open thread – March 6-7, 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.

{ 1,793 comments… read them below }

  1. Anongineer*

    (Hopefully) last update!

    TL;DR background: Security guard at my company was following me to my car and saying creepy things about my appearance. Met with HR and she met with the building management to handle the situation last Friday.

    Last friday night, I was late leaving work and didn’t see anyone I could ask to walk out with me. As I was leaving the building, I saw the security car parked in our main parking aisle but couldn’t see who it was. Again, in a rush so I just hoped for the best and hurried to my car. *Mistake* He saw me and drove up to me again, where I slightly panicked as I didn’t know if they had talked to him or not so wasn’t sure if he was coming to confront me. They must not have, as he called me pretty redhead, and talked about how I had moved where I parked and how excited I must be for the weekend. I just said I was in a hurry and booked it to my car. Where I had a mini meltdown, because I hadn’t seen him in a week and didn’t realize how tense I was/how much it was stressing me out always scanning the parking lot looking for him, and the one night that I slightly let down my guard was the night he was there and followed me. 

    Reported that to HR, she said she’d address it with building management and make sure to follow up with me but to make sure that if I saw security to come grab her to walk me to my car. Then, yesterday got the – again, hopefully last! – update that they’d moved him to a different location and added this to his file. Which made me so so happy that I took a break just to let it sink in that I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore. And then I sat in a conference room blasting the new Dixie Chicks song, “Gaslighter”, which made me feel more validated after some of the comments I got (in real life) about this situation. Like, yes it wasn’t a person stalking me planning to murder me but it was still weekly harassment.

    A huge thank you all for commenting and confirming that this wasn’t ok! It was a lot of stress to deal with coming in to work and not knowing if I’d have to deal with the security guard that night. Can’t wait to get back to regularly scheduled work problems!

    OG comment: https://www.askamanager.org/2020/02/open-thread-february-21-22-2020.html#comment-2866486First update: https://www.askamanager.org/2020/02/open-thread-february-28-29-2020.html#comment-2875796

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Whew. Glad they seem to have seriously done something. You are right for feeling the way you do about this; it was not OK.

      1. Fikly*

        Making him someone else’s problem is not exactly what I’d call doing something. They’re just hoping no one reports him at new location.

        1. Goofy*

          Seriously. Let’s hope there are no redheads employed there. Hopefully this guy is on his last chance and will be fired *when* he does it again.

        2. designbot*

          I was worried about that too. I’m truly glad for Anongineer that she won’t be harassed anymore. At the same time I’m disappointed that the solution is to have him harass other people who don’t know he has a history of this and will start the whole process of “I’m uncomfortable but don’t know that it’s bad *enough* to take action” all over again. Sure they’re putting it in his file, but whatever woman he latches onto next is unlikely to have seen that. I feel like the job of security guard is particularly unsuitable for someone with this tendency and he should find a different type of work.

          1. RVA Cat*

            This. We saw how terribly moving the creeps around worked out for the Catholic Church….

        3. RabbitRabbit*

          As she noted, it’s a separate company that handles it. So it’s not like her own company can do much of anything.

          1. Mary Connell*

            They could refuse to work with the company. It’s important for a security company to take security concerns seriously.

    2. Kw10*

      Glad to hear you won’t have to deal with this again! Though it would have been nice if they actually, you know, disciplined him for sexual harassment instead of just punting the problem to the unfortunate people at the new location…

      1. Anongineer*

        I don’t know if he was disciplined or not, I just know that the security company moved him to a new location. Not ideal, but I’m hoping that he was and will change his behavior.

    3. Panthera uncia*

      I am very pleased for you, and also squealing to learn that there is new Dixie Chicks music ?!?!?

      1. Anongineer*

        There is! It’s such a good song! I had a couple of other crap interactions with males this past weekend and just blasted the Gaslighter plus their older songs to get me out of the red zone.

    4. Blueberry*

      We often think “it could have been worse” but it never should have been as bad to begin with. I’m really glad you said something and very relieved for you.

    5. MonteCristo*

      I’m really glad you don’t have to deal with this guy anymore.

      However, I’m really disappointed with your company that just moved him to another location. What if the women there doesn’t have your strength to get this reported? I feel like he just learned he wasn’t allowed to harass you, not that the entire behavior was wrong.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        This! He was horribly inappropriate and his comments were unnerving. Move the problem while hoping for the best? Ugh.

      2. Anongineer*

        So, my company rents space in a building from a management company. They’re the ones who hired the security firm after some robbery incidents in our parking lot. There were a lot of layers, but ultimately it was the security firm that moved him. I’m hoping they also disciplined him and made him see the light, but I honestly don’t know for sure.

        1. Bubbles*

          To be honest – I don’t mind that they didn’t terminate him. This guy knows where you work, where you park, what your typical schedule is. If he connects his termination to you, he may step up his actions toward you. Moving him to a different location to gain distance is a good first step. I’m sure they will talk to him further but give them the benefit of the doubt that they are thinking of your overall safety.

          1. Liane*

            I DO MIND this creep wasn’t fired and also reported to law enforcement. Officer Scumbag still knows where she works and when she is there. Please Anongineer, insist on having someone walk you out, even though he doesn’t work there any more.

      3. Katniss Evergreen*

        Yes to this. I’m happy for you OP and so glad you won’t have to see this person again. I wish the company employing this guy had done a more thorough job though and just fired his ass.

        If you ever do see this person again, he’s made a big leap to purposeful stalking, and you should for sure call the cops. Keep documentation of your conversations with HR about this. Good luck and be safe.

      4. Venus*

        Having read AAM for long enough, we should hopefully know that companies can’t comment on their disciplinary measures for employees. It is very possible that he was not only moved (for the OP’s benefit) but also disciplined, or given a severe warning about being fired. It is also possible that he wasn’t told anything. But we can’t know, and the lack of info should not be viewed as a problem, rather as how businesses should be expected to act for privacy reasons.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m glad that they moved him but I’m enraged that this happened again after your first report. He shouldn’t have had the opportunity to do that to you again, we were all clapping for the security/building but turns out he was probably just on a different shift or vacation so they hadn’t gotten around to actually fixing the issue at all. YUCK.

      I wonder how many other women he makes uncomfortable with his inability to conduct himself in a professional way? You are not alone. You are not his only victim. They’re fools to keep this kind of person on staff. It’s pretty basic stuff to not act this way on the job, when you’re in a position of power like security is.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      Did they actually TALK to him, or just move him?? I can’t believe they didn’t follow up right after you met with them before!!!

    8. Anon bc work*

      What is it with creepy security guards? I’ve been hit on by security guards frequently enought that seeing one makes me feel even more insecure than if there wasn’t one to begin with.

    9. Potato*

      I’m so sorry that happened to you. Especially with security who’s supposed to make you feel more safe not less safe. I’m glad he’s out of your hair, and hopefully his company has disciplined him so he won’t try this again at his new job. I hope you’re feeling safer and less stressed going into and leaving work!

    10. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      I’m glad they addressed the issue and moved the creep. That must have been so scary and stressful for you. I hope you are able to feel better leaving work at night now!

    11. anonbenon*

      All I can say is they better keep a good eye on him because I’m certain you’re not the only one he does this to. He sounds like a repeat offender and predator and I’ve watched enough true crime shows to know that security guards make up a not small amount of people who have been found guilty of assaulting others. They’d be better to let him go altogether and tell him he can’t come back to the premises. Please continue to watch yourself as you walk out to your car and carry pepper spray or something with you. I’d say try and let someone know when you’re leaving and when you expect to be home and message them when you get there. I don’t play around with these kinds of things and I wouldn’t take any chances. But at least your work responded and hopefully this will be the last time he bothers you, but unfortunately I’m sure he’s out there bothering others. Yikes.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      Coming from someone who was in a similar situation as a teenager (started around 16) I am so happy for you. My situation I wasn’t working but studying at the library and a local guy would follow me around the library and a few times on the way home. He did this with some other girls as well (he was mentally ill) and was told by the librarians to leave us alone. Finally, my mom talked to his mom and it ended. Glad that HR pulled through for you. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t threatening violence, he was going overboard and made you uncomfortable enough that you had a meltdown!

    13. Ms. Green Jeans*

      It’s not ok. I had a similar issue for years going on with a state trooper who was assigned to our building. He often met me at my car and made comments as I arrived, then would pressure me to shake his hand as I saw him throughout the day.

      I submitted an anonymous timeline complaint to HR, and they worked with the state entity to remove him from assignment at our building.

      Now, we have no security presence in the garage or our building, and it’s been about 6 months. I did not expect that unfortunate outcome, and had only asked that he receive training.

    14. Paquita*

      I am glad they move him to another location. So happy that we have good security in my building. I actually spent about 20 minutes talking to our guard on my way out today. (I only see him on Fridays, he works weekends.) During normal business hours they sit at the front desk, monitor the cameras, check in visitors and delivery people. After hours and all weekend there are two of them and they answer the phones and make regular rounds of the building and parking lots. They carry some kind of gadget that must be swiped (or something) at designated points to verify they have correctly covered the entire property.

    15. nep*

      Really happy for you, that you won’t have this weighing on you anymore. Absolutely unacceptable that you or anyone should be subject to this. Thanks for the update.

    16. Bex*

      I don’t want to be a negative Nancy, but I wanted to highlight this: “ Like, yes it wasn’t a person stalking me planning to murder me but it was still weekly harassment.”

      Unfortunately, and scarily, you actually don’t know what he was planning to do. We’ve all seen plenty of reports and news stories about a man who started off “just talking”, and when he decided his interests weren’t being returned, the next step was to assault the woman – sometimes leading to death.

      Please don’t minimize the danger that individuals who engage in his behavior (following someone, repeatedly engaging them tho they don’t want to be, etc) represent. I hate saying it, because it feels like I’m saying “you must always be on guard!” But… well, hell. We must always be on guard.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        Unfortunately, like a lot of women, it’s very possible the OP was probably trained to minimize their discomfort with harassment because it is not considered “real danger”. In my case, I’ve been laughed at by many guys for complaining about harassment because it is a “first world problem” and I should “be grateful that I don’t live in the Middle East or something”.

        Violaton of boundaries is violation of boundaries. And you really don’t know how many boundaries a guy is willing to violate before it’s too late.

  2. Peaches*

    I work in a customer service-related role at a company that sells several different hand sanitizers, hand sanitizer stands, N95 masks, disinfectant sprays, disinfectant wipes, etc. We. Are. Out. Of. Everything.

    Our company has 32 branches nationwide, and one corporate office where all of our chemicals are manufactured. Even our corporate office has been wiped of EVERYTHING. They are currently manufacturing more sanitizer, disinfectants, etc., but are limiting how much of everything that they are sending to each branch due to the high demand.

    It’s literal craziness, and as you can imagine, it has been the week from h-e-double hockey sticks for me. I’d like to change my phone greeting from “Good morning, Company Name, this is Peaches, how may I help you?” to “Hello, no, we do not have any more sanitizer. No, we do not have any more disinfectants. No, we do not have any more disinfectant wipes, no we do not have any more hand sanitizer stands. No, we do not have any more N95 masks. And, above all, NO, we CANNOT give you a firm ETA on when we will get more. Now, is there anything else I can help you with today?”

    Coronavirus has made my job a living nightmare, ya’ll!

    1. IT Guy*

      I feel ya. We just got our deliveries from Staples. I initially balked at it being back ordered for 10 days, but I wasn’t going to pick up the phone and complain about it. We did just get our delivery.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      Ugh. I bet.

      Being in Seattle, ergo at the epicenter of this is scaring me.

      Fortunately I am already massively germaphobic so I have a survivalist’s amount of that kind of stuff already…”just in case.”

      Everyone thought I was nuts…for years. Well, “just in case” is here. ‍♀️

      1. Mimi Me*

        My husband and I were very poor growing up so we have this attitude about food that’s similar to squirrels: stock up! Every time there’s a sale we buy one or two extra of whatever it is, because the money is here today and might not be there tomorrow, you know? Anyway, we invested in a chest freezer a few years back and make a point to keep it and our pantry stocked. Our friends always chuckle at how we’re never out of food and joke about how we’re all set for end of days. Last night a friend mentioned that they’re recommending stocking up on about 2-3 weeks of staples in case you’re exposed and have to self-isolate. I have that…no worries! For a family of 4 no less. :) VINDICATION!

        1. Penny Parker*

          I live in the rural midwest. The past few winters haven’t been that bad but I’ve spent decades knowing to stock up in case we get a blizzard and get trapped. Or, a flood. A town nearby got trapped by a flood back in 2008 and it was a real mess to get any supplies to those folks there. My pantry bulges, and yes I have a six foot chest freezer which is mostly full.

          1. Lisa*

            This is so vindicating. I live in a large city within a few miles of multiple supermarkets and we see very little heavy snow, which is just about the only thing that can bring my neighborhood down. We don’t lose water. My neighborhood doesn’t flood or lose power.

            But as a kid I have lived in very remote communities, including a limited-acesss island. And my mother is originally from a community that is know for being extremely good at stocking up and general preparations. And we’ve been through a few phases of poverty.

            Since I’ve become an empty nester and divorced it has been so hard for me to break these habits. I still want to shop so that I can feed four or more people on a budget. So I still have a huge pantry and a deep freezer. I did cancel my Costco memebership and give away my spare fridge. But I could eat for months if I weren’t too picky. Vindication for sure!!

        2. Dream Jobbed*

          I’m usually pretty well stocked up on people food. But I am getting a month of pet food together. Not so easy when you have 5 large dogs and 5 cats, and not much non-basement storage. It’s tough for me to haul 28 lb bags up and down those narrow stairs – so my front coat closet has become pet food storage central.

          Been meaning to do this anyway since I just bought a house in the PNW, and have to prep for earthquakes and tsunamis.

        3. Ace in the Hole*

          I understand stocking up for emergencies like storms, earthquakes, etc. But I don’t understand what the goal is in stockpiling for coronavirus. If my household had to self-isolate, we’d just ask friends/family/neighbors to drop supplies on the porch and transfer the money electronically.

          1. Mily*

            The point is just to reduce contact points where you could contract or spread the disease. So if it gets bad in your city you won’t have to go to the grocery store and get breathed on/touched by a bunch of randos because you have twenty cans of beans you can eat. I do think it’s bizarre that people are stockpiling water because it’s not like anyone expects the water supply to be contaminated? Or water to stop running?

          2. Bubbles McPherson*

            If everyone is required to isolate, who’s going to drop things off or deliver orders? If store shelves are bare due to supply chain disruptions or if stores are closed because workers are being ordered home, where are your supplies coming from?

            1. Avasarala*

              This. What if you have to stay in your house and not go outside? What if people in crucial positions stop coming in to work or are short staffed due to the pandemic? What if there aren’t enough Amazon drivers to deliver your things to you?

          3. Gatomon*

            I don’t have anyone to come deliver things to me who isn’t high risk or otherwise just awkward (my boss? we don’t have that kind of relationship) and I live alone, so I definitely stocked up this week. Plus if I am ill the last thing I really want to do is try to dictate a grocery list to someone else. The panic-buying hasn’t hit my area yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time until we get a local diagnosis. And there’s yet another cold circulating in the office.

            Even when I feel a regular cold coming on, I usually hit the grocery store to stock up so I can just hole up in bed for a few days.

    3. ThatGirl*

      The last company I worked for is a wholesaler for a huge variety of workplace supplies which of course included Jan/San, and I suspect they are facing similar problems. You have my sympathy.

    4. many bells down*

      We’ve got loads of those hand sanitizer wall dispensers (and refills), and I joked yesterday that we’re gonna see people who come in filling up hip flasks from them.

      1. Peaches*

        Honestly, that’s a sight that wouldn’t be out of the question with the way this thing is being talked about/spread!

      2. Mme Pince*

        One of the library groups I follow had reports of patrons coming in and filling their own jars and bottles from the communal ones or just walking off with the whole bottle!

        1. FirstDayBackHurts*

          I work on a college campus and the stand-up and wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations have started disappearing, sometimes leaving gaping holes in the drywall.

        2. Librarian1*

          I’m in a library group where someone said that the 67 oz. bottle of hand sanitizer was stolen of their reference desk!

        3. tink*

          We keep the hand sanitizer behind the desk and dispense it ourselves for basically this reason.

      3. JustaTech*

        Someone at my SO’s office came in with a duffel bag and helped themselves to a whole closet of stuff. HR saw them and asked security to have a word about how the work cleaning supplies are not for taking home. And that was *before* the stores were running low.

      4. Wired Wolf*

        I fielded a shipment of hand-sanitizer refills today (delivery guy left it in the grocery warehouse) and walked it over to facilities myself because otherwise it would disappear overnight. The overnight cleaning crew has sticky fingers and right now any sanitizer is like gold (I guard my personal bottle like it was the Holy Grail).

    5. Leslie Knope*

      So you’re gonna stand there, ownin’ a fireworks stand, and tell me you don’t have no whistlin’ bungholes, no spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, hoosker doos, hoosker don’ts, cherry bombs, nipsy daisers, with or without the scooter stick…or one single whistling kitty-chaser??

      My favorite part of the movie classic, “Joe Dirt” (2001)

      I hope someday you can look back and laugh at the situation. While you’re still in it, just think back to the fireworks stand owner who only wanted to sell snakes and sparklers…and none of the good stuff. GOOD LUCK!

    6. Medical Nerd*

      So I’m a medical anthropologist who is collecting data on responses to COVID-19, and your experience with work is absolutely fascinating! The scale of the response we’re seeing to this pandemic is bloody enormous (a technical term, obviously) and the role you and your company play in that response is really interesting.

      I don’t meant to denigrate your experiences – it does sound truly hellish – but I have to thank you for sharing your experience because it’s made me realize that there’s a whole other sector of information about lived experiences with the threat of COVID-19. I wonder – does it help to know that work being harder for you makes it marginally easier for someone like me?

      Either way, I’m sending you calming vibes and hopes for understanding customers.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Okay, so for the record, what YOU are doing is sounding absolutely fascinating to ME. (I desperately wish I could justify endless graduate research and a PhD in the history of medicine, but I can’t afford it and I don’t know what I would do with it, so for now I just keep reading and researching on my own.)

        1. Medical Nerd*

          Haha, thank you! Honestly, stuff like COVID was never at the top of my research list, but when life drops a prime opportunity in your lap, sometimes you just have to run with it. And lordy, do I ever know what you mean about wanting to just do “endless research”, especially research free from the tyrannies of funding.

          And I’m trying to keep a separation between my work, which fits around themes of “how do people understand and process the threat of COVID-19 in their own contexts?”, and my personal opinions about the levels of fear and misinformation we’re seeing, which is largely stuff like “OMFG EVERYONE PLEASE CALM YO’ TITTIES”. It’s an interesting line to walk.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Currently debating whether I should stock up on all the crap that’s selling out right now or wait to see if the hysteria dies down. Darn it people, I have food allergies and a toddler who is allergic to the flu shot (and it is still indeed flu season y’all). We really do need some of those things people are hoarding!!

            At least our office has plenty of supplies for us worker bees. It’s my personal stash that’s depleted due to said toddler dumping hand sanitizer all over the floor.

            P.S. My local grocery stores and big box stores are out of hand sanitizer, but Bath and Body Works still had a full supply. Thanks, B&BW for providing me a way to clean my hands when running water and soap aren’t available.

              1. Third or Nothing!*

                I did until I got a coupon in the mail. Since I am super sensitive to SLS, I rarely go there except when I want to get a few very specific products (my husband’s cologne and that rose balm they sell).

              2. Wired Wolf*

                I’ve been getting my hand sanitizer at a small natural/organic store. Still has the required alcohol percentage but is a lot easier on the skin and nose. A bit more expensive, but that may well be why they’re not sold out.

            1. Iris Eyes*

              The good news is that all the precautions that work for Covid-19 will work for the flu as well. I wonder if we see a HUGE decrease in flu and flu like illnesses over the next few weeks. I hope someone does some analysis on how many fewer people die of the flu because of response to Covid-19. It may be a net positive.

              1. 00ff00Claire*

                I’m very interested in that as well! Especially since it’s been a bad flu season, I’m very curious if the spread of flu will slow down. I how it does!

              2. Parenthetically*

                I JUST had the same thought. I would be thrilled considering I have a toddler and an infant who have been nonstop sick (but not the flu) for three months.

                1. NoLongerYoung*

                  I came to this part of the thread to say this. Yes, noted in the WSJ earlier this week. I’ve been reassuring mom and others – just take the precautions you take during a tough flu season when the flu shot didn’t work, and that’s about the best you can do right now.

                  Japan has had a very positive decrease in regular flu rates.

          2. Data4all*

            Hey! I just want to mention that something that failed to be monitored historically is how Zika and SARS effected pregnant women, not just how it effected the baby. It would be really good data especially in an area that often ignores the difference between male and female bodies and how they react to know not just how females react differently but how it effects pregnant women differently.

            Not sure if that is what you are studying but I thought I’d mention it.

            1. Medical Nerd*

              Thanks for bringing that up! It’s really interesting that you mention it because my mentor is actually preparing a study on exactly this subject – the gendering of Zika and the women who were essentially “blamed” for getting it and making their babies microcephalic. It’s such a complicated and tragic topic but as you point out, the women who were pregnant were marginalized in a lot of ways. It’s cool to know that other people are thinking about this stuff too.

              1. Data4all*

                Most of my knowledge comes from the book: “Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado-Perez. Its been super informative and frustrating to read at the same time. I’m so glad to know that people out there are working on studying these things!

              2. Artemesia*

                My daughter’s OB made it clear that she was not to travel to Florida for a work event when she was pregnant; her office coped and sent a non -pregnant employee. It was interesting to see men saying ‘well the odds are really small of getting it’ (this was when it was in fact endemic and a fair number of people were getting it) The women were all — of course it is an unnecessary risk.

            2. nonegiven*

              I know of one pregnant lady a couple years ago that refused to leave the house, under most circumstances, because that type of mosquito had been identified in a town about 30 miles away. It wasn’t carrying the virus, it was just the same type of mosquito.

          3. SophieChotek*

            Your research does sound fascinating! I wish I had time to go back and get a different degree too!

      2. Peaches*

        Thank you SO much for your comment! I think what you do sounds absolutely fascinating. I would say yes, it does help to know that in this busy time, we are making others’ day to day lives marginally easier. Of course, over the years, I’ve dealt with customers calling in with 911 emergencies, demanding product ASAP (i.e.,”I’m the maintenance director for such and such nursing home and we’re completely out of soap!” – wish I was kidding about this). Which, is easy enough to deal with since we of course have soap on stock at all times, but equally irritating because you think “why didn’t you prepare for this?!” Obviously, this is different since no one could have prepared for the massive impact that coronvarius has had.

        Thanks for your calming vibes!

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        As someone who works in a hospital (research regulatory issues) AND has done some at home CDC/FEMA-recommendations disaster prepping for several years, it’s been interesting watching my usual online stores go from regular stock to sold out. Seemed like prep stores went fast (before it even left China, for the most part), down to more specialized stores more recently. Like an ‘environmental’ home goods/cleaners store sold out of sanitizer this week; I finished my order with them last week. They have a nice blood-orange scented hand sanitizer with moisturizers but still 60+% alcohol. And Costco is out of toilet paper and the last “disaster prep” item that I saw left last week were bucket lids.

        1. Tinker*

          Heh, I had an idle pondering of getting another case of MREs more because I was reminded they exist than anything particularly news-related and… noooooooope.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Yup. Serious preppers were waaaaaay out in front of this one – but then again, they do that for everything. I did just snag some of the ‘disaster food caloric bar’ stuff that’s serious survival grade and good for years, but that’ll be more of a filler food if need be.

            1. Mama Bear*

              Some of that long shelf life food is gross or needs extra ingredients (which IMO defeats the purpose). I’ve heard that Huel isn’t too bad but depends on the flavor. The thing people forget most seems to be adequate supplies of potable water. You can’t drink toilet paper.

        2. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

          I think we use the same environmentally friendly household goods service. I got blood orange hand sanitizer this week as well, along with compostable antibacterial wipes.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            It’s nice stuff. :) I already have tooooons of hand soap so no need to stock extra of that.

            1. Wired Wolf*

              I also stocked up on my preferred soap brand (Everyone brand) when it was on sale. What I love about their hand soap is that you really don’t need a lot so the bottle lasts longer than you think.

              (I try to keep stocks of sanitizer in reserve anyway because working with the public; I don’t overuse it, mainly after my commute home or when I’ve inadvertently picked/cleaned up something gross at work)

      4. I'm A Little Teapot*

        LOL, you’ll love my company’s response so far – posted below. Search my name. (oh, and I’m on the high risk list thanks to my asthma. Mgmt actually knows this because I had a really bad flare last fall. They are seriously clueless)

        1. Medical Nerd*

          Thank you very much for sharing! Sadly, that news article doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Epidemics often act as an ultimate breach in the social contract of privacy; when your actions can infect others, suddenly you are no longer an individual with rights, but instead seen as a vector who must be policed and controlled by the actions of others. The contextualizing factors regarding what choices you make and why go right out the window because panic has a way of making people aware of the vulnerability of the herd at the expense of the individual.

          I’m doing my collection work in North America (Canada and the US) so I haven’t done the necessary background work to know this for sure, but I speculate that this loss of privacy is even more intense in cultures that have a focus on collectivism rather than individuality. When the social emphasis is on the good of the group as a whole, personal liberties are even easier to extinguish. It’s a complex morass of feelings and logics and responses that makes things like posting the tracked locations of infected individuals seem like a good idea. What a mess.

      5. CKara*

        Hi medical nerd!
        I’m in Australia and here, people are pillaging supermarkets for toilet paper – if you go in at any normal hour forget it. Despite authorities continuously assuring the public that there is absolutely no risk of the country running out of the stuff, people are madly buying and stashing far more paper than they’d need to get through Covid19 and any other imaginable threat to our everday lives. It’s absolutely nuts and embarrassing that this is the Australian publics (unofficial) response.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This has validated my life goal of always being prepared. We are fully stocked and can hold off until y’all can manufacture more. *sprays Lysol at everything* I thought it was a bit excessive for a tick but nah. We’re throwing wipes at everyone.

      I just heard someone cough and almost hit the ground, you’d think we’re in a war zone, we’re all so jumpy.

      1. Peaches*

        Bless you for being prepared. I’ve had ONE lady call who said, “oh, no worries, I keep stocked up on this stuff all year!” when I told her we were backordered on sanitizer. I could have hugged her through the phone! Also, I appreciate your comment about us deserving bonuses. I sure feel like we do! LOL.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’m just over here judging those who aren’t prepared. I get it when it’s a budget issue. Citizens are one thing but the people you’re working with are most certainly businesses who aren’t ordering well enough. It’s cold and flu season, you should have upped your stock starting like 3 months ago. It has a long shelf life, bros. [I suppose we can talk about storage space too though, so meh but still…]

          Also we can blame people who are trying to game the system and price gouge people for some of these shortages. I’m glad they’re being taken care of. If you’re going to play that game, put that stuff in your trunk and do it on the street, not Amazon, Karen.

          1. CL Cox*

            There are those o us who have prepared, but this new potential virus means that we need to get even more than we already have, because students and visitors are all using more hand sanitizer than they usually do, custodians are having to disinfect more than they usually do, etc. Keep in mind that when we have something like the swine flu of several years ago, that was the flu that was going around. This year, we have a nasty strain of flu going around AND we now have a potential pandemic.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              That’s fair! It’s one thing to run out quickly but sometimes it really sounds like these folks aren’t having ANYTHING in stock to begin with.

              But I’ve been obsessed with washing my hands since childhood. I had to tone it down because I got cracked hands after the teachers taught us back in Kindergarten.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Everyone thinks I’m some kind of “prepper”.

          No. I’m not. I was just away from stores most of my life, so we always had 2-4 weeks of supply any given time. If a storm takes out a road, we wanna wipe our butts too, maaaaaaaaaaan! [And worse case, if we don’t, I’ve got other alternatives, a standard Costco sized TP would last our family of 4 at least a month, so I’m shocked at the level people are going to LMAO]

          It’s not prepping to have a fully stocked freezer and pantry. It may be some kind of privilege since I’m able to buy in advance. Again, not shade towards anyone with fixed income you know. But those folks aren’t the ones doing this, lbr.

          I’m not a prepper. I don’t have the ego to assume that the rapture will come during my life time or anything like that but I’m certain natural distastes will make life hard sometimes!

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            This. I prep for short-term problems, not the end of the world. I grew up with a electric-powered water pump on our well, so if the power goes out I still reflexively think “don’t flush the toilet”. Sometimes you just have to be ready for life throwing you a curveball, and if you’re able to do that then it makes sense to do it.

          2. Tau*

            This has really made me rethink the value of having enough supplies to feed myself for 2 weeks or so if necessary. I still think it’s exceptionally unlikely that the supply chain will break down to the point where I can’t buy anything – I live in a major European metropolitan area, if that happens here we’re already in disaster zone – but really, even outside the current situation, what if I get the flu? The first thing I want to do then is *not* to drag myself out to the shops to buy a week’s worth of supplies.

            (Unfortunately, it seems everyone else feels the same, which is why the shops over here have been nearly empty of staple foods. I’d call it ridiculous if I hadn’t contributed.)

            The main problem for me is storage space. I have, like, one kitchen cupboard worth of space for nonperishables. I ended up putting most of the tinned stuff into the fridge and the giant pile of pasta is now in a random shelf. Same with freezer space – my two freezer drawers are now packed, but the contents are not going to tide me over for a huge amount of time.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yup – I have this same problem thanks to living in a studio apartment. I have storage in the building, but I don’t want to put any of my supplies in my locker because it’s see-through, and I don’t want anyone knowing what all I have should this situation get worse.

            2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              I have limited built in storage in my “kitchen”, it’s a studio as well. So I got shelves and made myself a “pantry” on one of my walls. Then I got a small island kind of “table” that has room to store things as well. They have lots of utility racks and units that work wonders because you can’t depend on enough cabinets!

              I shop weekly for perishables/fresh fruit/veg but if I’m stuck, I have rice, pasta and tuna to get me through that nasty.

              1. Tau*

                My flat is actually reasonable in size – one-bedroom, so not a studio – the problem is that it manages to have three exterior walls and I have giant floor-length windows everywhere. I have gotten very creative with furniture, and occasionally gave up and put my desk or a low shelf in front of a window, but I still have just enough storage for my stuff and no more. On the plus side, I get tons of light, and I live alone so if the pasta box ends up in my bookshelf nobody is judging.

                1. RabbitRabbit*

                  I am somewhat limited on kitchen storage so my stock of heirloom dried beans (any unopened bags, basically) mostly ended up in a plastic under-the-bed storage box.

                2. Diahann Carroll*

                  Ha! That sounds like my setup with the floor to ceiling windows (I have a large balcony door on one wall) and zero extra space once the essentials were in. I don’t even have the space to build a makeshift pantry, so if push comes to shove, I’ll just move all the junk I currently have under my bed to my basement storage unit and start storing non-perishables under there instead.

                3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

                  We put up sturdy, stable full-height shelving in front of our excessive windows. Storage space is essential!

          3. Lora*

            Solidarity, my sister. I’ve lived in rural areas where trips Into Town are infrequent and involve running a gauntlet of angry deer, all seemingly determined to smash in the front of your elderly Ford Escort, and buying whole months’ worth of supplies is very normal to me. That stocked chest freezer and pantry full of home-canned goods and veggie garden has also gotten me through some very, very lean times (unemployment, divorce, then-spouse not bringing home a paycheck for extended periods) when groceries were Ramen noodles, peanut butter and day-old bread.

            Now I’m surprised that anyone on earth wishes to spend precious waking minutes shopping for toilet paper instead of having it delivered via subscription, because it seems very practical to me to delegate that task to Jeff Bezos, and then never contemplate it again, which is definitely also a luxury. But when people insist that I’m some kinda prepper, I’m wondering why they appear to enjoy standing in lines at checkout counters, getting rammed in the legs with shopping carts, circling parking lots looking for a spot within 1000 feet of the front door, etc. I’d rather look at cat pictures on the internet.

          4. Yorick*

            Well, and these people are going out and panic-buying hand soap. Didn’t they wash their hands before? It was already flu season!

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Right? I have soap dispensers at each sink, then industrial sized refilling tanks of soap. I wash my hands regularly throughout the day and even more so when cooking naturally.

              We have bar soap too in the bathroom for our bodies. And a couple bottles of dish soap under the sink. I also have friends who make soap, so I’ve got plenty of that too LOL

          5. Cobalt Collector*

            It is a privilege to be able to keep a stocked pantry and freezer but I don’t take it lightly at all.

            My mother kept a pantry –not too big– but we rarely ran out of anything we needed. Money was extremely tight when I grew up. The weekly groceries included big cuts of meat that my dad would then slice into smaller meal size pieces, wrap, and freeze.

            I keep a good pantry with different varieties of pasta, rice, grains, canned goods, condiments, spices, stuff for baking, etc. This stood me in good stead when I was laid off unexpectedly and tried to survive on unemployment and as little savings as possible. Right now, I have enough in house, including TP, tissues and cleaning supplies, to last me a while without shopping, except for fresh milk and bananas. (No freezer space for either.)

            I’m in a vulnerable age bracket and have a low level risk factor. If I have to stay home for a while, I will be fine as long as I have internet and cable.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              I try not to take it lightly, growing up with friends with food scarcity issues I saw young i knew that not all kids got to go to bed full :(

              But at the same time, I come from dirt poor laborers. My grandparents survived the Dust Bowl and then the Great Depression, so frugality has always been an issue and food has always been sacred but stocked up. The one thing my dad told me growing up was that food was his priority and that’s why we lived in a trailer because “ef a house, I want a full belly!” So I’ve seen dirt poor but never starvation on a personal level because of my parents priorities being firmly in check every step of the way.

          6. Artemesia*

            I was always like this but now I live in a tiny condo and so am not that deep with supplies — I probably could do a couple of weeks of quarantine though with a little delivery help and all the rice and beans and such in the pantry.

          7. Mama Bear*

            In my experience we’re more likely to lose power after a storm or have snow or a water main break than something bigger so that’s what we aim for. We lost power for a week once and that was eye opening in a lot of ways.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        Yeah, I do prep at the CDC/FEMA-level of recommendations and when I discovered Costco was out of toilet paper earlier this week, I still had a dozen rolls at home. (I know COVID-19 isn’t norovirus; we just have a history of running out at inopportune times, which I consider to be a disaster.)

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      PS. I hope y’all get some bonuses after the hysteria dies down because you deserve it. The baby sized capitalist inside of me [that’s always being swaddled inside my progressive/socialist views, lol, go figure] is squealing inside only because that cash flowing still despite us being holed up like grizzlies going into hibernation.

