on projects to create ventilators and other necessary equipment from materials that are easier to access and easier to quickly distribute than what’s usually used.

      1. Anon Engineer*

        Thanks for the suggestion! Hadn’t thought to contact the local U but I know they’re working on virus-related projects; worth a try to see if they can use a volunteer!

    7. Mbarr*

      My Canadian city has a “Caremongering” FB group – people can post there asking for help, and also with their offers of help. I’ve seen people saying similar things – and someone on the group will put them in touch with possible avenues.

    8. Venus*

      I know that some countries are looking for specific lab skillsets, and are looking to local universities, companies, and government labs for those people. I don’t know where those lists exist in the U.S.

  16. Eleanor Knope*

    Any advice on how to manage burnout while working from home?

    Full details: I’ve had a confluence of personal (miscarriage, followed by now being 8-weeks pregnant and nervous every step of the way because of the miscarriage) and professional (reorg followed by a massive time-sensitive project) things going on from December leading into COVID-19 that have led me to being burnt out. It’s even harder for me to manage now that I’m alone all day and don’t have anyone around me to see my output. I’m in internal comms, so I’ve been inundated with COVID-19 requests, which have made the idea of taking time off difficult.

    1. Ms. FS*

      If you have a manager you feel comfortable talking to about it, I would suggest you fill them in on the situation and you need to take some time off. I know that it feels like really bad timing, but your personal health (and especially baby’s health) is important enough that most reasonable managers will get it. And let’s face it, taking a week off is probably not going to matter in the grand scheme of things.

      As an aside, I was also getting to burnout place after similar situations at work. We are totally slammed after reorg and I got another job and will start in a couple of weeks. I knew it was bad timing, but I gave my notice this week. They are dealing with it by reprioritizing things, and your work will too if you make it clear you need to take some time off for your health.

    2. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

      First of all, I’m so sorry about your miscarriage, and wish you all the best with your pregnancy (I’m five weeks along with my first)! Second, have you spoken to your manager and let them know about your burnout? Even a day off, especially if you can do it on a Friday or Monday so you have three days in a row not working, could help. And be a stickler with yourself about putting work aside after work hours: just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that home is now work all the time!

    3. Tuckerman*

      I had a very stressful first trimester. In my experience, 8 weeks along was the worst of it. There was so much uncertainty at that point. In a few weeks you’ll have more information, statistically this will likely be good. I found it helpful to keep my routine but to schedule some vacation days. Even a day here and there was helpful.

    4. Parenthetically*

      No advice but ALL the solidarity. It’s been so rough coming into the Covid mess with months of personal stress already behind us.

    5. Daisy-dog*

      I’m so sorry that you’re going through this.

      My advice is to ensure you have 100% permission to just rest when you need it.

    6. B*

      Find a good counselor who specializes in pregnancy related needs. Ideally telehealth based to be useful now.
      I really struggled after a miscarriage and through my next pregnancy. It effected my bonding. I went to two general counselors who were fine but not helpful for what I needed. I found a specialist and drove two hours to see her. Absolutely helped. I hope you find good support.

    7. Sarah*

      Did I write this? Currently going through a miscarriage (D+C scheduled for Monday after waiting two weeks due to COVID-19 hospital overcrowding), work life in chaos (half of our staff diverted to disaster response, the other half picking up the workload), burnout inching its way toward me every day.

      I ended up telling my manager about my personal situation in much more detail than I’d hoped. I’m not sure if this helped, but it made me feel better about taking some time to myself – at least my boss knows WHY and if she’s upset about my work suffering, that says more about her than about me.

      I’m so sorry for your loss and wishing you nothing but the best with your pregnancy.

    8. snoopythedog*

      I’m so sorry about your miscarriage and the host of other personal and professional things that have made you feel burnt out. (And congratulations on your current pregnancy).

      Do you have a supportive manager? Do you have supportive policies at work? Do you feel comfortable disclosing your pregnancy now (personally, I think you can accomplish your goals without doing so).

      I know it feels like a bad time to take time off, but the cost of not doing so is quite high right now. I think a lot of managers would understand it if you needed to take a day or two off (ideally around a weekend) given COVID19 stress, re-org + time sensitive project). If you have one such manager, frame your request around needing a small break in order to weather the rest of this storm. Call it prevention.

      If your manager isn’t so supportive, there’s nothing wrong with calling in sick. Take 1-2 days around a weekend and give yourself a good reset. Honestly, if it’s going to help you be more productive, it’s totally cost-effective to do so now, rather than work yourself into a well you can’t easily climb out of.

      Another option is to let your manager know you are feeling overwhelmed with all the transition in the last few months PLUS covid related stress (personally and professionally) and you need some help from her to break your work into smaller chunks and have more frequent check ins to help you feel connected and on track. Is there anyone you can switch off some of your duties with so that you get a COVID-related break every few days?

  17. The Green Lawintern*

    One of my supervisors seems to be under the impression that now that we’re all WFH, it’s totally ok to stop working at 3:30/4:00 everyday. I can’t even…

    1. KimmyBear*

      But when are they starting the day? I’m signing out about 4:30 everyday so that I can relieve spouse of childcare duties, but I’m also starting the day at 8am and signing back in after bedtime. I think we are all still figuring out work schedules now that everything has been turned on its head.

    2. Peaches*

      I think we need more context on this. Do you start at a time where a 3:30/4:00 end time is unreasonable? Are they finishing their work, or leaving things unfinished?

    3. Not All*

      It may BE totally ok. Lots of people have adjusted schedules for various reasons ranging from no longer having a commute to other people in the home. I have a tendency to not work for a bit during peak server hours then log back in late evening when it doesn’t crash as much. Some people in my office are working shorter days and taking leave either because there isn’t enough they can do or they have living situations that require it.

      If the problem is you need to be able to reach them with questions, just cheerfully ask them how they’d prefer you reach them after they’ve signed off in the afternoon with urgent things.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t know that 3:30 or 4 seems unreasonable? It depends when people start?
      If they start at 7am, that does not seem unreasonable. They also may not be taking lunch in the normal sense, so I’d aim for 8 hours a day work, unless there is some specific time people need to be available for customers.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      I was going to ask, what time are they starting? I do 8:30 – 4:30 and I absolutely sign off at 4:30 if there’s no more work to be done. I encourage the folks that I manage to sign off at their normal times, too, in an effort to avoid burnout. We’re not in our busy season so for us, there’s no need to work past our normal stop times.

      If your supervisor isn’t starting at 8 or doesn’t have a valid reason like child care, etc., yeah, I might be side eyeing them a bit.

      1. Core*

        Do you have set core hours? Hours that everyone should be available for? It might help

        Our team set our core hours for 9am – 2pm even before the WFH mandate. We work in an area that has a lot of traffic so it would allow people would arrive at the office as early as 6:00am.

    6. [insert witty user name here]*

      I have a lot of folks on my team who work that even in an office schedule. They come in at 7 and leave at 3. Is your work exempt or nonexempt? Are people getting their hours in, if needed? Are people getting their work done? If so, I think we all need to have some flexibility around hours, taking care of kids, getting groceries/necessities, cooking/cleaning a little more often than is normal for some, taking care of our mental health, etc.

      If there is something that isn’t getting done that is impeding your ability to do YOUR job, then speak up about what you need. Otherwise, what else is the issue?

    7. eshrai*

      Yeah, I start at 6:30 every day and finish at 3 so I can take my turn with childcare. Today I am making up time so will be back on in the evening for 2 hours. These are not ordinary times.

    8. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I mean…we are in a global crisis. I do understand feeling frustrated if you’re working later, though.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      Assuming they aren’t starting early enough to make that a full day, the only problem I’d have is if they are expecting the people they manage to work a full day when they aren’t themselves. My grandboss, who idolizes productivity, has said she doesn’t expect everyone to be putting in a full eight hours during this crisis, because she knows people are in situations where they have to take care of their kids full time and so forth. I think that makes absolute sense. So really, unless there’s an expectation on the people your supervisor manages to put in more time than the supervisor is–or if there isn’t but that fact hasn’t been communicated–I think it’s fine. If you know they aren’t putting in a full day, it might be reasonable (if you have a good relationship with them) to say “hey supervisor, I noticed you’ve been signing off for the day at 3:30-4:00. I understand a lot of people have things they need to attend to at home, with kids home from school and so on right now. Is an earlier stopping time an option for the rest of us?”

    10. HamlindigoBlue*

      My regular hours are 7AM to 4PM, and I’ve been sticking to that. Some of my coworkers have adjusted their schedules to start an hour or so in one direction or the other, and it’s understandable. Is the team putting in their expected hours and providing coverage when needed?

    11. Batgirl*

      Depends if it’s a ‘bums in seat for several hours’ kind of job or ‘work is done when it’s done’ kind of job. Also the nature of job; has it fundamentally changed? If you’ve gone from ‘staff the front desk’ to ‘update the policy documents’ there’s no point dragging it out if you can do it quickly.

    12. The Green Lawintern*

      Ok, context for everyone who asked if she starts early – she does not, she starts at the same time as all of us (9:00) and is expected to work until 5:30. She also has a history of not doing work and letting projects go drastically over deadline, including right now.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, that’s not cool. I had a boss who did this, and I quit a job I otherwise enjoyed because of that boss.

      2. Melody Pond*

        I mean, I get it, it sounds like there could be a pattern with valid cause for concern – but I still feel like given the context of the global pandemic crisis… now is the time to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Especially if this person is senior to you – you might not have full visibility into what’s going on in her life or what she’s negotiated with her own superiors.

      3. SweetestCin*

        I appreciate the context. Yup, she’s a bum.

        (My earlier confusion: construction is pretty much 6:30-7 to 3:30-4. After those hours you start hitting overtime/premium time/etc. and nobody wants to deal with that. Plus even as a professional, the supply houses and manfacturer’s reps are closed after 4 p.m….so you can’t even do much there, either.)

        1. The Green Lawintern*

          Yeah I really should have clarified in the original post…hindsight is 20/20! People have offered up a lot of possible, compassionate explanations for why she might be working non-standard or fewer hours, but the answer to pretty much all of them is nope, those circumstances don’t apply here. She’s always been a bum, but telework has allowed her to ascend to new heights of bumminess.

          1. MissDisplaced*

            So, is she just not available at all when people are trying to reach her and it’s within the hours she is supposed to be working? You’d think her manager would notice she’s never available or answers.

            If she is needed and no one can get her, the team needs to ‘cc in her boss if it’s urgent. That might light a fire under her ass.

    13. Generic Name*

      I often start at 7:30, so I end at 4:30 sometimes. My company has encouraged people to work alternate schedules to lessen the load on the company’s VPN. Is your supervisor’s being unavailable after 3 or 4 causing you issues in your work? If so, I think it would be totally legit to bring it up directly with them.

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

      I’m doing 8-17.30, sometimes 8-18! Not my fault, my team leader is overwhelmed and there’re days that’s the only free slot for conference calls. Anyway, I get more breaks than usual, so I’m not much tired than usual.

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

      I feel like the phrase “one of my supervisors” is the real smoke signal here!

      Cue office space reference — Eight bosses? … So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it.

      Actually is she one of your bosses, or one of your supervisors as in you are in charge of several supervisors who each have their own team??

      1. The Green Lawintern*

        Only two, thankfully, and one grandboss! I do work in two different-but-related areas – think teapot auditing and teakettle auditing. So far there have been no issues with conflicting directives. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t have plenty of other issues to contend with…

  18. cmcinnyc*

    This past 2 weeks I have discovered the vast difference between working for myself/freelancing from home (which I did for years and loved) and WFH for an employer, which I am brand new to, and I hate.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I have certain hours I have to keep for my company–when I was a freelancer, I truly worked when it was best for *me.* My freelance work involved lots of focused work. My WFH work now involves chasing people down, lots of interaction–which is tricky remote, or at least it is now. I’m used to just getting up and *finding* the person I need if they’re not responsive. Now? I’m waiting….and waiting..

    1. ArtsNerd*

      It’s a totally different beast than freelancing from home, indeed. Though I actually do better for an employer than freelancing here — my colleagues hold me accountable. When I freelanced it was worth paying for a small shared office to get some kind of structure and focus.

  19. I can work around this but..,*

    Hi. I’m helping out on a project run and owned by another team. The main person I’m supporting is super nice but not very good at her job. She doesn’t think for herself and any road block means asking other people. All of those other people are just as busy if not busier. We will be in a meeting and afterwards she will ask me ‘so what do we need to do?’ I don’t mind coming up with the plan but she’s the lead on this. The natural project planner in me just wants to take control but I try to remind myself that’s not my role. Should I just kinda steer it? Or sit back and try to encourage her to be more of the lead?

    1. Emilitron*

      You can take control of the situation by helping her take control of the project? Like pointing out standard best practices: you start a meeting with “ok Jane, you’re lead so you should be in charge of action items.” and when something comes up, “Jane put that on the list”, then wrap up with “right Jane, what should we be doing next?”. And when she wants to ask other people, coach through the process: “What do you think Fergus will say when you ask him? We’re really choosing between X and Y, right? … Ok, so you know he’ll see those pros and cons and you think he’ll recommend X. Sure, run that past him but I think you’ve got a good handle on the situation.”

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      What if you asked her? “I have project planning experience and things seem so busy right now, do you want me to take on a different/bigger/more of a lead role?”

      I mean, adjust as needed but that gives you an idea.

    3. Juneybug*

      I think this is the type of situation where you take the lead but do it in a way that defers to her.
      For example, before the meeting ends, say “it sounds like our next steps should be ______ and be _________. Does that sound good to you boss?”.
      If she mentions reaching out to others (which isn’t a bad idea to gather other opinions and expertise), ask her if she would like you to talk to them. Then summarize the discussion with her after the fact.
      Before you do anything, ask her if it’s ok. That allows her to save face while allowing you to grow as an employee (building relationships, strengthen project management skills, etc.).
      Of course you will want to ensure you are still performing the duties you need to take care of. Don’t let your boss’ actions detract from your responsibilities/goals.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I can go different ways on this one.

      I can do the slow painful way where I ask questions back to her.
      Or I can just jump in and do it myself.

      Why I chose one over the other depends on (in no particular order):
      -the person who is falling down on the job
      -how bad I will get hit if the project tanks
      -if I am just setting myself up to do more of her work for years to come
      -how many times I have been through this with her before now
      -the size of the project and the scope of the project
      -how important the project is to the boss/company

      If it’s a very important project with a pressing deadline and my butt is grass because I will feel a lawnmower if we fail, then I am probably just going to gradually take over the project.

      However, I might step back if this is the not a high priority urgent thing; this is the umpteenth time I have been through this with her; I know it won’t hurt me if the project fails and so on.

      So it’s a sliding scale for me. The difficult instances to figure out what to do are the examples that sit in the middle of these two opposite scenarios. My suggestion is pick a choice where you can live with yourself and when you go home at night, you are not ashamed of your choices (be it that you did too much or you did too little). We have to live with ourselves. Try to be as fair as possible to everyone INCLUDING yourself. I ask myself questions such as, “I did x, y and z today. Is this sustainable? Can I do this for her EVERY day for Time Period of X duration?” Self-checks like this can be very telling.

  20. Amber Rose*

    RANT: I was supposed to be working from home today but my “partner” coworker who I would trade off shifts with got sick. And she came to the office to tell us. Because she didn’t want us to think she was faking it.

    I’m not out of line that I think this is incredibly selfish, right? Way to put your worry about people supposedly not believing you (which is not something that ever happens here) ahead of the health and well being of everyone here. Whether you “didn’t touch anything” or not. :|

    Side rant: teachers, you have twice as much respect as before from me right now. I tried to teach three people how to use a program I use every day over Teams, and I failed completely at it and felt like a friggin fool. I could hear how stuttery and awkward I sounded, and I botched the screen share on Teams so they didn’t see half of what I was doing. The worst. And that was only 45 minutes. Imagine doing that for hours every day. D:

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      OMG — I can’t even. You are not out of line — stay the fuck home if you are sick!!!!!!! Does she not understand what is going on here.

    2. Batgirl*

      That is unbelievably selfish!

      From a teacher: it’s legitimately hard to teach simply by talking (My school have set work but we are not even trying to teach remotely) and the hardest thing in the world to teach is something you’re an expert in and ‘do every day’. Expertise is actually a hindrance because you think in shortcuts which gloss over steps and background info.

      I make a cup of tea every day but to explain that to an alien I’d have to explain what tea IS first.

      Break it down into very small steps. Have a mini quiz for people to do before you move on. Make them do as much input as you do.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      She could have sent in a video.

      Given these times I think this is thoughtless.

      However, I have been that person who wandered into work to show my boss the ten miles of gauze I was wearing from my accident. Yeah, because it was that kind of place where people just would not believe other people. (I was feeling pretty mummified. But I had to do it. I guess it was the correct choice because my boss thanked me for coming into show them the extent of my problem. No cells back then.)

      So if your place treats people poorly for taking sick time then I can understand where it comes from, but it’s really thoughtless of her to meander in like that.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Our place literally never does that. Nobody is ever given any shit for calling in, not even the three people who blatantly called in with Superbowl hangovers.

    4. plp*

      I mean, it’s the teachers’ job to teach. They’re trained in teaching. They go to school to learn how to teach.

      I wouldn’t expect a teacher to come in and be able to nuclear engineer. Doesn’t mean my job is impossible, just that they aren’t trained in how to do it.

      I also wouldn’t expect a teacher to enjoy my job. I picked it because it suits my personality. I expect teachers also enjoy teaching, which probably helps in wanting to teach.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Training is a huge part of my job. I’ve been doing it a long time and I’m good at it.

        But that doesn’t mean training people remotely is not a huge change up and pain in the ass. I don’t expect many teachers have much experience in teaching remotely either.

  21. peachie*

    Has anyone else who’s moved to WFH set up a Google Voice number or similar? I don’t have a way to forward my work phone but wanted to find a way to separate out legitimate work calls from spam, so I thought that might work, but I’m not sure if there are drawbacks/nuances I’m missing. (My job involves very little phone time — like, someone will call me maybe once or twice a week — so I’m not going to pursue getting an employer-provided phone.)

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Not for WFH purposes, but I have a Google Voice number in order to have a local area code for job searching, and it’s pretty seamless. The only annoying part is that texts to the GV number forward to my regular number, so I get double notifications. I’m sure I can turn that off somewhere but I just haven’t bothered.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Tech tip: In the Google Voice app settings, you can turn off notifications. Or you could turn off text message forwarding, so you only get notifications from Google Voice and not your phone’s messenger app.

    2. Bubbles*

      I did. I work for a K-12 and I did not want people having my cell phone number, plus I wanted to be able to “turn off” the forwarding outside of hours. We currently are required to be available from 8am – 3pm daily by email. Office phone voicemail and missed calls get transcribed to our email, so we’ve been directed to return calls and emails within one hour during business hours. (All employees are issued laptops here.) I elected to forward my office phone line to my Google Voice number and it’s worked very well. I can call parents from that number and it’s not my own personal number. Parents have all been told that we are working from home and won’t have the district phone number pop up. I always explain right away that I am WFH and give them my office number to call if they’d like to verify (since we are discussing their child’s private information). After about 5pm, I set the Google Voice number to “Do Not Disturb” until the next morning and calls just go straight to voicemail. It’s worked really well so far.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’ve used Google Voice for that purpose. It worked out just fine. There was no way I was giving out my personal cell.

    4. MoopySwarpet*

      I did. I could have just forwarded office calls to my cell phone, but wanted to be able to turn it off after hours and have a voicemail that is work related if I’m on another call.

      So far, no real drawbacks. I set it up using my office number and then declined to use my carrier service (so it only uses data and WiFi vs my number) for voice.

