we have to send 3 updates a day while working from home, coworker FaceTimes with her daughter all the time, and more

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

1. We have to send three updates a day while working from home

Like so many others, I am now working from home until further notice. Work from home was previously heavily discouraged and typically only allowed during snow days. On top of this, we have a new executive director that started one week ago. We are required to check in and send updates on our work three times a day. By 9 am we are required to send our direct supervisor a list of what we plan on working on each day. We are then required to check in at 12 pm and 4 pm with a report of all the work we have completed.

Since I am new to regularly working from home, is this reasonable? It feels like micromanaging to me because I am in regular contact with my coworkers and supervisors during the day while completing work. If we miss a check-in, we receive a text message reminder. There have been times where I am busy with a project and have missed the 12 pm check-in. I am not sure if this requirement is coming from the new director or my supervisor.

No, it’s not reasonable and it’s terrible management. It’s like announcing, “I have no idea how to manage people so instead I’m going to monitor them.” Those are two different things.

I might give it a couple of weeks and see if they back off on the requirement … but meanwhile it’s reasonable to say, “I can check in throughout the day if you’d like me to, but I’d be able to get more done if I had some flexibility on the times so that I don’t need to stop mid-project in order to write up updates at precisely 12 pm. Can we assume some leeway on the times, especially when something takes focus?”

Ugh, even that is too accommodating of a ridiculous requirement. You could instead go straight to, “I’m happy to send a daily update of what I achieved that day and my plans for the next day, but have I given you reason to think I won’t stay on top of my work without three daily check-ins a day? I’d hope that I have a reliable track record of productivity and haven’t given you reason to doubt my integrity.”

Read an update to this letter here.

2. My coworker FaceTimes with her daughter all the time

My coworker’s daughter FaceTimes her on almost a daily basis, and my coworker takes these on speaker so we can hear both sides of the conversation. The daughter is in her last year of college and calls her mother and has to be talked through basic things, like how to address an envelope or what to wear or how to cash a check. She’s not overly loud about it, but it’s loud enough that those of us surrounding her know what is going on. It doesn’t prevent us from doing our work, but it’s a cross between being a mild annoyance and entertainment at how incapable a grown woman seems to be.

Is this something that we should continue to ignore, or something we should bring up to our manager? I can’t tell if it would be petty or not if we asked a manager to address it.

Using FaceTime like that is no different than if she were taking a normal call on speakerphone, which is also obnoxious to do in an office around other people. But talk to your coworker first. Tell her the calls are distracting and ask if she can use earbuds, switch to the phone, or take the calls outside your office.

If talking to her doesn’t work, then yes, you can ask your manager to address it at that point (but only if it’s genuinely distracting, not if it’s just the content of these particular calls that’s annoying you).

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My coworker sends an all-staff email any time someone makes a mistake

I work in a place with very strict rules about how our purchases can be made. Each purchase requires a lot of documentation, sometimes it can be difficult to know what will be required, and we often have to jump through hoops to make sure our receipts are correct. This occasionally (I’d say once every other month) leads to mistakes.

Our business manager, Jane, does not take kindly to these errors; they definitely make more work for her. She addresses the issue and how to correct it with the person who made the mistake, and she’s quite cold. She also follows those conversations up with an all-staff email detailing how to avoid anyone making the same error. She never calls the person out directly, but on a staff of 10 people, it’s usually not difficult to pin down. Usually these mistakes happen on really unique purchases that are unlikely to happen again.

This kind of weird aggression coupled with passive aggression leads me to honestly try to avoid making purchases at all, and sometimes I need to! I know others on staff feel similarly. Do you have any suggestions for how I could address this with Jane? Should I just bring this to my boss?

That’s obnoxious — both the cold manner and the public shaming. Group emails in this context make sense when the error is happening a lot or has brought to light a common misunderstanding. That doesn’t sound like the case here.

Unless you’re senior to Jane, I’d let your boss handle it. Tell your boss that Jane’s response to mistakes seems like overkill and feels punitive and is making you want to avoid purchases altogether, and ask if she might be able to do anything about it. (If you’re senior to Jane, feel free to have this conversation with her or her boss directly.)

If that doesn’t work, I’d try to just find humor in it. And definitely don’t feel any shame if you prompt one of these emails; clearly everyone knows they’re about Jane and not you.

Read an update to this letter

4. Should I point out a company’s typo when applying for a job?

A few months ago I was in full job-hunting mode and am now working at a great company! But there’s one little blip from the searching days that I think about every once in a while and wonder if I could’ve done something different (or not at all): one of the companies I applied to had a pretty major typo on their homepage. One of their (prominent) buttons said something like “Click Hear to Learn More.” I debated it for a few minutes but ultimately decided to politely point it out to them in my application email.

They never responded, and I’m curious to know if you’d ever recommend that an applicant do what I did (for the record, I’d never point out a minor, less noticeable typo), or if it comes across as too … critical? Forward? “Don’t point out my flaws until we get to know each other better”?

I wouldn’t. A well-run place would appreciate it, of course, but there are too many people who bristle at having mistakes pointed out or would feel it was too know-it-all-ish. This is ridiculous, of course, and the risk of it is fairly low, but I don’t see any point in taking on a risk that’s 100% to benefit them and could harm you. (You could argue it could benefit you too, by showing you’re detail-oriented, but unless the job involves proofreading, I still wouldn’t.) Plus, it’s not the point of why you’re contacting them.

You might think, “Well, if they don’t like it, isn’t that valuable info about them?” But the person initially screening you might not be the hiring manager or anyone you’d even be working with.

5. Are numbers in email addresses unprofessional?

I’m planning on job searching soon, and my usual email address is probably too cutesy for a resume. I do have a professional-sounding email address that’s just firstname.lastname@gmail, but the last name on it is actually my maiden name, which I’ve since changed.

But because I changed my last name from an extremely rare one to a super-common one, I can’t find any combination of my current name that isn’t already taken. I read that having numbers in your address is frowned on, but how do Smiths and Joneses avoid that? Does it matter if the surname on my resume doesn’t match my current name? Does having numbers in your email address matter? What are other professional-looking options when your name is shared by tons of other people?

There’s no reason you can’t have numbers in your email address. I wouldn’t do a string of 20 of them, but three to five is totally fine. Numbers aren’t unprofessional, and everyone is aware they’re sometimes necessary for exactly the reasons you state. That said, I’d avoid using your birth year or graduation year (no need to give away your age and it can sometimes look juvenile).

The email address with your maiden name would also be fine! That’s not uncommon to see. And employers really aren’t scrutinizing your email address. As long as it’s reasonably professional, you’re fine.

{ 554 comments… read them below }

  1. Lurker*

    I’ve never heard that numbers in emails were unprofessional. When I went to grad school I was assigned a user id that was a combo of my initials and random numbers. (Or maybe the number referred to how many people before me had the same initials.) This was right around the time people were getting their own emails so I used it for my personal email. I’ve never had any issues. I wonder sometimes if people think the numbers are my birthday and are surprised when they find out they don’t have any significance.

    1. many bells down*

      There’s a couple of numbers you should probably avoid, though. Even if you were born in 1969.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          I do slightly cringe at mine but at least it includes my hs graduation year and not say… the year I turned 26

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Yikes. Although I do think the number of people who get the reference is perhaps a bit smaller, so there is maybe some comfort there…

          1. TR from IT*

            In a just world, that number would be growing because we absolutely don’t need those people slipping under the radar.

            1. KoiFeeder*

              In a just world, we wouldn’t need to be hypervigilant for those people because they wouldn’t exist, but I see your point.

          1. Retail not Retail*

            I’m spacing everything out to avoid like trolls finding this and i don’t want you googling it

            8 8 – eighth letter of the alphabet is H so H H

            1 4 – four teen points? Not quite sure. But a username that ends in those 4 numbers – 90% of the time a virulent white supremacist

            1. Sharkie*

              OH. My cousin was born on 1/4 /88…… Better tell her to change a few things…. Thanks

            2. Pippa K*

              That number refers to the number of words in a particular slogan by a white supremacist leader. I won’t quote it here, but there’s a Wikipedia page explaining it, if you’ve never seen the reference before. It used to be in-group signalling among that particular extremist fringe, but it’s (sadly) spread further in recent years.

              1. Frinkfrink*

                And that’s so annoying because I used ’14’ as a number to put on the ends of things for years, because it was a reference to an in-joke of a group I hung out with. And now I had to change my email address of 20-odd years because of those asses.

            3. Ms. Ann Thropy*

              My email of over 20 years contains “14.” Are people assuming I am a white supremacist?

              1. Retail not Retail*

                Probably not! If it ends in 1 4 8 8 and includes explicit and dogwhistle words, then yes.

                But no, 14 by itself is fine.

          2. sometimes the world sucks.*

            It’s a racist (specifically anti-Semitic) dog whistle symbol. Loaded with hate-speech meaning to those that know it.

          3. Not in US*

            Thanks for asking – I was lost too. My favourite number is 8 and 8 is often viewed as a lucky number in some cultures so I was like why would 8 8 be bad?!?

            And thanks for the explanation Retail not Retail.

        3. Elizabeth Proctor*

          I was born in 88 and have it in my email address. Never heard that before. I guess it’s a good thing it’s with my married name, not my German maiden name…

      1. Veronica Mars*

        When I changed from my maiden name I did VMars17@gmail.com (because it was the current year) and then immediately cringed because 17 seemed particularly childish to me?? So I changed it to VMars12@gmail.com. Which I’m still not thrilled with but somehow felt better than a ‘teen’ number.

        Maybe I’m just a crazy person. But I do feel like some numbers are more professional than others.

        1. Shad*

          Yeah, personally I’d start at 0 and count up until I got to a free one, skipping over negative associations.
          Somehow lower numbers more strongly suggest “just trying to make it work” to me.
          Another suggestion would be to try first.m.last (m being middle initial) as a base, on the theory that the more specific you are, the less common it’ll be.

          1. NotMyRealName*

            I ended up with first.maiden.last although that’s not my legal name, which was helpful because some of my credentials are pre-marriage.

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I just use [FirstnameLastinitial]42 a lot. It saves me from having to try different numbers, and the reference (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is pretty innocuous. That’s almost always available…and when it isn’t, a lot of the times it was me, but it’s been so many years that I forgot! :D

            1. Veronica Mars*

              The life, the universe, and everything is a good conversation starter if nothing else!

      2. Mazzy*

        Weird is when I get resumes and the email is like lisa76@yahoo.com but the person is 25. Then I get more thrown off why people don’t realize that most people are going to think they were born in that year and I get thrown off

        1. caps22*

          Mine is surname##, where ## is my hockey number. It’s a number that could plausibly be my birth year if I was 7 years older than I am. TBH I had not really thought about this before since it’s a perfectly innocuous number, but as I’m middle aged now, I guess it could lead to age discrimination?

          On the other hand, I’m pretty sure it’s my yahoo account that’s prematurely aging me as much or more so than anything! I try to reserve my gmail account for personal use and not get all that spam, but I guess I could use it for the occasional non-spammy business use. Or I could set up an AOL account instead :)

          1. Veronica Mars*

            I have 5 gmail accounts, just to better help me sort my mail. One of them is the one I give to job boards and other spammy things. But I like having them all in one email provider because if I don’t remember which one I used, I just do the “all inboxes” button and search.

          2. Editor*

            When I had to replace my old email account, I could not get my preferred address, which is an initial and a shortened version of my last name and had to change the name or add a number. Changing the name didn’t appeal — a lot of people I know have gotten used to that shorter version.

            To get a number I could easily remember, and since I am well settled in my home, I used the three digit street address. If I am giving the email to someone who is also receiving the mailing address, I tell them the email number is the street address. Several people have said it makes it easier for them to remember.

      3. Fikly*

        I would never put my birth year in an email I’m using to apply for jobs just because of the potential discrimmination issues.

        1. Filosofickle*

          My weird thing is I don’t use a middle name or birth year not only because of discrimination — a problem since I’m already in my late 40s — but also for social engineering. My BF has an address that is firstname.middleinitial.lastname.birthyear and every time I see it I cringe. He’s giving out so much info in that little address.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            Fortunately I have an uncommon name to spell, so I haven’t had to use numbers, but my birthday is 9/11 and I’m a little tickled by the idea of my email being firstlast911@domain. It makes me sound like an on-demand service: “FIRST LAST! 9-1-1!” and I definitely don’t hate it!

    2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Numbers in your email address are fine. I had numbers in my email address and got the job.

    3. Avasarala*

      When I made my email 10 years ago the good gmails were getting snapped up and people had to start adding numbers. I know some people with number-less emails. This will be less and less common as we go forward–I bet our kids will have multiple numbers, there’s only so many emails after all. Nothing weird about that.

      As long as it’s not something like ihateschoooool@ then you’re OK.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Or rivalschoolsux@ when you’re actually applying for a job at that rival school, which I’ve seen.

          1. Southern Ladybug*

            I’ll never forget sexydiva69@….back in mid2000s. S/he applied for one of the first positions I was the hiring manager for. I was like “people do this on applications?” I have learned so much since then….

            1. Professional Straphanger*

              At a previous job, over my objections to the boss, we hired a girl whose warning flag of an email address was preciouspinkprincess@… She was every bit what you’d expect from her email and she lasted 6 months, just long enough to make it through training and cost the organization a ton of money. Good times.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                I continue to be exceptionally grateful to my mom, who sat me down when I was about to make my first gmail account and explained to me why “youhavebeeneatenbyadragon@” was a terrible idea.

                I was a little jealous of the other kids, but I haven’t had to go through the hassle of making a new email, so I’m pretty happy now.

      2. KaciHall*

        I do background checks. Someone requested a background check for new employment and their email address was sofa_kinlazee@?????.

        They were born in 1980. Young enough to understand emails and way too old for that kind of thing.

      3. Shad*

        Or anything with sexy in it.
        I’m a paralegal—I had to send someone settlement papers to such an email.

      4. Bee*

        Yeah, I am a Smith, so while there aren’t *that* many of us with my first name as well (my parents did that on purpose), I couldn’t get just my name on Gmail 10 years ago when I lost my college email. I did wind up using my graduation year, but that’s just 10, which could be anything AND is a satisfying round number.

        Basically, almost everyone shares their name with at least one other person who also has an email account, we all know this struggle. A couple numbers are fine, maiden/middle names are fine, even tame puns on your name are fine!

      5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I still use my Yahoo email because I got a good name on it. My Gmail, not so much.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          That’s the reason I still use Hotmail (which is now Outlook, but my email is still @hotmail.com). I’ve had the same email address since I was 16 when I got it to use for job and college applications. It’s firstname_lastname_@hotmail.com…and apparently a lot of services do NOT like it when there’s an underscore right before @ sign. Sometimes I’ll get an error like “please use a legitimate email address.” It’s been a pain! Buuuuuut, it’s the only email I’ve been able to get without numbers because my name is just common enough. Even a lot of short number combinations are already snatched up. So, I just stick with my outdated Hotmail address. So far it hasn’t been an issue anywhere…but time shall tell…

      6. RUKiddingMe*

        I managed to get a no number gmail … like a couple years after gmail debuted.

        But… it’s kinda long-ish “firstinitiallast” @ gmail. I wish I could make it shorter, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ no numbers so yay!

      7. Alice's Rabbit*

        Yeah, novelty emails are fine for friends and family, or to give out for rewards programs. But not for business. A friend of mine is a hiring manager who told me that when she received resumes with such email addresses as “sweaty_wookie@…” or “misterfancypants@…” they did not get hired.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I’ve come across this, but not very recently. Early in the days of random people having emails, a name of the form fjones@domain was seen as more professional looking than fergus1234@domain. Part of that was that a professional email was generally given to you by your job or university, and would be of the first form, while your AOL account was more purely social, and more likely to be of the second form.

      Now, most people have emails, emails are used for more than just work and emailing friends and family, and numbers are common for practical reasons. It’s still true that email addresses given to you by your employer tend to be cleaner looking, though.

      I have a Mac mail account from back when it wasn’t free, of the fjones variety. I’ll cling to that one – there’s no way I could get as simple a Google user name.

      1. Gen*

        I have a gmail account along the lines of A.N.Smith and end up with about a dozen misdirected emails a month for other people with the same/similar initials. If I could go back I’d rather have a number than the N initial because it’s so hard to read out without people mishearing N as M, and that HAS caused professional issues in the past—a CEO thought I was ignoring his attempts to contact me but he’d been given the wrong email

          1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

            You’d be surprised. I’ve gotten plenty of misdirected emails to my personal address that includes a number (MamaFirstnameYYYY with the year I give birth to my first child). Mostly for PTA/baby shower invites/stereotypical Mom things, but enough that I wonder how it’s happening. I created another email address for job search, professional association websites, LinkedIn and the like using FirstInitalLastNameXXX with XXX being a certification I have and intend to keep until I retire.

        1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

          My email is firstnamelastnamenumbers@, it’s more memorable because my name is a version of Jane Doe. In the past, I received many spam emails because people often used it as a default when they had to give an email address.

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          I got a gmail address back when it was the “invite only” beta roll out. For years I’ve regretted getting my social teenager screen name instead of firstnamelastname@gmail.com. But, this thread just made me realize that I’m probably missing out getting on a number of misdirected emails by having to use firstnamelastname## instead. So thank you, my feelings of regret are gone!

          1. Not in US*

            I was invited to get one during this time and…. I just didn’t do it!!!! I’ve regretted that for years. Now my address is firstname.lastname#@gmail.com which isn’t bad but the invite was early enough that that would not have been necessary… at the time I didn’t think I would need anything other than my Yahoo email – which is what I now use when I need to give an email and don’t want to have to deal with spam…

          2. CatLady*

            I really lucked out with that one! My gmail address is simply my first name@gmail. I nabbed it when Gmail was still in beta mode and I’m not giving it up!

      2. Mookie*

        As you say, flashback to a standard that turned out to be very fleeting. Young’uns, who operate on different metrics of authenticity and credibility, need never become quite as well-versed in the nimble dance of late-stage email syntaxes.

        1. Mookie*

          Cf social media handles, which can of late somewhat be parsed to determine human/bot origin.

          1. Bee*

            Yeah – if I see a handle with like 6+ random digits, I assume it’s a bot. I would recommend against that for the OP, but also because the greater the number of seemingly random digits, the greater the chance for confusion. Pick a number that you can tell people out loud!

      3. MassMatt*

        This is all based on the # of people with email addresses, not the purposes they are used for. Firstnamelastname@employer.com is a closed ecosystem with a limited number of people. Yes the very first person named Jim Jones was able to get jimjones@gmail.com but the 2nd, 4th, and 400th had to get more creative. Not many people buy their own domains for their email, or want to use a small provider for whom you are the first Jim Jones, because then the provider domain may seem sketchy; “hmmm, what is this ‘ggmail.com’ address?”

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          My main email address is my initials, at a reliable local ISP, Panix.

          I sometimes do the “n as in nancy” thing when giving the address orally, but other than that, humans seem to be fine with it. And it’s easier than spelling my actual gmail address, which includes a ten-letter last name that most Americans misspell. On the other hand, I have had websites refuse to let me sign up because instead of accepting anything well-formed and sending a confirmation email to username@sounds-weird.com, they seemed to be rejecting anything that wasn’t on their list of large email domains. So, no vanity domain, but also no panix.com or bu.edu.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I agree that the difference between fjones and fergus123 is nothing nowadays, but I think the domain matters.

        My main email address as a teenager had a redirect via beer[dot]com. Oddly enough, I never used that for applications.

        I have my own domain so I can choose my own email address. I tend to use FirstNameSurname[at]MyDomain or (where I think it will help) Name[at]GraduateDomain.

        1. RUKiddingMe*


          My gmail is basically friends and family, yahoo is for spam and my .edu is for academic stuff including times when I’m teaching.

          However for my businesses I have my own domain so I am “firstname@domain.com.”

          I wanted to be “empressofallshesurveys@domain.com” but I got talked down.

      5. Veronica Mars*

        Gotta be honest, at this point I judge people for using an @aol or @yahoo account than I do for them having numbers in their name.
        Although, flashback to my old AOL screen name *cringes*

        1. Alistair*

          Why? I’ve heard this before and don’t quite get it. I’ve had my Yahoo account for 15 years; everyone who I email with knows it. It would be a pain (though not impossible) to change all that, and the account still works well for me.

          1. Veronica Mars*

            The main reason is that its very vulnerable to spam and to being hacked -and when virtually every email address WAS hacked, they didn’t fess up to it right away.
            Also, they scan your email and sell the data to advertisers.
            Also, tons of scammers use yahoo, so I’m particularly suspicious of emails from a yahoo address.
            Also, Yahoo “reuses” old accounts, which some people worry is a security risk.
            But mainly, I think its just one of those peer pressure things where people who use them aren’t “cool kids” anymore.


            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              We all have preferences for certain things, and maybe even good reasons for it. I’m no exception; ask me about my preference in coffee makers at your own peril.

              But judging job seekers on the reasons you’re describing is not only frowned upon, it’s not legally defensible. If someone still uses Prodigy – if it’s even possible – it has no bearing on their ability to do their job, and even acknowledging your bias puts your firm in jeopardy. I don’t doubt Yahoo has problems, and think ALL email platforms do at some point. Heck, one of my Gmail accounts was pirated.

              Job seekers have it hard enough. Feel smug and superior because you wouldn’t use Yahoo, but don’t let it change how you view the person using it.

              1. Bee*

                Hah, I still have a Prodigy email! It’s my designated “signing up for things” account. It’s now hosted through Yahoo (which I hate using, even now that they’re trying to look like Gmail, AND I’ve had a dozen security problems that I’ve never had with Gmail*), and you actually have to pay to maintain it. I would honestly not recommend using it widely, because 90% of people are like “wtf is prodigy” and about half ask how to spell it.

                *As noted below, the work account I had through Yahoo would get skimmed all the time, so my whole professional contacts list was getting sent spam that appeared to be from me, but my Prodigy account got completely hacked. They were able to get into my Amazon account and change the password, which meant hours on the phone with Amazon AND getting a new credit card AND changing the passwords to every account I had with that email just in case. The security problems with Yahoo are not overblown.

          2. Veronica Mars*

            Also, I’m sorry, I said this half-joking and that didn’t come across.

            I’m not literally “judging” people. Its just, relative to having numbers in your name (which doesn’t matter even a little bit) this matters in a slightly more practical way. Like, if you’re going to pick a completely meaningless thing to stress about…

          3. Emmie*

            It’s because some people make assumptions about how current you are with technology based on how old your email address was. You have an AOL, or Yahoo email address? Your tech skill are not up-to-date, or you’re committed to old tech processes. Likewise, people make assumptions about an Apple email address, and even a Comcast/Xfinitiy email address. I also think we’re getting to a place where people can assume your age based on your email address. AOL was popular between 1995 – 1998 (if I remember correctly), so you’ve been using email for 25 years. Yet, I think the age thing is a much lesser concern. It’s absurd for the reasons you point out.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          That’s puzzling to me. If someone has had a reliable email for years, why does it matter if it’s Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, or anything introduced before Gmail?