    9. Lola Banks*

      This reminds me of the time I called a Popeye’s last summer and instead of “hello” the greeting was, “if you’re calling about the sandwich, we don’t have it.”

      1. Peaches*

        Haha! Honestly, very similiar – although you could argue that that one is a bit more of a “need” than the other ;)

    10. Third or Nothing!*

      I feel for you. The panic buying reminds me of when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston and everyone in Texas made a run on gas stations thinking supply would be hit because of all the refineries in the path of the storm. In reality, what created the shortage was everyone stockpiling gas all at once and topping off every day.

      Wish I could make you a nice calming cup of tea.

      1. Peaches*

        Yes! It is very similiar to that. Also, FWIW, I bring my own calming tea to work and have already had some this morning. :)

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          I may need to share some with you. I’ve got PPA and have been fighting a panic attack all day now that there are 2 confirmed cases in a city 4 hours away from us…that we’re supposed to go on a work trip to on Monday. No one else on my team is worried. I’m trying to decide what the actual risk would be given that the virus is definitely coming to our city now due to all the travel between the two.

    11. A. Ham*

      word.
      We may need to start a coronavirus thread every friday to talk about how it is impacting people’s work, and checking in on those who it is impacting very specifically (like you).
      I work at a performance venue and we already have people canceling their tickets for future performances and demanding refunds (which we are not giving, at this point, as the performances will still be happening). We are planning on this getting worse before it gets better, and have plans in place for POSSIBLE cancellations if and when it does. But for now, in a city (and state) where there has not yet been one confirmed case, I just want to say “go on with your normal life, just WASH YO DAMN HANDS”.

      1. Peaches*

        That is such a great idea! I would love to read that thread and see the impact that it has had on others’ work. You have my sympathies on what you are dealing with. It sounds equally frustrating to what I’m dealing with here.

        Also, YES on the hand washing! That has been the main piece of information that everyone at my company has been giving their customers over the past few weeks. Nothing can prepare you as well as practicing good hand hygiene will!

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        I would be very interested in a thread like that. Little impact on my work so far, other than a reminder from the CEO to wash your hands etc.

        The interesting thing to me is that we’re moving to a new office in 2021 – the building is going up as we speak, and we’re in the process of getting new furniture and tech for everyone. The thing is, that the parts for pretty much everything are made in China. So – nuts, bolts, drill bits and so on for building construction. Laptop components. Furniture. Basically any Thing that you can physically touch is at least partly made in China, and is now a potential risk related to our move. Just at the monitoring stage right now, and it sounds like some of the factories are opening again, so it may not end up being a problem. But it’s fascinating to draw all these threads out, and just see how much we’re all interconnected.

      3. getaway_girl*

        I was supposed to attend a work conference this month that was not easy to get approval to attend. Found out this week it’s been canceled. The conference registration was refunded right away and I was able to get the hotel reservation canceled, but the airlines aren’t refunding anything unless your ticket meets specific criteria. Not great for an organization that considers trip insurance a luxury item. I’m not the one eating the cost, fortunately, but it’s not looking good for me to ever attend this conference in the future.

      4. KitCat*

        Yes! I work at a university and I am very worried about being made to work from home if something happens on our campus. I hate and don’t know how to work effectively from home. I have such a solid separation from work and home that I’d hate to ruin it…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Trade home office space with a neighbor or friend in the same boat and commute to each other’s living room?

      5. Creed Bratton*

        Thanks to a lack of janitorial services, an lazy administration, and a worthless maintenance dept we’ve been working with two bathrooms for about 1000 people – so work’s promise of delivering more sanitizers and soap just doesn’t mean much. I’m in an area with several ‘presumptive’ cases within an hour.

        I’m still in the “calm yo tits” camp: the paranoia and stress around this is not helpful. Concern and general preparations – yes. It’s a novel virus and you should always be prepared (my ass with just raid my hurricane kit if I have to). But it’s getting so much attention not because it’s super deadly – it’s just the first time in modern times we’ve been able to track a virus in real time. I think the 24/7 news cycle has made this visual (and continues to hype it up instead of explaining the science) and the scope on the actual threat has just been lost.

        1. Frankie*

          For me, the concern is not catching it myself, but catching it and passing it to someone in a high risk category. I know several people who would qualify as that and I’m worried more for their outcomes if it spreads everywhere.

          1. Creed Bratton*

            Agreed…and the panic and hoarding of supplies only endangers those in nursing homes or medical facilities.

        2. lemon*

          Yes, thank you! The paranoia over this is making me irrationally angry this week. Yes, we should take precautions, but people are acting like this is the zombie apocalypse or something when the reality is that unless you’re a vulnerable population (e.g. elderly, respiratory issues, etc), most people are going to be fine.

          1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

            As someone in a vulnerable population, who knows many others in a vulnerable population, you probably know a lot more of us than you think you do. Until today, nobody at work knew, but it sure did get tiring hearing everyone talk about how only the vulnerable would die.

            1. Caroline Bowman*

              If you are in a vulnerable group, then how have you survived:

              Sars, Avian flu, swine flu… and all the other very serious, potentially-fatal-to-immune-compromised-people infectious diseases that do the rounds every other year? Unfortunately this particular one, because of where it originated, has devolved into absolutely insane hysteria. People die of plain old regular flu regularly, why is this specific one suddenly making everyone petrified to live their normal lives?

              That’s what’s making me extremely irritable. One can appreciate that something is genuinely serious and the necessity to take care and wash hands, avoid unnecessary crowded places, seek medical help in the event of any protracted illness, but going ballistic and shutting everything down seems a bit like overkill.

              1. Avasarala*

                … You didn’t.

                Some people don’t want their loved ones or themselves to die.

                There’s no need to panic but absolutely people should be taking appropriate precautions. That has nothing to do with where the virus originated–people are concerned here too.

      6. doughnaut*

        I work in international trade/logistics and we’re running into huge supply chain issues. Even if the coronavirus disappeared tomorrow we’d be screwed for the next couple months… And I don’t see it disappearing for a while yet (if ever–I’ve seen some people speculate it’ll stick around like the flu with outbreaks during the winter every year).

        Also I was supposed to go on a business trip to Japan next week and that was cancelled.

      7. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        My workplace (small office in a big city) had a very calm meeting on Monday and follow-up email listing the tools we all needed to be able to use from home and asking us to make sure they were installed and working by today. No panic, just preparedness. But our biggest annual industry event was just canceled, which is a huge financial hit for us.

        We’re putting on a big event (~1200 people) in July and so far plans are going forward, but we’re in very close contact with the convention center and local authorities. One of the people in charge of event planning blithely said “I hear it’ll be over by summer, we’ll be fine” and the rest of us had to explain that you prepare for worst-case scenarios, not best-case ones!

    12. A Poster Has No Name*

      Wow. Hang in there, Peaches! I moonlight at Target and I’ve gotten to the point that I just want to say “no” when a guests goes to ask me something, because 90% ask “where” the hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, masks, alcohol, etc. are. Not if we have them, but where, as if we haven’t been out of most of that stuff for days or more.

      And I live in a place that doesn’t have any confirmed coronavirus cases yet.

      1. Havarti*

        I may need to wear a sign that says “I’m just here for cat food, I swear!” when I go to the store.

      2. Peaches*

        I can so relate! The number of phone calls that I’ve gotten where the person starts off with “Yes, I need 50 CS of hand sanitizer to deliver by tomorrow morning” just baffles me. We have been out for DAYS. Not to mention, once we DO get a delivery in, there are about 326 customers in front of you who will be getting their product before you (so no, even once we do get the product in, you won’t be getting it the very next morning!)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m just hoping this I can replace my jug of plain old bleach that coincidentally ran out. I just need to fight mildew!

    13. Libretta*

      And yet the soap remains! I’m in Seattle and there is NO sanitizer or wipes to be found – but soap! Everyehere! So much of it, and I would laugh if I found this situation funny at all. It is in the same aisle as the sanitizer, and no one is touching it.

      1. Jaid*

        I scrounged a bar of really luxe soap gifted to me a couple of years ago and a silicon bag from my apartment and brought it with me to work. If I have to wash my hands more often, I’m not using that office crap that burns.
        Oh, and the local paper had an article about a dude selling face masks meant to keep one from touching their face…Henry The Hand Health Shield

        1. urban teacher*

          I bought lemon hand soap for the students to use to encourage them to wash hands. I figure if it’s good enough for me, they would like it. Its a hit.

      2. another scientist*

        Tell me about it! Soap is also more effective for certain germs, like e coli, which hand sanitizer doesn’t get. It is the better option!

      3. Caroline Bowman*

        good old soap and water, preventing fatal infections for so many years. Humble, plain soap and running water.

    14. What's with Today, today?*

      Admittedly, I’m in a state where we’ve only had a few cases and one death, but CoronaVirus is barely on my radar. We did a 30 minute interview with the Exec. Director of our health system yesterday and she said we should be far more worried about the reglar flu. She was on air talking about how this is so totally overblown.

      1. Creed Bratton*

        My bet is that within 5 years we’ll all be sharing memes about this overreaction (anybody remember Y2K?)

          1. JustaTech*

            Or Ebola? (The current epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo is tentatively declared over.)

            Here’s the thing about public health; if you’re doing your job right, no one sees the value because nothing bad happens. Because you were out there preventing it. You can only count lives lost when actions aren’t taken, it’s much harder to count lives saved by actions that were taken, when it comes to this kind of generalized disease prevention.

            1. gyrfalcon*

              “ Here’s the thing about public health; if you’re doing your job right, no one sees the value because nothing bad happens. Because you were out there preventing it.”

              Exactly the same thing about IT and Y2K. People think Y2K was overblown, but that’s only because they don’t see how phenomenally much work those of us in IT did to re-program systems to avert the risk.

          2. ...*

            I mean people did die from those things :/ If you had a family member die from it you might not think it was so overblown.

            1. What’s with Today, today?*

              I think you misread my comment; I didn’t say that I think it’s overblown. I said the head of our entire hospital system went on my live morning radio program and said its ”totally overblown”. Big difference. And I do, actually, have a dear friend that spent 87 days in the hospital with West Nile. I also hate Crohn’s disease and take two immunosuppressive drugs (Humira, Imuran(sp?)). But the truth is, if it’s my time, it just is. I could get hit by a bus this afternoon.

          3. Loose Seal*

            I had a friend die from SARS after being comatose for 36 days. She left behind a husband and two kids under 5 years old. I don’t think it’s overblown when we live in a very connected world. You don’t know who will come down with it and when.

            1. Caroline Bowman*

              I went to university with a lovely girl whose mom died of Ebola. She was a nurse and a person came in (I’m in South Africa) via the emergency room and was operated on and… she was a theatre sister and unfortunately he then turned out to have, and die of, ebola.

              She realised she had it before she even left hospital that day due to his symptoms and literally never went home again, just got herself isolated and said goodbye to her family from behind protective screens. It was heartbreakingly terrible and so unfair. However. These diseases are literally everywhere, all the time, and we must try our best to live sensibly and rationally.

        1. Frankie*

          Y2K is actually a good example of how all the focus on it prevented a legitimate disaster. So it wasn’t overhyped, it was addressed because of how much attention it got.

          1. Steve*

            Same with SARS. They were able to swiftly contain it to the degree that it was completely eradicated.

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

      I’m so sorry! Me country announced our first case and now my father is completely paranoid. I guess makes sense, being in the at risk group, but in any moment he’ll start supervising me when I wash my hands and I’ll snap because I loathe being treated like a baby. One of my coworkers is even worse, he bought five boxes of masks and constantly sprays disinfectant over his laptop.

    16. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

      I’m a meeting planner. It’s not going well for us either! Solidarity!

    17. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh, no! I can imagine! I hope it gets better and easier soon. :)

    18. De Minimis*

      I work at a medical clinic and we are having real problems getting what we need from our suppliers now. My sympathies!

    19. Windchime*

      I work for a group of hospitals in the Seattle area (so, Ground Zero). Even the clinical areas are getting low on these types of supplies, so those of us in non-clinical areas such as IT have been asked to surrender our hand sanitizer and clorox wipes so that they can be distributed to patient-care areas. I’m happy to do that since I am now among the thousands of Seattle workers who are working at home for the next couple of weeks; I’m safe in my home so I will gladly donate my supplies from my desk.

      It’s crazy here. Both of my adult sons have jobs where you can’t work from home; I’m worried about them catching the virus.

      1. Krabby*

        I live in a major city close to Seattle but up in Canada (take a guess). People are hoarding essential items and groceries. The local pharmacy had to put hand sanitizer behind the counter because people were getting into physical altercations over it. I’m glad they’re thinking about health care professionals where you are.

    20. Krabby*

      My mom works in a lab and they need N95 masks on hand because of one specific chemical that is rarely used, so they have about 100 sitting in storage and they use one every 2-3 weeks. Someone stole a box early on and brought them down to 50 masks.
      All the other labs in her building finally ran out of masks last week and someone on her staff told the volunteers they still had some. So now my mom has had to field multiple people a day literally begging her for masks which she cannot give out.

      People are Panicked.

    21. Gaming Teapot*

      Oh dear. You have my sympathies!

      Our office is still mostly chill about it. We’ve got some more soap and sanitizer boxes and instructions on how to wash your hands properly in the bathroom now, and HR sent around a few mails with general guidelines, but short of closing the entire office, I think that’s all the Covid-19 prevention our office is going to get–we work in an open plan, hotdesking environment and work from home is not possible due to equipment required for the job. So if Covid-19 hits one of us, it’s highly likely the rest of the office will get it within days.

      I know I should probably be more worried, being in the risk group of people with pre-existing respiratory illness, but if I panicked over every thing that could kill my lungs, I’d never be leaving the house again, so I’m mostly just waiting to see what’s going to happen here.

    22. Introvert girl*

      I have asthma and in winter I use my anti-smog mask regulary (I live in one of the most polluted cities in Europe). I buy my filters online from the same store every year. They are out of everything in the entire store! Thank god I still have an extra filter and three months worth of inhalers. But this is really shitty.

    23. KayDeeAye*

      You may not believe this, Peaches, but I truly do understand pretty much exactly what you’re going through because way back in 1979, I worked at a company that issued and read radiation badges, and in March of that year was when Three Mile Island (a nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania) experienced a partial meltdown and EVERY radiation badge withing 600 miles of the place – which is a LOT of radiation badges, BTW – suddenly had to be read, like, yesterday.

      It was H.E. double hockey sticks for me, too! So I stand in Disaster Side Effects Solidarity with you, sister!

    24. Amethystmoon*

      I hear you. So far it hasn’t really affected my job yet, but I know other people who work at my company and it has affected their jobs. As in, they’re responsible for buying teapots to be sold at stores, but also tea cups, the tea bags, and the sugar to go in the tea, and everyone is buying everything possible related to tea and it’s affecting inventory everywhere. I’ve heard there are lots of issues and everyone is under a lot of stress. I’m surprised it hasn’t affected me since I key in pricing on some of the items related to the tea (although I did get one large batch this past week for another state, but that state hasn’t gotten the virus yet that we know of).

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    In a few years, I might need to make a slight career shift to move to the same location as my partner, and I’m trying to plan ahead if that happens.

    I’m currently an instruction librarian. Does anyone have any suggestions for jobs that are tangentially related to either academic librarianship or teaching/training (the teaching component is really my favorite part of the job, but I don’t want to move into K12)? Maybe skills that I should be looking to improve? Ways that I’ll be more marketable?

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Well there are corporate librarians in various industries that still have paper files (e.g., healthcare and insurance), so maybe you could look into those kinds of positions. Also, instructional design may be a good shift for you as well since you like the training aspect of your job.

      1. AnonAnon*

        This. My company has an archivist (several actually) that file different things but also help retrieve items if needed. I am in healthcare.
        A lot of the libraries at my company are electronic now, but there are people that manage and work on that. Not sure in what capacity.

    2. AccountantWendy*

      Corporate training / internal training! Or even internal library work, which is rare but no un-heard of. It will depend on the size of the city / area you are moving to.

    3. eshrai*

      I currently work as a corporate trainer (well….that’s what I call myself at least). I work in government and get to train new staff on technical and soft skills related to the job. It includes some instructional design work, but also a lot of writing/editing when I’m not training. I really enjoy the teaching aspect, and like you, do not want to venture into K-12. If you have experience with training and want to pursue it more, you could look into corporate training. If there are government offices where you are re-locating you could look into a government role.

    4. Zennish*

      Public Libraries are often on the lookout for degreed librarians who can deliver educational programming or technical instruction. Some Publics hire librarians to specifically focus on technology training both for staff and the community. I can’t say the pay will be equivalent to an academic position, but there are also no tenure requirements, no publish or perish, etc. Beyond the usual online career sites, I’d start haunting the job boards for the state library dept. (or equivalent) and the local library schools and consortia if you’re interested in that route, when the time comes.

    5. CM*

      Some larger law firms and consulting firms have their own libraries with full-time librarians. You could also consider a research provider like LexisNexis, Westlaw, or Thomson Reuters — these are law-focused because I’m a lawyer, but I know there are other industries that have journals or resource aggregators (for instance, IEEE for engineers, MedLine for doctors).

      1. Thimby*

        Any job hunting advice for a new grad registered nurse? I’m graduating in December and nursing will be a second career for me.

        1. Quickbeam*

          Hi there, I’m a second career RN……it depends on what you are interested in….my recommendation is to get at least 2 years of clinical floor nursing before you think of any lateral moves (say to case mgt or office work). The market for new RNs in my Midwest area is very robust so you should have a lot of options.

          My personal opinion is that rotating shifts is awful so I always chose straight nights or evenings. Be careful with bonus offers as they often can indicate as desperate facility. But play to your strengths; be honest with yourself as to what kind of nursing you enjoy and feel good with.

      2. Yarrow*

        The publishers you mentioned are always hiring for sales people and trainers. Law firms also have trainers and technical instructors. Those jobs pay well too.

    6. Intermittent Introvert*

      Academic advisor or other student services at a college. You need the ability to teach one on one, work well with the public, manage lots of information. You may specifically look at advising for library science related programs because you know the career field.

    7. Leela*

      Programming/statistics. I have a friend who’s a masters in library science and she works for Microsoft handling data that was used to make the XAC controller. I think she learned the R programming language?

    8. dear liza dear liza*

      I would try the vendors, like EBSCO. I know a few instruction librarians who became trainers for the other side. :)

    9. Bubbles*

      Just a note – I work at a 7-12 school and our head librarian is an instructor. She has a classroom here and also oversees the Advanced Placement program and testing.

    10. OrigCassandra*

      Stopgap at best, but in case it’s helpful: look into information schools with distance/online programs. They’re quite likely to have courses in your wheelhouse that can be taught online from anywhere.

    11. anonybear*

      Have you thought of sales related to higher ed publishing? I used to work for ProQuest, and they employ lots of librarians! Teaching skills and sales skills are not dissimilar!

    12. Bibrarian*

      Health sciences librarianship! I’m at an academic health sciences center, so we serve students/faculty/staff from the professional schools and the practicing clinicians in our hospitals. We’re not quite a fully embedded model—we don’t go to patient’s’ bedsides on rounds or anything—but we do attend clinical meetings to provide our departments with point of need library support for research and patient care. Clinical librarian was my dream job, and I had no idea it existed until I applied to be one.

    13. I'd rather be snuggling my cat*

      If you also enjoy writing, you could take those teaching skills and direct them to technical writing – and if you have a good eye for graphics, you might also be interested in information design. But those are more if you want to switch to something less face-to-face! The nice thing about both of those options is that you can apply them to a variety of different industries and potentially work remotely, so there’s a lot of flexibility.

  4. LBAI*

    Anyone have any good excuses for being out of the office to interview? I’m finally getting back in the market after 15 years at one employer, and I’m a bit rusty. Any advice? Difficulty: will need to be out for interviews during my department’s busiest time, and I’m a terrible liar.

    1. Rayray*

      Just say you have doctors or dentists appointments. I had to make up an excuse yesterday for an interview today. I just said a slot opened for an appointment I’ve been waiting for. If they press for details, I’m saying I went to a dentist for an invisalign consultation. Only if they ask though.

      1. merp*

        I’ve gone with dentist in the past too, specifically because a) it’s not weird if there are follow up appts (if you have bad teeth like I do) and b) it’s not like, concerning or something someone would worry about if you had to go in a few times.

      2. Robbenmel*

        Or just say you have an appointment, without specifying. That’s what I have scheduled for Monday morning. An appointment.

        1. Jessen*

          Heck, I’m leaving the office in an hour for an actual doctor’s appointment and that’s what I said. I have an appointment. Because it’s really not anyone’s business?

        2. Donkey Hotey*

          Agreed. This is what I say. One doesn’t often specify the difference between a doctor’s appointment and a dentist’s appointment. By that logic, what kind of appointment it is shouldn’t matter. :-)

          1. Wired Wolf*

            The only reason I specified an eye doc appointment for my newest PTO request is so I don’t get asked “can you come to work right after?” due to I’ll need my pupils dilated and our idiot supervisor doesn’t need an opportunity to micromanage me or think I’m impaired.

        3. Veronica Mars*

          Also, this is yet another good reason to get in the habit of avoiding oversharing in general. If you always say you have an appointment, its not weird when you leave out the details.

        4. noahwynn*

          I had to take a day off to travel and even then I just said I had an appointment that day and needed the day off. No one questioned it at all.

      3. Veronica Mars*

        Just be careful on how you charge the time off (if thats something you need to do for your company). My company specifically talks about how charging sick time for interviewing is ground for firing.

        1. jenny*

          My company has a policy that if you lie to your manager or management generally, or attempt to mislead the company, it’s grounds for firing.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Are you so lucky to have a job that let’s you flex your schedule? If yes, make at least one day a week your ‘start early, leave early, hit the gym’ day and see if you can schedule interviews then. (Or hit the gym and start late/work late if you’d rather.)

      5. Daisy Avalin*

        My SO has an interview coming up, and we’ve said that I have a doctor’s appointment so he has to do school pick-up. He’s used the doctor/dentist excuse for himself several times over the last month or so, as he interviews, so felt he needed a slightly different excuse this time!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m taking an afternoon off and citing multiple doctors’ appointments at a long commuting distance. That’s always a good one. Car repairs are another, though I can work from my car dealership’s service center. Depends on how much time you need off, too. 3pm interview and you want the afternoon off? You have friends in town.

    3. Amy Sly*

      I was lucky for my interview last week, as I’ve been having follow-up appointments from my kidney stone a month ago. I told my boss I had “an appointment” that morning and told the local gossips when I got in “only one more doctor’s appointment to go,” which was certainly true, if misleading.

      I’d stay vague as possible, and then imply without actually lying some kind of medical or dental appointment if anyone wants more info. The simplest kind of deception is the one that results when you tell the truth but others’ prejudices fill in the blanks. That way there are no lies you have to remember.

    4. Mel_05*

      I always say it’s the dentist. If your interview wear is very different from your everday work clothes I recommend bringing your work clothes in a bad and finding somewhere to change after the interview.

      I prefer Starbucks because of the single user restrooms, but you’ll know your town best.

      1. Amy Sly*

        One thing I did to disguise my interviewing last week was to dress a bit nicer all week long, spending more time on my hair and makeup as well. If you’re wearing black twill trousers normally, the black suit trousers won’t look that much different.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          I’ve suggested this before, always “dress up” at work one or twice a month, from your very first day onward. If the rest of the office is accustomed to seeing you in your interview suit every six weeks or so, it’s not quite so suspicious when you wear a pencil skirt and heels on the same day you claim to have an appointment with your gynecologist.

          1. Amy Sly*

            Not to mention it’s easy to dramatically tone down “business” to “business casual” by taking off the suit jacket and jewelry and switching to flats.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        I once prepped for an interview by dropping my suit off at a drycleaners on the way to the interview, getting them to press it and have it waiting for me that afternoon. When I was walking to the interview, I popped in there, changed in their change room, and left my other clothing to be drycleaned (if I’d needed to go back to work, I’d have just asked them to hold it for me).

        Worked very well.

        In terms of reasons to be out of the office – kid’s dentist appointments, kid’s doctor appointment work nicely, if you have kids. No need to explain why you’re perfectly healthy or flag that you might have a health issue to the office gossips.

    5. WearingManyHats*

      I have had a lot of interviews lately (thanks Alison!) and had to get creative. I was having actual roof issues late last year, so I said we had a follow up to that. I also used a plumber excuse once I felt I had used up all my doctors and dentists cards. I may have to check in on my inlaws the next state over soon…

      Good luck!

    6. KD*

      My partner is interviewing currently and has cited calls with his bank for phone screens. In a previous role, when interviewing, I just would say I had an appointment, or that I would be taking an extended lunch, and asked for time off or would explain how I would make up the time. Was never asked for a reason. I was also using up my benefits at the time and was frequently popping out to the optometrist or dentist during the day so it didn’t raise any red flags. Best of luck in your search!

      1. Anna Maus*

        This is where I am. For a phone screen, I’d say it was my bank or insurance company. If an interview was early in the day, an overflowing toilet is a good reason to be late that everyone understands.

        Interviews where I need to leave early or be out in the middle of the day, “I have an appointment.” I’ve never been questioned either.

        1. pugsnbourbon*

          “Home alarm going off” works about one time, in case you need to change it up.

        2. wondHRland*

          For phone screens I will usually try to take them between 11 – 1, and I make a point of going out to lunch occaisionally, so i can take the calls in my car., or i’l schedule for either early or late and then just ether leave work early or arive a little late.

    7. InsertCleverNameHere*

      I just default to “I have an appointment” 0r if you want to take a half-day “I have some personal stuff I need to take care of during business hours, I know this is a terrible time to be out, I’ll make sure to make up the time” and don’t bother trying to lie, but I also work someplace with sane management who don’t pry into time off requests.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Last time I interviewed it happened to bracket a planned vacation so I took an extra day off. Nobody questioned it. If you have time and rarely do, consider a Monday or Friday day off and make it a “long weekend to catch up on things”.

    8. Another name*

      Doctor or dentist appointments are always good, bonus if you also have family members you have to drive, or a vet visit if you have pets.
      Car repairs, long lunch with a friend, have to be at home to wait for repairman, are also good excuses if you need variety, which you might if you have multiple interviews.

    9. Natalie*

      Physical therapy is a good excuse if you need to provide details – it’s generally multiple recurring appointments over several weeks or months.

    10. Gaia*

      An appointment. Everyone knows it is sometimes code for an interview. But sometimes it isn’t. Can never tell.

    11. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

      When I was interviewing regularly, I said that I had to go to regular physical therapy. It justifies me having multiple doctors appointments in a short period of time.

    12. AnonAnon*

      I had a full day interview out of town one time and the night before I traveled to that city and the next morning I called in sick with a migraine. I do legit get migraines and with migraines you can look like you were never sick the next day. I got the job.

      Another time I happened to be planning my wedding and said I had an appointment with the florist and this was the only time they could fit us in, and took the whole day off .

      Other times I have taken my lunch from my car if it was a phone interview.

    13. Overeducated*

      One thing I love about my new boss: “Why you take leave is your personal business. You don’t have to share details with me.”

    14. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Like others have said- doctors appointments, “not feeling well,” and if the interview is on a Friday or a Monday maybe see if you can take a pre-scheduled PTO day (if you can, although you did say it’s your busiest season, so maybe not the pre-scheduled PTO).

    15. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      My problem is that I’m having IRL car trouble and doctor’s appointments along with interviews! I am using the ol’ “Dentist is by my house, which is an hour away” excuse for now. But we’ll see what else I have to come up with!

    16. LBAI*

      THANK YOU everyone! These responses are so helpful; they are making me realize I can do this!

    17. Chili*

      If you’re expecting a lot of interviews, say you’re looking for new apartments or house-hunting (whichever is more applicable). It won’t explain being in a suit, but a lot of people will understand why you put more effort into hair and makeup and people understand there are several appointments involved in the apartment-hunting process. And it’s not an illness, so nobody is worried. Extra bonus (or con, depending on how you look at it), people will tell you a lot about their own apartments and how much they pay in rent.

    18. Jennifleurs*

      At my current workplace, I just say appointment. At my previous one, where all appointments needed to be proven, I had to take at least half a day holiday every single time. I’m British and get 20 days holiday (plus bank Holidays) and one year 13 of them went on interviews…

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Try to schedule your interviews early, like at 8am or 8:30am. It’s much easier to be in a bit late for a “doctor or dentist” appointment, or other plausible reason.

    20. Bex*

      Can you just say “I have a personal appointment I can’t reschedule”? This is what I’ve used, and so long as I don’t make it sound like a doctor’s appointment or similar, it’s worked fairly well for me.

      1. Anon-a-souras*

        If you have school aged kids- I highly recommend what I just did which was using ‘call with teacher, guidance counselor, as cover for phone screens and interviews.’ Call has to come during a specific window, but may not be exactly on time, but isn’t flexible – when the call comes in you have to take it, because calling a teacher in a classroom is difficult, and really, no one else wants hear about your snowflake’s behavior or homework problems, right?. Taking it in a quiet place Is best for everyone.

        Note – I also used this when I needed to keep a phone check in with my psych for a medication management call and my jerk boss wanted me to cover a meeting for her.

  5. Rayray*

    I have a job interview in two hours! This came wildly faster than I expected. I did a phone screen on Wed and was told if hear within a week about coming in. They got in touch yesterday to see if I could come in today. I’m super excited about it. What are your tried and true interview tips?

    1. SC in NC*

      Slow down
      Be yourself
      Stay in the moment and try to enjoy the process
      Think of answers to some potential questions
      Have some questions prepared
      Think about if you were hiring for this position, what would you want to hear from candidates
      Be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to “brag a little”
      Be able to reasonably explain why you’re looking to leave your current position and try to turn it to a positive..looking for more of challenge, more responsibility, etc.

      Best of luck!

      1. Rayray*

        Thank you! I’m nervous because I feel under qualified, but to my credit they did like my writing sample enough to bring me in, and clearly the recruiter liked me enough. *deep breath*

        1. MtnLaurel*

          If they are interviewing you, then THEY think you are qualified.They wouldn’t waste their time otherwise. Congratulations and good luck!

    2. ThatGirl*

      Try to stay relaxed, and remember that it’s as much about you interviewing them as the other way around. The point is to see if it’s a good fit. I always have a few questions written down and take a notepad, too, so I can take notes, have questions ready, and give my hands something to do.

    3. londonedit*

      Remember that they’ve invited you for an interview for a reason – it’s because they think you might be a good person for the role, and they want to meet you to find out more about you. It’s not meant to be a trap or a trick, it’s meant to be a positive two-way conversation about your skills and how they might be a good fit for the job and the company. So approach the interviewers as equals, and remember that you also need to use this as an opportunity to see whether the job and the company are a good fit for what you want out of your career.

    4. Emilitron*

      I like to write down answers to key questions, so I can think about it and find words and phrases I really like, ways to be succinct about things I care a lot about, and ways to gracefully skirt around things I am not wanting to get into. Obviously you’re thinking about these things ahead of time, but how do you get from “thought about” to “ready to talk about”? For me, it’s writing things out with a pen and paper – that’s what I do for interviews, for presentations, for difficult emotions (journaling). Maybe for you it’s verbal practice interviews, or making outlines, or typing up notes, but for me none of those compare to the way the physical writing process locks ideas into my brain for easy recall.

    5. irene adler*

      If the question seems vague or you are not sure what your response should be- ask for clarification before you embark on your response.

      1. rayray*

        I like this, and saw the same kind of idea on a job interview tips video I watched. I tend to ramble if I get too flustered, so I will definitely keep this one in mind!

    6. MissGirl*

      Right before I left my house for my last interview, I said goodbye to my nephew who was leaving home for two years. I was literally crying while I drove. I called my mom and told her to ask me some interview questions to change my mindset.

      She asked me the generic stuff like what are your strengths and weakness, etc. It completely focused me and got my jitters out. (It seems like it takes me a couple of questions to settle in any interview.) I nailed it and got the job.

      Next time I interview, I’m totally going to call someone right before and do some practice questions for ten minutes. Bonus points if it’s someone who tells you you’re totally awesome.

    7. Amy Sly*

      A couple of less obvious things I think I did that worked well at my successful interview last week and previous successful interviews:
      If at all possible, talk about how you like your current job. I think being able to say “I like my work, I like the people I work with, I just need a shorter commute” went a long way in suggesting that I would be a pleasant person to work with and a good fit for a similar role.
      Mirror the interviewer’s body language. If they’re sitting stiffly upright, do the same. If they’re slouching, relax in your chair, even if not to the same extent they are.
      With multiple interviewers, try to make eye contact with all of them throughout the interview.
      Goodness knows this next thing is not something everyone can do, but it worked for me last week: Remind yourself that you have a job. You don’t *need* this one to keep a roof over your head, so it’s okay to be more of yourself. Still be polite and pleasant of course, but when they ask a question, answer it based on what you think, not what you think they want to hear. If they don’t hire you because of it, well, you wouldn’t have liked working for them anyway.
      Ask questions that suggest you are aware of current events that might affect them. For the industrial service company I interviewed with last week, it was “how are the tariffs on Chinese goods affecting your business?”

    8. Zennish*

      Definitely be yourself… if you have to put on an act to get a job, you trap yourself into maintaining an act to keep it, which is pretty miserable. Relax and think of it in terms of whether they’ll be a good fit for you, and vice versa.

    9. LunaLena*

      Always bring a few copies of your resume, and, if applicable, a portfolio or samples of your work. I was told once after I had (successfully) interviewed for a job that having a portfolio to show and talk about made me look prepared and professional, especially in contrast to the other finalist who showed up with neither. Also it always look good if an interviewer says “sorry, I don’t have a copy of your resume” and you can say “That’s okay, I have some right here!” You might not end needing any of that, but you never know and it doesn’t hurt!

      Good luck on your interview!

    10. Stormy Weather*

      Hope it went well! Now is the time to write a thank you, and then have a relaxing weekend.

      1. rayray*

        Thank you everyone! Now, I doubt if anyone actually came back to hear my report. I feel like it went well. I think possibly they want someone more experienced, but I dont know for sure. I hope it went well.

        However…I went back to work and at the end of the day was informed that my position was being eliminated, so I was let go. I get three weeks of severance, so I really hope this job works out or that I find something else asap. I’m really okay though. I HATED that job and I’m glad I can really focus on job hunting but I could use a miracle now more than ever.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          I’m glad your interview went okay and so sorry about the lay-off!! I hope you find the right spot really soon.

  6. Nervous Nellie*

    Happy Friday, AAM friends!