      Most of our business is taken care of by email so not a lot of calls.

  22. Peaches*

    I’m sure I’m not alone in this, but I am at the end of my rope with my manager (and my company in general) not taking this coronavirus pandemic seriously. For those who don’t know, I work at a jan-san company primarily doing customer service (my main role is actually contract specialist, but we’ve been down a customer service employee for 3 months; that’s a whole different story.)

    I inquired last Tuesday about working from home. I sent what I thought was a very reasonable, well-worded email to my manager indicating the reasons why I, and everyone in our office who can work from home, should work from home. I offered many suggestions on how we can make the transition easy. She passed it along to HR, and I was shut down and basically given a canned response from HR of “thank you for your input, we’ll keep your suggestions in mind. You can always take vacation if you feel unsafe.” Uh, no thanks. I only have two weeks of vacation. Truly no one at my office except for our two warehouse employees need to be in the office. I have full access to our order entry system (SAP) from a laptop, and our phone system can easily be forwarded to cell phones.

    Then, last weekend, the city where I live and work (large metropolitan city in the Midwest), entered a “stay at home order”, through April 30th. The mayor gave a speech and explained that only essential businesses are allowed to go to their places of businesses, and all employees of essential businesses are urged to let any employee who has work from home capabilities to work from home, even if it’s not the easiest thing in the world. Only grocery stores are open, and restaurants are only available to curbside pickup orders. After hearing this, while I knew we would be deemed an essential business, I thought of COURSE my company would do the right thing and allow me (and so many others) to work from home. However, I got to the office Monday, and it was business as usual. I asked my manager if I could meet with her, and again indicated all the reasons why our company needs to immediately allow employees to work from home. I was very reasonable and level headed, and indicated that it was a matter of safety, not personal preference (my manager is always paranoid that people are “taking advantage” of her, so I could see her thinking we all want to work from home to goof around. Even though, to be clear, I’m a high performer and have always gotten excellent reviews from her.) She told me that working from home is “in the works” and “a high priority for our IT department”, but I should find comfort in knowing that no one in our office has been exposed (she has no way of knowing that.) Apparently, they don’t want customer service reps to be working from cell phones, and are working on how employees can take their actual desk phones home and use them from there (not sure how long that takes to figure out?!) What really frustrated me though is that my manager said since our company’s motto is “One Company X”, they will not allow any employees to work from home until all employees of the same positions across the nation have the capability to work from home (we have 36 branches nationwide). I think this is asinine in a time when coronavirus is affecting different areas at varying levels. I asked my manager when she anticipated knowing more, and she told me “I would sure think by the end of the week.” Well, now it’s Friday, and I haven’t heard a thing. My manager worked from home yesterday (the irony), so I emailed her asking for an update, and reiterating that I felt strongly about the need to work from home ASAP due to CDC recommendations, as well as city government officials’ strong urges to allow employees to work from home if possible. She never responded.

    This morning, my manager came over and told me that “Trump plans on having everyone back to work in a week”, and that she thinks “that makes a lot of sense because this isn’t really widespread anywhere expect for New York.” (newsflash, the stay at home order is still in place for our city for over a month longer). She said that she’s “thankful to be in an office where she knows none of us have been exposed anyway.”(What?! How would she have any idea if any of us have been exposed? My husband is a PA at the biggest hospital in the city, by the way. I for one definitely could have already been exposed.) One of my other coworkers came up at the same time and said “hah, yeah right, we’re all probably been exposed.” She shook her head and said “that’s just not true.”

    I feel like this has become a really difficult battle to win. I’m wondering if I should just take vacation for a week to see if they finally take this situation seriously. My manager is very aware that our office would absolutely fall apart if I took an unplanned week off (I know Alison always says, you should never be in a job where all hell would break loose if you left, yet here I am).

    I’m extremely disappointed that my company as a whole, too, has been so slow to react to the situation at hand, and get everyone working from home ASAP. They send emails every day claiming that “we’re at the front line of protecting the people and keeping them safe during this crisis”, yet I don’t feel like they’re protecting their own employees. Corporate also sends emails every day going on and on about “how much [they] appreciate us”. I want to say, if you appreciate us, listen to our voices! Be proactive about addressing our concerns!

    Ugh. It’s just been a week. A month, really.

      1. Peaches*

        Thank you, I appreciate it.

        I’m feeling a lot of emotions, but I think more than anything, I’m just highly disappointed in my company’s lack of care for employees’ health and safety. I’ve been here for 5 years, and have always been under the impression that the company is employee-focused. The way they have treated this situation has been enough for me to seriously consider whether this is a company that I want to be affiliated with.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          If it helps any: it’s not that they don’t *care*, it really is that they don’t *believe* there’s a danger. Looking at past health problems (eg, opioid epidemic) they won’t believe until someone they know tests positive or dies.

          It works out similarly in practice, unfortunately.

    1. it happens*

      Nothing like talking while no one is actually listening.
      But your manager said one thing that may be your entry- no one has been exposed. What if you couched your WFH both as a trial and as a safety measure. You live with a PA who has very likely been exposed and you do not want to bring that risk into your essential business.
      Or, go the passive-aggressive route. Bring a laptop home and give them the option on Monday- WFH or vacation.
      Good luck and stay safe. (And thanks to partner, it’s rough out there in medicine-world)

    2. Elenna*

      Uh… my company also has the motto of “One [Company X]”, that’s something they have specifically been pushing and working on, and yet they allowed everyone who can work from home to do so weeks ago… because, y’know, health and common sense and all that…
      Just in case you wanted more confirmation that this is BS. :P

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        My company sent anyone who could WFH home in order to offer addition protection and distance for those who couldn’t. THAT is one company X

        1. Paquita*

          My company started letting people WFH starting last week. Previous week they let a few folks do it for testing. There have been a few issues because this is a new thing for them. My area has to be in the office, we process physical checks. Anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand a day. If we end up with a stay-at-home order the company will use there reserves to keep the business going. We are considered essential (transportation) and were given a letter stating this in case we get stopped during any curfew.

    3. [insert witty user name here]*

      WOW. That sucks and I am so sorry. Have you considered emailing the reporter Alison put in a post the other day? I think these companies should be named and shamed. Public pressure SHOULD make them do the right thing. And when things are more normal, keep this in the very front of your mind as you consider if you want to continue working there.

    4. CatCat*

      My manager is very aware that our office would absolutely fall apart if I took an unplanned week off

      Then I would definitely go for it. Let it fall apart. That’s your manager’s problem. I’d even not put an end date on how much vacation time you will be taking (even if your plan is to return after a week). Your manager is being so heartlessly blase about it, no wonder you’re pissed!

      “I will be taking vacation time starting Monday. Per HR, I am welcome to do so if I feel unsafe. I do feel unsafe in light of public health stay-at-home orders. I’ll let you know when I’ll be back. I am happy to return to work immediately when we’re authorized to work from home. I am fully equipped to start working from home right away so just let me know.”

      Seems like your vacation would be a good time to brush up the resume and plan a job search. So sorry your company has weird and screwed up priorities!

      1. Tau*

        I like this. For bonus points, you can borrow it happens’ advice and couch it in terms of their safety:

        “You mentioned that it’s fine for us to be in the office because none of us have been exposed. Unfortunately, due to his job my partner is at high risk for infection, so I can’t guarantee that. I don’t want to put anyone in danger, so I’ll be taking vacation until it’s possible for me to WFH.”

        1. Tau*

          Disclaimer: not sure this is actually a good idea, I just like the thought of turning that bit of ignorance around on her.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          Actually, I like this script with a little tweak as a way to push for Peaches to wfh: “You mentioned that it’s fine for us to be in the office because none of us have been exposed. Unfortunately, due to his job my partner is at high risk for infection, so I can’t guarantee that. I don’t want to put anyone in danger, so I should be WFH asap.”

          1. WellRed*

            I don’t know why Peaches just doesn’t flat out ask for verification no one has been exposed.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Holy shite. I am so sorry. My brother’s boss is pretty much exactly the same way. :(

    6. Peaches*

      Update: I am LITERALLY FUMING.

      So, we don’t get that many outsiders that come into our office, or customers who pick up orders (95% of orders we ship). Nonetheless, we have a sign on our doors that says we are not allowing non-employees to enter the office due to COVID-19. If you have a pick up order, you can go to our back dock and our warehouse will bring your order to your vehicle. Yesterday, one of our corporate employees (assistant director of sales), came to the office to pick up an order to deliver to a hospital (our corporate office is about an hour away, by the way). During this crisis, he has been personally delivering orders to hospitals as soon as they come into stock.

      Anyway, he got to our office, and tried to enter through the front door, despite the sign advising him not to, and the door being locked. He started knocking, and my manager let him in. He walked around the office, chatted with employees, etc. (again, this man has been in hospitals all over the city for the past two weeks). I was really angry that she let him in, as it defeats the whole purpose of “locking down the office.”

      Just now, one of my coworker’s wives brought him lunch. Our employee opened the door to grab his lunch from his wife (who was standing outside and did not make an attempt to come in.) My manager marched over immediately and said to my coworker, “Shut the door! She cannot be in here! It defeats the whole purpose of locking down the office! She wasn’t even in the office, first of all. Second of all, my manager HERSELF already “defeated the purpose” of the lockdown anyway when she let the corporate employee in yesterday. So I spoke up and said, “Well, we already defeated the purpose of that when you let Bob (corporate employee) in yesterday, so I’m not sure why it matters now, but it didn’t matter then.” My coworker backed me up and said “yeah (manager), I don’t get why we allowed Bob in here yesterday. By the way, my wife wasn’t in the office.” My manager started LAUGHING as if we were both joking and said, “Haha yeah, can you imagine if I had said ‘hey Bob, I know you’re the corporate director of sales, but we can’t let you in our office!’ I’m sure that would have gone over well.” CORONAVIRUS DOES NOT CARE THAT BOB IS A CORPORATE BIG WIG. He is still susceptible to the virus just like the rest of us!

      I’m not sure why this specific instance crossed the line for me after everything that has already happened, but come ON. Protect your freakin’ employees. Bob could have picked up the order from our back dock like every other non-employee to our branch office has done. Ridiculous.

      1. Millicent*

        Please take a vacation, at least for next week, unless you are worried your employment is in jeopardy. Let the office fall apart during that time. Do not answer any emails, calls, or texts from anyone about work.

        Apparently your manager feels very strongly that the coronavirus only affects certain people and not others and none of this is based on what will actually keep you as safe as possible.

        I’m sorry you’re going through this.

        1. Avasarala*

          Yes. Take next week off, take care of yourself, brush up your resume.

          What would happen if you just said you’re working from home from now on? If the office would fall apart without you, do you really think they’d fire you?

      2. Quandong*

        I’m so sorry, Peaches.

        Your manager’s behaviour is appalling, and your feelings are completely valid.

        I think you’ve now got enough evidence that she will not protect you or the other employees no matter how severe the risk to your health and life. Please don’t go back into work. Take vacation for a week and consider all your options.

        Sending best wishes to you and your husband.

      3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        I’m sorry.

        Your manager sounds like the sort of person who became infected with HIV because they “just knew” that their sexual partner(s) couldn’t be infected, because [litany of things about “risk groups” as distinct from risky *behavior*]. And she’s not letting you take precautions to protect yourself, because ???

      4. Hrovitnir*

        What Millicent said. I’m so sorry you’re in this position.

        Given HR’s lame “you can use vacation if you don’t feel safe”, I think it’s more than fair to say “I do NOT feel safe, so I will be taking vacation” and do it.

        I don’t think there’s anything you can do that will convince anybody at your work of anything, but maybe some time off will be good for you if you can unwind at all.

    7. Koala dreams*

      Take them up on the suggestion of taking vacation! Your health is important, and it sounds like your manager needs the wake up call. Be sure to not log into work or answer work calls during your vacation, too.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “So, can I have that in writing from you, email is good enough. I would just like a record of this conversation here, you know, so we can accurately know what has been said so far.”

      When she back pedals and tries to deflect, which she probably will, simply repeat your request.

      Get the email, print it out AND send it to your own personal email address also.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      OMG! I am so sorry for you. Can you call and report them?
      If jobs can be done from home, they should be right now. And honestly, I think I may have been tempted to punch anyone who starts off by saying: “Trump said… [insert anything]” because he lies and he’s been terrible at instilling any kind of reassurance to the country.

  23. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m struggling a bit with managing a newly remote team. I want to set up a good structure for check ins and collaboration without too much micromanagement. Our senior leadership team is definitely leaning towards more micromanagement – daily logs, daily checkins, etc. Before coronavirus, we had no work from home structure, and a lot of our jobs don’t easily convert to WFH.

    Some of our team members cannot do their regular jobs right now because the office is closed and there’s not a virtual equivalent. We haven’t had layoffs or furloughs, so I’m trying to reassign some of the other workload and assign special projects. It’s been frustrating for everyone making the transition, but the team is also grateful that we’re committed to keeping them full time.

    So basically, I’m just looking for some advice. I feel like most of the online advice I’ve read is for teams that can easily convert to WFH (just take your laptop home, log into virtual meetings, no problem!), but we’re not in that situation.

    1. NW Mossy*

      One thing I think helps is to clearly establish how you’ll all stay in touch regularly – the time, the method, and so on. Even something as simple as “we’re all calling into a phone huddle for 15 minutes every day at 9” helps a lot to give some structure and certainty – it becomes the platform to raise issues, talk things out, and just plain stay connected in this time of isolation.

      The same can also work individually. I’ve always had regular 1-1 meetings with my directs, and those have continued with phone (or video, if possible). It’s a good way for me to get a read on what I care about most right now, which is making sure my staff has what they need and that they’re doing OK physically and mentally. This is a tough time, and even if you spend 30 minutes talking about how every grocery store is out of TP, the sense of connection helps make it a bit easier.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        I also highly recommend 1-1 meetings. I manage a small group of folks and the 1-1 meetings are a life safer. They aren’t daily but weekly and it’s nice just to be able to connect with everyone. You could do that daily or do a group call and offer up 1-1 meetings as needed.

    2. WellRed*

      Please don’t make people keep daily logs. Isn’t finished work, or an update, enough to indicate work is being done?

    3. Cassie*

      My bosses haven’t asked me to check in or out each day (nor do I think they will). I keep a list of my “done” tasks every day even before WFH because I want to track what I’ve done.

      I think it’s fair for have each employee send an email in the morning to check in (or on Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype chat, etc). And then email a list of tasks accomplished or worked on to the supervisor at the end of the day. This is the set up a couple of my friends have – at first, I thought it was a bit much, but now that I’ve seen it in action, I don’t think this is too much micromanagement. One of my friends is also a supervisor and apparently some of their staff either forget to email in the morning to check in, or don’t send the daily report at the end of the day, or both. So my friend has to spend time emailing them to check in on them. I also scoffed at the thought that someone can spent 4 hours on email, but if you think about it – if you check every 30 minutes, and spend 10-15 minutes reading and responding each time, that’s 240 minutes (which is 4 hours). Maybe you wouldn’t check that often or spend that much time on email if you are in the office, but when you’re working remotely, you might have to check in more often.

      I would hate having daily meetings or phone/video check-ins just for the sake of having them. When we’re in the office, we don’t have daily meetings so why do we need them now? Just keep a general eye on how things are going with each staff member and let them do their work. Treat staff like grown ups who can manage their own work, but at the same time, don’t let it just be a free-for-all.

    4. EA in CA*

      Our team is highly collaborative, so our daily half hour check-ins with everyone on a video conference chat is very much needed. We each work on certain parts of a project and need to connect regularly in case someone needs something or we have to let people know there is a delay on our part. This works for us and doesn’t feel like micromanaging because we use to do this, but more informally, in person when we were all in the office. Some days we don’t have anything to update, work wise, so it becomes more of a personal check-in on how people are doing.

    5. NotAPirate*

      Came here to ask this! My boss is definitely micromanaging, wants an email every time any task is completed. Assigns new tasks at all opportunities, called me 11 times yesterday. He’s a big nonbeliever in WFH. I’ve 2 people under me that I’m now also buffering from him. Trying to figure out a management style for them but really disliking my bosses.

    6. Overeducated*

      Good luck! My advice is that you’re all in this together, it’s a new situation, be flexible and don’t take feedback personally on how it’s working. I told my manager today that the amount of time were spending on check ins and work planning meetings is starting to hurt my productivity and timelines and I need to try to find a better balance next week; i could only say that because I really do trust my manager to work with us to find a better system.

    7. OtterB*

      Don’t know if it works for you, but my husband is doing what work he can from home, and his organization has also said this is a good time for online training. So he’ll be working on a useful certification around the other tasks that are doable.

  24. Stephanie*

    Luckily, no layoffs or furloughs here! My company did announce that our raises are being pushed back to October (was originally supposed to be April) and we have mandatory vacation the first week of April.

    They also announced they are suspending the tuition program indefinitely (with plans, but no guarantees, to bring it back in the all). Current students (like myself) are not grandfathered in. So trying to figure out what to do. I’m currently leaning toward deferring or just withdrawing. My MBA program is very expensive and I’m hesitant to borrow the rest of the cost (~$70k) right now.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I read this as “our raisins are being pushed back.”

      That sucks about the tuition thing. Is your school still in session online? Will you be able to at least finish the semester?

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Look into deferring if you can. That’s awful that they wouldn’t grandfather current students in.

      1. Stephanie*

        People are trying…but I think this came from the top or close to it. Program coordinator said I could defer for the next term (or more) if needed. I think some classmates/coworkers are planning to just borrow in hopes that the program comes back shortly. Company is on the conservative side fiscally (I’m in manufacturing), so I could see them being hesitant to bring it back until all the COVID effects are long gone.

  25. B.D.*

    What-ho, good folks!

    My wife recently found out that she is pregnant (yay!). I’m a pretty private person and keep my work and personal life separate. I do have a warm and friendly relationship with my coworkers, but I rarely talk about myself unprompted. I’m wondering if anyone has any tips or scripts for how to share the news in a low key way? We have weekly team meetings so I suppose I could share then? Or send a an email?

    I’m a pretty awkward and shy person who is terrible at small talk, so left to my own devices it’s likely I would forget to say anything until I accidentally let slip something about taking a kid to daycare haha. Thanks in advance.

    1. Eleanor Knope*

      My co-worker had a few of us as friends on Facebook, so right before his wife posted her announcement there, he sent us all the picture she was using and basically said “I wanted to let you all know baby [last name] is due in [month], and [wife] and I couldn’t be happier!” Depending on how your team communicates, that could be a good way. I also think it would be normal to bring up in your weekly team meeting! Whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

      And, congratulations!

      1. valentine*

        I think you’d be most comfy with an email saying you wanted to share some good news. People can reply as they wish. No one, including you, need feel put on the spot.

    2. Rey*

      If you’re low-key anyway and that’s how you want to share the news, I definitely wouldn’t send an email. If your office has a parental leave policy that you’ll be using (or you plan to use FMLA), talk to your supervisor first just so they have the information from you. Then, just talk about it normally in a “This is a regular fact of life” kind of tone, the same way that people talk about their weekend plans. Some people really like the big announcement, but it’s ok if that’s not your style.

    3. I edit everything*

      I think you should definitely open with “What-ho, compatriots!” :-) Congratulations on the good news. Make sure you and your wife are on the same page about when you’re telling people (lots of expectant parents wait until they’re through the first trimester, for example).

      Sharing at a team meeting, in the pre-meeting chitchat is a good idea. Or tell the office gossip, and they’ll make sure everyone else knows.

