open thread – April 3-4, 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.

{ 1,454 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that even in these weird times, this is still the work thread! Please keep comments focused on work, specifically. (Work and coronavirus — fine. Coronavirus on its own — please save that for the weekend free-for-all; I will remove them here.) Thank you.

  2. Green Goose*

    Hi all. My sister has been actively job hunting for over a year and a half and has not had any luck, she’s had a couple of “almosts” and more devastatingly, two different hiring managers at different companies unofficially told her she had the job and then in the end it didn’t work out. She also went through a long and vigorous interview process at a friend’s company only to find out about six weeks in that there was no job available (I still don’t know why a company would do that to someone, it seems cruel). She was never officially told this, only found out through her friend who heard through the grapevine.

    This has taken a huge toll on her happiness and overall well-being. She lives in a different country than me and the rest of our family, and she’s in a completely different industry than me or anyone I know so there isn’t really anything I can do to help in terms of connections or advice.

    Now with Covid happening the landscape looks even more grim for her to get a job and I am starting to worry about her mental health. She’s a very social person so the isolation is getting to her a lot more, and now she not only does not have work but she can’t really leave her small apartment with her husband. Does anyone have any advice? Is anyone in my sister’s situation and can provide feedback for how you’d like to be supported during this time?

    I feel like whenever we talk I inadvertently end up striking a nerve with her, even though I feel like I’m walking on eggshells so advice is very much appreciated.

    1. Grits McGee*

      I would recommend putting a moratorium on advice, pep talks, “you’ll survive this…”, etc and focus on being there as someone who can express things to without judgement. Are there non-work, non-leaving the house subjects you can talk about? Stories from your childhood that made you proud of your sister or made people admire her? Funny things that you’ve seen from your window? Is there anything you can do for her from a distance (pay for a streaming service/take out/etc)?

    2. Nita*

      That sounds terrible, I’m sorry she is going through this. Since you’re so far away, maybe the occasional care package will lift her mood? I’m only suggesting this because when I’m far away from my loved ones, this is the thing that makes me feel a little closer to them. Phone calls, not so much – there are only so many times I can say “We’re all well, but xyz situation is still terrible, and it still hasn’t changed, so that’s my news for the day.” I wish her luck!

    3. OtterB*

      If there’s not already some non-work, non-COVID topic you share, can you find one? Stream the same show and talk about it?

      1. WellRed*

        I do this with a friend, I usually watch a certain TV show with. We have a phone call to catch up and then watch teh show and text each other during it with comments.

          1. Green Goose*

            Do you know if this works for different countries Netflix? If I’m in Country A (with Country A Netflix) can I link up with someone in Country B (with Country B Netflix)?

            1. Rabbit*

              It seems to work as long as the show is available in both countries as normal – at least i’ve used it with people in the US (im in the UK)

            2. Lizzo*

              I don’t know, but what Rabbit has said makes sense. If you’re a Twitter user you might try tweeting at Netflix and see if they can help you out? I’m sure this isn’t the first time this question has come up. :-D

    4. Kali*

      I speak with a lot of people going through trauma, and almost universally, they hate being coddled. Feelings are valid and should not be suppressed or ignored but acknowledged – that doesn’t mean you should wallow in pity with her, but let her talk and listen to her. Don’t tell her things will get better, because they may not for a long time. Don’t tell her that you know how it feels, because you probably don’t. If she doesn’t want advice, respect that. “I hear you.” “I’m here if you want to talk.” “That sounds really difficult, and I’m sorry.” are all good lines. And number one thing, “What can I do to help?” Let her decide what she needs or wants, but be clear that you’re available.

      Btw, I’m not saying that you are or aren’t doing anything of these things, but they’re the things that I hear people complain about when they’re going through difficult times.

      That all said, some distraction is good, provided that’s what she wants. Watch a movie together or have some coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon, or whatever you normally did when she was closer by. Create a two person book club. Learn to draw a horse together and laugh at the inevitable, terrible results.

      It sucks feeling helpless when you’re far away. I’m on your end of this right now, and as someone who “fixes” problems, it’s hard. But acknowledging that elephant in the room rather than tiptoeing around it is the best way to avoid walking on eggshells. (Additional comment that helps – “I’m here for you, but I know I’m going to make mistakes and say unhelpful things from time to time. Don’t hesitate to tell me if I’m crossing a line that you don’t want me to.”) If you listen to her, she’ll let you know what she needs though – that’s the bottom line. Good luck to both you and your sister!

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        “Don’t tell her that you know how it feels, because you probably don’t.”

        It may not be applicable in this specific scenario, but on the same level as “I know how you feel,” I can tell you that “if I can do it, you can do it” doesn’t carry much weight with me as a motivator. Your circumstances may be completely different from mine – you may have a better social support system than I do; the life path that brought you to this moment in time and enabled you to be able to do “it” may have been an easier one than the one I had to take; you may be better equipped to do “it” for Reasons.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Can you ask her? ‘Hey, sis, I want to support you in the way you want to be supported. What would that look like to you?’

      Because all we’re doing is guessing, she’s the only person who might know.

    6. Snow*

      When I was out of a job after graduation I got rejected 250 times, and it was a black pit of despair for a while. I remember feeling really happy when I tried things out of my daily routine – once I went with my friend to one of her lectures which had nothing to do with my career. Visiting stuff might be hard right now, but I recently taught myself to tie knots and create bracelets out of paracord to get out of another mental health slump. Basically, hobbies are good and starting a new one is really fun because you a see a lot of progress in a short amount of time = confidence boost!

    7. Elizabeth West*

      This is my situation (except for the husband). There’s a lot of good advice in this thread. My recommendations:

      If you’re close to your sister, it’s okay to check in with her. But stay away from work topics; don’t ask about applications, don’t ask “How’s the job search going?” If she has something to tell you, she’ll tell you. It’s very tiresome to have to answer that question all the time, especially when it’s not going well.

      If she wants to vent about the job situation, listen without offering any advice. Sometimes people just want to unload. They don’t need or want to be told what to do.

    8. Koala dreams*

      If talking is difficult, maybe you can focus on sending photos, or other non-talk things? Play a game over skype, take photos from your gardens, share songs and youtube videos, a tea break over skype, sending postcards if that’s possible.

      You can also ask your sister directly what kind of support she would like.

      As for her health, that’s not something you can talk to her about. If she gets ill, she will need support from you, and not have to bear your worries on top of her own. You’ll need to talk to someone else about those worries. Your diary, another friend, a therapist.

    9. Gatomon*

      My instinct is to not even go there on job hunting/isolation unless she brings it up first. Often what’s really painful about long-term job hunting is not having any good news to report but constantly being asked. I’m sure she’ll let you know if things change for her.

      I would try directly engaging her in something to combat the isolation. Maybe there’s a show you can both stream and discuss regularly during/afterwards via a messaging platform, or just have a regular call about afterwards? Back in the dark ages before Netflix and DVR we used to get together to watch them live and talk. We can still do that with modern technology. I remember my friends and I had weekly gatherings for Heroes, ANTM, Project Runway and Survivor during college.

    10. cleo*

      You might just ask her what would be most helpful. Maybe offer a couple things you could do and ask what she’d prefere

      I know that when I was laid off a few years ago and having a really hard time (it reactivated my PTSD from childhood trauma) every well meaning thing that everyone told me really just upset me.

      I finally just gave my husband and best friend a couple scripts – I think it was “that sounds hard” and “you’re doing really well”

    11. Pommette!*

      I’ve been in a similar situation before, at least in that I faced with long-term unemployment and isolation (because I had no friends or family locally, and no money to travel to see my people or to join new activities). It did not take long for me to become severely depressed.

      I’ll be forever grateful to the good friend who made a point of calling regularly. She made it clear that she was happy to help however she could, and to listen to me, but there was no clear way for her to help with my problems, and I really didn’t have anything to talk about (depression and isolation KILLED my ability to hold even a basic conversation). So on some days she talked at me while I made occasional sounds. And on some days we talked about banal things. And on some days, we talked about her problems, at length, and tried to think up solutions. It made me feel useful and human at a time when not a lot of things did.

      1. Caroline Bowman*

        that’s a good friend. I hope she’s in your life for a very long time because that is the kind of friend worth more than gold.

  3. No Tribble At All*

    My workplace announced a WFH photo competition. I have 2 matching cats. I’m going to win this!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oooooh double trouble *_*

      I like that for a fun WFH competition to keep engagement up.

      1. pnw dweller*

        Since this is a thread about cats and WFH; my new feline coworker was supervising the reading of this and was mesmerized by your photo. Got up from my lap and zeroed in on it, stepped on my keyboard to get a close view. And then walked away. I don’t know if fame is fleeting or if a mouse was calling her name, but for a brief moment your avatar was everything to her.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          One thing we are learning from all this WFH stuff is that our pets can be really weird.

          We already knew our kids were weird.

      2. Girl with the yellow umbrella*

        Just wanna say that I love your username here! Becky lynch is my hero :D (sorry – not work related!)

    2. Art3mis*

      Sweet! Mine did this, then announced that everyone that participated was getting a $50 Door Dash Gift Card! Good Luck!

    3. Admin of sys*

      nice! we had a best virtual desktop for zoom competition – someone had an animated cat that looked like it was kneading his head, it was awesome.

    4. plp*

      I made a video spoofing the opening credits of Full House with just me and my two pets for our work competition. Highly recommend, it was a ton of fun.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My daughter’s school is asking for e-learning pictures for the yearbook. Best picture so far is of legs sticking out from under blanket fort. Send it or no?

  4. ThatGirl*

    My department has always been a little … discombobulated about communication, and man is that getting worse with everyone working from home. A project I was told was relatively straightforward has now gotten more and less and more complicated again in the course of 72 hours, which is what happens when no one person is taking ownership of everything. Happy Friday, y’all.

    1. James*

      I feel your pain! I joke that I’m the only person who really knows everything going on at my job site, which sucks when I’m not at the job site.

      On the plus side, if you’re the one holding the projects together it’s really hard to fire you, lay you off, or otherwise stop paying you. So, silver lining! :)

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

      We’re on the same boat. We were great with two WFH days a week, but now… it’s not so much. I suggested we have two checkpoints per day, because all the issues that could be solved in a ten minutes brainstorming session are snowballing. I wrote about something that happened this week.

    3. Observer*

      Can you get people using some sort of communications tool other than email? There are a lot of free options – maybe not the best and not great for long term documentation, but you don’t have long term documentation now anyway.

      If you have Office 365, Teams might be part of your package. Slack and Trello have free versions. Those are the first ones that come to my mind, but I’m sure there are others. Each one is very different from the others, but one of them might wind up working well for your team’s style.

  5. Job searcher*

    Hi. I need suggestions on how I can push back on something without losing a job opportunity. I have never negotiated but given current climate I need to tread very carefully.

    The position seems great and they were very enthusiastic about moving forward with me. I had the second interview with him today and told him that while I can still start May 5th, it would have to be remote for the 1st two weeks. The interviewer said he’d have to think about it.

    He got back to me fairly quickly and said that he’s interested in moving forward but they really need someone to come in 3 days a week until this blows over because it’s an “essential business” and he needs someone to meet clients in the office. Not sure if this is relevant but during the interview I asked about the culture and he said that as long as work is done, he’s not strict about PTO (unlimited PTO) and that also he’d want to move to 1x a week remotely. It’s a young company but he seems like he’d trust his employees…after time. 

    I know the easy answer is “forget it and keep looking” and I really wish I was in a position to flat out refuse but I really need a job and I don’t feel that I can afford to be picky. But I absolutely cannot compromise on anyones health, so I plan to push back and be able to WFH as long as I can. 

    I am willing to go in 1x a week (as I am going out 1x every other week for medical appointments) until it’s safe to commute fully. It’s a young company so I don’t mind working extra hard (from home) to prove that remote work can be done well but I truly can’t go in the office as often as he wants. I am willing to turn down the offer if he won’t compromise but I want to at least try. I know this doesn’t sound great but I don’t have a lot of options at this point with so many being laid off/fired. I have nearly a decade of work experience and I hate that i find myself in this position of being desperate again (first time around being fresh out of college in the 2008-2009 recession).

    1. ThatGirl*

      Does your state or county/city have guidance that would support this? Do you or someone you live with have underlying health conditions? I feel like both of those could give you more leverage to say “I understand that under normal circumstances, I’d need to be in the office, but this is an extraordinary time and given (fill in the blank) I don’t feel comfortable coming in that frequently” or something along those lines.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, and to add on to this, you could offer to FaceTime clients so you don’t have to meet them face to face. It would be terrible for business if you are an asymptomatic carrier of this virus and then met one of your clients and got them sick.

      2. Job searcher*

        I didn’t think of city/state guidance. One of my friends said that I can report the company for this but I’m not sure where.

        I did mention to him in a conversation that I would need to be remote for now as I live with my elderly mother (I also have a few health conditions but I didn’t relay those to him). Under normal circumstances I’d be ready for 5 days in office. He “slept on it” and came back with 3 days a week.

          1. valentine*

            I live with my elderly mother (I also have a few health conditions
            Going in even once a week is too great a risk, even if you were willing to insist the clients keep their distance or to properly use gloves and a face shield around them. You’re going to risk death to be polite and stay employed.

            Either don’t take the job or say you simply can’t go in.

          2. Job searcher*

            I don’t have an offer yet. I think we’re still in the negotiation stages if I’m understanding correctly.

            1. Mad Harry Crewe*

              Same as with house-buying, typically negotiation happens after the initial offer. Obviously, right now you are in a negotiation with this guy about what the job might entail, but when people say “oh, I negotiated my last job offer” this is more what it looks like:

              Company (making an offer): Hello, we would like to pay you $X plus Y benefits, for you to do A, B, and C work on our behalf.
              You (negotiating): I’m very interested in working for you, but I was hoping I could also get Z benefit (or $X+5000, or not do task C, etc). Can you make that happen?
              Company either updates their offer to include your request, offers a compromise, or tells you that they can’t do it and the original offer is firm.

              You might also go back and forth a bit – maybe you asked for more money, but they can’t do that so they offer more PTO, so you come back with more PTO + a guaranteed wage increase at 6 months if certain metrics are met… and so forth.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Local dept of health, probably. But I would start with “given our local guidance, and the fact that I live with my elderly mother, who is in a high-risk group…” and modify as needed.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          You really need to hold firm on the ‘wfh for 2 weeks’, but maybe suggest / ask about ‘meet with clients’ options, like phone calls / slack / etc. I know you need a job, but this is your mom’s life he wants to risk. Is that worth a job?

        3. Batgirl*

          “I looked into how flexible this is but the health guidance for my mother is that the entire household have to x,y,z -and finding somewhere else to live right now is nearly impossible”

        4. Spero*

          Did you ask about any specific accommodations they have in place? Ex I’m working from office 5 days a week due to my work being essential, but we’ve ordered extensive sanitizing supplies, redirected from in person to online/Zoom screenings, different desk setups with more distance, and relying on docusign for things that previously required multiple drop bys our office. I’m also allowing staff flexibility in alternate schedules, changed duties to more protected roles, and they are all here less than myself to reduce their exposure. Some of that info could make you more secure.

          I’m sympathetic to him because if he’s truly essential he isn’t doing anything wrong or reportable by staying open. He should but isn’t technically required to offer enhanced protection to staff in most places. It may not be a good fit for your situation, but that doesn’t mean he is doing anything wrong.

          1. Job searcher*

            His business is considered essential by state guidelines BUT I know firsthand that many of the same line of work can easily be done from home, including client meetings. That’s why i’m a little bit iffy on it – he seems like a nice reasonable person and if circumstances were normal, there’d be no issue. And the pay is really great.

            I could ask him about specific accommodations – what would be a good way to approach that? I haven’t received hte offer yet.

            1. snoopythedog*

              I’d start with, ‘under normal circumstances, I’d expect to be in the office 4-5 days a week to meet clients. Given that this is an unprecidented time I’m wondering if some accomodations can be made. I currently live with high-risk individuals and cannot risk their safety by interacting with the public more than absolutely necessary. I’ve heard from business colleagues that clients are open to being more accommodating to these trying times and I’m willing to work hard and creatively find solutions to meet or exceed client solutions without being face to face. Unfortunately, it is not just my health, but that of those that I live with and who depend on me that I’m putting at risk here. I’d love to see what short term/temporary measures we could put in place to get us through the pandemic. [reiterate here all your skills and some solutions’]. I’d be willing to come up with some metrics and accountabilities to ensure that I’m meeting and exceeding the expectations of this position.”

              1. snoopythedog*

                The key points here are:
                – short term changes in business as usual due to pandemic
                -risking health and safety of others you live with (aka you could kill your mom)
                – willing to be creative and show initiative to come up with solutions
                – willing to go overboard in the beginning to ensure accountability and set up metrics to ensure you are meeting job requirements (aka- showing you are working)
                -you are willing to compromise on what WFH looks like, but not the WFH piece.

        5. Caroline Bowman*

          This is a weird one. Obviously you want the job – and it sounds like a great job under normal circumstances – but he’s treating the whole ”isolation” thing as a negotiating chip. It’s not really, surely? I realise that in the US it varies by state but surely you really do need to work remotely at least for a few weeks, going on the proposed start date?

          It might be worth going back and asking him to clarify ”so what you’re saying is that despite the lock down you’d need me to meet clients / carry on in-person as normal 3 days a week from X date?” If he says yes, then you have to say ”I just don’t think that’s a possibility for me. I would hate to unknowingly infect anyone or bring home infection to my family / myself. I’d be so happy to work remotely for X time, and then phase into in-person, but ethically I cannot do what you have outlined”. Then forget about it. It’s not worth it. Either he will listen to what you’ve said and be reasonable or he won’t, but this is a big red flag.

    2. Kali*

      I feel like there are a lot of red flags all over this. If you’re putting essential business in quotation marks, I think you know he’s full of it too. Obviously, this is not a situation where you’re dispatching ambulances or something truly essential. I’m both concerned and suspicious about these clients that are supposedly coming to the office.

      1. Paulina*

        Yes, and “unlimited PTO as long as the job gets done” is another red flag. Especially if meeting clients in the office is seen as such an essential part of the job, so will this boss (who doesn’t seem to be restructuring the work sufficiently in the current public health crisis) ever structure the work to allow for any reasonable time off?

        1. Job searcher*

          @Paulina, would unlimited PTO be a red flag outside of the pandemic? I’ve only heard of it here but not actually put in to practice at any companies. He did say specifically “I dont’ care if you take an extra few days off here and there.” if that matters. If I’m right, it seems like that he’d be flexible with good workers, but wants them to prove themselves first.

          1. Unlimited*

            “Unlimited PTO” is almost always offered by companies that greatly discourage using PTO. It’s a huge red flag for me. Every company I know of personally or through friends and colleagues that has offered defined PTO allowed employees to take all of it (i.e., if they offer 2 weeks vacation, they have no problem with you actually taking 2 weeks off during the year), but every company that has unlimited PTO discourages taking more than a day off here and there.
            It’s a lot like “unlimited growth potential”, a red flag for MLMs. I’m sure you could think of others.

              1. Wheezy Weasel*

                I’ve been following the unlimited PTO for the last few years here on AAM and in my own workplaces, and it has the potential to go either way. Some companies allow you to use it as it’s intended – not having to earn vacation as a new employee, not having to ration your time off – but others are like commenter Unlimited mentions: it’s truly at the mercy of the manager to whether they approve it. I would personally be very wary of working for a small company as you describe with an owner who doesn’t seem to be negotiating with you in good faith, from your description.

                1. Mad Harry Crewe*

                  Agreed. My current job has unlimited PTO and it’s solid, but I also checked during the interview when I was meeting with people at my same level. I asked something like “So, is the vacation truly flexible, or is it more like ‘weeeeell, you took a week off last year, so I don’t know about this current request…’?” – they both said they’ve never had trouble getting time off, they fully expected that if there was a conflict the managers would work with them to find a good time, and that the head of our department had told one of them he’d never had to deny someone’s vacation request. I have found that report to be accurate, but I’m also really glad I checked first.

      2. Job searcher*

        You’re right, I do find the “essential” part to be BS. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate on accepting the job.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      I’ve been told by my regular doctor that reducing the number of days you work in the office from 5 to, say, 3 does not change the risk equation. So long as you go in there multiple days/week, you may as well go in there five days per week because you are putting yourself just as much at risk.

      And you’re going to be meeting with clients!

      Oh, this just doesn’t sound right. If you need the job, well, you need the job, but this sounds sketchy as heck. This is a guy who has decided he knows better than the CDC or your local health department.

    4. M*

      If you’re going out for medical appointments you shouldn’t be going into ANY office. People still seem not to be calling ahead when they have symptoms and going to doctors offices, fleeing to the Hamptons, etc. I also think there are red flags as I don’t think it’s essential to meet clients right now unless it’s the medical field. I’m also sure clients don’t want to meet unless it’s remote. I would push back and see what the owner says but I personally would look for something else. I feel like this kind of stuff is going to keep us in this situation longer. There needs to be more strict rules for “essential business.” It’s not worth putting your health And your elderly mothers health at risk if you don’t have to. Do you currently have a job you can stay at? If not look into the new unemployment scheme or some states pay you to stay home and take care of elderly family members. I’m sorry this sucks.

      1. Job searcher*

        I agree, I don’t think it’s essential to meet clients face to face in a time like this. I know with firsthand experience that is 100% possible to meet clients virtually–but I’ve known companies that have clients who are stubborn and still want to meet in person. At that point it’s up to the business owner to keep them as a client.

        I don’t have a job right now, I was let go at the start of this crisis. I applied for unemployment, but until I receive the funds I am not counting on that to sustain me permanently or even temporarily. I need something to hold me until the end of the year.

    5. LoSquared*

      I wonder if some of the pushback from the manager is that May 5th (proposed start date) is currently after any state/national guidelines for social distancing/shelter in place/stay at home. Could you discuss that you would be happy to start on May 5th, but if there is new guidance put out by your state or local jurisdiction, then you may have to reconsider a WFH option?

      1. Job searcher*

        That’s what I’m considering asking. I asked someone and he suggested that I put the ball in the company’s court and ask him what would be the plan if state/national guidelines change?

        I’m truly and honestly hoping that things are better by then for everyone but the way things are going right now, things change literally every day so I need to be prepared for that.

        1. Caroline Bowman*

          that’s a good idea. Ask specifically about if the department of health / CDC / whoever is applicable changes the guidelines. If he prevaricates, you have your answer. If he says ”oh well of course in that case then you work from home for as long as necessary”, then that’s a good sign.

    6. ynotlot*

      If they’re an essential business, there’s nothing to report to anyone. Essential businesses are allowed to stay open, even if you have a stay in place order.
      This isn’t advice, but lots of us are still going to work. Like maybe half of us or more? (Truly, I have no idea what the breakdown is and I’m VERY curious) I see tons of social media posts about ‘quarantine’ (which I think people are confusing with isolation, which is what they’re doing), but nearly everyone I know works for an essential business and goes into work daily.
      So, you’d be taking a risk if you decide to take the job and go in, but 1. it wouldn’t be against the rules if it’s an essential business, 2. you’ll be in good company with restaurant workers, grocery store workers, healthcare workers, pharmacists, etc etc.
      Sorry if I’m misunderstanding your question – was there a separate reason outside pandemic stuff that coming in 3x a week wouldn’t work?

      1. Job searcher*

        @ynotlot – outside of the pandemic, I would have no issue coming in a regular 5 days a week. I wouldn’t even be posting here as I would accept it.

        I didn’t want to be specific, but it is a small accounting company. I know many accounting firms that are working 100% remotely and some are willing to make the decision to fire clients who insist on face to face meetings during this time hence putting “essential” in quotes.

        1. nonegiven*

          Financial services is essential.

          It does absolutely fall under the ‘possible to do remotely’ and should be remote.

  6. Holo Friends*

    My boss is pushing himself way too hard during this time. For reference, I work for a trade association that represents healthcare facilities so obviously COVID-19 has been a nightmare at work. He keeps talking about how he is working 19 hour days and by the end of the traditional work day he is absolutely incoherent. He genuinely sounds like he is drunk. He is my boss and to be honest, I really don’t like him as a leader or as a person. We really don’t have a great relationship. But I obviously don’t want him to drive himself to an early grave. Can I say something?

    1. Sharkie*

      I would just lay low. If it is that bad someone else will speak up.

      Also love the user name

      1. Holo Friends*

        The entire staff is talking amongst ourselves about it. We have a Chief Medical Officer on staff who is a former nurse on staff and she is expressing a lot of concern both to us and to him.