    Here’s a new twist in applying online for jobs that has me gobsmacked. Yesterday morning, after I applied to a job online (Indeed) on Wed night, I got this baffling email from ‘Indeed Chat’. It listed the role I had applied to, the exact hours & minutes since I had applied, and provided a link to chat more about it with the employer! Huh? That goes against everything we talk about here. Pestering an employer? Seriously? And a mere 14 hours after submitting my app? Here’s the text of the message:

    “Message this employer directly. On average, candidates are 2x as likely to hear back if they follow up.

    JOB TITLE/COMPANY NAME & CITY LOCATION/ You applied 14 hours and 2 minutes ago

    JUST CLICK THIS LINK: Chat with ‘company name’

    Employers like to hear:
    Why you meet the requirements
    Specific follow up questions
    Personalized message”

    I did not click the link, but I did find the application in Indeed and unsubscribed from these auto-emails. Am I off-base? This seems like techno-gumption, so I am wary. Would love to know what you all think.

    1. Marny*

      Oof. Nooooo. It’s almost like these sites are actively trying to keep people from getting jobs so they’ll have to keep using them.

      1. ampersand*

        Agreed, and good point about job sites keeping themselves in business! I would avoid this at all costs.

          1. Nervous Nellie*

            Zephy, you owe me a new keyboard! I laughed so hard I snorted tea all over it. Thank you for the chuckle. Job searching sure needs more laughs!

      1. Zennish*

        “You just electronically march right in there, and digitally tell them you’re the person for the job!…” #gumption2020

    2. Jimming*

      Did you click the link to see what happened? A quick search on indeed says they don’t give our employer contact info. I wonder if it was their way of including a cover letter after you sent in the resume?

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Hiya Jimming,
        No, I did not click on the link – it looked like a direct chat window like Skype or Slack, which I bet would have alerted the employer that I was contacting them. Steered clear of that! And I had already uploaded a cover letter with the resume. The Indeed upload platform lets you upload as many docs as you want during the application process.

    3. Oh No She Di'int*

      Yeah, getting a bunch of “follow-ups” from people who haven’t even been contacted for an interview yet would quickly get to be annoying AF.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Right???? I would think that the employer would have had to opt in for this as part of their listing package, but can’t find anything anywhere online about it.

    4. Are We There Yet?*

      Ugh. Once I clicked through to a job ad and it kept pestering me about if I had applied yet. You know that joke about kids in the back seat of the car saying “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” It was that, but an AI bot to my email. I don’t use their site now if I can help it.

    5. ArtK*

      Is it possible that this is something that the company has opted into? I don’t know Indeed from the hiring side. Can anyone find out if that’s what’s going on?

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Yeah, I would think that the employer would have had to agree to this feature. Yikes.

        I have been applying on Indeed for a couple of months now, and the other new feature I have seen is actually useful. Long after I applied to a couple of roles at the same company, Indeed sent me two separate updates letting me know if my applications were opened by the employer (one yes, one no) and most usefully, told me how may applicants they received per role (66 and 177) – useful intel that made me sit up straight and pounce on roles the first day I saw them because dang, 177! This may also be an employer-enabled feature, as I have not received it for all of the jobs I have applied for at various employers.

      2. Minimal Pear*

        If it’s the same Indeed Chat that Indeed keeps advertising to employers (I work in recruiting) then yes, it’s opt-in.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Interesting! Thank you, Minimal Pear! So the employer was agreeable to getting chat messages from applicants? If there are dozens of applicants, I bet the ‘pester’ button will get old for them pretty fast. I am still not going to use it. It just feels so pushy!

      3. I'm just here for the cats*

        I’ve applied to a bunch of places on indeed before and not all have this. I think it’s something the employer can opt into. One thing I’m wondering is if recruiters are the ones using this more?

    6. ynotlot*

      Oh God, that explains all the calls I have been getting. Thanks, Indeed. It’s awful from the employer side too. It won’t let me require a cover letter. And if I want to ask ANY application questions other than the basic ones they include (which are like, are you available for a day shift? did you graduate high school?) it includes a GIANT disclaimer that the applicants see: “This questions was added by the employer. You should report inappropriate questions to Indeed. Click this gigantic link to report this question for being illegal.” The question is usually like, why do you want this job.
      In essence, Indeed forces me to take applications that are literally just a form resume, no cover letter, no other information whatsoever (so, a very weak application) and forces applicants to do all kinds of stupid things.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Thanks, ynotlot!

        I wondered about the source of the questions in the little pop-up window that appears when uploading a resume – boilerplate or potentially illegal? Is there no middle ground? LOL.

        I also wondered why it says “upload resume here” and then beneath it, “upload other documents here” without any overt mention of a cover letter. I always add a cover letter in the ‘other docs’ slot, but wonder why they don’t insist on it already. That just drags out the whole process for both sides. Of course, it DOES keep Indeed busy and charging employers for all the ‘extras’. Sigh.

        Great intel – thank you! I learn so much from the AAM brain trust!

    7. Hydrangea McDuff*

      I was just in a webinar that talked about how chatbots are very helpful to HR depts for answering basic questions like benefits, salary, calendar. But definitely not for following up on applications!!

  7. Claire*

    Short version: I might have to give notice/resign during my performance review. I think this is a terrible idea??

    Long version: I have a job offer coming in the next week or so (informal offer has already been made, formal offer is coming soon). I have two bosses, both with very busy calendars and heavy travel schedules. Depending on when I receive and accept the formal offer, it might work out that the soonest chance to meet with my bosses will be during my performance review (which is already scheduled, with both of them, for a few weeks from now). 

    If possible, I’d like to avoid resigning during my review since it could become awkward and my bosses may be frustrated for having spent time preparing my review and then being hit with this news. Other than resigning during my review, my options could be: 

    1. If I accept the offer and still have a few days before the review , try to schedule time with each of my bosses on the phone, despite their busy schedules and traveling.

    2. If the timing doesn’t work, or my bosses both aren’t available by phone, send an email before the review to announce my resignation and say I can explain more during our meeting.

    3. Give notice in person, during my review.

    4. Play it straight during the review, even if I’ve accepted an offer already. Give notice a few days or week after the review, in person or over the phone. (Makes me feel like I’ll be lying during my review, but perhaps the best/safest option)

    Is there another option I’m not considering? What’s the most professional thing to do here? Despite the fact that I’m leaving (and will be giving 4+ weeks notice), I’d like to do right by my bosses and avoid burning a bridge. I’m the only person in my organization who does what I do, so there will likely be a rocky transition period when I leave.

    1. Marny*

      If it was me, I would just tell them at the start of the performance review meeting before getting to the review part. Let them know this is just how the timing worked out and that you didn’t want to inconvenience them by trying to set up a second meeting.

    2. Scarlett*

      I was in your boat, including a very busy, travel-heavy manager (I only had one). I went with option 3 and it worked fine. When the meeting opened, I asked if I could share something before we started on the actual performance review. Once I gave the news and she had time to process, we turned the meeting into an opportunity to talk logistics regarding my exit plan and how to support her and the team in the transition. We also talked about how to share the information with the rest of the team and with my grand-boss. For the record, we didn’t end up talking about my performance review. I guess both of us felt it was a moot point.

      Being a hiring manager myself, I’d say that I would much rather wait a couple more days to have the opportunity to have the conversation in person rather than by phone or email (please try to avoid email!).

        1. Viette*

          Speaking on behalf of email, I’ve used #2 to good effect when I had bosses that were not in the office with me. I was worried they would push back and argue/make counter-offers if I gave them the news in person at a meeting we had coming up (they knew my job sucked but they really didn’t want me to quit). I emailed them the day before the meeting to give notice and said I was letting them know in order to give them some lead time before our meeting tomorrow, but that I would be happy to talk on the phone or in person anytime before then, or we could go over it at the meeting itself.

          It was very well received, I think in part because I made clear that the point of the email was to give them a little time to think about what we needed to talk about before we sat down together.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Due to travel schedules I had to wait to meet with my last boss to tell them that I had accepted a different job. I would be upfront in the meeting. Sometimes that’s just how the timing works out.

    3. MissGirl*

      You’re overthinking it. Just give notice during the review as that seems the most opportune time.

      1. Claire*

        “You’re Overthinking It” aka the title of my life story, haha. Thanks for the input everyone

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      As a manager I would be EXTREMELY TICKED if you knew you were leaving but made me put together all of the review materials — especially if I was extremely busy and trying to put together a review on top of a busy travel schedule. Like, bridge burned level of ticked.Try calling each of them as soon as you are sure you are leaving. If you don’t reach them, leave a clear message “I’m sorry to do this over the phone, but I wanted you to know that I have accepted a new job and my last day will be DATE. I’ll hope we can talk about the transition plan at the time we had scheduled for my review.” Follow up with an email saying the same.

        1. LadyByTheLake*

          Doing thoughtful reviews takes hours (and at my last employer where I had to do them), had a lot of additional work where I had to enter the reviews into a computer and jump through a lot of hoops for even the standard annual increases. Because I was busy during the day with work, meetings and travel, I was having to come back to my hotel and do the reviews late into the night multiple nights. Yes – bridge burning level of ticked if I did that, and showed up for the review only to discover that the person was leaving anyway.

          1. CatCat*

            And the employee is supposed to know this about you how?

            Employees give notice at inconvenient times and it’s a hassle. Yeesh. They’re not trying to harm or annoy you.

            Your ire seems misdirected. It’s your employer that is the one working you so hard that you can’t reasonably fit your work into regular hours.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              This. Reviews are part of a manager’s job, so it’s not the employee’s fault that you aren’t getting the support you need from your own management team to be able to complete them within a reasonable timeframe.

              1. LadyByTheLake*

                Agree — reviews are part of a manager’s job, so every employee understands that prior to the review meeting the manager is going to have to put in a lot of time to prepare for that review meeting. If I found out that an employee knew for (from the posting) weeks ahead of time that the review wasn’t necessary and waited until I had done all the work preparing for the meeting and waited until the meeting itself to spring the news on me that they were leaving I would be extremely annoyed. I agree that it is preferable to give notice in person, but it is MORE important to give notice timely.

                1. spock*

                  They don’t know for sure until they accept an offer. And they have no way to know if you are wrapping up their review material 3 hours before the meeting, or a week before because you have other directs to work on.

                2. Claire*

                  Hit post on accident. Chiming in to say that I don’t know for sure that the review is unnecessary at this point – I have a formal offer, one that I plan to accept, but I’ve learned all too well that nothing is certain until I’ve accepted a formal written offer. Things could still fall through at many different stages of this process

          2. I’ve been working in the Library*

            Yes, this, plus putting together the justification for the rating and pushing for a wage increase. Let them know when you can.

      1. Zudz*

        I’m basically just here to boost LadyByTheLake’s note. I would probably be less bridge-burned feeling, but otherwise we agree.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          It’s not the employee who sets a laborious review process up though – that’s your boss/your company. Don’t take it out on an employee who resigns when it’s right for them. That’s not professional.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Know how your company handles raises. At some places, there’s a fixed % to be distributed among the group, and if A gets a big raise, B,C&D get less. PLUS if A leaves, their increase does not get passed on to the co-workers.

      2. MissGirl*

        I’m with CatCat. This is an extreme reaction. She isn’t procrastinating by weeks; it’s a few days. People resign during inopportune times all the time. It may be you lose some time with a review, or you took on a project specifically because of her, or everyone has vacations coming up. There’s no perfect time to resign that doesn’t come without a degree of inconvenience.

      3. Catalyst*

        I think that it depends on how the review process at that company works. I have my employee reviews done (and did at my last company too) weeks before that actual review meeting because it had to be reviewed by so many other levels, so an email or call a few days before the review meeting would make no difference for saving me time/effort.

      4. HM MM*

        Yeah – I would STRONGLY prefer to get info that is time sensitive in a non-ideal manner (via email), than have that info withheld solely for the sake of decorum.

        That said, I would not be bridge burning levels of ticked at the employee, I’d just be annoyed at the situation as a whole.

      5. OhCanary*

        On the opposite side, OP, I wouldn’t be ticked at all. As a manager of a large team I have to complete the review process as long as you’re still on payroll — which you are for x amount of weeks after you give notice anyway.

        I wouldn’t fret if I were you.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I would definitely go with options 1 or 2 if possible, but if not, 3. Definitely, definitely don’t do 4. The one thing I’m thinking of that means it might not make a huge deal for them to have to do the work review in spite of your departure is that given your notice period, it might be that HR would make them do the review anyway even though you’re leaving: I’m pretty sure this would be the case where I work. But it would still be good to give them that advance notice so they have context. The only reason I WOULDN’T give them advance notice would be if you felt like they might be vindictive, and sabotage your final performance review–particularly if that would impact any bonus you might receive for work already done.

      1. Claire*

        This actually might be a concern so I appreciate you bringing that up. One of my bosses can be a bit unpredictable unfortunately

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      When I left my last job, I put in my notice the next business day after my review (review was on a Friday, notice went in Monday morning) – I had verbally accepted my job offer two weeks prior, but due to my company’s hiring approval process, didn’t get an actual letter to sign until Sunday afternoon, so I wasn’t going to put in notice until I had my letter and start date in hand. Plus, I also wanted to get my quarterly bonus, so I needed to wait until that check cleared my bank. The timing sucked for my boss, and she was definitely blindsided because I gave no hints about leaving during my review (I barely said a word during it and even when she asked if I had any feedback about her performance, I just said, “Nope”), but it is what it is. Sometimes these things just happen, but as long as you’re professional when you resign and finish out your notice period on a high note, you’re good.

    7. Rose Tyler*

      Are you in a role where you’d be eligible for a bonus based on performance where it should still pay out before you leave? That’s the only reason I’d wait until after a review. Just something to keep in mind.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that you have the offer in writing and that all the background checks and references are done before you resign.

      In terms of timing – you’ll also want to make sure that you give adequate notice to your current employer. If that means resigning over the phone and following that up with an email, I would do that rather than waiting an extra week to resign in person. Esp. if it means you might be squeezed on time between leaving the one role and starting the other – people often want to take at least a few days off in between, and having that break is important to rest up, etc.

    9. Clementine*

      I am surprised by the managers who would be ticked off. The review would be due anyway in most cases. But what this response suggests to me is that if you expect a good review, is to get that on the books before you resign, as otherwise your manager might still do the review but grade you worse out of revenge. So I would probably get the review, and then give notice a few days later.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Managers who are hard to pin down personally like this are the ones you shouldn’t bend over backwards to tell in person! It’s not reasonable at all. You want to give notice as soon as you can without putting anyone out in the end. I wouldn’t put it off once it’s a firm launch date, do it on the phone and then opt for email if that doesn’t work.

      They know this is how it works when they’re out of the office and don’t get a lot of face time with you!

      I honestly don’t care in the end, resigning with plenty of notice is all that really can be asked for in the end. I roll my eyes heavily at the idea that we need to do it specifically in person. Just do it professionally, don’t play games, etc. “I am resigning from my position effective June 17th. I’ve taken a new job and would like to work with you to work through our transition period!” boom boom boom.

      It’s nice if you can stop by someone’s office or schedule a sit down meeting but it’s just that. Nice. Not required. Anyone who burns a bridge over it being over email instead and has a hectic schedule is a beast.

    11. Bluebell*

      I wonder if #2 would be easier for your two bosses, in that they could touch base before your joint meeting and discuss transition with each other? Once I gave notice during a mid year evaluation check-in and told my boss before she started her remarks. Sadly, she couldn’t resist telling me that she had been planning to give me negative feedback, and that she was planning to hire someone over me. So it looks like I got out just in time!

    12. Thankful for AAM*

      Why not meet with or call your direct boss as soon as you have a formal offer and know you will accept it? Why do both have to be there for you to give notice? Your direct boss can tell the other or ask you to.

      I would think knowing ahead allows both to get their ducks in a row so that the one time all 3 of you are in the same place, they can focus on transition questions and plans. If they are first presented with your notice they might not be able to shift from review to what do we do mode effectively.

      Also, no matter the review process, I think timely notice is more important than in person notice. We see this in other letters here and the answer is a phone call to an off site direct manager is fine.

  8. Not So Super-visor*

    TLDR:how to handle feedback from a difficult employee
    Long version: I have an employee with several performance issues. To complicate things, he is entitled and condescending. He’s told me how to do my job, other employees how to do their job, and even other managers how to do their job even though he started this position with zero knowledge of the industry. We’ve had multiple discussions. I’ve even shut him down on one occassion and told him he needed to rephrase things when he told me that I “owed” him something (the gender dynamics and the gist of the whole conversation was way off). He is the kind of person who you have to be very direct with feedback otherwise he only hears the good. My big boss made this mistake when giving feedback but tried to soften it by saying he knew that his “heart was in the right place.” Several times when I’ve brought up the reoccuring issue, he tells me that big boss knows that his heart is in the right place. I was there for the conversation… that wasn’t the point.
    Since we are a coverage-based position, we have general times that certain tasks should take. This employee frequently ignores this and most tasks take much longer than they should. The other week, he was marked as working on a certain task, but I could see that he had already taken 3x the time he should have taken on it. I was on a conference call, so I sent an IM telling him that he needed to wrap up X task because the Y tasks were overflowing and more important. I could see from across the room in our open office setting that it popped up on his screen. Ten minutes later, he was still working on low priority task X. I excused myself from my call, went over to his desk, and (admittedly somewhat angrily) told him that he needed to wrap up X now and jump into the Y queue. He made an excuse that he was trying, but I insisted that he needed to wrap it up. He did so. I reviewed his task the next day, and I realized that it was a similar situation to something that we discussed before and that he should have escalated it to the correct team without handling it. I called him into big boss’ office to find out why he hadn’t escalated since we’d talked about this. He made various excuses that big boss shot down, and since he was getting any where with big boss decided to point out that he didn’t “appreciate” my “tone” when I came to talk to him. Big boss again did not cave in and told him that this is the last time that we’re discussing this issue without a PIP being created.
    So here is where I am: I admit (now) that my tone was somewhat hostile and that I shouldn’t have let my frustration get the better of me. If this was someone in my personal life, I’d apologize, explain why I was frustrated, and thank them for calling me on my attitude. I don’t think that I can do that in this situation given his overall attitude towards pretty much everyone. Should I just suck it up and be the better person? Thoughts? Advice?

    1. hbc*

      Don’t apologize. You know that he’ll take that as an admission that He Is Right and You Are Wrong even if you spend 5 words on the apology and 500 words on how badly he’s screwing up.

      And frankly, he earned that tone. If complains about it again, you should tell him that he can avoid hearing it by not ignoring you when you give him direct instructions.

      1. Grey Coder*

        Agree 100%. He started talking about your “tone” because he knew he was in the wrong on the facts and was trying to derail the conversation. Don’t let him.

        1. Campfire Raccoon*

          Exactly! Him bringing up “tone” is a COMPLETE deflection of responsibility. It’s just something for him to get his teeth into.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Tone is a thing generally used on women who dare to disagree with someone who has more power than them. Seriously, has it ever been used in any other way?

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I only got to the end of your first paragraph when I thought “This employee needs to be fired.”

      Make sure you have all of this documented, and don’t worry that your tone was somewhat hostile. This employee isn’t doing his job properly, he should have been on a PIP a long time ago, and it’s perfectly okay to Not Be Completely Friendly when you have to tell someone repeatedly to do the thing they are supposed to be doing.

      1. Fikly*

        100% agree. Attitude is a work performance issue! If someone is doing all their job tasks right but is a nightmare to work with, they should be fired. This person is doing tons of their job tasks wrong and is a nightmare to work with, why do they still have a job?

    3. Havarti*

      Honestly even without the attitude, he doesn’t sound like a great employee work-wise. PIP him or fire him. Apologizing to him means he’ll only hear he was right and you were wrong. Ideally we should be nice but he needs to pull his own weight too and it sounds like he’s not and he tried to wiggle out of that by making this about your tone and not why he didn’t do the thing in the first place.

    4. SC in NC*

      Why have you not already terminated this employee? Let’s look at it another way, if he walked into your office tomorrow and said he was leaving the company would you be glad? Do you think you could find someone markedly better?

      Right now you have an under performing employee who is entitled and condescending to you and his fellow employees. If you REALLY think he can turn this around he needs to be on a PIP yesterday. If not, it may be time to cut your losses and move on. Not everyone can be rescued.

      1. valentine*

        Why have you not already terminated this employee?
        Even if they didn’t let you replace him, aren’t you spending more time chasing him, and the team waiting for him to do his job, than any of you would on picking up the official slack?

        If he struggled with inertia,he would be finding ways to get x out of sight so he doesn’t have to tear himself away. Instead, he’s insubordinate, retaliatory, and derailing.

        I don’t see the point of giving him so many chances pre-PIP and I hope nothing else will deter you from it. However, what are you going to do if he improves enough to survive the PIP? Can it include a clause for when he gets back into his skiving mood?

        What if you exclude him from x and have him only do y? Because if he only has y to do, let’s see how well he does it and what new and pedestrian excuses he can make for not doing it.

    5. Holy Moley*

      Do not apologize or suck it up. He is an employee who was told to stop doing X for Y. He didnt do it. Frankly, you should have put him on a PIP that day if this is an ongoing problem.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “We expect that Task X takes # minutes. If it goes over that, it may have needed to be escalated. Here’s the training materials that outline the process. Task Y is higher priority. If asked to drop Task X for Y, either it gets escalated, put aside, or finished in no more than # minutes.
      Do you have questions about our process?
      No?
      OK, so it won’t happen again, and we can move forward.”
      Rinse, repeat, and document for the PIP.

    7. Emilitron*

      Maybe he didn’t appreciate your tone; but you’re right that telling him “sorry I did that” won’t help you or him. So how does one really truly apologize? You recognize the faults, you make plans to do better, you change your habits, and you make efforts to avoid doing it again. It’s widely accepted that saying “sorry I did that” with no plans to change isn’t helpful; so flip it around, and since you know telling him “sorry” isn’t helpful anyway, just plan to work on not expressing frustration with all your OTHER employees. Take a minute to thank him for calling you out so that others can benefit from it, and maybe you’ll also show less frustration with him too. But don’t let the social dance of “he said he didn’t appreciate, therefore I must now apologize” get in the way of this guy understanding that he needs to change his ways.

    8. InsertCleverNameHere*

      I wouldn’t go to this employee but it might be something to discuss with Big Boss, and that what you’re going to take away from this challenge is working on how to moderate your tone better. It sounds like you didn’t need this employee to tell you your tone was inappropriate so this isn’t a case where taking the employee’s feedback is really the point. In discussions about his performance, the discussion is about HIM and not about you. It’s up to your manager to discuss your performance with you.

      1. halfwolf*

        i second this. if you feel like he’s right (as annoying as that probably is!), take the feedback internally, figure out how you want to incorporate it, and think about whether it’s worth discussing with your boss. (a one-time slip-up after this much frustration? probably not worth it. if it keeps happening? consider it, at least so that your boss knows it’s something on your radar that you’re working on.)

      2. ten-four*

        Ooh, I’m not sure I’d take pre-emptively claim “tone management” as a failing to your boss. You mentioned that there’s some gender dynamics in play, so I’m going to assume you’re a woman. I agree with the commenter upthread that this guy knew you were right on facts so he shifted to your tone as a way to make this a “both sides” problem. Why would you take his defensive comment as feedback delivered in good faith?

        This guy sounds like a bad employee who should be fired. I don’t see any reason for you to take his word for it that the real lesson here is for you to be nicer, and there are definitely downsides to planting the idea that you have “tone” problems with your boss. Lots of people have deep-seated issues with competent women in authority – no need to assign yourself a sexist label.

        I think the commenter who said you could take it as in internal note to moderate tone has the right idea, and I do agree that if your BOSS thinks you need to moderate your tone then that’s something to pay attention to. But I bet real money that if you talked to your boss about this and said “I want to loop back to this – I was short and frustrated, but not loud or hurtful. Did I hit the balance right, or should I rethink?” the boss will tell you that you did the right thing.

    9. Oh No She Di'int*

      I am 100% certain this employee is going to end up fired. I say that with such certainty because that seems to be the direction it’s going AND you seem to having the backing of your boss. So this guy is history. It’s just a matter of time. For that reason, don’t worry about apologizing. Just document everything so that the inevitable firing is as smooth as possible.

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      Oh Pul-EEZE. This is a terrible, rude belligerent employee who should have already been fired and you are worried about your tone? This guy is gaslighting you — don’t fall for it.

      1. Clisby*

        Seconded. It sounds like your tone was because of your frustration with HIS deliberate disregard for what you’d told him to do. Now, if you had expressed frustration because, earlier that morning, your teenager drove you to the brink of madness and you hadn’t had time to stop seething – THEN you’d owe him an apology.

    11. Blueberry*

      Have you heard of the Tone Argument wrt to political discussions? He’s pulling it in real life with you as a last-ditch method to discredit everything you’ve tried to say to him.

      Good luck dealing with this person. Ugh.

    12. Jules the First*

      This is (somewhat flippantly, but also somewhat not) why Catholics have confession. You did a slightly bad thing when badly provoked. You have confessed your bad thing (to the AAM forum) and expressed your genuine remorse for doing the bad thing. You are forgiven and there is no need to apologise. Hang in there!

    13. CM*

      I apologize for losing my temper when I lose my temper, even if the other person was also wrong.

      I think the more important issue in that your boss is the one who keeps talking to him about his performance and about whether he’s going to be dismissed if it doesn’t improve. That suggests to me that you don’t have the power to fire him, which means you can’t really manage him. Not because you should threaten to fire people as a way to make them comply — because, if you want this guy to do A and he wants to do B, and you’re just stuck with him no matter what he decides, you effectively have no way to change what’s getting done, since the only way you COULD change it would be to replace him with someone willing to do A.

      The way you describe the situation right now, it sounds like you’re maybe supervising some of his work, but he’s reporting to your boss and not you. If that’s the way it’s supposed to be, and you’re not held accountable for his work, then, fine. Just keep reporting what he does to your boss and don’t worry about whether he changes his behaviour, because it’s not your problem. But if you’re supposed to be his manager, something’s really wrong with the dynamic right now, because you don’t have the power to do your job.

      And, I think sorting out that problem, no matter which answer it is, will help you not lose your temper in the future. Because either you’ll have the power to do something about the situation or you can mentally take a step back and decide it doesn’t matter if he does what you asked him to do, because it’s your boss’ job to deal with him if he doesn’t.

    14. Panthera uncia*

      Would a man apologize to this guy? I doubt it. He was directly insubordinate. Stop worrying about being nice, and worry about being effective.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        Bingo to that is the tone when an employee is insubordinate multiple times and has been given clear direction about it.

        And I would say that directly if he says any thing to you again about your tone. “I’m not surprised you noticed a strong tone of disapproval in my voice, that is the tone of a manager speaking to an insubordinate employee after multiple discussions about the issues.”

        Now if you yell and ranted and raved and generally made a scene, that was too far (but I hope you had fun!)

    15. learnedthehardway*

      Don’t apologize – if your exasperation showed, and all the employee noted was that you were exasperated with him, by failed to acknowledge that you have a real reason for being exasperated, then he hasn’t even now gotten the point. Besides which, the employee was trying to deflect from being the person on the carpet for their performance, not really trying to express that they were offended by your attitude.

      If you apologize, the employee is just going to take it as carte blanche to continue their behaviour.

      Instead, I would suggest that being considered a hard ass is the way to go – you can apply the carrot when the employee does something worth praising.

    16. so many questions*

      Don’t apologize. This guy should be apologizing to you, and he’s just trying to flip that as a power move. Don’t give him that, he doesn’t deserve it!

    17. Not So NewReader*

      “Should I just suck it up and be the better person? Thoughts? Advice?”

      What-the-what! NOOOOO.
      Do NOT apologize.
      If you do, then you will see that it:

      1) Undermines what your boss is trying to do.
      2) Undermines yourself.
      3) Does nothing as he will not change.
      4) Causes him to declare open season on you and pick at everything you do.

      There are proper ways of showing anger and there are practical uses for feelings of frustration. My suggestion is that instead of doing anything at work, read up on this type of thing at home. Your last paragraph concerns me that you may think that all anger and all frustration is unjustified and that is simply NOT true. It’s how we use that anger/frustration that we need to understand and control. This is not a waste of time, you will find it useful knowledge over and over again.

    18. Mr. Shark*

      Definitely do not apologize.
      If you have a discussion with him again, you can tell him specifically your frustration is because he is not following your instructions, and not meeting your expectations.

    19. Part Time Poet*

      Btw, there is a whole lot of guidance from Alison on this site as to how to handle this employee. Her site is very searchable for these topics. As a devoted reader, I am pretty sure she would ask why you haven’t fired him already. I’m concerned, too, that you are more concerned about your tone in confronting him when he was absolutely in the wrong than you are about firing him to preserve the integrity of the rest of your team and the work that needs to be done. His attitude must also be affecting the rest of your team. What about how they feel about working with him, especially since he seems to be clogging up the work flow with his obstinate behavior?

      I know from personal management experience, that once the disruptive bad apples are gone, the good employees are so happy and much more motivated and productive without the pall of the bad seeds being there everyday spreading their vermin.

  9. Help*

    There is tension between my coworker “Medusa” and I. Ever since I’ve started this position, Medusa has made it clear that she doesn’t like me. Unfortunately, we share a cubicle in a very small space, so moving around is not an option.

    I’ll be working at my desk and Medusa seems to want to rub salt into the wound- she’ll make comments like, “Thank you, John. You’re so nice, unlike SOME people”. She alternates between doing that and ignoring me. (I like the ignoring part better.)

    She’s older than me and often talks to me like I’m a child or talks down to me.

    She and the boss are friends, plus Medusa is the Queen of Manipulation and acts like the victim. She runs and tells the boss everything so I’d still be the one in trouble.

    Unless I magically find a new job and can leave, how do I deal with this? How do you work with people like this? Why do they get away with this?

    1. Leisel*

      She’s making those comments to get a rise out of you, so don’t give her the satisfaction. Do what Alison suggests and think of it as entertainment. Keep a tally of how many times a day she does something like that (if you think that’s fun). If you have 5 tally marks at the end of the day go buy yourself a treat!

      Good luck. I know you’re not in a comfortable spot, so I hope things improve…or you find a better job!

      1. BadWolf*

        And possibly kill her with kindness. “You’re so nice, unlike SOME people.” “Oh no, Medusa, who’s been unkind to you.”

        The risk is that she tells the boss that you’ve been sarcastic to you. So it depends if the boss will believe that, or think such complaints are absurd.

            1. Quill*

              I advise NOT doing a shot of water for every snake in Medeusa’s hair that sneers at you.

        1. Wired Wolf*

          I love that…we have a ‘supervisor’ whose actions would be perfect (we can probably come up with enough variations on his idiocy to make a full game board).

    2. Nanc*

      Be polite. Be professional. Get out of the cube for breaks and lunch. If you’re not allowed to wear headphones try some low-key earplugs in the ear nearest her. Go home and throw darts at her picture.
      The petty part of me would start agreeing with everything she says.
      “You’re so right, Medusa–John is nice! It’s like he’s the king of planet Nice!”
      “You’re so right, Medusa–it’s silly that 2+2 always has to be 4! This is the 21st century–it should be whatever we need it to be to make the numbers agree!”
      “You’re so right, Medusa–just because I have a degree in and passed the state exam on SKILL I should always defer to your knowledge–you know everything, just like Hermione Granger!”
      Keep job searching. Even if it’s just one application a week, you’ll feel better knowing you’re working towards a good change. Hang in there and let us know how it goes.

    3. Colette*

      I once had a job where a coworker was repeatedly rude and hostile to me, and it was very hurtful. I looked in our manager over one incident, but then I basically decided that I didn’t care what she thought and just minimized how much I dealt with her. Is there any way you can just find her pettiness funny? I mean, comments like “you’re so nice, unlike some people” are pretty petty. What if you just decided you didn’t want the good opinion of someone like that?

    4. Holy Moley*

      Im curious, have you tried talking to her to see why she doesn’t like you? Ignoring you sounds nice but she still needs to be professional in a work setting. Has she given some lame excuse?

      I think they best way to deal with it would be to kill her with kindness, thats what Im currently doing with the office grouch and she seems to be warming up. Im always professional with her, greet her cheerfully, and then I move on.

      The only suggestion I have is to keep your head down, do well on your work and look for lateral moves out of that cubicle.

      1. RedLineInTheSand*

        “I think they best way to deal with it would be to kill her with kindness”

        This reminded me of a comedy sketch, but I don’t know who to credit:

        Kill her with kindness, sure, but wouldn’t it be easier to use a knife? And maybe just call your knife, “Kindness”

        LOL

    5. Mel_05*

      This is an obnoxious way to have to deal with this, but I find it very effective.

      I’m insanely nice.

      It makes it impossible for stuff to stick to you and as an added bonus – jerks HATE it. But decent people who were accidents being jerky will feel guilty and become nicer.

      To be clear, this is not my natural state of being. I am sarcastic and impatient. But, this is how I handle jerks and it’s worth it.

      1. miss_chevious*

        I do the same! I am also naturally sarcastic, and I find the Turning On The Nice really satisfying in a petty and Not Nice way.

    6. Merci Dee*

      Yeah. This behavior speaks absolute volumes about the kind of person Medusa is, and says nothing about you as a person at all. Chances are good that the other people in your office are aware of her tactics and realize that you’re nothing but the most convenient victim.

      Good luck!

    7. qtippyqueen*

      I have a coworker who is certainly related to Cruella De Vil. She has a similar style to Medusa.
      I just have to keep telling myself I need to be kind and professional, because I am a kind and professional person. They are probably a deeply unhappy person. They have to live with that 24/7. You just have to deal with it at work.
      And sometimes just laughing internally at how outrageous or ridiculous they can be helps. Also kickboxing and imagining their face as a target helps :).

    8. BadWolf*

      I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to do this, but maybe indirectly call her on it. Say on a Friday, “Hey Medusa, I feel like we got off on the wrong foot from the beginning. I’m sorry about that. Maybe on Monday, can pretend that we’ve started over?”

      I mean, if she’s a total jerk, nothing will probably change. But it’s possible it will startle her out of her habits (and she’ll probably direct them elsewhere).

      I had someone that was really annoying to me do this to me and, friends, it worked. I felt bad that my annoyance was coming through and I appreciated they had the self awareness to realize something was going on and possibly caused by them. I named the top thing that was bugging me. And our relationship was much better. Caveat: We worked remotely from each other, so the scale is a lot different than officemates.

    9. Threeve*

      When I’ve worked with awful people, my mantra is: I’m so glad I’m not her. Being her must be horrible.

