employee takes credit for the whole team’s work, what to wear for a video interview, and more

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

1. My employee takes credit for the whole team’s work

I’m a fairly experienced manager, but I’ve only been managing my current team and with my current employer for a few months. We’ve been working from home full-time almost half my time with the organization. I have a great boss and great colleagues who’ve really helped me to feel like part of the team and able to contribute in meaningful ways, and my team and I are all getting to know each other.

I’ve been in a couple meetings with one of my team members that I’ve asked her to take the lead on, and she reports out at every meeting. Twice now, as she’s reporting I’ve heard her change her sentence from “we’re doing…” to “I’m doing…” But she’s not! The whole team is pitching in ideas and support, and sometimes they or I am actually doing the things she’s talking about. It seems like a really low-stakes thing, but we’ve had to have a couple of conversations about working on a team, like making sure she’s not getting out ahead of my direction, being consistent with our headquarters, and being aware of how she talks about workload around her teammates. It’s been a lot, so I also don’t want to be focus unnecessarily on something that could really be minor. But she’s taking credit for other people’s work, and that’s not fair to them, and I don’t know if it makes her look particularly good, either. Should I bring it up or let it slide?

Bring it up. It’s almost certainly irritating other team members, and possibly demoralizing them.

I hear you about not wanting to pile on when you’ve already been addressing a bunch of other problems, but you can frame this as being under that same umbrella. It’s not a new, separate thing; it’s part of what you’re already been talking about. For example, you could say something like, “Continuing our conversation about how to work effectively within the team, I want to ask you to be sure to give others credit when we’re talking about projects multiple people have contributed to. With projects like X or Y, where other people are pitching in with ideas and support, it’s important that our language reflect that — so saying ‘we did X’ rather than ‘I did X,’ and even calling out specific people who have been especially helpful, like recognizing how late Lucille worked to get that artwork done. Otherwise people will start to feel their contributions aren’t noticed, and that can be really demoralizing.”

And given your concern about it feeling like too much, make sure you’re also giving her genuine praise for the things she’s doing well, so it’s not just a steady drumbeat of what she’s getting wrong. Not in an insincere, feedback-sandwich way, but just as a regular part of the flow of conversations you have with each other.

2. What do I wear for a video interview in these days of plague?

My question is what to wear for a job interview conducted by video during the current crisis. Say the workplace you’re applying to is generally business casual, but more formal when meeting clients or donors — imagine a big nonprofit organization.

What would be appropriate to wear for a video interview under the shelter-in-place orders many people are under? For me, a guy, I’d normally wear a suit and tie to an interview, but doing so now seems particularly contrived. My inclination is a nice dress shirt and a blazer.

I generally recommend wearing a suit to a job interview unless you are in a field and/or a geographic location where that will play strangely, but these times are weird and I don’t think you need to put on a full suit to sit in your house. You still need to dress with a nod to the formality of the occasion, but a dress shirt and blazer should be fine. (But if you were interviewing in a very conservative field, like banking, I’d still do the suit.)

3. We’ve been laid off but our boss still asks us to work

Like many, I was laid off due to COVID-19. With a severe drop in revenue, there was no way for our business to continue at this time. Almost our entire team has been laid off, with two employees remaining working. I totally understand this is out of my employer’s control.

However, as the weeks have gone on, our boss/owner has continued to ask the laid off employees to do work for the business. Graphic design work, customer relations, sales, etc. There are no plans to pay that I’ve been made aware. One of our graphic designers is tracking hours in hopes she will be paid when/if we are able to return to work. Currently we don’t have enough clients due to COVID to be operational

I want to have a job to go back to when this is over so want to seem like a team player, but it’s starting to feel inappropriate. How can an employer (I guess technically now former employer) continue to ask you to work during a layoff?

Yeah, they can’t have you work without paying you; that’s illegal (you need to be paid at least minimum wage).

There are two non-adversarial ways you could handle it. One is to simply say that when you applied for unemployment, they were very clear that you’d need to report any other work and you’re concerned about jeopardizing your benefits. The other is to say, “How should we handle logging these hours for payment? I want to make sure we don’t get in trouble with the state, since we’re required to pay people by the next pay period. Or if that’s not possible right now, I think we’ve got to hold off on the work so we don’t end up with labor department penalties.”

4. My team lead ignores my work schedule

I work for an organization with flexible hours, with core hours set to 9-3. I traditionally come in early so I can leave at 3 to beat traffic. Currently my entire organization is working from home, but I’ve kept my hours the same, starting a little earlier in case I need to take a break during the day. I don’t have any family obligations, so I generally end up working my same amount of hours or maybe a little longer and still ending at 3.

My team consists of a team lead and me. The team lead keeps scheduling meetings to start after 2, which pushes them past 3:00 on a regular basis. A lot of them I don’t even find out about until the day of so I can’t even start later in anticipation. He knows that I end at 3 and was generally pretty accommodating in the office. But since we’ve been at home, he’s even called me at 2:45 and says, “You’re almost done, aren’t you?” and then talks for 45 minutes.