        1. HerGirlFriday*

          The CMO needs to be reminded that she has the authority, by position and professional experience, to talk to him about his stress levels. For his benefit and the benefit of the organization. Even she reports to him, it should be part of her duties as a medical professional to speak up.
          (I’m reminded of how a ship’s doctor can order a captain to go off duty for medical reasons)

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I don’t see why not, though you can’t tell him to stop working since it doesn’t sound like you two have the kind of relationship where that would go over well. But the next time you guys speak, if he sounds incoherent, you can ask him if he’s okay because he sounds overwhelmed and you’re concerned. And it’s important that you do in fact sound concerned because if you sound remotely annoyed, that will cause problems as well.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think the best thing you could do is to let him know if you have some space on your plate to take on additional work (obviously, only if it won’t cause YOU to burn out), and to ask if there’s anything you can take on if that’s the case. Or, failing that, just saying something like, “hey boss, I know you’re unbelievably swamped right now. Is there anything I can do to make your job a little easier?” could go a long way. It might be that the stuff that’s overwhelming him is stuff only he can do, and that you’re already doing as much as you can, but I’m sure he’ll appreciate the offer. And hey, it might go some ways towards helping to improve the relationship somewhat, even if it never gets great.

    4. Holo Friends*

      I have been trying to go above and beyond to the best of my ability (i.e. he was talking about making an easy list in Outlook so he could just send the meeting invites to a “Public Affairs” list rather than typing out everyone’s email) so I just did that really quick for him. The problem is that he is a micromanager so he is butting in all of our jobs in areas where he really doesn’t need to be involved. That is part of a larger problem that probably won’t be fixed while we are all working remotely, but still.

      I do communications and public affairs so I have been trying to anticipate what he is going to have me work on, like drafting press releases and media toolkits for our healthcare facility members.

      1. NotAPirate*

        Start linking news articles about the importance of taking regular breaks when working remote? I read one on reduced productivity due to stress right now.

    5. Fikly*

      Say something to who?

      If he’s that far gone, he’s not going to listen, or rather, he’s not going to hear you and change his behavior. The only way he’s going to stop is if he collapses, or if someone above him makes him stop.

      1. Holo Friends*

        Well he did call yesterday at 4:00 and said that he had been drinking and that I should start. I told him I was enjoying my virgin screwdriver (orange juice)

    6. JustKnope*

      Following this thread! While I do like my boss, he has NEVER been a good delegator. He’s a bottle neck, and even thought at his senior level he should be doing more strategic work, he ends up executing so much tactical work that could be handed off to the team. (I also work in communications.) My team is talking amongst ourselves about how to support him, because he’s starting to get snappy with us and now that we’re remote he’s even LESS likely to delegate. Before, sometimes when we saw him getting stressed we could gently take things off his plate, now we don’t have line of sight to do that. It’s frustrating. He’s clearly overworked and is pulling crazy hours, but he really doesn’t need to be!

          1. Meyla*

            I got Cosmic and it has been detrimental to my productivity. Time goes by so fast when staring at your mesmerizing nails.

            1. Jaid*

              Awesome. Those nails look like opals, one of my favorite stones. I love seeing her Twitter featuring everyone’s nails, so pretty.

    7. Koala dreams*

      I think you can say something once, if you think you can keep your tone caring and not annoyed. Burn out is a serious problem in the health care field even in normal circumstances. That being said, I don’t expect it to be very effective, both because it’s your boss and because you don’t have a good relationship before this.

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

      > by the end of the traditional work day he is absolutely incoherent. He genuinely sounds like he is drunk.

      Is it possible that he is actually drinking during the work day to somehow get through this?

      I say this after a bit of consideration, and I could well be wrong (I frequently am!) but I’ve inferred that it gets progressively worse during the day and then seems to be ‘reset’ somehow the next day (after 5 hours sleep)?

      1. Holo Friends*

        That is a fair point since he does kind of slur his words and he is just incoherent (like can’t put his thoughts into sentences) and unable to comprehend things.

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

          Regarding a comment you made upthread: “Well he did call yesterday at 4:00 and said that he had been drinking and that I should start. I told him I was enjoying my virgin screwdriver (orange juice)”… I expect it sounded more like e.g. haha yeahI’vebeendrinkingbutImstilltooooootallyintheroom.. amirite?…you shhhould shhhtart drinking becausesssh we’re all dealing with thissssshhh.. what was I saying?”

          I think the occam’s razor explanation here is that when he sounds drunk.. he is actually drunk.

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

              Well, I think if this guy continues this way.. it’s not going to end well, lets just say.

              The question is does OP of the thread have any obligation to do something? Do you want to, OP?

              I am leaning towards reporting it to this guy’s manager, if at all possible. It’s a concern for this guy’s health, not just a “manager-employee dispute” or similar. Or could you go directly to HR.

              I’m sorry to say that if you take this course of action it may be that this guy will be fired, rather than the company working with him to find a way forward.

    9. LazySock*

      I have nothing to add to your comment, just wanted to say hi to a fellow Simply-Fan. Hope you’re well, stay holo!

  7. Bunny Girl*

    Does anyone else feel guilty that they are enjoying working from home? I’m not enjoying the situation, just want to make that clear. But I have really been thriving these last couple weeks. My work keeps sending out check-ins and offers of support for people working from home, but I love it so much. My work related anxiety is almost non-existent, I am noticeably happier, my coworkers are overall really awful people and I don’t have to see them at all… It’s just been nice, but I feel guilty that I’m enjoying it when a lot of them obviously aren’t.

    1. Lauren*

      As an introvert, I am also wicked enjoying the time at home. This feels like a retreat from my anxiety as long as I wipe everything down from outside coming in. I feel better than I have in years like real rest is happening and I’m not obligated to run around for everyone in my life. I still feel like something is wrong with me cause I’m going stir crazy. Its nice to just sot and not run around.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Same! I am extremely introverted and I’m even really picky about what social situations I put myself in. This doesn’t go over super well with my social group so I feel like I’m constantly making up excuses on why I can’t go instead of just saying Sorry I’m not in a great headspace right now and don’t want to come. Now I don’t have to worry about that and I feel like I’m getting real rest, as you’ve said.

        1. valentine*

          my coworkers are overall really awful people […] I feel guilty that I’m enjoying it when a lot of them obviously aren’t.
          You’re too kind. Embrace this as a righteous reprieve from the wicked.

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            This. There is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying being away from people who are awful.

            1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

              And since they are awful, who cares that they aren’t enjoying it. Not your problem. :)

    2. MicroManagered*

      I share your enjoyment of WFH but without the guilt. I actually think it’s really important to focus on the positives in this situation, whether that’s enjoying WFH or a particularly sunny day.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I think the only reason I feel guilty is other people in my department are really, really struggling with it. LoL

    3. my laptop is sitting on a cardboard box*

      I’m loving it even though I’m not an “introvert” and the majority of my dept (who, to be fair, usually have much less virtual tasks than me) are very vocal about hating it and wanting to be allowed back at the office ASAP. I know there’s been murmuring that some managers in the ranks are planning to use this after everything settles down to try to win over the very Butts in Seats Big Boss that occasional WFH is A) doable B) not just people trying to slack off C) increasingly more common and D) will make us more attractive as an employer. I hope it works.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Our boss is very butts in seats also. After this is all over, I know we won’t be able to work from home, but honestly after this is over I’m going to start job hunting again so I really don’t care.

        1. my laptop is sitting on a cardboard box*

          I see you below refer to faculty… hello from another (non-teaching) academic ;)

          The reality of my job would probably never allow for full time WFH as there are some tasks I need to be onsite for and meetings that I’d rather have in person. But I’d love the freedom to do it at least a few times a month and for me and the majority of my colleagues, there’s absolutely no reason we couldn’t. Our Big Boss has no faith in us, obviously. they felt the need to send an email on the first day WFH telling us that this is NOT to be seen as a vacation and they EXPECT us to work as much as able …. we’re a dept that doesn’t teach directly but heavily facilitates instruction and study so I don’t think anyone wasn’t scrambling to make indefinite online learning work as painlessly as possible… it felt tone deaf and detached from the reality that most of us DO care and AREN’T slacking off/having fun in the midst of a global pandemic.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Yes I know that they want us to be available to support the faculty and be in the office. I’m only working in higher education until I graduate with my own degree and then I am out of here. I’ve worked in higher ed for three years and I hate it.

      2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I wonder if a lot of the people who are very vocal about preferring to work on the office are just B.S. brown nosing.

    4. DarthVelma*

      I normally really enjoy working from home and there are many things I’m enjoying about it now. I don’t feel guilty about that.

      What I’m having a hard time with is reacting to all the people telling me how much I should be loving it since I’m an introvert. My issue is that I’m actually having to interact MORE with my co-workers every day right now than I usually do when I’m in the office, and a LOT MORE than when I work from home under normal circumstances. I’m trying not to feel guilty about wanting to have Just. One. Day. without endless conference calls.

      End of rant. I’m hoping writing it down here means I won’t end up yelling about it in a really inappropriate setting. :-)

      1. Bluesboy*

        I am also interacting more with my colleagues! I sit in a different office from the rest of my team (Chinese wall) and we are often out visiting clients anyway. Now we have a ‘catch up’ phone call every day at 10am, plus other catch ups throughout the day. Looking forward to being back in the office so as to spend less time with colleagues…

    5. Third or Nothing!*

      I also love working from home. I roll out of bed 30 minutes before I log on to my computer and get to take a nice long walk during my lunch break. And I get to run for an hour every single afternoon after I log off.

      I do have a toddler running around the house though so it’s not the ideal setup. I’m constantly having to take breaks to go get her a snack, clean up a mess, set up an independent activity, etc.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          I’d love to be able to do that but I’ve got that toddler to deal with. She always has a poopy Pull-Up waiting for me in the mornings so that takes a while to clean up. Then I’ve got to get her settled in with breakfast and Elsa and get my cup of coffee…

          Sometimes I wake up extra early just so I can drink my coffee in peace and watch the sunrise.

    6. Daffy Duck*

      I am a full-time WFH. I absolutely love it. I know lots of people don’t enjoy WFH, and many others have problems focusing, but I wouldn’t go back to site work for a 50% increase in pay.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I know my current job will never let us work from home after this is over. They value a “presence in the department” too much. And if I was at home, who would the faculty scream at for tiny misconceived slights?

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I’d go in-house for a 50% increase, lol. That would be life changing money for me. Then once I was finished paying off what I needed to pay off (ugh, student loans), I’d quit and find another full-time remote position.

    7. The Real Lady Marmalade*

      100% second this. Had I been in the office these past few weeks, my stress would have been through the roof – so many interruptions, running between meetings, no natural opportunities to take breaks. I am able to stay more organized at home because I can build in breathers. As an introvert and someone who enjoys deep thinking, I am honestly delighted and feel a little bad when my coworkers talk about how much they hate it. I am definitely going to ask for a WFH day 1x/week when this is all over!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yeah we have a department meeting over video conference this afternoon. I’m not looking forward to hear an hour plus of everyone complaining about how much they hate working from home. Especially since it’s much harder for the faculty to push all their work off onto support staff since we don’t have the ability to help them as much with their online classes.

    8. Anon Anon*

      A little bit. I have a 3 month at home, and I came back from my maternity leave to work from home full-time. As horrible as this current situation is for the country and the world, working from home full-time has been a huge blessing as I adjust to a new baby and working. And I much prefer working from home. It’s far less stressful and I feel far more productive. But, I do feel horribly guilty about that.

      1. Artemesia*

        Good timing on the baby. A toddler is a nightmare for work from home, but a baby typically has a lot of sleep time and with any luck can be scheduled so you can get serious work time in. I worked at home when my oldest was a baby and it went very smoothly that first year — I had to get day care after that.

        1. Cat*

          I have a four-month-old and came back from maternity leave Wednesday. I guess it’s better than a toddler but it’s still an absolute nightmare.

          1. TyphoidMary (...my username seems in bad taste now)*

            same, Cat. Trying to get work done when the baby is napping in 30min-1hr intervals is rough (especially since I’m exhausted from not sleeping through the night; SOMEbody decided to have a sleep regression…)

            Solidarity to all the baby parents out there…whether this time has been a blessing or a strain!

          2. Extroverted Bean Counter*

            It’s SO dependent upon your baby. My first would have been a nightmare to try to work with (and I studied for most of the CPA exams with her at home it was… trying). She constantly needed to be held or entertained by an actual person, she was a crap sleeper, a never-napper, and always needed to be on the move in order to be happy. My second would have been a perfect WFH companion. He slept great at night from a very early age, took great and regular naps, and by and large was really happy to just hang out on a playmat or in a bouncer and look around at the world during his waking hours.

            Any time I see people talking about infants being “easy” (or at least “really not bad”) to work with, I assume they have a baby like #2 and have never experienced a baby like #1. It’s a folly to try and talk about babies/children in a general way.

          3. Lucy*

            I don’t think it’s that much better! The naps are less predictable, the feeds take a long time and you are probably feeling sleep deprived.

    9. Mangofan*

      I am on the cusp between introvert and extrovert but if you forced me to choose I’d definitely identify as an introvert — all of which to say, I wasn’t sure if the upsides of working from home would outweigh the downsides for me. Turns out they pretty definitively outweigh the downsides, even though I generally really like my co-workers — I am getting a little more sleep due to no commute, so I am generally happier and more energetic, and the small amount of persistent stress from working in an open office where people are always talking around me and someone could interrupt me at any moment is gone. And I get enough social interaction from virtual meetings. (If I had a role that was very light on meetings, this might be different.)

      My girlfriend (who lives separately from me) really needs a lot more social interaction, though, so I try not to exult about how happy I am to be working from home, because it’s a lot harder for her. Glad to have a place to bask in the glory of working from home :-)

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I live with my boyfriend and I have to say even though we are kind of stuck in the house together, our relationship has just been flourishing. I’m not anywhere near as stressed out from work so I’m happier. I can squeeze in more workout time so I’ve been energetic. And I need so little social interaction that by the time Thursday hits I’m exhausted and in a poor mood when I’m working in the office. None of that is happening now and there has been a lot of joy in our house, despite the circumstances.

      2. Roy G. Biv*

        I get you, MangoFan. I can ambivert as needed, but must be a true introvert, because I need the quiet downtime away from people to recharge. I have pinpointed my main problem with WFH — it means work has infringed upon my personal sanctuary. Aside from that, I’m still getting all the things done, and I think my newest team members are becoming more self sufficient, by finding answers to common work questions for themselves, instead of always asking the senior members. We’ll see if that newfound skill remains or evaporates once we’re back in the office.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          I get what you’re saying. That’s why I’ve kept my working hours even though a lot of other people in my department seem to be flexing their hours. I get a lot of emails late into the evening when I load everything up the next morning. I think a lot of people think if you’re working from home you should be available all the time, but I’ve still managed to keep the two very separate.

          1. Cloudy with sunny breaks*

            Very smart! I don’t have a separate office but I do close my laptop to signal end of workday. Although for your coworkers, it may not be that they expect you to be available so much as evenings are the times when they can work uninterrupted.

      3. Tau*

        Ambivert high-five! Although honestly, I might actually be a true extrovert beneath everything, but there are so many confounding factors that I don’t consider it a particularly useful distinction for me. WFH has been pretty awful so far and I dream of being able to be back in the office… but honestly, I’m glad some people are getting something positive out of it! Like, you all feeling guilty and trying to make yourself unhappy will not make this any better for me, you know?

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      The actual work-from-home experience I’ve been enjoying, but even though I’m an introvert, I still like being able to go places after work (the movies, a restaurant, a museum, etc.), and not being able to do that is a bummer.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Not work-related, but I actually do like it that so many events I used to go to after work have now moved online. I hated hated hated having to leave work at 5 to drive across the metro area in any weather and in rush-hour traffic to make it to a 7 PM lecture on time.

      2. Bunny Girl*

        I’m a little ashamed to say that my day to day social life really hasn’t changed much. I’m a huge homebody. A freaking night to me was taking my puppy to the store to sniff something.

    11. AnotherAlison*

      I’m not particularly enjoying it, but I hold no ill will toward you for enjoying it!

      I have an extroverted 15 year old boy with ADHD doing school from home, a 22 yo college student back home, and a husband who can’t work from home but is only busy and out of the house about a quarter time. The work part is fine, it’s the rest.

      1. Not that Leia*

        Agreed! The WFH would be great if we we didn’t also have to provide full time childcare.

        1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

          Yes! I’m hopefully accepting an internal move soon and think I’m going to see if I can negotiate 1-2 WFH days when we go back to “normal” because the few hours I do get to concentrate on actually working are really great.

          Trying to take care of a 1 and 3 year old at the same time is nigh impossible, so this is an otherwise really stressful time for us. But if I could send the kids to daycare and WFH? Amazing.

      2. Myrin*

        Off-topic to this thread but I didn’t know you had a second child, Alison! I was fully aware of your older child but have absolutely no recollection of their brother, and I’m usually really good with details regulars post on sites I frequent. There are still surprises in this world!

    12. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      I don’t feel guilty at all and I’m enjoying working from home. I never thought I would, the first week was an adjustment period, I’m missing my second monitor, but now, I’m loving it! My husband is downstairs and I’m in an open loft. In the morning we stream our favorite radio station (the DJ’s are doing an AWESOME job keeping everyone’s spirits lifted), and the afternoon we do “playlists of the day.” We stream anything from Broadway Show tunes to Steely Dan to Adele. We have lunch together every day and at 5:01 it’s cocktail hour!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I will admit I’m missing my 2nd monitor. We were allowed to take ours home but mine is on a dual set up and weighed an ungodly amount so I just decided against it.

    13. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

      I don’t feel guilty per se, but I am impressed if that’s the right word? I was one of the “I will never WFH, I hate it so much, I enjoy working in the office.” I ended up having to WFH for about 2 weeks before getting laid off and to be honest, I did enjoy some of the minor perks. I’d still prefer to be in office around people, but now I realized that i can WFH and not have a rough time with it.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I’m right there with you. Usually, I can’t work from home. I had to go pack up my desktop to bring to my house so I could have a workspace. I’ve been doing ok, performance-wise, but I actually prefer going to the office. I like my job, I like my coworkers, and I’m missing the routine of going in and seeing people.

    14. wfh*

      I understand where you’re coming from. There is dysfunction where I work, too. The derailers still derail, but at least now, once the meeting’s over, I don’t have a day of derailment ahead of me. Without the dumpster fire surrounding me, I’m so much happier in my work and a lot more productive.

    15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      (raises hand) we had several people in the leadership, who are no longer with the company but the culture they’d created still lives on, who had an irrational aversion to WFH and were cracking down on it the entire time they were at the company. Given that the team itself is spread out across the country, and we’ve historically had people on our teams that are/were 100% remote, it made no sense. But the fact remained that we were expected to very very rarely ask for wfh, and when we did, we had to send an email to our manager(s) with a valid reason why we want to wfh on this day, and then literally ask permission. (You couldn’t say “I have a mid-day doctor’s appointment and will wfh the rest of the day”, your email had to have the words “May I work from home today because I have a mid-day dr appointment?”) We hardly ever had in-person meetings because again, half the attendees were halfway across country, and/or our small meeting rooms could not hold everyone invited. I honestly do not know why it was so important for us to come into work every morning! WFH changed nothing in our day-to-day work, it is much quieter with fewer distractions (don’t know why so many people in the office liked to park in front of random coworkers’ desks or in front of open office doors in hallways, to have loud impromptu hallway meetings). I’m saving on the commute, gas, wear, and tear on my car. I have my own office with a door and windows that open… It is glorious. I just wish it was for a better reason. It actually would be really nice if, after this is all over, the acceptance of people being fully or mostly wfh remains.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Your company has such an archaic and asinine stance on working from home. Your company’s leadership should realize that a largely WFH employee population will cut overhead costs.

    16. The Original K.*

      I like it and I don’t feel guilty about it. There are a lot of things about the state of the world right now, including social distancing/isolation, that I really don’t like, but working at home isn’t one of them. I’m saving money and time by not commuting and I can get chores done during the day. (I don’t have kids or a spouse so I don’t have the “everyone is here ALL THE TIME” feeling of frustration my parent friends describe.) The only thing is that I wish I had a home office so there was more of a separation of home and work (I typically work at my desk in the corner of my living room), but other than that I’m good as far as working from home goes.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I work at a University and on the first floor of our building is a visitors center. It’s in another department and I have nothing to do with it. I’m on an upper floor of our building but I still had people from the visitors center wander up through the other offices and interrupt me all. the. time. Now I just get interruptions from my animals, who are infinitely cuter and much more well mannered.

    17. ToodleOodleWhordleOrdle*

      Aside from the existential nightmare of WORK being INSIDE MY HOUSE now, I can’t deny that my house is a much pleasanter place to be than my office. My nearest office neighbor is very irritating and I was deep into into Bitch Eating Crackers territory with him, but now I haven’t seen or spoken to him in 2 weeks! It’s fantastic! Also my cat had surgery recently, and being home means I can keep an eye on him. I’m very anxious for This All To Be Over, but for relationship/personal sanity/humanity’s well being reasons, not work ones. I’m in no hurry to return to my office.
      The whole situation is so horrible that any joy we can find feels weird, but enjoying a break from unpleasant coworkers is perfectly reasonable, and the information that your “work anxiety” might be mostly “environmental/Those People anxiety” is valuable.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        On another note I was seeing a therapist for work related stress a few months back and I tried to explain to her that I had Bitch Eating Crackers syndrome with about everyone I worked with and she was like ….What???

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Work’s been on and off inside my house since 20 years and three jobs ago. (One of the reasons why I always try to designate a space in my home as a home office, as much as the living space allows.) It might sound odd that the same leadership would be dead set against WFH and all in favor of being able to contact you at all hours in case they needed you to get some work done, but that’s the way things have been at most of my workplaces.

        I’m very anxious for This All To Be Over, but for relationship/personal sanity/humanity’s well being reasons, not work ones. I’m in no hurry to return to my office.

        Same, same.

    18. !*

      I am also an introvert as others have posted here and so have no issues working from home and not being constantly interrupted by my boss yelling my name or calling my phone, or people stopping by my cubicle to give me something to do. I have the ability to concentrate on one issue at a time (for the most part). While we do have Lync, I am redirecting people to the normal channels for assistance, and not answering my cell phone and sending emails redirecting people to the normal channels for assistance. All the normal channels for support are there, not sure why people think it’s any different now. We are definitely a butts in seats organization, but we also had a technophobe for a CEO, the new CEO is far more accepting and is amazed by how well the transition has gone. We have almost 100% of our office folks working from home, our field personnel is only taking emergencies. Unfortunately, the powers that be could still do better, we had a temp working in the office who was diagnosed with Covid-19, she works in the same area as a woman having chemo (who was also coming into the office, but not on the same days as the temp). So now she and others in that location are quarantined and working from home. They should have been home from the GET go.

    19. Aggretsuko*

      I enjoy it, except for all the meetings because we HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE COMMUNICATE!!!!! Those are exhausting and I have to have a bare minimum of 3 Zoom meetings/phone calls a day.

      Literally I just had 3 Zoom meeting scheduled on me within the last 5 minutes.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        We just had our first department Zoom meeting scheduled for this afternoon. I’m really hoping we don’t have a million more.

      2. Djuna*

        I had four solid hours with 6 back to back Zoom meetings the other day. It was horrible.
        People just seem to be setting meetings for everything because they’re bored, because at least half those meetings really could have been emails. I literally had people who were in a few of those meetings with me pinging me on Slack to say “OMG WHY ALL THE MEETINGS?!” so I know it wasn’t just me being grumpy.

      3. Tau*

        The meetings, oh god. /o\ My company just took all our meetings to video conference, and I find them sooo exhausting and half the time I can’t focus on what anyone is saying. In desperation I started secretly knitting during a call where I wasn’t going to speak last week in hopes it would help me not zone out after half a sentence. (Worked fairly well, actually, or at least it took longer until I lost the thread completely.) I’m not sure if this is just a me thing or not – I also have a lot of difficulty with podcasts and audiobooks, and don’t watch movies or TV – but it suuuucks.

        Especially annoying because I do miss the social interaction from the office and we have some chitchat meetings on the schedule, but by the time they roll around I am usually like “if you try to put me in front of one more camera I will begin gnawing off my own limbs to escape.”

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Look up the ArsTechnica coverage on Zoom security flaws… my IT guy husband has banned it from the house for now. It’s got problems on all operating systems.
        Which stinks because I was using it with two social groups already.

    20. Please Exit Through The Rear Door*

      I am. Right before COVID hit, I was actually thinking about approaching my HR department about taking a leave of absence to work on my writing for a few months and clear my head. My anxiety had risen to a dangerous level. My job becoming remote solved the problem.

      I really, really don’t want to return to work. To make matters worse, I work in a position where I will be directly working with people trying to find jobs and when the world eventually re-starts, it looks like we’re going to have a situation that will make the Great Recession look like a piece of cake. I can’t imagine how stressful it’s going to be. I really, really am dreading it.

      But for now, there’s not much remote work and I have downtime. I’ve banged out tens of thousands of words for my novel in the past three weeks. And I’m positively wracked with guilt that I’m benefiting from a global pandemic that is killing people by the thousands and turning others’ lives totally upside down. But that’s basically the situation for me.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        This is my situation too. My direct supervisor is an angel and when I started this job she told me she is perfectly fine with me working on my own homework as long as I was available to help with anything. I’ve got quite a bit of downtime too, but I immediately drop my own work when I get an email in.