      Try to retell the story to everyone you can. If you haven’t been there for very long, mention to your boss how well you’re getting along. “Oh, I know she’s used to having her own space, and would prefer I’m not right on top of her, so I totally get why she’s sometimes not the happiest with me. But on the whole I think we’re getting used to sharing the cube, and I do really like her!”

      Pretend to everyone that you think all the witchiness doesn’t bother you (she’s not a complete a-hole, just a crankypants sometimes!) and it will seem weird and unkind for her to keeping indicating that she sincerely dislikes you when it’s obviously all on her end.

      Even to Medusa, if the opportunity arises: “It’s hard to share such a small space, but it’s great that we’re finally starting to adapt, isn’t it?”

      You’ll back her into having to agree to minor frustrations but overall okay-ness, or into openly saying what she’s so far been passive-aggressive about.

      You can’t do anything about her behavior, but you can try to control the narrative.

    10. inoffensive nickname*

      I think I would feign pity and sincerity and say, “You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself, Medusa. I think you’re very nice, in spite of what everyone else says.” I’m guessing her response would be highly entertaining.

      1. Auntie Social*

        “Me?? Why Medusa, I’m as nice as I *can* be” (the implication being that if she weren’t a raging beeyotch you could have nice personal interplay). Follow with large fake smile (this is optional).

    11. CM*

      You could just embrace your new identity as Medusa’s nemesis and decide you don’t want her to like you. If you can get there, mentally, it can actually be kind of fun — like Reputation-era Taylor Swift deciding she’s a snake.

      If that’s not how you feel, though, it’s harder.

      I think one way to approach it would be to actually say to Medusa, “I get the feeling you don’t like sharing a cube with me.”

      At that point, if she indicates that she doesn’t, you can calmly talk about whether there are options to switch cube mates (especially if she has more clout and influence than you do). See if she’d rather switch, if she thinks there’s someone she could ask to switch, etc. If she indicates that it’s impossible to switch cubes, then you say, “I guess we’re stuck with each other, then. Could you stop [doing whatever she does/saying whatever she says that makes you feel unwelcome]?”

      If she says something sarcastic about how she’s thrilled that you’re there, say, “It sounds like you’re being sarcastic.” And then explain that when she talks to you like that, it makes you feel unwelcome, but, if that’s not how she feels, then you must have misunderstood. And then, when she says and does the stuff she says and does from that point forward, you can point it out and say, “This is an example of the stuff I was talking about. When you say [whatever it is] I feel like you’re trying to tell me you don’t want me here.” The goal in this case is to make her have a tedious conversation about her intentions every time she does it, so that she’ll probably stop.

      If she straight-up says she’s fine with having you in the cube, and doesn’t seem to be being sarcastic (whether it’s a lie or she’s being sincere) you can go straight to saying that, when she says stuff like X, it makes you feel like she doesn’t want to share a space with you, and then call out examples in the moment, similar to above.

      1. SlippingTheLeash*

        I like this. Also handy is:
        “Thank you, John. You’re so nice, unlike SOME people”
        “I don’t understand, Medusa — what do you mean?”

        Make her say it.

        1. anonymouslee*

          That seems weird when she’s not talking to you. If I were John it would come off strange that you were interrupting with that and taking it personally.

    12. HM MM*

      Some people have already suggested stuff similar to this, but I frame it (for myself) in a specific way:

      Play dumb. Dumb and harmless is vibe I go for. I pretend like I didn’t hear or don’t understand their snide comments. Or agree with them/refuse to engage or acknowledge the barbs. (ex: Me: Where can I get the purple folders? Medusa: I’d think someone who’s been here for two years would know something like that. Me: *blank face with half smile” Oh, well, guess I missed that. So where are those purple folders? *big smile* – or “Yep, my memory is awful. So purple folder?”).

      People do stuff like this to provoke some sort of reaction out of you. If you don’t give them the reaction they’re hoping for 9 out of 10 times they’ll get bored and cut it out. At least with the actively obnoxious stuff. I also frame it for myself as: isn’t it hilarious how easy it was for me to convince this jerk that I’m a ditzy smiling idiot. The jerk thinks they’re alpha/”in charge” one, but I’m actually the one manipulating them. An they don’t even know it.

    13. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Document, document, document. Definitely document every time Medusa is rude to you, etc. That way, if she ever tries to play the victim and run to the boss to tell on you, you can send Boss your documented interactions with Medusa. Be sure and mention that her rudeness and unprofessional behavior make you uncomfortable and keep you from focusing on your job. Medusa sounds absolutely vile.

    14. Minimax*

      Are you sure she is friends with the manager? If yes you have a manager problem more then a coworker problem!

  10. Freelancing LLC*

    Has anyone started an LLC (or similar) for freelancing or contract work? A new freelancer at my FTP position won’t stop raving about the benefits of working under her own business. As a freelancer myself who often works through a temp agency, I always thought it seemed like an unnecessary layer of complication. Experiences?

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I started out as a freelancer. Eventually I found that I could not handle all the business coming my way, so I started an LLC to facilitate the process of hiring subcontractors and helpers. That eventually morphed into a “real” business with 8 full-time employees. That’s not the right path for everyone, but I have definitely enjoyed it. What specifically does your coworker say is so great about it?

      1. Freelancing LLC*

        What specifically does your coworker say is so great about it?

        She really touts the tax benefits. She has multiple endeavors, so some of her jobs are just her providing a service that takes place in an office environment, while others involve her doing creative performances and paying out to other artists who assist her. (Say, something like doing voice-overs for corporations while also singing in a band.)

        I only do the office-style freelancing, not the creative stuff, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it on my end. I also only work solo; I don’t have any interest in subcontracting or hiring my own employees.

        1. JessicaTate*

          So your question is freelancing as an employee of a temp agency (you get a W2 from the agency) vs as an independent contractor (you get a 1099 from the client – regardless of whether you are an LLC), right? Those are two very different situations, and you’d have to sit down and do the math to figure out if there’s a benefit for you.

          If you switch, you take on the administration side that I assume the agency handles (billing, contracting, etc.), as well as being responsible for paying the employer share of federal employment taxes (about doubling what they take out of your paycheck), managing your estimated payments, etc. If there are any other benefits you get from the agency (PTO, insurances – a long shot, probably), you’d be responsible for those now too.

          On the flipside, you would presumably be able to charge more than the hourly rate on your current paycheck. The temp agency is charging a fee on top of whatever you make – at the very least, you could expect that you could get that amount. And you would now be able to write off any business expenses that aren’t reimbursed by the client on Schedule C of your taxes – where you report business income, expenses, rather than through the W2/wages section. (Do you have a lot of expenses?) However, when I started needing to do a Schedule C, I realized the base software (e.g., Turbo Tax) was more expensive.

          So, I think the basic question is whether this is true:
          Higher Hourly Rate + Business Expenses you’re “eating” now – $$ of Employer Tax Responsibility – Your Time of Administering the Business Side > Hourly Rate as Employee of Agency + Not Worrying about all of this?

          The Single Member LLC is generally just a legal protection, not a taxation thing. You’re still a sole proprietor from a tax p.o.v. Unless you opt to be taxed as an S-Corp or C-Corp – which is way beyond what you need.

          1. Natalie*

            If your Schedule C is still easy enough that you’re self-preparing you might look at FreeTaxUSA. I switched after having a small heart attack over how much more Intuit thought a Schedule C should cost.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm, there aren’t any tax benefits to having an LLC. Do you know what she means by that?

          (I have one and it makes no difference; I really don’t need one other than that in Virginia it allows me to buy my own employer health plan instead of having to use the marketplace, and that has been amazing.)

          Maybe she means she’s making more money working as a 1099 contractor, but you don’t need an LLC to do that.

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            Right. In fact, that’s part of the point of an LLC. It’s a pass-through entity, so from a tax perspective, your business earnings are considered identical to personal income.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      There are trade offs. I switched from working through agencies to having my own LLC:
      Upside: My income immediately tripled (and in recent years is five times what I made previously).
      Downsides: I went from being an employee of the agency to having to pay the employer SSN contribution and my own health insurance — the health insurance didn’t matter because the agency didn’t supply it. In any event, the increased income easily covered the difference.
      I have to do the billing and collecting — not that much harder because I already had to fill out detailed time sheets for the agency.
      I have to deal with the accounting and stuff, but once I got it set up it is pretty easy.
      I have to get my own clients — not really an issue because I have five main clients who keep me busy.
      Bottom line — going out on my own was very, very good for me, but there were some up front hassles.

    3. MoopySwarpet*

      I have. The biggest (to me) benefit is having full separation for easier tax tracking. I also like the anonymity and degree of separation if there happen to be any legal complications. If you use an agent your name isn’t even tied to it in the public databases. The cost is maybe a couple hundred a year to keep it up if using an agent and under $100 to do it yourself.

      1. CTT*

        Caveat on your name not being tied to it; that’s really dependent on the state you’re in. Some states like Delaware have no information available on their secretary of state website other than the registered agent, some have principal office address + your name out there for free, and all states make that info available for a fee.

      2. Natalie*

        LLCs are disregarded entities for income tax purposes, there’s really nothing about them that would create separation that isn’t achieved by just having separate accounts. Which any freelancer/small business owner should anyway.

    4. Mama Bear*

      I did but then I didn’t have enough work to justify the ongoing costs so I dropped it. It depends on what your goals are. If you prefer the temp agency handle things like taxes, then maybe the LLC isn’t right for you.

    5. AndersonDarling*

      I just break out my freelance income into the Schedule C form when I do my taxes. I can write off my expenses and give Uncle Sam his share. I would only consider the LLC route if I thought I could get sued and needed to protect my personal assets or I had so much income that I needed keep it separate from other income. You may want to start with Schedule C and work your way up.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Do you work with a CPA for your taxes annually? It’s best to speak with them, as they know your situation better than we do! It will depend on your financial “stuff”. Your actual overhead and your amount of work, as demonstrated in the comments so far :)

      It’s worth really looking into and seeing if it’s a thing you would benefit from. It is not a one shop stop kind of thing.

      You’re working through a temp agency, so they’re cutting you W2, right? If you’re still a W2 employee, you have no reason to really have an LLC. Cutting out that middle man only works when you’re established in a network. And your temp contract has some fine print about how they can’t just come hire you without going through the temp agency for a certain amount of time, so your network is different in your setup than a true freelancer setup.

    7. dealing with dragons*

      An LLC can protect you personally from lawsuits you business may get. That’s the limited liability part – it can be good as a small line of defense for a small business. My husband has one just to help with the separation of personal and business and to protect our personal assets from seizure if anything would happen, but he doesn’t really use it anymore so it’s moot.

  11. Unsolicited*

    Rant about weird interview

    After participating in a 40-minute phone screening and sending four writing samples, I was invited to 2-hour in-person interview. 

    I spent a lot of time reviewing the company’s website, updating my resume with my most recent volunteering and ongoing educational efforts. I also reviewed the job description for how it aligned with my experience, so I could address any questions.

    All of my efforts proved fruitless because the interviewers decided going through my college experience, including my clubs and internship experience, and every job I’ve had since was the best use of time.  The first 15 minutes of the interview was allocated to asking me about the highs and lows of my college experience from nearly 20 years ago. Each of my positions was vetted and the same strengths and weakness questions were asked at every turn. Then, I discussed in polite terms why I left my last job (serious financial issues). 

    As an added oddity, the CEO came in late and brought with her an outdated version of my resume from when I applied for a lower-level position more than a year ago. The hiring manager had a version of my resume from when I applied this January. I did mention to the CEO that she had an old version of my resume and provided her and the hiring manager with the newest version. Neither used the new information or asked me about the most current experiences. This is the first time I’ve had an interviewer knowingly use an outdated resume as a point of reference during an interview. 

    Only in the last 10 minutes or so was I allowed to ask any questions about the position, the office layout and whether the position was new. A telling fact was that the hiring manager and the CEO could not agree on how to answer. The manager said yes, but the CEO said no and the position was created to “offload work from the manager.”  So, isn’t that a new role then? 

    I took four computerized writing tests (three were 15 minutes and one was 5 minutes) and made casual conversation with the hiring manager at the end of the interview. On my way out, I solicited her advice on what I should continue to study in terms of professional development (SEO, SEM, Google Analytics and AdWords, etc.).  She said being single-skilled was adequate, and I shouldn’t focus on the tech angle too much.

    I left the interview feeling frustrated that after 3 hours and 10 minutes of interviewing I still have no idea about the specifics of the position (salary range, PTO, health insurance, professional development, etc.).  I cannot tell if this type of interview is common for small agencies, 10 employees, who have a single founder in the same role for nearly 30 years. The woman who established the company did so as her second job out of college.

    Any thoughts or commiseration to share? I’m no longer really interested in the position but feeling as though I wasted a lot of time and energy preparing for and participating in two interviews.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      This may require a big ol’ latte and a muffin for recuperation.

      And if they can’t give you better information at offer time, feel free to make them go through lots of hoops to get you to consider the offer and then tell them no thanks.

    2. it happens*

      They’ve told you who they are, believe them. You wasted some time, annoying, but you can just let them go now. Sorry

      1. Unsolicited*

        Thanks!

        You are completely correct that I now have a much more realistic view of the company and its leadership than the website and social media posts showed me.

        1. Mama Bear*

          This is the silver lining – now you know that it’s not worth applying to their postings anymore and have a story to tell. Very bizarre behavior on their part.

    3. Faith*

      I’d take it as at least an orange flag, because that sounds like a really bizarre interview. Definitely not the norm/common.

      1. Unsolicited*

        I appreciate your assurance that this is an uncommon way to interview. It’s the first time I’ve encountered an interview that started with a detailed examination of my college experience. I didn’t discuss my college classes or clubs this much for my very first job.

        1. Pilcrow*

          The focus on college stuff makes me wonder if they are used to hiring recent grads. That or they got some real bad advice about how college experience predicts job performance or some such nonsense. However, none of that is an excuse to not be flexible enough to change up the interview when you have someone with a few (or many) years of actual job experience to talk about.

          Your experience sort of reminds me of an application process I had where they gave me coding tests (for a non coding job) and had me submit a college transcript when I graduated 15 years prior. All in all they gave off a vibe where they promoted things like having a treehouse over actual benefits in order to exploit recent grads.

          There are yellow, rapidly fading to orange, flags all over the place here.

          1. MT*

            @Pilcrow LOL I definitely work at the company with the treehouse that you are alluding to. I had yellow flags too while applying and interviewing. But luckily, this job has worked out to be great for over three years now! I anticipate staying a long, long time! I just had to laugh at the coincidence. :)

        2. Gumby*

          I had one interview that focused a lot on college like that. It was a third round interview for my first job out of college with the CEO of the start up who had graduated 5 or so years before me from the same school with the same major and the same academic adviser. So it was a lot of “oh, remember such and such class and how Professor X always did thing Y?” But third round interviews at that company were all just informal chats where you essentially had the job unless you said something completely idiotic. (Like the person who said he was thrilled to hear about our flex time because he really was only at his best between noon and 4 p.m. and doubled down upon further questioning that he could totally do the job in 4 hours a day. Um… no.)

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m with @It Happens above.
      Interviews let them see you, but they also let you see them. They have clearly show you their quality.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If they focused on my college stuff, I would have had to cut the interview short. Just to finish my last two years of college I was commuting up to 100 miles per day. I had so much drive time that my adviser told me to only take 4 classes as the drive would be equal to a 5th class. I did summer classes so I would complete the degree on schedule.
      In an interview like yours I am hosed and I know it. I’d simply explain this and say that it did not seem to make sense to continue the interview.

      Quietly to myself, since I believe that my courses were not that relevant to real world stuff, I would be very concerned about their fixation on college.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      That is so bizarre! I could see asking a recent grad about their college experience, but to do so with an experienced professional is ridiculous, esp. if it means they are ignoring actual recent work experience.

      The fact that the CEO and the actual manager of the role weren’t aligned on the reason the role was open – a) it suggests that there is a problem with communication between them – so what else are they not aligned on? and b) it suggests that there is a story about why the role is open that they haven’t entirely shared with you.

      Personally, I’d give this company a hard pass and keep on looking

      1. Dancing Otter*

        If they weren’t lying, they wouldn’t need to get their stories straight. Something is very fishy here.

    7. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Run, don’t walk, from this potential employer! It’s good that you found this out about them now rather than after you may have accepted a job from them.

    8. Another freelancer*

      These interviewers sounded, uh, unique. If you get an offer from them and you have to take this job because you need a job (I get it, I do), just be prepared to leave in a few months.

  12. Orange Crushed*

    I’ve been applying to academic librarian/library jobs and the job is open for months, but the interview process is fairly short. (ie: I’m being contacted on jobs that I applied for 3-4 month ago, but when they assign an interview time, I only have a couple of days to prepare or they want me to come in the next day!)

    For those in or familiar with academia, is this normal?

    1. Carrie*

      This has been my experience in academia, yes. A lot of hurry up and wait. I think sometimes hiring committees/managers try to combat the slow hiring processes in academia by having tight timelines on the aspects they do control.

    2. Faith*

      Yep! It’s super normal. Our timing more like “you get a week to prepare” not just a couple of days, but so much of the hiring process takes so long because of bureaucratic hoops the hiring committee has to leap through that the one thing we *can* speed up, we do.

    3. Intermittent Introvert*

      Academia has some very distinct busy/slow cycles structured around registration periods and beginnings/ends of semesters . If the job was posted during the busy cycle they couldn’t get to you until things slowed a bit. Then they need to hurry to get done before the busy ramps up.

    4. inoffensive nickname*

      Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Especially if it’s publicly funded. Where I work, the position has to be vacant in order to be posted. So someone can give a 90 day notice and it wouldn’t do the manager any good to try and replace and train the replacement. The replacement position has to be approved by the Board of Trustees, which can take up to two months, because you have to go through leadership and get their approval before it’s even presented to the Board, which meets once a month. I had an opening I knew in August 2018 would be vacant at the end of September 2018. It was approved by the Board in early November, and because of dates of Board and leadership meetings, we have a short time frame to submit our selection to the Board for their final approval. So the whole posting, interview, and selection process can take less than two weeks. It can be frustrating because I believe we miss out on a lot of good candidates because of the way our hiring process is structured.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I’m not in academia, but in government. For me this is normal. The posting/advertising/accepting of applications is done by HR. Once things move from HR to the hiring manager – me – I want to move! And I am generally given a time limit within which I have to make a selection. I know it’s inconvenient for the applicant. But it’s the system I’ve got. You can push for a different date, but you’ll only get a few days grace, unless you are the sole qualified applicant.

    6. Space Oddity*

      Yes. As another commenter mentioned, the semester system and schedule are part of this– another issue is that you’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg; academic hiring (especially if the librarian positions are faculty rather than staff) often involves a lot of behind the scenes i-dotting and t-crossing that takes place between receiving applications and interviewing, so from the hiring party’s perspective it may not read as a hurry up and wait situation at all.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      Coming in the next day isn’t normal. That’s unusual, but within a week or two is perfectly normal. One thing to understand is that the hiring usually happens by committee and there are many many steps before the committee can arrange first round interviews.

      For example, at my current job- there’s an initial screen where every application is read and then decided if they can move into the pool to be reviewed by the whole committee. This can take days when there’s over 80 applicants (as there were for our last opening).

      Next the whole committee has to read the pool and score them on a 5 to 10 question review paper with notes and justifications of each score. Than the committee gets together and discusses favorites. This may take three or four meetings, if there’s contention. Ideally, only two. Then a pool of people to interview is made. Then and only then, can we contact those people. This all has to be done while people are working their normal jobs. So yeah, that can take three months.

    8. TechServices Librarian*

      Yes and no? It can take several weeks to a month or so to review applications, if it’s being done by a search committee. I’d still say being contacted 3-4 month after is not good. I’m at a large R1, and I’d say it might be 6-8 weeks. One reason is candidates are often applying other places so we don’t want to lose a good candidate to another school moving faster.

      It’s very weird to come in the next day. Usually we schedule 2-4 weeks out. Now when it comes to prep for a presentation, our policy is to give the topic one week prior to the on-campus interview. This is so that some candidates wouldn’t have more time depending on the scheduling of their interviews.

      Where are you applying? Local institutions? What level? Community college? Regional? R1? Sometimes that can have an effect on how it’s done.

  13. Keeping up with skills you aren*

    What advice do people have for maintaining skills that they learned through coursework or a previous job that they aren’t actively using now?

    Specifically, if anyone has advice around code languages, but it really could apply to anything. I had actively taken classes in R, python and SQL in grad school, but have only passively used SQL in my current job. I keep saying I am going to keep up with the other languages and improve my SQL skills but I can’t get a system that works for me. Has anyone successfully worked through this either with code or another skill?

    1. Intermittent Introvert*

      I’m not in the field, but curious if volunteering your skills, teaching a community education class, or posting YouTube or blog posts would work.

    2. JacobM*

      It can definitely be tough to find the time, but hobby projects and/or volunteering is a good option. This is because it’s hard to find the motivation if there isn’t a goal (other than “practice”). For your specific skills it might be very cool to approach a nonprofit that does something you’re interested in and would be collecting a lot of data, and ask if they’d like assistance crunching/reporting on/finding trends in that data.

    3. Quill*

      Not coding, as the only skills I have aren’t transferrable (an interface to mod a 1.5 decade old game, a copy paste cheat sheet of ancient HTML) but I do try and keep up with my language skills via various platforms and games…

      Is there any job you could very slightly expedite due to this skill? One of my friends whipped up a handful of randomizers for other friends (names for tabletop characters, novel titles, writing prompts,) when he was learning to code.

    4. Katia*

      First time here
      If you have a bit of spare time, try a side project! I found a lot of simple ideas in Reddit, did a veeeery basic plans with releases and such.
      This makes me practice when i have the time and energy, and gives me a specific goal
      Hope it helps

    5. dealing with dragons*

      build stuff! anything in your personal life you want to keep track of? or something that would help you at work? build it, run reports, etc

    6. Minimax*

      Yes.

      I dont keep up with all the languages outside of work and then i find that when the project that needs them comes i spend maybe 30 minutes getting up to speed. Coding is like riding a bike.

      Current record is 5 years not touching R then using it in a project. Felt like everything came back in 45 minutes.

      The other thing I do is use the programs in projects even if they were not requested at work.

    7. Old13oy*

      You have to use it. Particularly with code. It’s not really good enough to just have the skills from grad school, particularly as grad school gets farther and farther away – languages and tools will change, practices will be updated, approaches to problems will shift.

      The only thing that worked for me is finding ways to incorporate it into my job. If you can get permission to install something like Anaconda on your computer, you can take on a variety of projects around data or analysis that your bosses would likely appreciate. Express the interest to your boss, see if they have something you can spend a couple hours a week on.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      One good option is contributing to open source projects, particularly for python. The projects are volunteer based and the resulting code is free for people to use (ie, you’re genuinely volunteering, not working for free for a company). You can start with small contributions, and work up to more complicated stuff, and are free to choose how much effort you put into it. As a major benefit, you can get feedback on your coding from other participants. And if you’re doing this on github, there is a record of your contributions which can go on your CV as practical, externally evaluated coding experience.

      For myself, I also do hobby coding – I’ve written myself tools for DMing role playing games, for example.

    9. Kate R*

      Have you checked out Kaggle? I stayed away from it for a while because the idea of competitive coding sounds miserable to me, but exploring it a little more, I’ve found it has some courses on Python, machine learning, SQL, and more. I’m not really sure how the competitions work, but I think you can use them as project ideas too, so at least you have something to apply your skills to.

  14. Fulltime + Freelance*

    I am applying to a job about 4 hours (driving) away from where I currently live. While I know I can’t speculate on the rest of the applicant pool, I match very strongly to what they say they’re looking for and would be surprised to not at least get an interview. (I have also attended the organization’s regional conference the past few years and mutually follow some of the staff on social media so I feel like I have a passing level of familiarity with them.) The position is rare, think being on staff designing and creating teapots in a field that usually outsources, and in a niche I have experience working in.

    My question is – I have some ongoing projects/obligations in my current city that I couldn’t just stop if I were to move 4 hours away. From what I can tell, the job includes a fair amount of travel including back to my current city. Obviously, I don’t know the ins and outs, but part of the job is project-based which, in theory, could be done from anywhere and part of it definitely needs to be done from their offices. I believe job interviews are a two-way street I want to make sure they’re as much a match for me as I am for them (especially since it’s outside of my city) and I’m wondering how to bring up my outside projects and see if the travel aspect of the job would allow me some flexibility or, better yet, see if the idea of being able to work partially from my town, part on the road, and part from their offices would be possible? Would this be something to bring up in a first-round interview or save if I were to move forward to a second or in-person round? If it matters, the job is in a particular creative field and so are my outside obligations/freelance projects.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d leave aside the ongoing projects, and focus instead on whether you could be based from your current home city instead of their city, since you’ll be road-warrioring anyway.

      If they know you live there because your address was on your resume, it’ll probably come up in the first interview because they won’t want to move forward with someone without knowing when you’d be available etc.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      If it’s a dealbreaker for you, bring it up in the first interview: “I’d like to talk about remote work. I won’t be able to fully move to New City. Would it work for this role if I worked remotely from Current City half-time?”

      If it’s not a dealbreaker — if there are other ways you could make this work, and you’d consider taking the job if they required you to work full-time from their office — you should wait, probably until you have an offer. At that point the conversation would be something like this: “Could we talk about remote work? Ideally, I’d split my time between your office, my current city, and being on the road. Is that a possibility?”

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Just my experience: Bringing up remote work (supposedly) pushed me out of the running for a job. It’s possible they had other issues with my application, but that’s what they cited. So, be aware of that might be a major issue for them?

      More context of my situation:

      It came up in the phone interview with the hiring manager. They were concerned about the commute (it was a 45 minute commute, standard for this area, but they thought it was too far), so I asked if working remotely a 1-2 days a week was possible. I did say it wasn’t a deal-breaker for me and I was fine with the commute, since I’ve done it before.

  15. YRH*

    I work for a government entity. Recently the HR rep for our department (HR is a completely department at the agency) was hired into a management position in our department (not my team luckily). This seems like a really bad idea. Any thoughts?

    1. Mkt*

      Why do you think this is a bad idea?
      Do you know the requirements for the management position, and the skillset, experiences and background the HR rep brings?

      At face value I don’t see a problem. People make moves from department to department or change career paths all the time without any issue.

    2. YHR*

      He’s now managing and working with people where he was the person who did confidential HR investigations and had access to sensitive information.

      1. Mkt*

        I think you’re making assumption on the professionalism of this individual and how they may conduct themselves and that isn’t fair.

        It’s really up to the leadership team that hired person into that position to review concerns and conflicts of interest. If any of their new direct reports has concerns, those could likely be brought up with another HR rep to discuss as well.

      2. Bernice Clifton*

        I can see that, however, wouldn’t any manager be able to access that kind of info on their reports if necessary? He just happens to already know it.

        1. Mama Bear*

          This is what I’m thinking – my spouse is a senior level manager and is privy to various otherwise confidential (job-related) things about their employees. If an HR rep is able to be discreet at an HR job, they would likely be able to also be discreet when placing someone on a PIP or managing a team that isn’t getting along, or not advertising that someone is dealing with a health issue. I wouldn’t see the previous role in HR as a bad thing on the face of it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I would think that information would still be confidential even if he left the job entirely. Confidential is confidential. Part of any management job is guarding confidential information.

        I worked in human services for years. I am fully aware of the problems from talking about my old work. Even though I have left the job, I still can’t blab. (Not that I’d want to! But there are people who have NO filters so they need to be told this upfront. We all got told.)

        My best guess is that if he does spread confidential information he’s in hot water. Being a municipality probably the targeted person might work up a reportable case OR a lawsuit.

        Unless you know he has a history of being a jerk, perhaps you can console yourself into taking the wait and see approach.

        Small consolation, when you handle a lot of confidential stuff it all starts to blur together and sometimes you can’t remember stuff that happened because it’s all one big blur. See, one way we remember things is by talking about those things. If you can’t talk about it, you have less opportunity to reinforce the memory of it.

        And surprisingly, there are so many good people out there. People who witness others going through crap (perhaps even of their own making) YET still hope for the best for the person. It is possible that he knows a bunch of stuff on someone and he STILL hopes for the best for that individual.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Honestly, it depends on the HR rep’s experience, skills, adaptability, and also what the department needs. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, unless the HR rep doesn’t have the qualifications (or the ability to learn them rapidly on the job.)

      Do remember that some people in HR had prior careers in operations management. And that HR – as a department – has operational aspects to it. ie. this person may have managed a team of people doing operationally oriented things. And, sometimes, familiarity with the challenges of a department is one of the key qualifications for a position, as well.

      I worked for a company once that would put operations managers into HR roles to get them that experience (and to retain them while they were having young families, as the operations of the business were extremely seasonal and had very long hours). It tended to be good for the management of the operations teams they went back to.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        If it’s the sensitive personal information side that concerns you – well, most managers know an awful lot about the issues in their department, anyways. For example, they might not know the specific health concerns of individual employees who are owed accommodation, but they do know those individuals are owed particular types of accommodation, kwim? A manager also tends to know which of their employees is on a PIP (mostly because they put them there), what their employees earn, etc. etc.

        Plus, most HR people are going to have a good idea of the liability to a company if they don’t abide by good HR practices wrt their employees, so you might find the new manager acts better wrt to personal information than someone with purely an operations background. It’ll really depend on the individual.

  16. SadMidwesterner*

    Today my (middle aged, male) boss brought his sick son into work with him and then left him with my coworker and I (young, female) so he could go to a meeting. I just… can’t even being to wonder at this sort of cluelessness.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Wow. I’d love to just take him into the meeting room and say, I think you forgot this. Some people.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          In my head, I agree, I may jump the inference ladder.

          By outwardly acting as though you assume cluelessness, you give them a chance to save face and make them deal with the problem (or else out themselves as a jackass).

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      Whatcha want to bet it happened because his wife was like “nope – it’s your turn to deal with the havoc of an unexpected kid-sick-day.”

      1. Bg*

        It’s not his wife’s responsibility to preventing him from dumping his responsibilities on his subordinates. He misused his authority.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      One of my old foreman used to get the bosses kids dropped off for him to watch along with run the place from time to time. *face palm* Sometimes they were sick, sometimes they just had the day off school and needed to be kept busy. I’m sorry this is still a thing :(

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Depending on how big your company is, I’d go to HR about this. The company isn’t paying you to babysit sick kids. Now that he’s succeeded once, he will likely try it again.

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

      There was an employee who brought his teenager to work for about a week. The kid in question spent most of the day in the playroom, keeping the Switch for himself, and occasionally wandering around our open space. Apparently there were complaints about the unauthorized visitor, because we didn’t see him the following week.

      1. annakarina1*

        A teenager should be able to know how to entertain themselves and not get in the way.

        My mom occasionally brought me to work (she worked as an occupational therapist in a school) when I was around eight or ten for whatever reason. She would just have me stay in a playroom and I’d busy myself with toys while she worked with other kids, and sometimes brought the kid to the playroom, where she’d work while I’d play and stay out of the way of the other kid’s therapy session.

  17. merp*

    Y’all, we have a ghost. Chairs moved around overnight in the reading room when we’re closed, lights left on after they were turned off in the closed stacks. Since I also had a weird unexplained thing happen at home, I’m wondering now if I brought it to work.

    This probably all has a reasonable explanation of course, but my coworkers and I are having fun deciding which of the subjects of our archival collections would be most likely to cause some mischief.

    1. anon24*

      Ooh so fun! I love work ghost stories! My favorite thing is the Halloween open thread.
      Maybe someone (alive) is living there overnight :)

      1. merp*

        I have been thinking of the halloween thread all day! I do hope someone’s not living here though, that would be… unsettling. More comforting somehow to think that some of the civil war soldiers or historical state officials whose papers we have were having a party.

    2. Nita*

      Are your lights motion-activated? That might explain why they’re turning on. Only, that doesn’t explain what’s moving that’s setting them off. Hmmm.

      Funny, just had an unexplained lights situation at home last night, so maybe I’ll be bringing it to work too!

    3. Nanc*

      I once worked in an old, old building where the alarm kept going off randomly during business hours as well as when we were closed. The security company was going nuts trying to figure it out as we were close to getting a fine from the PD. They finally found out it was because a spider had built a web across a motion detector in a little-used part of the building and was setting that sucker off! So the admins had a new task–every evening just before we closed check that area and dust off any spider webs!

    4. Watry*

      This is completely unrelated but none of my local libraries have reading rooms and that makes me very sad. I would totally accept a reading room with a ghost.

      1. Lunch Lady*

        Me too! Wondering if I can hire a sneaky ghost to scare away the other patrons from the reading room at my local library. Sadly, many of them are quite smelly and with the bad ventilation I usually leave with a headache. A ghost could solve my problems.

    5. Anonnington*

      I would review the security cameras if you have any to make sure no one’s entering without permission. For safety’s sake, please rule that out. As harmless as it sounds, there could actually be a risk to the staff or to the person doing this.

  18. Aurora Leigh*

    What sort of spring/summer shoes do you guys wear to work?

    I’m late twenties female and need something comfortable to pair with skirts when the weather warms up. I wear Klogs with slacks and I love them but they are a little clunky.

    I have bunions and a narrow heel, so that complicates things.

    1. merp*

      I feel like they get mentioned every time someone asks about shoes in this site but: Rothy’s, if they work for you and you want to spend the cash. They hold up and stay looking nice, and I love that the rain doesn’t ruin them.

      1. londonedit*

        I would *love* to try Rothy’s but a) they’re not available instore anywhere in the UK so I feel like it would be a huge hassle to order and then find they don’t fit and b) they are sooooooo expensive. Like £135!

        I usually wear some form of ballet flats or sandals in the summer – either Clarks for the flats or Salt-Water sandals. Or just about everyone in London wears trainers with midi dresses in the spring/summer.

        1. merp*

          Yeah, I had the benefit of trying on a friend’s for sizing, as well as her $20 off code. Even with that they were still pricy. I do feel like it’s impossible to damage them though, so at least they’ll last a long while.

        2. Senor Montoya*

          Clarks are nice! I don’t have any right now (wore them out, which is saying something because they’re so well made).

        3. Fikly*

          Any shoe is going to be less expensive than bunion surgery – although maybe not on the NHS?

      2. Panthera uncia*

        Rothys have a serious stank problem. I’ve tried them barefoot, with Peds, and with hosiery. Even after one wear, they’re eye-wateringly smelly, and I’m not someone who sweats profusely. Washing them after every use is inconvenient and wears them out quickly.

        1. ALM2019*

          I live in Rothys – but had the same issue. I buy cotton shoe inserts from amazon and take out the ones that come with the shoes. Throw the cotton ones in the laundry every two weeks or so and no smell!