If it’s an important call, I’ll call in and just work extra, but for mental health I really can’t be working all the time. Additionally my organization does not allow people to work more than 40 hours a week, even though we’re exempt, so I’m technically breaking rules by doing that (though my team lead constantly works long hours, even when we have a relatively light workload, so I’m not sure he even knows that’s a rule). It’s also just frustrating that I have only one or two meetings per day and somehow my meetings that this person schedules always push me to longer hours. How do I push back on this? Is it something I just deal with and work late?

Since he wasn’t doing this when you were in the office, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s connected to the way time has blurred and lost meaning for lots of people right now.

But regardless of what’s behind it, it sounds like you just need to be clearer with him when a meeting time won’t work for you. When he schedules a meeting at a bad time, email him and say, “My schedule ends at 2, so I can’t attend this. Can we move it earlier?” Similarly, if he’s keeping you on the phone when you want to be wrapping up your day, say, “I’ve only got a few minutes before I need to jump off. Anything else we need to cover while you still have me?” And then at 3, say, “I’ve got to run for the day.” In other words, just assume you’re in control of your schedule and assume he won’t remember it on your behalf, and be clear about what you need and what won’t work.

If you start asserting yourself like this and he seems to bristle at it, then it’s worth saying, “A few times lately when I’ve needed to change a meeting time because of my work hours, you’ve seemed surprised. I want to make sure you know my schedule is 7-3, and since we’ve been asked to be diligent about not working more than 40 hours a week, I can’t generally work later than 3 without some advance notice.”

Read an update to this letter

5. How should you use a “kudos” folder?

I read a career advice article some time ago that suggested I keep an “attaboy/attagirl” folder — essentially, a record of positive recognition. The article suggested that you should save things like positive feedback from customers, “shout-outs” on the company’s internal Teams/Slack/email, and written performance evaluations. The article implied that this folder would be useful for making your case for a raise or promotion, or even to bolster your candidacy for a job.

How the heck would I use my “attaboy” folder in practice? Sending the raise committee an email of all these shout-outs, for example, feels gimmicky and vaguely obsessive. (I don’t want them thinking, “If he’s keeping all these screenshots of praise, what else is he documenting?”) And bringing this to a job interview seems even more ridiculous — I’m picturing sliding a folder of printouts across the table and the interviewer is thinking, “What the heck am I supposed to do with this?”

How would you suggest leveraging a folder like this in a professional, non-weird manner?

Yeah, you don’t bring it to a job interview or dump it on your manager’s desk during a performance review. What you can do, though, is look through it for examples of times that you got great results / garnered notable praise / made someone’s day, and use those as nudges for specific accomplishments to talk about in interviews or with your boss. Occasionally if something is really superlative, you can even quote it (for example, I once wrote in a cover letter that my boss had called me “the fastest writer on the planet”). Or if you see patterns in the kudos, you can turn that into something like “regularly lauded by team mates for soothing unhappy clients” (or whatever). So often it’s just about helping you remember projects and situations that you should include in whatever case you’re making.

Also, sometimes it’s just nice to go through it when you’re having a bad day or feeling frustrated.

{ 379 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request about letter #4 — There’s nothing to indicate the LW’s schedule is out of line with the norms of her office. Her office offers flexible hours; she notes in the comments that many other people there also leave by 3. The point of core hours like her company has is so meetings can be scheduled during hours where everyone will be present.

    It’s possible that she needs to revisit whether her schedule still works in these new circumstances, but it is not okay to scold her for inconveniencing her coworkers, when there’s nothing to support that happening. I will remove those comments if they continue.

  2. A Silver Spork*

    LW2: I really hope I don’t have to tell you this, but just in case – wear pants! Pants that match the blazer, like regular black slacks. I’ve heard from a couple of people who do video interviews that every once in a while, the interviewee will stand up… and oh gosh, they’re not wearing pants! None of those people got hired.

    1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Also for OP2: I recently did a video interview, and I went the full hog – shoes and all. But I’ve been WFH so long that I feel… I don’t know, foggy around the edges? I was really worried about how I’d come across, and it did help me somewhat in feeling more like my normal, professionally competent self.

      Ahead of time I also checked the lighting, angle of the web cam and scrutinised my background carefully, rearranging the objects behind me so they weren’t distracting (like a plant that appeared to be growing out of my head), or inappropriate (like my not-insignificant collection of interesting wine labels). I also checked which windows I would need to close to block out most neighbourhood noise, and how that affected the temperature and my comfort – a red sweaty face or runny nose isn’t a good look either.

      Good luck!

      1. Sara without an H*

        All good points. And if you have pets/children/both, make sure they are safely occupied somewhere else during the call.

      2. Syfygeek*

        Also, don’t try anything new for this interview. We’ve been doing virtual “get to know you” meetings for newbies, and we were encouraged to try a background if your wall was blank behind you. One person used one of the PR photos of the building, and kept blending into the background. It was like Predator when one comes out of camouflage. Sometimes we could see the outline of their face, or hair, and it was bizarre.

        Once your camera is set, don’t adjust your chair. Same coworker, different meeting, great video feed, adjusted the chair and we spent the rest of the meeting seeing their face from the nose down. And something I’ve learned about myself- I use my hands when talking- but they don’t show up in the camera field, so it looks like I’m doing something strange with my shoulders.

        Good Luck OP2!