    4. AnotherSarah*

      I wonder if it’s even necessary to share? I’m pregnant now, and my husband only shared with coworkers one-on-one, his boss (because he’ll take leave, and because his boss and I are friendly), and another coworker whose wife is pregnant. I also didn’t share with my whole office; there are a bunch of people I almost never see and about whom I know almost nothing personal. I’m not *not* sharing, but at this point, there are people who will be happy for me and with whom I’m friends/friendly, and there are people who will be impacted by my leave, and then there are people who might not even notice I’m gone. I’m not sure you need to make an announcement at all if you don’t want to.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Yay, congratulations to you both!

        Maybe I’m too private, but I was going to say this as well. I think it’d be fine (and in-line with how you’ve operated in the past) to just wait until you “accidentally let slip something about taking a kid to daycare.”

        A lot of folks will keep pregnancy to themselves for various reasons. Maybe not common, but also not weird (and boo to anyone who thinks that this private situation is weird to keep private).

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

      Do you get any kind of time off as a father in your locale, if so, talk to your boss first about how to handle it.

      If not… just find an opportune moment, maybe at the end of a team stand-up or team meeting etc.

    6. Alex*

      Well, first, it’s normal to keep it to yourself for the first few months, so you don’t have to tell right away if you don’t want to.

      Otherwise, I’d probably just tell my boss in a 1-1 if you have those regularly, like, “I want to let you know that my wife is going to be having a baby and is due around X date. I hope to be able to take [whatever leave you are able/wanting to take] . I’m happy to share this news with [set of people you don’t mind your boss telling], maybe I should mention it at the next staff meeting?” And then your boss can give you an “in” at the meeting so it’s not just like you’re making a random statement unprompted.

    7. Quinalla*

      Share with HR (or whoever for health insurance purposes) and your boss first. And yeah, pretty normal to wait until past the 1st trimester to share. After that, team meeting is fine, email is fine. Maybe when talking about upcoming vacations you can mention you’ll be taking paternity leave sometime around X month? That’s how guys at my office typically have broken the news.

      Side note, this is always interesting to me as pregnant women definitely feel they have to announce before they are showing (though I was in that is she fat or is she pregnant stage before I announced my 2nd pregnancy, some suspected, but no one said anything until I did which was nice), but their male partners don’t always announce until they have a baby picture to the wider group. Its just an interesting thing!

  26. yikes*

    My boss never replies to my messages, texts, or even emails. Then seems mad about the situation…
    For example: “Hey Sarah, can you please run the meeting today” *nothing*
    “Hey Sarah, I won’t be coming in today I am very sick” *crickets”
    “Hey Sarah, my grandfather just died, I won’t be in today” *silence*

    This is weird right? I have asked if they could respond, but once again, silence…it has been like this the 7 months I have been working here.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      yeah, that’s weird and not good management :( do you know if she actually sees them?

    2. I edit everything*

      I wonder if phone calls would work better. It seems like text-based communication isn’t really working for you. A phone call, with actual conversation, might be more effective, at least as far as your knowing they got the information.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This – it’s time to change the mode of communication since you’re not getting your desired results.

    3. Emilitron*

      This sounds like time for a classic Allison script, I’m not going to dig for links, but the “This is the way I’ve been handling X (by emailing) but that doesn’t seem to be working (example lack of response), so please lets talk about how you want me to handle this going forward.” Of course this implies you get their attention enough to have the conversation – phone?

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Yes, this is weird, but I’ve run into it before. Does your boss have an Admin? If so, try cc:ing that person to make sure the message gets through.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The first one it’s odd that she didn’t respond.

      The other two, I don’t know that it’s as odd? Those don’t really require a response [though one is nice and thoughtful to confirm!]

      If I’m like “Hey guys, won’t be in today!” I sometimes get a response and I sometimes don’t, it depends really. It’s really just a message of “I’m not MIA, I am out with cause!”

      It could also be that their policy is that they want a phone call. Some people are particular about that. It’s short sighted that she doesn’t correct you though.

      So I’d bring it up since it’s bothering you. “How would you like me to bring an unplanned absence up to you? I’m not sure the way I’ve been doing it is what you’re expecting.” and if she says “no, everything is fine the way you do it now!” just shrug at it and keep doing it. Some of it could be just a crappy communication style in the end.

      I’m curious about your part that says she seems mad about the situation? How so? Just not responding? Do you read that as mad? Or is she actively acting put out and annoyed upon your return??

      1. yikes*

        That is a good point, I’ll ask if phone calls work better. I am used to a confirmation of some sort (or even a little bit of human compassion).

        She actively seems annoyed/put out when I return. When I get back into the office, things are said like ‘well if you didn’t take the time off you would be more up to date’ or snarky comments like ‘If you were here you would know.’ Feels like taking vacation/being sick is frowned upon in her eyes because she never takes vacation and brags about never being sick.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          EW! She’s one of “those” people. Now I get it.

          I wouldn’t put too much worry into it, she’s just a judgemental butthead THB. Anyone who brags about not taking a day off or being sick is trying too hard. You will never please them. And you should call in sick. You should take time of. It’s there for a reason. It’s a HER thing.

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

      Maybe the boss wants you to use a medium other than texting? (Is there any chance there’s already a policy about this and you have been unintentionally not following it? coupled with a passive aggressive boss which is unfortunately all too common.)

      1. Fikly*

        Or boss could just belong to the sadly common group who thinks somehow, via magic telepathy, people should change their behavior without being told what the desired behavior is, and if they do not, it’s totally reasonable to just get mad at theem.

  27. Laika*

    I’m back to work next week after two weeks unpaid (self-isolation) and based on my work inbox, things are pretty intense there. I’m grateful that our CEO has made it clear that no one’s jobs are at risk, but they’re also making some choices at the office that seem very reactive. Like… locking the front door, requiring people to be escorted in and out, and using a weird post-it note system to restrict access to public areas like the kitchen and lounge area so there’s only one person there at a time. They seem especially peculiar because there’s other things about the workplace that are far riskier (in terms of person-to-person contact), like the fact it’s essentially a hot-desking situation and, with a bit of finessing, they could in fact have the majority of us working from home.

    I’ve actually quite enjoyed my “time off” because we are considered an essential service and it’s very stressful work, so I’m feeling quite nervous about heading back into what sounds like a pretty strained workplace. :( Any words of encouragement or advice are welcome!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’m sorry about the stress :/

      Thank you for taking on the work of these essential services in this time!

      Is there anyone who is in charge of these policies? Would they be open to suggestions of what would be more effective and less stressful for folks (including a WFH shift)?

  28. So over LinkedIn*

    Is LinkedIn actually useful? I rarely log into mine, I’m not proactive about connecting with people, and I’m considering just deleting the whole thing. But the conventional job search advice is that everybody should have LinkedIn and make sure it’s up to date.

    1. Julia*

      I’ve had someone from a big company reach out to me and ask me to apply for a job witb them, so I’d say it can be useful.

    2. Funbud*

      Personally, I’ve never seen much usefulness in LinkedIn, other than finding out what some long lost classmates now do for a living.

      However, a former co-worker of mine did get a very nice job offer through LinkedIn. She had a solid resume, but she also put a professional and quite lovely head shot on her profile. She got an unsolicited offer of an interview and ended up taking the job. So there’s that.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      It can be useful if you’re job searching. I like staying in touch with former coworkers and seeing how their careers progress. I keep mine updated, but I stopped paying for the premium services. I was using it mostly to see who viewed my profile (while job searching) and for the online learning. I’ve since subscribed to Pluralsight, which is much better IMO. I don’t really visit LinkedIn regularly anymore. It seems to have gotten a bit off track as far as being used solely for professional purposes. My LinkedIn feed reminds me too much of Facebook, and I stopped using that a long time ago.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Depends on industry and area. I am a government contractor in an area with several government agencies. Since contracts expire all the time and new contracts are awarded, LinkedIn is a great clearinghouse to find jobs. I got Current Job through a recruiter who found me on LinkedIn.

      Note: I don’t have a detailed profile. I list companies, years at each, and keyword skills. I don’t have my resume uploaded. This is because locally everyone searches by contract keywords. (If you don’t meet the contract’s labor category requirements, the company can’t hire you to fill the slot.)

    5. MissGirl*

      Very useful for job searching. It’s also good to have a presence. My boss reached out to me because a resume crossed his desk from a connection of mine. He asked if I knew her, and I was able to put in a good word for her.

      Remember, you don’t have to be on it often. Just update your profile every six months or so and you can forget about it.

    6. Purple Jello*

      Yes. If you have a good profile, well written and interesting. Get rid of unnecessary old data that don’t pertain to a job you’d be interested in, and the whole skills and endorsements section ? Delete it or Rearrange it So the skills for the job you want are listed first. Post stuff or repost stuff of interest to the position you want, maybe 1-2 per month. I always have had “open to job opportunities “ checked. If you want, you can change settings to send out a notice (or not) when you change your profile. I’ve gotten my last two jobs partially through LinkedIn

    7. Roger That*

      I was a contractor for a telecom company back in 2009-2011 and just when I was about to get hired full-time, I received another too-good-to-pass-up job opportunity, so I left the telecom company at that time to pursue another career. Before I left, I connected on LinkedIn with a handful of people that I knew from the job, including someone from HR who I was friendly with. I literally did almost nothing with my account for seven years; didn’t post anything or even look at it much.

      Fast forward to 2018 and I’m ready to go back to telecom. All I did was send a “hey, how ya doing” message to the HR person one night, and within a week she had reached out to a hiring manager. A few months later, I was brought back on after seven years as a contractor once again, but this time I got hired in less than a month. I’ve been there over two years and I’m very happy and stable.

      Moral of the story is, it never hurts to keep the lines of communication open. Even if you barely notice it’s there, it doesn’t hurt at all to at least have a LinkedIn profile and have some connections in your industry. I’m not nearly as proactive about connecting with people as even the average person, but even a little might go a long way.

    8. Filosofickle*

      LinkedIn can be useful for job searching. However, it’s not as useful for job searching if you only use it when you’re job searching.

      Same with the real world network, it helps to build it and cultivate it (at least a little) before you need it. Recruiters can find you by searching, but opportunities are also shared when connections talk about job openings or ask for referrals/experts. Those are less likely to find you if you’re inactive.

      Simply being on the platform with a decent profile makes you searchable and gives you a way to message contacts. That is enough for many people. But having more of a presence can give you more power when you need it.

    9. CM*

      LinkedIn has literally never done anything for me. I keep a skeleton profile so I can use the job search function, but even that doesn’t do much. I’m not sure I’ve ever had an interview for a job I found through LinkedIn as opposed to some other search engine.

    10. Engineer Woman*

      I have found LinkedIn useful.

      I moved to another city after many years with Company A. I had linked with a number of colleagues from Company A. After a few years, I moved back to Original City and found a new job – possibly with the help of LinkedIn. Possibly not, but it was a source of job postings in my search. I had updated my LinkedIn profile with each job change.

      A little over a year later, an old colleague from Company A, now at Company B, knew I was back in the city, either thru word of mouth or perhaps saw my update in LinkedIn and messaged me via LinkedIn. Old colleague and I had had a great working relationship but not kept in touch. There was an opening at Company B for which old colleague felt I was a great fit for. I interviewed and got the job along with a 20% salary increase.

  29. Donitar*

    A few weeks ago I was offered and accepted a new job. I gave my 2 week notice at my now-former employer, and was supposed to start the new job next week. However due to coronavirus, the company is now pushing back my start day by 2 months. I’ve resumed job searching just in case, but what other options do I have? Would I qualify for unemployment in this situation or is it just bad luck + bad timing? Going back to my old job isn’t an option: they’ve had to lay off most of my former coworkers already and my duties were handed over to another person.

    1. [insert witty user name here]*

      Oof. Sorry to hear this! I would definitely at least apply. They might require confirmation from your old job that you can’t be hired back there (due to layoffs) and confirmation from the new job of your offer and the start date changed by THEIR request, but I have a feeling that unemployment approval will be fairly liberal these days. Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed, please try. This is something that is beyond your control and definitely not your fault.

  30. SQL Coder Cat*

    So over the past two years, I’ve posted sporadic questions about dealing with a software implementation gone horribly off the rails. The timeline given by the vendor was three months, and I am pleased to share that two years and two months later, we will be going live on Tuesday!

    Thank you to everyone who has provided advice and support. This community is the best.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Oh my goodness gracious. I thought my software vendor drama was bad, but this. This is wild.

  31. Beatrix*

    The university I work for has what I consider to be a wacky vacation policy, but maybe it’s more common than I think?

    Vacation time accrues for the FOLLOWING fiscal year, so new employees have 0 vacation for the first fiscal year they’re employed. I was lucky that I started halfway through the FY, so I only went 6 months without time off, but you could theoretically go almost 12 months if you started early in the FY. But since I started halfway through the FY, I only accrued half the standard vacation time for the following fiscal year. I won’t be at “full” vacation until I’ve been employed 18 months.

    What I find really strange is that because of this accrual policy, everyone gets paid out at least a full year’s vacation when they leave – the balance from the current fiscal year plus whatever they’ve accrued for the following year. Any insights on what the benefits to this sort of vacation policy are, rather than a standard accrue-as-you-go policy?

    1. Hi there*

      I can’t speak to the benefits, but my university used to do this too. It turned out there was an informal policy that you could actually use the time as you accrued it. I was out of that loop and a good rule-follower, so as a result I have always had about 20 days socked away. I was pretty mad when I found out I could have taken a vacation earlier.

      1. Beatrix*

        Oooh, that’s obnoxious. Official policy is that it’s up to individual departments as to how much vacation we’re allowed to borrow from next year, so I imagine there are a lot of employees for whom the accrual policy doesn’t really come into play. Of course, I’m not in one of those departments, so I’m counting my days super carefully.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      That is bonkers. I’ve never heard of that.

      I wonder if there’s state laws that prevent them from doing that. Are you in a state that requires companies to pay out vacation time as earned compensation?

      1. Beatrix*

        I had to look it up, but it turns out yes, my state does require employers to pay out earned vacation (way to go, NH!)

    3. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Well, it sounds as though it guarantees that someone won’t leave their job with a vacation deficit that needs to be repaid…? But you’re right, that sounds like an odd system.

      1. Beatrix*

        Oh, that’s an interesting point. My only theory so far is that since we’re in a rural area, most employees are lifers, so it’s not an issue that comes up all that often…? Still, I’m not sure what they’re gaining with this policy as opposed to a traditional accrual system.

    4. Tuckerman*

      My University had this policy when I was hired. They’ve since amended it so you can use it as you accrue it monthly. You have to use all the time you accrued in the previous FY by June 30th of the current FY. Yes, the first year was rough. I was allowed to take sick days and we can use up to 3 days of sick time as personal days. My manager also helped me move some shifts around so I could go on a camping trip.

      I have no clue what the benefit is. I’m still with the University but definitely look forward to the payout when I leave.

    5. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Ugh the first university I worked for had this. It SUCKED. Plus it was explained terribly so when I reached the end of my first fiscal year there and “unlocked” the 9 months worth of vacation I’d accrued, I also thought I had access to the next 12 months of vacation days as well. I was out of vacation days 6 weeks into the fiscal year.

      Granted, this was only my second full time job so I was pretty naive, but I’m still mad about how it was handled.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It’s to make you want to stay for the first year.
      It looks to me like they don’t want to give paid vacations to people who will only be there less than a year.

      Retail jobs are famous for making their employees work a full year without any vacation time. I think they are trying to make themselves look better than retail … but failing at it.

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

      > What I find really strange is that because of this accrual policy, everyone gets paid out at least a full year’s vacation when they leave – the balance from the current fiscal year plus whatever they’ve accrued for the following year.

      What a strange outcome, it’s almost as if they don’t know what they’re doing!

    8. Chaordic One*

      One of my former employers, a private school, but not a university had a similar policy with regards to a profit sharing bonus. (They called it a “gain-share” bonus, but it was really a profit-sharing bonus.) To be eligible for the bonus you had to have been employed for more than 6 months during the just ended fiscal year. The bonus was usually awarded a couple of months after the fiscal year. It seemed that the school did the majority of their hiring after the 6-month mid-point so that most new employees wouldn’t qualify for the gain-share bonus. Even if you had been employed for the entire fiscal year, if you quit before the bonuses were awarded, you didn’t get one. Or you could be like me, fired the day before the bonuses were awarded, so I didn’t get one either.

  32. Marble Cake*

    How do I address leaving my current position? I’m leaving due to burn out that’s been going on for two years but financially I couldn’t change jobs. I am now able to change jobs. Right now, it sounds horrible wanting to leave and so many people are out of my job. My current position is considered an essential job but I just can’t do it anymore. I have 3 children and work 11 hour days with a 2 hour round trip commute. And the benefits keep get cut at my job. We no longer have paid time off, insurance hardly covers anything, and my position is the only one no longer eligible to earn bonuses like the other employees who lost pto. Ive had three raises in the 5 years I’ve worked here. There have been numerous promises that were never delivered on such as profit sharing and earned vacations. I am good at my job but all this is adding up to make me want to run for the hills.

    What do I say to prospective employers?

    1. boredatwork*

      Sounds like you’re looking for a new challenge… current position has gotten stale… or my favorite, where ever you’re applying is just so wonderful/special/unique you couldn’t pass up an opportunity to interview.

      The last one work especially well with companies with a “strong culture”.

    2. Emilitron*

      While I’m very happy with my manager and my team (see, say nice things), a few policy aspects have changed since I started, so I’m not finding it as rewarding as I used to. (it’s okay to say that they’ve cut their benefits package and not sound like a money-grubbing lack-of-team-spirit, not that wanting a decent salary is a crime – in fact you can probably use the phrase “below market rate” with no worries) The long commute isn’t as feasible for me as it used to be, so that’s one reason I was so delighted to see [your job posting that looks so interesting]

  33. Seriouslywtf*

    Where I work has been considered an essential business as our customers are mostly medical or military applications. However, I have a massive issue.

    My employer doesnt seem to be taking covid-19 seriously. Everyone in the offices (ie who doesnt work on the manufacturing floor) could do bare minimum 75% of their job remotely. We were all set up with vpns recently. However, we’ve been told repeatedly that nobody will be allowed to work from home. Anyone who has pushed back on this has been told “we have a business to run/wash your hands/it is what it is/or we can talk further (purely lip service).” My own boss recently said to me “if you’re working at home how do I know I’m getting my 40 hours” …since starting this job I have NEVER worked only 40 hours. I have always worked well over that (average 45/50hrs) .

    We are still holding numerous meetings with people crowded around tables or only a few feet apart. I have people in and out of my cube all day. I have watched a manager cough into their hands several times this week. And now they have started to cut away some of our benefits.

    Am I overreacting in wanting to quit effective immediately over this?

    1. Peaches*

      I don’t have any advice, but I completely share your sentiments. I am going through a similiar situation. I, too, feel like just quitting because of the ridiculous way my company has treated this situation. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

      1. valentine*

        If you can afford it, it’s worth quitting over. What happens if you ask people to keep their distance or say you can’t attend the close-quarters meetings?

        1. seriouslywtf*

          I could afford to quit. I haven’t personally pushed back yet because I have been with the organization for less than a year and don’t think it would be received well. The way those who have pushed back have been talked to has made me really weary of pushing back myself.
          I have been thinking of making a career change to education and this may be the push I need to finally do it.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            If and when you’re ready to walk, this is a good thing to walk over. Better your savings take a hit than your health! And either way, make sure to report them to your state’s health department if they’re violating CDC guidance as Parenthetically points out below.

          2. Diahann Carroll*

            If you can afford to quit and think you can get another job relatively quickly in your chosen career field, then absolutely quit. The way your coworkers are behaving is absolutely disgusting and negligent – coughing into their hands?! Crowding around each other when we’re supposed to be social distancing?! Are they trying to kill each other? These people can’t like one another.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. It’s during times like these we see what people and companies really are. Unfortunately, yours is crappy. I’m sorry. :(

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      No you’re not overreacting… that is really, REALLY bad. Name and shame to repirter Alison mentioned earlier?