          1. Czhorat*

            I agree. I have two email addresses I use regularly, aside from my work one. Czhorat at gmail, and firstinitialLastName at hotmail.

            I use the latter for job searching, because people think “Czhorat” looks weird.

            Numbers honestly don’t make me think twice unless it’s:

            a very long string of them
            1488 or variants

            Otherwise, I think you’re overthinking it. Most people barely give it a thought.

            1. Threeve*

              I would avoid anything with 88 in it, and also 8008, which spells “boob” on a calculator

          2. Fikly*

            Because Yahoo emails have demonstrated security issues (see above), and it comes across as being not with the times on the technology front. If you genuinely prefer Yahoo or one of the others, make a Gmail address and have it forward to your Yahoo account, so the employees see Gmail and you use what you like.

            Perception matters when job searching, in much more than just your email address.

            1. Veronica Mars*

              It seems like we’re in the minority here. So maybe this is something that only matters to people in a tech field? Although I’m having a hard time coming up with a job that doesn’t require some amount of internet-security-mindedness these days.

              1. first time commenter*

                Yeah, from someone in a tech field I definitely side-eye hotmail and yahoo accounts more… It suggests you either don’t know enough about tech to understand the security issues they’ve had, or that you don’t care to learn, and neither of those makes a good look when you’re applying for a job in software!
                I could believe that other fields don’t care nearly so much; I have a friend in medical school who has been using yahoo as long as I’ve known her.

            2. SheLooksFamiliar*

              Fikly, I’ve been in corporate staffing for over 30 years, working with everyone up to and including the C-suite. The only time – I mean, THE ONLY TIME – I ever heard comments about email addresses is when we were hiring interns. Some of those young folks had, um, exceedingly personalized and revealing email handles. And even then, that didn’t stop us from hiring solid performers.

              If something like an email domain (faulty perception) matters more than a candidate’s experience, then the decision-makers aren’t very good at selecting candidates, and definitely need to learn how to manage their bias.

              1. Fikly*

                But is it faulty perception if there are genuine security issues with these older domains? In an age where every employee is being trained in how not to click on bad links, or get phished, an early indication that you have no awareness of this is a valid thing to consider when you have multiple candidates who are also qualified, but have safer emails.

                Experience isn’t everything. Skills matter too.

                1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  For a personal email account, yes. It IS a faulty perception. You can feel justified in your belief, but you don’t get to pass judgment and decline candidates who use Yahoo in their personal life. This choice has no bearing on their ability to do the job. Let me say this plainly: during the hiring process, employers should look at skills RELATED TO THE ABILITY TO DO THE JOB. You are off-base in asserting these skills matter to the degree you state.

                  Now, regarding your work email use: responsible employers are going to train employees on how to identify and manage security issues. Those are skills that even savvy Gmail users lack at work – at least, they did at my last employer. Email use and security is a big part of what CIOs and/or CISOs manage.

                2. Fikly*

                  If you’re using your personal email to apply to jobs, it is no longer personal use, it is a demonstration of your job skills.

                  There are some jobs for this isn’t a terrible relevant skill – factory workers, for example. But there are many many jobs where this is a very relevant skill.

                  And what is the hiring process but passing judgement?

                3. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  ‘If you’re using your personal email to apply to jobs, it is no longer personal use, it is a demonstration of your job skills.’
                  No, it isn’t. This is a candidate’s personal choice of communication platform, nothing more, and you don’t get to judge that choice during the hiring process. Again: over 30 years of corporate hiring here. I work with and network with people at F50 companies, emerging companies, small, privately-owned companies. I partner with C-levels, and the plant manager, and the new hiring managers…and I have yet to hear ANYONE talk about email the way you think they do. No one has ever asked me to screen a candidate for this ‘job skill’ during an interview. And if they did, I wouldn’t.

                  ‘There are some jobs for this isn’t a terrible relevant skill – factory workers, for example. But there are many many jobs where this is a very relevant skill.’
                  Seriously, stop this. Factory workers use email, too. But this is NOT a relevant skill the way you think it is. Why? See below.

                  ‘And what is the hiring process but passing judgement?’
                  It’s about knowing what you can pass judgment ON. Since it sounds like you’ve never had to deal with the Department of Labor, the EEOC, or the OFCCP, let me assure you: they are okay when you assess skills in Bona Fide Job Qualifications (BFOQs). You say you need the candidate to make pivot tables in Excel, and it’s in the job description? You can pass judgment on the candidate’s claim of capability. Judging their choice of email domain? Claiming their choice is a window into their capabilities? Why not ask if they use an iPhone or a flip phone? Equally irrelevant to the job search process, and absolutely none of your business to assess.

                4. Oh No She Di'int*

                  “It’s about knowing what you can pass judgment ON.”

                  SheLooksFamiliar, I hear you . . . but in my experience, I’ve found that it’s actually perhaps a bit more complex than that. All sorts of things get judged in a hiring situation that aren’t strictly skills related. Coming in wearing ripped jeans? Gonna get judged on that. Being too talkative and oversharing? Ditto. Pulling your resume out of a wrinkled, old grocery sack? Yeah, people are going to have thoughts about that. Namely, is this someone who is really aware of the levels of professionalism required for this job?

                  I’m not saying how much an email domain should matter. Maybe it shouldn’t matter at all. But I would push back against the idea that the ONLY things you get judged on are factors explicitly called out in a job description.

                5. Fikly*

                  Everything you do in the application process is a demonstration of your job skills, and you will be judged on it. It’s why candidates are advised to be nice to the support staff from the moment they walk in the door.

                  If you’re going to claim that you have no bias and aren’t at a minimum unconsciously judging candidates on gender and race, I am going to be amazed that I’ve been debating with someone who isn’t human.

                6. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Oh No She Di’int, I never said the only things you DO get judged on are job-specific skills. Please re-read my comments. I said SHOULD get judged on job-specific skills, and NOT JUDGED on things like your email platform.

                7. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  Fikly, I’m not going to repeat myself, we simply will not find common ground on this.

                  Also, don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say I have no bias; however, I do recognize them, and manage them. After literally decades of doing what I do, it’s much more natural for me to look at truly relevant issues for candidacy than maybe it would be for you. I can tell you’ve never hired in a significant capacity or been trained in good hiring practices – if you had, you would understand the difference.

          3. Chinook*

            If anything, it states that they have been using email for years and are probably confident with computers. I am in awe of seniors who have their original email addresses from when internet rolled out here and everone had the same provider. Telusplanet.net has gone through many software changes and interfaces since the 90’s and those who stuck with it learned to change rather than bail for something easier.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              Yes. My mother is 77. She has a juno account (which I spit on you juno because we have not been able to transfer her old emails to a new computer).

              She also has a degree in computer science.

              So. She is not exactly behind the tech curve.

        3. Rusty Shackelford*

          I judge people for using an @aol or @yahoo account

          Sounds like a personal problem.

          I maintain a yahoo account because it never changes, no matter who my ISP is.

          1. Czhorat*

            This feels more like an internet meme than a real issue.

            Most people probably barely notice the domain.

            1. Digital media guy*

              As it happens, I literally studied this issue in my digital media graduate program. And indeed people DO notice email addresses and make judgments based on them. In the case of @aol and @yahoo people are likely to be viewed as older or slightly socially out of touch. This isn’t a hard judgment, like judging people based on political affiliation. It’s more likely to be a peripheral soft judgment–more akin to seeing someone wearing, say, a black hoodie. You kind of form a quick opinion, but it’s not very deep and can easily be changed through interaction with the person.

              The fact is there is also some basis for the @aol stereotype. People under a certain age simply weren’t around to pick up those addresses in large numbers. Therefore anyone who has that kind of address is almost by definition over a certain age.

              This does bear out. I (mid 30s) recently received an email invitation to a party. The host had put everyone’s email in the “To” field, so you could see them. The list was loaded with @aol, @yahoo, @comcast, @hotmail … Oh, I said to myself, I’m going to be the youngest person at this party. And indeed … with one or two exceptions, I was by far the youngest person at the party. Had a blast, but yes, it was clear by looking at the email addresses who was likely to be at this party.

                1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                  I don’t think it’s back-door at all. It would be interesting to find out how 20 and 30-something Gmails users would feel if they thought they were being penalized for their Gmail accounts…

                2. Digital media guy*

                  Oh, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when. Trends come and go. Things that once made you look young and cool and hip eventually make you look dated and old-fashioned. There are people still running around talking about how great Bob Dylan is or who haven’t retired their Cosby sweaters yet. Eventually there will be a time when most Katy Perry fans are over 50 and gmail–assuming it still exists–will look like something old people do.

                  *By the way, before this gets totally sidetracked: I am not saying that Bob Dylan or Cosby sweaters aren’t great. They are. But it would be really hard to argue that those are signifiers of what currently seems hip and young.

        4. Crivens!*

          This seems like potential subtle ageism at play. If their email provider works, who cares?

        5. Secret Identity*

          I use an aol account that I’ve had for ages. I admit, it’s really annoying to know you’d be judging me for that. Maybe rethink your judging people criteria? There’s absolutely nothing you can learn about me based on my use of aol other than that I may be middle aged. And that’s a fairly crappy reason to judge someone. It says nothing about my professionalism, skills, experience, technical abilities, etc.

        6. RecoveringSWO*

          I’ve had a number of large corporations spam the email address I used in my application. Luckily, it only happened with my school email addresses. Consequently, if I’m applying to a large organization, I’m using my junk email–lastname##@hotmail.com for those applications. Especially since I don’t know how long companies will retain my application information and what kinds of safeguards they have on that data.

        7. Jennifer*

          Same here. I have an old yahoo account where I send spam but yahoo and aol does look super outdated. And as someone mentioned – there’s security risks involved with yahoo.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Me too. It makes me think the person is like my coworker who is incredibly resistant to change.

          2. Bee*

            Yahoo is the wooooooorst. My work account was through them for about 4-5 years, and I cannot tell you the number of times my contacts list was sent spam that appeared to be from me. (The “sender” was my name, but the actual email address that sent it was a string of random numbers & letters at some weird domain.) I do tend to assume people who still use Yahoo don’t care about security as a result.

            I finally convinced my boss to switch to a business account at Gmail, and guess what never happened again!

          3. Filosofickle*

            This reminded me about my old AOL account I haven’t gotten into in a few years. Just checked it out — 90% spam, a few things from my alma mater, and the rest for people who aren’t me. For whatever reason about 10 years ago more than one person with my first initial and last name joined AOL and consistently forget to give people the number add-on or full name or whatever makes theirs different from mine. (I’m firstinitiallastname@, they all have a different first name starting with the same initial.) Subscriptions, memberships, work callouts, construction estimates, dental reminders, pictures from grandkids, thank you notes. It’s baffling they can’t get this right after YEARS of misdirected emails. Ernestine in New Jersey and Evelyn in St Augustine, time to get with the program!

            I’ve kept it out of sheer nostalgia. I’ve had it since 1992, after all! But it’s really time to shut it down.

        8. OtterB*

          I have had the same AOL email address for probably 25 years now (initials and last name, no numbers) and I like it that way. It’s my connection to too many things for me to go through the hassle of changing it.

          I do have a gmail address of firstname.lastname (uncommon last name gives me an advantage here) but it’s not the one I use regularly.

    5. Phil*

      If you were particularly self-conscious about it, you could consider a lesser known email provider where your actual name (or preferred email username) is not taken. But as Alison said, it’s probably not that big a deal, most people would probably understand how hard some names would be to secure as an email address.
      I kind of liken it to people who use their Twitter handle professionally (eg news reporters having it come up on the lower third during their reporting), and you just know some of them had to walk a fine line between professional-sounding and something actually available.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It never occurred to me that that must be why so many of them are called FergusBBC or CNNJaneSmith.

      2. Audrey Puffins*

        Yeah, I couldn’t get a Gmail address that I liked, so for professional communications, I have a.puffins (at) gmx . com.

      3. Quidge*

        I don’t know if this still a thing, but back in ’08-’09 a lot of the professional societies in the UK had their own email domains that members could sign up to – quite a few of my classmates had @physics.org from the Institute of Physics. (Because, oddly enough, there was some concern that financial institutions would consider Gmail too… flashy and millenial I guess. Long live graduate job hunt superstition and bad advice!)

        Worth having a check, if you want to go down the route of lesser-known domains.

    6. Threeve*

      What do folks think of including a profession? Like “Joe.Smith.Accountant” or something.

      1. Czhorat*

        It feels a little market-ish and single-dimensional to me, but it’s personal taste.

        THere are lots of folk in the audiovisual industry who use “AV” as part of their twitter handles (AV_Dawn, the AVPhenom, etc). It’s a way to market yourself. On social media it might make a touch more sense than email.

    7. Old person*

      In the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, a man applied for a job where I work at using an email that was similar to this – sparklingblueglitterfairy @ emailprovider.com. My boss took a look at it in the office and muttered to himself “Why would he have an address like this?, etc.”. That man was not given an interview. So another tip, don’t mention anything about your sexuality in your email either.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve had an email address for over 30 years (yes, starting with a .edu address before the Internet), and I’ve never heard of it either. It just wasn’t very common in the early days because it wasn’t necessary the way it is now. “I’m sorry, TheCosmicAvenger is taken, we suggest TheCosmicAvenger283630263″….

      Now, I do know people still judge for having an AOL or Hotmail address….but mostly if you’re in IT! LOL

    9. Daisy-dog*

      The pro of numbers is that it is easier to read. A friend uses his middle initial which happens to be the same as the last letter of this first name. It is quite difficult to notice that, so he doesn’t get emails all the time. Though the guy that has the same email sans middle initial does generally send a really nice email to the sender that they missed a letter.

    10. Frinkfrink*

      When I was registering an account on my institution’s events calendar, it assigned me FirstInitialLastName_69. I complained to the manager of the calendar, who ignored it for a week, and then complained to their supervisor (who I serve on committees with), who immediately fixed it by expiring that account and having me make a new one.

      I assumed it was taking the number from my office phone number, which ends with 69, because it didn’t occur to me that a random-number-assigning program wouldn’t have 69, 420 and the like blocked, but they let me know it was indeed a random number. I suggested they ask the company they got it from to block certain numbers.

    11. Name*

      I’d also avoid the numbers “420”. I mean, partake if it’s legal, but it doesn’t need to be announced in your email address.

    12. JJ*

      I like to recommend your using phone’s area code as the numbers. It keeps things very unmysterious.

    13. Hodie-Hi*

      My name is unique. It is also unusually long, hyphenated, and difficult for many people to spell. So my email address is my initials with my zip code. Gmail. Nobody has batted an eye. I suspect some people are grateful.

    14. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      As an alternative to numbers, how about adding the city you live in? firstname.lastname.seattle@provider.com does look professional while hopefully being unique.

      My email address is pretty old, so not only my first and last name were not taken, I even got my last name as my domain name – giving all family members nice, easy email addresses of firstname@lastname.de (I’m in Germany). I’ve had that since the mid-nineties, so it would be hard to get now (two or three times people wanted to buy that domain name from me despite the name being rather rare).
      I use numbers only in aluas addresses for newsletter subscriptions and the like, so if there is a data breach and the address ends up in a spammer’s database, I just delete the alias.

  2. pcake*

    LW #5, I get business emails from people – even company owners – with numbers in their email addresses. To be honest, I rarely even think about it.

    1. MassMatt*

      There are so many people on even most smaller email services that numbers are often necessary if you want to use some variation of your name. Work emails generally have their own domain but even then there are often lots of duplicate common names at large employers. Not many people can buy their own email domain or wants to come up with a convoluted combination of words, names, hobbies, etc. for their email.

      Unless it’s something offensive, let the email address go. Physical addresses have numbers also, are they unprofessional? Do you care if you send a letter to “3 tipsy elf lane”? No, no one cares, move on.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        I’d consider “3 tipsy elf lane” an amusing anecdote if nothing else.
        Email adressess are a bit different, in that you actually get to choose them yourself. But assuming your address isn’t offensive or blatantly unproffessional, you’re fine.

        1. MassMatt*

          But everyone also chooses where they live, and businesses choose where to locate, granted the name of the street is not likely a high priority.

          I once went to a very stodgy bank with an address almost as silly as tipsy elf lane, it was funny, especially as several people there were stuffy pompous twits, the sort you find in Marx brothers movies.

        2. AKchic*

          My home address is a well-known stoner joke. To the point that some websites will cancel my order, take-out places will hang up on me thinking I’m pranking them, and I even had a cop question me when I needed to make a report. The DMV didn’t even want to put the address on my license, even with three pieces of mail as proof of residency.

          For my “professional” email address, I used firstnamelastnamezipcode at webdomain. It made it easier.

        3. No, it's not Bumble Bee*

          As someone who once lived on a street called Humble Bee Road, I could totally see Tipsy Elf Lane. Numbers are the most normal thing about addresses in my neck of the woods.

    2. hbc*

      I would say there’s a high correlation with hard-to-parse email addresses and disorganized/unprofessional businesses. If I’m buying widgets, I expect to get an email from fergussmith@widgets(dot)com or similar, not fergussmith1279@gmail(dot)com. In my experience, the latter is much more likely to not have a usable webpage, to want checks versus credit cards, and to have to ask me for my address every time because his “system” is post-its and 70 spiral bound notebooks.

      If you’re applying for a job, I don’t really judge as long as it’s not embarrassing. Though if it’s SteelersFan4Lyfe or something, I might worry about how one-note you’re going to be in your office chatter.

      1. doreen*

        The problem with fergussmith1279@gmail(dot)com isn’t just the number , it’s the whole address – it’s a gmail address for a business and there probably aren’t 1279 fergus smiths. johnsmith@8widgets(dot)com doesn’t look nearly as bad

      2. Observer*

        There is a difference between a business and an individual, in terms of email addresses. It’s much more reasonable to expect a business to have it’s own domain, for one thing.

        Beyond that, there is also a difference between JoeSmith22@gmail.com which REALLY can’t be considered “hard to parse” and J4neSmith@gmail.com or JoeyJones34985@gmail.com. Even ChrisThePlumber@gmail.com or JanHansonPlumbing@gmail.com is not that big of a deal if it’s a small place.

  3. DistanceLearningNewbie*

    Re LW1: I’m a teacher. My district is officially starting distance learning on Monday. We’ve been told we need to check in 3 times a day, beginning of the school day, mid-day and end of the school day. However when we asked for clarification on what checking in would require (emailing the principal 3 times a day? Posting on class websites?) we were basically told that being active on our email and class websites would suffice. Essentially we’d better respond promptly to parent and student emails during school hours. Any complaint for lack of communication/response will be a huge issue.
    Does this fall under what was said above that checking in 3 times a day is unreasonable, or is it different enough to be reasonable?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it’s “we want you to check and respond to emails at least 3 times a day,” that’s not unreasonable. With the OP, the issue is having to report on what you’re doing so frequently.

      1. Czhorat*

        This is a reaction to organizations being unfamiliar with and not yet comfortable with remote work; I’m sure the pendulum will swing back eventually.

        We have twice daily “check-in” meetings which, for a fully-remote team, is meant to replace the informal, ad hoc wandering by someone’s desk to see what we’re all up to.

        I think in these kinds of times we all need to be flexible.

        1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

          My company is doing something similar. We have long had a policy discouraging remote work (it’s okay once in a while but in the absence of extremely special circumstances you don’t do it as a regular thing), and now that everyone is working remotely, I think senior management is worried about the loss of social interaction and “water-cooler” conversations or popping into one another’s offices. They are strongly encouraging the use of group chats and daily check-ins to keep that kind of interaction going.

          I don’t mind it in principle, and for ICs and lower-level managers it’s mostly okay; but I manage across several product areas and am involved in some other projects besides, and the proliferation of group chats is becoming a little overwhelming for me. I’m going to have to mute notifications on all but the group of my direct reports, I think, and just peek into the group chats once or twice a day to see if there’s anything I need to know or respond to.

          1. Czhorat*

            Funny side-effect – use of video chat is encouraged for more engagement. People with production jobs have to remote desktop to their work computers to run the BIM software we use.

            Remote desktop doesn’t share USB camera video, so if they try to add video chat all you see is their empty office. Oops.

        2. Oh No She Di'int*

          This was my reaction to the initial letter. I mean, I think we have to remember that not only is working from home new for many employees, it’s new for many managers. It’s reasonable to expect everyone to need a little time getting used to how best to do it. I for one am trying to practice being tolerant and flexible, realizing that yeah, this is as unfamiliar for you as it is for me.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I agree. I don’t see the big deal with checking in three times a day, especially since OP says that this is something new and WFH was discouraged in the past. It will take some time for everyone to get used to. Once they do, they’ll likely ease up.

        3. Mediamaven*

          I agree with you. Having your entire team work remotely is a great unknown for a lot of employers. Once they see it working smoothly I think they’ll ease up.

      2. Daniel*

        If only that were the scheme we are using where I work. (This was a state agency that was adamantly anti-work-from-home until about three weeks ago, when they started scrambling.)

        I e-mail my bosses to tell them I start around 8, then a daily webex at 8:45 (which was already happening before Covid), another Webex at 10, often another Webex at 1, and then an e-mail near the end of the day around 4:30 to say you are leaving. I have reports that have gone from biweekly to daily as the higher ups want to make sure we are working. All of this on top of regular work, which my great grandboss insists can still get done, despite us being down two of our six coordinators due to illness or the lack of setup at home.

    2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      That sounds onerous if you have any number of students. What happens when you are helping Student A and Students B, C, D, and E are waiting in the queue? And then they send off an email to the powers that be complaining about wait time? I foresee a lot of teachers wasting time proving that they were helping Student A and pacifying students and parents when they could be teaching,

      1. Clorinda*

        I’m having mine post their questions in the comments on Classroom, because I always assume that several people have the same question (they do, and in fact they are often able to help each other).

    3. Koala dreams*

      That might be reasonable, depending on the amount of e-mails you are getting. It’s probably going to take a little longer to e-mail back compared to when you can talk face to face. After all, in class, if ten students have questions, they’ll have to wait their turn too, and maybe you won’t be able to cover all the questions because of time limits. I guess you can wait and see, if it turns out to be impossible to answer all the e-mails you can bring it up then.

      1. not really a lurker anymore*

        I was really surprised to get a response from my daughter’s teacher within 5 minutes of messaging her on Google Classrooms earlier this week. Not only did she answer but she added the handout my daughter needed to the docs section so she could complete it and then added a comment for the entire class regarding it.