        1. A*

          THIS! We had a virtual Town Hall recently (thank goodness this was only an internal meeting) and the CEO tried out the company logo as the bg for the first time. It’s super basic so I certainly wouldn’t have expected any issues – but the color of the background of the logo was close enough to her skin shade that she would disappear into & back out of the logo depending on how she turned. It was freaky looking! Ultimately we all had a good laugh about it, but could have been a bit awkward if it was with external stakeholders.

        2. Indigo a la mode*

          Speaking of adjusting your chair – sit in a stationary chair. I’ve noticed that people in office chairs tend to gently swivel them back and forth throughout calls, which can be pretty distracting and make you look either nervous or silly.

      3. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I’ve done a few video interviews, pre covid. I always wear shoes that make me feel like I am a boss ass professional. There’s something about going all out, even if I’m the only one who can see it, that makes me feel confident and calm.

      4. Artemesia*

        We do a lot of zooming and light glare is tricky in choosing a spot. If our lights are off we are in the dark — if on they bounce off pictures or windows so we had to move around to find a good spot and then that one the computer was low and we looked like goobers in the pictures; the camera needs to be at least even with the eyes and even up a bit and not too close etc etc. It is also worth playing with virtual backgrounds. You can use your own photos if work appropriate and that deals with the background at home issue. If you decide to use a picture of or your real time book case, at least give a quick scan to make sure the titles displayed behind you project the imagine you want.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I came here to emphasise pants, but I think for a video call it’s not critical that they match precisely, only that they cover your legs and are approximately the same colour – so for example a person wearing a black blazer could probably get away with plain black leggings!

      So long as you’re wearing something on your bottom half that LOOKS LIKE coordinated business attire, rather than pyjamas or mini shorts, you can feel confident you’re appropriately dressed.

      1. Julia*

        Yeah, I’ve worn navy sweats with my navy blazer in case I had to stand up. (I didn’t.) No shoes in house, but I did check my background and video-called my sister beforehand to see if my make-up looked odd on the screen, or if I was looking too washed out.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Colleague of mine (higher ed) had a video interview recently where they were told by the search firm consultant to “Treat this interview as you would any professional interview and dress accordingly.” I think there was some fear of the WFH lounge wear attire torpedoing the candidate right away.

          1. Julia*

            Like Ama below, with my pants, you can’t tell they’re not dress pants on video.

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely agree with this. I think that a huge part of interview advice is about getting to a place of feeling confident, and for many of us being appropriately dressed is part of that. With that in mind – if perhaps someone’s interview suit/pants/power dress -whatever may not fit. Or new grads simply may not have had the time to shop for interview clothing – I think video chat provides a number of work arounds.

        If someone is facing that situation, I think that taking all the time you need with a family/friend to do Zoom fashion shows is a better plan than waiting on the arrival of a head-to-toe Banana Republic order. Black blazer with black sweats/leggings, sweater over button down shirt that may not button as smoothly as before, mini dress that looks professional on top – I say be more creative in that space than getting too deep around traditional interview clothing.

        Also, taking the time to find a good video camera angle and lighting is far more effective in helping with bags under the eyes, skin tone, etc. than actual make up. If there’s a weird angle or wonky shadow – that’s going to have way more impact than anything else.

        For those of us who may be facing a more tense relationship with our professional wardrobe – finding solutions where you feel confident and appropriate can have new meanings. And that does not need to include making rush orders for clothing.

      3. Ama*

        I actually purchased some plain black pajama pants for just this reason. On video you absolutely can’t tell they are pajamas (you can barely tell in person as they have side and back pockets like real pants). I had to present to a couple of large meetings last month (originally supposed to be in person and shifted to virtual) and I wore a nice work blouse and my black pajama pants.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Haha we had a team meeting with my boss last week, and at the end of it he purposely stood up to show us that he had been wearing sweat pants the whole time. He had on his typical dress shirt and bow tie on top, so at the end of the meeting he had to triumphantly claim the sweat pants. lol

    4. Phony Genius*

      Yes. If you have an external computer camera, and you are not wearing pants, it WILL fall off the desk and into your lap. It will not fall if you are wearing pants. Similar to how carrying an umbrella prevents it from raining.

    5. Upfish*

      Yes, recently had a coworker stand up on a video call and got a full-screen view of his tighty whiteys. It was …a lot for a Tuesday morning.

    6. A*

      That was my thought as well. I keep hearing about this kind of thing happening, and assumed it was in warmer climates – but this happened with one of my coworkers. We are in New England. I’m still bundled in several layers, and you don’t even feel the need to have pants on?!

  3. CaliCali*

    I actually did a series of video interviews (and got hired!) during all of this. I wore what I’d normally wear to an interview, pants and all. I didn’t want to be stressing if, due to the dog or whatever else, that getting up would be an issue. I think just putting yourself in “normal” interview mindset would be fine.

    1. Sally*

      I think this is a good idea. I had an interview today, and I wore a nice blouse with my yoga pants. If I had needed to get up, it would have been OK, but I think in the future I will wear actual pants. BTW, I was a little surprised that my interviewer was wearing a (nice) sweatshirt, but I know we’re all doing the best we can these days.