    4. m*

      I honestly cannot understand how, with things the way they are now (to say nothing of the way they’re projected to go) in the US, there are employers who are STILL not taking it seriously!

    5. Parenthetically*

      Not overreacting. Also in my state, ALL businesses, even those deemed essential and thus remaining open, must still abide by social distancing and cleaning requirements as outlined by the CDC. If there’s a mechanism to report them, do it.

    6. Quandong*

      You aren’t overreacting. And you’re not alone in getting to the point of making the decision to quit and never return to your workplace.

      Whether an employer or manager values their employees and staff is becoming extremely apparent right now.

      In my own work situation, my superiors are mostly incompetent but in times gone by, the consequences of their incompetence were not life-threatening. Now it’s different.

      I’m so sorry your employer is putting you all at risk. Please do what is needed to keep yourself as safe as possible.

  34. Anonymous Rabbit for now*

    I need help with this one, folks. I’m a jack of all trades and I don’t want to be.

    I have a background in secondary education, with two different subject areas. I’ve taught school at a few different levels, been self-employed for several years, and have also worked in retail management. I tend to get bored pretty easily, so being able to rely on multiple skillsets and use both sides of my brain as well as being physically active have served me well.

    The problem is, small organizations tend to snatch me up because I can do a lot of different things, which they may not have the budget to hire even a part time person to do each thing. In the meantime, large organizations pass me by because my skillsets appear too broad, and not focused enough.

    These small organizations don’t see me as a person with more than enough on my plate and pay me accordingly. For example, in my last position, I had to teach students in two separate buildings, photograph events, write the monthly newsletter, update the website on a daily basis, and serve as a general IT consultant in three separate buildings. I had five separate bosses, all of whom thought they were my only boss and loaded me with work accordingly. I earned $25,000 a year, which grand-boss thought was more than generous since I wasn’t actually doing any one role full time.

    In my current role, I’m responsible for our several different and disparate roles (think teapot training, teapot supply purchasing, logistics coordination), as well as whatever else lands on my desk since I am the only employee that doesn’t have a job description. My boss will say things like “well, there’s not a lot of teapot supply purchasing today, so you can do all this other stuff.” The problem is that I have plenty of other stuff to do already; I’m not just sitting there twiddling my thumbs because we’re fully stocked on teapot handles. I’m paid more than my previous position, but I’m still underpaid—people who do any one aspect of my job make $15,000 – $25,000 more than I currently do (I checked; they also have far better benefits), but the boss feels I’m not worth it since I don’t do any of those things full time.

    I’m looking to move on, partly for the reasons I’ve listed above and also because the environment is highly toxic (that’s another letter altogether; let’s just say there are more red flags here than in a May Day parade in Leningrad), and I’m rewriting my resume, but I want to avoid falling into this same trap again. How do I avoid this? Do I need multiple versions of my resume? If I do, I feel I don’t really have enough experience or accomplishments to make me look valuable to a larger organization. How do I make it clear that I am looking for a more focused position and the increased pay that goes with it, and that I am fully qualified to do it, but my resume doesn’t reflect that, because I’ve been doing so many other things besides just the one you posted?

    Has anyone else ever been in this situation? How did you get out of it? Any ideas?

    1. Batgirl*

      I was in this position: former reporter turned teacher and I somehow ended up doing everything that fell between the cracks.
      It all ended when I started pitching myself as ‘a specialist’ in a high demand skill. I got experience teaching low ability readers to improve their writing age and the entire focus of my job is now improving that data.
      I use my reporting skills to teach kids structured writing but I no longer get drafted in to do school newsletters or social media.
      1) Find a role which has an important and structured goal. I would make sure this is something people are expected to have on the boil at all times.
      2) Find a boss who isn’t looking for a two-fer. I would definitely eliminate mentions of two subject areas in education, as that is catnip to schools. Interview the boss as to the time spent on main tasks, and the need to spend time on other tasks.
      3) Say upfront you’re looking to conquer large projects and steer a particular type of role.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Prune your resume.

      Remember Alison’s advice (it works, it got me Current Job): A resume is a marketing tool. Tailor it to get the job you want, not the job you have. Yes, you will need multiple resumes. (I have four.)

      Start with a master resume, list everything but the kitchen sink. Take a hard look at it. What two or three skills/work tasks are prevalent? Do those match the jobs you want to apply for? Identify accomplishments for each to discuss in your cover letter. Take a few days to do this; you’ll remember accomplishments as you go. I dig into old emails and folders to refresh myself on work performed a while ago.

      Next, create a resume for each type of job you want to apply to. Take the master resume, cut everything that doesn’t apply to that job type, and resave the file as New Job 1. Do the same for New Job 2, and so on. A short, focused resume with a solid cover letter allows employers to quickly see that you are a potential match for the position.

      Most importantly, when you get New Job, NEVER mention the extracurricular skills again. No one needs to know.

    3. Juneybug*

      Few comments/suggestions –
      Resume: I think your resume needs to have separate focuses based on the job you are applying for. For example, I have experience in accounting, llama grooming, and human resources. For my current accounting job, my resume focused on my accounting experience and accomplishments. If I had applied for a llama grooming, that is what my resume would have been focused on – llama grooming experience and accomplishments. Companies will not be looking (or caring about) your experience and accomplishments is areas that are different than the job position. Trust me, no one cared about my human resources experience/accomplishments when I applied for an accounting job.
      Job description: When you apply for jobs, ask for a copy of the job description. That should show if there would be various duties or just one primary focus. If the company can not provide a copy of the job description, then run away.
      Pay at current job: I would list all of your duties and then researched how much each duty gets paid and approached your boss for a pay raise. What is the worst that could happen since you are already looking for a new job?
      For example –
      Teapot training, part time – average market value is $15K annually
      Teapot supply purchasing, part time – average pay is $10K
      Logistics coordination, part time – average pay is $10K
      My math shows you should be getting paid $35K annually (cause I am sure you are working the job of three part-time employees).
      Multiple skillsets – You mentioned that having multiple tasks helps you from getting bored. Having one job could still fit that need. For example, if you had an accounting job, you could be the lead in projects, you could do process improvements, you could teach other employees or customers about accounting or other aspects of your job. Don’t assume one position means one skillset. But then again, get a copy of the job description so you don’t get blind-sided by doing accounting and llama grooming.
      Hope this helps!

    4. Tau*

      In addition to what other people have said, a really targeted cover letter could help you out here. Like, if you’ve been doing jobs A through E and are looking for a role doing only B, it’s time to wax eloquent about how cool B is and how much you enjoy it, how you’ve already been doing B and doing a fantastic job, and how much you want to find a role where you can do B full-time. Jobs A, C, D and E need to get played down strongly as “currently I’m splitting my focus between B and other things, but I want to stop that so I can really master B.”

      The tricky thing here is that it sounds like one of your big strengths as an employee is your flexibility and ability to juggle disparate roles, and when you’re looking for a job you generally want to show off your strengths… but in this case, you don’t actually want anyone to hire you for those things!

    5. ArtsNerd*

      Multiple resumes for sure. I have an arts one and a design one. If I ever move on from my current job, it will be to a design specialist role or maybe deputy director of a small nonprofit. As you might guess, my two resumes look pretty different from each other.

  35. Jenn*

    My company has been pretty good for the most part during this time. We’re optional work from home right now – we all have our own offices and can easily “social distance” at work. If the governor (ever) issues a shelter in place, we’re all ready to WFH. What I’m side-eyeing is the document that we all just had to sign. I’m fine with the parts about needing permission from your supervisor and promising to take care of any company equipment you take home. But it also says that you are expected to be just as productive from home as you are in the office. For my department that is just not possible – most of our work requires physical access to materials (think libraries/archives/museums). I’ve managed to come up with some digital projects for myself and my one direct report, but they are very boring (but needed) and simply not do-able for 8 hours straight. I’ve already told my direct report just to do what she can for as long as she can, but that I don’t expect 8 hours from her every day. For how great my company has been in the past, I’m really disappointed with its stance right now.

    1. Pennyworth*

      I would have annotated the document with an observation about the lack of access to resources during WFH, and signed it, so there was evidence you had made your employer aware of legitimate reason why all your work could not be done as usual.

  36. Purple Jello*

    Today’s my last day at my international company. Since we’ve been isolated during my notice period, many people are not aware I’m leaving — people I would have liked to say goodbye to.

    I have mixed feelings about sending a mass email. I don’t want to send to the global address list, but if I select some employees, I’m afraid I’ll miss someone. Plus who has time to read these, or do they really care that I’m leaving?

    Final day questions… what to do?

    1. CTT*

      I think people will care you’re leaving! And you don’t want to leave people wondering what happened to you if they email you next week and get a bounce-back. I think you should send something to the select group, but caveat that you may have left some people out and to please forward to anyone who might need to know.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        And you don’t want to leave people wondering what happened to you if they email you next week and get a bounce-back.

        This. Please don’t make your coworkers think you died.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Send an email to whomever you want to. If you miss someone, it’s not a big deal. I have typically done my immediate coworkers, plus others outside the group I’ve worked with/talked to.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      When I left Giant Corporation, I emailed everyone I had worked with over the last 6-12 months. Just a short note saying that I’d enjoyed working with them (slight lie… some of them were the reason I was leaving!) and sharing my LinkedIn page. I checked my sent emails to see who I’d been emailing with to avoid missing people.

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

      Send the blast email to the biggest group that includes a majority of people who know who you are; worst case people will spend 5 seconds thinking “I’ve no idea who Purple Jello is, delete”.

  37. Jonah*

    Video interviews are really something else. I’m in the midst of a half day of final interviews for a job I’d really like in a stable industry, and it’s fascinating to be able to see the inside of the interviewers houses. My potential manager has a LOT of fake flowers, and her boss lives in what is clearly a McMansion that has had some children running wild in it recently. Neither of these are negative, but I do feel like I’m seeing something I shouldn’t be!

    1. [insert witty user name here]*

      oooooo that would be so interesting to me!!! I LOVE seeing how other people live. I go on zillow all the time just to see how different people have their homes set up and stuff.

  38. boredatwork*

    Any advice on working from home with a kid? My 4-month old requires my constant attention, like gaze deeply into my eyes or I cry, level of attention. I’d also love suggestions of how to broach the “I’m usually the top performer, but now I have two jobs” conversation.

    Because, at some point, my deadlines are going to start slipping, or if they don’t, I’ll be asked to pick up the slack from my less productive co-workers (per the usual).

    1. Blueberry*

      Since the baby is so young can you strap them to you with a carrier or sling so they feel connected to you?

      1. boredatwork*

        I wish, she likes to be carried a very specific way. Plus everything I do is computer based, and screen time is like baby cocaine.

    2. Leah K.*

      I am not sure I have any advice, but I wanted to say that I feel your pain. I have a 5 year old and a 1 year old. While I can usually tell my 5 year old to go play in the backyard, skype with her grandma, or (if all else failed) let her watch Frozen, my one year old wants my undivided attention. And he’s very vocal about expressing it. So, I’ve been leading group phone calls while bouncing a babbling baby on my hip trying to keep him from ripping my headset off. Thankfully, my team is very understanding (I’m the only one with a baby this young). He also naps twice a day for a couple of hours at a time, so I can get a little more stuff done.
      I would definitely push back on being forced to pick up the slack from other co-workers though. I would approach this as “given our current situation, I am able to accomplish A, B, and C or X and Y. How would you like me to prioritize?”

    3. Generic Name*

      My son was very high needs as an infant, so I strapped him to me using a soft carrier, and that helped a lot. I was a SAHM mom then, and I can’t imagine trying to do that and work from home full time. You have my complete sympathies. As an aside, at 13, he’s been great doing self-directed learning from home.

    4. Nacho*

      Be explicit with your issues. A good employer won’t expect you or anybody else to keep going at 100% during a global pandemic.

    5. NotAPirate*

      My dad used to set up a mini desk for me next to or below his. I got my own pretend briefcase. I’d set up meetings with my toys and color “memos” or bang on the broken typewriter or take fake phone calls on a corded phone. To me it was more of a game dad was playing with me rather than a dad’s working moment. That works more with toddler’s though. My mom used to just plop me in the back of the lecture hall and hope for the best. Famously dropped marbles down the stadium style seating mid lecture once.

      If you can’t baby wear during the workday, could you put a kid pen with toys next to you do you can look down/over at them constantly while still working? That might satisfy the attention need without reducing productivity too much.

    6. Agnodike*

      Do you have another adult in the house with you who could gaze lovingly at your kid instead of you for awhile? Does said kid respond to other forms of reassurance (touch, movement, song) that would allow you to work while you did them? How much tolerance do you have for letting them cry (in a safe, secure environment, for short periods) if you need to get a discrete task done?

      There’s no give in my job, since I work in healthcare management and we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, but my spouse has had some success in talking to their boss about managing expectations in the context of working from home with a small and disinhibited coworker. Their approach was to ask to shift focus from hours to deliverables, and to work with their boss to prioritize projects and back-burner some of the non-essential things. If you’re usually a top performer, you’ve built up some credit – it’s not unreasonable to tell your boss that you’re going to be working at reduced capacity for awhile due to circumstances far, far outside your control!

  39. Llamas@Law*

    Any tips on remaining patient and cool while knowing that greener pastures are ahead?

    Right before everything shut down, I was deep into talks to leave my law firm and move to another law firm (I am a partner). Had met everyone and they were set to vote on me – and then everything went into crisis mode. We are in a state that is largely locked down (so leaving and starting somewhere new would be difficult at best). They communicated to me right away that all personnel decisions were on hold (totally understandable) and that it was tabled for now. I am confident that once there is some return to normalcy that I will be joining their firm. My book of business shouldn’t be impacted much by the economy.

    But for right now, I am having to stay the course at old firm. Old firm is not handling this situation well. They were unprepared and it is a mess. Leadership has treated me (and other women) quite poorly and differently than our male colleagues and is making it difficult for us to do our jobs and serve our clients. And it makes me hopping mad.
    But it’s a paycheck (hopefully without a cut in pay – that hasn’t been announced yet) .

    Any advice on cultivating patience in light of a strong possibilities of greener pastures ahead? And dealing with the poor treatment of myself and my colleagues?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Sit back and imagine the looks on their faces when you give your notice?
      Get them to put their nonsense in writing? “Just wanted to confirm – Bob and Ted are doing X, but Jane and I are not allowed to do X. Is that correct?”

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I like the idea of asking them to put discrimination in writing, though make sure to carefully edit so tone is professional and purely “I need to know this for my job” rather than “I’m out to get you.” CYA, always.

      Sorry, they sound like an intentionally terrible firm. I’m glad you have light at the end of the tunnel!

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

      You have the answer inside yourself already — greener pastures are ahead, things have been put on pause for the moment but will resume (and maybe with turbo-mode alacrity to make up for lost time, depending on the business).

      Treat the situation at your current place as if you are just an outside observer making an anthropological study of how they are handling it, if that suits.

      Have faith in the future, even if it doesn’t work out with the place you were meant to move to (which I think it will)… there will be other places you can move to!

  40. Staying Anon For This One*

    I just saw a new job posting at my company and the first qualification listed is Awesomeness. Reading that made me so annoyed, especially since the hiring manager who wrote it is a tool.

    1. annakarina1*

      That makes it sound like one of those tech start-ups where the staff is all young attractive hipsters and they stack it full of amenities like beer and comfy sofas and game rooms in exchange for working long hours.

    2. HamlindigoBlue*

      I wish employers wouldn’t do things like that because it’s going to turn a lot of people away from even applying. I don’t want to work for anyone whose regular vocabulary includes the word “awesomeness.” It reminds me of Office Space.

    3. Emilitron*

      Sounds like they’re saved from having to explain that the hiring manager is a tool, since he’s conveniently included that in the job description.

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

      Hiring Manager has just given would-be applicants the gift of honestly knowing what they are like. I hope applicants see it!

  41. Lalaith*

    Are tech companies still hiring? Specifically web developers. I feel like internet business is one thing that’s definitely not going anywhere, but everything is upside down and uncertain at the moment, so I don’t know the actual effects. Obviously I can keep checking out job postings, but I’m just wondering if anyone here is working in this field and has any insight on their companies’ stability and continued hiring.

    1. Good Enough For Gov't Work*

      My husband and I are both in government contractor tech. I do web development and he is more enterprise applications We are both still interviewing (virtually of course). My company is still hiring but my husband’s has a hiring freeze. It probably helps that we are gov’t contractors since the gov’t always wants their product according to contract schedule regardless of other emergencies. So there are some out there that are still going and some that are a little more cautious.

    2. Carley*

      It seems to depend on who their clients are. If their clients are likely to be hit as well then they’re slowing down, but if their clients are either consumers (who are at home looking for something to do) or other internet based companies, they’re definitely business as usual.

    3. Epsilon Delta*

      I work in B2B tech. We are still hiring like mad. Two new devs are onboarding (100% remotely!) this month.

    4. In telehealth*

      Well, my tech-based telehealth company is hiring like mad. Including on the tech side.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      My software company just recently added new job postings for web developers, and we are definitely still hiring (one of our new hires starts in two weeks). The jobs in tech and tech-adjacent fields are still up and running.

  42. LQ*

    I’d really like to hear from folks who are having to make and communicate difficult decisions. We are trying to be as transparent as possible. But all of the options are horrible and all of them have unintended consequences and outcomes that are going to hurt people. There is no option where everyone gets puppies and rainbows and unicorns. Everyone wants to endlessly litigate each small piece. But we are in crisis mode and don’t have enough time to walk every person individually through these decisions 3-4 times each until they get it.

    I’d like to hear how other people deal with the continual push back. Folks tell me that I’m doing well but it doesn’t feel like it.

    I’d also like to hear from people who are on the other side. I’m in the middle and it feels really bad here too when I’m left in the dark, sometimes intentionally, sometimes just forgotten. So I get that piece. But I’ve had to make some of the decisions so I know that people struggle and think through them in a different way when it rests on your shoulders. How do I help people see that.

    1. little e*

      I wrote about how my company is approaching these decisions a little further down. As someone at the bottom, transparency is a good thing but sometimes it’s hard to understand that when you’re stressed and anxious and reacting emotionally. As a decisionmaker, you can’t make the “endless litigators” litigate less and you can’t force people to understand. At the end of the day, you have to make the best decisions you can, in the kindest way that you can. And you have to be able to say “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s the decision.” I guarantee there are people who see your struggles and understand it’s difficult, they just get lost in the sea of people whose gut reactions are arguing and speechifying.

      1. valentine*

        And you have to be able to say “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that’s the decision.”
        When you share the news, include a line about how the decision is final, that when you welcome questions, they need to be about how X will be implemented, not whether it will be, and not brainstorming.

      2. LQ*

        I think that holding a “but that’s the decision.” is good and helpful, thank you. Having a clear communication that it’s final could help for some folks who want to keep pushing back. They trust my judgement but want to be helpful, so they think they are being helpful and I haven’t communicated what part of the process we are in so they are not litigating from their perspective. This will help a lot I think with 2 of my biggest litigators.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      For those who want to endlessly discuss it – it’s ok to just cut it off. They don’t actually have to understand and approve of the decision making process. They need to know the decision and what it means for them. You can be kind, but that doesn’t change the end decision.

      1. demosthenes*

        I am using the following similar wording: I understand and sympathize both sides of this decision but we aren’t able to debate the decision at this point. If you do have things to express or an idea, please put them in an email and send to ___ so they can be reviewed during the next decision time, your input is valuable and we want to have it, but we/they need to have it at the right time. As information changes, they can include your suggestions and they will know you are open to discussing it.