        2. Reali-Tea Check*

          So glad I am not the only one! They literally started smelling like death. I wore them to a conference and then took them off and drove home barefoot and my car REEKED for days!

    2. alacrity*

      Rockport Cobb Hill Aubre t-strap sandals. They cover the toe (I don’t always get pedicures) and avoid the annoying “slap-slap” of slides. My go-to for summer.

    3. many bells down*

      You’re gonna laugh but… Crocs makes actual flats that are super comfy. I have some pointy-toe slingback ones that no one ever believes are crocs. They’re also the shoes I go to when my PLANTAR fasciitis flares up because it doesn’t hurt when I wear them.

        1. Leisel*

          A little off topic, but I got my mom a soft “yoga ball” for Christmas to roll her feet around on when she’s watching TV in the evening. She said it really helped with her plantar fascitis. If you Google that you’ll get a lot of options, but they’re usually around $15 for a set.

      1. Aunt Piddy*

        I have so many pairs of cute crocs flats!! The pointy toe slingbacks are so cute and comfy with slacks or skirts in the summer.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Nice flats or loafers, depending on how formal you need. I like T-straps and mary janes because I have narrow heels, too, and straps help everything stay on better. Look for a brand like Bass or Clarks that have good, sturdy, soles and foodbeds.

      I had a pair of openwork oxfords years ago; would love to find another of those.

    5. Natalie*

      Dansko makes pretty comfortable flats – they look very ballet-flat-like, but have an actual sole and support, and aren’t too terribly expensive.

      1. JessicaTate*

        I second Dansko shoes. They have lots of varieties all of which have pretty good support. I have some flats that have some criss-cross straps over the arch (so, for a narrow heel, less issue with slipping out of them). They are maybe a tad bit more casual than dressy flats, but the foot support in them is SO much better, and they work with pants or skirts or dresses.

        I’ve also had some luck with Abeo shoes. For shopping, I recommend the Walking Company if you have one nearby – all of these brands in one place.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Abeos are a Walking Company exclusive brand, so you won’t find them anywhere else. They often have the best selection of Danskos of any store I’ve been in/worked in, including comfort boutiques.

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Third Danskos. I can’t speak for the flats but the clog-soled shoes they have, definitely. I wear Dansko Barbaras and have them in 3 different colors. They’re comfy, have a wide toe box and stiff-soled.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          Actually, I can speak for the flats. The pair I bought and returned had a very short toe box. My toes were banging against the front when I walked a few steps.

    6. Alex in Marketing*

      I really love a good pair of loafers.You can get them in materials that are either structured/stiff or soft/flimsy, depending on what is most comfortable for you. I have a few nice pairs from both Calvin Klein and Tahari that I’ve bought at TJ Max, Nordstrom Rack, or on Poshmark. Plus, loafers are very stylish right now!

      1. Daisy-dog*

        Yes – loafers are very “in” right now. I got some blush, suede ones from Target.

    7. Honoria Glossop*

      It depends on your office, but mine is a little casual so I can get away with “fancy” slip on sneakers in spring and fall. I have some nice suede-y type ones in a neutral color. For summer, I go with some strappy flat sandals. The sandals tend to be leather-looking and I try to avoid any that make a noticeable flapping noise, so no flip flops.

    8. Mama Bear*

      I personally try to keep my toes covered. I’m a fan of ballet flats, which can be various types of material from solid fabric to leather to something decorative with holes (for sweaty summer feet). Sketchers also makes flats that are very comfortable but more supportive than cheap flats (I believe the line is called Bikers). No one has ever given me grief about wearing them.

    9. Quill*

      I wear the same hiking boots or sneakers I always wear, yay for medical accomodations.

      I only wish I was comfortable enough with the attention it might bring to wear the tennis shoes with skirts or dresses…

      If I didn’t need a new personal laptop and a bunch of wardrobe essentials I’d be seriously thinking about getting some doc martens and risking that they wouldn’t actually be as comfortable as advertised, just so I could see if they’re a potential avenue for a shoe that’s tolerable and doesn’t scream either “fashion fail” or “These are not functional human feet.”

    10. Senor Montoya*

      Ballet flats. Right now Target has some that are around $20, look for Rebecca pointed toe ballet flats on the target website. The pointy toe may not work as well for you, although they’re comfy across the wide part of my foot. There are rounded toe flats too, I just really like a pointy toe.

    11. Senor Montoya*

      I also have had some sandals from Dansko but those are quite informal and hippie looking, so know your office. Similarly with hiking sandals.

    12. Just this Once*

      Haven’t tried them yet, but a friend with multi feet issues swears by Vionics

    13. SlippingTheLeash*

      Merrell has a Mary Jane called Dassy that works for me. I’m a Danskos/Birkenstocks kind of soul, plus I have a crappy back….so cute and kitten-heeled ain’t gonna cut it.

    14. MassChick*

      Crocs has aline of Mary Janes in several colours. They have toe coverage, a slight heel and are very comfortable – wore them all the time while teaching (where I don’t sit).

    15. AW*

      I’ve had great luck with Ecco sneakers and sandals – comfy, well made, and they look upscale and are very long-lasting.

    16. Dr. Anonymous*

      I was able to buy shoe width stretchers on Amazon with little bumps you can add to stretch a shoe to accommodate your bumpy bits. And I often add a stick-on foam heel insert from the drugstore inside the heel cup to address my narrow heel. I wear Avalon and multiple other brands of wide shoes and often get them online at Zappos, Shoe Mall, or Maryland Square as even with the stretchers I need a wide shoe.

  19. Work From Home*

    To pile on to the Coronavirus questions of this week: I am assuming that at some point during all this I’ll spend a few days working from home, either out of an abundance of caution when I get a cold or a full-out office closure. I’ve always hated working at home because I love having a designated office space, and given that I’m in a one bedroom, I’m going to have to suck it up and work at my kitchen counter.

    SO, I would love advice from similarly work-from-home adverse people on how you’ve made it work.

    1. Nita*

      For some reason I hate using a laptop mouse for work with a passion. I attached a regular mouse to my laptop, and work seems to flow a little better.

    2. Nicki Name*

      Related question: How do work-from-home people work exercise into your day? My company’s preparing us for possibly having everyone work remote for a few weeks at some point. I’m used to getting some exercise by working it into my commute, and I’m worried that my natural laziness will take over if I don’t absolutely have to get out there and walk around.

      1. BadWolf*

        I walk to lunch — but my house is conveniently located in an area where I can walk to a couple different great lunch options. Ironically, I try to bring a homemade lunch to the office…

        Although if we’re all in quarantine, then I guess I’m just walking around the block instead.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        Exercise on your former commute time? Either start or end the work day with (whatever exercise you prefer), or both.

      3. it happens*

        Commute to your house- seriously. Don’t change your morning routine, leave the house fully-dressed, do your morning commute-type exercise sans the non-pedestrian part (maybe adding extra walking to make up for the office-side part of the commute.) Arrive to your home office ready-to-go!
        And then do the same thing for your lunch and close-of-business routines. This way you can set a firm at-work v at-home psychological barrier.

        1. Eleaner*

          I love this, thank you! I just realized this is when I’m most productive on the weekends, when I go out get coffee and come back.

      4. AVP*

        When I started working from home I had to switch to a gym I could walk to. It’s not as nice as the one I used to go to but the barrier of having to “commute” to the gym was just too much for me. So now I end my day around 6pm and walk over there – and usually get home around the same time that my husband does from his commute!

      5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have a set of pedals under my desk and a couple of low-attention-required tasks I have to do daily, so I pedal while I do those things (and sometimes during meetings, if my webcam isn’t on and I only have to listen). I aim for at least 30 min a day.

      6. Spreadsheets and Books*

        I don’t work at home, but Aaptiv is great! It’s an audio fitness app with live trainers set to music. They have tons of categories, like outdoor runs, indoor runs, straight training, bodyweight, meditation, stretching, yoga, pilates… and a lot of it can be done at home. They also do challenges and team stuff so it’s a lot of fun. I’ve been using it for years and it’s excellent.

      7. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exercise is a big part of my morning routine, and it’s bigger now that I work from home. I walk the dog every morning for at least 3k steps, usually more (unless we go to the dog park). Until last week I was going to the gym in my building for about 20 minutes of resistance training, but I’m injured so I now do 20 minutes of stretches in my apartment. I also walk the dog for at least 20 minutes every afternoon.

        If you don’t have a dog, you can still take a walk! If you listen to podcasts or even a favorite morning radio show, put on some headphones and walk around your neighborhood while you listen. For example, I listen to a daily podcast for a subject I’m learning, so sans dog I would probably take a walk during my learning time because being at home is less distracting. Make that your “commute”– it will give you some separation between relax-at-home time and work-from-home time.

      8. Fikly*

        Alarms on my phone, to remind myself, because I tend to get distracted and forget. It’s also just a good idea in general for me to move every hour or so, otherwise I end up in a lot of pain, so double reason to do so.

        I live in an apartment building, so sometimes I’ll just get up and pace the hallways for ten minutes with a short podcast on.

      9. Oxford Comma*

        My fitness tracker alerts me if I haven’t moved in a certain amount of time. I literally get up and pace around the house for a few minutes. I do this when I am in the office too. It helps that our bathrooms are on other floors and that our director is too.

      10. AVP*

        Thanks to thinking prompted by this post my company decided to do a LinkedIn post with our guide to working from home! :D AAM in action.

    3. AVP*

      I’m 100% remote, also live in a 1-br apartment and would say that it really depends on your set up. If you need multiple monitors and accessories, it can feel limiting. I can just work from my laptop so I’ll often go to a coffee shop for a few hours just to get out of the house and see the daylight. Sometimes I’ll switch to laying on the bed in the afternoon, again just for a change of scenery. And I keep the overhead lights on when I’m working and switch to lamps when work-time is over.

      One thing you may not need if you’re only WFHing for a few days, but is crucial for longer stints – you need a real chair! Nothing in my apartment was designed for upright sitting for hours at a time, so when a friend was giving away a small-profile Office Chair I jumped on that and it’s made a huge difference.

      You can also try to lean into the little pleasures about working from home – I love making my own coffee and lunch in my kitchen, and the freedom to drop off laundry or dry cleaning during the day is nice. I hate when I have actual paper materials that need a place to go, though – haven’t solved that one yet.

      I love the suggestions to get dressed like it’s a real work day, and even go outside and do a little commute. I’m a terrible morning person so haven’t been able to muster that up yet but I can see how it would be really beneficial.

    4. Do I really want to do this?*

      I would also love some advice from people who normally work from home. Today is my first day working from home ( Seattle). I don’t particularly like working from home, as I get easily distracted. I am also worried about maintain good communication with my co-workers as my work is very team orientated and requires a lot of coordination.

      1. AVP*

        My team has a daily 30 minute call blocked on our calendars for 10am – we don’t actually do it every day but probably 2-3 times a week or if something needs to be discussed. Then we chat on Slack all day and have designated channels for non-work chatting so we get some interaction and water-cooler-talk and don’t feel like we’re derailing work conversations. We use google calendar religiously and can all see each others calendars (and there’s even an integration into slack so I can easily see when other people are in external meetings or calls). We use google drive and Canva so that we can simultaneously edit documents and decks and all work from the same files. If we weren’t set up with these tools, I honestly don’t know how anything would get done. And we don’t need to do a lot of screen-sharing, thankfully.

    5. Constance Lloyd*

      I did not have a designated work space when I worked from home, so I created an in/out routine using… a candle. I lit the candle when work started and blew it out when I signed off for the day. Having that very tiny ritual (which at least changed my experience of the space, of not the space itself) helped me to mentally separate my work time from my home time. After I blew the candle out, I walked to get my mail and could experience the “coming home” moment at the end of the day.

    6. Quill*

      If you have a multiscreen setup at work, and you happen to have an extra TV, computer monitor, or whatever… it helps.

      I tend to default to fewer windows open when I work from home and if I’m going to be doing it more often I *NEED* a cord to get it hooked up so I can accurately move stuff between spreadsheets.

      And this is considering that my tertiary monitor never got hooked up properly and is being used as a notice board for a small herd of post-its.

    7. lilsheba*

      You’re lucky I would give anything to work from home. I much prefer it, no commute, lunches are easier to get, it’s more relaxing in a good atmosphere.

      1. Fikly*

        Someone having to do something that doesn’t work for them isn’t lucky. Humans are individuals who have different needs, and feel best in different situations.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have a designated space in my apartment, but I’m also in a building with common areas and wifi– is that an option for you? I like to go to those spaces when I can’t stand to be in my apartment anymore and I don’t need two screens. Unfortunately, these days I’ve been less busy and super tired, so my own TV is more tempting than being “out in the world.” Coffee shops work too, but not if you’re sick, of course!

    9. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      On the one-bedroom apartment front, I no longer have a dining table. I live on my own, so I put a desk and a good quality chair in the area where the kitchen table would be and I just eat at the breakfast bar. I have to be hard-wired into my internet, so that was a big factor in converting from “dining area” to “office”. I was surprise at how quickly I adapted to work-at-home. I thought I would have problems with attention, but not commuting means much less stress, which makes it a lot easier for me.

    10. Meg*

      I haven’t loved working from home in the past, mostly because I feel like I get more distracted. My job now is the first one I’ve had where that was even an option, and I opted to flex instead. We very recently were given the opportunity to flex and WFH, and I started to take advantage. The biggest shift for me was the realization that if I get distracted and do random things around the house, it ends up being the same amount of time as going to the office kitchen to get a drink and chatting with a coworker. Shifting my perspective let me relax into it a little more and not feel guilty about the interruptions.

      I also find having a defined, reasonable to-do list for the day helps me a lot, separate from my running everything I have to do list. When I’m working 1 day from home (so not this coronvirus situation) there are some tasks that I save up for home, and some that I prioritize doing in the office with 2 monitors. I did get a real mouse, and that helps a lot. I try to pack up my stuff at the end of the day to have a clear end to working instead of that bleeding into the rest of my day (I probably won’t do that if I’m working from home for a longer period of time with coronvirus).

    11. spock*

      This might be obvious, but even if you’re not going to be on a video call, actually get fully dressed when you get up. Not saying you have to pull out the blazers and jewelry but something to separate “in-bed, lounging” mode from “work now” mode. I see a lot of people joking (or not joking?) about like, not wearing pants when WFH and even if there’s no chance for embarrassment, for me it just helps mentally to go through most of my normal morning routine.

    12. Amethystmoon*

      I work at home one day a week. Current set up is I use my gaming monitor with work laptop (HDMI cable), and I also have a wireless keyboard, and a mouse. Actually works pretty slick. I just disconnect my personal laptop, then reconnect it at the end of the day and make sure to put work laptop & charger in a cloth bag to take back to work the next day. (I have issues remembering things before I’ve had my coffee in the morning.) The only issue is I do data entry so for a while, it was weird trying to get papers to stay up to type them. At work, I have a plastic thingy to put them on. I finally sprung for less than $10 a stand for paper that is made of metal. Works well.

    13. Skeeder Jones*

      I work 99% remote and I live in a studio apartment. It’s a fairly good size for a studio, but it is stretched to its limits with needing a permanent office. I work in a field where I don’t need paper to do my job, it’s 100% computer only so I don’t have to worry about that. I basically live without a dining area and have an office area there instead. My desk is the only place in the whole apartment where you can sit with a chair and table so it sometimes needs to do double duty.

      Logistically, the following things are essential for me: docking station with wireless mouse and keyboard, ethernet connection (faster and more stable connection, especially for security reasons) and 3 monitors (I work with about 8 programs at a time).

      Because of the industry (healthcare), I cannot work in a coffee shop or anywhere with a public connection. But I do have the following boundaries so I stay productive: No TV! No working from the laptop on my couch or bed, working from the desk only (partly because I really need the full size monitors and partly because I need to know I’m at work), get dressed each day (ok, this doesn’t mean really getting dressed, it means changing out of lounge clothes I slept in into lounge clothes I didn’t sleep in).

      But working remotely adds so much to my life, it’s easier to get things like laundry done, I gain 3 hours of usable time (1 hr each way of a commute and that lunch hour that I can use for stuff around the house), I eat better because I make more of my own food, I save money because I make more of my own food and also don’t have to buy as many clothes, less gas money, no missed deliveries, etc. The benefits are so great that I gladly give up a spot in my apartment!

  20. Flaxseed*

    Some places call me for phone interviews, while other places call me for in person interviews and skip the phone interviews. Does this mean anything? Or is this just the way they do things?

    1. Mkt*

      Just the way places do things.

      That said, phone interviews are good way to suss out major flags (ie salary expectations) to avoid hassle of in person logistics.

    2. Amy Sly*

      My hunch is that phone interviews are mostly used to help screen down an applicant pool down to a certain number. If the company doesn’t get so many mostly qualified applicants that they can’t interview them all in person, or they just ruthlessly cull from the paper applications, they might not bother with phone interviews.

    3. Oh No She Di'int*

      This has nothing to do with you. Different companies just do things differently. We do a phone screener first to make sure the person isn’t totally off their rocker. Only then do we bring someone in for an in-person interview.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      Can’t speak for everyone, but our latest search we skipped the phone interviews and went straight to in person because:
      1. phone interviews add more effort = the committee has to get together for the phone interview, then has to get together for the in person interview.
      2. Phone interviews add more time/delay = usually pushes everything back a week because you’ve got to do the interviews, decide who to ask/nix, then get the in-person interviews scheduled.
      3. Often the phone interview does not give enough info, or can even be counterproductive, to justify the cost in effort in time. For our most recent search, the committee determined that we didn’t have a small subset of questions that would help us winnow down the list. We also knew we’d get false positives (people who give good phone but in person weren’t what we wanted) and false negatives (people who don’t do well on the phone but would be excellent in person), and we really did not want to eliminate anyone in the latter group. Phone skills are minimally important for the job, and if truly poor, we could train/mentor an otherwise good candidate on those skills.

  21. WorkerBee173*

    How do you bounce back from a bad reputation?

    This is kind of a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short, so if anything’s unclear, feel free to ask.

    I’ve probably been seriously stressed and on the verge of burnout most of my working life. It all came to head a few years ago though, when I got a superviser who hated my guts, and ended up managing me out the door. According to her, I would slack off on the job, work slowly when I did at all, and make too many mistakes. I found a new job, but she made sure that the my ‘reputation’ followed me. Unfortunately, I work in a field with many unknowns, and following her ‘helpful supervision and attempts to improve communication between us’ I eventually wound up in a place where I didn’t, and still don’t entirely, trust myself to write my name correctly three times in a row.

    After trying to fix things myself for a couple of years, I eventually did a major re-evaluation of my life, played the ‘stress’ card, and began the long process of accepting my limitations. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting better. But my professional life is in tatters. I work in a small world, so finding a different job within the same field is next to impossible, at least without my ‘history’ comming out sooner than I’d like. I could try to talk with my current management, but I have no clue what to say. “I’m sorry, but my work is so useless that you should probably not be paying me money” is a really hard message to twist into something actionable that results in a happy ending. At the same time, I’m not keen on moving into a new field: Money is one issue, but more to the point, I actually love my work and my current workplace. I just wish that I could feel useful again.

    So, any and all advice on how to proceed would be welcome. Because I’m lost. If nothing changes, then I will go to management and tell them how things stand, but I can’t help but hope that there is another way. I just can’t see it right now.

    1. MissBliss*

      I can’t answer your first question about bouncing back, but I did want to ask… when you did the re-evaluation of your life, did you do that on your own? Or have you spoken to a therapist? Because it sounds like you might benefit from talking to someone. You say that you want to tell your employer that “work is so useless that you should probably not be paying me money” which, as you say, isn’t actionable feedback, but it’s also really harsh on yourself! It would be more actionable AND more kind if you were to focus on what your strengths and interests are, and how you could bring that to the table with your current employer. A therapist could be very helpful in determining what your strengths are, and helping you to reframe the situation in your head.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      1. WorkerBee173*

        Thank you :)

        Yes, I did go to a stress psychologist for a while, and it helped a lot. But the problem is that I work in an unpredictable field where things go wrong from time to time. Once you have a reputation for sloppy work, then that will always be the first explanation that needs to be ruled out every time things look strange, and they often do.

        The result is that I hardly get any work at all, which makes it really hard to show that things have improved. For every 10 things that go well, there’s always that one thing that looks odd, which confirms peoples worst fears. Moreover, they’re not wrong: For the longest of times, I had a really hard time focusing, I lost ‘the big picture’ and I’d make silly mistakes like adding up 2 + 2 and getting 5. I’m learning to pace myself and my focus is returning, but I’m still slow and I still make the oddest mistakes as soon as I’m tired or stressed. I guess I should be grateful that I’m getting very little work passed to me from others, because it gives me the time to catch my breath and put things in order, but at the same time I feel awful pulling a paycheck every week for essentially working on my own projects when I know that my colleagues are drowning in work. But if I offer to help, they decline … :(

    2. WearingManyHats*

      Have you tried talking to a therapist to help you work through this? They may be able to give you good wording to take to your managers and help you feel better enough to improve your work.

    3. Havarti*

      Oh man, that’s rough. So my first question is: objectively as possible, how are you doing in your current job? You say you don’t trust yourself to write your name correctly 3 times in a row but what kind of feedback have you gotten from your current boss? Because that will determine how/if you address this with them. Do they say you’re slow and making too many mistakes? Are they a reasonable person?

      Secondly, continue to work on yourself. Please consider therapy if you haven’t. This piece: “I’m sorry, but my work is so useless that you should probably not be paying me money” – is this actually, factually true? Because it sounds like the sort of self-esteem issues I’ve had and that’s not a healthy place to be mentally.

      Thirdly, are your job duties too much? Are you still stressed and feeling burned out?

      1. WorkerBee173*

        That’s the thing, I’m not really getting any feedback besides “All’s good, you’re doing great” so to speak. Instead, I learn through back-channels that my projects have been assigned to someone else, and well meaning colleagues come and suggest to me that perhaps it’s time to rethink my occupation, without actually telling me what the complaints are.

        Recently I was given an assignment, but looking it over I realized there’d be method issues: I flagged them beforehand, but was told to go ahead anyway. I turned out to be right, and we had a brief discussion about what could be done different, and I was told to hold off until the issue had been looked at and then … – nothing. I’ve done my own improvements, and these will be included in the report, but I have no idea if anyone will ever read it, or if the whole thing will just be filed under ‘failure.’

        I’ve been using the down-time to work on general improvements that could help others, but I can’t sell them at all. I know from previous experience that people who are highly stressed can be a pain to deal with, so perhaps that’s what’s going on, but the Culture of Nice just seems impenetrable: There is no problem, and therefore nothing to fix. But if all is well, then why have I been placed in a bubble and delegated to the Corner of Oblivion? That’s what I mean when I say that my work is useless, the projects that I spend my time on end up making no impact, and are therefore of no value to anyone but me.

        I want to stress that my workplace is fantastic and my management/colleagues amazing. So the problem seems to lie with my perceived and/or real abilities, and not even I am sure what is what anymore. I can’t help but think that maybe I should dye my hair and change my name, to start a fresh somewhere completely different to see if that’d work … *sigh*

        I just don’t know what to do.

        1. Havarti*

          Hmm, so while you love your work and your workplace, they don’t sound all that great if they’re telling you everything is ok while quietly reassigning your work. Also the fact you flagged an issue and got told to go ahead and then ignored. A great job doesn’t stick you in a bubble in the corner of oblivion.
          So focusing on your job, there’s a few options:
          – You do nothing different and continue collecting a paycheck. There is the possibility you may be let go in the future for whatever reason.

          – You attempt to address this with your boss, which will likely destroy the illusion of everything’s ok, potentially hastening your departure.

          – You take the time to consider your actual strengths and weaknesses and determine if there’s a job somewhere else that would suit you.

          I hear you on money and not wanting to go into another field but that’s something you’ll need to think about down the line. This job may be good if you just want to make some money but long-term, I don’t think the issues you’re having now will be fixed and you’ll need to decide if you’re ok with that or not. Right now, you’re basically being told to go by your coworkers. Starting over fresh somewhere else might not be a bad thing if it means you can shake off the bad rep.

          1. WorkerBee173*

            Thanks for the clear talk.

            I know that I can’t be a 9-5 person; One of the things I’m trying hard to master is how not to pour my life and soul into my job and still stay engaged. It’s a balance, but I’m getting better at it, and possibly for the first time I know the ‘level’ that I want to be at. But I wont get there if I feel useless :-/

            It should be said that I already told my manager once about the ‘new carrier’ messages I was getting from my co-workers, and the feedback I got then was that this was not his impression at all. But there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since (plus he’s not my daily supervisor), so maybe there’s new information to be had there now.

            Either way, something’s gotta give, I don’t think this is productive or healthy for any of us.

            1. Senor Montoya*

              Hmm, sounds to me like people are not so nice, really. You’re getting folks (not your boss, it seems?) telling you your work has been reassigned and to look at another occupation? That’s terrible!

              You don’t know why your work has been reassigned — if it even has. Did your boss tell you? Or someone stirring the pot? And these folks telling you may not know either. It might be because you’re doing poorly. Or there might be another reason.

              Your colleagues that are swamped and don’t want help — yeah, are they really swamped? or are they over-dramatic?

              I’d say, sit down with your boss. Set a meeting and let your boss know you’d like to talk about your performance and to get her insight on your strengths and areas for development (= NOT weaknesses. NOT ways that I am crap. Areas for DEVELOPMENT). At the meeting, discuss with your boss the concerns that have been brought to you: I’ve been told that X project was reassigned because my work is poor in Z ways. Could you talk me through why X project was reassigned? What from your perspective Boss are my strengths? What from your perspective Boss are my areas to develop?
              You need to have thought through *your* answers to these questions, of course. But let the boss answer the questions FIRST. Don’t blort out a long list of How I Suck. LISTEN.

              Because it sounds to me like your boss is pretty satisfied, and you’ve got some crappy colleagues (or at least some crappy behavior from some colleagues) that’s feeding into your lack of confidence.

              Easy for some stranger in virtual land to say, I know. But I’ve been there! I’m really a tough cookie and I know I’m good at my job. I’ve had times though when I genuinely f’d up badly enough and long enough to doubt myself, and when some of my colleagues were nicey-nice snakes, wow, I really doubted myself and started thinking, I need to switch careers. Fortunately, I had a boss who pulled me in to talk about my performance, my strengths, and my areas for development. And it took a long time to get my head out of that toxic place, even when the snakes had been banished. Several years, in fact.

              It’s such a hard place to be. I really hope you can get a good objective view of yourself and your work, and can feel better about yourself. And maybe remember: truly competent people know they lack knowledge and skills. Incompetent people think they’re all that and a bag of chips.

        2. valentine*

          my workplace is fantastic and my management/colleagues amazing.
          They’re not amazing. They’re avoidant.

          You might need a different industry to feel out of the reach of that former supervisor. It also sounds like your work lends itself to your insistence on making yourself the bad guy, so that, when other people’s projects stagnate, that’s too bad, but when yours do, you think it’s because of you.

          1. WorkerBee173*

            You’re probably right: I’m overly process oriented, and prone to be the type who tries to spot all the problems beforehand, because then I can either fix them or avoid them. This has been a good approach with my previous bosses, but now it’s almost like I’m just stirring the pot for the fun of it :-(

            I guess I’ve become my very own version of Negative Nelly. Good news I guess is that now I can try out the solutions I’ve dreamt up for them in the past!

        3. jenny*

          Your management/colleagues suck, and you outlined the reasons why but drew the wrong conclusion. That’s something-anxiety, stress, depression-talking, but feelings aren’t facts. Your brain will tell you that the problem is you, but feelings aren’t facts.

          A good manager cares about whether someone has so little to do that they’re only working on process improvements. A good manager provides feedback in the moment instead of hoping to give you so little work that there isn’t any feedback to give. Good colleagues don’t make vague comments about how you need to find another job, and then refuse to provide specifics when they’re unhappy, or quietly take work away. These are not well-meaning people. They are avoiding conflict for the selfish reason that they don’t want to have potentially upsetting conversations. These people suck so hard that Dyson’s going to showcase them in floor displays at Bed Bath & Beyond.

            1. revueller*

              *the last sentence of this comment

              everything you wrote was thoughtfully said. i did not laugh at the serious advice you gave but i did laugh at the mental image of a bunch of people standing on a crowded display platform at Bed Bath and Beyond making vacuum noises.

    4. Ann E*

      Have you thought about speaking to a therapist about all of this? It seems like you might have let your own self-esteem be diminished due to someone else’s actions. It sounds like you want to quit and give up over it, are your current employers giving you the same feedback?

    5. AScreenName*

      Oh man, I have been in a similar situation. I’m in therapy to undo the damage from being micromanaged and feeling like I’m constantly screwing up.

      I guess the question is – has current management actually said anything? Or are you just feeling this way?

    6. Senor Montoya*

      Are you truly doing as poorly as you say, or did your toxic boss so thoroughly mess with your head that you’re actually doing just fine? You’re employed in your field, yes? Has your management said anything to you about your doing poorly? are you getting performance reviews, and are they positive?

      I see that below you say, you’re just working on your projects and can’t help with anyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean you’re doing poorly! If others are drowning in too much work, that’s not *your* problem. That’s *management’s* problem. I don’t mean, be a glassbowl and say to your colleagues, not my problem, solve it yourself. I mean, in your head, try to see it that way.

      Also, your colleagues may not be accepting your offers to help not because you/your work sucks/your reputation is bad, but for all sorts of other reasons. Good and bad reasons, and (this is my main point), reasons that have nothing to do with you.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      “and following her ‘helpful supervision and attempts to improve communication between us’ I eventually wound up in a place where I didn’t, and still don’t entirely, trust myself to write my name correctly three times in a row.”

      So basically your mind was not your own. My family members have a saying, “Get out of my head!” when other family members try to inject a lost word or reframe something. She was in your head so much she crippled your thinking. This is what loss of autonomy/loss of power looks like.
      What are you willing to do to steal back your own autonomy/power?

      So it makes sense that you just want to feel useful again. That is one sure fire way of knowing that we are a full-functioning adult. And interestingly it would, indeed, start to bring back your autonomy and power.

      I have two suggestions.

      Personal life. Help someone with a problem they are having. See, one of the things that helps a person in grief is to turn and help someone who is also struggling. Yes, you are in grief, your autonomy and power got up and left the room. You miss them and want them back. (Hey, most people would feel the same way in your shoes.) Go help someone. Don’t make this hard or huge. Volunteer at the library. Go to a nursing home and see if you can do some volunteer work there. Or simply decide to routinely check on an elderly neighbor. Keep it simple so that you actually do it. Somewhere in the process of helping someone else, we begin to take back our own power.

      Work Life. Unfortunately, I don’t know your setting. Or maybe that is good, because I can say general things and you can pick and chose.
      Brain hijacking and the resulting grief can take away our ability to concentrate. So you had two things taking away your ability to concentrate, a double whammy. Look to see what you can do to beef up your diet-nutrition-hydration routines. A properly nourished and watered body and mind both work better. Put stuff into you, you have been incredibly depleted by all this stress. Invest in physical self-care. A 15 minute walk after dinner can make a big difference over time.

      Cry at home. Your story here is AWFUL. You had a terrible, terrible thing happen to you. Cry. Crying creates a chemical reaction in the brain that helps the brain to stay healthy.

      Next just deal with the fact that you are making silly mistakes. Just face it head on. Make a plan for how you will prevent the various types of silly mistakes you find yourself prone to. When my husband passed (grief) I was prone to losing my keys (lack of concentration due to grief). I put a clip on my key ring and decided I would keep my keys clip to something else- my tote, my handbag or my belt loop (a plan for how to deal with constantly losing my keys). I also put together a spare key ring and set it in a designated spot. If I am not using it, the ring MUST be in it’s designated spot. (Plan B in case Plan A fails.)

      At work, parallel ideas. The boring stuff that causes my brain to snooze, gets reviewed before I move on to the next thing. I don’t wanna say how many of my own mistakes I have caught. But I review stuff each and every time, no exceptions.
      I put stuff in my own way so I remember to do it. My boss puts any new work in a designated tray. I know what my boss expects me to work on today. I have a large desk and I can lay out papers that need to be finished before I go home. If that area is empty, I know I have hit everything I need to hit. Set things up so that you can’t fail. Use these things as routines, in other words do things the same way each day. You can save yourself so many headaches.
      Ya know, it’s our routines that save us. Both in our work life and home life. And it’s our routines that remain familiar when there is a lot going upside down in the rest of our lives. Because of their familiarity routines, such as even washing dishes, can be oddly comforting simply because it is familiar.

      So do these types of things for a while. Get your own confidence back. What I see here looks like you are more devastated by losing your own confidence than anything the bosses can think of to say to you. Reclaim you.
      Then as you feel parts of old you returning, go back to your boss and ask for specific projects. “I know we have X coming up, I am interested in doing that project.” At this point you could be feeling stronger than now and you might be able to handle that deeper conversation of “if not, WHY NOT?”

      You say you like your job and you like the people. Just like you want them to give you a chance, please give them and YOURSELF a chance. Stop second guessing at what they are thinking, give yourself the gift of accepting their words at face value. This is going to be a little bit getting back on a better track, but you can do this.

    8. OhBehave*

      I feel the anxiety coming through your post. I’m so sorry.

      “I’ve probably been seriously stressed and on the verge of burnout most of my working life.” What can you pinpoint as the first instance of this happening? Were you a stressed student (going ten different directions at once)? Some stress is expected with jobs, just not all the time. Do you think meds might help center you? Has your therapist recommended anything?

      How did this horrible old boss ensure your reputation followed you?

      Meet with your boss again. Lay it all on the table. Mainly about this last boss who shook you so much. Ask your boss to assign you a project that they will work on with you. You could say, “Several people have told me I should consider another career. I don’t feel that is the answer. However, I do know I make minor mistakes that should never happen. I believe this is why I don’t get more projects. My last boss was very hostile. I carry that stress to this day. What would you suggest I do to improve how I’m perceived here?” Present working on a project together. Think through these silly mistakes you make. What tangible steps can you take to ensure they do not happen? Check lists? Go through every step with a fine toothed comb! Rethink your attitude toward these projects. If you don’t think they are worthwhile, you will not put forth the effort. But, if others see these mistakes on inconsequential projects, why would they trust you on others? Start presenting perfect work; it just may change your rep in the office.

      I wish you the best.

  22. Wing Leader*

    I don’t have any questions this week, so I thought I would share an amusing story. I work as an assistant in a law firm, and there are two lawyers that look very physically similar (despite not being related). They are both petite women of the same race, both have shoulder-length dark hair, both wear glasses and dress similarly, etc. I can tell them apart now, but I couldn’t when I first started. The only real difference I noticed between them was one of them always wears high heels and the other one always wears flats. So for a while, I would have to look at their feet before I addressed one of them to make sure I called them by the correct name.