        1. Liz*

          I need to remember to do that tomrorow; my small group is ahving a zoom happy hour. and I’ve already discovered I look DREADFUL on camera, so makeup is a must! not that any of them would care, as they’re all guys, but it maks ME less self concious.

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I had a short video interview recently, and had myself set up with a non-cluttered background, had the cats in another room, made my partner take the dogs on a long walk, was wearing a blazer and blouse and makeup. And my three interviewers were in a casual button-up, a sweatshirt, and a T-shirt. One of them had his dog on his lap in the beginning.
        But I think that’s really because the interview was just one part of their day, so they treated it like any other “we’re constantly working from home” day, but for me it was basically my entire day, mentally

    2. Erstwhile Lurker*

      Yeah, your attire really can make a difference to your mindset. We used to have dress down Fridays and it was commonly noted as being difficult to get into the work mindset when your clothes are a bit too comfortable.

      1. Mrs. Smith*

        This may be particular to my work as a librarian but I plan my workweek and my outfits together. What I mean is, on scheduled casual dress days, I plan for physical work like moving bookcases, while on days where I give research lessons or meet with donors, I wear a nice dress and heels.

        1. who runs the world? librarians*

          Ha, I’ve just flashed back to my time in a special library when we had a board meeting so I was in a form fitting sheath dress, blazer, and heels, and my most direct colleague was in a full suit and tie…. and a donor unexpectedly showed up in a uhaul full of borderline moldy boxes and incredibly awkwardly formatted materials that were difficult to move. Oh, did I mention it was a classic Midwestern American summer day, deathly-muggy and rainy? And we had to unload everything in our super formal attire?

          I’ve since moved on to a totally behind-the-scenes role at a different library and get to wear jeans and boots every day if I want – and yet somehow almost never get pulled into strenuous physical tasks anymore. More power to my patron-facing colleagues who do!

      2. Jdc*

        Agree. I disliked back when I wore scrubs (years before they made scrubs that actually were tailored to women’s bodies) as I always felt sloppy. The smallest size still hung on me like a big blanket. I’m a fan of dressing up for work, perhaps not full suit as you’d be expected to in a law office but nicer clothing. Also as a busty woman no polos. I feel like a man in them and they never fit me right without being huge or giving me porn star vibes.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “I’m a fan of dressing up for work, perhaps not full suit as you’d be expected to in a law office but nicer clothing.”

          I’m like you, though a guy. Tailored clothes: blazer, dress shirts in the office. Decent shoes. Ties from time to time. Polos can work for me though, but I only rarely wear them for work in the office – and only on really hot days. And those polos are pretty formal – trim, no floppy colors. I might start wearing polos more with WFH. We’ll see as the weather where I am gets warmer.

          My worry is feeling out of touch in a video interview from home in a suit and tie.

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      OP2 here:

      Did you you wear a suit and tie? That’s really my question.

      I’m dressing the same for work from home as in work from the office day-to-day: dress shirt up top. At the office I usually have a blazer/sports jacket on, but take it off it’s warm inside. My pants rotation is a bit less formal – the same nice chinos at home as in the office, but sometimes in the office I’ll wear slacks and haven’t worn those at home. Also, no shoes at home.

      But a suit and tie is a bit much at home. So that’s my question.

      No question of me wearing sweats/tights/yoga pants at home on a call – I’m not doing that during work hours at home anyway.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Disclaimer: Recruiter and dude here.

        Suit and tie might be overkill depending on the job and organization you’re interviewing with. I do think a shirt + tie or jacket + shirt no tie will cover you in 95% of the situations. One thing you can do is reach out to the person you coordinated your interview with and ask them. If it’s an internal recruiter/HR person you have to imagine they’ve been asked this question before and should have some good insight. If you’re working with an external recruiter, I guarantee they’ll find out for you because they won’t want to see their potential placement commission go away due to something as preventable as an interview attire miscommunication.

        GL with your interview! You’re going to crush it!

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Back when having your kids invade your conference call was a unique and hilarious thing that could go viral, the analyst in question was in fact wearing a full suit and tie from the waist up and shorts on the bottom, one reason he didn’t leap up. And he was just chiming in from a room in his apartment, but everyone assumed he would be in a suit and tie rather than a band T-shirt. So I don’t think the full suit and tie would be wrong, if that’s normal wear in your field.

      2. Pretzelgirl*

        My husband actually interviewed over video, before CO-VID was even a thing (at least here in the US). He wore a suit and tie, bc its what he always wears to an interview. He got the job, and the company is notorious for being VERY CASUAL. Like CEO walks around in a Hawaiian shirt, flip flops and shorts in the summer, casual. Others wear actual PJs to work. My husband doesn’t he wore jeans before WFH started.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I treasure the Stone Soup cartoon in which Joan wears her pajamas to work under a blazer. When her boss queries this look she blames a sales clerk who she claims convinced her this was the Au Courant Look Of The Modern Business Professional.

          But that probably doesn’t work for men.

      3. Smithy*

        I’m a woman and not in recruiting – but during lock down, my greatest observation in formal male business attire has come from my organization’s Executive Director. No matter how casual the overall organization and sector culture is, he has always worn tailored English suits, ties to work every day. Even during week 1 of full WFH lock down.