        I usually explain to my employees how a tough decision fits into the organization as a whole. It may not help them to agree, but it helps for them to understand that a great deal of thought went into a decision. I have found that’s not a great strategy right now! They don’t like that! They don’t agree and are really upset, understandably.

        I’ll be following this to see what other suggestions there are and to get some insight.

        1. LQ*

          I’m finding a similar thing about people who normally want to hear all the step by step stuff getting upset lately.

          It is frustrating because I know that the decision is bad and I’m hurt about the options too so having to deal with their emotional onslaught on top of that is tough.

    3. CM*

      I think it might help to re-frame the way you’re thinking about this in terms of what people are actually asking for/expecting rather than lumping it together as “puppies and rainbows and unicorns.” Probably, they have more realistic expectations than that, and your inability to meet those expectations (real as it may be) is legitimately upsetting.

      If people are continuing to push back on the decision and try to litigate alternatives, it probably means they don’t believe that you’ve thought it through the whole way, or you don’t appreciate what the negative consequences to them are, or they don’t understand why more acceptable-seeming alternatives have been dismissed. So, the best thing to do is to communicate that stuff.

      If it’s a lot of people who are doing this, or if it’s resulting from decisions that have a really wide impact, it might be better to to it in a group — even though it’s awkward right now because of teleconferences and whatnot. Like, “Everyone’s upset about X and understandably so, so let’s take a couple of hours to talk it through and then not talk about it again.”

      1. LQ*

        This is helpful. I get focused on the very slim set of people who want puppies and rainbows and unicorns, but most of them get that it’s not going to be pretty.

        The push back is absolutely for that reason. It’s just right now I don’t have the time to recommunicate over and over to people to get them to hear it in a way that works for them. And sometimes I don’t have time at all. Sometimes it’s just an order and you need to do it now. We aren’t normally an industry that works like that so people are really unaccustomed to it. I don’t always have a couple of hours to talk it through and it just needs to be done. I hate that too. But right now it’s going to have to work like that occasionally. I’m trying to take the time when I can, but I can’t always. And often when I do it’s because someone’s coming to me crying so it’s a lot of emotional labor too.

    4. Fikly*

      As someone on the other side, the thing that angers me the most when the decisions made are endangering me, is when I’m told that the person making the decision had no choice.

      Everyone has a choice. They may not like any of the options, they may choose the only one they can tolerate, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a choice. Own that it’s a choice, own that even if it was the best choice, it’s still a bad choice. Don’t pretend it’s something it’s not. I appreciate the honesty.

      It’s like when your plane is delayed, and you’re stuck at the gate. What are you more angry about, the delay, or the part where the airline is telling you that you’ll be boarding in ten minutes when there isn’t even a plane at the gate?

      1. LQ*

        I’ve been expressing that all decisions are horrible a lot but owning decisions you hate is hard so I may not be doing enough of that.

        1. Fikly*

          It’s a natural human response when the best of the bad choices is still a bad choice, to want to be able to feel like it’s out of your control. It’s your brain’s way of protecting itself, because assuming you survive, you have to live with yourself afterwards.

          But from the POV of the people impacted by the choice, someone refusing to own it just feels like salt on the wound.

  43. Middle Manager*

    Sure this has been asked already in the last two weeks, but this is the first day I’m coming up for air at all as a state health official.

    For those of you with more experience working from home and/or those whose work is critical: how do you set limits on work? I’m drowning, working from 7am to 11pm daily, including weekends. If we were in a short term crisis, that could work, but clearly as this is dragging out, I’m starting to hit a wall and can’t maintain the pace. But I just can’t get myself to stop- just one more email, one more approval, one more thing i can do to help…

    1. DarthVelma*

      I’m in the same boat – work for a state Department of Public Health. What has worked for me so far is shutting down my work email at a certain time every night and not opening it back up until the morning. I’m also set up where I’m working partially on my work laptop and partially on my home computer. So turning off the work laptop has helped feel like my work day is done as well.

      My partner and I are also trying to stay consistent with dinner time. There’s something about putting it all down and going into the kitchen and fixing dinner and eating that helps me feel like I’m done with “work” and I’m back at “home”.

      I don’t know if any of those things will work for you specifically, but I think it’s mostly about finding some sort of ritual for yourself that lets you feel like you’re done with work for the day.

      1. valentine*

        Dedicated space is best. If you have only one desk or you have been working from the couch, shut off your devices at 3:00/4:00 pm and cover them. A throw with different design on each side would allow you to assign them as work/play. You can cover the computer/phone. Likewise, if you have a crafts box, you could cover it with the work side up.

        If you’d rather have a longer spread of hours, but take long break or two medium ones, go for it. Build a nap or proper siesta into your day. Have some fort/reading nook/yoga mat time where you don’t take calls.

        Plan something to look forward to at the beginning and end of the workday.

    2. Public Health Nerd*

      Agree with the other comments – I think the big thing for me about working from home is to have a little routine for how you start and end the work day (whenever that is). The key is to keep it always the same on a work day, no matter when in the week it is. So for me, I eat food, write out a rough plan for the day, turn on music, make tea. Then at the end of the day, that music goes off, I turn off monitors or cover them up, possibly change clothes. Do whatever is necessary to tell your brain that we’re done working now.

      When things are intense at work, I also do the most anxiety laden tasks first thing in the morning and in the last hour of the day. That helps lessen the guilt when you’re done for the day.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Prioritize, and be kind to yourself.

      The critical thing is that you’ve been working on a short sprint, and now you need to shift to a marathon mindset, where you have to pace yourself.

      So, Sunday: Unplug. Completely. All day. No work computer, no news, no phone calls out. Spend the morning on your most effective self-care. Maybe in the afternoon, spend an hour writing down the big picture strategies goals and actions, assessing which actions will have the biggest impact, and which actions you can affect. Set yourself a big picture plan.

      On Monday, and from here on: prioritize your work per that big picture plan. If something game-changing comes up, of course you’ll need to change it up, but until then – spend X hours (less than 10!) working your way down the priority list. Make the end of that X hours a hard end, however you have to, and remind yourself: marathon. You’ll be back to it tomorrow. It can wait until then.

    4. allathian*

      Try to remember that you’ll be doing no-one any favors if you burn yourself out by working too hard.

  44. Going undercover for this one*

    My spouse’s employer has decided that anyone who travels out of state, *or* 2+ hours away from the home office, must quarantine themselves for 14 unpaid days before coming back to work. (They’re welcome to use PTO if they have any, but you have to work there for 5+ years before you have that much PTO). It was pointed out to them that their employees regularly drive that far from the office, including trips to the neighboring state, as part of their actual jobs. Well, that doesn’t count. I guess it’s good to know the virus can tell if your trip is business or personal, and it knows not to infect you if you’re driving 2 hours for business.

      1. Going undercover for this one*

        They did say they’ll follow whatever rules are in effect (this announcement was made before the leave act was passed) but I’m not 100% sure they won’t be exempt. One company with several branches – if they pretend the branches are separate companies, each might be under 50 employees. But if they do comply, it makes me want to drag the spouse out of state and get some paid time off just to show them how stupid they are.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This may become a moot point very soon.
      I am hearing that NYS police are out on the highways, stopping cars and sending non-residents back home. Depending on where you live and where your spouse travels to your spouse’s employer could find that no one is going anywhere.

      1. Going undercover for this one*

        We are located in a part of the U.S. that hasn’t been hit hard yet, and our governor (and those of surrounding states) is very much “this is no big deal! we will take it in stride!” so it will be some time, I think, before it gets to that point. And the spouse’s job/industry is considered essential.

  45. Toxic Waste*

    My boss is better than my last one, but he has moments where he can be obnoxious/bully-like. I ordered chicken tenders at lunch and he scoffed, “Chicken tenders! What are you, 5?”

    I looked him straight in the eye, deadpan, and said, “Yes. Yes, I am.”

    This took him by surprise. He then admitted that he loves chicken tenders and ordered some!

    In meetings or when we talk, he’ll respond sarcastically and with a little attitude. “Uh, duh?” or “Um, yeah?”

    He’ll talk as if you know what he’s talking about (like you can read his mind) and then act like you’re stupid if you ask questions about what he’s talking about.

    Is it best to ignore this? Should one call out his behavior? I’m at a loss because he’s the boss, but I don’t want to be a punching bag either…

    1. [insert witty user name here]*

      I like your approach of “Yes. Yes, I am.” It seems like he reacts OK when he’s kind of forced to “confront” his behavior. If he does the “Uh, duh” during a meeting, respond to it. “Boss, what do you mean?” Or if you ask questions and he’s being a jerk, say something like “I get the feeling you’re frustrated with me. I’m trying to understand what you want but I cannot read your mind. [then pivot back to question] Can you please explain XYZ standard you’re looking for?” Of course, know your audience. But maybe it will help him think twice?

    2. valentine*

      He is deeply and wildly insecure!

      I wonder if a “I know you don’t mean to…” would help. Maybe a “When you say duh/um, it sounds dismissive.”

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

      Work on your assertiveness techniques (if you think you need to) and then rock that assertiveness. It’s clearly a pattern. Congrats for saying yes I’m 5, which I would have as well.

      I wouldn’t “call out” his bhvr just yet, but be alert to respond to any similar things in the future with an assertive demeanour. You have a relatively easy task ahead of you here bc he’s shown he will respond to things like that. (even if it is with surprsise and a volte-face!)

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      Your chicken response was BRILLIANT and seems to have worked, and it also seems like you bonded over a shared love of chicken tenders too!

  46. AndersonDarling*

    Since I’m WFH full time now, I’m having problems distinguishing weekends from work days. My previous weekend joy was waking up whenever I wanted, and I’m pretty much doing that every day because I naturally wake up before my shift. So how do you make a weekend special when you are at home all the time?

    1. annakarina1*

      On weekends now that I am WFH, I use weekends to do laundry and get groceries/do brief errands, and then stay in reading books, cooking, exercising, watching TV, and cleaning my home. So pretty much spending M-F working during the day and not having the time for errands (because I have a half-hour lunch to record for my timesheet), and doing that more on the weekends. Doing more recreational stuff at home also makes it more different than when I’m performing work duties during the day.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I don’t know, because I’m in the same boat. I’m pretty much just blending work stuff and personal stuff throughout the entire day, and I’m approaching the weekend and thinking the same thing will happen.

      Over on space (dot) com, there is a good article from a few days ago called “Astronauts know how to handle isolation:” It’s worth reading. I’ll probably make up a schedule for the entire weekend.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oh, Scott Kelly, my hero! Thank you, Jedi Squirrel. Space dot com is one of my favorites, but I don’t know how I missed this article.

        Scott Kelly also talks a lot about this in his book Endurance, which I think will earn a place in my Top 5 Best Reads of 2020. Go ahead and cringe – it was ‘outta this world’, LOL.

      2. Corky's wife Bonnie*

        My husband and I are waking up at the same time and going through almost the same morning routine we always do during the normal weekdays (except no makeup for me and no shaving for him). My co-worker called me a nerd, but I know myself well and when we’re finally back to work, it will sooooo hard for me to get back in the routine if I get too far away from it. However, with the extra time I have in the mornings I’m getting stuff ready for our lunch after breakfast so we can use our lunch hours to go take a walk and get some fresh air.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Oof, I feel this. I think we’re going to make weekends computer-free and low-screen-time as a way to mark the time a bit better since so much of our days are spent on screens. Maybe a family movie night or something similar, but more books and walks and projects and less screen time.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      My husband and I have started Pajama Sunday. We stay in pajamas (or similar lounge clothes), hang out on the couch, watch movies or TV shows, and eat breakfast/brunch foods (including mimosas). No cleaning or errands. If the weather cooperates, we might go for a walk, but that’s a strenuous as it gets. This weeks’s choice is the new season of Ozark, and we are having Southern foods to keep with the theme (biscuits and gravy, shrimp and grits).

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Its now 3:30pm and I’m still in my pajamas (working).
        Had a noon deadline and stuff just kept coming in so I just kept working. Starting to feel icky though so a shower is in the card shortly.

    5. Mbarr*

      The biggest difference is, can you set up your “office” in an area you normally don’t go into?
      For me, I set up my office in my spare bedroom. Now, I roll out of bed, landing in my computer chair, and do my work… But after work hours and on weekends, I avoid the spare room like the plague. It already has a bad connotation for me (cause I’ve been in isolation for 14 days cause I had cold symptoms – probably a sinus cold, but better safe than sorry).

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

      “Waking up” and “actually getting up” are two different things. Cultivate the art of the snooze (that could last from 7-10 am or similar) or at least give yourself permission to sleep in without feeling like you have to ‘get up’ just bc you ‘woke up’.

  47. Nervous Nellie*

    Jessen, are you here today? I found an article that might help you conquer the struggle to focus on online classes while the sky is falling. CS Lewis (yes, author of the Narnia series) wrote a helpful essay for Oxford university students in 1939, called “Learning in War-Time”. In it he reminds us that the world and always has been turbulent, and if we waited for calmer times to search for knowledge, we would never do it. I have his sentence, ‘Favorable conditions never come” taped up over my computer now, and I am gradually getting back on track with my courses even though there are no jobs listed at which I could trot them out.

    There are lots of other ideas in the essay that could be of interest, with two thoughts. One, if you are okay with his emphasis on religion, certainly google his name and the article. Two, if you would prefer a more secular approach with a 2020 emphasis, google the author Brandon Warmke and his article, “Learning in the Time of the Pandemic”. Lots of reassuring advice in both that I know has sure helped me.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      (not the person you were looking for, but…) Thanks for the reminder. That quote is helpful to me today.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      Well, hey NTAA! Love your user name! I just saw the Tribbles episode a couple of days ago as I binge watch the series for the bazillionth time. Glad to know a fellow Trekkie! :) Live long & prosper!

    3. Jessen*

      I’m here!

      Lewis is actually a favorite of mine. I have Surprised by Joy, Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce sitting here next to me. So I’ll take a look.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Hiya! So nice to hear from you! Yeah, have a look. The article snapped me back out of my intense distraction and refocused me on doing the things that will mean I am ‘ready’ when this craziness settles down.

        I loved the Screwtape Letters. Kindred spirits! Stay well!

  48. Bad Juggler*

    So I work with several different accounts, as a “local expert”, which usually means as a good between with the users and the experts at headquarters. I’ve been having trouble balancing projects for multiple accounts at once, which is something I’m working on. My question though is how to deal with requests that I’ve been putting off in favor of other things. If I have a three week old questions I forgot to send to my experts and the account is waiting for a response, how do I a) feel less shitty about sending those emails and b) phrase stuff so I look responsible but don’t ignore the fact that it’s late?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Hm…tricky. A few thoughts:

      1) You’re feelings are always valid, so don’t try to control them.
      2) Recognize that you’re getting to it now (and resolve to avoid getting bogged down in the future; maybe a 1 week to respond rule or something similar?)
      3) Simple apology at the beginning, then go right into it: “My apologies this is so late. About that issue, here is the resolution…”
      4) When you have time, do some introspection about what’s causing the lateness (if this isn’t part of what you’re doing to work on this issue). Is it a need for better tracking system/project management? Is it personal feelings about the client? Is it not liking a particular project? How do your peers who you admire approach the work?

  49. Mari*

    How much communication should supervisors have with their staff after the staff have been temporarily laid off? Should they call the staff every week to check in on them to see how they’re doing?

    1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Woah, no! Are you the employee or the supervisor? If you’re the supervisor, please stop calling your staff (unless you have an update on rehiring them or have another job lead for them) and let them focus on getting through this crisis. If you’re the employee, I’m sorry you have to keep taking (presumably) unwanted calls.

      1. Fikly*

        Yeah, this is all about the supervisor trying to make themselves feel better. It does nothing for the employees unless they are being told a return date or that they are being paid in some way.

    2. MissGirl*

      This is like the ex who broke up with you calling calling to check in each week. It rubs salt in the wounds and just rehashes the pain. The supervisor, while well meaning, is not the person who can provide support.

  50. Ready to quit*

    Quick question… I had a great phone screen for a position I’m really well suited for on the 18th… Both I and the recruiter were working from home but he thought he would be able to get back to me by Friday with an in-person for the following week. I was surprised they would do an in-person but so be it. I sent thank you note that afternoon and it’s been over a week now, no word back at all.

    I also noticed the same company had another job posted and pulled it after a few days… I’m assuming recruiting is shut down as it is most everywhere.

    So do I just wait until life gets back to normal at this point, and assume this is due to the current crisis or do I send a quick note now?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Jobs get posted and pulled all the time, and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything one way or another. It might mean something related to the job you’re applying for, but it probably doesn’t – and either way, there’s no way to know from the outside.

      If you want to follow up, I would wait two weeks after the date they said they would check in with you, and then send a quick email. Don’t mention the job posting that was pulled – just ask if their timing is still on track for the job you’ve applied for.

      Recruiting is a slow process at the best of times, and this is certainly not the best of times – it’s safe to assume that pretty much everything is taking longer than usual. So you can send one quick note, but no more than that – after that, the ball really is in their court one way or another.

      Good luck, I imagine job searching is even more nerve-wracking than usual right now!

      1. Ready to quit*

        Thanks. I was thinking of just following up when things pass but we of course don’t know how long that will be and I wondered if that would be weirder than following up next week-ish… You never know what is going on on the other end… You hate to look too eager or not eager enough.

        The role I’m applying for has someone in the position now who is being promoted so while they told me they wanted to move quickly, who knows where things are now, crisis or not. Thanks again for the suggestion :)

  51. Matilda Jefferies*

    TL;DR – how do you manage an overly enthusiastic consultant?

    I’m a new-ish manager of a team of four permanent staff, plus we’ve hired an external consultant for one specific project. She has great energy and enthusiasm, but she’s taking it too far in some ways. She calls status meetings to check in with the group, then she leads and closes the meetings, and even assigns me work! So I’m feeling a bit territorial, and I’m not sure where – or how – to draw the line with her.

    Part of the problem is that I actually agree with her about most of it. I would be saying all the same things and assigning all the same work – if she would give me the chance. So I can hardly interrupt her with “Yes, that’s exactly what I was about to say.”

    I know I’m not her boss, but at the same time – she’s not mine either. And I *am* the boss of the other people on the call, so I feel like she’s undermining my authority in front of my team. So I need to figure out a way to take that back, without getting into an argument or a power struggle. Or…do I? Maybe this isn’t actually the hill to die on after all, and I should let it go as long as we’re getting the results I need. This is all new to me, so if “let it go” is actually the best advice, I will be happy to hear that. On the other hand, if this is something I should address, I would love some advice on how to go about it.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Maybe she thinks that’s what she was hired to do? Might be worth a friendky chat aling lines of appreciating input and enthusiasm – could we use these channels to avoid confusion?

    2. Mazzy*

      Definitely set boundaries on whose role is what. It isn’t even a negative conversation, so don’t feel bad about it at all. It’s totally fine to ask for them to run this stuff by you as well. Don’t feel bad about it. I was a temp at a large company and didn’t like it because I knew I was doing what this contractor was doing, but my problem was that there were so many people, and I didn’t know what each one did or who to go to for problems, so I’d end up emailing too many people or doing parts of someone else’s job and then being surprised that a person exists just to do that function.

    3. Juneybug*

      Who does the responsibility/blame fall on if the project doesn’t go as planned – her or you?
      If it’s her, ask to meet prior to the meeting to discuss agenda, project status, next steps, etc. That way you both are involved in the decision making.
      If it’s you, ask her to meet with her for the same reasons as above but remind her that it’s your project and she needs your approval before moving forward.