      2. Batgirl*

        You’re not benefiting at anyone’s expense; you are keeping calm and carrying on. That’s what you’re supposed to do!

    21. RabbitRabbit*

      I feel bad that I’m not feeling bad. Sort of. Not really.

      A colleague used to complain when we would use the group text too much (sharing pet pics and such). Now that we’re all WFH he added extra people in the office to the texting, started doing a daily round of good mornings/etc. and after about a week of that found he was getting autoresponses that someone had blocked him!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I’ve directed my coworkers to my Google Voice number, so there is no texting. I’ve maintained my office hours because I do well on that schedule, but a lot of my coworkers have started working later and I didn’t want phone calls and texts on my personal cell phone at 9 or 10 at night.

    22. submerged tenths*

      Unfortunately, my job is a) not do-able anywhere but AT work and b) in an “essential” business. Much as i’m grateful to still be earning a paycheck, i would *love* to be at home during the day!

    23. Quiltrrr*

      I am in the same situation. I LOVE working from home (although it’s a little different than I envisioned with my teens not in school). I’m an introvert, my boss was not in the office that much anyway, and it was just the 2 of us on my team. So, I love working from home, but obviously don’t like the overall reason why. I have done some strong hinting to my boss that we should push for staying home even after this is all done. It would be of great benefit to him as well with his medical conditions.

      1. Windchime*

        We recently got a new CIO and I think he is going to make some serious changes. Most of our very large IT department has been WFH for 4 weeks now and we are getting stuff done at an amazing rate, especially in light of the virus (we are a hospital system). The other day, he mentioned in a staff meeting that, when this is over, they will be re-evaluating how much office space we will actually need for staff because of WFH. The way he said it made me think that it might be possible for some people to become full time WFH. I am very optimistic.

        Oh, and I’m loving WFH. I feel like I’m living a real schedule, like a real person. I don’t have to go to bed at 8:30 and wake up at 4:30. I’m not filling my car up every week and pouring money into parking. Not sitting in traffic 2 hours a day. It’s awesome.

        1. No Going Back*

          A lot of businesses are going to be reevaluating. Our IT support company is going to permanently move half of their support people to WFH and rent smaller offices. Another company I talked to is discussing moving all their phone tech support to WFH. My own employer was very resistant to WFH (law office). They only had the setup so people could WFH on nights and weekends, as an addition to being in the office. The younger associates had been asking for WFH days for years, but the older partners just couldn’t get past “lawyers work in offices in office buildings” Now we’re 100% WFH and billing 25% more hours. I think it’s that all the random socializing around the office was taking up that much time, lol.

          Government offices are getting into it, too, although time will tell if the current changes will remain after the pandemic passes. For now, states and federal agencies are allowing applications to be filed electronically that had to be paper before. Some states already allowed virtual annual meetings, others are rushing to pass legislation to allow it. (The average age of people who actually show up to annual stockholder meetings is probably 75, so both the companies and the regulators are desperate to come up with alternatives.) Other states are simply putting business on hold, refusing to allow mergers and acquisitions, but that seems to have been the answer when they thought it would all be over with by Easter. The longer the pandemic continues, the more states will have to come up with electronic solutions to their problems, and once they allow it, why go back?

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My office could cut my department’s space by 50% if they let us each WFH 2 days/week. Get us used to no paper, and we’d have no reason not to share a space one day a week–much of which would be doing in-house planning sessions with other departments anyway!

    24. BlackBelt Jones*

      Guilty?!?

      So many jobs can be done BETTER from home with much less stress, traffic, expense…the list goes on and on!
      To me, it’s company management that should feel guilty!

    25. KayDeeAye*

      I am also kind of enjoying it – not all of it (oh, for my in-office, high-speed internet! oh, for the ability to met with people I actually want to meet with!), but an awful lot of it, and this despite the fact that I like and get along with almost all my coworkers. But I love having a 20-second commute, I love the flexibility, I love wearing sweatpants to work, I love oh, so many things, and yeah, I’m going to miss quite a few aspects when this is all over. I have often thought to myself how much I’d like to work from home a couple of days a week, and dang it, I was right. I hope to use the proof that this can indeed work as leverage later one when I open the “Can I work from home fairly often?” conversation.

    26. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      Yep. I don’t feel so much guilty about enjoying it as the fact that I get to WFH when so many people are losing jobs right and left. Also, while I like teleworking, I’m not immune to the general anxiety and mourning of the shit our country/world is going through. It’s not like I get to work at home and then go to happy hour. It’s not normal times right now.

    27. AwsomeRandGMom*

      I am crazy enjoying the time work from home, saving much time & money not commuting and don’t feel exhausted at the end of every work day.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yes! I’m loving not having a commute. Mine wasn’t horrible but it was 15-20 minutes of stop and go traffic, which uses up your gas more than you imagine. Plus I went home every day over lunch to let me dog out.

    28. Dee Dee*

      Yeah… I am already starting to think about if, when the office opens up again, I can just keep on doing it. Not 100% of the time, but most of the time? That would be nice. I’m eating better, I’m exercising more, I have more time with my family… My main stressor is that with my son at home, my wife (who always works from home anyway) and I are now also educators, but if I didn’t have that additional responsibility on my plate I’d probably quite enjoy this.

    29. Not So NewReader*

      If it were me, I’d go with this is a sink or swim situation and I have decided to swim. It’s okay not to feel guilty that you are enjoying it.

      Perhaps they are not enjoying it because there is no one around to treat like crap.

      Try to think of it as you are adaptable person who manages adversity. Years ago I read employees who flex will make out the best over the long run. This, combined with the fact that there are people who need to maliciously gossip and generally be nasty in order to get through their workday and they are not getting their daily “fix” of that. Those people will not make out as well as you and that is on them, not you. You do not need to feel guilty for having good survival skills. You get your energy from positive settings and you adapt/flex well under stressful events. Chin up, keep going.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Good advice! And yes I think part of the issue is half the people are like What the heck I don’t have anyone to verbally abuse anymore :( and the other half are just mad that they can’t push every single duty off on us since we don’t have the same permissions to take care of their online classes.

      2. Lisa*

        “Perhaps they are not enjoying it because there is no one around to treat like crap.”

        What the heck does this sentence mean? I agree that its of course good to be adaptable, flexible, etc. But I hope that you have positive interactions with people in your life.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Some people cannot get through their work day without drama. It’s how they energize themselves so they can make it to quitting time. If there is not any naturally occurring upheaval they will try to generate some. They stand out like sore thumbs to the rest of us, as we call them drama llamas or crisis mongers, etc.

      3. Tau*

        Perhaps they are not enjoying it because there is no one around to treat like crap.

        I hope I’m misreading this? Not everyone who doesn’t like WFH and prefers to be in the office is a malicious bully. Or terribly inflexible and doomed to failure. Can we just go with “people are different, what works for some doesn’t work for others, let’s hope that once this is over as many people as possible can work in their preferred way”?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep, this is just about OP’s situation.
          At the very top of this thread OP says, ” my coworkers are overall really awful people and I don’t have to see them at all…”
          Righ,t this would not apply to the average person who is stressed/tired/etc and works at home. OP has indicated her cohorts carried a lot of discord before all this happened.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            You are unfortunately correct. We have one faculty member who is a serial sexual harasser, and a lot of the other ones are what I would probably call verbally abusive or otherwise just unpleasant in generaly.

          2. Tau*

            Understood! Sorry for overreacting – I’ve been sensitive about this and should have remembered OP’s context.

      4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I agree. I’ve worked with people like this throughout my career. They are awful. It’s nice when you don’t have to deal with them daily.

    30. Niniel*

      No, you’re definitely not alone. I also love it!! I’m not looking forward to going back to the office. Most of my anxiety is definitely social anxiety, and it’s great to not have to deal with people all. the. time. And I don’t have to endure the hour plus commute time every day, and I get to take a long walk after lunch!! It’s all so glorious, and I wish we could carry some semblance of this into the After-COVID time.

    31. weird of hermiston*

      Yes! I have more energy and less stress due to fewer sensory overloads and having to be ready for anyone who walks up to my cube. Just not having to be on and in uncomfortable clothes is a relief. Being able to practice my guitar and take walks during lunch is wonderful. We live in a rural area and there was a full 5 minutes I stood outside this morning and didn’t hear any cars. I am definitely interacting more with coworkers, though- our IMs are almost constantly busy so I feel like I’m communicating even more than usual. But that’s less pressure too because I don’t have to figure out what facial expressions mean and what I’m doing. I also have multiple cats and people in the house, so I’m not really lonely.

    32. NoviceManagerGuy*

      My six-year-old said to me the other day “I’m having a great time, but I wish it were for a different reason.”

      Don’t feel any guilt! I’ve been WFH for almost 8 years so this is nothing different for me but WFH is really great for many people!

    33. Snow*

      I put off working from home because I needed access to the company wifi, so I’ve been working from home a week less than the rest of my colleagues. Some say they miss work and talking to people but I am genuinely thriving. I AM SO HAPPY. And I just got out of a stressful slump where I would have anxiety from work, but it’s all gone now. No one is interrupting me, I don’t have to sit in on stuffy meetings in rooms with no air. I might have to change my stance on freelance work after this.

    34. Academic Librarian*

      Absolutely! I feel great, but I keep thinking, why is everyone so worked up about this work from home thing? I think I’m having no trouble because I live alone and am used to being solitary, so it doesn’t bother me. I can get much more work done. Plus I don’t have to worry about packing a lunch!

      Oh yes, I decided to go ahead and dye my hair lavender as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. The color is nice, but it’s semi permanent so I will have to re-dye every week or so. It doesn’t seem to show up in a picture or on Zoom, so no one at work has commented on it yet.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Haha! I was thinking the same thing. My hair is currently platinum blonde but I’ve had pink hair in the past and I missed it. But since I’ve been working from home I’ve been thinking about bringing it back!

    35. Sleepy*

      Yes, I am actually enjoying it. Weirdly, what I miss most about working from the office is…my commute! I’m a bike commuter and getting that fresh air before and after work was great for my mental health.

      What I love the most is getting to see my husband in the morning. He has a 1.5 hr commute each way so he usually would leave before I was even awake, now we get to have coffee together.

    36. Debbie Downer*

      No, I don’t feel guilty and I’m not even working from home. I’m on “Safety Leave Due to Emergency Conditions” so I’m not working, but still getting paid. That said, I’m too anxious to enjoy the time off.

      If anything, I’m annoyed with my employer. I really think they should just shut down altogether for a couple of more weeks to allow the pandemic to peak before they call us back to work. They’ve done pathetically little to protect employees from the virus. (There was a hand sanitizing dispenser placed near the elevator, although most employees use the stairs located far away from the elevator, and they seemed to be cleaning the restrooms more often as the smell of cleaning chemicals was noticeable before I left.)

      I swear that they won’t be happy until there’s an outbreak in our local office and then they are forced to shut down. To make matters worse, I’ve been called back to work on Monday, even though I have several issues that make me considered to be at high-risk.

    37. AnonEMoose*

      I’m not enjoying the situation, but I am enjoying the time at home. And my company is being very proactive and supportive of the employees and their families, so I feel very fortunate in that respect, especially seeing how some other companies are responding to all of this.

    38. Elle*

      WFH is the bit I’m not enjoying, but professionally, this situation is fantastic for me, and yeah, I feel a bit guilty!

    39. ellex42*

      I am LOVING working from home, and said so on a work-wide platform when a general question was sent out about how we were coping with it.

      The office I work in is open – ridiculously so – and we on longer have cubicles, just desks, and the amount of noise is absolutely ridiculous. You would think that everyone being able to see/hear everyone else’s business would keep people quiet and at least pretending to work, but no – it’s even worse than it used to be.

      Now I can actually hear myself think! And while I still sometimes put off a particularly difficult assignment for tomorrow (or next week), I feel much more able to do the research and am able to concentrate. And while I know that a lot of my coworkers prefer face-to-face instructions, I learn much better by reading, so it’s much easier to learn something new or get instructions on a problem when my manager has to write it down.

      My coworkers are nice people, but they talk – a lot – and I do very poorly in noisy environments.

      My family has also noticed, unasked and unprompted, that my stress levels are much lower. I also find that I’m stress-eating less, and far more likely to have the energy to exercise.

      I’m trying to get a bit of extra work done and desperately hoping that when we can go back to the office, our formerly WFH-resistant management sees that some of us, at least, really do better that way, and they allow more freedom to WFH.

    40. Saffie Girl*

      I have also really been enjoying working from home and am getting further on a lot of my projects than I have in a long time. I know some of my co-workers are having a much harder time, but I’ve realized that a significant amount of my time in the office is spent getting pulled into others problems that aren’t truly mine to solve.

      I think some of their struggle is that they are having to learn parts of their job that they never really figured out, and my boss has been great turning their requests for assistance back on themselves (previously I would get a lot of random requests in the halls, not in the proper meetings). So now, I’m far less stressed as I can focus on my work, but some of my co-workers are more stressed as they now have to fix their own problems.

    41. Observer*

      No reason to feel guilty. They say that misery loves company, but I don’t buy it. Now,if you enjoyed the fact that they don’t like it, that would be ugly. But the ability to adapt, enjoy things that others don’t as long as you are not hurting them, and find silver linings are all GOOD things.

      Just don’t gloat and shove this in people’s faces.

    42. Tau*

      Don’t feel guilty! I am pretty much miserable at WFH myself – it basically takes all my really carefully built up coping mechanisms for keeping my disability from affecting my work which were working very well thank you, sets them on fire and then stomps on the ashes – but, y’know, you feeling guilty will not improve anything for me, and it’s nice to know that people are gaining something positive from this! Like, how terrible would it be if *all* of us were miserable.

    43. Mad Harry Crewe*

      My therapist pointed out that it can be really helpful to acknowledge nice things, even when the situation overall sucks – like “yes there’s a pandemic, but I’m having a really nice day” is not a contradiction. This is not the suffering olympics.

    44. Sparrow*

      Same – I always thought I’d hate working from home full time, but I kind of love it now that I have an actual desk set up. My job was always very independent anyway, and I get at least as much done at home as I did in the office. If I could just do stuff in the evenings, it would be great! Honestly I’m already dreading having to commute again, because getting that 90 minutes a day back has made way more of a difference than I ever imagined. And I have way more social energy in the evenings to video chat with friends who are struggling a lot more with the isolation, so I’m trying to pay it forward a bit.

    45. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty for enjoying working from home. I work from home and prefer it over having to go to an office everyday. I don’t know why some people try to make monsters of people who prefer to WFH. I like my coworkers just fine (well, most of them anyway), but prefer the distance working from home provides. If you’re communicating and are available as reasonably needed, that should be fine. Don’t let socially needy people shame you into feeling guilty about enjoying WFH.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        To clarify, it’s totally okay to prefer working in the office. Just don’t make monsters of people who prefer to WFH. :)

  8. Sharkie*

    Hey guys. So some of you my remember that my company banned work from home during all of this…. well instead of letting us work from home they decided to lay 80% of us off. It was honestly a textbook what not to do when you lay people off. It was so disorganized that they didn’t ask for my keys to the building or my company credit card. It’s been a week and I’m ok but numb you know. At least they are going to have to tell future candidates that instead of working from home during this crisis they just laid people off to save money on laptops.

    1. Sharkie*

      OH AND I FORGOT THE KICKER. 90% of my fellow lay-off employees didn’t get any type of severance, which ok whatever, but there are about 5 people who got severance that weren’t supposed to!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        OMG, this is awful. I’m sorry you lost your job – I hope you land on your feet with something better like OP #6 in this morning’s post.

        1. Sharkie*

          Thanks, I already had an interview for a position I am somewhat excited about this morning and am moving to the second round. :)

        2. A New Level of Anon*

          OP#6 is a unicorn. As happy as I was for them, it’s not something I wanted to see because it’s such an unrealistic outcome for the rest of us.

    2. Mama Bear*

      I agree that it was a really bad misstep. I’m sorry you got laid off at this time.

      And I agree that anyone looking for a job should absolutely ask how they handled this crisis.

    3. Anono-me*

      That sounds like a very horrible experience for you and your coworkers. I hope you are able to take good care of yourself and your loved ones.

      Actually, with a 80% +/- layoff it may have made more sense and been cheaper to cancel any company credit cards and to rekey the locks than to pay to have everyone turn them in and do the paperwork. It certainly should be better from a virus prevention standpoint. (Although given what you said this reasoning for doing so may not apply to your company.)

      1. Sharkie*

        Thankfully I am in a great spot (mid 20’s, single, no kids) and I have safety nets/ got severance so if I am very careful I can be jobless for a bit. And my company just forgot to ask for it back lol. They actually thanked me for being honest about it and not putting bills on it. I don’t think canceling the cards and changing the electronic locks ever occurred to them. They just decided to lay us off 30 minutes before it started apparently

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Wow, I’m really glad they put a lot of thought and strategic planning into how and why they were going to upend a ton of people’s lives for the long-term survival of their organization.

          Alternatively: What, if your fellow CEOs jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Um, is that business even going to survive? And thank goodness for unemployment, so at least everyone will have some money coming in.

      1. Sharkie*

        I have no clue. This week was supposed to be our big sales meeting where everyone from all the international locations got together to talk about how last year was our best year ever by tens of millions, get the large christmas/ easter bonus we all earned and talk about raises (I was only one of 2 women in the department and we were both underpaid by a lot). I don’t get how they can go from that to “OMG WE HAVE 2 WEEKS OF SLOW SALES WE ARE GOING UNDER!!!!!” so quickly.

        1. Anono-me*

          Please see your above comment about everyone (large group and good bonuses) about to get bonuses. I suspect the timing it was not that accidental and that everyone still with the company will still get bonuses (small group and fantastic bonuses).

          Also, I am glad that you are in a strong position to get through this and move forward.

    5. Parenthetically*

      “At least they are going to have to tell future candidates that instead of working from home during this crisis they just laid people off to save money on laptops.”

      I pray all the time for a MAJOR RECKONING to come out of this. Honestly, we are so due.

      1. Fikly*

        I dunno, I feel like companies who are fine with acting this way are the same companies who would not disclose that they acted this way in the future.

        They’re not going to tell anyone unless forced. Thus the importance of Glassdoor and other sources of information for what really happened.

    6. Mazzy*

      At least they are going to have to tell future candidates that instead of working from home during this crisis they just laid people off to save money on laptops.

      Exactly, this really hits me, and one day them, in the gut

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

      Oh nooooo. I’m sorry about your job. And I wish this hits them hard.

      1. Sharkie*

        Don’t worry clients are raising hell. Apparently my email is still on so there is no out of office messages letting clients know I am no longer there. My land line is still up too so clients think I am ignoring them, so they are starting to call me on my personal phone. My clients love me so they are giving my bosses grief.

        1. Picard*

          If you still have access to your emails, put an out of office auto responder saying you were laid off and to contact (I dunno) your CEO for any needs. hahahaha

        2. Observer*

          That’s just mind blowing.

          They are idiots. But at least it looks like it’s going to bite them in a big way.

    8. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      Sharkie wrote: “At least they are going to have to tell future candidates that instead of working from home during this crisis they just laid people off to save money on laptops.”

      Fikly responded: “I feel like companies who are fine with acting this way are the same companies who would not disclose that they acted this way in the future.”

      I agree with Fikly. People have been saying that one of the questions they’re going to ask employers in future job interviews is, ‘how did you deal with the coronavirus situation?’ But I’m thinking that unless the way they handled things is already a matter of public record, no company is going to honestly say anything to indicate they acted in a manner that put their own interests first.

      And if you find out after you start working for them that they lied, what then?

    9. Thankful for AAM*

      So sorry!
      I feel like there should be a special part of glassdoor to “out” employers who handled this badly, not those who were tryi g and got it wrong but this kind of terrible move.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      “At least they are going to have to tell future candidates that instead of working from home during this crisis they just laid people off to save money on laptops.”

      Oh you KNOW they will lie about that!
      Post your reviews on Glassdoor and Indeed and get others to do the same.

  9. Oh No She Di'int*

    Ahhhh… stretching out in an office all alone! (We’re an essential business with a policy of one person in the office at a time.) Just found the Office Manager’s secret stash of office Cheez-Its, and she is powerless to stop me!! Enjoy your Fridays everyone!

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            Yep. Individual little packets. There’s usually a supply of them in the break room, but because no one’s been in much, she hadn’t replenished them in a while.

    1. Western Rover*

      Our break room tripped a breaker when everyone was working from home and it might have been up to two days before it was reset. I had forgotten to take my food home from the fridge and I hope for the thief’s sake nobody steals it.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        I haven’t been at my workplace since the 12th and am sincerely hoping that someone chucked the entire contents of the fridge into the garbage before we all abandoned ship. Because, yikes.

        1. WellRed*

          I did this at my office as I was one of the last there. I also like cleaning out the office fridge, though.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            I mean, we do it weekly on a rotating schedule. But our fridge was undersized for our office and we would get people who’d store a few days’ worth of lunches or similar, so it was usually packed pretty full even when clean.

    2. New Job So Much Better*

      Yay for secret Cheez-its! My boss and I came back after a conference once to find the employee “watching the store” had searched, found and devoured every food item in the office. Hilarious.

  10. C.J.*

    I work in food service. We can’t work from home and my work is still open for carry out, drive-through and delivery orders. An employee got coronavirus. Everyone who works here was immediately sent home and the entire restaurant had to be cleaned within an inch of its life by a special cleaning company. We were all in self-isolation as were any of our family members or friends we had been in contact with. It turns out she lied. She doesn’t have coronavirus and the note was a forgery. All of us worried about ourselves and our families for nothing. She got arrested by police over it and the provincial public health unit is also investigating her. My work is open again but everyone is still really nervous and on edge now. I know there is probably nothing I can do, but is there anything that I can do to try and make the other employees feel better?
    I hope everyone here at AAM is taking care during these times.

      1. C.J.*

        I’m not sure how she was caught. Something happened to get the police involved but I was at home in self-isolation so I have no clue how it went down.

    1. Also an Elizabeth*

      I get why she would be fired, but why would the police get involved or care about this? I can’t believe they would arrest someone for this.

      1. ina garten's giant cocktail*

        yeahhh i can see how she’d be civilly liable for cleaning costs, etc. but that’s a huge overstep on the cops’ part (not that that’s anything unusual in the US). it’s like how the cops in rhode island are going door to door looking for new yorkers who left the state. this stuff just CANNOT be criminalized or else the most vulnerable populations will suffer more than they are already.

        1. ina garten's giant cocktail*

          i want to stress that what she did was absolutely terrible though, and i wish you and your coworkers the best, CJ

          1. ina garten's giant cocktail*

            you’re totally right, but unfortunately, over-policing is a problem worldwide

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Too late for that, I think. I suspect more than a few people will find they are up on charges if they fiddly-fart around with stuff too much.

          We have precedents: Someone mentioned yelling “fire” in a theater. Also, don’t say the word “bomb” at an airport.

          People are being held accountable for that they say, you know, like real adults. If there is no fire/bomb/covid then don’t say there IS.

        3. AnonForReasons*

          New Yorkers “riding it out” in Rhode Island are not exactly the most marginalized people out there. It’s not as though a housing project got together and went to Providence. It’s rich idiots who want to continue to live their rich lives the same way they do in the city, with total disregard for anyone else.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            They are cleaning off our grocery store shelves for us up here. Those of us who can only buy one roll of TP per week are SOL.

        4. LJay*

          I’m guessing since they said the provincial police department that C.J. is not in the US.

        5. Observer*

          There is a huge difference between trying to criminalize people going from one state to another (in the US), and lying about exposure to a pandemic illness. The latter IS something that can (and should, imo) be criminalized as we treat fraud and endangering public safety as crimes.

      2. Jedi Squirrel*

        Forging medical records is pretty serious business.

        But seriously, if she is brazen enough to do this, she probably pulled some other crap that got her arrested. Who knows?

          1. pnw dweller*

            exactly. The doctor, who’s name she forged, could be the one driving this. It is very not okay to forge a doctor’s note- which I think would be a universal issued, not just a US one. I can also think of the health department (however the local equivalent is named) , they might have been trying to locate everyone the employee came in contact with. Such a waste of resources. Hope OP’s restaurant is able to recover. the public may be unwilling to trust that it’s safe to eat from there.

      3. Sunflower*

        They are taking this stuff extremely seriously- I’m sure they could make the charges stick somehow no matter how ridiculous given the economy and people’s state are fragile enough as is. This is probably a bigger deal but they did arrest a woman in NJ for saying she had COVID and coughing on produce in a grocery store even though they aren’t sure if the woman actually had it. The store had to throw out $35,000 worth of food.

        1. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

          And rightfully they should.

          A guy went around walmart licking items, and said he had COVID. One of those stupid viral things (like teens licking ice cream last summer). Last I read he was arrested and charged with terrorism. Doubt it’ll stick but at least good for law enforcement for taking it seriously.

          1. Junimo the Hutt*

            Not far from our Wal-Mart licker, another person coughed on others and wrote “COVID” in a fogged glass door at a dollar store. He was also charged with “making terroristic threats” (which my law school pal tells me is not the same thing as being charged with terrorism). I would like people in my state to stop making the news in this manner, but I’m glad the police are taking measures to protect essential workers.