        By the time week two hit, his change has been to utilize the combination of collared shirts under sweaters, no tie. It still retains the more formal look but it’s also not a case of wearing the full suit, or just a button down shirt.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      This. Times haven’t been so weird for so long that my interview clothes are outgrown and falling into tatters, so I cannot imagine why I wouldn’t wear exactly what I’d wear to an in-person interview. So what if it’s only in my house? The job is the same and I’m no less serious about getting it (and possibly more serious if I’ve been laid off, knock on wood).

    5. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      Seconding this. I wore my entire interview outfit, which I tested ahead of time in the lighting and background I’d be on, including shoes. It was really helpful. I also went through a rather tedious process of setting up my interview space such that the background was literally a wall, and the light was coming from in front of me instead of the side or behind. I figured since this is as close as I’m going to get to meeting these people, I need to put in extra effort so that there are no distractions for them and the focus is on me. Also, as a woman, I had a little bit of fun doing a full face of makeup that day, a little heavier than I would have for an in person interview, since I wanted my features to show up on my crummy computer camera.

      1. CaliCali*

        I had a virtual HH with a friend the day before, and as part of it, I asked her if she could help me out with figuring out background/lighting/etc too. I also did a bit more “camera” makeup for the same reason! It was nice feeling like I looked good.

    6. hufflepuff hobbit*

      I haven’t had to interview, but when I’ve given remote lectures during all this COVID business, I dress up like I would for in-person lectures — it gets me in the right mindset. My sister had to give a national invited talk (I’m super-proud of her) and she told me that she even put on heels, because she normally wears heels when she gives important talks.

  4. Blaise*

    In regards to #5, I think every teacher has one of these (only it has to be a box instead of a folder because kids make all kinds of things!) :)

    I use mine in two ways:
    1. Like Allison said, it’s just nice to look through it once a year or so. Especially if I’ve just had the kind of day where I’m feeling like an awful teacher.
    2. I either quote things or post straight up photos onto my job-hunting website, which is basically a fancy online portfolio. I put them on my page called “Recommendations,” which also has PDFs of my letters of recommendation on it. I consider the things in my box like letters of recommendation from my students!

    1. Mookie*

      Yes, that’s how I’ve seen it done, as well, for people who don’t freelance / subcontract enough work to justify a formal portfolio (or they’re in an industry where portfolio-like documents are not generally the norm and references are something hiring managers seek out themselves, rather than accept written recommendations in lieu of). They make it passively available to view, but it’s not something they’d share without prompting.*

      *I’ve worked with at least two people who interviewed with hiring committees that asked them to “prove” fairly normal accomplishments listed on their CVs; the committees wouldn’t contact references for further substantiation without something on paper first. Don’t know about other industries, but this is very unusual and arduous in our field where most plaudits are not on record and annual review summaries are not automatically made available to employees for future, external use.

    2. Quinalla*

      Agree the main purpose of this is to help you remember your own accomplishments as most of us tend to focus on our mistakes and forget the good things we did so that you can have them on the tip of your brain when asked questions in interviews and when negotiating for raises. And it also can help a lot with imposter syndrome as it is harder for your jerkbrain to convince you that you are worthless or a fraud when you have all this evidence that you are not. And yeah, I agree that it is really nice to have a folder like this just to look at every so often when you need a boost :)

      I would also say there is nothing wrong with forwarding an email on to a boss/supervisor here and there basically like “Check out the nice things this client said about us!” It is nice to share and celebrate wins as a team and also for them to see that you are valuable.

    3. Rarely do I post*

      #5: They are also helpful in preparing examples of accomplishments for your annual performance review!

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        Agree with Quialla–I review mine before an interview to remind myself of successes and examples I can use to answer questions. I also suggest to the employees I supervise to do the same. It’s also great for a rough day, though I don’t always remember it when I’m having a rough day.

        Not quite the same thing, but as a supervisor, I also keep a folder for each of my staff and go through it when it’s time to write reviews. It helps me remember that Eleanor in chocolate teapots praised the support she got from Jason last November, etc.

      2. Yep*

        Yes, and even if your job doesn’t give you space to enter the praise now, you never know when they might. My last job pulled a last-minute performance-review switcheroo and started having us all fill out the majority of the review form ourselves, and it was nice to have a file of compliments to quote from.

    4. Karlee*

      I keep a kudos file and I use it to cheer myself up when I’m feeling really bad about myself. It really helps! I’ve also used it to support requests for a raise and self-evaluations at performance review time. I’ve said things like “I received X emails recognizing the value of Y” to reinforce the value I’ve delivered. Last year I even quoted from them and my boss told me it was really helpful in getting me an unheard of and unexpected 10% raise!

      1. Karlee*

        One more thing – I keep a kudos file for each of my direct reports and I encourage them (repeatedly) to send me anything that remotely belongs in that folder. They know I use it to inform their review, to advocate for them if needed, and to support requests to promote them or give them raises when the time comes. I love getting their kudos emails.

  5. Massmatt*

    L5 I would summarize the praise/kudos in your review, highlighting and quoting those from customers and superiors especially. No don’t print them all out and drop them on your manager’s lap at review time, but does your org do self evaluations as part of the review process? That’s the ideal time to Use them. Along with cover letters/resumes. Save or document commendations etc.