    4. JessicaTate*

      If she’s a decent consultant, she doesn’t want to be doing things in a way that doesn’t work for you as the manager of the team – ESPECIALLY if you two actually agree on what needs to be done. She should have an interest in wanting future work with your team, so she has a stake in you liking the way she contributes.

      I’d suggest you two have a 1:1 chat about your respective roles with the team, positioning it as a united front — you both have shared goals and methods, you just want to clarify what kinds of things you need to do as the team’s manager (e.g., assigning work, because XYZ) and what you expect her to do as the team’s [fill-in-the-blank] consultant. (Filling in that blank feels important to me. What was she contracted to DO for the team? That should help figure out the boundaries for the role, and help you judge if she’s overstepping.)

      Prior to that, I might suggest doing some reflection on your own about what parts of her style feel “undermining to your authority” and why. Again, relative to her role. If she’s supposed to be a project manager, maybe it’s not odd that she’s calling meetings or doing the first pass at tasks/assignments?? Maybe it’s that you need to have it clear to your team that what comes from her is essentially coming from you, assuming that is true. Its the assignments of work stand out to me the most. If you’re their boss, you should get to weigh in, approve, or have veto power or something; you know their workload beyond this project. That could be a reasonable thing to lay out for her in a non power-struggle way.

      She is contracted by your company, so (unless someone else is pulling the strings of how her scope of work is to be implemented) you do have more power here. She’s not your employee, but if you’re not satisfied with her services, you can ask for change.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      Definitely she needs to know to not manage the people on your team (i.e. not call the meetings, not assign them work, etc). She should contact you and you will call the meetings with your team and you will assign the work (i.e. deciding who on your team will do it, what you will do vs what you will delegate, etc). Let her know there is a misunderstanding of how the process works and how her part should be handled.

    6. CM*

      I agree that you need to be on the same page about what role she was hired to do.

      That said, just in general (and without knowing the specific role she was contracted into), if a staff member or consultant is tasked to lead a project, calling meetings about the project and figuring out who’s going to do what is a normal part of that. There isn’t a rule that says someone’s line manager always has to be the one to lead a meeting or make work assignments, and often that SHOULDN’T be the case.

      My approach as a manager (or staff) was always, “If you called the meeting, it’s your room.” That doesn’t stop you from stepping in if something really weird happens, but, if everything’s trundling forward pretty smoothly and it seems like the team’s making good decisions without your input, let them.

      (If something weird happens and you want to step in, a good way of doing it is to say, “Actually, as I’m thinking about X, I have some concerns and I want more time to consider it, so let’s talk about it offline/tomorrow/separately, after the meeting.”)

  52. Skeeder Jones*

    I’ve been a remote worker for almost 3 years, but I know there are a lot of people who are working remotely for the first time. I’m curious, what surprised you the most about working from home? Good and/or bad.

    For me, it’s the following:
    I will do a lot more online shopping when I’m working from home, and I often still shop as if I needed a full on work wardrobe (I’m getting better at not doing this), but
    I eat out a heck of a lot less.
    I can go a full week and not leave my apartment or talk to anyone IRL
    Life is a lot easier

    1. Amber Rose*

      I am way more efficient when I can have the TV on while I work, it turns out. Last time I was home I loaded up a 150 part YouTube Let’s Play of a game that doesn’t have much of a plot (like Minecraft) and just having that on, listening to someone talk and laugh and stuff without having to pay much attention, was so much more soothing than working with music on or nothing at all. And I booked it through my work.

    2. ContemporaryIssued*

      Sleep is a lot easier to get when you don’t have 1 hour commute each way every day. I wake up 25 mins before starting work, and I no longer stress about when to fall asleep. I used to have to go to bed 60-90 mins before my “ideal fall-asleep time” just to make sure I got around 8 hrs of sleep, which I personally really need to work well throughout the day.

      Bad: my back is killing me. My chair is fine but I don’t have a wrist support mouse mat at work and my kitchen table is not ideal.

    3. Chaordic One*

      While I haven’t actually started WFH yet, I’m worried that I’ll struggle with some of the details. For example, when doing a particular procedure with a specialized software program, the program might not function or it might give me an error message. I’m really used to asking one of my co-workers what to do. (You need to input code X on the 7th slot, the other ones you can leave blank.) I’m afraid that I won’t be able to finish a particular task because of some minor detail like that if I don’t have a co-worker to ask.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        If the coworkers are WFH home also they should be just as available as they would’ve been if you were in the office….save homeschooling issues…but still this scenario is what IMs were made.

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

    So it happened. HR made the call and was very regretful about it. It’s a reduction in workforce. Luckily I get to keep my insurance, I pay the monthly premium. That’s the biggest fear I had.

    My dept was relatively new. The team I was leading had a larger client base so we had two people managing it, myself and the supervisor who reported to me. The supervisor was going to take over temporarily when I went on leave. They decided to let me go and keep the supervisor to lead our team because it was goin to happen eventually, why not now?

    I’m the only manager to be let go. Secretly, I’m 10000% for sure that my pregnancy is a factor in this. But I have no proof at all. My boss was very sad about this and said he will welcome me back when things get better.

    I’ve had my feelings. I wept in anger when I found out that my incompetent coworker who is incompetent in so many ways gets to stay and keep her salary.. dread at my coworker suddenly having to manage this all alone, sad that this department is going to fall apart AGAIN when we spent so many hours trying to clean sh*t up. Anger that for 6 years I worked my ass off, 50-60-70 hours a week, dealing with aggressive and bullying coworkers. .Just when I thought I was finally in a good place where I could go on leave and not worry for once about losing my job…boom.

    I spent all week on my resume, tying up any loose ends, getting the word out and had a phone interview. applied for UI as well. I just hate this timing because….extra money for the baby and my time home would’ve been nice.

    7 years ago I was suddenly let go from a temp job and I thought my world had ended. I was in a very bad place in my life and I had thrown so much hope into that job leading to something which would lead to a better life for myself. I spent 2 weeks in bed depressed. Finally I pulled myself out of it and moved on and….eventually things fell into place. It turned out to be the best year of my life. It still took 2 years to land a FT permanent job which I was looking for but eventually life fell into place and life got better in the way I wanted it to. So…I’m sure I’ll get over this eventually, there’s gotta be something better, it just feels terrible in the moment.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. That’s a lot to take on right now. Best of luck to you with both the job search and the pregnancy!

      1. valentine*

        You’ve been liberated from a toxic place. Give it a few weeks and see if you don’t feel better. It may be a relief, in the end.

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

          I think so. Just takes me a while to process. I’m free from the toxic leadership, ugly politics. But I will miss the paycheck, the feeling of having a good routine and honestly, I did make some strong connections there and I will miss those people the most.

    2. Eleanor Knope*

      I’m so sorry. What a stressful thing to be going through right now. It sounds like you’re doing a great job handling it and moving forward, even though I’m sure it’s difficult. I wish you the best for your pregnancy and job search!

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

        Thanks. I took all my panic out on last week’s open thread and had a week to ruminate over it. By the time HR called she actually almost cried and said “Thank you” for taking this so well. I understand, it’s not easy for anyone to give the news either. Had this not been a huge surprise, I would’ve been threatening a lawsuit, burning all bridges. I don’t plan to return but as tempting as it was. to burn the bridge….

    3. Mazzy*

      I’m so so sorry, it sounds like hell. And you said this is a new department, but you’ve been there for 6 years, that’s a decent junk of time nowadays to stay at one job! I just want to say I’m sorry and I hope you’re OK

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

        I started out in a junior position and eventually got promoted to management in the new department. I was jobless/seasonal/temp for about 6-7 years before I got this job and all I wanted was a long term position, stay on for 2-3 years and then go on maternity leave…..didn’t think getting pregnant and keeping it would take so long but here we are.

  54. WineNot*

    WFH related boss question!

    I had a small surgery on 3/12 and have been isolated ever since. I started working from home on Monday 3/16. I currently live with my parents, including my mom who is immunosuppressed. My mom and I decided to move into our 2nd home last weekend for the near future in order to keep her away from my dad, as he still has to go into work and to the grocery store. We’re lucky to have this option.

    I lost my phone in the ocean last night well after work-hours, so I emailed my two bosses about it this morning and got a crazy response from one of them that literally said this:
    “So if you’re living in _____ you’re not living with someone who is immunosuppressed, like you led us to believe when you couldn’t come into work?”…….
    I am so thrown off by this comment. He also cc’d HR on this response, and she immediately reached out to let me know that she felt his comment was completely inappropriate and that she would talk to him.

    It shouldn’t be anyone’s business WHERE I spend my isolation. I am with my immunosuppressed mother – she wouldn’t be comfortable living in this home without someone else, and who knows how long we will have to be here…so I find it to be necessary to keep her completely away from others and for peace of mind.

    I have been extremely productive and efficient working from home, have worked longer hours than usual to be available and prove that I can be just as good at my job from home as I am from the office. Our whole team is working from home besides him, as well as many other people in the office. I have no idea how to respond, or if I should. I feel like I should defend myself, but I don’t know. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thank you!

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Argh. How awful.

      Honestly, I would ignore it. HR knows about it, and they reached out proactively to let you know that his response was inappropriate, so you’re covered on that front. Also, he didn’t actually ask you a question, right? “So you’re living in…” isn’t a question, and therefore it doesn’t require an answer. If Boss has a problem with your WFH arrangements, he can bring it up with you in a more professional way – in the meantime, don’t get drawn into his passive aggressiveness. It sucks that he said it, but your best response is to be the bigger person, and ignore ignore ignore.

      1. valentine*

        I might briefly say the move is part of the isolation. He seems to have fixated on the location and not the immunosuppression. To be fair, it is surprising that she would move. Maybe he is picturing someone on a ventilator or in an iron lung.

        Stop working extra hours.

        1. WineNot*

          hahah I don’t know why that made me smile. But my boss knows that my mother is not on a ventilator or dying. She is currently very “healthy” but takes immunosuppressants daily to manage the kidney disease that has caused her to have two transplants in her life. So we just have to be extra careful, and if my dad still has to go into his office and out into the world to make sure we are taken care of, as well as my grandparents, isolating by ourselves with no interaction with others seemed like our best move.

          For what it’s worth, I didn’t “move”, we are staying at our house that is actually closer to my office than my permanent residence is. So I didn’t flee the state or country or anything.

          1. WineNot*

            Not that anyone in those situations is funny or smile-worthy. Just the way you said it seemed sarcastic and sarcasm can be funny.

    2. tangerineRose*

      I would just tell him that you are still living in the same house as an immune-suppressed relative and leave it at that.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Your boss was way out of line (and passive-aggressive, unprofessional, etc.). HR is on it, so I would just keep a copy of the email for your records and not respond.

      Maybe do some thinking on whether this is part of a larger pattern for your boss or if this was just a fluke.

  55. Oxford Comma*

    People are just really wedded to meeting, huh? I thought if anything was going to shift away from constantly meeting whether it’s in person or Zoom, it was this.

    Why can’t managers stop and think, “could this be handled with an email? Is it necessary for us to do yet another Zoom call?”

    1. Ready to quit*

      My company is quite ‘meeting happy’ so they never think of less meetings but recently decided to cut one hour meetings to 45 minutes. Seems with everyone WFH that meetings are running into each other more than before, work days have been longer, tech issues have caused managers to spend more time trying to support staff through issues…

      I was honestly surprised they went for that… I hope it sticks after the crisis has passed.

      When I have suggested not having a meeting, people at my company seem to take that as I’m not being cooperative… so I can relate.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I was a part of a 40 minute Zoom meeting the other day that could have been summed up in an email like this: “Sarah will call Gina with information X, Y, Z. Then Gina will format that into the report and send it to everyone.” Not kidding.

      1. MonteCristo85*

        I had one to talk about a problem that someone emailed the team about, which I had run down, fixed and reported back on, but nobody bothered to read the emails I sent, so we had to have a meeting so I could basically read the emails I had sent them the day before out loud.

    3. Tau*

      This has been driving me up the wall!. My company is of the “we know we have too many meetings and we want to reduce them but every meeting we have is vital and important and can’t possibly be cut. Let’s have some meetings to prepare for the meetings to revamp our organisation so that one day we will maybe have less meetings” variety. In the office, I’d basically just go to these, try to keep a positive attitude, and then breathe a quiet sigh of relief when I could go back to my work.

      But what we’ve done is just turn every one into a video call, and I am finding the video calls way more draining than in-person meetings. The 20-minute stand-up call we have every morning has tanked my productivity until lunch before, and Wednesday we had a 2-hour meeting where by the end I felt like an animal ready to gnaw off its own limb to escape a trap. I’m desperately hoping that either this will get better or other people will see the problem and check if we can’t shift some of these to e-mail, because this seems to be one of the biggest threats to my productivity so far. The worst thing is that I was hoping to have more informal chat type calls to stay connected with colleagues and work against the social deprivation I’m feeling + some problems that tend to crop up if I work on my own for too long, but now whenever our virtual coffee hour rolls around I go “ten more minutes with headphones and I will throw this laptop out the window”.

    4. Jambon-Beurre*

      Some are living for these excessive phone and video meetings to help replace office socializing. Sigh.

  56. Another worker bee*

    My company is being really supportive with the whole Coronavirus thing – we were already a remote team so not too many big changes here, but the company transitioned everyone else to WFH and has been really great about understanding that people are not going to be 100% with kids at home. So I’m having two issues:

    1) I’m not a fan of treating people with and without kids differently, but from my perspective, if you don’t have kids at home and of course aren’t sick or have a sick spouse or whatever and you are already set up to work from home, your output should not have dropped much. Literally the only person on my team with a child under 18 is my boss – his daughter is 10 or so and she’s been home with him but he is still getting work done. Everyone else is either childless or has grown children, and no one is sick – but they are impossible to get ahold of and they are hardly getting anything done. I am a project lead (soon to be promoted to an actual manager – probably after the COVID-19 dust settles, but lacking that formal authority at the moment) and the people working under me are doing about 10% or less of my output (and I’m in more meetings than them, because…team lead). AND we are all in states with shelter in place orders, so there is really nowhere for them to go or anything better to do. Upper management says not to push or stress anyone but….I’m pretty frustrated.

    2) We have a number of international clients that we travel to usually – the travel is on hold for now, with some of our work continuing remotely and some of it being postponed. The issue is that different countries are treating this pandemic with varying degrees of seriousness. E.g., we were supposed to travel from the U.S. to Mexico in two weeks, which is clearly not going to happen – literally illegal for us right now. Rather than adjusting to remote meetings, our client just pushed it back two weeks because they really think this will all blow over by then. I don’t think it will come to this, but it does seem like the leaders of both Mexico and the U.S. would prefer normalcy to safety, so it’s possible that the border won’t be closed, but that travel would be very dangerous. I don’t think my company would force us to travel, but they might change their tune after losing money for the past two months….what if the company tries to force us to travel when the virus is still really prevalent? What would you do?

    1. Ali G*

      I don’t have kids, but I can tell you I am not at 100% productivity WFH. For a few reasons:
      1. My husband is here also WFH. We have to work around each other’s calls and meeting since there aren’t any sound proof rooms.
      2. Internet is overloaded. I got 30 mins or so without getting and emails and then 20 will flood in
      3. We are doing our best to support the people that rely on us for paychecks. My dogwalker still comes and next week we will hole up in the basement for 3 hours with the dog while the rest of our house is cleaned
      4. People need flexibility – I need to pick up 2 RXs for my dog – I am not going to do that right when the store opens, or in the evening when others running errands. I am going to do that on a Tuesday at 10 am so it won’t be a crowded mess.
      I’m sure other people have other “life” that still need to be done between normal working hours Mon-Friday. Just because people don’t have kids, you can’t expect them to be 100% in a new environment.

      1. Another worker bee*

        Yeah, to be clear, I’m not expecting 100% productivity from anyone, for various reasons like you outlined above. Our team was already a 100% remote team, so office space and the like are already in place.
        I’d probably be at 80-90% if I weren’t doing work on the weekends out of sheer boredom, because sharing the office with my husband, watching all the news briefings, sanitizing grocery deliveries as soon as they arrive, etc. takes up some weekday overhead. My boss is at about 75% which is totally reasonable, and I’m happy to pick up some slack for him because I can.
        I do not think it is reasonable for someone’s entire output for the week to be 4 lines of code, though. That’s like…less than an hour of work.

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        I don’t think Another Worker Bee is talking about slight dips or small periods of unavailability like you describe but very significant changes over an extended period. It totally makes sense that there would be high traffic at certain times of the day so internet will be slow or you run out to get prescriptions or groceries at more convenient/less crowded times but it would also stand to reason that you would see higher activity from that person at other times more convenient to their life (6-8am, 11pm, etc…).
        My boss made it clear that he knows we may not be available at a moment’s notice and has been pushing back with his bosses about turnaround times and due dates because of what we now need to work around, but we are being paid to work so if I have to complete certain reports during the week those should still be getting done. Maybe it isn’t out by 9am Tuesday like I would normally be able to do, but no one is fussed they don’t get it until noon on Wednesday because they still got what they needed. I feel like AWB isn’t getting that from certain people.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      I’m newly WFH (but I’m not a manager). My job requires A LOT of interaction with my coworkers. In the 2 weeks we’ve been manadatory WFH, I can tell you it is crystal clear who works and who doesn’t. I get questions, requests, status reports, etc from maybe 15% of the people I’m expecting stuff from. One person (a manager, yet) is basically MIA. About 50% of us have kids. I don’t notice a big dif in productivity between those with/without kids. Those with are sometimes working odd hours, but the productive ones are submitting their stuff in whatever weird window they’re working and I pick it up when I’m online. If I were you I would just note and move on. See if people bounce back. Don’t store it up. At a certain point you’re going to have to be all JOYCE WHERE ARE YOU WITH THE ROBERTS REPORT but until you have to, try not to let it be one more source of stress.

    3. Cassie*

      For 1), I’d suggest finding out (somehow) why the people aren’t being as productive. They may not have to deal with spouses or children, but maybe the remote desktop connection takes 10 minutes to load each time and they get kicked off after an hour. So that’s another 10 minutes to log back in. Or maybe they have to take time to check voicemail every few hours when before, you could just look at the msg indicator light to see if you had any vm (now you actually have to call in and check). Or maybe they’re only processing 10 widget orders instead of 40, but that’s because they’re only getting 25% of the regular requests because all non-essential units have stopped ordering widgets. That sort of thing.

      1. Another worker bee*

        We have always been a fully remote team and our workload and type of work has not changed. There shouldn’t be any IT issues aside from possibly load issues with internet since others are now WFH. To be clear, the company said that 60-80% productivity is ok and I get that. This is not that. This is people who are at <= 5% productivity for no discernable reason. And I'm sorry, these are highly compensated adults with advanced degrees. If there is a good reason I am missing, I should not have to drag it out of them. If my work output suddenly dropped off to almost nothing, I would be proactive about that.
        Upper management said "don't pressure your employees" and I think some people are just taking advantage of that. Like….take leave if you need to. We have unlimited sick leave. If you aren't going to work, take leave so that it doesn't look like I have 5 employees who are accomplishing nothing and so that I am not allocating work to people who have no intention of actually doing it.

        1. Cassie*

          You have a better understanding of your staff and their usual work habits than any of us can tell at a distance. I agree that you shouldn’t have to “drag it out of them”, but at the same time, not everyone has the same mentality. I know you mentioned they are impossible to get a hold of – I’d continue trying to email or call them and plan to have a “come to Jesus” discussion about their lack of productivity.

