open thread – April 24-25, 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.

{ 1,220 comments… read them below }

  1. AlexandriaVictoria*

    One of our new managers isn’t pulling their weight. My supervisor, who is also theirs, has asked me to “contribute to an atmosphere of excellence” and let them know when the manager is not doing what is asked of them. I don’t report to this manager, and they are higher on the corporate ladder than I am. I am very uncomfortable with this. Suggestions?

    1. Actual Vampire*

      I’m a bit confused about who is who in your comment…. as I understand, your coworker Bob isn’t pulling his weight, and your boss Sophie (who is also Bob’s boss) wants you to tell her when Bob is not doing his job? If you work closely with Bob, it seems normal to let Sophie know when Bob is causing problems in your work. If not, you can tell Sophie that you don’t interact with Bob much and therefore don’t know when he is not doing what he’s been asked to.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      What exactly are they not doing? Is it something concrete that you can point to, or is more general issues?

      1. A Jane*

        Keep it factual, what you’ve seen/know they are not doing and the impact of that on you or your team (or whoever)

        1. Cats and Bats Rule*

          Agreed. This would probably be the best way to report this. However, I can see why the OP would be uncomfortable with this, especially with the newspeak used to convey the request (“contribute to an atmosphere of excellence”). Ugh.

    3. Me*

      Sounds like your boss knows this person is a problem and is looking for first hand information as to what is going on. Often higher level supervisors aren’t fully aware of what is happening at ground level.

      Unless you push back on your boss( I wouldn’t) then you should do ask asked. Keep it professional though. On x assignment Wakeem didn’t provide timely or accurate guidance which resulted in production problems and an upset client.

      Not Wakeem is a jerk.

      I guess I’m not entirely certain what makes you uncomfortable about this request? Is it feeling like a tattletale?

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        It sounds like Wakeem outranks the OP, though is not in the OP’s chain of command, and that’s why the OP is uncomfortable about reporting on Wakeem’s issues. That’s not an uncommon structure. In my office, I’m the head of team A, and I’m a director. Jane, the head of team B, is an assistant director. Jane and I both report directly to the same manager, our senior director, but I have a higher-ranking position than she does, technically. This sounds like a similar setup.

    4. Fiona*

      I was once asked to do something sort of like this and I felt equally uncomfortable. At the time I basically just ignored it but can you say neutrally “I don’t feel comfortable doing that”?

      Or on the flip side, if the new manager’s work is impacting your ability to do your work, then that’s a different matter. Then you can be upfront about what’s not working.

      But I agree, I don’t like the idea of being assigned watchdog to someone and reporting their behavior. That’s your supervisor’s job, not yours.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I don’t blame you for being uncomfortable. They are asking people in lower ranking positions to speak up about their superiors! That’s difficult to most people, you aren’t in management it sounds like you didn’t sign up for taking a management task like this on.

      But I would look at it as giving feedback on this person in the end. Be factual as others are saying. Have examples of why he’s not pulling his weight “he’s not responding to requests in a timely manner, constantly misses deadlines, refuses to pick up the phone and pushes tasks off until the last minute an rushes through them, with lots of errors.” kind of thing. Instead of saying “James sucks, he isn’t cutting it.” you know. Just facts. Just unemotional feedback on how he is creating issues.

      And honestly if he’s not creating these kinds of actual issues, he’s just kind of lazy an sloppy, it’s not enough to speak up in most senses unless you truly feel comfortable and WANT to.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I am kind of confused that your supervisor is also theirs but then you don’t report to this supervisor?

      However, I think that this is a conversation between slacker’s boss and your boss. So the boss of the slacker should ask your boss to collect and report any problems that you guys might be having.

      I don’t see any problem with reporting facts to my boss when I am asked for factual information. The few times that this has happened to me has been on the heels of a looong period of time dealing with the slacker and all the issues a slacker causes. Generally, slacker has been given dozens and dozens of chances to improve. I don’t believe in covering for people. I will bust my butt to help someone who is trying and just buried in work. But they have to be, you know, working at things.

      But you know your company the best. If this is normal every day stuff, where people rat each other out all the time, then I would probably go the opposite way and exercise extreme caution.

      Punchline: You have to “do you”. But don’t put yourself in a spot where you are covering for people or where you are doing their work for them.

      1. Product Person*

        This is actually common. My manager manages me (a director of user experience with two designers reporting to me) and a bunch of junior product owners along with senior product managers. We are two separate teams reporting into the same senior manager.

        I can see a junior PO feeling uncomfortable about reporting on my performance to our common boss.

        1. MKM*

          I can see being uncomfortable – but if OP is in a position to see that the manager isn’t pulling their weight, and has been asked to provide feedback, this is the best way to fix the problem – while the manager is still new and not entrenched. Nip problems in the bud early!

  2. LeahS*

    I wrote in last week about my boss wanting to have a meeting with me in the office this week about mistakes I was making. Well, I got laid off due to lack of work. I am trying to stay optimistic- at least I don’t have constant stress of trying to fit into a role I am not good at anymore.

    I do have a phone interview for an in-house behavior health staff recruiter role next week. I am just wondering if anyone in this field can help me out. Is this kind of role similar to high pressure sales? I would be working for the hr department, not an outside recruiter. I have been wanting to get my food in the door for HR type work for a while, but I also am trying to move away from the craziness of sales.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Don’t know much about the role, but it sounds like ultimately this layoff might be a good thing. Good luck on finding new job.

    2. Exhausted Trope*

      No, it’s not high pressure sales, per se, but you may have to do a lot of sourcing and that can be high pressure. It can be very difficult to find quality candidates in medical fields. And as a recruiter, you are responsible to sell the company to potential hires. It may end up feeling a little more salesy than you might prefer.

    3. Recruitallday*

      Recruiting is always more sales oriented than traditional HR. You have to sell candidates on the company, the role. And at the end, you have to “close” them on salary etc as well. But it’s usually different since at many places you aren’t commission based or ranked based on quota. But at some places you can be (a big online retailer comes to mind). Some recruiting roles also involve a lot of data work, strategy, HRBP things etc.

      I’m a recruiter and I hate sales. And yet love my job. So it really boils down to the type of role it is in the recruiting sphere.

    4. In Yo Biz*

      Hey there. I work for a large healthcare staffing company. Recruiting is similar to sales, but the pressure depends completely on the company and if your compensation is tied to closings. It’s a great way to get into HR. You’ll also want to find out if you get leads from anywhere (for example in my company, marketing provides TONS of leads to the recruiters) or if you’re totally on your own there. That will also contribute to the pressure/non-pressure.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m sorry to hear that – I figured that’s why they were calling you in, but I was hoping to be wrong. I wish you luck in your job search.

      1. LeahS*

        Aw thanks Diahann. The only reason I didn’t see it coming was because my boss had texted me “don’t worry you’re not getting fired” when asking me to come in for the meeting. Turns out at that point my boss didn’t realize I was getting completely laid off at the time, HR didn’t tell him until the next day.

        I am single so being jobless is very scary but I am really really hoping I can find something that I can actually excel in now.

        1. LeahS*

          *yes my boss was a him. I had changed minor details for anonymity sake but there’s no need to now I guess lol

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          I have no doubt you’ll find your way – I had a lot of false starts in my career, but I ended up exactly where I needed (and want) to be. It’ll happen to you, too. Keep the faith.

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I’m on a search committee interviewing the person who will become my boss (administration, higher ed). We’re doing our second round of interviews soon. What kinds of questions would be good to ask?

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Oooh, I like this one. We’ve had a few generic questions about management style, promotion, and evaluations, but I think this will get some good, specific examples.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I just went through this for one of my departments. I’m the admin assistant and just started in August so not very experienced in the department or how things were do e in past. When I started we had an interim department head. Some of the question that others asked, and that I asked are:

      What are your goals for the dept.
      What skills do you think would be the best for our Dept.
      Why are you looking at this area (for those Interviews who are out of the area).

      If your dept. Has been affected by Covid-19, which if your in higher ed it probably has in some way. Ask them how they would handle the situation if this had happened in their role.

      Good luck. I hope you get an amazing boss!

      1. A Jane*

        Ask them to describe their management style and ask further questions and for examples based on responses or ask more detail relating to the style or type of person that you work best with. For example do you enjoy a lot of independence or prefer to be managed more closely?

      2. CL Cox*

        Depending on their current position, they may even have direct experience with transitioning to WFH or layoffs or furloughs. Asking how they handled those things is a very good way to find out their management style under pressure. While this is a unique situation, from all accounts, there are going to be future waves that may end up causing more shutdowns, WFH, etc. So knowing how this person will handle these challenges is really helpful.

    2. OtterB*

      Depending on where they’re moving from, ask how they think the role in your department may differ from roles they’ve had in the past, e.g. if they’re moving from one type of admin function to another (say, one focused on students to one focused on faculty or on finances), or if they’re moving from a public to a private institution or vice versa.

    3. humans are weird*

      Ask how they see their approach in the first two weeks, two months, six months. (I’d be looking for whether they’d observe/learn/listen first before trying to make changes, see what their priorities are, etc).

    4. Always Late to the Party*

      If it’s a department-head type position, I would try to dig deep about their vision for office culture; what kind of cultures they’ve had in the past, how they envision an effective office culture, etc.

      Would also ask for specific examples of how they’ve dealt with challenging employees/difficult conversations.

    5. Anon for This*

      I would ask about how they will approaching learning their new job and the organization’s culture.

      I unfortunately wasn’t able to make the interviews when they hired my last new boss, and when she started her approach for learning the role was… problematic. She didn’t bother to learn from the people on the ground, and months in she still didn’t have a good idea of how our program operated.

      1. Always Late to the Party*

        Similar story here. Also, agree with the culture comment. If boss’s vision doesn’t gel with the current office’s culture things get real uncomfortable real fast.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Tell me about a time when you successfully advocated for your team or one of your team members.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes. Or even if you weren’t 100% successful, I at least want to hear about how you TRIED. (My director pushed back on HR screwing me out of my tuition reimbursement this spring to the best of her ability, but the HR VP overruled her in the end.)

    7. Mary Smith*

      “What do you look for in colleagues?” “What do you look for in direct reports?” “Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?” So simple and vague but wow I’ve gotten some great insights from asking these questions during higher ed hiring committees.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I’ve never known if this would be a good question or not (as I am in academia as an admin assistant) but here goes:

      You have been in this position for six months. You are my supervisor. I have been asked by your boss to write a full evaluation on you. What do you think I will say and why?

      1. Emilitron*

        I find the specific “what do you think I will say” phrasing makes me uncomfortable, takes a general workplace question and makes it very personal. Maybe try to generalize to a hypothetical report, not as if you’re asking them what they’ve learned about you in the last half hour that they should now apply to what they think you would say about them. Even then, it gets a bit iffy… “ok, in this hypothetical 6 months, everything’s gone fine and I’m well-adapted to the culture and haven’t accidentally stirred up any old politics and maybe I’ve done something good – but given that I don’t know the job details right now I can’t even begin to think what that will be… let me just say everybody likes me and hopes for a good next year?!”
        Maybe just stick to what “humans are weird” said above, and ask about goals for near/mid/long term.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Agreed–I think this is a hard question to ask someone to answer because they don’t really know how you think. But if you ask them what they hope to accomplish in six months, that gives you an idea of what you really WILL think about them, should they be able to accomplish it.

    9. Kathenus*

      Here are a few:

      What feedback have you received from others about your working style? How did you respond to this information?

      How would you describe yourself as a manager? How do you think people you’ve managed would describe you?

      How has your approach to management evolved over time?

      What feedback have you received from others about your communication style? What do you feel are your strengths in this area, and what areas could use improvement?

    10. blepkitty*

      Ask how they’ve handled a situation when a subordinates disagreed with them (or each other) in the past. If they haven’t been a supervisor before, then they can talk about how they handled it when they’ve lead a project, or just had colleagues disagree with them.

      I agree about asking about organizational culture. I’d try to frame it in a way that gets at what that means, like “do you prefer people work on a rigid schedule, or are you more flexible?”

    11. RJ*

      Is this a faculty administrator (like in a chair position, or an academic person in the dean’s office), a faculty administrator who will be supervising staff, or a staff administrator? For context, am faculty at a public R1. If the administrator is coming from the professoriate, they could be a person who has never had their privilege checked. I mean that in the sense that faculty have a lot of latitude and little supervision and sometimes this has really bad consequences, especially for staff. So, the questions about advocacy for staff, and also promoting staff development would be important to me. My number one pet peeve about my current chair is that I am a high performer but I have to make opportunities happen for myself – or through connections in my field – and I would like a boss who could do that for me. Merely managing problematic personalities is probably a Herculean task but I still think that being forward thinking is better than crisis management. Higher ed is going to be in crisis mode for the next 5 years at minimum so someone who can be proactive rather than reactive is key. Questions like “how will you deal with changing demographics in light of coronavirus as well as likely enrollment drop off around 2024 or 2025” would be important to me.

    12. So Anon for this*

      In my country, administration is often staffed by faculty – so if this person will be a faculty member or you work directly with faculty as part of your job (even if you and the administrator are not faculty) I would ask about how they navigate the sometimes tricky hierarchy of faculty vs staff. I would ask for a situation where they needed to protect or support a staff person when a faculty member was unhappy about a decision and ask for examples. I want my administrator to have by back – particularly when it comes to what are in essence untouchable faculty members.

    13. Anonymath*

      Tell me about a time when you changed your position on an issue based on new information. What led you to change your mind and how did you express that change to others?

    14. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I appreciate all these suggestions! Ultimately the questions aren’t up to me to decide, but I get to make suggestions, so I’ll see what we end up with.

  4. Autumn*

    Maybe someone remembers this and can help: Recently in one of the conversations about everyone suddenly needing to learn how to communicate via audio/videoconferencing, someone commented that there were strict guidelines in their field (maybe radio? possibly a former job?) about allowing lag time and other conventions and it was driving them crazy that people don’t adhere to them. I meant to follow up to ask what those guidelines are so I can share with my team but have google-searched the site for the original post in case there was further discussion there to no avail. Anybody know where this is, or have some similar practical etiquette? (Thanks Alison, btw, now more than ever!)

    1. CL Cox*

      Are there problems with lag time? Something we’ve done for meetings, when there’s someone who’s basically presenting something and answering questions (so, more informational than discussion) is that the person(s) who are presenting are the only ones who have their microphones or cameras on. While one is speaking, the other one is checking the chat feed, and people type in their questions. If it’s something that can’t be explained in the chat feed, the person types that they want to speak and then when they get recognized, they turn their microphone to ask the question. This has prevented a lot of interruptions to the speakeer from background noise on someone else’s microphone, etc. This also means that those of us who are not presenting can be doing things like eating or drinking or holding kids during the meeting and it’s not distracting anyone.

      1. Mama Bear*

        If it is a large group and there is an option to mute everyone, the presenter should consider it. Also if you mute everyone as a default, you minimize wasted time asking everyone to mute themselves – everyone not actively speaking should be on mute. I routinely keep muted on Teams and just type my comments, if any, but that varies on the meeting and company. If lag/bandwidth is an issue, keep video off except for screen sharing by the presenter. Also, if you are recording the meeting, make note of that in the invite and mention it before the recording starts.

  5. ALM2019*

    I’m trying to decide if I’m overreacting to look for jobs outside of a company I’ve been with for 12 years because of one difficult coworker.

    Background: I’ve worked with teapots for all 12 years I’ve been at my company. I started in an entry level position (using the teapots to make tea) and have been promoted over time that I am now working in a coordinator role for the group that designs, improves, etc the systems that make the teapots. I’ve been in this role for 4 years. The first two years the project manager I worked with was Jane. Jane was the PM for a few different areas and let me take on alot more than someone in my role normally would. I was recognized by my manager as well as Jane’s manager for the work I did. My manager even asked me to be a resource/mentor for newer coordinators in other areas. Then 2 years into the job Jane was moved to another area and Bob took over as the PM. Bob used to be in the coordinator role before he was promoted to be a PM. I’ve posted about Bob before because he’s pretty out of control. He has a lot of anger issues – he yells and slams his fists all the time. He gets mad if someone in another area asks us a question because he thinks they should just know – in turn he gets mad at me if I answer those questions. In his head he is always right and everyone else is always wrong. He also has a lot of control issues. He insists on having meetings to respond to emails together and double checks all the work I do. Then insists on meeting to go over work I do on my own even though we never change it. He’s even scheduled meetings to talk about where files should be saved in our shared drives (its not complicated, the folders are self explanatory). At this point I feel like I’m doing less than 50% of the work someone in this role should do because Bob wants to do it all himself. I’ve had conversations with my manager about this as Bob used to report to her – we’ve mainly talked about his anger issues. Her response has always been that when he becomes angry I should ask him to stop or just walk away – which I do. She has also said he’s been spoken to multiple times about his behavior. I’ve asked if I could move into a different area other than teapots but have been told I will always have some involvement in teapots because I’m a good source of knowledge from my experience. Bob has been with the company for 35+ years and I don’t see how he would ever change. The company is great – especially with their response to recent events. They’ve gone above and beyond for all of us. At this point though I think for my own mental health I have to leave the company to get away from Bob. Am I overreacting?

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. You’ve followed the processes available to you as an employee and don’t see changes.

      If you knew the situation was never going to change, would you be willing to spend 5 years, 10 years, the rest of your career dealing with Bob? I would assume not. There is no reason you have to think things will change, so, it’s time to find your own change.

    2. STONKS*

      You’re not overreacting at all.

      You say you’ve talked about the issue with your manager, but I wonder if she understands that you are reaching the point of being willing to leave because of Bob. You’ve been there so long, and you’ve put up with so much already, that they may not be clear that there is a limit to the bullshit you’ll take.

      You say the company is great, but telling you to walk away from someone who is behaving horribly isn’t a great response. They’re putting the burden on you to act unprofessionally in turn instead of putting the pressure on Bob to act like an adult.

      Your manager says that you are such a valuable source of institutional knowledge that they can’t move you away from Bob. It is reasonable to then take the matter into your own hands and remove your institutional knowledge from your company’s access altogether by leaving.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your first point is a good one – OP, if your manager doesn’t know that you’re willing to leave the company altogether because of Bob, then you need to let her know that now. She may just think your issue with Bob is a minor personality conflict that you’ll keep ignoring – if she knows you’ll actually quit, however, maybe that will light a fire under her to actually do something about Bob.

        If your manager still brushes off your concerns, talk to her manager about this situation and possibly even HR. Bob’s behavior is completely unacceptable, and it’s unclear whether anyone has ever tried to shut him down.

        1. LITJess*

          100% would not tell your manager your considering leaving over Bob until the exit interview, especially right now. You’ve asked her for help and her response has basically been ignore it, I doubt threatening to leave will help.

          Op, it does sounds like leaving might be a good idea, though not knowing your industry or situation if you could wait out the current pandemic, you might have more options available to you in your search. Still no harm in starting one now though!

    3. WellRed*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting, but I do wonder if you’ve made it 100% clear to your manager that this is something you will leave over if a solution isn’t offered. The conversation should include your accomplishments, value and tenure at the company (boss herself said you were so good they don’t want to lose you in the teapots department), as well as the impact Mr. Angry has on your work, including the mental impact.

      1. Mama Bear*

        If you’re ready to walk, have a cards on the table talk with your boss. It’s not just about his anger issues (which you shouldn’t have to put up with anyway) but also that he’s micromanaging to the point you get less done than you could. Be really clear about the emails and meetings and how it’s impacting your or your team’s productivity and morale. I left a job because the PM was a jerk. If the boss doesn’t see fit to intervene after this conversation, then I’d start looking. If they value your institutional knowledge, they’ll work to keep you. If not…It is poor management to keep you stuck somewhere because you know things but are deeply unhappy and suffering abuse by the PM.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      No, you’re not over-reacting. It may well be worth having a serious talk to your manager again (and possibly Bob’s manager if they are the same as Jane’s old manager who recognised yoyr work, or HR) and saying “this situation is not working. How do we fix it?”

      Being there 35 years means he is the broken stair, and people who have got used to stepping over him don’t see tbat it is NOT “just how he is”.

      The main reasons I don’t think you are over-reacting are that he has anger issues and behaves violently in workplace!!! … but wlso that YOU, who love your job, are thinking along those lines.

      And everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

      I am not saying you should leave. You may do internal weighing of factors and decide to stay.

      But if you do leave, it is entirely justified, and I would hope you are able to tell higher-ups exactly why.

    5. CTT*

      You said that you have mainly talked about Bob’s anger issues; have you said that your workload is way down because of how he manages? I think there’s a certain brand of rationalization about anger issues that sees it has a a personality conflict rather than a true work issue, but if you can say “here is how my work has been negatively impacted” they may push them to deal with him.

      That they won’t deal proactively with his anger issues makes me think that you should also start looking for work (if they’re going to let this guy be abusive to other employees, they’re not that great of a company), but if you’re wavering on leaving, you should see if they’ll address your workload issues before you pull that trigger.

      1. OtterB*

        +1 to making it clear that it’s not just the anger issues (which are a problem, don’t get me wrong), it’s also reducing your productivity because of (specific examples of micromanaging).

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to all this.
        – She needs to know about workload issues
        – If they haven’t managed him out after 35 years for the anger, well…

        If they do fix the workload issues, would you be willing to stay? Or is his anger a deal breaker? She needs to know that.

        1. Show Me the Money*

          Just wait it out. If Mr. Angry has been there 35 years, he must be nearing retirement. Leaving a job because of a particular person comes at a high cost, you may have to serve a new insurance waiting period, etc. People leave jobs, I’ve waited out several of my enemies. Hang in there!

    6. lurker :)*

      God no, Bob seems just terrible. I started job searching when I had a similar paranoid and overbearing team member (luckily my boss took care of her). They cause so much stress!

    7. Annony*

      Bob is making you miserable at your job. Regardless of whether someone else would be able to deal with Bob, you do not want to. Leaving over it is reasonable.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Bob is making you miserable with unprofessional behavior and taking away your opportunities.
        Your manager has not effectively dealt with Bob’s unprofessional behavior.

        Leaving over it is reasonable.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      As others have stated, you are absolutely not overreacting. I’ll also add that looking for a job outside the company shouldn’t be viewed as some sort of consolation prize. There are obviously things you love about this company, but you’ve also been at it for 12 years. There are a lot of other great workplaces out there. I’ve never spent more than 5 years at one place. Definitely look! You would be fine looking even if you didn’t have to deal with Bob.

    9. T. Boone Pickens*

      What are the chances that Bob’s anger issues get the better of him and he implodes?

    10. slt*

      I’d add that it sounds like you’re not necessarily only leaving because of Bob, you’re also leaving because your company refuses to deal with Bob. Bob could choose to leave in 3 months but be replaced by BobV2. You’d still have the same problem, because your company refuses to fix the situation.

      1. Anonymath*

        Our company finally replaced its COO-equivalent, who had been making people miserable for years (discrimination, title IX issues, embezzlement, nepotism, etc), with COOv2 and he’s just about as bad as the last one. Our current CEO is sharper and quicker than the one that fired the old COO, but it’s still going to be miserable until they get around to firing the new COO too.

    11. Llama Face!*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable and I also don’t think you really just have an unpleasant coworker problem. Sounds like the whole system is allowing abusive bad employees to not only keep behaving badly but to get promoted while doing so. Sorry but your workplace systematically sucks. :( Best wishes on job searching if you choose to do so!

    12. Database Developer Dude*

      You are so NOT overreacting. Bob is a problem. Work won’t solve the problem, find new work and tell $OldJob ‘sayonara’!!

    13. Fikly*

      Think of it this way: you’re not leaving because of Bob. You’re leaving because your “great” company is refusing to deal with Bob, who has likely been acting this way for decades. Bob should have been fired long ago.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, yep, yep. Reframe, OP. You thought this was a great company until you realized temper tantrums were acceptable behaviors in the eyes of TPTB. They have shown you that they do not know how to fire people who need to be shown the door. It’s okay to believe them. In the back of my mind I would worry about them hiring another hot-headed person, let’s call them “Bob II”. So now you have Bob and Bob II. At this point in the story, you now know that Bob II is probably not going anywhere either. For me, I would be feeling new levels of despair.

        Ya know. there’s one little trick I have learned that seems to help. It’s the phrase, “I want to go on record formally….” . I have used this very sparingly and gotten results. (I only used it when I was facing a deal breaker.) So in your setting, I would consider saying, “Boss, I want to go on record as formally requesting help with Bob’s outbursts, fist banging, etc. I do not feel safe here and I have a secondary concern about damage to company property.”
        There seems to be something in the phrase, “I want to go on record” that jars people back into reality. Take a look at your employee handbook or written policies to see if your company has a Workplace Violence policy. Some of the violence policies can be very well written and spell out exactly what behaviors are not acceptable. If you have such a policy be sure to reference it when you place your formal request on the record.

        Notice you do not threaten to quit. The goal here is to see what the response is and base your next steps on that response. You keep your next steps private, keep them to yourself.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        THIS. Bob is A problem, but he is not the ONLY problem. If your company were dealing with Bob appropriately, you wouldn’t be in this position. In my office, we had a fairly senior colleague who didn’t really have anger issues like Bob, but who was highly negative and often contemptuous towards others. They were there for many years, and while management “talked to them” about these issues repeatedly, they never seemed to get resolved. Eventually, new management came in and just was NOT having it. This person didn’t get fired, but did end up leaving of their own accord–and I’m sure that was in part due to the fact that they were being expected to actually change their behavior and attitude.

    14. J.B.*

      I have done the same when I knew that Bob would be promoted. Even if I don’t get another job in the near term, I am grateful Toxic people are toxic, and companies that choose not to deal with them are choosing toxicity over good people.

    15. Tink*

      If Bob is not your manager how about just doing things the way you want and the way you were doing them before? Decline those meetings to review your work and decline the meetings to jointly write emails and just do it yourself. I would think your company would not be happy to know that Bob’s control issues were making you less productive, that’s money against their bottom line. And if Bob has his typical angry reaction do walk away. Maybe walk right over to your managers office with a screaming Bob on your tail and tell him to speak with her.

    16. Koala dreams*

      No, you are not over-reacting. Your company sounds pretty toxic. It’s not normal to be yelled at by co-workers, and it’s not normal for co-workers to slam their fists in anger in response to everyday work interactions. You have endured this for two years (?) already, it’s not likely to get better. Also, it’s pretty normal to look for outside work when work volume has been cut in half, often this is an sign of coming lay-offs. In your case, maybe it’s more a sign of disorganized management. No matter which, you can look for a new job as soon as you want to. You can leave your company for any reason, you don’t have to wait until your company gets terrible about every single thing.

      1. CL Cox*

        it’s not that the work volume has been cut in half, it’s that Bob is doing things that he could pass on to OP (which is what Jane did) because he’s a micromanager who can’t let go. I wonder if the quality of the work is suffering or if things are not getting done altogether? I work for a micromanager and they are constantly dropping balls, losing track of things, etc.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Yeah, that’s why I wrote it’s more of a disorganization issue. However, I wouldn’t feel any job security in a job if my tasks were taken over by someone else and I didn’t have anything to do for half the work day. That alone would make me writing a resume and start to look at other jobs. Other people can make other choices, of course, it’s just a suggestion.

    17. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ef Bob. And Ef a company who allowd a Bob to not just stay 35 years but prompted the jackass!

      You’re not the first person they’ll have lost to Bob.

      It’s never overreacting to leave a situation that causes you that unnecessary stress. Stress takes years off your life. You should be treated better.

      You owe no company anything aside from your best work that they’re paying you for. Leave and be free!

    18. beach read*

      I don’t think it’s an overreaction, but I’d say exhaust all options first because 12 years is a long time and starting over is not easy. Have you tried a joint meeting with Bob and your respective managers to discuss your concerns? It is disturbing to think you are having to deal with an angry coworker. People can’t get angry at work. They just can’t. Someone has dropped the ball on this issue and it needs to be picked back up. Maybe it’s your boss, maybe it’s HR, maybe it’s the Owner/CEO. I hope you won’t give up without a fight because honestly, unfortunately, you could find yourself with less seniority and a new Bob.

      1. Certaintroublemaker*

        Yes, I was thinking that if Manager isn’t doing anything, try HR.

        But as others above have said, first lay out for Manager all the issues, not just the anger—in one big list, so it’s not piecemeal of “this one issue” here and “one other little issue” there. Bob adds up to A Problem.

    19. ..Kat..*

      You are not overreacting. This is an extremely toxic and stressful environment for you. I encourage you to not quit until you have a new job – with the pandemic, who knows how long it can take to find a new job?

      Good luck. I hope you find a better situation soon.

    20. allathian*

      No, you’re not overreacting. Even if they’ve been great in other ways, especially with COVID etc., that doesn’t help much. Management isn’t willing to deal with Bob, who should have been fired years ago.
      He’s also hurting your career because you’re not being challenged professionally, other than in dealing with a difficult coworker. Having too much to do is tough, but so is not being able to do your best work because your PM keeps taking it away from you.
      In your shoes, I’d start looking for another job.

  6. Jennifer*

    For anyone that needs to file unemployment – I got an email a few days ago saying that my claim has been processed, about two weeks after I filed. Now I’m waiting on my eligibility determination, which may be another week. I’m in the state of Georgia. So some claims are being processed in a somewhat timely manner.

    1. Rianwyn*

      In Ohio (at least for some), it appears to be even faster! I filed and had payment the following week.

      It did take me a few days to get in and file without the site crashing, though.

    2. WellRed*

      I’m being furloughed for a week next week, so will be tackling my claim ASAP. thanks for the words of hope.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I don’t know how things work in your state, but my employer was able to file a partials unemployment claim on behalf of all the people in our plant who were temporarily laid off due to Covid. All I had to do was call a special hotline a couple of days later, decide whether I wanted direct deposit or a prepaid card mailed to me, and input my direct deposit info when I chose that option. According to the info distributed by the Alabama’s unemployment office, workers typically get their payments in 3 to 5 days when the company files on their behalf (because the company is already certifying that the employee meets eligibility requirements by filing for them), instead of the typical 21+ days for claims filed by the employees themselves. Maybe see if this is an option for you? I had to fill out a consent form so that my company could file, and then decide on my payment method, but that’s all I’ve had to do.

        1. WellRed*

          That’s not a thing in our state. I’d actually never even heard of companies being able to do such a thing until it came up this week on this site.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Keep in mind this all depends on the state. Some states are really over burdened with their u employment office.

      1. Jennifer*

        I’m sure people know that. Just making sure others know it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

    4. Jamie*

      I have a family member who filed 3 weeks ago in Illinois and they sent them the bank card for receiving payments, but no approval letter, no status. The website is a mess and they can’t log in, they’ve called the customer service line literally thousands of times in the last 2 weeks and it’s a busy signal each time.

      In Illinois they have 193 reps working at the call centers and 250,000 calls a day. This is pure insanity.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        My daughter filed in Illinois, but she worked in both Illinois and Indiana.

        Her claim was paid this week, but based only on her Illinois earnings. The letter says they are waiting on a response from Indiana. It also said to certify online the day before the letter arrived. Good thing she had gone online to check status anyway.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Oregon is still a clusterEF too. Their systems cannot handle the amount of claims…and they got exposed a week or so ago. They had money to update their systems in 2009 an guess they decided it wasn’t necessary to actually get their archaic computer system out of the GD 1990s.

        It’s been over a month for a lot of them who are waiting on claims to be paid.

      3. JeanB in NC*

        I’ve been trying to get a hold of the NC unemployment so that I can go online and give my responses to the claims I’ve been sent. I just keep getting a message saying they can’t take any calls. I’m calling every day. I know they are way overwhelmed – I actually got two separate emails a couple of weeks ago asking if I was interested in taking calls for unemployment.

    5. Alston*

      I was finally able to apply on Monday in MA (self employed), said i was eligible Wednesday, and am now listed as “payment pending.” We will see when it actually goes through.

      I am pleased with how well the system (seems) to be working in MA, I was worried it was going to be like our Health Connector website/application which is just the worst.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I live in MA, and a couple of friends who’ve been laid off (so not self employed but still..) said the UI system has been very easy, and they’ve gotten paid very quickly with no issues.. I’m sure YMMV of course..

    6. RobotWithHumanHair*

      In Florida, my wife and I mailed ours in a couple weeks ago due to the complete cluster that the online system is. She called yesterday and we were at least able to confirm that they received them and that they’re in “pending” and “under review” status right now…so things are happening, albeit slowly. For those that haven’t seen, Florida has over 1.5M claims submitted right now and last I checked, only about 45K had actually been processed.

    7. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Just FYI, if you have a “clean” claim with no issues, it’s going to automatically process in most state systems, so once you get in and file, it’s gonna go pretty smoothly. However, if there are any issues on the claim – even just changing jobs in the past 18 months or so – the issues will need to be assigned to an investigator/adjudicator, and that could take weeks to months, depending on when you filed and what state you are in. Unfortunately, just because you are laid off because of this pandemic, the usual eligibility requirements for UI still apply, so if you were discharged from a job, or even quit a job to take another job, those issues will need to be adjudicated. Please continue filing your weekly claims (or bi-weekly, depending on state), and as soon as you are found to be eligible, you will be paid for all the weeks you filed. We know it’s a mess. We’re doing our best. We know it is really, really crappy for you who are waiting. We thank you for your patience!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Thank you for this, I completely forgot about this snag and things just “clicked” in my head for a few people who are struggling with their claims being processed and it all makes perfect sense. My brain kept bypassing the whole job changing things, even though I should have known.