            1. Artemesia*

              Saw a video of some jerk opening bottle after bottle of juice, taking a sip and then capping and putting back on the shelves. Yeah put this guy and those like this in jail and let them run the risks there.

          2. Sunflower*

            I totally agree. I think normally issues and citations that wouldn’t stick are getting taken seriously. I hadn’t thought or made the connection before but I think police can and should be able to treat some COVID claims and actions as terrorist threats.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            That happened in my state, which is also where the guy took the AR-15 to Walmart to make a point, and the gun thing happened in OldCity where I used to live. Way to make employees feel even less safe.

            This place seems determined to win the trophy for State Containing the Most Stupid Idiots.

            1. Junimo the Hutt*

              My favorite part of the story was that his mother and girlfriend both told him explicitly NOT to do this and he still made Surprised Pikachu Face when arrested.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          That was in Pennsylvania. :) It was my home county. Now you can see why I moved 2,000 miles away, lol!

      4. Anonymous Canadian*

        I am really going to hope this is the same case as my town (because I’m really hoping 2 people haven’t done the same thing). In that case the person was charged with mischief over $5,000, fraud under $5,000, using a forged document and making a forged document. I guess they want to set an example to discourage others?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup – and I’m in full support of this. Now is not the time for assholes to be doing “pranks” like this.

        2. Anon in Ontario*

          This sounds exactly like a case that happened in my town… and like you, I am really hoping that it’s the only one of its kind out there right now!

          This case took a huge tool on the mental health of many people (it was a very busy restaurant, with a lot of staff), and cost many (already low-waged and often precariously employed) workers a lot of lost income.

          C.J.: I’m sorry that that happened to you. Things were already stressful enough as-is. I have no useful advice, but I wish you and your coworkers luck.

      5. Humble Schoolmarm*

        My province has been posting lists of public gatherings with possible exposures so that anyone who was there at that time and is showing symptoms can get tested. Lying about a co-vid exposure means that many people (depending on how busy the business is) could be lining up (with other infected people) for unnecessary tests.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I didn’t even think about that angle – she definitely deserves to be arrested in that case.

      6. Sara without an H*

        I think C.J. is writing from Canada (“provincial”), and I know nothing about local laws there. This may, indeed, be a jailable offense there.

        Here in the Lower 48, laws vary, depending on the situation and how panicked the authorities are.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          We have seen this with AIDS people would spit at others then announce they had AIDS- which may or may not have been true.
          But back then it was decided that this is clearly a threat. The intent is to do harm either by scaring people or actually infecting them.
          Spit guards are used on defendants who have a history of using spit as a weapon.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              At that time society was not certain about that. I was reaching back decades for that example, I should have said that. We did land on recognizing spit being used like a weapon. It’s to the point that authorities have spit guards for difficult defendants.

          1. Penny Parker*

            To give a touch of history here, although I am coming in late. The government first dealt with a spitting case being declared “assault and battery” when Ben Masel, R.I.P. (cannabis activist; Yippie; and one of my best friends and my old mentor) was prosecuted by the U.S. government because he spit in Sen Henry (Scoop) Jackson’s face during a demonstration. This was taken through the appellate level at the 7th Circuit. The government’s case was supported by the fact that sex offenses can occur without injury yet still be a form of battery. The incident happened in 1976 and the appellate court ruled in 1977. You can read it here, if this link is allowed through. Since then spitting at someone has been considered an assault and battery case in U.S. law.
            https://books.google.com/books?id=jUHgttOMUIoC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=ben+masel+spit&source=bl&ots=qDGbFUHJKP&sig=ACfU3U2dfNW5W5VRvvvx5uYlvGg24xmT1Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjv8Jutu9HoAhWUbc0KHULcAOAQ6AEwBnoECAsQKQ#v=onepage&q=ben%20masel%20spit&f=false

      7. Jules the 3rd*

        It’s easy to find this, and according to the news story:

        “There has been a significant impact on the restaurant, local customers and employees which instigated the need for police involvement,” the department added.

        Officials said they received information about the fraudulent note from [the local] Public Health Services.”

        My bet is there’s an element of example to this, so that others don’t do it.

      8. HappySnoopy*

        It would depend on jurisdiction or even the way the local emergency declarations are written, but have you ever heard you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater? Its along those lines, I would bet. Inciting panic. This is a place that serves the public and this stunt wasted not just the business time and money, but likely authorities who would test Andorra notify every customer.

      9. Maddy*

        Canadian and all provinces have issued states of emergency. Provinces have also started to impose high fines for these kinds of issues (not social isolating, no quarantineing, not social distances properly) so I’m not surprised that the police would be involved in this. Whether or not this person could be charged I don’t know.

    2. LGC*

      …that’s monstrous. (And I thought it was only the US that was acting terribly here. Which…we are, but I digress.)

      I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, and I hope your coworker faces consequences for her actions.

      1. leapingLemur*

        Are you saying you think only people in the US act terribly sometimes? That seems unfair. Also, some people and companies in the US have been doing good things.

        1. Kiwi with laser beams*

          LGC said “we”, so I read this as “LGC is an American who is unhappy with how their country is handling it, and this story made them realise that people in countries outside the US are doing awful things re: the evil virus too”.

    3. Minocho*

      As far as making people feel better, I would focus on what we know and what we can do to minimize risk going forward. The big thing is, soap and water is really the best defense against this. Everyone is going for bleach, hand sanitizer and the like, but soap really is best. There are plenty of articles on it now, so feel free to search for the info, but the basic reason it works so well is that the virus holds itself together with a lipid wall (a wall made of fat or oil), and soap and water is the best defense against this. You can all minimize the risk to yourselves by cleaning surfaces and skin with soap and water regularly. If anyone does have the virus, wearing anything over your mouth will minimize the chance a cough or sneeze will transfer the virus to someone else.

      This won’t be 100% protection, but it’s something anyone can do to minimize the risk to themselves and others. I always feel better if there’s something I can do, personally.

      Stay safe! Thank you for working hard to keep people fed!

      1. Artemesia*

        hand face transfer is a minor part of contagion. This stuff primarily transmits through the air and talking is enough to share the virus. Yes, washing hands is wise, but most people get it through breaking the air breathed or coughed out by those carrying the virus.

      2. PollyQ*

        Hand-washing is NOT the best defense — staying away from other people entirely is the best defense.

    4. Lyudie*

      Can you point out that management clearly took this very seriously, with sending folks home immediately and paying for a special cleaning, and that they clearly have worker’s interests at heart? I mean, that sounds like a pretty reasonable and proactive reaction and I would be glad to see my employer take something like this seriously, even if it did turn out to be unnecessary.

      1. All monkeys are French*

        I agree. The woman lying about having it is terrible, but a business closing for cleaning and sending people home for safety are good things. This is my qualm with many “essential” businesses. Many of them are only essential because the workers need the income and the owners don’t want to lose money. So many people are out there risking their safety for bs capitalist reasons.

    5. Free Meercats*

      If any of the coworkers or their family member or friends lost a single Loonie (guessing Canada) to this, they have a cause for action in Small Claims Court. Each employee should file and make sure the cases don’t get consolidated. Make this weasel’s life as hellish as humanly (but legally) possible. Each case will cost her not only the damages, but all court costs as well.

      And you’ll be able to use the police files to prove her actions caused the damage, all you have to do it prove your damages, so start documenting now.

      1. Anon in Ontario*

        Sadly, the person involved in this case (assuming it’s the one that’s been in the news around here… I’m hoping that there aren’t many others like it out there) is a broke teenager. It’s unlikely that the coworkers will be able to regain a meaningful portion of their lost wages.

        1. Free Meercats*

          A dependent minor? So the parents are responsible for any damages. They raised the entitled {words I won’t use here}. Drag them all into court, over and over.

  11. Western Rover*

    The L.A. council passed some COVID-19 provisions, most of which I can see how they would benefit workers, e.g. paid sick leave, but a tabled provision that has me scratching my head is the requirement to lay off and rehire workers in seniority order. Can someone explain to me how this benefits workers generally (other than obviously those with seniority, but so would an alphabetical requirement benefit Arya and Bran at the expense of Wakeen and Ygritte)? I’m in a profession where we tend to move around every few years, so seniority doesn’t correlate much with experience, but even in professions where people tend to stay with one employer I imagine they do change jobs occasionally (e.g. to accompany a spouse to a better opportunity in a new city).

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Usually ‘in seniority order’ means ‘least seniority first’.

        I’m with Policy Wonk on the ‘prevent discrimination’, though I think it applies to more than just age – if you’ve got an objective rule for firing that’s at least somewhat related to work, that reduces the chances of managers firing all the people who don’t look like them. Doesn’t eliminate, just reduces.

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

        I think they are proposing to lay off the most junior people first, though… (OP said she wonders “how this benefits workers generally (other than obviously those with seniority)”

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Possibly to prevent age discrimination in layoffs and rehiring. Older workers who have been there longer tend to cost more.

      1. Western Rover*

        At least one of the proposals I read was explicit about seniority meaning length of service with the company, not overall length in the workforce, so seniority would be only very loosely correlated with age or salary. I would think that even a decent non-evil employer would oppose it since they would want to be able to retain or rehire the best workers regardless of whether they’ve been there for only one year, but my question is: why should workers be in favor of this? Cui bono?

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          Yes- but it keeps companies from keeping the least expensive employees. That at least would be the idea of it. Presumably they were imagining low-skill job scenarios were all employees are equally capable of doing the job- an employer would prefer to keep on the employees they pay the least per hour, which is probably the ones who have been most recently hired.

        2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          Why is it shitty? It’s nice that seniority/years at the company and hard work is recognized.Many unions have this and it works really well.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            It’s shitty because there are plenty of people who get into a position, get complacent, and don’t actually do shit at work – I worked with many such people when I was an insurance claims adjuster. These people had been there 20 some odd years and were just collecting a paycheck until they could retire while newer employees did the brunt of the work.

    2. Koala dreams*

      The purpose of these kind of rules is that there is an objective standard for who to layoff, so that the layoffs should be based on how many workers the company needs, and not based on personal reasons (conflicts, working style, illegal discrimination). I don’t know why they don’t choose alphabetical order instead, but I’d assume alphabetical order is more likely to discriminate against ethnic groups?

      I think the seniority rule would be good for stopping employers to layoff those with the highest pay (since often you start at the lowest pay in the pay band and work your way up), and give some protection to the oldest workers.

      1. Princess Zelda*

        I would wager that, in addition to disparate impact, you’d also get a weird distribution around the organization. Clusters happen, and if you’ve got a department with an Alex, Ashley, Allison, and Adrienne, and another department with Zeynab, Jean, Khloe, and Wakeen, Department 1 is going to be gutted and Department 2 isn’t going to lose anyone.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Hear, hear.

        Otherwise, if there’s any room for selecting just who goes, layoff becomes a soft firing. Prospective employers know the laid-off person was specifically judged to be less capable, or less well-behaved, or less conscientious or less ethical than those who remained.

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

      It benefits (as far as that goes…) workers because it’s an objective and measurable way to ‘sort’ people, rather than relying on stuff like personal friendships with the big boss because their spouses go golfing together, someone has a PIP in their past, or whatever.

    4. ynotlot*

      This is considered the method of doing layoffs that is best for workers. In addition to avoiding age discrimination problems, it is also the preferred method by unions. Many unions require that companies do layoffs this way. First in, first out. The labor union philosophy is that all workers are equally valuable, so seniority order is fairest. An adequate worker who has been there 50 years would keep their job over a high-performing prodigy who has been there 2 years. Loyalty to workers over loyalty to productivity/profit.
      I could see many arguments as to which layoff method is most fair, and I actually don’t have an opinion myself (layoffs suck) but this is the union interpretation of fairness.

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

        > The labor union philosophy is that all workers are equally valuable, so seniority order is fairest. An adequate worker who has been there 50 years would keep their job over a high-performing prodigy who has been there 2 years. Loyalty to workers over loyalty to productivity/profit.

        I don’t agree with this by any stretch of the imagination, but I can respect it as a way of prioritizing layoffs in any case when you can’t quantify *actual* value of individual people.

    5. union rep*

      I negotiate union contracts that typically have this type of provision. It’s seen as the fairest way to be non-discriminatory/anti-favoritism, and to protect people who have stuck it out through thick and thin with the company. It also specifically protects retirements – someone could be only a few months away from being able to retire with full benefits, and it would be cruel to lay them off before they made it there, plus it’s difficult for a retirement-age worker to go out and find a new job in many fields.

    6. Western Rover*

      Thanks for answering my question, everyone. I may not agree but at least now I understand, when before it was a mystery to me.

    7. LGC*

      …I can’t believe you went for Wakeen instead of Walder (and it’s been years since I’ve read ASoIaF, and I’m literally the only person who hasn’t watched GoT)!

      Anyway – I think that you’re right in that it doesn’t much benefit workers in a general sense. But I think that it means that if Arya and Bran have lower salaries than Jon and Ygritte because Jon and Ygritte have been there longer, you don’t want a situation where everyone gets laid off but whoops Arya and Bran are the only ones to get called back if this thing ends. It’s not the solution I’d have chosen, but I can see the reasoning, kind of.

  12. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

    If anyone wants a laugh at my expense, feel free. Hopefully this will brighten up someone’s day for a moment:

    I worked on my resume all last week. A friend send me hers and I used the formatting but all the content was 100% my own, including my old resume.

    I spent all day on the content, and formatting (going from Google doc for 5-6 years back to Word was…..). In the end, once I had the info, I made sure to change the email address as well as the hyperlink because I know that’s a common item to easily overlook.

    Sent it out to about half a dozen people.

    Opened it up 3 days later, and….I forgot to change the phone number.

    I quickly texted my friend freaking out about it and we had a good laugh. Fortunately the resume was only sent to friends to look over, not to actual employers.

    1. Heat's Kitchen*

      You could still use Google docs and save as a PDF to send out. I always send my resume as PDF.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me too, and if they ask for a Word doc specifically, I back out to avoid having my resume changed by a recruiter.

        1. XxXxX*

          Unfortunately, many people, myself included, can make changes to pdf’s although using pdf’s does make it hard for the user to change the document inadvertently.

          And recruiters that want to change your resume will just retype it :$

    2. Mama Bear*

      I once made a typo in my email address on a resume. Fortunately it was a free account and I just made a new account with that typo in it since the resume was already out in the wild.

  13. Anonydoglover*

    Hello! I have realized that my company is still paying for health insurance premium but forgot to take it out of my paycheck since January, and I just now noticed on my paystubs. Can they retroactively make me pay it even though it was their fault? I really can’t afford it right now, but I don’t want to make it worse for myself by not saying anything. I’m in Georgia. Thanks!

      1. Sunflower*

        Correct. They can make you pay but usually will do it in waves- like you pay $20 more every month until it’s adjusted.

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      They can definitely retroactively make you pay for it. When I took maternity leave – also in GA – they neglected to mention that I don’t get benefits during a short term disability period, so I would need to pay for those out of pocket. They told me this 4 weeks into my leave. I negotiated with them to pay it over a six month period.

      It really depends on your company. I would immediately talk to HR/accounting/whoever makes sense and tell them your financial situation. It’s completely reasonable you’re not able to pay this back immediately and haven’t budgeted for it. I would hope they’d be understanding.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I similarly had to pay extra for my insurance at the end of my maternity leave. They paid it as long as I got a check under short term disability, but my 4 weeks unpaid were not covered. It’s their fault it’s gone unpaid. I’d definitely ask for a payment plan if you pay up at all. I’d also double triple verify that there was no lapse in your insurance.

    2. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I remember having something like this happen at my old job (in New Jersey), though it wasn’t that they were completely forgetting to take the premium out, but not taking enough. In my case, they DID make us pay it back over the course of a few months.

    3. ...*

      Yup they can and will- this happened to me when I was making about $800 every two weeks and I went a full month with no paycheck when the error was “realized”. I pointed it out every single check for months but the Hr person denied it and then finally “found It”. Its extremely annoying but yes you do owe the money.

      1. Beatrice*

        Making you go a full month with no paycheck is not legal. They have to pay you at least minimum wage in actual money any time they’re making a correction like that.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Yes, they can.

      You should tell them now because if you wait you’ll just owe a larger lump sum when they discover it. Not that they will make you pay it in a lump sum because I hope they don’t.

      One thing the military used to tell people who it happened to is to put that “extra” money you owe them somewhere where you don’t spend it so when they come to take it back you haven’t already spent the money that they erroneously overpaid you.

    5. A Poster Has No Name*

      They can and they will.

      When I had a baby, despite calling within a week of his birth, my company’s incompetent HR services center couldn’t get him added to my insurance properly, so I was underbilled for MONTHS before they figured it out and sent a nastygram that if I didn’t come up with hundreds of dollars with in days of receiving the letter my insurance would be cancelled.

      I was…not pleased, to say the least.

  14. Job Seeking*

    Where do all of you think the job market is headed? How do you think your industry will fare? I’ve been searching for a new job, but the couple interviews I’ve had lined up have either been indefinitely postponed or canceled. I’m fairly sure this will be a rough year for my industry, but not crippling. I think for us it will be long and reasonable painful, but not business ending (I work in a healthcare related field).

    1. Construction Safety*

      Well, for us, we were turning away outage jobs this spring because of lack of manpower, but now, a lot of it is spread out thru the late spring/summer. So we may actually be able it increase our business this year.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I have no idea how the job market will fare – I think some companies beyond the obvious (especially grocery, jan/san, paper goods, delivery services, etc) will do pretty well, but many others will suffer.

      I work at a CPG company and I really could see things going either way for us — we’re baking-related, and it seems like everyone’s at home baking! Which could be great! But if people don’t have extra money to buy baking pans or sprinkles or decorating supplies, then our business will take a big hit.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I think the job market is general is going to be horrible for at least the next six months. But there may be a few niche industries that actually grow during this time.

    4. Going Anon*

      I’m going anon for this one because it will be pretty clear that I work for one of two companies that fits the description I’m going to give.

      Hard to say. I work for an absolutely mammoth company that is experiencing all kinds of covid-related challenges. Theme parks are closed. Movies and shows stopped production weeks ago. More people are watching what we do have on TV/digital platforms, but advertisers are falling out in droves because either they’re in a poorly-positioned industry (travel, dining) or they’re in holding off on launching new products and services. With no sports scheduled, we’re now scrambling to find something to put on the air in the hours and hours that were supposed to be dedicated to athletic endeavors. It’s a cluster. I have no doubt my job is safe until this draws to an end and we can assess how things are once the dust settles but for now, the company is in a weird place.

    5. Nita*

      I’m in one of the big outbreak areas. Our statistics are terrible but starting to look a little more hopeful, but only because everyone that can stay home, does. If things slowly start to reopen within the month, the people that go back to working in person may well be putting their life on the line. If they don’t start to reopen… I don’t know. I’ve never seen a state run out of unemployment money before, but this situation is so unprecedented that it might happen. I suspect the state government will lean toward a very gradual re-opening so people don’t begin to starve. My industry is semi-essential – our business has been cut to maybe 50% of the usual, but so far we still have jobs, and if we can get through the next month, we may be back on our feet (and paying taxes) soon.

    6. CatCat*

      I’m in government so I’m secure for now. But I think the sh*t will hit the fan with next year’s budget.

    7. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m in nonprofit fundraising (higher education), and I think the industry is overall in for a rough patch. A lot of wealthy people are losing a lot of money right now. It doesn’t faze me personally as much as the NON-wealthy people losing jobs and livelihood right now, but it poses a problem for my work. I don’t solicit donors myself, but our fundraisers had already been having a hard time this year (especially at the highest gift levels) due to other issues, and this is just going to make it harder for them. So far there’s no whisper of layoffs–we’re in the middle of a campaign and they need to make sure we keep raising money–but I expect we’re going to have to do a lot of belt-tightening over the next few months/year/whatever. Meanwhile, I feel like the stress is fraying the relationships between various offices in my organization, and some people are frustrated and worried and looking for someone to blame, while we’re really all trying as hard as we can to make things work.

      1. Should I stay or should I go?*

        Aye, my company has talked about a hiring freeze even if we don’t end up firing anyone.

    8. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

      I’m in accounting and I’m not sure tbh. My company laid me off due to cuts but they had issues before it. But I feel like because tax deadline was extended and the new loans etc coming out, more businesses will need professional help. I’m hoping that my (previous) company is an outlier in this.

    9. pope suburban*

      I’m concerned that this will be a replay of 2008, and a lot of those jobs won’t come back, either because companies are pulling the same “more work for fewer people/less pay” shenanigans, or because businesses will have folded/suffered enough losses that they cannot afford to bring back full staff. I hope that this will not affect me, as I’m in municipal government and we have a 40-year strategic plan that gives me more security than I had in the private sector. We’ve had to cancel all our spring programming, though, and if we lose summer, we’re going to be hurt badly. I believe that we will weather this and come out the other side looking more or less the same as we do now, but the road to that point might be long and treacherous.

    10. Mimmy*

      I’m wondering the same thing. My target is higher education disability services / accessibility, but I don’t know if anyone is really hiring right now, especially for part-time (full time plus school would be too much for me).

    11. Overeducated*

      I think my public sector job is safe based on how it is funded, but I’d guess hiring freezes are on the horizon if the rest of the economy is down.

      I sometimes regret not staying in the nonprofit cultural sector, but I’m watching in horror and sadness as closures and layoffs mount. I think a lot of institutions will not make it out of this, and the already precarious job market in that sector is going to be like the hunger games for a while.

    12. Aggretsuko*

      We’ll lose a fair chunk of clients but I think we’ll go on. My office is so short staffed as is that they really can’t cut any more, and our CEO has said nobody will be laid off until the end of June (how generous!) but will try to figure out how to keep people whose jobs have been shut down due to virus after that.

    13. Alternative Person*

      Hard to say, my industry and locality always needs bodies, but without a regular influx of new people if layoffs happen there might be jobs enough for those already here to wait out the worst.

    14. !*

      While usually not a popular choice for job-seekers, I actually work for a utility company, a water utility specifically. All of our departments are still up and functioning without a layoff in sight. We have Customer Service, Accounting, IT, and Operations folks who usually work in the office all working from home, and our field service personnel only providing emergency services. As water is what literally sustains life, we are an essential business regardless what is happening!

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        I worked at a water district back in 2015-2017 working in water efficiency (water conservation) during the worst years of the CA drought. I really enjoyed it and loved learning about a new industry. Water would definitely be an essential business!

    15. Anonymouse*

      I am in the software industry which has seen less of an impact than many other industries and as the sector of the industry I am in is insurance related (we make software for insurance companies) and we have multi-year multi million dollar contracts with insurance companies you would recognize the names of, my company specifically is likely going to be ok.

      As an entire company we were fairly easily able to transition to work from home for the vast majority of the workforce.

      In fact, last I heard we were still planning on opening some new positions soon (I’ll get an update from my boss next week hopefully-we’ve been shorthanded for a while)

    16. Elizabeth West*

      I just filled out an app on a large cable company’s website and the page was so incredibly slow I literally had to go away and come back. What’s funny is that I actually used this company’s internet to apply to it. (The internet is working fine; it was just their careers page.)

      I also applied to a job with a Big Pharma company today. Yes, I know, but it’s a job I want to get experience in. Pretty sure these two industries aren’t going anywhere.

      1. nonegiven*

        I wonder if they are prioritizing other types of traffic, or if the careers page is overloaded with the number of applications they are getting.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I would assume it’s the former. I’m betting a TON of them are working from home.

    17. Legally a Vacuum*

      I’m at a consumer goods company and I’m worried about how long it will take for people to feel comfortable making $200+ purchases again.

    18. LJay*

      My industry (airlines) things are going to be bad for awhile. Prominent CEOs are saying that the effect on the industry is going to be worse than 9/11 was.

      I’m thinking that once the social distancing requirements are lifted, people are still going to want to go on vacations, see family, etc. So I do think that leisure travel will pick back up relatively quickly. How many airlines survive until the social distancing ends remains something to be seen, though.

      I also think that we’ll see less business travel as more and more companies will see that trainings, meetings, etc, can be done without everyone being in the same place. Of course there are some things that need to be done face-to-face still, but I think businesses will be more selective about what those things are because it’s much cheaper to have someone teleconference than it is to fly someone business class halfway around the world.

      My particular company I believe is in good shape due to the nature of our business. But we still have furloughed some people and are in a hiring freeze.

      Other places I see with a large portion of their fleet on the ground and it really makes me wonder, even with the bailouts, how they’re going to manage to not lay off people. And I know a ton of adjacent people probably have already lost their jobs or will before this is over (a lot of workers that people think are airline employees, like rampers and baggage agents and even some customer service agents are not – they’re contractors who work for companies like Swissport and so as far as I know are not covered by the no-layoff clause.)

      My husband will have his job at least until the end of the time period specified by the bailout, but we’re still not optimistic about after that.

