open thread – April 17-18, 2020

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

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

{ 1,099 comments… read them below }

  1. Lena Clare*

    Struggling! Been off work for over 2 weeks (Just annual leave, needed the break and had some uni work to do) but am exhausted.
    Really feeling anxious about returning on Monday. I am working from home, like others in the organisation.

    I had a very mild version of the virus and am still exhausted, napping everyday etc.
    Just don’t want to make my workload worse by taking more time off, but at the same time feel wiped out and unable to cope?
    Any thoughts or advice?

    1. MissBookworm*

      Can you reach out to your boss/manager and let them know your concerns? Maybe they can give you some direction in determining what to prioritize and what can wait. Or if there’s anything they can continue to handle or delegate to others for a few days while you get caught up.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I agree. If you’re still recovering, tell your boss and work on a reasonable return plan. Your health is more important.

    2. WellRed*

      If this helps you at all: If you take the time you need to rest and get better, the process will probably be shorter and you can get back to working well faster.

    3. OtterB*

      Especially since you’re working from home, can you start back part time? That would let you start getting a handle on the work but still nap as needed.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Flex work hours. Work a couple hours, take a break/nap, work a couple more hours, repeat. A lot of people with kids have to do that so it won’t be out of the ordinary.
      Also try easing into it if you can. Feeling good Sunday? Tackle the email inbox (obviously don’t do this if hourly) so it isn’t so enormous on Monday morning. A little extra rest and self-care this weekend wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    5. Hazy Days*

      I went back to work swiftly after having the / a virus and am now back off sick again – I’d start with a half-day on Monday at the very least, and anticipate doing half days for the first half of the week if not more.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I think it is fine to take some sick time, either in half day increments or a whole day or two or three if you need it. From what I understand the COVID-19 knocks people like a truck/bus/tank. So if you feel fine if the morning, but you peter-out mid-afternoon, take some half-days off and rest.

      1. TexasRose*

        This year’s seasonal flu is also particularly brutal. I volunteer at a high school, and from December through mid-March (when we all started Learning From Home), the kids would be gone for a full week and come back just dragging. It took most of them another TWO weeks before they got any energy back. So: take your time, do what you can, rest up and allow yourself to heal.

    7. Beth*

      Recuperate! Convalesce! Take enough time off to recover fully!

      Your workload is going to have to be a separate concern. Right now, your health is the #1 priority on your to-do list. PLEASE don’t worry about anything else on the list.

    8. UK gal*

      I am having a similar problem, have uni assignments due soon which I am really behind on due to being ill and even though I am feeling better, crashing for naps, bad headached and get exhausted easily.

      Someone pointed out to me that because it has come after being more unwell I am feeling like I am better, but if I was like this normally I would consider myself under the weather. Especially given you took the past two weeks as annual leave not sick leave I would advise taking some sick leave, perhaps there are other staff with less work who could cover some duties.

      I think a key question is would you be going into an office all day like this? I notice when I overdo it the leftover cough appears and get some breathlessness and it isn’t wise to aggravate that again!

      The other thing that will help improve your energy is eating well. I’ve been channelling my limited energy into chopping vegetables to bulk cooking some dishes, great to eat now and then food left for when I don’t have the energy to prep.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        All of this, with “overdo it” meaning “climb the stairs twice in one day” or “talk for more than five minutes at a time”. Please be very cautious.

    9. Carpe Librarium*

      If your employer differentiates between annual leave and sick leave, consider whether you can swap your leave retroactively.
      – No one wants to use what should be ‘vacation time’ feeling awful, use sick leave so you feel less like you ‘lost’ your break.
      – it will help remind your manager that you were ill, you’re not returning refreshed from a holiday (they know, but cancelling annual leave and replacing it with sick leave helps them mentally process that fact)
      – your employer may have special leave allowances for people who get sick at this time, especially if the illness is CoViD-19.

    10. Lena Clare*

      Thanks all for your replies! I alleviate them I really do.

      I guess I feel guilty taking more time off, but I know I should do it for my health. Gah, why is this so hard??

      Here I am at midnight lying in bed unable to sleep because coughing.

      I think I’m going to take the advice to rest this wkend, then on Monday ring my boss to ask her to do a phased return and see how I feel. Half days could work – I’d be able to sleep in the afternoon and catch up on some of my work in the a.m. so it wasn’t too stressful going back full hours.

      Have a peaceful weekend all.

      1. MedLibrarian*

        People seem to be taking three to six weeks to get back to a sense of feeling like their usual selves with this virus, so be kind to yourself and try not to do too much too soon. Sending you virtual well wishes.

  2. MissBookworm*

    I’m trying not to feel resentful of all my coworkers who can work from home every day, when I’m forced to go into the office two days a week. My role is essential, I have to process checks (incoming and outgoing). I have two coworkers, who I’m their supervisor, who also can process checks. But because I’m cross-trained (barely) on all of their work and am the only one who knows mine (my manager—and backup—left the company a few weeks ago), I’m the only one in the office so I have to process all of it.

    I understand why. We’re an essential company in an essential industry (and I’m not just saying that—we are actually very essential). My company is limiting the people who can be in the office—there’s only 6 of us who are allowed to go in (and not all at once, it’s staggered). There’s also other considerations: Jane has health concerns so she’s not allowed in at all and Joe has children that he’s the sole carer for at the moment as his wife works in healthcare (and she’s keeping herself isolated). And I’m their supervisor so how can I not go in and cover this for them?

    I know I’m selfish for being resentful because they certainly don’t have it easier than me. I don’t want either Jane or Joe in the office, but I don’t want to be here either. And there’s no one else who can do this, but me.

    And I do feel resentful for having to do their work on top of my own, when doing their work is making it harder for me to get my own tasks done, but, again, I’m their supervisor so I should be picking up the slack for them, right? I ended up working extra hours (which I don’t get overtime for because I’m exempt) this week and I’m so exhausted. I also feel under-appreciated. We’re going on week four or five of this and neither Jane nor Joe have even thanked me for processing those checks. My company has, but not the people whose job it is to actually do this work. Granted, my company is not blameless—they’re expecting us to be 100% business as usual, when that’s impossible.

    I really don’t even know how to get over any of this. I need my vacation (which I had to cancel because of this pandemic). I have a day off Monday, but it’s not going to be enough and I don’t want to waste all my PTO just staying at home doing nothing.

    I don’t know how much longer I can do this without completely losing it.

    1. King Friday XIII*

      That sounds really hard! Since you’re covering some stuff for Joe and Jane, can you delegate something to them that they don’t usually do?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        THIS. If you feel guilty about doing that or if anyone higher up gives you pushback — phrase it as giving them a chance to learn the supervisor’s role so someone is crosstrained for YOU.
        Feel free to point out that when you were sick, you had plenty of time to worry about who could step into your role permanently if the worst happened. And lighten it by referencing the lottery. ;)

      2. Dust Bunny*

        The resentment here needs to be aimed at the company that wants “business as usual!” under bizarre circumstances, not at Jane and Joe who have *involuntarily* had this responsibility taken away from them. The thanks *should* be coming from the company, and if you’re overwhelmed, the pushback needs to be aimed at your own superiors. But this is the kind of thing that comes with a higher title/higher paycheck/potentially better job security because you’re less expendable. But you’re not doing this as a favor to Jane and Joe–you’re doing it because they don’t have clearance to do it and there’s no other option.

        1. Fibchopkin*

          Want to emphasize this. You certainly are doing lots of work and are understandably overwhelmed and frustrated, but you should really let go of the notion that you should be getting praise/thanks from your direct reports. That should 100% be coming from your company, and additionally, they should be offering you a plan for how they are going to tangibly acknowledge your increased workload when it becomes possible (ie, future raise, promotion, bonus, etc). As for the thanks and praise though, like gifts, such things typically flow downward for a reason. Not that it would be inappropriate for them to acknowledge and/or thank you for covering down, but many employees feel awkward doing this because passing along praise or thanks to a boss can land weirdly.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Or these employees have so much other virus-related stuff going on in their own lives right now that they just forgot.

        2. Mad Harry Crewe*

          This! Talk to whoever you’re reporting to right now and make it clear that something has to give, because you’ve taken on a bunch of extra work that wouldn’t normally be yours and also being in a shared space (like your office) is hella stressful right now!

          Echoing everybody else that the thanks and praise should absolutely be coming from the company, AND you should be getting support, as well.

    2. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I’m so sorry, that sounds incredibly discouraging! Could you reach out to anyone higher-up in the company to discuss some comp time, or something like that for when Jane and Joe are back in the office? Some companies have provided additional paid leave time for this time, and perhaps you could use it after the others are back? I don’t know if that’s feasible or not, but that’s all I’ve got for suggestions. Please take care of yourself!

    3. WellRed*

      I mean, I might thank my boss once in awhile for going above and beyond, but I don’t think employees should be expected to do so. That’s part of what being a manager is. It’s also not their fault you have to go in. Finally, did all the tasks you did REALLY need to be done? Do you need to step back on a few things? Have a conversation with YOUR manager?

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

        It isn’t their ‘fault’ the OP has to go in, as such, but it is due to their personal circumstances rather than anything structural to the job that OP now has to cover for them as well. I think some acknowledgement of that would be appreciated (or even socially ‘expected’) in this situation.

        1. pancakes*

          It’s not their choice to structure her workflow this way. The reasons she’s having trouble are entirely the responsibility of people above her direct reports’ pay grade. The idea that an “acknowledgement” from them would somehow be more helpful or meaningful than a better delegation system is very strange to me.

    4. Threeve*

      You are NOT selfish for feeling resentful. You’re human.

      And probably Jane and Joe aren’t terrible people, but not particularly perceptive either if they don’t realize that they should express appreciation that you’re putting yourself at risk when others can’t.

      If you can’t take days off, can you take breaks? This is not the time to feel guilty about long lunches and taking time during the day to exercise, watch TV, nap, etc, if it means fighting off burnout. Block time off on your calendar, if your office uses shared calendars.

      Thank you for doing essential work. Know that you’re appreciated.

      1. EggEgg*

        I’ve been seeing this anti-burnout conversation everywhere, and I have complicated feelings about it. At the beginning of this, our executive director was very “business as usual, if you need a break take PTO,” so I started taking two half hours of PTO a day to homeschool my kiddo. It’s working fine, but I’m burning through my PTO (combined vacation/sick time, 17 days a year) and am starting to resent that I set this up for myself instead of taking the unofficial breaks people are talking about.

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          I think you should look into the coronavirus family first act and fmla updates in the wake of the pandemic. I BELIEVE if you are having to take time to care for children because school closings you’re entitled to time to do that. You may be able to use that to change the way your PTO has been docked and change the way you’re using it going forward. Do a bit of research, then I’d definitely have the convo with HR if you haven’t already. If they’re any good, they should be on top of that.

          1. EggEgg*

            I’ll look into it more. I already went to HR once and was told that provision didn’t apply to me because I’ve been working remotely since this started, and it only covers people who are unable to work from home?

            1. Not an expert, but...*

              Not quite. From what I’m seeing, the FFCRA doesn’t require employers to provide intermittent leave if you’re teleworking, but intermittent leave is permitted if your employer allows it.

              There’s a lot of guidance on the DOL’s FAQ page which is here:

              Search that page for “tele” for lots of good info, including this:
              “…if you are prevented from teleworking your normal schedule of hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, you and your employer may agree that you can take expanded family medical leave intermittently while teleworking.

              You may take intermittent leave in any increment, provided that you and your employer agree. For example, if you agree on a 90-minute increment, you could telework from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM, take leave from 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM, and then return to teleworking.

              The Department encourages employers and employees to collaborate to achieve flexibility and meet mutual needs, and the Department is supportive of such voluntary arrangements that combine telework and intermittent leave.”

              Hope that helps!

            2. Meg*

              I…don’t think that’s true. Caveat being that I’m not in HR and am not using it, but our HR department forwarded it to us and said we can talk to them about our options. Our whole organization is working remotely and has been since the start.

            3. ten-four*

              That is DEFINITELY not true – my company has been remote-first for years and we have access to the Extended Family Medical Leave Act. There is a lack of clarity around the “intermittent” aspect, but our lawyer gave the thumbs up for taking either 12 weeks at full time coverage of 24 weeks working half time.

              It is definitely possible that your leadership is making different choices about what to offer, but there’s no rule in the act itself against using it for teleworkers.

      2. And another thing*

        Do you guys remember the letter from the guy who wanted his subordinates to thank him all the time? And Alison explained that it doesn’t go that direction. You’re the supervisor, you have more responsibility, and you get paid more than they do for it. You sound like you think you’re all peers and they should be thankful that you’re covering for them. You aren’t. You’re doing a job that only you can do.

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

          But OP is doing her own job which only she can do, plus the direct reports’ jobs for them in addition to hers as she can no longer delegate stuff to them since the work has to be done physically in the office (since it’s dealing with actual paperwork etc). They ought to acknowledge the impact on the OP which, while it isn’t deliberate on their part – is now falling to her to the extent of burning out.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            No. It’s out of the reports hands. They don’t need to acknowledge anything.

            The company needs to step up and understand that it can’t be business as usual and cut tasks or figure something else out. Including at least giving the OP of the comment a bonus or some kind of extra incentive for the extra work in this time. This is all on the OP’s management.

            Supervisors are responsible for extra stress, it’s part of why they are paid their higher salaries. Along with their higher skill set but also very much the extra responsibilities.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re the supervisor, and you’re doing some of their work. Time to see if you can have them do some of your work. Or talk to your boss and let them know you’re overloaded, so you’ll be de-prioritizing x and y. Or both. Your company is expecting business as usual, that isn’t realistic, and you need to push back.

      Also, to be blunt – you’re expecting a thank you from your staff for doing your job. That isn’t reasonable, and I’m guessing it’s a reflection of your stress. Just recognize it. You don’t have to beat yourself up for being human.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is a difficult time and I’m sorry you’re struggling right now!

      I have to gently tell you though, it’s not Jane or Joe’s job to thank their supervisor for picking up their issues they literally cannot do due to the circumstances.

      The company is who thanks you for stepping up and taking on more during this time. Not the people who report to you. This is part of management that’s standard.

    7. OtterB*

      You’re in a hard position and handling it the way it needs to be handled. Others made good suggestions about delegating or deprioritizing other tasks. For the resentment, would it help to reframe it as resenting the situation rather than resenting Jane and Joe?

    8. Fabulous*

      I would definitely push back on some of your duties that could be transferred remotely, or even deferred, so you’re not as overloaded. Do you have the authority to assign things to Joe and Jane, or is that something you’d need approval for? If you need a script, here’s a couple suggestions:

      If you have authority to assign your tasks: “Joe/Jane, while I’m covering your in-office duties, I need you to take over X and Y to alleviate some of the strain that’s been placed on my role.”

      If you need approval to assign/defer your tasks: “I’m having difficulty covering all of my tasks on top of Joe and Jane’s in-office duties. I can continue to do their ABC duties, but I need someone to cover X and Y. I’m finding that doing all of the above is not sustainable for me.”

    9. LJay*

      Honestly, as a manager I would never expect my employees to thank me for doing their work for them. I have the power to assign tasks, so if I am doing work for them it’s because I have chosen to and have the capacity to do so. Nor would it occur to me to thank my if he took on some of my tasks – he’d be choosing to for a reason because he thinks it’s the best way to allocate the workload. (Also, honestly, I’m paid more than them, and my boss is paid more than me, so I feel like I am being fairly compensated to do their work since it’s presumably lower level than what I typically do).

      I would look into what, if anything, you can delegate to them to lighten your own work load back to reasonable levels. Or talk to your boss about what you can and cannot accomplish in 40ish hours and see whether they want to/are able to pick up on any of the extra tasks or what they want you to delegate or what they see as something that can be dropped for now.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I think it depends on the situation. There have been plenty of times where I picked up slack at work because it was my job as supervisor to do so, because, say, they were out sick with the flu or some emergency arose, and I didn’t mind at all. There have also been times where I ended up doing someone else’s work because they were bad employees who left it for me to do, and while it was my job as supervisor to pick up slack, I was resentful at the attitude of “I don’t want to do that so I’m just going to not do it and have you do it.”

        1. pancakes*

          Sure, it’s easy to understand why someone would feel that way in that scenario. The problem, to the extent there is one, isn’t that it’s selfish to feel that way but that it’s misguided. Being resentful of a coworker with an attitude problem doesn’t resolve the problem, not even a little bit. The solution is to not hire people with a terrible attitude to begin with, and to find a way to get rid of them when it becomes apparent.

    10. CupcakeCounter*

      Time to reframe a few things:
      1. Did Jane and Joe ask to WFH full time or did you/the company mandate it because of the risks? They really don’t owe you any thanks – your company does but they are basically just following orders.
      2. Have you communicated to your bosses the additional strain this puts on you? At the beginning a lot of people were able to be close to business as usual but as this has dragged on its changed a lot. Let them know that because of X you have too much on your plate and need to reevaluate your work load based on the current environment.
      3. Since you are doing portions of their job, do they have enough to do? If not, assign them some of your work.

      Spend a chunk of Monday on self-care and really take a look at how much of this is directed at work, Joe, and Jane, and how much is anxiety, stress, and disappointment over your cancelled vacation and disruption of your life.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I would also task them with writing up procedures/SOP in case you get sick and someone needs to fill in for *you*. Take this time to address areas where your team is one deep and where cross training may be necessary. Even if you are the one still going to the office, it might help some stress if they do that and/or do anything else they are capable of while you do their job.

    11. NW Mossy*

      While I know it’s not much help in the moment, dealing with live checks is a huge struggle for a lot of companies right now. It’s certainly forcing my company to recognize how fragile key parts of our business are when they’re totally paper-based, and the wake-up call is pushing us to make changes we should have done years ago. Heck, it’s 2020 and we don’t even take credit cards! Somehow, I’m pretty sure our accounting department’s long-held love of paper and wet signatures isn’t going to survive this crisis.

      In the meantime, props to you for doing what matters. It’s not easy to be forced by circumstance to take on more than your share, and other posters’ advice to look for alternative tasks you can delegate is solid. Also, do you have an interim manager that you can talk to right now? That’s another avenue to help you understand what higher-ups think is most critical and realign your own priorities accordingly.

      1. Retired Accountant*

        The former auditor in me is twitching at all the discussions of live checks coming into the office. People, lockboxes! Talk to your bank. All kinds of options that don’t require checks coming into the building.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          It hadn’t occurred to me that they would NOT be using a lockbox for the bulk of the incoming checks. I thought this was about the percentage of customers who send things to the wrong place. Good grief!

    12. JanetM*

      For what it’s worth, I feel guilty about being able to work from home when I know that others can’t.

    13. Fikly*

      The more time you spend feeling bad about feeling resentful, the more bad you will feel! You are allowed your feelings. The situation sucks.

      I have found that I am much less derailed by negative feelings when I can go, ok I feel this way, it is valid, now what can I do to cope?

    14. pancakes*

      It sounds like your resentment is entirely misdirected. Why aim it at subordinate employees who played no role in setting up your company this way rather than the higher-ups who didn’t / can’t see the obvious problems with you being the only person who’s trained to do all this work? Even if they thanked you for doing your job—and I can’t see why they would or should—your workload wouldn’t thereby be lessened or restructured. That’s what needs to happen here.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      Can Jane and Joe take on some more of your tasks that can be done in a WFH capacity? That might free you a bit more so that you can go in and process checks without having other things on top of that if they could be done from home. You should not feel bad to delegate a few of those things to Jane and Joe if you need to.
      As for the going in: yeah, that sucks. But I can also see why it has to done, and why is has to be you and not Jane or Joe, because you’re the manager and that usually comes with the responsibility of opening/locking up the office. On days you do have to go in to process checks, I’d make it clear that this is ALL you will be able to accomplish that day. In other words, don’t come home and then start working again.

    16. LGC*

      Like…I don’t think that’s selfish to feel a bit burdened by it. One of the things I’ve seen a lot of is that it’s okay to mourn your own hardships. You’re allowed to feel exhausted and burdened!

      I’m pretty much in agreement with King Friday XIII and that thread – it shouldn’t be on your direct reports to thank you, and it should be on your company (either by putting you in line for a promotion or a pay raise, or by otherwise upping your compensation). And you should probably not be doing “your entire job + Joe’s and Jane’s.” If you can shift some of your work around to both of them – and allow Joe especially some flexibility in getting it done, as his wife is a first responder – that would go a long way in relieving the pressure on you.

    17. not that kind of Doctor*

      I can 100% relate to this – I’m also the manager who knows both my team members’ jobs, and the one who’s least at risk/massively inconvenienced by going into the office. I too really want some time off but don’t want to waste PTO just sitting around the house. Also there are things I do that no one else can do, so I’m not sure how disconnected I can even get. Oh, and I’m getting a pay cut at the end of the month. :-/

      It helps to remember I’d rather have my circumstances, including going into the office, than theirs: one has a sickly child AND a sickly parent, and the other has bad internet, a news-addicted survivalist partner, and just had to put her beloved dog down. Still, though, a lot of the last 5 weeks has really, really sucked with no end in sight. I do my best; breathe, cry, sleep, eat ice cream, sit in the sun, and try to believe, somehow, we’ll get through this.

      Best of luck to you.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I took three days off to “just sit around the house” a few weeks ago and it was *crucial* to my emotional stability and coming to grips with everything. I highly recommend that you reframe it as taking a few days off to decompress, take care of yourself, and figure out how your life works now that everything is upside down. And make it clear to your team that you are turning off your computer/phone and won’t be available again until your first day back.

        What would they do if you went on a camping trip? What would they do if you got seriously ill? Your team would make it work, and if they couldn’t – that’s on your management team, not on you.

        …And take those days off before the end of the month, while you’re still being paid your regular wage. Stick it to the man!

    18. RagingADHD*

      This isn’t the kind of thing any of us “get over.” We get through.

      Of course you feel resentful, etc. Those are normal feelings to have. It’s not because your subordinates — or the people who need your essential services for that matter — did anything wrong.

      It’s because this entire situation profoundly sucks. The fact that it sucks for everyone differently doesn’t mitigate how much it sucks for each of us personally.

      You don’t have to “do” anything with these feelings. You don’t have to suppress them, or justify them, or try to ignore them. They are there, for good reason.

      Try to get the rest you need and see if you can swap out some tasks as mentioned before. And give yourself permission to feel however. Your feelings aren’t harming Jane & Joe. They never even have to know.

      Don’t beat yourself up. Your feelings are not a math equation to solve. They are weather. They feel bad right now. Get through as best you can, and they will be different later.

    19. Dancing Otter*

      So, if Joe and Jane can’t do checks right now – and I’m not arguing that they could or should – what ARE they doing? If they are not working, are they taking PTO? Are they on furlough? Laid off with the expectation of re-hiring?
      You need to figure out what absolutely, positively has to get done to keep the wheels turning. Depositing checks is certainly high on that list. But does applying those receipts have to be done in the physical office? The remittance advices are scanned into your document management or A/R system anyway, right? Can they be accessed remotely for processing against receivables?
      Could vendor payments be run less often? Could the input be done remotely by Jane and Joe? Could some of the reporting be handed off to one of your subordinates, or someone else?
      A lot of places are cutting corners on segregation of duties right now for lack of headcount. Maybe you need to talk to Internal Audit about that.
      Figure out what you yourself really and truly have to do in the office, and how much time it should take. Talk to your boss about what can and cannot be accomplished in reasonable working hours.
      Exhaustion makes the body more vulnerable to disease, even apart from the added risk of going to the office right now. What would the company do if you got sick, had a heart attack, fell asleep at the wheel?

    20. Pennyworth*

      If you are the ony person who knows how to do certain tasks can you remotely train someone as your backup and to also come in and do some of the work? Your situation sounds so difficult.

    21. Caroline Bowman*

      Have you communicated the reality of the situation to your management? I can well understand how the situation has arisen, by a confluence of different things, none of them foreseen and no one’s ”fault”, but equally not your fault either.

      Of course you are not complaining about doing some extra, covering and helping out, but it’s the endlessness, all of it unpaid, that is grinding you down.

      Get hold of whoever is most appropriate and explain all this, that you are now at the very end of your rope and are going to need some help and will not be in a position to work later than X each day, particularly without some compensation for doing what sounds like it’s right outside your remit, and how can they adjust the load more fairly please and thank you?

      Some stuff will have to slide. You cannot be responsible for keeping the company going at full speed when you’re effectively doing it alone mostly. If you got sick – and you might, with anything, not just Covid-19, what then?

  3. Living Room HR*

    Does anybody have experience with having remote office hours? I work in a small HR department and with the shift to being fully remote, we want to make sure employees have a range of options for reaching out if they have questions. We could create an open meeting invite and hang out in the meeting ‘room’, but would likely need to peel off for 1:1 conversations. We could invite people to just send us a meeting invite during that window, but honestly that’s no different than any other time and I’d hate for people to think that they could only catch us on questions during that designated time. How can we make this both practical and accessible? Thanks!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      How do the office hours usually work when it’s not remote? Do you literally sit in an office, and anyone can walk in? Even then, I’d assume if someone walked in, you’d close the door, so if someone else showed up, that person would have to wait, right?

      We could invite people to just send us a meeting invite during that window, but honestly that’s no different than any other time and I’d hate for people to think that they could only catch us on questions during that designated time.

      I think this might actually be the best option. If that’s no different from any other time, maybe office hours just get put on hold until remote work stops?

      1. Living Room HR*

        We didn’t have office hours pre-covid, this is a new thing we’re looking at adding. In the past people would just come by our desks if they had questions (or send a chat or email, both of which are also still options).

        But some of the feedback that we’re getting is that people aren’t sure where to go with their covid questions, so we’re trying to create as many mechanisms as possible.

        1. Bex*

          This jumped out at me – that they don’t know where to go. I know it’s some work, but any way you could do a company survey asking for their questions, and then create an intranet site or share point page that answers the most frequent, along with guides to who would do what? (Ie, “for extended time off requests, please email your manager and hr”, “for extended leave options, please contact Susie”, etc)

        2. Kage*

          If people aren’t sure where to go with COVID questions, I would recommend fewer mechanisms than more. More options would probably just lead to more confusion. Could you create a COVID email address (like COVID@xxx..) that they could send questions to which you then respond with a phone call/zoom/email/etc. as appropriate based on what was being asked?

          That would also give you a chance to maybe collect common questions to maybe generate a help-spot… And them maybe that COVID email address could be used to send out any office-wide announcements/updates related to the virus…

      2. CL Cox*

        I agree. The only exception I can think of would be if employees were working in shifts or something or if the managers were rarely available due to their own work or meetings or something. In those cases, there might be value in setting aside a certain amount of time each week where you don’;t schedule anything else and employees know they can reach you with questions or concerns. If it’s something a manager feels to be discussed more in-depth, they can schedule a meeting,

        Even before COVID, my boss shared her calendar with me, but she often had things she didn’t put in there, so it was hard to answer staff and others when they wanted to know when they could reach her.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think if you use Jitsi, you could post “If the room asks you for a password, I am meeting with one of your coworkers. Please act as if you came to my door and it was closed, and try again later, or we can schedule an appointment for another time.” Then you can start a meeting room withOUT a password, but when the first person joins you can add one. I think that would work, but I haven’t tried it yet. This might work with other meeting sites/software, too, but I’ve been using Jitsi more than anything else lately.

      (Jitsi is free, open-source meeting software. There’s no downloading required for a browser, but there are phone apps. I’ve been using it myself and it’s OK. Definitely a good free choice, if your company doesn’t have licensed software to do this.)

      1. Living Room HR*

        Ooh, I really like that idea. We don’t use Jitsi and have pretty strict security protocols on what software we can use, but I can get with IT to see if we might be able to do something comparable with the tools we do have.

        1. OtterB*

          I think you could do something similar in Zoom using the feature that has attendees in a waiting room until the host lets them in.

          Or maybe set up online open hours that are specifically for general questions about covid that aren’t necessarily private (eg what’s the policy about this) and let there be multiple people, while asking them to set up an individual meeting if they have an individual question?

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            This was my thought as well. Just be clear in the announcement – “this is going to be an ‘open door’ time, so we’d like to focus on general questions – if you’re curious, it’s likely your coworkers are as well! If you have a specific situation to discuss privately, please don’t hesitate to add a 30 minute meeting on our calendars. Jane, Fergus, and I are always happy to help.”

            Since people are likely to drop in and out of office hours, it could also be good to keep a list of questions and republish them in an email for everyone to see.

            Two other options that my company uses:
            – Have an “HR questions” channel in your chat, so people can reference past answers and see questions/answers asynchronously
            – Send out a survey (google survey or surveymonkey, etc) that just has an open text box for submitting questions. Then answer publicly, either by email or during a meeting. This is nice because you can set it up to be anonymous, so people may feel more comfortable asking difficult questions.

        2. Defective Jedi*

          We’ve had good results in similar situations with Breakout Rooms, which are available in many conferencing tools. It needs some behind-the-scenes jiggering and planning, but can work well if you want to step into a virtual separate room for a private conversation, while leaving the main room available, with a message posted to hang tight and someone will be back with you. Pro tip: have yourself set up on two devices so one can remain the host and one can step out without causing chaos.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      While ours has a mailbox where you can send a request at any time, they also have open hours of 11-4 two days a week where anyone can stop in (to see the one person in the office) or call and expect someone will answer the phone. We are encouraged to alert them of the issue by e-mail beforehand so they are prepared with the right forms, or answer to the questions you have. As I understand it, for the most part they are doing everything electronically, but this allows those with sensitive issues the ability to talk to someone.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        We have a chat feature that I’ve found is really useful. If I need to talk to HR it’s generally a really easy question that seems like it takes more time to type into an email or too much hassle to call. Chat is just the right communication for a quick question.

    4. MedievalProf*

      I am a professor and I have been running remote office hours for my students. Zoom has a waiting room feature that allows you to admit people one-by-one. Technologically, it works well. But I will say that my attendance at virtual office hours is maybe 10% of what I used to get in my actual office…

    5. Isolation Museum Visitor*

      Our office uses Google Apps for Enterprise, so our HR dept reps use Appointment slots in Google Calendar for each rep. I’ve also seen YouCanBookMe used for this.

    6. Wendy*

      If you’re getting a lot of similar questions about the covid situation, could you create some FAQs? Our HR have created a FAQ document that they update with general covid questions etc so at least we have a starting point before we contact them about our specific situation.

    7. Anonymous Elephant*

      I think that you need to centralize the issue. Adding more and more options to get in touch with someone can confuse people. Make it simple. Make it easy. Get an org box – meaning an email address like that sends the email to everyone in your office. That way the person who needs to see it gets it or the first person available can answer it. The benefit is that if someone is flexing their time, they may be able to answer questions that come up in the evening or early morning so no one waits longer than an hour for a response between 6am-8pm. You can create a FAQ page on the employee portal or send it out company-wide.

      This will help tremendously! If someone needs to have a video chat, they can request that. If email is easiest for them, that would work. They can ask for a phone call back. But all of their options are available in one location at the email address.

    8. TimeTravlR*

      We have something in place that we were doing long before this because our office is split across 4+ locations. We regularly schedule a drop in which is electronic (webex or other videoteleconference tool) and is on the calendar of the boss for a set amount of time periodically… not daily. Anyone can pop in or out of the call at any time. We prep the boss with some topics/conversation starters if needed. Any one on one has to be scheduled separately and certain topics are off limits (no personnel issues, for example).

    9. Mama Bear*

      What worked when I was almost fully remote and had remote team members was that we were all online during some core hours (say 10-4) and we kept our Skype/Teams up so we could easily chat with one another, see status, etc. Skype allowed location – so if I went to a client site, my computer recognized their wifi as Client and my coworkers knew I was probably not very accessible that day. In Teams you can set a status message. In either program you can change your status (Online, Offline, Away, Busy…). We used that often to keep in touch for quick questions. You can also consider a Slack channel or other chat platform. If you have a Teams meeting, you can still private message someone instead of it being part of the group chat. You might want to make an announcement with the meeting invite – we are having Open Office Hours from 2-4 PM. However, you are encouraged to reach out via x,y,z at any time if you need further assistance. The Office Hours might not be needed if your coworkers get the hang of other chat options.

  4. Virginia Girl*

    College senior here. Struggling to find a job. I have something linked up for the summer but I’m worried what comes in mid-August when the summer job ends.

    1. MissBookworm*

      Temp work. That’s how I got my current job (been here going on eight years in September). It might take awhile to get a full time job from it, but you’d be working and adding to your resume the entire time.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        I got my first full-time job after college from temp- it was great b/c it let me see how I felt about the work, the office, did I get crazy bored and want to take a nap (which in turn made my work crap- I need to be busy).