    8. LQ*

      In my state something like 95% of people who are eligible are being paid in the first week. So while there are a LOT of stories about the horror show, at least in some states most of it is working. Don’t get me wrong my heart breaks for the last 5% but it’s not 100% are not getting paid, which is how it’s portrayed.

    9. Raea*

      I’m in MA – my friend that applied thee weeks ago just heard back. Compared to what the wait time had been, it seems to be improving!

    10. nep*

      Michigan here. The filing process was quite smooth, and I see on the website that I’m eligible (for the later benefits–PUA). I don’t know when I will start to see any payments, but I’m glad to have gotten this far.
      Thanks for the infos. And all best of luck to those filing and waiting for those funds.

    11. Pennalynn Lott*

      In Texas, our local news interviewed the Governor and asked him about one person who has waited 5.5 weeks from the date of UI approval and still has no check. The Governor played it off as a singular incident. The news anchor pushed back and said that, actually, he’d heard from dozens of people who are saying the same thing. The Governor changed the subject.

  7. Student Affairs Sally*

    I’m really struggling right now. I’ve been unhappy at work for a long time and have been heavily job searching for about 6 months. I’m pretty confident that I was about to receive an offer for a role that perfectly matches my skills and interests, in one of my dream locations . . . but then coronavirus happened, and now most universities are under a hiring freeze for the time being. They’ve said that they’re still very interested, but who knows when they’ll be able to actually finalize a hire.

    That was disappointing enough in and of itself, but then my best work-friend got an offer across the country. She was already going to be moving (her husband got a tenure track position at that same university & signed the contract before the virus hit the states), but it stings that I’ve been searching 3 times longer than her and she already has an offer. Plus I’m going to miss her terribly, and I’m so sad that I won’t be able to say a proper goodbye. My amazing boss is also going on maternity leave in just a few weeks. Once both of them are gone, I will be left with a coworker I can barely stand and a supervisor that I don’t normally report to – she’s very nice, but extremely scatterbrained and not as helpful or supportive as my normal boss. So the job I’m already miserable in is about to get a lot worse.

    I’ll also be saying goodbye to students that have worked for my office for 3+ years, that I’ve seen really grow and develop as leaders and professionals, without being able to really say goodbye. I’ll probably never see most of these students again. It’s heartbreaking. All of this, combined with the “ordinary” coronavirus/quarantine stress and my general tendency toward anxiety and depression . . . I feel like I’m stuck in a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it. I’m trying to focus on the fact that me and my family and loved ones are all still healthy, but it’s hard.

    1. M*

      I hope this makes you feel better but usually when tenure track positions get filled their spouse also gets a job at the university. So I’m not trying to say your best work friend isn’t qualified but a friend of mine works at a top tier school and says this is the norm for those receiving tenure. Whether it be an admit position or “lecturer” if you are in high demand and ask for your spouse to get a job they will find, create or give a job to them. It’s frustrating but this is how it goes I guess
      Also most of the universities (including Ivy leagues) are in hiring freezes.
      Good luck on your search!

      1. MCL*

        Yes. It definitely would sting, but it’s true that spousal hires tend to get a bit of a priority lift. I work with someone who is a spousal placement coordinator in our big university. It’s part of the deal when recruiting faculty and high-level admins – sweeten the package by finding a position for their partner. (Spousal hiring is a particularly useful tool for high-demand positions or for people who can easily get higher-paying jobs in industry or have competing offers from other institutions.)

        Sally, I hope that your position offer eventually comes through. I’m sorry you’re in this position in the mean time. :(

        1. Student Affairs Sally*

          Thank you so much. I hope so too! I also have another interview in a few weeks. This position isn’t as desirable as the other one, but I’m trying to keep my options open.

    2. University too*

      Sally, that sounds tough! I also worked closely with students, and I agree completely that it can be really tough to know you won’t see them again when you’ve invested a lot in working with them. I left that university job because the way it was structured my only close coworkers were students, so I feel you when you talk about the importance of coworkers. I wish I had good suggestions for you – like, could your amazing boss reshuffle your tasks or reporting a bit so you had some overlap with other coworkers or learned some new skills? – but I don’t mean to minimize how tough it is to be in a job where you don’t have good support. Hang in there!

    3. Mrs. T. Potts*

      I understand. I also work for a university, and supervise a number of student workers. Some of them will be graduating this semester, and I can’t say goodbye except by email. I suffer from anxiety and depression too, and I’ve been trying to find another job within my institution since last July. We had financial issues before the virus hit, and now I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. It IS hard. Hang in there!

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        It’s good to know that I’m not alone in this struggle! It’s comforting to at least know that I had a tiny role in helping them become the great people they are

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One thing I can speak to — as a former student worker myself, I would suggest offering to stay in touch as more than just a written reference in their file. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter — heck even FACEBOOK or Pokemon since you’re not their boss anymore. Tell them you hope they look you up when they come back for Homecoming or a friend’s graduation or just a visit to the area. That is something solid you can do for them — let them know that someone will remember them and miss them. It’s not trivial — it’s likely to lighten even THEIR tunnel.
      Hang in there.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        Thank you for this. I’m already connected to most of them on LinkedIn and will be sure to add any others. I’ve been doing check-in meetings with them via webex and I’ve been making a point of thanking them for all the amazing things they’ve done for the program and their school, and letting them know that I’m always available to give them a glowing reference if they should need that. One of them got a little teary and another said I was one of the best bosses and mentors he’s had. So that’s been really rewarding but bittersweet.

  8. MissBliss*

    This whole work-from-home situation has been making me feel like my job wants a trained monkey who jumps when told, not an independent thinker who was brought into a newly developed position as a subject matter expert. Almost every recommendation I’ve made over the past two weeks has been shot down because someone above me wanted it a particular way, despite my (valid, best practices informed, tested) reasons for making those recommendations in the first place. Maybe it’s not fair, but it’s really souring me on a job that I had otherwise been very happy with and had expected to stay in a long time.

    1. Kramerica Industries*

      No advice just sympathy. I used to do some pretty great things at my job, but now that everything is “Tier 1 urgency”, the managers have taken all the important work and I’m left maintaining the admin side and small tasks. I’m trying to tell myself to give it a bit more time for people to adjust. In the grand scheme of things, we’re probably very early in this process and higher-ups are still learning how to cope. Otherwise, yeah I’ll probably bring up how I still expect more out of my role despite being WFH.

      1. MissBliss*

        I had felt this way a *little* bit, but I’m the newest member of the team and was giving them time to see what I can do! We should’ve had annual reviews this month or last, which would’ve been a perfect time to talk about this, but all of our reviews are on indefinite hold until we are no longer working from home– specifically, managers have been told not to talk to employees about their performance.

        Best of luck. I hope as we continue to settle into things, you get back to the things that are fulfilling to you.

      2. whome*

        This is a good perspective on managers… I want to say same, except my line of work is smack dab in the mix of this pandemic so we can’t say we weren’t prepared or don’t know how to handle it. Our top 2 people have hoovered up all the good work and I feel very left in the dark. The highlight of my April (JESUS It’s the end of APRIL!?!!) is “owning” a spreadsheet. Wooooooooo, sweet sweet semi-autonomy.

    2. Fikly*

      Unfortunately, that’s what some employers do want.

      If this has only been happening since working from home, I might look at it as an exception, but I would take a serious look if it continues after you are back in the office.

      If this is nothing new, well, it’s unlikely to change, and I would think about whether or not that’s something I can deal with long term.

      1. MissBliss*

        Ha! No, but that gives me some perspective. I may be a jumping monkey but I’m not on a national stage.

    3. whome*

      The “shot down” bit is what caught my eye. My every move is shot down, ignored, or over scrutinized now that we’re working from home. I feel as though I actually adapted pretty well, and it’s only just now occurring to me that maybe the reason remote work wasn’t encouraged was actually bc my manager isn’t great at managing remotely. I have 0 incentive to learn new things right now – I don’t want to be “more expert” or knowledgable when my contributions essentially mean zilch. Super demoralizing.

    4. Lizzo*

      Sorry that you’re experiencing this. :-( Is it possible that the higher ups are making decisions that are driven by fear and uncertainty instead of by data? (That seems to be a theme these days!)

      In which case, 1) it’s not about your competency, and 2) you may or may not be able to reason with those higher ups about why your recommendations should be followed.

      Are you able to talk to your manager/supervisor about this and see if they have a better understanding of what’s driving the decision making (and see if they can push back, if needed)?

      1. MissBliss*

        I’m fairly certain it is about fear (or at least anxiety) but I don’t think it’s something I can reason with. Both of my immediate supervisors have indicated that they know some of the changes are unnecessary or unhelpful to what we’re trying to accomplish, but because they come from above, they can’t do anything about it. They’ve even indicated they’ve pushed back, but haven’t been successful, so there’s no additional pushing back I can do.

        I could try having a conversation with my manager about my deep unhappiness about this situation, but I don’t know how to do that right now. My job is all over the place, and frequently empty, but the folks above me seem to be busy all the time. I don’t know how to be like “I know none of us signed up for this specifically, but *I especially* didn’t sign up for my job to look like this.” It just seems small and petty with everything else going on.

        1. Lizzo*

          Your feelings are perfectly valid. I think you’re struggling with something that all of us are struggling with: how to feel useful and valued and productive at a time when everything around us is spinning out of control.

          Here’s a bit of a recalibration (which I personally have had to do in my own life):

          A job that provides a paycheck and benefits right now is a very good thing. A job that you can do without being exposed to the general public is a very, very good thing. These are basic things that are necessary for survival right now, because that’s what we’re all doing: surviving.

          If you’re not doing much work right now, but still getting those two things, that is a perfectly fine way to be. It’s not a commentary on your value as an employee or a person. It is not a result of something you did–or didn’t–do. It is not punishment. It is simply the way things are.

          Tune in to how your employer and its leaders are behaving across the organization, the choices leaders are making, and how they are treating staff. The current situation is bringing out the best and the worst in everyone. What you observe may help you choose whether you want to weather this storm and stay with the organization long term.

          You need to make choices that put *you* first. That includes:
          1) making your best effort with respect to the work you do have, and then releasing everything else that you cannot control;
          2) using the time you have available to prioritize your health and well-being, even in small, incremental ways;
          3) explore other professional opportunities–network as much as you’re able so that if things haven’t improved once the outside word returns to somewhat normal (or the “new normal”), you’ll be ready to make a move;
          4) asking for help with the things you need help with (social, professional, emotional, etc.).

          I have some more thoughts, but it’s Friday and my brain is alphabet soup, so I hope what’s here is helpful. Bottom line: you’re not alone!!! And we’re all in the same boat.

          1. MissBliss*

            Lizzo, this is a very thoughtful and kindhearted post. You have brought me as much comfort as listening to Lizzo tracks on repeat. The points you bring up in your list are especially important: I can only do what I can do at work. If I am not being given things to do, I am not slacking, I am just doing what I can. And that’s all any of us can do right now!

            Thank you very much for taking the time to write all this.

  9. Stephen!*

    A truly minor mishap in the grand scheme of Zoom, but in an introductory meeting with a new higher-up, I got distracted by a squirrel in my yard and said, “Ooooooooh, squirrel!” Luckily, I was the one talking at the time and only interrupted myself.

    1. MissBliss*

      I did that recently during an online class Zoom meeting! I had been thinking that a woodpecker kept landing on the side of my house and pecking, and then while I was at my desk for the Zoom (I’m usually in bed with my laptop if I don’t need to be on video) it landed ON THE WINDOW!

    2. Emmie*

      I once had a bird fly into my window with a loud thump during a video conference. And he flew away. It was distracting! Poor bird!

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I had my first-ever Skype meeting yesterday and, midway through, my younger cat dutifully flashed my entire department with her colorful tabby butt. Yup.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Our big cat completely derailed one of my mom’s online language classes the first time she noticed Skype. Fortunately, she’s gotten used to it now and is no longer so worried about all those extra voices.

    4. BabyCarrot*

      I just had a video call for a project with my manager and her manager. and Great manager stopped talking and said “Sorry there is someone peeing outside of my window, I was a bit distracted there.” Not something we are used to hearing during meetings!

    5. Alston*

      There is Samoyed dog in my neighborhood that is just the most beautiful graceful dog. It constantly looks like it just got a salon blow out. My husband and I love it. Yesterday he was on a video call when it walked past. I was like “oooh the white dog!” He attempted to mute himself and was like “white dog, where?” While vaulting off screen to see it.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        My cousin trains dogs professionally and has–count ’em–FOUR Samoyeds. I cannot begin to estimate how much time she spends grooming them. But they are gorgeous.

        1. Alston*

          Can you pretty please request a photo of all of them together? That would be just the best end to the week.

    6. Ali G*

      Yesterday I was on a Zoom to interview a potential new hire (yes we are hiring!!) and it started to rain really hard. My dog has rain/thunder anxiety and popped up from him bed and came over to sit next to and shake. I tried to discreetly reach down to pet him while maintaining perfectly normal facial expression and posture. I’m not sure I succeeded.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I did a telephone interview with my big baby Siberian Husky trying to stuff himself into my armpit. Thank goodness there was no video!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Siberian mix here. I spent a whole telephone interview rubbing his belly so he would not start “talking”.
          I later found out my new boss would have thought that was very funny and wanted to meet the dog.

      2. Lizzo*

        Honestly, if I was your candidate and this happened, I would’ve been totally fine with you acknowledging the presence of your terrified doggo. (And would’ve expressed my sympathies, having had two pups with similar issues!)

        1. Fake Eleanor*

          Same and same! Our family dog likes to sit on my dad’s feet when it’s thundering.

    7. Mrs_helm*

      That would have made me smile if someone did that in my work meeting! You, and all the commentors on this who shared their own squirrel/bird/pet moments, would have gotten a +1 in my book.

    8. NGL*

      I was on a call this week and as we were wrapping up my exuberant toddler in the next room started yelling at my husband “Dada! DADA!” I thought I was far enough away that it wouldn’t get picked up on my mic, but the fact that everyone stopped and went “Uh…what?” told me I was mistaken :-( (Though in the grand scheme of video call interruptions, I’d think we’d be used to random child noises by now!)

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Yesterday I had to watch my cat eat a bowl full of sour cream I left on my kitchen counter because I was in a Zoom 1:1 with my boss and couldn’t interrupt. Then I had to hope my husband didn’t come downstairs and eat it before I could warn him!

      1. Jaid*

        I can only imagine what you’re doing with a bowl of sour cream, but my family likes to pair sour cream and bananas as a treat during Passover…

      2. allathian*

        I’m lucky I have a great relationship with my boss. An interruption for something like that would be totally fine for me, not even an issue.

    10. HR Exec Popping In*

      In addition to my cat believing he is an invited guest on every Zoom call I have, about a week ago I was presenting to our leadership team and saw an eagle fly through my back yard and exclaimed mid sentence (interrupting myself) – oh my god, an eagle! :D Mortifying, yes. But also our new normal.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hear you. For me it was “Excuse me there’s a stranger in my backyard!” and throwing down the headphones. I was not presenting, and no one stopped their discussion. For all I know they didn’t notice, because no one asked anything when I got back. (Just the neighbor’s college student home for the duration, stabilizing our mutual fence so it didn’t blow over in that day’s high wind.)

    12. Colt*

      I love that we’re getting these sorts of interruptions. A few days ago I was facilitating a meeting of about 12 people. One participant had a son who was clearly interrupting and asking what she was doing, so I invited him to tell us who he was and what he’d been doing that day (entirely appropriate in the circumstances). He had a couple of minutes of chat and then disappeared, and didn’t interrupt again. Participant messaged me afterwards to thank me – he’s been fascinated by her video meetings and has constantly interrupted, but now his curiosity appears to have been satisfied.
      My dog flew into the room and onto my lap while I was doing a national meeting the other day. Then he made very cute faces at the speaker when he heard other people talking!!!

      1. allathian*

        That’s great. My son would probably be too shy to say anything, but OTOH he’s in remote school and has video meetings with his class at least three times a week, so nothing to be curious about there.

  10. 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, worked more hours and battled beyond to get a promotion 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 consider this.

    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 reflecting a lot 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? I posted before but kind of late so sorry if this looks familiar!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      One thing I’d caution a little bit as someone who does recruiting is if you have a strong desire to be liked know that the majority of the time, you’re going to be delivering bad news to candidates. If however, you’re ok with that and you’re more speaking towards wanting to be liked by your co-workers than I totally get where you’re coming from.

    2. AnnieMay*

      Did you work in events at a big law firm? If so now is definitely not the time to even contemplate this. No one is hiring. They aren’t recruiting. There are no events. And there won’t be for a long time. They are all cutting attorney pay and trying to stay open.

      1. Sunflower*

        I worked in events OldJob but the new position I’m interested in would be on a different team/department. I work in events now at a consulting firm so I understand what is happening in the event landscape.

        1. Sunflower*

          Also I understand that things are quite up in the air right now so it’s possible the position will be canceled or put on hold but it’s still important for me to figure out the implications of returning at some point

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Being very practical and realistic: you’re stuck where you are for right now. Covid has pretty much shut down the job market. Even fields which are still hiring have been radically slowed, if not completely paused.

      Remember that it’s possible to not like current job, while former job is still not a good choice for whatever reason. You left for reasons. Those reasons are probably still valid. It’s ok to look around for something else, but right now, you have a job, you’re getting paid, and you’re relatively stable. If you get a solid job offer, great.

      1. Fikly*

        I work for a company that is hiring at the same rate as before, if not an increased rate. While we are almost certainly unsual in that, it’s not true to say that the job market is shut down in every industry.

        If you’re flexible about industry, look for transferable skills, and who is hiring right now.

      2. CL Cox*

        Keep in mind that when this initial round of shutdowns end (and maybe even before), there is going to be a LOT of work for certain legal fields. Employment law? Companies will be trying to figure out how to naivgate the new normal and wanting to make contingency plans for new waves or a similar circumstance and will need legal help with all of that. Family law? Divorces are expected to spike and people are realizing the necessity of wills and end of life planning. Corporate law? Again, new normal and contingency plans. Legislation? Oh, yeah, there’s going to be a lot of that. Litigation? A lot of that has been delayed and there will be a big upswing in new cases as well.

    4. Bob*

      What are the actual, tangible problems with your current job? Ignore whether people like you or not, do you get supported? Opportunities to progress if you ever want them? Can you do your job well? Better benefits? Salary?

      Sure there is value in being in a pleasant work environment and getting along with colleagues, but I would be very wary of going back to an old environment you left *for a reason* unless there is a better reason to go back – or things have changed.

      1. Sunflower*

        Thanks for pointing this out. It’s a mix of a few things- I don’t jive with my boss/team like I did at my old job, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing after a year and it feels impossible to succeed given the way certain things are set up. When Friday afternoon hits, I already dread the thought of going back to work on Monday. Also- I’m just over doing events! I prefer to spend my days talking to people and not pouring over project plans and agenda updates. If it was just one or two of these things, I’d be encouraged to try to make a change but when it’s the core part of your job, there’s no changing that. NewJob at OldCompany would be in a different department but still working with the same partners I like.

        I’m really interested in sales but nervous and unsure about how to make a transition especially during this time. I know leaving current job is the right move but will definitely rethink more on the ‘why’ I left OldJob as I rethink my next move.

        1. CL Cox*

          Is there someone you could talk to at OldJob that could help you think it through or who you trust to give you good advice? Do you have a mentor you can discuss this with? Or is there someone who is familiar with the reasons why you left OldJob who you can discuss this situation with?

          Or, do you feel comfortable reaching out to whoever your manager would be and talking with them about whether this would be a good fit for you?

    5. A Person*

      One of the other things to do here is also look at if you’re overlooking things that are useful.good at your new job, even if you aren’t comfortable in it.

      I left a job to go to a “step up” job that has a better title but been more of a step up + a step down (I’m having to do both higher level and lower level work than before). I definitely still miss the old job sometimes about 6 months later. But then I remind myself that I *am* learning and growing right now in the way I hoped, even if it’s not as amazingly better than the old job as I wanted.

      I also similarly had more people I knew and liked at my old job, but I also had worked there for almost 4 years and it was also the job where I had the best relationships. Not every job will be as good as that one and it wouldn’t have lasted forever.

  11. drpuma*

    Some insight into the distance hiring process from a friend of mine. She was saying that what is normally done as one step – having a candidate come into the office for a few hours to meet with 3 people – now feels like 3 steps, because it’s 3 phone calls that all have to be scheduled separately. I hope this context helps folks who are actively interviewing or applying. Best of luck to all!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s interesting. When I’ve had to coordinate in-person one-day visits, it’s still felt as if there are those three steps… because so-and-so has to meet with the candidate at 10am, and then the other person has to meet with the candidate at 10:45am, etc.

    2. Fikly*

      I don’t understand why that would be.

      When we were interviewing in the office, if the candidate was meeting with three people in a row, they’d come in for x block of time. Now when interviewing remotely, we still set up the same block of time, and each interviewer just hops on the video meet at the appropriate time.

  12. WearingManyHats*

    I had been job searching for about 6 months before this all started, and made it to several final rounds before ultimately losing out. But I’m still employed and as the only HR person at my company, I’m managing the unemployment and benefits of our furloughed employees and working on eventual return plans, so I feel I can’t keep looking. Plus, I figure there are so many people out there who need a job more than I do, since I’m just looking for career growth and they need survival. Selfishly, it still sucks.

    Good luck to everyone hunkering down out there–something good will come up when you least expect it (or that’s what I tell myself!).

    1. AnnieMay*

      This is nonsense. You can absolutely keep looking. If you are fortunate enough to find a job, great! Some one else looking for a job will take yours in no time. Who knows if you’ll be able to find anything but there’s no reason not to try.

    2. Fikly*

      You can absolutely keep looking. Your company would not hesitate to lay you off if they decided it was in their interests. It’s not wrong to look after your own interests.

      Plus, looking is not the same thing as accepting a job and leaving. As for those people who need a job “more than you” – by leaving your current position, you’re opening up a position for them to take.

      1. Clisby*

        Absolutely. And who knows, your looking might persuade you to stay where you are – or to move on. You won’t know until you try.

    3. ten-four*

      Adding another voice to the “of course you can look!” pile. If you leave your job someone else will take it – it’s not like you’ll be hoarding multiple jobs like a dragon! And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow your career no matter how crummy everything is. We all only get one life, and there’s no need to put everything on hold if you don’t want to.

    4. Stornry*

      Absolutely keep looking. If what you are looking for is job growth in HR, HR jobs are part of the unseen “essential services” — as you well know, HR keeps up the payroll and benefits for everyone else who is at work, working from home, and not working at the moment. There are still leaves of absence (all of the normal reasons as well as new ones), performance evaluations (in some places) and, sad to say, investigations, along with everything else. All that stuff still needs to be processed so the company can do what it does and the employee’s needs are met. Who knows what companies might need to expand or fill in vacancies on their HR teams?

    5. Viette*

      “I figure there are so many people out there who need a job more than I do” — then those people can get hired into your old job. Don’t stop looking out of guilt. If you move on, someone who *wants* your job can take it, and isn’t that as much of a “gift” to the job market as your nobly not taking another job because someone might want that one?

      Use a thrift store mentality to break yourself out of the desire to self-sacrifice. When you go to the thrift store you always find stuff where you think, “how could anyone give this away? this is AWESOME!” And yet you’re there, too, dropping off stuff you don’t want that someone else will adore.

      You don’t want what you have, but someone else out there does. Go get what you want, someone else will also get what they want. You don’t control the universe and you don’t decide who gets which jobs and how happiness is distributed. Just give your old stuff to the cosmic thrift store and grab something new-to-you that you love.

  13. dorothyparker*

    I work in events and am really paranoid about getting laid off. To date, my company has said layoffs aren’t on the table. They said they’ll be as transparent as possible but I’ve never been in this situation and am wondering if I need to expect that the norm is we don’t get a warning if we’re going to be laid off.
    In addition, I’m on the strategy team at the company–I’m new to the role but have been at the company for 3 years. I’m working with a group on contingency plans and I wonder if that makes me less likely to get laid off than folks in some other roles?
    Anyone have any good insights into how layoffs happen by-and-large?

    1. AnnieMay*

      You aren’t being paranoid you have a reasonable fear. No company is going to tell you that you might get laid off unless they have to. Save your money.

    2. Fiona*

      Events is a tough industry to be in at the moment. I would hope for the best and plan for the worst. Start looking around for other jobs just as a way to start putting your feelers out. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t come to that, but unfortunately no position is necessarily immune to layoffs…

      Good luck!!

    3. Dancing Otter*

      Unless the company is large enough, and the number of employees being laid off is high enough, to fall under the WARN act, you are unlikely to be given any formal warning before being paid off. (The law was written to cover plant closings, but doesn’t just apply to factories. Even where it ought to apply, employers don’t always follow it.)
      Save your money and brush up your resume as if you knew you were on thin ice. Never hurts to have a little extra in the emergency fund.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Oh, dear. LAID off, not paid off. Though you should get your final paycheck on the spot, so maybe not entirely inaccurate.
        BTW, according to my understanding of WARN, severance is not a legal substitute for the required 60 day notice period.

    4. pancakes*

      What would you be doing differently if you did get a warning? Spruce up your resume, see if anyone in your field is hiring? You can do those things now. No one outside your company is going to be able to analyze its finances or its mindset around lay-offs.

    5. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      You’re not paranoid. My organization works with an events company that just laid off the key person we work with, do to the overall environment. Your worries are reasonable.

      That said, if I was in events and strategy I’d be looking very hard at how to more virtual or hybrid virtual/physical events when the space opens up. That’s an important future direction. If you can rapidly upskill on those – or at least be recognizing key issues in those kinds of events, it might add job security.

      On how much notice you might get for a layoff, it depends on the industry and company. I’d speculate about two weeks is typical, but it can vary from zero in some industries (often due to security concerns) to many months. My organization is nonprofit, and we had layoffs a few years ago where most people got about six weeks notice, and few were kept on for six months. But those amounts are probably on the long side.

    6. In Yo Biz*

      Every company is different in how they approach layoffs. At mine, they are often going to go first for newer staff – those that have started within 90, or are considered to not be producing as highly as others. Then other times, they might go for who they can cut within a certain salary bracket.

    7. PollyQ*

      IME, it’s very rare for there to be official warnings of layoffs (tho there are often accurate rumors). I would assume that you won’t get any kind of warning at all, and that if you do get laid off, that will be your last day there and you won’t have any further access to any computerized systems. So, to prep, make sure you have off-site copies of things like paystubs and employee reviews. As to your odds being lower or higher than other groups in your company, who knows? Sometimes companies just cut whole groups, sometimes they do an across-the-board percentage downsizing, i.e., a person or 2 from each team.

      I’m sorry, I know none of this is very optimistic.

  14. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Small update on the job offer I wrote about last week. I was supposed to have a final conversation with the business owner I interviewed with to go over final details but he never called. No offer letter either. The proposed start date was going to be 5/5 but since then my state has extended stay at home orders to 5/15. I drafted an email to him today but I’m honestly not sure what I even want to do at this point so things are up in the air.

    In other job search news, I reached out to recruiters on Linked In. One said that all accounting companies have a hiring freeze right now while I’m scheduled to talk to a few others. I’m also getting email notifications from staffing websites. I was on LI for a bit and noticed several people posting that they were laid off and looking for new opportunities. I considered doing that but I’m hesitant.

    At my most recent position I was an Accounting Manager, making 70k. I was at the job for about 11 months before being laid off. I’m looking for mid to senior level roles in the same salary range or higher, with the goal to eventually move up to management within the company. I know this will take time given everything going on but I’m trying to stay positive and upbeat.

    1. OOOFSTER*

      I’m an accountant and the recruiters keep contacting me to say ‘people are still hiring’. They are mostly placing accounting staff in non-accounting firms, which is my focus (general ledger and management accounting). I’m not looking now, so I changed my status on linkedin, but I would definitely open myself to it if I were looking. Good luck!

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Internal auditor here, I’m looking. What I’m hearing is that the public firms are on a freeze. Consultant firms mostly frozen, but some might still be hiring for somethings. Industry – highly variable. Some are frozen, some are moving slowly, some are business as usual (just video vs in person). Hang in there!

    3. Fikly*

      My base assumption is to take anything recruiters say at any time with a huge grain of salt. They aren’t working in your interests.

    4. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I had a call with one today and it seemed to go well. I told him that while I’m flexible but the only thing I can’t compromise on is going in to the office until things are better. He said it would be absolutely no issue as the companies he’s working with are compliant with this. Sounds promising.

  15. CatCat*

    I applied to a new job though I wonder if it’s the right time. I’m in government (and the new job is also in government) so I wonder about what the future will hold in the next budget cycle. On the one hand, I have some seniority in my current role that might help if layoffs occur. On the other hand, the new role would be at what I can only describe as a “more essential” agency than the one where I currently work. In addition, in my current role, I do two types of work and prefer one over the other, but there seems to be more need for work on the area I don’t prefer (also, my supervisor over that work is not someone I have the best relationship with, which exacerbates the issue). The new role would be pretty much only the type of work I prefer. Certainly, putting in an application doesn’t commit me to anything and maybe I won’t even get an interview, but I have been having a lot of pro/con thoughts lately.

    1. OOOFSTER*

      Government accountant in the same position as you right now. The ‘which agency is more essential’ math is part of my life right now!

      Accounting has been moving to more and more tech based, less people based and we’re all bracing for the inevitable now. I only have 1 year seniority, so I am very nervous. Our state has traditionally done furloughs instead of layoffs- we’d get x days off unpaid over the next budget likely. That would be palatable, but we’re all worried about the possibility of force reduction.
      Good luck!

    2. glitterdome*

      Do you know when the new agency’s next budget cycle starts? If it’s relatively soon they may be working on contingency plans for cuts. My government org. is currently working on budget for 20/21 (starts Oct. 1) and we are already looking at eliminating projects and freezing hiring in preparation for cuts. There is also preliminary discussion about layoffs if it comes to that.

      1. CatCat*

        The budgets run July 1 through June 30 so I think 20/21 is relatively secure (though I will not be surprised if pay is frozen/no raises). Money is “use it or lose it” so IDK if the position they’re trying to fill is 19/20 money or 20/21 money. At any rate, I’m more worried about 21/22.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      You don’t say what level of government you are in, but this economic slowdown is going to really impact local, county and state governments (federal less so, they can deficit spend.) See my post below.

      Now is not the time to be giving up any seniority. Unless there is no one in your job title with less seniority than you and there’s nowhere else you cn bump to. The admin our department lost was because a position got eliminated in another department, that person bumped someone in another department, who bumped someone in another department who bumped someone in our department who took a voluntary demotion to a job they held before and bumped our person.

  16. DevilWearsPajamas*

    I’m in a similar situation to the person that wrote in at the beginning of the month about firing an employee (“can you fire someone in the midst of a pandemic?”), but my issue is with a furloughed employee.

    I’d been having problems with her performance for a while and had a couple of conversations about what needed to improve. I was preparing to officially put her on PIP … then COVID hit. She was furloughed and that plan was put on hold.

    Recently I found even more mistakes she’s made, and it’s frustrating to think she’ll be coming back to work during a precarious time for the company, and will potentially continue to make mistakes at a time we can’t afford to lose clients over any missteps.

    It’s clear to me that this job isn’t the right fit for her, but I can’t do anything about it until she returns. I’m struggling with how to handle it. I want to be empathetic to her situation (it will be very hard for her to find a new job), but we can’t continue the way things are. And since so much time will have passed, I worry it will feel like I’m bringing up issues that are ancient history.

    What’s the fair way to handle this? Do I have another serious conversation about her performance when she’s back, but give her a clean slate and start fresh? Have the convo and put her on PIP right away? Something else?

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Can you prepare the PIP and also be very clear about exactly what will be required in the first few vital days?

    2. WellRed*

      I…don’t think you should bring her back unless you truly believe this is fixable and it doesn’t sound like you do. Lots of people are getting furloughed, lots of people are getting laid off, lots of furloughs will probably turn into layoffs. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t buy into keeping people on who suck at their jobs. We had three great people get their hours cut in half. Keep her on furlough if that makes you feel better for now, but I’d seriously be making an exit plan for her.

    3. Picard*

      Honestly? I probably wouldnt bring her back from furlough. (assuming youre in the US and she doesnt have a contract) I would go ahead and let her know that she is being laid off.

      1. DevilWearsPajamas*

        Honestly, if it were just up to me I wouldn’t bring her back from furlough. It’s by far the easiest solution. But I think my superiors aren’t going to be up for that. So I’m trying to think of solutions IF I’m forced to bring her back.

        1. Me*

          Ah then yes I would get a PIP ready and let her know *when* you ring her back that successful completion is a requirement of continued employment. You’re in a cruddy position.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Are you allowed to contact her outside normal company-owned channels during furlough?
          Legally and manager-opinion that is. If she knows she’s got a PIP waiting for her, she could start job-hunting while on furlough — and be able to say she’d left *because* of the furlough.
          Again, you know whether you’d be allowed to do this.

    4. OtterB*

      Agree with those who say if this really doesn’t seem fixable that it might be better to just not bring her back from furlough. If she’s furloughed, she’s not getting income from you now anyway, but does that have an implication for her insurance coverage? That would be the only reason I might wait. Otherwise, it seems better to let her get a head start on job hunting, in a time when lots and lots of people have been laid off and she can start with a clean slate somewhere else.

    5. Mediamaven*

      Don’t bring her back. I know you feel a sense of responsibility to figure out the right thing right now but prolonging a bad situation for who knows how long isn’t going to help anyone. Make the decision and be at peace.