      I’ll likely have my job unless my company parks all of their planes. But you never know.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        I would love to know why the airlines need bailouts. The airlines have been making huge profits–even with low oil prices, they charged passengers huge prices and claimed they could because they had the demand. Shouldn’t they be using their rainy day funds and mega profits? I mean, Amazon can be jerks but they aren’t whining for a bailout yet.

        1. Another anon*

          Yeah, it seems like they were always squeezing more people onto planes and making you pay a surcharge for everything, so they should be raking in the cash, right?

          There’s a really interesting youtube video that talks about the economics of airline class:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzB5xtGGsTc

        2. Princess Zelda*

          They “need” bailouts because they used all their profits on stock buybacks, so they have no reserves. I somehow am having trouble feeling sorry for them.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I also think that we’ll see less business travel as more and more companies will see that trainings, meetings, etc, can be done without everyone being in the same place. Of course there are some things that need to be done face-to-face still, but I think businesses will be more selective about what those things are because it’s much cheaper to have someone teleconference than it is to fly someone business class halfway around the world.

        My company’s CEO (in the software industry) was just saying this. I expect most of the travel that’s not truly business critical moving forward will be denied.

    19. bdg*

      i work in a highly regulated industry. for the most part, it won’t matter (we have a lot of staffing requirements, everything moves very slowly, people always need what we do) BUT i do think it may help us save money in the future. we’re managing to keep on doing all of our stuff but either 1. less frequently or 2. remotely. we have a lot of travel costs associated with regulators coming to do things, so being forced to do those things remotely now could mean we can keep doing them remotely in the future (not all of them, but definitely some).

      i honestly think it’s a good shove into modern (digital) society for our very analog industry.

    20. Tau*

      My company is not likely to see any impacts for this for another year, since we have our budget set. I’m also uncertain how big said impacts will be, because the stuff we work on is 100% needed and also direly in need of development. (Not healthcare, but it involves a focus on service provision for the public rather than profit.) Overall, I think I’m about as cushioned as I can be.

      I’m more worried about my overall industry. I’m a software developer, and in an area of the industry where it’s common to switch jobs every 1-2 years jumping from startup to startup. Somehow, I don’t think the startup scene is going to be what it was before. Here’s hoping I continue to like this company and it’s successful, because I think I might be here for a while.

    21. LizzE*

      As another commentator noted, big gift fundraising will go down, which will affect what my industry (philanthropy). But, my organization does have a lot of healthy long-term revenue sources and our reserves are good enough to keep us afloat for awhile.

    22. PseudoMona*

      I’m in biotech, and in general I think the industry will be fine. Smaller, newer start-ups are probably the most vulnerable, since they have short runways and need data to attract investors. Companies working on treatments and/or vaccines related to coronavirus might actually do better than they otherwise would have. My company is actually full steam ahead with hiring right now, to expand our business.

    23. Rhymetime*

      I work a nonprofit that is currently financially stable based on our funding model with a lot of government contracts that will likely continue. It will be interesting to see how our donations from individuals shift because our area of focus is not social services or health, and understandably that’s where people are committing their philanthropic gifts.

      I’m lucky that my job is in fundraising. When the economy faces a downturn, people want to hire me. It’s a weird thing to be more in demand when there’s a lot of suffering around me others are losing their jobs. For example, I knowa lot of people in the outdoor education field–residential overnight programs for schoolkids doing experiential science–and the entire field has been decimated across the country with layoffs everywhere. But they’re keeping their fundraisers.

    24. Retail not Retail*

      I think while travel related things (hotels, airlines, cruises) will see a hit beyond this, I believe that tourist sites will rebound – theme parks, museums, zoos, and obviously parks/monuments under government control.

      We had to like beat/chase the people away and our last official day it was raining and all our indoor stuff was closed and they were still there! Go away! People are eager to come back.

      Maybe tourism will be more locally oriented which will be cool. (My degree is historic preservation and my motivation was love of tourism and so this is all very fascinating.)

  15. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

    I’ve had to implement a lot of structure, because although I can largely do my job from anywhere, I’ve never been good at writing at home and I’m in the final push of my dissertation (plus teaching three classes). So I’ve been staying in my home office 9-5 every day this week and then actually leaving my laptop on my desk and disconnecting in the evening. I’ve been so productive! But today I just feel exhausted. I have to teach in a couple of hours, but I’m scrolling through twitter and not writing right now like I should be.

    Any tips on how to sustain focus in a 9-5 schedule? I miss my old lack-of-routine, but it’s just not healthy or possible amidst *waves arms* all of this.

    1. Almost Academic*

      Getting social accountability has been a godsend for me. I’ve teamed up with a few other friends who are also at writing stages, other members of my lab, and even random strangers on the internet (google Focusmate). I really dislike writing from home, and so I’ve really needed that extra push of social accountability with setting goals and checking in to make it happen on my end.

      Good luck! It’s really hard writing at the moment, especially with so much else going on. Sounds like you’ve had a productive few days, so maybe it’s also your brain just needing a quick break.

    2. Did you read the syllabus?*

      Some days you will just be worn out. That happened to me when I was writing my dissertation and happened earlier this week with this current crisis. On Monday / Tuesday I powered through and recorded two lectures and did a bunch of grading. Then Wednesday I was where you are today.
      At least for me, it’s best to embrace it, so on Wednesday I turned off the computer and read a book and went for a walk. (I still had Zoom class, so I did that too of course). I’ve learned that if I try to power through when I am like that, the tiredness actually lasts longer so it takes longer to get back to being really productive. By embracing it on Wednesday I was better on Thursday. Granted, I also put in a few hours over the weekend to make up for Wednesday, but that is typical for me.
      Some of it right now is that adjusting to a new “normal” IS tiring. So hopefully next week you won’t hit the same slump.
      Also – in regards to keeping a schedule. I find having rewards for myself and scheduled breaks really helps. So I work till lunch and I get to read during lunch. Then I work till 5 or 6, and then the computer is OFF for the night.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      When I experience that feeling, I just say 40 per hours a week is too much to expect.

      Lots of time I have a very productive start of the week but burn out on Thursday or Friday.

      You did great. Is there something easier than writing that you can work on so you’re still accomplishing something even if it’s not the intellectually hard stuff?

    4. Another PhD student*

      I finished my dissertation and defended right before all of this started (literally defended two days before my university shut down) – I was actually disappointed that I couldn’t be working on dissertation now that I’m not allowed to be in the lab (although I am working on publications). Seeing your post is a good reminder that this whole situation is mentally and emotionally exhausting and not great for concentrating on writing – and I don’t even have to teach!

      I don’t know how helpful this will be because you’ve probably already thought of a lot of this, but the ways I stayed focused during my dissertation-writing period included: making a ton of to-do lists and highly specific outlines that divided my writing and editing into really small, manageable chunks; setting timers for a manageable amount of focused time (e.g. 30 minutes), then taking a short break to do something (refill my tea/coffee/water, use the bathroom, do body weight squats, whatever) and resetting the timer; turning the internet off if I’m doing a task that doesn’t actually require the use of the internet so I can’t get stuck in a reddit/wikipedia hole. You may also find it useful to allow yourself a slightly longer workday or some evening work hours, but with more built-in breaks throughout the day. I also fully agree with the importance of social accountability mentioned by Almost Academic – I had regular meetings with my adviser where I told him what specific tasks I had done every week and what tasks I was planning to do that week, and I also would tell my partner every day what I had done as a part of our evening chats.

      Good luck, and try not to be too hard on yourself – I think many (or even most) people often find it difficult to focus on dissertation writing even when you don’t have a global pandemic and sudden shift to a completely different mode of teaching to deal with! And I’m sure you realize this, but you will have some off days even on a schedule that works well for you, and that is completely normal.

    5. Reba*

      The advice here is good! I would say, use the pomodoro method, forgive yourself when you slack off, and it’s ok to have dud days. I recall that the process of writing my dissertation did include a fair amount of noodling around on the internet. And I still got it done in the end.

      1. SophieChotek*

        Thanks for this!

        I was just wondering along these lines but wasn’t sure I wanted to start a whole new thread. I’ve talked to my boss and he feels like it’s okay if my productivity is not the best at least right now, though I told him I’m hoping I can get my stride.
        I’m trying not to slack off or obssessively check the news or just chat with friends (who are all, suddenly online all the time).
        To be fair, I already did WFH, but the mental stress/etc. still is hitting more than I thought it would.

      2. Avasarala*

        Yes, I find that Mon-Tue are my least productive days of the week. Also tired and miserable and distracted. Thu-Fri I’m usually more focused, more cheerful, more productive, and work later. I figure it balances out.

    6. Mynona*

      My FT job is to research and write a book, and I’ve been having to do it from home without library access for 3 weeks, so I sympathize. It’s cheesy, but the Pomodoro timer thing (25 minutes work/5 minutes break) helps me on bad days. And identifying easy tasks (like bibliography clean up or revising existing text) that have to be done and that I can do when I’m unfocused. When I was dissertating, I would turn off my wifi to avoid the internet as a writing distraction. Good luck!

  16. Mrs Teacher*

    Question from an elementary school teacher-

    I’m required to contact parents of students who aren’t doing work every 3 days. They all tell me “oh yes, we’ll start this afternoon.” When I offer to walk them through logging in, they say they’re all good. I’m running out of appropriate ways to say, I’ve seen your kid isn’t logged in yet, how can I help?

    Any good scripts I can use as I continue to hound them twice weekly for the foreseeable future?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      You’re required to *contact* them, but are you required to make them do the work? Could you just keep checking in to see how they’re doing, without putting pressure on them to achieve anything in particular?

      I’m asking partly to make it easier for you, and partly to make it easier for myself as the parent of two elementary school children. Their last day of school was March 13, and we’re expected to start some form of “teacher guided learning” on Monday. They’ve been off for a long time, and I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to get them doing schoolwork again. Not to mention I’m still working full time, so I don’t really have the time to sit with them and make sure they do it. Working plus parenting is a lot under the best of circumstances, and these are hardly the best of circumstances – it’s going to be hard for a lot of parents to also suddenly become teachers as well.

      I know it’s not your decision, Mrs Teacher – I’m not ranting at you specifically! Obviously you have to do whatever your board requires. But as a parent, I’m just not sure I can make it happen. So I’d be happy to have you check in if you need to, but I certainly can’t guarantee we’ll be accomplishing anything from day to day. Hopefully there’s some way that schools and parents can meet in the middle on this. (Which is also something that you and I are not going to sort out over the internet! Best of luck to you, and thanks so much for trying.)

      1. Mrs Teacher*

        That’s a good point! I am supposed to provide materials and contact parents, but I guess it is ultimately up to them what they can accomplish at home. I am 100% in agreement about how hard it is for working parents- I’m trying to teach my own children through all of this and it is hard!

        I love the idea of changing my focus to “how are you holding up” and letting admin handle the tough stuff if and when they want to!

        Thank you!

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          I think that’s a great idea. Maybe even come at it from an angle of “I’ve been trying to make sure my own kids are getting an education at home while I work, and it’s been tough. I’m sure you’re experiencing a lot of challenges of your own. Is there anything I can do to help?” A little empathy can go a long way!

        2. Buni*

          My colleague did the full class ring-round yesterday and got everything from,
          “Oh yes, he’s online every day, lots of work getting done!”
          “I can see his data log, he hasn’t logged on to [learning site] once in this fortnight…”
          “But he’s online all the….[silence]….I’ll call you back.”

          to the parent who basically said,
          “I’m not responsible for his education, that’s what I send him to school for [click] ”

          I’m only an at-home tutor, so frankly if any of my students are looking at a book at all I’ll take it…

        3. just a random teacher*

          If your elementary school is like it is in my state where students all move on to the next grade the next year even if they fail, I definitely recommend making these conversations about support and a friendly check-in like this rather than about trying to come up with consequences. Particularly as this wears on, having a friendly rather than adversarial relationship with the people you’re calling all the time will be much less stressful for everyone involved.

          If your school district also has ways to connect families with additional resources (meals, laptops, wifi hotspots, anything), then you can also focus on making sure that families know about those resources and how to access them if they need them as those things come up in those check-in conversations. (For example, our district is providing free lunches along our bus routes to all kids 1-18 regardless of whether or not they usually would qualify for free lunch or are enrolled in school with us. If a parent just got laid off, knowing school will give all of their kids 5 free meals a week with no special paperwork needed may be a relief.)

          If there will be meaningful consequences if the kid does no work, be sure to remind the parents about them, of course, but you can frame even those kinds of conversations as showing concern. Scripts like: “I’m concerned that Fergus hasn’t gotten any work done for two weeks, and that may affect his placement next year. We’re talking about putting the 3rd graders who aren’t getting much done this spring into a 3/4 split next year in case they need to repeat third grade [or whatever, I’m making this up for the purposes of this example and have no idea what plans your district will actually come up with], and, if possible, I think it would be better for him to get more academic time now so that we’re not worrying about next year’s placement.”

          1. SweetestCin*

            What I’ve noticed (not a teacher, goodness no. But I am a WFH Mom currently, with two older elementary school aged kids) as helpful with group participation here is moving meetups and such to “lunchtime” or “after work”. Our household was lucky in that we were able to scramble and obtain extra devices. Not everyone can. The first bit, we had my work laptop – which meant it was a “no” for us during my work hours.

      2. Mama Bear*

        What’s the flip side? How are administrators backing you up? Is there any current version of an unexcused absence?

        For my kid, it feels like things will be monitored via work received, so maybe focus on that? Do they understand that the child will not be able to receive appropriate grades for the year if they don’t log in? So many districts started out with very lax “you can do this, but it’s not graded/required” and I think some parents think that’s still the case. If this is not optional, then clarify. Are school counselors still working? If so, could someone else reach out and see if there’s a blocker keeping this kid offline?

        There are also a lot of memes going around about how the focus shouldn’t be academics and while I’m all for good mental health, it’s not helpful to the student if they never log in ever.

        1. Mrs Teacher*

          You make a bunch of good points. Mental health right now is top priority, but for so many kids that will be improved by routine.

          Admin is vague about what the next steps are for this type of kid, I don’t think they have established a plan yet. But it’s hard to follow through when there isn’t a plan to relay to parents. We’re not counting absences now at all.

          1. just a random teacher*

            I am also in the “hard to follow through when there isn’t a plan to relay to parents” boat. Our state hasn’t given us any guidance about seniors/graduation yet. They said they’d have it to us by the end of March, and are now saying mid April. Um. I really can’t wait 2 more weeks without touching base with senior parents, and I need to know if there’s going to be any flexibility in the graduation requirements. I also need to know if seniors are still supposed to be done on time even though the state shut down schools completely for a week and half before switching to remote learning, or if make-up days will be added.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have children of that age. Our school has offered work for the children to do but stresses that it’s completely optional, and also suggests informal activities such as Lego or colouring.

      Where is the pressure coming from? Are you worried about particular students because of their personalities or circumstances or abilities, or just about the box ticking? Could you check the box for “made contact with family, child is well and enjoying age-appropriate activities”?

      1. Mrs Teacher*

        Expectations are constantly changing. Since our closure looks like it’s going to be extended again, we were told by admin to make regular contact. I think they’re trying to cover themselves if/when the state asks for how we’ve provided educational opportunities from home.

    3. Heidi*

      What happens if the kid never logs in? Other than not learning anything, of course. Is there a point at which they will they be held back a grade (or something else equally undesirable)?

      1. Mrs Teacher*

        No idea. I don’t think anyone knows at this point, everything is changing moment by moment.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When I was in school we had online stuff we had to do. Our grade was based in part on our participation on line. I remember one class in particular because the teacher said point blank that if he could not see where we had logged in our grade would go down a full letter grade automatically. Additionally, he could see how much time we spent once we logged in so we could not fake the system. Logging in and immediately logging out would be treated the same as NO login.

        Sometimes these things have to be said out loud.

        On the positive side, the online activity was interesting and the teacher would discuss how the program itself worked. The tips helped to keep us moving along. I think the teacher’s interest in our experiences online helped.

        FWIW. This was in college which is a very different audience.

    4. Mockingjay*

      “Your kid will receive a failing grade for each assignment not turned in on time.”

      Seriously, remind them of whatever your school’s policy is for missed/late assignments. Emphasize that the policy remains in effect, even in the current distance learning environment. For repeat offenders, don’t spend a lot time with help offers. Give them the instructions or point to online tools once. After that, they’re on their own. Don’t parent the parents!

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Ouch, that’s pretty heavy-handed! I think now is the time to be relaxing standards as much as possible – maybe not to zero, but rigidly enforcing policies like this isn’t doing anyone any favours right now.

        1. Mama Bear*

          I think there needs to be a balance. My kid’s school is only allowing 2 more graded assignments to close the marking period to accommodate kids who got a late start due to not having a device or internet at home. They are also providing printed materials by request/as needed, but those assignments are graded assignments. If the school is going to the effort of being online vs just having optional work packets, then there needs to be *some* accountability.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            In my home state, the Dept. of Education told teachers they’re not allowed to teach anything new because they wouldn’t be able to meet various IEP requirements if they did so, AND the teachers aren’t allowed to grade anything. So they can give out review work, but it doesn’t count for anything, so I’m sure it’s difficult to keep kids (and parents) motivated to do it.

        2. Nita*

          Yes. My very organized, straight-A student is struggling to stay focused on his work, and to complete it at all. He needs tech support every 20 minutes because, well, I’d never anticipated that he needs to be a pro at MS Office and Adobe by second grade. And tech support is slow to show up, because I’m working and my husband is busy watching an extremely destructive toddler. We’re making it work, but I can’t even imagine how stressful this must be for families with less organized kids and only one parent/both parents working.

          I understand the reasoning behind the teachers assigning all of this, and really appreciate their hard work, but honestly, this feels like yet another source of torture in an already stressful time.

      2. Mrs Teacher*

        The problem is that, to date, we’re not taking grades. I’ve assigned a bunch of review lessons, but the ones choosing not to do school right now are the ones who really need the review. To my knowledge, we’re not holding anyone back based on this time. Especially since some families will get sick and they won’t be able to do school.

        1. Mama Bear*

          Ah.
          Let me guess – these are also the parents that are uninvolved the rest of the year? That would be so frustrating.

          1. Mrs Teacher*

            Yes, they’re the families that we’ve been struggling to engage for years. Now it’s ride or die time, and they don’t know how to ride.

        2. just a random teacher*

          I’m seeing something similar – my students who were ahead of the game to start with have been getting a lot done, but the senior who was already 3-ish weeks behind because her mom took on vacation for a week near the start of the term and then she was “too tired from her big trip” to work on school when she came back (note: this kid does NOT have something like cancer where it would make sense to take a week off of school and take One Last Trip to Disney) didn’t even log in to my class the whole time we were doing “closed, but here’s what you can do to catch up” time.

          That’s usually been the case when I’ve assigned additional review without a pandemic too, of course. Students are not good at figuring out if optional should include them, and the ones with other things going on in their lives are usually the ones who are both struggling with school and can’t find the extra time for optional work..

        3. Sunflower*

          Just wanna say kudos to you- this situation is tough and my friends who are teachers are also faced with a lot of confusion over being able to grade or not grade at this time. This is definitely tougher than other people’s transition to WFH and given you don’t have any guidelines is brutal.

          I can’t imagine how grading will go this semester- I’ve heard some college course are going Pass/Fail. I would not want to deal with any crazy parents at this time.

      3. J.B.*

        And parents who need to work will be working. Eating comes before kids grade. With the stuff my kid is doing I try do get her to do a few things a day. I won’t drive myself insane to do it.

      4. Alice*

        Wow. “The policy remains in effect.” “Repeat offenders.” Is the goal to get the family to completely disengage, or is that just a side effect?

    5. Malarkey01*

      How old are the students? If they are more independent (5th grade) you could make suggestions about providing a little structure to their logging on or which tasks are critical- if we’re talking younger kids I think you go with support and suggest that they try to at least read together every day or something.

      I think we need a lot of grace right now, and as absolutely important as education is, educating a 5 year old while also holding down WFH isn’t feasible. My sons in middle school and we have a toddler at home. His school was very understanding when we said there may be times during the day he has to step away and watch the toddler if both parents have conference calls. We’re in a situation where work (and paying the mortgage) trumps class time.

    6. Number 1*

      Another teacher here. I’ve also had a lot of parents tell me they know what they’re doing and will be starting soon but I have yet to see work from them or I get something like one half done assignment then nothing. We just started our spring break so I spent a good chunk of yesterday saying to parents, “Just checking in to see how things are going. I’ve only received one out five assignments from [child]. He has all spring break to work on them but I wanted to make sure there were no technical issues before the break starts.” I have a few parents who are working from home or who are prioritizing their older children’s work (I teach students who are not really old enough to log in or do much work on their own) and so they’re doing what they can on evenings and weekends. I’ve been giving them a lot of time and understanding as long as they’re responsive but I think there are some parents who don’t know that the assignments are mandatory or, honestly, don’t prioritize school.

      1. Lana Kane*

        I think this is also showing that some parents have either limited tools to keep watch over stuff they didn’t have to watch before (classwork), or have limited coping mechanisms to juggle everything coming their way. This is not an indictment of them, at all – I work from home full time, with a set shift that coincides with my son’s schoolwork time. It is very hard to manage it all. Some people react, some people freeze.

      2. 'Tis Me*

        My kiddo’s in her first year of school; reading to her “counts” as schoolwork but is offline. I do need to write an update for her teacher… There are also about 6 online platforms the school is using currently.

        I also have a 2 year old (who is a force of nature but loves books) and a 2 week old (who is a lovely little lamb but tried to come out sideways, elbow first, necessitating an extended C section). I also spiked a temperature today (pretty certain it’s a bacterial upper respiratory infection, doctor agreed and prescribed antibiotics over the phone) so she got 8 episodes of The Magic School Bus Rides Again because I just needed to be in bed for a chunk of time, and the husband was needed at work (high dependency healthcare).

        She needs a lot of directed support although she’s keen to learn, but e.g. practising reading phonics flash cards whilst the 2 year old commandeers the mouse, turning it into a speed reading exercise, is not amazingly productive… Toddler loves her big sister and wants to do what she’s doing.

        We’ve done some maths, she’s done more with the husband, she’s mainly been drawing/playing online when trying to do self-directed learning but it’s all good mouse control/fine motor skills work… Some days are going to be way more productive than others.

    7. Batgirl*

      Are you sure they’re able to? I’ve had parents who can’t afford a computer or tablet and their phones aren’t up to the job but they stalled in admitting that out of embarrassment. If they’d “rather not log in” there are “alternative activities” like dioramas you could suggest. Then once they’ve completed the offline activity, trill with excitement and ask for a photo :).
      But yeah, some parents are just not interested sadly…..

      1. Mama Bear*

        In some areas this is definitely a problem. Even if they have a device, the wifi isn’t up to the job. Here the schools gave out chromebooks to the extent possible, and helped people get set up on internet access or gave out a limited number of hotspots. My child’s school is also offering offline work, but you’d still need to request and fetch it.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I don’t have any advice for you, just sympathy. These times are hard for children. It’s a great that you keep in touch with the parents. It might feel pointless, but it’s still important. Could you ask to speak to the children now and then, or is that not done? Maybe the children will feel better if they know school still cares about them, even if the children can’t/won’t do school work.

    9. Anononline Teacher*

      I teach at an online school so this is my life! Even when people have opted into online schooling and signed an agreement about all the things they are going to do to support their kid, it’s like pulling teeth with 50% of them. Here are some tips, you’ll have to apply the appropriate ones to your age group/set up:

      -Try to set up appointments as opposed to cold-calling. There is a website called YouCanBookMe where you can set up account and they can pick a time to schedule appointments with you.
      -Set up recurring appointments where you will work directly with the kid (or maybe a 10 minute check in with parent at the beginning, then you’ll work with the kid).
      -Ask, “Is there a time I can call where I could walk you through logging in?”
      -Talk to the kid directly and walk them through the process

      Our school under normal circumstances can threaten to withdraw a kid for noncompliance, but right now we are not doing that either, so we are in a consequence-free zone. So here’s a potential message: “We’re not expecting kids to complete work at the same level/rate as when they’re in school. However, routine and structure are helpful to them. How can I support you in helping create that?”

    10. Observer*

      I think that being straightforward and using this exact language is the way to go.

      Also, document the contacts and exactly what the parents have said to you. You don’t want to be blamed later for the kid not having done the work.

    11. CatMintCat*

      I’m also a teacher, and dealing with this as well. Once we got over the “I am not making any calls to parents on my private phone” issue (it’s a breach of Code of Conduct to give parents our private contact details), contact began. We are a “middle class to wealthy” school on paper, but realistically at the moment, that isn’t the case. Nobody is going out and buying extra laptops to keep their kids online through the school day. They’re busy trying to maintain their own employment remotely or keep farms going in a long-lasting drought.

      My kids are 6 years old. They can’t do this independently. Only two have the reading skills to read and follow instructions. They need their parents help, and their parents can’t give it to them right now.

      Long term, I’m not worried about them academically. When we get back to school (looking like July at the earliest) we’ll work that out. My check ins are friendly, do you need anything, type chats, not draconian, you must do the work.