        I’m assuming the teacher had notifications set up.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      It seems like that could be reasonable assuming that they are reasonable with what they consider to be “prompt.” And if you don’t end up with a huge backlog of emails that you can’t reasonable address quickly…

      1. Quill*

        When classroom dojo was rolled out 4 ish years ago at my mom’s former school, they had to set boundaries with parents hard and early. They had dozens of complaints that say, their child’s kindergarten teacher didn’t respond to their IM “promptly” when in reality the teacher was busy, you know, teaching and supervising 27 kindergarteners.

        Or my mom’s favorites, “Remind Kiddie that their GRANDMA is picking them up, not their aunt!” Sent 20 minutes before dismissal when they’re trying to blast through the last two book report presentations and mom had dismissal supervision duty.

        Not to mention people who wanted her to spend her lunch break calling them because little Timmy got a negative dojo (how could you mark him down?) for running in the halls.

        1. AKchic*

          And here I couldn’t even get my oldest son’s 4th grade teacher to communicate with me at all. If it wasn’t parent/teacher conference meetings at the assigned time, she refused to talk to *any* parent. Told every single parent in the Welcome To Class letter that she was available via email, but refused to answer any of them. Her sister was the principal. All of the kids in her class went from high achievers / decent grades to all failing that year. Only four were able to transfer out, and they got transferred out early.
          It took 10 of us from that year, combined with parents from a few other years complaining to the district to get her removed.

          I don’t ask for much. If you tell me you’re going to do something, do it, or give me an update / revision to the plan. Don’t set people up to fail. Don’t ignore people.

    5. Clorinda*

      My assistant principal asked to be added as a student onto our Google Classrooms, so she can see everything we post for the students.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I went with first initial middle initial last name. Because I don’t really like the idea of my entire name attached to my personal email for some reason. Or, what about last name. first name….? Maybe something like Smith.George@gmail is available where George.Smith@gmail is not.

      I think numbers are fine as long as the rest of your email is appropriate. George.smith44@gmail doesn’t seem like it would raise any eyebrows. Whereas something like Georgetheturtlelicker@gmail is going to come off as unprofessional whether or not that 44 makes an appearance.

      1. Quidge*

        I have first.middle.last@email as my personal (REALLY common surname, uncommon middle), and that feeling of discomfort with giving my entire full name to any given website is… useful, actually. If I hesitate, it prompts me to think about why I think it’s sketchy, and whether I would give these details out if I was in a shop asking for these services from a real person etc. It’s about 50:50 whether I carry on or abandon whatever I was entering my email for, I reckon.

        I also get to head my CV with:
        Dr F M Last
        First line/impression = formal, impressive, gender neutral. Second line = informal, tech savvy, I’m not actually hiding anything or a pompous a-hole promise.

        1. Quidge*

          That said, it’s difficult to find me online because First Last is a common name – you can only find me under F M Last or First M Last, and even that only gets you my academic research!

        2. Kes*

          I have first middle last as well due to common last name. However, I have another, less professional email I use as my primary, and then use this one mainly specifically for cases where I want a more professional email, in particular for job related stuff.
          For sketchy websites I have an old hotmail address I can check if needed but rarely do so I don’t care if it gets spammed.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        lastname.firstname is what I was able to get when I set up my gmail account years ago. For some reason my dad tried to talk me out of it and thought that that was unprofessional or confusing or something? I think given what my names are it’s obvious to anyone that my last name is not my first name.

        He was such an early adopter of his email domain that his main email is just firstname@domain.com so I think he has a skewed point of view lol

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Reptiles don’t carry any coronaviruses! That would be mammals/avians. You will get no coronavirus from turtle licking.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      I am a real privacy nut and didn’t want to publicize my name that way. I came up with an email handle of the first two letters of my first, middle, maiden and last names. It kinda-sorta looks like a word, and while my immediate family knows what the letters represent, nobody else does.

      Of course, I am also at a stage in life where I’m not currently job-hunting and don’t expect to do so again. I’d still use this email address, though, even for job-hunting.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I was going to suggest something similar, but to use her maiden name as like a middle name on her resume.
      Elizabeth Bennett Smith

      Links the names together without having to create a new email address with random number that might have no meaning.

  4. LarsTheRealGirl*

    My email is my maiden name. And it will probably stay that way forever. There are waaaay too many things linked to a 10+year old email address to ever bother changing it. Also, since a fair amount of my work experience is with my maiden name, it tends to bridge that gap a bit.

    I also own the gmail for my married name, but don’t use it.

    1. Julia*

      Same! Plus my maiden name is rare enough that I didn’t have to add numbers, which now I would need to do. I hate that it gives away my married status to companies, but my photo (which many companies here require) does that anyway because my looks don’t match the ethnicity of my husband’s name.

      1. SweetestCin*

        I’m chuckling because my married name is very uncommon in the part of the world I’m living (if someone has it, they’re a relative through marriage, no doubt). Three of us have the same first initial. Thankfully we’re fairly close as we all receive email for each other!

        1. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          My cousins on my mom’s side have an unusual last name. My cousin “John” worked for an organization that used the InitialLastname@blahdeblah.org convention for emails; when my cousin “Jen” joined another branch of the same org, the IT folks admitted they never thought they’d have a problem with John’s address being needed again, but there we go. (Jen got j[middleinitial]lastname)

    2. Phil*

      I’m rather fortunate with my email address. My parents have a business with their own web domain, so I’ve just mooched off of that for the last 15 years or so, with a simple, professional, phil@[innocuous business name domain]

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I also kept my first+middle-initial+first three letters of my old lastname@. By the time I changed my name, I’d been living on my own as a head of a household for three years, and conducting all of my business through that email account, so it was too much hassle to switch. Kept the old last name as my login on my CC, bank, and retirement funds online accounts, too. It is a very rare last name that is also very long and ethnic. No one has been able to ever type it correctly in the 15 or so years I had it while living in the US, so I feel safer with it being my login to my most sensitive accounts.

      Mine is the other way around – it was my married name and then I changed it back. My sons of course still have my old last name. No one seems to mind (or know) that it is still part of my email addresses and account logins. I had it changed everywhere else.

    4. Hamburke*

      My email is my college id and tied to my maiden name. I’ve used some version of this since college, nearly 20 years ago. I occasionally get questions about it but for the most part, it’s just accepted.

    5. CM*

      I know quite a few women who use their married name professionally but still have their maiden name in their email. I think it’s pretty common and wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. (Except for my friend who married someone with the same first name as her maiden name, like if Elizabeth Bennett married Bennett Darcy… it took me a while to figure out her email was first_maiden@gmail and not a combined account for her and her husband with both of their first names.)

      1. Veronica Mars*

        My work refused to change my email to my married name because it was too complicated and “continuity” and blah blah. Which was fine when we first got married, but 3 years and a new department later I am constantly getting calls asking why veronica.mars is bouncing back.

    6. Fund Abortion Build Power!*

      This is my setup, too. I did change the display name on my first.fatherslastname@gmail email to read as “First Currentlastname.” It doesn’t bother or confuse anyone.

      1. Sled dog mana*

        This is what I did as well, I do have a email that is first.currentlast@… butI use it only for a few very specific things.

    7. LunaLena*

      Me too! I was lucky and managed to sign up with a free email service (like Gmail, but not Gmail) the day they started, so I was able to get firstinitial(hyphen)maidenname@emailservice. I use that as my professional email address and also started a few online shops with that email, so I still use it even though I’ve gotten married and changed my name since then. I haven’t had a problem with it at all, and on the rare occasion that anyone has questioned it, just saying “that was my maiden name” was sufficient.

    8. Reluctant Manager*

      LW #1: Depending how many direct reports your supervisor has and how much work they actually do themselves, they will have stopped reading all of those reports already by now (and may start pressing the director to cut it out). How is your relationship with your supervisor? If it’s OK, you can say, “I’m less able to complete a full workload because of the time it takes to write these reports—and it must be even harder for you, having [# of direct reports] times that many to read every day! How much detail do you really find helpful in these?” [Plus the timing bit]

      I know it feels personal and insulting, but I bet what will really kill this when supervisors start complaining that it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

  5. fogharty*

    My email address was assigned to me at my job and it has a number in it. In fact, almost everyone in the organization has a number as part of their email; it’s not an instance of how common a name is, rather the number indicates what part of the year the address was assigned. So you could have a very unique name, but still be rumpelstiltskin. manischewitz3@company…

    1. Veronica Mars*

      I think its actually better to have everyone have a number, than just duplicates.

      My poor coworker is co.worker, but there’s a person in HR that is co.worker2… guess how much HR stuff my coworker now knows that he really wishes he didn’t?

      1. Quill*

        Went to college with a “Jane Smith”

        Jane Smith 9, to be exact.

        Jane Smith 8 and 10 also went to college at the same time as us. Jane’s mom started addressing mail to Jane’s roommate after the first year, so she’d actually get it, and email basically didn’t exist for Jane because nobody ever guessed her number right.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Yeah, my undergrad email was Feeder1… Except that last name is pretty unique, and no one could remember there being a Feeder, so I lost a lot of emails.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah at my last company the head of the legal department was Jane.Doe3@company and I often wondered whether there was a Jane.Doe@company that received a lot of important and confidential emails that she shouldn’t be seeing…

  6. Seal*

    #5 – My Gmail address consists of my initials and 4 numbers. I’ve used it when job hunting for at least 10 years and no one has ever said anything about it.

    1. Threeve*

      Everybody understands that gmail ran out of name emails long ago.

      And the one person I know who snagged the email for his very common name actually hates it, because the Joe.Smith gmail account gets so many emails intended for other Joe Smiths.

        1. Professional Straphanger*

          Oh, I feel your pain. In the digital world I have absolutely nowhere to hide, so I try to maintain what little privacy I can by not letting myself be photographed if I can avoid it. I managed to go through 6 years of grad school being “unavailable” each time my advisor took the yearly photo of everyone in his lab to put on his website.

        2. emmelemm*

          Yeah, I have a non-unique but basically unique name. (Social Security website where you can actually check such things says there’s 3 people with my firstname lastname in the U.S. – I can’t remember but I’m sure none of them have the same middle initial as me.) The other two are probably 40 years older than I am (first name is mildly old-fashioned), so they don’t appear to have any online presence.

          So, there’s nowhere to hide.

      1. nona*

        I have one of those (I’ve got first initial, last name AND first name last name). There’s an old dude in Texas that can’t ever manage to get his OWN email address correct (or doesn’t care) and get all the random things he’s signed up for.

  7. Heidi*

    Re OP1: Prepping 3 reports a day for your boss sounds like an enormous time suck. Do the noon and 4pm check-ins involve talking to the boss also? That’s like 2 meetings a day to talk about your day. And the boss has to review all of this for each employee? That’s as much of a pain for them as it is for you. Maybe you could ask to merge the last two check-ins into one first. Ease out of this madness.

    Also for OP5, my employer assigns us our professional email addresses and all of them include a number. It’s so not an issue I’m now wondering where OP got the idea it was one.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      I think the advice about numbers probably started out as limiting numbers because a long random string of numbers is hard to type, hard to remember, and looks like a scam or prank. I see why you wouldn’t want to use jennifer8584163826513847239700000139725@email.com as your email address.

      But somehow LW has had the information come to her as “no numbers, ever,” which isn’t the intent. Pick something short and easy to remember with no scandalous connotations and you’re fine. jennifer1501@email.com would get contacted, while jennifer8584163826513847239700000139725@email.com would probably end up in the spam file.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Looking at yours, I’d add caution about which numbers, as 1 looks like lower case L and 0 will be mistaken for O. 357 will be less often mistyped than 110.

      2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Anything with about 4 numbers is usually ok, if only because its likely to be a year or other date (I use middlename.surnameDDMM@ because amazingly enough the surname-year combination was getting a bit too common to avoid misaddressed messaging). More than about 6 numbers, that’s come from a random email generator or the late-1990’s and is almost certainly spam, or at least from someone who *needs* a new email.

    2. Mookie*

      As you say re information-rich check-ins and their timings, it doesn’t seem useful, productive, or meaningful for them to occur more frequently or entail more substantively than what a daily or less intra-office encounter might look like. I’m always kind of dazzled by otherwise sensible outfits that suddenly turn excessively bureaucratic without evidence. If you’re already operating outside an increasingly unhealthy, exploitative. and anti-social norm and relying directly on a potentially weaker, smaller, and/or more taxed workforce during crisis, why override normal management practices, especially those that generally allow independence and leeway, while imposing untested, busywork standards and invasive monitoring software on that depleted, possibly demoralized workforce and their managers?

      I guess the answer is rampant, unregulated private capital and its preference for salary- and wage-busting turnover. But eventually we all end up literally financing the costs of their technocratic blunders cum disruption experiments.

      That being said, for me what is especially galling is the extent to which lower-rung supervisors, the meat and potatoes sort that help drive productivity through something other than numbers, are overruled in these circumstances, refashioned as shepherds to on-site underlings, with no telecommute option, the big bosses deem a costly, possibly idle, interchangeable resource afforded no loyalty or interest beyond their sum value.

      It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out, especially in countries that boast artificially low employment (a WoRkEr’S mArKeT), while carefully eliding annual income compared with cost of living, of the same underpaid sectors now all but furloughed or laid off. I feel for my white collar counterparts, of course, but the double whammy price (my wages, my life) of imposing these untested emergency measures and half-hearted, hedged accommodations, is onerous in the extreme, not only seals the fate of middle-managers but also of their less comfortable reports.

      It’s hard for the former to argue for institutional or private relief for the latter when there are larger forces at work that deem the little people undeserving of public assistance, lest they spontaneously become ‘workshy.’

    3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “And the boss has to review all of this for each employee? That’s as much of a pain for them as it is for you.”

      This makes me wonder when the boss has time to do… you know… actual boss stuff.

      1. Liane*

        I’d be tempted to do updates like this:
        9am —
        Plan for day: After sending Plan email, it’s Whatever Report. The run numbers on previous update times. Will revise times for those at noon…

        Noon checkin: Based on yesterday’s metric blocked out 43 minutes for this Midday Update and 75 minutes for Wrapup Email. Also sent evites for the afternoon virtual meeting…

        4pm: Project WTH meeting went over, due to technical issues…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, yep, yep.

          One place I worked we had to keep track of what we did all day long, it had something to do with funding or whatever. So I asked my boss where do I charge the time spend on filling out this ridiculous form? (I knew it was okay to say that because he was eye-rolling at mere mention of this tracking.)

          I think questioning it did help, because we never had to do it again. My boss answered me by saying, “In the end, your report should show 75% of time spent on x and 25% spent on y.” It’s a know your boss thing.

          1. AnonAnon*

            Agree. I think this will get old with the boss’ fast. Especially if you are very detailed about it.

            1. EPLawyer*

              Malicious compliance. Your boss wants to know what you are doing — provide it in excrutiating detail. Don’t just say worked on TPS reports for an hour. Detail every step you took on the TPS report for that hour. Do that for everything. Boss will get sick of the emails.

              This, of course, asumes the boss is actually reading the emails and not just ticking off who check in on time.

              1. JSPA*

                Or boss will get sick of you, or you will make WFH seem like a huge time suck.

                I don’t see this level of pass-ag as being worth either of those risks.

                Especially not before having, y’know, a few normal, respectful conversations on the matter, and allowing for the possibility that they’re using the situation to document the effectiveness of WFH.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            This is what life in law is, all the time if you live and die by the billable hour. This is high on my list of why I work Plaintiff’s personal injury. Say what you will about it, working contingency fee means you don’t have to waste your life away filling out timesheets.

        2. Sharikacat*

          The boss here is unfamiliar with how to manage people working from home, so they feel they need to be able to show that people are actually working during that time. The company as a whole may be in that same frame of mind. For the update e-mails, I wouldn’t send anything elaborate. A quick bullet point list with the daily plan or maybe a couple sentences should suffice. That progress may simply be “talked with Jane to advance ideas on Teapot Project.” Not everything will have tangible results. This, in my opinion, doesn’t seem wholly unreasonable- a quick list of what you’ve done for the day. I’d consider this a test-run for being able to work remotely after this whole thing is over. Use the update e-mails to show them that work can be done properly from home then have a conversation later about a better way to monitor it once it becomes an option.

    4. MistOrMister*

      That check in thing sound absurd. And completely not helpful. I had a job whete you had to track everything you did on a spreadsheet. Ostensibly so management could track your output. But they never seemed to do anything with the information and it was just a huge time suck. This sounds like that. Just a complete and utter waste. I could understand doing this with known slackers, but not for everyone else. I am not sure why some bosses seem to think if they are not physically in the same building as their employees that they can’t be trusted to get their work done. There are so many ways to goof off while physically present that they can’t even be counted!!! Personally I found working from home yesterday went better than working in the office for the past week. I wasn’t distracted by constantly scouring the coronavirus news and running around talking to coworkers about this school closibg and that museum’s restricted hours and whatnot. The purring lapcat was soothing and work got done!

      1. dancingsloth*

        My $0.02, as I have asked my team to do this (at least once a day, but still not a typical ask). I am terrified I will be asked to cull my team as part of an overall staff reduction in the wake of business downturning. Also, the executives at the highest levels are not confident everyone is capable of being efficient WFH (which is a fair concern, since it’s actually new for a lot of people here), so they are looking for any justification to merge or collapse roles. If that ask happens, I want to to be ready with all the things my team has been doing while WFH to show they are being efficient at home, PLUS how vital they are to continued operations. Because I can’t see them everyday (and can’t even have my typical check-ins by phone or email because I’m also overwhelmed by the Covid-19 issues and questions coming up), I need these emails and I need them frequently to be ready when asked. I can’t read them in detail in realtime, but I am looking at them. I also have access at the highest levels to what’s being prioritized, but at an extremely fast pace, so if I see someone working on something that’s been downgraded, I can say something right away. I don’t have the same luxury of time and in-person contact to be the kind of manager and leader I want to be – these emails and check-ins (which is not natural to my team and needed the specific request to make it happen) are vital for me.

        1. KRM*

          That attitude sucks especially now, as many people try to adapt to WFH AND the fact that they have their kids at home. If someone isn’t as efficient as they could be now, it’s not a good justification to merge roles! It’s a good reason to look at everyone’s situation and adapt to that reality.

        2. Wondercootie*

          The problem we have is that our office is part of state government, and legislators have a tendency to think of us (state workers) as “low hanging fruit” for budget cuts. They already think we don’t do any work (one used to call us “lard bricks”), and hey, now we’re “working” from home, so we must really not be doing anything. I have to work my ass off to justify my team as it is, much less when they have the “privilege” of being remote. As a manager, I don’t like it any more than my team does. I KNOW how hard we work. But I have to document that people are actually working their designated hours (essentially, butts in seats) or some legislator will come along and say we don’t need them. /end rant/

      2. Sharon*

        Agreed. The boss needs to focus on the work that needs to be done. It’s perfectly reasonable to set out priorities and deadlines and assign work to different people, and check in periodically* to see whether work is on track or whether issues have arisen. But a good manager would be doing that regardless of where his people were.

        *How often check-ins occur will depend on the length of the project, but unless something is complex and due that day, 3x/day seems highly excessive – and if there is such a high priority item, the manager shouldn’t care what other, non-urgent work is being done or not done that day.

    5. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I foresee some malicious compliance in the forecast for the manager. If he has more than 5 employees that is 15 updates alone that he has to wade through each day and respond to. Hopefully, he will minimize the number when he starts to drown in email overload.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am laughing, yeah, this will go away when the boss gets buried in information he does not need and cannot use because there are STILL only 24 hours in a day.

    6. AliV*

      Now that we are all remote the big boss is requiring us to all send in detailed reports at the end of every day. Staff are furious and in near-mutiny over it. Plus unless someone is going to audit our emails and phone records, who’s to say any of the reports are accurate anyway?

    7. Herding Butterflies*

      We have transitioned to WFH and our headquarters is really not happy about it. But we are in a location where it has been mandated. Our HQ is in a location where being in the office is ok (??!!). Our C-suite is asking for three daily check-ins as well.

      While all of this is driving all of us nuts, it is being held over our heads that our WFH practices now will influence WFH policies later. They are trying to spin this as, if this is successful, we may expand our WFH policies. But we are going, yeah right. This is all sticks, no carrots.

      In short, it is showing me that a company that I thought was great to work with may not be so great after all.

      1. Herding Butterflies*

        And yes it is a huge time suck. Right now it takes a minimum of an hour to two hours a day.

      2. juliebulie*

        It’s a huge mistake to use WFH now to influence WFH policies later. This is emergency WFH. Kids are at home maybe homeschooling, spouses are at home. Regular WFH isn’t like that.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I definitely agree if the policies being created are counter productive to WFH, like multiple pointless check-ins per day. I mean, if managers didn’t check in with every individual report 3x a day in person, what’s the point now? Doesn’t this just jam their workload with busywork?

          But I do live in hope that more companies will see that productivity doesn’t necessarily take a nosedive when more people WFH and expand that option later on, because it would make such a huge difference in the traffic and parking issues people normally face every day here.

        2. Malarkey01*

          I have been an almost full time WFH for over a decade. I remember when initially starting we had similar check ins and weekly reports, but those things lightened up as everyone came to understand WFH was productive. Unfortunately I think it’s a natural reaction whenever a group starts WFH for the first time. I’d get in the habit of making the updates very short and fast- for example when I did it if I was spending more than a minute typing up my quick to do list, I was taking too long. Then for the end of the day I’d highlight everything I finished and add anything new (again less than a minute). If you make them like quick task lists your boss should start to reframe them and not expect reports and then you can approach whether it’s necessary at all, or have a quick written to do list each day which isn’t the worst thing.

    8. Janey-Jane*

      op1: We have to do 2 reports – beginning of the day, and end, similar to yours. My industry is known for NOT allowing telecommutting for a segment of jobs, so this isn’t surprising (even thought 90% of us can, fairly easily). Malicious compliance, so heck yes, writing those reports goes in my accomplishments. I also start a draft and just add to it throughout the day.

      Small benefit: I’ve seen no evidence my boss is reading them, but is filing them away in case some tax payer complained that we are just sitting at home, doing nothing. (Pro? Con?)

    9. JSPA*

      It doesn’t have to be a time suck, and it can be integrated with your own record keeping process. I’d make a spreadsheet of tasks (anyway), update them as they’re completed, and send the updated spreadsheet three times a day.

      I’m going to push back against, “virtual time and in-office time are identical, as far as requiring check-ins.” In an actual office, your boss can swing by without bothering you, and look over your shoulder for an overall sense of how things are progressing, or can say, “everything fine?”; more generally, people will notice if you’re suddenly taken ill or otherwise no longer able to work. If you’re out of the office, nobody even knows that you’re OK and working.