      1. DevilWearsPajamas*

        I messed up when I tried to reply to the most recent comment … but the choice to bring her back might be taken out of my hands. So I’m trying to figure out what to do IF I’m forced to bring her back by upper management.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          In that case, when you offer her the job back, would your management be up for you saying, “we would like you to come back to work, but due to performance issues you were having prior to the furlough, you would be starting out from your first day back on a PIP. If we don’t see X, Y, and Z improvements in your work by [date], we would have to terminate your employment.” The employee may decide they don’t want to deal with that, in which case you don’t have to worry about her coming back. Or they might agree to it, come back, and improve, in which case, yay! Or they might agree to it, come back, not improve, and then you could say “since you failed to make the agreed-upon improvements, per your PIP, we are terminating your employment.”

            1. WellRed*

              Jsut make it clear that you won’t consider it voluntary resignation or whatever so that she can collect unemployment.

    6. it happens*

      It would seem much more honest (and kinder) if your supervisors allowed you to tell her that she would not be coming back from furlough due to her performance issues. She would continue on benefits as long as the furlough lasts and could be job searching now instead of later.

    7. Hawkeye is in the details*

      Thank you all for chiming in. I am I a very similar position as OP, except that I am not the manager of the under-performing teammate. I am, however, the one who has to cover for her and scramble to make sure things are done correctly. I am the one who took the issue to my grand-boss — with my boss, as she had tried to bring up the issue with him, but he didn’t see the scope of it until I put together a very comprehensive packet. This has been going on for 2 years, so there was plenty to say!

      The team member was talked to, and I believe put on a PIP, but I don’t know for sure. The responsibility got shifted from one manager to another, and no one ever got in touch with my department again.

      Then Covid-19. We work in an industry that had to stop. We’ve all been furloughed, and I feel like, after 2 years of this, it’s all going to be swept under the rug, and I’ll have to start all over again with this person. (By the way, she’s known of performance issues, and has had over a year to fix, and this more formal possible PIP was in place for over a month with no changes, only a lot of lip service alluding to getting in trouble, so I don’t have hope that she’ll magically be better once we’re working again.

      I had posted a few weeks ago on the open the thread, but late in the day, so only one reply, and that seemed to confirm that no one should be fired at this time. But I cannot go back if she’s back. I can’t. She’s my main point of contact for projects every day, and I was very close to losing my mind before all this happened. Grand-boss even mentioned in the meeting that this had to get fixed for my sanity.

      Sorry, all this to say, thanks for agreeing with me that it’s okay to lay someone off and not being them back. It gives me hope for when I go back.

      1. allathian*

        Could you start looking for another job now? You’re furloughed, and available for interviews during peak hours.
        If you do go back, stop covering for your underperforming teammate. Tell your boss (and possibly grandboss) that you’re no longer available for that, so they won’t be suprised by it. Management will act to remove a bad employee if the consequences of keeping said employee bite them in the butt!

        1. Hawkeye is in the details*

          I am looking! In town and in my dream city. No bites yet, but I’ll keep trying.

          As for my current situation, it has been made clear to me that the work has to get done. It’s a situation of me correcting the info I get, more than doing extra projects, so it’s not like I can claim I didn’t see the issue or mistake. Unfortunately. I have tried every avenue. The grand-boss has been made aware that I will leave if this isn’t fixed, and I know he values me. But the company is very reactive, not proactive, and I just think it will almost all be forgotten after this. Or, at least the severity of it. And they probably don’t think I’ll leave now, with the economy the way it will be, even after we all start back up again.

          I’m looking now, and I’ll accept my job back when the time comes, and keep looking if they’ve kept her on.

    8. Observer*

      I don’t think there is any good reason for a “clean slate” unless something significant happens. I think you need to have a serious conversation and take it from there. Either you fire her, or if you think that maybe the position can be salvaged, you put her on a PIP.

      Just make sure that you are crystal clear about what you need.

    9. Nita*

      Does she have any strengths? If you have to bring her back, can you assign her mainly work she’s good at, not the type of assignments where she makes mistakes? I have a similar situation at work. The kind of work where my co-worker shines has dried up for the moment, so I tried to assign her some report writing and it was the level of awfulness that training can’t fix. But when things go back to normal and she comes back from furlough, I’m sure there will be plenty of the kind of work she’s good at.

  17. Mean Evergreen*

    How does the phrase “Some jobs aren’t allowed to have bad days.” sit with you all?

    My company just had a remote town hall, and one of the managers addressed some general complaints about our customer service. He told us the above phrase and told us he expects better from us especially now. This bristled the feathers of a few of my coworkers, but I’m on the fence about it.

    1. Actual Vampire*

      Ooooh I don’t like it. I think it means they’re not planning for reality. Everyone has bad days. If the stakes are high in your job, that means you have to plan even more for bad days, so the support is there to make the bad day not that different from a good day.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Mmm, it’s a ham-handed way to say it, but it’s true.

      Better to say “You might be having a bad day, but you can’t take it out on coworkers or customers.”

      It’s not customer 27’s fault that customers 23-26 were rude, impatient, and greedy. Or that you overcooked your burrito in the microwave. Or that your shoes are uncomfortable.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        This. It isn’t about having a “bad day”, it is about not letting that effect your customers.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      If it’s customer service, then yeah, I agree with your boss.

      Having worked retail too many times in the past, I know how essential it is to present a good face with dealing with customers. Yelp is full of reviews by people who were slighted by employees.

      Honestly, if you’re having a bad day, you just can’t let the customer know that. I try to be friendly to customer service people, but when they ask “How are you?” and I respond back with “I’m great, how are you?” and then they go off on what a terrible day they are having…it’s not what I want to hear as a customer.

      Customer service is supposed to fix the customer’s problem, not the other way around.

      1. No Bad Days*

        As someone in a CSR type role who is isolated at home with remote access, inferior technology and dealing with my own personal pandemic related stress and loneliness while being expected to happily be there for everyone else, I appreciate when I’m not asked back, ‘how are you?’ pretending that I’m great when I’m not even close to okay is increasingly if not at times impossible. The corporate message is “no bad days” and that adds to the pressure and I’ve slipped up on several occasions. I’m doing my best and I will accept the consequences when my best isn’t good enough.

        I am feeling out of empathy and so are many of my coworkers. Do your next CSR a favor and don’t answer honestly, don’t ask back and don’t try to make small talk. Please get to the point about your services.

        1. Chill Out*

          Seriously? Look, I know these are hard times and I’m not trying to be unsympathetic – but the customer isn’t wrong if they answer the question you asked, and pose it back. I’m sorry you are struggling, but this is an unrealistic expectation and also based on your specific preferences.

          I’m honestly having a hard time not rolling my eyes at the idea that me responding “I’m well thanks, how are you?” is somehow so triggering and offensive. Don’t like small talk / pleasantries to the extent that you have zero tolerance and blame the customer? Than customer service is not for you. Or at least it isn’t right now. No shame in saying you are unable to perform your job during these unprecedented times and need to take a leave of absence.

          1. TechWorker*

            Erm, a little harsh.

            I understand where you’re coming from in that small talk is part of the job in customer service, but responding ‘I’m finding this part of my job really difficult and wish I didn’t have to do it’ with ‘why don’t you take a leave of absence’ is a) not a practical option for like, anyone (?) and b) not particularly kind.

            1. No Bad Days*

              Thank you. It isn’t like I think it is wrong when people insist on the pleasantries. I meant it is exhausting and skipping that part is appreciated right now. I’m not sure what job is 100% enjoyable and easy all the time. Maybe that dude could give us all some insight?

    4. Kramerica Industries*

      Don’t like it. I can’t imagine a job where this is the case. Even when thinking about something literally life or death like a doctor, there are bad days where you lose patients despite doing your best. You are allowed to feel angry and frustrated at the fact that sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

      That being said, it’s not like your team should unleash their frustration on customers, but the company should be providing coping mechanisms and support, not bad catchphrases.

      1. Mean Evergreen*

        Yeah it’s not a great phrase, but I get what he was getting at. His message wasn’t helped when he gave the advice that we should just “Grin and bear it.” when we’re more stressed than usual too.

    5. Me*

      Well. In customer facing positions there is an expectation of professionalism. That said, people are people not robots, so there needs to be a plan for maintaining professionalism in situations that test that. IE if a customer is becoming difficult, there should be procedures to deescalate and ultimately end the situation.

      If he means if your in a customer service role you can’t take your bad day out on customers then that’s fair. If he means you are always going to make the public happy (hahahahahaah) than that unrealistic and out of touch to say the least.

    6. NW Mossy*

      My gut reaction is “well, the whole planet’s kind of having a bad year right now, so there’s that.”

      People are going to screw up, and it’s happening more often because we’re in the midst of a global crisis no one knows how to navigate. Showing compassion for that is actually more likely to improve the customer experience because it alleviates some stress on those giving that service; playing the heavy right now does the opposite.

    7. SunnySideUp*

      It sounds insensitive, and like he didn’t think of a more enlightened way to say, “Even with the stress we’re all under, we need to put on a good phone face for our customers.”

      1. Mean Evergreen*

        I like how you phrased it, and comparing it to the rest of his presentation during town hall, I believe this is what he meant. Many of us got caught up in the phrase, in addition to our jobs being not great and stressful more-so than usual.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        I like your phrasing.

        Yes, it’s part of the job, but the guy was an asshat for how it was put out there to people.

    8. STONKS*

      Hrm. I see what they’re getting at, and if I read it in a spirit of taking things at their best possible interpretation, I don’t think it’s all that bad… but it’s terribly worded, especially if this is a customer service situation and not something that’s otherwise understood to involve really delicate scenarios.

      Basically, I think what they were trying to get at is that you absolutely cannot, in any way, make your bad day visible to your customer. And for some jobs, that’s a reasonable expectation! If I’m going to the hospital because I’m terribly sick, for instance, I absolutely definitely do not want to have any inkling that my doctor is under the weather and operating at less than her full capacity. That’s a serious matter of my trust and confidence in the healthcare I’m receiving, which is pretty vital to my continued existence.

      However, that’s different from not having bad days — and if you’re customer service, I don’t imagine that you’re dealing with life-or-death situations. If the person I’m talking to about my internet service is having a bit of a down day, or is providing service that does what I need without a ton of engagement or proactive awesomeness, that’s okay! Especially right now, that’s super okay!

      So. Sentiment may be reasonable, but the wording sucks and the timing of it is probably not great.

      1. Actual Vampire*

        Semi-unrelated but: your comment reminded me of one time when I was in the emergency room and could hear a woman talking on her cell phone right outside the door to my room. She was berating a cable guy because he’d been late coming to her house. Screaming and swearing at him. Then the conversation ended and the woman walked into my room and, barely introducing herself, started jabbing an IV needle in my arm while still muttering to herself about what a jerk the cable guy was. I felt like a voodoo doll. It was honestly terrifying.

        1. STONKS*

          Yikes, yeah, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’m thinking of. You gotta compartmentalize that shit!

        2. Just Another Manic Millie*

          You reminded me of the time I went to a restaurant with my friend Sansa and two other women. Sansa ordered tilapia parmigiana, and the other two women ordered chicken parmigiana. I ordered something that didn’t look either dish. When the waitress brought us our food, Sansa tasted hers and said that she had been served chicken parmigiana. The waitress groaned loudly and rolled her eyes and picked up Sansa’s dish and the dish of one of the other women and switched them, slamming them loudly on the table. I was just glad that I had ordered something else. The woman who was given Sansa’s partly eaten food said that the waitress was usually very nice, but that she must have been having a bad day. She ate the partly eaten food cheerfully. She also picked up the check, as had been previously arranged. I don’t know how much she tipped her.

      2. Mean Evergreen*

        I’d be concerned if I had a sick doctor who was trying to hide that they are sick or that they’re struggling to work at reasonable capacity, whether it’s now with corona virus or in the future without it, but nonetheless I get what you’re saying.

        Yeah, our customer service is not one of the life or death ones but I think the increased work because more people are at home, and in turn increased angry customers, is really taking a toll on many of us. The phrasing definitely rubbed many the wrong way, when it was meant as a reminder for our jobs.

        1. STONKS*

          Yeah, I guess the example of a doctor being sick was not well timed — I was thinking more of trying to work while feeling generally crappy, not while trying to hide being contagious. Maybe more like a doctor who’s running on a night of bad sleep or a throbbing headache.

    9. Auntie Social*

      My city’s motto is “the noblest motive is the public good”. Maybe there are better ways to say it, but I can support the “no excuses, no shortcuts, and no whining” message.

    10. Fikly*

      How does a job have a bad day?

      But yes, there are many many jobs where you have to leave whatever is going on in your life at the door, so to speak.

      I once had a doctor tell me that I shouldn’t tell him about the pain I was having because I didn’t know what kind of day he had been having. First of all, it was 8:30 in the morning. Second of all, what did that have to do with his job of treating me?

      However, if your employer is telling you that your job performance is slipping, but this is new (and hey, there’s a global pandemic happening!) and they are not also helping support you to deal with the stress, that’s problematic.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        What-the-what? You could not tell him about your pain because you did not know how his day was???
        “I have an idea, Doc. Let’s pretend you’re a doctor and I am a patient.”

        I notice you used past tense, “I once had a doctor…”. I am glad you moved on.

        1. Fikly*

          He also complained that the number of medications I was on made his job hard.

          I wanted to tell him, try living with the medical conditions that make me need that many medications. Did he think I was taking them for fun?

          Techincally he fired me as a patient because I had the audacity to have a side effect from the first medication he prescribed me. But I had already booked an appointment with a new doctor and just hadn’t fired him yet.

    11. LGC*

      It’s both true and jerkish to say.

      It’s true because…well, to be honest, if you’re in a customer support role (or a managerial or supervisory role), you can’t have a bad day and take it out on your customers (or employees, perhaps by saying in a remote town hall that some jobs aren’t allowed to have bad days). That can have pretty large impacts on the brand (or morale of your employees). When “being pleasant to people in difficult situations” (or “maintaining decent morale among your team”) is a direct function of your role, you just cannot let pleasantries slip to the people you’re serving as customers (or employees). It’s probably not the most devastating thing in the world, but your aim should be to be as pleasant as the interaction allows.

      It’s jerkish, because…read the last paragraph and specifically what I put in parentheses.

      So the manager is right, but also he is not helping AT ALL. My only guess is that either he tried to get you guys fired up and failed massively…or he’s an actual sociopath.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      I hate that. It lacks empathy. I think it makes a lot more sense to say,”we all have bad days, but that doesn’t excuse us from behaving professionally and providing good customer service.” Personally, I would follow that up with some suggestions for healthier ways of dealing with stress, including reminding people of anything your company might be doing to help people’s well-being during these difficult times: EAPs, casual “coffee talk” sessions to destress, etc. But I know not everyone’s workplace is that conscientious of their employees’ emotional well-being.

    13. ...*

      I don’t like it all because “not allowed” bothers me. I do think that the sentiment of the phrase is true in customer service jobs though as much as I hate the phrasing of it.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I need more context.
      If that was followed with, “And you idiots need to just suck it down. I don’t care if you are having difficulty, just get over it and get back to work.”, then the company sucks.

      Or if it was followed with, “Our customers expect us to be at peak performance at all times. I have a list of things the company is rolling out to help everyone here be and do their best each day.”, then I could live with that.

    15. Djuna*

      Oof, I winced reading that.
      These times are hard on everyone, including the people calling customer service, and the people answering them. It only takes one person weaponizing their bad day to start a domino effect of terrible, very bad, no good days for a lot of people.
      They’re like a squid inking up a clear pool of water, it’s a kind of defense mechanism but it mucks things up for everyone.
      We should all try extra hard not to be the squid these days.
      We can all have bad days, it’s how we handle them that matters.

    16. allathian*

      I agree with the sentiment but it could be expressed better. Everyone has a bad day occasionally, but in most jobs you can’t let that affect how you treat your customers, coworkers, or subordinates. Is the manager the sort of person who rants and raves at work when he’s having a bad day (“some jobs”)? If so, he’s a hypocrite.

  18. Jedi Squirrel*

    I want to transition from my current position, which has some training duties, to a larger company where I would do training and only training (which I really like). Do such positions actually exist? And if they do, are there any specific job boards to find those jobs?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      They do! A good initial resource may be to check out your state’s chapter of the Association of Talent Development or ATD. I know of a couple companies where I live that specialize in training.

    2. Lyudie*

      Hi hello yes! I am an instructional designer and this is what I do…I don’t deliver training but many IDs do. ATD is an excellent resource, there is lots of info there even with a membership and they are widely respected in the field. If you are interested in anything involving online training (designing/developing and/or delivering) I am guessing there will be more call for that going forward as/if more companies get comfortable with having a more WFH workforce.

      In addition to instructional design, there is human resources development, which is what it sounds like, talent development/HR training specifically.

      LinkedIn learning has some decent instructional design courses if you want to dip your toe into the theory and practice. That was what I started with, I am currently in an online grad program and have been in the field for a couple of years.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Yes, I think “instructional designer” is what I may be more interested in. I’m really interested in putting the pieces together.

        Thanks for the tip! I’ll check into it!

    3. Wheezy Weasel*

      I’ve spent several years as an Implementation Consultant for software companies and it is very training-heavy, with lesser amounts of project management and client relations. Typically, the customer would buy software from my company and the consultant would work with them to configure it, migrate their data from existing systems, train the administrators of that new software, and sometimes the individual end users within the customer’s staff. I usually managed 5-10 implementations in various stages of completion, so I’d be almost guaranteed to be doing training 1-2 days per week, either remotely or onsite with the customer. It typically paid better than in-house trainers, but the downside was having to meet billable hour goals and heavy travel (pre-COVID).

  19. IT Guy*

    My grand boss turned me down for an expected raise based on my manager giving me bad advice on the readiness of my presentation. I blame myself. I knew it was not up to my own standards, but my manager though it was quote, “Great!”

    How are people dealing with rejection in the time of WFH?

    1. Fiona*

      Ugh. I’m sorry. The only way I can ever make myself feel better is turning it into a kind of lesson for myself, like a teachable moment. In your case, I would say: “I tried my best, but I learned that I have to trust my gut and not rely on others’ opinions too much when its my own future/work at stake. This was a good lesson to learn and I’ll do better next time.”

      And you will!

  20. Alice*

    How is your business handling summer internships in the era of pandemic-driven WFH?
    – allowing interns to work remotely?
    – providing tech (computers, wifi hotspots) to interns?
    – changing on-boarding programs?
    – cancelling planned internships?

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Unfortunately, we’ve canceled our program entirely, which was too bad because it was one of the few paid internships in our industry in this part of the country. Unfortunately, this industry involves a ton of nuanced detail work and trying to train someone remotely frankly seemed impossible for our very small office.

    2. Annony*

      Unfortunately, ours were cancelled. Internships here are very hands on and really can’t be done remotely.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      Ours is fully cancelled, which is really unfortunate – I feel very bad for all the interns.
      The focus right now is on keeping full timers employed though, and our interns usually worked on “nice to have”, non-urgent projects that are now not a priority. They also had a lot of educational opportunities like in person labs, meeting with customers, group projects, etc that are just not really possible anymore. Our internship program has traditionally been basically a way to find entry level employees, and with a hiring freeze in place right now, I don’t think it would fulfill its purpose either for the company or the interns.

    4. Bostonian*

      For internships doing work that can be done remotely, they will still be done remote. I’m not sure what the logistics will be, except that they will receive a laptop. Our company has already remotely onboarded over 100 FTEs since WFH due to the pandemic, so they must be a well-oiled machine now.

    5. Retail not Retail*

      My internship was being hashed out right at a government shutdown. The money was safe but I obviously wouldn’t get it if the site wasn’t open. Luckily things got sorted!

      The last third of my internship was primarily computer work but required on site access to the database.

      How weird to think that the grant money for the internship is all tidy and says “for summer 2020 intern” and no one can touch it.

    6. talos*

      The news here isn’t all bad…I’m still going to have an internship this summer, just remote (tech/computing hardware). It seems like all interns, including business-side interns, will still have jobs, but I’m not in a position to verify that.

      Because I will be working with hardware, they’re sending me the standard laptop and also another couple pieces of test hardware. Not great because now my bedroom at home will have like five computers in it, but I’m super happy to still have the job.

      Side note: the job is far enough away from where I live that all my interviews (back in like February) were over Zoom as well, so I’ll probably finish the internship never having met my coworkers in person. Spooky…

    7. J*

      Our interns cannot work remotely and don’t get tech. We would normally be bringing them on in a couple of weeks, but all staff except for a few essentials who are rotating on a seven days on – fourteen days off cycle are WFH right now. For now, we are hoping that folks will be back on site by summer and are hoping to onboard interns in mid-June. This will bump their internship period into the fall semester, but for this particular crop of interns that’s feasible based on where they are coming from geographically and where they are in their academic careers. We just happened to get lucky. For now we’re asking them to hold off on making travel/housing plans, since it remains possible that mid-June will fall through (local leaders predict mid-June will be our peak) and if it does we will have to scrap this year’s intern program. We are dealing with a LOT of uncertainty about opening, which is making everything else almost impossible to plan for.

  21. Foxing*

    My work annoyance this week:

    I’m a younger employee (both age and time-with-this-employer wise) in a department of mostly older colleagues who have worked here for the majority of their careers. They’re close, I get it, I’m not heartless. Our boss’s boss scheduled what is essentially mandatory camera on small talk once a week for an hour. Fine, whatever. Then a lot of staff got furloughed – two from our department specifically. It was difficult for many, emotionally. And now, the boss’s boss has decided these small talk sessions should take place off of the official workplace video conferencing platform, and be our “on-break time” (at the same time, in the middle of the work day, via a private email invitation from my boss’s boss) so that they can include the now furloughed staff. She said it’s to contain no work talk, but this feels legally murky to me at best, because to me this is very much a work obligation. I wouldn’t attend if it weren’t during the work day and from my skip-level boss directly, and the dept is small enough I know I would be called directly to join if I tried to surreptitiously just not get on the line.

    I don’t like it.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Don’t like it either.

      If you’re furloughed, you’re off the clock, completely. If the company wants to send a weekly update to the furloughed employees, about the plans for ending the furloughs, that’s both good and legal. But that should be one-way communication, not an open-ended happy-hour video chat.

      1. Foxing*

        Yes, exactly. She told us that she had told them “there was no pressure to attend, obviously” which to me seemed willfully ignorant of the implied power dynamics she has as our skip-level supervisor who’s going out of her way to set up a new platform just for them.

    2. SunnySideUp*

      Legally, you have to pay furloughed employees if you ask them to do anything, including chat on camera — regardless of topic.

      Frankly, if I were furloughed, NO WAY.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Also the LW is being asked to work during her break by having a meeting where you don’t talk about work. I’m scratching my head. LW shouldn’t be required to “work” during her break.

      1. Foxing*

        Its not technically “work” because we’re “staying connected as humans and friends” … I hope you can hear my eye roll from afar. One of the two furloughed employees did decide to attend. I’m silently cheering the other one.

        We’re at a mission-driven non-profit educational institution, which I feel like are often their own beast to contend with on things like this.

        I’m in the session now and keeping my camera off, doing my own thing while they talk. I’m “present” in the most perfunctory way possible.

        1. Rose Tyler*

          I would 100% push back on this. “I’m sorry, but now that we’re fully remote it can be difficult to keep separation between work and home life, and I’m finding I really need to be able to step away from the computer during lunch or other breaks to keep my battery charged.”

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          It’s tricky if you’re a nonprofit, because social connection/part of a team is part of the mission and the appeal of the job. I worked at a nonprofit that hired summer staff (youth programs) and if you don’t keep your summer staff “warm” over the off season, they won’t come back next summer. But you can’t ask much of them in keeping them warm, because during the offseason they’re no longer on the payroll, either.

    4. TechWorker*

      I understand you don’t enjoy it, but it is actually legally murky? If it’s actually optional for the furloughed employees (which it clearly is if one didn’t attend) and there’s no specific talk of work which could be construed as them working then can’t it be a work obligation for you and not for them?

  22. MissMaple*

    I unexpectedly got an interview for a huge promotion in my project group that I applied for on a whim. They scheduled it on Teams for Tuesday. Any tips for a good video interview? The interviewers are a combination of people I know and already work with and people higher in the management chain.

    1. Indy Dem*

      Think about the background environment – what will the interviewers see behind and around you. We are used to putting ourselves together for an interview – what are we wearing, how does our hair/makeup look, etc. But crafting your background is overlooked at times.

      If you have any examples of exemplary work that those who have worked with you before would know about and recognize, make sure to mention them. If the interviewers who don’t know you see the nods from those who do when you give your examples, that will sub-consciously reinforce their own approval.

      1. MissMaple*

        Thanks, those are both good points!

        One really minor opinion question: I don’t wear glasses in normal situations, but I have blue-light blocking lenses I wear while working at the computer to avoid headaches. Do I wear them during the interview?

        1. allathian*

          I would’t want to risk a headache during a long interview, so I’d wear them.

          That said, my big screen has a built-in blue-light filter, and if you use Windows, at least 10 has it too, in the display settings (toggle Night light on). (If you use a Mac or have some version of linux on your computer, try searching for night light/blue light filter for your OS.)
          If you see this reply, try the Windows night light filter on Monday. If that works and you don’t get a headache without the glasses, you can do the interview without glasses. And keep the blue light filter on from now on.

      2. CL Cox*

        Tagging on to this, check your appearance on your computer’s camera and your sound on the microphone. You can zoom or chat with a friend to make sure. When I normally work, I sit on my couch and only my head shows up on my camera. For a meeting I had, I used my desk and chair, flipped it around so the wall was behind me, and turned a light to light me from the front. I also made sure to dress professionally from the waist up. If it makes you feel more professional or confident, completely dress as if you were going to an in-person interview.

        Have a glass of water handy, off camera, and a notepad and pen. Keep a copy of your resume/appplication handy, in case they have any specific questions, you can answer them readily.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Avoid moving even if they switch you to audio-only –wifi can cut out.
        If you’re near a window, try your system out at that time of day over the weekend to make sure there’s no sunbeam halo showing up behind you. Wall reflections can get a little odd.
        After a friend’s odd lighting on a recent social call, I’ll suggest you make sure there’s no one watching TV in the room. Even without sound, the lighting kept changing the color on her face. Rather surreal actually.
        Likewise, if you’re using a background, test it out ahead of time with your interview outfit — think of the silliness when a TV meteorologist forgets and wears green and the garment “goes invisible”.
        Probably a good idea to dress the bottom half of you as well….just on the off chance something happens for which you really do need to get up and walk away from the screen. As simple as the fire alarm goes off, which any reasonable interviewer would postpone for — but if they haven’t disconnected before you stand up you don’t want them seeing fuzzy alpaca pajama bottoms.
        As for the glasses, I’d suggest you start without them unless you only get a few minutes before the monitor triggers a headache. Either way test them in lighting and get a friend to say how dark they look on a call.
        All that’s technology – I’ll leave the people skills to the commentariat and Alison if she chimes in. (Or her book if you haven’t downloaded it already.)

    2. Dig*

      Practice looking at the camera rather than the people you are talking with. It takes a bit of getting used to, and you do need to glance at faces to get an idea of their reactions, but looking at the camera makes it feel as though you are making good eye contact.
      Practice in your space at the same time of day – I think someone already said that.
      Use gallery view – or whatever it’s called on your programme so that you can see everyone who is interviewing you equally.
      Arrange with even your household to not use the internet or play internet games etc during that time. Video meetings take a lot of broadband. If you are using wifi, you don’t want to keep cutting out. Wired is better.
      Good luck!!

    3. MissMaple*

      Thanks to everyone for the great responses! I’ll definitely be playing around with the lighting and setup after I get the kiddo in bed tonight.

      The tip on Windows 10 having the night filter is fantastic; I’ll try that out today and see if it eliminates the headache problem :)

      1. MissMaple*

        Interview went well; I managed to get the lighting and camera view to something I was happy with last night and it still worked this afternoon. Thanks again everyone!

  23. CatCat*

    On a different note, it’s been a month since my spouse filed for unemployment. Supposedly a payment was finally issued over a week ago, but nothing has come in the mail. The UI office phone system is so overwhelmed, there’s just no getting through (spouse tries every day). We’re a little comforted by looking at reddit and facebook yesterday to find spouse is not alone in this. (Not that we want this to be happening to other people, but just that it’s not some sort of unique issue spouse is facing with seemingly no way to resolve at this time.) But it’s very frustrating.

    1. Ama*

      Keep in mind mail has been slow in a lot of areas — I’m waiting on contracts that were supposedly posted three weeks ago that still haven’t arrived. So it might not even be the UI office’s fault at this point.

    2. LQ*

      Mail is slow in some places. But…and this will sound weird…it’s also hard to ramp up to physically print all the additional pieces of mail. It’s actually easier to technically ramp up in a lot of ways than to print and mail more actual mail. Absolutely keep going onto the website if you are in a state with a functioning website. You may be able to do most of the work you need to do (requesting weekly etc) through the website without needing the physical mail.

  24. Oh No She Di'int*

    I think this is work related, but feel free to delete/ignore if it’s not.

    I find myself with some extra money because of not getting hair care over the last month. I don’t know for sure, but I can’t imagine that my hairdresser would be doing too well financially right now. Is there a way to offer the money that I would have spent on hair care to my hairdresser as a gift in a way that would not be humiliating/condescending? Anyone got any good scripts for that? I do have his phone number and used to regularly text him, so hearing from me would not be completely out of the blue.

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Explain the dilemma? He might actually be ok, or might be glad of it.

      You could also phrase it as “early holiday bonus”, or a deposit/retainer for future work?

      Either way it’s good to look out for others :)

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        This. I’m going to be sending money to my pet boarder for what I would have paid during my going-to-be-cancelled May vacation, and telling her to keep it or at a minimum consider it prepayment for a future stay.

    2. Actual Vampire*

      My salon is encouraging people to buy gift cards for future visits. If you want to turn it into a donation, you could buy the gift card and not use it in the future (idk how long your salon would view the gift card as a liability on their books, though). My salon is also offering video visits to guide people through cutting their own hair or give styling advice. You could ask your hairdresser if he’s offering anything like that, and tell him you are willing to pay $X.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Thanks for the wonderful suggestions everyone. A lot of people are recommending gift cards. Normally that would be a great idea, but this is a sort of neighborhood, round-the-way type place that definitely does not have gift cards. Also, I was trying to avoid making it a “prepayment” because I didn’t want to contribute to a situation where he suddenly owes a million sessions to people once things get better. However, maybe that is the lesser of evils.

        1. mreasy*

          How about an early holiday tip? Just say, I’d usually give you this extra tip for the holidays, but I figured you’d need it more now. Then “forget” you’d already given the holiday tip and do your usual then.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I started to suggest quipping “and this year the holiday I’m giving tips for is Arbor Day” — but I wasn’t sure if Arbor Day had been & gone, and EVEN BETTER: April 30 is Hairstyle Appreciation Day.
            Sounds like you really appreciate the hairstyle he gives you, so it’s timely.

        2. cmcinnyc*

          Yeah, no on gift cards and future haircuts. That will mean your stylist will owe lots of work but can’t collect. I’d just ask if they have a Venmo and say something like “You do a great job with my hair and I want you to be in business come the day I can sit in a hair chair again.”

    3. blink14*

      Can you frame as pre-payment for your next appointment? That’s what I did about a month ago, and it will go towards my scheduled appointment in June, if it happens, or to whenever my next appointment is.

    4. SpecialSpecialist*

      Can you buy a gift certificate from him for future services? Even if he doesn’t currently offer gift certificates, he might consider it.

    5. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      How about getting a gift card? Those are very popular around here right now. We got a few for restaurants, my arial yoga gym, etc. I also think that my daughter got one from her hairdresser, now that I think about it.

    6. We'll Get Through This*

      What if you found something else to purchase from him? Can you purchase gift cards now to be used at a later date. Could you purchase some products he would recommend to keep your hair looking as fresh as possible? When you message him, I’d be frank with him that you are trying to support him and ask if there is a better way to support him. Tip heavier when you are able to receive services again. I don’t know if I would phrase it as “extra money” but indicated that you had budgeted to spend it with him all along.

    7. fposte*

      For my cleaners, I send them a check for the usual day “to keep my place.” I’ve been wondering about the salon because I don’t know if the money would get to my stylist if I go through the salon, and Venmo isn’t that popular around here.

      1. tra la la*

        I was able to text my stylist directly (she had texted me in March to cancel my appointment then) and found out that she is offering gift cards via Venmo. So I paid what I’d pay for a haircut/tip — when she does open up again AND I feel comfortable going, I may just “forget” that I bought a gift card. Because we’re in Georgia, I wanted to offer to pay her NOT to cut my hair right now.

    8. Person from the Resume*

      My stylist set up electronic gift cards for this purpose after the COIVD-19 closures. I know it’s not quite the same as a gift and I realize that she’ll probably still be struggling financially when she first returns (although I expect she’ll be able to fill every appoint me for a while) so I don’t plan to use the gift card for my first visit back. Maybe later in the year when things are a bit more normal.

    9. Indy Dem*

      We paid our house cleaners for two future visits (normally we pay at the end of every visit) for similar reasons.

    10. noahwynn*

      Do you need products or even something like a new hair dryer or curling iron? I know my stylist sent out a list of items she can drop off at your door if desired and since she owns her own space, selling product helps her out.