      It’s hard. And I think it’s going to get harder, not easier.

  17. Matilda Jefferies*

    Any recommendations for a decent desk chair? I’ve been using a basic dining room chair from Ikea, which is…not terrible, but certainly not great, especially if I’m going to be sitting in it for another 12 weeks.

    Specs: it needs to be smallish (or at least, no larger than “standard” size), and it will be sitting on the carpet. Comfortable, of course. And most important, it has to be available in Canada! Ikea is fine if that’s where your favourite chair comes from – it doesn’t need to be the Fanciest Chair Ever, just something that will not wreck my back for the next little while.

    1. Meg*

      If you have the container store, I really like their bungee chair. My mom has one at work and at home, and I got one to get me through this work from home time.

    2. Mill Miker*

      I’ve been using a “Staples Hyken Technical Mesh Task Chair” (from, well, Staples) for a couple of years, and my work bought a bunch in bulk not too long ago. They’re a nice balance between having some of the features of the high-end desk chairs, but not being priced like one (especially when they go on sale). The build quality of the newer ones at the office also seem nicer than my older one.

      If you’re at all on the taller side, I’d recommend not attaching the head rest, but the rest of the chair is pretty good.

      If you’re on carpet and don’t want to get a mat for under the chair, you can buy replacement wheels that fit most office chairs, and are more like rollerblade wheels. They tend to roll more effortlessly over more types of surface, and add an extra few centimetres to the height of the chair. I imagine they probably put more wear and tear on the carpet though.

      1. whocanpickone*

        This is the chair that I have, as well. It’s definitely better for a smaller person than some of the other options (which I am). It’s not as wide or tall as my spouses chair, which works for me.

    3. Daffy Duck*

      I have a eurostyle bungee chair that I really love; not too big and good seat support. You can get them with and without arms. I call it the “ugly office chair” as it REALLY take getting used to the look, but my hip and back love it.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’ve found that adding an ergonomic seat cushion and a lumbar support pillow to the chair I already have has made a huge difference! If you can’t find a chair you like, those might be options to improve the situation.

    5. MicroManagered*

      I brought my balance ball home from the office and find it’s a great alternative when I get sick of sitting in my office chair!

      1. MicroManagered*

        Forgot to add: It’s deflatable, so when you are done with it, it’s not like it has to continue taking up space in your home.

      2. SweetestCin*

        I’m going to give this a whirl. I’ve been sitting in a (coincidentally also Ikea) dining room chair for work for roughly the last three weeks and my back is okay, but hips are shrieking obscenities at me, and I have a vague bruise-like pain across the middle of my hamstrings where the chair hits them. I have a yoga ball downstairs though, and I think I’m going to haul it back upstairs after lunch.

    6. DistantAudacity*

      No clue on budgets-

      I use an ergonomic office chair (stool) from Backapp, which I am very pleased with. I can sit on it cross-legged during calls! The base may be a little too wide, though.

      Looking at their website, it seems they have a 30-day free trial period (i am not at all connected to the company!)

    7. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

      Not sure if Costco is available to you, but they have a 2 Piece Set: 1 Arctic Flow Seat Cushion and 1 Lumbar Cushion for about $30.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        I got an office chair delivered this week from Costco. It’s a HON HVL721 and is quite comfy.

        Not sure if the same model is available, but if you have a Coscto membership, I’d check them out. I figured if it turns out not to be comfy I can easily return it, unlike other online sources.

    8. Lyudie*

      I have a HON chair I got from Office Depot a couple of years ago that I like quite a bit. It’s a basic task chair, so not too big. Mine doesn’t have arms but they have a model that does. I can’t remember for sure how much it was but I don’t think it was more than $75 USD.

    9. Atlantian*

      I used to have to put in a full day at the office and then do more from home in the evenings while working on some strict deadlines. The absolute best WAH setup I ever had was just my lazy boy with a piece of extra laminate flooring placed across the armrests to put the laptop on a hard surface and work the mouse on a hard surface. When I needed to use a keyboard other than the one connected to the laptop, I would just add a second piece of flooring. It’s not ideal for all day every day, but it’s great for a change of scenery or sitting situation for part of the day! It’s easy and doesn’t require a ton of extra purchasing, especially if you have a leftover piece of flooring or something similar from a project.

    10. Drago Cucina*

      Just read this recommendation this morning and immediately tried it. Take a pillow in a pillow case and slip it over the back of the chair. I had a memory foam pillow I didn’t use and it has upped the comfort of my desk chair 100%. This really only works with armless chairs.

    11. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Have a look if there are any office liquidators in your area. I got a standing desk (hand crank) and decent chair delivered for $500, and their chair scheme was really clever – I gave them my budget, they sent four options out with the delivery, and I picked the one I liked best after a quick sit on the sidewalk. I don’t recall the name, but it’s a lower-end version of a chair I used for years at my last job.

  18. Not bingeing any shows*

    My partner and I are juggling full-time jobs and full-time care of a baby. NewJob makes a lot of noises that make it seem like they’re being supportive in this crazy time, but in practice, the expectation is try to keep it business as usual or even ramping up! 5 hours a day is all I can realistically and sustainably commit to. Also salty I was pressured to go in once a week for something that easily could have been put off (company really stretching the “essential business” loophole our local govt put in place). It’s only been a few weeks, and I know I should be grateful to have a job and one that can mostly be done at home, but I’m sooo burnt out and soon over this job I started less than 6 months ago. Everyone else in my department, including my boss, are in the “so much extra time on my hands so I should do more work” camp of social distancing. I’m in the “lucky if I have time for a shower” end of the spectrum. I am very grateful to spend this extra time with the baby (our first and long awaited) and my partner (even if we only see each other during shift change), but this situation is to the point of making me re-evaluate my until now successful and lucrative career. This was supposed to be the ideal job for the work-life balance of career development/new parenting. Any advice ?

    1. Not that Leia*

      No advice but in the same boat. No matter the field, or job, providing full time childcare on top of work is NOT sustainable and can’t possibly be balanced. We’re just trying to hold out until stuff recalibrated. Good luck! And you’re doing great no matter what!

      1. Quaremie*

        No advice, just sympathy. I am in the same boat. Luckily, I have a few bosses, and some of them completely understand the challenges that we are facing, while others don’t. Since my output is not measured on a daily basis, I’m trying to make sure that I complete my goals on a weekly basis and I’m relatively responsive to emails and slack messages during the day. That’s really all I can do!

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      What’s the cost if you push back on their ‘so much extra time’ script with ‘no child care, I need less work’? If you ask to go to part-time (3/4? 1/2?) during this and take a pay cut, would it relieve enough pressure on you, and not impact your job after this is over and you want to go back to full-steam-ahead? And if it did impact you with this company, would you care or just head to the next job?

      A lot of time, we have to get explicit about the ‘life’ requirements and how we’re going to limit work, or people just assume you’re up for the same thing they are. But with companies that talk the balance talk, my experience has been that they are responsive to explicit requests.

    3. Mama Bear*

      It’s not normal. I have WFH before and what we are dealing with is working from home BECAUSE there is a crisis, not simply WFH. People who are caregivers in any way are struggling. I’d be upset if they made me go to work for something unnecessary. Is that thing at all possible to do remotely? Could it be done biweekly? I’d also keep to standard hours and not reply to non-urgent emails after the end of your tour of duty. If you can only really do 5 hrs, are you using PTO or other leave for the rest? What’s the company policy?

    4. Malarkey01*

      I know my job has said they will be more flexible on when you work, so if you need to log off to take care of kids at noon and log back on at 8 that’s okay. Would they be willing to do that if the alternative is you leaving in the middle of this?

    5. Triumphant Fox*

      Are you able to take some leave because you don’t have childcare? You should be able to get 2/3 pay.

      1. Not bingeing any shows*

        I was hopeful when I heard about the leave policy, but this is where they were not walking the walk. The off the record response was that it was intended for those whose jobs can’t be work from home (and working from home and not having childcare doesn’t cut it) and that if I submitted the request, it would be denied.

        The in-person work has to be done in person now that it’s started, but the start could have been delayed with little consequence.

    6. valentine*

      Stop going in. Tell them you don’t want to harm your family.

      Maybe contact the journalist Alison has mentioned.

      Seems like FMLA should have a category for this. Someone, somewhere, has thought of it. I want to read that book.

  19. Myrin*

    When applying for a job right now, should you acknowledge the current situation in some way? In the email you send which has your documents attached, I mean, not in the CV itself.

    At this moment, I’m still biding my time – I have two part-time jobs which I can stay in as long as I want, so it’s not dire, but I actually started job hunting in “my” field right before the outbreak – but I’m still looking at postings. I found one where I’m thinking of applying but it doesn’t say anywhere if there’s been any changes to their hiring rhythm or similar. We’re on state-mandated lockdown so business literally can’t be as usual but I’m torn on whether I should just send in my materials like nothing’s changed, send them in and mention that I’m aware they might not be making any decisions right now, or put it off entirely for several weeks.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you have to acknowledge it in a cover letter, but I’m sure it’d come up in a phone screen or interview naturally. Just apply as you would normally apply, I say.

    2. Hanging with the furry freeloaders*

      Not sure if this would apply to you or the jobs you’re applying to –
      I would highlight my prior experience of working from home full time and then going from full time WFH to a mixture of in the office and from home. Also, I’d highlight anything that makes me seem flexible and adaptable to changing situations. I’d also highlight things where I took initiative, problems that I solved or structures I put in place without needing to bother higher-ups.

      In an interview I would ask what unexpected challenges have they faced since the pandemic started.

      1. Myrin*

        Ah, I might have been unclear (or you didn’t mean to reply to me, could be both!), but I didn’t mean in my résumé but in the email I send with my application materials. Like, the one that usually just says “Please find attached my application for XY position”. I was wondering if I should add something along the lines of “I understand if your hiring process is frozen because of the current situation but I wanted to send in my application regardless blabla” (in a more professional manner, of course).

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Hm…I don’t think it’s necessary to include that in your email. It doesn’t add anything to helping the hiring team understand your qualifications for the job. And saying it doesn’t change anything about the situation for them (i.e. maybe their hiring process hasn’t been changed, maybe they’re normally slow, etc.).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve been including “If employees are required to telework during the pandemic, I have considerable experience with it” in my cover letters, if the job lends itself to WFH. I figure it will let them know upfront that it wouldn’t be totally new to me.

  20. Sled dog mana*

    To all the IT professionals out there who do their jobs well, and put up with higher ups who make stupid decisions for them, Thank you!
    To those higher ups you suck!
    The company I provide services to (not my actual employer) was hit by a ransom ware attack last week. We’re at day 8 now, on day 5 we learned that the company had no offline backups.
    Company has decided not to pay and has hired a 3rd party to decrypt the data. We’ve been told weeks before we get anything back. My service line has been shut down for the last 8 days and we are on day 3 of a massive project to basically restart from nothing. We’re hoping that we’ll get historical records back but not counting on getting anything. Life sucks right now.
    But our rank and file IT has been amazing getting most service lines running under 24 hours. They took a little longer to get us setup with the remote connection to my company but they have all been working tirelessly and have been awesome.

    1. Minocho*

      As an IT person, sending a thank you email where their supervisor is copied can be a really thing!

      1. Sled dog mana*

        I wish I could, email is down right now. We’ve got word processing and that’s about it.

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

      Not exactly the same situation as yours, but we have had enforced WFH for the last couple of weeks, which as you can imagine is quite IT-intensive for our infrastructure and support team. (I’m in the broader field of IT/Development, but not an “IT professional” in this sense.) Our IT-people have been amazing, pulled out all the stops, thought up solutions to problems they’ve never come across before, kept everyone happy and productive all with a helpful and cheerful demeanour even though they must be feeling the strain – 10/10 to our IT people!!

  21. Sunflower*

    Checking in on those who were unhappy in your job and searching before this pandemic hit- how are you doing now?

    I’m struggling more than I was before. My company has said our jobs are secure but I’ve been paranoid about my job performance since I started- I get mixed feedback and feel like I can’t do anything right so I keep waiting for the axe to drop. The anxiety is truly awful and has been keeping me up at night. I was happy to continue along at meeting expectations, job searching until something better came along but now I feel a need to over-perform to prove my job. And it’s so hard to care- knowing I had job options and there was light at the end of the tunnel and now there’s no telling when I’ll be able to flee. 

    I feel guilty feeling this which only further compels the anxiety- the weird times we’re in find things being true that we’ve been telling ourselves not to think- I’m finding myself feeling guilty about being unhappy and being lucky to have a job at all.

    Just thinking about everyone in this position and wishing them well

    1. Beancat*

      I am decidedly not good.

      I am one of two people required to stay on site at my job and have no work to do. None. I’ve been working on my digital art and some language work, but I feel like it’s only a matter of time before they decide I’m not worth keeping on now that they’ve seen our site’s volume. The issue is also with how listless I feel, it makes it very difficult to search for a job. I’ve tried but nothing seems good right now.

      I’m feeling the same guilt you described, so you are decidedly not alone.

      Hang in there.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’m struggling too. As I mention in my own post below, I am temporarily not working (they haven’t said “you’re laid off / furloughed” – just basing it off of an email sent to the entire agency plus confirmation from my supervisor). A part of me really does not want to go back when this is all over. My students love me but I don’t love the administration (except my lovely supervisor) and the politics.

      What I’m hoping to get into will probably have its own set of headaches but it will be more interesting than what I’m doing now.

      I’m in school now as a way to enter this new field but that is giving me some grief too as one of my classes is so disorganized it’s not even funny. Our professor has been impacted by the pandemic (I don’t know if they have it or a family member) so they’ve been MIA so I get it, but if they can’t manage the class due to the situation, they really need to be upfront about it. (going gender-neutral in case anything I say is identifiable).

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I’m giving up on job hunting. I’m never, ever, ever going to be able to find another job after this (not that I could for the last bunch of years either). Also I’d be an asshole taking a job from someone who’s unemployed, right, even if I was offered one? Which I won’t be, because well, nobody’s wanted me in years of searching.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Also I’d be an asshole taking a job from someone who’s unemployed, right, even if I was offered one?

        Well, it’s likely that your current job would then be posted, so it would be a net zero change in jobs available.

        Sorry your job search hasn’t made progress. That really sucks :/

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I am definitely struggling. I was about to interview for a huge new position before this all hit, then it got cancelled, and with that, all of my optimism went out the window. I haven’t heard back from anyone at that company even though I sent a follow-up email last week. I actually got negative feedback for some work I did today and that rarely happens– not to this extent, anyway. My job is supposedly safe but the company is exploring furloughs and lay-offs and I cannot really afford that (technically I can, but I would need another job quickly) so I am trying SO HARD to do better. It’s been hugely demoralizing. I set a goal with my career coach to apply to two jobs a week and so far I have– and I had a phone screen for one of them– but my feelings of hopelessness are stronger than they were in February (and they were pretty bad).

      While I am glad I have a job, I am not feeling guilty for looking. I am being pretty directed about my search and most places have stalled or frozen hiring anyway.

    5. MamaLlama*

      My interview process started before all this but I accepted a new position and gave notice last week. Everything is on track to start NewJob in 2 weeks and OldJob seems to taking my feedback to heart. I want to leave things better than I found them

    6. anon for this*

      I was so ready to leave my current job right before this all hit. I had an interview in mid-Feb with a big tech company, but they rejected me right away. I was ok with that, since they are known for being a bit difficult for work life balance. But then they called me back after a few weeks, right before everything went really crazy in the U.S. and offered me a different role. I took it and today is my last day at my soul-sucking job. There was a period there right after I accepted but before I put in my notice that I was seriously depressed because I thought the new job would rescind the offer but after asking them confirming how solid the position was amongst all this, I felt the most relaxed I have felt in honestly years. So my recommendation is to keep looking for the next job – it could come unexpectedly!

    7. EnfysNest*

      It’s really strange. I currently work for a hospital, but on the facility/administrative side – we’re still required to come in to the office, but for now we’re still working on our regular tasks, while knowing that soon we will probably be taking over positions for more direct support staff within the hospital once other employees start to get sick. I was already utterly uninterested in the work I’m doing and I was just starting my job search, and now I have to drag myself along working on things like plans for restroom renovations while I can hear my boss in the next office over working on the logistics of getting our facility prepped for the onslaught that we know is coming. So it’s harder to focus than ever for me.

      Meanwhile, in a section of 8 people, there are only two of us who aren’t in any of the high-risk groups – one coworker has already gone on extended leave so he can stay home and another will probably be following suit after today. And my boss is very high risk and really should have already stopped coming in for his own sake, but he’s still determined to keep working as long as he can to get things ready. So as much as I wanted to get away before before all this, there’s a distinct possibility that now I might end up as one of the last ones standing as this gets worse and worse, so even if I could get a new position now, I would feel like I was running away when I might be able to still help. So I’m here for now, but still feeling useless for the time being while having this huge thing looming in the near future.

      At the same time, one of the two (huge, seemingly indestructible) companies I was about to submit applications for before all this has just announced furloughs of the majority of their employees, and the other will almost certainly follow suit any time now, so I know it’s for the best that I hadn’t gotten anywhere with those applications yet, but I find that almost more frightening than comforting. If I had been more aggressive with my job search, I could have gotten what seemed like a dream job (I know, I know) just to lose it within a matter of weeks. I’m very glad that my income is stable, that I know my job is safe. But I wanted out of this job and I wanted out of this city and now… yeah, it’s just super surreal and I have a lot of conflicting emotions about all of it.

    8. WFHHalloweenCat*

      It’s really rough. Honestly, this whole situation is just shining a huge spotlight on all the reasons I was wanting to leave (detached/absent HR department, ineffective manager, toxic “we’re a family” culture). But I also don’t feel like I can leave/job search for the foreseeable future. I had given up the idea of changing jobs when I got engaged because I didn’t want to start at zero PTO somewhere new. We are in our slow period so there isn’t enough work for me to do to fill 40 hours a week so I’m feeling a lot of guilt for browsing the internet/”slacking off” while being paid my full salary when I know so many people aren’t as fortunate. I know I am very lucky! But I am also anxious and stir crazy and I miss my mom.

    9. miho*

      wow, are we the same person?

      I was itching to start job searching within the first two months of starting my current position, because I knew right away that the job was not a good fit for me, but I told myself to stick it out for one year and casually look for opportunities on the side. I am kicking myself now for not taking my job search more seriously/starting my job search earlier. I am grateful to still be employed in light of the circumstances, but boy have I reached my breaking point with this job. My company has also promised job security for now, but I know that layoffs will definitely happen if this continues, and I am certain that I will be the first to go given my low performance and overall ill-fit for this position.

    10. lemon*

      I empathize

      I’ve been unhappy in my job for a while. I’m trying to switch my career focus a bit, and am enrolled in a master’s program to help with this. I was saving money so I could quit my job, get a paid internship to help me get experience in the new field, and then focus on school full-time, while working on campus to gain further experience. There isn’t anything really terrible about my current job. The people I work with are nice enough, the company’s response to coronavirus has been really great, and our team has been assured that we’re probably not in danger of being laid off.

      The problem is: I have nothing to do. Every once in a while, my boss sends me a task that takes 20-30 minutes to complete, but then I have nothing else to do for the rest of the day (this was how it was pre-coronavirus, so it’s not due to shifting to WFH). I’m bored out of mind, have told both my boss and grandboss frequently that I have bandwidth to take on more work but they just smile and say “that’s nice,” and nothing changes. I’ve tried pitching my own projects and there’s been no interest. So, I think they’re perfectly fine with paying me to just sit around twiddling my thumbs all day. I’ve thought about taking some online courses to up-skill, but I’m already in school full-time and feel like part of the problem is that the more I learn, the more my skill set exceeds what is required for this job, which increases the boredom and frustration.

      I feel incredibly guilty for hating my job right now, given that 10 million people are now unemployed and don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills, and I’m financially secure (for now). It’s a weird form of survivor’s guilt. But I also do feel trapped for the foreseeable future, as it doesn’t seem like a really smart move to quit my job and give up my health insurance during a global pandemic. I keep trying to focus on the positive (being able to pay my bills and buy food, having health insurance), but it’s still been tough. :(

    11. LosingFaith*

      Yes, I am in this exact situation- my boss is taking out all of his stress and frustration on me, and I went from being a top performer to feeling like I can’t do anything right. I recently spent 24 hours crying on and off and feeling too sick to eat because the way he spoke to me left me very concerned about my job and feeling like all of the good work I’ve done since I joined the company went out the window when I made one (very small) mistake while trying to put out a huge fire. I was really enjoying working from home and being away from the office culture, but this week it all caught up to me.

      I, too, feel very guilty for complaining at all when I have a job, and recently got a huge raise that hasn’t been cut. But I also can’t just be ok with being bullied like this. There is no one above my boss, we don’t have HR, and my industry has all but shut down (so I do feel very lucky to still have a job, but no one is hiring). I just keep reminding myself that I can’t control the way he speaks to me, I can only control my reaction. I know my worth, and I will continue to pay my bills for now and find another job where I’m valued later. I just wish I wasn’t having to work 12 hour days to try to stay afloat right now; it’s really taking a toll on my mental fortitude when he does explode on me.

      1. Jambon-Beurre*

        I’m sorry this is happening to you. I want you to know employers are hiring now and will be when this is all over. Dry those tears, go through this sites old posts on resumes, cover letters, and job searching, and work on your job search and goal plans. Hang in there!

    12. Daisy Avalin*

      OH is/was looking, and WFH has just solidified his need to get out of the industry/company he’s in. He’s been in this industry for half his life (not just half his working life, half his life!) and he just needs to move on. He had an interview just before lockdown went into effect (UK here) but hasn’t heard back from the company, understandably.

    13. All monkeys are French*

      I have been half-heartedly searching for a long time because while my current job is low stress and has nice people, it’s really boring. The current crisis has made me annoyed and resentful when I know I should be grateful for having any employment at all. I’ve been wanting to shift into something more adjacent to my current role, but I haven’t had any success yet, and now it seems practically impossible. I may try to do some distance learning to improve my skills, but it’s hard to know if that will make much of a difference.

    14. LizzE*

      I am likely the outlier here, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made my job more bearable, at least temporarily.

      Background: My job went through a restructure last year and I was eventually meant to move into a role that was more hands on and embedded in my org’s strategic priorities. While we were still building out a team, I was carrying a portfolio of work that was originally managed by my previous supervisor (director-level), who got laid off during the restructure. I always knew this work would be temporary as we were going to build out a new team, but I came to love doing it. However, the supposed new stream of work my new role was earmarked for also seemed promising. But, none of this came into fruition after our new VP was hired. For one, I lost the temporary work I was managing — understandable, as it was meant for a director level staffer. However, I ended up not moving into my new role, except in title. VP basically lame ducked me because she restructured the roles at the director level; I ended up getting screwed over. Additionally, although one of the directors will eventually be my supervisor, new VP decides they need time acclimating to their roles (2 out of 3 were recently) and she would continue managing me for the foreseeable future. And she gave me very little work to do, especially as she doesn’t know how to or should even be managing someone at my level.

      So I have been job hunting since fall 2019. Had a few phone interviews, but have not moved past the phone screener. Was starting to get demoralized, especially after my colleague (the only director who was not new) left for another job. And her departure was just a month before the pandemic hit, so her role had not been filled.

      But now, since we are understaffed and both the VP and her two directors need to be part of a crisis management team + a COVID-19 response efforts (we are in philanthropy), a lot of projects outside of the response work are going to me. And I have been loving it, especially getting to work cross-collaboratively with other teams (even if just through video conference and email). Additionally, being in the office exacerbated anxieties and insecurities I had about not fitting in with this new team dynamic (I cried a lot over this). But, I don’t feel that way anymore since I don’t see my team very often outside of our department check-ins.

      That said, I am still looking for a new job and I am worried about the tough road, given the economic devastation the pandemic is causing.

    15. Sunflower*

      Just wanted to thank everyone for sharing their feelings. I feel better knowing I’m not alone in my feelings of guilt and anxiety and I hope others do as well. I’m reminding myself more often of a saying I often go back to – ‘Constant positivity is a form of avoidance. Sometimes things suck and the healthiest thing you can do is admit it’.

      Another saying I saw last week that has helped ‘You’re not working from home, You are at home during a crisis trying to work’. Try to stay balanced everyone and I’m thinking of all of you :)

  22. Grits McGee*

    My agency is telling us that they’re going to be purchasing laptops for all 3,000+ employees. Tellingly, they haven’t mentioned whether they’re going to be paying for internet/mobile hotspot access for all the employees that don’t have it also….

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I came here to ask a similar question.

      Are many employers paying for home internet for their employees?

      1. Working with professionals*

        Can’t speak for all companies, but mine is providing hotspots and internet for employees who don’t normally have access at home and under usual circumstances never work from home.

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

        My company has provided loaner laptops for anyone who needs one and subsidized the purchase of monitors for everyone. Everyone on my team already had sufficient internet access in their homes, but if they had not, I would have felt comfortable asking the company about it and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had subsidized the cost for the duration of the stay-at-home order.