    I’m sure they thought I was looking down out of nervousness, but they’d probably think it was funny if I explained it now haha.

        1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

          Based on describing them as the same race I guess I just assumed, and it’s been a persistent problem at my organization where white people think the PoC employees all look the same even when we absolutely do not. So I am sorry if they were white women, but if they’re PoC I stand by my comment.

        2. Wing Leader*

          Uh, no, they’re both Caucasian. I only mentioned they were the same race to point out all the similarities.

            1. Blueberry*

              Even setting aside issues of race I think you had a good point about not telling them — who wants to feel that their coworkers find them so unremarkable as to be indistinguishable from other people? Even before I got my eyesight semi-repaired I worked very hard on not mixing people up for this reason.

          1. Lonely Aussie*

            If it’s a male dominated workplace it sucks on an additional level. I worked in an area where myself and another woman were the only two women in our area. We were both mid/late twenties, had dark hair and names that started with the same letter. She was there first and when I was assigned there, 9 times out of 10 I’d be called by her name. Drove me insane. A few months later she’d also get my name but no where the frequency that I did. Felt like my male coworkers saw a women and just said the first female name that popped into their head that made sense in context. I tried to correct people as it happened but it was happening so often that it was draining to have to correct people almost every interaction.

            Contributed to me feeling incredibly unwelcome on my new area (there were other issues, but at minimum it felt like they couldn’t even be bothered to address me by my name). I pointed it out to my manager at the time and he brushed me off with “well you’re both (letter)” and that I was being silly.
            Felt like pointing out that the whole area was made up of old white dudes and I still managed to get everyone’s name right.
            She’s been gone for over a year and at least once a week someone still calls me by her name.

      1. Nessun*

        That is terrible, and I’ve no doubt it’s happened to many people – but I will say, race doesn’t have to be a part of it. For example, I can’t always tell Brad Pitt, Guy Pearce and Val Kilmer apart (I’m Caucasian). I’ve also misnamed coworkers because they look alike – including, most embarrassingly, my boss’s kid (also Caucasian) who was interning for us. Face-blindness can be a part of the problem, and finding a way around it (like looking at shoes) can be a good solution. If it’s only happened with those two ladies, and it’s because of their race, agreed – don’t tell them; there is a space where they MIGHT find it funny, but they could reasonably be very upset. But if it happens with OP in lots of other circumstances, maybe it’s not the same issue.

        1. Wing Leader*

          Yes, since you brought that up, I can’t tell Isla Fisher and Amy Adams apart lol. I’m definitely not the type to assume everyone of a certain race looks the same. If you see these two lawyers I work for, you’d see what I mean. They look like twins and it’s often joked about in the office.

          1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

            Yeah, you may just be somewhat face blind, because Isla Fisher and Amy Adams don’t look alike at all to me and I’m baffled as to why they always get mixed up.

              1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

                Their eyes are completely different. Isla has dark brown eyes and Amy has blue/green eyes and also I think Amy’s eyes are a little bigger and rounder. If that helps at all!

            1. Clisby*

              I just googled them, and I can see why people would mix them up (for the record, I had never heard of Isla Fisher, and had only the vaguest notion of what Amy Adams looked like.)

              Neither of them is distinctive-looking, so there might be other people they could be confused with as well.

          2. Nessun*

            Same!! I’m great with voices, but faces…faces throw me off. It’s at the point where I long for the days of cubicles (we’re open concept) because our cubicles had name tags. This is also why the pictures in Outlook are so useless – it never helps me identify anyone in person either. LOL

          3. willow for now*

            Sean Bean and Kenneth Branaugh, for me. Although both are easy on the eyes (for me).

            1. Amy Sly*

              Oh that’s easy. Branaugh is the one who’s still alive at the end of the show.

              The accent helps too: Bean can’t really do anything but his Northern English accent, but Branaugh is Northern Irish and does a great RP. Ken’s American accent — especially his Southern American accent — is terrible.

              1. Clisby*

                From what I’ve seen on TV and in movies, any British actors’ American English (not just southern English) is terrible. I was incredibly impressed when I realized that 3 of the main cast members of The Wire were British/Irish, and yet had completely believable American accents. (No idea whether they were completely believable Baltimore accents – that might be a different story.)

      2. 2e*

        Even though it doesn’t relate to Wing Leader’s story, thanks for this link. I am a POC who’s often mistaken at work for other mixed-race people with only vaguely similar features to mine. I hadn’t seen this article and it was validating to read.

    1. Amy Sly*

      I sold shoes for a long time. There were several regular customers that I couldn’t recognize by face, couldn’t recognize by name, but looking at their feet was a Proustian moment of recall. It happens.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Happened to me all the time at a previous job – two of us were about the same age, coloring and build, with similarly colored hair at the same length. We worked for the same boss. Even things like hair texture and glasses/no glasses didn’t keep people from confusing us for YEARS. At least you figured out a trick.

      1. Mama Bear*

        As an aside, there is a real condition called prosopagnosia (face blindness) where you literally cannot recognize people by face, even family members.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This happened to me also. The boss could not tell the two Irish women apart. It was only a real problem when the three of us worked together. He eventually figured it out.

    3. Panthera uncia*

      As a server I was frequently confused with one other specific server. I was a chubby white 30-something, and she was a very thin Asian college co-ed. No idea why it happened so often, but it was very flattering to me. Not so much to her.

      1. Aurélia*

        My petite Asian co-worker and I (overweight, average-height white woman) would get called each other’s names. We both wear glasses so I felt it was kind of like, “oh, you’re one of the ones with glasses who is competent and helpful” and never took offense, but yeah. It was always interesting. My brain picks up on random cues sometimes and misfires, generally something like “hockey lover” or “rabid Taylor Swift Fan” or the like, my brain goes down that corridor but opens the wrong door (like calling my friend Bobby instead of Anthony). I typically just explain the misfire, people get a chuckle and move on.

    4. Anon bc work*

      In my last job, I would occasionally run into a tall, thin blonde girl in the kitchen. She worked in a different department. One day, I walked into the kitchen to see TWO tall, thin blonde girls. I literally thought they were the same person until I saw them both at the same time! They had very similar facial features, similar length hair that they would wear up in a ponytail or bun, and would dress similarly. I noticed that one of them had wavier hair than the other, and would use that to distinguish them.

      1. Anon bc work*

        I will say this is the first/only time this has happened to me. I’m normally good at distinguishing faces, because I tend to notice subtle details about people’s appearances (bone stucture, facial marks, eye color, etc.) I think this confusion was due to me not paying much attention.

      2. Nerfmobile*

        There are two girls in my daughter’s class at school who look very similar to me – small, long very light blond hair, round faces. I finally figured out that one has wavier hair while the other has stick-straight hair, so I have to see their hair to tell!

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

      I haven’t been in your position, but I have been in the position of “one of the two co-workers who someone mixed up with each other”.

      I and the other woman are a similar height, build, skin/eye/hair colour (I think her her colour is natural but mine is dyed) but we don’t dress alike. I wear the same type of outfit every day though and she changes it up.

      It had never occurred to me that I looked like the other woman so it was a bit of a surprise!

      It isn’t anything negative and isn’t a reflection on her, but is just strange what people notice or not :)

    6. blueberry muffins*

      I’m a middle-aged caucasian woman, working in a very very male dominated area. I can’t tell any of our young caucasian men apart. They all just look … tall and 15 to me. I sometimes have to resort to describing them (‘tall’ ‘very tall’). I usually remember where they sit or which projects they are on, so I can describe them to someone else to get a name.

    7. I don't look a thing like her*

      I believe this is across cultures. Middle aged white woman with glasses, public service. colleague middle aged white woman with glasses. We are totally different heights, facial shape, body shape. Our clients were majority Black. Consistently our patrons could not tell us apart. Yes, you did help me yesterday. No, yesterday was my day off.

  23. Miss M*

    Today’s the day! It’s my last day and I get to talk to HR at my exit. I have decided to report the sticky note incident. I ended up talking to my boss so she wouldn’t be blindsided afterwards, but she was defending my coworker as expected. “Oh, she’s just socially awkward. I’m surprised she didn’t say f*ck you b*tch on one of those notes!” Like the way this is tolerated is…something else.

    I don’t think HR will do anything because our team learned that this coworker harassed HR! She told him that she had been tracking his bathroom habits on a spreadsheet and “asked if his prostate was ok.” My boss gasped but then laughed in a “Oh, Jane, you’re so weird.” Jane has been getting away with this shit for 15 years. I just…sigh. I’m doing my due diligence at least.

      1. Miss M*

        Holy balls, prostate, whatever is in that region. Yikes. My other coworker shared with me that some of the things Jane said about me before I got hired was lawsuit worthy. The fact that she is still here! And treated as the office rascal! And this is government! AGH

        1. Zona the Great*

          Miss M, in my last job, I was sexually harassed every single day by the staff of the contracted operator I helped oversee. Every day. Even by their management. When I had my exit interview, I went full scorched-earth mo-fo on them. I had receipts. I had dates and times. I had exact names and what clothes they wore down to the color of belt they wore when they harassed me. No way to deny any of it. I never told my boss because our first week together on the job, he told me a little diddy about his sister “claiming she was raped at 16 but she was a wild-child so who really knows”. I told HR this was why I wouldn’t consider going to boss first. Serious investigations were started that day. Firings. Resignations. News Stories.

          Do it!!!!

          1. Miss M*

            I did it! I finally did it! UNFORTUNATELY HR said “I’ll note it but I’m not sure if we can do anything now.” So. As I thought. However, I’m taking this up with our regional civil rights office after I leave. I just worry about the people of color coming in after me and our clientele of color.

            1. Marny*

              WTF? Is it that they “can’t do anything” because you’re leaving? They’re only willing to discipline an employee for racist behavior if the victim is still there?

          2. Miss M*

            And I’m so sorry that all happened to you. I’m proud of you for reporting because it’s so so hard to do. And often it feels like the reporter gets in more trouble than the person who committed the evil acts. I’m so glad they acted on it in your case!

          3. Bernice Clifton*

            Leaving aside how horrible the comment about the sister was (which is totally), how does a subject like that even come up with someone you supervise *during the first week*?

    1. Holy Moley*

      100% unacceptable that HR, management and your employer lets this person get away with their racism and bullying. Is it too late to file an EEO complaint on the way out the door?

      Glad you are leaving. May karma bite Jane in the ass.

      1. Miss M*

        A friend has told me to file with EEO but I’m not sure I can do that post employment. I’ll look into it. As far as karma, well… I know she hates her job and has gotten bed bugs twice now this year. I don’t wish bed bugs on anyone but I didn’t exactly feel super bad…

        1. Holy Moley*

          In my federal job you have 45 days from the event to file. So….. if the sticky not thing has been since then you should be in the clear maybe?

        2. OhBehave*

          PLEASE report this! Glassdoor review. Anything to warn people about this horrid place. They are all culpable because they did nothing.
          Petty me says to sign her up for workplace harassment newsletters, emails, seminars, etc. But you’re probably a better person than I :)

        3. EEOC Counselor*

          I’m sorry I missed your post last week, but please file an EEO complaint. I am so sorry that this happened to you and I’m glad you’re getting out. Now you don’t have to worry about retaliation, which is super common when people file. Good luck with your new job!

    2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh my- I’m glad you got out of that environment. I’m sorry that your manager and HR don’t seem interested in doing anything about it, but I’m glad you are reporting it further. Jane’s behavior is unacceptable. I hope your next job is awesome!

  24. the consort Sha'ira*

    Besides something like Toastmasters, what are some ways (tips, tricks, techniques, nuggets of wisdom) that people have found useful for building skill and confidence with speaking in front of groups?

    1. Wing Leader*

      I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but there’s a book called Talk Like Ted that you may like. It’s about how the different people who have given Ted Talks built up their confidence and overcame issues to do so.

      1. the consort Sha'ira*

        Thanks so much! I’ll definitely check that book out and appreciate the tip.

    2. It's just me*

      For me, it’s been preparedness. Know your subject matter inside and out, practice if possible in front of a co-worker of family member. Also, I try to focus more on why I’m presenting, and the importance of the material I’m trying to get across, so that I’m more focused on that than the fact that everyone is looking at me. Hope that helps! I feel your pain though…I’ll never enjoy speaking in front of a group.

      1. the consort Sha'ira*

        Haha, thanks! It’s not so much “pain” as it is just a “this is a skill I’ll have to work on if I want to advance professionally.” I really appreciate this tip and will make a point to prepare, practice, and focus my energy on doing the content justice.

        1. It's just me*

          So glad I could help! Best of luck, and good for you for wanting to improve this aspect of your professional life!

        2. another scientist*

          Volunteer anywhere you can, with the caveat that you want to be able to prepare adequately for each event. It gets better with practice. The first presentations I gave were carefully rehearsed, but over the years, I got more used to the flow. Now, often I can just spend a few minutes organizing my thoughts and then wing it (unless it’s a Very Important Presentation).
          Also, as you do a few speaking gigs, you can focus on specific areas to improve and find advice for those. Some people need to focus on the content and how to convey everything to the audience, others work on body language, voice, nerves.
          My employer regularly invited this great public speaking coach for workshops. There are some nice videos available online. https://www.principiae.be/X0302.php

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I agree with It’s just me, preparedness really helps. It’s good to practice in front of your expected audience, but I highly recommend also practicing your presentation in front of someone who doesn’t know about the subject matter – they’ll be good at letting you know where some holes might be that your inside knowledge fills in for you, but others might be confused by. This will strengthen your presentation as well as cut down on people interrupting to ask questions, which can sometimes throw you off your game.

      Speaking of that, determine ahead of time how you want to address questions. Do you welcome questions at every opportunity? Will you be pausing at points throughout for questions? Do you want everyone to wait until the very end? Whichever you choose, state it at the beginning – this will prevent interruptions and allow you to gently defer people who do interrupt.

      If you have a visual aid, absolutely do NOT put all of your content on it. If you end up just reading off of your slides, I’m going to wonder why this couldn’t have been sent in an email to digest at my leisure. The visuals should support your words, and your words should support the visuals, but they should not give identical content.

      My last bit of advice is to talk slower than you think you need to. Normal speech goes a lot faster than you think, and if you deliver a presentation like you would a conversation, it’s going to sound rushed and uncomfortable to listen to/hard to absorb. My trick is to talk slow to the point that you’re thinking “geez I’m talking so slow, this feels really weird” – that’s usually about the perfect cadence for a presentation.

      Good luck!

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      When I’m giving a new conference talk, I try to schedule something with my team at work to present it to them first. My preferred timeline is about a month prior to the first public presentation. This way I can get feedback from a friendly audience and have time to incorporate any changes I want to make.

    5. Emilitron*

      I realized at one point that a lot of what I was categorizing as “nerves” was actually mild unpreparedness. When it’s not something that I could speak to with skill and confidence to a friend at a coffeeshop (or a coworker in an office) it’s not going to be something I could do in front of an audience. When it IS information that I’m genuinely fluent in (including all the extra info my manager made me include for “broader context” and the fine-grained detail added in by the subject-matter team), then it’s just a matter of building the order of the talk up, and remembering what’s about to happen next. The actual confidence of speaking in front of people isn’t as much of a problem as I thought it was, once I’d taken care of the content.

    6. Amy Sly*

      A couple books that I give to the teenage relations I deal with: “How to Say It” and “How to Say It for Women.”

      The first is more generally themed for public speaking and professional writing, while the other examines how to eliminate common feminine behaviors that undermine credibility, like poor posture or handshakes.

    7. eshrai*

      There are so many good suggestions already on here. I am a technical trainer so I am up in front of people all the time teaching classes and performing demonstrations on software. I agree that being prepared and knowing your subject matter inside and out is the best strategy for calming nerves. Sometimes though, I don’t have the opportunity to be fully prepared for a presentation. There are times I am asked to present things last minute, or do a demo when the software isn’t finished and I don’t know what the changes are.

      One tactic I use a lot when I am teaching (in addition to many suggestions already mentioned) is to treat it like a performance. I am no longer eshrai the office worker, I am taking on a Role. I am Eshrai the very knowledgeable, competent, professional public speaker. I did theater growing up, so I think that helped me to create a persona I can play. My grand-boss jokes about it because I am naturally very sarcastic and goofy but she says she sees this shift when I get up to speak.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        +1 This is my trick, too. In addition to being prepared with all the facts/info at hand, I have a suit I wear that, when I put it on, I am taking on the role of Policy Expert as opposed to being me. It helps with that negative little voice in my head that tells me people don’t want to listen to me. I tell that voice no, they probably don’t, but they do want to listen to Policy Expert! It works for me.

    8. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Volunteer with kids when you can, specifically in a classroom setting, perhaps volunteering to talk to groups and classes during a career day. Some groups make you feel awesome, some are savage, but either way they are fantastic practice for speaking in front of adults because more often than not, they’re more challenging than adults. Keeping attention, building rapport, answering unexpected questions, it’s all valuable practice that will give you the best sense of confidence. Then try with high school classes!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Practice at home in front of the mirror.
      We have to get use to hearing our own voices speaking at length and with authority/knowledge. This isn’t in our genes at birth, we have to grow it.

    10. Nelalvai*

      Not exactly speaking, but I had a big, big solo a few years back that I was anxious about for months. In the hours before my performance I chatted with my band-mates. Nonstop. Joking about nerves but also just talking about anything. The levity and the distraction of it left me no time to get nervous.

    11. Anonnington*

      Just get more practice speaking in front of groups. Teaching works. The group you’re practicing with could be four-year-olds (even better, maybe, because they’ll give you unexpected reactions while also being forgiving if you don’t have a response right away). Poetry or comedy open mic’s work too. Whatever you can find, the more variety, the better.

    12. Bluebell*

      Deborah Frances White has a fantastic TED talk about this, Using the lessons of stand-up comedy and applying them to business presentations. You should be able to Google it pretty easily.

  25. She's One Crazy Diamond*

    Curious about the AAM community’s thoughts on this. My organization, after having no standardized onboarding for decades, has finally developed a program to be more welcoming to new employees. Which is a great thing. But as part of the new program, managers were asked to select onboarding mentors from their team who were professional and reliable. And while I 100% understand that reasoning, as someone who was chosen as a mentor, we don’t get a lot of notice before a new person shows up and the program basically requires us to drop everything to focus on the new person for a week, and I find it incredibly stressful especially since we’re so understaffed and my plate is overflowing. I guess I feel like I’m being punished for being a good employee? Also, the overwhelming majority of mentors chosen were young women, even though the average employee here is a 50-year-old man. Am I right to feel weird about this?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ooh that’s weird/not good. I think it’s worth pushing back on two fronts – 1: you need more notice. If doing this requires you to essentially drop what you’re doing for a full week, you need time to prepare and move things around so you can devote your full and proper attention to your mentee. 2: It’s worth bringing up the optics of having a support(ish) based role filled overwhelmingly with young women, especially when the demographics of your company don’t match up. Alison has a lot of good language in the backlog about how to bring up concerns/voice this properly, I’d definitely check it out.

      There’s more to be said about how people are selected for this (can/do people volunteer, can you say no if asked, are you just told and have to do it, etc), and I think there is a lot more to push back on or be unhappy about, but the two things I outlined are pretty objective reasons for making a change that leave personal feelings out of it and are less likely to be dismissed as complaints or you not being a team player (ugh).

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        Thank you! And yes, people are told it’s now part of their jobs and can’t get out of it, and another thing that gets me is I’m an alpaca groomer and another alpaca groomer was not assigned to do this and I’m sure it’s because her HR file is super thick, and of course you don’t want someone known for making inappropriate comments to be someone’s first impression of the organization, but it makes me feel like oh, since I’m nice to my colleagues I get all this extra work shoved at me while Fergusina is being basically rewarded for being unpleasant and gets to spend all of her time doing the actual interesting technical work that I would also rather be doing instead of showing everyone how to fill out their timesheet.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Ooh that’s unfortunate. I can see why they would choose you over her, but it sucks that you are pretty much being punished for being a good employee. But if you are
          indeed stuck with it, maybe you can reframe it in your head as thing that will look great on your annual review and use it to get a better raise/a promotion some day.

          Also I don’t know how often your company brings in new people, but if a good chunk of the “mentorship” is a bunch of general operations tasks, maybe you could suggest they have a monthly/quarterly/etc general training session for all the new hires rather than one-off mentorships that disrupt workflow.

          1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

            They do have quarterly meetings too, but they are insisting on the mentorship program.

            1. A Simple Narwhal*

              If they have quarterly trainings, what’s the point of the mentorship? Especially one as disruptive as this. Blergh, I hope it’s not too often or bad for you, and that it nets you a nice consideration at year end.

              1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

                Honestly I’ve been considering leaving for a long time, and now seems like a good time. So hopefully I won’t have to deal with this for much longer. But I get so much thrown at me (I somehow became the designated person for all our departments to pile work on if they can’t/don’t want to do it and my boss is fine with me unofficially having that role) that I know they’ll be screwed when I bounce. I thought I signed up for technical writing and project management when I took this job but apparently not.

        2. Gumby*

          Teaching people to fill out time sheets is… not mentoring people. This is absolutely something HR should be handling. That way they know everyone is getting the same basic info. (Seriously, if Bill always enters to the quarter hour and Nancy just rounds to the nearest hour you are going to have wackadoodle things going on when all of their mentees do things different ways.)

          Actual mentoring should be shared around among everyone. In fact, I’d approach it with asking managers who on their teams *is not* to be used but otherwise anyone who has been there, say, a year or more is fair game. And not-to-be-used people should be facing consequences in other ways like if they aren’t cut out to be a mentor,they better be working on fixing that.

          Why is mentoring something that takes a whole week of full time work? Because that set up is also kind of crazy. I was a mentor at a previous job and it was a couple of hours on their first day and then checking in once a day for a week or two and answering questions as they came up. That honestly took less than 30 minutes per day. usually more like 5.

    2. Ama*

      Yeah that’s not a good look there. Not structure wise and not who is getting pushed into mentoring.

      My employer does have new employees do onboarding meetings with each department to get a feel for everything we do here (we’re a nonprofit so it’s worth it for everyone to have at least a passing familiarity with everything happening here). And even that gets a little annoying because sometimes they’ll email and ask us to commit to a time with very little notice (we also tend to hire in batches and they aren’t always able to group the new hires together, so you wind up doing three orientation meetings in one month). If I was expected to just drop everything to help out for a week I’d never get anything done!

    3. Lora*

      I will have a contrarian opinion: We do this currently at my job and it’s actually really helpful. BUT, we are also pairing new people with whomever is experienced, so my mentor was a guy 10 years older than me (i.e. retirement age). He was very busy and I’m sure I was super inconvenient, but I also had a week of training on the usual things (how to use their flavor of SAP, which HR person is in charge of benefits questions etc) before he was saddled with me. So hopefully I wasn’t too much of a pain in the butt. It definitely helped a lot, because my boss was also extremely busy and traveling a lot at the time, and my boss had also only been with the company for a year and didn’t know all the things I was asking.

      If they’re going to do this though, they should make sure you have time to do it. Can you let your manager know that you need to have some less-priority projects put off in order to make time for this?

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        Unfortunately all of my projects are high priority and my beef is that I would rather do my projects than give building tours, show people how to use Outlook, and other basic admin tasks. I wouldn’t be nearly as upset about it if I was training them to do the technical aspects of their job. Also, because we’re so understaffed, I don’t even work that closely with most of the positions I mentor.

        1. Anonnington*

          Ooohh, you see, that’s the issue. It isn’t that the program exists. It’s that they’re choosing the wrong people to be mentors.

          I would push back based on this. Explain your work load. Explain, in so many words, that you don’t always have time to teach new people basic things.

          If it were me, I would want to mentor someone at some point so I could put it on my resume. But, yeah, they need to pair people with people they’ll be working with, people who have time.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      Speaking as the officially designated mentor for new folks in our office, you need clear guidelines written down: what’s the goal in having a mentor for newbies, what are the expectations of the mentor? the mentee? (including, how much time are you supposed to spend) what are you supposed to do? what’s the mentee supposed to do? what’s the timeline? who do you go to if there are issues? who does the mentee go to if there are issues?

      What comes off your plate when you’re spending time mentoring? The Powers That Be often don’t think about the amount of time and effort it takes to mentor well. Mentoring newbies — great idea! and also — a LOT of work.

      I get two to four weeks notice, so… And we have guidelines because I wrote them. I also got a project I dislike postponed/removed when I agreed to take on this function. I do love mentoring, so win-win for me.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Since I am taking on more work than some of my other peers I feel I should be compensated accordingly.”

      Then,

      “Oh that is not possible? Well perhaps we need to take a look at why a disproportionate number of women are teachers and the men get off the hook. What we have here is that women are doing more work for less pay.”

  26. Pusheen*

    I wrote this back in December 6th open thread. Basically I had an employee who was nice but not performing up to standards.

    Well, we wrote her up a month prior and put her on a PIP and I explained that termination would be the next step if things didn’t improve. When we wrote her up she said “I don’t see it as a big issue but you guys do so.” 

    Things didn’t improve and we began making plans so that when she was gone (whether by her own choice or ours) we wouldn’t be in a bad position. 

    We had conversations with her from I think October on wards and she would improve for a bit but fall back in to old habits. Clients were unhappy and things slipped through the cracks on her end, despite us tracking as much as possible. 

    The other day she went to HR and said that I was alienating her and taking away her work. She was ready to resign but HR stopped her from doing so. She then called in my boss and my coworker (the supervisor on my team), leaving me out of the meeting. Both of them came back afterwards and told me what happened — my boss reminded HR that we had plans to let the employee go but if she wants to resign we can do that now. HR remembered that conversation (and we had all documentation in place). So she resigned.

    I feel bad. She was a nice person and talented but just wasn’t performing up to our standards. I know she had a rough start here but we really tried to work with her. 

    I’ve been learning more about management as I go along including what my own mental blockers are and why things went this way. At my company it’s normal to take a few months to fire someone, rarely do people get fired in days/weeks.

    1. Wing Leader*

      It really is sad when you’ve got someone who’s a nice person, but they just aren’t doing their job. Her comment about it not being a big deal to her strikes me as odd though, which tells me she was flippant about the problems and the feedback you were giving her. So it sounds like things ended in the best way they could have.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Honestly, don’t feel bad. People can be nice all day long but they still have a job to do. It sounds like you were amply fair with her in terms of giving her a chance and trying to work with her. But at some point the employee has to do it on their own.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s normal to feel bad about firing someone. It’s a rare day that anyone wants that job. I have enjoyed firing only one time and that was because it was a vile sexist twerp who couldn’t do the job and refused to accept direction or assistance. I also don’t mind disciplining bullies but I sure don’t take pleasure in it!

      Listen. There are a million nice people out there, they’re great humans, they’re fantastically smart in their own ways. But they can’t always do a job, no matter what. They’re not cut out for it.

      She’s still nice. She’s still good! She’s just not right for that job. She will be okay. She’ll be so much happier once she fits her spot. You were all miserable, including her because it sucks to not live up to the standards others have for you. You weren’t unfair. You weren’t unkind. This is normal management stuff. You’re having a human reaction to dealing with other humans. Emotions and empathy are wonderful things, don’t lose them.

      1. Mama Bear*

        She was already on a PIP. She brought this on herself, surface nice that she may be. She was not nice to you when you told her what needed to change and when she didn’t like losing duties. She tried an end-run. Don’t feel guilty. She was fortunate to be allowed to resign vs be fired.

    4. Fikly*

      There was an episode of Project Runway, I think on the most recent season, where one of the designers made an outfit that the judges didn’t like, and also didn’t really fit the challenge.

      He defended his look by saying that he loved it, so what they thought didn’t matter. Well, I mean, great that he likes it, but if he wants to stay on the show, he’s going to have to design something the judges like too. And in the real world, producing something other people want is pretty critical.

      And yet some people seem to not understand this fundamental concept. Yes, doing what your employer thinks is important is critical to your job security!

    5. NicoleK*

      It’s always difficult to fire someone, but it’s better that it happened. On my team, people who should be fired don’t get fired. And it brings down morale. And people lose respect for the manager.

  27. Anon for this one*

    Does anyone work in an administrative supporting role in higher education and not hate it? I need some positive experience stories. All our faculty members are the most negative, hateful, nit-picky, unrealistic SOB’s I’ve ever known or worked with. I’ve worked in multiple departments in the University I’m at and 90% of them are like this. I’m just so tired of everyone coming to me with petty complaints because things (that I have 100% no control over) are not up to their oh-so-high standards. I’m only here until I graduate and I’m trying to change my mindset, but just Ugh.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Well, I don’t now, but I did before. The reason I left was because I hated my supervisor (you never knew what kind of mood she’d be in. It varied every. single. day). But I enjoyed (most of) the faculty. I won’t say it was all a picnic–faculty can be the worst and most helpless babies I’ve ever seen. If we graded them on ignoring our emails, etc. like they grade their students regarding their syllabi then they would also often have failing grades… But except for the department I was in, people around here don’t leave their administrative jobs very often. People are here 5, 10, 15+ years moving around campus (most of the time). So maybe it’s just your school and there is no proper support for staff? I work in the library now and (sadly) not many faculty even use the resources available to them so I don’t have as much contact as I did before. But overall I thought the faculty were nice, normal people with the few outliers here or there with issues that I was happy I didn’t make enough money to have to deal with.

      1. Anon for this one*

        There really isn’t any support for staff. Like at all. Most of the department heads make it really, really clear that we’re replaceable in a second and that we just need to put up with the faculty being insane. On turnover it’s kind of 50/50. Some positions have massive turn over and other people put up with it because there are some okay benefits for working at the university.

        1. Faith*

          It sounds like a bad culture at your particular university. I wouldn’t judge all universities by this one place, but I totally get how it would make you want to avoid this kind of environment going forward. The universities that are like that are usually few and far between.

          Even when I worked at one that was kind of like that, when a new department chair started telling people they oversaw that they could easily be replaced, once word of that got to their supervisor, they were swiftly reprimanded. When it continued, they were eventually demoted and removed from any employee oversight.

          So I think you’re at a *really* crappy place if the department heads are allowed to treat you like that.

          1. Anon for this one*

            Sorry should have expanded on that. There is one larger University system where I live and that’s the one I work at. There isn’t really any other higher education job options where I live and I have no intention of moving because I love where I live. With my degree, I might have an option to work at the University, but it’s not really higher education related. So after I graduate I won’t be pursuing options here. Because you’re right, it’s super crappy. I think there are tiny pockets where people are not awful, but they’re few and far between.

    2. Little Beans*

      That is too bad. I have worked in higher ed for nearly 20 years now, at 3 different institutions and I have NOT had this experience. I don’t know if it could be something about your university in particular? I would actually say that the vast majority of faculty I’ve worked with have been incredibly hard-working, obviously smart people who care about education and students. Yes, they have high expectations – they work insanely long hours and sometimes forget that not everyone else can. Yes, they can tend to get blinders on and think their opinion is the only right one, but as long as they are still trying to do what they think is best for students, we can usually find compromises. I’ve run into a couple like you describe but they have been the outliers, in my experience.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I think it’s the University. Their hiring practices are really awful and it’s just not a fantastic school in a lot of aspects. I’ve never been particularly drawn to higher education as a career field and I am just working here until I graduate (from another school, I don’t like my program at this school) but I have completely written it off as a path for me and I will probably not ever work in higher education again unless I am beyond desperate. This place has definitely made me realize that there is a huge difference between being educated and being smart.

        1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

          It is not just the one university. I am in an admin role in a university and the faculty can be arrogant, ignorant about the most basic things (like how to use a copier – basic stuff), lazy, email you at 8:33 to make copies for them for their 9:00 class (literally yesterday), think the rules don’t apply to them, etc.

          Now, there are some wonderful faculty out there but there are some real losers out there too!

          1. Anon for this one*

            Maybe we work at the same one! Haha. That sounds like my life. Everyone talks to me like I’m an idiot because I don’t have a PhD but none of them can turn their computer on.

    3. Intermittent Introvert*

      I was at a community college. Never saw this. Most professors are there because they love students and teaching. No pressure to research or publish.

      1. Forever Annon*

        That may be the key. PhD’s, especially that have grant money and their own labs tend to be super obnoxious and let everyone else do the grunt work. I felt so bad for grad students stuck with the crap.

    4. Faith*

      I think sometimes it just depends on the university you’re at. I’ve worked at different universities, and the ones that make an effort to emphasize that everyone is an employee of the university seem to be much better environments to work in (as a non-faculty employee) than the ones that make a staff/faculty delineation. The ones that make the delineation seem to have a lot more faculty that treat everyone else poorly; I would bet you’re working at one of those. Which doesn’t make it better for you right now, but maybe it’ll help put things in perspective.

    5. NJBi*

      I’ve had, overall, a quite good experience in an administrative support role. I only work with a couple of faculty and while they have strange things that they nitpick and complain about (often stuff outside of my control–like, I can’t fix the fact that the projector in the classroom isn’t working, and I couldn’t have anticipated that to work around it. ditto the fact that your guest speaker is 20 minutes late due to traffic.), overall, I get a lot of respect from faculty and they understand that I do a better job at my job than they would be able to do.

      If that respect wasn’t present… it would be a problem. But I think this is dependent on the particular faculty and the particular university. Also probably helps that my role allows me to take on complex projects on occasion, which isn’t always the case for these kinds of jobs–the projects both let me get more satisfaction from my work and let faculty see, like, “Oh yeah, I see that this person’s job is more complex than I give them credit for, and I realize now that in fact they do stuff IDK how to do all the time.”

    6. Winter*

      I work in a University supporting a PhD/Masters program and have found most of the faculty to be incredibly kind people (if terrible at following through, checking email, and generally keeping up with things). There are a few ‘interesting’ characters (and there’s rather a bit of petty politics around that), but they’re in the vast minority, so I don’t really have any complaints.

      Turnover rate in my department is also astonishingly slow – most of my coworkers have been here 10, 20, 30 years.

      But I feel like that might be different since I work in a School of Social Work? So it may appeal to a different demographic than, say, Chemistry or Engineering, etc. (I have coworkers who have less than stellar things to say about their experiences in the Business School.)

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      I am not now, but I have done it part time a long time ago. I was one of two people- my colleague was full time. We managed the faculty of a very large physics department, with some engineering folks too. 90% of the faculty I worked with were lovely- a bit discombobulated at time and a little flaky occasionally, but generally good people. However, I have heard many many horror stories from other departments on campus and I was happy I was working with my physics folks. They needed some hand holding to (somehow getting a Nobel Prize does not mean you can remember to turn in travel receipts), but very much enjoyed working with them. I’m sorry you’re having such a rough time of it. I do know some Universities have a very strong Staff vs Faculty culture and that can be really toxic.