    11. Filosofickle*

      My salon is outright soliciting this. They updated their site with Venmo information for each stylist and are inviting clients to “tip” in lieu of regular services. Every stylist is going to react differently — some will love your offer, some will be offended — but an outright gift is thoughtful to offer. Better to risk it than not because it feels awkward.

      “Hi Stylist! Counting the days til I can get a cut again. It’s important to me to keep supporting small businesses I value. Is there a way to Venmo/PayPal you a tip for the services I would have gotten during this time?”

    12. irene adler*

      Two weeks ago I mailed my hair dresser a check for the missed appointment + tip (plus extra). She was most thankful as there’s no money coming in (she emailed me when the check arrived). There was nothing condescending about it at all. It’s called “having her back” on this.

      Tomorrow I will check in with my pet’s groomers and see how she’s doing. And help out there too.

    13. Pieforbreakfast*

      I sent a text yesterday to my stylist and just outright said “I’m disappointed I’m disappointed our appointment has to be cancelled and I want to pay you a way because everything is weird but I’m doing ok.” And asked if she had a Venmo acct, she responded gratefully and I sent the money. I also optimistically schedule for June for more services than I usually get.
      I think if your stylist has been working with you for awhile being open is probably fine.

    14. Boozhoo*

      I sent my stylist $50. I just Venmo’d her with a simple “thinking of you” message. I don’t think you need to explain anything, they will get it!

    15. Boozhoo*

      Also, I do not think gift cards would be helpful for a stylist or any other profession where people generally operate in cash (handyman, sex worker, some estheticians, and so on). Gift cards are great small loans for business who can use the cash to accrue interest and make money (and probably other reasons). But for a cash worker without an investment account, all you’re doing is making sure they have to work for free in the future.

      I’m no accountant but that’s my gut feeling. Just gift them cash!

  25. Post mortem*

    5 years ago I was made FT at my seasonal job, and I was SO HAPPY.  Professionally, it wasn’t much but personally, it was a huge personal achievement because I remember how difficult it was for me to secure a FT/permanent position, having graduated in 2009.

    A week or so after being hired, my boss sent me an email on my day off saying I was terrible, everyone complains about me and she’s sick of waiting for me to improve. She would send these scathing emails and then be so perfectly soft and pleasant in person that you would never even think she actually wrote that stuff. 

    Despite the rocky first year, things got better. More levels were added and I had a boss who helped me out a lot and vice versa. He tirelessly advocated for me. I choose to remember the good times with my colleagues. I’m proud of my work history and I did do good work. At the end, the now-VP of the entire company, had a promoted me to a manager. Days later she said that I lacked the comprehension skills and brain power to do my job b/c I misunderstood a chat. 

    I …. I just….I just don’t get it. If I was really so bad, why wasn’t I just fired in 2015? It would have been devastating then too but why keep me on for 5 years, keep promoting me, and along the way keep saying I was terrible? Even when I didn’t interact with her directly due to hierarchy changes, talk was talk and I would find out. Everyone I worked with couldn’t understand why she hated me so much and treated me this way. At the time, it was so hard to deal with because in the nastiness there were “legit” complaints, I’d tell myself to stop being “sensitive” get a “thick skin” and focus on the real complaints. Now that I’m gone, I look back and I’m like….none of that was OK. I don’t think I deserved to be treated that way. 

    Physically I’ve moved on, I’m never going back there nor do I want to go back, but I’m not going to lie and say that this hasn’t f****d with me mentally–this was something said 5 years ago but it wa just the tip of the iceberg and I’m scared of being in a situation like that again.

    1. juliebulie*

      I’m glad you have some perspective on it now, because yeah, that kind of stuff really messes with a person’s head.

      Odds are, you won’t be in a situation quite like that again. You could find yourself in some other kind of crazy-making situation, maybe, but you’re more experienced now.

      Furthermore, you can always come here for a reality check!

    2. ThatGirl*

      Your managers were terrible. That’s not how you communicate with an employee who’s not up to standards, and it reflects much more on them then on you. It also sounds like they snapped based on some minor thing and released pent-up frustration that may or may not have anything to do with you.

      1. Post mortem*

        My direct manager (he became my manager later on, around late 2015-onwards) was great, he advocated for me, helped me a lot. I wrote about him yesterday, he was a new manager too and we butted heads in the beginning but helped each other out a lot til we were almost peers.

        The VP on the other hand. I just don’t know, she was awfully biased against me from the start. At my interview she said “since you’re meeting with me, that’s a good sign.” and then said “I’ll be honest with you, your last boss trashed you so much and I felt so bad for you, you were working so hard.” I had worked there prior as a seasonal employee.

        Before that, in summer 2014, I was working at a small firm and the business owner was violent. He’d scream at people til he was red in the face, verbally abused staff, threw papers around, smashed pens and refused to pay us and had a ton of outstanding accounts payables. That became my benchmark of what bosses to avoid that I never really considered any other type of bad boss. And I was in such a desperate position to just get my life started that I was ecstatic to take this job.

        Before that, I had seasonal/temp jobs and some were meh while others were downright horrible in their own special ways. And I don’t know what I was doing wrong. Is it because I was always in a place of desperation and powerlessness that I felt like I had very limited choices? Is it a sh*t attracts sh*t? I’m glad to be in a better position that I’m not as desperate any more but I guess the free time is making me think way more about the past.

        1. whome*

          really sorry that happened to you. that sounds abusive, making things an issue of personal nature/worth. do you tolerate mistreatment in other areas of your life? family, relationships, friends? this may be an issue worth exploring in therapy. i have a history of letting other people tell me what i’m good at and what i’m worth. it’s taken a lot of conscious/mindful effort to change over the years.

          there is definitely a problem with jumping into a position out of desperation. my boyfriend has terrible management where he is now but i counsel him to take his time figuring out where he wants to be next and CHOOSING his path, rather than casting a net out just to see what catches. i would counsel you to do the same. when you act on desperation you go from the frying pan to the fire.

          scope out your boundaries – your interpersonal boundaries (how do you want people to treat you?), and your internal ones (who are you? who are you not? where do you want to go? where do you not want to go?)

          1. Post mortem*

            You’re right, I do tolerate crappiness too much. I’ve grown more confident over the years in standing up for myself but sometimes once patterns are established it’s hard to break out of them.

            I want a boss like my old boss – a good rapport, friendly, and will help me grow and succeed. Seems like that’s a unicorn.

        2. A Poster Has No Name*

          Your former VP is a terrible person. She was most certainly gaslighting you and making stuff up. Your “last boss” most likely did not trash you. People almost certainly weren’t complaining about you 1 week in. This is 100% about her and not about you.

          Glad you’re free of her.

    3. Koala dreams*

      I’m sorry your boss was a bully. Sometimes I think this kind of on-off bullying is worse than the constant bullying, because it makes you distrust people and you never know when it’s time for the bad thing. I hope you find a better job and get to the point where you can trust people again. Take care!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You are not the same person you were 5 years ago. You grew.
      First thing, you say here that you don’t think you deserved to be treated that way. Yep, that is correct. They had some Jekyll and Hyde stuff going on there.
      Second thing, you read AAM. You will never be alone with a problem like this again.

      While you will probably never have that situation again, one way to deal with that fear is to hammer out some ideas of what you will do differently.

      You could print out the email and go over it with them in person. Oddly, some people back pedal when addressed in person. I would do this one, because it’s too hard to carry this through my weeks and months to follow. If there is going to be a blow up let’s do it and get it over with. I want to know where I stand. I do not have time for head games.

      IF there are insults or blatant name calling/other bullying behaviors you could report it to HR, if there is an HR.

      You could take a preemptive strike by telling your boss you like check-ins every couple months so that nothing builds into a problem
      I bet others can come up with more ideas. Build yourself a collection of a few very good ideas of what you will actually do. When ever I have a plan, the thing I fear never happens.

      Why didn’t they just fire you? Probably because you were actually doing a good job. This was simply their way to get you to work harder. If you were worried, nervous, thinking that you were failing, then probably you’d try harder so that you would not fail.
      I worked for a person who said, “Angry employees work harder.” And they lived by this belief. Everyone was angry all the time. These are management techniques for those who have NO idea how to manage people.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      This is some sort of mind-games, bullshit, powertripping nonsense right here, is what those managers did.

  26. Aria*

    How far in advance would you start a job search?

    I would like to start a new job in my home city in early 2021, about 4 hours drive from where I live
    now. These are cities that people travel between all the time. I definitely can’t leave my current role before the end of this year. My field will still be hiring because honestly all work can be done from home anyways, and there is still demand. I am a middle manager right now and would be looking for either people manager or more senior contributor roles, both of which I am qualified for based on past experience.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You can start any time. Just keep in mind that some places will want to hire before you move. That said, some places will want to hire soon, but they have various processes that are slow, so they may not end up really hiring for months.

      1. Aria*

        I would definitely be upfront about only being able to start in December or January, but I feel like reaching out to contacts and saying “keep me in mind for a job then” is way too early right now.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I’d at least wait until September unless you know your field has a longer timeline for hiring.

      Except in rare cases (know your industry), a company that’s hiring has an opening now. At this point if you can’t expect them to hire you and hold the position for you until you can start in January. You want to time it so that when they say you’re hired there’s not much/no gap between the date they want you to start and the date you can. I’d say a month is reasonable (although no guarantee if they need someone now!) to ask to delay starting, but not much more than that without priori agreement.

      I think at this point all the way through summer, you’d just be wasting your time because they need to fill those positions well before 2021.

  27. Triumphant Fox*

    Our company is having a big meeting in Vegas in late July and they refuse to make the decision to cancel until the last possible minute. I am a huge part of coordinating this event and I do not want to do this. I don’t know what the landscape will look like in July but given the Mayor’s odd interview with Anderson Cooper, I don’t have high hopes for Vegas. I am worried about traveling on planes, being in a room with 700 people and my and my team’s ability to have childcare during this time. I now live with people at high risk for the disease so we are extra cautious.
    My concerns are
    1. My direct reports – all of whom go with me. I do not want to put them at risk and I worry they won’t feel able to speak up because of job security. I have already begun asking them to consider how they feel about travel as we get closer.
    2. If anyone will even attend – who wants to go to an expensive work event, even in July?
    I have voiced my concerns to my immediate manager (C-suite), who agrees with me wholeheartedly. When do I need to take a stronger stance? I worry about job security and hope they are forced to cancel anyway.
    That is what happened with the shutting things down – I voiced my opinion early that we needed to take measures to work from home and they didn’t but it was still early. I went home earlier than most because I was sick, then they were forced to let everyone work from home so I didn’t have to be the liberal quack who refused to go to the office and allows her reports to do so too because we can all easily (and impressively now that we’ve done it) work from home.

    1. ExcelJedi*

      An expensive work event? Is this company paid, or paid for by employees??

      Really, I think the writing’s on the wall for July. Even if social distancing eases up, 700 people travelling and congregating from all over the country and then going back to their own communities is not only unrealistic. It’s a public health nightmare and will directly contribute to a second wave if even ONE of those people have the coronavirus.

      I would be framing it as potentially bad PR, or as something that will cost more to cancel the more you wait. If you’re afraid of being the liberal quack, make it about dollars and cents, not public health or science.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        People in this industry work for themselves, but attend this conference as a training event with our organization, so they usually don’t have an employer paying for it – it’s just them. The event itself is not expensive for an event of its type, but just getting to and staying in Vegas is a lot.

        1. Super Anon*

          They won’t come. Most of the meeting industry experts are estimating that meetings might receive 30% of their usual attendance. And how badly is the industry going to be impacted by the shutdowns.

          1. allathian*

            Agreed, most of them won’t come. Even if they’d like to, if the shutdowns have affected their businesses seriously during the pandemic, they probably can’t afford to come. Training events are often the first to go when businesses are forced to tighten their belts. They still need to pay their suppliers and utilities and possibly facilities (unless they WFH), but training is optional, even if it’s often great for long-term success.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        My husband was invited to a conference in Northern Italy for June.

        Needless to say it was canceled in early March, well before Italy became the Hindenberg of coronavirus.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Not happening. Americans might be able to gather in smaller groups by July, but I don’t expect large groups (more than 100) to be allowed.

      1. Super Anon*

        I don’t think meetings of more than a couple hundred people will be permitted until we have a vaccine.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Even if it’s permitted by governments, it’s unlikely to be recommended by doctors.
          I’m going with the doctors.

    3. StarHunter*

      Is this an internal or external event? If for external attendees, maybe a quick survey to see if there would still be any interest in the event? I would also be concerned with potential attendees having their travel/conference budget slashed for the year, especially since you said this is expensive. Airlines will also be slow to add flights so it might be more difficult for attendees to travel. I also think that by July large crowds still might be limited. What is the last possible date to cancel and still get money back? Is it possible to postpone to a later date in the year? That might make more sense. I imagine there are other dates available because some events cancelled for the year rather than postponed. Have you talked to the venue? What are their feelings about a July event being able to go on as scheduled?

      1. WellRed*

        +1. A survey was going to be my suggestions. If you get a sense from it that no one will come, the problem takes care of itself. Your company also might want to consider the optics (sorry! hate that phrasing but it fits) of hosting such a large event at this time. Lots of people are in your way of thinking.

    4. Lazy Morning*

      If it’s a big event, I’m betting they have a hotel contract with a huge cancellation fee UNLESS it’s “impossible” (force majeure.) If your company cancels, they have to pay. If the hotel cancels or the city is legally locked down, they don’t. That’s why a lot of events are sort of playing “chicken” at the moment. See: Dragon Con, etc.

      I’d bet they have no actual plans to hold the event, they just can’t say that without being on the hook for all the fees.

      1. Ali G*

        I had to cancel a huge event I was planning. The hotel tried to enforce the cancellation fees, but the combo of the stay at home/no groups over 10 orders in my state and a letter from our lawyer got that shut down fast. I would think that if LV is on SAH order now, they should cancel now to avoid fees.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s possible that they’re waiting for events to trigger the force majoure (spelling?) clause so they can get out of contracts without penalty.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        Ok that makes sense. I think my CEO does think that this event will happen and that everything is overblown. He is paying significant, non-refundable expenses up front, and has directed us to proceed as usual with the event planning, which really isn’t necessary. We could just not cancel it and then cancel publicly when the Force Majeure sets in. I think I will sit tight for now because it sounds like it won’t actually come to me dying on this hill…metaphorically.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        This. I’ve seen this mentioned in relation to a number of sci-fi/comics/etc conventions – if they want to get their deposits back, they need to make the venue blink first.

    6. Jules the 3rd*

      Maybe you could push your mgmt to make alternate plans, ‘just in case’, including plans to have a smaller group meet (ie, top execs) in person, and everyone else meet on video. Maybe making those plans will help break execs out of the ‘gotta do it in person!’ mindset.

    7. CL Cox*

      Are hotels even taking reservations right now? Have you spoken with the venue to see what their policy is? How much money does your company stand to lose if they cancel now vs. if they cancel in June? You could also point out that a number of attendees may not be able to attend due to travel restrictions in their own states. Logistically, this is a nightmare, ethically it’s even worse.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        I just confirmed we lose no money if we cancel now. That’s not the issue at all. The issue is really just that our CEO does not want to make a decision at all. ever. Unfortunately, right now he sees the “decision” as whether or not to cancel and doesn’t understand that he is actually making the decision to just look really out of touch/callous to his staff at the very least. I joke in less dire times that his contribution to so many discussions is, “Or, and stay with me on this, we could…not?” He will usually just agree with us now that he trusts our judgment, but sometimes he digs his heels in and this is the weirdest time to do it.

    8. Vegas townie*

      Please know that the mayor does not speak for the majority of us Las Vegans. The governor and the county commission — those with the most control over the tourist spots — are not in agreement with her. Even the casinos, who want to open, are doing more to ensure safety while planning for an eventual reopening – emphasis on “eventual”. The governor has stated that even when we are ready for phase 1 of reopening, casinos and convention areas will not be among the business allowed to start up again.

      I don’t know what’s going to happen in July. I suspect our city will be partially open, but I doubt conventions will be allowed.

      As a side note, the mayor is a member of the board of directors for the convention center. Her motives are not at all “for the good of the people.” It seems you can take the mob out of Vegas, but not the corruption.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Insurance is not much more than a fancy loan. IF you all go to this and any of you get sick that is going to be a big bill for your health insurance company to pay. It’s easy to assume they will raise their rates accordingly. This is an expensive event, that could get more expensive than his wildest dreams.

      Perhaps you can start a trend of people who say they cannot go because [reason such as living with high risk folks].

      Perhaps you can ask him if someone gets really sick could he live with himself? What if something even worse happens where a human life is lost?

      For the moment, given your concern about job security, I would set a goal of collecting up things that your boss can use to argue persuasively with his boss. Sometimes we do have to provide bosses with words, facts, etc. to assist them in making their points.
      Maybe give it a few weeks? Then start telling your boss that you are thinking about not being able to go because you have people at home to consider. Watch his reaction.
      There was a couple times in my life where I had to weigh out remaining employed vs. great personal injury (or worse). I landed on the latter as the higher priority- staying alive is most important. Once I decided that I found that I had the words/courage to push back.

      I had a company whose pattern was to show a cavalier attitude toward the safety and well-being of its employees. Yes, sometimes it starts at the top and sometimes trickles down, if it were just the immediate boss being reckless than that can change the story. And these are the worst scenarios to handle because it seems to go from one reckless decision to another.

    10. Flabbernabbit*

      Frankly, what I’d go for is my “Yes, but…” approach. Do your job and plan the event. But, consider all contingencies and embed them in to your C-suite decision makers. Like take all the scenarios and apply risk analysis around them, including impacts and response plans. C-suite execs relate to business risk, especially cost and reputational risk. Plan A we go ahead, here are likely outcomes if we have to cancel, have a cap on attendance, alternatives to physical attendance, or whatever. Plan B – hold a modified in person/virtual event. Plan C – option. Then highlight cost and effort to mitigate risk on all scenarios and so on.

      Lay it bare. Give them the info and reality check to make a decision knowing the facts, and get on with it. Including having them communicate their end decision and rationale with staff directly.

  28. Sunset Maple*

    Anyone else temporarily giving up the job search and sitting tight? It seems way too risky to give up several years of tenure right now…I’ve chickened out.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I am/was in the middle of the interview process with two different companies when this hit. I am sitting tight for the moment. I am staying in touch with the people I spoke with back then. One of them I was supposedly about to get a job offer and we had started the process.

      It is hard to do my job from home and I want to do it properly, so, I’m not putting a lot of energy into things outside of my job.

    2. Filosofickle*

      It’s not chickening out. It’s evaluating the current risk, and deciding what you have is better for now.

    3. Lives in a Shoe*

      Well, I was so devastated by not getting the job I thought I was a shoo-in for that I’m not even thinking about applying for openings I know are coming. I love my University system; I love my job and colleagues. I just desperately need more money. Even my boss was working to get me a raise and now I’m pretty sure that’s a nonstarter. I just guess I’ll hunker.

      Not planning to retire for another 11 years helps; they calculate pensions on the highest three. But man, I’m super bummed. So yes, not just you.

    4. Retail not Retail*

      I’m still sending out applications whenever I get on my laptop (so… once a month?) but my desired field is in governments under hiring freezes or with non-profits or companies that work with said now broke government agencies. And the non-profits I’m into that don’t work with those agencies are in a lot of trouble.

      So… I have health insurance. I like my work. Ride it out.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Chickened out….but working hard to complete specific resume-building projects in case the company decides to bring us back on-site before vaccines & easy testing. Too many people at risk in my family — future plans are all “vaccine + 30 days”.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Sitting tight for the moment. But I am starting to think that is not a good idea for me. I think follow your gut. Initially my gut was saying “no way”, now it feels more like, “try again’.

  29. Kath*

    Final job interview coming up. They want me to actually go into the building. I pushed back a bit, but I’m going. Is it reasonable that they’re asking this?

    I’m also a little torn about taking the new job. The main draw is that I will have a much shorter commute (10 min drive or bike ride vs 30 min drive). Other aspects such as salary, workload, etc. sound pretty similar. Also I love my coworkers and bosses at my current school and would be sad to leave my students. Thoughts?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is anyone going to be in the building? Will people keep six feet away from you and wear masks?

      1. Kath*

        Just two people I’m meeting with will be there. Not sure if they will be wearing masks or if they will want to shake my hand!

        1. Oxford Comma*

          My gut tells me there’s a script to establish up front what safety precautions you’ll be taking with a heavy implication that they should be doing them as well and have it not look weird or pushy.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Agreed. I think I would send them an e-mail saying, “When I come in for the in-person interview, the last thing I want is to put anyone’s health at risk. I am planning on wearing a mask and avoiding shaking hands for that reason. Can I ask what precautions the interview team will be taking? Will there be enough space in the interview area for us to keep a safe physical distance apart?”

          1. tangerineRose*

            If they insist on shaking hands during the pandemic, you don’t want to work for them.

        2. CL Cox*

          The school/district should have something printed up explaining their precautions. Our district, for instance, is only allowing custodians. Lthers can go in for brief periods, with the approval of the building administrator or higher. Precautions to be taken include masks and gloves (required by our state in all public places) and taking temp upon entering the building.

    2. SweetestCin*

      How big of a deal is that commute? In my world, the extra 200 minutes over the course of the week is indeed something that would make things worthwhile – that’s over three hours of MY time back. There is no public transit that’s worth a darn where I live, and no matter what, driving is driving. I would at least consider it.

      Have they given any reason “why” you have to go to the building?

    3. Fikly*

      It’s not reasonable.

      If they’re unreasonable about this, what else are they going to be unreasonable about?

    4. Bagworm*

      We’ve had a few in-person interviews since the pandemic at my work. We’ve maintained six-feet of distance (more) and no handshakes. We (the two interviewers) didn’t wear masks but two of our interviewees did and it was no problem. Of course, if any of them had asked to do a phone or video interview instead, we wouldn’t have had any problem with that.

      1. theguvnah*

        why weren’t you wearing masks? that strikes me as outrageously irresponsible and if I was the interviewee I would have lost it on you.

      2. Avasarala*

        Why don’t you proactively suggest a phone or video interview instead? The interviewee has much less power here and may have felt unable to ask. Better that the company suggest this first if you’re so open to it.

  30. two questions*

    1. Does anyone else get annoyed when a coworker tells you “Good job!” as if they didn’t expect you to be able to do what was assigned to you? I know you’re supposed to assume best intentions, but it feels particularly patronizing if it comes not from an equal or a manager, but just someone who feels more senior than you.

    2. I have essentially been covering for a team member who just don’t have the skills and temperament to be good at their/our job. I have noticed I get irritated/resentful more easily lately due to my increasing workload and hours, and the quality of my work has suffered to an extent. How do I handle this without throwing said team member under the bus and possibly causing them to lose their job?

    1. SpecialSpecialist*

      Focus on your own work and stop covering for them. If you need to cover for them because whatever they drop directly affects your work, then let your supervisor know.

      “Hey, I’ve been doing ABC for Rob because I’ve been having a hard time getting it from him and I need ABC finished so that I can do XYZ. But, I’m not able to continue doing ABC on my own and really need Rob to do it. Can you help?”

      1. Indy Dem*

        I would suggest speaking with your co-worker first about this. Are they aware of what you’ve been doing? If so,
        make it known to them that you are not able to continue to do so. If they don’t start doing their job, then bring it to a supervisor.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      2. Not covering up somebody’s fundamental inability to do their job isn’t throwing them under the bus–throwing them under the bus is when you force them to take the full fall for something for which you were at least partly responsible. Do you have a mutual supervisor to whom you could bring this? I feel like there is quite a lot of advice on AAM about bringing coworkers’ deficiencies to managers without essentially saying “this person is stupid”, but the wording has to be pretty careful.

      1. Fikly*

        This. It’s in no way your job to cover for someone who cannot do their job. Throwing someone under the bus has to include some element of falsehood – usually it’s that they were not at fault at all, or only partially at fault.

        This does not sound like the case here.

        Make their inability to do their job your manager’s problem, not yours.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      1. I used to have a colleague who said “good girl!” to me. I let it go so as not to make waves, but it REALLY irritated me! I may be a b*tch, but I’m not your dog!

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Alfie Kohn wrote a book called Punished by Rewards. He says that praise and criticism are two sides of the same coin and the coin does not buy much.

      Your coworker is, effectively, judging your work and finding it good. But, bottom line, they are judging your work. Its judgy when someone not in a position to evaluate our work, judges it. Whether they find it qood or bad, try to reward or punish, it is them judging you. I hate it and don’t find it helpful ot kind at all. I try to just notice and name it to myself, there goes cooking, evaluating and judging where they were not asked to.

      You can reply, “thank you for your evaluation.” But it works best when you really mean it. Your sincerity can make them see what they are doing.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I have a kneejerk reaction to some “good job” type comments, even though I love praise. For me it comes down to how it’s said. There are ways people can say “that was amazing work” as though it’s a confirmation of expectations, and that I love. But when it comes with a surprised voice, or it has a “today” or “on this one thing” tacked on… “you did good today” … that irks me.

      1. Fikly*

        Yeah, there’s an important distinction between appreciation/a compliment and being patronized.

    6. Emilitron*

      About the “good job” comments – that’s exactly why I try to be more specific when I compliment my peers. “Good job on that talk – I didn’t know you had done X, that was really great” “Good job in that meeting, if I’d been on the spot like that I would have totally fumbled” and I tend not to compliment near-peers on things that are part of our standard mutual job, so as not to get misinterpreted, so not “Good job on your weekly report (that both of us turn in weekly)” or “good job on the Olsen project (that I totally wanted)”.

      So yes, this is making you cringe because it’s cringe-worthy. According to this stranger on the internet, you are authorized to reply with subtle snark: “thank you! good job with X(obvious task) too!”

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Praise is definitely always better when it’s specific! Compliments from peers or seniors that are specific always sound more sincere, I think, and also are a more effective form of feedback to help someone continue to do their best work (when you know WHAT you’re doing well, it’s easier to replicate it). “Good job!” by itself sounds a bit like a verbal pat on the head. And if the person is saying it about stuff that’s really basic (e.g., completing a TPS report when you’ve been a TPS Reports Writer for a year and a half), it definitely sounds condescending. “Good job–that report was way more complicated than usual, and you did well at explaining the discrepancies between X and Y in a clear way” is much better.

    7. Retail not Retail*

      My department is notorious for number one being said when you’re doing nothing. Someone zips by and sees you doing nothing or hell even doing something and says “doing a great job!” so if I want a compliment to land I’m always specific. “Dang you got that really even.”

      My work nemesis told me good girl once. I try to avoid talking to him.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      1) “You don’t need to praise me for just doing my job. I think you probably mean well, but please stop.”

      2) A person who is not or cannot do a job SHOULD be fired. I used to try to “help” people retain their jobs. Finally it got to the point where I was pretty angry as I took on more and more of their work and their mistakes. People who don’t do their jobs yet still accept a paycheck are STEALING from the company. This is not yours to fix nor is it yours to protect them from.

      Just a random thought, is the “good job” person saying that to you within ear shot of the slacker? And this same person never, ever compliments the slacker?
      Is it possible the the “good job” person sees you are running into trouble with too much work and is trying to help you?

  31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How much work are you guys getting done at home? I’ve got 6 hours on a good day. How are you guys keeping productive with all the distractions of home?

    1. Jamie*

      I’m like you, 6 on a good day and I’m really trying. I’m completely marinating in guilt over it.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I used to work for someone who figured most people got 6 hours of work done in most days wherever they were. You might want to consider if this is really different – at work it’s easy to get sidetracked by co-workers.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I bounce back and forth between having no motivation to do anything… and having way too much motivation and not actually switching off Work Brain when the working hours are over.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I’m doing pretty well under the circumstances. Most of my job can’t actually be done remotely so I’m making a lot of notes to go check X or Q thing in the physical records when we go back, but what I can do remotely is working out pretty well.

      I like having a “work day” to keep me occupied. Not that I don’t have a metric ton of hobbies but we’ve been out FIVE WEEKS now and will be out at least two more and I’d feel super guilty about not doing any work all that time.

    4. Utinni*

      I’ve still yet to get to 6 hours. 4 hours of solid working time is a good day for me right now. I’ve been using JIRA for several months and my logged hours actually haven’t really dropped since before I’d spend so much time talking with co-workers (about work related stuff and non work stuff), walking to and from meetings, going to the bathroom, email, etc. I’m not really happy with how much I’m getting done but my workload has also dropped a lot and there’s only so much training and PD I can talk myself into on a given day. I NEVER would have signed up for a job where I was on the computer all day without other people around so it’s not really surprise that I’m struggling now (plus you know mental health challenges brought on by the PANDEMIC and my employer’s poor response to it).

    5. Smedley*

      I think if you really counted up your actual work hours in the office, it would probably only average around 6 hours a day, so I think you are doing well! It just feels less like work when you get up to stretch your legs, make some tea, or chat with a friend or coworker when you are at home instead of the office. I am required to attend Zoom “hangout” sessions regularly with my office mates a couple of times a week, which I hate–but it illustrates the fact that wasting time is kind of built into the time you are being paid for.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I’m roughly as productive as I was in the office, but that doesn’t mean I was overly productive in the office. :) I work in spurts and then take brain breaks or get up and get water or pet the dog or whatever.

    7. Triumphant Fox*

      I think most people get 6 hours of work done at work on a good day. That is not bad at all.

      My work has really picked up post Covid-19, both in the amount of time I’m spending and the intensity of my work. My most intense days have been about 13 hours non-stop but I feel it and I’m not very productive for the next few days after. Most days are about 6-7 hours solid, with an extra two of managing and passing things via phone (so nice to feel like I can keep an eye on things without being at a desk) while I feed my toddler or go for a walk. This feels like a lot more than normal, especially because everything I’m doing now is using so much energy. None of it is quick or administrative. I’m not holding brainstorming sessions or giving myself space to really think about things – it all needs to get done as quickly as possible, so the first thing I think of that others agree with is the course we’re taking.

      I’m used to taking a full hour for lunch out every day. It’s my time to walk, think, decompress, listen to an audiobook, eat something tasty with other humans around and come back ready to tackle the afternoon. I tried bringing lunch for a while and I got so sluggish and it felt like so much work with my long commute and small children that I started budgeting for eating out for my mental health. Now that I need to prepare and cook everything and contribute to changing/feeding/entertaining my child, my personal time feels nonexistent. On chill days, I try to let myself take breaks – like right now. I know that after my 1 PM meeting, things will take off, so I’m reading AAM.

      I kind of enjoy this new rhythm, though. Often I feel like I’m the only one pushing anything forward with any urgency at my job, so I really enjoy the pressure -it’s a welcome distraction.

    8. MissBookworm*

      My situation is WFM 3 days a week and in the office 2 days a week (because someone needs to process checks). The days I’m in the office I’m all in 110%, quick bathroom breaks, but no eating lunch or chatting with anyone (there are three others in the office with me) because I’m the only one from my department allowed in the office to do these payments.

      The days I’m home, I get maybe 4hrs of work in total per day. I just can’t focus. I’m used to working with dual monitors, and now I’m stuck with my small macbook (my company was very unprepared and don’t have a work laptop for me). It’s also been a slow month for me—we’re not getting as many payments or invoices in and the volume of emails/calls has gone down by almost half. I am also just not motivated.

    9. Gatomon*

      Slightly less productive, but for my own mental health I can’t go full-blast right now. I’m actually relieved to be WFH during this because I can easily take 5 if I feel overwhelmed, but in my half cube I feel like I always need to look like I’m working and it’d be weird to walk out and sit in my car during the day. (There’s no good space in our building to find peace either, we’re overcrowded.)

    10. Nessun*

      Back when all this started, my boss stated that it was reasonable to hope for 70% of normal from people IF they were having no issues (family, timing, technical, mental health, etc). So we’re all quite happy to hit 5 productive hours (we have a 7.5 hour day), and he’s fine with that as long as deadlines are met. Were in an industry where we track our time, so realistically it means a bit more than usual is going into the slush/catchall code.

    11. Choggy*

      I work a solid 8.5 hours which is more than when I’m physically at work. It sucks, it really does. I work on a support desk, and we had staggered schedules, starting at 7:30, 8, or 9 am until 4, 4:30 or 5 pm, now we all work 8 – 5:30 with an hour for lunch.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve worked from home before — I’m used to the distractions of home. It’s the distractions of world news that are killing me. I shouldn’t be checking as frequently as I am.
      And I need more exercise.

      1. allathian*

        Same here. I’m not really tempted to watch Netflix during the workday. But I do hang out at AAM more than I probably should.
        Our VPN is currently overloaded, and some processes take ages. Funnily enough, it doesn’t affect things like online services, it’s just that our shared network drives are slow. When it takes 30 seconds to open a shared Word document (just text, no pictures) and more than a minute to save it, there’s plenty of time to do both.

    13. nm*

      I am doing much less than that. I’d say for me, a good day is 3 hours of work. Luckily I’m not paid hourly and my supervisor does understand my situation. But it’s frustrating, and I feel guilty.

    14. Teapot Translator*

      I was staying roughly productive and then everything going on in my life caught up with me and I had a big ball of anxiety on Wednesday and most of Thursday. It sucked. So my productivity is shot. Which is bad because we have short deadlines. So, I’m meeting the short-term deadlines, but not the middle ones. I’m “forgiving” myself because fuck it. I’ll try to catch up next week.

    15. Jean (just Jean)*

      Thanks for asking! It helps *a lot* to read the answers and realize I’m not the only person not as productive as usual.