        I’d also suggest figuring out your finances- that is honestly step 1. Do you have loans? When do you have to start paying them back? How much do you need to live on? (not want but need.) From that figure out how to take that time, what you want to do- dream field sort of deal, and work from there. Could you intern while working part-time for a year to work in your dream field and turn that into a job? Do you need to get a job day one?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s tough out there right now. It’s a bit like graduating from college in 2008. Could be worse. That said, there are places hiring, and there are still some internships out there.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Maybe the summer job will go well enough to become full time. If not, there’s always temp work, more internships, etc. Just don’t wait until the internship is over to start applying! And if they say they “may” or “probably” have full-time work for you at the end of the internship, maybe start applying elsewhere anyway, because sometimes people exaggerate, and sometimes they can be 100% sincere but things change (as we all know all too well now).

      1. Fikly*

        Definitely apply elsewhere.

        Even in the best of times, you should never count on these types of things turning into full-time work unless you have an offer in writing, and even then, it can still fall through.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Focus on the summer job.

      It may turn full time, it may lead you to leads for open positions within that company or others it’s linked to. Your colleagues at that job may be able to help, etc.

      You need to focus on networking, learning and getting every drop of experience out of that job as you can. That’s your pathway to what’s next. You can’t look that far up the road.

      There’s temping as mentioned, there will be new jobs popping up to fill to apply to that will fit your newly picked up experiences. You cannot get ahead of yourself too far or it will delay your ability to get everything out of your first step.

    5. Sabrina Spellman*

      Seconding the temp agency if it’s an option. I left graduate school and couldn’t get an interview in the field, so I went to a temp agency and worked at a few different places until one ended up hiring me full time. You never know!

    6. Alex*

      It is scary, but having a summer job lined up already is GREAT. Really, that first job is so tough to get and you did it. Hopefully that will be some sort of foundation for you to build on.

    7. Bex*

      Don’t get downhearted! You already have a summer job lined up – you’ve already made progress.

      I second so many of the suggestions above about temporary work. Additionally, if you don’t have much holding you in place, be open to weird or unusual opportunities that might involve travel. Early on in your career is the time to try different things – my early jobs showed me how much I thrived on field work and conversely couldn’t handle full-time desk positions.

      Keep your eyes open. Don’t stop job searching until you’ve got an offer in hand. And stay optimistic. I know it’s hard sometimes, but just continue to move forward. And remember – two steps forward, one step back is still one step forward.

    8. hermit crab*

      I graduated from college during the 2008 recession with with a similar situation – summer job lined up but nothing after. After my summer job was over, I actually got a permanent job right away with a company that was staffing up in anticipation of stimulus money. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens this year, so (assuming you’re in the US) you might want to keep an eye on government agencies or other organizations that are scheduled to get $$$ in any of the recovery-phase stimulus bills.

      (In my case, it was with a consulting firm that helps government agencies implement their programs. The program I supported was swamped with the influx of ARRA money and needed a lot of contractor help getting it out the door to grant recipients. I ended up staying with that company for 10 years so my position lasted long after the initial stimulus-related project.)

    9. Melody Pond*

      It may not necessarily be in your field, but if you’re just looking for a job, period – I hear most unemployment offices are hiring, to help with the volume of unemployment applications they’re currently dealing with.

    10. J.B.*

      Good luck. It’s great that you have a summer job, and learn all that you can from that one. Everyone will understand. Focus on connections as everyone says.

    11. I Hire At a Public Library*

      Check the public libraries around you. It’s unlikely that they will have full-time positions available, but you may find temporary, substitute, or part-time work.

      If you’ve never worked in a library, many of the PT positions are heavily retail-like customer-service focused and ideal for someone with a knack for providing computer help-desk support. If you have any background as a security guard or the like, those make-a-scary-situation-better skills may also give you an edge over competition.

      Also, many libraries recognize that their PT will be actively searching for jobs, so, know your bosses, but it may be a bit easier to openly job search with a PT library position than with a PT job in an industry that expects absolute loyalty.

      1. TM*

        I don’t think it is going to be a great time to get into public libraries. I am expecting a hiring freeze in our system, and many systems nearby have already announced freezes and started laying folks off. We are also usually a first target for the local budget cuts that many of us see on the horizon post-COVID.

        Of course, if you are a hiring professional for a library, I would defer to your judgement. But where I am (mid-Atlantic), I foresee super lean years ahead.

    12. Anon for this*

      I’m one of those 2008 people. My advice would be to keep applying and (if financially possible!) not let desperation back you into a corner. I got one job offer for the September after graduation, and gratefully accepted it. On the first day, there were signs that I was not going to be treated well. However, I had just moved and was so grateful to have something that I decided to put up with it. Five months later, things had not improved, and my morale was low. I finally decided it wasn’t worth it anymore, and quit without something new lined up. I ran up some debt being unemployed for almost a year, but my mental health improved substantially, and I found a much better position after that which has led to my whole career since. It took a while to pay off my student debt, but I’ve been happy.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      If you can afford it, internships are a good option. Sometimes they can become a permanent position afterward, or you can use the experience you gained to find a position somewhere else.

      Of course this depends on if you can afford to do that, especially regarding the cost of housing. When I finished graduate school, I began my career in an internship that didn’t pay much but provided me with a free place to live. I was able to defer my student loans for a year and that worked. My experience from the internship gave me a foot in the door, and I was then able to get a permanent position in my field.

  5. NoCheckIns*

    I have the opposite problem of the LW yesterday: in over 5 weeks at home my manager has not once checked in on me and it’s bothering me. All our team meetings have been cancelled as well, so no group check-ins either.
    It’s been bothering me, not hearing from the person who is supposed to manage me.

        1. NoCheckIns*

          I haven’t reached out to her, but she has been active in our office WhatsApp-group.
          I know she’s got a teenager on the autism spectrum, so I’m sure she’s dealing with a lot right now. But, she didn’t even ask how I’m doing after starting back up after being out sick with cover-19.

        2. DSP*

          I work in residential psych, which very much is essential. The kids I work with aren’t allowed to visit with their parents/guardians at the moment, which is frustrating and heartbreaking all around but has been in place for a month so we’ve mostly adapted to the Zoom-call method of face-to-face. Work also required us to start wearing face coverings at all times this last week, and yesterday they passed out a flyer about using them properly. I took pictures, but a couple highlights were “How do I eat/drink while wearing a mask? A: You don’t! Only eat on breaks.” Which would be fine, if we had enough staff to actually yake a break for more than 5 minutes at a time to run to the bathroom.

          The other one was announcing that they’re setting up a living area as kind of an in-house quarantine in case any of our clients get COVID, and assuring staff that they’ll provide PPE which “may include N95s, and will probably include surgical masks”.

          For bonus fun, my actual manager is on leave right now and I don’t work on days we have all-staff meetings, so unless news get emailed out I have to hear a rumor and then track down the manager who actually knows what’s going on to see what’s actually going on.

          To clarify, I’m way more concerned about the fuckery with my kids, but too much detail on that is VERY identifying of both Job and me, which then leads to IDing my kids, which leads to HIPAA. So I’m sharing the stuff that hopefully won’t get me IDed and fired.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Yeah, that’s unacceptable. Now more than anything, managers should be communicating with their reports and being as transparent as possible as to what’s going on in the company. Can you reach out to your manager on your own and ask for a call to go over any questions you may have?

    2. LGC*

      Honestly, I’m in the same boat, and my manager was hard to pin down in the best of times because she’s a Busy Person. (I mean, she IS a busy person. But also, she kind of gives off the air that she’s not interested in managing me.) It’s a lot of outreach on my end of things, and it’s kind of tiring.

      That said, I’m cutting her some slack going forward – I just found out her husband’s sick, and that’s terrifying to go through.

      1. Healthcare Worker*

        Are you my co-worker? I’ve not heard from my manager either, except to have emails (which I had already received) forwarded to me. Hoping we both have improved communication going forward!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’m in the same boat. A few months ago my manager was promoted and I got a new manager, but my new manager didn’t really step in to manage my workload and such. I don’t need much one-on-one help, but my assignments are coming form my previous manager and it feels convoluted. I haven’t heard a word from my direct manager in a month.

      1. NoCheckIns*

        This sounds like my situation as well. Manager started a few months ago, after a restructuring introduced a new level in our department. I get most of my assignments from the other 2 managers and grandiose.
        I’m just feeling sort of forgotten? In a department where I already kind of feel like I don’t belong. This whole situation is triggering a lot of issues, and I’ve never been the best at reaching out, especially to management. I also don’t really have any questions that she can answer, as she’s not involved in any of my projects. It’s a strange situation.

  6. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I have a verbal job offer (although I’m waiting on the letter/email, so this might be all moot). I had 4 phone/video calls with the owner of the company. Initially he wanted me to come in all 5 days but we compromised on 2 days in office (after May 5th). Eventually FT in office. It’s a small company, about 3 years old; the owner wants someone there for long term and many times expressed he wanted to move forward with me. We agreed on a salary and I’m waiting on the letter for the terms we agreed upon. 

    I finally got my UI this week, so I’m a tiny bit less anxious about my financial situation. Ideally, I’d like to just take on part time work/projects until I have my baby this summer. But I am scared that by the time I am ready to go back to work, it will be a much worse job climate than 2008-2009. I graduated college that year and didnt’ land a FT job until 2014 and I remember those years very well. The idea of going through all that again terrifies me to no end, so I’m feeling like I should take this job for the security, no matter how the terms are.  

    Being pregnant at work was tricky enough. 
    Pregnant and laid off….not great but doable. 
    Pregnant and laid off in a pandemic…..WTAF? (I mean…God bless, I am so thrilled to finally be pregnant and wouldn’t change it for a minute – everything is for the baby but I just feel this is a very tricky situation given everything going on). 

    1. EHS anon*

      I sympathize because I’m in a similar position and my immediate supervisor has been vocal about disliking parents, and that has only ramped up since I told her almost 3 months ago about my second pregnancy.

      1. lurker :)*

        I inherited a supervisor while I was out on mat leave that was very vocal about disliking parents when I came back. It’s really stressful – I hope that you can get out from under her soon.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        WTH?! Your supervisor is an ass.

        I wish you both healthy pregnancies during this crazy time.

      3. Potatoes gonna potate*

        my direct supervisor was awesome, sadly his boss hated me. so. out I am.

        really not sure what to do in this situation, I feel like all my choices are ripped away from me.

    2. MissGirl*

      There’s ideally and there’s reality. I would go full time until you’ve built up your reputation at this new job.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Agreed. I took on a new job (in a good job market) while pregnant and basically tried to rock star as much as humanly possible until I had the baby. When I came back to work, I was really in no condition to work and I felt so not myself forever. At that point, though, everyone was so happy for me to return that my half-speed was really fine. In retrospect, I really did fine when I came back, I just wasn’t going above and beyond. If I could have afforded to work part time post baby that would have been ideal.

      2. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Yes, you’re right. I admit to having a rather hard time letting go of ideals and absorbing the new reality. Slowly but surely.

        This would be a FT position. If COVID wasn’t a thing, and I wasn’t scared of 2008 happening all over again and I”d just been laid off, PT/project work would’ve been my course of action. I know thats lots of ifs there.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Aww thank you! It was the name of a blog I used to have many years ago. My last username was my title at my last job but since that didn’t apply anymore I couldn’t really figure out what name to use that would stick.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I’m reminded of that NYT article about a lady who hid having a baby …. I guess you could try it?

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’ll have to look for that article. Not sure what hiding it would do though…?

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I want to pull you in a little bit here because you’re worried about 2008-2009 since you GRADUATED into the economy in shambles.

      This is different because you have experience, you have a resume, even if it’s started only in 2014, you have 6 years under your belt. You are in a MUCH better situation than you were when you graduated. The job market will still suck and be hard but it won’t be “that” level of hard. Students always have a hard time because of lack of relevant experience.

      It’s natural to be worried about it though. We’re in the same age range, my classmates all graduated at that time! They too struggled like hell and are only in the last five years or so started to somewhat thrive. But they’ve finally got that foot in the door and now they’re finding it a lot easier to shift around and move up. You too will have that opportunity! You are no longer at the basement level, you’re at least on the ground floor which is a lot easier.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Becky – TYSM. That did occur to me that maybe I struggled in those years due more to my own bad luck/personality/etc than things beyond my control like the economy. Each individual job and experience can point towards something but on a broader level, it coincides with that time so it’s possible that had something to do with it. But what you said is comforting, thank you so much.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve been working since the year I graduated high school. And I still remember the struggle to find a job. The only reason I got a chance in the end where I did was due to who I knew and things lining up absolutely perfectly.

          Then that job tanked and I had to leave in 2004. I struggled with interviewing, so I thought I was doomed! Part of it was really being so young and inexperienced and simply lacking confidence. I went into temping and landed a perm job that i stayed at for over a decade.

          Imagine my stress when I had to start interviewing after 10 years and my only memory was screaming in my face. I didn’t want to deal with temping again if I could help it.

          HAPPY ENDING: I killed my interviews. I got multiple offers after I started fishing. I have a lot more confidence and a wealth of experience that had everyone salivating. The difference all those years makes is real.

          Then I moved awhile back after that job interviewing adventure after my decade plus. Again, I had multiple offers to choose from and good interview experiences.

          Part of my success is due to the scope and broad position I’m in but I’m not egotistical enough to think I’m that special or secretly have a horseshoe shoved up my butt ;)

          1. Also interested in leadership*

            It’s so reassuring to learn that someone like you, with such a great personality + so smart about professional issues, had a time where they had confidence issues.
            Just here to say that + that I appreciate you!

    5. Carlottamousse*

      Congratulations on the job offer! I’m with you on the sentiments re pregnancy – we’ve had a difficult road getting here and now to be pregnant during a pandemic is just something else. But I wouldn’t trade it for a minute, either. In fact, it’s been a bright spot everyone in my family has been looking forward to during this trying time.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I agree, that’s been my bright spot (and main source of fear and anxiety but that’s another story lol)

          1. Potatoes gonna potate*

            Oh and thank you on the congrats! our pregnancy was a miracle as well. Hope you have a great pregnancy and deliverY!

    6. Hamburke*

      I had my first baby in Nov 2001 while living outside of DC. Hubby was laid off in the dot-com bubble and found a new tech job a week before she was born but at significantly reduced salary. It’s scary bringing a child home in uncertain times. If this isn’t the job for you, would the worst thing be that you are home with your baby for longer than expected?

      (If you’re counting, yes, she should have graduated this year but took advanced classes and graduated a year early)

  7. Raising and otter villiage*

    How direct can I be with my supervisor about planning for my annual review?

    Context: We are a small org, and a tiny two person team. We just added a third person to our team, and my supervisor has thanked me for my hard work, which helped him lobby to get that third person hired. Weeks ago he literally said, “I want your annual review to be amazing.”

    I want to ask what he meant by that and what I should expect, because it’s my first review with the org. I also really want to lobby for a raise and promotion (which should be feasible despite covid- my org is outstandingly well structured and funded) and I want his guidance on how to make it happen.

    How do I ask, and maybe *should* I ask?

    1. Anon For This*

      Where I work it is customary for us to provide input to the boss for our review. Depending on the boss it might be a list of accomplishments, but some want a full-up first draft. Given that your boss told you he wants your review to be amazing, it sounds to me like he is asking for you to give him a draft – or at least input he can build the review around.

    2. CatsOnAKeyboard*

      I’d reach out and ask “Since my upcoming review will be my first one here, can you give me an overview of the process? What do you need me to prepare in advance?”

    3. CL Cox*

      I think asking is a good idea. Something like, “Since this is my first review with the company, can you tell me a bit about what to expect and what you want me to prepare/review/etc. before we meet?”

    4. CM*

      I’d be explicit that you’d like a raise and a promotion — it’s really good to have this conversation before the review, because in some organizations they have already decided about raises and promotions by the time the review happens.

      I think what you wrote in your question is basically what you should say: “With my review coming up, can you tell me what to expect and if there’s anything I should to prepare? Since I’ve taken on more job responsibilities [you can be more specific about whatever it is that warrants a promotion/raise], I’d also like to discuss getting a raise and a promotion [again, you can be more specific and say the title you’re looking for], and would appreciate your guidance on how to make that happen.”

      1. Raising an otter villiage*

        Awesome, thank you! It’s my first annual review anywhere, so I wasn’t sure of the protocol.

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

      It’s a bit of a strange thing to say! I would have asked him at the time what that meant and what ‘amazing’ would look like, but assuming you have a good rapport I think you can still ask about it directly when you find an opportune moment. Mention that you want to use that slot to talk about career development.

      (But be aware that in some companies, the annual review is actually ‘too late’ to lobby for a promotion etc in that those decisions have already been made prior to the review happening, and the review just functions as a rubber stamp exercise in that case. Do you have any sense of whether that’s the case in your org?)

  8. Anon For This*

    I mentioned yesterday that some mistakes that I made were caught and my boss sent me an email where she was very upset with me and not being kind. I now have to physically go back to the office for a meeting on Wednesday specifically about this. I am so anxious about it, it’s like a dark cloud hanging over me. I am really struggling right now with this new normal. I did recently start a non stimulant medication for my ADHD and I am hoping it will help these constant mistakes I’m making but it’s just… getting harder to fight I guess. I feel like it’s all I can do just to get out of bed to work, and like I’m failing at everything right now. Just needed to vent.

    1. Anon For This*

      I am also anxious because I am very high risk and going into the office… is not very appealing right now.

    2. Threeve*

      Horrible. They should NOT be making you come into the office for any reason other than essential work that demands you physically be there.

      The circumstances we’re in are unprecedented in our lifetimes. The rules are different. Performance expectations have to be different. And safety needs to be prioritized above everything else. Whatever your mistakes were, your boss is a terrible person making a terrible decision.

      1. Anon For This*

        I had a certain very important (but aren’t they all!) organ fail last year and am at risk of it happening again. I am a little disappointed that she is asking me to come in.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Did you explain this to her? And if you did, and she still doesn’t care, is there anyone above her you can push back to? A grandboss, HR, anyone?! You should not be going back into the office given your medical history – it’s completely irresponsible of your company, and a huge liability for them as well, to demand for you to come in to be chastised for a mistake.

            1. Anon For This*

              I went septic because of my immune system being compromised and that’s how the organ failure happened :/

            2. Actual Vampire*

              Just because they know it happened last year doesn’t mean they understand/remember that it is relevant now!!!

            3. Akcipitrokulo*

              Remind them! It is somthing you wouldn’t forget, but they might have, because it isn’t the uppermost in their mind.

              1. Anon For This*

                I did bring in a doctors note at the beginning of all of this when I wasn’t permitted to work from home- it spelled out the specific risks to me and asked that I remain at home. It was made very clear to me that the governors orders, and not my doctors note, was the reason they permitted me to stay from home. Also it was less than a year ago when this happened, I was out for 3 months, and it’s a very small company so they have not forgotten unfortunately. I do think I will try to request a video meeting instead.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It might not be top of mind for her. Say directly, “I am in a high risk group and need to stay quarantined for medical reasons right wno. Can we do this over the phone or video?”

    3. Jae*

      I just want to send some compassion your way. Obviously, no one wants to make mistakes. Many mistakes are fixable, though not ideal, and some are not, but regardless it is normal to make mistakes from time to time as a human being, especially when you are under tremendous stress and experiencing something traumatic –which you are. You are not failing at everything, I promise you. You do not have to get through this unscathed. You are surviving, as many of us are doing, and there is no shame in that.

      The purpose of your boss meeting with you over this is hopefully to figure out how to course correct. If it is for them to scold you and make you feel even worse, that is a problem with them, and not with you; it may be hard to remember that but it. is true. Take yourself into that meeting and give a genuine apology; if you are given room to do so, let them know you have been dealing with a medical issue that is now being treated and you expect that this will help in preventing mistakes. If they are rational people, you may be able to explain that the current situation has also added to your stress and distraction levels, but you are much more of an expert on this situation than I am. I only offer this because it may help you to go into that meeting feeling a little more grounded.

      It is probably tempting to spend the rest of your time stressing about this, but try to show yourself a lot of kindness. Make sure you are eating on a regular schedule. Let yourself rest. Take a warm shower or bath. Get outside in the sun and fresh air for a bit if it is safe for you to do so. Do activities you find enjoyable. I realize this is all common advice, but I know in my experience these are the type of things I let go when I am being down on myself. It’s like I want to punish myself. Don’t punish yourself because it won’t change what is past or help what is in the future.

      I’m sorry things have been so rough and I am sending you all my good wishes.

      1. Anon For This*

        Thank you so much for your compassion. I have trouble being kind to myself but this helps so much.

        1. Jae*

          I had a sense that was true. Compassion is key. I know it is all cliche to say treat yourself like your most loved person, but it is really how you deserve to be treated. I’m not trying to downplay an important mistake, but you know… I think this time is really making me see what is important and your life is important. A job is meant to support your life, it shouldn’t be something you tear yourself to bits over.

          I also give a big raised eyebrow to them making you come in, knowing you are at risk. That isn’t right.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Good comment! This makes me think that if they were going to continue to be mean or take any drastic measures, then they would do that over the phone or in an email. If they want to talk in person, then it is more likely that they want to have constructive discussions and work through the issues one-on-one.

        1. Anon For This*

          I have a gut feeling it is either a write up (yes, my company does this) or possibly a PIP. Considering the way my company does escalating “discipline” I think it will be the right up.

          1. AndersonDarling*

            Remember, a PIP can be a good thing (If you have a decent company). They feel like doomsday and are emotionally horrible, but really a PIP is a step by step explanation of what is expected. When things start getting crazy, it can really help for someone to step in and lay out exactly what you need to do so you aren’t guessing, and second guessing, and third guessing…
            I’ve worked with folks who went into an emotional spiral and once they were put on a PIP they were able to focus and completely recover.
            So even if it is a PIP, it isn’t something to fear. You got this! ;-)

            1. Anon For This*

              This helps! This is kind of how I have always thought of PIPs… less doomsday and more “hey here’s EXACTLY what you can do to bring your performance up to snuff”. I know they don’t end up that way for a lot of people, but generally speaking I do work well with lots of structure.

            2. Not a cat*

              I think that really depends. If the org has already made a decision to manage you out, the PIP will be crafted so that it is impossible for you to achieve.

          2. Mama Bear*

            How I sometimes deal with it is to think “So what happens if…” that way you have a plan in your head for if you get a PIP, or fired, or sat on by a llama or whatever. I think you are right that this will be a disciplinary measure of some kind. Hang in there. I know it’s mildly terrifying right now, but if you have a plan, you can get through this.

    4. WineNot*

      Does your company know that you are in a high-risk category? If not, could you tell them that you are extremely anxious about having to go into the office next week and see if they would be willing to discuss via video call? I can imagine how terrible it must feel having two major things to be worrying about, especially heading into a precious weekend. I’m sorry!!

      1. Anon For This*

        They do know I am at risk of sepsis and organ failure again but nobody seems as concerned about it as I am (I mean, obviously I am the one who would be the most concerned lol). I do think I would be seen as being dramatic if I made waves. Thank you for your kind words. I love this blog… we really do have the best of the best people here!

        1. eshrai*

          I might be willing to be seen as dramatic and make waves in this situation. Obviously I do not know all of your situation, or the risk of losing your job if you do, but you could be risking your life by going in at this time.

          Otherwise, be kind to yourself! Mistakes happen. I have ADHD too, and luckily mistakes in my field are not too big of a deal. I have not found a Dr. to prescribe any medication so I am SOL for treatment at the moment. I had a therapist, but she basically said I need medication at this point to help.

        2. MacGillicuddy*

          Even if your company knows/knew about your health problems last year, that doesn’t mean that your boss REMEMBERS that you had those problems. Or that the boss understands the severity of your current health condition.
          Regardless of the purpose of the meeting, you need to tell the boss about your condition. Call your boss. Be very specific. Give many facts. Tell boss “You might not remember the details of what happened to me last year. . Because of my CURRENT status, I am in a very high risk group. I am in danger of . Because of this, coming in to the office is a risk to my life. I fully understand the need for a meeting, but I cannot put myself in that kind of danger. Contracting covid-19 would be a death sentence for me”.

          The “ you might not remember” softens the message a bit. But I would absolutely NOT rely on the “they know about what happened last year”. Never assume.

          Good luck.

        3. WoodswomanWrites*

          I hope you can be kind to yourself about whatever mistakes you made. So many of us are in the same boat–these are not normal times for anyone!

          It’s unconscionable that your employer is asking you to come to the office when your health is at risk for what is a non-essential in-person meeting. I would definitely push back with some supporting evidence. I imagine your city/county/state has some official language you can quote, so that it doesn’t sound like it’s just a personal preference. Something along the lines of: “As you my recall, I am in a high-risk health category based on my organ failure according to the State Department of Public Health’s website. Their guidance says, “Quote from their website.”

    5. Fiona*

      I struggle with anxiety as well. My sister gave me a good exercise that helped me recently. Trace your hand and in each “finger” of your drawing, list something that is truly important to you. In regular times, I usually list my family and friends. During the pandemic, when I was stressed about work, my “fingers” were the following:

      – My health and my spouse’s health
      – My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew’s health
      – My parents’ health
      – My friends’ health
      – The recovery of a specific friend who has been ill

      Then take a deep breath and ask yourself if the stress you’re currently feeling is related to those key things. If it’s work-related, it probably isn’t. At the end of the day, in the BIG picture, work isn’t important. It just isn’t. Correct your mistakes, learn from them, but you will probably have other jobs in the future and this particular job is not more important than whatever you listed on your hand drawing. (Your pet, your home, your art, your whatever). It helps me redirect when the anxiety is making me feel like work is the end-all, be-all and a referendum on who I am as a person. It’s not. It’s a job, we all make mistakes, but it’s not more important than your wellbeing or the people you care about. Good luck and hope this helps.

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

      Are those mistakes a “pattern” (like instances of a similar thing) or just a bunch of unrelated mistakes that you could understandably make with the impact of ADHD, anxiety etc so you dropped some unrelated balls? (you described it as “these constant mistakes I’m making” so I feel like it’s the latter, although obviously the ‘pattern’ is the underlying ADHD and anxiety.)

      I’m a bit surprised/alarmed that they are having you come into the office ‘just’ for a write-up or to put you on a PIP (or whatever similar thing it’s about) when presumably you are able to work remotely so you can communicate remotely… are HR involved in this or is it just a thing with your own management? (in some companies HR are involved with these type of meetings but in other places this is handled by the manager with just HR guidance in the background) If HR isn’t already involved, may be worth a word with them especially given that you are in a high risk category.

      I don’t think “having a meeting about mistakes” is an essential work function that requires being physically in the office!

  9. WellRed*

    How do you define the purpose of meetings? We have a weekly meeting to provide updates on what everyone is doing (everyone gets a turn). Some if it makes sense (like hearing where we are with implementing new technology), but man, do I really need to hear a laundry list of people’s tasks that week (eg, “transcribing notes” and “posting on social media.”) There are 10 0f us, but last week’s meeting stretched to an hour (not sure where we “lost” time). That seems too long to me.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been in places where the purpose of the meeting is clearly to feed the energy of an extrovert in a leadership position. But ideally the purpose of any meeting should be discuss and come to decisions about things that are easier to do so in person than over email/chat. If people are just sharing information (“I’m doing this right now”), that’s more efficiently shared in writing than in a meeting.

      1. WellRed*

        “clearly to feed the energy of an extrovert in a leadership position.”

        Thanks for this! Our previous owner loved loved loved sitting in meetings. He left last year, and his second in command has now left and I am hoping we see a change down the road.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Bam! That exactly describes the environment I was in previously where we had huddles every other day. The manager was desperately trying to show her Manager Skilz and huddles were an empty tool to do that.

    2. Super Anon*

      If you find out will you let me know? We do the same thing, and I do not find it to be a good use of time. It’s one thing when major projects get mentioned (so that everyone is looped in), or when there is a project that crosses multiple departments. But, too often we have people giving laundry lists of every single little thing that they are doing.

      And just an hour once a week sounds great. Since working remotely, my boss has also instituted additional hour long daily meetings with each department and their team to discuss the very same crap we discuss in our weekly meetings.

    3. irene adler*

      When I prepare the agenda for meetings, I indicate that each attendee has 5 minutes to update the group on an overview of their work. This keeps folks on task (don’t need details; just update with accomplishments,plans and issues,if any). And it is written into the agenda:
      6:00 opening announcements-Chair
      6:05 secretary report; approval of minutes
      6:10 treasurer’s report
      6:15 committee head #1
      6:20 committee head #2
      IF there is a pressing issue I allot time later in the meeting to discuss issue. AND issues must be presented to me a week prior to the meeting so I can add to the agenda and apprise all that we will be discussing said issue.

      NOTE: we’re smaller than 10 so would suggest a lesser time.
      It took some training to get folks to conform. But now they are happy that meetings take half the time they used to.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      This sounds like a standard weekly check-in. They can be important to make sure people aren’t working at cross purposes. We changed ours from sitting around a table in a conference room to having a stand-up in a common area. The difference was amazing! Apparently sitting at a table in a meeting setting encourages long-winded discussion and makes people without anything to say make something up, but a stand-up keeps things to the point.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        I have a terrible miss-mash of this. Leaders sit and staff have to stand around the table. The leaders talk on and on while my feet start throbbing.

      2. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

        I wish this helped our team! Our team of 20-30 (depending on the week) used to stand in the kitchen because no other room was big enough for all of us. It just resulted in us having to stand for an hour. (Which is of course not the worst thing in the world, and folks who wanted to use/bring a chair definitely could and weren’t shamed for it, but just standing up isn’t necessarily a cure to make the long-winded folks any less long-winded. I’m glad it worked for your team though!)

    5. Ali G*

      Yeah that doesn’t seem to be working. I’d keep it to “status of projects the group needs to be aware of and any tasks you will need assistance with from someone in the group.” And if there are people attending these meetings that don’t fall into those categories (i.e transcribing notes) then maybe they don’t need to be in the meeting.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      My (terrifyingly competent) boss once said you should go to every meeting with questions and leave with actions. If you don’t have those, it’s a status update and should be an email.

      1. Anongineer*

        I love this! It makes it easy to figure out if you really need a meeting to hash out problems or just tell people “I did this”. Definitely going to use this moving forward.

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

        The trouble with that approach is that it doesn’t allow for dynamic discussion of things that come up organically.

        Things that are a “status update” from one person’s perspective (e.g. this week we have stepped up production of pink dye for llama bangs as per the XYZ project timeline) are things to potentially be “questioned” from someone else’s perspective (e.g. pink llama bangs? I may be wrong but there was an email chain where we are now meant to be pushing blue glitter bangs) which can get lost in an email context.

        The point is a status update from someone may not be just a ‘fait accompli’ for someone with a different business context.

    7. Oxford Comma*

      Weekly check-ins are fine by me. I especially like seeing my coworkers’ faces right now. What I don’t like is when people are disrespectful of time or unprepared or talking just to talk.

      I also especially hate meetings that are held just to have meetings. My preference is for the convener to send out some sort of email with an agenda and perhaps points to review, so we can have a shorter, more thoughtful discussion.

    8. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

      We have a weekly meeting like this in our team of ~35. It’s… exactly as fun as you think it is.

      IMO, if someone makes it clear that it’s fine to say, “I have no major projects to update folks on,” and move on, everything goes MUCH smoother because nobody feels the need to “make up” a bunch of tasks to seem busy. The meeting where one of our directors said “I have no new updates, thanks,” and let the next person go was the BEST because then a few others (like me!) were able to say, “Agreed with [director], my projects are moving forward well but nothing worth sharing.” If the group feels they “have” to say something, you’ll get folks rambling about transcribing notes. If they have permission to say “nothing important going on, thanks!” it’ll keep things moving.

      1. JessicaTate*

        Yes, this is critical! These meetings can be productive for the reasons you mention – good to know about the status of something that could affect you. But the person in charge needs to keep that purpose focused, model it, and make sure everyone knows “No new updates” is a valid and accepted answer.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The only places I had this kind of worthless time suck of a meeting was a dysfunctional place with no leadership. It’s such a waste of time that should be used for productivity.

      It has to have a “new” purpose. I had to sit in those meetings always just saying “well it’s collections week again.” or “It’s inventory week, so that’s what I’m doing.” and it was draining on everyone.