      Now, if you normally are active by email or slack or your file sharing is visible to all, this may not apply. Ditto if you do the sort of work that’s not time-sensitive / where the time sensitivity has already been calibrated to the check-in period (“writing articles / checking in weekly with drafts” etc).

      But if WFH is instituted in an unplanned way, it actually makes sense to start with a blanket rule that’s going to work for even the most time-sensitive, most oversight-needed roles, and then loosen up once you have the data on hand to demonstrate that a)people are working b) the frequent updates are not adding a lot of useful insight, relative to time spent.

  8. Avasarala*

    #4 I used to be that clever person who pointed out when there were spelling or grammar errors in something. People were never happy about it and perceptibly cooled towards me afterwards. And when I was corrected, it felt awful–why do they need to correct this unimportant detail (which, after all, if it doesn’t impede meaning and you can still click the link, it’s unimportant) right now, why is that the first thing that comes to their mind? Do they not realize that a business meeting/interview is not the time to criticize the other’s website? Do they normally start off social interactions with criticism? Are they trying to prove something?

    Even I must admit that some part of me used to relish in the correction, like I spotted the difference or something. The joy of the know-it-all, to be technically correct (which is the best kind of correct). You remember this is why Hermione has trouble making friends in Harry Potter? No one wants to be friends with someone who is quick to find faults and uses them to bolster their own self-esteem.

    If you’re trying to get someone to like you (and presumably you are if you are applying to work there), that’s not the time to point out mistakes!

    1. Loose Seal*

      Like when Frasier was complaining that someone corrected the graffito in the men’s room at Cafe Nervosa and then could tell by Niles’ sheepish face that it was he. Don’t be Niles.

      P.S. I love that Frasier says ‘graffito’ since it was one thing where most of us would just say graffiti without the precision of speech. It makes his complaint that it had been corrected even funnier.

      P.P.S. Can you tell I’ve been social distancing by binge-watching?

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        “I love that Frasier says ‘graffito’ since it was one thing where most of us would just say graffiti without the precision of speech.”

        I’ve always wondered what a single piece of ravioli is called. I don’t think it’s “raviolo,” but I could be wrong.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          wiktionary says “The individual parcels are called “pieces of ravioli” or suchlike. The singular raviolo is reserved for a single, large parcel of the same design, but is rare.”

        2. Loose Seal*

          Username checks out, Chef! LOL

          I have heard chefs on TV say raviolo. Usually when they are making one giant one to serve as an appetizer.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          Putting on my pedant hat (which fits very comfortably–thank you for asking), it is wrong to assume that a word borrowed into English retains the grammatical characteristics, such as singular vs. plural, it had in the original language. Sometimes it does, but often it does not. Factors include how recently it was borrowed, and how familiar is the source language.

          In the case of “ravioli” while it was the plural that was borrowed, in English it is singular, sometimes as a count noun (“I will have just one ravioli”) or as a mass noun (“We are having ravioli for dinner.”) The plural is raviolis. Insisting on raviolo/ravioli in an English-language context is pretentious. See https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ravioli

          1. Amy Sly*

            Let me guess … you also don’t think that fora is the plural of forum, agendum is the singular of agenda, medium is the singular of media and that there’s nothing grammatically wrong with polyamory.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                You are mixing up your declensions. “Forum” is a second declension nominative singular, the nominative plural being “fora.” A word in the form “fora” could be (but isn’t) the first declension nominative singular, in which case the nominative plural would be, as you say, “forae.”

                How can you tell which it is? Just the isolated word “fora” doesn’t tell you. A modern Latin dictionary will give you both the singular nominative and the singular genitive: “Forum, fori.” This is enough, if you know the code, to tell you. A Roman of Cicero’s time would just know this, having learned it on his mother’s knee. A Roman of a few centuries later grew up learning a slightly different form of Latin and, if he was of the educated class, received an expensive education to teach him to write like Cicero. This is why so many of Cicero’s letters survive. They were copied as schoolboy exercises.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I am a bizarro-pedant when it comes to grammar. My pedantry manifests itself by pointing out how the self-identified grammar sticklers are wrong, basing their, um, stickling on invalid assumptions about how language works. This is not merely fun, but very easy, once you teach yourself to spot those assumptions.

              That list you give is a bit hyperbolic, but you can find lots of people who in all seriousness make a similar claim about “data.” Few will go so far as to use “datum,” but they will miscorrect you if you use “data” as a mass noun, which is what it actually is in English.

              “Polyamory” is another interesting example. The claim that a word cannot mix Greek and Latin was taken at face value for many years, despite not making a lick of sense. English words combine elements from multiple elements all the time, without people noticing. That last bit is key. The whole point of objecting to a Greek-Latin “barbarism” is to show that you know Greek and Latin. No one cares about a word combining Old English with Norman French because those weren’t prestige languages to be flaunted. Now that only eccentrics study Greek and Latin, the objection has largely disappeared. It pops up from time to time, but only vestigially.

              In related news, back when the educated class learned Greek in school, English writers routinely used “the hoi polloi,” except that “hoi polloi” was usually in Greek letters. Objections to it only started appearing as the study of Greek was falling out of fashion, and people were anxious to establish that they knew that “hoi” was the definite article.

              1. GeoffreyB*

                My favourites are the ones who complain about “made-up words” as if there are any that weren’t.

          2. James*

            This is one reason I got into constructed languages. My sister, now a Prof. of British Literature, once told me, in an argument about the rationality of the English language, “If you don’t like it, make something better!” I happened to be reading “The Silimarillion” at the time. Challenge accepted.

            Weird thing is, my language–constructed specifically to avoid this sort of nonsense–still has irregular verbs. It has to do with the combination of conjugation structure and how to pronounce certain letter combinations. But it taught me that to a certain extent, irrationality in language is hard-wired.

        4. Quill*

          For extra fun I default to latin, so that “Ravioli” becomes “Raviolus”

          This is guaranteed to end all grammar arguments because the pedants will inevitably turn on you, as did everyone who knew me during the great 2012 brocculus argument.

            1. Quill*


              Bonus points if you spell it the greek way with a K, according to my greek friend.

              The real answer, however, is that an octopus is usually a solitary animal so this doesn’t come up that often.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                “Octopus” came into English via New Latin (i.e. the Latin of Enlightenment scholars), who borrowed it from Greek. What plural was used in New Latin? I have never been able to determine this. It might well have been “octopi,” that being the natural Latin way to pluralize the word, or they might have self-consciously maintained the Greek plural.

                For present-day English, “octopuses” is by far the best answer. I would only use either of the other choices if I was being snarky.

                1. Merci Dee*

                  But “octopodes” is so much more fun to say! Especially when people look at you strangely.

    2. PurpleMonster*

      Oh, back when I first started freelance copywriting (based on spurious internet advice) I’d go through a bunch of websites and email them, telling them exactly what was wrong with their copy and how I could fix it.

      I was shocked – shocked! – that I never got work from that particular marketing tactic. I cringe to think about it now.

    3. winter*

      I can provide an employer perspective because I had this happen in an interview some weeks ago.

      The candidate pointed out that something or other on the website wasn’t correct. Now, while attention to detail is important in the job he applied for, neither marketing, nor proofreading of other people’s content, nor website administration is part of it.
      For me, it impacted the flow of the interview negatively because this is not important information when you’re trying to suss out who somebody is and what they can do. It can also come across tone-deaf because he talked about a topic that was not relevant at that point in time.

      If (general) you must do something like this, do it at the end of the interview, if there’s a good time, but I would generally advise against it for interviewees and new colleagues. Who doesn’t know the new colleague who isn’t aware of the processes yet and still finds fault with all of them? It feels a little similar.

      Once you’re in and know who’s responsible for the website (!) you can address them directly. But as Avasarala pointed out, being corrected doesn’t feel too great and maybe that’s not the first impression you want to make.

      1. winter*

        Also as you can see from my description, I have no idea what the issue was and thus it did not get corrected. It’s likely that the people in the interview generally have other priorities.

        There was one upside to it: it made clear that he had checked our website, but he would have demonstrated that anyway (and much more productively) by talking about our products.

        1. Avasarala*

          Yes. Your takeaway is “that guy sure was a know-it-all and a jerk” not “we gotta fix the website”

    4. Mystery Bookworm*

      This is also an area where tone matters a lot….A correction should come across as ‘friendly heads up’ not ‘smarmy gotcha,’ but tone can be hard to convey over text with someone you’ve never met.

      Reminds me a little of how the “failure mode of clever is asshole”. Not worth the risk, IMO.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I aim to not correct unless directly asked.
        However, a friend made a sign for a community event and forgot the “L” in public.
        Yeah, I said something.
        Sometimes avoiding embarassment in front of a large group of people takes priority.

        1. Quill*

          I once failed kerning really hard making a sign for a club fair and apparently “the pen is mightier than the sword” as a title brings in attention.

          That is the year that our club suddenly had both 1) male participants and 2) romance writers. (There was no overlap in individuals.)

    5. Caaan Do!*

      Love the Futurama reference :)
      Ah yes, I remember that little thrill of being right in my Hermione days as a kid. I’m glad I managed to cure myself of that habit.

    6. londonedit*

      The only time I’ve ever done this is when there was a Word doc form as part of the application materials, and questions 4 and 5 were basically the same but with slightly different wording. I emailed back (I was already in touch with someone at the company) and asked them to clarify whether the form was correct, and if so, what they expected in terms of detail for each of those questions. Turned out the form was wrong! The fact that it was an application for an editorial job might have made a difference, as it’s all about attention to detail, but they thanked me for pointing it out and I did get an interview. Otherwise, I wouldn’t point out random typos on a company website or whatever.

      1. Nitpicker*

        I did something a bit like that. There was an error with the email link to send your application (the company had changed name; if you clicked on the link, the email address matched their former name; you’d need to copy the text to get the correct adress).
        I pointed it out in a friendly way when I applied (mentioning they had a former email address in their link), though I hesitated about it.
        I was applying to a communication assistant job, where I would edit and proofread documents, so it felt like a safe move. They never mentioned it when I met them, though, and I didn’t bring it up either.
        They did ask me about their website and communication as a whole during the interview, and I could point out flaws (that was the goal), so I know they were open to it.
        I did get the job, even though it didn’t work out in the long run.
        I still notice mistakes on websites, but never point them out when applying. I don’t feel like it’s the right time for it. My experience felt like it was an exception, because the mistake was about the application material itself, like in your case, londonedit.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I do freelance editing and proofreading sometimes and it always makes me cringe to see typos in job ads, but I make mistakes all the time too. In the last few years I have found it more and more obnoxious when the only contribution to an online discussion is to point out mistakes, and that has translated to tolerance of mistakes in job ads and the like. It really makes no difference for a job in my field if someone accidentally used the wrong homophone or the wrong word, especially now that so many people are using devices with predictive text.

      Care in point, I had to keep changing the suggesting in trying to reading to the comment!

    8. hbc*

      It almost feels like negging in a job application process. “I’m applying for this job, but you’ve already shown me that I might be too good for you.” I know that’s not the intent for most people, but it has a good chance of landing that way.

    9. Fikly*

      The only time it’s appropriate to point out an error like this in a job posting is if the job being advertised is for copy editing.

      Sometimes they will put them in deliberately as a test.

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Once, when applying for a job, I had to take a spelling test. I was given a list of words, and the instructions said that I had to circle all of the misspelled words on the page. One of the words in the instructions was misspelled. After some thought, I circled the misspelled word in the instructions. I did not get the job. To this day, I wonder if I did the right thing, or if I annoyed TPTB.

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          I would have done the same, because I would have assumed that was part of the test (in more ways than one).

    10. danr*

      You can always point out errors on a website directly to the website manager, if there is a link to do it. This keeps it separate from your application and interview. I did this while job searching and while not. Looking for a way to report problems also gives you a chance to size up a company, especially if they describe themselves as tech forward, cutting edge, or any of the current tech jargon that is out there.

    11. RandomWords*

      I’m an editor and proofreader and point out typos only when I’m paid to. Although I’m curious as to whether the company LW4 applied to ultimately fixed the typo on their homepage.

    12. Ray Gillette*

      Now you’ve reminded me of a truly scathing line from Homer Simpson, of all people: “Thanks for correcting me, Lisa! Everyone likes being corrected.”

    13. Sister Michael*

      Ages ago, when text-speak was a much more common thing than it seems to be today, I had a conversation with a woman who mentioned that her teen daughter would correct the grammar and punctuation of texts she received and return the corrected version in place of a reply until she got an English-class-ready text. The mom, who obviously loved her daughter and was used to her, thought it was kind of funny. I was college-aged or so at the time and privately wondered how that worked for the daughter socially.

      In short, you don’t want to come across like this girl (who, to be fair, probably doesn’t do this anymore). My rule of thumb for this kind of decision is, what’s the desired outcome of offering this correction? And be honest with yourself, even if it hurts a little, because that restraint will help you in a shorter run than you think.

      If the real, honest answer is that you’re offering the correction simply because you found a mistake and you want to tell someone you found it, you should probably hold off. Fixing something that’s not causing embarrassment or misunderstanding makes you seem focused on trivia at the expense of what’s actually important in a given setting. If the button reads “Click Hear”, yeah, it’s a little annoying that the mistake made it through, but you know what the meaning is and it doesn’t get in the way of using the button.

      On the other hand, I think people accept corrections much more cheerfully- even gratefully- if the thing you’re correcting would cause them embarrassment or create a misunderstanding. Somebody upthread mentions letting a friend know they had spelled “public” without the L. That’s not correction for the sake of correctness, it’s preventing a person from doing something embarrassing or inappropriate. Ditto with things that are incorrect information and which will make the person’s life harder- “The address is 123 Sesame Street, but I noticed that your website says it’s 122 Sesame” is likewise genuinely helpful.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Exactly. There are times when pointing out an error would be genuinely welcomed and (many more) occasions when it would just be seen as annoyingly self-righteous.

    14. LW#4*

      Tuning in here first to say that the AAM comment section is the best one on the internet and you all do not disappoint! I learned about raviolo from watching Worst Cooks in America (Hulu. Worth a binge right after Frasier).

      This actually inspired me to scour my email history until I found said application. I *think* I came across less pedantic and more Anxiously Meek & Hopefully Helpful. What ultimately tipped me to point it out was that they’re a media/branding company and such a major typo in their own advertising would probably dissuade potential clients. If I were doing it again I wouldn’t have pointed it out in the application… cuz yeah.

      Also, I checked: they haven’t fixed the typo since I applied last February.

    15. Snarky*

      I used to work with a woman who I disliked and also thought was kind of dumb. In her email signature, she had a typo in the name of our company, something like: “SMITH CO. USA” but it was “SMITH CO. UAS”. I never corrected her for exactly the reasons mentioned here. Instead, I smirked silently at every email, privately relishing in my clear superiority. I hated that job.

  9. Avasarala*

    #3 I wonder if you could also undo the public shaming by getting out in front of it. It sounds like a pretty awful system that’s almost designed to trip you up, and the person in charge of it (?) is cold and unhelpful and is doing nothing to improve the convoluted system. Especially if the mistakes are for unique/one-off situations, I’m not even sure there’s anything to be ashamed of.

    Next time Jane sends out a blast, I would reply all, “So sorry, Jane, that was me! I’m really sorry to cause you so much trouble to fix my mistake. As you know the purchasing system is so tricky and you’re the only one who can make heads or tails of it! Since you know it so well, I wonder if there isn’t some way you can improve it to make it easier on the rest of us?? Thanks so much Jane, you’re always so much help!”

    1. MassMatt*

      It does sound as though the purchase process is unnecessarily convoluted, and the person handling it is acting like an angry ogre. That people are holding off from ordering things they need for fear of the TPS report not having the necessary 481/z addendum necessary on a second Wednesday or 3rd Friday of the month seems really counterproductive.

      Purchasing systems are often frustrating and time consuming to use, maybe the people designing them are assuming everyone using them are doing so all the time (like they are) when for many jobs this is a 1-2 time per month interaction, Or less, and without repetition it never becomes rote memory and we rely on the interface, which is often terrible and unintuitive.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly this! When my company got bought and laid off the purchasing department suddenly all the other departments were supposed to do their own purchasing, using a brand new system. During one of the trainings on the new system the trainer said “I don’t know why you all are having so much trouble, this is just like every other purchasing system you’ve used before.” To which my coworker replied “I’m a lab scientist! I’ve never done purchasing before, so no, it’s not like any system we’ve used before!”
        The trainer was really surprised that he was training non-purchasers, but didn’t actually change the training to make it for beginners. It’s taken literal years before anyone is even sort of comfortable with the system.

    2. Rubyrose*

      Bonus points if you can get your coworkers to do the same! After three times I bet her behavior changes.

    3. hbc*

      Yeah, if the system has to be this complicated, they either need to learn to live with six mistakes a year as a consequence, or let one person handle the complicated parts. It doesn’t sound like this is a purchasing team if OP can just avoid ordering things, so why does she have to know all the intricacies?

      Maybe OP could take that to her boss. “Our system is complicated, and you’ve got otherwise competent professionals who are trying our best, but we’re going to make mistakes sometimes. Any chance we can make one person the official Purchaser so they’re more familiar with the process, or at least find an alternative to the group email?”

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      So Jane is condescending and cold when people make mistakes (you know, when they’re HUMAN), and your advice is to respond and kiss her butt? No way. If they were making a lot of mistakes, that would be different (still not a reason to treat people in that manner though). But these are happening approximately 6 times a year with unusual cases. OP needs to speak to their boss because Jane is 100% unreasonable and treating them like that is unacceptable.

      1. LTL*

        No, the idea is that by doing this you take away Jane’s power whilst still remaining professional.

        There’s a good chance that this will get her to change her behavior. But even if it doesn’t, it will stop her from inducing shame. “Haha, my bad!” can go a long way towards lifting the tension that Jane is inflicting on everyone.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Or it will validate her. I don’t agree with this approach at all.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        I think Avarasala is suggesting that LW reply all, suggesting that the system is broken and Jane should be the one to fix it. “You’re the only one who understands it” is probably-unearned praise, but it also implies that Jane should be the one to do the work of fixing it.

      3. Joielle*

        I think it’s more of a plausible-deniability-sarcasm approach. You can’t be publicly shamed if you don’t feel shame about the mistake, you know? It takes away her power.

        1. Joielle*

          Personally, I’d probably take a slightly less “nice” tone and lean more on the fact that the system sucks and Jane should do something about it… but I think accepting responsibility for the mistake takes the wind out of her sails and is a good idea.

      4. LunaLena*

        It’s not really kissing her butt. Louanne Johnson called it the “bet you can’t eat all those carrots” approach – by saying excessively nice things publicly, you force that person to live up to those standards because everyone wants everyone else to believe that they really are that nice and wonderful. Johnson wrote about doing something similar as a teacher in her book, My Posse Don’t Do Homework – there was a disruptive student in her class, so she wrote a note to the student’s parents saying how bright and fun the student was. The parents were so proud of it that they put the note on the refrigerator so everyone could see, and the student not only stopped disrupting the class, she worked her grade up to an A.

    5. Chili*

      Yeah, if it’s truly this convoluted, I think someone in charge should talk to Jane about making the process less convoluted or providing more assistance/better documentation.
      Some research needs to be done:
      – What systems do other businesses in your industry use?
      – Is everything Jane is asking for _actually_ necessary?
      – Can someone build a workflow sort of thing that walks people through the process in advance?
      – Would Jane like to be contacted before purchases are made so she can tell everyone what they’ll need to ask for?

    6. infopubs*

      Another way to take the wind out of her angry sails is for everyone on the distribution list to reply-all with something noncommittal. Like “Okey dokey.” That might make her angrier, I suppose, but it’s a form of solidarity for all those who could potentially make these mistakes in the future. Shorthand for “Yeah, Jane, we get it that you think these mistakes are SHAMEFUL, but we are all doing our best here while we collectively roll our eyes at you.”

    7. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I made my own comment downthread, but to also clarify a point: Jane may not be the one driving the requirements. The requirements of documentation I need to collect are, quite specifically, driven by by audit and legal specifications. All of which are beyond my control, but if I process something without the correct documentation, it’s my head on the chopping block if it becomes a legal issue. Even when I clarify this point to people they complain I’m being too rigid. But the point at which I could be fired or the company sued is a hard line where you can go do your job or not get the products/services you requested. And I will not feel bad about sticking to that hard line.

      I realize Jane’s approach is wrong, but there may be really good reasons why those requirements are in place. And I’ve been Jane, though I think I was more reasonably terse in dealing with dozens of mistakes per day vs. one every other month. If I only saw a mistake every other month, it would be pretty miraculous.

      1. Avasarala*

        Sure, I have no doubt that a lot of this is out of Jane’s hands. But it seems like she has not made the consequences clear to her colleagues and is really hard on them when they make mistakes. If you expect mistakes then you can be more forgiving of them. Maybe at least Jane can make a manual or something.

    8. The pest, Ramona*

      I used to get those emails from accounting after filing an incorrect set of paperwork for purchases that only happen once or twice a year (so yeah, I was never going to get the complicated system right!). I finally learned to get ahead of them by asking for the specifics, in writing, ahead of the purchase. And even then got pushback for the way I submitted paperwork. I then was able to forward the email with the instructions (which I had followed to the T). It is the most satisfying moment returning that email to the sender!

  10. Don’t Be F’n Rude*

    Regarding #2, while I find FaceTiming for trivial personal reasons like you described to be wildly unprofessional and respect that this is annoying and distracting, I’m also really turned off by your read of this young woman.

    She grew up with e-mails, texting, debit cards and e-transfers. Writing paper letters and checks aren’t taught in school anymore. They’re less efficient and environmentally unfriendly. Growing up did you learn how to send messages by carrier pigeon or how to mine for gold? Or did you use the most up to date systems and technology available at the time?

    Calling her ‘incompetent’ reflects poorly on you, not her.

    1. Loose Seal*

      OP said ‘incapable’ rather than ‘incompetent’ and it does seem as though the daughter is indeed incapable of these specific tasks. I know we aren’t supposed to nitpick word choice but it does seem as though the OP might be justified in using that one.

      I suspect that the calls are more about the continuing relationship between mother and daughter rather than the specifics of what daughter is asking about. She could google any of that and doesn’t. Perhaps OP frame it as the daughter’s way of maintaining a connection with her mom, which can be lovely.

      1. allathian*

        Lovely, yes, but not appropriate at work. How does the mom get any work done if she’s FaceTiming her daughter almost every day? I also wonder how long these calls are. But it really isn’t a good look, and I pity the daughter. This is someone who’s supposed to be in the workforce in a few years, not a middle school kid.