    16. Sara without an H*

      I think I’m getting maybe 4-6 hours on average. The problem is that a lot of my work just doesn’t exist right now. (I’m in higher education.) So I’ve been trying to pick up some of those lower priority projects that were on hold until I had “time.” Well, now I have “time.”

      I think that, even working in a conventional office, most people’s jobs will have peaks and dips in productivity and throughput. We’re not robots, after all. Don’t beat yourself up about it.

    17. Melissa*

      I’m getting about 5-6 hours in, because any more than that really hurts my eyes, due to the laptop, and my back, because I don’t have a good setup.

      I listen to all the daytime judge shows, so at least I’m entertained.

  32. Miki*

    Anyone got tendonitis flare ups now that they are working from home?
    Started getting it in my right elbow in February of this year, thought it got better, but with improper seating arrangement from working from home it is getting very bad (spreading to shoulder/wrist)
    Tips, tricks, suggestions greatly appreciated.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      No, but eyestrain. I think I’m going to ask for a couple of days off next week so I don’t have to look at a computer for awhile. When I’m in my office, I have two giant monitors. At home I only have a tablet.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Carpal tunnel here.
      I even took one of the good office chairs home.

      I’m stretching, trying to be aware of my posture, trying not to use the laptop while flopped down on the couch.

      If you find yourself resting your hand on the mouse or trackpad while you’re just watching or reading something that doesn’t require mouse/keyboard use, try to get in the habit of dropping your hand onto the armrest or into your lap.

      1. Kettricken Farseer*

        Oooh this is a good idea. It never occurred to me to not have my hand resting on the mouse!

    3. Kate R*

      I’ve always worked from home, but I also got a tendinitis flare up in my wrist recently. I think it’s because I’m on both my computer and iPad more frequently due to my state’s stay-at-home order. There are some stretches you can do to help. I just Google “tendinitis [body part] stretches”. Also icing and bracing sometimes help. I’ve been trying to make sure I take designated breaks every day so I’m not just sitting at my desk all day. I go out for a 10 minute jump rope or do Legs Up the Wall for 15 minutes. Maybe setting a timer on your phone or something could help remind you to get up and stretch periodically because I do find it’s easy to forget when your in the zone.

    4. Fikly*

      I’m having a tendonitis flare up right now, though for a different reason.

      I can’t take oral NSAIDs because they give me ulcers, but I recently got prescribed topical NSAID cream. That stuff is magic! Pain is vastly reduced for several hours, I love it.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      Yes. I find using a foam roller on my back, taking stretch breaks, and exercising at the end of each day really helps.

    6. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

      No tendinitis flare-ups, thank goodness, but my carpal tunnel syndrome (undiagnosed, but pretty obviously existing, if mild) has been getting a bit worse. I’m honestly not sure, though, if that’s due to my WFH setup (which isn’t actually too bad) or my pregnancy–though that’s usually a factor only when you’re a lot further along than I am.

      1. Fikly*

        Have you heard of de Quervain’s tenosynovitis? Not trying to diagnose, but this is a super common thing to develop during pregnancy, and there can be some symptom overlap.

    7. Retail not Retail*

      i’ve been wondering how those of you whose office work included/necessitated walking around during the day are adjusting to oh. Can’t walk to that part of the building.

      When my internship went to mostly computer work, it sucked. I enjoyed the movement. A few weeks into that period, our database crashed so I was like oh! Have to go …look… at the artifact… in person… bye! (Changing a mouse trap meant 2 trips back and forth and searching the house top to bottom bc my supervisor had her radio off)

      My job is almost too active, according to my physical therapist. How is that adjustment?

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Pinched a nerve in my shoulder (okay, the nerve is technically in the neck, but it’s my shoulder that hurts!) somehow.

      Life is suffering.

  33. LGC*

    So, pretty pedestrian question, considering:

    Next week, I “have” to go to the office to process some paperwork. (It’s on-site and needs to be scanned in.) I’ve been working almost entirely remotely for the past month, but going to the office once a month to do so. There are people on-site that can do the work, but…I’d have to “train” them to file the records accurately – and it’s been my experience that the people on-site tend to forget to do things, or might make mistakes with filing the correct things. (Basically, I need all paper records from a specific time period for invoicing, and the department isn’t great at keeping records – and I don’t have the authority to make their record-keeping better.) And the mistakes could have impacts down the lines – when we’ve had those issues, we’ve had to re-file, or we’ve had to re-do the supporting documentation.

    Obviously, this isn’t ideal. But I’m a little torn between training them to do so and praying for the best (and also losing whatever little face time I have), or going there in person. I don’t drive, so I’d need to take the train – and the local transit authority says that the system should only be used for essential travel. (Which this technically would be, but I don’t want to take up space that could go to a doctor or nurse or other another actually essential worker.)

      1. LGC*

        I possibly could, but that would require making them USE Zoom or Teams. They’re not…technically sophisticated. So it’d be like I’d have to show them how to use Teams, reassure them that they’re smart enough to use Teams, and THEN do the training.

        (…yes, I’m annoyed by this, if you can’t tell.)

    1. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      If you’re only going in once a month — I would say keep going in and do the scanning yourself. But I say this without knowing where you are or how bad the outbreak is in your area.

      1. LGC*

        New Jersey, so you can imagine how bad it is! (Or you don’t have to. You can look at our abysmal case numbers and testing numbers.)

        It’s not like I’ve totally secluded myself from the world – I’ve been running in my area every day (solo), and I’ve been going to the store about once a week, so it’s just another risk I’m running. But I’m trying to be conscious of not being a jerk.

        1. Stornry*

          Being “conscious of not being a jerk” goes a long way to doing our part – and others can see and appreciate it. Just by being aware and conscientious and kind, you do a great service to everybody else who has to be out there at the same time you are. You’re doing good.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Where I am, the transit is pretty empty. You probably wouldn’t be taking up space needed by someone else. We get nagged by all the screens in buses and stations that we need to be essential to be riding. But, no one stops us and asks. It seems to be self-selecting. Also, I’ve seen plenty of people who I suspect might not be called “essential” by others, but, they feel they need to ride. No skin off my nose, ya know? We all have to get by.

      I have been taking transit when I cannot walk somewhere. I don’t have my own car (lots don’t in this city, I rent when I need one), so I would have to use a taxi/lyft/etc. if I were not taking transit. [Biking not an option for me due to a lower back injury many years ago…recumbent bikes are great, but not in street traffic, thanks.]

      I feel safer in transit from a health perspective due to it being a larger space, hard surfaces and I only come in contact with portions I touch with my hands — which are covered by disposable gloves. Basically, I treat everything outside the door to my apartment as a Level C Hazwopr Site. (If you are unfamiliar with that, type that into a search and look at images.) Decontaminating and everything, just minus the Chemtek suit.

      Personally, I would go in myself. I get why you’d be concerned about having the filing done correctly. Best of luck!

      1. LGC*

        It’s the same here – we’re required to wear masks (I got some cute ones last week though!), and transit’s restricted to 50% of capacity.

        I think part of it, too, is that…well, I’m actually more afraid of transit now! When I went last month – ten days after our state-wide shutdown – it wasn’t totally empty. It was less chaotic than it was the day right before the shutdown, when NJT went to weekend schedules on rail, but I’ve heard that the coronavirus can survive for a really long time on hard surfaces. (Okay, that’s how long the RNA can be detected, but it sounds like it does well on metal and plastic.) At any rate, I’ve got gloves and bottles of hand sanitizer, so I should be good. Although honestly, I’m more worried about infecting the people in the office – my county has the highest caseload in the state (I think both raw and per capita), and although the office is right outside New York City, that area doesn’t seem to be quite as badly affected.

        Thanks for wishing me luck!

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Unless you are driving your own car, being in a car is riskier than transit. You don’t know the state of the vent filters, for instance. We also don’t know for sure how long the virus lives on soft or uneven surfaces. There’s lots of hard surfaces one touches in a car…seat belt buckles, door handles, etc. You don’t know if they’ve been cleaned. The seats on NJ Transit can be wiped down. Bring your own wipes. Let other people look at you funny. Chances are they’re thinking you’ve had a good idea and they should have done that.

          Or, stand in the area where people with luggage go.

          In any case, wear a mask. I’ve been wearing a half-faced respirator for weeks and weeks now. Elastomeric gasket on my face, filters, whole 9 yards. Because it fits securely, it can really live up to its NIOSH rating, whether it is the N95 or N100. Normally, it needs to be fit-tested, but, take a look at this video, and you can do two of the tests to make sure the fit is good yourself. (Training video on a particular brand, I have a North respirator, slightly different in the strap configuration, but basically the same.)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve been seeing people wear face shields over masks –not just to increase the lifespan of the mask, but to cut the airflow past our eyes. I’ve also heard about home versions, but I don’t know how well they’ll work.

    3. pancakes*

      Are the people you’d need help from tasked with working with these records when it’s business as usual? It doesn’t sound like it, since they don’t seem to have been trained, period. It’s extremely unlikely that your local transit system is packed to capacity with essential workers but surely there’s a better source of information, even if only the transit company’s social media accounts, than asking people here.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Is it the scanning that requires you to be in the building, or do you have to get the paper records from there?

      If it’s just the scanning, could you take pictures instead?

      1. CL Cox*

        That’s a good idea – event he most technically challenged (and I work with a bunch of them – one guy almost lost his new job because I could not get him on to the required training video to save my freaking life), can usually take a photo with their phone and send it. Even if they send via text, you can email it to yourself and then save it as a pdf.

        1. LGC*

          To be fair, we actually do document scanning as our main business – so most people do know how to use scanners there, at least! But my main concern is either that things are going to be missing, or that things are going to be filled out incorrectly – and editing after the fact/following up is a giant pain.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Can you look into converting the documentation process to fillable PDFs or a service like docusign?
            Scanned PDFs can have form fields added onto them if someone acquires Acrobat DC. The paid Acrobat program is used to create the form which can be filled out by anyone with the free Acrobat Reader. (I dont’ know if there are Open Office versions. )

    5. Chaordic One*

      it’s been my experience that the people on-site tend to forget to do things, or might make mistakes with filing the correct things.

      I’m sorry if this might be redundant but, with regards to the training, could you make a step-by-step hand-out for them to follow to remind them of all the steps and filing the correct things?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Is there a way you can remote into their computer and do it with them? I am thinking something like Teamviewer or something else?

      I am wondering if the problem is you do not have a scanner. Can you borrow one or buy one?

      Does it help to try to look for a short term solution vs a long term solution? Let’s say you decide to develop a plan where you can do this remotely for 2 or 3 months. Does this open the door for different ideas? (Sometimes we need a starting point to get the ideas rolling.)

  34. Book Pony*

    Half vent, half asking for advice. (Also apologies if I’ve asked this before, I can’t remember)

    How to deal with a job responsibility that you really cannot stand? I hate grooming llamas. I don’t mind approving the fluffiness of the llama (that’s just a quick, “yep, that sure is a llama” and go back to my actual duties), but grooming them is so tedious.

    I already talked with my boss that I didn’t think me helping the Main Llama Groomer (we’ll call them Betty) was going to work out, since Betty already has her way of grooming the llamas, using the shears, etc. And her methods of teaching are, quite frankly, terrible. (Honestly, only one person on that team can teach and communicate well, but that’s a separate issue.) But my boss said they were going to keep me on llama grooming so I can get a better understanding of how our department manages llamas, so that’s that. (Which, hey, is one of the many reasons why I’m looking for a new job!)

    So how to deal with the fact that I would rather call several people on the phone in quick succession than have to groom another llama? I didn’t mind helping out at the very beginning (a month in), but now this has become one of my full-time duties and I hate when Llama Grooming Time rolls around on the calendar. OTL

    1. Me*

      I think everyone’s job has that tedious thing that they hate to do. Can you plan for a little reward after? Like llama grooming day is fancy coffee day? Plan for a break after? Schedule some work you love for after so you have something to look forward to?

      1. Book Pony*

        Unfortunately, my job is one of those “feast or famine” deals, where in my case the “feast” is Llama Grooming Time. OTL

        Although the idea of “fancy coffee day” sounds good, especially since I just got in some coffee. Maybe I’ll reward myself with cold brew. Mmmm…

        1. Me*

          Ugh then yeah I would try to figure out whatever external ways I could to make it ultimately rewarding. Don’t know if you can, or its conducive, to listening to audio, but for example I only listen to my favorite podcasts while I run (which I hate). The amount it makes it suck less cannot be understated.

    2. AnnieMay*

      Are they paying you? Take the money, get over this notion that you’re entitled to do only what you prefer to do, and get on with it.

      1. Me*

        That’s awfully harsh and not helpful. Just be grateful your getting paid is notoriously unhelpful. They accept they have to do it they are asking for how to hate it less.

        The OP is asking for help not to be chastised.

        1. AnnieMay*

          I literally tell myself “at least it isn’t coal mining” when I have to do hated work tasks. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you’re getting paid and you’ll get through it! That is a way to help deal with it.

          1. Fikly*

            Are you also one of those people who tell people who are depressed to just think happy thoughts and they’ll get over it? WOW.

            PS: Just because something worked for you doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone.

      2. Book Pony*


        Lemme just say that yes, they are paying me and I am grateful to have a job in the current situation going on. However!

        My entire job basically consists of “let’s talk to people when an email would suffice”, so I am already doing stuff I really dislike doing and trying to make peace with it as best I can. “Me” has it right that your comment is like, super harsh and unhelpful.

      3. Fikly*

        Wow, that’s rude and not called for.

        At what point does Book Pony say they should only have to do what they prefer? They’re asking how to deal with something they don’t like, which is actually the opposite.

      4. Database Developer Dude*

        In my Army Reserve capacity, I’m an IT and Communications officer. If they wanted to put me in the personnel shop on an as-needed basis, would you tell me ‘get over it’ too? People take certain jobs for a reason, and you need to get over yourself. Working is trading your time and skills for money.

    3. juliebulie*

      I’m laughing at the “I would rather call several people on the phone in quick succession”. I can relate.

      When doing something that I find tedious and miserable, I usually save the parts I hate for last. I find I have more motivation to do the hateful bits if I know I’m almost finished.

      There’s probably a better way to cope with llama-grooming, but without knowing specifics, the best I can come up with is to pretend you’re doing something else.

      1. Book Pony*

        There is no part of the llama grooming process I enjoy. To quote Beacon from The Adventure Zone: “A man comes in. He puts some trash on the floor. He leaves. This went on for twenty years, Duck Newton.”

        Which is to say that the grooming is plagued by inefficiency and tedious tasks. I hate looking at the grooming emails, I hate opening the tracker for the grooming, I hate processing the grooming, I hate then having to move the grooming file into another file, which then needs to be linked to another file. If I could burn the llama grooming business to the ground, I would. (I tried to optimize the process by reducing several steps, but this is an office that literally, and I quote, “hates change”. Which I didn’t find out until a few months ago OTL)

        I’m supposed to manage llamas, not groom them. I actually enjoy my job as a Llama Manager, but Llama Grooming just ain’t it for me. And in typing this out, I can see how much this is driving me up a wall lmao

        1. juliebulie*

          For me, figuring out a way to streamline a process is one of the few things that makes a tedious process bearable. I’m sorry they won’t let you do that!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Oh this so sucks. BTDT. It’s hard to get up in the morning.

          So one thing that I did was separate the tasks into those tasks that were easy but boring vs those tasks that were hard/vague and frustrating. A good day or a good point during the day was when I was doing the tasks that were easy but boring. It gave me my one feeling of some success for the day because
          it was a bit of a reprieve to be doing a task that did not have my stomach in knots.

          Will you go back to more managing tasks in a bit? If yes, can you use this to con yourself along through this?
          If no, what happened to the job you were promised, where did THAT go?

          One thing that helped me was to get more sleep at night. Fighting with the job and my internal fighting (to keep myself on track) just exhausted me. I felt a little more fortified if I got even an hour more of rest.

          Do you tell yourself that you are proud of you? Self-talk matters. I dunno if you have ever had a dog. One thing dogs do well is they are always happy to see us no matter how rotten our day has been. A dog is an ally no matter what. We can be our own allies. On a rotten day, do you remember to tell you that you are proud of yourself for pushing through?

          I had one job that was the worst job of my life. I cried all the way to work and all the way home from work. After a bit I decided, “Ya know what???! I am a F of a worker. I pushed through mountains of crap today and I got it DONE! Damn. I am good!” I said this to myself even on bad days where the mountains of crap was the negative running through my head so I technically still pushed through mountains of crap even if I was not super productive.
          This place was one of those barren waste lands where no one ever said anything positive at all. Positive talk was a DIY thing.
          After doing this for a bit I found parts of me that I thought were MIA. Eventually I got out of that job because nothing was going to change. YMMV.

          I think I would start to break this down by figuring out if the job will ever change back to what you agreed to do. If not, understand that this is where the expression “soul crushing” is used. It’s not your imagination, the job is really, really so NOT for you and you need to rescue yourself.

      1. Princess Zelda*

        It’s an emoticon of someone kneeling on the floor, kind of genuflecting almost? The O is the head, the T are the arms, and the L is the legs. orz is used similarly. It’s often used as a representation of frustration or hopelessness; like, you’re so frustrated that you get down on your hands and knees to beat your head against the floor.

  35. I'm just here for the cats*

    Can you get unemployment if your still working part time?
    I work at a university for 2 different departments. The one department I am the backup admin assistant and the other I am the only admin. My time is spent equally in both 20 hours each. The one department that I’m the 2nd admin for may not need me right now. But because of budgets and such the other depatment is not going to be able to have me work full time for them either. If I’m furloughed for one department but not the other can I get unemployment. I know Alison said that if your on a rotating schedule, off one week on the other, that your able to get unemployment. I wonder if my hours drop by 50% but I’m working each day if that’s the same?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      You can, but it depends a lot on the state and how much money you make and if the reduced hours drop you below the weekly benefit amount.

      My state recommends that you go ahead and file, but our weekly maximum is low and probably wouldn’t apply to many professional positions.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      Sometimes. If your hours were significantly reduced. An open claim will stay open and your UI benefits will be reduced proportionally the weeks you do work. But it depends on your overall eligibility and income.

      Warning: it is kind of a pain to make sure you’re reporting your hours and earnings accurately in this situation. Honestly, it may not be worth the hassle for the small UI benefits you’d get. But you can try.

      1. LQ*

        I might normally agree, but if you get $1 in regular unemployment, right now you get $601. Everyone gets the $600 on top of whatever they get. (*there is a tiny population who don’t get this, but it is very VERY small and only if you are on this tiny little program that’s not regular UI but often administered through UI.)

        If my hours were cut by half I’d definitely apply.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Thanks everyone! I had a meeting with the manager of that department and we actually have covid 19 leave we can use through the end of the year. I thought that the leave ended on May 1 but it doesnt. I’m on 10 month contract so I would be out June and July anyways. It’s one perk working for state university I guess.

  36. peachie*

    Anyone else having fun finding interesting (work-appropriate) Zoom backgrounds? My collection so far:

    – Original Windows XP desktop background (you know the one)
    – 80s laser print that looks like one of the backdrops you could pick for school pictures
    – Dogs playing poker
    – Lunch Atop a Skyscraper
    – Hollywood sign
    – News weather screen
    – Make Way For Ducklings statues
    – Goodnight Moon room
    – Downton Abbey library (fancy!)
    – “Welcome! Everything is fine.” (though I need to make a flipped version of this one)
    – Goats in trees

    1. AnotherSarah*

      I have a poster of the Goodnight Moon room behind my head in my office (soon to be baby’s room). Sadly my computer doesn’t support backgrounds but if it DID (or if I switch computers I’m using…) I think I’d use the flying toasters. Although the Good Place idea is excellent; I may steal it.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      Oooh I have to remember the Downton Abbey one – we’re having our first Zoom meeting later today.

    3. Nessun*

      We’re not using Zoom but I saw a post on FB from friends who were, and Studio Ghibli released a bunch of backgrounds they’re using now. Suuuuper jealous!!

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I have several, but my favorites are the Los Pollos Hermanos storefront, and the floating heads shot from Queen’s video for Bohemian Rhapsody, but with a blank for your own head where Freddy Mercury would be.

    5. CL Cox*

      You can get the Hamilton stage as a background (check LMM’s or Hamilton’s official social media).

    6. Kate Lathrop*

      I found one that is RuPaul’s Drag Race workroom background. It’s appropriate when chatting socially to my co-workers on our non-work Zoom accounts. Don’t do a Kate and forget which account you’re signed into when adding a virtual background! I ended up starting a Zoom tutorial with one of our Executive Committee members with that as the background. Lucky for me he has an amazing sense of humor and couldn’t stop laughing.

    7. Djuna*

      I have used the Bon Appetit test kitchen, the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and a RuPaul’s Drag Race confessional backdrop in the past week.
      Lots of people at work are playing around with these, and it makes the first few minutes of Zoom calls a lot more tolerable.

    8. Youth*

      Disney XD released a bunch of backgrounds that go with their cartoons. I’ve made use of ’em.

    9. Certaintroublemaker*

      Don’t forget May the Fourth is coming up—start finding your Star Wars backgrounds now!

  37. Teddyduchampssleepingbag*

    Im essential. I’m a manager of a pizza place. I’m frustrated. Nobody wants to be here but corporate clung to “essential”. Corporate also is doing nothing for us. No hazard pay, no gift cards, no bonuses, no thank you cards, no free meal unless you are a manager and we already get a free meal. We see plenty of other restaurants doing all of the above and it is demoralizing. To add to it, they locked our soda fountain so all employees have to pay for bottled soda. Free drinks was the only perk we really got. Employees only get a 25% discount off their meal. They want to save money because business is slower, by not allowing employees free soda anymore, so they wasted over $300 of soda syrup by letting it expire. Oh, and my company that charges employees almost full price to eat? Constantly gives customers free food for the most ridiculous complaints. Which is even more demoralizing. It sucks for a 16 year old to have to pay 75% for his pizza then have to give someone $55 in free food because the person simply SAYS they have a credit. (The person had never even ordered from us). This is a normal thing too. We are known for giving all kinds of free food and credits even if you never ordered and just lie. My company sucks. I cry a lot. Just venting.

    1. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      I want to know the name of this place, so that I can make sure that I & my family (and friends!) NEVER go there.
      They need to be named and shamed.
      I’m sorry that your company is being so awful.

      1. Teddyduchampssleepingbag*

        I wish i could but I’m already taking a risk by posting at all. All i can say is we are famous for our edge to edge pizza.

        1. WellRed*

          No idea what edge to edge pizza means. I think your anonymity is safe, especially since your company management obviously doesn’t read AAM. ; )

    2. Fiona*

      This is so sad. I’m sorry – we’re rooting for you and I’m sure your employees see how hard you work and how much you care, despite the corporate abandonment. It shouldn’t be this way. The soda fountain thing strikes me as extra petty.

    3. EnfysNest*

      I’m so sorry. This sounds so frustrating and cruel. Even if they were locking the soda fountain for sanitation reasons, they could have at least offered employees a bottled drink each shift or something like that. And it’s especially tough when you’re trying to do the right thing and working so hard to make minimal pay, especially with then seeing people taking advantage of the situation.

      One way you could try to look at the customer complaints is that your company has decided that they’d rather lose the money than force you into the front lines of a confrontation. They would rather pay the $55 than have those unreasonable customers escalate beyond a certain point to where things might get dangerous or law enforcement might have to get involved. I remember working in retail and being specifically told that while we should keep a general eye out for shoplifting, if we thought someone was taking something, the most we could do was ask if they’d forgotten to scan an item, and we had to just let them go if they didn’t immediately hand it over. It seemed strange, but they had already factored in the costs of estimated losses from customer theft into their budget, and they didn’t want us involved in confrontations of any kind (for our protection, yes, but for their legal protection, too, I guess, in case something went wrong one way or another). But while I could understand that reasoning, it felt a bit backhanded for them to then turn around and announce that they were putting in a bunch of extra measures to prevent any chance of employee theft. It felt like they trusted the customers more than us.

      Best wishes to you, and I hope they see sense and try to find some ways to at least show some appreciation to you and your coworkers as you take the front line brunt of them deciding to keep the restaurant open.

    4. pancakes*

      There will probably never be a better time to organize a strike than there is right now. Amazon and Instacart workers are calling for a May 1 strike. Please consider joining them. The last time I mentioned something like this here, someone else chimed in to say that strikes have never worked in the US, and that’s flat-out wrong, as anyone who bothers to read even just a little history will see.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      They’re crap. But you know, you do not owe them anything!
      There are a lot of other places hiring, even now, that you could go to where workers are treated better.

  38. Utinni*

    I’ve been with my company for 6 months and absolutely love it. Well, I did. They dragged their feet for a couple of weeks on allowing remote work until the Louisiana governor’s stay at home order went into effect. When the stay at home order was extended, they laid off a bunch of people and cut hours and salary for the rest. Many of us got 30% salary cuts until further notice. The layoffs and salary cuts greatly affected my motivation and feelings about my employer. They found some way around the stay at home order due to enhanced hygiene practices and social distancing so last week, some employees began returning to work and the numbers have been steadily increasing since. So far, most of the people back in the building are factory workers, but growing numbers of desk workers are being asked to report back as well.

    I am REALLY nervous about being asked to return to working on site anytime soon. My desk will probably just be 6 ft away from my nearest co-worker, if that. Work is providing surgical masks for everyone to wear, so that’ll help, but still. That final week before we got permission to WFH, I was so anxious being in the office that I had a very hard time concentrating and didn’t get a whole lot done. I’m worried it’ll be the same situation if I have to go back soon. I haven’t worked for my employer long enough to qualify for FMLA. I only have a couple days of PTO banked and it’s frozen so I’m not accruing any more. I have enough savings that I could afford to quit if we’re all forced back in the office before I feel safe going back, but it took me 9 months of searching to land this job last year since I was changing careers (though I did end up getting to choose between 3 offers). I don’t want my resume to make me look flaky. I also know that the economy is terrible and it could be a very very long time before I found another job. FWIW, my immediate supervisor is awesome and pushed hard for WFH a couple of weeks before it was allowed but ultimately he’s not the one making the decisions.

    If they do tell us we have to come back next week or the week after, what should I do? What are my options? I could ask for unpaid leave but I worry they’d just fire me-though if I ended up qualifying for the CARES Act, I’d end up getting more in unemployment than I’m making with my reduced salary. Any input is much appreciated, thanks!

    1. Mazzy*

      This is only one aspect of it, but I am getting an antibody test next week, to hopefully ease more concerns, or make them worse. I feel like I don’t want to put too much energy into worrying if I already had it and was asymptomatic, which is likely, because I had been around loads of people and some people who were exposed. Have you looked into getting a test?

      1. pancakes*

        Do you suppose that someone who tests negative right now will remain negative forevermore, even if they’re forced into close contact with someone who isn’t negative?

        1. fposte*

          I think Mazzy’s talking about the value of a positive result for the antibody, not a negative result for the antigen. I don’t know that we can say this for sure yet given the uncertainty of the science, but the hope is that if you’re positive for the antibody that means you’ve had it, you’re now immune, and you won’t pass the virus to other people.

          1. pancakes*

            We can’t say for sure that people who’ve already had it can’t get it again, though! There is that tour guide in Japan who had it, was discharged from hospital feeling better, and a month later, her symptoms returned and she tested positive again. It isn’t known how long antibodies last in people who do have them.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I know; I acknowledged that. I was noting that you seemed to be reading Mazzy as saying roughly the opposite of what she’s saying.

              1. pancakes*

                You did? I didn’t read your “I don’t know that we can say this for sure yet” as acknowledging that we definitely can’t.

            1. pancakes*

              Have a look at the WHO account on Twitter. There’s a lengthy thread about this with lots of links. A quote from it: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

      2. Utinni*

        Antibody testing isn’t currently available where I am but some hospitals in the larger region are expected to begin offering it in May. A positive antibody test would certainly make me feel better about everything (though it sounds like the tests aren’t super accurate and we have no idea how long immunity lasts).

        1. Mazzy*

          They’re also more accurate than people admit. IDK, I’m still reading on them. Looks like there is alot of media bias as usual and some writers are talking down the tests without giving good numbers or good enough explanations as to why. For example, I saw the LA test unpackaged and in order for the writer to be correct about the error rate, every single positive test must’ve been defective. I think that’s going too far. I saw somewhere else they’re 98.5% accurate though

          1. TL -*

            It depends on the test and how they’re validated. A lot of companies made less than excellent tests and a lot of tests were incorrectly validated.

            There are accurate tests right now; they’re most accurate 14+ days after symptom onset.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            The problem is that when you’re testing for something rare, even a small false positive is bad news.

            Say a test is 98% accurate. Now suppose that 1% of the population has had the coronavirus. For every hundred people you test, on average, you’ll have 3 people with positive results. Only one of those will have had the virus; the other two will be false positives. That means that 2/3 of the people who are testing positive have not had the virus and can still be infected (and infect other people).

            On the other hand, say 50% of people have had the virus. On average, of 100 people tested, 49 will test positive and have had the disease, 49 will test negative and not have had the disease, and you’ll have one false positive, and one false negative. That’s a much safer situation.

            1. Utinni*

              You explained this so clearly! This isn’t an easy statistical concept to wrap one’s head around. Thank you.

  39. Millennial Lizard Person*

    Advice for owning up to failures? I really dragged my feet on getting stuff done this week, and I don’t have a good reason. I don’t have childcare responsibilities, I’m WFH fulltime so I’m not risking my health, my class is already online, I just…. couldn’t focus. I was 100% unprepared for a meeting earlier this week (I was supposed to get someone data X and I didn’t have it at all). I’m nervous about my boss’s weekly check in this afternoon. He was in the meeting, so I know he knows. What’s worse is I took a day off last week to recharge, but it didn’t work, so I feel like I can’t ask for more time.

    It’s week 6 of work from home and I can feel the low-level stress /isolation creeping up. I don’t know what I can tell my boss other than asking for more time off to recharge, but I think it’s not a good look after making mistakes. My solution to “not doing work” is to not do more work? mHMMMm.

    1. Reba*

      First, I think “failure” is pretty strong language to describe “I had an off week, the stress has been getting to me”!!!

      Maybe you could try approaching the boss meeting collaboratively — apologize for the mistake, mention that the time off* was well appreciated but not a cure-all, and talk together about things you could try.

      Do you have the kind of relationship with your boss that you can imaging having this kind of talk?

      *similar to first line, a single day off is not like outrageously generous here so I don’t think you need to totally scratch that as a solution!

    2. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

      Do you think that taking some time to recharge would put you in a better position to get going on your work responsibilities again? If so, it’s a reasonable thing to ask for: you’re owning up to your shortcomings this week, and it’s because you’re having a hard time focusing and getting things done due to stress in a very stressful situation. Taking some time to deliberately relax and work improving your well-being will help prepare you to get back to work again with your usual level of focus and diligence.

      If you aren’t really confident that this WOULD help, it might be a better idea to, again, acknowledge the problems you’ve had, explain that the stress is getting to you, and say you’re going to do X to work on it, where X is something that you really do think will help. Maybe X is making a deliberate effort to spend more time communicating with loved ones so the isolation doesn’t wear you down. Maybe it’s starting a meditation practice, or an exercise regimen. Maybe it’s making changes to your routine, or taking short breaks throughout the day to dance around the house.

      Also, if you have an EAP, it might be a good idea to give them a call and say “hey, I’m finding that the stress of this situation is making it hard for me to focus on work, and I could use some help finding ways of dealing with it so I can get back to my usual standard.”

    3. Avasarala*

      I think you might be framing this wrong. As Reba says this isn’t a failure. The stress and isolation is getting to you. You are working while sheltering in place during a global pandemic! There are literally thousands of people in your same shoes. Being distracted/unable to focus is one of the symptoms of this–not distracted by kids, just distracted. It makes sense that 1 day off doesn’t undo this level of stress. Heck, we offer 2 days just to get over the regular stress of 5 workdays, how would 3 be effective against 4 workdays+historic pandemic?

      So I encourage you to frame this as the stress of the situation building up, and do a diagnostic rundown of your private life. Are you getting some sunlight? Exercise? Healthy diet? Sleep? That’s for you.

      I agree that you should take responsibility for your mistakes. So definitely own up and apologize for not being prepared for the meeting. And do a diagnostic on your work life. Are you feeling isolated/having trouble communicating with your coworkers? Are you working the same hours? How are you keeping track of your workload and tasks? How is your work setup, is it ergonomic, do you need louder/softer music in the background, proper work clothes/comfier PJs? Where else can you experiment, what solutions can you bring to your boss and what advice/help can you ask from them?

  40. Smedley*

    Is anyone else having problems with people “taking advantage” of the abnormalcy of our work from home situation right now? There is one person on our team who is now constantly stepping into other people’s lanes and taking over their responsibilities, all in the interest of “getting things done.” She can’t do a large part of her job in the current situation because it involves planning an event – but there are things she could do that don’t involve spontaneously rescheduling other people’s meetings, zooming with people to talk about projects that belong to other people without telling them or inviting them to the meeting, etc. She is at the same hierarchical level as me but is managed by the dept. head, and I am not. She’s doing it to everyone, not just me, and we confront her about it almost every day but nothing changes – what can we do?

    1. Ali G*

      Stop giving her access to the info she needs to do this. Revoke her permission to view your calendar, don’t accept her meeting invites, and don’t engage her when she’s trying to take things over.
      Start copying her boss on emails where you are telling her she needs to stop.
      Alternatively, you could proactively give her things to do that would actually help you. Is that possible?

    2. Observer*

      In addition to what Ali G said, have each other’s backs. When she asks to meed with you on Project X do NOT accept the meeting request. DO let the project owner know.