    1. Jackalope*

      Yes, they can be super helpful for self-evaluations. I have a specific document that I record a workload that is my Own Special Workload that isn’t tracked anywhere else since I’m the only person in my office that does this workload and it’s often helping outside offices. That way at the end of the year I can say I did this workload an average of X times per week/month and have something to refer to in creating that stat. It has been very helpful.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, this is how I use it. At my reviews, I walk through that folder to remind myself of the projects I completed and pick the best ones to highlight to my manager. In addition to others’ kudos, I’ll include project wrap up reports that I sent, to remind myself of scope / impact of projects.

  6. ggg*

    #5: When I was a manager I had my staff forward me any “kudos” emails they received (or sometimes the sender would copy me directly). I saved them and if my boss was not copied I would send them to him also. I definitely appreciated having them when writing performance reviews and bonus recommendations.

    It’s definitely better to forward these on as they come in rather than dump a big folder of them on your manager all at once in some high stakes situation.

    1. Sara*

      This is also a good reminder to copy the person’s manager when you send someone a kudos email.

    2. Beatrice*

      This. I send kudos to my boss (whether for me or my team) with just the comment, “See below for some nice feedback from Ron.” I used to agonize about what to say, and keeping it simple like that works.

  7. Dan*


    Just out of curiosity, how much authority does your team lead have over you? If my team lead is truly my org-chart boss and does my annual reviews, I’d react one way. If the team lead is “just” a project lead, I’d react another. At my org, while project leads provide feedback to your org-chart manager, they don’t have standing to dictate schedules. We treat each other like peers, even though the TL/PL is responsible for the project output.

    That is, if my PL says “can you take this last minute call”, “No” is an acceptable answer. If my boss asks me the same question, he may still get a no, but he’s going to get a much more diplomatic version of it.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      I also find that checking in with my lead or boss or whoever earlier in the day frequently heads off the late phone call. If you haven’t heard from them by 1:00 or so, you can call them to update them, and then they feel like you two are all caught up for the day.

      1. Dan*

        I have the opposite “problem.” I’m a night owl (yay for sleep disorders) so my “day” starts just before what most sane people call lunch. I will decline/reschedule “most” meetings before noon unless there’s a good reason to drag my butt out of bed earlier than that. My boss is cool with it (I always get good reviews) so my PL/TL have to suck it up… including the guy who likes working 6-2 if he can swing it.

    2. OP4*

      He’s not my manager but he outranks me quite a bit and is kind of my unofficial supervisor since I never actually work with my direct boss. A lot of the meetings are data collection discussions with external organizations, so if I miss the meeting I’m at a disadvantage for doing my job because I missed information, and I can’t just follow up later because they’re external people who are solely helping us and not getting any benefit out of it.

      1. WellRed*

        So then you need to discuss your schedule with him to see if the meetings can be set earlier or shift your work schedule ( which sucks if you prefer it, but if the only reason for it was to avoid traffic…)

      2. NYC Taxi*

        Your excuse for work hours different from your coworkers was traffic, and now that traffic isn’t an issue you should be working the same hours as everyone else instead of inconveniencing them.

        1. Ashley*

          Trying to keep ‘normal’ has been hugely important to me. If I was meeting company core hours my hours should be respected. In most places we don’t know when we will return to the office but sleep training of getting our bodies waking up at a different time is a pain.

          1. Hmm*

            It’s possible there may be something personal on his end that has changed HIS scheduling needs. E.g., I have kids at home with frequent school meetings, but my computer is the only one that will reliably load Zoom, so I need to schedule work meetings later in the day, after their meetings are over and it’s a little easier to find blocks of time that aren’t going to be interrupted.

            Caring for elderly relatives or all kinds of things could have changed his schedule. Walking dogs for essential workers. Or maybe he has a grandboss or someone else with home responsibilities that require their meetings to be in the morning, so now his meetings with you have to be later.

            There may be things he can’t tell you about that have changed his schedule–things that might be difficult or impossible to move. We all try to keep ourselves sane and preserve normalcy as best we can, and I think there’s nothing wrong with asking for your sleep schedule and sense of normalcy to be accommodated, but it’s important for everybody to be as flexible and understanding as possible right now.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            Why is it too early? The company allows flexible hours, as long as they’re working the core hours of 9-3. If they need to work 40 hours (and can’t/aren’t supposed to work more than that) and they start at 7, that means their day ends at 3.

            This is no different than someone saying “my day ends at 5:30 but I keep getting assigned last minute meetings at 4:30”, I hope you wouldn’t then say them wanting to leave at 5:30 would be too early to leave work.

          2. mlem*

            90% of Development in my company leaves at either 3 or 3:30. My company’s “normal” hours of 9-5:30 are all but unheard of in my division, and I get teased for being in Development but working 10-6:30. But my group also respects my schedule, by and large, because it meets our criteria and they’re professionals.

            1. WinStark*

              My Dev team is opposite – they work 10am until…I can’t get ahold of anyone in dev before 10am!

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          That seems pretty harsh to me. They’re getting their work done, they’re working their required number of hours, flexing is allowed, and there seems to be no reason preventing them from doing this except coworkers ignoring their set hours.