    8. Nonameforthis*

      Faculty as customers are definitely a particular group. I got burned out in a direct support role and now am buffered a bit. While I have worked with many lovely faculty members and have a lot of respect for what they do, there are a lot of high-maintenance, temperamental, and “special” personalities in those positions as well.

      It’s tough. I really believe in the mission of higher ed but this is just one of the things that goes along with it.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I think higher education is super, super important, but I don’t have a passion for it. But I do really feel for our students. I field a lot of complaints about our faculty from the undergrads, who are honestly our bread and butter. But the faculty has a really crappy elitist attitude and prefers to focus on the graduate students, who only account for about 3% of our students. I’ve sat in so many meetings where our faculty has just dragged the undergrads because they “don’t have the drive” to go to graduate school. And then they wonder why UG enrollment is down. Gee….

    9. Anonz*

      I think this attitude is particularly prominent in R1 institutions. I’ve found our faculty (the vast majority, don’t @ me) don’t really care about their students, classes, or how they treat literally anyone 1) not in a position of power over them or 2) someone they need to improve/maintain their reputation. The only thing that secures their job is their research performance and there are no consequences for being unprofessional. They’re unwilling to be understanding or reasonable and don’t care who knows it even when you’re only trying to help them.

      1. nom de plume*

        This depends incredibly on 1) the discipline (hard / soft money) and 2) the type of institution and its culture. Not all R1s are like this, by any stretch of the imagination. I did my PhD at an R1 that placed tremendous emphasis on *undergrad* teaching, and collegiality even between faculty mattered a lot. There’s a lot of dishing on higher ed on this website, and on faculty in particular – but really, a lot is uninformed.

  28. Gidget*

    Just a tiny need to vent. Screwed something up at work this week. I arranged to have a speaker visit an organization. Apparently I was also supposed to go along. No one made that clear to me. So I didn’t go. My supervisor on finding out I did not go (the day after the event) said she was “sad” and “mad” that I did not attend. While it has blown over mostly, I really didn’t need that level of guilt on a week where I was already really stuggling with negative feelings. Sigh.

    1. Wing Leader*

      Sorry! Have you told your supervisor that it wasn’t made clear to you that you were supposed to go? As long as she understands that you didn’t just skip out on purpose or out of rebellion, it really shouldn’t be a big deal.

      1. Gidget*

        I did. I told her immediately. And I have already come up with ways to turn it around. It was just a bummer.

        1. Leisel*

          That was a strange way for your supervisor to react. Saying you’re mad about something is a little immature, especially considering that it was an honest mistake. Saying that you’re “sad” is just…odd.

          I think you need to re-frame this in your mind. You didn’t screw up. You made an honest mistake because the instructions were not clearly communicated to you. Is there a pattern in your office where things get blown out of proportion?

          1. Gidget*

            This is a good point. I know it really was an issue of poor communication. Add to that, everyone is always a little on edge. Big boss is very formidable and mistakes are not well tolerated. This has happened before– where I was expected to do something but no one made it clear (and in that case actually encouraged me to do something different). Yes, sad was a strange choice. She came to me and said “I’m sad. You didn’t go.” and then another coworker walked by and asked what was up and she said, “I’m mad at Gidget because she didn’t go to the thing.” Sigh. Just trying to keep powering through to my exit plan.

        2. Havarti*

          Don’t be too hard on yourself. These things happen when people don’t make their expectations clear. So your supervisor being mad and sad is ridiculous if she didn’t at some point say “Hey Gidget, I want you to go to this thing.” Were you supposed to go to provide support for the visit or as an attendee? But at least now you know to ask for a straight answer next time since your supervisor apparently thinks telepathy is a thing.

          1. Gidget*

            It’s not really clear why I was supposed to go. Apparently my being there would have helped “build the relationship” even though I was just going to be in the room.

            Sadly, telepathy is an expectation of this job. An unrealistic one, but one nonetheless.

            1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

              Sadly, telepathy is an expectation of this job. An unrealistic one, but one nonetheless.

              That would be a deal-breaker for me.

              As would emotional manipulation. “Sad” and “mad”? C’mon!

            2. Not So NewReader*

              The event planner seems to somehow function as the glue that holds the event together. Even if all they do is sit in the audience.

              I remember one event here in the community, where the planner did not attend. Many people said, “Where is Jane?” People who were key participants felt the event was “less than” because Jane did not show up to her own event.
              I can’t put my finger on the exact reason but Jane was the one who was the person-in-common for all of us.
              The following year less people attended and participated because some how the message was, “This isn’t that important.”

            3. LeighTX*

              I once had a boss tell me, “I need you to do a better job of knowing what I am thinking.” Considering that HE didn’t know what he was thinking at least half the time, it was an impossible hurdle and I did not last much longer at that job! I’m sorry you’re being held to such a standard and hope you can either figure out things you’re not told, or find a better (and more reasonable) workplace. :)

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Woof, sorry about that, it totally sucks! But I 100% get that feeling – in the moment, you made a decision based off the information you had, but now with hindsight and new info you’re kicking yourself and telling yourself that you should have somehow known that extra info and why oh why didn’t I do that?? Try not to be so hard on yourself, you did what you could with the info you had at the time. It’s kinda lame to get that guilt trip from your boss, it’s a pretty weird take on what went down so I’d try to not dwell on that a lot.

      You mentioned in a response that you found “ways to turn it around” – I hope this is a mental reframing and not a “I have to make it up to my boss” self-flagellating thing. Because really the main thing that should come from this is that you now know to specifically ask if you should attend the things you plan. Just remember that you are an adult who made a small mistake at work, not a naughty child who has disappointed a parent. (And maybe I’m offbase and they aren’t treating you that way or you aren’t taking it that way, just wanted to throw it in, just in case.)

      1. Gidget*

        This is a really good point. Partially a reframe. But partially a way of making up for the apparently missed opportunity. But yes, I now know to be way more explicit about asking for details.

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

      To state that she’s “sad” you didn’t attend the event is weirdly passive-aggressive and oddly emotionally invested from your supervisor. Are there any other signs of passive-aggressive traits from her I wonder?

      I’ve stated directly to people (rather than actually acting angry, for example like the letter the other day where the guy was breaking keyboards to express anger!) that I am “annoyed”, “disappointed”, “surprised” etc with some situation, but it wouldn’t occur to me to be “sad” over some administrative oversight and if I were, I don’t think I would express it to the person involved.

      1. Gidget*

        It’s generally a little bit of a strange environment. Supervisor is definitely sort of the department Mom– both because of job duties and personality. So it has made for some weird not totally professional overly personal moments.

    4. willow for now*

      At least you did not send her to Naples, Italy instead of Naples, Florida. (IIRC)

  29. It's just me*

    Good morning, and TGIF to everyone! I’m curious to hear what, if anything your workplaces are doing about Coronavirus, if anything. For context, I’m in Ohio where there have been no recorded cases as of right now, and we employ about 30 people in manufacturing/warehousing.

    1. Justme, the OG*

      I work in HIED and we’ve had some meetings. Our department head and assistant director both have asked what technology or training we need to be able to work from home for any extended period. We were also told that if we don’t feel well, we can work from home (which is the norm but was reiterated). We’re also a few weeks out from spring break so we’re wondering if anything will happen afterwards.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m in suburban Chicago, in a marketing role at a CPG company. There are about 5 cases in the state, none in my county, and it’s not something I’m currently worried about – but my company did send out a basic “hey wash your hands and stay home if you feel sick” email, and my manager reiterated that in our team meeting. Most of the company could work from home if it came to it, but we also had a crackdown last year on regular working from home, so I have no idea if they would tell everyone to do that if there were a serious local outbreak.

      That said we do have a warehouse not far away and obviously that can’t be done from home – and it would definitely be a big hit to the company if we weren’t able to ship. So I hope that the warehouse workers are getting the same encouragements. Better a little short-staffed than no staff.

    3. eshrai*

      I work for a government agency close to where there have been coronavirus cases and deaths. Our agency told us to wash our hands and stay home if sick. Other than that there are no measures taken. My co-workers don’t understand what the concern is. “its just like the flu, who cares? What’s the big deal?” is what I hear around here.

      1. It's just me*

        This is what I’m afraid of running into here as well. There’s very much a “you show up unless you’ve got one foot in the grave” kind of mentality. So I’ve got an uphill battle ahead of me. I think I’ll focus on a contingency plan for if we do end up being short staffed.

      2. new kid*

        What is the concern though? I ask that honestly, not trolling. Everything I’ve read beyond splashy headlines sounds like the flu to me, ie. yes, people should be taking precautions but essentially the same precautions we should be taking already because we’re still in flu season.

        1. ...*

          I think the concern is that the death rate is significantly higher than the flu. 2-3% vs. the .01% that die with flu.

          1. ThatGirl*

            We don’t know the final death (mortality) rate yet – many of the first infected in China were elderly and sick. As it spreads among more healthy people the mortality rate will probably be much lower.

            Also influenza mortality rates vary from year to year.

          2. Clisby*

            I’m pretty sure the figure from the flu is 0.1%, not .01%. At least, that’s according to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

        2. Avasarala*

          The concern is that people aren’t taking proper precautions to even deal with the flu, nevermind a new virus that nobody has immunity to, that is very contagious and possibly fatal.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      We’ve canceled all work-related travel, and they now have anti-microbial soap in the bathroom :/

      The soap annoys me because anti-microbial soap is less effective against coronaviruses than alcohol-based disinfectants, and anti-microbial soap helps create drug-resistant bacteria. I emailed the office manager about this (with citations!) but she said people have asked for it. Darnit people, we don’t need to create a superbug at the same time as COVID-19.

    5. carlottamousse*

      Sounds like Alison may be doing a specific open thread on this topic on Monday, FYI.

    6. LDN Layabout*

      I work for a healthcare regulator in the UK, some BAU stuff has been put on hold so people higher-up can devote more time to preparedness work. We’re also going to have a decent number of people being seconded out to organisations at the forefront of the work.

      Honestly, working where I do and getting regular updates is actually making me less stressed about it all.

    7. Constance Lloyd*

      I’m also in Ohio. There are about 60 people in our office. Housekeeping is going to disinfect door handles more often, they have posted hand washing signs in the bathrooms, and we have been encouraged to stay home if were sick, using pto or flexing time as needed. My particular role involves traveling throughout the state to meet members of the community we serve, so I already make sure I’m stocked up in hand sanitizer. Overall it’s business as usual here, no different from any other cold or flu season.

    8. Salty Caramel*

      I’m lucky as heck. We have cleaning people who are constantly on the job, hand sanitizing stations, and a generous WFH policy.

      1. Salty Caramel*

        and an insurance company just came in and handed out tiny bottles of hand sanitizer

    9. Coverage Associate*

      San Francisco. Coworker who had a layover through South Korea is home for 2 weeks with pay. A little extra carefulness about communal food offerings in the break room. That’s all that’s visible for now.

    10. Merci Dee*

      I’m in Alabama, and we currently have no cases reported here. I work in the accounting department for an auto parts manufacturing company.

      On the production side, it’s an either/or kind of thing — either workers are here and we’re making parts, or the lines are shut down and no one’s working out there. There’s not really any work-from-home option for manufacturing.

      On the admin side, we’ve never had the option to work from home for the ~10 years I’ve been here. I don’t know if that’s being investigated as an option for the office workers. In theory, everyone in my department could work from home if we needed to. All our accounting docs are submitted and processed through a cloud-based system, and our PRs/POs, etc. are processed through a separate system that also allows remote access. The biggest hurdles that I can see right now are a lack of laptops for everyone to take home to work with, and whatever challenges the IT folks would have to overcome to allow 100+ admin staff to remotely access our systems.

      In general, I noticed yesterday when I was leaving for a trip to the post office that new hand sanitizer stations have been installed next to all the time clocks, the doors in/out of the building, and in the break room areas. Management has also put up signs around the building reminding people to frequently wash hands, cough/sneeze into your elbow, and stay home if you’re not well. Basically, raising awareness about common-sense safeguards and urging people to be more aware of their health.

    11. Mama Bear*

      Watching and waiting. Currently there are few telework opportunities and that is unlikely to shift unless Covid-19 lands on our building a la Wizard of Oz.

    12. Lora*

      In New England (specifically, MA and NH):

      Three executives from a major pharma company headquartered in Cambridge MA had the dumb idea to call a big Head Honchos Meeting in Boston, 175 senior level managers. Three of them have since been diagnosed with Covid-19. Now all 175 are staying home in self-quarantine, and MA doesn’t have a great sense of humor about that and will definitely make sure they stay home. Colleagues tell me an edict has gone out that all external meetings & job interviews shall now be held via Skype.

      One idiot who actually works for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center was diagnosed, told to self-quarantine, and then later went out to a university party thrown at a big event center, exposing hundreds of people. He was told again to stay the fk home, and all those people now have to be tested and quarantined too, in addition to his buddy who was diagnosed after having close contact with him. NH is less good than MA about enforcing quarantines.

      My employer is currently screening visitors, including vendors, and anyone who has traveled to Iran, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea is not allowed in. Business travel to those areas is banned. Business travel within those areas (e.g. from one part of China to another) requires special approval, which is mostly not given anyway as we have shut down our China facilities until further notice. Hand sanitizer is sold out everywhere, but since we are a pharma manufacturing company, we have loads of pharmaceutical-grade alcohol and gelling agents in stock, and we’ve made batches of our own for employees. They’re grumpy at one of our small molecule sites because acetaminophen is sold out too, but I think they are missing one of the raw materials so cannot make their own – also, the bulk chemical is made at the one site and the tableting / capsule making is done at other sites, and shipping is not any fun at all right now. If you’re sick, you have to report to the on site nurse, can expect to be told to work from home.

      1. Alice*

        “NH is less good than MA about enforcing quarantines.”

        Well, you move from MA to NH because you want to be free, right? ;)

            1. Lora*

              well. Heck. I was just told that my colleagues in the Schengen Area and EU do not believe that the US is tracking the disease properly and therefore ALL international business travel that is not 100% business critical has been banned.

              I have to say they have a point.

              1. nonprofit director*

                I am in the US and I think our federal government is handling this terribly in terms of tracking and testing and just about everything else.

    13. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’m at a small university in California. Events for large groups of people are being cancelled left and right and at this point in the academic year that means a lot of guest lectures, award ceremonies, alumni events, dinner/dances, and a rumor that graduation is going to be different somehow; but that one is still a few months off. Any travel on university business has also been eliminated — no recruitment fairs or conferences for example. We’ve always had hand sanitizer stations around campus and signs to wash hands and stay home when sick, so other than reminders that hasn’t changed.

    14. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      Hubs works for a major healthcare tech provider here in Germany and everyone has been prepped to start home office at a moment’s notice. Otherwise the Germans don’t seem to care overmuch.

    15. Fikly*

      Those who are not remote are being told to bring their laptops home every night. Anyone who travels (primarily sales) is being told that they will face no consequences (and this is believable) if they don’t want to travel, and to make anything over video if they want to.

      Located in one of the areas with cases, and I work for a company with unlimited sick days and PTO, for context.

    16. Anon for this one*

      UK – there’s been confirmed cases ~10 miles down the road from me. My workplace is currently proceed as normal but enabling as many people to work from home as possible in the event of an outbreak.

      I’m more worried about the impact on the “bigger picture” economy (e.g. FlyBe) than on fluey health symptoms etc. Yes it will be fatal to some, but so is flu. Mass panic and shutting down production lines etc is going to result in massive economic impact, layoffs, companies going bust, etc. Then there are health impacts on the people laid off (stress and so on).

    17. Not So Little My*

      I’m in Seattle. My company and other big name companies you will have heard of, have moved all large meetings to online and have asked everyone who is able to, to work from home until the end of the month. My spouse and I are trying to stay out of each other’s hair. I’m also frustrated at many of the technical tools I need not being available or functional consistently, and not being able to just walk over to my colleagues’ desks to ask questions. I think it’s an ongoing process, we’ll all have to be patient and figure out ways to adapt.

    18. Gatomon*

      We received an email to stay home if we’re sick, and that’s it. I guess we’d all work from home if need be – maybe we’ll have fewer meetings? No cases here yet, but it’s only a matter of time (if it’s not already circulating.)

      We’re getting warned of longer lead times from our vendors, all of whom probably are dependent on China (electronics). Whatever we have to order in is already impact, and what we keep in stock will run low eventually. I’m expecting angry customers and angry management when things start to slow down due to lack of parts.

  30. A Simple Narwhal*

    I’m conducting interviews for the first time next week! I’ve never done this before but I’ve been prepping which includes reading the backlogs here and coming up with questions, so I hope it goes ok. They’re only half hour interviews for a student co-op position so worse comes to worse it’s a low role that only lasts a few months, but still, I can’t believe I’m interviewing and choosing people. Oh yea, while I will be discussing things with my manager afterwards I pretty much get to choose who we hire. Yikes! I’m kinda nervous, I don’t want to be a bad interviewer (I’ve experienced plenty of those!) or pick a bad person. But I am excited since this is kind of a step up in responsibilities and it seems to be part of a bigger plan to groom me for bigger and better things.

    So yea I guess no question, but I’d be open to advice if anyone had anything to toss my way!

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Congrats on getting this responsibility! A few mistakes I’ve noticed when people on my staff interview candidates:

      * Asking questions phrased in a way that the only way to answer them is with the positive response the interviewer is hoping for: “So are you pretty comfortable with Excel?”
      * “Rescuing” the candidate too quickly. You want to know who they really are and what they really think. Sometimes a candidate gets antsy or nervous or at a loss for words. I’ve seen interviewers jump in and try to rescue them by essentially answering their own questions, so the candidate just ends up saying, “Yeah. Yeah, I agree with that.” If the candidate struggles, that’s valuable information you need.
      * Failing to provide context/information about the company or job. The candidate should be given the opportunity to gear their answers to the specific case. That’s easier to do if you’ve described the role and a bit about the context for them.
      * Hearing indecision/vagueness as an asset. This is a big one. Sometimes candidates say vague things about why they’re interested in the job or what they plan to do with their futures. I’ve noticed that less experienced interviewers will hear that as an asset, as in, “Oh she doesn’t really know much about this industry. So she’s open to anything!” No, you want people who are affirmatively excited about the specific job you are offering and who have an identifiable reason for having that job.

      You’re interviewing students, so maybe all of this doesn’t fit. But hope some of it helps!

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Thank you, I appreciate it!

        I figured out what information I’m trying to get out of them and then worked backward to develop a set of open-ended questions, so hopefully that avoids the worst pitfalls!

      2. irene adler*

        These are fantastic suggestions!

        Listen to your gut. If there’s something inside you that says “No, not this candidate”-listen to it.
        You aren’t going to run out of candidates. Move on to the next one.

    2. Miraculous Ladybug*

      Commenting here to follow any advice you get, because I too will be conducting interviews for interns for the first time next week! Same thing–I’ll be talking with my manager but I get to pick our person and interview and all of it. So nervous, but so exciting!! Congrats to you, I hope everything goes well :)

    3. Fikly*

      There’s an ongoing debate about fairness in interviews and using identical questions. There’s valid arguments on each side.

      Where I come down on it is that it’s generally good to start with an identical set of questions, because that does reduce bias, but then you need to allow for unique follow up questions, because otherwise you are both hindering your ability to learn the most you can about each candidate, which will often end up in not extending an offer to the best candidate.

  31. Overeducated*

    TWO jobs I’ve been waiting to see listed for the last year (transfers within my large national org) are open for applications right now. I haven’t had time to apply for either yet, but I’m actually vibrating with nerves over one of them because it would allow me to move out of the big city I’m in to a slightly smaller, cheaper city we’ve been interested in for a while. Then there are two more I wasn’t expecting that I’m not quite as excited about, but would probably take if offered. I’m in a super niche field and geographically restricted, so this is like a hiring bonanza. Wish me luck with all, please!

  32. I LOVE BIG BROTHER*

    I’ve been miserable at my job for most of the last decade. I’ve been bullied, I’ve been transferred into areas I don’t have skills in or want to work in (call center), I’ve gone through tons of managers in the last few years alone, we can’t keep staff, new management seems to have no clue what to do other than to shuffle positions around, etc. However, I have not been able to find another job because I can’t find any jobs that I qualify for any more. I have a rare skill set that no other job but this one uses, I don’t do any financial work in my position as a clerical worker and now every single job wants you to be running a call center and doing all of the office finances, and I cannot stand to do either of those things. I’ve been told in interviews that they don’t want to train anyone. I’ve done career counseling multiple times, nothing is working, God has not opened any windows, skylights, or mouseholes for me to leave, etc. My industry wants you to have 95% of the qualifications for a job and I can’t get hired because I don’t have 100%–that’s according to the org’s career counselor.

    All I want is any job where I type in the corner and people forget I exist, but that doesn’t exist any more. I have accepted that I am trapped here until death or firing because my other options are homelessness and/or death. Due to health insurance reasons, I will never become an entrepreneur/freelancer and I am single so cannot depend on a spouse’s help/income. I have 20+ years to go until retirement. I absolutely can’t quit and live off savings, as I had to replace my car this year and that’s where my savings went. I say all this because I need to reiterate that voluntarily leaving the job, no matter how bad it is, isn’t an option.

    I am not Little Mary Sunshine. I do privately vent among my other disgruntled coworkers that still remain here. I am not a happy service personality like they want since I get upset at dealing with upset clientele. I am really angry and sick of being told that literally nothing can ever be done to make anything better around here, for years on end. I am trying to hide my rage, upset and misery as hard as I can and fake happiness, which isn’t good enough.

    My most recent manager and grandboss Sat Me Down for an hour and twenty minutes to nitpick and complain about every aspect of my behavior, continually complaining that I’m not a natural early bird (I am really low energy in the morning and they HATE this), wondering why I don’t just find another job already (see above, which I actually explained to them), and I was flat out told by my boss that I have to be GENUINELY HAPPY, NOT FAKING IT, from now on, all the time, no matter what. Grandboss said, “don’t go that far, but fake it until you make it.”

    I concede that I am a horrible person. I don’t enjoy service work, that was not my original job that I applied for here, but I was forced to do it or else get canned. It makes me wish I was dead, that’s how awful it is to me. But I truly can’t find any other options in this world either. Every job is a public service job for a clerical worker and I can’t get transferred out of public service here either. However, I’m good at what I do, I’m the only one that does it, and they would be very screwed if I dropped dead tomorrow. I don’t get why they are doing this to me when at the same time they know that nobody else can get through the workload that I can.

    But…seriously, isn’t this unreasonable and too Big Brother of them to demand that I be genuinely happy here? Am I completely insane? I’m trying to put on Happy Face, but I literally can’t convince anyone I’m happy either (after this confrontation, I was out sick for a solid week, throwing up). I just feel like they are denying my humanity here and this is a completely unreasonable thing to ask me, especially when they know how bad things are here. I just want to know how I’m supposed to deal with this level of standards they hold against me when “leave” is absolutely not an option.

    1. WorkerBee173*

      Yes and no.

      If you’re constantly sitting in the corner, being miserable, then you’ll ooze unhappiness and that can affect the whole workplace more than you realize, even if you almost never interact with your co-workers.

      Have you considered non-work related coaching? Simply to help you work through things and see if you can let go of stuff? In part because being miserable for the next 20 years is a bleak future and in part because, honestly, no one is indispensable. Even if you’re the only person in the whole building who knows how to work the coffee machine or whatever, I can assure you that management can find a way around it if they wanted to, and it sounds a bit like they’re starting to entertain that thought.

      So, for your own sake, I’d let go of the Big Brother stuff, and instead take this as a welcomed boot-to-the-rear, and start working on ways to become happier in my own life. Who knows, in the end, that might even translate into a new job opportunity, since selling “I’m a miserable loner who’d rather not interact with the world at all” seriously takes someone who can sell icecubes to Eskimos, and you don’t sound like that type of person :)

      Good luck, and I hope things improve for you.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      There’s a difference between not being chirpy and cheerful, and being determined to be miserable. Honestly, you sound determined to be miserable. And yes, they can (and should) insist on a minimum level of pleasantness. And yes, they could figure out how to cope if you left. It might cause chaos for a while, but they’d figure it out.

      Take a step back, look at your life, and throw out the option of being stuck at this company, miserable for the rest of time. Sounds like you need to investigate a career change. Sounds like you need to investigate if you have depression or something that can be improved. Just because you’re not gong to be bouncing off the walls happy doesn’t mean you have to be hiding in the basement unhappy.

      1. Viette*

        I second this. The OP’s job clearly makes them incredibly miserable, and yes, it’s very reasonable for her bosses to say that oozing misery and complaining are not acceptable behaviors. Other people at work suffer from them, and they’re not professional, as Alison has said many times. But I think there’s a lot of defeat and depression (“I concede that I am a horrible person” is not a productive way to look at this) in this letter that makes me skeptical of the supposed finality of the situation. When you’re depressed and miserable and things seem hopeless, it’s often incredibly difficult to imagine anything ever improving, but OP, you can’t just live this way forever. As you yourself said: it makes you wish you were dead. I strongly second the suggestion below to go to therapy — this is not a sustainable situation. You sound profoundly burnt-out, depressed, and hopeless, and you say yourself that you struggle to “hide [your] rage, upset and misery.” You mention being upset and angry over and over. If you can’t change your job you have to change something, because you can’t do this for 20+ years. Do you really think you can? Who could?

        Honestly, though, if the question really is, “I have absolutely no choice but to be angry and miserable for the rest of my life. Is it okay for my bosses to insist that I always behave pleasantly at work anyway?” the answer is: yes. Yes, it is.

        They sound like they’re going about it kind of clumsily, but nothing they’ve done and said is wildly outside the norm. So I would put all the energy and effort you have into changing your circumstance in any way you can, because they can indeed tell you that and they can indeed fire you for not complying.

    3. Speaking from Experience*

      do you have the ability to start seeing a therapist? when you can’t change your circumstances, they can be invaluable in helping share strategies that make your life more livable. it sounds like you’re really at the breaking point, and you absolutely deserve better. since you can’t change your external circumstances right now, inner work might be a good place to start.

      1. Moira Rose's sentient wig*

        ↑ This right here! ILBB, if you can, please talk to someone.

        It sounds like you’re depressed. One of the worst parts of depression is it robs you of the ability to see situations objectively. You’re describing normal workplace activities in extreme terms – that your bosses complained about you, staged a confrontation, and are denying your humanity. Heck, you are using 1984 to describe this scenario.

        I’m not doubting you at all, because lots of customer jobs suck. But please know that you have more control over this situation than you think.

    4. NaoNao*

      I think the way to be “happy” (genuinely happy) at work is to find a way, however small, to practice gratitude AND to use perception to “fake it”. I used to work at a very difficult call center situation so I get it. I was at the “taking nips of bourbon on lunch break” level so I really do get it. (I’m now sober for almost 3 years so I’m doing much better!)

      I was able to leverage some call center skills into a much better “knowledge worker” job but….it required me leaving the country and living and working in SE Asia. So that’s not an option it sounds like for you. But maybe consider it? Moving on…

      I would first check out Captain Awkward especially “how to keep it together at work when you’re depressed”.

      Focus on outside of work—what work is “buying” you. Most call center jobs, the one upside is—when you’re clocked out you’re DONE for the day. So invest in your heath—work out, meditate, meal plan, journal, get a pet, really invest in your outside of work life. Find hobbies and passions. Just go to work, clock in, get through it and clock out. I don’t know your exact age, but I’d like to recommend maybe tinkering with supplements and vitamins/natural remedies for more energy and focus. I take a supplement marketed towards women in menopause (which I’m not but I’m pretty sure I’m getting there!) called Energy and WOW it’s a lifesaver. So much more focus and energy. I got it at Whole Foods I think it’s called Doctor Woman or something.

      Give yourself a treat every day. Maybe time some packages to arrive after work at home 2 days a week, take a stroll at lunch, grab a Starbucks and sip it slowly. Look into meal delivery services like Hello Fresh—they have indulgent meals that are home made and easy to make and feel like a treat. Have something to look forward to every day, even if it’s a new TV show, a movie or book from the library. Take a stack of glossy mags into the bath with a wine or sparkling water.

      Dress up for work–have fun with fashion. Wear your outrageous scarves, vintage clothes, fun shoes, and carry a fun tote. If you’re key to the org and they’re not going to fire you, what can they do, right? Make dressing for the day a ritual of self love and expression.

      If you’re able, maybe decorating your desk, laptop, station, phone, etc–will help people perceive “happiness” where maybe there isn’t a ton. Use bright florals, happy bright colors, stuffed animals, framed inspirational quotes, etc. Create a “this person is happy!” vibe and maybe let that do some of the lifting.

      Wear bright colors if you are able. Again, a bright pink, red, coral, or happy floral print shirt might tip the scales a bit in terms of how people perceive you even if it’s not real.

      Bring in food! Grab donuts and leave them on the break room table—and this is important, toot your own horn with a company wide email about it. I personally love baking for stress relief—maybe try some new recipes and bring those in.

      Circulate a weekly inspirational email. Go on Google and find a stock pic of a soaring eagle or something and be like “I’m trying to practice gratitude and inspiration for March. Who’s with me?” Don’t rely on having a happy attitude every minute—just do these public gestures and let the reputation do the work.

      Use well worn work cliches to build rapport “Thank god it’s Friday, right?” “Fri-yay!” “Gosh, is this week going fast for you?” and so on. Just go through the motions as if you were “that” coworker—make sure these are upbeat cliches tho!

      Put a perky away message or sign off in your emails.

      Get a diffuser or scent plug in that smells like grapefruit, wear a fruity fragrance. (If you’re allowed). Put an unlit grapefruit candle on your desk or use grapefruit lotion. People really like this scent and it’s not too over the top.

      I get that some of these might not work or feel foolish. But you’re clearly very stuck and I hope some of these help.

    5. Juneybug*

      I am sorry you are going through this! It does not sound fun at all. My suggestion is to focus on what you can change (different job, obtain training, stop telling yourself that you are a horrible person, …) instead of what can’t change (become chirpy in the morning, suddenly love your job, …).
      Some books that might help –
      Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
      The Proximity Principle: The Proven Strategy That Will Lead to a Career You Love by Ken Coleman
      48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller
      Start.: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff

    6. Fikly*

      You being unhappy, and other people telling you that you are not fulfilling all the requirements for a job (even if they are right!) does not make you a horrible person. Take this from someone who spent a lifetime hating theirself.

    7. Youth*

      It’s preferable to have a job you like. But I think that if you find ways to enjoy the rest of your life more, being at this job won’t bother you as much.

      First, counseling. Formal counseling and therapy if possible. Informal counseling/therapy with family, friends, and your journal if it’s not. Don’t have a journal? Grab one this weekend.

      Second, other forms of intervention. Go to your primary physician first, then to a specialist if needed. Find out if depression/anxiety medication is available for you. (My therapist says, “First you get anxious, then you get depressed.” I’m guessing that anxiety about the future in this dead-end job helped bring your mood low.) Also consult with your doc about other potential health problems. Not getting enough vitamin D can make you feel depressed. Not getting enough exercise, sleep, or good food can make you feel depressed.

      You say you’re single. I know from experience that the stress of providing for yourself, with no respite in sight even if you get physically or mentally ill, can be a huge burden. Once you have your mental/emotional ducks more in a row, consider trying to date. Not necessarily to resolve your single status; keep your expectations low. But just to have fun. When I stopped taking dating so seriously and just started looking for nice, fun people who wanted to grab dinner or ice cream, I had a much better experience. And having a date scheduled gave me something to look forward to.

      That’s dating. Similarly, but differentlywhile you’re trying to pick yourself up emotionally, invest in your relationships with friends and family. Go to the movies with them; invite them over to cook dinner with you. Talk on the phone with them. Tell them you’re having a hard time and garner their support. You’ll be able to focus less on work and feel better about the rest of your life. If you don’t have those relationships, try to build them. Reach out to your roommates, or coworkers, or anyone else you know who has friend potential.

      Try to help others. If you notice someone else struggling, do what you can for them. Don’t sacrifice your own health for them, but extend small gestures of kindness. You’ll feel better about yourself and feel more at peace if you do.

      Keep hoping. Things do change. Something may yet open up.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Your job is my idea of a nightmare. It’s the classic, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

      Don’t work your way toward being that old person in the nursing home who says, “I should have taken more chances. I should have realized I could find options if I looked harder.”

      My guess is that you have a job where you see the public at their worst. Other employers offering different types of things have a different relationship with the public. The public is NICER and happier. The boss steps in if a member of the public is out of line with you. I am not seeing any of this going on right now. You can help yourself by reassuring yourself that not all jobs are this horrible.

      I have a friend who looks for jobs with the least contact with the public and least amount of telephone work, she seems to find them. I know she started with a temp agency and then finally got hired permanently by her current employer.

    9. Part Time Poet*

      Btw, there is a whole lot of guidance from Alison on this site as to how to handle this employee. Her site is very searchable for these topics. As a devoted reader, I am pretty sure she would ask why you haven’t fired him already. I’m concerned, too, that you are more concerned about your tone in confronting him when he was absolutely in the wrong than you are about firing him to preserve the integrity of the rest of your team and the work that needs to be done. His attitude must also be affecting the rest of your team. What about how they feel about working with him, especially since he seems to be clogging up the work flow with his obstinate behavior?

      I know from personal management experience, that once the disruptive bad apples are gone, the good employees are so happy and much more motivated and productive without the pall of the bad seeds being there everyday spreading their vermin.

  33. The Mouse*

    A friend was recently accused of calling a co-worker the N word. This was a shocking and fairly unbelievable accusation (everyone else my friend works with doesn’t believe he said it). The accuser has since disappeared. Is there anything he should do to protect himself? FWIW, I think it’s still important to take the accusation seriously and investigate thoroughly even though I don’t think he said it.

        1. Nita*

          I don’t think it would even make sense to investigate what your friend may or may not have said, until they figure out what happened to his accuser.

        2. valentine*

          I don’t blame them.
          They: *disclose racism*
          Y’all: I don’t believe it!

          Can you fully investigate something you don’t believe?

          Consider that you’ll never know wholly know your friend. For example, you can’t know them from the POV of a Black person.

          This is a good time to think about acts of racism you wouldn’t recognize and might never occur to you were a problem, much less racism.

        3. Mama Bear*

          IMO then I hope HR considers the source during the investigation. If he abandoned his post, he needs to be officially fired. If it’s found that he made it up, he should be fired. If I were your friend, I’d be very careful for the short term in my interactions with people, and absolutely not try to contact the accuser in any way (even though the accuser has vanished).