    3. Sara without an H*

      Yes to all the previous comments. You should also beef up the security settings on any Zoom meetings you’re hosting — there are ways to block or eject interlopers.

      Evil thought: pick out some job you really don’t like and offer to delegate it to her.

      That said, has anybody talked with the department head about this? I suspect that your colleague just doesn’t have enough to do right now, and may be nervous about demonstrating how productive she can be. In any case, the DH needs a heads up right away.

  41. Lost in the Woods*

    My employer got a small business loan, and the contract which partly pays for me and several of my coworkers, which was in serious doubt for a bit there, has been renewed. My job has a lot of issues, but I do genuinely enjoy what I’m doing and like most of my coworkers. This is such a relief.

  42. Selfemployedanon*

    Any self employed that applied for the SBA EIDL receive this email that starts like this?
    “ Dear Applicant,
    On March 29, 2020, following the passage of the CARES Act, the SBA provided small business owners and non-profits impacted by COVID-19 with the opportunity to obtain up to a $10,000 Advance on their Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). The Advance is available as part of the full EIDL application and will be transferred into the account you provide shortly after your application is submitted. “
    I applied on 4/3 and received this email on 4/14, but have not received any funds. In the letter it said to expect $1,000 (only $1K per employee).
    If you have received this email, have your received your funds? If so, how long after the email? I tried calling the SBA but get conflicting information. Thank you.

  43. Free Meerkats*

    The reduced tax revenue impacts have started. The City pool is closed for at least the next 18 months, as is the Senior Center. Parks has eliminated all summer recreation programs and camps and maintenance is being deferred. One streets crew has been eliminated.

    The mayor’s office has released (assumed voluntarily) 3 senior staffers, the early separation program resulted in ~20 people in my department leaving (haven’t seen citywide numbers), and there have been a number of positions eliminated in my department (once again, no citywide info.)

    The position eliminations resulted in a bumping storm, but we only had to lay off 2 people. The Director personally let both people know. Unfortunately, HR messed up and one of the laid off people got the email from them before the Director was able to talk with her. And the layoffs were announced Wednesday with last day being today, so that’s pretty crappy.

    While the hiring process for our new body is still on the “delayed” list, I’m betting it won’t happen. Not great, but we’ll be able to do the legally required parts of our program with existing personnel, just like we have over the last 2 years when exmanager retired. Some of the stuff that helps the system run efficiently still won’t get done.

  44. Help Me I'm Scared of Change*

    Those in academia: would you ever take a pay cut to move up (maybe 8-10K less)? I’d be going from a llama trainer to supervising all llama trainers in the region (becoming my my own grandboss in a way). Yes the pay structure is wonky but it’s mostly lack bonuses in the new position (which aren’t guaranteed in the current one). But I’ve been unhappy in my position thanks to being overwhelmed and underappreciated. This new position would put me very much in the forefront which also makes me nervous. But literally everyone around this position is telling me I’d be perfect: the person who used to hold it (and has been so helpful – I won’t be working blindly), her boss, my would-be new boss and grandboss, and the secretary are all being encouraging. Just feel like I’m on a runaway train and want to separate my imposter syndrome and fear of change from actual pros and cons.

    1. Reba*

      Is this in the same institution?

      Idk, 10k is a big difference…. but I feel like if the work *environment* was a lot better, increased day to day satisfaction could be a great mark in the pro column, and I’d seriously think about it.

      Do you have any sense of the long term trajectory here — where might you go from the new position? Is there potential for growth that would eventually rectify the salary situation?

      If these people love you so much, can they try to do something about the salary difference? It sounds like they know it’s not really right, and (while the timing is really bad given pandemic) maybe you could tell them that the step down in pay doesn’t make sense for you and is there anything more they can do?

      Good luck with the decision!

      1. Help Me I'm Scared of Change*

        Same institution – my commute would increase by about 4 blocks. No chance for negotiations as it’s a state job – payscale is set. But again bonuses in current job are also variable.
        I’ve been burnt out and looking for a change, so while I can’t guarantee the new conditions will be better, I can recognize the toxicity of current job.
        Not sure about long term trajectory, others have picked up side gigs (grants) that may have adjusted things – still looking into this. Would rather have less pay and more stability tbh but can’t really ensure that’s the case.
        Fear of the unknown and pay drop are the biggest cons. More autonomy and possibly better working conditions are the pros.
        Right now I’m just a nervous rambling incoherent mess so thank you for your response! :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Fear of the unknown will be a common factor to any job move. One thing you can consider is what type of support you will have if you make the move. There is no way to anticipate what all can go on, but you can know for sure that you will want supportive people (or at least one person) to talk with.

          Pay drop. This concerns me more than the other, in your setting here. Is there a way that you can figure out what you will do to get more income going on? I do mean a plan that feels reasonably sure, not just guessing. More autonomy feels really good in the beginning. But as years roll by, it gets too easy to remember exactly what you are being paid for all you have to do and decide. This brings me to my next thought.

          Would you want to stay in this new position for a while or would you want to do it a couple years, get some experience under your belt and move to something else that actually does pay more?

          If you wanted to just do it for a few years and use it as a stepping stone to something else then this might be something to seriously consider. You could check to see if you can find out where people in this position went after they left the position.

      2. Should I stay or should I go?*

        Do you think you’d ever get a pay raise if not at that position, maybe the promotion to the other one? But if you’ve been unhappy at your current position it makes sense to seriously consider it I suppose?

    2. Jellyfish*

      Hmm, that is a difficult decision. That’s a big pay cut, but you know your own finances. I’d be willing to do it if it significantly improved my quality of life at at work.

      Regarding the impostor syndrome though, academia is not a field where people sugar coat things in my experience. It might happen sometimes, but people are more likely to criticize than praise, and nobody says things just to be nice. On the whole, it’s one of those fields where you’re supposed to be grateful you’re there and get fulfillment from being part of the educational system. If everyone around you is telling you this position is perfect for you, they mean it.

      If you agree that you’d enjoy it significantly more than your current job and it mostly plays to your strengths, I think it’s worth considering.
      Good luck!

      1. Help Me I'm Scared of Change*

        Thanks for your words – my own anxieties are really clouding some of my judgement. Your comment about being grateful and fulfilled tells me you know of what you speak ;)

    3. blink14*

      Absolutely not, especially if it effects the salary grade your position is. It’s one thing to take that type of cut to take a higher position at a different institution, but not giving you at least the same salary within the same institution is a major red flag to me.

      I got a rare promotion in my department last year, which really was about 3 years coming. The promotion included a sizable salary raise for academia administration and most importantly, the job was moved up a salary grade.

      1. Kettricken Farseer*

        This is where I fall, too. At my company, if someone transfers into a different role, they’d never lose their current salary, but may not get any more dollars from the new position.

        1. Help Me I'm Scared of Change*

          I would be switching categories (this is an admin position). I actually had to verify w/HR that my (many) years of service wouldn’t reset as their payroll language indicated. That would have been a 40% cut for increased responsibility!!!

    4. Put the Human Back in Human Resources*

      I’m compensation for a large university. Before the pandemic, I saw many people move from a staff position eligible for extra pay like shift diff and OT to a manager role not eligible for extra pay. They earned less pay as managers, but they were in better positions for subsequent promotions with way more pay than the original non-management role.

      As for bonuses…I’m projecting that the few employees eligible for them at my university won’t be getting them at the end of the fiscal year because of the pandemic’s impact. Since you mention your bonuses aren’t guaranteed, it may be less of a risk than you think to take the new role.

      Do you fear that starting a new role may put you next in line for layoffs? I hope I didn’t put THAT in your head. At least at our university, we look at seniority at the institution, not the date people started a new role.

      I say “Go for it!”

  45. FirstTimeforEverything*

    My big-city restaurant that was able to stay open asked us to commit about three types of fraud due to Covid. I’ve blown the whistle and talked to a lawyer so I know what I can do, but I still haven’t been actually fired yet, and the wait is killing me even though I know I’m doing the right thing.

    It sucks but I’m glad I know what kind of person I am. I’m scared of what the job market is going to look like after this- prior to, things were great… it’s was a ‘dream job’. It’s not a dream job if fraud is in the business plan.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s hard to go against the grain and the “authority” by blowing a whistle, I’m sorry that you’re scared right now!

      Hopefully despite their stupidity asking you to commit fraud, they aren’t actually dumb enough to fire a whistle blower…they dont’ need that on top of all the fraud stuff! Then you’ll have a retaliation claim. I’m so glad you’re lawyered up.

      1. CL Cox*

        Unfortunately, if they have to close or reduce their business, they could make a good case for laying off some workers, including OP. If they can show that it was in the normal course of business, they can fire a whistleblower.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No. They really can’t. It’ll raise all the flags at once to ever add someone to the lay off list that’s so recently blew a whistle. They sure could try but they’ll still get it for retaliation unless they shut down the whole place.

          Getting people to think that they could ever “make a good case” out of terminating even in a lay off sense anyone after they reported their illegal doings is another way the bad guys keep people quiet. It’s not how it works.

        2. Bostonian*

          Remember the protest organizer at Amazon that got fired for “violating social distancing rules” the day of the protest? Yeah, people saw through that shit.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      You are awesome and brave and deserve all kinds of good things for doing this. I wish you all the best.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes doing the right thing feels more like taking two steps backwards. But this can work into three or four steps forward in the long run. Hang tough. And thank you for having the backbone to do the right thing. I wish you the best possible outcome.

    4. The Sky Isn't Falling*

      No matter what happens in your near future, in the distant future you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “you did the right thing!”

      Thanks for the integrity!

    5. Sam I Am*

      Sometimes it’s frightening to do the right thing. In the end, you won’t regret it. Best of luck to you in between now and then.

  46. KAG*

    I’ve read suggestions that people have friends contact their references to “screen” them in advance. What kinds of questions are normally asked during a reference check / how are they approached or conducted?

    I’m concerned about a former boss “outing” my disability – he will be a terrible reference who knows absolutely nothing about my work, but I feel I need to use him for reasons too involved to describe here).

      1. Fikly*

        You’re more concerned about a reference’s time being wasted with one reference call, than a reference maliciously and illegally giving a terrible reference who knows how many times?

        Interesting priority.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Interesting misinterpretation of what I said. I don’t see the point of this, except to waste the reference’s time. If you need to list references, don’t list ones you think will be terrible. If you have to list him (which apparently KAG has to do for complicated reasons), there’s no point in test-driving him, because you have to list him anyway.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            I read @KAG’s post and initially thought they meant like practicing with a reference, but all the other questions make me think this is a straightforward question about how asking for references works.

          2. Fikly*

            There is a point, because now you know what that reference will say, and you can perhaps do something to counteract it, which can be done without revealing that you have called that reference.

      2. Torrance*

        It’s a practice that Alison herself has spoken about.

        “If you’re not sure what kind of reference someone is giving you, consider finding out by having someone call on your behalf. There are companies you can hire to do these checks for you, but there’s nothing that says you can’t have a particularly professional friend do it for you for free.”
        – Alison, ‘what to do about a bad job reference’

        Re: stealth-checking references, “It’s not something you’d do as a matter of routine, but it can be useful when you have reason to think that your reference isn’t being up-front with you about the type of reference they’re giving (which can be a thing that happens).”
        Alison, ‘everything you need to know about job references’

        And Suzanne Lucas has commented on it as well (on a multi-question post here titled ‘using a reference-checking service, is my first job awful or am I too picky, and more’).

        “I switched my advice to hire a reference checking firm if you suspect someone is giving a false reference based on Donna Ballman’s advice. She said a reference checking firm is what she recommends for her clients.
        If you just want to know what they are saying, a friend is fine. Also, people don’t realize that for an official HR reference, you can just call yourself and HR will tell you what they’ll say. Your former manager won’t be forthcoming, but HR will tell you if they’ll disclose termination reason and what that is, etc.”

    1. Oxford Comma*

      If you mean asking if they are available and if they can provide a good reference, then that’s the polite and advisable thing to do. I would give them a copy of the job description and your resume as well.

      Generally, they ask references questions like: how do you know the applicant? How long? They explain what the job entails and then ask if the applicant has the skills/experiences to meet those duties. They usually ask for instances when the applicant did something well/not so well. They usually ask about the reference’s opinion about the applicant meeting certain skills.

      In my field, you give a list of your references upon application. In other fields, you give that when it’s asked of you. How/if the job/when contacts them varies. In my field, they usually schedule a phone call (which is what I prefer). Sometimes they send me a form to fill out or ask me to write a letter (my least favorite). Sometimes they never check references.

      If you think your former boss is going to be a bad reference, then my advice is to not use him. Do you have another coworker or another person in management who could serve instead?

      1. Disco Janet*

        No, I think they mean have a friend call pretending to be asking for a reference for them to see what the former boss will say.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t see any particular reason to believe the reference would say the same things to each and every caller, particularly someone who is careless or cruel in discussing disabilities. I’d expect less consistency from someone who behaves that way than I would from someone conscientious about how they treat people with disabilities.

    2. KAG*

      I didn’t expect this to be such a contentious question! My concern is that when I disclosed my disability to him, he asked me why I hadn’t mentioned it during my interview (with the rather strong implication that I would not have been hired). In the past, I’ve seen this blog suggest that in these types of situations, you have a professional-sounding friend contact your references. I appreciate your advice, and the insight on how reference calls are conducted in general. I hadn’t considered @pancakes observation about lack of consistency, so any information gained wouldn’t be reliable. So, I’ll not use this approach. Thanks again.

      1. pancakes*

        This guy really sounds like a jerk. He might be consistent about it, but I suspect you’d have a better feel for that than any of us.

    3. MMB*

      There are actually professional companies that will do this for you for a small fee and then send you a report. One is named Allison Taylor – or maybe Allison and Taylor, can’t remember for sure.

    4. Senor Montoya*

      I did this once for a friend, a little different because it was all on paper.

      University had a dossier system for its PhD students and alums, where the recommendation letters and supporting materials were collected by a centralized office, which then would send them out when requested by possible employers. The student/alum paid for each dossier sent out, and could yay/nay any request.

      So my friend was concerned about the quality of the rec letter written by one of their professors. I agreed to request the dossier (I worked in an academic dept at another institution), review it, then advise my friend whether or not to keep the letter in the dossier — but I would not give any details. Sadly, I had to tell my friend to remove the letter.

      In my graduate program, we had a professor-mentor who would review every student’s dossier and then tell profs who’d written crappy letters to rewrite them — the p-m had such standing that almost every crappy prof complied, If they didn’t, the p-m would tell the student, “have that letter removed” and then would help us identify someone who’d write a proper letter.

  47. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Resume question: I’ve been working with a career coach and she gave me some great tips for improving my resume, most of which I have implemented. But she and I both are kind of waffling about one thing. She thinks my current title doesn’t quite work; I’m listed as, essentially, “Associate Director” and my role is closer to “Director”– and my most recent title was Director, so it looks like I’ve taken a step back even though my accomplishments are pretty clearly at Director level. (I’m not actually an Associate Director, it’s just the closest analogy I can think of.) She would like me to list my role as “Director”, dropping the “Associate”.

    I’m hesitant because while I agree with her points, it makes me feel like I’m lying. And I know that the resume is a marketing document, but wouldn’t it be strange to have a resume and an application list two different things?

    For the record, she’s not pushing this at all– it’s just a suggestion– but I’m curious if my instincts are correct or if I should take the leap. I do think my resume will look better for the jobs I’m looking at if I take off that “Associate” from my title. What say you?

    1. Oxford Comma*

      If you call yourself by another job title that you don’t actually have, and I find out about it, you’re going in the no pile. That is my gut reaction.

    2. Reba*

      Is it the case that “director” was in smaller org or department and “associate director” is in larger?

      Asking because I think it’s common/expected that a “lower” title in some situations would have as much or greater responsibility than the higher title in role or unit with a smaller scope. (I hope that made sense, having a hard time with words!) It may be clear from the resume, the orgs and experience, that the associate situation is more complex.

      What about the parenthesis solution? “Highly specific title (Director of teapot compliance)”

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It’s the opposite, actually! But I completely get what you’re saying; I have applied to “Manager” positions in very large organizations even though I was a Director at another large organization. And that was my actual title– Director– but my current, small company uses titles that, I think, kind of underestimate what they really are. My current position is, in theory, a lateral move with a higher position in the company hierarchy. I’m one step below the Senior “Director”, and the Senior Director I work for is also the CEO.

        Man, this is super confusing to explain without using the actual titles…

        1. Reba*

          I wonder if the importance of titles in themselves is changing, since it seems like quite a few companies are getting increasingly creative (read: totally opaque) with them. Or maybe I just have too much exposure to start ups.

      2. Chaordic One*

        I still like the parenthesis solution. Perhaps you could first the formal title used by your employer, followed by the title that actually corresponds to what you do. Something along the lines of: “Associate Director (Acting Director)”

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      It makes you feel like you’re lying because it is lying. You can’t give yourself a better title unilaterally. (If your title were unclear, you could put something like “Love Leader (Chief Human Resources Officer)” on your resume, but it doesn’t sound like that’s your situation.

      Your best bet is to make sure that your accomplishments speak for themselves (and, if you genuinely have the wrong title, advocate for an adjustment).

    4. Sherm*

      I think a lot of people understand that job titles can be imprecise and mean different things at different places. As Lucette said, make sure your accomplishments stand out loud and clear. Your cover letter might help, too, where you can drop the titles altogether and say things like “At Llamas, Inc, I oversaw the grooming of 100 llamas, and now at Alpacas R Us, I’m responsible for all 500 animals being washed…”

    5. Jules the First*

      I’m in a similar spot – my official job title is Department Manager, but at a similar-sized company in any other industry, what I actually do on a day to day basis would be titled as a Director of/Head of Department (which explains why the last six people to hold this job failed out of it). I deal with this by having a one-line description in my resume and LinkedIn that makes it clear that I “run Department function for $100m+ turnover business, reporting directly to Board”. But then, I’ve had some practice at this because almost every job I’ve had has come with a seriously manky title, starting with “Resident Genius” (meant in the sense of “she who fixes all the thingz we manages to broked” ala Apple Genius, not the mensa sort)

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      Your instincts are correct: it’s dishonest, and likely would be found out. Talk about your accomplishments and responsibilities, and it should be clear that you’ve stepped up:
      Director of Llama Grooming, ABC Corp
      – Groomed 100 llamas per year, an increase of 20% over previous totals
      – Developed and implemented new llama pedicure procedures, increasing efficiency substantially

      Assistant Director of Llama Grooming, XYZ, Inc.
      – Coached team of five llama groomers to increase productivity by 15%
      – Developed and implemented llama grooming guide to improve efficiency of onboarding new groomers
      – Collaborated with alpaca grooming management to reduce redundancies between our departments and keep up productivity and income while reducing budget

  48. Sleepy*

    I work at a small nonprofit, and my boss announced that we’re going to have a meeting about how all staff can be involved in fundraising by asking their friends and family to donate. This made me very apprehensive and uncomfortable.

    I have a small number of family members with disposable income who I already share fundraising appeals with, and they sometimes donate and sometimes do not. I feel this is their choice and don’t want to pressure them or ask again if they choose not to. It feels even ickier to ask my friends to donate, because it feels like I’m asking them to fund my salary.

    Am I out of line in being uncomfortable?

    1. Fikly*

      This is along the same lines as a nonprofit asking its own employees to donate. (Hey, we’ll make it easy, we’ll just deduct it from your paycheck, isn’t that great?)

      Both are gross.

    2. Emilitron*

      Yeah, uncomfortable. There should be a difference between non-profit fundraising and MLM tactics.

    3. RagingADHD*

      If it was low-key like sharing social media posts or email newsletters about the work the organization is doing, or a special need they have in order to signal-boost them, I’d be okay with that.

      Directly asking your personal network, no.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Try to offer low cost, no cost suggestions to broaden the donor pool, FB appeals, perhaps a GoFundMe thing.
      Point out to the boss that there are not many of you employees and your people are quickly going to max out their ability to give. Many people make one donation a year.
      Perhaps there are grants your NPO is eligible for.
      Perhaps you can join a group of similar NPOs and tap their ability to raise funds.
      Point out that in some cases you know people’s financial settings so you know you cannot ask them for money or ask them to make second donation.
      Perhaps there should be a designated person whose job is to help with fundraising.
      It’s not a long term solution for all employees to keep chasing donors. I think you can say this by saying, “If our main income is from friends and family then we might have a concern here in regard to how sustainable this plan is.”

  49. Batgirl*

    I’m interested from hearing from other teachers and the brand new members of the profession; parents. What’s working and what’s not right now? We are currently reshaping what work we are sending to students etc and I have already put forward all the ideas I had.

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      Tight deadlines are not working. Having an assignment due by the end of the day creates extra stress if there are other circumstances in the home that make it easier to wait until an adult is “home from work” to be able to help. Giving students the chance to do a creative project works beautifully in our house. The kids were given freedom to choose their topic and presentation format. Some wrote essays, some did artwork, one even wrote a song. My kid did about twice the amount of research as usual because he felt connected to the project. (FWIW, in my opinion we need to start paying teachers WAY more money!)

      1. Batgirl*

        Giving children and families deadlines right now is insane! Amen to your last sentence lol.

    2. Former HS teacher, now teaching home kindergarten*

      The biggest issue hubby and have is that our daughter rockets through her work and then wants more, so we’ve had to come up with more things for her to do (kindergarten). It would be super helpful to have ideas from teachers about non required activities that would reinforce things and ideas that don’t involve videos.
      Our school gives 4 activities per subject area each week and we are supposed to do all and pick 1 to repeat.
      It was also hard convincing my husband that it’s not about working through the material in the way it would be in high school or college but more about exposure to material every day. If I let them kiddo and dad would work through the whole week on Monday.

      1. Batgirl*

        From a literacy teacher’s perspective (I teach high school but kids reading ages of minus 5 to 11) you cannot do too much reading. Handwriting practice is another good one (printouts are easy to come by if you have a printer, if not she could turn letters into creative pictures) Your daughter might also like literacy shed, it’s full of short videos and clips ready to be turned into posters, comics and other creative projects.

      2. Morningstar*

        You can get a kindergarten “workbook” or “activity book” from a bookstore/target/etc that will have extra grade-level, curriculum appropriate things for her to do. Usually its in strategic order from beginning to end so the first pages would be a review of the beginning of the school year and then it would progress to harder concepts up to the end of the year. I don’t know how it would pair with her regular work, but reviewing old concepts should be easy/fun and then the harder ones could begin to supplement where she’s at now.

        The reason I recommend this is that it’s all laid out for you and you really don’t have search so much for things. And it’s inexpensive. And it’s designed by educators, etc.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Our elementary school is having a lot of extra stuff like google chats with the whole class, lots of social media posts with emotional or OTT super-cheerful videos from the teachers, and a midweek online “family fun night”. The middle school is doing morning “announcements” via video with different teachers giving a pep talk and being goofy, singing, etc. No actual announcements are involved.

      We’re just skipping out on all that stuff. I don’t know if it helps other students or what kind of attendance/engagement they get, but this just seems like a lot of unnecessary pressure on teachers to perform, and on students/families to show up for multiple appointments.

      My kids prefer to just do the assignments and get them turned in without a lot of faffing around. But that may not be true for every family.

      Getting the week’s work laid out on Monday and having things due by end of day Friday, with a suggested (optional) structure of how to divide assignments up by day is working very well.

        1. RagingADHD*

          My extrovert kid doesn’t like them either, because the recorded videos aren’t real interaction, and the class chats are so chaotic/glitchy she can’t actually connect with anyone or have real conversation.

          It’s just frustrating and annoying, so we don’t bother anymore.

    4. Anonymato*

      I agree on the deadlines being stressful. Kiddo is missing them because my and spouse’s work is busier than ever. My friends with multiple kids have just given up.

      I like it better when the teachers make their own video than sending a 6-year old a 40 minute video of a dude who is teaching math by talking to his imaginary friend, covering one concept in that time that the kids covered months ago. (Sorry for the rant, that one really got under kid’s and my skin). It’s nice to see the teacher, get their vibe, reconnect… One teacher cracked me up because he did a little “Hello, kids” in normal voice, and then turned away and in child’s voice said “Hello Mr. Smith”. Another teacher did show-and-tell about their cat :)

      Take time for all kids to share. Some don’t get to share, and yet, the class that’s supposed to be an hour ends in 45 minutes. Since it’s only 1 hour a day, it’s very precious time for the parent. Don’t mess with it. Just dance to one more song or read one more book.

      Test your assignments – does it show the right way? Ours changed the submitted answer when using an arrow to move to the next slide – and that was the only way to move to the next slide. Editing a PowerPoint, and moving object around is not an easy job a young kid can do by themselves. However, not all of us can print. Provide both options or ideally don’t require anything submitted.

      Thanks for asking!

    1. Llama Face!*

      Buffy? You got an office job? ;)
      Good luck! I have been entertaining* myself on slow workdays lately by refreshing my Word and Excel knowledge with online courses.

      *only 1/2 sarcastic. I actually like learning All The Things, just not all day because there’s nothing else to do.

  50. AnonForThisOne*

    Is anyone else considering looking for a new employer due to the way your company mismanaged COVID-19? Are you feeling conflicted about whether starting a job search is the right move? I am having some issues drawing the line between “they really did not handle this well, but there’s worse companies out there and the job market sucks, so I should just stay put,” and “people could have have {BLEEP}ing died from them not taking this seriously. I need to get the heck out of there or else my life could be on the line this fall when the virus comes back.” I was recently laid off with a recall date, along with maybe 40% of the other staff members. As odd as it may sound, I was relieved to receive the layoff letter after I initially had been forced to come into the office during the pandemic for no compelling reason. (Due to a loophole in my state’s essential business policy, there was no recourse for this). If I hadn’t been laid off, I’d still have to physically come in. While I am grateful to have a job I can return to, my employer’s carelessness with COVID safety measures makes me fearful when the virus comes back in the fall – and experts are predicting the second wave of COVID will be even more dangerous. I have no intent of leaving without another job lined up, but I would need to get started on my job hunt soon if I want to find an employer who takes the pandemic more seriously before the second wave arrives.

    When staff voiced concerns about risks of COVID exposure, management kept saying they weren’t authorized to do anything differently to combat the virus without the approval of the off-site corporate headquarters. That’s why 1.5 months after the pandemic arrived in my state, they are finally announcing that some large meetings can be held by video conference rather than in person. It’s reassuring that from the comfort of their own couches the corporate leaders are taking such swift action! When coworkers brought childcare issues to the attention of management, there were told to figure out alternate arrangements on their own. There was no attempting to meet employees halfway – they still refused to offer flex schedules or allow people to work from home. I overall had liked my employer before, but they literally have done nothing to make this crisis more manageable for their employees – unless you count a token pizza party. This is an employer who only offers a few days of sick time a year, so I of course have concerns that employees may be pushing past “mild” symptoms they are experiencing so they don’t lose out on pay.

    I have been here less than a year, so for the sake of continuity on my resume I’d prefer to stay put. The job I held prior to this position was also for a short period of time which doesn’t bode well for my hiring prospects. The whole reason I had changed employers in the first place was due to safety issues at my prior company. I thought this time around I had found a company that took the wellbeing of employees and clients seriously, but nope. COVID revealed that they don’t really care.

    Prior to COVID I didn’t have any major qualms with my company, aside from the fact there is no retirement account available, health insurance is sub-par, and time off is average but doesn’t have much of a cushion for emergencies. So that is to say that if I do look into employment elsewhere, it’s not like there are super fantastic benefits I’d be losing out on. But nonetheless, I like what I do, enjoy the people I work with, the environment felt positive, the workload didn’t eat into my life outside of 9-5, and the company is overall one of the least dysfunctional places I’ve ever worked for. For my level of education/experience this company is one of the better places you can work for in my field compensation-wise. I will say that due to a planned life transition, I most likely would need to leave my current employer or any new job that I would get by late spring 2021. If the financial crisis heightens and I don’t feel comfortable going forward with my plan, this may get pushed off to spring 2022. But either way, if I do switch jobs I would have yet another short stint on my resume.

    If I can get another temporary lay-off in the fall, I would without a doubt stay but that is if the federal government extends the $600 weekly unemployment supplement. My state’s unemployment insurance is only 50% of your pay, so I don’t want to be in a position where I am getting laid off but this time with less income. Of course I don’t have a crystal ball, so it’s hard to speculate if the government will extend the $600 extra payment. Even if they do, I would bear the risk that my company may not lay people off in the fall, so I’d be stuck coming in and getting exposed.

    Anyone else having a hard time deciding if your employer’s mangling of the pandemic warrants looking for a new position? I am having difficulties reconciling the employer that I thought I had with the company that the pandemic revealed them to be. There really weren’t any red flags before COVID, other than perhaps the fact that they didn’t offer the best benefits and that site managers weren’t empowered to make their own decisions and needed to wait for the corporate office to approve everything. As someone who has had lots of dysfunctional jobs over the years, these quibbles seemed so minor compared to other things I’ve experienced (structural collapse in office buildings, fraudulent activities) that I was caught off-guard when they made such irrational decisions in regards to COVID. If I do decide to initiate a job search, I would only be willing to consider jobs that offer telework as an option this time around. If you are frustrated by the way your company handled COVID, I’m curious to hear where you are in your decision making process to stay or to leave!

    1. joining you for the anon party*

      *raises hand*

      We’re in a really hard hit area (the epicenter, even). Upper management had an all-hands meeting the last week we were open to explain the situation. With well over 100 people. In person. Together. I’d been called into multiple in-person meetings because I was so worried about things, just so I could be reassured.

      I have not heard of any confirmed cases from the employees, but I would not be surprised if there were. Moreover, the fact that the president was so cavalier about it – acting like I was just worried for myself (I’m in my mid 30’s and pretty healthy), when we have numerous employees with preexisting conditions – was infuriating enough to push me to get out when things look up.

      We did furlough our employees (and offered them a bit of severance), and we’re taking spacing measures now. I haven’t heard about hazard pay for the people still in the office, though.

      I had been thinking about leaving beforehand – it doesn’t feel like management actually listens to me, and honestly it feels like I’m kind of their showhorse. But this totally cemented it.

      1. AnonForThisOne*

        That is so appalling that they held a face-to-face all hands! What a reckless thing for them to do. Is the management at your company technologically illiterate? I don’t get why companies like yours and mine are acting like holding a meeting by video conferencing is rocket science. It seems like deliberate malfeasance to do something that is so polar opposite of CDC social distancing recommendations. I am so sorry that they subjected you and your coworkers to this!

        I am in a similar boat in terms of age group. I feel like I was painted out to be a hypochondriac for expressing concerns about COVID since my age is not high-risk. Given that people in their 30’s and 40’s without preexisting conditions have experienced strokes and limb amputations as a result of COVID, employers need to recognize everyone is endangered by this.

        I likewise feel that leadership at my company is just not listening. Even if they don’t care about my feelings particularly, you think they would recognize that not being more proactive with the pandemic could affect their profit. I raised the point to them that if they don’t take serious action, the virus could spread like wildfire leading large numbers of employees to call out. This could lead to an interruption in operations and a reduction in revenue. (Such as at the meatpacking plant in North Dakota, where over 700 people caught COVID. This resulted in the plant needing to shut down). I don’t understand how these employers have their heads completely in the sand.

        1. joining you for the anon party*

          What a reckless thing for them to do. Is the management at your company technologically illiterate?


          (To be fair, we have a high proportion of employees that might not have internet at home or limited internet, and some of them are not great at using technology anyway. But also, management is a BIG fan of meetings that probably could be emails.)

          I’ve mostly worried less about myself and more about my employees. I’m in a relatively low-risk demographic (I’m black, but otherwise no chronic health conditions), but I know a lot of employees are in high risk pools. To their credit, they’ve been mostly supportive of me personally through all of this – allowing me to WFH when normally I wouldn’t be allowed – but it felt like every time I brought up a concern they heard it as being about me when it was really about me and everyone else. (And I was right – it has gotten really bad. And if it was just about me, I would have been more willing to suck it up.) I think I didn’t have enough credibility because I’m notorious for worrying about everything, but that’s just even more reason for me to get out when I have the first chance.

          The president also called me into a meeting in his office to try to cheer me up. You will be shocked to hear that this did not work.

    2. Anon Today*

      Yes. My situation is quite different from yours — my complaints aren’t about literal safety, but rather about what my employer’s COVID response has revealed about financial mismanagement, poor leadership, etc. — but it’s absolutely changed my opinion of my direct manager and my employer overall.

      Lessons I’m taking from this are:

      – If you can avoid it, don’t stay with an organization that you fundamentally don’t trust. I’ve had good reason to mistrust my employer for years (I’ve been a whistleblower on a gender pay equity complaint). I’ve decided, over and over again, that it is worth it to stay with my employer rather than move on. But their response to the COVID crisis demonstrated that I needed to take that mistrust more seriously.

      – Don’t get stuck behind leaders that you don’t believe in. I work for a lovely man who is a terrible leader. He doesn’t have any capital. So now that we’re in a situation where we’re fighting for our program to stay alive — and fighting against other programs for limited budget — he’s just not the best advocate. There’s nothing I can do; my job will live and die based on how effective he is.

      1. AnonForThisOne*

        I definitely agree with you about the need for us as employees to use distrust in management as a signal to move on. I feel like my yardstick for what merits leaving a job has become distorted over the years, as a result of particular companies I’ve worked for being so ridiculously over-the-top unethical and unsafe. Telling myself “well, they haven’t done X, Y, and Z like our managers did at Chocolate Teapots Inc. It can’t be that bad here,” has led to me waiting around for the other shoe to drop.