        1. valentine*

          She could google any of that and doesn’t.
          Part of good research is knowing what results to trust. Does she know to specify country when wanting to address an envelope? Will she happen upon the pantyhose post here and still not know whether to wear them? (Don’t, but also don’t set them on fire.) Will Mom get mad if she doesn’t ask her or some other designated person?

          1. Quill*

            Hey, at my first real job I had to have my boss teach me how to fax something. Never underestimate the fact that until people have to do something, they usually don’t know how.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              My first office boss guessed I would never have done that before and asked if he needed to show me how to do it when it first came up. That was back in 2006…

      2. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I think it’s wonderful to read about a friendly mother-daughter relationship and how technology makes the relationship closer. However, it’s very distracting to bring so much of your personal relationship into work, and it’s rude to speak on speaker-phone that often in an office. That’s on the mother, not the daughter. How will the daughter know that the calls are annoying when she is far, far away and operate on an entire different schedule compared to an office job?

        That’s why it’s important to bring it up with the mother, and focus on the impacts on the work environment, not the skills or lack thereof of the daughter.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        Also, if daughter has to call Mom about how to do these things, then clearly daughter has occasion to do them. Paper letters and checks are not in fact like using carrier pigeons a few decades ago. They are more like telegrams: far from routine, but still a practical possibility. I never had occasion to send a telegram, but I like to think that I could have figured it out, had such an occasion arisen.

        The larger point is that real life is a mixture of older and newer technologies. Proficiency with both is a life skill. We are not good at teaching this to our kids. I include my own here. I very much doubt that my twelve year old could find her way walking from home to school, despite its being a reasonable distance and our town very walkable.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Kids rarely learn what they aren’t taught and don’t use. My parents were annoyed at me at 11 for not being able to give directions to my house when someone was driving me home (I could walk you through the subdivision but couldn’t explain how to get to the subdivision entrance), but it wasn’t until that happened that they started telling me what road we were driving on and how this road connected to that one. I knew how to walk to school, but that’s because it was in my subdivision and we were too close to get bus service and had to walk.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I made sure both my kids knew our address from an early age. If they got lost, they could at least tell the nice policeman where they lived. I am planning this spring to start walking with my twelve year old to the library, which is less than a mile away on Main Street, partly for the exercise and partly to start teaching her to find her way around.

            1. 'Tis Me*

              There is a huge difference between knowing your address, being able to walk between X and Y, and being able to navigate by car to X from Z because you know how the roads connect up.

              When I got lost by myself in Yosemite and ended up hitch-hiking to the rangers’ station, I believe shortly after turning 7, I was able to provide enough information for them to find my parents’ holiday booking and reunite me with my poor parents. I had enough road sense at the time that I had walked from one speed limit sign to the next one before recollecting that those are regular road features, cars go considerably faster than kids, and assuming I could just follow the road around to the picnic area I’d left my parents at was probably an ill advised endeavour.

              When I was about 17 and a friend’s dad was driving me home from somewhere, he was a bit startled to learn I could not provide him with directions. I could have walked home from that location, but I knew enough about the one-way system to know that you couldn’t drive that route… I think I went with the “calling Dad and asking him to help” option, since I knew where I was (luckily by then I had a phone!)…

              These days when people ask if I know how to get to X, my default response begins “Open Google Maps” – routes, how they fit together, etc, just don’t always make sense to me.

    2. Crush Crosh*

      I agree with this. College is also the time where a lot of people are learning this part of life for the first time. Judging her for learning how to operate as an adult at a time where one needs to develop these skills is really not fair. The FaceTiming sounds annoying but you and your coworkers are coming off as mean spirited here

      1. Betty*

        If the daughter is sheltered, then at that age it’s still the mother’s fault, not the daughter’s. Children don’t get to choose how they’re brought up. There’s a whole load of stuff I didn’t know I didn’t know when I went to university in adukting terms.

        That said, I am totally shocked that she’s calling her mother *at work* for this stuff! When I left home I had to beg my mother to explain how to use the washing machine before I moved out but I would never think of interrupting her *at work*. I remember once having to call my mother at work for some reason (I think I was supposed to be being picked up from something and my father forgot and didn’t answer the home phone? It was from a payphone and I had to reverse the charges!) and I had to have a big debate with myself about whether it was important and urgent enough to bother her *at work*.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Calling parents during work hours feels different now than it did when I was a kid. Twenty five years ago, we were calling the office’s business line. Now, the parents all have a cell phone in their pocket. I’m a grown person, but I’ll sometimes call or text my mom while she’s at work. If she’s got time to take the call, she will. If she doesn’t have time, she’ll call me back.

          The fact that these calls are disturbing the mom’s coworkers is 100% on the mom for taking the call at her desk instead of moving to a quieter area or saying “Now’s not a good time, can I call you back in a few minutes?”

    3. SS Express*

      I’m 30 and I don’t know how to cash a cheque. I’ve only ever received three in my life: one for my wedding, which I guess I cashed successfully but I don’t remember how (did my husband do it maybe?), one as a kid which my mum handled for me, and one for my tax refund which has been sitting in my drawer for several years because I didn’t know what to do with it and now it needs to be reissued…PS I work at the tax department now.

      1. Mary*

        I read this and thought, “wow, the US still uses cheques?” I think I see or write a cheque every 2-3 years these days! I’m 41 so I learned how to do it back in the 90s when they were normal–but I had a Switch card from 1994 when I turned 16 so they were never my normal way to pay for anything.

            1. Mme Defarge*

              I have a beautiful check (multicoloured, with a picture of the Statue of Liberty) from the US treasury for $1.35 as I slightly overpaid my tax one year. It cost more than than to post to me (in the UK) and it would cost me more in fees to present it to my UK bank. They have even reissued since I haven’t cashed it.
              At this point, my measly taxes ($21 last year, since I pay all taxes I owe here in the UK) are probably paying for them to send me notifications and checks and quite likely do not cover the cost of someone checking my filing.
              This is a reason all you fellow Americans should be supporting residency based taxation, which is what the rest of the world has.

                1. Mary*

                  Cheque is in dollars, Mme Defarge is in the UK. It’s free to deposit a cheque in sterling but you usually have to pay if it’s in a foreign currency.

              1. (Former) HR Expat*

                Totally agree with you. The idea of paying taxes in GBP then having to file the US forms, including reciprocity agreements, is ridiculous. Our US tax system is so outdated in so many ways.

          1. GYT*

            Not my experience in the last few years! I’ve had direct deposit into my bank account for at least four years now.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I could only have direct deposit if I had an account with the same bank my boss uses. This is definitely a his bank thing. My account is with a regional credit union. My previous job had no trouble with direct deposit into it. My guess is that boss’s bank sees this as a marketing tool, effectively enlisting their business customers to strong-arm employees to open personal accounts. I just get a check instead. Direct deposit would be more convenient, but there is an unmistakable tactile gratification to a paper check.

        1. londonedit*

          I know how to cash a cheque (I’m 38) but I haven’t cashed or written one for about four or five years. I think my chequebook is from 2009 and it still has plenty of cheques in it! It always amazes me how the US still uses cheques and people still physically pay their bills and whatnot – everything’s been direct debit for me for years and years, and we’re all about contactless payment let alone the old chip-and-PIN.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I still pay 2 things with a paper check – my property taxes and my cleaning service. Both list a paper check as their preference and all other forms of payment have a processing fee involved. I tried using my bank’s bill pay service for the property taxes but the payment stub is required as is the parcel ID number which is too large for the memo field for the online check.
            Other than that, everything is online of some kind.

            1. KRM*

              Yep, I write 5 checks a year–4 for the water bill and one for excise tax on the car (my mortgage company pays my property taxes). The fee for online payment in my town is still larger than the cost of a stamp. Otherwise I’m lucky to have everything electronic. I can even cash any checks electronically, right into my account!

        2. LunaLena*

          My LastJob paid in checks! It was a very small business and the owner was an older woman, so it was easier for her to pay everyone by check. She also felt it was more secure, since everyone’s bank account information wouldn’t be in the office in case a thief broke in or anything.

          I also still occasionally get mail-in rebates and refunds by check. Something I purchased from Old Navy apparently was supposed to cost a penny less than what I had paid, so I got a check in the mail for $0.01.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        out of sheer curiosity – why wouldn’t you, like, take it to a bank and go “Can I do something with this” instead of just leaving it in a drawer?

      3. (Former) HR Expat*

        It’s because it costs us money to transfer bank to bank. When I lived in the UK, it was really weird at first that everyone would ask me for my bank details in order to pay me back. We don’t usually give those out in the US unless it’s to our employer for direct deposit.

        As an example, I would transfer money from my UK account to the US. The UK had a minimal fee of 4 pounds to send, but the US had a $29 fee to receive the funds. Then i might have to transfer to my mom, which would be $29 to send from my bank, and $29 for her bank to receive the funds. So it’s easier for us to use checks.

      4. Sylvan*

        Huh? I’m 28 and have dealt with checks pretty regularly. You can Google it or ask your bank.

    4. MassMatt*

      I totally disagree. Barring disabilities, a college age person should know how to address a letter, cash a check, and know what to wear without FaceTiming mommy. During work hours, no less.

      Your analogy to carrier pigeons and gold mining is absurd, the fact that these are life skills is a given in that the daughter is asking how to do things an adult NEEDs to do!

      IMO the coworker is helicopter parenting remotely, devoting much of her day to micromanaging her adult child’s life. She has failed to raise an independent adult, and failed also to keep boundaries.

      Has this daughter never seen mail? Never noticed what an address is, or how it’s placed on an envelope? Or even thought to LOOK at an envelope to see how to address one vs FaceTiming to Mommy? This is a sadly sheltered child and the mom is at least in large part responsible.

      This is leaving aside her obnoxious use of FaceTime for this, basically speakerphone though often with the cringe-worthy addition of lots of “hmmm’s” “oooh’s” and “awwww’s”. It’s insufferable enough in airports let alone in the workplace.

      1. allathian*

        Agreed. I really pity the college student. Does she expect her mom to do her internship applications as well? What’s she going to do when she graduates and needs to look for work?

      2. DerJungerLudendorff*

        This seems needlessly judgemental for a situation we know very little about.

        For one, the OP never mentions anything about coworker making weird noises, that’s an assumption on your part.

        For another, denouncing the coworker as a failed parent, and the daughter as a sheltered child to be pitied is really condescending. You don’t know these people or what their relation is, only that they have regular calls. And cashing a paper check isn’t exactly a basic life skill that you can’t live without.
        Making such sweeping and frankly insulting assumptions based on that is pretty far over the line in my opinion.

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah – this is a lot. I’m definitely an adult (unless you measure such things by home-ownership and parenthood rather than age, wisdom, and a certain je ne sais quoi) and:

          (1) I assume that my mother can manage her own working schedule, and that it’s not up to me to guess whether she has time to spend on the phone with me – it’s up to her.

          (2) Asking your mother’s advice on what to wear isn’t being childish – the teenage stereotype is the opposite of wanting your mother’s advice. A request of non-professional fashion advice is a ritual gesture of fellow-feeling among people of all ages. It’s a way to connect – she presumably thinks her mom has good taste.

          (3) Some people reach the age of 18 fully able to cash checks, address envelopes, and dress themselves with confidence, while some can’t do that stuff, but can cook and do laundry, or organize protests, or introspect, or swim very fast, or treat others with compassion, or ride llamas, or de-escalate conflicts, or any number of other necessary human behaviors.

          Like, ideally you get everything figured out on an as-needed basis, but most of life is a learning curve for us all.

      3. MsSolo*

        I mean, I’m sending my first letter this week for literal years. I have a stack of envelopes I bought at university that’s still 7/8th full and stamps from Christmas 2003, because it’s really not something I use any more. And I did get taught how to address an envelope at school (though probably not in the way you would now…). It’s one of those ‘adult’ skills that you can go years between using – maybe it’s not carrier pigeons, but it is at least telegrams!

        I do think this is at the very least a result of helicopter parenting, that the child isn’t trying to figure these tasks out for herself first and instead leaps straight to “I have to ask mother”. Which is tragic for the child, but probably exactly the way mother likes it.

      4. Random IT person*

        It could be that daughter has some mental health issue we do not know about.
        Function well in learning / school – but not in a social situation etc.

        That said – daughter should have some support where she is – using work time from her mother is not the correct way – and mother should know this.
        Were i mothers manager I would address this – as this impacts her work quality / availability somewhat much.

      5. juliebulie*

        Exactly. I’ve been overhearing (unwillingly) phone calls like these for years, with various coworkers, and I’m stunned by a) how helpless these kids are and b) how much they stay in touch.

        Regarding b), I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I called my mother at work when I was in school. I didn’t bother her at work. Except when I needed her to pick me up when I was sick, whatever I needed could wait till she got home. Plus, I didn’t have Google to help me if I needed to know something.

        1. My generation programmed your VCRs*

          I’m guessing you belong to the generation whose children programmed your VCRs every time you wanted a show recorded? But it’s not ok to point that out, because it’s stereotyping, but you get to paint the younger generation as lazy, incompetent, and all the same.

          The VCRs came with manuals. How do you think the kids learned to program them?

          1. juliebulie*

            Um, no. I am the generation who programmed the parents’ VCRs.

            I am not painting a whole generation that way. You’re the one who mentioned generations.

              1. juliebulie*

                “These kids” = these kids who are calling their parents multiple times every day.

                Clearly most kids do not.

                1. My generation programmed your VCRs*

                  But the people who are of an age to be in college and calling their parents are pretty much all the same generation, with the except of a few people going to college at a much later than typical age.

                  And given you made no mention of phone calls you’ve heard between parents and children about other topics, yes, you are making a sweeping generalization.

      6. JG Wave*

        Yikes, this is a very harsh read on the situation. I agree with the above commenter who pointed out that it’s about fostering the relationship between the two as much as needing advice.

        Can the daughter dress herself? Yes, of course she can. But it’s totally reasonable to ask someone for their opinion on what to wear for a date, or a job interview, or an event where you’re not sure what the dress code is and need to talk it over.
        And for something like writing a letter—some of us just don’t do it often! If you grew up in a small town where you never NEEDED to mail invitations or letters, and all your outgoing messages for school/work were online, then it’s reasonable to be a little unsure. If you never received a check in your life, because everything was cash or direct deposit, then yeah, you’re not going to know how to cash one. You COULD google it, sure. Or you could think “oh, I haven’t talked to Mom in a couple of days and she likes helping me, so I’ll ask her and check in on how things are doing.” My mom loves it when I call her for advice on stuff, because it makes her feel useful and it gives her a bigger picture of what my life is like.

        Granted, she shouldn’t be taking FaceTime calls during the work day, but that doesn’t mean her daughter is an idiot for asking for advice. You can be a functioning adult and still not know everything—and being mocked for asking questions it is not conducive to learning.

      7. Mike C.*

        Man, I love it when I run across people like you who get so mad about people who have odd little holes in their personal experience. It really burns you to find out that not everyone has the same life for some reason.

        Do you get upset over the lack of cursive and typewriting classes as well? It’s a letter, it’s a check, get over it.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Fundamentally, I think the problem is that the OP is being forced to listen to this process, in excruciating detail. I’m not sure I could stop and calming think “Well, university is a time of learning” after hours of listening to someone being coached through adulting 101, step by step.

      I don’t want to know this much detail about my office mates’ personal lives. If they force me to know, there’s a good chance I’m going to get crotchety about the details I’ve learned.

      1. DerJungerLudendorff*

        Oh, certainly. The coworker should stop taking these calls during work hours. Either by switching to a silent medium, or by simply handling them outside work. What the calls are about isn’t really relevant (unless they’re a really offputting subject)

      2. Mike C.*

        You can be mad about the calls without going into great lengths about how stupid you think the kid is.

      3. Observer*

        The issue of mom having these conversations where everyone HAS to basically listen to them is a real problem. But all of the judgement about the daughter’s competence is just frankly ugly and ignorant.

        Asking an actual human being a question instead of googling is NOT a failure of competence. Believe me, I can google JUST FINE (and better than fine.) But it’s often easier and faster to just ask someone.

        Yes, mom should not be having these calls at work. But the content is not the issue here.

    6. MK*

      One could argue that asking your mother for advice is also an outdated system. Wouldn’t a person who grew up with the internet google stuff first? I am a lot older than that and that’s my first resource.

      1. Mongrel*

        It’s ‘learned helplessness’, they could learn how to Google but it’s easier to ask someone else how to do [this specific task] rather than learn the vague outlines of [task] that’ll be helpful in the future.
        The person has also learnt that many times if they do this the other person will get impatient\exasperated and just do it for them, this is often reinforced by managers who regard “I’m not good with computers, LOL!” as a valid reason to browbeat IT to show Petyr how to open e-mail, again…

      2. Daisy-dog*

        There was a video that came out years ago right around Father’s Day. It showed some teenage boys trying to figure things out from Google (tying a tie, shaving, asking a girl out, etc.). And then it showed them asking their dads. Obviously since the video exists, asking their dads was far and above the better option – better answers and it’s bonding time. Now they didn’t ask over Facetime, but I understand wanting to find some things out from your parent if you can.

        1. MK*

          I am not saying the internet has all the answers, or that asking your parents for advice has no place anymore. But there are situations where it makes sense to find out for yourself and others where going to your parents is more natural. For example, all through my 20s I went to my mother for advise on navigating social situations that were new to me, like what gift to bring to my supervisor’s dinner party or how much was reasonable to spend on a friend’s wedding present. But when I needed to book my own doctors’ appointments for the first time I went to the relevant website, that had more current and relevant information.

          Also, it’s completely different to ask your parent who is in the next room how to address a letter and facetiming with them at work about it.

      3. LTL*

        It’s no one else’s place to judge. OP’s coworker needs to adjust her behavior. Leave the daughter alone.

      1. Pepper*

        I facetimed with my father last weekend so he could help me make pancakes. Of course I could have googled it and found a million recipes, but I enjoy talking to my father and it gave us something to talk about. To me, it sounds like this young women is close to her mother and likes using her mother as a source of information before google. 

        It’s definitely inconsiderate of the mother to be taking these calls with other people around and OP should ask her to take the calls somewhere else, but it really bothers me that OP and some commenters are criticizing this young women just because she likes to talk to her mother.

        1. MK*

          If this is about spending quality time with a parent, it shouldn’t be happening during work hours at all. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to question the maturity of a 20-something who thinks it’s ok to call her mom at work for chit-chat, and even more so the person who hasn’t taught her child such a basic boundary.

        2. Joielle*

          That sounds lovely, but if you needed to make pancakes at 10 am on a Tuesday, I’m willing to bet you would have Googled it rather than interrupting your dad at work. There’s a time and place for family bonding and the middle of a workday is not it!

          1. Pepper*

            Why do you care about the nature of the conversation though? As I said, the mother shouldn’t be having distracting conversations around her co-workers, but it’s absolutely gross that the OP and commenters insist on criticizing their relationship and what they talk about. It doesn’t affect the OP at all.

      2. MOAS*

        Some people prefer human interaction over googling. I used to have that kind of relationship with my mother, asking her everything – no more. Nowadays, I would google, but I still prefer discussions, and human interaction, albeit through online discussions and conversations.

        With that said – sitting next to someone on their phone all day at work is annoying AF, no matter who is on the other line. I can’t imagine how any work gets done. I’d focus on that rather the “she’s a helicopter parent! how does kid not know to google!” – because those last two are moot points.

    7. Myrin*

      I think OP’s issue with these calls is that they combine several aspects which by themselves would maybe be slightly distracting but not horribly so. OP would probably find them less annoying if they happened in any of the following ways:

      – Daughter calls Coworker about basic things on speakerphone once every two weeks.
      – Daughter calls Coworker daily on speakerphone about essential things (like, say, updates on Coworker’s mother who Daughter cares for).
      – Daughter calls Coworker daily about basic things but coworker takes the call and steps out so that OP and the rest of the office don’t overhear anything about it.
      – Any combination thereof where at least one component isn’t given.

      But since all of these happen simultaneously, it’s IMO not unusual to kinda hone in on what you find mist annoying/irritating/entertaining about a situation. Like, I get where your impression of OP’s “read of this young woman” comes from but also, I can personally really identify with OP’s stance – none of the examples given are rocket science and even if the daughter didn’t grow up with or learn about them at some point in her life, she could very easily google them. I would absolutely roll my eyes about conversations like this, maybe unfairly so, but it certainly wouldn’t help my irritation with the loud calls in general. Of course there are several hypotheticals which would mitigate this impression the daughter gives off – she could have a disability preventing her from doing these basic tasks, her mother might’ve been super strict or even abusive all her life and actually demand these calls, she might just want to connect socially with her mother and doesn’t know a better way to do it, etc. – but in my experience, once you’re already at even slight BEC with a whole situation, you don’t stop to really care deeply for these unproven theories and just work with what’s in front of you.

      (And apart from all of that and like Loose Seal already said, OP said “incapable”, not “incompetent”.)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Well said.
        When I saw the word “entertain”, I thought, “ohhh, no.”
        I can catch myself being entertained by someone else’s baseline struggles such as coworker’s daughter is having. I don’t like that about me. I remind myself that someone else is getting entertained by my baseline struggles and how does that feel to me?

        There is not a lot a person can do with an on-going annoyance. Framing it as entertaining can be a coping tool.

        Another coping tool can be that one can also assume there is more to the story, because there usually is more to the story.

        I was helping my 80 year old friend write checks. She really was not reading the check, she was waiting for me to tell her what to do next. On the surface this does not look good. It looks like I could probably do this for the rest of her life.

        What actually went wrong was that her husband died. At the SAME time she found out that her house was in foreclosure and she had staggaring credit card debt. She had medical bills all over the place. She was emotionally wiped out. Her ability to concentrate was totally gone. (Did I mention her basement was flooding, her furnace was standing in water and both cars were broken and needed repair? She’s 80 years old! Yeah, this is way out beyond something one person can handle on their own.)

        So she needed me to sit and tell her how to write out a check. Each time we did it the process was new all over again. Profound grief does this, it takes away our abilities to retain information, to read simple forms, etc.

        I found instructions on the net. I printed them out and cut the paper small enough to put in her checkbook. Things shifted she just asked me to look at the completed check and make sure it was okay so she did not look foolish in front of others. We are a year out now from that dreadful time and she has not asked me about checks in months.

        We just don’t know what is running in the background. I knew as the pressures dialed back she would be able to fill out a check. I could see enough about my friend to understand that the check writing problem was temporary. An outsider would have no way of knowing all this.

        I think a smart move would be to just focus on the loudness of the conversations, OP. You might find out something later that makes you glad you went this route.