      When we got new leadership, they removed this BS and cut meetings drastically because it only made everyone more stressed and added nothing to the company in the end.

    10. NW Mossy*

      Yikes! I have meetings like that with my team (13 people total), but they have a strict 15 minute time limit and we often end early. Here’s the agenda we use:

      * Key Communications – must-knows for the day/week that apply to everyone
      * Recognition – call out individual/team accomplishments and thank-yous
      * Attendance and Morale – note who’s in/out, who needs/can give support
      * Work in Progress – each person speaks briefly about their focus
      * Countermeasures – next steps to resolve issues/blockers
      * Leader Report – my time to share what I’m focused on and provide updates to the team on how that may impact them

      With standing meetings, it really helps to have a clearly defined agenda and stick to it every time. It feels stifling at first, but that’s a good thing because it limits digressions.

    11. Aggretsuko*

      Oh, I hate the “what’s everybody doing this week?” meetings!

      I think if you need to hash out/discuss something, then a meeting is useful. But not just laundry lists.

    12. Witty Nickname*

      Ideally, in a team meeting (as opposed to a project specific meeting, where, as PM, I want people to provide more detail) it would be:
      * Updates on major projects/cross-functional projects (from the Project Manager or Lead)
      * Updates on any major deliverables (large pieces of functionality, launching a campaign, etc) or milestones (“the first draft of the big llama campaign went out for reviews this week”) or roadblocks (“the first draft of the big llama campaign was supposed to go out for reviews this week, but the graphic designer was pulled off the project temporarily to work on a higher priority, so now we are targeting next week”)
      * A quick overview of other projects (it’s good to know what other people are working on in case you are a stakeholder and they aren’t aware, or it has an impact to something you are doing that hasn’t been identified, etc). This should be brief and only cover a summary of what the project and major deliverables are.

    13. Amanda*

      Well, an hour for 10 people to have a turn isn’t really that long. About 5 minutes per person and a little more time to wrap things up. It might be that what’s bothering you is that not everyone’s work is different enough nees spelling out (thiking data entry, for example)? Or could it be that your current projects don’t involve the whole 10 people on the team, in which case it could work to break into subeams for these meetings. Or maybe you’re an anxious introvert (like me!), and an hour speaking to a group of other 9 people is just a lot right now.

      It might be beneficial to talk to your boss and ask if maybe you could do a OneNote page for people to post what happened in their week that the whole team should know, and then base these meetings on that list. This helped my team meetings keep focused even before COVID, and it cuts back on the “same old” part of the conversation.

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

      Agendas, timeboxing (e.g. each person gets 5 minutes or whatever to provide their update), active intervention of the ‘chair’ of the meeting when it starts to get off track with people rambling about a laundry list of What They Did That Week etc.

      I’m assuming the meeting was meant to be for half an hour (?) since it ‘stretched’ to an hour…

      I’ve found there are always 2 or 3 culprits in these type of meetings who once they get their ‘turn’ to speak, blather on and on and on out of a sense of self importance (or maybe self-justification in some cases?)… if there are specific culprits in your meetings can you quietly have a word with whoever the organizer is? You said you aren’t sure where you lost time, but I bet you can identify a few people who, let’s say, liked the sound of their own voice in that meeting :-)

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

        Hmm, I gave an example of 5 minutes to provide an update but for 10 people that works out to 50 minutes (obviously) and then I started thinking 5 minutes is actually quite a long time to speak continuously for. I think most updates ought to be able to summarise in 2 minutes or less.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m trying to keep myself to the theory of a tier meeting: I’m working on XYZ for Jane’s project while I wait for Jack’s data to complete the ABC project. Nothing noteworthy about the process parts of my job.

    16. Workerbee*

      We have one of these, and the only time it’s not tedious is if the long-talkers are on vacation.

      It’s described as an update meeting, but certain people go through their entire laundry list of supposed work. In excessive detail.

      The boss loves, loves, loves meetings, so likes to hear exhaustive details. He does not, however, manage to retain any of these details and will call other meetings for people to come up with talking points for him to report out on what we’re doing to senior leadership. This despite corresponding documents of notes kept from other meetings where…people detail out what they’re doing (and thinking, and ideating on) again.

      Me, I stick to my top three priorities and don’t think it makes sense to detail my daily job functions. Just let me do my job, not stand around talking about it!

      Meetings here are a chore. :)

  10. Pepper Potts*

    I started with my company about a month ago. I had a full six days in the office before we moved to WFH. Despite my team and company being so incredibly lovely and supportive, I am feeling lost. I’m perfectly qualified to do my job, my manager has been great, and I feel so lucky to have a job (not only a job, but a great one with a great company!) in these trying times.

    I just feel this general sense of dread and anxiety and I’m not sure if it’s new job related or you know, worldwide pandemic feelings. I’ve always struggled with general anxiety before, but not being able to identify a cause and come up with a strategy for moving past it is starting to affect my work performance. I’m very uncomfortable with the fact that I feel like I’m not performing up my usual standards and I don’t know where to go. My boss obviously can’t end my anxiety about COVID, so it feels silly to bring this up to her.


    1. King Friday XIII*

      You’ve been there for a month, of course you’re not up to your usual standards! You may not be able to ask your boss to make you feel better about the virus but you can absolutely ask how your work is going, how fast she sees you getting up to speed, and work related performance questions. Just because you can’t get reassurance for everything doesn’t mean you can’t look to get it for the things you can control.

    2. OhGee*

      It’s absolutely not silly to tell your boss you’re struggling due to the pandemic. It has got to be incredibly hard to start a new job right now, and everybody I work with — even my boss — has admitted they are struggling to stay organized, motivated, to feel like they’re getting ‘enough’ done. If you feel like you can trust your boss, tell her. You can talk through ways she can support you better, or even ease your mind about what you really have to get done at this time.

    3. Quill*

      The best opinion I ever received about training is “the first month is for training, the next two are for practice” when a previous lab supervisor mentioned why she despised having short term contracts. ( “I get three months of good work out of you and then they decide to mess with the budget again!”)

      1. Hillary*

        Absolutely. And as you add responsibility the timelines only go up. My manager was pleasantly surprised that I started delivering on my job three quarters after I started.

        Pepper Potts – hang in there. Try to get outside if you can, try to sleep, and be kind to yourself. You can also be proactive on asking for feedback. This is a weird time, you can initiate “how am I doing” conversations with both your peers and manager. I bet they’re going to tell you you’re doing better than they expected and that will help with the anxiety.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      One way I like to use is to tackle what is right in front of me. Take the things I specifically know are bothering me and get those things squared away somehow. This could be finding out how to do some little task. Or it could be identifying a source for a certain bit of info. Go line item by line item, anything that makes you uncomfortable/concerned, see what you can do to lower that concern.

      This sounds too simple to work. How is figuring out where to get more paperclips from going to fix worries about Covid?
      It’s not.
      The idea here is to separate out the things you can fix and work on those things. My wise friend used to say, “Do what is right in front of you. As you finish or once you finish that obvious stuff then more stuff will bubble to the surface. Do the next layer.Keep going through the layers as they appear.”

      What happens is:
      1) This can keep us plenty busy, especially as each layer reveals itself.
      2) It can boost our confidence as we can say “At least I am trying to do something!”
      3) It can help to channel nervous energy as we fill up our days. We get tired out and end up being able to sleep some at night.

      You also mention not being able to identify a cause. Right now, there are so many reasons to be nervous, I don’t see any practical reason to try to name them. It would take too long to list them all off. I think we can cut directly to the baseline things that we all know: eating good foods, hydrating, staying on top of our personal security at home and online. If you have pets/people living with you make sure they are doing as well as can be expected. Keep checking your basics to make sure they remain in place. (Personally, I can tell you how many rolls of TP I have on any given day.)

      You can also consider periodic check-ins with the boss. Line up specific questions for each time there is a check-in. Tell her that you don’t feel like you are the employee you know you can be. Ask her for pointers.

      Decide to give yourself the gift of trusting the boss when she says you are doing a good job. Decide that you will not brush it off and you will not rationalize it away. You will just accept the compliment as stated. Negative Nancy pops in with her crap tell her to STFU and you have decided you are just going to enjoy the compliment.

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

      Try to accept that you are on a learning curve… I suggest that you do share your concerns (in a filtered format obviously) with your manager e.g. I’m kind of an anxious person sometimes and while it doesn’t affect my work I am feeling it a bit with the current situation (adjust as needed).

      I am speculating based on my own experience with anxiety so feel free to disregard but: is it possible that your unidentifiable sense of dread is actually about “oh s**t, did I do the right thing in leaving my old job and starting this new one where I am more under scrutiny and have to prove myself at a time where that’s now going to be difficult due to enforced WFH”?

      (I infer that in the past you’ve been able to identify what the anxiety was ‘about’.)

    6. KMD*

      I also started a new job a month ago in a field I’ve been in for 9 years. The anxiety and dread I felt wasn’t just about the job, but also the state of the world, which spills into my work life. I already worked remotely, so that wasn’t even a change like you’ve had to go through. Not only that your new coworkers have had to start working from home and they may be stressed, a feeling you’re picking up on. You are going through a lot of changes right now. I think that, since you say everyone has been supportive, the suggestions to bring this up with your manager are good. Ask how they’re feeling about your progress. Let them know that you’re not feeling up to your normal standards because of the personal stresses/work arrangement changes/extra everything going on in the background and you really appreciate their feedback right now to make sure you’re on track.

      Also consider the way that mass layoffs may be impacting you mentally. You even mention feeling lucky to have a job at this time, so it’s obviously on your mind. For me, my new company had layoffs the day I started, and every week since then at least 1 of my friends in the same field has lost their job. There I am, with a job that I don’t even know how to do yet, while all the wonderful people around me were losing theirs. I spend my days in Zoom meetings getting trained and my nights on the phone with all my laid-off friends trying to check in on them. It’s not the best recipe for mental stability. Even if you’re not in such an exposed field as I am (70% of employees are being laid off at some companies in my field), you may be feeling underlying concern about being new at a time when many companies are making hard decisions. It’s OK to feel those concerns and may help to think about, outside of your direct work, what stresses are impacting you. And with a supportive manager, you have the opportunity to work through it together.

  11. Job searcher*

    What is appropriate when you apply to a company and have an internal referral? 

    I found a company that was hiring and several previous coworkers currently work there. I am on friendly social terms with one of them, so I reached out to her and she offered to pass along my resume to her boss. She also encouraged me to apply on the website, which I did and there’s been no movement since. It felt like forever ago but it was only 2 weeks ago which I know is nothing in terms of hiring during normal times. 

    It seems to be a great company to work for based on my conversations with my contact so I’m just a little bit anxious to move forward. I know from experience that even in normal times, some companies move at a slower pace, and of course with everything going on now things are bound to change. 

    I’m definitely *not* going to reach out to the company but just wondering what would be appropriate in reaching out to my acquaintance? I know right now is a busy time so I don’t want to be a nuisance. I wouldn’t even know what to say IF I were to reach out to her.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Did you ever let her know you did apply on the website? If not, you could just shoot her an email to let her know you did (she might have been holding onto her referral until after she knew you had officially applied) but understand that things are probably on hold right now and that you hope everyone is ok.

      1. Job searcher*

        Hi, yes I told her I applied on the website and used her name in the referral line. I know 2 weeks isn’t a lot of time in normal times, so I’m not sure if it would be especially egregious to mention it now.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      At this point, the best thing you can do for your chances of success is mentally move on. Any more contact, even to the person referring you, is just going to seem annoying at best and would only hurt your chances.

  12. EHS anon*

    I’ve become pretty dissatisfied with enough of my role in my company and industry (consulting firm) that I’m looking hard at industry jobs in environmental compliance/ EHS. Some questions for any mid career professionals outside my immediate circle!

    1) There are some corporate level roles ostensibly based in headquarters in locations I would very likely not move to based on cost (e.g. Bay area) at any compensation package I could expect, so I’m trying to consider some language/wording around suggesting that the position be based elsewhere if possible (for instance, in my current location, a much lower COL city with reasonably sized operations by the companies I’m looking at). Anyone have suggestions for those discussions down the road, obviously post offer stage? I fully recognize the reasons that the position may not actually have a flexible location, but assuming they’re open to that consideration.

    2) No one can really anticipate hiring timelines these days but I am due with my second child in September, so I think at this stage I should honestly not plan to start anything until January, but based on previous timelines this is still a good time to interview. Does anyone have any experience with that level of start delay they could speak to?

    3) Anyone have good recommendations for language in cover letters that talks up the move from consulting to industry?

    1. Super Anon*

      I don’t have too many suggestions or answers.

      But, in terms of #1, I would look very closely or ask specific questions about who else works remotely or who works in a satellite location. In my industry, we have some organizations that are far more flexible when it comes to negotiating where the employee works than others. For example, where I work only those people with very specific qualifications are permitted to work from a different location. No matter how senior the person is without those qualifications they would not be able to negotiate the same flexibility. But, we have colleague organizations that are far less rigid, and allow almost anyone (excluding those who’s job functions require that they be at headquarters) beyond a certain level in the organization to pick the location where they work out of. I think knowing what each organizations general practice is would probably help you navigate, how reasonable that organization will see your request and/or how to make that request.

      #2, I think that is highly industry specific and how senior you would be in the organization. For example, in my industry we would not hire someone for anything but a c-suite role who could not start within 30-60 days of the offer being made (with a few exceptions if a cross country move is being made, then it would get extended to closer to 90 days).

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If you’re not willing to relocate, I would recommend bringing that up *before* the offer stage. It’s a big ask and would likely come across as out of touch if you don’t bring it up until then.

      Maybe in the first interview with the hiring manager.

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Re #3, moving from consulting to industry, think about what attracts you to industry rather than consulting.
      Are you looking to focus more on one aspect after sampling a lot of different parts of your profession?
      Are you looking for the chance to dig deeper than can be done on a consulting project? It sometimes frustrated me when I knew we were only scratching the surface of a situation.
      Are you tired of always fighting fires? Would you prefer to set up processes that prevent fires from happening?
      Do you want to be able to follow through and see the long-term results of what you do?
      I also think it’s legitimate to say that you would like the stability of not having to learn a new company every few weeks. So much time is spent on every new project, just getting up to speed on who does what and how things are done.

      But then you have to tell them how your consulting experience makes you particularly well qualified to etc. etc. You’ve seen how many different companies do XYZ, and know what problems can be caused by U, V and W. (all those fires you had to put out) You’re familiar with best practices. You know how to persuade without the authority to direct, so you’re good at getting buy-in even from those resistant to change.

  13. Stephanie*

    No layoffs announced here for now, so that is good. That being said, this has spurred me into updating my resume. I’m having a bit of trouble figuring out how to quantify what I do for a resume and what accomplishments I could list (I feel like I don’t do tons sometimes). I’m essentially a project manager right now, so my job at present is checking program status, following up on past due items, and reporting out status to upper management. It feels hard to measure accomplishments from sending out emails and generating reports (or maybe because I’m too close to what I do right now). Any ideas?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are there any processes you’ve streamlined, even on specific projects? As in, anything you whipped into shape when you showed up? Do you work with several different teams and act as a spoke or hub for them? Is there a report that you’ve created that is now being used regularly? Have you figured out the best ways to report to upper management? I know these aren’t necessarily quantifiable, but I struggle with this stuff too.

    2. Audiophile*

      I’m in a very similar situation though not in the engineering sector. No layoffs, basically my job is project management and have found it easier to quantify my previous roles because I could point to specific accomplishments.

    3. Ama*

      I think you can point out the scale of any projects you manage — depending on what type of work you do, this could be overall budget size, number of people involved, length of time. If you manage multiple projects at the same time, that’s an accomplishment (and a skill a lot of people are looking for). If you manage a wide range of projects in terms of size and scope that’s also an accomplishment.

      I’m hoping to hire a particular type of project manager (eventually, it won’t happen while we’re on WFH because it’s for projects that are stalled while we’re on WFH) and there’s a big difference between people who have managed the kind of projects I’m looking for for a small department of six and people who have managed it for a collaborative group of several hundred people across different sites. I wouldn’t necessarily eliminate either for my job (our scale is in the middle of these two ranges) but it would be an important data point in how I would weigh their relative strengths.

    4. Madeleine Matilda*

      If any projects you manage have come in under budget or ahead of schedule that is something to highlight particularly if you can show how your PM work helped with that.

    5. Witty Nickname*

      Are you keeping projects on track, identifying/managing risks, clearing roadblocks, etc?
      Have you delivered projects on budget, on time, within scope?
      Have you streamlined processes to be more efficient or rescued a project that was out of budget/scope/missing milestone dates?
      If you are managing at a Program level, are you identifying and managing dependencies between projects, managing timelines across projects, etc?

  14. qwertyuiop*

    I have a “virtual interview” for an Academic Library Assistant position in a few weeks. Any tips or suggestions? I’ve never had one before, so your input is much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The only suggestion I’d have is that if they have you scheduled for back-to-back interviews, advocate for some small breaks (even just 5 minutes) in between each interview, even just so you can have bathroom breaks. Otherwise, good lighting from the front (instead of the back, which will make you into a silhouette)?

    2. Stephanie*

      Have a test interview with a friend to make sure your audio sounds ok, your lighting is ok, etc. You don’t have to wear a suit, but definitely don’t call in in the hoodie and sweats.

      Some apps let you turn off self-view. I find this is useful so you don’t get distracted (it took a lot of video calling for me to get comfortable seeing myself on cameara).

      1. Stephanie*

        Also, practice staring AT the camera, not your reflection (this is where it helps to have self-view off). If you stare at your camera view in the app, your eye contact will be odd.

        1. Candy*

          Or position your self view box at the top of your screen right below your webcam, so that when you’re looking at yourself it looks like you’re looking in the camera

      2. Threeve*

        Or go low tech, and put a post-it over your face during the interview.

        (I do, however, find it helpful to check how I look in my webcam before a call, to make sure I’m at a decent angle and in decent light.)

    3. LunaLena*

      Make sure you know what’s going to appear in the background, have everything you might conceivably need nearby so you don’t have to run off to get them, and make sure all pets/people in your home know what’s happening and won’t interrupt. I’ve video-interviewed people who were sitting in their cars, one who was in a hotel lobby waiting for a Britney Spears concert, several whose dogs started barking, and one who ran off to fetch something he wanted to show us and left us sitting there for several minutes (this was after being informed that we were on a tight schedule and had a time limit on the interview). None of these would probably hurt you much if you are a strong candidate (I seem to remember the one at the Britney Spears concert actually got the job), but the interviewers WILL notice and comment amongst themselves, and it could very well tip the scales if they are on the fence about you.

      Good luck!

    4. Sara without an H*

      All previous commenters have made good suggestions: check the tech, check your lighting, check what’s behind you, and make sure all housemates know what you’re doing.

      While not all academic libraries require a formal diversity statement from applicants, it would be good to have some anecdotes and evidence of your ability to work with the kinds of students that actually attend your target institution. Beyond that, a lot of the advice in the AAM archives about interviews would probably translate well to a “virtual interview” — including Alison’s “magic question.”

      Hope it goes well.

  15. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have been disappointed with my company’s lack of leadership lately (see yesterday’s open thread) and frustrated because I feel like my contributions are not being heard. So I wanted to share something good that just happened, because it did so much to lift my spirits. A junior person in our company, in a separate division, reached out to me because he wants feedback on something he’s working on to present to the CEO (it’s work-related but not part of his everyday duties). He does not report to me, I have no supervision over his day-to-day work, but we’re a small company and he and I have established a nice relationship over the last couple of years. I was so flattered that he reached out to me and so touched when he said that he felt he could bounce ideas off of me and he wanted my help. Managing and mentoring junior team members is something I love doing and haven’t had the opportunity to do in my current role (one reason why I’m looking for another one!). It’s just nice to be reassured that people see me as open to their ideas and as someone they can come to for collaboration and support.

    1. Blueberry*

      That’s wonderful! Hooray for being recognized as someone knowledgeable and pleasant whom a junior staff member could think of and trust to reach out to!

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I can understand why co-worker sought you out. Your responses on this site are always well though out.

  16. Monty & Millie's Mom*

    I’m an essential worker still going in to the office, although many of my coworkers are now working from home. I’m okay with coming in physically – in my role, someone needs to, and it makes more sense for me than for others in my department. I’m at the unemployment office, so you can imagine how crazy-busy we have been, and we have been allowed overtime for the past several weeks, which I’ve been taking advantage of (we usually cannot have OT, ever, for anything!). However, it’s been a little much, so this week, even though we are allowed to work up to 15 hours of OT if we want, I’m “only” doing 5 hours, so I can have a full weekend off. I want to work, both for the OT pay and more importantly to help with the workload that we are all struggling with, but I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I’m hoping that a full weekend off (with nice weather, even!) will help recharge me to go a few more weeks, but am looking for coping mechanisms, too, if anyone has any advice. Thanks and happy weekend!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you try alternating weeks of OT? Or have week one with 5 hours of OT and week two with a higher amount of hours?

      Can you chose which days you work extra? Sometimes that makes a big difference for me. I think it’s a psychological thing, where I can psych myself up better on some days of the week rather than other days.

      One sloppy habit I have is not watching where that extra money goes. I always feel better if I can make myself work toward a bigger personal goal with the extra money. I feel less drained as there is personal accomplishment going on for me.

      1. MostCake*

        That’s a good suggestion! Years ago I could barely survive on my standard 40 hour pay so each unexpected expense was so stressful, but luckily my job encouraged/required lots of overtime- and with each financial hurdle, I would calculate how many OT hours I needed to work with what time frame and that helped me cope with the exhaustion and stress. I remember struggling through my dog’s $600 dental emergency and another $1500 electrical wiring crisis during that time and was just grateful I had the ability to earn the money even though it sucked energy-wise. Make a goal for each chunk of OT pay and it feels really good to be able to achieve it.

    2. Beth*

      I don’t know if it will help you cope, but I’d like to tell you that everyone keeping the unemployment offices running right now is a WONDERFUL person, and I hope you have a truly lovely weekend full of nice things.

      someone who hasn’t needed to file for unemployment in many many years but still remembers what it was like

      1. Mama Bear*

        On behalf of several of my relatives who have just gotten their unemployment approved, thank you. I know all offices are swamped. Enjoy your weekend. You will be more fresh on Monday and better able to handle the next round of claims.

    3. Slayer of Squeaky Toys*

      Just wanted to say you’re helping a lot of people right now. Take the time you need to rest so you can keep helping people over the long haul. Sadly unemployment isn’t going to magically disappear even if the lockdown lifts, so you’ll be working overtime for a while.

  17. Retail not Retail*

    My anxiety at work isn’t making me sloppy or forgetful or what have you. But I just feel this skittering tension all the time.

    We’re essential but we’re not doing essential tasks. Wednesday I pulled weeds from yuccas and mulch – logical, can’t be sprayed, visible. Then I spent the other half of the day pulling weeds from 3 foot high grasses that will be cut later. And yesterday, my supervisor was like welp! Guess we’ll just weed this area until time to pack up.

    I feel like we’re doing work to fill time and look valuable and it’s like no. This is not what essential means! Essential means mowing and watering, it does not mean “we might open soon so pull weeds in tall grass” or “remove parasite-ridden soil in a cage but not all of it, rendering the entire task moot”

    We get paid no matter what and I barely made it through Thursday with my mood spiking and incredible pain from weeding the day before (really? This is the line you draw stupid body).

    I don’t care about the ethics – this is the only time I can take off for my mental health and aching body (of course the old hip injury is screaming) and suffer no financial penalties.

    My mom is a great excuse – seizures and a pacemaker – but i mean i also worry about my coworkers! Myself! We’re not getting PPE and the only workers consistently masked are keepers. Operations is like 50/50, hell I only broke one out for allergies.

    Anyone else struggling with no answers and a delusional manager?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I hate busy work with the fire of ten suns. My sympathies.
      Is looking for new employment an option for you right now?

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If it helps any, I think that it’s easier to pull many plants when they’re on their first growth. Once they’ve been cut a lot of them branch out, plus the roots are thicker than new stems.
      But I know some weeds just die–if it’s those, I’ve got no cheer for you. Just a virtual Advil!

  18. HR Bee*

    Being laid off today, and I know that because I’m HR and have access, obviously, to all the HR folders even though my boss has said nothing and I haven’t been involved in the decisions, even though it’s literally my job to make these kind of decisions. I knew when this started, I might have to make a decision that included myself. That’s part of being in the role I’m in. But I’ve gotten zero communication, no warnings (no WARN ACT compliance), no input, nada. IT sent an “Emergency Maintenance” announcement a little over an hour ago for us all to log out and I’m assuming they’re calling through their list. Way to be shady to get everyone out of the system.

    Just sitting here with a pit in my stomach waiting for my call. Silver lining, the way this has been handled has just reinforced my thoughts that I don’t want to work at this company. Still, very very hard. UGH.

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

      I’m sorry the company is handling it in such an awkward way. Fingers crossed for you.

    2. Gilmore67*

      I am sorry you have to go through this.

      Wishing you well for a better company in your future !

    3. PX*

      That sucks. Sorry to hear your company is being so terrible about this. Best of luck going forward!

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      HR Bee, I sincerely hope you land on your feet quickly and somewhere much better than where you currently are. Your company is trash for handling layoffs like this. I’m sorry.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Hoping with everything I have that you don’t get a call.
      Let us know how you are doing.

    6. HR Bee*

      Call officially came at around 10:30. It was mostly excuses and frantic “please tell me where all these things are/where are we with this project” questions. I was asked if I was surprised.

      Also given a weird, runaround excuse as to why my white, male, exceedingly less qualified coworker, who I literally hired about 1 week before this all started was not being laid off. I don’t blame him. It’s not his fault, but come on.

      UGH. Going to snuggle with my son for a while then jump back into preparing for interviews (because no, I wasn’t surprised. I’m not stupid and have been trying to prepare are much as possible). Fingers crossed. Thanks for all the commiseration.

      1. Eleanor Knope*

        Ugh, I’m so sorry to hear that. The way they handled it was terrible. I wish you all the best — from what you’ve said, you seem extremely level-headed and talented, so I hope that your job search is quick and you find a much better fit in the future.

      2. Mama Bear*

        I’m sorry they didn’t handle it better. IMO what they can’t find is now their problem.

      3. AppleStan*

        I agree with Mama Bear. Definitely on them to find things, especially if they are keeping on someone they just hired.

        Also what is with the caller (I’m presuming your manager) asking you if you’re surprised about being laid off.

        The entire thing is skeevy. I’m sorry you were treated that way.

      4. Gallery Mouse*

        I’m sorry HR Bee…I hope you got everything you needed and got out of that place (dont look back!). It’s really true that sometimes we are not appreciated until we are gone – and I’m sure they will be reaching out for ‘where is this, where is that…’ let them know you are happy to consult at XYZper hour. HA!

  19. Heidi*

    Over the past couple months, I’ve started getting chain mail from coworkers. It’s asking us to send an “inspirational” or “empowering” poem or quote to people on the list, then put our own name on it and kick someone off the list, etc. I think that people want to feel connected or something, but I find it really irritating because I have a lot of other things I’d rather be doing. I’ve just deleted them until now, but one of them just came from my supervisor. Has anyone else had to deal with this?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I think you’re doing the right thing for you: just delete. From a supervisor doesn’t make it mandatory.

    2. Stephanie*

      There was one I kept getting at work about empowering women leaders. Even if it’s from your boss, just ignore and delete. I don’t think the chain letter is the same as your boss asking you to complete a TPS report.

    3. ALM2019*

      I’ve gotten this a few times as well this week and also from my manager which made me feel pressured to participate. I deleted all of them so far and have heard the same from a few other friends in my company. It is really off putting to see a chain email from coworkers that you respect.

    4. Threeve*

      There is a whole article in the Washington Post’s work advice column that boils down to: “Don’t do this. Don’t forward chain emails. Here are reasons which you should have thought of for yourself.”

      1. Heidi*

        Found it! Thanks for the tip. This column expresses my feelings precisely. I wish I could send this to my boss as my inspirational quote.

    5. Blueberry*

      Somewhere in my files I have a macro a friend made which was The Chain Mail Eating Puppy or something like that. He eats all the chain mail you get so you can safely ignore it. I wish I could forward him to you for the totemic value.

    6. Anonymath*

      My Dean is sending out poetry. Her original poetry. Her position and background are in no way related to poetry. Not only are we getting poetry instead of useful information, but we then get to see her subordinates telling her how much they like it by reply all.

    7. willow for now*

      I keep getting videos from our department heads about how their department is doing financially and how they are coping with Covid-19. Each of the 5 videos is 3-4 minutes long. Yeah, I’ll pass on those. Where am I supposed to put my time? Cuz I sure ain’t gonna watch them on my own time.

    8. Amanda*

      My team is thankfully made up of geeks, so if I get a fluffy mail, it’s usually some funny Zelda quote or such.

      My extended family though. So many chain messages, specially since all this began. I’ve been deleting them, yes even the one from my great granny. And I have no regrets!

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have a policy against chain letters in all aspects of my life, and have had it since I was a teenager. So I reply back saying thanks for thinking of me but please leave me off the next one, because I don’t do them, and I hate ruining your fun.

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

      I haven’t had to deal with this but just delete the one from your supervisor as you have with all others and move on.

  20. cmcinnyc*

    I am not struggling with anxiety, but I am indeed struggling with some of my *coworkers* anxiety, specifically about potential future layoffs. Our company says they’re in a good position financially, as far as it goes. Hiring is frozen, anything that can get delayed or cancelled or pushed off is in that process, and I would be stunned if anyone gets a raise this year (though some people who have gone above and beyond–we’re an essential biz–surely deserve a raise). They say no layoffs are planned but…life is life. We’ll see. No one can make any promises right now. I’m pretty ok with that. I need this job (especially, I need this health insurance), but I don’t have any real control of next steps. I have several coworkers reaching out to me from time to time freaking out a bit and I just can’t let that in right now. Normally, I would be a supportive person to turn to with a biz issue due to seniority, but when it comes to this stuff? I have no insight and nothing to offer. This isn’t like “what the best way/who do I talk to if I want to get X implemented?” This is What If on a way bigger scale, and I’ve got no resources you don’t have. Only our Pres, COO, COS, and CFO have any idea if layoffs are contemplated, and they’re not going to tell us until they have to do it. I think we all know that. I don’t like to just shut people down, but at the same time, I can’t let people dump their anxiety on me right now. If anyone has mastered kindly turning this stuff aside, tell me how you did it!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Why not just keep it really simple? “It’s gonna be okay.”
      Panicked people sometimes cannot absorb a long explanation. Sometimes minimal registers as more meaningful than any long spiel you can give them.

      My friend has been worried about this thing and that thing for a number of weeks now. I was amazed at how much ground i covered when I decided just to say, “It’ll be okay, friend. It’ll be okay.” We have done this with each other a few times over the years. Once I got myself pretty upset over X. I told him my concern at length. And to all that he said, “It will be okay.” That’s all he said. And I felt better.

      Okay means okay. Okay does not mean “great”. Okay does not mean “awful”. It means that wide area somewhere in between great and awful. It won’t be perfect or ideal but it will be workable. And sometimes being workable can be a relief in itself.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It’s okay to just not pick up the thread. You don’t have to be anyone else’s emotional support animal if you don’t want to.

      If you are usually close and normally talk about persinal stuff, maybe give a disclaimer that “Sorry, I just can’t right now.”

      If you’re not close and they are just fishing for someone to vent on, its okay to just not reply (or not reply to the non-work portion of a message).

  21. DrTheLiz*

    How do you tell somebody significantly senior to you that they’re wrong about (nearly) everything they’re suggesting and that I want to ignore their suggestions?

    Background: I’m designing a bit of website for an inter-agency project. My boss qualified in Saucer Supplies, I come from Alpaca Grooming and the senior person is a Llama Farmer. I’ve done a lot of work on making sure that people who come to the website from Camelid Hair Products are going to find their camelid of choice, but this Llama Farmer is so set in the Llama mindset that every time they make suggestions they are pushing things more in a direction that’s really unhelpful.

    I am feeling stuck between 1: continuing to bail with a bucket as they push this project right into the iceberg. Severely demoralising, will result in a waste of time and money as well as a loss of potential new “customers”.
    2: pushing back on the suggestions, but… how? How do I say “I see that you’ve made modifications X, Y, Z, A and B but X is factually wrong because alpacas are not a type of llama, Y and Z are going to bury all the brown alpaca hair results and nobody will ever find them, B is not the best way to do things. I was going to do A anyway, but I’m happy to pretend I wasn’t to seem less like I’m ignoring you, though.”