        And likewise, it is so important like you said to have leaders who are effective advocates. I feel like I win the lottery when I am at a company where the leadership isn’t engaging in bullying or fraud. There is so much more to management than the absence of tyrannical behavior. I hope that someday I can work in companies that will restore my confidence so that my standards for good management are no longer so low.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      IDK, Alison said that employers are gonna look at layoffs/short job stints differently during the Pandemic Period. Dicier, I think, leaving a job late spring of next year, which would mean your next job would be less than a year.

      1. AnonForThisOne*

        My one thought is for me to look into temp work, so it is more understandable to future employers why I’d be leaving in Spring 2021. But since I may have to push back my plan to 2022 for financial reasons, I am a bit wary of getting stuck in temp jobs for 1.5 years and the possibility of not consistently having benefits for that time. Most likely I won’t know if I can afford to go through with my plan until Winter 2021. It may just be best for me to play it safe, and assume that I need to push things back to spring 2022.

    4. periwinkle*

      I had been looking to leave my current mega-corporation employer because of the org culture (risk avoidant, bureaucratic to a ridiculous degree). My husband had been lightly contemplating leaving his current mega-corporation employer for similar reasons.

      The pandemic has had a bad impact on my company’s customer base. We’re not in great shape but I have confidence that we’ll get through it. Although the situation hasn’t been handled perfectly, the company has done a pretty good job at protecting its office workforce (the blue-collar workforce might not agree but I don’t have direct knowledge of how that’s going). Those of us living in a hot spot region were quickly advised to WFH, and then it became mandatory for everyone in those regions, and then everyone everywhere who could WFH were required to. We have a dedicated intranet site with daily updates on reported diagnoses, which has actually been a good way to see the curve flattening here.

      My husband’s employer is doing booming business. The CEO refused to allow office workers to WFH because the store employers weren’t able to do so and “it wouldn’t be fair.” After an office employee passed away from COVID-19, that decision was (reluctantly as hell) reversed. My husband is expecting to be ordered back into the office about 2 seconds after the governor starts opening more businesses.

      I’m staying put. He’s polishing his resume.

      1. AnonForThisOne*

        I am so sorry to hear about everything your husband had to go through. It shouldn’t take an employee dying for companies to recognize that they need to allow people to WFH. I hope that justice can be served for the loved ones of the employee who passed. There is currently a hazard pay proposal in Congress, which would award $25,000 in payments to the family members of people whose lives were lost from contracting COVID at work. If this passes, I hope it gets taken one step further and the company needs to provide this payment themselves, rather than it coming from government funds. Companies need to be held accountable for the needless suffering they are inflicting on workers and their families. I hope that your husband is able to find a new job soon. I know for me my litmus test at any prospective employer will be if they allow WFH. If they don’t, they will get taken off of my list!

    5. Utinni*

      Uh yep!! See my post. My company hasn’t handled things as badly as yours but it took a stay at home mandate to get them to allow everyone who was able to work from home to actually do it. Then somehow even though the stay at home order was extended, they started bringing people back in… Why? I don’t understand how if the original order applied to us, its extension didn’t. You bring up a really good point about thinking about how they’ll handle the second wave. Being extremely anti telework isn’t a good sign. If I were running a company right now, I sure as heck wouldn’t be bringing back my desk workers who’ve been successfully working from home for several weeks before the stay at home order is even lifted. Hmmm. I’d allow us all to work from home indefinitely to protect the safety of those who can’t work from home. I’ve heard that my employer has required employees to drive to work during hurricanes when everyone was supposed to stay off the roads. (Of course I didn’t learn that until I’d been hired.) I really don’t want to leave because my boss and immediate team are absolutely spectacular-but none of that will matter of I end up very sick or dead from going to work when it’s “business as usual but everyone has masks on.” Complicating things is the fact that my partner will be finishing up their PhD within the next year and we’ll be moving, which means I have another job hunt to look forward to then. It would be REALLY nice to at least stay in this job until we move.

    6. Utinni*

      Oh yeah, another thing: the fact that we got 30% salary cuts and there hasn’t been a peep about the execs taking any kind of pay cut isn’t helping. Cutting the salaries of people making ~50k by 30% overnight is pretty draconian IMO. Publicizing how you’re keeping all your employees and paying them full wages and benefits during the shutdown and then reversing direction just 2 weeks later and not broadcasting *that* publicly is super shady.

  51. Ali G*

    I have come to terms with the fact that I just don’t like one of my coworkers. He’s a nice enough person, but I am constantly annoyed by him because he thinks his job “very stressful.” Let me put this in context, I am a member of the Executive Team for our non-profit and have worked at high levels previously for both for and non-profit orgs/companies. This is the best job I have ever had. IDK what he thinks stress is, but I’m pretty sure getting a phone call from your boss on a Thursday telling you that you need to attend a meeting in the EU (from the US) on Tuesday (meaning you leave on Sunday), is a little more stressful than managing accounts and developing products for our stakeholders.
    He’s worked in state government his whole career, and it just irks me when he talks about how busy he is (we work a 35 work week. I mean it’s downright cushy here!!!), because even though I am very busy, and have had to work extra hours here and there, this is just a fantastic place to work, with awesome people, and management that respects your time and values your work. I’ve never had such a great workplace and I can’t imagine complaining about it!
    I know this is a me problem and I will always of course be professional, but part of me really wants him to decline to extend his contract in the fall due to “stress.”

    1. Sleepy*

      I totally get being annoyed! I used to be a public school teacher now I work in the nonprofit sector, and it is super low-stress/cushy compared to what I used to experience. People I work with now who come from different work backgrounds don’t necessarily see it that way, because of course there are *some* stresses. However, to extend some grace to this person, could he have stuff going on in his personal life that makes his job feel stressful for him or difficult to handle?

      1. Ali G*

        Yeah, of course I don’t know what goes on in his personal life :)
        That’s kind of why I said this is a “me” problem. Who know, maybe I am the weird one and everyone else is stressed out too!

    2. Fikly*

      I totally get why this can be very frustrating.

      People have vastly different tolerances for stress. His might just be much lower than yours. Just like pain, stress is not a competition.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. However, I totally get it that constant complaining, whether it seems groundless or founded, gets tiresome after a while.
        Complaining about your stress to your coworkers is not a stress management method I’d recommend.

    3. ExcelJedi*

      I get being annoyed, but really, people have different levels of ability and different tolerances for stress. Personally, being told that I may need to travel overseas with less than a week’s notice would make me nope my way right out of a job interview – and I don’t think anyone who COULD manage that is a better person or employee just because they have that tolerance.

      Is he getting his work done? Is he overly reliant on others to help him manage his workload? Is his complaining so constant that it has an effect on moral? If not, this sounds more like a you problem than a him problem.

      1. allathian*

        Agreed, I’d nope out too. I’m not a fan of air travel at any time and it’s been 6 years since I last took a trip, and I don’t miss it at all.

    4. STONKS*

      I’m glad you recognize this is a ‘you’ problem.

      It might help you, when you start to feel these ‘boy, you don’t know what stress looks like!’ feelings, to remind yourself that people’s capacity to manage stress varies. This does indeed sound like a very comfortable place to work! But it may be that he does feel much busier than his did at his previous job. It may be that the stakeholders are placing pressure on him that, relative to his capacity, feels very stressful.

      Try, if you can, to hear his “very stressful” as being not an objective measurement of his job duties (especially in comparison with yours), but a highly subjective reflection of what he is internally experiencing.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Does his productivity and ability to problem-solve reflect this attitude that 35 h/w is highly stressful?

      That does sound annoying, and it makes me wonder if he’s struggling in the role. Any job is extremely stressful if you’re not doing well at it.

    6. Batgirl*

      You can absolutely be a lovely person and still be very annoying. I just lost a co-worker who was a genuine person but she was driving me crackers with complaints about the stress of what we do. I think the best teeth grinder was how any agreement was met with ‘No, but it’s just especially stressful for me because I am just such a sensitive person”. I don’t know why that was so annoying because it was definitely true. However I was working harder than a rented donkey and just didn’t have time for the level of complaining and sharing she needed to do. She decided it wasn’t for her and I did breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t need to process that decision out loud any more.

      1. tangerineRose*

        She sounds annoying. Like she thinks she’s the MOST sensitive person ever, and everyone else has to appreciate that. Also, having to listen to people vent can be very frustrating and demoralizing anyway.

  52. Trixie*

    With everything else going on at this time, my organization is working on self-evaluations and goals for next year. I have a part-timer who is our hands-on person for in-house events as far as setting up food orders, paper plates/napkins, etc. We are struggling to identify “goals” around those tasks that aren’t already part of her job description. Maintaining supplies/inventory, setting up/taking down events, etc. is not an easy job to hire for when it’s part time only but may fluctuate to full time at times.

    She doesn’t really “need” to work so it’s a perfect match to have someone who likes the physical requirements of the role and doesn’t need guaranteed hours or summer work. Of course, all this may change depending on budgets in the year ahead. We will have a very different “event” structure moving forward which may impact her hours even more.

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Did you get explicit instruction that the goals needed to be separate from the job description? (Seems weird given that if they are outside her job description, aren’t you either changing her job description or giving her unachievable goals….) Can the goals be something related to the quality or quantity of her exiting tasks? (ensure we have all the plates we need, etc)

    2. Tempononymous*

      Oh, for the love, please don’t expect employees to create goals outside their job description!!!
      And also don’t ask them to, every year, show you how they went “above and beyond” what is expected of them? (unless you also paying them “above and beyond” what they’re expecting to be paid!)
      Can we please just be happy with people doing their actual jobs and stop making them read minds and do more than you tell them to do?
      Especially a job like this.
      You can’t think of what to do because it doesn’t work.

      1. Trixie*

        This is exactly what we’re struggling with. Assuming we continue having functions in some capacity, we are very lucky to have this particular person in this role when we need it nine months of the year.

      2. Mrs Fletcher*

        “Oh, for the love…”

        That cracked me up. I don’t think I’ve laughed since pre-covid, so thanks!

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      The way my department deals with our goals is basically to ask, “what does success look like in this position?” and then to put that into goals. If a good llama groomer is responsible for washing and brushing the llamas, giving them pedicures, and cleaning their teeth, their goals might look like:

      1. Thoroughly wash and brush all llamas brought in for grooming, within a three-hour turnaround.
      2. Provide each llama brought in with a pedicure in the color of its owners choice.
      3. Ensure that each llama brought in for grooming has clean teeth before returning to its owner.

      And then you might add a professional development type goal:
      Shadow the lead shearer one day a week to learn about their job, to get a better understanding of how best to groom llamas that are being prepared for shearing.

      1. Trixie*

        These are very helpful suggestions. The administrative/professional development is good to include, just as simple goal beyond normal day to day operations.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Use the same goals as last year.

      I had a job where everything was the same, year in year out.
      My eval contained the same goals as last year. As you say here the goals were just a rephrasing of my job description.

      While my bosses were not the best in the world, they did understand what the job was. They understood that the goals for each year could not be “dressed up” as something else. No, the goals remained the same year in and year out. They rolled their eyes at this sort of question. The eye roll was deserved.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree.
        Why not just stick to goals that involve doing your job well? I just don’t get this expectation of going above and beyond…
        Also, I despise the idea of continuous development. It’s a big thing in my org, but luckily my bosses have been smart with it. I’m doing some training this year, but for my sanity and mental health, next year I’m going to ask to just be allowed to stay in my comfort zone with no extra development goals. I’m not very ambitious and could easily see myself doing my current job for the rest of my career, and I probably won’t be able to retire for at least another 20 years. I work for the government, and we’ve had plenty of employees who started out as interns only to retire 45 or 50 years later, still working for the same agency. Obviously the job descriptions changed drastically along the way!

  53. Aspiring Writer*

    I’m wondering if any of you all have or could point me to advice/resources for someone looking to pursue freelance writing as a hobby/side gig, especially in the areas of journalism, aggregation, thinkpiece writing, and blogging. I get the impression that there a lot of writers here, so I thought I’d ask.

    More details: Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly interested in developing and making use my writing skills. In college, I was able to do a lot of writing on big ideas and issues, and I miss it. I’m under no illusions about how competitive the field of professional writing is, so I’m not seeking to make it a full-time career, but rather do it as a fulfilling hobby that (maybe, ideally) brings in a little extra money, too.

    I’m not exactly sure where to start, though. I have a natural talent for writing but I don’t have much experience in journalism or serious blogging. My recent writing experience is all either academic or dry and technical. So I don’t have any clips or compelling writing samples.

    I guess there are three things I’m wondering about:

    1. I know I need to practice the craft and develop the portfolio but what habits and practices will be most effective in honing my writing skills? I am struggling with feeling aimless and am having difficulties staying focused and making writing into a habitual part of my life.

    2. Where (if anywhere) I should try to publish this “practice” writing (small publications? Medium? a personal blog?)?

    3. After some period of practice, how do you make the jump from writing purely as a hobby to getting your first real publications?

    1. pancakes*

      You should have a look at studyhall dot xyz. (I’ll drop a link in a separate comment). It describes itself as “A media newsletter & online support network for media workers” and has lots of resources that might be helpful to you.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I built a useful online portfolio by using job postings as writing prompts, and by taking some low-rent gigs on platforms like Upwork and Guru. Those platforms are a race to the bottom on rates & unreasonable client expectations, but if you consider it as training time with a small stipend, it’s not bad.

      Some of my best gigs have come from just searching normal job boards for remote or freelance writing jobs.

      There are a lot of resources and a useful Wiki on the subreddit r/freelancewriters. If I was starting from scratch, wish I’d started there.

      One thing to bear in mind – if you don’t care about getting paid, there are infinite places to publish because many, many outlets including some major names subsist on getting free content from writers who don’t mind being paid in “exposure.” If you go that route, I suggest you first set up some way to create value from that exposure, either $$ value or a path to lead you forward in your work, like creating a social platform or blog to build your audience.

      If you do want to get paid, understand how your writing is being monetized by the client. That will help you create more valuable work over time.

      If journalism is your interest, look at small local publications – the free newspapers or magazines that get distributed in your city or neighborhood. Some of them are doing surprisingly deep work on local politics and history. And the local journalist community all tend to know each other & cross-pollinate.

  54. Rebecca*

    Yesterday we learned that my county is on the list to perhaps open up for business in Mid May, and of course, that means, back to the office. I am dreading going back because, quite frankly, I don’t trust my coworkers to do the right thing hygiene and health wise, and coupled with our company’s low number of sick days per year, I’m really concerned about being around 15+ other people on a daily basis who are in turn around X people, etc.

    I know from past experience that someone in our office does not wash her hands after using the bathroom. I’ve been in a stall, someone comes in to use a stall on the other side of the bathroom, there’s “activity”, stall opens, person exits without washing their hands. We have other people who mask symptoms and come to work sick because they don’t want to get behind on their work (even after HR explicitly said, if you have a cold, headache, fever, etc. do NOT come to the office in early March), and they didn’t know what they had, thankfully it wasn’t the virus! Another coworker is sick, a lot, as in bacterial lung infections sick, and she is probably out of sick days since we only get 5 per year. I don’t blame her for coming to work so she doesn’t have to take a ding on her paycheck, we’re non-exempt, and under normal circumstances, WFH is frowned upon. It’s very much a butts in seat mentality. I wish I could say I could go to our managers and say hey, let’s stay out a few more weeks, and let people work from home if they’re not feeling well, and for the love of all that’s healthy, wash your damned hands, but it won’t fly.

    Yes, I am dreading going back to the office. I like working from home. It’s quiet, no drama, I can concentrate on what I’m doing, I’m available on Skype, email, phone – it’s really no different than being there except I don’t have the commute and the drama. Sighs.

    1. Mazzy*

      This seems to be a common question. Wonder if Allison did or is going to do a whole thread on this soon?

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Hopefully your employer will provide masks for all employees. In one midwest state, the governor required all businesses to provide masks for their employees.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Try making the case to your mgr for WFH for *you*, based on what you’ve been able to accomplish over the last few weeks. At least WFH a couple of days / week, to limit exposure.

      Any company that can allow WFH should encourage WFH until there’s an effective vaccine. That and ‘no gatherings over X people’ should be the new normal.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, making the case that you can work from home well might be good. Maybe phrase it as an experiment for a week or so to see how it goes (even though you’re already doing it). Alison says bosses like it when it seems like an easy thing to revoke.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        Yes to your last statement! The virus isn’t going to go away soon – we’re looking at a year and a half to two years until there’s a vaccine *if* things go really well, and even then, an extended period of time until it’s widely available.

        Anyone who can work at home should be working at home and no large gatherings. Businesses that have to be in person should be putting in measures to slow the transmission. Staggering hours so that fewer people are in the office at a time, physical barriers between desks, aggressive cleaning schedules, requiring masks and frequent hand washing, people phoning into meetings from their offices, only a limited number of people in stores at a time, requiring people to stay home if they’re sick or have been exposed.

  55. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I got department-wide kudos during a recent meeting (think: 50 people). Wow! Only downside: the presenter spelled my (very easy, think: Heather Teapots-style) name wrong……:////////

    Any similar stories? And would people still know it was me despite the name misspelled? (They got my division and subdivision correct and phonetically they pronounced it right).

    1. Fikly*

      I got called out in a company wide meeting for doing x number of things, in the context of isn’t that a huge amount of effort to do x number? (Plus the project overall was important.)

      I had actually done twice as many, they got the numbers wrong. What helped was remembering that the people who actually mattered (like my team, and my manager and grand manager) did know the real number.

    2. CTT*

      If I saw the name “Haether Teepots” with the other identifying information you mentioned, I would think it was a typo and not some brand new person.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yep, most of the people there realized it was you and someone misspelled your name. People figure that out and mentally compensate very quickly.

  56. Potatoes gonna potate*

    It’s funny, sometimes I think this world here is so different from the outside world.

    I have a few friends/former coworkers who know I got laid off and can collect UI and their first reaction is “lucky!”

    I don’t blame them because they’re looking at it from their own lens. Anyone would I think. You lose 40% of your team and you’re stuck working extra long hours to pick up the slack and no additional compensation. Or you’re in a job with another crappy situation, and don’t plan to go back to work, temporarily collecting UI while staying home sounds like a good deal.

    This is the rare place that I haven’t come across anyone saying “you’re so lucky!” probably because on the here, if someone does say that it’s easy to push back and explain that losing my income in a pandemic while pregnant just so I can collect a fraction of my income “for free” is not an enviable position to be in because God knows when I’ll be able to find something ever again. And another thing I’ve never really discussed with anyone…I legit need work to feel productive. Be it project based or a routine, I need something to stimulate my mind.

    1. Annony*

      I think a lot of it depends on how much you make, whether your job is able to be done from home and your personal health. I can definitely see someone working minimum wage at a grocery store with some health issues to think it would be lucky to be laid off. They would make more money with the extra $600 and significantly reduce their risk. They would also probably have an easier time getting a new job later than someone in a niche field.

      I’m sorry for what you are facing right now and having to deal with people not getting it on top of it.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        If it was that example I’d agree. But these are all people in the same field as me (accountants) making relatively similar to what I was making. For example, some of them would prefer to be let go, so they can collect UI and stay home with the kids for a few more months until it’s safe to job search again.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I told someone this morning, I was envious of someone who is now working only 10 hours a week, but I realize that she took a pay cut so she’s not happy about the situation.

      We see the pro: so much less time working and forget the con: so much less pay and needing to augment with unemployment.

    3. HQB*

      Is there online/remote volunteer work that appeals to you? Non-profits are all hurting right now and there are lots of volunteer gigs of various sorts they’d love to have someone taking care of. Doesn’t help the job situation but could help you feel productive. Maybe you could find something that’s a new skill or a stretch for you which would make you more appealing as a candidate once things are more normal?

  57. Pumping at Work*

    Last week I asked about when to bring up pumping with a new job. What is a good script to use with my employer about needing to pump at work? In the past, I split up my hour lunch break for my pumping sessions.

    1. Tufty the Traffic Safety Squirrel*

      Have you had a look at the federal laws regarding pumping at work? I realized I wasn’t sure about them, so I just looked them up, because I’m going to need them myself before this time next year if all goes well. If your company is subject to the FSLA, the law says, “Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time and a space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother, for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child. The frequency of breaks needed to express breast milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary. The space provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public.”

      So you have that in your back pocket.

      I’d probably just say something like, “I’m going to need to take breaks to pump at work. I’ve done this in the past by splitting up my lunch break, so it doesn’t mean I’ll be working fewer hours. What would be a good place for me to do this in privacy?”

  58. Minhag*

    Can anyone explain to me, in layman’s terms, why employers are super sensitive about classifying things as “PTO” when they have salaried employees? It’s something I’ve seen come up here often, especially now with corona virus and furloughs and PTO.

    Does it have to do with not wanting “pay” people when their work is not bringing in money? To give context, I am a salaried employee in a marketing department. Nothing marketing does can really be said to “bring in money” on a day to day basis. Plus, I work on future-facing marketing projects, like “In 5 years, our company should develop and take this concept to market” so my daily productive is super-loosely tied to any revenue my company might get. As a salaried employee, I work a lot when necessary and don’t when there’s nothing to do, so who cares whether my time off is “paid.”

    I’ve a lot of stories on here about employers being very persnickety about separating sick leave, from vacation leave, from holiday leave, and then the whole debate over PTO vs non-paid time off. Which I get for hourly employees but not for salaried. Can anyone explain?

    1. Ali G*

      I’m not sure I understand your question full, but I’ll try.
      PTO – paid time off
      to me, PTO is the bucket of pay that is used to meet your salary when you are not working. So I get paid the same every two weeks, whether I worked 10 days or 2, assuming I used PTO to cover the time I was not working.
      Differences can arise on how things are parsed. Where I work we have vacation and sick leave. Each accrues a certain number of hours per paycheck. There are different rules that govern them too: I can roll over from year to year up to 4 weeks of vacation, but sick only rolls over up to 60 days.
      These are pretty standard. I think what you are seeing here are things outside the norm in response to companies trying to free up as much dollars as they can. It’s a huge financial liability to have a lot of money tied up in PTO on the books, so some places are asking people to take paid leave, rather than be laid off, or use a combo of paid and unpaid leave, etc.
      Hope that helps!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m not really sure I understand the question! Some companies have PTO buckets that can be used for anything, some have separate ones for vacation and sick leave with different rules (i.e., vacation must be booked in advance, sick leave is for emergencies). In some states, there are rules about what you can do. And holidays are holidays, which is when the office is closed so employees don’t have a choice.

      I think a lot of people care if their time off is paid– if we didn’t get paid time off, then we wouldn’t use the opportunity to take breaks or stay home when sick. Are you saying that as a salaried person you don’t think your time off should be paid?

    3. Fikly*

      In the US, even if you’re salaried, there is almost always an expectation of minimum hours worked, whether that be a quantity without specific times attached, or something more rigid, like Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00. So if you are working less than that, it’ll be a problem, even if you are salaried.

      PTO is just that, paid time off, in which you are working less than you are expected to in a given time period but still paid for that time. Non-paid time is when you are working less than expected, but you are paid your salary minus whatever your salary divides into for that non-paid time.

    4. JessicaTate*

      There could be a few issues tied up here. The most generous interpretation is that, depending on state law and company policy about paying out various forms of PTO, the time you’ve earned but not used is an actual financial liability. Literally, each month that our employees earn #hours of vacation time, the cost of that time (hours x rate) is taken as an additional expense, essentially tucked away in a separate little fund on the books (so that we have the money reserved if the employee resigns). When they use the time, that little liability fund gets smaller. Often sick time isn’t paid out when you quit. So, a nickel-and-dime type company might be really concerned if you use sick time for “vacation-type” purposes, while keeping a stockpile of vacation time that they have to pay you for. (This is also why companies have use-it-or-lose-it policies; keeping that liability on the books for a long time is hard on a small business. It’s not simply meant to be evil.) I have worked for a small company that nearly folded because it didn’t account for the cost of earned vacation time properly, allowed people to store up tons of it and get paid out on separation, and then two or three long-time employees (with huge PTO stockpiles) quit, and paying their balance took nearly everything the company had because they’d never saved that money for that purpose.

      I think your bigger question has to do with companies that nickel-and-dime salaried employees about literal hours worked in a day/week with PTO? This is being cheap/crappy to your employees, but it does seem to be (at least in my state) legal. While the salary laws say they have to pay you your salary regardless of how many hours you work, if you have PTO stored up, my understanding is they can force you to use it to “cover” any time not worked. If you run out, they can’t force you to go unpaid; but they have a lot of discretion when you have PTO stored. I have worked for these organizations; salaried employees fill out timesheets that cannot show under the 40-hour per week threshhold. If you can’t list time worked, you need to list PTO to make up the difference. I think it’s from a cheap mindset of wanting to reduce that PTO liability and usually owners/managers who view of employees as something to get every ounce of value out of at the lowest cost. I think it’s short-sighted, but many companies seem to do it.

  59. Don't cross the streams*

    We are going Agile and going into JIRA. I’d be interested in linking up with others who have experience using those tools in technical publications…especially encouraging experience.
    My group has traditionally been overlooked by project managers & development teams, meaning we’re always playing catch-up. After a couple of years (!) of mixed success being added to dev team JIRA tickets, we’re trying the other way. We created a JIRA board for our department and are putting our work in, linking to existing tickets where we know them. This week alone I’ve spent at least six hours organizing my part into epics & tasks. I also volunteered to help someone learn how to organize *her* part of the department in this new way.
    I’m actually excited at how these are already showing links to existing projects that don’t think to document this department’s work. I’m excited that our staffing needs will be visible to upper management…. but wow it’s been an eye-opening amount of time to set up.
    I spun off this new user name because I just recommended AAM to someone who is heavily involved with the work project.

    1. Lyudie*

      I haven’t used Jira specifically but when I was a writer, we used a similar system and it worked really well! At one point we had some custom fields added indicating if documentation was needed etc., but having separate tasks for the documentation works too. The developers were already familiar with the system and used to managing tickets, and I think it helped get across the point that helping tech pubs was actually part of their job, even if they didn’t think so! (no I’m not bitter why do you ask)

    2. Toodie*

      I work as a sole tech writer and lurk on my dev teams’ Jira boards to find out what I need to do next. I haven’t created my own Jira cards, but (since there’s only one of me) I add labels to all the dev cards and set up filters based on the fix version and my label, so that all their cards show up on my dashboard, grouped by where they are in my process: Toodie-Started, Toodie-InProcess, Toodie-AtReview, Toodie-Completed.

      The bad part is that I also keep a spreadsheet, because sometimes one of their cards requires 27 tasks for me.

    3. HQB*

      I haven’t used JIRA but I took a free online Agile class offered by a non-profit called The Job Hackers and it was really wonderful, and helped me understand the psychology behind switching to Agile, how it works for employees and for the company, etc. I highly recommend it.

    4. Don't cross the streams*

      Monday morning update… new bit that’s going to be challenging. The group using JIRA the most? They are NOT using Agile. I can tell I touched a sore point because when I asked if this is the right ticket to reference as ‘related to’ my task, I got a process lesson not a simple answer. OOOOOkay. You’re not using Agile. I’ll just reference the project name then. Phew.

  60. Friday afternoon fever*

    Please, I beg you, stop sending emails that open with “hope you and your family are safe and healthy” before getting into work stuff. Has anyone else seen a huge rise in these openings replacing the typical ‘hope this email finds you well’?

    1) Many aren’t! Several of my friends and colleagues have lost relatives so far. What would you do if someone replied saying thank you but their family is actually terribly ill?

    2) It is just not necessary. Get straight to the point of your email please.

    3) The sentiment is understandable but feels inappropriate from anyone I’m not close enough with to have already talked about my family or checked in with casually.

    1. AnnieMay*

      I think you’re completely wrong about this. It is a common pleasantry. Just read past it and move on.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        I think it risks being insensitive if you know that many many people are at a heightened health risk right now, when you didn’t need to offer the comment. I may be extra sensitive right now though. I am one of those people who gets “hope you and your family are well” greetings and thinks “they’re not and I wish you hadn’t reminded me when I’m trying to work”

        “Hope you’re well” is OK, but “hope your family is well” hasn’t been common in my experience until this pandemic.

      2. BeadsNotBees*

        I agree. It is a common pleasantry that’s usually sent with good intentions, with the “family” bit added as an acknowledgment that we all have a lot of people on our minds. It’s no different than telling someone “I hope you have a great day” even though for all you know, their car could have just broken down right after they received a cancer diagnosis. If you don’t want to give the truthful answer, just say “thank you” and move on to business.

      3. Disco Janet*

        I have to agree. Some people feel strangely not acknowledging it. It’s them showing that they’re aware the work stuff might not be top priority for you at the moment. It’s like getting annoyed when someone asks, “How are you?” because there will always be some people who are going through a difficult time. It’s just a pleasantry.

    2. Mazzy*

      And logistically, alot of MGRs get loads of emails and only read the first few words they see. So I usually skip intros and make sure the first sentence catches peoples’ interest

    3. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I am very sorry you are going through this. I am someone who has been writing that in closing, pretty early as a matter of fact. The reason is that I actually want to know.

      I have so far had two people die with whom I was interacting for work. I didn’t know them so well that I’d consider them friends, but, I (1) care about them and their family as humans and (2) absolutely don’t want to be dumping petty work questions on them at a time when they are fighting an illness or helping someone fight an illness. (I might ask them if there is someone else I should be cc’ing on the e-mails, for example.)

      I don’t put it on every e-mail to someone, but, if I haven’t had much contact with someone during this time, I do write it. There are several others I am worried about because I haven’t heard back from them after sending information.

    4. Coverage Associate*

      I agree. I do try to unlock the door to more personal communication in work emails, if I am feeling up to it. Sometimes I add a light hearted sentence about how I am adjusting. (“This report was harder to prepare without being able to literally put the printed data side by side.” Or “I hope this is in a format that works well for your home office set up.”) Just a little more friendly. But I don’t mention family unless it’s someone where I am close enough to to be able to sensitively react to any grief, and they would be comfortable expressing that.

    5. Fikly*

      It’s the current equivalent of “how are you?” for which there is no acceptable answer other than a positive one, or possibly neutral.

      1. new kid*

        Except it’s not a question. It’s an expression of goodwill and an acknowledgment that if the expressed hope is NOT true, folks might have other things as their priority other than the contents of the the following email, which is why it precedes the rest of the content.

        At least that’s how I’ve been interpreting similar openings from folks right now.

      2. Reba*

        I don’t see it as something requiring a response. Though I can see how it could be grating.

        I’ve been using it here and there as a message closing, where I hope it signals “we are talking work stuff but I acknowledge this is stressful with things more important than work”

    6. Emilitron*

      It’s kind of driving me crazy too, I confess. Specifically because the one set of emails that inevitably includes it is from the “women in tech” employee resource group I’m part of, and it ends up feeling very stereotypical “ladies care about families”, and gets on my nerves.

    7. ...*

      I think if someone said my family is ill, I would say I am so sorry to hear about that! I called some employees yesterday to review important info and asked them all how they were hanging in- one had some terrible news, so I let them know I was really sorry they were going through that. I don’t personally write that in my emails but i think its benign

    8. RagingADHD*

      I see it as an acknowledgement that for most of us privileged to have work right now, most work issues are not the most important things on our minds.

      In my general circle, it’s also a bit of a coded indicator “yes, I am taking this seriously and not marching on the state capitol with automatic weapons on my shoulder, demanding human sacrifice so I can get a haircut.”

      A business-as-usual email without some humanity injected in it right now, would make me suspect of the person’s general attitude to human life.

      If your location isn’t plagued with rampaging idiots right now, that may not be a consideration for you.

    9. Avasarala*

      I said this before the pandemic and I continue to do so now. I don’t usually explicitly include “and family” but I figure it’s included in “you”, along with friends, neighbors, and others important to you.

      1) I would say, “I’m so sorry to hear that! They are in my thoughts and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”

      2) I’m sorry to hear my kindly-intentioned wishes are wasting your time. I suppose you are too busy for even the briefest social pleasantries.

      3) I suppose it is strange to hear a more distant acquaintance comment about your family. But surely it is appropriate to express wishes of health and sickness to people you work with during an unprecedented pandemic.

      What an odd point to get ruffled by.

  61. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

    My position was eliminated this month. After looking at payroll, the new boss decided that I am overpaid and since he does not understand what my job is, I do not do enough to justify my pay. Due to the low COL for the area, I am technically actually underpaid by about 10k…

    The company that I worked for has no one else besides me with the knowledge to maintain the equipment. If the equipment fails, then no one can get any work done unless it is fixed. And I know the full extent of their ignorance, because I keep getting frantic calls because something broke and they do not even know where to start looking to fix the problem.

    How am I supposed to explain during an interview why I left my previous job without bashing the previous company that I worked for? Since they will have a better understanding about why my position cannot be eliminated without a backup plan. Most backup plans cost roughly 5x my salary!

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      > How am I supposed to explain during an interview why I left my previous job without bashing the previous company that I worked for?

      In many ways this is a pretty good time for you to just say “my position was eliminated” and not get into details. Is the reason they were looking at payroll related to a more widespread coronavirus looking-for-cost-saving initiative? Either way, I would avoid going into details about backup plans or why it was a bad decision or even your company’s rationale unless explicitly, directly asked.

      Hope you’re not giving them help without getting paid! You’ve got great leverage here. Also, you don’t work for them anymore so you are NOT obligated to answer their calls for free.