      2. Tired of Hearing It*

        Thank you. I am the OP and it really is the combination of everything. If the daughter needs to call to get coached through everything, I think we would ignore it. But it’s not a phone call. It’s FaceTime and it’s on speaker during work hours while she sits at her cube.

        1. Stormy Weather*

          I’m sorry you’re having to cope with this. I used to sit next to a new mom and she Facetimed her infant at least twice a day. Drove me batshit. Allison’s right. It’s the equivalent of speakerphone and has no place at the office. Coworker needs to deal with this better.

    8. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I’m almost 60 years old and send e-cards. I rarely address envelopes: bills are on autopay, and salary is direct deposit. Maybe I didn’t grow up with technology, but I embraced it. If you asked me to endorse a check now I might need some coaching, too!

    9. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      That’s interesting. You asked about the commenter “Growing up did you learn how to send messages by carrier pigeon or how to mine for gold? Or did you use the most up to date systems and technology available at the time?”

      It would seem to me that using Google is much more up to date than calling your mother. My mom was born in 1935 and I know Google has more up to date information than she does.

      1. MassMatt*

        Not to mention unlike carrier pigeons, checks are still a thing, or else the daughter wouldn’t be asking how to cash/deposit one.

      2. Avasarala*

        My mom was born a while ago too but she is living in the present moment, and knows more about my circumstances than I can type into Google.

        Why is this even a comparison? Pretty shocked at the idea that older children should ask Google instead of their parents. Next let’s ask Alexa to change diapers…

    10. Elenna*

      Yeah, this. The FaceTiming definitely sounds annoying, but it sounds like you think the daughter should know these things, and honestly? I’m about her age, and I’ve written maybe three checks in my life, and addressed about that many envelopes. It’s not unreasonable that she doesn’t know how to do things that she’s probably never or almost never done before! And Allison is always talking about how new graduates need to learn professional norms and that learning period is, well, normal.

  11. All Hail Queen Sally*

    OP #5: A couple of years ago, when I was on unemployment and applying to a lot of places, I made a special job-hunting email address of @gmail.com. My first name is not very common but easy to spell, whereas my last name is a scary looking German name with about three times as many vowels and consonants as it really needs. I didn’t want to miss any emails because of hiring officials spelling it wrong, because no one can spell it correctly unless they speak German. (For the record, I could spell it in kindergarden, but my teacher could not.)

    1. All Hail Queen Sally*

      For some reason, the post above did not state that my email was firstnamezipcode@email… (I typed it in brackets).

    2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “my last name is a scary looking German name with about three times as many vowels and consonants as it really needs.”

      Imagine the poor descendants of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, thought by many to be the greatest name in German Baroque music, if they had to input their whole name as part of an e-mail address.

      In this context, and in this context only, it is a good thing that the last surviving relative of Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm – Karl Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumblemeyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitz-weimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönedanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm – passed away over 50 years ago.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Over 50 years?!? I feel old now, even if I wasn’t quite born at the time.

        Also, I watched that episode for the first time last week – it’s on Netflix!
        (Also, also, …it’s “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”!)

        1. AGD*

          I’m thinking of French conductor Louis-Antoine Jullien, whose full birth name I can never remember offhand, but who according to Wikipedia was baptized Louis George Maurice Adolphe Roche Albert Abel Antonio Alexandre Noë Jean Lucien Daniel Eugène Joseph-le-brun Joseph-Barême Thomas Thomas Thomas-Thomas Pierre Arbon Pierre-Maurel Barthélemi Artus Alphonse Bertrand Dieudonné Emanuel Josué Vincent Luc Michel Jules-de-la-plane Jules-Bazin Julio César Jullien.

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

      I feel your pain. As someone with a East European lastname (and a not European face), I wonder how many job opportunities I lost due to bad spelling…

  12. Madge*

    More on #5: If you really want to avoid numbers, here’s some options I read about. Note that you can set gmail addresses to forward very easily so you don’t need to maintain/check these email addresses, just use your old one for the foreseeable future, which also means you can change them as they suit/don’t suit.

    – Something to do with your location: Jane.Smith.NewYork@email.com or Jane.Smith.Albania@email.com

    – Something to do with your profession: Jane.Smith.Writer@email.com or Jane.Smith.Engineer@email.com Jane.Smith.Steel@email.com

    – Something to do with your (bland) hobbies: Jane.Smith.Knitter@

    – Something more like a twitter name: Email.Jane.Smith@, Contact.Jane.Smith@…

    – Initials or middle names: Jane.E.Smith@, Jane.Elaine.Smith@

    – Last name first: Smith.Jane@, Smith.Jane.Elaine@

    You can stack these, but you probably don’t want to go too many levels deep or you end up with like Email.Jane.Elaine.Smith.Writer.NewYork@email.com which looks much more annoying and is harder to remember than Jane.Smith.1470@email.com

    1. Lena Clare*

      If you put 69 after your name it better be your birth year! (I have seen this plenty of times, and they were not born in 1969.) Full name and number is fine.

    2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “you can set gmail addresses to forward very easily so you don’t need to maintain/check these email addresses, just use your old one for the foreseeable future, which also means you can change them as they suit/don’t suit.”

      Does this work with Yahoo addresses too?

      I’ve had my primary e-mail for 20 years, something like pennycollector@yahoo,com. I’d like to change it to my real name, but I don’t know if that’s possible.

      Are you saying I can set up a new gmail address ironchefboyardee*@gmail,com and have all of the mail automatically forwarded to the pennycollector address – and would it work the other way as well, meaning I can send mail from pennycollector and the recipient would see it as having been sent from ironchefboyardee?

      And if so, how would I go about doing it?

      * For the purposes of this post, “ironchefboyardee” is my real name, but in real life obviously I’d use my true real name.

      1. Random IT person*

        Yahoo does offer aliases or temp addresses.

        That said – consider a separate outlook.com or gmail.com mail address given that Yahoo has crappy security.

        I had my yahoo for about 14 years – but since they do not block spam, have no reporting department that works – after that time i got over 120 spam emails a DAY. (Interesting subjects though – paints a rather bleak picture of the US)

    3. JSPA*

      If your new name is short, and you have no reason to distance from your maiden name, you could even incorporate the maiden in place of the middle, which will help to link references and work done under your maiden name. So,


      The excess length is (probably?) excused by the usefulness, unless it comes out

  13. Daffy Duck*

    Long time WFH here. Your manager is definitely slowing down the amount of work you can do by these frequent check-ins (how is he able to get any work of his own done if he is reading these all day). Good employees like to actually complete their work in an efficient manner, I bet he is ticking off a bunch of his best workers.
    In my current company, we each have our own thread on which we post daily. Mostly it is about work progress, sometimes it includes “The cat ate my headphones” or “Out tomorrow morning for appointment”. Anyone in the company can check the threads for project updates. We do have a couple of weekly online meetings to check in/trade info/training if necessary.

    1. MassMatt*

      I have to wonder what the check in procedure is for people in the office. Do they report what they are going to do each day by 9am (? what are the hours at this place?) and then report what they have done at 12 and 4pm? Alison is right, this isn’t managing, it’s monitoring.

      I suppose everyone inundating the manager with lengthy reports, and including “doing this report” on their updates could make him/her see reason, or at least let this go.

      1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Reddit has as sub/reddit called Malicious Compliance and it’s filled with examples of how this level of monitoring can go South fast.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      That thread thing sounds like a really good way of addressing it.

      Curiously, I’m being forced to WFH for at least the next two weeks and I’m finding that I’m checking in more frequently because I’m making progress so much faster than I would in the office with its constant distractions (I dont have children, or a cat, and rarely watch much TV any more – it would take a concerted effort to be distracted at home), so I’m checking in to see if my extra capacity can be used to help other teams. But I would imagine my experience is not the norm.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      That thread sounds like a great idea – my boss actually just started a Microsoft Teams site for us. Currently is a lot of furry coworker pictures and emojis but its social interaction without health risk. When the announcement came out, his one request was to overcommunicate but so far that has been a couple of Skype messages a day letting him know if we are missing any files, having internet or VPN issues, all good, etc… We’re in budget season and going through a significant reorg even before the pandemic hit so he is being remarkably chill.

      1. LunaMei*

        We are using Teams as well, and my boss set up a channel just for us, and I think it’s been great. It serves the same role as us just walking around the cubes and talking to each other throughout the day. We can still directly message someone, but often it’s helpful to have an “open” conversation everyone can hear because often someone has some knowledge that might help – we’re an IT team, with varying levels of experience in different areas.

        One of our VPs set up a division-wide channel specifically for cute photos/memes/etc to help with engagement. She started yesterday asking for pet pictures and that was the most lit Teams channel I have ever seen.

    4. LW #1*

      My manager is a woman. But yes, we are all ticked off by this. It’s been a tough two weeks with a new director starting and then us all transitioning to working from home. I’m hoping that the new director will take the initiative to create some better remote work policies, but we don’t know her well enough to know how she reacts to situations like this.

    5. Mockingjay*

      OP #1, try what your boss wants for a few days, then maybe suggest a change “for efficiency.” Here’s what my company does:

      For occasional telework (one or two days), we send a daily report to our supervisor. Email with bullets:

      Widget Project: processed 3 purchase orders for new cogs. Receipt expected next month, on schedule.
      IT Equipment Upgrade: Loaded software remotely on 6 machines. All working.
      Conference Call: Participated in call to assign tasks for new Llama Project. Assigned to Llama Grooming task to develop SOP.

      For full-time telework, we send a weekly report. There’s a form for this one which has the same info as the daily report, just sectioned for M-F. I fill it out at the end of each day, so it’s ready to send Friday afternoon.

  14. HBJ*

    #4, I’ve only heard to avoid transmitting your age by using your birth year or graduation year. But, that really doesn’t work at all. Is that number your high school graduation year? College graduation year? Birth month? Birth day? Birth year? Anniversary day? Anniversary month? Anniversary year?

    Is 01 when you graduated college or do you just really like the Dukes of Hazzard? Is 54 the year you were born, your age when you created the email or do you just really like Star Wars? Is 13 the year you graduated high school, the year you got married, or are you a Swiftie?

    People need to just stop reading into the numbers, as they frequently don’t mean anything or were just chosen for something fun.

    1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “People need to just stop reading into the numbers, as they frequently don’t mean anything or were just chosen for something fun.”

      True. Someone can use a number that has personal significance to them.

      One example: someone who has season tickets to their favorite team can use the section number where their seats are located – [name]122@yahoo,com.

      1. Hamilton!*

        I have an email with initials and Alexander Hamilton’s year of birth (or our best guess at it) because I’m a huge Hamilton fan. I’m really hoping no one thinks I was born several centuries ago based on it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Last I googled there were 40 something people in the US with the same name as mine. When I went for a gmail account under my name I could not get it. Suggestions popped up patterned like this: Firstinital, lastname, number, number. I chose the lowest number on the list. Now my gmail account reads, firstinitial, lastname, number, number, where the numbers mean nothing but to indicate that others are using a similar address.

  15. nnn*

    For #1, if you do opt to push back, it might be useful to compare this level of checking in with your supervisor’s normal level of awareness of what you’re doing. If you normally have maybe one conversation a day with your supervisor, you have a strong argument for this being excessive. (However, if you normally give your supervisor three deliverables an hour, this might be more reasonable).

    Depending on variables, a useful strategy might also be to talk about it like it’s a burden on your supervisor. Even if you’re not pushing back, you could say things like “Since we’re talking now at 11:00, do you still need me cluttering up your inbox with a noon check-in?”

    Also, it would probably be both strategic and efficient to make these check-ins as brief and rote as possible. “Today’s plan: llamas and alpacas” “Noon status report: llamas done” “End of day: llamas and alpacas done”

    If you can’t make them that brief right away, you could transition in that direction over the coming days. You know how sometimes you have to send someone 47 separate things by email over the course of a day, and the email is “Good morning Jane, Attached is the first llama report. I will be sending you the others throughout the day as we complete them. Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions” and the last email is “AAAAH LAST ONE LAST ONE!!!1!” Maybe you could emulate that natural evolution towards informality, and thereby make your check-ins faster and easier.

    1. Bostonian*

      lol These are really good points. I have nothing substantial to add other than a big thumbs up.

    2. Polly Hedron*

      I agree that it’s ridiculous, but I wouldn’t bother to push back.
      I’d write three very brief and very rote reports each morning, edit if the day doesn’t go as planned, and send them on schedule.
      The average supervisor will be delighted to have less garbage to read.
      Expand only if a supervisor pushes back for more detail.

    3. LW #1*

      I’ve started to make the check-in’s as brief and generic as possible. I’ve created a basic “morning” check-in that it just a list of my normal job duties. Then as the day goes on, I update it with the additional random things I’ve been asked to do. I’m also including if anything took longer than it normally would, “General communication with llama groomers (three separate one hour phone calls”.

  16. Willis*

    #4 – Did they fix the typo??? I probably wouldn’t email someone about that but I would totally appreciate it if someone (anyone really) alerted me to the mistake on my website. That’s embarrassing! And I probably would be impressed by your attention to detail. Now if you emailed about your opinion on Oxford commas or something more minute, it would probably get an eyeroll. But that was a pretty glaring error!

  17. tech perspective*

    OP4: Here’s some insight from a Tech perspective that might clear up why most companies do not care if you point out spelling mistakes on websites and application materials, etc.

    The recruiter you’re talking with most likely has no idea who to send that “bug” to and it’s probably very, very low down on their list of priorities. What might seem like a major issue to you may have already been caught and deemed low priority to fix from the development or QA perspective. Sometimes a CTA button may be hardcoded so it’s sightly more work to fix than changing copy via a CMS or authoring platform, and sometimes that fix has already been made on the backend and is waiting for the next code release to come out. Sometimes a small update like a spelling mistake is not as important to me as a major functional issue that needs to be addressed first. Or maybe the website was built by a third party and the company has no one to fix the issue. Maybe they’re going to be redesigning or retiring that page soon so don’t see the benefit of updating the spelling mistake. All of those are situations I’ve been in where someone has pointed out a “small typo” that they considered a major issue.

    Sure, it’s a QA or development or product manager oversight, but you’re probably not the first person to call out the mistake. I find the people who love to point out spelling or grammar mistakes are the people who like being right and reveling in their superiority.

    Point is, you’re probably pointing out something they already know about and have just deemed unimportant to fix because there are most likely higher priority items you know nothing about that are a better use of their time.

    1. MassMatt*

      I once tried to fix a really glaring error (not just a typo) in a client-facing website at a company I worked for. No one gave a crap, for many of the reasons you mention. I finally found out who was responsible for updates and corrections and was basically given a 9-step procedure including sign offs from several managers to make the change.

      That person probably things they won by their stonewalling, but the fact remains that they preferred to have a sloppy and inaccurate product as opposed to making a simple correction. That reputation follows them.

  18. Mookie*

    Re the hoops LW1 has to jump through, in a just world and bowing to the good and the bad innovations of the 21st century thus far, organizations that imposed these arbitrary, bean-counting standards on remote employees would soon be outcompeted to the point of accepting progress and adopting the new metrics and management styles they entail or going under for lack of talent with options (but I wouldn’t wish the latter of it meant unemployment).

  19. Yvette*

    Re #1. Can you make these check-ins as rote as possible? Have your own form, an opening sentence “Blank o’clock check-in” and a standard close with a list of bullet points in between. Keep an open note pad file and add to it as you complete a task. At the appropriate time cut and paste the list to your form and send it off. Create your 9:00 am to-do lists the night before and send it in the morning, or better yet have it set up for auto send. I know that you were asking if this was excessive and not for advice on how to handle it but you may be stuck with it all.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I think this is good advice though…obviously pushing back is something that would benefit the OP and their teammates in the long run but short term, these are great suggestions that will help mitigate the interruptions.

  20. Kiitemso*

    #1 really grinds my gears and I have the greatest of sympathy for this letter writer. I think at my work it would take more time to collate the information for 3 check-ins than the actual work itself. Especially if the list had to be specific, not general, like as opposed to “helped colleague X with presenting to a new client” it had to be “accessed invoice database for 12 different prices to help X figure out a price range for the project for a new client and discussed various options with X via phone for about 15 mins”. Exhausting.

    I hope the manager realizes this is not conducive to productivity.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yes same. I would add the time it took to compile these lists into the report of what you’re doing e.g
      – emails 20 minutes
      – phone call to vendor 40 minutes
      – compiling check-in update 15 minutes etc.

    2. Mel_05*

      do that., it’s such a time suck and it slows down projects because of constantly monitoring the time you spend doing each thing.

      I worked at a place where we had to track our time because of how we billed clients. but we were also constantly moving back and forth between projects. It really slowed things down when we switched to that system.

  21. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    The only time to proof read a prospective employer’s materials is when you are applying for a proof reading job!

    1. Beehoppy*

      I just did that! The posting specifically stated that if someone in that position who was proactive about identifying errors would be rewarded, so in my cover letter I mentioned a rather small punctuation error on the job posting, with the clarification that I was only pointing it out because they seemed to value that attention to detail. I got an interview! My follow up meeting is on hold due to COVID 19.

  22. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    In countries where schools are closed it is particularly egregious to expect employees to commit to inflexible check in times. Many of us will be squeezing work around informal home schooling, children’s bedtimes, and co-parent work patterns, so we’re more likely to be working at 6am and 10pm than 9am and 12pm and 4pm precisely. We’re doing our best and you will still get good work out of us, but the 9-5 working day is suspended.

      1. JustaTech*

        And the noon thing is extra obnoxious because that’s lunch. What’s more important to overall productivity, sending an update about the last 4 hours, or getting Iris and Topher their lunch so you can get back to work?

        (My work just sent out a big list of educational resources, so WFH employees with kids have a few more things to distract the kids with so they can get some work done. I appreciate the understanding of the reality of the current situation.)

  23. Phil*

    #2 With speaker phone calls (or a loud mouth on a regular call), I like to join in and offer my two cents on whatever they’re talking about, because clearly they weren’t looking to have a private conversation. They usually get the hint pretty quickly.

    I guess you could describe me as passive-agressive.

    1. Drag0nfly*

      I don’t do passive aggressive. Just come out and tell the woman to please turn off the speaker phone. Be polite and courteous, yet firm. She has no reason at all to subject the whole office to this nonsense.

  24. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    “I love that Frasier says ‘graffito’ since it was one thing where most of us would just say graffiti without the precision of speech.”

    I’ve always wondered what a single piece of ravioli is called. I don’t think it’s “raviolo,” but I could be wrong.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Well, now that you brought it up, I had to know.

      Internet says: “The individual parcels are called “pieces of ravioli” or suchlike. The singular raviolo is reserved for a single, large parcel of the same design, but is rare.”

      1. Never Nicky*

        Not so rare if you watch Masterchef in the UK, it seems all about the raviolo some series – although this year, it’s scallops …

  25. Rexish*

    #1 We are being let WFH (reluctantly). On infivisual bases we will see if we can work full week, individual days or none at all. There is no reason why we wouldn’t be able to WFH or make our own Schedule if needed to be in the Office for some reason. We also need to make daily report what we have done at what time. We also have flexitime but when wfh we have to work set hours. Fun.

    1. RUKiddingMe*


      People who are wfh are not on vacation. They are dealing with their piece of a global crisis.

      Employers need to trust people and not treat them like errant children trying to get out of PE class!

      Work will get done. If people slack off/screw up…managers can address it and if need be fire them.

      They need to *stop* treating adults like they are trying to get away with something.


  26. eh*

    To be honest, I don’t REALLY see the issue with number 1? Like, it seems annoying and a little too strict, but not really offensive…?

    1. Kiitemso*

      I don’t think it accomplishes more productivity and sends the wrong message to staff. Like as opposed to guiding the workflow with a list of priorities, it’s just monitoring which is going to a) take time away from the work itself to put together these lists and b) make some people over-inflate what they’ve done to make themselves seem busy and productive, as opposed to just trying to get ahead on their workload to the best of their abilities. A better way to manage would be to ask a team to prioritize some project and then maybe give a deadline, like “Can you guys have this knocked out by Friday? If not, check in with me on Thursday.” or whatever.

      I also think if you want to monitor work more closely that’s fine but you need to have platforms which are easily monitored without it disrupting staff itself. At my work the boss could technically look at the shared inbox and see how many messages we are replying to and look at our database online to see how many requests we have processed via phone or via that inbox, but generally this is not done unless there is a huge performance issue.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yes, my work uses a project management system and anyone who has access can see what projects I have, what I’ve completed, notes between me and others involved, etc.

        My boss is fairly hands off, so I don’t think he’s going through all that on the regular, but he does check the open projects to see how busy we are.

        On our first work from home day he did call to make sure everything was going smoothly, but that was more of a, “Do you have everything you need?” call.

        He knows I know how to do my job and that is probably the best part of my job.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        It would seem very strict to me. But also, what we do is highly visible to pretty much everyone who has access to the computer system. There would be umpteen complaints to our manager if we didn’t do our work, which alone provides enough incentive to do it. That and the prospect of being unemployed with 20% unemployment.

    2. londonedit*

      It’s not offensive, but ‘annoying and a little too strict’ is enough for me. It’s implying your boss doesn’t trust you to work properly and effectively without someone constantly breathing down your neck. We’re not at school, we’re grown adults trying to do our best to hang on to some sort of normality in extremely challenging circumstances. The last thing we need is a boss who will assume we’re slacking off unless we take time out of what we’re actually meant to be doing to compile lists of what we’ve done, or a boss who insists on calling to check in three times a day, or whatever. Bosses need to be supportive, sure, but making people feel like they’re being watched and monitored isn’t supportive, it’s demoralising.

    3. Project Manager*

      I think it kinda depends on the job and the employee. For a brand new employee who needs handholding, sure – it’s for their benefit as well as yours (I’m picturing more interactive conversations, not just an email). For a job where others are dependent on the output (I’m thinking of building hardware where first the paperwork has to get written, then it has to be approved by at least two people, then the techs have to build it with QA support, then the engineers have to test it with QA support, and fifteen different items are being built in parallel to support a major test next week), then keeping in close touch makes sense. (Although I let them manage that amongst themselves and trust them to alert me when they need support.) But for my job, it does not make sense at all to monitor me that closely.

    4. Mazzy*

      As a manager I wouldn’t do them myself and I wouldn’t have time to read them.

      Also, if someone had projects they started at nine and finished by twelve, or started at twelve and had meaningful input done in a few hours that means 1) they’re work is too easy for them 2) the tasks could probably be automated and I should be given them deeper problems to solve

      Depends on the type of job though

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        At my workplace, most of these 3x/day updates would all be “worked on project X”, send three times a day, rinse, repeat.