          If it continues to be a problem, at least you can say “we had this discussion, you mentioned these issues (connectivity or whatever), we came up with these possible solutions, and your productivity still did not improve”. Then you follow whatever disciplinary procedure you normally would do (with the caveat of being perhaps a tad bit more flexible than usual, esp at the beginning).

        2. Fikly*

          I believe the good reason is called severe stress and anxiety from a global pandemic. And then the stigma of mental health meaning they aren’t taking sick leave, or they don’t even realize that they need it.

          Given your attitude here, I’m not shocked that you’re not hearing about this from your employees. You say you should not have to drag the reason out of them, but what about if they are unaware of the reason, which is common when thinking is affected?

          If this anger and resentment is atypical for you, I would suggest you think about the effects of stress and anxiety on yourself.

    4. valentine*

      (1) They’re upset and afraid? They are calling their relatives who are struggling with being indoors? Their fatally foolish adult child went to spring break or the farmers’ market?

      Ask them what’s going on and what they need to boost their productivity.

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      I want to say this kindly, but very firmly: You need to give your team way more grace.

      Everyone’s world changed with very little notice in the last month. Everything — from their biggest-picture hopes and worries, to the smallest decision of when to go to the grocery store — is up in the air. Folks are worried that they or their loved ones will get sick or die; that they will lost their jobs; that the world as they knew it won’t be there when we come out on the other end of this.

      Not only that, but all the logitics of their lives have had to change. They’re working from home for what sounds like the first time, for a manager who — and I’m sure this hasn’t escaped them — doesn’t trust them, isn’t offering them grace and support, and probably isn’t managing them especially well. They are spending lots of time checking in on the people they love. They’re rationing their toilet paper. They’re grabbing whatever grocery pickup window is available to them, even if it’s in the middle of the workday, because if they don’t then who knows when they can safely get groceries again.

      Consider that nobody can be at 100% right now, and what a more realistic output is for your team. Lower your expectations, a lot. Then manage them to those expectations, and then tackle the real problems (the 4 lines of code you mentioned in a comment).

      1. acmx*

        Go back read Another worker bee’s post. They stated that the team was already work from home. They’ve also said they’re not expecting 100% but that the others are only producing about 10% or less.

    6. acmx*

      For 2: we follow the CDC guidelines regarding travel. If you’re company does expect you to travel, find out what their plan is if you are barred from returning to the US.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Childless widow here.
      People on their own serve society in different ways than family people do. Currently, I have two older people in my life who call me their life-line as I check on them routinely.
      Additionally, doing the simplest things takes at least twice as long as it used to take. (Probably four times as long.)

      Please be gentle. Everyone has something that they are just not sharing and yet they are trying to deal with it.

    8. Jambon-Beurre*

      My husband’s CEO basically expressed similar to his directors and managers in an email and phone conference. You’re getting paid 100% of your salary to do 100% work. If you’re too anxious, worried, have young children but no daycare, sick relatives, extenuating circumstances, etc., then take sick or PTO leave. But he said it’s not fair for some employees do less due to xyz circumstances when you’re getting paid the same even in xyz circumstances.

  57. Laurel*

    Has anyone seen/figured out how Uber/Lyft drivers should apply for unemployement given the new law? Is it through the existing state system?

    1. Natalie*

      I don’t know that any of that will be completely clear until the law is actually fully passed, which it hasn’t been yet – the House is debating/voting as we speak, and then the president has to sign it. But one way or another it will probably go through the existing state system. Usually these types of relief or stimulus bills go through existing channels rather inventing some kind of new system.

  58. cactus lady*

    In spite of everything that’s going on, I have a final interview next week! They have already told me I am one of their top 2 candidates and they want to move as quickly as possible to get someone in the role (it’s something that’s very needed at the moment).

    If I do get an offer, how do I resign when we are all temporarily remote and sheltering in place? Do I do it via zoom, or a phone call? Thoughts?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      However you normally meet with your boss (*normal under the circumstances) is fine. Fingers crossed!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Either Zoom or phone are fine. I do suggest emphasizing you recognize it’s a bad time, too good of an opportunity to pass up, etc.

      Good luck!

  59. little e*

    My company president had a COVID-19 town hall meeting yesterday. He laid out the worst-case financial scenario and the plans to cut costs. For people costs, he laid out the options leadership has: lay people off, force furloughs, or reduce salaries. His motivation is to cut costs now to be prepared for the worst case, and so we can rebound when (if?) business gets back to normal.

    He sent out a survey to get people’s input and use that to decide what to do. The survey was two options: “I want no impact to salary so people should be laid off” and “I want everyone to keep their job so everyone’s salary should be reduced” (not in those exact words). And there is a free-response section for thoughts and suggestions.

    Pres said he is committing to everyone keeping health insurance through the end of second quarter no matter what, and he is also reducing his own salary by a significant %. He also said salary reductions would be scaled, not cut across the board. My manager thinks that I am a great worker and she wouldn’t be surprised if I was not asked to reduce pay. (I also believe that I am in the bottom 25% of salaries at this company.)

    I am submitting my survey with the “keep jobs” option selected and the offer to work reduced hours for corresponding reduced pay. I would just like to know what other people think about this, since I feel like this kind of transparency is kind of unheard of.

    (For additional context, We are a training company in the telecommunications industry with 50-70 employees. We have all been working from home since 3/13. Business has slowed but we are still getting new projects.)

    1. Another worker bee*

      I think I would prefer reduced hours for a corresponding pay cut. I think that would entitle you to some UI, and I’m thinking that those with kids at home, or caregiving for elderly parents, etc. might appreciate the time. That being said, salary reductions are going to hit those at the bottom of the payscale harder, so decisions should be really thoughtful around that.

      They should NOT ask you to take a pay cut and work the same number of hours – that seems like a really bad precedent.

      1. little e*

        Can you elaborate? I legitimately think he is asking what people would prefer to do so he can make an informed decision.

        1. valentine*

          He’s saying there will be cuts, but you have to make them. That way, if you don’t like it, well, you did it to yourself. Also, he’s hoodwinked you into thinking (1) he’s done you a favor by (a) telling you (b) giving you a choice! and (2) those are the only possible options, which is a strategy people here have said is good with some children. (It’s also an interrogation technique.) I mean, how likely are you to suggest a third option if you’re afraid he’ll be offended and remove the other two because you failed to perform the expected level of gratitude?

          What if the company accepts lower profits in favor of not reducing staff/hours/pay? How about only people who earn the top x% take pay cuts?

          There have been great tweets lately about why don’t businesses stop buying lattes, pull up their bootstraps, use their savings, or ask their parents for a loan.

          What would Norma Rae do?

          1. Small Business Owner*

            Wow. I respect your feelings on this, and I’m sure your framing is true for some owners. But not all business owners are raking in tons of profit. Sometimes the decisions being faced are not about taking less profit (as you suggest), it’s about how much of a LOSS you are going to have, how much you have in reserve to pull from, and how much hope you might have of rebounding revenue when/if this nightmare ends. While also being as humane as you can to your employees, even as their salaries start to way outstrip your revenue projections.

            For those companies where incoming revenue – and demand for their services – has come to a halt or trickle, these tough choices are real. I take Little E at their word that the employer is coming from a legit place of transparency and wanting to know people’s preferences. Not to pass the buck. To use it as another data point, recognizing that he (as owner) might not have the same perspective. If it was a toxic employer who has shown previously that he gives zero figs about his employees, then I’m with you, Valentine, it could be a BS, manipulative move. But if he’s given Little E every reason to trust in the past… I guess I’m trying to say that we’re not all monsters.

            If I end up facing that same decision point (and I’m doing all I can to avoid that), I think I would have a similar conversation with my small staff about the various crappy options that we are facing and if they have preferences or input. It does feel more transparent, even if the options suck.

          2. CM*

            There’s a movie called 2 Days 1 Night that’s similar — the company has to make cuts, so they let the workers decide whether they’d rather lose their bonuses or lay someone off, and they all make so little money that they can’t get by without the bonus. The point is that the main character needs to figure out that the company is actually the villain in the story for putting all of the onus on the employees.

            It’s super cowardly to send out a survey saying, “Guys, would you rather make less money or have me fire your coworkers? It’s up 2 u, I’m good with either one.”

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        +1 – my cynicism tells me they want to be able to say “we listened and did this because you asked us to” rather than showing some actual leadership and owning unpopular decisions.

    2. CatCat*

      Is there a way to provide additional feedback? Why not for layoffs, work on voluntary layoffs with severance. Some people may be okay with layoff with a severance package. Some people would rather that than have salary reduced since it frees up time to be job searching and they can apply for unemployment.

      Also, on the reduction in pay option, I’d want more of an option there as well: Like, yeah, okay but with corresponding reduction in time base. So if you’re at 80% pay, you work 80% time.

    3. Fikly*

      I mean, I guess yay transparancy, but why are individuals slammed if they don’t have funds to get through 6 months of an emergency, but it’s totally ok for companies to not have funds/make their employees pay for it?

      1. Avasarala*

        Yeah what if companies just didn’t make as much profits for a little while so that everyone could keep their jobs and salaries? What if the higher-ups just took a pay cut?

  60. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I hate working from home. I hate working from home. I hate working from home. *tantrum tantrum*

    I have no desk. I have no table. My back is gonna be donezo within the first day because I’m on my couch, with a desktop computer setup on a coffee table. Make peace with it, B. This I will do.

    That’s the extent of my complaining. I know many of us have it much worse than this sour situation. And honestly…it’ll be funny after awhile. My cat is currently ignoring me. Except to wonder why I’m even here, making coffee at this hour.

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Boo! You didn’t ask for suggestions, so feel free to ignore everything else I’m about to say, because I do have some thoughts. :)

      Could you sit on the floor, rather than the couch? Or on a low chair or stool? Or raise the computer somehow – could you get a lap desk, or a milk crate? Or raise the coffee table, maybe with a stack of books? Set it up on the kitchen counter? We’re going to be in this for the long haul, so anything you can do to make yourself more comfortable is going to be important. Keep your back happy!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        OMG thank you, I am absolutely stupid today and didn’t think of the milk crate! Or even sitting on the floor, I’m such a scrub. I only stay in my apartment for the bare basics, I’m a roamer by nature yet don’t like large gatherings and am extremely introverted, go figure.

    2. Nessun*

      100% agree – can I join the tantrum? I HATE working from home. My fancy sit/stand desk and my three monitors and all my peripherals…at the office. Here? A kitchen table and a matching chair (with a cushion, thank goodness?), and a laptop. My days blur into each other and I’m considering naming my favourite wall and then talking to it. Lack of roommate/spouse/child/pet/plant/whatever makes me sometimes feel like the last person on Earth. Except when there’s a conference call.

      I keep telling myself I’m better off than many (fully employed, not likely to be laid off, conscientious employer and coworkers) – yes, it’s all ok. BUT. I’m still slowly going crazy and I hate being here and how do I even say that to my boss when he asks if I’m fine when there’s nothing to really point at except I hate this.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        YES OMG the monitors…I realized first thing this morning why I need two monitors, lol. I’m using a standard sized computer at least, so it’s not as bad as some of the laptop screens.

        I am the same, no roomie, no spouse, no kids. Just me and the cat who is now running his morning laps, waiting for the tree squirrel to come play with him at the glass door. So at least I have him. He’s already climbing on me because being on the floor now is making him really “concerned”.

        At least we still have AAM, the internet and the social interactions have always been key for me but now that I have to rely on it, it’s giving me so many feels.

        It reminds me how much I relied on work for my routine, lol. I’ve always been a workaholic an I can’t do nearly as much as I can at work at home.

        But yes, at least we’re employed and at least we’re not on the front lines. I did my two week shopping last night. Sneeze guards at cash registers and still so many people in their space, I just cannot.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          If you have a relatively recent TV & an HDMI cable, you can rig up the TV as monitor #2. I bought an $8 HDMI cable for that and it’s hilarious to see my Excel spreadsheets on the big screen. :)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Nope! I use my computer as my TV sadly! I don’t ‘have a laptop, just a crappy old desktop that doubles as a tv lol. But I may grab another monitor from work when I have to dip in next week for some assorted things. I have a nightstand I can rig up to sit next to my current sent up!

            1. Nervous Nellie*

              Bummer! But a good thing that you can grab a monitor. Hopefully they can also spare some cables that work, too. Be careful out there!

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Oh, the monitors! I’ve been using my work laptop, which has a 13 inch monitor – it’s fine for meetings, but it’s TOO DAMN SMALL for all day use. Then today I finally remembered that I have my own laptop as well, which is 15″. And oh my goodness, those two inches make such a difference. I feel like I’m working on a movie screen! :D

    3. LeahS*

      Solidarity! I am so relieved to finally be working from home but I have the exact same setup and it leaves much to be desired!

    4. noahwynn*

      My back was killing me with a laptop on the couch, I cannot imagine trying to deal with a desktop on my coffee table.

      I ended up going to Home Depot and buying a 6 foot folding table. It also folds in half, so it should be easy to stash in a closet when this is over. Also took my desk chair from the office. Not the prettiest thing, but plenty of room to spread out and get work done and only cost me about $40.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Honestly, depending on how long this lasts, I really may go that direction. A card table and a folding chair will at least be “doable”. Then I’ll donate them when I don’t need them anymore. I used to have a card table before I moved into a small apartment but I have less than 400 sq ft so I’ve been a slug about getting anything set up that way! Thank you for the reminder about folding tables! I always forget the most basic stuff. Like how I’m like “oh wait, I can sit on the floor?! Duh.”

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Two thoughts, but they both involve spending money, which you may not want to spend:
          I needed a little extra space and flexibility after turning my dining table into a desk (I’ve been WFH for over 2 years) and then trying to squeeze 3 monitors and my docking station on to that table (and specifically needed it when I had to work on 2 different laptops because I needed to simultaneously work in 2 different versions of a software that could not live on the same computer), I bought a table from Ikea that is basically a 1 ftwide by 3ish feet tall and 3ish feet deep rectangle with drawers and then both sides of it have a leaf I can extend whenever I need it. This allows me to have a table space for projects/dining when I need it and put it away when I don’t.
          2nd purchase was for a portable monitor. It looks like a large tablet and just plugs into a computer with a usb cord and voila, 2nd monitor for my laptop. I got this so that I could be more productive on those days I needed to be at the office (which was 1 day each week for a few months during a specific project). Together, these 2 items helped me be more productive, and have greater flexibility regardless of where I was working on a particular day.

  61. Inskora*

    How can I tell my manager in professionalese that she needs to work on her listening skills? She half-listens to things, jumps to conclusions and confuses herself as a result. It’s maddening to deal with! I need her to listen to me and respond to what I’m actually saying, not what she thinks I’m saying. (My team-mates all agree with me, so it’s not just me communicating unclearly.)

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not sure if you can “tell” her exactly.
      But a suggestion is to follow up all of your conversations with an email and bullet points that reiterate what you talked about and what you will do. For example:

      Action items per our convo Tuesday:
      >Update TPS report and send to A, B, and C
      >Send revised project plan, with TOPIC A out to all team members on Project XYZ
      >Schedule meetings with A, B and C to go over the Conference in September

    2. Zona the Great*

      I come from a different camp than others when it comes to working with managers. I don’t have a never-talk-back-never-question-never-challenge mentality. I have also never had any negative consequences when I have had to correct my manager for lack of a better term. I have successfully told my current manager that I find her tone condescending and how it impacts me and our relationship, that her lack of organization is poorly reflected on and negatively impacting me, that I expect her to show up to meetings she calls with me on time, that I need her to stop assigning feelings to me because she’s always been wrong, etc. I’m direct and use the “please pass the salt” tone. I have many examples of doing this in the past as well.

      My current boss also did the not-listening thing to me when we first started working together. I began stopping her right away when it was clear she didn’t listen. “Oh that’s not what I said” or “while I appreciate that extra information, that is not the purpose of this meeting”. This took a while and I didn’t correct her explicitly but rather, allowed her to react to my re-directions naturally. I also followed up with emails constantly. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    3. Fikly*

      She’d have to listen to you about her lack of listening skills, which may be an obstacle too great.

    4. Chaordic One*

      When you’re dealing with people with bad listening skills, when you can, instead of talking to them, communicate in writing so you have a record of what you’ve told them. Then they can’t come back and say, “You never told me x, y and z.”

    5. EnfysNest*

      Based on the recommendations Alison usually gives for this type of issue, I would talk to her about it in terms of what you can do to help convey information in a way she will retain better. So your script would be something along the lines of “Hey Beatrice, I’ve noticed that a lot of times when we have verbal discussions about thing, some parts get missed or mixed up after the fact. Is there a better way to bring items like X and Y to you, like having those conversations through e-mail instead or printing out a summary/agenda before we talk?”

      That will both bring attention to the fact that there’s an issue, and you can give specific examples of problems this has caused in the past, but you’re putting it in terms of “What would be a more effective method?” instead of just “You’re terrible at listening. Pay more attention.”

  62. New Job Anxiety*

    Hello everyone, I’ve not really got much of a question really, just generally getting my thoughts out. I’ve been a silent reader over the years while I was still at university/working internships and part-time. I graduated last November, and managed to get a job offer the start of this year – a job I thought was a total stretch and that I was way under qualified for it, as it was nothing to do with my degree, but thanks to this site& everyones advice I managed to get it.

    I started working about 3 weeks ago now, and with this whole situation this meant I had only been working in the office for 1 week before my company had my team all start working from home. Coming to the end of my 2nd week working from home, I’m really struggling. Thankfully, I still have my desk set up from uni, so I’m not having to work from my bed, but it is in my bedroom as I share a flat with 3 other people. My 3 flatmates are all on paid leave just now as their works have shut, so they’re treating this like an extended holiday and haven’t listened to me when I asked them to keep it a little bit quieter while I’m working. I can never concentrate on any tasks for longer than 10 minutes before getting distracted, particularly because I haven’t had any clear instructions on what to do while I’m working. I’m frustrated as I feel like I won’t be able to show my full potential right now, and worried that my boss will be concerned with the lack of work I’m doing.

    I know with how everything’s going right now, I’m lucky to still have my job and feel ridiculous for complaining about things when things could be worse. I was just so excited for this job, and I know it’s more my heightening anxiety causing issues, but I feel like it’s not going to last much longer now.

    1. Another worker bee*

      Will noise-cancelling headphones help?

      TBH I’d be surprised if most of your coworkers weren’t in the same boat. I have a fully remote job, but now my husband is home with me, so even that has taken some adjustment. Others might have kids home from school with them. That’s probably part of the reason you aren’t getting great instructions. Also, the first few months at a new job take adjustment and you often feel underutilized – enjoy it now, because it will pass soon enough!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Regarding not knowing what to work on: Have you asked your manager if there is a plan for further training?

      Be ready with some suggestions, like setting up weekly or bi-weekly 1:1’s explicitly for training and having a list of specific modules/topics that you need training on.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Also, would it help if you consider this training for dealing with loud/obnoxious/distracting coworkers?

    3. ..Kat..*

      Can you negotiate with your flat mates for certain hours being quiet times? As opposed to “please be quieter?” Even if only four scheduled hours of quiet per day are able to be negotiated, that should help.

  63. mssparks*

    I’m currently interviewing for 4 positions and the time commitment is a lot higher than I’ve ever seen before. My favorite is requiring a 2.75 hour 4th round interview, another had 3 rounds plus a 2-hour skills test, and the other two will have at least 3 rounds. These are not high-level jobs- think 2-5 years out of college- and I’m not in academia or government where you might expect a lot of hoops. Am I off base thinking this is excessive?

    1. miho*

      Personally, yes, I think that’s excessive. But it really depends on the job itself – are these all technical positions or require specific expertise?