      1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

        Yes, this was related to coronavirus cost saving. The ones that buy from the company are heavily hit by this.

        >Hope you’re not giving them help without getting paid! You’ve got great leverage here. Also, you don’t work for them anymore so you are NOT obligated to answer their calls for free.

        Good point, I am most definitely not answering their calls for free! Had worked about a deal where I am still paid as usual for about a month as I am supposed to ‘teach’ what took me years to learn. After that will pay freelance prices for any further questions. Though I am not sure how much I want to answer their calls. Some of the things they are doing is going to flat out break the equipment so that it cannot be fixed. Which if I tell them that, past experience tells me I will be called incompetent.

        Yes, I was in the process of job hunting soon after the new boss took over.

        1. Observer*

          Tell them anyway, and put it in writing.

          And if they tell you that you are incompetent, put that in writing, too. This guy may very well try to nail you when the equipment breaks….

          1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

            Done as much as I can to document and confirm in writing.

            The incompetent comments has only been during calls, so harder to “prove”. Not sure that I want to set off fireworks by including those parts of the phone calls in any response emails. Any idea on how to get that in writing besides my own notes?

            1. HQB*

              Could you tell them you need to either record the phone calls or communicate only in writing to make sure you understand what the situation is and so that your notes and solutions are accurate? Just say, “the potential for errors and misunderstandings is high, so to make sure everything is done correctly we need a record I can go back to.”

        2. Liane*

          I think that you should end it in a month, instead of going freelance, unless you really, really, really need the money. And I totally understand if you feel you can’t afford to opt out of freelancing.

    2. Rebecca*

      Just state that your position was eliminated. I suspect a lot of people will be out there in the same boat – positions will be eliminated or they will be furloughed/laid off for weeks or months until we get back to some semblance of normal. And as far as frantic calls – you don’t owe them anything. Block the number. Get on with your life. They’ll figure it out, or not.

      1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

        So very tempted to go the blocked number route. Will need to figure out what I need for references for how much that I follow through on blocking all the numbers!

    3. CatCat*

      I don’t think you have to explain it beyond, “My position was eliminated and I was laid off as a result.”

      If eliminating the position was a dumb business move, well, so what. You don’t have to spell that out.

      1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

        Good point. More concerned of having to explain why I was not part of the process to change over to something else. As it is also well within my skills!

        1. Annony*

          I doubt you will have to answer that question. They eliminated your position because they could no longer afford it. Whether they are making good choices or bad ones, it doesn’t reflect on your ability to do the job. For all the interviewer knows, they have another person who is able to manage the change over process. Or the business fails. Either way, it is no reflection on you. If they do ask about the change over plan, you can tell them that you don’t know what the company’s plan is.

          1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

            Good points. I am probably overthinking this. I appreciate this way of looking at it.

            1. Fikly*

              Yeah, they are highly unlikely to ask about this. They’re looking to hire you, so they’re not going to be very interested in your skills at transitioning out of a job.

    4. Mazzy*

      Maybe I like honesty a bit too much? If I were hiring for a role like this, I’d think it’s fine to say “company didn’t understand what equipment did or what it took to maintain it so it was ___” fill in the blank – hard to get stuff done, hard to get funding, whatever

      I personally don’t see that as badmouthing. Badmouthing is if you framed it like “they’re too dumb to see__” or “boss was a jerk.”

      1. Annony*

        I would stick with concrete facts “Due to the pandemic, Company had to cut costs and my position was eliminated” is concise, true and doesn’t bad mouth anyone. Whether or not the company understands the implications of eliminating the position is speculation.

        1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

          While the honesty route was really tempting, it is also the main reason why that I posted asking for advice. Have been struggling with how state the facts in a neutral way without heavily implying that they were being really dumb. My best was a half a sentence. Your way of stating it is the best advice that I have gotten yet. Thank you!

        2. Mazzy*

          My issue with that is, this person maintains essential equipment. Going your route isn’t bad but doesn’t help understand the candidate or the fully story. I don’t see anything wrong with saying a role wasn’t valued if it’s worded correctly. For example, my last company clearly did not value marketing people and so kept getting rid of them and expected them to just make stuff happen. If an applicant worded that nicely, it might actually be helpful. Otherwise, I’d be weary as per why big company and this person didn’t work out. Why weren’t they getting raises or promotions? Oh, because the company treats them like expendables

          1. Annony*

            In this case thought here are worldwide mass layoffs. Most companies are not going to see a candidate being laid off right now and wonder why it didn’t work out. The reason for leaving your last position almost never tells the full story or helps that much in understanding the candidate. It is mainly a way to screen for red flags.

            1. Mazzy*

              Then you know why they left! It rules out all other options, in particular, that the OP was the root of the problem

              1. pancakes*

                If you didn’t know either the candidate or their former boss well enough to know whether they have good observational skills how would a statement like that rule anything out?

      2. Fikly*

        It’s great that you personally don’t see that as badmouthing, but the person whose judgement matters is the interviewer.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      You’re overthinking. You position was eliminated during the COVID pandemic.

      Maybe your old company had 2 people with your roles and decided to eliminate 1 during the financial downturn. You know the decision was so terrible because you know all the ins and outs; a hiring company won’t know all the details you do.

      1. IfYouCannotSayAnythingNice?*

        Probably am overthinking it. Tend to be good at that. Especially when as you pointed out, the hiring company will not be that interested in the previous company’s cost cutting ideas!

        The hiring company caring at all seems foolish when viewed that way. The fact that I care and am affected so much by it right now has made it that much harder to understand.

  62. SarahKay*

    Advice wanted from those of you who have to go into people’s home as part of your work: at this time would you be insulted if the first thing you were asked to do is to wash your hands?
    My landlord is sending an electrician next week for an annual safety check. I’ve already asked the landlord to confirm what precautions the electrician / electrician’s company is taking around Covid-19 and I don’t want to be rude to whoever it is, but equally…I don’t want extra risk brought into my home.
    Are there things I could/should do to make them feel safe themselves? I already plan to offer a handwash at end of visit as well as requiring it at the start, and making sure there’s a clean unused towel for them. What do you like or find frustrating when you have to go into someone’s home at this time?
    If it helps, I’m in the UK, so we’re still pretty much in lockdown. All advice very gratefully received.

    1. OlympiasEpiriot*

      I doubt they’d be insulted. A friend just had a plumber visit yesterday. The plumber put on fresh disposable gloves, a mask and the protection booties over his shoes as he stepped into my friend’s home. All without even being asked.

      1. SarahKay*

        I hadn’t thought that they might have fresh gloves, that’s very reassuring, thank you.

    2. Alex*

      I’d wear a mask yourself during any time they were going to be within a few feet of your (like when you answer the door). I think it is likely they will already be wearing a mask, but confirm that they will be. If they are not wearing gloves, just show them to the sink. If you have them, make sure they have disinfectant wipes or cleaning supplies to use for areas they touch or will touch.

      I’m sure they wouldn’t take this personally. No one is unaware of the situation.

      1. SarahKay*

        Great advice on having cleaning supplies, ready, and the reassurance that they won’t take it personally, thank you.

        1. tangerineRose*

          If they don’t have disposable gloves, they might just not have any available and may be grateful for a chance to wash their hands. You might mention that they can also wash up before leaving if they want.

    3. Koala dreams*

      Make sure to offer plenty of soap, if possible. Good idea about the towels, I’ll copy that for next time. Also, think about if you want them to wash their hands even if they are wearing gloves. If they do wear gloves, and you do want them to wash their hands, you might need to be very clear about that.

      1. SarahKay*

        If they’ve got fresh gloves, like OlympusEscariot commented, then I’m not worried about them washing their hands. If I don’t know that they’ve just now put them on then you’re right, I think I need to be prepared to be very definite about it.
        Thank you.

    4. Pennyworth*

      I certainly wouldn’t be insulted if anyone asked me to wash my hands. I am shopping for an elderly friend who seems unconcerned for herself but very mindful of others. I actually ask if I can wash my hands as soon as I arrive, and we have this weird sort of word dance where I try to make it clear that I am concerned not to bring any virus into her home and she assumes I am trying to keep myself safe from her. With a plumber I think it is perfectly OK to just say that because of coronavirus you need all visitors to wash their hands on arrival. They will probably be relieved you are taking things seriously as they are also at risk due to having to visit multiple clients each day. Make it clear your concern is for both of you.

  63. Anon for work related purposes*

    Usually I do not like unneeded mass emails and reply alls, but I’m giving one a pass today. I work for the pediatric division of a major medical institution and one of the pulmonologists sent out this morning the offer of nebulized disinfectants starting today.* The responses have been gold.

    *This is a joke.

      1. Anon for work related purposes*

        The disclaimer was also in the email. Gastroenterology has now gotten on board offering their assistance with endoscopies (upper and lower) to introduce light.

        1. Jules the 3rd*


          Me, I explained ‘perineum sunning’ to my tween child this morning. The face he made was priceless.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That took me a minute to get, but that is funny! I am personally waiting to get vaccinated with light.

  64. LifeBeforeCorona*

    I work in a smaller office with 10-12 people depending on the time of year. We deal with the public but mostly work with each other. There is the main entrance, reception/admin office, and then my office at the end of the hallway next to the washroom and kitchen area. All the other offices are on another floor. Sometimes I leave my office to talk to people or drop things off. Often when I return someone, usually, a co-worker is in my office on their cellphone. They explain that the hallway is too noisy for a call or they are just waiting for the washroom to be free. A few times they don’t stop talking or leave and I stand there waiting for them to finish so I can get to my desk. They don’t do this with the admin office, just mine. The office believes in open doors so I can’t close and lock my door when I leave, plus it’s an inconvenience when I’m gone for less than 5 minutes. This has been happening more often and it’s getting frustrating. Of course, this is all before COVID, we’re closed to the public but remain open because we are in a low-risk region. In the big picture it does sound petty but what can I say or do to keep people from using my office as a phone booth?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I can get behind an open door policy when you’re in there, but when you’re out and the room is empty? I’d probably go ahead and lock up anyway, and if someone grumbles, call it a safety thing – people appear to just walk in and out of your office when you’re not there, so you’d rather secure (paperwork with protected info, personal items, electronics, whatever might be sensitive in your office) when you’re not in there with it.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Or at least close it, even if you don’t lock it. A lot of people will accept the implied ‘keep out’ of a closed door.

    2. INeedANap*

      Are you not asking them to leave? “Sorry, but I need to get some work done so could you please move to the hallway?” And if they say it’s too noisy, just respond, “I need to concentrate on work, so I need to ask you to find somewhere else to take the call.”

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I get the dreaded “I’ll just be a minute.” a few times grrr. I hate to close my door but I’m going to have to and hope that works.

        1. BRR*

          Wtf. This is so unusual. I’d say “I’m sorry I have to work on X/make this call.” Make an I’m sorry face while saying it and grab the edge of the door like you’re about to close it if you have to.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They’re RUDE and this is on them. So don’t feel rude closing your door to try to discourage this. They’ll still probably slip in if they’re extra nerve-y.

      We’re open door too but it’s the same as the other comment states, only when you’re actively in the room.

    4. Juneybug*

      Do folks not understand that it’s an office?! OK, seriously this has to stop. Got a few suggestions –
      1. Put an official looking sign outside your door with your name and title on it. Hopefully that remind them that it’s an actual office.
      2. Put a sign on your door that says only authorized personnel allowed or something to that affect.
      3. Leave music on in your office when you leave (office appropriate would be probably soft hits or classical). That way, its “not less noisy in your office”. Free feel to only turn the music on before you leave. Hide or take the remote with you so no one can come in and turn the music down or off.
      4. Create a “sitting area”. Put two chairs with an end table down the hall away from your office. Bonus if you add a large plant or partition.
      5. Next time someone is in your office, saying quite loud “Excuse me but I need to get back to work” and then gently guide them out the door. Feel free to shut the door behind them. The loud voice is to shame them but the gentle guide is to show you mean business but are being kind about it. Repeat as necessary.
      6. Talk to your leadership about this problem. Have them announce at the next staff meeting that your office is not a phone booth.

  65. Nervous Nellie*

    Hi everyone! An idle question for you all – in essential businesses where folks can’t work from home, but are coming into the building, how do you handle lunches? How do you maintain physical distancing and safety during lunch? With staff removing masks to eat, do you ask them to do things afterwards to sanitize their spot for the next person? Do you have a lunch room with staggered ‘reservations’? Does everyone eat in their cars? I am curious to hear how this is handled. I building a list of general virus questions for any employer I may interview with in the next while. Anything you know would be super helpful! Thanks!

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oh, agreed – I am not planning to bombard an employer with those. I am asking all you folks what you are doing that you see as sensible or unreasonable or whatever, so that I have a body of ideas and others’ experience to inform what I hear from an employer answering my one question about in-office safety.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      My department switched to half days, but the 2 weeks of full days saw us still sharing the microwave but eating outside. My job is outdoors though.

      I have noticed that those who are working full days are eating outside more.

      We don’t have a very coherent cleanliness policy, especially in my department. I love the mask for allergies, but it’s hot! I need water! We only have a few bathrooms in the entire site open! We’re filthy in general!

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Boy, aren’t masks hot? Thank you for the info. Eating outside sounds like a plan!

    2. SarahKay*

      The canteen is only doing take-away service while this is happening; the eating area has been shut off because it’s too small to social distance in. Most workers on my site drive in, so they’re being asked to eat in their cars. For the 10% or so that walk, bus, or bike, then they can eat at their desks if they have one. If they’re in the main manufacturing area, which is no-food-allowed then they’ve been allocated a currently unused desk in the main office, which is now empty because we’re all working from home.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Thanks for this – I wondered how popular eating in cars would be. I used to have a ‘car lunch’ recipe list of items that are not too challenging to eat while sitting in a car. I will dig that out and get ready for my someday next job. It will be interesting to see how employers handle this new normal.

    3. Princess Zelda*

      My brother’s grocery store still has all stockers take lunch at the same time (have to, due to the way delivery is structured right now). They have two break rooms, but management took the microwave and refrigerators out of one, and half the chairs out of both (in the name of social distancing, so that people can’t sit next to each other), so only one break room is currently being used, more people are staying in the building to eat, and there are less chairs. So, it really sucks to be him at the moment.

  66. General Organa*

    Hi all, I’ve ended up on a committee at work that will be formulating practices for a safe return to the office. I am in a state that will probably start opening up (too) early, but fortunately we are able to work remotely and will be doing so through May. It’s a nonprofit of about 40 people. Some of us have our own offices, but others share (some in twos, a couple threes) and some work out of cubicles. There is also a common conference room and a kitchen space. I would love any ideas about things to suggest—for example, if we do a gradual reopening, how do we build the rotation? How do we handle the shared offices? If we end up moving to a hot desk setup, what should sanitation protocols be? Should we close the kitchen, and stop having larger meetings? What about immunocompromised people, or those that share households with them. Etc. Any and all ideas welcome!

    1. Sleepy*

      How important is it that people be in the office? I’m noticing that among my coworkers there is a wide variety of personal comfort levels with the idea of working in person. Some are comfortable working in the office (we’re pretty spread out) as long as they can get there without public transportation; others with health issues that not everyone knows about have personally expressed to me that they will not be comfortable going back for at least four months. I think companies that allow for flexibility based on personal comfort level will be much more successful, rather than giving strict guidelines.

      My thoughts:
      – This is not going away as an issue until there is a good treatment or a vaccine, so your plan should be something you can live with for the next 2 years or so
      – Stay abreast of the science on how this spreads as much as you can. It’s really unclear right now if 6 feet is the right distance (if spread via spit droplets that will fall to the ground) or if sharing any kind of space is the issue (if spread via smaller particles that float on air). If it turns out to be the latter, you should not have people share offices or desks in the near future. Your plan should be flexible and change as better science emerges.
      – Think about the kinds of rules that are the most likely to gain compliance; e.g., people are more likely to sanitize their own space at the start of the day than to remember to sanitize it at the end as they’re trying to get home, so build that into your expectations.

    2. Brunch with Sylvia*

      The CDC website is your go-to resource here. I will post a link to the employer section in a separate comment. I work in healthcare so I actually have been a longtime user of the CDC website but now a daily user since Feb and I just want to give a shout out to all of the exceptional IT people out there–your skills are so valuable and appreciated.

    3. Angelinha*

      I would let people volunteer to be on the back-in-the-office rotation and let anyone who isn’t comfortable or able to stay home and continue working from home. As far as the rotation I’d limit 1 person to each shared office and ensure a wide distance between anyone else in cubicles or open seating. This could mean every third cubicle comes in on the same day, or if hotdesking you just set up some other rotation and keep the desks far apart.
      I’d say yes on closing the kitchen for now, and yes on ceasing large meetings.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I would go further: encourage people to wfh as the default if at all possible.

        As stated above, we’re not going to have a vaccine for a year and more. We need to shift to a ‘new normal’, where social distancing is encouraged whenever possible. Office workers working from home is one of the easiest distancing tools out there.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I would say

      – encourage people work at home if at all possible. For stuff they might want to come into the office for, give each person a scheduled day, so there’s a limited number of people in the office at a time, and set up the schedule so that two people in the same office are not there at the same time.

      – give people who are vulnerable, or live with vulnerable people, the option of working at home full time.
      – close and lock the conference room, do meetings by Zoom even if people are physically in the office.
      – require masks in common areas. Keep the kitchen open for fridge use, and things like making coffee and boiling water, but ask people to eat in their offices (you can’t wear a mask while eating).
      – require people to stay at home if they feel ill.
      – ask people to wash their hands thoroughly every time they enter the building, after eating, after using the washroom, and wash or hand sanitizer before and after using communal devices.

      FWIW, I’m in a country where things are pretty normal (we’re down to one new case a day in a country of 23 million; no lockdown). At work (on a large campus), we’ve cancelled all group activities, do meetings on line even when we’re in the office, have a tracking system in case someone is diagnosed with covid, and go through temperature scanners to get into the building. The campus is closed to the public; you need ID or an appointment to enter (again, for tracking purposes).

  67. Dr. Doll*

    I would love some advice — I have two team members who rub each other the wrong way, even working remotely at 40 miles distant. I’m sitting down with them early next week to see if we can make it work better.

    Both people are professional and very good at what they do, in their roles in the team. Their strengths are perfect for their roles — they just have completely different communication and interaction styles and it’s like baking soda and vinegar. One is quite brusque and to the point with communication, can come across as unfriendly, also very rules-oriented and very strong but unspoken boundaries of all kinds. The other, much newer, is more emotionally inclined, outgoing and social, a little over-sensitive to subtext, and doesn’t know all the organization’s rules yet.

    They have tried to talk it out together, but that didn’t go well. Now they are each coming to me separately, frustrated.

    I don’t want either of them to change the way they are. I want them each to understand that the other has no ill intent, nobody is being purposely either stupid or mean, neither of them would ever want to hurt or offend the other or cause extra work. In short, I want them to step back from BEC walking-on-eggshells status.

    Any advice for helping them talk through this with me present?

    1. Buttons*

      Have you considered doing a communication style assessment for each of them. Tracom has a free one online, it will give them their style and help them understand the other person’s style.
      The other thing I always recommend people is to approach every email and every interaction with the belief that the person is coming from a positive place. They are not out to get you, we are on the same team and ultimately have the same goals. Remember that someone being abrupt is just the style, it is not a reflection of their dislike or like for you, it is just their communication preference. Good intentions. Most people have good intentions.
      It isn’t about them changing their preferred style it is about recognizing how the other person receives and gives information.
      Good luck!

      1. Holy Moley*

        +1 for this. They probably just need to learn each other’s communication styles so they learn where the other person is coming from. One person may despise chit chat while the other one needs it thrive. I think it they learn that its not necessary a personality thing but more of just how they communicate it will help. I have coworkers that wont talk about anything other than work and I have others who want to know every detail.

    2. Annony*

      I think the reality is that they both need to adapt. This seems similar to this letter:

      The most solvable part of the problem in your case seems to be that the new employee doesn’t know the organization’s rules yet. You should help her to learn them. Also, what do you mean by “strong but unspoken boundaries of all kinds”? That seems like something you may need to talk to them about. Boundaries such as “don’t call after hours” should really be spoken while other boundaries like “don’t call me ever” are not necessarily appropriate. You also may need to talk to that employee about being less brusque. Being so brusque that they are perceived as unfriendly could really hamper their professional career. Learning how to say things softer is a needed skill and one that you should coach them on. That is not to say that brusque is always bad, but it really should be used sparingly. I used to have that problem myself. I would say exactly what was needed and leave it at that. Eventually I was told I came across as angry when I did that (which was not my intent at all) and worked on sounding friendlier in emails which I think has really helped my career overall.

    3. Disco Janet*

      I would push back a bit and not wanting either of them to change when you admit that one of them is brusque and can come across as unfriendly. I have a coworker who is like that, and while I don’t take it personally, I don’t feel as comfortable talking to him about department matters.

        1. Middle Ground*

          If, as you are suggesting, the OP attempt to change one person’s behavior, then it is only fair that they attempt to change the behavior of both people. Coming across as unfriendly involves both people in the interaction. Not just the person who is deemed brusque. There is nothing inherently wrong with being direct, not wanting to waste time on small talk or other perceived niceties, or not feeling emotionally invested in every issue. By the same token, there is nothing wrong with being overly friendly, reacting emotionally or taking perceived extra time to complete assignments because you are interacting more fully with other people. These are both valid ways to go through life and work, but are also inevitably going to grate on the other.

          It is this that the OP needs to convey to their employees and really ingrain in them. They don’t have to like each other, but they do have to keep it professional, maybe tone done the top behavior that annoys the other person, and above all, remember that there are different work styles and none is more valid than another.

          1. Alice*

            I think there are some work styles that are more valid. If the brusque person is merely reticent, fine. If the brusque person is rolling their eyes when the overly friendly person says hello, that’s not different but equally valid style.

          2. Annony*

            Some work styles are more valid than others for certain jobs. Some jobs require a certain amount of friendliness. Others require fast turn around. Just because someone prefers to be direct or prefers to chat does not mean that every job can accommodate that.

          3. Disco Janet*

            Depending on the job, there can absolutely be something wrong with not being willing to participate in social niceties. That doesn’t fly in my line of work.

    4. Observer*

      I think your basic premise is wrong. Both of them actually DO need to change. Not totally, but to some extent.

      They BOTH need to start with learning that their way of communicating is not THE RIGHT way. It’s just “the way I tend to operate” and that the other person’s way can be legitimate too! And following on from that is that they both need to be willing accommodate others.

      #1 Also needs to stop being so brusque in general. I’m not talking about 5 minutes of small talk and the 14 fillers and 18 softeners with the actual message. But enough humanity that you don’t come across unfriendly or like a robot. Also the “strong but unspoken boundaries” are a total non-starter. People are not mind readers and it’s just not right to expect that from others.

      #2 Should acknowledge that they don’t know all the rules (but it would behoove you to point them to some resources to learn those rules.) And, if I’m reading you correctly and they are genuinely over-sensitive, they need to get a handle on that. And they most definitely need to recognize that not everyone is into the social chitchat and minimize that with this person.

  68. Annony*

    Anyone else find the uncertainty of when WFH will end to be very difficult to deal with. The major part of my job cannot be done from home, so I’ll have to go back as soon as they open. I understand why there is no concrete return date (I actually think it is better to not try to predict it right now when there are so many variables) but he inability to plan is really tough for me to deal with.

    1. Fikly*

      Uncertainty is incredibly difficult for people to deal with in general!

      I have been on medical leave (not covid!) for almost the last month, with no idea as to return date. I recently found out that I can target the beginning of next month. I feel 250% better just having a target, rather than no earthly idea of when it would be approved by my doctors.

  69. aurora*

    not sure if this is work related or not…. I guess related to other peoples work?

    Anyone know if anyone is still working at the mva and processing interlock paperwork or anything? I’m supposed to get rid of my interlock either at the end of may or the end of june…. Will I actually get a letter telling me i can get it removed or am I stuck with the thing until everything opens up…. and who knows when that will happen…. sigh…

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Depends on your state. Have you checked their website or called? Most government offices have figured out a way to operate remotely or with limited staff.

      1. Aurora*

        Im in maryland i did try calling the number for the interlock department but got an automated message about emailing. i emailed but never heard back. I did try emailing a couple other people that I had their contact info from a while ago but got an out of office message.

        1. CL Cox*

          Who actually installed the interlock? Did you have a lawyer involved in the hearing? The lawyer would be the first choice, since courts are still doing business and they can contact them to ask what you are to do.

            1. aurora*

              I’ll try that as well…. I’ve been using blowngo in pasadena…. this was before i found that the same model and brand was available in frederick. I got some sort of letter saying i needed to have an interlock if and when I got a car… sooo however many months later coronavirus! My part with the mva is done, it;s the thing with the medical advisory board. hm oh well. I don’t think the courts are even open…. and even if they were…. people arent exactly accomdating of hard of hearing or deaf people who need to see someones face. never have been.

    2. anon for this*

      Different state, but: In CA my friend did not get a letter. She had to track it herself, and in fact had the wrong date — the shop called to ask about removal looked it up and gave her correct info. The shop was a pretty good resource, actually. They were easier to reach and generally knew what they needed to proceed. But there was paperwork at the DMV that had to be handled in person, which seems like a blocker. Try calling, I guess? Many mechanics / auto shops have been open, so if the paperwork can be handled the removal probably can as well.

  70. Kowalski! Options!*

    Q for those of you who are working from home: How much of an average paycheck would you estimate you’re saving by not having to go into the office regularly?

    1. Ali G*

      I’m saving:
      $155.00/month on parking (my building was awesome and said we don’t have to pay until we come back)
      ~$50/month on gas
      ~$50/month on lunch, random food

      I am probably spending double on food and booze than normal due to delivery fees, being stuck at home, etc. I also find that when I do shop, I am buying more than normal since IDK when I’ll shop again.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not feeling like giving you the %paycheck, but here’s some numbers:
      $30 gas (450 miles/week @ $2/gallon, and it wasn’t that low last year)
      $50+ for cafeteria (because I am often lazy in the morning)
      How do you calculate wear&tear on the car or my wardrobe?
      It’s a casual office, so no drycleaning fees, but I haven’t bothered to buy anything new for warm weather yet.

      1. Kowalski! Options!*

        Fair enough – and that’s still a decent amount of money. Personally, between not having to pay for transit and coffee/lunches, I think I’m saving somewhere between 25% and 35% (depending on whether it’s rent-focused payday or not). And like Ali G., in the beginning I was paying a lot more for food and booze, but I started cooking more, more out of boredom more than anything else.
        It’ll be interesting to see how the numbers work out when all of this is over.

      2. Jules the First*

        I’m saving nothing: my commute is on public transport which I pay a flat annual fee for (no rebates); I already cooked three meals a day; what I’m saving on pub drinks with colleagues, I’m spending on pub drinks at the Stuck In(n) with colleagues (though admittedly the quality of the booze has improved). I’m also still getting groomed and dressed for work because of all the video calls.

        Oh and then there’s the 20% salary cut and loss of this year’s bonuses and pay increases…so I suppose I’m currently saving negative 30% or so by not going into the office? (And that’s before you factor in changes in my utilities, toilet paper, etc from working at home)

    3. Chili*

      I take the bus to work and my job pays for my unlimited metro card, so I’m not directly saving money from not commuting. But I am saving a lot of time, which (combined with the fact restaurants have closed their dining rooms) has allowed me to spend less on meals by home cooking. I’m probably saving $200 a month by not eating out/grabbing a drink after work/ picking up something for dinner on my way home.

    4. Disco Janet*

      Nothing. Whatever I’m saving in gas gets literally eaten up by my children who cannot seem to stop eating everything in sight! And I always packed my lunch, so no difference in mine.

    5. AnotherSarah*

      Almost nothing. I had already paid for a bus pass, and almost never drive to work. Commute is 1 hour total, and I was only going in 3 days a week. I think we’re saving more by not going out, but on the other hand, we’re buying things for WFH (cameras, etc.), and I’m definitely snacking more…it’s almost a wash. We’re also spending more on heat. I’d say our household budget has decreased maybe 5%.

    6. ACDC*

      Honestly no difference for me. My company pays for my public transport, so now that we are WFH that’s a wash. I always brought my lunch as well so same same there too.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      Not very much. I live close to work (~7 min drive according to my phone) so I’m not saving a lot on gas or wear & tear on my car. I’m saving a little on makeup and hair products. But I always pack a lunch, so I’m not saving money by on lunches. In fact, I’m probably spending more money on food because OH MY GOD ALL I WANT TO DO IS EAT. And I’m using my own heat/air conditioning, electricity, water, hand soap, and TOILET PAPER while I’m working from home. So it’s probably a wash at best, financially.

    8. Llellayena*

      I’m probably losing money. I walked to work and was able to eat lunch at home, so no change in those costs. But my electric bill is up and I’m probably eating more food throughout the work day thanks to the proximity of the kitchen.

    9. Hazy Days*

      I’m losing money, as are most of my colleagues:
      I cycle to work, so I don’t have any commuting costs.
      I can’t access the work gym.
      We receive a free hot two-course meal every working day, and that is most people’s main meal of the day. We also have fruit, tea and coffee, etc. Suddenly we all have to buy and cook this for ourselves.
      Work hosts a lot of free events which I enjoy attending (lectures, concerts etc) which are no longer happening.

    10. Jules the 3rd*

      Maybe $15, but there’s other expenses that outweigh it.
      Savings: 15mi round trip, 3 days/week (I was already wfh 2 days). 40mpg car = 1.1 gallons/week; gas at $3 = $12.50 / mo. Every once in a while I’d buy a snack. Always brought my own lunch, so no difference there.

      But since we’re only getting food once every 2 weeks, and we’re working hard not to make extra trips, I can’t shop food sales, and I’m picking up ‘just in case’ and ‘to feel better’ items (halfway through that box of dipped mint oreos, and a week to go – proud of my restraint…) that I wouldn’t usually. So we’re spending easily $20/week more on groceries. We’ve also picked up another paid TV subscription.

    11. Mill Miker*

      Working from home is saving me about $35-$40 a week, since I’m eating breakfast at home now. The much bigger savings are coming from the lockdown: not dining out as much, not shopping for shopping’s sake, not going to the movies, not driving from our small town to the city for errands, and not going on semi-regular 10-hour round-trip drives to visit family.

    12. Coverage Associate*

      Maybe 2%. I had a car+subway commute. Parking and subway are a payroll deduction, which I only stopped for May, not April. It will roll over, so it wasn’t worth the hassle.

      Any eating out I did near the office is off set by higher grocery bills.

      The big thing is I still have non COVID-19 medical bills not covered by insurance.

      We will save our stimulus payment for usual expenses (dentist, house cleaner) we cannot get during shelter in place.

    13. allathian*

      I’m saving some, but not too much. 100 euros/month for public transit.
      I don’t like carrying a packed lunch and I notice that I eat more vegetables if I buy from one of the takeout restaurants at the office. That’s about 10 euros/day on average. I WFH on average 5 days/month anyway, so let’s say 150 euros/month on food.
      We’re a casual office anyway and I wear jeans and non-ironing blouses and something woolly in the winter. I hate shopping for clothes so I buy a few pairs of jeans every year, no change.
      I suspect that my husband’s costs are about the same as mine.
      As a family, we’re spending more on groceries because we’re home all day, every day. I also notice that we’re eating more comfort foods and snacks than usual. We used to save them for the weekend but now we’re eating comfort food almost every day…
      Utility bills are going through the roof, because we’re home all the time. I think that what we save on not going in to the office we’re spending on our lives at home.

      The big saving comes from the lockdown, not going to get my hair done (80 euros/month) or getting a facial + pedicure (another 80 euros/month). We also usually go to the movies about once a month, entertain friends at home three or four times a year, eat out at a sit-down restaurant at least once a month… Not to mention our annual road trip. Last year we spent much of our summer vacation driving around the Baltic Sea. Even if travel becomes possible this year, we’re not going anywhere.

  71. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I just checked my bank and my state seems to have sent me *two* unemployment payments on the same day for the one week I was furloughed. I have no idea what to do now. The two deposits match each other. But they don’t match my one-week take-home pay. Nor do they match the much-discussed $600 stimulus payment.
    I…..have no idea what to do now.

    1. Enough*

      Unemployment does not usually equal take home pay unless you have very low pay. I suggest you not spend the extra money. Eventually they will audit everything and will want back overages. Also make a record of everything you get and when.

      1. Enough*

        Also the $600 would be in addition of regular unemployment. Your state may not have every thing coordinated with the Fed’s yet for the extra money.

    2. Annony*

      Does the total match what they told you you would receive plus the $600? If yes, I would just assume the processing was weird. If not, did you receive more or less than what you should have? If more, I would set the money aside and see if there is an email address you can use to notify them of the error. If less, decide if it is worth trying to call. Either way I would probably wait a week before doing anything to see if it gets sorted out.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Do not call and try to fix it. If you call and they go outside of their regular protocol to take it back out of your account, you might get hit again when their normal protocol realizes you received a double-payment and automatically takes it back out of your account. The main thing is – do NOT spend the money. It will eventually be taken back out of your account – and it may take quite a while for it to happen – but it will eventually happen.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          My state will not take it back out of your account, so don’t assume that’s going to happen. But don’t spend it either.

    3. pancakes*

      If your state usually has a “waiting week” period at the beginning of unemployment claims it may have temporarily done away with it. I’d look into that. I’d also log in to the state website and see how they describe those payments in your account, because there’s probably more information / context there than there is in your banking app.