    5. MOAS*

      I wonder if I am doing the flip side – I was sending my boss updates 3x a day the first day. He got annoyed so I stopped it. Today si day 3, so far I just gave a daily check in but even that isn’t necessary I think.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      It just seems intrusive and counter-productive and, does anyone even read all that stuff? If yes, then what other work does this person get done during their day? If no, then why bother asking for everyone’s reports three times a day?

    7. Yellowstones*

      I don’t see anyone claiming it is offensive, so I’m not sure what your comment is meant to address? The OP asked if it was reasonable, that’s all. No need for the straw man here!

      1. eh*

        This is a disproportionately rude response. I think you should “check in” with your better nature a few times a day.

    8. Fikly*

      It’s treating your employees like children who will not manage their time and do their jobs if they are not being supervised in person, which is insulting.

      If they had to do the same check ins while working in the office, it would be different.

      Also, nothing is guaranteed to make adults behave like children faster than treating them like children.

    9. Hazy Days*

      I’m surprised that people are so taken aback by this – we’re reporting daily what tasks we’re prioritising, signing off at the end of a day with a status sheet, and then reporting in the next morning’s call with what we couldn’t address the day before and why. Rinse and repeat.
      I understand this is a fairly standard crisis management approach.

      1. Mazzy*

        I think that might work if you’re doing a series of smaller tasks. But my team is mid level folks doing longer-term projects. There aren’t daily updates. Actually, if there were a few updates per day, I’d think the person was only scratching the surface of the project or topic and second guess what they were doing, and start asking questions. In short, this can actually be a negative in some roles.

        1. Joielle*

          Yeah, this would be my main objection. If the work can be summarized easily, like “Finished seven X tasks, plan to do three more by the end of the day” or whatever, then fine. Annoying, but maybe useful for the boss. But for me, every single day would be “Continued working on the X report” and then a few weeks later, when X is done, “Started working on the Y report.”

          The only way to be more specific would be like “Worked on Objective section of X report… spent an hour rewriting a sentence to make it flow better… ended up deleting sentence altogether. Read some other reports to see how other people have handled similar issues. Didn’t like any of them. Started over.” I am doing work, but if I had to summarize it three times a day it would either be so vague as to be useless, or would take me forever to compile.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        What you describe is indeed fairly standard. What makes OP’s situation different is 1) they have to send another update at noon (after just sending one at 9) and 2) they start getting reminder texts at like 12:05 if they have neglected to send their noon update. What on earth could you have accomplished in three hours that wasn’t accomplished at 9 am?

        1. JustaTech*

          Personally I think the bit that’s really unreasonable is the reminder text. Like, if you’re still working at noon, or in the middle of writing up your noon check in, that text could make you feel really hounded.

    10. James*

      I think it depends on experience level.

      If I were brand new to the industry/workforce I could see a morning and lunchtime check-in, as new people often need more guidance. They don’t know what’s important, they don’t know what they should be spending their time on.

      Once you get further in your career, though, you earn a bit of trust. If you’re trusted to make decisions that can have multi-million dollar consequences for the company, or to manage staff yourself, you can generally be trusted to manage your own time during the day. Routine check-ins can be handled during routine 1-1s. Telling an employee that you don’t trust them to manage their own time when they are trusted to manage other people is going to come off as a slap in the face.

    11. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, I actually have a lot of sympathy for the brand new ED who started one week ago in the middle of this huge transition. It sounds to me like the organization is trying to create a lot of structure for WFH because they didn’t have it previously, and I would expect the number of check ins to decrease as folks settle into the new arrangement.

    12. eh*

      Thank you to the people who answered my question in a reasonable manner.

      The reason I asked is because I’ve been a remote worker for years and this is pretty SOP for many of my clients. Usually, they unclench after a week or so. Many workplaces are experiencing having a largely remote staff for the first time, so I think a lot of people are going to have the same issue. Kind of just wanted to say “hey, it calms down if you stay calm.” If you get high-handed about such minor irritations, you’ll only make it more intense.

      Shrug emoji, I guess?

      1. Joielle*

        I’d find these check-ins overbearing, but I do think you’re right that the OP should just go with it for a while. If they object, I feel like the boss would just assume they don’t want to check in because they’re not doing enough work/are lazy/whatever negative stereotype the boss has of remote work. OP should do it in good faith for at least a week, maybe two, and then push back (if the boss hasn’t dropped it by then).

  27. lobsterp0t*

    My work have provided a terrific couple of e-learning modules about telework and managing remotely. Let me ask if I can share

  28. lobsterp0t*

    It’s ridiculous. And it undermines trust.

    My work is transparent anyway – uploading progress as per normal to share point or teams should be more than enoufg

  29. Staja*

    I’m another person that still uses my maiden name for my email. I went from a very uncommon (but not unknown) last name to a fairly common one. When I got married, I just changed the display name, for example, instead of saying Staja Kotova, it now says Staja Johnson when someone receives an email from me, even the address would still be something like staja.kotova@domain

    I do get lots of (non-spam) emails for other people, though – that could probably be avoided by using a number or two in the address.

    1. Not Joe Smith*

      My maiden name email is constantly inundated with emails meant for other people. Some of them I’ll respond and politely say “hey, I’m sorry but this email actually isn’t getting to your grandmother…” Though getting the email saying “Grandma is proud of you” when I graduated from college a year after my grandmother passed was…well, that was a thing that happened. It was just a coincidence, her granddaughter apparently was graduating from high school around the same time.

      But there’s one where I’ve gotten signed up as the contact info for somebody’s rent payments and I can’t figure out how to tell them they’re sending it to the wrong person because it’s a no-reply email address. And sometimes the person is behind on their rent and not getting notices and I worry about them.

      1. 2QS*

        I occasionally get an email from someone else wondering who claimed firstname.lastname@gmail.com. As far as I can tell, about 8 of us exist. One of them (firstname.m.lastname@gmail.com) wrote to me once and high-fived me for having a shared cool name.

      2. KaciHall*

        I was getting someone’s DirecTV emails for nine months. I called in to remove my email from their account multiple times. They would try to verify that I was on the account after I told them I was not a customer and receiving someone’s email notices (including late payment notices!) It was so aggravating. Her name had one extra E in it, which showed up on the emails but not in the email address, and it wasn’t Gmail (because I tried to forward it to that address, which was invalid.)

        I will never use DirecTV after dealing with their customer support on this issue. Ever.

  30. Mel_05*

    I also went from an uncommon maiden name to a common married name.

    I continued using my name.maidenname email for a while – but it provoked a lot of commentary, whether at job interviews or at the dentist! I still use it for personal email, but I made up a new name.lastname.number email for professional stuff, just so I can stop the confused comments.

  31. Retail not Retail*

    #2 – I have the kind of job that allows us to take/make personal calls as they come as long as it’s not egregious. I’m usually doing medical calls so I step away from everyone. If it’s my mom, and everyone knows her situation, I will answer that anywhere. (It has yet to be an emergency but like why are you calling me? That scares the crap out of me!)

    My one coworker though – you’ll hear a brief noise and she won’t even say sorry or excuse me she’ll just shift conversation streams right next to you. Thankfully not on speaker, but it does take me aback especially when she’s somehow able to keep working. “So this is how you prune” chirp “hi contractor where are the tiles”

    #5 – I have my birth year in my gmail which I did not know was a white supremacist number until the last few years. I hope it is tempered by my HS graduation year vs like the year I turned 26.

    However – some version of your name plus a number (except 420 or 69) at gmail will always look appropriate. I’ve seen the emails people give when filling out loyalty cards or contact info for campaigns. Or once, notably, the anime fannish one a guy used for his money sending form (you don’t have to put an email down anyway).

    Of course as for how this affects hiring or not – if you submit your materials while standing on your non-dominant foot in mismatched socks and you sneeze, that’ll matter just as much.

    1. Ray Gillette*

      As birth year is such a common number to append to an email address, I pity job-seekers who were born in 1969.

      1. juliebulie*

        At least it is memorable! A lot of the numbers in email addresses are not memorable – one reason why I don’t love them, myself.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Meh, 51 seems like a great age to stop telling your hiring managers how old you are. We don’t want to give them ideas.

        A big reason why it never occurred to me to put my birth year in an email address.

      3. Jennifer Juniper*

        I wouldn’t do that. Why make it easier for hackers to dox you or steal your identity?

  32. Not Joe Smith*

    When gmail started, I wasn’t married yet so I managed to get firstnamelastname. My first initial + last name was already taken but that was okay. Then I got married not even like a year or so later, and every combination I could find of my first and last name was already taken. I had to put in all of my initials and then my last name, even though I don’t go by my middle names and never have. And I’m not in an area where multiple middle names is a cultural thing. My last name isn’t particularly common either, but apparently just common enough.

    The problem is my initials spell another similar name to mine. Like imagine if my name was Jack but my initials spelled Joe. It confuses the heck out of people, because they see my email and go “but I thought your name was…” It’s frustrating because I’ve had business contacts start calling me the wrong name because they made the assumption instead of asking.

    But what I’ve learned from explaining all of this to people over the years when they ask if my name is Joe is that SO MANY people have had this struggle with getting an email address that properly reflects their name. There’s a lot of people with stories about it out there, or stories about a friend. People get it, they really do. I agree that avoiding a birth year or something like that is good, though I’m not sure how I’d pick a number with significance to me.

  33. Not a Blossom*

    I think numbers in email addresses being unprofessional is really outdated. I remember those days but don’t find it’s true anymore. If large, highly regarded universities and government offices are assigning e-mail addresses with numbers, it’s fine for everyone else. Just avoid things like 69 and 420.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Yup. When I was gov’t, there were a lot of emails with numbers in them. You can only do so much when the standardized format is firstinitiallastname@govagency.gov and you employ thousands of people, not to mention the hoards of interns every summer. *shrug* Just don’t be weird with it, just like you shouldn’t be weird with the non-numeric portion of your email.

  34. Amethystmoon*

    #1 screams “we don’t trust our employees, and we’re only doing this because we have to.” Ugh, I hope they eventually change their minds on it. We don’t know how long we will have to be working remotely for.

    #5 — I have a common last name, think a “son” type name, and I do put my middle initial in my address. But sometimes even that doesn’t work, so I have to resort to using things like a 2 or 3 after it.

  35. AthenaC*

    #1 – This is … actually what I’m doing right now with my teams. We have a lot of work to get done, I have junior staff that need guidance but don’t ask questions unless I proactively check in with them, those same junior staff will spend way too much time on the wrong tasks unless I intercept them timely (probably something about the personality type that ends up in financial auditing), plus I need to give everyone timely direction if workflow / assigned tasks need to change. I won’t say remote work is “killing” us, but it does mean that we are missing the benefits of managing and teaching in-person.

    We have two short calls a day (per team, so as a manager I’m basically on the phone all day), where I ask each team member:

    1) What they have gotten through
    2) What they plan to do for the next half-day / day
    3) Any questions / sticking points (if so, hang on after the call and we’ll talk through them)

    As a result, all my team members are super productive (yay!), but I am not. So I’ve outsourced / delegated all my tasks as much as possible, with the support of my partners.

    So #1, I suppose it’s possible that the check-ins are excessive, but try to think about this from your manager’s perspective – if they needed to redirect you, how would they know without you checking in? Do you ask questions timely and does your manager know that? If your workflow was overwhelming (or your coworker’s workflow was overwhelming) and your manager needs to reallocate tasks, how would your manager know that without the frequent check-ins?

    1. AthenaC*

      Also, I did tell my teams that if they need to talk to the client, they shouldn’t feel constrained by our daily check-ins. I told them to skip the team check-in if they need to and catch up with me later. So I do think I’m offering whatever flexibility I can.

      1. Quidge*

        Ooh, but a whole-team stand-up/call/online meeting is so much less time-consuming than getting everyone to prep a written report! Completely different beast. Plus everyone gets social contact and an idea of what their coworkers are doing, not just the direct supervisor. Like, actual communication happens, and troubleshooting may even occur. Totally, totally different, and a great idea (my team just started doing a morning check-in today, just because it feels better to see and hear each other occasionally, let alone when there’s a management need).

    2. Anononon*

      Were they checking in that often on-site though? Unless you were constantly checking in with them in person, I don’t see what the difference is when they’re working from home. It’s not like just being physically near a coworker lets you know what they’re working on.

      If work flows need that much oversight and micromanaging, it seems like there’s a larger issue than just working remotely.

    3. Fikly*

      This is reasonable if there is a demonstrated need for it.

      To do it before the need is demonstrated is unreasonable and treating your employees as if they are not adults who are capable of managing their own tasks. (And frankly, your reports should be capable of this.)

      1. AthenaC*

        What I hoped people would take from my comment was that there are situations where frequent check-ins are not only reasonable but necessary. It’s not as simple as “Oh you’re checking in three times a day?! Ugh, that’s prima facie unreasonable and excessive!”

        I understand that may not be reasonable in your job, but hey- that’s why we all chime in here. Because not every job is like yours.

        1. Fikly*

          Your comment did that until you asked people to think about it from their manager’s perspective.

          If a manager is assuming, with no prior evidence, that their employees are going to deliberately act badly, or have a problem, that is a bad manager, unless the problem that would happen would have extremely critical consequences, and that’s a rare case.

          And really, the first step here, if it was really needed, should have been send over your plan for the day, once per day. And then only if tasks were not completed should more frequent check-ins be required.

    4. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Two team meeting calls PER DAY? That seems incredibly excessive and time consuming.

      1. AthenaC*

        On the contrary, I’ve gotten great feedback from the whole team on the twice daily calls from all experience levels. People are getting the guidance they need and the teams have been really productive.

        So sounds like your job is different than mine, and that’s okay, but it does mean that without understanding more about OP#1’s role, it’s difficult to conclude that their manager is wrong.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I think the mandatory 3x per day sounds
      a bit excessive… however, this highly depends on the nature of the work and level of communication required for the job normally. But if this is being done as a means of “keeping tabs” on employees it’s definitely too much.
      As a manager, you’d have to ask yourself what level of oversight they typically have in the office. For example, if you normally have daily meetings, you’d still keep that daily call, and so on. But I’d also try to be MORE flexible, not less so.

  36. AthenaC*

    #5- If it helps, there are plenty of companies whose regular email configuration includes numbers, for example to differentiate between Sean Smith (ssmith1@company.com) and Susan Smith, who was hired later (ssmith2@company.com). So numbers in your email address should be fine.

  37. Timothy (TRiG)*

    Re: #4.

    My dad is a window cleaner. Most of his clients are local businesses. On my summer breaks from college, I worked with him. I was once cleaning the window of a local estate agent, and noticed it was advertising a property “near the infamous Charleville Castle”. When I went in to get paid, I remarked, in what I thought was a friendly “just making conversation” tone, that infamous was an odd choice of word. The receptionist snarled back “You do your job and I’ll do mine,” and later asked my dad that I not come to their office again.

    So yes, people do react in unpredictable ways to this kind of thing, and it’s probably best avoided.


  38. Phillip*

    The funniest is the requirement to check in both at the end and at the beginning of the day. I get they are different reports, but still…what do they think changed between 4pm and 9am the next day?

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      It seems like the 4pm would be about what you got done on that day, and then the 9am one is a plan for the next day–so I do think they’d be different.

      To me either the beginning plan or the end of day summary are reasonable, and I can see justification for both though I would be annoyed at having to do both.

      But the mid-day 12pm check-in seems like the bigger issue–especially if they are being unreasonable strict about the time of the check-in!

  39. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    For OP 1, if they are inflexible about the updates, because sometimes that is going to be the outcome. I would have and e-mail format that you recycle every day, just changing the date and time. I would use a bulleted list and keep it super simple:

    Day 1, 9:00 update

    Will complete:
    – Cat herding equipment inventory
    – Operation plan for next budgie sing along
    – Corgi chorus final report, if time permits


    Day 1, 12:00 update

    Will complete:
    – Operation plan for next budgie sing along
    – Corgi chorus final report, if time permits

    – Cat herding equipment inventory: The catnip lures are running low. Need to order another 50 Lots

    Day 1, 4:00 update

    Will complete:
    – Corgi chorus final report, if time permits

    – Cat herding equipment inventory: The catnip lures are running low. Need to order another 50 Lots
    – Operation plan for next budgie sing along: Due to overcrowding at last venue, need to consider finding a bigger space; attendee feedback indicated that the ticket ordering process was onerous, need to review

    Day 2, 9:00 update

    Will complete:
    – Corgi chorus final report
    – Catnip lure purchase order for 50 lots
    – Review ticket ordering process for budgie sing-a-long
    – Search for new venue for budgie sing-a-long


    1. juliebulie*

      Oh, I’d like some tickets to the budgie singalong please.

      It occurs to me that someone has to review these thrice-daily reports. Does that person not have anything else to do?

      1. irene adler*

        This will end up with a bunch of reports not reviewed, or someone changing the rules to something reasonable.

        I’d be inclined to make these reports as over-long and as excruciatingly detailed as possible to spur the decision to the latter. But that’s just me.

    2. Reluctant Manager*

      OOH! Outlook lets you schedule messages. Heck, you could set up a whole week’s worth on the same day!

  40. MissDisplaced*

    #1 Having to report 3x per day during WFH is pretty unreasonable, unless there is something about your work that truly needs frequent status updates (quotas, orders, patient status or the like).

    I get that some companies are having a hard time with this WFH concept and feel the need to “prove” workers are working, but honestly, one Email check in per day really ought to suffice for that. Where I work, we only do a 1x per week written updates every Friday, due before our team call.

  41. Jostling*

    Having that many checkins as a requirement (with reminder texts??) seems silly, but… as a new WFHer, I wouldn’t hate the accountability. That’s what I’m struggling with the most – creating my to-do list and sticking to it when it’s so easy to get derailed by non-essential work tasks or home tasks. I would love to see a (my) company say, if this works for you, send in a brief plan for the day at 9, check in at 1, and summarize the day at 5. I could do this for myself of course, but the accountability angle does seem nice right now. Much of my company was already WFH so there is not a whole lot of support for those of us who are new to it.

  42. Rusty Shackelford*

    Pedantry break… does anyone else think “typo” should be reserved for describing actual typographical errors (i.e., you accidentally hit the wrong key) and not incorrect word choice?

    1. Quidge*

      ‘Slips’ vs ‘mistakes’, if you want to get user interfacey about it! I’d say a typo is a slip (right intent, wrong action), whereas using the wrong word is a grammatical or spelling error or mistake (wrong intent).

      Pedantry never takes a break ;) (though in cases like LW4’s, sometimes it keeps it to itself)

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Recovering English teacher here…

      Yes, it bugs me. But if we can’t get people to understand the difference between there and they’re, they’ll never understand the difference between “typo” and “diction”.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I had an English teacher who would specify “typo” (typographical errors) and “dic” (diction errors).

        This ended up being stopped a few years after I had his class, after someone snuck into his office, and… you know how this goes.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, normally I’d point out when things aren’t taught, but I don’t think this is a failing of the american education system as much as it is a “kids will never be serious and inevitably someone will vandalize Way Too Many papers to all say crude words” failing.

    3. oh you*

      Yes, I often have people who insist on treating typing errors as if I don’t know the correct word that should have gone there.

      Of course, the bigger problem is that those people insist on walking the marked up paper over to me and explaining each correction at length instead of just marking it up and sending it back.

  43. Impy*

    Apart from annoying you all day – which is reportworthy on it’s own – is your co-worker pulling her weight? How can she be while making multiple phone calls a day? Has anyone explained to her that having a needy child doesn’t excuse her from her work duties?

  44. Fikly*

    LW1: It’s entirely unreasonable.

    When I was hired into my first remote position, from day one, I never had to check in multiple times a day, I never had to give a list of my planned activities for a given shift, and frankly, for 7 hours of my 9 hour shift, no one was working at the same time as me, and hey, everyone trusted me and the world didn’t end!

    PS: If you’re asking if something is unreasonable, chances are it is, and the people who are telling you it’s reasonable are gaslighting you.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To your PS… I disagree strongly with making that a blanket statement. Sometimes we need others’ opinions for gut-checks (see: this comment section) and yes, sometimes what we see as unreasonable is seen as reasonable by others, for all kinds of reasons. Maybe by a only a few others, but sometimes by the majority. Don’t confuse “disagreement” with “gaslighting.” I would hate to live in a world where we can’t disagree with each other.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, I should have clarified. If the people telling you it’s reasonable are the people telling you that you have to do x in the first place, they are likely gaslighting you.

        If people with nothing to do with the situation tell you it’s reasonable, that’s a different situation.

  45. Mbarr*

    #2 – I won’t argue, that would be SUPER annoying. But, be aware there might be extenuating circumstances for why the young woman sounds “incapable” as you say.

    My coworker didn’t Facetime with her daughter, but if her daughter called, she’d always answer. Then, unless we were in a meeting, she’d usually talk on the phone in front of us. It was the same kinds of questions you’re hearing: How do I make change? What do I do about this simple task? etc. People made fun of the coworker’s daughter behind her back.

    Later, when I was alone with my coworker and we knew each other better, I learned that the daughter tried to commit suicide a couple of times. So needlessly, the mother was always in a panic when her daughter called, because sometimes it was a normal call, and other times it was the daughter having a day where her mental health struggled.

    Again, I’m not denying that hearing both sides of the conversation isn’t annoying. By all means, try to work with her to get her to use ear buds or something. But don’t make assumptions about what’s driving the calls.

  46. James*

    Re LW#1: One advantage of a matrix-style management system is that, since my manager is also one of the staff I manage on a number of projects, we frequently interact multiple times a day. She doesn’t need to ask if I’m doing my job–me pestering her about the work she owes me accomplishes that!

    LW#5: The company I work for assigns email addresses. We get to pick among 2-3 options when we’re hired. With 70,000 employees, there are inevitably duplicates. So the company assigns numbers–like john.snow2 or a.oneil3. Trust me, if it was considered unprofessional, the company wouldn’t be doing it. So as long as it’s within reasonable limits I doubt anyone would notice.

  47. Delta Delta*

    #5 – The only concern I’d have is if someone’s email is something like sarahjones1965 @ whatever dot com and it’s a giveaway that Sarah Jones the applicant was born in 1965. Seems like an inadvertent way for an employee to engage in a little age discrimination.

    I also think if your username is something like ilovemeatloaf (I’ve seen this) or kaydensmommy (I’ve seen this too) you might want to just develop another work-only username that doesn’t signal other inadvertent information and could also lead to various forms of employment discrimination.

  48. Jedi Squirrel*

    #1 — I have a passive-aggressive streak that would let me have a lot of fun with this. The more detail, the better.