        To be clear, I think my company is doing extremely well in supporting us in our work from home efforts. They’re not just saying “we expect you maintain productivity; the rest is up to you. Have a nice day.” Management understands that people’s productivity will be affected, in individual and different ways.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        Mine provided all of us laptops- many of us had them but they got them for everyone who didn’t have them. And for those who need them, they covered the cost of a second monitor (w/n a price limit).

      4. Eng*

        My employer updated policy to reimburse for up to $40 a month for internet, but the $40 has to be from a prorated rate of work days/total days of your bill. Which is not ideal if you have to bump up your plan for working, you can’t only but internet on weekdays, but I haven’t changed anything about my internet so I’ll take it.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      My employer paid for a home phone line and supplemented home broadband, back when I started wfh 12 years ago. They cut the broadband support around 2010, and the phones around 2012, though they have negotiated discounts with vendors if we go through their programs. I get 10% off normal residential phone rates, for example. But this employer has >50K US employees, so some negotiating leverage.

      The reasoning was that cell phones and broadband were becoming ‘common’ enough that the work traffic was not extra cost. If your work traffic is extra costs, can you ask your mgr about it?

    3. Generic Name*

      It is a valid question to ask. My company has a teleworking policy and it explicitly states that while the company provides laptops, it does not provide or pay for internet service or any other items (like desks or monitors) required to work from home.

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

        But I inferred (I realize it wasn’t stated) that OPs agency is initiating this because of the “work at home if you can” edict, rather than in response to people wanting to work from home. I think the normal rules could be changed here, since it’s presumably for the benefit of the agency that people can continue to do their normal work at home, rather than have to be laid off/furloughed and all the consequences of that.

        As an example, my company wouldn’t normally provide “item X” (which I am leaving out as it’s too identifiable) to people wanting to work at home, they would expect people to have/acquire their own X when requesting to WFH. But now it’s been enforced, they have acquired and shipped out some Xs to people at home who don’t have their own X already.

      2. A Poster Has No Name*

        I agree with Captain. It’s one thing to have a telework policy as a perk that says you need to provide your own stuff vs. potentially forcing people to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to maintain business continuity in the face of shutdowns.

        For the shutdown my company allowed us to take home spare monitors if we needed. Not sure about internet access, as I have good internet (with an ISP suspending data caps) and a nice monitor so I didn’t need to.

        My company has said that we should be thinking about cutting costs where we can, but specified those should not be costs related to head count, so I figure I’ll do my part and not request additional hardware or whatever that I don’t actually NEED to do my job.

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

      You say “tellingly”… is there a history with the agency that makes you think they won’t provide it, or just keep their mouth shut about things that are an issue? Maybe it just hasn’t occurred to the person writing that policy that everybody might not have broadband level access?

      The cost of an internet/mobile hotspot (at least here in the UK) is a small-ish percentage of the cost of a laptop, I realize it’s all additional cost but small in the scheme of things. You could ask the question directly about internet access, or no doubt someone out of the 3000 (!) will have spotty internet access and be willing to ask.

      The cost is obviously dependent on how data-intensive the work is. For most workloads you wouldn’t be streaming or downloading huge things so perhaps 30GB a month? which could be had for about £20 a month so if a business laptop is perhaps £1000 then an additional 25% to the cost of the laptop over a year.

      And I really hope this doesn’t last for a year… I’d go out of my mind!

      1. Ina Lummick*

        As far as I’m aware (as I’m also based in the UK) is that broadband and mobile phone plans in the US are much more expensive – quick Google search says an average of $60 a month (~£50) for broadband alone.

        (As far as I’m aware too my broadband doesn’t have monthly data limit like mobile data does…the price depends on the speed (to the box) that you want)

  23. CallMeTired*

    Work chats on Google Hangouts is driving me nuts – it’s unorganized and I’m looped into conversations that I don’t want/need to be part of. I’m trying to convince my team (with my boss’s help) to switch to Microsoft Teams but they’re a bit resistant. Anyone use Teams and have selling points of it to share?

    Also: Anyone use it and have tips? I’m new to Teams myself! I just want to escape the hell of Hangouts.

    1. noahwynn*

      The biggest selling point for me is how easy and quick it is to create new teams and channels in Teams. We frequently work on projects across departments and keeping all conversation and files in a single place that everyone can access is very nice. Once the project is done, the files can be moved to a network share for archive and the team or channel deleted.

    2. Tuckerman*

      I’m in a Teams meeting right now :-) Overall, I like it. One really nice feature is that meeting participants are put in a virtual “waiting room” until the moderator lets them in. One thing I do not like is that there is no way to share audio when you screen share, unless you’re on a Windows device (not a Windows operating system, but an actual Windows device).

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Why is Hangouts hell exactly? I think just use whatever ecosystem you’re in. If your company is a 365 company, use Teams. If your company is a G-Suite company, use Hangouts.

      1. CallMeTired*

        We have both G-Suite and 365 available to us, so it’s available for us to make the switch. The main reason I have an issue with Hangouts is that there is no organization, the chats just organize by latest conversation like any other social media messenger. I think it would easier to push my team toward a system where we put conversations in topic and team focused channels if we start from a blank slate. Also, I want the @mentions, tagging and file storage of Teams. Hangouts is too stripped down for what I want it to be.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Based on your recent comment, I see you mean the messaging. Yes, it’s terrible. My company uses G Suite, but we adopted Slack for messaging. So much better.

    4. ...*

      Ugh I hate teams. Its not user friendly at all and the video sucks. I would recommend slack highly over teams.

      1. CallMeTired*

        My uni won’t allow Slack and says we can’t talk about FERPA protected things on it. :( I’d prefer Slack too, I’m familiar with it.

    5. NW Mossy*

      My company introduced Teams about 6 weeks before this all hit, which is so fortuitous – it’s much better than what we had before (Skype for Business).

      My favorite thing about it so far is using it as a tool to replace more than just chat functions. The file-sharing capabilities work MUCH better than shared network drives, the channels are a major improvement over email aliases, and the video experience is (in my opinion) superior. I’m really pushing my team to use it as a hub, with some success.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Isn’t Microsoft phasing out Skype for Biz and replacing it was Teams? Actually, I thought this had already happened.

        1. Lyudie*

          I think Skype for Biz goes away at the end of the year. My company is planning to transition to Teams in May and we have a bunch of folks on it now as a pilot.

        2. ThatGirl*

          First I’ve heard of it! We’re still using Skype for Business, but I know other departments have opened up Teams. They serve somewhat different functions, though…

    6. Sam*

      You want Google Chat, not Hangouts. I hate that they still provision Hangouts for G Suite customers.

      Chat is more fully-featured, with named rooms w/ subthreads, etc.

    7. Generic Name*

      Teams is much better than Skype in terms of call quality. I also think the chat function is laid out better than Skype in that it’s easier to see your chat history with someone. Honestly though, my favorite things about Teams is the meme generator and gifs. :D

    8. lemon*

      We have Teams, but I’m the only person who uses it. My boss uses only the chat feature.

      The main selling point of Teams is that it’s way more than chat or video. It’s meant to be a full collaboration platform. It’s basically Slack, but for orgs already using Microsoft products. I like the file management features (it uses Sharepoint so your files are in the cloud, could replace using a shared drive that requires VPN or remoting in, which is more convenient). It integrates nicely with all the Office products (Word, Excel, OneNote)– you can pin a Word or Excel document to a Team space, so it’s easy to find and easy to have multiple people working on the same doc. I like using a Microsoft Planner tab to keep track of tasks (it uses Kanban boards, like Trello, which I’m a fan of). It also integrates nicely with other services like Trello and Mailchimp.

      It just has way more power than apps that are only for chat, like Hangouts.

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

      If you have Office 365 I would urge you to advocate for using Teams ahead of google hangouts.

    10. Snark no more!*

      It is indeed much easier to work with. Screen sharing, chat features, you can upload files directly to a meeting and pop in and out of meetings if something else needs your attention. AND it seems more secure than Zoom…

    11. SparkleJaffe*

      I love Teams! I’d never heard of it before I returned to an old role about 7 weeks ago, but now I’m my teams go to girl on it. It went from recommended to ridiculously essential in no time at all. We’re constantly video calling, it’s great to have the chat function and the file uploads all in one place, it’s how we’re getting through working from home. I can’t speak of it highly enough. I think it’s easy to use and nice to look at

  24. Roscoe*

    Not a question or anything, just a funny anectdote.

    I’m in a big city. Last fall I left a stable job, albeit one I wasn’t happy at, for a new one. 3 months later that company did a round of layoffs and I was let go. The layoffs were basically due to bad financial planning, but of course the people involved in that planning kept their jobs, and it was many new people who were let go. Well, before everything went down, I got a new job. At the time they were in a coworking space, but I knew they were looking to get their own office space. As it turns out, I’m going to be in the same building as my old job. And it is NOT a big building. There is one elevator, so I’m sure I’ll be running into some of my old co-workers. I have some pent up dirty looks for some of those people. I don’t even know if I can fake politeness to them if they do try to pretend its nice to see me.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I get it – but don’t. Be pleasant. Petty stuff like this is not worth the potential impact to your professional reputation. And you really need to figure out how to let go of your resentment towards old company. It’s not worth it.

        1. valentine*

          Living well is the best revenge.
          Yes. Kill them with kindness and pretend it feels like a million years ago to you. Let them feel they are specks in your rearview.

      1. Roscoe*

        Eh, I was there 3 months. Now that I have a new job, its not even going to be on my resume again. Letting someone go after they left a good job to come there, and them not being financially prepared isn’t petty, its messing with people’s lives. I’m not saying I’m going to go trash the office, but I have 0 kind words for some of those people there

        1. PollyQ*

          You never know when one of those people may have influence over hiring for your dream job. You don’t need to kiss up or be buddy-buddy, just be polite & pleasant.

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      Practice a mildly surprised, “Oh, you still have a job?” look, and dole that out repeatedly, as needed. It rolls silent snark & passive aggressiveness into one. Kind of like performance art, but just for your own benefit.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Keep telling yourself that you are free of them. I’d be thinking, “You poor slob, you still have to work for That Company.”

      It is rich that you are in the same building as them. Congrats on saving your situation and finding a new place.

  25. sad & confused*

    This is going to be my last post about this because I’ve mostly moved forward but some things just keep playing in my mind.

    One thing that just doesn’t make sense is that right before this all happened, they were hiring like mad. Our office staff doubled and our remote staff quadrupled. Every other day on our company website there were a dozen or so people starting. 1 week into this crisis and 56% needs to be cut? Why was so much time and energy spent on building my department up when they were just going to tear it down again? I mean at the end of the day none of that matters.

    Last week, they removed my access to everything, and I immediately deleted all the chat and phone apps from my phone. Yesterday, I accidentally opened the desktop chat app and saw I still had access and was able to read all the chats I’d received in the past week. In addition to me, 3 of my remote staff was laid off in a scheduled call on Friday. It was done apparently on a conference call led by the head of the remote team (was a peer but not someone I reported to). One of my people was devastated, and one had no idea why she didn’t have access so safe to assume she never got the call. My managers group chat was active and my very incompetent, poor communicator coworker said something about the roles and everyone was like… HUH? They were like, how TF did she get to stay?

    Anyway, I quickly closed the app and deleted the shortcut from my computer b/c it’s not going to help me move forward.

    And this is the kicker — the first round of in office staff was customer service, interns and admins. All lower level staff. I’m the only manager to be let go. My former team is now being managed by the supervisor who reported to me as my role was essentially a duplicate. So why me vs him? Because I was going to go on maternity leave.

    I know in my heart and gut my pregnancy was 100% the reason upper management let me go first. No other manager was let go or will be let go. I thought about talking to a lawyer, but Im convinced nothing will come of it because I have no way of proving it other than my gut feeling. and optics. And idk if this is misguided but I don’t want to burn this bridge – I don’t want to ever go back but turnover is high so I could easily come across these decision makers at future jobs.

    With that said…I’m applying for jobs now. I’m not sure what to say to a prospective interviewer who asks why i’m looking. I’m a little worried that if I say RIF, they’d find it fishy. I just feel angry, sad and confused.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      No one is going to find RIF fishy in March or April. A lot of companies didn’t have this on their radar, and certainly didn’t expect the social shutdown. I wouldn’t emphasize ‘only manager let go’, just ‘RIF’.

      The ‘only manager and I happen to be pregnant’ is super suspicious, you are 100% right on that. And you can’t even Glassdoor because it would be too easy to identify you. Your employer sucks, I hope you find someplace new and better soon.

      1. sad & confused*

        an RIF in accounting though? I put on my resume that I was a manager. From what I’ve read, managers are rarely let go in layoffs, except in my case so I’m a little apprehensive about that.

        I considered putting a Glassdoor review but later on, when I move on to a new place eventually. At that point I feel like I’d sound less angry and bitter. Right now I’m on “furlough” and trying to remain “positive” so I can “come back” when “things get better.”

        1. Mama Bear*

          I’d keep it direct and simple. Sometimes departments get combined and managers are let go. If you get laid off vs fired, I’d just hold onto that, even if their choice was smarmy and horrible. If you are furloughed and might go back, then maybe let this time be for them to figure out their poor staffing choices. I hope you enjoy your leave and everything goes well for you and your expanding family.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          I’ve seen manager laid off in previous companies, so it’s not unheard of. I think you’re overthinking this because of how (rightfully) angry you are. No one is going to be side-eyeing you when you job search for being laid off right now – it’s happening across all industries and at all levels.

        3. PollyQ*

          I’ve known plenty of managers who were laid off. Literally millions of people have been laid off, or furloughed, in the last two weeks. You really, really don’t need to worry about how this will look to future employers.

    2. ina garten's giant cocktail*

      so they were building up the department before a global pandemic and now, during the global pandemic, they’re shutting it down? that makes sense to me

      1. ina garten's giant cocktail*

        also just tell the prospective employers you were laid off because of the global pandemic. 701,000 jobs were eliminated in march, it’s not like everyone else isn’t in the same boat as you

        1. Mazzy*

          For the most part, but I bet there are some companies out there getting rid of people too preemptively, maybe OP works for one of them.

      2. sad & confused*

        true. This was the 3rd time in the company’s history they tried to bring the department up and running, and it finally was successful after I joined it.

      3. The Other Dawn*

        Exactly. Up until the pandemic, we were hiring, making all sorts of plans for my own department, just made an internal hire, etc. But now everything is on hold. It’s happening everywhere–building up a department and then laying off people when the pandemic hit doesn’t seem odd to me at all.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      “Due to the COVID-19 impacts, I was laidoff like many others both at that company and others.” You’re over thinking this. There have literally been millions of people laid off, furloughed, or otherwise out of a job. Any hiring managers who don’t understand this are really too dumb to be a hiring manager.

      It doesn’t matter right now if they laid you off because you’re pregnant. You can’t prove it. Let it go. Move on, interview, find a new job.

      1. sad & confused*

        I’m doing the best I can to move on. looking for jobs, created my resume, applied, waiting to hear back. 6 years can’t be forgotten in 6 days. Just wanted to vent. I know eventually things will be better, but it just feels crappy for the moment.

    4. sad & confused*

      Thanks all for the reality check. I am overthinking it. They explained it to me as a layoff/furlough but I get to keep my insurance indefinitely.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Your situation sucks, I am so sorry. I hope you find a company that respects and takes care of good people like you.

      2. That'll happen*

        Furloughs are temporary layoffs. When people are laid off they might get a severance that includes some insurance coverage, but you are still an employee of the company which is why you get to keep your insurance. The idea is to rehire you when business picks up again. I wouldn’t say you were laid off when you are interviewing as that is not entirely accurate. Just say you are one of the people at your company furloughed because of the pandemic. Employers will understand.

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          How many of us remember when “temporary layoff” was a redundancy? Good times.

          …but you are still an employee of the company which is why you get to keep your insurance. The idea is to rehire you when business picks up again.

          My understanding is that sad & confused was indeed permanently laid off. The company may just be paying her insurance indefinitely as an act of compassion (and possibly guilt in this case). It’s not uncommon for employers to do this for at least some time for people they permanently discharge.

          So unless I’m missing something, it would be both unethical and risky to say you were furloughed instead of laid off.

        2. sad & confused*

          I’m not entirely sure, I just know that I”m considered to be “active” so I can keep my health insurance. But even if things “do pick up” I have reason to believe htey will not want to bring me back (being pregnant/maternity and all).

  26. Insert witty name here*

    In my current and previous jobs, I’ve worked with people who are easy to get along with and social, yet tend to slack off when it comes to doing actual work. (You have to light a fire in order to get them to do anything or involve the boss.)

    When I interviewed for my current position, the person that I’m working with was not in the interview. I have to say something is coming from the boss if I want something done.

    This happened in a previous position as well, but the coworker was in the interview process. (The person was a totally different person in front of the boss, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyways.)

    Is there any way to tell what your coworkers are like before you take the job? Or do you just have to find out once you’re in the job?

    1. Sunflower*

      I’m assuming these people aren’t your reports- if you are able to assign them work, have they gotten guidance from your boss that you are able to do so? For example, sometimes I’d assign work to assistants but it was very clear from the boss that this was part of their job.

      If you’re able to assign work and they know they are supposed to be doing it and they just aren’t doing it, I’d bring it up with your boss.

    2. Alianora*

      In interviews, I usually ask who I would be working with. But it’s not a great indicator of personality and culture – people will usually only say positive things about their coworkers. Still, it’s something.

      1. Filosofickle*

        It’s true that people will mostly only say nice things, but I did once have an interview where one of them broke ranks and told me outright that management was terrible and it was a frustrating place to work!

        Assuming they don’t do that, how they answer can still be telling. What they don’t say and careful word choices reveal a lot. It’s usually pretty easy to spot enthusiastic, warm descriptions versus generic or guarded statements.

        In my jobs, it’s been reasonable ask to meet to meet the team or set up a conversation with key coworkers as part of the interview process.

    3. Choggy*

      The *one* interview where I was not included (must have been on vacation or something) they hired my current coworker who is the biggest slacker I’ve ever known in a work environment. I knew it after the first couple of weeks, and when I Googled his name, it just confirmed that nobody wanted this guy, and he’s just been passed around like a hot potato. There really is no good way to know who you are dealing with sometimes, until they know they’ve cemented themselves into their job and they show their true colors. This guy has been here 5 years, and has a chronic illness, when he all of a sudden needs treatment, he calls out the night before he is supposed to be the primary for the next day…every. single. time. He never offers to take anyone else’s day, we are all just expected to eat it. He does not have my sympathy.

    4. NicoleK*

      Unless you have an inside connection who can give you the scoop, you’ll just have to find out once you’re in the job.

  27. MissGirl*

    What are everyone’s best tips to make yourself as lay-off proof as possible? I know there’s no guarantee ever, but I want to make myself as useful as possible. In other roles I’ve gotten to the point I was indispensable and confident it would take most of the company going down to result in a lay-off. However, I just started a new job in October and my role isn’t super necessary in the new climate.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish there were ways to make yourself lay-off proof, but I don’t know if you can really do that. Sometimes, entire departments are laid off at once, so even if you’re the “best” employee in that department, it may not matter.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I agree. I think there are industries and vocations that are less susceptible to layoffs than others, but when it comes down to it we’re all replaceable.

        1. Rachel in NYC*

          That was really my thought. My mother’s comment the other day was that was grateful for my job and my BIL’s (he’s military and I work in administration at a university- both pretty recession proof jobs.)

      2. MissGirl*

        There’s no 100 percent guarantee but I would like to focus on what I can control versus I can’t.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      A couple of things in general come to mind, which may or may not be applicable in your situation.

      1. Be the person that people want to work with. Be easy to collaborate with, be the one who’s willing and able to jump in and help. Get things done when they need done. All of those things that make you one of those people who others want to be a part of the team. Graciously take on the ‘not fun’ jobs and tasks (don’t go overboard with this, make sure it’s relevant to your position and not pouring coffee)
      2. Keep learning. Get to know other functions of your company. Offer to help on projects, keep an eye out for interesting opportunities.
      3. Be flexible, within reason. Accept changes outside of your control, do your best to help others with them as well.
      4. Be good at your job.

      1. A New Level of Anon*

        So, in the layoff I just went through, a whole bunch of people who exemplified 1-4 got laid off mostly because they were relatively inexpensive to give severance packages to. On the other hand, I know someone who is the exact opposite of 1-3 who has survived basically every layoff because (a) they were hired at a time when the salary range for their position was a lot higher than it would be now and (b) their severance package would cost an arm and a leg.

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          Interesting.

          The conventional wisdom has been (and former HR VP and current career/business consultant Cynthia Shapiro continues to teach) that it’s the most highly compensated who are the first to go.

          Maybe things are changing?

    3. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

      One thing that might help is to work in companies with diverse revenue streams. Like consulting companies with clients from a wide variety of industries. That way, if there is a recession that impacts one or two industries, your entire company won’t go down.

      Stay away from start-ups – too much risk. A lot of start-ups tend to overhire in the beginning and then lay people off when the money does not materialize. (I discontinued interviewing for a start up right before I got my current job. Last I heard, the person they hired for the position got laid off. I thank my lucky stars for listening to my gut.)

      This should be obvious, but be a pleasant person to work with. Be reliable, polite, etc. If you’re a pain to work with, your manager will snip you off the minute they find an excuse.

      Again, non of these are foolproof, but they might decrease the chances.

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        Also, try not to work in anything that could become automated. This is hard to predict, but it helps to think about it.

      2. voluptuousfire*

        ^^This. My smaller company was acquired by a much larger company in tech and while my job is kinda boring, at least I know I have one. I’m here until I get a better role elsewhere.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Get in good with the decision-makers at your company. Having someone higher up that can advocate for you in the room during lay-off conversations is incredibly helpful.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          No one is advocating brown nosing. What this means is, you need to make yourself visible to the people who make the top-level decisions in your company. A lot of times that’s by doing consistently good work, coming up with new processes and/or procedures that make everyone’s lives easier, becoming the subject matter expert that people come to with questions in whatever section of your company you work in, being flexible and willing to help others, etc. Those types who manage to do these things are rarely first in mind to get rid of because they’ve made their contributions to the company clear and they exhibit tangible value.

          1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

            If you can accomplish it. In my last company, my jealous managers gatekept like crazy and made it a point to undermine high performers to their bosses by taking credit for work, keeping their accomplishments hidden, etc. It depends on the structure of the company, but it would have been impossible in my last job to get “in” with upper management because it was difficult to get around your direct manager.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Oh, I had a boss like that – she was so annoying. Anytime her boss, the VP of our division, would ask me to do something for him or the department without asking her first, she would lose her mind. It was unreal. My current manager is great – he gives me public credit to higher-level execs and decision-makers on things I didn’t even do or only had a minor hand in! LOL. I appreciate that because I’m fully remote outside of this pandemic situation, so don’t see a lot of these people often, and it would be all too easy for them to forget I’m on the team. This is what I mean by finding an advocate in your company (my boss has quite a bit of influence at our company as does grandboss, who also loves me).

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

        Any hints on approaches to “get in good” with these people? Do you mean on a work level (producing good stuff that is visible to them) or an interpersonal one?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          See above, although it doesn’t hurt to also try to find something on a personal level that you have in common with your decision-makers and use that to your advantage. For example, current grandboss is an indie music junkie, as am I, so he and I regularly talk about new bands or old music we like. Because he’s comfortable talking to me, he approaches me to get my opinion and feedback on documentation that he sends to his boss, our division’s VP while giving me credit for it.

      2. MissGirl*

        This is where I’m struggling. In previous roles, I had to time to work my way into notice by the decision makers by having high visual projects. At this new job, I haven’t had time. My current position is sort of off on its own, which is making me feel adrift.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Can you come up with some projects on your own? Maybe something that could save your company money or gain new clients? That’s typically what I’ve done in the past, and I was only laid off once early in my career (before I knew to do this).

      3. LizzE*

        Yup, I was about to suggest this. Perhaps I am cynical, but I have seen people who either were top-performing, innovative, well-liked, had incredible institutional knowledge, or a combo of these traits still be let go because they were not liked by the decision-makers. Not advocating for someone to not focus on skills, knowledge, or the ability to work with well with peers, but perceptions from above really can help or hinder your career.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup – whether we like it or not, likability matters as does the ability to form alliances and get sponsors who have immense political capital and are willing to use it for you.

    5. purple otter*

      Have a skillset that brings in revenue and be really really good at it. Or be crosstrained/flexible enough to work on a variety of roles. My team just let someone go – she was the second most junior member, and the least skilled so she was costing us money instead of making money. She only had experience in one type of work (which is fair, she’s only a year out of college), and other junior members of our team had experience in other types of work already. She was already put on PIP earlier this year and now with work being completely unpredictable at the moment… she was the first to go.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Never underestimate the power of being personable/likable. It may not save your job but it MIGHT bring you to your next job if you need to move elsewhere. It’s an investment in your future and it’s a sleeper, you won’t know what ground work you have laid.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, being the person people want to work with will put you higher on the list of “people to keep” and will get you on the list of “people to network about to help them find something else” in case of a layoff.