    1. PX*

      Are the goals and requirements of the project well defined? I find constantly going back to those can be a useful workaround by saying “sorry, what you’re proposing doesnt meet the goals/requirements”.

      Other options:
      – get someone more senior/knowledgeable involved? if you have target (internal) customers, can you try and get them involved and balance out the room that way?
      – how important is their input? can you cheerfully acknowledge it (“thanks! i’ll consider it!”) and then ignore?

      1. DrTheLiz*

        The goals/scope aren’t the best defined, but well enough that the suggestions are definitely in scope (but wrong). Think “ordering the llamas by name and farm” instead of “ordering the llamas by hair colour” – as a farmer, sure, you think of them by name but the hair-users don’t! But you think that they do!

        I started at my current org 2 months ago, and it’s a pan-EU project, so if there is somebody I could appeal to I don’t know how I’d find them.

        This person got involved at all because they took it upon themselves to “rescue” the “mess” I’d made of the first go. They’re wrong about that, too, they just can’t let go of their supplier-side mentality and short of giving my direct boss a huge political headache over something she doesn’t really understand (the plan at this stage has to be 80% jargon, it is Not Her Area) I don’t see how to disentangle it. Honestly, I’m at screaming-into-a-pillow levels of frustrated right now.

        1. OtterB*

          It seems to me that you’re going to have to get your boss involved. Not at the tech detail level, but at the conceptual level you gave us here, that Senior Person is offering suggestions that make sense from an internal viewpoint but not from the customer viewpoint you understand the project to be meeting the needs of, and how should you tackle that?

          1. Drtheliz*

            I fear you’re right. I don’t want to, because I was hired to decrease her blood pressure (as it were) but I need to know how much room for pushback I have.

            1. PX*

              Oof. Thats a toughie. I agree, talk to your boss. Other alternative is do you regularly do user acceptance testing or have beta users? It sucks because it usually means you’ll be further down the road, but you could try to get them involved earlier to show that to successfully reach your target audience, you need to do things differently.

              Otherwise condolences and best of luck!

            2. OtterB*

              I sympathize, but 2 months is not very long, and “this may have touchy political implications and I don’t know enough about the organization yet” is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask a boss for help with. If you deliver a project that’s not what’s needed, or inadvertently create a blow-up with Senior Staffperson, either of those will not make your boss better off in the long run.

              1. Drtheliz*

                No user testing – it’s not really big enough to warrant it, which is why it was put on my desk :p

                Monday morning I’ll be asking Boss for a check-in anyway, so I’ll raise it then: “Senior McStuffins wants things and is wrong, what do you want me to do – make a bad thing, ignore, argue, or shelve the whole business?”

                1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  If you could get even one or two outside opinions, that would probably go a long way towards bolstering your argument.

    2. ten-four*

      Digital strategist/client wrangler here! It sounds like your stakeholder is pushing for organizing content by terms that make sense to the organization but will not be intuitive for visitors? A thing you might try is getting air cover from your boss by adding “user-centered design” or something similar to the requirements. Then when your Llama guy gives you direction that pushes the whole thing to llamaland you can point back to the “user centered” goal. Or if it’s an easier sell, you can see about getting cover under the frame “we have to make sure each division is favored equally, so we’ll be doing X.”

      The key is to see if you can get high-level cover, even if it’s not a Requirement, so that you can say “great idea Llama Bob! Unfortunately, Big Boss is really serious about (“meeting users where they are” or “balancing all our divisions”) so I’m going to stick with X.


  22. Anon Anon Anon*

    Working from home is making it even more obvious I need to leave my current job…. (which of course is likely impossible right now). The person who was my supervisor left a while ago and at least with her I felt like I was part of the team and included in stuff. Now I have a new supervisor who was already bad at responding to emails (you had a better chance of getting an answer if you went to his office door and just asked the question) — but now there’s no contact with him it all. (there’s more details about being left out but I wanted to keep things as vague as possible). And I have nothing but database clean up work to do right now. I’m so bored and working from home makes it nearly impossible to stay on task for more than a few minutes at a time. And I live alone so it’s not like I have a spouse or kids distracting me it’s my own brain.

  23. LGC*

    Update from last week: friend is still looking (which I’ve made my peace with, and which they keep mentioning unprompted), and is interested in a management position…at an Amazon fulfillment center. I asked them if their spouse was okay with it, and voiced some general disapproval of Amazon specifically.

    I’ve kind of settled on the fact that they’re allowed to make their own choices, and – to be honest – it’s not a terrible choice. It’s just that I’m worried about them and their spouse – for starters, there have been numerous outbreaks at Amazon warehouses (74 by last count), and several in our area. But on the other hand, it kind of is an essential job right now.

    1. juliebulie*

      I know it must be difficult to watch your friend make mistakes when you think they should know better!

      My nephew-in-law quit an Amazon fulfillment center without another job to go to… and he has a kid to support. That’s how bad it was for him. Officially his reason for quitting was the pandemic, because he lives with his immune-compromised mother, but he had actually already drafted several “I quit and I hate youz all” letters over the past year to blow off steam (he didn’t send them), so he really was quite fed up for a long time.

      Theoretically, though, everyone can’t hate working there. Your friend sounds just contrary enough to be the exception. So good luck to your friend, and good luck to you trying to hold your tongue!

      1. LGC*

        I mean…if they get it, I’m hoping it finally works out! (Again, they bring up their job situation a lot. Which is probably the real issue, now that I think about it.)

        You might be right – I’m just bracing for disaster again. Granted, I’m a bit negative nowadays, but I’ve been through this enough times to have a feeling how this will end if they get the job.

        (Also, we live just outside of New York, so while I joke about people thinking they’re going to catch COVID-19 if they even think about the outdoors…that’s pretty close to reality here. As in, the confirmed cases alone are 1% of the population, and that’s with horrible testing rates.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      TBH, if I didn’t live with someone who was immuno-compromised, I probably would have considered it myself, because really, the only other places hiring right now aren’t much better in terms of avoiding the virus.

    3. Gatomon*

      The things I have heard via friends about how Amazon has handled things have made me seriously reconsider my shopping habits. I was already feeling uncomfortable but not enough to seriously take personal action. My yearly Prime subscription was set to renew this month and I canceled it. I’m not done with them forever, but I will put more effort into finding and using alternatives. I’m not high-risk so I don’t need things delivered to me right now if I can find them in stores.

      That said, I can’t begrudge anyone trying to find a job in this situation. Ultimately I think the issues lie with corporate, not with the folks trying to make a living in the warehouses.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I stopped ordering from Amazon a few years ago – it takes some adjusting, and you have to put in a tiny bit more legwork finding items sometimes but… I don’t miss it, and I don’t regret it. Their business practices are just SO awful.

        So I think canceling your Prime membership is a good step, and know you’ve got this internet rando’s support on whatever steps you take away from them.

  24. Pumping at Work*

    When to address pumping with a potential employer? In the past I have pumped 3 times while at work and divided up my lunch break for pumping sessions. (1 hour break=3-20 minutes pumping sessions) Most times, I would eat lunch or do computer work to stay ahead.

    Do I bring up during interview? When an offer is made? Or after I receive an offer? First day?

    I’m nervous about how to transition during the current state of affairs.

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      I had this conversation after accepting the offer and in advance of my first day. Mostly when discussing the logistics of when/where to show up for orientation.

    2. CL Cox*

      I think that’s one of those “after the offer is made” conversations. And be sure to communicate that you’re willing to revert to the former schedule once you are no longer pumping.

    3. Schnoodle HR*

      After the offer, and feel them out as you can. Do they seem flexible?

      I’m currently pumping at my job now and it’s been great, I’m exempt and have my own office. Noone questions anything.

      At an old job with my first, I had my own office and exempt as well but THEY WERE TERRIBLE. I was constantly harassed about how gross it was, a lot of backstabbing, one particular woman in the office claimed I pumped over 20 hours a week. It lead to me literally being written up for pumping too much. My boss (a white privilege male who was given the company) literally told me I should just pump once a day and get it over with. When I told him that’s not how it works he scoffed with a disgusted look on his face and said “I don’t want to KNOW how it works.” But…you just told me how YOU think it works…

      And funny enough I asked, specifically, if my performance was hindered. “No, you’re great at HR stuff!” Okay…then you just have a problem with literally my boobs, as me as a woman?!?

      Now all that had some legal gray area but I was dealing with a heavy dose of post partum depression as well. But it was crazy and if I was stronger like I am now I would have pushed back A LOT.

      You have the legal right to pump, no matter how you’re paid or what your job is. So act like it! Not necessarily in an entitled manner, but ask about it as if you’re asking something mundane like “where is the coffee machine if you supply one?”

      We, as working moms, have to stop acting like childcare and pumping make us “less” at our jobs. We’re superheroes damnit.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I’d review the laws in your state and bring it up when you talk about other logistics like parking and office space.

    4. Massive Dynamic*

      After the offer is made but before your first day. I did this once and the company didn’t bat an eye. Had me all set up in a pumping room the first morning!

  25. AP No Noir*

    I saw my CFO had a tab open to Breitbart on his browser during a shreenshare and not I just can’t think of him the same way. And I don’t want to bring it up.

    1. PB*

      I completely understand! However, I read a lot of things I don’t like or disagree with in the course of performing research. It’s always possible it was up for a benign reason.

      1. LJay*

        Yeah, maybe he’s arguing with family members on Facebook and needed to see what the article said to build his argument against it or something.

      2. Lauren*

        Also, could have been sent by a relative and he opened it, went “ugh!”, and never closed it since he is a CFO and booked meeting after meeting. This is only true if you don’t think he is apt to be conservative / believe in conspiracies / etc. I’ve worked for conservatives and some can be the best bosses, since they are so predictable in how you approach them – use numbers for everything or asking for their ‘ok to procede’ on the thing you planned on doing anyway. They just want control mostly. If the CFO is totally into this stuff, its time to see what other jobs are out there. Obviously your conscience and logic are appalled by this so yeah, look for more signs – but assume that its a weird relative sending him a link vs. constantly up as a tab in all your meetings.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I had to google it and ah I see what you mean.

      But I too have read articles on platforms I don’t agree with for various reasons. Perhaps someone sent him a link and he was rolling his eyes the entire time he was reading it. Been there a few times!

    3. merp*

      This happened to me with a former coworker, who had a printout of a Not Ok conspiracy theory about 9/11 in her cubicle… Like others have said, your situation may have another explanation! I don’t think there was in my case… but either way, I never brought it up either. Seemed too likely to go badly.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Go with the polite fiction that everyone else is giving you right now because that’s the only way you’ll be able to continue working with this guy without thinking bad thoughts about his character.

    5. InsufficientlySubordinate*

      My spouse watches and/or reads outrageous stuff for the entertainment (irritatainment) value.

      1. pancakes*

        It’s pretty gruesome to find entertainment in watching someone direct hatred at women and minorities, for starters, so I wouldn’t necessarily think better of someone who reads that stuff for their own amusement than I would of someone who truly believes it.

    6. Beth*

      If he’s never said or done anything to make you think he follows the Breitbart mindset, I would stick very tightly to the likelihood that he was reading it to Know Thine Enemy. If he’s actually said or done anything to make you suspect him before this, though . . . I still wouldn’t bring it up, and I would definitely keep him at a more-than-social distance.

    7. RagingADHD*

      How long have you known him and how closely do you interact?

      If you’ve been working together regularly for years and never seen or heard him do anything hateful or obnoxious, then either a) he’s not really a fan, or b) he knows the right way to behave regardles, which is really what matters at work.

      Save your energy. Judge his character by his words & actions, not a random background screen.

    8. Mike*

      If it helps, I listen to right wing talk radio on the commute home (well, before the commute home became walking downstairs), and I’m as progressive as they come. And not just any right wing talk radio, the really crazy stuff. I mainly do it because it’s useful to know what the other side is thinking and what they’re putting into the zeitgeist. There are a few right wing websites that I hit once a week or so for the same reason. So don’t assume anything about this guy…he may be doing some version of the same thing.

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

      You need to assess the likelihood of these possibilities based on what you know of CFO but it’s possible that he had clicked through to it from somewhere like Reddit, or was looking at things the “other side” have to say from a critical thinking perspective.

      e.g. actually I went to my partner’s office (in another room in our house) the other day, and had a tab open from the very same Breitbart (I remarked “Breitbart? Changed your opinions huh?” (he is very much in favour of unions, socialism, etc)) with some extreme opinion or other (I didn’t read it). He is a passionate advocate of reading things from “the other side” so that you are fully informed of all the viewpoints and able to engage critically with them from a knowledgeable point of view.

      (He’s picked me up on this many times, as I am inclined to be intellectually lazy sometimes and only read things I already agree with and which reinforce my own viewpoint).

      TL;DR I wouldn’t take this as evidence to shun this guy just in itself.

    10. Opal*

      In any of the online political view tests my dot is always just right of center. That being said, if I read an article on Vox, Buzzfeed, Breitbart, etc., that causes my ire to rise I immediately look for other articles from an opposing viewpoint. Don’t presume you know what someone thinks based on a tab.

    11. Analyst Editor*

      I think people’s political views compartmentalize a lot better from their daily lves than we give them credit for in these tricked times, egregious stories in AAM otwithstanding.
      If you didn’t see WHAT he was reading, then all you have is that he had right wing views which is not surprising for a CFO.

    12. sorbet*

      The last thing you want to do is invite further conversation with the kind of brain genius who reads Brietbart.

    13. Pennyworth*

      I will go to sites like that out of curiosity and also on the principle of ‘know your enemy’. Just this morning I was sent a link to some conspiracy video, which I viewed before I deleted it.

  26. Sheila E.*

    I have a weekly 1-on-1 with my boss while we’re working from home. We have a pretty good relationship. The other day, I realized that we don’t dive into how we’re doing personally. So I sent him a quick note to ask how he and her family are doing. He never responded and I was wondering if maybe it wasn’t quite… appropriate. Or he’s just really busy and forgot to respond.

    1. Misty*

      I would just assume he’s busy and forgot to reply. He may have read the email and thought that was nice of you to check in, but with everything going on he may have a lot on his plate and not want to talk about it. I wouldn’t read too much into it considering the current state of the world. I think it’s nice that you checked in with him because it shows that you care! Just my opinion.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this. If you knew he would remember to answer you three weeks from now, you wouldn’t want to waste time worrying about it now. Figure that he will answer you later and feel good about saying something nice to him.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It was a perfectly appropriate gesture. Not one that requires reciprocation.

      A lot of folks are just done with personal check-ins. Depending how many family & friend circles you deal with, the “no, but how are YOU?” cycle can start to feel like a full time job.

      You did fine.

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

      It’s ok to ask about how they are doing but the lack of response could be either having missed the message, or doesn’t want to go into it for whatever reason.

      I would back off for now and wait until boss initiates any comments about personal life before you ask again.

  27. Liz*

    Anyone able to offer advice on WFH?

    I’ve been home for 3 weeks and HATING it. I have executive dysfunction and rely a lot on external cues and motivators, as well as regular microbreaks where I could chat with co-workers and reset my brain. Now I just…. sit at my desk in silence and do nothing. I try and think of things to do but with no expectation to fit in with an office full of people, I just sort of spin my wheels for much of the day until some sense of urgency kicks in around 2-3 hours before I’m due to stop and suddenly I panic and try and do things.

    I’m just not a very self motivated person. Normally we have things going on at the office to be helping with and clients walking through the door and calling. None of that is happening now. I’ve asked my boss for a few specific tasks and I completed those in record time. She says she doesn’t expect me to be productive all day, but I feel like I’m taking money for nothing and I feel bad. Am I setting the bar too high for myself?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Listen to your boss. As long as you’re getting the critical things done, that’s all that matters. You aren’t meant to work at your optimum under these circumstances (and what forced-remote workers are having to do now is not the same experience as regular work-from-home). You aren’t taking money for nothing.

    2. Brownie*

      Yeah, that’s me right now. My executive dysfunction goes in cycles and the last two weeks have been exactly what you’re describing, if it isn’t on fire or people aren’t screaming then it sits in the ever-growing to-d0 pile while I blankly stare at the screen. Usually I try to have some kind of auditory stimulation to allow me to focus better, but my normal music just hasn’t been working. Surprisingly I did find something yesterday that’s helping me, chef bake-offs in other languages! I’ve got a French one going right now and it’s providing the office background of people talking while still being something I can tune out. Each episode is one hour so when the episode ends I make it a point to get up and walk to somewhere that’s a visual break from the office too as that helps provide that brain-flip that interacting with coworkers normally does. That’s helping me a lot and letting me feel more productive since I’m able to focus a little better and work on non-urgent tasks so the to-do pile at least isn’t getting bigger.

      Apart from that, your boss is right. Good bosses know that productivity suffers right now and won’t make nearly as big of a deal about it as your inner self is making it out to be.

    3. allathian*

      I’ve noticed that I do better with tight deadlines as well.
      I’m having a really hard time focusing on some long-term projects that require a lot of time. They’re important but not urgent, so I’m having a hard time scheduling time for them, because something more urgent always comes up. These tasks aren’t always more important in the long run, but they’re more urgent in the short run.
      I’ve also noticed that I don’t really like very long projects. I prefer to work on things I can complete in hours or a couple days at most, rather than weeks or months.
      Added to that, I have a kid to supervise while he is in remote school. This should ease off a bit on Monday, though, as the teacher will be available for three hours in the morning for a Hangouts meeting, so I’ll tell him to ask his teacher when he needs help rather than me.

  28. PX*

    Being in the limbo phase of waiting for background checks to clear/start dates to be set for a new job when you are so. done. with your current job is the immensely frustrating. That is all.

    No wait, needing to try and pretend to still be engaged in long term projects is also terrible. I can tell my manager is starting to wonder about my lack of enthusiasm/initiative and not being able to just say “Its because I dont care! And wont be here!” is the worst.

    1. Anongineer*

      I’m right there with you! It feels somewhat liberating to know you’re leaving sooner rather than later, but I’m also definitely struggling to stay motivated at my current job. I just keep reminding myself that your reputation follows you everywhere. But solidarity!

      1. PX*

        Oof yeah. Fistbump of solidarity. And I mean, I’m still doing what needs to be done. But I’ve definitely slowed down on picking up extra things I normally would. Was hoping I’d be able to ride it out until I could hand in my notice but the negotiation process dragged out a lot longer than I thought so alas, my ability to fake enthusiasm has also decreased.

        Small mercy of working from home is that there is no one to see how hard it is to motivate myself to do anything.

    2. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

      I hate to suggest this, but you could go white lie. “With all the stress in the world, my mind is not focused at the moment.” Just don’t mention the stress is waiting on the new job to get back to you and the world is technically your personal one. ;)

      1. PX*

        Uggh I wish I could. I blamed it on having some other project that was time sensitive that needed to be done. But cant lie, the timing on this isnt going to great when I’ve just had to basically re-affirm how keen I am in LongTermProject™ and then turn around and hand in my notice in (hopefully!) a few weeks.

        Oh well, I keep telling myself its just business in the end ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  29. Purple Lotus*

    References on company websites. I have run into a few sites where it is required to have someone’s email, but either they don’t have one or I don’t have access to it. What to put?

    1. CL Cox*

      I think you can leave it blank, but what I have done in the past is reach out to everyone I’m planning on using and ask them if they’re still OK being a reference and what are the preferred phone and email if companies want to contact them? That way, they know something might be coming and you have the best contact info.

  30. Matilda Jefferies*

    Oh my gosh I’m so tired. I posted about it all yesterday, so I won’t repeat it here, other than the part where I’m really really tired!

    One non-covid thing I find interesting – one of the things I was not anticipating as a manager is how much time I have to spend managing my inbox. If I look away from it for even a couple of hours, it gets out of control. I’m not good with auto-filtering to folders, because my brain is very much wired for “out of sight, out of mind.” If it’s in a folder, that means it’s done and I don’t have to think about it any more. There are some things that I can filter consistently – like carpet cleaning in the other building, which of course isn’t happening any more – but for most things I really do need to triage them more or less as they come in. Each message doesn’t take long, but they do add up!

    1. merp*

      This is me too, and I’m not even a manager! My system of “in the inbox means I need to do something, not in inbox means it’s done” has not been working out so well with a muuuuch larger email volume. I have to sit and organize it about twice a day to not completely lose my ability to get things done.

      1. Mill Miker*

        This is one thing I’ve really come to appreciate about Gmail/GSuites use of “labels” instead of folders for email. The labels are treated like folders in the interface, but it’s not one-to-one with messages, so you can sort an email to multiple labels, and taking the message out of the inbox is a separate action from adding a label. This lets you set up all your email to be sorted, but to still all be in the inbox. When you’re done, you just hit the “Archive” button, and it takes it out of the inbox, and it’s already in whatever the right folder was.

  31. You Can Call Me Al*

    So my boss announced on Monday that we are getting a new part-time employee at our nonprofit. He won’t tell us her name because she currently works for the state and we are a lobbying principal (our state is incredibly strict and state employees can’t accept positions with lobbying principals while still employed with the state). She starts on Monday. All that he said about her position is that she will be handling some communications and public affairs. My job? Communications and public affairs. Then he said that he misspoke and she will be applying for government loans and grants, the majority of which are already out of money.

    But the thing that I am most upset about is that out of an office of now 7 people, I am the only person that is not “Director of XXX.” Every single other person has that title and several coworkers have told me that they have been encouraging my boss to change my title since I am already doing Director-level work (seriously I found the job description from when my coworker was hired as Director of Public Affairs who has since been promoted and I am doing every single responsibility without the title and salary). I asked for a promotion back in December and my boss said that I didn’t deserve it.

    Honestly, there is a whole lot of other junk happening at this job. I just don’t feel valued and that my contributions will never be valued. Honestly don’t think there is really a question here now that I am finished writing this all out. I’m just drained.

    1. CL Cox*

      Did you ask your boss for specifics on what they want to see you do/accomplish in order to receive the title promotion? If not, that would be a good first step. It could be as simple as some sort of certification or other thing that your manager feels is necessary to become a Director.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        He told me I needed an “attitude adjustment” because I asked to be taken off of a specific project. The project was writing a report to the Board of Directors about a meeting that happened before I started. He just threw a box of notes in my office one day and told me to write a report.

        1. TimeTravlR*

          You sound drained. I am drained just reading this! I hope you can find something else because you surely need to!

        2. PX*


          Please start job hunting. I know it all seems a bit gloomy out there, but there are still jobs to be had, and there are definitely better jobs than where you find yourself.

        3. Not a cat*

          While I don’t love the phrase “needing an attitude adjustment”, I don’t think the report project sounds unreasonable at all. Sounds like you are fed up and should start looking for a new job.

          1. You Can Call Me Al*

            So just for some additional background, it started off as write a report to the board, I will help you every step of the way and we will collaborate on the project. Okay, great. Then it became write the report on your own. Then it became write an annual report to the Board that includes reflections from the meeting notes and strategic planning for the association and develop mission statements etc., high level things that I did not feel comfortable doing on my own. It was at that last step that I started raising concerns as I was doing strategic planning without any input from anyone in the office and was by far the most junior person in the office. In the end, he scrapped everything I wrote about the board meeting report and said that it was unnecessary.

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

      But she has accepted the position? (since she’s starting Monday) — but state employees can’t accept positions with orgs like yours while employed by the state? … if your state is strict is there anyone you can report this to?

      I’m sorry to say it but I feel like you may be being pushed out of this job / encouraged to quit.

      1. You Can Call Me Al*

        She “hypothetically potentially expressed interest” in the position and never discussed salary or benefits (aka everything was discussed in advance). I had to do the same when I left state government, only speak in hypothetical scenarios and not get anything in writing, which has allowed my boss to completely screw me over with my vacation time and other PTO policies because he “remembers the conversation differently”

  32. Millennial Lizard Person*

    Real talk, if anyone is a zookeeper raising a small village of otters, we NEED an interview!

    1. Anima*

      What’s up with this small otter village? Where did this come from?

      That said, if anyone can contribute otters to the discussion, come forward, please!

  33. Just another entry level worker*

    I put in my notice on early March. My boss asked me to stay as a contract employee while they’re searching for my replacement. I have the long commute, but otherwise I like my job and would like to preserve a good relationship, so I agreed. My boss initially asked me to stay for 6 months, but when I said I only could stay for another 3 months, he agreed. I signed the contract, and a couple of days later we started WFH because of the pandemic.

    I love WFH. It eliminates the only major reason why I resigned, and basically I enjoy my job, so it’s a great setup for me.

    I’ve been job searching since the beginning of the year, been invited to a couple of interviews, but I decided not to pursue them. Given the economic impact of the pandemic, I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to find a job soon in the remaining two months left of my contract.

    So I wonder whether I could ask my contract to be extended, at least for 3 months, like my boss’s original offer? What do people think? If it sounds reasonable, how do I approach it with my boss?

    Thanks in advance!

    Note: not in the US, so not asking about legality or such.

    1. Four lights*

      Sounds like a good idea. It could be there having a hard time finding someone for your position at this point anyways. You could say “given the current situation, I’d be interested in extending my contract for another three months if that’s still something you’re open to.”

    2. Tableau Wizard*

      I definitely think if they aren’t having luck with filling the position (which feels likely given everything), I bet they’d love that. make sure you state that you’d want to stay remote regardless of if things open back up (if that’s the case)

      1. Just another entry level worker*

        I don’t know how long we’ll stay WFH, which is a bit of a problem. The city where I work began a lockdown earlier this month, while the city where I live just began last week. Given that my company decided to play it safe and started WFH way earlier, though, gives me hope that they won’t be too hasty in reopening the office.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I don’t see the hurt in asking for an extension. The worse thing is he says “no, we have it covered now.” and you still leave on good terms.

      I would approach it as an offer of “We originally spoke about 6 months but at the time I was only able to commit to 3. I am now happy to add another 3 months on given all our circumstances, would you be willing to revisit my contract and perhaps extend it again?”

      Don’t go in acting entitled or as if it’s not another discussion that he has every right to say “no thank you” to and all should be perfectly professional and acceptable.

      1. Just another entry level worker*

        Thank you! And don’t worry, I tend to err on the deferential side ;)

    4. Just another entry level worker*

      Can’t believe I forgot an important question: should I ask ASAP, or wait (like maybe two weeks) until the lockdown situation is clearer/my company’s plan to return to office becomes clear?

      1. CL Cox*

        How long is left on the 3 months, about a month and a half? I would go ahead and have the discussion now. And I agree with Tableau Wizard about asking to WFH if they go back to regular work before the additional 3 months is up. Be prepared for a “no” to that as well and decide whether you’d be willing to extend if they do go back before the end of the contract.

        Also be prepared to hear, “I’ll have to check and get back to you.” A lot of companies are only planning a couple of weeks or maybe a month out right now, so they may not be at the point of figuring what they want to do at the end of May. You asking should prompt them to discuss it and decide if they haven’t already done so up to this point.

  34. hmmmm*

    This seems trivial with all that’s going on, but thought I would ask anyway or when things go back to normal.

    When socially talking with your coworkers, how do you handle being an “older” employee living with a relative without sounding like a slacker?

    The longer version, My husband and I are in our mid 40s/ early 50s. We have an elementary school aged child. We live with my father. No it’s not because of some irresponsible issue. We’ve been living with him since a few months after my mom passed 4 years ago. Dad was adjusting to a new life and helping care for a disabled but active relative , said relative lives near by. My immediate family and I had some large-unexpected-no-one-can-prepare for bills and are saving for a house. In addition we found out that Dad’s school district is one of the best to deal with a learning disability my child has. Housing prices here are insanely high and we are located in a high cost of living area. This weird living situation has worked out for us… we pay rent, no we are not living here free. We help Dad around the house taking over many day to day tasks as well as tasks he had to hire out; we also help and get a long with our extended family including our disabled relative; Dad helps us with childcare, has a special bond with child and allows us to save towards our overall goals.

    I realize that in todays day and age it’s not unheard of, but I feel like some teenager when talking about my homelife. For example – how was your weekend? I watched a movie with husband, child and dad? Husband, Child, Dad and I met up with friends at the local carnival. We all have lives outside of each other, respect each other’s privacy, just spend time together like you would in any household. I’ve done nothing wrong but How do I get over this professionally? My friends (in personal life) and coworkers seem to understand, some have even said they are envious but when talking to a work acquaintance who doesn’t know the whole story and sorted details…..

    1. Four lights*

      You could just say “my family” without identifying everybody. if you’re just saying one or two sentences you may not have to go into that much detail.

    2. Tableau Wizard*

      I think framing it as “My dad lives with us” rather than “I still live with my dad” feels much different, so maybe use that language/context?

      1. Retail not Retail*

        That framing would redirect, but if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t explain beyond “yeah I stay at my dad’s” and we did xyz

        I am living with my mother and not paying rent, but I am covering our full cell phone bill and since she’s high risk, covering more of the groceries this past month! It is for both of us – she has seizures and I have crippling anxiety/depression/eff up life problems. My job right now doesn’t pay enough for a life this stable on my own.

        If anyone cares, I don’t.

      2. Fabulous*

        I was going to say this as well. “My dad is living with us” or “We’re living with my dad to keep him company and help out since mom died” or something of the sort.

    3. hmmmm*

      Thanks everyone. I’ve only given the highlights to the reason we live with Dad, Dad with us. If anyone wants to do happy hour and asks for the long novel length story I will tell it. I’m just not looking to bore anyone with the details. In addition I work for a very laid back company where CEOs and upper management often stop by to say hi. As friendly as everyone is, I’m not friendly enough with those higher up to explain it all. My track record at work proves I’m not a slacker. I just don’t want to want to seem “childish”.

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        From what you have shared here, it doesn’t sound childish at all. It is very common for those of us in your age bracket to be helping out our parents and for our parents to be helping us with childcare and other forms of support. If I were your coworker I would think it is wonderful that you are able to be with your father and that he and your child are able to spend so much time together.

    4. Works for me!*

      Sounds like people have been judgmental in the past when you share your living situation :(

      I think it sounds like the best of all worlds! Look at all the good it’s doing – you’re able to help your dad, your other relative, and have the education system you need for your child. And with Covid-19 you have the benefit of keeping them company – my granny is all by herself in an apartment states away from me and kills me that she’s alone.

      Framing it differently might help! “My family is close, and it’s been such a relief to make sure we can take care of each other. I love that we can go about our business like normal, and if dad wants to watch a movie or hang out with [child] everybody’s right there. I live in Boston and my sister is in San Francisco – ballooning rents and house prices make this kind of set up enviable! People who act like it’s weird might not have the best of relationships with their folks, or think the appearance of total ‘independence’ are the end all be all. Sucks to be them IMO.

    5. Joielle*

      Can you frame it like your dad lives with you, rather than the other way around? More like “we consolidated households after mom passed because dad needed help” instead of “I moved back to my childhood home.”

      Of course, there SHOULDN’T be any weirdness around it, because it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do no matter the reason, and sounds like it worked out great in your situation. But if you’re worried about weirdness from coworkers, maybe a bit of a re-framing would help.

      1. Joielle*

        Whoops, lots of people said the same thing before I refreshed. I don’t think you need to explain the whole situation to anyone proactively. More like… “What did you do this weekend?” “My husband, kid, dad, and I went to the movies.” “Oh, does your dad live nearby?” “Yeah, he stays with us. After my mom passed it seemed like it made the most sense for everyone.”

        1. Pennyworth*

          I live on my own but often go to the movies with friends. If anyone asks about my weekend I might say either ‘I went to the movies’ or ‘We went to the movies’. 99 times out of 100 no-one asks who ‘we’ are. As for living with your father, that seems like a sensible and normal arrangement. I can’t understand why people would think it was any of their business.

    6. Epsilon Delta*

      I really don’t think it’s weird to live with your parent, even when you are older! If anything, based on your family structure, I would assume that your dad had moved in with you. But it’s none of my business as your coworker and it would not change my opinion of you at all. I seriously would not want to know the details of why you live with your dad, any more than I would want to know the details of why you chose to have X number of kids or get married or any other family structure choices. That doesn’t mean you have to hide it, just that you don’t have to go into detail as to why.

    7. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I don’t think there’s anything weird or immature at all about you situation! Given your ages and family structure, my first assumption would be that your dad needed some support (and being lonely after your mom passed and not being able to do home maintenance easily totally counts) and that living together is what works best for you. Plus, I don’t live at home and I’m a little younger than you, but I could say the same thing about a lot of my weekends. I’m close to my parents and a lot of my friends are strapped for cash, so if I’m going out to a restaurant or a show it’s probably with them.