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

          Hypothetically because I wouldn’t do something like that:
          I think if I’d tried to cause trouble by falsely accusing someone of ‘whatever it was’ (using the n-word in this case), got busted in a lie – I think I’d make myself scarce as well!

          Personally I don’t think we should take accusations seriously just because somebody said it and then ghosted. Presumably there aren’t any witnesses so what’s to investigate anyway?

    1. Leo*

      Well, from my limited experience going through this as the person who reported bad behavior, basically the thing to do is to cooperate fully with the investigation. And not talk about it with people outside of HR. And be professional and polite with the person who accused him and not try to retaliate in any way. It could turn out to be a misunderstanding. I’ve heard of high-profile cases where it turned out that the person said a word that *sounded* like this word. Or your friend could be lying to you. In either case, best to just trust in the process unless you have reason not to – then maybe get a lawyer?

  34. MOAS*

    This week… my coworker came up to our tech guy (he sits right next to me) and asked him. “how do I do x?”……Last week she SHOWED MY TEAM HOW TO DO X. 

    She came up to us this week and asked us.. “what’s a server?” … my coworker and I answered for her but it was something very easy to google. 

    “Do you know what the new group chat is about? is anyone else in it?” — I pointed to my screen where she can see the exact same stuff I was seeing — i.e. the message and the group participants. 

    Maybe this is her way of trying to connect with us, I’m not sure.

    Someone suggested to me that maybe I should coach her to be a better manager (there’s other stuff not in the examples above that have happened over the last few months). Her team will be better off, and it will make me look better to my boss. And, I totally think that could work in a functional place with reasonable leadership! (/s b/c this is def not us)

    1. Zona the Great*

      Holy mackerel! She is a manager!? Yes this screams of contrived ways to connect which turn me off like no other. I would have a very hard time not killing her with dirty looks each time she asked me something like that.

      1. MOAS*

        Yup, manager. NGL, my coworkers’ mouth fell open when she asked that question.

        She’s said that she’ll stay late and contact clients herself b/c she doesnt want to go back and forth with her employee rather than coach them on how to do the work and speak to teh client.

        She’s been doing free work for clients because other people ask her to and she won’t push back — that sucks for her but it also puts the rest of us in a bad position because word will get around and our clients will get angry that my team won’t give them free work. (it’s against company policy to give free work).

        Recently we had a spot check of our work and she did something that is very much against the rules of our profession and company and she argued back with our bosses. Her boss wanted to brush it off, my boss persisted.

        She frequently says “I wasn’t there” to get out of training her staff, acting on information that was provided in meetings (even though she literally was there) and the work falling on me — her boss knows about this and doesn’t gaf.

        I’m not her boss and her boss is..ugh. so I can’t do much except just brush it off.

        1. Mama Bear*

          I would document everything, so that when something inevitably hits the fan, it’s been said/noted/reported that it’s not you. Her boss may not care, but does yours?

          1. MOAS*

            he is very much in my corner, and he’s upset about how she’s being managed but she’s not on his team so he can’t step in wtihout getting VP involved. Unfo our VP loves her and will not hear anything bad about her. It’s messy.

    2. Amethystmoon*

      I once had a coworker like that, who was not a manager. He lasted 3 years and was always asking questions like that, but about his job. Yes, I brought it up to our manager. No, he was never fired, he left on his own.

  35. Forwhy*

    Any advice on dealing with coworkers in another country when you don’t know if it’s a cultural difference, a language barrier, or an attitude?

    I work with people in a few different areas globally and I’m having an issue with an employee in another country. This person doesn’t speak English as a first language, but typically communicates well both verbally and in writing. We’re both under the same general part of our organization and work closely together, but we are not in the same chain of command until you get much closer to the top. In both title and seniority I am above him, but we both have people answering to us with the same title.

    About every 2-3 weeks this person will reply to a bunch of emails in a way that I find demanding and somewhat rude. They will try to assign work to my team or claim that my team is not doing enough to help them on a project. It’s a lot of language like “what are you going to do to ensure this” and “this needs to be better”. A lot of the time these emails come after I’ve made my action plan clear and known to everyone on the chain. My team is considerably smaller than his with way more responsibility. In the past when it has been suggested that they take on some of the work that their finding an issue with they’re all for it until they see the scope and the timeline and then realize that it’s an insane ask, so they can’t take it on.

    I’d like to address the perceived tone in these emails, but I’m not sure what the most tactful way to do it is.

    1. KX*

      I don’t think there is a tactful way to discuss a coworker’s tone. I think you need to acknowledge that this is how the emails will sound, that it’s just Emailer Doing Emailer, and focus on the content.

      If you think that trying to assign work to your team or blame your team unfairly for work that your team cannot do, just reply to the statements directly. If you have already explained yourself, point back to that action plan in your reply. “As I indicated on…” “My team has agreed to only do…” stuff like that.

      It is possible that this emailer is complaining locally about a person in another country who doesn’t communicate specifics, and so he never knows what is actually going on. Perhaps the blunt questions you perceive are rude are him trying to get you to pin down what you are doing.

      You have presented an action plan to everyone, but is it clear to everyone? Interpret the questions as requests for more information instead of rudeness–even if he is being rude. Even if he is badgering you with demanding questions unfairly. Just answer them and ignore the tone.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      I think KX above provide a really solid answer.

      I would only add that I do think you should take the cultural question seriously. I don’t know if you’re based in North America, but I have found that we have an unusually high bar for politeness in electronic communications. I know a lot of people will find that unbelievable considering how much rudeness there is on the internet, etc. But I have found it to be true. Americans and Canadians are constantly lacing their emails with “would you mind” and “if it’s ok with you” and “at your convenience” etc., etc. Many of the emails I personally receive from other parts of the world, including the UK for example tend to be much more like “do this, do that” “this needs to be done promptly” and so forth. I no longer hear these as rude, but simply as people stating what they want or need without all the needless flowery niceties.

      That’s just my experience. Obviously YMMV.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        This is very true! I’ve noticed with the Europeans the email tone is much more direct. Especially noticeable from France, Germany and Netherlands and other Northern European countries in general.
        In person, I think they are also more direct, especially about things in America that wouldn’t be considered politically correct, but then other things they’re quite proper about.

    3. Bob Howard*

      There really is such a thing as national culture. When I worked with the Dutch they were often blunt to the point of rudeness. Nothing personal; that’s just how they are.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I once worked closely with a Hungarian who asked, “Why do Americans tip-toe around everything so much? Just tell me what you need.”

      2. Lora*

        Oh, this. Have worked in multiple big international companies, and as an American either I am the rudest rudest person in the whole wide universe or the nicest person in the whole world who wouldn’t say boo to a goose.

        It also comes from how strong the worker protections are in a given country. If the whole country is heavily unionized and it’s very difficult to lose your job, but even if you did there would be multiple years of decent unemployment pay – people will be very blunt and outspoken in a way that comes across as rude to countries where you can be fired for wearing a red shirt on Blue Shirt Day, sort of thing.

        Honestly I have come to appreciate at least the bluntness of the Dutch and Swiss. The risk you run of faulting occasional rudeness is that when there’s a real problem you need to address in a timely manner, people futz around trying to find a nice way of telling you or don’t tell you at all because you’re perceived as a shoot-the-messenger type.

  36. Retail not Retail*

    Does anyone else have to pay for parking? My second job does not have free parking for at least a mile and it’s for late events. There is a garage overlooking the space and we have a special rate of $3.

    How does this stack up with other pay to park jobs? Do you carpool or take public transit? Does your job reimburse? Etc etc – this is completely new to me.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Husband would have to. He works at a hospital, they don’t offer free parking to anyone. It’s $15 a day or some absurd monthly fee. So he does a combo of carpooling and public transportation.

      I used to work downtown which would have meant paying for parking, so I took the bus.

      It sucks, honestly, I wouldn’t do it again unless parking was reimbursed or something.

        1. Leisel*

          It sucks because it’s taking away from your bottom line, but $3 is cheap for the whole day. Anytime I have to go downtown in my city it’s like $1.50 an hour or more.

          1. Person from the Resume*

            This! My first thought was $3 is so cheap for parking (I’m used to $10, $15, $20 for parking or over a dollar an hour for the hourly spots), but it is coming out of your paycheck everyday you work.

            5 years ago, I worked in a downtown office building. We got parking passes (free for us) for a parking garage a few blocks away from the office. There was parking garage connected to out building, but that is not the one our office gave us passes for.

          2. Fikly*

            Well, unless you live within walking distance, any way you get to work is coming out of your bottom line, it’s just how it is.

            Even if you bike, there’s a cost to maintain that, and for the bike itself. Cars have sunk costs, ongoing costs, and gas. Public transit has costs.

            Going anywhere, to work or somewhere else, costs money.

            1. Retail not Retail*

              That is true! But at least when I took the bus, I could use the monthly pass for any and every trip.

              I did walk to one job all but two days BUT i had to get a license and car to get to the job in the first place.

    2. CTT*

      I’m an attorney and we have to pay for parking at our firm; after the tax law changes last year got rid of the incentive for employers to pay for parking, they stopped providing it across all offices. There was no change in where we parked, it just started coming out of our paychecks. It was INCREDIBLY poorly handled (one week’s notice, my office manager who usually knows everything was given conflicting information, etc.). I get why they had to do it, but the rollout bothered a lot of people.

    3. merp*

      When I worked at universities, I always had to pay or find another way to get there. And it wasn’t cheap, nor was it even really that available if you got in later in the day. At one of those places, your university ID also made the city buses free, which was nice.

    4. Nita*

      I’d have to pay for parking if I chose to drive. We are in an urban area with lots of public transit, and bad traffic, so hardly anyone drives to the main office. People who drive regularly can pay for parking out of their flex spending, but that doesn’t apply to occasional driving. If I need to drive for a project field visit, I can bill the parking to that project.

    5. Shramps*

      I pay $50 for surface lot “gated” parking that’s about a quarter miles/seven to ten minute walk to my salary office job in a rust belt city.

      When I worked as a science museum employee for $9/hour I also had to pay. $3 seems reasonable for parking but it’s hard on an hourly budget.

      1. Shramps*

        My office (huge company in the area) does allow us to pay for parking before taxes on our checks.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        Hey I’m making the same rate! Luckily (?) it’s an every other week job so while i’ll pay $3 for every day I work, I won’t be working every day. And they feed us good food and we get to watch free llama shows.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I think we have to pay for parking at our main location. I believe our employer partly reimburses it, but since it’s an extremely high-density area and parking is limited, everyone (not just our organization) pays. But my employer also reimburses bus passes up to $50 a month (which goes pretty far if you’re coming from within the city; we have a day pass that never charges you more than $3 a day for local buses and trains) and I know a few people use a van pool.

    7. Little Beans*

      Yep, I work for a university and pay $106 a month. I used to take public transit which was less than $5 a day, but then I moved and now public transit would take me upward of 90 minutes to travel the 13 miles from my house to campus. (It still takes me 40 minutes to drive it because traffic is terrible).

    8. Alice*

      I pay a lot for parking, and of course I don’t like it, but I also think it’s important that car users bear the costs of car infrastructure. Street parking should not be free! It’s not an unlimited resource, and there are negative externalities for everyone: congestion, particulates, carbon emissions, accidents. I’m also in favor of high gas taxes, highway tolls, and variable road pricing. Of course, those should come along with frequent, safe, convenient public transit and active transit options.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I worked onsite regularly at one of the hospital buildings, I’d have to pay (albeit a discounted employee rate) – as it is, I go onsite about once every three months, so when I do that they give me a day pass that basically bills my parking fee for the day to my department.

    10. LadyByTheLake*

      In downtowns it is common to pay $150-300/mo (I worked in San Francisco for a while) for parking. Only $3 a day seems pretty cheap. And I’ve never had an employer that paid for parking.

    11. Leah K.*

      When I worked in an office building downtown, we didn’t even have a designated parking garage. I had to use one of the parking lots around the building, which ranged anywhere from $6 to $10 per day. They also filled up pretty quickly, so you weren’t even guaranteed a spot if you showed up after 9 am. I eventually started taking light rail to work, and the company partially subsidized the cost of the monthly rail pass.

    12. A Simple Narwhal*

      I work in a big office in the middle of a big city, and we get either a discount on the parking garage in the building or a discount on public transportation. The out of pocket cost varies on what options you choose, but it’s definitely a non-zero monthly amount.

      This is the first time I’ve worked downtown but I don’t think it’s too unusual. Either way I don’t mind it – I can use my commuter pass for any variation of the city’s public transport any day of the week, so not just for work, and they take care of all the aspects so the pass just appears on my desk when it’s time for a new one. No muss, no fuss. My husband also works downtown and I think his company doesn’t cover anything but he can get a travel FSA and pay for his pass pre-tax.

      When I worked outside the city a handful of years ago I didn’t have to pay anything – there was a gated garage but they gave us passes to get in. But if you ever forgot your pass you had to get your ticket validated and move your car every two hours otherwise you’d get charged.
      I had one bad day where I got to work and realized I forgot my wallet, so I had no pass and no money to pay if I went over the limit. I was fine all day until the very end of the day – I had to stay late to finish something and missed the two-hour window by mere minutes. I was panicking because I literally had zero dollars and no way of leaving the garage, when a coworker miraculously walked by and I had to beg for two dollars to be able to leave. She thought it was hilarious and was happy to give it to me, but it still gives me a little anxiety to think about what I would have done if she wasn’t there.

    13. Constance Lloyd*

      I pay 40 cents per hour to park downtown and have to walk about 2 blocks. We receive a $60 monthly parking stipend, but the garage attached to our building charged nearly $150 per month. I used to take the bus, but it’s actually cheaper For me to park 8 hours a day.

    14. Jaid*

      Federal employee here. My job provides free garage parking and/or paid public transportation. (One can take PT on weekdays, but drive in one weekends for overtime)

      Hey, I’m a taxpayer too, and I approve. ;-)

    15. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      Downtown office in a city that has ok but not spectacular public transit options (as in you’re likely driving to the station to ride the rail line type city). I was probably paying ~$70/month for parking when I drove in, public transit passes averages out to $60/month if you buy the full year pass.

    16. Overeducated*

      My job pays up to a certain sum for public transit (supposedly – I seem to have issues and not get the benefit every few months for one reason for another – I’ve spent $60 out of pocket in the last two weeks….). Parking is not free and it costs about $30/day downtown, so there is definitely an incentive to choose the longer, more environmentally friendly commute.

    17. blink14*

      I pay for a yearly parking pass at the university where I work. If I were to take public transit, I would receive a discount on a monthly pass, but the time it would take and the transfers needed to get from my neighborhood to work make the parking pass a far better option for me, even with the parking pass being more expensive.

      Both options are taken out of our paychecks pre-tax. Some people pay for daily parking at train stations, and that would just be paid out of pocket.

      1. Artemesia*

        When I worked on a campus we had to pay for an annual pass to park but it was a ‘hunting license’ and if you arrived mid morning — or has meetings to go to and come back from — you might look a long time to find a free spot.

    18. Mama Bear*

      In the past I did. The gist was I had options to get to work and it was up to me to decide if I drove, where I parked and what I paid. I have occasionally had jobs that offered either paid parking or transit subsidy but not both. Last job offered nothing. I never found a good carpooling option that wasn’t straight up mass transit. Parking in my current building’s lot is always free. Often paying by the month is cheaper – maybe do the math to see if a monthly pass would be more economical for you. I’ve also decided on a personal level that parking right at the building or station is far preferable, especially if I get out of work late.

    19. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I work at a university. Parking used to be free for employees but when they built a new parking structure a while ago, they mixed up some of the existing lots so it wasn’t all just students in lot A and employees in lot B (for instance) and started to charge everyone. It’s not cheap — it’s around $600 a year deducted from our paycheck unless we specifically opt out (which I do) — AND it doesn’t even guarantee a spot. If there’s no open parking and we have to park on a city street or (pay) lot and walk to campus, there is no refund. I did the math for what it would cost to pay for city lot parking ($3.00 per day, and only pay when I’m IN a parking space), deduct all of the holidays the university is closed or estimated days I’ll be on vacation etc. and it came out better to park in a city space and walk. Also, I’m just a curmudgeon and think my employer is supposed to pay me to come to work and not the other way.

      1. blink14*

        Ugh I wish mine was $600 a year – I pay over $2000 now! Granted we are in a large city, but the university I work for is slowing taking over open lots for buildings, and the parking just creeps up every year.

        1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

          Luckily we’re in a smaller city, but it’s also economically disadvantaged (outside of the university) with a higher crime rate, so $600 is what I would expect to pay in a better area or frankly for better service. We have no where near enough parking so the university has started leasing city parking blocks away — and then charging the same price for being on-campus. They claim the high cost is because they provide general security and individual escorts, but cars still get broken into, people still get mugged (occasionally) and we have a lot of homeless individuals with obvious mental health or substance abuse problems around campus and all of the unfortunate sanitation problems that come from it. As the city lots get filled, they charge a higher cost (supply and demand), so then the university increases theirs, and back and forth.

      2. Retail not Retail*

        My sister did the same math as an undergrad one year – a parking pass wasn’t a guaranteed spot and divide the classes by the chance of a ticket – the cost of the 2-3 tickets she got was still less than a pass!

        In grad school, I walked or rode the bus to school even after I got a car because of the cost and hassle and all that jazz. Plus i lived less than a mile from campus.

        Luckily my main job has free parking. Parking is a controversial issue with the public right now. Our boss declared the employee lot “tacky” so sacrificed ~100 spots a day for 8 hours in the public lot to avoid looking tacky. Irrelevant to my department of course, we park near our base of operations. still amusing to see employees get to park in the public lot and up front!

    20. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      I work from home 4 days a week, and going into our downtown office one day a week. when I was in the office everyday, I had a monthly pass that was around $135/month, but now, it’s not really worth it because I’m only there 4-5 time/month. the downside is that parking around our building is usually $16-$20/ per day. Because I work in government, I don’t get any kind of reimbursement. It’s honestly so annoying that I have to pay for the “privilege” of going into the office (which is required).

    21. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The best setup I’ve seen was when the hospital had a “park and ride” shuttle set up. Free parking and then a free bus pass for people to shuttle in that way.

      Otherwise yeah, you had to pay $15 a day in most garages. You can buy monthly passes at some small discount for people who are there full time but they fill up super quick! And that was in a small city. Downtown, I don’t even want to start thinking about it but I know it’s not something the company regularly pays for. They do validate for clients in some areas but it’s rare. It’s why I Uber instead of drive and park when I have meetings down there. I cannot imagine the costs to the employee but I know it’s not cheap.

    22. Alex*

      Parking at my job is $10 per day, if you can get the privilege of having a space (not everyone gets even that) but they give us subway passes for free. I think there may be a nearby parking garage that is $20 per day.

      I think this is highly dependent on your location and the availability of parking.

    23. Windchime*

      I pay for parking and it’s $18/day. It was $20 but was recently reduced. I don’t get any kind of a break; my employer assumes that most people will take public transit but that doesn’t work for me. I don’t carpool; I want to be able to come and go as I please. My job pays well and I work from home 2 days a week, so it’s not as bad as it could be. But it’s still super expensive.

  37. HR Lady*

    Started a new job three months ago. It’s a real, real struggle and I feel very isolated. I work with my client team who are a little separate to the rest of the business but also report in to the central HR function. I very much feel neither fish nor fowl as we have slightly separate systems here and no one can adequately explain them to me.

    I’ve done a week of 10-16 hour days (not a typo) to get ready for bonus and salary communications. Everyone else got their final sign off on Wednesday, wrote their letters and as I type are down the pub celebrating. I only got final sign off at 8.30pm last night and am still finishing up now, alone, on the first sunny day in London for weeks.

    I sort of want to cry. My manager sits in this part of the business with me and relations between her and the wider HR team are totally toxic. I think they’re both in the wrong for what it’s worth.

    Does it get easier? I can’t job-hunt yet, my last job but one was a six month stint and I need more stability in my CV than job-hopping now would give me.

    Influenced totally by the fact I’m knackered and frankly want a glass of wine then a long sleep but I suspect will be working until 8/9pm or so again.

    1. Salty Caramel*

      Yikes! You have my sympathies. I’m not sure what to suggest other than try to get away from your desk for a breather a few times a day, even if it’s just to walk to the end of the block and back.

      I hope you got the raise and the bonus.

      1. HR Lady*

        Ironically I’m too new to get either! Which is a-ok. I’ve just been desperately producing the letters etc for everyone else – part & parcel of HR life sadly!

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I don’t think you can’t job hunt. I mean, if you happen upon something better than what you have, the only risk in interviewing is that they won’t hire you, with a chance that they will. As Alison says, with the right scripts, you can explain most situations: “I wasn’t actively looking to change positions but a friend sent me this job posting and I thought X about your company was too good to resist looking into”. And a similar script for why you left your precious job early “I was initially hired to do Y, but after sticking it out to see if I would actually get to do Y, the company could only provide me with X-type tasks”.

      And as for wanting to cry, im with you and I’m only job hunting, but I’m over here in the Cologne area of Germany and miss the sunshine so much! Have you considered a light therapy lamp? I’ve used them in all my previous offices as well as vitamin D3 (I’m originally from Texas so the missing sun is a big deal to me!) When I lived in Liverpool I felt the same..just remember, spring is coming! We’re making plans to visit Keukenhof (the tulip festival) in a couple of weeks in the Netherlands, and with Corona, most Ryanair tickets are only 10 bucks if you needed a dose of color and light ;) wishing you well!

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

      Is your role a newly created one to the company? Like previously your manager was doing that work and it’s been “spun off” into a separate role?

      1. HR Lady*

        Existing role but there’s been a lot of change since someone else was in it. I just feel very very awkward & 3 months in I feel like that feeling should have gone – I’m a bit socially awkward normally but not that bad!

  38. I'm A Little Teapot*

    One of my coworkers has 3 interviews next week. Another is interviewing with 3 companies currently (not sure what’s with 3 here). My goal is to update my resume this weekend, and contact a recruiter next week. At the same time, we have a new manager starting Monday. There’s a 2nd new mgmt person starting the 30th, and a 3rd new mgmt person starting 4/6. The staff level are feeling kinda sorry for these new people – we know the brick wall they’re going to hit. And we know that there’s no way they can ultimately be successful. This might be interesting.

    Unrelated, the company’s response to the Corona virus is kinda funny (in a bad way). The only thing they’ve done is put out a notice on the company intranet with the CDC recommendations of wash hands, and “we’re monitoring”. Meanwhile, a huge percentage of people are fully able to work from home, but it’s disliked by management so nothing there. And there’s been nothing at all about restricting travel. On Tuesday this week, I was told to book flight and hotel to Alabama for a few days next week. This is not critical travel. I could do the work from my usual location, or from home. I’m kinda watching for them to realize they’re behind the ball here and freak out, cancelling all trips. While washing my hands frequently!

  39. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I have literally nothing to do today, but I need to meet with my supervisor after 3. What should I do to avoid going crazy?

    1. Wing Leader*

      Imagine all the ways your meeting will be AWESOME. Maybe your boss will offer you a raise? Maybe you’ll get a huge work perk you’ve been wanting? Not saying that stuff will happen, but it’s nice to dwell on good stuff and it will keep you from stressing all day.

    2. Leisel*

      I’ve been using Duolingo to get better at speaking Spanish. You can use it on your phone or through their website. It’s free, and for me it’s applicable to my job, so I don’t feel guilty using it on company time.

  40. Amber Rose*

    I’m terrified about the future, furious about politics, and I think it’s impacting my work.

    I work in Canada in oil and gas, more or less. I don’t hate my job but I don’t particularly love it, I’m mostly here because it’s comfortable and I don’t feel like I have a lot of marketable skills to go anywhere else. The place I live voted in a premier who just… I can’t even believe he’s got a brain, there’s just a demonic jellyfish of some kind floating around behind his empty eyes probably, and he’s thrown every resource we have behind an oil and gas industry which is tanking, and expected to tank worse as time goes on.

    So now even though renewable energy would be my logical leap as far as industries go, he’s done his absolute best to sabotage and destroy it and everything else, and my own industry is failing. I’m terrified I’m going to be out of a job soon and I won’t be able to find anything else. Husband is facing a 7% pay cut too because eff government workers, we don’t need ’em right? Most of my coworkers voted for this government and my fury and fear of my ability to survive is translating over to frustration and anger at them. I’m finding it harder and harder to be friendly and I’ve downgraded to cordial a lot of the time. Not rude or icy but not my previous level of cheer for sure.

    I’m taking it all very personally but it’s hard not to when I’m terrified I’ll be out of a job and homeless in a year.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      I don’t have any advice or comforting words, but I am so so sorry you’re going through that. And of course what you need to do most right now is take care of yourself, which is incredibly hard to do in your situation.

    2. Red Tape Producer*

      You’re not alone! I’m from the same province and I work in the public sector. Honestly… it’s brutal right now. Moral is so low it’s pretty much underground at this point.

      I’m on a two year contract and had to the make the very difficult, and absolutely humiliating, choice of giving up my apartment lease and moving into my parents’ basement because my contract can be terminated early if there’s “budgetary restraint”. Every budget is now hugely stressful for me, because that’s the only clue I have about whether my department will still have the funds to employee me for the rest of the year.

      The absolute worst part is listening to people who voted the Premier in talk about how he’s “making the tough choices” and “putting the house in order”. These are all people that don’t, and never have, worked in oil and gas. They miss the money booming oil and gas production used to bring in to their businesses and they love the new corporate tax rate. There’s no real logic.

      At this point I’m actively looking for work outside of this province because I don’t see any real future here. There’s no plan to turn us into a more diversified economy and the cuts will take decades to fix (look at Klein’s legacy…). We going to be like the Maritime provinces in 20-30 years, relying on those equalization payment we hate so much now and desperately trying to get *any* business to build here.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We’ve been talking about leaving too. But it’s expensive to move. We own our condo too, so that complicates matters. What provinces are you looking at right now, if you don’t mind telling me?

        1. Red Tape Producer*

          Not at all. I’m trying to be as open minded as possible, but (for my occupation) I’m really focused on Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.

          BC has, by far, the most job posting for similar roles to the one I have but the wage is just not feasible (take a $10K pay cut and live in Victoria with a much higher). I would looooooove to move to the island, but I can’t afford it until my student loans are paid off. NWT and Yukon are also hiring in my field, and the pay is amazing, but I don’t think I could live somewhere that’s so expensive to fly in and out of.

          Saskatchewan has the best wages compared to cost of living, but I’m not sold on living in Regina. Might be good for a couple years until I get my loans paid off. In Ontario I’m looking at smaller communities, like Kitchener or Stratford, because the municipal level is still hiring despite Ford’s cuts. I don’t love small town life but the weather can’t be worse than Edmonton, right?? Nova Scotia is at the bottom of my list, they’re hiring at decent wages, but I’ve heard conflicting things about living in Halifax. I have relatives near Sydney though, so it would be nice to move somewhere close to family. Plus living near the ocean!

          It really depends on your field, but I’m surprised at how much work is out there at the moment. You might have to be flexible about whether you’re willing to relocate to a more rural/small town area though.

          1. Amber Rose*

            Wow, you’ve really put a lot of thought into it. I feel the same way about BC, it’s technically the best for my experience but also really high cost of living. Might be worth looking into the east coast again though. I could look into smaller places in Ontario since most of my family lives there, but it would be tough on Husband I think.

            I dunno, I’m not against smaller towns but there has to be work for both of us and neither of us are very marketable. :(

          2. kwtransplant*

            Kitchener is great! Great cost of living, good transit, and it’s a growing city so there’s always something new and cool happening. Plus, if you’re looking for city amenities, Toronto is only an hour and half away.

      2. Nessun*

        I’m in the same province, but I’m in public accounting, so we tend to feel changes in the economy on a wave after the initial cuts. I came here years ago, and I was happy not to be in the Ford universe, until we went the exact same way…I had really hoped that would be an example to everyone what NOT to do, but I guess the PC legacy runs deeper than logic.

        Oil & gas is never going to be what it was, and the fact that no one seems to want to acknowledge that and move on…is disappointing and unnerving. My industry can weather this, and it helps we’re not in Calgary. If I was, I’d also seriously consider leaving the province – but I don’t know that it’s better elsewhere. Manitoba is cutting sales tax, Ontario is run by a *****, NS has the highest taxation rates in the country and some of the worst weather, I mean…better the devil you know? Maybe? But it’s a hard thing to decide, when there’s so much uncertainty everywhere. I don’t envy you the choices you have to make – best of luck (to you both).

        1. Amber Rose*

          Yeah, Calgary is a shit show and a half right now. :(

          I’ve been debating BC, but the cost of living so SO high there.

          1. Nessun*

            Yeah, everyone tells me I would love it in BC, and my response every time is the same – I’m sure I would, but not for long…I’d be broke!!

            Best of luck to you – it’s a garbage fire, but it can’t last forever.

      3. GeneralK*

        Commiseration here too. If we can sell our house this summer, we’re moving. F**k this place, f**k this government.

    3. Blueberry*

      I have no advice, just commiseration. In 2016 I found out how virulently conservative many of my coworkers were, and it threw me for several loops.

    4. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m in the same province and facing the same choices. My job is secure, but I can’t keep watching my colleagues in education and public services in general keep getting axed. This government hates women, the vulnerable, and anyone not part of their crony group. My tuition for my masters degree is going to go up 7% a year for the foreseeable future. I haven’t had a raise since 2012. Class conditions are getting worse and worse. If I could, I’d leave tomorrow.

    5. Ranon*

      What kind of oil & gas job? I have a family member who moved from telecom to oil & gas, since she’s on the IT/ tech end it’s all just stuff moving through tubes as far as she’s concerned, might be another avenue if renewables looks tight.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Generally people move on if they don’t get attention for their behavior. Glad Goober was able to laugh it off.

  41. Eillah*

    I need to bring my boss a list of fun icebreakers for an onsite/offsite she’s hosting with her direct reports in June.

    Does anyone know any good icebreakers/challenges/bonding exercises that aren’t so cliche you want to tear your hair out?

    1. Little Beans*

      I work in higher ed so I have done a lot of ice breakers in my time. Honestly, the only one I really like is “introduce a partner”. So make everyone pair up, give them a few minutes to chat about some questions and then go around and each person shares their partner’s answers. Depending on how well the people know each other, they can be very basic questions or more interesting.

        1. Clisby*

          Is that the one where you describe three things, where one is a lie and the others are true? My son had to do that for a college public speaking course. (Nobody guessed correctly – for some reason, they thought the story where he woke me up in the middle of the night to solve the problem of a baby crow getting down his chimney and fluttering around his bedroom was a lie.)

    2. BadWolf*

      Share a hobby

      Share a favorite vacation (or dream vacation location)

      Share a current entertainment thing you’re enjoying (aka, TV, podcast, book, movie)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Best one was 80% work related: 3 boring, 2 surprising & effective. Name, department, your primary role, your favorite thing about your role, and something you do outside of work.
        The “thing you like best” could be very helpful to managers helping plan internal transfers!
        The other turned up several hobbies that we did not know anyone shared, including one geeky one that I am now less awkward about at work. One person used to be condescending about it. So it was a thing of beauty to see her expression go blank when $InfluentialSeniorManager talked about his membership in the same group she’s disparaged.

    3. Gidget*

      Two truths and a lie. I mean it’s kind of cliche, but I still think it’s fun. You have to set some guidelines/examples for the types of statements so that no one says anything too outrageous or offensive.

      Also depending on your field, share a favorite thing related to that field. (Ex. a bunch of gardners might share their favorite plant). It helps if you can get the people to talk about why and if the person facilitating can comment back about the favorite things.

    4. Animal worker*

      This may not work for your situation, and/or you may think it’s kind of stupid, but I had a team meeting this week that was all about very dry and boring topics. So I started googling icebreaker/meeting activities to try to find something to make it a little more fun. Most ideas I saw were, to me, cringe-worthy; but a few I flagged for future reference. But during my search I came up with a separate idea which I used, and it actually was a lot of fun.

      Mad Libs. Yes, that thing you (depending on your age) did as a kid. I found some online ones that I could print out that were related to animals/zoos and did them during the meeting. I don’t think it would work to do again in the future, but as a one-off it was actually effective in adding a little levity into the meeting.

    5. eshrai*

      There is one called This Better Than That. Haven’t tried it yet, but planning on using it at future all staff meetings. Basically, you have several ordinary items and the staff has to first individually rank the usefulness of each item for a scenario. For example, they are stranded on a desert island, or need to save the world from Godzilla. Then they come together as a group and negotiate how to rank each item together.

    6. Bernice Clifton*

      Whatever you do, don’t ask people to name a time they felt vulnerable. My boss did this at a team retreat and my coworkers did not keep it safe for work. People talked about domestic violence, animal cruelty, child abuse and suicide with no TWs.

    7. Harbinger of Doom*

      What I really hate about Most icebreakers is that they expect you to share something that you might not want to share.
      I found this one on Pinterest, used it, got really good responses: blobs and lines. I did not call it that, though.
      1. Line up by (alpha by first name, last name, by how long you’ve been with the co, how many miles away from this address you have ever lived, make something up)
      2. Get in groups based on (your dept, your pets, who is going to win the super bowl, etc).

      It gets people moving around, they don’t have to share anything intensely personal, you do sometimes learn fun stuff, and they don’t have to think too hard to come up with an answer).

    8. Stormy Weather*

      The one I got the best feedback from was when I asked the group to tell me something that inspires them. There was a lot of, “oh yeah, that’s cool.”

      I hate being asked what kind of animal I would be. I usually say otter because they’re smart and get to eat a lot of sushi. I didn’t want to present myself as a prey animal, but as a woman, I didn’t want to claim something so predatory it would make people back up a step.

      Overthinkers R Us

    9. Malory Archer*

      I like “share a fun fact nobody knows” – or a variation where everyone writes it down, puts in in a basket, and then they get read anonymously and you have to guess which belongs to whom.

    10. Fikly*

      We just did salad bowl last week, which was a new one for me, but it was fun.

      Our words were all ones that were related to our industry or things we do in our jobs.

      We also did one where we all wrote down a random fact about ourselves, put it in a bowl, and everyone grabbed one then had to guess who the fact matched with. It ended up being fun because people wrote down facts that were hard to match. Two people out of 20 were ambidextrous, who knew?

    11. Kate Lathrop*

      We did something like this at our last all hands (caveat we all know each other so you could leave out the last part).

      Boss brought in 4 puzzles. We split into 3 teams of 4 folks (counted off 1, 2, 3, etc.) Each team had to put together their puzzle but there