    7. Alan*

      No one is indispensable but being seen as adaptable has got to be high on the your list. Any job you have has the potential to be eliminated but if you’re seen as someone who can take on new tasks at the drop of a hat it will be much easier to find a new role for you rather than get rid of you

      1. Miranda Priestly's Assistant*

        I second this. Intangibles may be what saves you. You can train anyone to type, do data entry/programming, etc. You can’t necessarily train people to be quick learners or critical thinkers. If you prove yourself as versatile people will be less willing to lose you.

    8. Mediamaven*

      Be overcommunicative and proactive if you are now working from home. Jump to take on something new, support your supervisors. Bring new ideas to the table.

  28. Dr Useless*

    I’m feeling slightly energised by having submitted a job application this morning. I was afraid the current situation might mean there wouldn’t be any job postings, but this one is very promising! I’m currently only on a fixed term contract, so I need to find something by the end of the year and I’d love for it to be permanent. Fingers crossed!

    How’s are other job searchers doing?

    1. BabyCarrot*

      Right now the market is not really good where I am. I still keep my eyes open for opportunities and postings and I send my resume when I find something that fits. I still have a job right now so no stress there, although working from home with two preschool age kids is kinda stressful.!
      Good luck to you!

  29. Steggy Saurus*

    I manage the staff of a small library that’s working from home right now. Should I have a meeting with my staff? Under normal circumstances I’m not a big meeting person – we meet once a month just for updates and to bring everyone together for the occasional group decision that warrants in-person discussion.

    We don’t have anything specific to discuss, it’s just we’re all so scattered that I thought maybe a check-in would be appreciated. Personally, I loathe video/conference calls, but I don’t want that to get in the way of what my team needs. Maybe I should just ask everyone if they want a group conference call?

    1. MissGirl*

      Yes, do it. I loathe meetings for the sake of meetings but my anxiety runs rampant in the absence of information. No news doesn’t necessarily mean good news. I appreciate my company has started weekly ask anything meetings.

    2. Dr Useless*

      I’d say go for it, but specifically schedule it to be brief. I also loathe video calls and especially group conference calls, but as someone currently working in a library I’ve been feeling pretty lonely and detached from my team while working from home.

    3. Matilda Jefferies*

      Yes, absolutely! I try to avoid meetings for the sake of meetings as well, but this is a different situation. I manage a team of four – we’ve been doing weekly “coffee break” meetings over Webex – no set agenda, but just a place and a time where we can all see each other and say hi. I’m also checking in with each of them individually, either by phone/email/chat, a couple of times a week. I wouldn’t normally do this much checking in, but informal chit chat is so important in lot of jobs, and lots of people are really missing it right now.

    4. ET*

      I’ve definitely been appreciating the departmental and informal check-ins my bosses and coworkers have been setting up. Ask your team what they want and how you can help everyone stay connected! :)

    5. Sara without an H*

      It’s probably a good idea. People who aren’t used to working from home may find themselves feeling isolated. Just set it up to be brief and, if people find it helpful, schedule a follow-up.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      We still hold regularly scheduled staff meetings by conference call, but send an agenda around first, which lists the order in which people will be called on to talk about what is going on in their portfolios. Cuts down on everyone talking over each other and stopping at the same time. There is still discussion, calls for questions, etc. and we’ve actually had some decent discussions. It used to take an hour but on the phone now takes 10-15 min, but it is important as it helps everyone feel connected.

    7. Steggy Saurus*

      Thank you all for your advice! I’m a loner, so I am totally loving the isolation right now. But it is important to remember that I’m weird. :)

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

      A virtual meeting with “Check in to see how we are all doing in these strange times”, job done.

    9. Drago Cucina*

      I agree. My new library consortium is doing this and it’s a nice weekly check-in.

    10. Windchime*

      Another vote for doing it. I also don’t like appearing on video calls, but I’m just making myself get over it because I do find it helpful to see the faces of my coworkers. We are having a touch-base twice a week. We spend a few minutes just chatting, then the manager asks for a quick update from everyone (no details, just giving everyone a chance to give a couple of sentences about what they’re working on).

      I find it helps just to stay in contact.

  30. Lovecraft Beauty*

    I feel like I’m running an enormous scam. Even before The Virus, my mental health was taking a nasty dive, and I was doing what I consider the bare minimum at work — showing up on time, doing the work assigned to me, that kind of thing — and my boss was weirdly impressed. Now, my mental health is trash and I am basically showing up at my Zoom meetings and focusing on the low-effort tasks in the backlog of work instead of more complex project work. And ….my boss thinks I’m being incredibly productive. Either this says something incredibly awful about my predecessors/coworkers or my standards need some adjusting.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      … or both.

      I don’t think it’s a problem you’re only dealing with low level stuff. Other people will be getting their motivation from more substantial project work. Everything will get done. You can get back to normal when you have the bandwidth to do so.

      I hope you feel better soon.

      1. Mama Bear*

        If you are getting done what needs to be done, then you are doing fine, IMO. Obviously don’t ignore the big things but sometimes a little paper pushing is just what we need to regroup.

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

        +1, as someone who works vaguely in the ‘development’ sphere (I inferred, but it wasn’t quite stated, that there is a ‘shared’ backlog and so OP may be part of a Scrum/Agile team)… just because things are perceived as “low-effort”, doesn’t mean they are not valuable!

        Often it’s the contrary.

        I have come across many developers in Agile teams who shun the “easy”, “routine” stuff… wanting to work on the latest complex/sexy thing they can get their teeth into — if they have the bandwidth for it. And as a result the “low-effort” stuff gets neglected, even if it has a high impact for the end user!

    2. Mill Miker*

      It’s sounds like you’re being reliable, predictable, present. Your boss is probably dealing with people who are struggling with the remote work, or going above-and-beyond in some places but letting other things slip in unpredictable ways, maybe due to stress or technical issues or taking advantage of being at home (for good or bad reasons). And then there you are. Work gets assigned, work gets done. Work doesn’t get assigned? Things still keep ticking off the backlog.

      If you’re being that consistent you’re probably the one person your boss just doesn’t have to worry about right now.

    3. Reba*

      “basically showing up at my Zoom meetings and focusing on the low-effort tasks in the backlog of work” seems like a pretty healthy approach that a lot of managers would appreciate.

      It sounds like you push yourself hard and have internal pressure to achieve (that doesn’t align with the external expectations of productivity). This is really common with imposter syndrome, imposter syndrome is itself very common, and fortunately it can be helped with therapy! Even if therapy is off the table right now, as I imagine it is for many folks, basic CBT techniques for recognizing and challenging your negative self-talk can be learned online with free resources.

      Sorry to jump straight to “therapy!” because I know that often feels unhelpful. But the point I’m trying to make is that, at least to this stranger, it sounds like the adjustment that’s needed right now is not to your work output, but rather to the way you are thinking about it and about yourself by extension.

      Maybe ultimately this job won’t be for you, because it doesn’t challenge you in the best ways or doesn’t feel like the achievements you want to be making. But for now, try to remind yourself that in a truly wild time, you are doing good steady work and that’s worthy of feeling good about.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        So agree.

        Your boss is happy with you. He gives you nice compliments. Allow yourself to say “thank you” without saying “but-but-but”. Just graciously say, “hey, thanks.” I am talking about your internal dialog, not what you say to your boss.

        Sometimes we just have to put the brakes on our runaway train of thoughts and simply accept the fact that the boss said, “Good job!”

        This is a very smart boss. He knows everyone is struggling with something. Decide to think of his words as encouragement in these difficult times WITHOUT inserting your own judgement of your own work. Breathe.

      2. Lovecraft Beauty*

        Guess whose therapist is in the hospital with corona, oh yeah. Which is definitely part of why my mental health is trash right now!

        Yeah, I have been a very high achiever previously, so this “keeping my head above water” approach is setting all sorts of internal alarms.

    4. DAMitsDevon*

      I’m in a very similar boat, tbh. On top of that, I feel like my ability to concentrate has decreased since things with COVID started getting worse, so my ability to multi-task is pretty nonexistent right now.

      1. Jambon-Beurre*

        I think this is normal think right (less concentration) and most people are just doing the best they can with the new circumstances.

    5. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Depending on your boss, you might also say “I’m struggling with focus on complex/project work right now, but I find the backlog stuff to be very soothing. Are you ok if I keep focusing on that while we all get used to our new normal?”

      I have a 1:1 with my manager every two weeks, and in the last one I was totally up front that I was struggling with focus on longer/more complex tickets (stuff that I would normally have done in an hour, no problem), but I was aware of it and had some ideas for how to manage. She was very understanding, had some suggestions for other things I could try, and didn’t give me any grief over it. Now it’s out in the open, so I don’t feel like I’m sneaking around or need to hide how much I’m doing/not doing. I can honestly celebrate the stuff I get done and set realistic priorities and goals for my work.

    6. Jambon-Beurre*

      Sounds like you’re being incredibly hard on yourself. From your description, seems like you’re doing what is required right now, and it is appreciated.

  31. Manon*

    Does anyone have advice on how to use connections when applying to jobs, or scripts to use?

    I’m graduating in May and either know someone or work with people who know people at a few of the places I’m applying, but I’m not sure how to use these connections or what I should even be asking for. The idea of asking someone to “put a good word in with the hiring manager” just seems kind of slimy and self-serving.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Most employers won’t pay any attention to data from this route anyway. Recommendations carry weight if it’s people who worked with you directly, but people who just know you socially or know someone you’ve worked with won’t be effective at all. What you can do to use those connections is to check the company culture and working environment, though only with people you know, not ‘people who know people’.

      The exceptions are:
      1) Small companies. You can call someone you know there and ask if they are hiring. Scripts might be, ‘I’ve heard X and Y about the company. I’ve been interested in X, and have done A, B, C related to it, and I’d love to learn more about Y. Do you know if the company is hiring in X?’ This won’t work in a company that’s more than maybe 500 people – anything bigger, and they’re going to be doing manager-specific hiring. Do not pretend to call to catch up and then segue into employment, be straight-forward and clear so that you’re not wasting their time.
      2) The people you know are professors who have built a relationship with the company. I had one grad professor (supply chain) who would identify his top students to specific companies. I think 4 of the 5 that he recommended got offers. But my memory is that was done through the standard recommendation letters and application process, not any special ‘hey can you call your contact’ stuff.

      1. Manon*

        To clarify, these are all people I’ve worked with and not people I know socially, and all for fairly small foundations/nonprofits with specific open positions.

        That script is helpful though, thanks!

    2. Emma Woodhouse*

      I often have students from my college reach out to me asking for insight into our hiring process. While I can submit a resume on their behalf (and get a referral bonus if they’re hired) I can’t influence the process. It never hurts to reach out, especially if there are referral bonuses involved. I think asking for advice or about a career path is a helpful way to go about it. It’s human nature to enjoy talking about yourself.

      I always take the time to get on the phone with students reaching out to me to talk about my company and our niche industry.

    3. Nicki Name*

      You can ask them about the team that’s hiring, what it’s like, and what they might be looking for specifically (often at medium-to-large businesses, there’s a stock description for a job title but different teams might have different priorities about which of the standard list of skills would be most useful to them).

      In addition, if you have a contact at a company which doesn’t have any openings listed that you feel qualified for, you can ask, “Hey, do you know about anything coming up that I might be a good fit for?”. There might be a job that’s been listed internally but not externally yet, or they might know that the junior llama groomer on Team X just gave their notice and the company is likely to be looking for a replacement.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am a big fan of using the third party approach. “If you know of anyone who is hiring, would you let me know?”
      This takes the weight off the person you are speaking to, and makes it more about general scuttlebutt.

      If they do notify you of a job opening, you can ask for a reference or a good word or whatever fits with their connection to you. In doing this, I like to offer an easy out. I assume that they can’t. “I am not sure if you are allowed, but if you could put in a good word for me, I sure would appreciate it.” This allows people to cover up the fact that they may not know you well enough to feel comfy putting in a good word. They can simply respond with, “I don’t have access to the decision makers here.” Just thank them profusely for the lead and go forward on your own.

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

      Unpopular opinion alert: apply as if you didn’t have these connections. Otherwise you are perpetuating the elitist “who-kn0ws-who”-ocracy.

    6. Gumby*

      I’m sure there are people who use their networks more efficiently than I do, but when I have gotten jobs in the past via “connections” it has been as simple as letting people know I am job searching. That’s it.

      My first real internship? My uncle was chatting with his neighbor, her company hired summer interns, I gave him my resume and he gave it to her and I got an interview. From there it was all on me, but I never would have *heard* of the job w/o that chat on the sidewalk. (I didn’t meet the neighbor in person until half way through my internship; she worked on an entirely different product line than I ended up working on.)

      Current job? Basically all of my friends knew I was job searching. At one point one said, “hey, my company has an opening that you might be a fit for” so I applied – not even through that friend – and got an interview.

      For the most part people *want* to help.

  32. jack*

    watching the person who is supposed to be our plant’s COVID point person sitting right next to someone for an hour with MAYBE a foot between them made my blood start boiling yesterday

  33. Jules the 3rd*

    Covid19 – Company reaction
    A friend of mine is a mechanic at a dealer, one that’s got several dealerships across our area and over 1k employees. They told the mechanics, ‘you’ll be working 3 days / week at 80% pay so that we can stay distant and keep you employed. We want you to want to work for us during and after.’

    I don’t know what they’re doing for sales / office people, but I thought that was a decent way to balance all the competing needs.

    1. TiffIf*

      As long as they are also sanitizing shared spaces and tools (say, person A works a particular repair bay Monday and Wednesday and person B works it Tuesday and Thursday so even though they are not in the space at the same time it still needs to be sanitized between people) then that is a pretty good solution.

  34. Dazzler*

    I have a trainee in the llama dazzle department (9 workers). Our job is to put on bows, glitter, and the fancy halter before they go to the parade. It takes about 6 months to learn all the details, and is important all the llamas match when they get to the parade. I will be training her for 6 months (we are in month 1) and checking her work for 6-12 months. It is very important to have an eye for detail and we mostly work independently but need to put out a cohesive line of llamas.
    Trainee is an older woman who has had a lot of independent gigs in the past but no experience in this particular area (she was an independent hoof trimmer and we are finishing details for the company parade). She has a good eye and can pay attention to detail, I expect she could be a really good dazzler eventually. But…she keeps getting sidetracked in the way she thinks things should be and can’t let stuff go. Like, we all use the same type of ribbon box and the area that holds the gold bows is labeled yellow. There are no chiffon, lemon, goldenrod, or any other variety of ribbons in that hue. She is upset the label is “wrong” and wants the fence and barn building department (which is overwhelmed fixing fences) to make new ribbon boxes. Today she derailed a meeting for over 30 minutes while more experienced dazzlers acknowledged it is labeled yellow and gave her options from “Oh yeah, I just ignore it” to how to make a label to stick over the top (all of which I had told her last week). But she is stuck on wanting fence and buildings to make new ribbon boxes even tho they are busy rebuilding fences so the llamas don’t escape.
    She also wants to change the bows from one on every second braid to every 7th llama have a bow on every third braid. She wants to do it that way because she thinks the llama breeders who sold the crias would like it better and is very sure the CEO (who she hasn’t even met) will like it too – but it isn’t our call to make, we need to follow the guidelines and it is important every person on the team does the 7th llama the same way. She is willing to do every second bow for now but won’t drop talking about changing it.
    I have told her consistency is important between the dazzlers, and it is important our llamas not only match each other but are cohesive across the whole parade. Some of the decoration decisions are because the zebras, horses, or sheep have specific constraints and our llamas follow along so everyone knows we are part of the same parade. How we apply and the type of decorations tends to change frequently as better ribbons are made.
    I think she is either: trying to prove her worth by coming up with “”new and improved” when she hasn’t learned the basics of the job yet, has problems ceding control of decisions, or is trying to get transferred to the fencing crew. Really, we just need another hand in dazzling the llamas. This is what she was hired for and she will probably be very good at. The big bosses are not looking for additions to the fencing crew and she does not have the proper qualifications for it; company has spent quite a bit of effort the past three years making the parade more cohesive. This is definitely not a company that doesn’t want employees to speak out or find better ways to do things but it sure doesn’t look good (to me at least) for her to be asking for these (major) changes this early in training and not being able to drop it when told we have reasons. I’m not sure if this is something I am just touch about as I feel she is trying to go around me during training or if this is something I bring up to my boss.

    1. Sara without an H*

      Hi, Dazzler — Before you take it up with your boss, you really need to have a frank and explicit conversation with your Trainee. “I hear that you have lots of ideas about the work. But right now, you’re not at the level of experience where you can gauge realistically what ideas will work and what won’t. For the rest of your training period, and for several months after that, I really need you to focus on learning the system and procedures we have in place now. Can you commit to that going forward?” (You can find better scripts in the AAM archives.)

      Then see what happens. If she can absorb this kind of feedback and apply it, well and good. If she can’t, DON’T recommend that she be kept on after her training period ends.

      You should probably give your boss a heads-up, describing what you’ve seen and what you’ve done to address it with the employee. But have that conversation first, and don’t soften your language. You can be polite and professional, but you also have to be really clear.

      1. valentine*

        Great script. First, be clear that these things are not going to change. I, too, want to improve things and think I have great ideas, and would benefit from someone telling me what areas I’d be wasting my time doing that for.

        And don’t let her derail meetings. You could have said, “That’s just what I explained the other day. We can circle back after the meeting. I’m interested in the next agenda item.”

    2. SomebodyElse*

      My standard script for this one (can be repeated as many times as needed)

      “Eager Elinor, you have some good suggestions and I encourage you to ask questions about why we do some of the things they way we do them. But I’m going to ask that you and I discuss them in our training so that I can explain the background and context that you don’t have yet. In some cases I’m going to have to pull the ‘That’s just the way we do things’ and you’ll have to trust that we have our reasons. Once you’ve been here awhile you’ll understand why we don’t worry about things like the boxes being labeled yellow”

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        This is really good – especially providing the history. I am kind of a weird-details sponge, and I was at my last job for a long time, so I would frequently do the “yes, it seems like you would want to do it this way, but actually that messes up the fence team’s work in ways you aren’t aware of” or “yeah, I know that seems random, but here’s how it came about [backstory]” spiel with my trainees – giving people context helps them understand that it’s not just a random decision, there really is a reason behind it – even if it’s just “and by then, we were all so frustrated that we agreed that this was good enough and we will never to speak of it again.”

    3. Llellayena*

      No real advice, but now I’m picturing an entire New Orleans Mardi Gras parade made of llamas, zebras and sheep! With all the decorative trimmings! And choreographed dancing! Thank you!

      1. Nessun*

        YEssssss. Thank you Dazzler for your fantastic choice of analogy, and Llellayena for adding dancing to my mental image!!

    4. Jostling*

      I think you’re right that’s she’s just insecure in her new role (especially since it sounds like a dramatic workflow, not just content, shift from what she was previously doing). I have nothing to add to the other comments here except to be patient with her as she settles in, but I did want to commend you on the depth of your metaphor. Cracked me up! Onward, llama dazzlers!

    5. My boss made me walk across coals for a promotion*

      Don’t have any advice to give, but I have to say I’m super impressed by the attention to detail about llamas.

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

      > I think she is either: trying to prove her worth by coming up with “new and improved” when she hasn’t learned the basics of the job yet, has problems ceding control of decisions, or is trying to get transferred to the fencing crew.

      Another possibility to consider (that I could well be wrong about)… that she has been hired by your mutual boss to change things up about the way you work, and it’s not been communicated to you somehow.

      I thought about this for a while before writing it, because it seemed unlikely. She is recruited as “just a llama decorator”. She doesn’t have experience in this specific area.

      > This is definitely not a company that doesn’t want employees to speak out or find better ways to do things but it sure doesn’t look good (to me at least) for her to be asking for these (major) changes this early in training

      It seems to me almost that there could be a conflict averse culture when people speak out and where they bring in someone “external” to try to initiate those changes. (Which in my experience never works, but I digress…)

      If that’s the case (and I could be wrong) I’m afraid she’s been set up for failure.

      1. valentine*

        she has been hired by your mutual boss to change things up
        If so, she’s terrible at it, because she wants other people to waste time changing a clear label she could change herself, if it were really such a pain, and she would be causing chaos and confusion by changing the bow scheme x people do well.

    7. Colleen*

      This was so fun to read. Really. I have no suggestions, but I wanted to tell you this because it is obvious that you put a lot of work into it. Thank you.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I think the overarching concepts are:

      a) This is how we do it and no, we will not be making changes on our own. Other Person/Department makes changes and they let us know what changes they want.

      b)Yes, you will find things around here that are mislabeled and so on. No, we will not ask another department to fix it. If you see something of concern, ask Immediate Boss. They will decide whether or not to move ahead on the concern. You must follow proper channels.

      This is a problem with not understanding the scope of the job and the limits of authorization.
      With both a and b you can offer examples of things that should be reported and will get changed.
      I would assume the best of intents until I found proof otherwise. I might consider a sit down meeting to go over these points and give examples.

      When I supervised I found common things that can and should be reported to the boss.
      Safety issues. Immediate dangers need to be reported right away.
      Injuries
      Illnesses that need immediate medical help
      Shortages of materials/equipment.
      Theft
      Unusual events such as earthquake, violent weather, unauthorized people, etc.
      I am sure I have forgotten something.

      Then there is a group of things particular to your arena and workplace.
      The llamas eating the bows.
      The fence got trampled by the buffalo next door.
      Sun fade on the glitter.
      Here you are narrowing down the range of what she is expected to actually keep an eye on.

      If you have this longer conversation and the problem continues then you may want to speak to your boss. The problem with independent gigs is that the one person is responsible for everything around them. If something does not work then it is up to that one person to bring in people to fix it. So this is a different mindset where she needs to report things to her boss and that is the end of her responsibility for some matters. She probably needs to hear this out loud. No, it’s not rude to say this. You are simply explaining how to handle things and what is expected of her.

    9. Skeeder Jones*

      This is absolutely the best post I’ve ever read about a llama company. You just, man, really went for it with your analogy. Thank you for entertaining me on this fine Friday evening

    10. identifying remarks removed*

      No advice to to add to other comments apart from the fact that I now want a bedazzled llama :0)

      1. Windchime*

        I want to be the person who bedazzled your llama! How fun does that sound? I wonder if OP’s company has openings.

  35. NotSureWhatToDo*

    I finally got a new job! I’m leaving my old one because of a badly handled sexual harassment case. What’s my moral obligation to make the sexual harasser known, and how do I do it if so? I’ve never talked to a reporter before and I don’t know how I’d go about contacting one and I’m also frightened of retaliation if it’s known I talked to the press. They fired the victim and hushed up the case. The sexual harasser wasn’t punished.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you make this public, you’ll certainly face retaliation, even if it’s “just” a PR war, in which they try to smear your reputation. But you may still want to do it anyway. I would be careful about which reporter you approach. Maybe find a news story about sexual harassment that you thought was reported on particularly well and thoughtfully, and approach the reporter who wrote that story?

      1. valentine*

        you’ll certainly face retaliation, even if it’s “just” a PR war
        First, consult a lawyer or lawyers, as you may require input from several specialties.

        And consider the impact on your (especially work) future.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      You might also want to talk with some of the other harasser’s victims. It’s theoretically possible for someone who sexually harasses to do so to only one person, but in most cases it’s (disgustingly) a lifestyle and pattern. So chances are this person has harassed others (maybe even before you worked at that place). There can be power in solidarity. And also that could potentially give you some measure of anonymity, should this go public.

    3. WellRed*

      reporters are incredibly easy to contact. Look at your newspaper and pick a name from the business section. Send them an email, not from your regular account, explain the situation and ask if you’d have to be named. if you are uncomfortable with anything, don’t move forward. However, I’m not sure what you’d get out of this, and you have no moral obligation to make this known, but I applaud for you for considering it.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      I agree that you shouldn’t say anything because it will probably hurt you a lot worse than it will the harasser.

    5. Wulfwen*

      Please consider that if you “out” the harasser, you may also “out” the victim. The victim may not want to have all of this go public, especially by having it reported in a news source.

      1. Batgirl*

        I’m not saying don’t do it at all. You can tip a reporter off quite safely anonymously.

    6. Anono-me*

      I am glad you are be able to move on from a place that is been so horrible for you and others.

      I think you may find it helpful to first talk to someone who can educate you about the likly consequences both legal and practical for whatever actions you are considering. (If I were in your shoes I would probably consult an employment lawyer specializing in this area. ) An expert may also be able to suggest options in addition to or other than talking to the Press.

    7. Batgirl*

      I used to be contacted about sexual harrassment as a reporter and it’s a tough one to prove well enough to go to print.
      You’ll be asked to give your name and go on the record. I’m not sure how valuable that will be to the reporter unless you have direct evidence or witnessed the harrassment. So that risk could be for naught.
      The reporter will probably want to speak to the victim as their quotes would be more compelling and they may have more direct evidence. Also, you need to consider that this is mainly their story to tell; they should be the ones directing it.
      In your shoes I would be more inclined to either contact the victim offering support or reporting your workplace to the relevant authority for the illegal activity.