      Now, that being said, if you were, say complaining about the bologna sandwich your dad packed for your lunch or turned down invitations to go to happy hour because your dad won’t let you stay out after 7, that might be another story. (jk)

    8. OtterB*

      I think a general attitude of “this works great for us for now “ is all you need. People you are closer to will naturally know more about your living situation but you don’t answer to anyone except the people involved about it.

    9. That Millennial*

      You’ve had several good comments already, but I’ll just add – I’m in my late 20s, and I would never default to assuming someone was living with their parent for slacker reasons. Among my age group peers, there are so many reasons alone that aren’t slacker related, and that ignores the fact that I work predominantly with people who are not my age group peers, live in a pretty interconnected world, and am totally aware that housing situations can be dependent on commute, health, convenience, childcare, culture, etc. etc. etc. – I know people my age who are married and houseowners and have roommates just because they like the social sharing. I know people older than me who rent studios and don’t live with long-term romantic partners. We don’t feel the need to conform to the platonic home as much as previous generations and don’t think much about others also not conforming. Live your best life however it may take shape!

    10. Fikly*

      Not only is this not unheard of, but I feel like I’ve heard of people of your age being referred to as the “sandwich generation” or something similar because you are caring both for children and your parents at the same time, often in the same house.

      Having older relatives, especially a parent, live with you when they can no longer care for themselves living alone, is really pretty common. It used to be the norm, even. Indeed, the situation you describe, where your parent helps around the house and with childcare, and in exchange gets help from you, is pretty much how it has worked for centuries. The idea of parents and their children only is a very modern conception, and only in some countries.

    11. RagingADHD*

      “We share a house with my dad since my mom passed.”

      This is so unbelievably common and normal, anyone who would act like it’s wierd or childish must be living under a rock.

      Or is simply a huge jerk.

    12. Nervous Nellie*

      Who’s to say you live with him instead of he lives with you? It’s nobody’s business and nothing to apologize for or explain. I would hope that anyone who heard you talking about your home life would admire you for making it work so well. I admire you. You make it sound just lovely!

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

      “I’m not sure if Dad lives with us or we live with Dad at this point!! haha, but we get to benefit from Dad’s school district and him providing childcare but we help him out and do stuff that he had to hire people to do, so it’s basically a wash”.

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

      Btw, when people ask what did you do at the weekend, a response like “I watched a movie with husband, child and dad? Husband, Child, Dad and I met up with friends at the local carnival.” is a bit too literal. You could just say something like “we watched movie X” or “oh we went to the local carnival and met up with friends”. I think in most cases when people ask stuff like that it’s generally just social glue to further the conversation/work relationship rather than literally wanting to know the answer.

      I know for myself I just accept the answers to “what you did at the weekend” at face value and just continue the conversation from there (e.g. “oh we went to the local carnival” — my response “oh do they still have the person in the booth giving palm readings? haha I went to one of those” etc).

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

        e.g. just today I asked a co-worker who had been due to go to a wedding (but couldn’t due to social distancing restrictions) whether the wedding still happened in a “paperwork” format or if it was canceled completely. I don’t care about the answer but I am just furthering the social interaction.

    15. AnonAcademic*

      Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you seem out of the age range for the “boomerang millennial living at home” stereotype. The “caregiving for an elderly relative” role is super common amongst my friends who are closer to 50. I cannot imagine someone using this as evidence of you being “immature.”

    16. Mama Bear*

      You’re actually not as unusual as you think. I would be sure to say things like “our house” vs “Dad’s house” and try not to worry overmuch what your acquaintance thinks. If you are really not friendly with them, then I’d keep it simple as other suggested. Small talk can be small.

    17. Former Retail Manager*

      Similar situation here, but the actual details of my situation are different. My husband and I are 40 and my mom is 74 and has been a widow for over 25 years. We have all lived together since my daughter was born (she’s 20 now). I’d first suggest decreasing the level of detail you provide to the ‘what did you do this weekend’ question and just say you hung out with family, etc. If the actual need to discuss our living situation arose, I would always say that we are fortunate to be a multigenerational household with my mother, us, and our daughter. I always said it in an upbeat tone and most people didn’t question beyond this point. And if they did, I’d then explain the story because I’m a pretty open person. I talk about my family on a regular basis and all of my co-workers know about my mother and most are envious of the situation. She’s a great baker and tasty treats abound, as well as other contributions she makes to the household that are not monetary, for which we’re very appreciative.

      And now…..a mini rant……to be honest, there will probably always be some people that think it’s weird or whatever….forget those people. In the grand scheme, Americans are one of the few cultures that routinely stick their elders “in the home.” To the few judgmental folks I’ve encountered in the past, I told them that it’s not only financially beneficial for all of us to remain together, but I also have had the pleasure of getting to know my mother as a person, not just as my mother, and that I enjoy spending time with her and making new memories. Not everyone gets that time.

    18. Sled dog mama*

      My parents and I moved into my maternal grandfather’s house when I was 3 (about 6 months after my grandmother passed away). I lived there until I got married at 24. My brothers were born after we moved and lived there until they finished college.
      We were much as you describe your family, all having our own lives and home being the intersection.
      Growing up I always described my household as multi generational (especially since my grandfather was a WWII vet, my parents Boomers, and I fall some where between X and Millennials not really identifying with either but just barely being a Gen Xer by birth year).
      I don’t have any really good advice but I do know that in my experience people won’t care. There’s a huge difference in people who make poor decisions and fall back on living with parents and people who choose to live with parents for whatever valid reason. Others will see your personality and track record and know which you are.

    19. hmmmm*

      Hi All… thank you for the encouragement and helping me realize this is more normal than I thought. I guess this post came about from a friendly discussion with coworkers. We are all of different ages but get along well. One lady I work, age 25, with is (in her words) a self proclaimed princess. I guess after hearing about buying a mansion of a house and others chiming in that they also had their own homes it kind of got me thinking of how people would perceive me living with relatives. When my spouse and I got together and started getting serious it was never in the plans to get a house right away, we had other goals. While we planned for the unexpected/ life events things happened on a different timeline. I realize this might be my perception, but I felt like my princess coworker gave me a funny look and I thought that maybe others thought the same way. To be honest while I things are different than planned, we’re all thrilled with our living situation. It works well for us.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh my Gosh Never, ever, ever assess your life or situarion through the lens of a 25 year old.

        Unless you’re 19, or something That’s the only way it’s going to give you a reasonable or healthy perspective.

        And not even then, if it’s a 25 year old who refers to herself as a “princess.” Gak.

        1. allathian*

          Agreed! You can ignore anything the self-proclaimed princess says from now on… She’s the outlier, not you.
          My sister and I shared an apartment owned by our dad for a few years, in the same building my parents lived in, in our late teens and early twenties.

    20. sorbet*

      I’m mid-30s and live with my mom. I just say something like “I live with my mom by choice, she’s the best roommate I’ve ever had” and move on with my life. Anyone who has a problem with it can kick rocks. Most people express strong approval of my decision to be an active part of my mom’s life. Helps a bit I think that she moved across the country to live with me, but still. Being smart with your money and close with your parents isn’t a moral crime, and anyone who acts like it is should recalibrate their priorities.

    21. Hmmmm*

      Hey everyone. Thanks for the encouragement and confirming that my living situation is quite normal. I guess I had a confidence shock when speaking with my younger coworker (see post) as well as some facebook posts about peers buying multiple houses and rental properties. I know everyone’s situation is different and everyone has their own set of circumstances. I work in a small office where I think eventually people would find out about each others living situation. Everyone on AAM has given me great ideas on how to handle things with my work family vs my work acquaintances. As someone pointed out I am in a great situation right now in caring for extended and immediate family as well as preparing for the future. Thanks everyone and stay safe.

  35. thebakeisapie*

    For those who suddenly went from an office/cube to WFH, what is a weird thing that you left there that you miss?

    My surprising thing is a cloth bowl holder that you use when transporting stuff from your microwave to your desk. It’s a totally silly object, but I’ve been missing it when I make my work-from-home soups.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      I have one of those cheesy everyone-paints-a-picture-while-drinking paintings. I didn’t take it home, but I miss having such a tangible reminder of my friends next to me while I work. Didn’t think I’d get so sentimental about a poorly done DIY painting!

    2. DrTheLiz*

      I’m really missing three things: physical space, scrap paper and post-its.

      I had a really good system going where I’d put stray thoughts on a post-it, then every time work slowed down I’d check my post-its and see where I was at with things. Similarly I could do some drafting on A4 paper. My A6 notebook works for most things but it’s just too small to do things like freehand category assignment (what things go in which categories for when I actually sort them later).

      I’ve also spent three days e-mailing back and forth with Boss about something that would have been solved in ten minutes if I could have just put her behind my damn shoulder while I did the thing, but that’s a normal thing to miss I think.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Hah! In literally six years of working remotely, literally the only office supplies I’ve used are pens (which I have by the dozens anyway) and post-it notes. :)

      2. thebakeisapie*

        I’m with you on the post-its! Multiple times I’ve turned to look at ghost post-its when I’ve needed to reference something that’s normally tacked to my cube wall.

      3. CanadianNarwhal*

        The only office supply I’ve bought in the month since I’ve been WFH has been post it notes ;)

        1. Drtheliz*

          My apartment has wallpaper and my “desk” is a freestanding triangle thing barely bigger than my laptop, so I’ve nowhere to put them *dramatic Face of Despair*

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I left my fitbit charger at my desk. It’s not like I’m working out all the time, but I liked the challenge of keeping my fitbit charged.

    4. Third or Nothing!*

      I got a fantastic mug in a work Christmas exchange last year. It has the Deathly Hallows on it with the text Miles Managed underneath. I have no idea how my person knew to get me a Harry Potter running themed mug, but I love it and miss seeing it. Also he included some amazing orange rooibos that I’d enjoy having right now. I have lots of tisane at home, but none that’s citrus-y and I’ve got a craving.

    5. Extension Denied*

      I miss my little desk toys, like a stuffed monkey from ThinkGeek (RIP) and one of those cell phone popsockets I use as a fidget toy.
      Technically I could get them, but I can’t leave them on my desk, because cats are a-holes.

    6. Joielle*

      My Ember mug! I thought about taking it with me but my bag was already pretty full and I figured I could do without it for a couple weeks. Now that we’ll be home WAY longer than that I’m considering just buying another one. It’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a mug (let alone two of them) but omg I miss having perfect-temperature coffee all day.

    7. CTT*

      I bought a bag of those Cadbury mini eggs and stuck it in my drawer like 3 days before the WFH order. I could run in and pick them up (I’ve had to go in a few times due to computer issues) but I like the idea of them waiting for me. Except when I’m craving chocolate, and then I kick myself for leaving them there.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        You may want to reconsider. If you’re waiting until the pandemic ends and everything goes back to normal (or whatever will pass for it), the mini eggs may have melted by then.

    8. Brownie*

      My electric kettle. Boiling water on my stove takes so long in comparison and when the tea urge strikes I need it asap, not in 15 minutes after I’ve forgotten that I was making tea and suddenly jump 10 ft in the air when the kettle starts shrieking like a banshee.

    9. CL Cox*

      My second monitor. I had it primarily for security cameras, but it was also really handy when I was working on payroll or putting data in spreadsheets.

      1. Juneybug*

        Me too! Having two monitors made things so much easier to do/review/coordinate. When I go back (we have working from home two months now), I am going to hug-cry my two monitors.

        1. CL Cox*

          I will be getting a laptop and a dock next year, this situation made my boss and I realize that not having a work computer at home (work laptops can access certain programs and sites that we can’t get into from home) was restricting some of the things I could do. But I’ll still be keeping my nice new flat screen second monitor, since I’ll still need to access the cameras (we buzz people into the school, and I need to see who it is first).

    10. Blueberry*

      My stuffed purple flower which a friend gave me when I wrote about the impossibility of keeping plants alive in my office. I didn’t think I’d miss it this much but I do.

    11. AlexandriaVictoria*

      The ice machine. I happily chomp on that wonderful nugget ice all day. I’m going through withdrawal!

    12. coffee cup*

      I’m missing the coffee van that comes to our building every day. The couple who run it are lovely and the coffee is lovely and also well priced. I work 35 miles from home so no chance she can come round at the moment, sadly! I make my own coffee at home but it isn’t as good and I just enjoyed the treat, it was something to look forward to.

    13. juliebulie*

      My little baby cactus sproutlings. Also I got some incense from Amazon which was delivered the day after we all went home, so I still don’t know how it smells yet.

    14. Coverage Associate*

      My teddy lion from Venice. I brought it in when northern Italy was the hotspot.

    15. Gumby*

      It’s not weird or little but – my two decent sized monitors! Hate the tiny laptop screen and keyboard. (Tried bringing a monitor home, work didn’t have the necessary connector, bought one myself, didn’t work, gave up.)

      Also, a concrete place where I can leave work out. Currently working from the kitchen table so everything has to be at least pushed to the side every night. It messes with my systems (things in this pile have to be dealt with, things in that pile have to be filed, etc.).

      But at least I grabbed a handful of post its when I left the office a month ago.

      1. CL Cox*

        We left some of those in the front office. I told the head custodian tohave his people use them as needed. We primarily bought them because of so many people in the office. A week after we got them, the district decided to close the schools down.

        Luckily, hand sanitizer can stay good for years (not that they’ll last that long).

  36. Anonymom*

    Anyone have any fun Zoom mishaps this week? For me, I was on a call with my SVP and a bunch of senior directors when my cat brought a live bird into the house through the pet door, which she released when I yelled. Which the dog promptly caught and ran outside with before we could stop her. All caught on video!

    1. WineNot*

      This is amazing. How did everyone react?

      I didn’t have a mishap, but I was on a call with 4 others and only one person had his camera on. He was eating a sandwich and literally chugging Gatorade for his lunch. We could see it all happen at a brutal angle. About 30 minutes later he goes “hey I have a question…can you guys see me even though I can’t see you?”…he didn’t realize we could see him the whole time. It could have been way worse of course, but still gave me a reason to smile.

      1. Anonymom*

        It was pretty spectacular. Thankfully I was muted so they couldn’t hear the commotion but there was general amusement at my freakout.

        At least he wasn’t knowingly on video eating. I am amazing but the number of people who are good with being on video, chewing away!

    2. Sunset Maple*

      Not video, but audio on Skype. I unmuted to speak one effing sentence during an hour-long meeting, so of course my landline started blaring off the hook during that hot second. The freshly graduated marketing coordinator said “Huh, that’s an odd ringtone.” So then I felt both stupid and OLD.

      1. Anonymom*

        That’s insult added to injury! My kids have a bad habit of having nothing to ask when I’m on mute and suddenly needing stuff urgently as soon as I have to speak in a meeting.

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

        One of the BA’s toddler reached her and told her “mommy, I pooed” in the middle of a call.

    3. J.B.*

      Yes!! I was apparently still logged in on the ipad my six year old was using. She joined my meeting :)

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

      All of my male coworkers are growing beards, and I mistook the senior coworker that I can’t stand for a new employee. Even worse, he looks really handsome with the beard. I’ve never felt so embarrased in years. UGHHHHHHH

    5. Fikly*

      Not a mishap, but my grandboss was wearing the same ratty t-shirt in the last meeting of the night, and the first meeting of the next morning, and I felt much better about myself after seeing that.

    6. Comrade*

      Yes! I had to do a screenshare in a meeting with one of the most senior leaders of my organisation and needed to show him and document in my inbox. My inbox greeted my with an email saying ‚Dear comrades, here is some Info about the women‘s strike!‘
      I‘ve been at this job for four weeks…

    7. Anon for today*

      I discovered that my new computer I got doesn’t have a webcam! At least it was for a game with friends not next week for work!

    8. Feliz*

      Haha, the bird mishap is pretty impressive!

      My cats have also bought in a variety of rodents & birds, so far only one live mouse release while I was unmuted in a meeting ….

    9. AcademiaNut*

      My telecons are all with regular zoom users, so we’ve got the basics down pretty well. However, the last couple meetings have involved people playing with the reactions feature and virtual backgrounds while waiting for everyone to log on.

    10. CL Cox*

      We use Teams for our meetings. We have over 100 staff, so usuallly, it’s just my boss talking and everyone is supposed to have cameras and microphones off. Last week, in the middle of my boss talking, we could suddenly hear a string of f-bombs. Our head custodian forgot to mute his microphone and someone in his office was the guilty party. We all had a good laugh and we now joke about it. But I also think it helps the folks who forget to mute feel better that it’s just their kids we hear!

  37. cactus lady*

    I asked this on the COVID thread yesterday, but since it’s not COVID-specific, I thought I’d repost it here :)

    Does anyone have any tips for working from home with an 8-week old puppy? I’m getting my new lil guy (a German shorthaired pointer) in a couple of weeks, and I’d love any advice! I’m already planning on crate training him and having him on a schedule to go outside every couple of hours.


      1. cactus lady*

        I wish I could post one, he’s pretty much the cutest puppy ever (I may be biased though).

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      You’re going to want to plan lots of time for him to be physically away from you (like, in another room, not just in a crate next to your desk). It’s critical for puppies to learn that they can survive being alone; otherwise, they can develop separation anxiety, which is a genuinely devastating, lifelong problem.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Reposting my advice from yesterday to keep it all in one place for you:

      Begin as you mean to go on! I brought the Junior Ambassador home at 8 weeks and let her spend all the time she wanted napping in my lap because it was crazy cute, and then I had to upgrade my desk chair to a desk armchair a couple years ago and I currently have 50 pounds of snuggly 5 year old whippet mix draped across my leg taking her half of the chair out of the middle. (And she gets really mad at husband for not having enough room in HIS chair that she can climb up and snuggle with HIM.)

      While you’re still working on house training: ration the water. If you put down a whole bowlful, and let puppy drink the whole bowlful at their leisure, I swear they will manage to quadruple the volume in pee all over your floors. :P But if you put down a little bit at a time – quarter cup, half cup? 30 minutes before the normal scheduled going-outside time, it’ll be easier to manage.

      Additional: Something you might consider while you’re in the process of house training- some folks train their dogs to ring a bell when they’re needing out. You can get them on etsy or amazon or probably a million places, they’re just two or three bells hung on a ribbon over the appropriate doorknob/handle, and you train the dog to ring them with their paw when they need to go outside. I didn’t, because my older dog (who came to me pre-trained) was afraid of the bells, but I thought it was a neat idea.

      1. pancakes*

        There are several good reasons to not restrict water as an indirect potty-training technique. I’ll drop a link in a separate reply.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Hm. That all seems reasonable, though I’ll note that it sounds like the folks they’re talking about are far more restrictive than I was suggesting – I said to give some every 1-2 hours, not 1-2 times a day or just at mealtimes. Further research warranted, thank you :)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I usually gate my pups in the kitchen when I can’t watch them. There is less to damage out there and the flooring is linoleum.

      I put a makeshift bed for them up against the heater. (Hot water heat.) This is usually a cardboard box and an old blanket. It’s good to have a place that they can settle into. When they chew it up, I toss it all out and get fresh. (Or they grow and need a bigger box. ha!)

      Sometimes playing a radio with calming music helps them, also.

      Pups do have high energy and they truly cannot help some of their behaviors. Planned exercise/play time is as important as planned outings. They have to burn off steam or you can end up with interruptions when you don’t want them.

      My previous dog learned to ask to go out by the time he was three months old. I think other people have had better luck than that with pups, but I was pretty happy with his accomplishment.

    4. abundance of caution*

      I did this! The first 3-4 weeks, before they are reliably housetrained, are the hardest since you can’t let them out of your sight. The AKC has a good sample puppy schedule; google “AKC puppy schedule” and scroll to the bottom of the Puppy Schedule: Daily Routine page. Here’s what mine looked like:
      7-8 am: get up, breakfast, play
      8-10 am: crate/nap time while I worked
      10-10:30 am: potty break, play time
      10:30-12 noon: back in the crate
      12-1 pm: lunch, play time
      1-3: back in the crate
      3-3:30: potty break, play time
      3:30-5: crate time
      5 pm: out for the evening, play time, cuddle time, training, etc.

      I also crated her for about an hour in the evening so I could eat dinner and have a little bit of down time. If you don’t have a partner especially it can be exhausting to watch pup All The Time. Puppyhood is definitely a case of ‘days go slow, weeks go fast.’ Snuggle your little one a lot and take lots of photos!

    5. sorbet*

      Don’t give him the opportunity to get in trouble. When he isn’t crated or being actively supervised, put him in an exercise pen. No solo puppy wandering around the house. That’s how stuff gets destroyed and accidents happen. When you can supervise him, PLAY WITH HIM A TON! A tired puppy is a good puppy. Plus, appropriate play is a great way to establish an early training relationship.

  38. Roki*

    What is a manager’s duty to adhere to confidentiality in a setting where health information was voluntarily disclosed to them where an organization has an occupational health department that any medical leaves/accommodations go through without details being shared with a manager?

    I have a colleague who is currently out on an unexpected 6 week medical leave and will require another related leave this fall. She went through the proper channels through occupational health but also disclosed the reason for her leave to our manager. Our manager has been sharing some of her medical details with some members of the team. He says that his reason for sharing is to begin to plan for her upcoming leave in the fall, but when I said that it made me uncomfortable that he shared information about her health he argued that because she voluntarily disclosed details to him, rather restricting the details just to the occupational health department, she had no expectation of privacy and he could share the information however he wanted. I tried to argue that he had no reason to share medical details and if he wanted to plan for her leave he could just share the expected timeframe without further details, but he refused to even acknowledge that I had any reason to be upset over receiving a peer’s medical information from our manager.

    Now, it is extremely likely that when she returns, she will share the reason for her medical leave anyway. But I feel that it should be entirely up to her what information she wants to share and when, and now that’s been taken away from her and she doesn’t even know it.

    So obviously now I know to never share anything I don’t want public with my manager, but am I overreacting and overly sensitive, or should a manager be expected to keep health information private, even if it was disclosed voluntarily without explicit instructions on whether it can/cannot be shared and where a system for confidentiality (ie occupational health) does exist? Should I reach out to my coworker on her medical leave to let her know her health information is being shared? Should I report this within the organization?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work the manager is expected to keep such information private. Even when the employee has shared the info with others. A manager is better off saying nothing beyond the work-related: Fergus is out for six weeks on medical leave. And if people ask, tell them that is all you can share. (People know to run to the office gossip if they want details, whether those details are accurate or not is another question!)

      1. CL Cox*

        THIS. I often know about medical issues before anyone else at my location because Ihandle workers comp and help employees file for FMLA. And I’m also the person who everyone gives their doctor notes to so that I can send them on to HR. Once I get everything set up with WC and FMLA, I tell them that from there on they need to talk to the appropriate person at our HQ location, their confidential info is none of my business. But if they do share, I do not disclose or discuss with anyone. I would think that doing so could open the manager up to disciplinary action (due to the potential liability to the company for them breaking confidentiality).

    2. EnfysNest*

      I totally agree with you here. I’m pretty sure your manager didn’t do anything illegal, but it is really rude of him. The default for *anyone* who has shared *any* medical information with you should be not to share it without their express permission, not just at work. The only part that was relevant to you as coworkers that your manager should have been sharing was the timing and the impact on your work, not the medical reasons for her absence.

      If you’re close with your coworker, you could mention it to her so that she knows not to share any more, and she can decide if she wants to bring it to anyone else’s attention. And, like you already said, you definitely know now not to trust your manager with any sensitive information.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      May not be illegal but it might be against company policy. I think I would report it within the organization. If you call your friend she could end up having to explain how she heard this. You might just report it yourself.

      You could do it in a question format. “Is it okay for managers to be talking about employee’s medical leave issues?”

    4. RagingADHD*

      Your manager is an ass, and will quickly wind up with only idiots trusting him about anything.

      BTW, keep this attitude if his in mind whenever you deal with him going forward. It’s not just about health info, and not just about privacy. He’s inconsiderate, disrespectful, dismissive, and has poor boundaries.

      1. RagingADHD*

        You know, I thought about this some more immediately after hitting the button, and the nature of the situation matters.

        If it’s something really visually obvious and not very sensitive, like “Lisa broke her leg really badly, so she’ll be out until X and then go back in a few months to get the pins out,” then that doesn’t seem like a privacy violation or too much personal detail.

        So if you’re considering making an issue with your coworker about something like that, then yeah that might be an overreaction.

        But if it’s a lot of detail about cancer treatment, or mental health, or stuff that’s generally considered private or embarrassing about GI, reproductive, or neurological issues (for example), then he’s being an ass.

  39. Sunflower*

    I’ve been at my job at a big consulting firm for a year and things just aren’t working/aren’t clicking. Even though I made less money and worked more hours at my last job in BigLaw, I find myself really missing it. I know I have a strong desire to be liked- at last job, I knew almost everyone in my large office and got along very well, was very well liked among BigLaw partners. Most of my old coworkers who have left would say I’m crazy for thinking of going back- they all are very happy in their new jobs.

    When I was job searching before, I was interested in moving into recruiting but ended up taking a job staying in events. A job at Old Company has opened up doing recruiting and I know the hiring manager very well. I’m debating whether to reach out.

    I’m wondering if it’s just this desire and validation of being liked and needed that is drawing me back to Old Job or if that workplace really is a better fit. I’ve been talking about this with my therapist and reading some workplace exploration books but I thought after a year of being out of old workplace, I’d realize missing Old Company was just fear of new job but now I’m not so sure. Any advice from anyone who has been here before?

    1. CL Cox*

      I don’t think there’s any harm in reaching out or even applying while you also continue to explore why you left and what might be different about this position from your last one.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Test your theory. If Old Job was not as pleasant, people were not as nice, would you still want to go back?

  40. WineNot*

    My company just banned overtime for the time being because of everything that’s going on and revenue being down, etc. I completely understand the move and support them in it. I am hourly, along with one other person in my department. My bosses told me I could only work until 1pm today so that I didn’t go into OT. That’s fine with me, I should be able to get everything done that I need to. BUT my other colleague was told she could only work until 9:30am this morning….so now I am expected to cover her work that she didn’t get to. So now on top of everything of my own that I need to squeeze in before 1pm today, I also have to make sure her work gets done. I am so grateful to have a job and still be working and making money, but I am so ready for this week to be over!!

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I would email your boss what you have to do today and why (coworker forced to leave), and say this may not be possible.

      I’ve only worked hourly jobs and I am very cold. I have to pull my formerly salaried coworker off tasks because they don’t want us getting OT. “But it won’t get done!” That is salaried management’s problem, not yours.

      1. WineNot*

        Definitely. They did tell me to check in before I end my day and that they can cover anything that doesn’t get done…but that is so not in my DNA. I have never been a “pass-work-off-because-I-don’t-have-time-for-it” kind of person. I just finished what absolutely needed to be done today, but I usually like to spend my Friday afternoons, which are generally slower, tying up all the loose ends and setting myself up for an organized Monday. But if they tell me to stop working at 1pm, you better believe I am logging off at 1pm.

        Now to go get ready for my exciting weekend of……….

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The rule about not passing off work only applies when workloads are within reason. It does not apply when you have to do a second person’s job also. That rule is just for your own work.

          Tell yourself that and see if it “changes” your DNA. :)

    2. Mediamaven*

      It sounds like they value you more TBH. I consider it job security if I’m understanding you right!

      1. WineNot*

        Boss made it clear that this isn’t a ME issue or even a department issue – it’s a company-wide policy for now. It is all job security and I know they value me and am so glad they do – I was just confused that they were telling me I had to finish at 1pm, but also do someone else’s work that then made it impossible for me to finish everything I wanted to for myself before 1pm. Oh well! That’s what Monday is for :)

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’d ask for priorities – you’ve got X hours; should you prioritize finishing coworker’s tasks or your usual work.

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

      I don’t have any specific advice but I suggest you be cognisant of bosses ‘suggesting’ (in very indirect terms, naturally) working off the clock to get the work done and there-by help ensure the future of the company and so on.

      It maybe just my cynical brain at work, but be wary.

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

    I know this may come as insensitive… But since quarantine started I’m being spammed by recruiters. I asked some former and current coworkers, and all get messages promising juicy jobs paid in € and US$. I even got someone offering me a “great opportunity” … in Ukraine! Granted, a good amount of them sound like a scam and the rest are just yelling at the void, but it’s super annoying.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think this is insensitive, mainly because, as you stated, a lot of those recruiter messages are scams. (That said, there are legitimate jobs in Ukraine.)

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

        I’m sure there are, but it doesn’t make sense sending a message to someone at the other side of the world, so I take it as a scam.

    2. Threeve*

      I don’t understand how anyone can stomach being a scammer taking advantage of a pandemic, but they are definitely on the rise.

    3. Sunset Maple*

      Yup, I am getting a lot of aggressive pitches for contract/temp jobs. Who on earth would leave FTE for a three-month position EVER, much less now?

    4. pancakes*

      You might want to consider upgrading to an email service with better spam filters. I haven’t seen junk mail quite that junky in many years. If you want to set up a gmail address it’s easy to forward your mail from your old account to the new one, and you wouldn’t be bothered by this stuff because it would go directly to the spam folder.

  42. support manager*

    Thinking about the question about food provided for workers from the other day. I work at a tech company that provides food and snacks for employees in the office. I think there is a perception that everyone that works at tech companies make large amounts of money. I manage a customer support team, and my employees make the same amount as previous jobs as baristas, etc. I’ve had several tell me that part of taking this job was because the posted food perks on our recruiting page would offset their budget enough to make it worth it. They are actually facing food insecurity now, and as their manager I am advocating them up the ladder with my leadership team as well as with HR. So far I’ve been given links to food banks. I think this is pretty crappy since our organization is very well funded. I’m looking into what I can do with keeping in line with my company handbook – can I order these folks a pizza here and then? Can I use our morale budget to send lunch to them as a gesture that I get it? I know that when people think of tech workers they think of $$ engineers but customer support and call center staff really do make very little money and basically just have people screaming at them all day and adding food insecurity to it is not helping any of my employees.

    1. Blueberry*

      If you have the discretionary power to do so I think that would be really kind of you. (Just make sure people can eat what you send them — a friend of mine who has celiac has a funny story about the Surprise Pizza that was delivered to her.)

      1. JaneB*

        COuld you send everyone a just eat gift card or similar, then have them all order food for a “group lunch”? That would let people choose the best food for them (dietary, also what gives them the best leftovers…)

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

      So as their manager you aren’t struggling with the same salary issues / food insecurity presumably (from your comments). Congrats.. you don’t have anything to worry about! /s

      Can you pay for even 1 good meal (or gift cert) for each of them from your own pocket? Or source alternative supplies of food? These are the people enabling your own success as a manager in these difficult times.

      If your company won’t reimburse it you ought to pay for at least 1 meal for the people working to ensure your own success and keep you in a job. Just saying.

    3. Catwoman*

      My suggestion would be pre-paid debit cards or grocery gift cards if you can get it approved. This would allow the maximum level of flexibility for dietary restrictions and preferences.

      1. support manager*

        Gift certificates and gift cards are against our code of conduct, which is why it’s tricky to do this!

        And no, to Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*, as their manager I make significantly more than they do (I’ve also been with the company for many years at this point and the folks that report to me are in a more entry level position), and I very much am trying to figure out how to be by the book in getting them some food but am thinking about just ordering people pizzas, etc out of pocket and asking them not to mention it.

  43. No Tribble At All*

    For those who are full-time WFH, please remember you’re allowed to still take some days off. I felt silly requesting “vacation” when I’m not going anywhere, but after much begging and pleading from my significant otter, I took yesterday and today off. Y’all it was so nice! I could sleep in! I watched TV without feeling guilty!! I’ve been running myself ragged working full-time and doing grad school part-time. Breaks are important, people!

      1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

        I would love to have a significant otter! He/she could help with raising a village of, ya know, otters. :)

    1. CL Cox*

      We had our “Spring Break” as a four-day weekend over Easter. Having that break really was wonderful. And I think it came at the right time for a lot of my co-workers.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        My company did the same thing, and it could not have come at a better time. Since the entire (global) company was off t the same time, there wasn’t a huge pile of new emails when I logged in on Tuesday.

  44. Anonnington*

    Media relations. How do you write a press release today, in 2020? Any good resources?

    Any tips for writing a bio that the press will read and comprehend? What do you do when the press has previously published false information about you and now that is perceived as more factual than your bio because it came from a news outlet?

    On a different topic, how do you respond to compliments that are based on something wildly inaccurate? For example, people sometimes claim that I’m an, “inspirational young person,” but I’m in my forties. And those making that kind of claim have often read my bio and apparently misunderstood it. I usually correct them and make a joke to smooth things over, but it sure can be awkward.