      1. mssparks*

        They’re fairly technical but not tech, if that makes sense. The kind where I need to crunch numbers and then translate. I know I’m lucky to have a job and be getting interviews, but the time commitment is way more than I’ve been through before and fitting it in while working from home with no daycare is a nightmare.

  64. PJ*

    So I just received my layoff notice (related to loss of business due to COVID-19 of course) and get this: they sent an FAQ about what’s happening and why blah blah blah….

    And it included this gem:
    But, can I work to help the company if I want to, even if I’m laid off or on reduced work weeks?

    To be clear, this company was in trouble before the virus due to extremely poor leadership decisions, but is one of those companies that thinks it has the best leadership and culture anywhere. So this is EXTREMELY amusing.

    1. Maddy*

      ha ha that’s soooo bad. Hi, we laid you off but you are welcome to work for free. Kthxbyyyyyeeeeee *eyeroll*

        1. Maddy*

          Not to mention I don’t think you can ask people to work for free unless you are a registered charity and people are volunteering.

          1. valentine*

            “Hey, Buddy from HR. Someone must’ve hacked this email because, obviously, we wouldn’t do something illegal.”

          2. Liane*

            Pretty sure that Alison has mentioned that similar things (requiring an applicant to work shift/s for free, for example) are illegal in the US, so I don’t think this would go over very well. Especially not with your state’s Dept. of Labor or your company’s Legal Department when said DoL contacts them…

    2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      That’s some amazing chutzpah, all right.

      It’d be one thing if you were a nonprofit of some kind — in that atmosphere, I could absolutely see a FAQ about serving the mission. But for a business? LMAO.

  65. Greenacres*

    Hello all – hope you are doing well! I am currently looking for a job and have had a few interviews. A lot went silent with the pandemic, but I’ve still had some calls.

    I had a great experience with a company and everyone I spoke with seem really excited and said great things about my experience. However, I got a call from the recruiter this week saying while they’re very excited about me, they want to bring me on at a lower job title than what I applied for with the idea of eventually move up to the role I applied for. I was kind of caught off guard by the call and didn’t ask a lot of questions.

    However, I’m currently at that level at my current job and keep getting interviews at that level. I’m not sure how to interpret it. Also, while I’m still getting calls, I’m worried about the economy and job searching. Does anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      There could be a lot of things going on. The one thing that matters is, would you consider it?

      You could ask them and see what they say. I don’t think it’s a reflection on your qualifications.

      Some possible reasons I can think of:
      -The company is trying to low-ball you
      -The company assessed their needs and decided they don’t need (or can’t afford) someone at the higher level right now and would add you to the pool for when they re-post at a lower level
      -The company is bigger/more complex than yours, so they like you enough to consider you for a job, but not at the higher level (i.e. CFO at a 50 person business is much different from a CFO position at a 1,000 person business).

      Again, what matters is if you would consider a lower position, though it would be worth investigating and asking them their rationale.

  66. yala*

    So, working from home is going as alright as it can with a head cold and my apartment a wreck. I prepped a bunch of work to do remotely, so I’ve got that, and our supervisors have let us know about various online training opportunities, which is great.

    But. Yesterday my supervisor assigned me (just me? I don’t know) some courses on our online training program that…don’t seem appropriate?
    Like, if they were suggestions she made to the team or something, sure. But as actual assignments, I just…yeah, I don’t know.

    The weirdest one to me is “Aging Well.” It’s a mindfulness and meditation thing taught by some Buddhist-ish “guru.”
    There’s also an Anger Management one (again, with mindfulness and meditation), as well as a “Learning to Accept and Let Go” one (again, same thing).

    Of all of those, the only one that even seems slightly relevant is the Anger Management one (I’ve had some friction in the past, though less related to anger than frustration and communication issues), and even that is like…look, I talk about emotional processing with my therapist in a specifically tailored setting. A one-size-fits-all video/power point is at best likely to be unhelpful.

    The other two just make me nervous. I’ve tried one-size-fits-all training/apps/etc for mindfulness and meditation at my therapist’s advice early on, and what we found is actually they tend to do more harm than good. (Hey, trying to apply generic “mindfulness” advice can be pretty bad for someone with chronic anxiety, who knew.) Aging is honestly something I don’t tend to think about much, so a lecture on being Mindful of that, or of Accepting And Letting Go, seems much more likely to send me into an anxiety spiral, and also, not even remotely related to my work in any way whatsoever.

    Again, if these had just been suggestions (as all the ACTUAL work-related training was), that would be fine. But as ASSIGNMENTS, it just seems weird, and considering my boss and I haven’t been on good terms in quite some time, I don’t know how much room I have to push back on this.

    I mean, I’m probably borrowing trouble, but for all I know I’m not, because I never really know what’s going to upset her or not.

    1. Silver Radicand*

      It sounds like you should ask your supervisor about them. The answer may be something like, “given the previous friction, I’d like you to complete these.”, which while not great management, would at least let you know the reasoning. Regardless, given that they are assignments, knowing what your supervisor’s end goals are will hopefully help you to approach them the right way.

      1. yala*

        I guess. I’m hoping they can at least wait until the end of a quarantine. I can’t afford to go into an anxiety spiral right now.

    2. ..Kat..*

      If you have enough real work to do now, I suggest telling boss that you will work on those things first.

      If you have time to fill, can you just play the online training with the sound off and go do something else? I say this assuming that your boss can monitor whether you have taken this training. But don’t actually watch it if it would make things worse for you.

      Can you suggest alternate online training that would benefit you?

  67. Government Resume Advice*

    I posted asking for general USAJobs tips a few weeks ago, but now that I’m in the weeds of writing my resume (using the USAJob Resume builder) I have a few more specific questions pertaining to government applications. I’ve never even written a resume before in the past (I come from the land of CVs) so this is all new to me!

    1. I’ve heard that you need to make sure you’re explicitly addressing each of the demonstrated competencies required (e.g., “Learn and utilize complex technical information (e.g., troubleshoot, diagnose, analyze, and identify system malfunctions to determine the source and cause of the problem”). If that describes a job that I held, would I just copy and paste the competency word for word? Or update the language to demonstrate my achievements in this area, as you might do for a traditional resume? Or both?

    2. How much tangentially-related jobs and volunteer positions should I add in? For instance, physical competencies are required for the position I’m applying for, and I have a few extracurriculars that make it pretty clear that I’m generally in shape as well as demonstrate teamwork. Should I include them?

    3. Is it ever helpful to include high school information? Communication with diverse backgrounds is a key skill for the position I’m applying to, and I attended an international high school through a competitive program with students from 80+ countries working and living together. Not sure if this should be included or not?

    Finally, any other tips and tricks for applying would be welcome! The position uses an automated first scan system and is likely to have many thousands of people applying for it, so I’m nervous about making it through the first hoop coming from a non-traditional background.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Copy the language exactly, then explain how you meet the requirement. Using the language you provided above, you could say something like:

      I have demonstrate the ability to learn and utilize complex technical information (e.g., troubleshoot, diagnose, analyze, and identify system malfunctions to determine the source and cause of the problem) through my experience at… where I …. (example)

      As you have already said there is an automated first scan, you want to be sure to include all the words that might be part of the search set.

      RE: 2 and 3, if you need to use these examples to demonstrate your capabilities do so, but experience from the working world would probably be preferred. But you have to address all the job requirements. If you miss one you won’t move to the next step.

      Good luck!

    2. LabTechNoMore*

      Not much advice for your specific questions, but general advice is to keep in mind Federal Government Resumes are a very different beast than what we normally think of as a resume. Essentially, all of Alison’s resume advice goes out the window for federal job resumes. Multiple pages, excruciatingly detailed, including ridiculously specific tasks if mentioned in the job posting.

  68. Entry-level Marcus*

    I had to work an 10 hour day on Monday and 11 hours on Tuesday. Worse, it was very tedious work that nonetheless required intense focus (so no listening to podcasts, etc). It’s Friday and I still feel exhausted despite working normal hours on Wednesday and Thursday, even though I will “only” work 45 hours this week.

    I don’t understand how people can work 50-60 hour weeks regularly and stay sane, when 45 hours wipes me out.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Tedious work that requires intense focus wipes everybody out. It’s the worst combo there is. Tedium that allows you to listen to music or kid around with coworkers: you can handle that. Intense focus doing something truly absorbing and creative? You won’t even feel the hours go by. No advice, just to say: you are normal.

  69. Lady Jay*

    I know I’m not the only grad student who frequents AAM, so . . . grad student check-in! How are you doing during the covid-19 related shutdown? What challenges are you facing? What’s worked out okay for you recently? Can the other grad students / academics on this thread encourage you in any way?

    1. Lady Jay*

      I’ll go first. I’m supposed to be finalizing a reading list for my comprehensive exams in September, but I’m finding that challenging because 1) library closures means that I cannot even access a lot of books, and 2) covid-19 is likely to change what is possible / desirable for me to research for my dissertation. A lot of my work is basically on hold or infeasible for the foreseeable future. I’ve thought about starting a book swap via email / Google Docs, to make it easier for people to locate and share unofficial copies of the texts we all need to get through our exams, but I’m not convinced yet this is the best solution.

      1. Almost Academic*

        My (now virtual) Master’s defense is in a week and a half. So preparing for that has been a good focus that I can bury myself in, but I’m also trying to be gentle with myself because it’s hard to focus!

        My PI has decided (like many others) that now is the time to do ALL of the paper writing, so I’ve generally been pretty swamped. I’m lucky that we can WFH easily and I don’t have to worry about my funding being cut, but it’s still stressful to have to deal with all of the changes and have the pressure to be even more productive before. On the plus side, I’ve had about 12 hours of meetings and consultations cut out of my schedule (and I’m not rescheduling them for work!) so that has provided a bit of breathing room.

        I think just the reminder that others are also being gentle with themselves and not at their most productive has been helpful to hear from other grad students. So thank you to everyone, grad students and PIs, that have been making this point.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      Our classes went entirely online, and then it was announced that letter grades would be replaced by either credit, incomplete, or no-credit for the term. I’m peeved because I’ve gotten either A- or A on all of my work for the term, and to have that replaced by “credit” is galling. Meanwhile, all I have left to do is my final paper, which I’m struggling with. I’ll also be teaching full time from home starting next week. And I have to take a spring term class, which at this point will probably be online. So the stress has ramped up quite a lot.

    3. I❤️Spreadsheets*

      I’m struggling at the moment, some of that is the situation and some of it is being home with hubby – he just isn’t getting that I am still working and he can’t interrupt me whenever he wants.

      My supervisor has set me some work plus I have assignments for a module so plenty of work to do and I raided the library before they closed so I have plenty of books.

      I have my 6 month meeting on Monday using zoom so that will be interesting!

    4. KoiFeeder*

      I just started grad school, so I didn’t have too much adjustment to do. I probably need to sign up for next semester’s classes soon, but I’ll get there when I get there. My classes transitioned, if not smoothly, to online learning, and it’s just going as it goes.

      Honestly, I finally feel like my internal state matches the external environment. I’ve never felt so… I don’t know, calm? Validated? There’s an emotion here but I’m not clear on the identification. So that’s probably made my life easier.

    5. Tessera Member 042*

      I’m struggling a bit, to be honest. I am now scheduled to defend my dissertation remotely the first week of May, and while I’m glad at least the uncertainty of should-I-book-a-flight-or-not? is over, it’s still not how I wanted this experience to go. Like, my advisors would totally celebrate me with drinks afterwards, and now if I pass, there’s just…whatever celebration I can do at home? And no graduation ceremony unless I want to walk in December, which I’m figuring out if I can do that to try and pair it with a Christmas visit to my parents (if we can even travel by then).

      I’m also getting slightly mixed messages, with official school emails all advocating for kindness and understanding that things are confusing and you can’t treat learning as business as usual, and at the same time my (usually lovely!) dissertation chair emphasizing how much work I have to do in revisions before the defense date. And of course my focus is shot, as are most people’s, I imagine.

      The silver lining is that I was already teaching classes online as an adjunct, so I am still getting paid and my students only had adjustments to make for their own job transitions to WFH and childcare. I am also trying to be as flexible and transparent with my students as possible in terms of extending deadlines for any request and keeping a running list of resources related to the pandemic in a separate discussion thread so people can opt in or out as they need.

      I just hope at least one of the jobs I applied to will keep going through its hiring process!

    6. Mimmy*

      My Masters program has always been online, so no changes in that regard. However, I’m struggling a bit to focus because of everything going on and not working. I keep having to stop myself from reading FB and news updates. That on top of already struggling with one of my classes because the instructor is rather verbose and her assignments are really confusing.


  70. Washi*

    This has been percolating in my brain: I have worked with older adults in the past and am in grad school with the intention of returning to the geriatric-related field. I love and feel at home with working with the elderly professionally. However, sometimes when I mention that I don’t have a particularly close relationship with my two surviving grandparents or with my husband’s grandma, people are like “but you love working with old people!! Why don’t you want to hang out with your grandparents all the time??? etc”

    The experiences feel so different to me – working with someone in a professional capacity with boundaries vs. visiting socially with people who, in my own grandparents’ case, also have a strained relationship with my parents. But then, the people I know who work with kids also seem to love being around kids socially as well. So that makes me wonder if not particularly enjoying hanging out with some of my own elderly relatives means something about my fitness for working with older people? Anyone in the field have any thoughts on this?

    1. Almost Academic*

      I’m not in the geriatric field, but I do work in mental health. I think you’re right on target with the difference between working with someone with boundaries versus not. For instance, I don’t enjoy being around kids in my daily life, don’t want to have any myself. But I LOVE working with my kid and teenage patients. Personal family is such a different dynamic, I really don’t think that not enjoying being with your relatives says anything about your general fitness for working with older people.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I think it depends on *why* you don’t like to spend time with your grandparents. Is it issues that are strictly theirs, or issues that are inherent to older people? Like the boundary issue – in my experience, a lot of elderly people have problems with boundaries.

    3. Fikly*

      Enjoying a group of people does not mean you have to like/enjoy all of them! People are individuals! And there is a huge difference between family members, everyone else in your social life, and people you work with or serve.

  71. Environmental Compliance*

    Today’s my last day! Our Safety person is….not understanding the social distancing thing. Like, at all. No, you should not be having safety training in one conference room with that many people. Seriously, dude?

    Hubs did get laid off at his current position. So that sucks. Sucks even more that they legitimately shut *everyone* down – even his engineering team can’t just work on documents from home and get caught up. They are shutting the servers down & all remote access as well. Unpaid 2 week forced leave.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Hooray, freedom!

      And, ugh, sorry about your spouse’s job :/

      Is everyone laid off or furloughed (i.e. we’ll bring you back when we can open)?

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Well, everyone is furloughed. But now him and a few others are fully laid off.

        Crappy timing to go along with everything else. The buyer of our house is now having trouble with their loan because of COVID19.

  72. MissBookworm*

    Found out earlier this week that my amazing, beloved by all at our company, manager gave her notice last week. I am happy for her—this is an a perfect opportunity for her and a necessary step. She’s been given the short end of the stick time after time by upper management.

    She’s been absolute dream to work for. The best manager a person—especially someone like me who joined the company straight from college—could ask for. She knows what’s she talking about when she’s training you, she’s the manager you can go to for advice and to talk things through with. She will fight for you, whether it’s fighting our department head for more help, for promotions, or for an increase in pay for us, and defend you (when it’s necessary and appropriate).

    Our department head doesn’t have a clear plan going forward. One thing is absolutely certain though—he’s not hiring anyone to replace her. But he will be hiring two new staff members for our department, one of whom will be under me along with two other employees already in our department.

    I am 100% terrified. She’s the only manager I’ve ever had. I have never worked directly for our department head (he has been mostly hands off on the day-to-day matters, but in a “I don’t need to know every step you take, but just keep me informed so I’m not surprised by anything” kind of way). I am a supervisor now, but am in no way to ready to be a manager—I barely know how to be a supervisor! I’ve only really been supervising one person (i.e. training them) until very recently, as the other person has been working more closely with my manager. I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, especially when there’s still so much about this industry for me to learn and now I’m responsible for training multiple new people and supervising them. I don’t even know what it means to be a supervisor; it was really just a title change because I’ve been here nearly 8 years and they were going to start training me for higher level tasks, but that hadn’t happened yet.

    What does it mean to be a supervisor? What do you want in a supervisor?

    Any advice?

    1. Silver Radicand*

      Well, you’ve started at the right place of knowing that you don’t know everything.
      Also, most of those things you listed simply take time to learn how to do well. And you don’t have to have that experience already to try and practice.
      Since your manager is more hands-off, during this early period especially, I would be pro-active in submitting information and requesting advice, possibly make a regular report of anything unusual and your planned (or followed) course of action to handle it. It’s no guarantee that your boss will be more helpful because of this, but it will help clarify your thoughts, give your boss an easy opportunity to provide feedback (which you want!) and give you a good alibi if for some reason they disagree with how you handled it afterwards.
      After that, try to identify who in your circle are the experts and lean on them to educate you so you can best lead them. While being a subject matter expert is a plus to managing people, it’s not by any means a requirement. You just need to know enough to generally understand how possible or difficult various tasks would be.
      As far as the industry knowledge, next time you get to sit down with your boss, ask them some questions! While a more involved mentor-boss would be ideal, you can succeed with what you list above. Just be willing to be pro-active on getting that advice as things come up and make it easy for your boss to give that advice. Then give him your (well-thought out) opinion when decision times come.
      Welcome to management!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Look at your current manager. What did she do well and examine *WHY* did it work well for you and her? Don’t just copy her, examine what made [FILL IN THE BLANK] work well and adapt it to your own management style and your employees.

      Have a conversation with your grandboss to lay out goals: your individual goals (as an individual contributor), your manager goals (you’re managerial goals), and the team’s goals. Also talk with your employees about their needs/goals. What has worked well for them in the past? What hasn’t worked well for them? Ask for specific examples!

      Setup regular check-ins with your employees, to discuss big picture and details.

      And, yes, recognize you don’t know everything, you have a lot to learn, and that’s okay! Learning is inherently uncomfortable, so if you’re feeling uncomfortable (not in a squicky way), then that’s a good thing.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The scariest managers never question what they themselves are doing. You have a good running start here, you are able to say that you don’t know what it is that you don’t know. This is foundational to becoming a good boss.

      Keep reading AAM. Think of your good boss often and how she handled things.

      To me being a supervisor means bringing the company and the employee together. I kept in mind that to them, I *am* the company (but to the company I was expendable and so were they!). I felt it was up to me to keep people informed of company expectations and keep them informed of expectations regarding the task at hand. I was there to help them keep their jobs. Running at the same time I had to stay current on department/company goals and make sure we were hitting those goals. I considered my job a service job. I served people under me and I served people above me. This thinking worked well for me. It was also a very helpful attitude when I had to deliver bad news to anyone, anywhere. I learned to say what needed to be said and say it in a “hear-able” manner.

      What I want in a supervisor is the same thing that I strove to do as a supervisor.
      -inform people of company expectations
      -inform people of expectations for each task
      -give corrective feedback, quietly and as soon as a problem is noticed
      -people who ask questions are showing trust, the supervisor should be respectful of that trust and answer questions accurately and in a timely manner
      -make sure people have what they need to do their jobs. Ex. if a chair is broken get them a new one or at least a sturdy chair asap.
      -point out good ideas and things that are well done. Be sure to state, “please keep doing X that way going forward”. People don’t know that unless you say it directly.
      -seek their inputs and thoughts on matters, they can save your butt if you let them.
      -advocate for your people when necessary
      -don’t talk about subordinates with their cohorts, definitely don’t talk about problems other subordinates are having
      -Let them go when they need to go. This means let them leave early when there is a storm/ life event and it also means let them leave the company for another job with your full support. Let them go with your blessing. Be a class act.