        3. Come On Eileen*

          Wow. OP changed literally nothing, but she’s now magically inconveniencing others? Nah. She gets to keep working the same schedule she’s always worked — unless and until her boss tells her it no longer fits the circumstances we are under.

          1. NYC Taxi*

            Everyone’s work schedules have been upended. She’s being inflexible. And she’s been inconveniencing them all along, but they put up with it.

            1. A Simple Narwhal*

              Again, a very harsh stance to take. There’s no indication that she’s been inconveniencing anyone, and looking at their responses in the comments, it’s common for their coworkers to leave the office 3-4.

              1. NYC Taxi*

                What about all her coworkers who need something from her to get their jobs done but she’s already checked out in the middle of the afternoon? They’d like to get their work done too.

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  My company has similar hours to OP’s, where it’s normal for people to leave at 3. I leave at 4:30. If I need something from Lisa who leaves at 3, I either get it from her before 3 or I get it from her the next day. It’s my fault if I don’t get to her, and I don’t expect her to stay until the end of *my* day…and neither does her team lead or her boss.

                2. Phoenix Wright*

                  Why are you writing fanfiction about OP’s coworkers? For all we know, she may not interact with anyone but her team lead. Besides, if core hours needed to last longer than 3 PM, they’d have made them last longer than 3 PM.

                3. Colette*

                  Then they email her and she gets back to them in the morning – just like she waits until they get in if she needs something in her morning. This is a really normal thing in a lot of companies, and it’s not a big deal.

                4. A*

                  How is this different than dealing with other time zones etc? OP made it clear this is not unusual in their office, and if you look at the comments you’ll see that experience is echoed.

                5. leapingLemur*

                  Sounds like NYC Taxi has or had a coworker who insisted on inconvenient hours that made NYC Taxi’s job harder, and they’re viewing the OP through this lens. It’s unfair to the OP, and it’s harsh to assume that the OP is inconveniencing anyone.

            2. Insert Clever Name Here*

              OP4 has not been inconveniencing them all along. She said in another comment “And I may have an unconventional schedule compared to many offices, but it’s not really outrageous for mine. When I stay until 5 or 6, the office is almost completely empty by 4, and many people leave at 3.”

            3. Anon Anon*

              Many organizations have core work hours like LW4 described. And the whole point of having core work hours is so that meetings can be scheduled at a time when they know everyone is potentially present.

              If core business hours have changed due to the current situation, that LW4’s organization needs to send out a policy change. If it hasn’t then those core hours should be respected the vast majority of the time.

            4. Queer Earthling*

              You’re being pretty stubborn for someone criticizing someone’s inflexibility.

            5. HQetc*

              I mean, the whole point of core hours is to offer flexibility to people while still enabling things like meetings for collaboration. The team lead is the one not respecting core hours, so I think he gets the “inconveniencer” label here, not the LW who is using core hours exactly how they are meant to be used.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Can we stop with this line of argument? The OP’s office offers flexible hours; many people there also leave by 3. There’s nothing to indicate she’s somehow out of line with the norms of her office, other than that she works with one guy who never looks at her calendar at all.

          She also doesn’t need an “excuse” for her schedule in an office that explicitly offers this.

          It’s possible that she needs to revisit whether this schedule still works in these new circumstances, but she doesn’t need to be scolded in the way that’s happening in some comments here.

      3. Beatrice*

        I would tirelessly propose new times on those meetings, but also have one direct conversation with him about it. When I have those conversations, I usually include the other side of my availability coin – I’m not available before 8 am for anything short of a literal fire or similar disaster, but I am always available until 5 and if above-and-beyond efforts are needed, I work them, just in the evenings. If I need to have that talk with someone but I can pick my time, I try to have it right after a time when my schedule preference has been an advantage, that just adds another layer of ironclad.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yeah, from the examples here this sounds less like he is intentionally ignoring the work schedule and more like he’s just frequently miscalculating how long he expects these meetings or calls to take. So it should be okay to try to clarify your boundaries and if a meeting starts at 2 say that you’ll have to wrap it up by 3.

  8. NQ*

    L1: If I’m reading correctly that she’s correcting herself from “we” to “I” mid-sentence, it could be something that someone’s told her to do. Somebody well-meaning gave me the same advice once. Why? “Men are likely to say I, even when others helped”. The idea was that a woman with lower confidence would do the same thing as men, to level the playing field.

    It didn’t work out for me either. But, I’m glad I got the advice – and didn’t take it too far – as I now analyse everything I say about teamwork, and give myself the credit where it really was just me who did something.

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking the same thing – it sounds like this is something someone told her to do.

      If that’s the case, it’s extra important that you give her *genuine* feedback when it’s deserved, and that you model the behavior you want to see. This is important anyway, of course. But ESPECIALLY if she has been given the bad advice to always take singular credit for the team’s work.

    2. Dan*

      To me, OP was pretty clear that the speaker couldn’t take individual credit for *all* of the things that she is referring to in the first person. To your broader point, darn right that I will speak to the thing that “I” did, even if it was a “I with some help”.