    1. you can call me flower, if you want to*

      PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) has a lot of good resources. I’d visit their website. They have case studies, templates, forums that could be really helpful with all of this. I’m on the BOD for our local chapter.

      Did the media outlet update their story with the correct information? That’s the first place to start if you haven’t already. It’s better to approach this in a friendly way rather than adversarial. Right now there are way more PR pros than reporters. Creating strong and helpful relationships is the key to doing media relations successfully. Also, journalists are stretched so thin, and in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s important to know that this may not be on the top of their radar.

      1. I’d reach out and get the story updated.
      2. I’d update your bio since that seems to be causing some confusion. Ask another trusted professional to review it or help you write it. It’s really hard to write about yourself.
      3. Visit the PRSA website for resources and tips
      4. Make sure your press release is relevant, timely, newsworthy, and going to the correct media outlets/journalists

      1. Anonnington*

        Thank you so much! I will probably wait until after the pandemic to act on any of this. I’m using this time to educate myself and hone my approach in areas where I could use some improvement. PR is a weak spot for me.

        I did contact the journalist who portrayed me inaccurately. The results were mixed. I shouldn’t have said, “outlet.” It was a retired individual, semi-known in the field, running a well promoted blog/podcast show. Her interviews with other people seemed great. Her treatment of me involved hate-speech, titling it with inaccurate info about who I am and what I do, and unauthorized use of personal photos in order to portray me inaccurately. I got some things changed, but eventually felt safer ceasing contact. There was a lot of hate speech and other disturbing stuff. A lot of it was related to health issues that also limited my energy and resources for dealing with it. But I’m feeling better now. It’s just that people keep getting the wrong impression about me.

        So I’m using this time to polish things up and, hopefully, that will just be something minor that fades into the past. I’ll check out PRSA.

            1. RagingADHD*

              Unless you can prove that a) they were intentionally lying about objective facts and b) these lies caused damage to you that can be quantified in money, probably nothing.

              If they were giving opinions or using factual information, there’s not much you can do directly. It would be a matter of getting more positive/sympathetic interviews or articles to drown it out.

              You mentioned hate speech. So if theres a social/political issue at play, there’s the possibility that the affected community might call it out on social media. But that’s not something I’d recommend trying to instigate, especially if the podcaster has a big platform and you don’t.

              Any chance of hiring a publicist? If good publicity = more money coming in for your work, it could be worth it.

    2. Wandering*

      Age can be so context dependent. A friend recently called me a kid. I gave her grief. She dead-panned, “You’re younger than all of mine.” True, that.

  45. On that Academic Job Market Grind is Employed!*

    This isn’t my job but it is work related so I think it goes here. My husband is still working because he’s “essential”. He’s a warehouse worker for a large national company, and the stuff they house and ship is important, but no one would be endangered or otherwise harmed by not getting it during a pandemic. but they laid off all the seasonal workers so H’s usual office job is now a floor job. They done really have PPEs or social distancing in place and yesterday they closed half the building because an employee tested positive. But… they’re not closing. He’s going in. He has used up almost all his sick time but wants to take every Friday until we move in July as unpaid time off since we got our stimulus, but I’d rather they just lay him off. It would mean a lot of belt tightening, but it’s not like we’re going out for drinks on the weekends anyway.


    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This has been so typical in warehouse work throughout the country, I’m sorry to hear it’s happening to your husband. It took someone dying at Boeing of the virus before they decided to do a shutdown in Puget Sound area :( They’re now on their way back to work and the community is very split to say the least [part of that is that people don’t realize that they’re not just building planes for commuters and they are actually essential but mostly because it’s still being reckless with their huge workforce.]

      1. allathian*

        Almost all international air travel in Europe has stopped. Borders are closed and almost the only vehicles on the road are trucks.
        Airlines will be in trouble even with subsidies following the pandemic, most fleet renewal plans will be postponed, probably indefinitely.
        So I don’t know if building planes is “essential” at this time. Obviously planes are built on order, but I wonder how many airlines will find themselves unable to accept delivery of the planes they’ve ordered because they’ve gone bust?

  46. Rexish*

    Shout out and virtual high five to my procurement colleagues and logistics workers trying to get all the protective gear to essential workers!

  47. Isabel*

    I worked at a smaller startup for around 10 months leading the customer support team. I took a chance coming to the company and taking this role even though they weren’t really established. Before covid, things were going well and I was doing well in my position. The founders of the company have never really been kind or compassionate people. The culture has always been toxic, broish, and an all around negative dictatorship. The founders realized there was an “opportunity” to upgrade on staff since there were so many people in the market because of the economic climate. They decided to “upgrade” and they have let me go and brought someone else in. They had been secretly hiring a replacement and had told me multiple times that things were ok. This has been devastating for me and especially during this covid situation. I’m not really sure how to talk to potential employers about this, I’m hoping I can get some advice!

    1. miho*

      “I was let go from my previous position due to the COVID-19 situation.”

      That’s it. That’s all you have to say. There’s no need for you to mention that your employers replaced you with another person who they thought would be better at the job. You didn’t do anything wrong here, so don’t feel like you have justify your boss’s (awful) decision.

  48. More anonymous than usual*

    If your company is still hiring a bunch of folks regularly, is that a fairly good sign that there won’t be layoffs any time soon? I mean, I know there are no guarantees in life, but I’m just curious as to whether that’s a good-ish indicator.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It would depend on who they’re hiring?

      In production say, we could bring on more people to keep up with demand but that doesn’t mean that we need to keep certain people in other departments given the change in things. We’d still perhaps lay off outside sales force since they can’t do much, you know?

      1. More anonymous than usual*

        That’s a good point! So the company may be doing okay-ish revenue-wise, but may deem certain departments less critical. Hm.

      2. Filosofickle*

        Yeah, a friend of mind just lost her marketing job at a tech company while the company has new listings for a bunch of engineers/coders. Looks like they are hiring to support product development, but dropping admin/sales/marketing folks.

    2. irene adler*

      My boss, knowing that layoffs were coming, brought in temp staff to work in the lab with us. Then when the layoffs came, he laid off the temp staff, thus preserving all of our jobs.

      And, in some companies, if “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”, so to speak, a bunch of hiring CAN be followed by a bunch of laying off. How ‘together’ is the upper management where you work?

      Might try to find out if there’s a new contract or project going on that necessitated additional personnel. Then ask how long this contract.project is expected to go on for. It’s generally a good sign if the project or contract is for an extended period of time.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I just had that sinking gut feeling when I read about your boss bringing in the temps to cut the temps to avoid layoffs.

        It reminded me of the scumsucker who brought in a temp as a replacement to someone before they laid them off because the temp was cheaper and wasn’t eligible for healthcare.

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

      No, sorry to say you can’t assume this.

      In some situations it could be the opposite where the company is taking a new direction and recruiting experts in X (where your experience is in Y) and then retreating from Y.

      But in general if they are recruiting people across the business with no particular focus it may be more that they are doing “business as usual”.

      1. More anonymous than usual*

        Yeah, the hiring doesn’t seem to be in only one particular area. It seems to be “business as usual.”

  49. Lazy Cat*

    Short version, no context: how do people handle sick leave when working from home? Not COVID-19, just “my seasonal allergies are kicking my butt today” or “I woke up with a migraine” or “I barely slept and am struggling to stay awake”?

    Context: I’m a government librarian, and pre-COVID-19, my coworkers and I worked about 50% reference desk, 50% all the other stuff. Normally, some of these things I could handle by going to work and sitting in the (usually) empty reference room for several hours (waiting for the medicine to kick in), but if I’m WFH, I feel like I shouldn’t be taking any sick leave for minor things, except that our WFH duties are so much more mentally demanding, and therefore I’m less up to dealing with them!

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Take leave. You are entitled to it. I took off an afternoon with a migraine this week. Yes, I felt guilty – I am at home, how hard is it to sit at my desk and answer e-mail? But I couldn’t do it, so told my boss I was taking the afternoon off. The leave is there for a reason – COVID-19 doesn’t change that.

    2. fposte*

      Oh, I was just talking to somebody about this–the feeling that all the sick space in the world should be designated for coronavirus and you’re unfairly using a share if you dare to be unwell in another way now.

      Sick is sick. Go ahead and take a sick day.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      I am an academic librarian. I had to take a day off for a migraine. I treated it like an ordinary sick day. I contacted my supervisor. Someone took my shift to handle chat questions. I rescheduled meetings. I am sure I could have worked, but a screen for 8 hours a day with a migraine is not idea.

      No one questioned me “calling in sick.”

    4. AnotherSarah*

      Definitely take a sick day or half day. And depending, you might be able to just work different hours that day–waking up and feeling off, for example. I’ve been taking longer lunches and sometimes lying down, and making up hours later….

    5. Blueberry*

      What I’ve done is called in (actually, Slacked in) each day I thought I wasn’t up to working. If you don’t feel capable of working then it’s better to call out and to stay in bed than to try and make a hash of things. Sitting up at a computer and thinking all day isn’t strenuous like standing up and shelving all day would be, but it’s still not actually restful/conducive to recovering.

      And, feel better!

    6. Fikly*

      So I am always remote. Part of the reason I looked for a remote job is because I have chronic health issues, and there are often days where I am not well enough to commute, or sit at a desk, but I can work. There are also times when I’m not well enough to work in general.

      Here’s what I consider:

      1. If I work, will it slow down how long it takes me to feel better, or will it make me get worse?
      2. If I work, will how I am currently feeling mean my work takes longer, or is of a lower quality?

      If either question has a yes answer, I take sick time, because that means that it’s actually better for everyone if I take the sick time now, because it will mean less overall time getting less work done, or not doing it as well.

    7. Lazy Cat*

      Thank you all! Fortunately today was just “why did I wake up every hour last night?,” which I could solve with strongly caffeinated tea (a rare choice for me). I really appreciate all the back up that it’s just fine to take the leave. Sending good thoughts to all.

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

      > sitting in the (usually) empty reference room for several hours (waiting for the medicine to kick in)

      I may be out of line but couldn’t you set an alarm to take the meds at 5am or whatever and then go back to sleep and then wait for them to kick in?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I think the point was waking up at usual time to find a migraine in full swing.
        I’ve done that… once even was dreaming abut the visual aura, which made waking up rather surreal.

        1. CL Cox*

          I’ve also woken up during the night with a migraine, which means that I’m not getting much sleep at all, so I need to take a half day to get some sleep (otherwise, the migraine will come back).

  50. Laney Boggs*

    I almost wish my company would lay me off even if it would be a hardship for me.

    I just don’t know how much longer I can take sitting on the couch/at kitchen table doing nothing. I made a list last night of things to do when I have 10-15 minutes of nothing and I’ve already done 3 of them, plus fiddle with finances and scroll endlessly thru social media.

    My apologies to those who are seeing an increased workload in all this. I’m simply not one of them, and I’m quickly losing my mind.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Assuming that you are doing all you really can do, there are no other tasks that your management could assign – read a book. Just keep an eye on email/im and put the book down for work stuff when it comes in.

      1. WellRed*

        Yep, you’re being paid to be available so be available, while doing something else. read, watch tv, knit, organize your personal filing, go through all those old holiday photos…

    2. MonteCristo85*

      Know anything about accounting? LOL

      Do you actually have to sit there and do nothing? As long as you are available (ie within reach of phone and email) does it actually require you to have face to screen 8 hours a day? I personally have no problem at all with my team working on there own stuff at the house, as long as they are responsive to texts/messages when they arise.

      1. Laney Boggs*

        Technically, according to the employee handbook, I am supposed to be face-to-screen and never ever touching my phone or visiting a non work website for 8 hours. For perspective, even before Covid my workload was generally finished at about 2ish hours.

        That’s obviously not happening, lol. I suppose I just have my own hangups on productivity.

        1. MonteCristo85*

          Wow, I am so sorry. That is just ridiculous. You need one of those devices that bumps your mouse every couple of minutes, lol.

            1. MonteCristo85*

              People usually just rig something up….like a fan with a stick that will bump it…I’m sure you can find some tutorials on youtube.

        2. Pennyworth*

          Is that a pre-covid handbook? Would they re-visit the rules at all? And would they allow you to do any relevant on-line training? Could you watch a television set up behind your computer screen, with earbuds? Your situation sounds like slow torture.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Does your company have any online training resources you could get access to? Cross-train with someone else in case either of you gets sick (or wins the lottery)?

    4. Night Worker*

      Find something you’re interested in like taking an online class, learning a new language, or volunteering to call the sick and elderly.

    5. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      If you can, re-read some of your training materials and procedure manuals. Brush up on your technical and procedural knowledge.

      If applicable, offer to help your co-workers not similarly situated.

  51. 'nother prof*

    A bit depressed this week. I had an online interview in the middle of the week that went alright. The thing is, I should have nailed it, but I feel like I wasn’t as sharp as I needed to be. I’ve been self-isolating for ~5 weeks *and* have the stress of this being the last job opportunity that will likely arise for the foreseeable (there’s already a wave of job search cancellations in my industry), so I get it, but I ought to have left my current job a year ago, and losing this opportunity (assuming I do) means waiting another full year.

    It hasn’t helped that the weather has royally sucked for the past two weeks.

  52. Third or Nothing!*

    I’m on week 4 of working from home, and honestly I kind of love it and don’t want to go back to commuting to my office 5 days a week once this is all over. I mean, I don’t love being stuck at home and trying to work with a toddler running around all the time but I love all the stuff that would be a normal part of WFH like wearing comfy pants, not having to commute, being able to run in the neighborhood on my lunch break, and not having to deal with the mean office clique.

    There’s not much of a chance that my company would go for a setup where people can work from home some days a week, but if they were going to change their stance on Absolutely No WFH Ever No Matter What, it would happen now while we’re all proving that we can still get our stuff done even with distractions we normally wouldn’t have.

    I’m not entirely sure what my point is. Not really looking for advice since there are already plenty of good scripts floating around AAM about how to advocate for WFH. I guess I just wanted to get it out there where someone other than my husband could see it.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My company is similar. They don’t like WFH, don’t have a WFH policy, and are now 99% WFH. They kinda don’t have a leg to stand on anymore, and if they don’t develop a WFH policy after this it’s going to hurt them. I think this is going to be the case for a lot of companies.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m hoping my WFH becomes permanent. I find I’m much better at work/life balance when I’m working from home. I’m putting in more reasonable hours, not getting on until 8 and turning off at 5-5:30. I’m a little stir crazy, but that’s just because I can’t go anywhere. I do worry that I’m getting a little too comfortable wearing sweatpants though.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m hoping to turn my WFH into a permanent situation, too. We were already allowed to WFH 2 days per week and there have been a couple of people doing “temporary” WFH after they moved, which has in reality turned into a year or more each. So it’s not unheard of; I just need to figure out a way of asking about it. I love not having to get up at 4:30 AM, driving an hour each way, and paying for parking. I’m saving a lot of money and am so much less stressed, plus I am getting as much (or more!) done at work.

  53. Sunset Maple*

    I was fighting with HR regarding a merit raise/market rate salary issue before quarantine. After much back and forth, they finally communicated that I simply wasn’t going to get what I was looking for, and that they were not willing to bring me “so close to my boss’s salary”.

    The statistics I provided were a combination of BLS data and professional field society data (so, not just random garbage aggregated online). My ask was realistic.

    This means that my boss is underpaid by 40-50k. I’m not sure how to feel about this.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Yeah, I’ve had to navigate this from the other side. I’ve had an employee ask me for a raise, and when they named a number, I thought to myself “Oh, little do you realize that you’re asking to be paid $15,000 more than me.” I didn’t hold it against them because it wasn’t their fault, but I was direct about the fact that that much of a raise wouldn’t be possible.

    2. Fikly*

      You should know that your employer is drastically underpaying a whole lot of you, and if you can, look elsewhere. (And forward your research to your boss.)

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’d drag the boss into this right away at that kind of “so close to the boss” mention.

      That’s such a bizarre reasoning and it’s also a huge slip up on their side, rookie mistake, HR, rookie mistake.

    4. sorbet*

      You should feel that your company is willing to exploit people, even management, and feel confident that you can do better. Because you can.

  54. Carol Danvers*

    I’ve been let go (not laid off, there’s no chance of a recall) by my company, and while I get that business decisions are business decisions and that I shouldn’t take things personally, we were told that headcount reductions were not in the forecast. Also, I definitely had a hard-to-fill role on my team, so I was surprised that I ended up getting laid off – it will take them a while to train one of the existing admin staff on what I did day-to-day. I still feel betrayed and angry.

  55. Not This One*

    Had an interview this week that seemed to be going great – I was well-prepared, I felt like I had a good rapport with the committee members, and then I got to ask my questions at the end and BAM! Two big dealbreakers dropped on me. One is a dealbreaker for me personally (I want to focus primarily on X, they are looking for the position to focus almost exclusively on Y), and one is indicative of a structural problem that would make my work much, much more challenging in a way that would lead to frustration and probable departure from the position in relatively short order. I’m glad to have the information now (as opposed to finding out about it on Day 1), but it’s discouraging because I did think this job might end up being the right one for me.

  56. Engineer38*

    Is this legal? A workplace is requiring hourly employees to take 8 hours vacation every week, but they are required to work in the office their full 40 hour schedule. How would a manager push back on where this is coming from – the typical – maybe you don’t realize we are doing something illegal. But I can’t find what labor law this falls under.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      What does that mean? Are they working 48 hours and taking 8 hours? Or working 32 hours?

      1. LGC*

        It sounds like they’re getting paid 32 hours regular, 8 hours PTO, and working 40 hours.

        I went to my HR rep (i.e., Google), and I think this might be state-dependent. At the federal level, it’s not illegal insofar as there’s no law against it. Some states might consider this wage theft, as PTO and sick time are considered part of wages. (So, for example, it’d be more likely to be illegal in New York than New Jersey, for example – since NY mandates payouts and NJ…doesn’t.) I’m not an HR guy by any means, but that’s what it looks like at first glance.

        That said…not only is this unethical and probably violates company policy, frankly it’s absolutely pointless in my opinion. They’re still paying 40 hours right now, they’re just fudging the math. Basically, they’re making it so you can’t take a vacation in December so you can get paid now. It’d make more sense to just cut your hours outright to 32 (which they can do, and which they’d likely have to do anyway if/when PTO runs out).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      So they’re working 40 hours and then being paid 48 hours total because of the worked plus vacation?

      I mean, they can do whatever they want with vacation often times, including simply not allowing it at all if it’s not retroactive.

      I’m not sure if I understand what’s going on there. They have to be paid for all hours they work including OT if it’s over 40hrs. But they can be forced to use PTO as well.

        1. miho*

          If you’re in California or any state that requires vacation be paid out, then it’s definitely illegal. Vacation benefits are considered a form of wages.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


          If you’re in California, that’s illegal but sadly it’s not illegal other places. It’s GROSS AND DOESN’T EVEN MAKE SENSE. Just take the vacation away completely and stop doing it one day a week, wtf weirdos.

        3. The Ginger Ginger*

          So it sounds like they’re “robbing” pto to pay wages 1 day a week. That is so not okay. It’s at least wage theft adjacent.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s really not though. It’s a shitty move but it’s not wage theft and it’s not anything like wage theft.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I was surprised to read on a NOLO site that in some states it IS considered wage theft because it’s considered a form of earned wages. YMMV, as different states have different rules.

              Probably checking with the Department of Labor is your best bet, OP.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      That’s scummy enough, regardless of laws, that it might be worth reporting to the Dept of Labor. Sure, it’ll take forever for them to look at it, but if it is illegal they can compel back pay to the people impacted.

    4. LNLN*

      If I am working 40 hours, why are 8 hours being deducted from my PTO bank? Is there some payout promised down the line? Employees will ask questions. And judge the company based on their answers.

    5. WellRed*

      Do you at least have a company handbook with a vacation time policy to point to? At the. very least, I’d point out how demoralizing this is, how bad it looks and the long term repercussions on the company. If they are forcing people to use PTO every week, they should damn well let them take the day off.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Here in NY, PTO is for hours not worked. If you are working and using PTO for pay,this could be a problem.

  57. AndersonDarling*

    I was considering all the little expenses that my company is saving on because no one is in the office. Office supplies, stocking forks in the breakroom, toilet paper…they are all little things but it must add up to a substantial savings.

    1. whistle*

      Yes, I have been thinking about this as well. I would love to see some numbers on this at some point. In my office, I don’t even want to know what our paper budget was BCV, but it’s got to be pretty low now.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      I can only speak for my company, a small business with just a handful of employees. We’re saving a bit on those kinds of things. But the savings is being *way* more than eaten up by the lost productivity and the need to get various kinds of software and hardware that weren’t necessary before when we all shared a space but are mandatory now to get our jobs done.

      1. Mediamaven*

        Agreed. In the grand scheme of a business those are very negligible costs. It’s not a substantial savings. We’re also spending more money on things like IT to get people working from home properly, Zoom subscriptions etc… It’s been very costly for us.

    3. Pam*

      One of my campuses arguments for a 4/10 schedule in Summer is to save energy. We’ve probably saved enough this term to power a good-sized city. My work from home electric bill is paid by me.

  58. Hedgehog*

    I started my new job in January. My offer letter included a clause about a three-month probation period, after which I would have the opportunity to renegotiate. Like most places, my org is watching our finances very carefully right now. We’ve applied for a PPP loan and I’ve overheard our CEO mention we’re going to skip raises this year. At the same time, because I’m processing payroll, I know that I’m currently the lowest-paid person in our office. As of last week, I’m officially past probation but I’m not sure how to bring up the renegotiation. I understand that this isn’t the best time to address it, but I don’t want to leave money on the table either. Any advice as to how to broach this? How have others approached asking for a raise during a financially difficult time?

    1. WellRed*

      I think you can ask, while acknowledging the awkwardness of the timing. Getting an increase once you get past probationary is normal and not in the same category (to me) as getting a raise. I would advise you to leave “I know I’m the lowest paid” out of all your thinking. That way lies frustration.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think you can substitute in “probationary rate” and “permanent employee rate”. It might be a subtle way of reminding them that your pay is low.

  59. Rayray*

    I was laid off just over a month ago. I had been job hunting anyway but times are even more tough trying to get a new job. Anyway, one company that a friend gave me an employee referral to indicated interest but had a hiring freeze. Should I reach out to the recruiter just to check in about when that position may open up or leave it alone? I’d hate to be a bother, but I wonder if it’s a good idea to check in and follow up.

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      I’d guess that the recruiter has zero clue when the hiring freeze will be lifted, but at some point, letting the recruiter know that you’re still interested would be a reasonable idea.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      Let the recruiter know. This is not a “bother”. It’s their job is to keep on top of these things.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Since this is a recruiter, I’m going to say it’s cool to reach out!

      If it was just a hiring manager or HR, I would say not to. The difference is that a recruiter’s chief responsibility is to obtain workers. Whereas the others usually have much more going on and and can be interrupted in their daily duties that don’t pertain to hiring, you know what I mean? I think it make sense…

  60. esemess*

    Does anyone have examples of morale boosting activities that have been well received during the current situation? I find this stuff important (I work in a very crucial, but depressing field), but don’t want to over do it (especially now) nor do I want to do something that works for extroverts but doesn’t sit well with introverts. Obviously, one size will never fit all offices, etc. But I’d love to hear of some useful ways people are ensuring that their colleagues are seen/heard/appropriately encouraged.

    1. Box of Kittens*

      I work in an essential industry and most of our staff is still going into the office. Our management has relaxed the dress code way down, bought lunch for the office several times (and this is an ongoing thing I believe – I am WFH so not completely sure), and has boosted pay for our in-office workers for the time being. We are also now finishing up an optional “spirit week” where we are giving away 8 gift cards as part of that. (We included a WFH participation option in that too.) We don’t have anyone begging for extra activities obviously, but have seen a lot of appreciation for the dress code and lunches especially and had good participation for the spirit week. That is what is working for us and others in our industry. We do similar things throughout the year for our staff in “normal” times too, so this is just kind of a ramped-up version of something that already works well for us.

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      For me, it’s all about compliments/positive feedback on work. I’ve been electronically distributing mail for the office and got positive feedback from one of my co-workers. It brightened my whole day and reminded me that even in this time of crisis and reduced work product, we have value and bring so much to the team.

    3. Animal worker*

      I did this out of pocket, but my team is essential but working with a skeleton crew as well. I bought a ton of snacks through Boxed-dot-com and then brought each area a huge array. I still have about half of it at home for another round later. Food always helps :)

    4. Fikly*

      Make it optional (but actually optional, not “it’s optional but they’ll be problems if you don’t participate”).

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The optional gratefulness post actually made me tear up. If it was mandatory I would be sort of resentful

    5. Amanda*

      My company just sent, exactly now, a video compilation of employees showing/saying messages at their work place, both the WFH and the essencial people. Funny thing is, I don’t usually like this stuff, but it actually choked me up this time to see so many people trying to be positive. Specially the 6 factory workers standing 6′ apart but doing a coreographed pose.

      Best of all, this was completely 100% optional. I remember ignoring it when the email came that we could send photo or video messages, and then there was no other mention of it, no pressure at all. It definitely boosted my morale for the weekend, and I plan on watchin again on Monday!

  61. Nonners*

    Folks in higher ed — what are your institutions planning for summer and fall? We’re getting messages about furloughs in auxiliary units and potentially more to come depending on state funding.

    I’ve also heard of some places reducing hours, etc.

    1. PSU Employee*

      I work at Penn State and they have not made a decision on fall yet. They have a likely, best case, and worst case scenario plan but I don’t know the full details (I don’t know if they do either. Sounds like they are taking it day by day). They are hoping we will at least be open, but may still have limited resources (which I think is the “likely” scenario).

      However, they did just move to remote only classes for summer the other day. Other universities in my state have also already decided to be online for summer–but many have not made a fall decision yet.

      All this not knowing is so anxiety provoking! Will I have a job in fall? Will they need to furlough? The provost had a town hall the other day and said that 4 months is a long time for things to change one way or the other–true, but also a long time to wonder what is going to happen! (Though I recognize no one can know for sure).

      1. PSU Employee*

        Oh, they are already asking departments to cut budgets. This isn’t something I’m privy to much so I don’t know every detail, but I’ve heard 10%, I’ve heard 3%, it might depend on the department. But so far they have not cut wages, but they have cut wage budgets for part timers, student workers, etc, but I think they might have to furlough people in certain departments like food and housing. Hopefully if they have to do that it’ll only be for summer, but again, we’ll have to wait and see. I also hope that maybe those people can be absorbed into other departments temporarily, but this is all above my pay grade.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        …but I don’t know the full details (I don’t know if they do either. Sounds like they are taking it day by day).

        Nobody can possibly know the full details for future plans, precisely because a raging pandemic evolves* day by day.

        Unfortunately, for many people this is an unknown unknown.

        [*] Including literal, biological evolution. Heaven help us if COVID-19 mutates significantly and repeatedly because that would mean no vaccines and no post-recovery immunity.

    2. Anon for this*

      Public university in a large state system. Academic support unit.

      Online only through the summer. Possibly through part of the fall. The budget was already in bad shape and they are looking at a drop in enrollment for fall and problems retaining existing students. Some of the community colleges in our system has been furloughing part timers. Adjuncts not being renewed.

      My guess is furloughs are coming. Our vice provost is claiming no, but that’s not what I’m hearing from other departments and from other colleagues in other colleges/universities elsewhere in the system.

    3. AnotherSarah*

      Public college, unionized (most employees, different units)–summer is online (but it was mostly online before this). Admin is hopeful fall will be in-person. Hiring freeze (with exceptions) until October. It’s a contract bargaining year for us, and I’m not thinking we’ll be seeing significant raises….

    4. Small Private College Professor*

      I’m at a small private college. Summer classes will more than likely be online. July 1 they’ll make a decision about fall. There were furloughs that happened about three weeks ago for anyone non-essential.

    5. 'nother prof*

      Big state university here. We’re online for the summer, and they’re hoping to do a mix of online and in-person in the fall. They haven’t worked out guidelines for determining which courses go online yet, but I’m expecting to take at least my 90-student seminar online, if not my two ~25 student classes too.

      Assuming the state lets campuses re-open, I’d bet the final decisions works out to something like science laboratories, language classes, and courses with fewer than ten (*maybe* 30) enrollees stay on campus, larger courses go digital. Probably the libraries re-open with restrictions on student congregation and equipment rentals resume with extra sanitation steps added.

    6. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      R1 in Ohio (no, not that one).
      Summer semester will be all online. No word on fall yet. Employees working remotely until further notice.
      We got an email from the president about the university’s financial situation. In short:
      *Hiring freeze. All open searches closed immediately. Exceptions will be made for “essential” positions.
      *Salary freeze. No bonuses this or next summer.
      *Strictly limit spending for the remainder of the fiscal year.
      *Even when travel resumes, limit to essential purposes only.
      *No new capital projects until further notice.

  62. Retail not Retail*

    Regarding taking PPE from work – this week we almost ran out of trash bags and we all were like… yeah that makes sense. The crew in charge of that has reduced their hours (they clean the inside, no one’s going inside!). Then we find out it’s budgetary – again, yeah makes sense whew can’t wait for this to be over and we can make bags light enough for everyone to safely toss in the dumpster.

    No. This is the plan going forward, even beyond the shut down. This is how we ended up with our dumpsters this fall (different line item made it cheaper than more frequent pickups), although they’ve been gone since January due to other things.

    “Use sparingly” well maybe we should be “tacky” and not bag the grass from the mowers and you know leaving leaves is greener. And we have some hoofstock and goats that would be happy to help us weed, no trash bags required.

    Please make our job harder as we stare into the unknown abyss, thanks you’re a doll.

  63. TeapotPacker*

    My employer is redesigning its website and including a new ‘About Us’ section with individual photos and staff bios. We’ve never had this before….and I don’t want to be included. My role is adjacent to the main purpose of our facility (think ‘Teapot Packer’ in a world of ‘Teapot Designers’ and ‘Teapot Artists’) so I don’t think my being absent would look strange to clients. I’m an intensely private person for personal reasons (no social media, no LinkedIn etc.) and the last thing I want is my photo and backstory published on our website.

    This might sound awkward but I do have my reasons (none of which are criminal!) why I don’t want to show up in an internet search with a photo and information on where I work. Is there a way to push back…or am I being completely unreasonable?

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      At an absolute minimum, your employer had better allow no photo. And I imagine that you could make your bio very sparse “TeapotPacker has been a valued Teapot Packer at Teapots Inc since their graduation from Teapot U.”

    2. anneshirley*

      Two, especially one of them, of my coworkers are like that. Our boss did want them to have their name, title, and like two sentences (ie x graduated from x and has worked at z for x amount of years) but understand they didn’t want detail or photos. And if it had been for safety reasons, I’m sure they would have been allowed to not be on there at all – in their case they are just more private people and one of them used to work for a tech company and is way of how easily people can find personal info through the internet. So I think it’d be reasonable for them at least do that! And honestly, I feel like everyone is entitled to privacy so they should consider letting you not have any info online — especially if there are any concerns to your safety.

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

      I would refuse too, considering how easy is to get personal information a stalk someone IRL nowadays. Especially if your industry has diversity problems.

  64. ACDC*

    I have been an on-site contractor for a company for about 18 months now. It seems like an offer to stay on full time is on the horizon, but (plot twist) I just found out I am pregnant. Is it possible to negotiate maternity leave if and when the offer does come? I know this company offers 3 months fully paid for maternity after employees have been there a year, but if I take an offer now I obviously will not be there a year before giving birth. Can I leverage my tenure as a contractor with them to see if they will make an exception to the 1-year rule?

    1. Buttons*

      Yes. I have seen this exact situation with a few friends, and every one of them had a positive experience of getting the full mat leave, sometimes at a lesser pay than usual, but it was still a good situation.

      Congratulations and good luck!

    2. Carlottamousse*

      Yes, do negotiate! Best to do it at the offer stage and see what you can mutually agree to. And congratulations :)

    3. Actual Vampire*

      I started a job in a similar contractor-to-full-time situation. I didn’t have to worry about maternity leave, but I did ask to be treated as if I’d worked there for a full year already in terms of when I could start accruing vacation time and taking days off. They were totally happy to accommodate.