    9:49-10:56: Worked on the TPS reports for the Smith account. Waiting for Dave from accounting to sober up from the weekend and approve the purchase of new self-sealing stem bolts.
    10:56-11:13: Poop break. Read 12 pages of War and Peace. The new high-fiber diet is working!
    11:13-11:48: Worked on the TPS reports for the Jones account.
    11:48-12:15: Lunch break. Made a delicious tuna salad from Martha Stewart. I posted pictures on my Instagram and the recipe on Facebook. Be sure to check them out! (I expect comments, lol!)

    Yeah, please don’t do this. It’s so unprofessional (fight fire with fire, right?). But feel free to think about doing this.

  49. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    Thrice-daily check ins…

    If you know where you’re at, or going to be at, maybe consider scheduled emails so you can keep your eyes off the clock.

    Today I am going to be working on Project Llama. I have a call booked with client at 10.45.

    Project Llama. Client approved pen design so I am finalising materials spec.

    4pm Project Llama – made progress today. Contacting suppliers tomorrow.

  50. Betty*

    #1 My friend who used to occasionally WFH with no particular oversight has now been instructed to send “a daily report” to his manager. No instructions on form, length or content. He’s just at the start of working out a very long multi-month notice period transferring critical skills/knowledge so just Does. not. care.

    He has elected to create a live-updating photo journal in the cloud documenting his day. No response yet (it’s only been a day) from his manager but I am just DYING to hear how they react!

    1. James*

      I wonder if you could use GoogleDocs to do something like this (only not snarky). Set up a GoogleDoc, send a link to your manager. Draft a schedule or to-do list in the morning, update as needed throughout the day. The manager will be able to see your progress whenever they want. Three times a day send an email with the link, saying “My status update is at the GoogleDoc linked below. FYI, I’ve given you access to this document, so please feel free to update if there are any priorities that you believe I am missing.”

      I do something similar with my D&D group, and it works out pretty well.

  51. Neosmom*

    about 5 years ago I was applying for an admin job and the posting had two typos and included a requirement of “Strong attention to detail”. During the phone screen, when asked if I had any questions, I mentioned that I noticed the typos in the ad and was bringing them up because I thought they might be a test of my detail attention skills. They laughed and said no, but thanked me for pointing out the issue. The online posting was corrected quickly.

  52. Policy Wonk*

    Is there a Post on good practices for managing teleworkers? If not, would appreciate it if Allison could give us some tips – both a “what to do” for managers, and a “what to expect” for employees. Thanks!

    1. Laura H.*

      Possibly also including what to do for people who aren’t WFH but live with the one who WFH. My mom WFH and while I think I’m doing ok, I could use a refresher on how do I properly respect her work time and how to support her.

    2. JustaTech*

      This is the training I’ve picked to do today from the giant list of HR web trainings. Not because I manage anyone, but to see what they think best practices are. (Not that I think my boss has done this training, and chances are good it was be … suboptimal.)

      If it seems like it’s any good I’ll report back.

      1. JustaTech*

        So, the “how to be an effective virtual team member” training said a couple of useful things.
        1) Have some kind of “social” communication method, like a group chat or slack or something.
        2) Try to have as much structure as possible if you’re working from home, including a separate work area (if possible).
        3) Communicate regularly.
        4) Figure out when you are most productive (energy-wise) and try to make the most of it.
        5) Schedule short (10-20 min) breaks every couple of hours and actually take them to prevent burnout.

        I’m going to do the manager one now and see if there’s anything else specific and different.

        1. James*

          I would recommend adding “Wear appropriate cloths”. If you work in your pajamas you likely won’t be as productive as if you work in work-ish attire. I’m not saying suit and tie, but, just, regular cloths that you would go out of your house in.

          Oh, and mute your mike during conference calls. No one wants to hear your dogs barking in the background (lessons learned on that one….)

          1. JustaTech*

            Good grief if only everyone would learn that step one of calling into a meeting (or logging into a meeting) is to mute their darn phones!
            It was an issue today.

            Heck, it disrupted a all-company meeting where one person didn’t mute their phone and was typing *super* loud and just ignored the CEO’s request that they be quiet.

            Of course an official business training isn’t going to remind us to put on pants, but it’s a good reminder.

            But if it’s a social/semi-social video conference, leave a little time for showing off pets. It’s amazing how nice that can be.

        2. JustaTech*

          So, the manager training (both of these were from SkillSoft):
          1) Be really, super clear about how you want things communicated (what’s an IM, what’s an email and what’s a phone call).
          2) Have agendas for your meets (please everyone!) and make sure you can work your meeting software ahead of time.
          3) Tell your team when you’re available and when you’re not so they’re not surprised if you don’t answer a text at 3am.
          4) Tell your team how quickly they need to acknowledge receipt of a an email/other communication and how fast they need to respond (I think we had a post about this recently).

          There was also a bunch of stuff about getting to know your team, how to do skills assessment and performance reviews but honestly I didn’t pay a lot of attention to that.

          I hope/some/any/all of this was helpful!

  53. Richard Hershberger*

    “A well-run place would appreciate it, of course, but there are too many people who bristle at having mistakes pointed out or would feel it was too know-it-all-ish.”

    Testify! There are two types of people (and in this case, by extension, organizations). One type hates making mistakes and would rather to have one pointed out than to keep making it. The other hates being corrected, and would rather keep on making a mistake to the end of time.

    The thing is, when encountering any given mistake, odds are the person making it is of the second type. Why? Because the first type will work to not repeat the mistake, once it is pointed out. Mistakes will naturally trend downward. The second type will focus on the perceived offense of being corrected. That particular mistake may or may not be repeated, but either way this person will put considerable effort into discouraging future corrections from the same source.

  54. Sunflower*

    #5 I’m not sure if this was already suggested but if your name is too common, how about something like Jane.H.K.Smith (first name.middle initial.maiden name initial.last name)

  55. MonteCristo85*

    Ugh, #1 sounds like a complete pain.

    Despite my reservations, my company seems to be handling WFH very well. Fortunately, my little group is a little more computer savvy than the rest of the team, and have all been set up at home for ages for one offs, and my boss in particular is doing a great job in protecting us from silly nonsense from above (ie the manager above him wanted everyone to come into the office on the first day the company started WFH measures, so we could “discuss how we would handle it” my boss conveniently “forgot” to tell his whole staff, and didn’t have them come in so he could just relay the info to us). I had to step in with my group and assure them they still had boundaries even working from home…just because you are home the whole time doesn’t make the whole day work…regular hours are still basically 8-5, don’t abuse your WFH staff. But over all it hasn’t been bad, aside from the timing of it (final countdown on annual audit, shoot me now). They’ve also said that we will “never go back to the way it was before” and I’m super interested to see what that means, because the higher-ups have always been very leery of WFH.

    1. James*

      My guess is the higher-ups will see the reduction in overhead and jump on letting people work from home. Think about it–if you’re as productive at home as you are in the office, why should the company pay for office supplies, rent on a large space, utilities on said space, and amenities like coffee/tea/refrigerators/whatever? They get as much work (maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less) with an immediate reduction in cost. This makes shareholders very, very happy.

      And in many cases the workers are more happy. With commute, lunch, and other breaks, office chit-chat at the end of the day, and so on, an 8-hour-a-day job can easily suck up 10 hours of your day (in LA my commute was often 3 hours one-way…). Working from home, an 8-hour day sucks up 8 hours of my day. That gives me a full 8 hours to be with my kids, to work on the house, to do chores, or to just relax and watch TV if I want. Maybe not 8 in a row, but still. The increased cost of coffee and internet are worth it for the extra time.

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        I recently interviewed 2 people, one who wanted to work from home for her dogs, one who said she needed to be in an office because her dog is too needy for her to work effectively. (We’re 100% WFH.) For the first person, it was the thing that made her take the job. The second declined for other reasons. So… It depends!

  56. HalloweenCat*

    Tangentially related to #4, what if the mistake in the job posting causes the requirements to be misleading? I ran into this with a job I applied for. The listing just said “Bachelors degree in {applicable arts-related field}. I applied since I had a BA in that field. Less than five minutes later I received a rejection email saying that I needed a Bachelor of SCIENCE in {applicable arts-related field}. Now, I have never actually heard of a BS in this particular field, but should I have told them they should specify BS in their listing if that’s the only type of Bachelors’ degree they would accept?

    1. Just Another Manic Millie*

      No, because if there isn’t such a thing as a BS in that field, TPTB will find out soon enough after they have rejected every single application.

      Companies don’t appreciate it when an applicant points out something misleading in their job postings. When interviewers were annoyed at me for not having certain qualifications, and I said that their ads did not mention that such qualifications were necessary, they would insist that the qualifications were mentioned. (But they weren’t – I saved every single ad that I answered, and I would check them all later on, and none of them mentioned such qualifications.

      And when I asked about health insurance, sometimes I was told that their health insurance was discussed thoroughly in their ad. No, it wasn’t! Help wanted ads cost a lot of money. Again, I would look over all of the ads that I had saved, and none of them went into any detail about the company’s health insurance.

    2. NotMyRealName*

      It’s completely ridiculous since the difference between BA & BS is arbitrary at best. At my college everybody got a BA except the nursing students. At our brother institution if you took a math class for core you got a BS, language got you a BA.

    3. Delta Delta*

      This is annoying. My husband has a BA in biology. I joke with him that he has a “biological arts” degree. he tells me that’s BS. Then we giggle. But he had to take organic chemistry (it was so nice he took it twice!), and I fail to see how the name on a degree named for a science can’t be considered science.

      Meanwhile I have a BS in a field that required several science courses, but ended up being focused differently. Amid the taunting I described above, I sometimes will parade around and boast that I have a BS and didn’t even have to take organic chemistry.

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      I would skip that ad and go to the next one. If the company is that careless with something that important and obvious, that doesn’t say anything positive about how they handle the little details.

  57. somebody blonde*

    Do not worry about your email address. Mine is somebody blonde translated to another language and I’ve only had one interviewer ever comment on it. As long as the email isn’t juvenile or inappropriate, you’re fine.

  58. calonkat*

    My daughter put Pi in her email address name. She’s in a STEM field, so it looks more deliberate.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      I know several science fiction fans that had a 42 somewhere in their first email addresses.

  59. Jdc*

    A mean old boss of mine insisted I account for every minute of my day and submit it to him. So i did. Every. Single. Minute.

    Actual tasks I listed include: answered phone, for glass of water, you came into my office to ask me about this list, went to the bathroom, ran to the store to buy tampons, ate a subway sandwich, updated this list (that consumed a lot of it.

    And then he never asked again.

      1. Jdc*

        I can’t say i would recommend if keeping your job is super important. Or perhaps important just to know your audience.

  60. George Clooney*

    It’s reasonably easy and cheap these days to buy a domain and use it for email. Either forward it to whichever email address you normally use or use a webhost or domain provider that also gives you webmail and use that. This lets you be as professional as you want and (IMHO) looks a bit better than an aol, yahoo or gmail account.

    1. Anonnington*

      I agree, and then you can make it look professionally spiffy. And you can have a few of them.

      film at georgeclooney dot com
      theatre at georgeclooney dot com
      television at georgeclooney dot com
      actinglessons at georgeclooney dot com

    2. Jennifer Juniper*

      Not everyone can afford to buy a domain just to get a more professional e-mail address.

      My cousin, who is in video game design, has an AOL account. If the Silicon Valley crowd can get away with it, so can the rest of us.

  61. PennyLane*

    #5 I screen resumes on the regular and wouldn’t think twice about someone having an email with a last name different from their current last name. I just assume either you got married or divorced and I understand it’s a hassle to try and change an email address you’ve been using for years. Numbers aren’t unusual either-we’re all humans who have tried to make an email address that got rejected- but yes, please limit it to 4. I agree about not using year of graduation or birth- but not just because of the employer; also for security. I just wouldn’t put that out there especially if you use those numbers in any passwords.

  62. RUKiddingMe*

    OP1: I’m betting that when they get overloaded with 3Xs daily updates from multiple people long enough they’ll chill eventually. It’s like a full inbox -all the time. Or…they could just be a micromanaging douche.

  63. Anonnington*

    #5 – I’m going against the grain on this one. I do think numbers in email addresses look a little out of touch. Not unprofessional. More like wearing clothing that’s really out of style. By itself, it isn’t bad, but it could contribute to an overall impression that you can’t really get it together. It looks kind of out-dated and sloppy, like you didn’t take the time to think of something better. I’ll restate that I would NOT hold it against someone unless other things contributed to that impression too. But why risk it?

    Easy Fix: Use something related to your field. If you have a professionally relevant degree, that can work.

    JaneSmithMLIS at email dot com
    DrJenJonesENT at email dot com
    JonKingDigitalArt at email dot com
    MikeBrown-HR at email dot com

    Sometimes, there isn’t an ideal solution, but it’s something you can compare with the numbers option.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I think a lot of numbers (e.g., johnsmith8646234) make you look like a bot, but two digits isn’t going overboard (e.g., johnsmith28).

      But yeah, john.smith.ph.d would work wonderfully.

      1. Anonnington*

        You see, if I see something like johnsmith28, I think of the late 90’s when email was new and that kind of thing was more common. It makes me think the person hasn’t kept up with all the changes during the past 20 years, or maybe they don’t use email very much. Because today, it’s so easy to do better.

        Plus, there’s so much focus on branding today. Today, most people’s basic digital brand makes them look more competent and accomplished than they really are. So if someone can’t get part of the way there, like if they have a clunky email address and no photo, what’s the deal?

  64. Senor Montoya*

    LW #1
    Here’s how our office handles WFH: Make sure your calendar is up to date. If you are in a (virtual) meeting, put it on the calendar. If you are on a break, or you are blocking off time to work on a project, put it on the calendar. If you are “in the office” so to speak, the expectation is that you will respond to email inquiries within 30 – 60 minutes.

    If my supervisor asked for a list of what I was going to be doing each day while WFH, especially NOW, I would do it. Why not? I’m already making myself a to-do list, it’s simple to share it. And also, I’m not his only report (he has 10), he may very well need to know if who’s doing what so that he can reassign work — if we were in the office, simple to walk over and say, hey, Senor Montoya, I need you to pick up New Task today, but not so simple when everyone is WFH. He’s getting all sorts of additional requests to do this and that and he needs to assign it.

    If he asked for periodic updates I’d be annoyed, but I would do it because again, not that hard, I’m already keeping track / checking stuff off the list/ adding to the list. And again, maybe he needs to reassign work based on what everyone is doing.

    I would say that for this LW’s particular situation, since there’s a new boss who presumably doesn’t yet know what everyone does, it’s reasonable to be asked for updates. The texted reminder is kind of obnoxious, but as long as there isn’t any dire consequence for being late with updates, I wouldn’t get upset about it. You could keep a running update in a google doc — put the initial report in there, and check off as you finish things. If you are about to start on work that will occupy you during the noon update, take a couple of minutes to update the doc and send it early. Or set up a delayed send. Or even, share the doc with whomever gets the updates so they can check whenever (you really do have to keep up with it in that case)

    And ALSO, since everyone is stressed out about having to do new things and about The Whole Thing, I’d cut everybody some slack and not get my knickers in a twist over annoyances like this. Have some patience and assume that people are trying their best under very trying circumstances. In particular, I would not send that last message Alison suggested. That’s not going to come off well. Unless you’re being asked to do something impossible or unreasonable, just go with it and try to be helpful.

  65. Stormy Weather*

    My manager checks in with me every couple of days since WFH was imposed, but it’s a ‘how are you coping?’ rather than a ‘what are you doing?’ We also have a team chat for general things. I talk to the person who reports to me every other day or so.

    I find most people get more work done when they feel trusted.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Your manager is doing things right. Good job, ST’s manager!

      I find most people get more work done when they feel trusted.

      Wow. Just wow. There is so much truth in this one line. I wish more managers understood this.

      Honestly, this is where most managers lose it. They don’t trust. And then they get the results they deserve.

  66. Kevin Sours*

    I’ve been managing a distributed software team for years now. One of the critical aspects of remote work I’ve found is that you *have* to put more effort into communication than you are used to. At times enough communication is going to feel like too much. But there is a lot of nonverbal communication that we lose in this environment. In the office I can hear somebody getting frustrated and step in to help — remotely I have to ask.

    We do a daily check in on skype with the entire team. Basically what did you do yesterday, what do you plan to do today? It’s really useful for keeping up with everything people are doing, to surface problems, and to dig in when tasks seem to be lingering. I find its critical to keep it low key. It’s not “prove you are working” but “keep me informed of progress and make sure you are getting what you need”. And policy is that missing one of these meetings is no big deal — just don’t make a habit of it.

    That said I can’t imaging three formal checkins a day short of times when we doing something specific that requires intricate timing and specific deadlines (deploying updates to production servers can be like that)

  67. Whoop De Doo*

    I can 1 up OP#1, unfortunately. My current company (who I leave in 2 days!!) is doing thrice daily check ins. Not over email. Not over phone. But with company-wide video conferencing. At 3 specific times, we all have to log into the Zoom with our cameras on, the touch base with one another. We are a small company (<20 people) so communicating isn't that hard. But I loose at least an hour out of my day calling into these meetings. It is just because our CEO is a micromanager and can't handle that she can't watch people working in the office.

  68. Dust Bunny*

    1. That’s bonkers.

    I’m working from home right now, too, in a department that can actually do very little remotely and basically piled all its neglected busywork together so we could do something, anything, while we’re all in COVID exile. My supervisor can’t see my actual computer activity but, if she cared to, she could see the shared files on which I’m working and would know that things are being done. That, and she knows that I actually do work at my job. I doubt she’s checking, but I also don’t care if she does. And I’ve also emailed her a couple of times about things we might want to address later. But I don’t *have* to do that, because she’s not a micromanaging jerk.

  69. Wondercootie*

    The problem we have is that our office is part of state government, and legislators have a tendency to think of us (state workers) as “low hanging fruit” for budget cuts. They already think we don’t do any work (one used to call us “lard bricks”), and hey, now we’re “working” from home, so we must really not be doing anything. I have to work my ass off to justify my team as it is, much less when they have the “privilege” of being remote. As a manager, I don’t like it any more than my team does. I KNOW how hard we work. But I have to document that people are actually working their designated hours (essentially, butts in seats) or some legislator will come along and say we don’t need them. /end rant/

  70. Narvo Flieboppen*

    LW3, I’ve been the Jane, before. Well, not quite that bad. A mistake every other month, is no big deal. I was dealing with more like a mistake every other invoice x several hundred invoices. My responses by the end of the month were incredibly terse and I sent a number of mass emails to folks who A) should know how to do their jobs and B) managers of staff who needed incessant hand-holding. Like, you’ve filled out 30 PO’s in the past week, how can you not understand what the Vendor Name and Vendor Address fields mean???

    I’ve been called out for the tone of my communications, by my upper management, in the past and I’ve tried to with some success to improve (thank you AAM for the advice here).

    But I can also understand living in that space where other people don’t do their jobs right and now I have to go fix it. Frequently while I’m under a hard deadline. And also, frequently, those people never apologized for the extra work it created for me. Or made any notice that they felt bad I had to spend 3 hours working late while they left on time because they took shortcuts and I had to clean up the mess.

    A lot of that has been addressed in my company culture, and many of the bad actors have been eliminated, but possibly Jane lived through similar and her mindset is stuck in the bad headspace where every error seems like a personal affront designed to undermine her ability to do her job. She does need to tone it down, for sure. Maybe coming to her from the perspective of ‘sorry for all the extra work we’ve created for you’ would go a long way to ameliorate it, in the event she has strong emotions tied up in it.

  71. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP2: I feel bad for your co-worker’s daughter. How the hell does a grown woman manage to get through college without knowing how to address an envelope or writing a check? I understand these things aren’t as common as they once were, but Mom should have told her these things. And Darling Daughter can’t figure out what to wear???

    I was never that enmeshed at that age – and I have Dependent Personality Disorder!

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Hey, I’m in grad school and I have never needed to write a check. I’ve cashed a few, and I could probably figure it out, but that’s one I’d like to look up just to be sure.

    2. Observer*

      You’re conflating two issues. Daughter sounds a bit too enmeshed. But, your “proof” speaks to your personal experience rather than actual general reality.

      My kids are all competent adults with their own bank accounts. I’m not sure that all of them even HAVE checks. And I just had to show one of them how to fill out a check – this is someone ~22 years old, and has NEVER had to write a check. Also, we don’t write too many checks either, so it’s just not something that comes up.

      My mother (in her 80’s) writes checks. My kids? Very, very little.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        I can understand the check thing and how to address an envelope.

        The thing that got me, however, was Mother helping Daughter decide what to wear. Unless Mother is known for her excellent fashion sense and Daughter has none or Daughter has Sensory Processing Disorder/something else, that screams enmeshment. People in my age group (45) would probably not have the same tastes as a college-age girl, nor would we keep up with the latest trends.

  72. Observer*

    I’m going to disagree with Alison a bit on the issue of point out mistakes – Even people who won’t bristle will look at you differently if you point out a mistake in THIS particular context. It’s different if, say, you are already having a conversation about the company’s web site and you say “Oh, by the way I noticed this error.” I would certainly be happy to make sure this got corrected. And although I would find it e bit embarrassing, because it’s a silly mistake to make, I would not thing twice about it.

    But if I got an application with that item (assuming that it’s not for a proofreading type position) I’d be wondering what interacting with you is going to be like. If you’ve every dealt with someone who is nit picky or ALWAYS manages the find the most minute mistake and NEVER is willing to let it pass, this is going to worry you. I mean when you are applying, you do want to put your best foot forward and have people thinking positively about YOU. Why would you bring it up at this point? (Again, there are clearly exceptions, but this sounds like a run of the mill typo that didn’t really impede your ability to understand the site.)

    Basically, I’d be wonder at your sense of priorities.

    1. Northerner*

      Yes! When I was hiring writers I got one or two applications that did this, and somehow the tone always seemed to indicate that they expected to be rewarded for demonstrating exceptional cleverness or gumption. It really is not impressive to have spotted a minor typo on some random page of a large website! Do not use your cover letter for this purpose!

  73. al*

    One thing you can do is to reverse your email and do Lastname.firstname. It stil works for me with new accounts as I have an unusual last name.

  74. ange*

    I disagree about Letter #5. Why give yourself – and a potential employer? – something else to nitpick? If you no longer go by the name in your “regular” email, it’s time to make a new email, at least for professional purpsoes. So if you were monica.geller@friends.com and now you are monica.bing and that’s not available in a way you like – go with m.b.geller, or mbgeller….or any combination that you prefer. And there are plenty of domains other than gmail out there (not AOL or hotmail, please).

    It isn’t a dealbreaker, of course, but just make your life easier and pick an email that reflects your professional name. Forward it to your regular email and then you don’t have to worry about checking more accounts.

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