  65. Teapot Librarian*

    Venting… I am having SUCH a hard time being productive while working from home. My computer is 8 years old, my home internet is flaky, I don’t have a good desk set up, and I really need routine to do well. I’m supposed to be supporting my employees at working from home, but they all have kids or no computer or kids plus no computer, and even though I have a really long list of projects that can be done from home, our usual work isn’t conducive to off-site work. My boss, however, thinks that because we are all lucky to still have our jobs, we should be working extra hard and doing anything possible to overcome technology challenges, including buying new computers or borrowing computers from family members (what about stay home orders? family members who don’t live nearby? why would we assume that family members have computers?). And then there’s the issue that my boss’s deputy has made templates for various purposes but when we follow the template, she says we didn’t do what she was looking for. And I feel so guilty for being so stressed when I have a job, don’t have kids, am healthy, have what I need (basically) to continue working, and so forth. (On the plus side, take-out margaritas from the restaurant down the block.)

    1. Buttons*

      How is work not providing you with work computers? I am shocked to found out how common this is for certain positions. How can you work without computers and online access?

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        We don’t have enough laptops for everyone and were a very firmly NO WORK FROM HOME office (to my dismay), so if you didn’t have a work laptop already, you weren’t going to get one. My division had shared laptops for working away from our desks but in our building, and we had to give them up to the broader office.

      2. Rachel in NYC*

        A good friend of mine is an attorney for a major metropolitan DA’s office and they were expected to provide their own computers. I think there is an assumption people have one or can get one cheap enough.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      FYI, my company sent home something like 3000 DESKTOP computers from offices. No laptops at the office? tell them to take the desktops, monitors, keyboard, mice, power cables, etc. If there’s no internet, buy and pay for hotspots.

      Your management sucks.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        I don’t think any of us even considered the possibility of taking desktops home. Interesting…

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Yeah. and since I’m “working” I was able to check. I was way under. I think we sent home slightly more than 5000 desktops. That’s in addition to completely depleting our stocks of laptops. IT is starting to talk about how to make sure we get all that equipment back, and what to do if anything is damaged.

  66. Anon Today*

    I am so, so frustrated.

    I work at a nonprofit organization that has been hit from all sides during the coronavirus: massive loss in revenue from fee-for-service programs; decrease in the value of our investments which triggers some legally-required cost-cutting; increase in need for our services.

    Program managers (like me) are being asked to do the impossible: continue to run our programs, with more demand and less money, while our own hours have been reduced, while knowing that if we fail to balance our budgets (which we’re rebuilding with less revenue and more costs), we’ll be laid off.

    It’s so awful. I’m so furious with our leaders, who allowed us to be in this situation (obviously exacerbated by coronavirus, but much of this was preventable). I’m anxious all day, every day. I feel like I’m being gaslit: our leaders keep asking us to do things as though they are possible when they patently aren’t.

  67. Oh No She Di'int*

    Coronavirus is changing everything!

    We’re normally a “cupcakes in the conference room for everyone” company when it comes to birthdays. We’ve now had our first COVID-era birthday. The idea was to send a cupcake to the birthday lady at home. A whole cake seemed excessive. However, when she was called and asked about what variety she would prefer, she sort of took it as a given that there would be enough for her, her mom, and a sibling living with them. So we went ahead and sent 3 cupcakes. She did not directly ask for this, but rather just seemed delighted by the prospect of her whole family partaking in a treat.

    My question: what’s the protocol now? In the office, the birthday person would have had a little gathering and would have been able to share the celebration with coworkers. What are people doing now? Is the protocol to send a treat for the person along with whomever they happen to be sharing their space with? The money involved is so small that money is not the issue. It’s more a question of what are the general expectations now?

    1. Me*

      I think that if you can extend a little bit of kindness and pleasantness into peoples lives now then by all means do it.

      There are no general expectations – we’re all winging it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t think there are any expectations! I think you just kind of have to go with what makes sense. Sending cupcakes for everyone in her household makes perfect sense to me. Ordinarily, she would be enjoying a cupcake with other people, so why not now?

    3. Nicki Name*

      I don’t think there are expectations, this is such uncharted territory for everyone!

      Maybe an electronic gift card (instant delivery, ajd no one has to touch anything) to someplace where they can order or pick up a treat?

    4. Megumin*

      A lot of it will depend on what your office normally does for birthdays. Re: cupcakes, I would probably just send a half dozen whenever someone has a birthday, and that should cover anyone living with the employee who might be partaking. Typically a half dozen isn’t too expensive, and most bakeries I know of won’t send anything less.

      For our first post-COVID birthday, it was…kind of sad. We normally get some fancy cupcakes and sign a card, and give those to the birthday person at our team meeting. But this time we were all so stressed and engrossed in getting our work done that we mostly forgot. I remembered and wished him a happy birthday, and then my boss brought it up during one of our meetings, but we didn’t do anything for him. However my boss did apologize for not being able to do our normal celebration, so that was a nice gesture. We all get along pretty well so the guy was understanding, as are the rest of us. If no one from my team remembers my upcoming birthday, I am okay with that…I know we all have a lot going on.

    5. CTT*

      I think if the place you’re ordering from makes this easy, send 3-4 cupcakes. That way they can enjoy it with family if they live with folks or have leftovers if they don’t (I feel like “happy birthday, please confirm that you have no one in your home to share a cupcake with” sends a weird message.)

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        And at the same time if you live alone, you don’t feel more ‘I’m all alone with half a dozen cupcakes let me eat my feelings’- though that doesn’t sound bad right now.

    6. Llellayena*

      I think that’s actually a pretty good interpretation of what you had before. The in-office intention was to celebrate with the people around you (who happen to be coworkers). With work from home, your “coworkers” are now your housemates. A “birthday channel” on whatever Slack-like program your office is working with would give a common place for people to say the birthday sentiments that would usually be said in person.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        And getting half a dozen cupcakes on your birthday covers the cupcakes you’d normally be eating for other people’s birthdays.

    7. Sleepy*

      We did a birthday celebration for an employee, and each person was allowed to order something for themselves to be delivered for the Zoom party (we’re a small team). They could get reimbursed up to a set amount for what they ordered–this was simpler for us than having the company order because people are located in multiple states. I don’t think there are any expectations, but the person having the birthday was really happy to have it recognized since they weren’t really able to celebrate and said it lifted their spirits.

    8. MonteCristo85*

      Slightly different, but we just had someone leave for another opportunity. The two immediate bosses send her and her family cupcakes and a meal from a local delivery place. Best we could do with a going away party when everyone is apart. I think it is nice to do what you can.

    9. MechanicalPencil*

      I don’t like cake as a whole, so I’d say “thanks for the sweet gesture, but just you acknowledging it is plenty”. I think the turbulent nature of life right now means that you’re fine not to have a firm rule in place.

    10. Bear Shark*

      Some bakeries do mini cakes that are about the right size for 3-4 people. Maybe you could send something that size and then you don’t have to worry about how many people are in the household as they can just cut appropriately sized slices.

    11. Annony*

      I think sending a small cake makes the most sense. That way you don’t have to worry about how many people there are. They can always cut the pieces bigger or smaller.

    12. zora*

      It depends on your normal protocol.
      We have a few people on our team who work remotely all the time, so our system has been that birthday treat budget is about $30-40 per person. And I always ask people what they would like for their treat. Some people like sweets, some like a savory treat (we’ve done chips and guacamole), and some like something healthy. If they are in the office it’s something to share with the team, but if they work remotely, I send something that costs around the same. So, one person has gotten a dozen fancy cupcakes, someone else got a nice fruit basket. We’ll keep doing the same now.

      That said, my team is less than 10 people, so the birthday budget goes by individual. If I had a larger team that did something like celebrate multiple birthdays with one shared party per month, the solution would probably be different. Again, it’s about the budget I am allowed to spend, but I’d probably find something small that can be delivered to each birthday person that month, and then have a Virtual Happy Hour for everyone to toast the birthdays.

      But still, sending 1 cupcake seems kind of weird to me, I think I’d default to sending something shareable like a half-dozen cupcakes, or a treat basket, rather than one individual item. Regardless of the person’s living situation.

    13. Pennyworth*

      If you normally provided cupcakes for everyone in the office whenever someone had a birthday you will be saving a lot on cupcake purchases. It would be kind to ask how many people live in the WFH household and deliver that number of cupcakes. Or a whole cake if that works out cheaper for a big family.

  68. KiwiApple*

    Looking for some advice. I work at a university, in a fairly student facing role. For post graduate (taught, not research) students, so they are at least 20/21 years old, with a degree behind them already With the way things are currently (we switched to online teaching nearly a month ago) and for the foreseeable, how can we foster a student community spirit?
    Before this, we held events like trips to relevant business, social events like dances. How can we do this sort of thing online?

    1. Ruth (U.S.)*

      I feel for you! I supervise student workers, and I’ve been texting with them. We have a Zoom hangout planned for next week. Could you try a video chat coffee/lunch/happy hour? What about getting someone from the relevant businesses to do a remote tour and/or Q&A?

    2. Pam*

      Our graduate program just had a virtual cookies and questions night. Since it was over Zoom, everyone had to supply their own cookies, snacks, or adult beverage of choice, but it was well attended.

    3. Sympathy for the Devil*

      I work in student life at a community college, and so far we’ve offered a digital talent show, trivia games via Kahoot (hosted on go-to meeting), a conversation lab, a digital escape room, a walking (step) challenge, a show us your selfie pic collage (Google photo drive), and an in-person with high safety measures blood drive.

    4. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Keep as many activities as possible optional. As I’m sure you know, different students (different people for that matter) come from different situations. It’ll be a lot easier for someone who, for various good reasons, doesn’t want to or even can’t, say, join a video call to feel in touch with the community if they don’t press him/her on this.

  69. Confused*

    I work two part time jobs. Before all of this, I was in the process of transitioning from one of those jobs (OldJob) to another (NewJob). I was given an early April start date for NewJob, so I quit OldJob in mid March to allow for up to two weeks notice and one week between the two. Once stay at home orders were initially issued, NewJob delayed my start date to the end of April but assured me that they were still excited for me to come on board once things were reopen. Stay at home orders were later extended through the end of April, so earlier this week, I checked in with NewJob to see what their plans for my start date were. I was told (understandably) that they weren’t sure how all of this would impact their business and that they’d try to reconnect but basically not to count on it. In the meantime, I’ve been doing some work from home for my other job (CurrentJob), and they have assured us that hourly workers will continue to be paid for their full scheduled time regardless of how much they are able to work from home (since some of our tasks don’t translate) until we reopen. I know that normally this wouldn’t qualify for unemployment, but with the expansion, does it make sense for me to apply for partial unemployment since NewJob fell through due to COVID? If so, is there anything I need to say to either NewJob or CurrentJob before applying?

    1. WellRed*

      This doesn’t affect NewJob because you never started there. If OtherJob is only part time, and paying part time wages, it doesn’t affect them either. I guess I would at least file for unemployment? Not sure if this qualifies though.

      1. Eva Luna*

        It may depend quite a lot on state unemployment rules. In my state, you would likely be covered because of your reduced wages. It can’t hurt to apply.

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

    And now, some good news: today I got a call from the hiring agency, who told me that the company decided to pay the 15% COL raise we get at this time of the year! I was surprised, considering the current situation, but it makes sense as the software industry is one of the few thriving right now.

    1. !*

      I’m so happy for you! (And jealous). I have never seen a COL increase above 4% and usually only every other year.

    2. Rachel in NYC*

      Congrats! I’m a little jealous- we were told we aren’t getting our annual COL raises- on the other hands, we’ve been assured that our department is covered financially so we all get to keep our jobs.

  71. Ruth (U.S.)*

    I’m an academic librarian, and a student has asked me for advice on becoming a fiction writer as a career. I can’t speak from personal experience, so I’m asking y’all for help. The resources I’ve found so far are:

    –creative writing instructor at my college (waiting to hear back from him)
    –the Writers and Authors entry in the U.S. Occupational Outlook Handbook
    –Association of Writers & Writing Programs
    –Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Information Center (I don’t know if this student is interested in genre writing, but my impression is that SFFWA has good info for authors)

    Writers, are there any resources you’ve found especially helpful in establishing a career?

    1. J.B.*

      I’ve seen some authors lately who went through creative writing programs. I don’t know that I’d embark on a degree, but maybe some have online classes at the moment she could try out?

    2. Fikly*

      I don’t have a link to specific posts, but John Scalzi generally has tremendously good information about this, and speaks candidly about things like income and contracts.

    3. Penguin*

      I’d suggest the student look into the podcasts “Writing Excuses” and “Ditch Diggers”. Both are hosted by published (fiction) writers and regularly bring on guests from the publishing industry, and offer a lot of career suggestions. Writing Excuses focuses on craft but many back issues tackle some of the business side of being a writer. Ditch Diggers focuses largely on the business side of things.

    4. DragoCucina*

      The authors I know, NYT bestselling and still struggling, all have said being active in a writer’s group is essential. The group not only gives feedback, but shares leads to publishers and ways to market.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Rita Mae Brown has an interesting book, sort of a crossover between a resource & a memoir. “Starting from Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual”
      Day job is definite in the recommendations for starting out… she suggests a physical job so you get paid to get exercise and recharge your mental energies.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Check out Janet Evanovich’s book “How I Write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author”. It’s straightforward and enjoyable, and has practical tips.

  72. Princess Peach*

    I know I’m late to the party, but I’m hoping to get some advice.

    I’m 1 of 2 customer service specialists at my small office (we are a small office that’s part of a very large national company) that sells teapots. We have 6 sales reps that frequenly contact customer service for help with orders, item numbers, availability of items, etc. I have been here for 5 years. My fellow customer service coworker, Bob, has been here for 9 years. He started as a customer service specialist his first 2 years with the company, then moved into a warehouse employee for a few years, then to a warehouse manager after that. A month ago, he moved back into customer service (by choice) after our other customer service specialist left for a new job. Bob is very smart and capable, but also known for being lazy and often calls out sick (3 or 4 times every month). He takes about 10 long-ish smoke breaks a day. He can also tend to be curt to others.

    We have an email address called for our sales reps to send all customer service-related requests to – this email address goes to Bob, my manager, and me. Our manager has emailed our sales reps many, many times, reminding them that all CS communication could go through this email. However, the reps continue to send most of their requests directly to me. They usually end their emails with, “Sorry for reaching out directly to you, I just like dealing with you the best.” Several of them have also said to me on the phone when I happen to answer “oh good, it’s you, I don’t like dealing with Bob.” I’ve been very clear to them (both of the phone and through email) that all requests still need to go to the customer service email since it is still Bob’s job, too, to handle requests, but they still continue to reach out directly to me (again, to be clear, Bob is competent, so it’s not like he is messing up orders frequently).

    Additionally, when emails do come through to our customer service email, I feel like Bob tends to ignore all the challenging requests, and jump right on the easy ones. (We’re supposed to reply to the customer service group with “I got this” when an email comes over so that it is clear who is taking care of the request). Bob will ignore all difficult emails until I finally cave and say “I got this.”

    What can I do to fix this? I feel like I’m taking on way more work than Bob because of his sheer laziness, and people’s dislike for the way he talks to them. Part of the problem, too is my manager. She has always taken a liking to Bob (when no one, and I mean NO ONE else in our office is fond of Bob). I know that the reason for this is because her performance evaulation is heavily based off of how our warehouse does throughout the year, and Bob has consistently been the only competent warehouse employee that we’ve had over the years (as lazy as he may be). She’s made the comment many times “Bob is so underappreciated, he’s smart and capable, yet everyone just rags on him” (like, um, yes, he is smart and capable. That was never the problem. The problem is that he is lazy and curt).

    Any advice?

    1. Jasmine*

      Have you tried having an honest conversation with your boss? You say that she likes Bob, but has she ignored direct complaints that people have made about him?

      1. Princess Peach*

        I haven’t talked to her, but she has ignored complaints many, many times over the years from others about Bob. When she announced to the sales reps that he would be moving back into customer service, this is how it went (which is exactly how I expected it to go):

        Boss: “Bob will be moving back into customer service starting on March 16th.
        Sales person 1: “You mean March 17th? Chances are he’ll be “out sick” on the 16th.
        Other sales people: *laugh*
        Sales person 2: “So, is he actually going to not act like an a** to us now that he’s in customer service, or is that still going to happen?
        Boss: “You know what, he is a very smart and capable employee, and you guys should recognize that.”

        She’s not a great boss in general, FWIW.

        1. Fikly*

          Based on that conversation alone, I can’t really disagree with your boss’s reaction. She’s announcing a change, and rather than raising a specific issue, there’s just a stream of badmouthing of Bob. It’s appropriate for a manager to put a stop to that.

          What’s going on in that conversation isn’t a complaint. A complaint would be “I emailed Bob 5 times about x issue and got no response, and it caused y problem.”

          1. Princess Peach*

            To be clear, they have all complained about Bob many times over the years, and nothing has been done. I brought up this conversation purely to show that the complaints in Bob’s issues have never been addressed.

            1. Fikly*

              But there were no actual complaints in that conversation, so I don’t understand how it’s a relevant example?

              1. Peaches*

                I didn’t claim that it was a direct example of complaints to my boss. It was an example of the way that our office acts regarding Bob BECAUSE their complaints have been ignored for so long…so, it is relevent to the overall picture.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Yeah, it seems to be an open secret that this guy is not pulling his weight. The fact that a group of people are talking together about Bob’s shortcomings tells me this has been going on a while.

                  On the last line from the boss the boss could have said that this type of banter is not appropriate and if someone wished to discuss a complaint they should come to her office and meet with her.
                  Sometimes these conversations carry an undertone of mocking the weak boss right to their own face. So this could be going on also.

    2. it happens*

      I’m so sorry. Maybe bob should go back to being the best warehouse employee, that’s what the economic principle of comparative advantage would suggest.
      But to help you, do an analysis of the last month or six weeks of work done by each of you- number of cases handled (including the direct to you) and complexity. And include the email statements (anonymized) that people don’t want to deal with Bob. Show your boss, express your displeasure (which doesn’t really carry a lot weight here, unfortunately,) show her how it affects the unit (customer Service is not looking good to sales) and ask her how to proceed. You can agree that Bob is smart, and she has to see that he is not pulling his weight. If the unit needs two full time CS reps then it needs two FT CS reps. And the answer may be suck it up; the unit is getting all its work done. Which means be on the lookout for a better job.

    3. Kathenus*

      It won’t be easy but you need to stop covering. If someone contacts you directly – say you can’t handle it unless they go through the customer service email. If Bob doesn’t pick up a challenging task, do NOT cave. You’re hoping that Bob or your manager will change, but you have no evidence that is likely, and much evidence it’s not. You only have power to change your reactions. When others have to start going through Bob as well, maybe they will add to the chorus of complaints to the level where action will be taken. But right now you’re (understandably) enabling it as well. So change that since it’s all you can really control anyway, and hope that once the consequences of Bob’s poor work ethic have consequences that someone other than you has to deal with, change might occur. Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. And tell the boss you will be doing this. Also let the boss know that each and every time you get a complaint about Bob you will be giving them her contact info so that they can talk it over with her.

    4. Tessera Member 042*

      Why not just start forwarding all requests improperly directly to you to the customer service email address? Then your manager can see how often this is happening, and by whom. It doesn’t mean s/he will actually address the issue, but at least you can show that s/he knew about it.

    5. Night Worker*

      What if you took shifts? For instance, if you both work 8-5 receiving requests, then on day one, you cover the requests for the first two hours, then Bob covers for the next two hours and so forth. Or whatever shift variance you chose. The work gets distributed evenly because sometimes you will be busy and sometimes Bob will be busy. But it will be equal by the time the week is over.

    6. Flyleaf*

      Every time you receive a service request at your own email address, you need to respond to the sender, adding the group email address as an additional recipient. Add the message “Forwarding to proper email address:” Every. Single. Time. And then wait to respond to the email, maybe a day.

    7. nonegiven*

      Can you forward the email to the customer service address and copied to the person, with a note “forwarding this to the correct address?” Then take the requests from that address as you normally would. Don’t reward them, force them to go through normal channels.

  73. JustaTech*

    Does anyone have a script for “use your words” that’s more polite/professional?

    I’m on a multi-disciplinary team with a project manager (Bob) and our main vendor contact (Chet).
    Yesterday I got a meeting invite from Chet that only had a subject line of “Project meeting, Vendor X”. Only because I looked carefully did I realize this is a meeting *with* Vendor X, not about Vendor X. There’s no agenda for the meeting.
    Then Bob sent an email “Vendor X documents” that was just three attachments, no text.

    Is there some way to ask them to do things like provide context for emails and meetings? They’ve never been good about this (I’ve given up on getting anything like an agenda without pestering), but now that we’re all home they’ve gotten much worse. (Both Bob and Chet are in another state, so we’ve never been able to just walk over to their desks and ask.) It’s just a real time waste to have to guess what they want from me, not to mention super embarrassing when we’re on a call with a vendor and we don’t know why (and Bob and Chet are always late to their own meetings).

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Hey guys! Can you let me know what this meeting is about specifically? It will help me come in more prepared. Thanks!” And when they do it (IF they do it), “Thank you, that’s really helpful. Can you please do this for future meetings too?”

    2. whistle*

      I would respond to each email with the questions you have. “Can you provide more context for this meeting?” “Can you confirm if Vendor X will be attending the meeting?” “Should I prep anything specific for the meeting?”

      If you find that you are responding with the same question(s) each time, you could then tack on a sentence like “If there is any way to get this information in the initial email send out, it would really help me out!”

      I get that Bob’s communication style is frustrating, but if you are not his manager, I don’t think you can coach him on communication, but you can request the info you need – each and every time.

      1. PX*

        This. For some people, I dont accept meeting invites without context and basically do what whistle is suggesting.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “I can no longer accept meeting invites that have no stated purpose. Thanks for understanding.”

          1. Salty Caramel*

            That’s where I would have gone. It’s not that hard to do a one- or two-sentence description.

    3. Retail not Retail*

      Send them a series of cryptic emails where you don’t use antecedents until they get annoyed And they say “use your words!”

      Then they’re the ones who got frustrated.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Sounds good in theory — poetic justice. In practice, we all know people have much better eyes for others’ mistakes than for their own, so in this scenario you risk winding up as the bad guy/gal.

        Maybe this is a good occasion to be the bigger person — send out memos with detailed information, connecting narrative, antecedents, etc., and at most include a note saying you hope the background information will help and to let you know if they have any questions.

        Oh yes, and what AvonLady Barksdale and whistle said.

  74. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    A lot of the annoyances of my job have been removed, the driving, the court, but I still hate my job. Can’t do much because my boyfriend got laid off… How do you guys get out of bed when you really don’t want to start a day of paperwork and video calls from the kitchen table?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Also how do you guys keep from getting distracted at home? My bf is home playing Animal Crossing and asking if I want to watch TV with him

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        Well for one, your bf needs to use headphones and not ask you if you want to watch tv with him. Just because he’s not working doesn’t mean you’re not, and he needs to respect that.

        As for the rest, it sucks, but this doesn’t have to be permanent. Start at least preparing to look for a different job.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I like to be up for a little while before I go to work. Younger me used to get up a half hour before work and race out the door. I wondered why I felt miserable. I found that having an hour or two of time at home before work, changed that somewhat. It felt like I had shifted to a “home first, work second” mindset.

    1. KAG*

      My blood pressure just spiked just reading the phrase “Excel array formulas”. I’m sorry. You’re not alone.

  75. Wondering What to Do*

    I have just been accepted to a grad program starting in the fall. I had not told my job I was applying but now that I know, I’m wondering I should give more notice than planned because of the pandemic.

    I planned to give a month, but I’m wondering if I should do more? I’ve been with my company for a while so I really don’t want to burn any bridges. I’m also running a few high profile projects right now so I know they might take a bit to transition.


    1. BigSigh*

      If they’re not the type to walk you to the door, sure. But there’s always some risk companies will cut you loose early.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Document your projects & procedures, clean up your project archives, and give your notice when you’re ready to leave.
      Except. there any chance at all that they’d hire you back with your new degree? If they have ever needed a teapot PhD , you might combine a longer notice period with questions about coming back at a more senior role …maybe even with them contributing…
      Pipe dream or possibility depends on your company & economy.

  76. Jasmine*

    I’ve got 4 essays due in a couple of weeks (library school), and I feel like my brain turned to liquid and leaked out of my ears. My fellow students are forwarding “10 To-Do List Tips” articles, but I just can’t focus at all.

    Doesn’t help that both of my part-time positions were eliminated just as all this kicked off (and, being a student, I don’t qualify for Universal Credit), so I’ve got a nagging worry about money constantly in the back of my mind.

    Just a little moan… now I’m done.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Hang tough. Do the best you can with each day, forgive yourself if you think you fell short in some way. It’s a lot coming at you.
      Taking walks can help with problems focusing. I think it’s because we burn off some nervous energy and we also take the time to think and plan a bit. Don’t knock yourself out trying to take long walks, I am talking about maybe a 15 minute walk every other day or so.

  77. Stuck in the Suburbs*

    Feeling dejected right now — I was waitlisted for my top grad choice school and decided to wait on this decision because it’s a local school (and with the pandemic, I thought it would be best to stay in state). I found out late last night that I was denied admission. I should also note, that I’m lucky that I’m currently employed at a public health org and working remotely, but I’ve been in this entry level role for 2 years now and I’m ready to make the next step. I had hoped that next step would be grad school.

    All the jobs I was applying to as back-ups for grad school have fallen through (for different reasons, including this pandemic). I have no idea how to move forward. I have no idea what I can do to strengthen my resume and application during a time like this.

    Anyone have any advice?

    1. IndyDem*

      Did you apply to other grad schools, but declined admission offers while waiting for this school? If so, I’d suggest calling the admission departments for those schools and see if they would re-offer. Normally I wouldn’t suggest this, but the pandemic is change many people’s plans, and a spot could be still open at those other schools.

      1. Stuck in the Suburbs*

        I called, and because we’re past the April 15th deadline, the spots have been taken.

        At this point, I feel my only options are to re-apply and figure out a way to strengthen my application somehow in the next 5 months, or somehow find a new job and wait to re-apply to grad school.

    2. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      This happened to me years ago. My recommendation is to contact the head of the department that originally waitlisted you, declare your strong interest, and ask them how to strengthen your application. When I did this I uncovered some information about university politics that was really helpful going forward.

  78. Alexa*

    My landlord just sent us an email about resigning for next year saying he wants to give us extra time to decide because of Covid-19 but that he is raising rent for next year. It is only a $50 increase but in this economy it seems a little ridiculous to ask tenants for more money. Is there a good way to respond to this and ask to keep our current price? More so because it is the principle rather than the actual money.

    1. Fikly*

      Well, from his side of things, he is more likely to have units sitting empty because of the economy, so in order for him to be financially secure, he will need to be making a small amount more from the units that are being rented. From your side of things, if he doesn’t make enough money to be able to continue to own the property you are renting, it will go to someone else, and they will very likely raise the rent.

      I don’t know what percent increase the $50 is, but if it’s not that much, well, consider paying that versus the cost of moving.

      Regardless, if you want to ask to not have your rent raised, generally the best way to do that is to point out how long you’ve been renting (if it’s been a while) and how good a tenant you’ve been, such as not causing problems and paying your rent on time, if this is the case.

      1. pancakes*

        Why would he be more likely to have units sitting empty when many states have paused evictions? I agree it would be helpful to know what percentage of the rent $50 is, but not for that reason. If the landlord wants to feel more financially secure he could of course sell the property.

        1. Science classes*

          Well, he’s looking at increasing rent for next year, not now.

          The pause on evictions is going to be over well before the economy recovers. Also, as people naturally move out, fewer people will move in. Thus there will be more empty units.

          You don’t know that selling the property will make him more financially secure. That depends on the current property values and the price he bought it at, and that denies him income over time, which is what rental payments are. Generally, selling something that gives you regular income makes you more financially insecure, unless you have something more reliable to invest that money in.

          1. pancakes*

            Having a property to sell makes him considerably more financially secure than someone who has no property to sell. If he needs a regular income to feel financially secure and/or if his real estate investments aren’t giving a good return, he can of course get a job.

            I’m not sure I follow as to why you think people will move out but not in. If individual landlords think deaths from the virus will cut into their profit margin to the point it doesn’t make sense to hold on to their properties, that’s a risk they took as investors. There was never a guarantee that they’d only ever get more and more money out of their investments and never lose a dime.

            1. Fikly*

              You don’t know that having property makes him more financially secure than someone without property. That’s an enormous assumption.

              Many landlords have no other income. They have fixed costs (such as taxes, cost of maintaining the property). If they manage to sell the property and have more money than when they started, that money needs to be able to be put into something that will earn them more money, which is in no way guaranteed. They may not have skills to have a “regular” job.

              People moving out but not in has nothing to do with deaths from Corona, but everything to do with a terrible economy for the next many years. People will move out as they lose their jobs, people will move out as they get jobs elsewhere, people will move out because people move. They will not all be replaced by people moving in because people are not going to be able to afford to rent units, due to the terrible economy.

              You’re right, there was never a guarantee. Just like there’s not a guarantee that people in “regular” jobs will have an income from having a job. That doesn’t mean the landlord raising the rent by $50 with over 6 months notice is wrong. The landlord is doing what he needs to do in order to remain a landlord. Frankly, if this is the worst he’s done, I would bend over backwards to keep him as a landlord. Most places rent goes up with every lease renewal – that’s just the way it is.

              You keep suggesting that the landlord should just sell, but from the tenant’s point of view, they know nothing about who might be their next landlord – that’s a huge risk for them. Principles are all well and good until you have to live in reality.

              1. pancakes*

                It isn’t any sort of assumption, let alone an enormous one, that someone who owns property to let is more financially secure than someone who doesn’t own property. Thanks for a good laugh, though!

                Of course someone with no skills may have a tougher time finding a job than someone who has skills. If these people without skills fear that their investments won’t continue to give them a big enough income to live on, they should probably learn some skills.

                I didn’t say I think it’s wrong for this landlord to raise this commenter’s rent by $50. I said that without knowing how much the rent is, it’s hard to say whether it’s a reasonable increase or not.

                I can’t see why you think you have enough information to say this landlord “is doing what he needs to do in order to remain a landlord” when you have no information whatsoever about either the rent history or the landlord’s income.

              2. MissGirl*

                Fikly is right about owning property not necessarily making you more financially secure.

                1. pancakes*

                  Seems like the rest of the sentence was accidentally cut off. More financially secure than who? Or what? Do you believe people who own property are generally or categorically less financially secure than people who don’t? Why invest in property to let if it’s financially ruinous, then?

                2. Fikly*

                  Than people who do not own property, of course.

                  The options aren’t people who own property are more secure or less secure. They can be about the same amount of secure too.

                  You’re thinking of property as an investment, but it can also just be an income. There are plenty of people who buy properties and rent out the unit not in the hopes of selling it for a profit later (that’s an investment) but as a source of ongoing rent (that’s income).

                3. pancakes*

                  Fikly, that’s a pointless distinction. If a property was bought to provide a source of income and it doesn’t, it wasn’t a good investment.

                4. Fikly*

                  Pancakes, if you go into a career and there are no longer jobs available in it, was it a stupid decision to go into that career in the first place?

                  Circumstances change. It’s not outrageous to make changes to deal with those changes.

      2. nonegiven*

        It’s not just the percent increase, but how many apartments does he have, what is his margin, and does he need to replace the roof or something. He might be clearing $150 per apartment or less after making the mortgage payment, real estate tax, maintenance and repairs.

        If he has 8 apartments, a $50 increase is $400/month. If he has 100 apartments, that’s $5000/month. If the increase is $5k for him, it might be easier to talk into not increasing the rent for someone who doesn’t tear up the place and pays the rent on time.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      A landlord can want to charge x for rent, but if the market rate is really x-100, then that’s what rent needs to be. At least if he wants a tenant.

      So, what’s market rate? Do some research. If the $50 bump keeps rent inline or below market rate, you’re kinda stuck. If market rate is lower, then consider moving. Or go back to him with hey, market rates seem to be x, and this would push us over. Any chance you could rethink? I’d hate to have to move.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There are too many variables to answer without knowing more. Primarily this is a business decision and whether or not it’s fair depends on his costs and what % increase this is since when. Is this adding $50 to a $500 rent or $50 to a $2,000 rent? How long has it been since your rent last went up? Is this his only source of income? Have property value has gone up significantly in the neighborhood, like has happened near where Amazon just moved in? Have property taxes gone up? Have insurance rates gone up in your area, like has happened for people in flood zones and high fire danger zones? Is the property in need of major maintenance that costs more than when he set rent? Has the property maintenance company raised its rates?
      And thinking pandemic, is he now risking increased costs & total loss of income –if someone gets sick would he be paying for deep clean before anyone’s required to pay him rent?

  79. Hugine*

    I work in a department of three. Myself, older coworker, and boss. My boss is being forced to retire. She really should have been fired but they gave her the option to exit gracefully and she took it. My older coworker is awful in her own way. I can’t figure out what her game is. She says awful things about my boss then turns around and carries on with my boss just trash talking every person in the company. It’s embarrassing to listen to. It’s wearing away at my very last nerve, and it has destroyed any amount of trust / confidence I ever had for her.

    I met my new boss who is currently working to transition duties. She seems great, and I’m really looking forward to a culture shift within our department. But this other coworker is a problem. A big problem. I don’t want this drama. I just want to do my work.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Stay out of the drama. If your new boss is competent, she’ll figure it out and address it.

  80. Anon for this*

    I was furloughed a month ago from a (somewhat large) health care organization since I’m non-essential. The company has been “checking in” on all the furloughed employees by sending automated text messages and phone calls. While it’s a nice idea in theory, they have been tone deaf. For example, the one sent this Monday:

    “We hope you had a good weekend despite the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on our families and gatherings, our communities and our very way of life. What we’re facing is daunting, but we encourage you to take heart in the moments of triumph and joy in everyday acts of courage, humanity and love. We continue to be here for you, so let us know if we can help you. Although these are trying times for all Americans, our world will thrive once again.”

    I just… what even is the point? Is that supposed to make us feel better? But then, this is the same company whose CEO ended the scripted conference call in which he announced the furlough (a call that ONLY the furloughed people were on) with “thank you, and have a great day.”

    1. WellRed*

      I am kind of assuming it hasn’t occurred to remove the furloughed people from the text chain. I’d be tempted to respond with “are we supposed to be getting these?” Only, more clever.

  81. Free Meerkats*

    I posted here a while back about the Early Separation Program my workplace was offering. The deadline to apply was Wednesday and I didn’t sign up. While early retirement (by about 2 years) would have been nice, the numbers just didn’t pencil out for me. Especially since my 457 (401k equivalent for municipal workers) is down about 24% for the year. The mayor has said not to expect another one of these for several years, so I’m here for another 875 days more or less.

    We are losing a few people who are really going to be missed, mainly for the loss of institutional knowledge. And it sounds like we’ll lose a few who – won’t be missed as much.

    It was nice considering it, just not in the cards. But my boss is happy I didn’t.

  82. Fewer hours just as many days*

    So our company just reduced our hours from 40 to 30. We live in FL. Is it worth filing for unemployment for the reduced hours or should we hold off and see if we’re let go entirely? FL only offers 12 weeks, only extended by what the feds are currently offering.

    1. whistle*

      Never leave money on the table. File and see what happens. You can update your claim if you are let go entirely.

        1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

          Just don’t be in a hurry. :) The state has processed less than 4% of the apps received since March 15th, and the website is going down for “maintenance” *every night from 8pm to 8am*. Yeah. So, don’t be in a hurry.

          I was finally able to get on the site and file on March 26th. Have heard *zero* news yet from the state. Zero. I’m just hoping that some bigwig gets disgusted, says, “aw, phuck it, pay ’em all” and they just release funds retroactively.

          Good luck to another Sunshine Stater!

  83. NGL*

    So my company just mandated that everyone needs to take at least 2 (paid) vacation days before the end of the fiscal year in June as a cost saving measure. Anyone with a better understanding of corporate budgets have any insight into how this saves money…since we’re still getting paid?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Usually vacation (as opposed to general PTO) is something they need to pay out to you if it’s unused when you leave. If you have to use two days, that means that’s less they’d be liable to have to pay out when you leave.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      Accrued PTO sits in your org’s finances as a liability. Drawing that down reduces the liability (i.e. a financial obligation).

      1. Mbarr*


        My former company (a large multinational) forced us to book all our vacation days at the start of the year. It was stupid though, because obviously in January you didn’t know what your plans for December were. BUT, they did let you continue to reschedule the booked days as needed – but every reschedule required manager approval…

      2. MonteCristo85*

        Yes, but that doesn’t affect cost. Although it is possible I’m being pedantic and when they say “cost saving” they mean “financial benefit” which aren’t exactly the same thing.

        1. whistle*

          It does affect cost if PTO is paid out upon departure. If the employee has already used the pto, there is less to pay out.

    3. Anonymous Elephant*

      I don’t know for sure, and maybe someone more knowledgeable can confirm or correct, but when you have vacation days “on the books”, the company looks like they are double-paying. So yes, you are getting paid anyway, but it’s decreasing what the company has to encumber for salaries.

      For example, if there are 35 work days left in the fiscal year to be paid, but you have 12 vacation days saved, the budget will reflect 47 days. By having people use those vacation days, they are reducing their encumbrance.

      I could be totally wrong. :)

    4. MonteCristo85*

      Everybody’s budgeting is different, so it maybe that vacation pay falls under another category than labor. But unless they are making everyone take off the same days and literally shutting down, the cost saving is not immediately apparent. Unless of course this is not salary, and vacation pay is different from regular pay. For example our production team gets paid a bonus around 140-165% of pay every week based on production numbers, but vacation only gets 100%. But that’s an odd pay scheme (normal for our industry though) that I doubt most companies are working with.

      Not you’ve got me trying to figure out what could possibly be the secret alternate reason. Maybe they want to see what a 10% reduction in labor looks like? I’m really not coming up with any other answer (unless someone just doesn’t understand costing, which as an accountant, I can tell you is a LOT of people, and those in power very often forget to run stuff like this by us before they make their grand pronouncements).

    5. LGC*

      Um…does your company pay out vacation days? It kind of ties in with the post upthread about how someone’s job wants them to work 5 days a week but use one of those days to cover PTO. If they’re paying out vacation days at end of year, then…yeah, it’s a cost-saving measure. (Or if they let you carry them over indefinitely, it’s also a cost-saving measure, just deferred and more indefinite.)

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It might be an effort to reduce liabilities on the books so they can stay within a debt covenant. If the debt gets called if they don’t meet the covenant, you bet that paying 2 days PTO out is cheaper!

      1. CL Cox*

        Same thing if they’re planning on applying for loans. Those encumbrances are not counted as money on hand, they are considered money already spent. And having fewer assets makes a company a less desirable to lenders.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mind didn’t go to budget but to staffing levels. If no one takes any vacation time now, there will be a run on vacation time when it’s safe for things to reopen.

  84. Parenthetically*

    I don’t know if I’m looking for advice or just to vent. My husband’s industry is considered essential. He has mostly been working from home, occasionally/briefly in the office (since they have some equipment/hardware that can’t be taken home), and in the field.

    He is currently IN A TEAM MEETING IN A CONFERENCE ROOM and has been for TWO HOURS and I am LIVID about it. He’s in a fairly entry-level position and has only been with the company just over 2 years — so not a lot of capital to spend here. He also deeply hates rocking the boat. Do you have ANY language he could use to push back on things like this? Besides saying, “Zoom is a thing, FFS, I’m not sitting in a windowless room with you germy-ass jokers for TWO HOURS, I’m going home,” which is my knee-jerk impulse?

    1. Sherm*

      If the current meeting is still going on, could he just leave? I’m sure it’s field/culture-specific, but where I work, people leave meetings all the time without even an excuse, especially for long meetings, and everyone understands.

      For future meetings, if there are company guidelines, he could refer to those. “Since the company’s guidelines are for us to conduct all meetings remotely, could we change this to a Zoom meeting?” If no such guidelines exist, he could say it’s what the CDC wants, or what the administration wants for the time-being, whatever he thinks will get his colleagues’ attention.

    2. pancakes*

      Something more along the lines of asking his supervisor, “Is there a reason we’re having these meetings in person rather than by video or conference call right now?” would probably go over better! I don’t think asking that would be at all unreasonable / rocking the boat.

      1. Parenthetically*

        That’s just the ticket, pancakes, thanks. I’m SO frustrated and angry about it that I could only think in rant.

    3. Pennyworth*

      Perhaps at the start of the meeting he could have asked if it was going to be longer than the recommended 15 minute limit for gatherings in enclosed spaces. That would have at least reminded everyone of the risk of a long meeting.

  85. musician*

    I’m a musician (not the one with the complaining neighbors!) and my day job is a semi-related niche profession. I’ve been out of work for over a month now, and have entered the phase of worrying about when I’ll ever be able to work again. Concerts are cancelled for the remainder of the season, and orchestras are starting to talk about whether next season will even be a possibility. My day job involves a lot of contract/freelance pieces and are not possible to WFH, and I worry that they will not be a priority for the organizations to resume once things go back to “normal.” I have no idea what I’ll do if I can work in the professions I’ve been working towards and gaining experience in for years. In the meantime, I’m struggling with motivation to even practice since it feels pointless. Anyone else dealing with something similar? How are you coping?

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I have a history in the arts and I simply cannot imagine a world in which people deem music somehow “unnecessary”. You’re probably right that it will be a while before big concerts are a thing again. However, my guess is that weddings and funerals are going to come back with a vengeance. And things like small house parties, piano bars, and the like will return slowly but surely thereafter. I don’t know what corner of the music world you operate in, but perhaps new avenues may open up for you in these areas.

      In any case good luck and I wish you the best!

      1. Jamie*

        I know right now it’s sidelined for public health, but I agree with you. The need for music will never go away and when people can once again gather the need for live music will come back in a powerful wave. It’s psychologically and spiritually healing for many and they’re going to need that.

    2. Sam I Am*

      I have some similar things going on. I had the largest roster of students for lessons ever this academic year, now about 2/3 of them have switched over to remote lessons. My income is so piecemeal that it’s been hard to get the UI in my state. I expect to get it EVENTUALLY but for now things are tight.
      I’d been working towards more stable work in the field that isn’t lessons and performing (while keeping lessons and performing in my income streams) and all of that seems to have evaporated for now. I’m keeping an online presence in my 1 social media account, which had been strictly music related before, and now is almost exclusively not music related. I’m trying to stay visible.
      My roommate is great with digital music stuff, so he’s been coaching me to learn all that stuff so I can be creative outside of my living room and ultimately with other people. This is allowing me to build skills I probably should have been building already. I’m not naturally inclined towards technology, it’s going slow, but it’s going. It makes me feel pumped to do something new once I gain a new skill.
      I’ve been digitizing my sheet music / charts. This is a project I should’ve done long ago. Once we’re performing again, and we will be performing again, this will be an asset.
      So, for advice, try doing what you can right now re: new skills and “housekeeping” of your current assets. Figure out what you can get a lot of work done with (hardware, software, other equipment like… an external hard drive? A remote keyboard setup?) that will allow you to get a big project or two done with minimal investment. Do you have a collection of cables that may or not work? May or may not actually connect to something you still own? Sort them.
      However- the hustle is real. I feel like I had a pretty good game going on, and that everything is going to change for a while. A lot of the revenue streams I’d built up into some form of stability have eroded away during the pandemic, and I’m not relying on them coming back anytime soon. What did you do before you had the niche industry-related job? Anything there you might tap into?
      For pleasure, take this time to listen to new-to-you music. It’s something I’d needed to do more of and now is a great time. If nothing else, I’ve found inspiration. My favorite is Geri Allen’s album “Homegrown.” It’s marvelous and unexpected and I’d never heard it before.
      I hope this helps. It’s all kind of a mess.
      Whatever you play for yourself, to give you pleasure, play it now during these times.

  86. Flaxseed*

    I’m becoming frustrated with my job- When I email or contact people in other departments, they don’t get back to me. It usually takes my boss calling/contacting them to get them to respond. This also happens with some people that I work with. I have been in my position for a year and am low on the totem pole, but why does it have to be like this? I’m a hard worker and help people out, so it’s frustrating. My boss will tell me to contact someone about X and it’s embarrassing to always say, “I did, but they haven’t responded.”

    Is looking for a new job the only way to resolve this? Any thoughts?

    1. Fikly*

      Why is it embarassing for you to tell your boss about other people not doing their job?

      You might have a conversation with your boss and say, this has been an ongoing problem, is there a way you are contacting them that I could try? But if they are just responding to a higher level of authority, there’s nothing you can do, and them not responding is not a reflection of your abilities, but their lack of professionalism. And that’s a problem for your boss, and their boss.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’m a senior manager at my org and have been there for 7 1/2 years, and this still happens to me, so I feel you! When I follow up with people who have ignored me, I sometimes cc my manager if I think seeing her name on the email will help. You have to be careful who you do this to, though; I don’t do this with people below me (I might cc their manager) and give my manager a heads up. She usually jumps in to say something like “I appreciate your help with this, Bob” and it does the trick. Maybe your manager would be up for something like that?

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The easiest is to find out if you’re emailing people who hate email. Try calling. Ask if they’d rather answer by phone. Ask if it’s better for them to get quick questions as they come up or get a bunch at once at the end of your day. Ask if a specific subject line flag wold help them find your questions.
      It may sound goofy but “Boss said you’re the expert” can smooth things with some people.
      For real problem people, you sometimes have to point out the problems that could bite THEM if they don’t answer… “my boss needs this to finish work that BigCustomer is waiting for.”
      And always make your emails easy to answer. Clear questions, simple formatting without crazy formatting & colors, and if you have to resend the question or send a follow-up, keep it on the same reply chain so all is together.

  87. two questions*

    1. I’m not necessarily entry-level, but am relatively junior and so generally stuck with doing the grunt work for my department. One thing that bothers me is other people don’t seem to know how much work these things take, and one lead in particular keeps checking up on me when I’m not at my desk as if I were off watching Netflix instead of coordinating with other departments to complete an assignment. Lately this has really gotten on my nerves. How do I push back (“If you think what I do is so simple and shouldn’t take that long, why don’t you do it yourself?”), but more politely?

    2. I have noticed that most people I’ve worked with just aren’t that efficient. As a rule I do the work of 3-4 people within the same time frame, and have previously been generous enough with my time to help and train others instead of socializing in a more conventional way. At my next job, to avoid burning out (which I am now), how should I better approach work? I feel guilty if I just sit around doing nothing, but if I sit at my desk and use the spare time I have to teach myself a new skill, does that count as “doing nothing”?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Hey just some solidarity on number one. I do support work for a lot of people in my office. I work for a University so while the process for everything is relatively simple, it all takes forever as there are multiple approvals and processes everything has to go through. So it drives me nuts when someone drops something big like I don’t know, planning an entire conference, on my plate three weeks before the date and then constantly rides my butt because it’s not automatically done and paid for the next day.

    2. Four lights*

      Depending on how long the assignment takes, once they give it to you you could give some sort of email update saying now that I’ve had the chance to look everything over I just wanted to give you an update I expected to take x amount of time. Basically act like you’re updating them, but you’re also showing how much work it’s going to take.

    3. Happy Lurker*

      No advice, a lot of sympathy. I also have a lot of little parts to my seemingly basic job and I have been pushing back a bit lately. I can see that it is frustrating my main coworker, but I feel like they need to realize that there are a lot of small things that I do and follow up on to complete the simple tasks.

    4. Ama*

      So I’ve noticed I tend to be faster at certain types of work as well (especially if it is a task I need to do a lot — one of my strengths is developing templates or systematic processes so I don’t have to redo everything from scratch every time). One thing I’ve started doing to protect myself from burnout is that, unless a task is truly time-sensitive, I will sometimes do it and then wait a day or two before I pass it on to the next person. The advantage of that is, it also gives me time to do one last double-check when my eyes are fresh so sometimes I catch additional typos or other small issues.

      Also, at my current job things run pretty much on an annual cycle, so as I learned what things happen at what time of year I’ve also learned which things I can do some prep work on in slower times to make my busier times less hectic, which also helps with burnout (and it is the kind of thing people get really impressed by when they realize you’re prepping something you won’t actually need for several weeks).

  88. Bunny Girl*

    While I’ve really been doing well working from home because it eliminates a lot of what I don’t like about my job, I am annoyed with one of my coworkers. I want to start out by saying that I know this is a management problem. We don’t have a strong department leader and our HR is miserable. My director supervisor (and my coworker’s) is really tired of said coworker’s work (or lack thereof) but she doesn’t have any authority to do anything with this woman, and this coworker knows it, so despite multiple talks, said coworker continues on because she knows that nothing will be done.

    So said coworker is in her mid-80’s. I know I sound heartless ranting about an older woman, but she is incredibly selfish and thoughtless to others. Our work normally requires coverage, and she doesn’t care. She leaves early every single Friday, without asking, often leaving us in a bind. She knows this is a problem. She refuses to learn anything new, and tries to push all of her work off onto others. She will come to one of our offices and whine and complain and ask questions about the smallest, simplest task she’s been assigned in the hopes that someone takes over for her. When we all headed out to work from home, she purposely didn’t take some essential items with her, so now as far as I can tell, she is doing one small task a week and pushing everything else on to me. I just AH I don’t understand how you can be like this. I am not so busy that I can’t take on the work, but it’s just frustrating on principle. I’ve mentioned it to my supervisor, but I think she’s pretty checked out and just doesn’t care anymore.

  89. Anonymous Elephant*

    Next week I have a Zoom meeting with almost 30 people for at least 3 hours while we review an annual report. In past years, the in-person meeting has taken almost 6 hours. This year we were much more involved ahead of time and a lot more insistent on section reviews before the big meeting, so it is anticipated to take less time. The downside? I have a ten year old at home who is an only child and super lonely and really great at interrupting me every ten minutes. I genuinely cannot afford to be interrupted during this meeting or I will miss some serious info. My husband is an essential worker with a CEO who doesn’t want the office staff WFH, but I’ve told my husband I need him home that day. Yesterday was a really, really bad day at home and I lost it on my husband a bit. Yes, he is essential, but he doesn’t need to be in the office 40 hours a week. He could very easily WFH except for one day a week when he needs to write checks. Luckily he very much agrees with me but the CEO refuses, even against the advice of HR and all other execs. So today he is going to request to WFH for 2-3 days a week to assist with childcare. Otherwise he is going to look at some sort of leave because this just isn’t sustainable. While I have flexibility in my job, I can’t have those constant interruptions.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m not familiar with Zoom, but can you record the meeting so if your child interrupts you can go back and see what you missed.

      Fwiw I’ve found it’s really hard to keep people’s attention for 3 hours meetings…and the 6 hours meetings? I’ve been there…the only thing people are thinking about for the last several hours is when will people STFU so they can get out of there.

        1. CL Cox*

          But I think they need to also be able to provide input. If the 10yo interrupts at the wrong time, they could miss something that’s important to correct or explain.

    2. Night Worker*

      Just in case your husband is unable to WFH or take leave on the day of your meeting, create a divergence plan for your 10 yr old. Long movie, snacks, drinks, everything within reaching distance. If they need anything slide you a secret note, discreetly, which will give you time for a short break. And only1 secret note allowed per hour. I hope everything works out for you all.

  90. Not My Money*

    My company just implemented 2-factor authentication and we have to use our mobile devices to receive text messages. I get the need for added security but I will not be setting this up until they answer my question about compensation (required in my state for personal phone use). I’m happy for them to get me a burner phone but I will not be setting up my phone for free. I asked on Monday, was told to “hold tight” on Tuesday (after no response and reaching out about accepting a burner phone), and got the email last night for the set up. I guess we’ll see who blinks first.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Unless you’re getting charged per text message (maybe you are—may depend on what cell phone plan you have), I’d be more irked by the blending of personal and work than by the actual cost.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think that’s the point, it’s not just the per-text cost if that’s a thing for someone but the “use” of the device that is supposed to be used for personal use.

        The more I use my phone, the faster the battery wears out and the faster the device wears out. It’s why there’s a rate for mileage that doesn’t correspond with just the gas prices at any given time.

      2. Rebecca*

        I’m normally one not to mix anything between work life and personal life, but since I’m not furloughed, and working from home, I did download the authentication app. It works on my WiFi, not a text, and it allows me to stay employed since I can access the servers. I’m a bit irked by it but I’d rather do this on a temporary basis than have two phones to keep track of. For me, there are bigger hills to die on.

        1. ...*

          Agreed. Our is texts which if I have some limit on my plan I have no clue what it even is. This just won’t ever be the hill I die on as its more work to deal with getting a second phone to look at a text or app once a day on. I do not have my work email or work chat on my phone like a lot of my colleagues so I’m not the type that is totally fine just having everything totally blended, but yeah, just not my hill.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Wait, so all you have to do is put your cell number into the software, then you’ll get a code via text message and you’ll type it in when you’re logging in?

      In my view, you are being pretty rigid and unreasonable. Its a text message. Don’t want to install apps? Maybe – depends on the app (I have an app on my phone which enables me to WFH, but nothing else company related). Don’t want to put company email or calendar on your personal phone? Sure. I get those. But a text message? Nope.

      Whatever your problem is with the company, it’s not about a text message. Be very careful you’re not put on the top of the layoff list because you’re being a PITA.

      1. pancakes*

        If it’s similar to the authentication app I use (Authenticator), yes, that’s all. It sends me a single text in the morning with a code I use to log in on my laptop. Perhaps one additional text later in the day if I’ve taken long enough of a break to be automatically logged off. I don’t think the wear and tear put on a phone or data plan by one text per day is comparable to the wear and tear put on a vehicle used for commuting.

      2. Not My Money*

        Per state labor law, if I use my cell phone for work then they must pay me. My “problem” with them is the same as if they said they were going to retroactively cut my pay – it’s illegal. And if they want to lay me off because I know labor law, well, I do the payroll so I had better know the labor law.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Have you ever heard the phrase “cut off your nose to spite your face”? Sure, you might be technically correct, but you’re not being reasonable here. Using your phone for 2FA is not really a big deal. There’s plenty of people out of work. You are not irreplaceable.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      There are two-factor authenticators that can be run on a web browser (GAuth is one); you might look into that. I had to investigate this after dropping my cellphone in the ocean two weeks into six of travel, with work related sites that require 2FA.

      FWIW, I’m okay with running Authy on my personal cell, and I don’t use email or Facebook on my phone at all.

      I’m also in academia, working for a government institute. Getting a cellphone through work is about as likely as getting free coffee at the office (ie, laughably low), but aside from the two-factor stuff and communicating with colleagues on work travel, I don’t need a cell for work. And the 2FA was a project level decree, so not up to my own institute at all.

    4. Pam*

      My two-factor authentication has a little codenumber-generating doohickey that I use. The app is on my phone for backup, but rarely used. I made sure to grab the doohickey when I packed up to WFH.

  91. Delta Delta*

    I’m on a Webex call right now and it sounds like Darth Vader is on the call and it’s driving me crazy.

  92. Working for the weekend*

    I would like some advice for building a better working relationship with a colleague who I find intimidating, or maybe just building my own confidence around her. I work in a team of six, we share a small open-plan office. This colleague, I’ll call her Jane, is the second most senior in the team after our supervisor. I get along well with everyone in the team but I feel cautious around Jane. Sometimes we have positive, effective communication, but at other times I feel like I’ve done something wrong or she is telling me off (or telling someone else off). I am fairly reserved and conflict-avoidant, so I tend to retreat in these instances.
    Some examples of her interactions: When I was about to go on vacation, I told the team about some tasks they would need to take over for me. She commented: “ I think we’ve got this, I was the one who taught you those procedures.” Result: I felt belittled.
    When our supervisor suggested Jane could write some guidelines for the rest of the team, in an area she has more specialist knowledge in, she became defensive, saying that she had a Master’s in this area, which means two years of study, and it would be insulting to ask her to condense that into a guideline. After some back and forth with our supervisor, she agreed to try. Result: my apprehension around her was strengthened. I wanted to be sure never to find myself in a similar argument with her.
    Now we are working from home. Recently, as I had finished the tasks I had been working on, I wrote in our team chat to say I am available to help with any tasks the others are working on, if needed. I suggested that we have a Zoom meeting if it would be helpful , for example to discuss the direction of Tasks A and B (which are two fairly large tasks that were distributed just before we moved to work from home). One colleague replied that she thought a Zoom meeting would be useful, to help her with Task A. Jane replied that Task B had been assigned to her, she hadn’t started it yet because she was prioritizing other tasks and there was no deadline, but “whatever, if you need something to do that’s fine.” At this point I thought our supervisor might step in and say “let’s have a Zoom meeting and see what tasks everyone is working on, and whether it would make sense to redistribute some areas.” But no, he didn’t say anything. Result: I felt “told off”, but also frustrated as I thought the way I had communicated had been friendly and that meeting by Zoom could have mitigated further communication difficulties.
    I feel nervous almost any time I have to communicate with Jane. I would love some advice on how to be more assertive and secure in myself, and scripts for interacting with her. Thank you!

    1. MonteCristo85*

      To be honest, this sounds like Jane might be the one who is apprehensive and feeling insecure around you. I can’t say whether this is a you problem or a Jane problem, but all these examples seem to circle around you telling people how to do something, and Jane jumping in and saying she doesn’t need your help. I’m not sure if you are coming across to her as condescending and telling her how to do things she already knows, or if she is very insecure and reacts badly to ordinary explanations. To me, this doesn’t sound like you have an assertive problem at all. In fact, I think if you become more assertive this will acerbate the problem.

      From the tone of your question I don’t believe you intend to be condescending to Jane, but I wonder if that isn’t what she is feeling. Have you just sat down and talked to her? Spell out these times, tell her what you felt about them, and see if she will open up with how she took them. Could just be a communication style problem.

      1. MonteCristo85*

        I may be reading myself into this, but not everyone wants to be “improved.” I know that’s my style (and one of my strengths) but I can usually immediately spot inefficiencies, and once I’ve spotted them, boy do I want to eradicate them. But that’s not really my job, and I can’t go around trying to make things better for everyone if they neither asked for or want it. I have to curb myself, and when I get excited about something and run with it anyway, it can be super annoying to people, and that’s with me being a manager and having some additional authority on stuff like this. As a coworker, it is ever more bothersome (or so I’ve been told).

        1. Working for the weekend*

          Thank you for the response. Talking to her about it is almost certainly the best thing to do (as is often the case on this blog!), I guess I just feel really nervous about doing that and having her react in a way that makes me feel “told off” again.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The way I read this, Jane’s got a chip on her shoulder or something. Not wanting to write a guide to help the rest of the team? And blowing off task B with that wording? I don’t think you’re being told off, I think Jane’s being rude and you’re being taken aback by her rudeness. Of course you’re feeling nervous, because Jane is rude and you don’t like that.

        1. pancakes*

          And here. Trying to get out of writing guidelines with the argument that it would be impossible to convey the most important points to people who don’t have her exact degree is pretty weird and prickly.

      1. allathian*

        And here. She also seems a bit insecure. Protesting to your supervisor about being asked to write the guidelines seems tone-deaf.

    1. Annon for this*

      I am angry too. We spent 12 days waiting to get word from our smaller bank about the PPP. It seems like maybe the paperwork was finally accepted the day the fed announces the money is gone.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      We applied on the 3rd day after the initial announcement of the PPP program. We were just told yesterday that we were *thisclose* to being approved before the money ran out.

      So that’s five more employees who will have to file for unemployment. Thanks, big corporations who are hoarding taxpayer money.

    3. sorbet*

      My small business was unable to get funding through this fund because it “ran out.” Can’t say I’m surprised; the shameless greed of some people in this country is bottomless.

  93. Mbarr*

    First world problems post alert! Ignore this post if you don’t want to be angered by my whiny entitlement. :)

    For people who are using vacation days right now – what are you doing with them?

    I’ve got a week of vacation that I have to use up before June 30th. I’m working from home, single, and live alone, so taking vacation isn’t useful for me right now. As an extrovert, I’m dying a slow death through this quarantine. For now, I’m continuing to hoard those days in hopes that my province lifts the quarantine somewhat so that I can at least visit family.

    Before the apocalypse, I was looking up tours to Vietnam/Cambodia.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m hoarding most of mine because I’m utter rubbish at taking time off if I’m not going somewhere or doing something specific with it, like it legitimately stresses me out like whoa to take time off and sit home and not at least have a specific project that has to be done during that time and can’t be done on my normal free time. Today is literally the first time I can remember doing so in like, five years – I took a half day today and my “project” is to finish watching this docuseries about wrongful convictions. But so many people at work are doing so many stupid things because they are (understandably) stressed out about the world melting down that I just needed an afternoon to not be sitting at my desk snarling at my work computer :-P Before today, the last time I took vacation and didn’t go somewhere with it was when I did the comp final for my masters degree two years ago.

    2. Jamie*

      Can you ask them to extend the expiration date on your vacation days due to the unusual circumstances?

      1. Mbarr*

        Alas no. The company just had an all-hands meeting and told us that there’s no plans to extend the deadline. They want us to stay “rested.”

        1. Flyleaf*

          Just plan on taking most of the month of December as vacation. That seems to be what the company is encouraging.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      A friend of mine just had this happen to her too, and she was FAR more whiny about it– and I’m salty because I had just told her I had to take a pretty significant paycut– but I am feeling much more sympathetic to you so I will see what I can do to help. :) If I were in your situation, I would take off a bunch of Fridays (or Wednesdays) rather than taking consecutive days. Find tasks or interesting things to do to fill the day, like doing a virtual tour of a museum or watching a concert or whatever you’re into. Take an extra long walk (if you’re allowed; where I live, it’s certainly ok). Rent a movie or two or three that you wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to. Look up some Vietnamese or Cambodian recipes and have a cooking day. In short, make actual plans for your days off. Even if those plans involved sleeping until noon and spending all day in your pajamas, something I haven’t done since I adopted a dog and occasionally miss.

      But if they’re giving you until June 30th, yeah, I would hoard those too.

    4. Blueberry*

      My sweetie has the same conundrum, so I’ve already practiced setting aside my envy. :) To him I suggested a staycation to go around the city and see all the Fun Things He Intended To See One Day (this is for when we can get out again, of course). Or schedule Zoom or phone calls with one friend per day whom you’ve meant to catch up with.

    5. DarthVelma*

      My partner and I are very into stay-cations. Some of the things we’ve done:
      – lots of board games – our last stay-cation involved a lot of Star Wars: X-Wing and Eldritch Horror
      – picked a video game or two and tried to finish them
      – picked a show or movie series and binge watched beginning to end
      – caught up on books I wanted to read
      – rearranged furniture to make our house more user-friendly

      And my new favorite – fall down a YouTube hole of documentaries. (I’m currently watching docs on Napoleon. I’m trying to figure out how he got his reputation as a brilliant general when he was so dumb in the Russian campaign.)

    6. LGC*

      Similar situation (I have three weeks that I need to use before June 30), and…honestly, I’m using it to unplug. I had scheduled vacation pre-plague because I was supposed to be running the Boston Marathon on Monday, but now I’m just using it…to help get into the shape I should have been in now.

      I’m hoping that your province is able to lift your quarantine soon! I’m expecting that this is going to last until July or August where I’m at before we can think about coming out of quarantine. AvonLady has also given a really good answer, and one I’ve employed in the past just to burn off time (since I have “use it or lose it”).

    7. CM*

      Just on the off chance that you haven’t already tried this — I know you said the all-hands announcement was that you need to use the days by June 30th, but could you ask for an exception by telling your manager you have plans for an overseas trip when it’s safe to travel again and would like to carry over a week for that specific purpose?

      If not, one suggestion is to take an online course in something fun that could connect you with other people. I’m into creative writing, and local courses that are usually in-person are all online now, which means you could potentially connect with people now who you could meet IRL later. Some of them are also connected with Facebook groups or other online forums where people can stay in touch outside of official class time. Cooking, crafting, building stuff — there are all kinds of online opportunities now that didn’t exist a month or two ago.

    8. juliebulie*

      I’m taking Wednesdays off. I always have big plans for my Wednesday. In actuality, I usually end up napping and watching TV.

    9. Alex*

      I’m kind of in the same situation. I am at my limit (over, actually) of accrued vacation. I hate using vacation with nothing to do! Mostly because “unplugging” from work isn’t really A Thing for me–sitting in my house not checking my email (90% of my job is over email) doesn’t actually feel like a break.

      I’ve been taking half days here and there to run errands during non-busy times. That’s really it.

    10. Llellayena*

      I’m in the same boat, about a week to use essentially by the end of June and I live alone. My plan is to take a couple long weekends (later in the timeline) and visit friends who have also been social distancing. It limits the virus risk and gets me some interaction and something to do with my days besides read and watch tv.

    11. LDN Layabout*

      I’ve booked myself some long weekends, because I found over Easter that I really did need the break and we’re being asked to use around 2 days a month if we can (I carried over 4 days this year a