      On the “sharing credit” side of things… Awhile back, I worked on a project that had been around long before my time but was struggling with some stuff that I’m an expert in. I came in, fixed it, and everybody knew it. A few months later, the team lead got a rather significant individual award for some stuff. Part of the exact phrasing on the *individual* award she received cited *my* accomplishments on that project.

      I would have been fine with that because blah blah blah. All I really expected her to do while accepting the award was say, “thanks for the recognition. However, projects like this are a team effort, and I need to acknowledge the contributions of X, Y, and Z.” That would have been it.

      Instead, she gave like a three minute “thank you” speech that talked about nobody but herself. (She didn’t refer to any of the other people she’s worked with, so it wasn’t a personal slight.)

      Right around the same time, some NFL quarterback got some recognition for some “personal” stat regarding successive completions or something like that. The first words out of his mouth were, “yeah, the record goes in my name… but my O-line and WR’s made this happen so I can’t take all of the credit.”

      Moral of the story, there are right ways and wrong ways to accept credit.

      BTW, all wasn’t lost for me. I got a pretty big promotion that year, which is worth far, far more than an award. The contributions I made to that project had a lot to do with it.

      1. Erstwhile Lurker*

        I’ve been in this exact situation before as well, two people received awards when I had done 100% of the design and actual work. I just treated it as a lesson learned, they only got to do that once.

        Your NFL example is a great way to think of things, if you hog credit, people will try to take it from you but if you make sure to give it where its due, you will normally get it back with interest added.

      2. Indigo a la mode*

        Each person on my team is very, very good about shunting praise off oneself and onto everyone who deserves it. Almost Abnegation-style good about it. The fact is that without all of our hands either directly helping or picking up slack somewhere else, things don’t get done. But our BOSS is very good about identifying who’s done what out loud when a client thanks our team (e.g. “Thanks for the feedback! Indigo did the article while Blue and Violet pulled together the landing page and content. Great job, all.”).

        It feels like a good balance, because we know we have support from each other without a spirit of competition, as well as a boss who’s paying attention to our individual accomplishments. OP, cultivating an atmosphere of recognizing each other’s accomplishments might help cut off your subordinate’s bragging. We all want to feel recognized. People being generous to each other at work is, I think, a healthier way.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          Oh – if it matters, my boss, one coworker, and I are women, and my other here coworkers are men. Outside of our boss, our hierarchy is flat, though I’m next in seniority.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      This sounds possible.

      In which case, she needs to understand the difference between “we” meaning “I with others from my team” and “my team but not literally me”. The former is an appropriate opportunity to say “I”, but the latter isn’t.

    4. PX*

      This. I hear this advice all the time for women about taking more credit for things, but as others have said, there is a “good” and “bad” way to do this.

      I would be very curious if men get treated this way/get similar feedback at OP1’s company though….

    5. 'Tis Me*

      I was going to say this – we’re told to talk about what “you as an individual rather than you as a team achieved” e.g. In interviews, and it sounds like she may well be applying this inappropriately.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP1’s employee also needs to be reminded of the importance of collaboration, and how critical it to recognize individual contributions.
      And I agree with the commenter who said they should be very careful to make sure that men are getting the same evaluation.

    7. babblemouth*

      This was my feeling too. I do work that is typically impossibly to do all on your own – everything is a collaboration. I used “we” a lot when presenting until my manager told me I needed to own more of the work – because while I thought I was attributing the work correctly, other thought I was trying to defuse ownership as a cover-y-backside method in case a project went south.
      I’m more careful with my phrasing now, and if I feel like I’ve done more than 50% of the work on a project, I will use “I” instead of we – but I can see how it could be taken wrong by someone approaching it with a different mindset.

    8. jojo*

      Conversely, I (a woman) was was instructed by my boss (a man) not to say “I did…” but to give the team credit, even though it was actually my work I was speaking to (testing and reporting)

      1. Karlee*

        Me too. My (male) boss told me (a woman) that saying “I did X” was arrogant even though accurate and I needed to say ‘we’. So I started saying ‘we’. Then I got feedback from the all male senior management team that my inability to work independently which they assumed because nothing I presented to them was my work alone (not true, it was that damn ‘we’) was a factor in not getting promoted. I was able to effectively challenge that and got the promotion but my boss took a huge disliking to me after that. I managed to get a transfer to a different department and he retired a year or so later. That was a happy day.

        1. leapingLemur*

          Your boss probably got a big talking to after management realized what he’d done. I hope so, anyway.

    9. Important Moi*

      I think women are viewed more negatively for taking “all” the credit as compared to men. It seems that here this women is taking credit when she shouldn’t.

      As a woman this can be hard to navigate. I also read somewhere that if a job posting has 10 criteria listed, a man will apply if he has 4 criteria, a woman will apply if she has 9 or 10 of the criteria. It is just a thought that occurred to me that men and women navigate professional spaces differently.

      1. Chili*

        Yeah, and there’s also a lot of conflicting advice about how to navigate things ~as a woman~. Or advice that is good within a very specific context but is really easy to misapply. It really does sound like someone told her to “take more credit like men do”, or maybe she read it somewhere. I think that it’s really important for managers to give feedback on things like this that seem kind of small because they do add up to make a big difference. Knowing managers or leads will step in and say something if you’re doing something weird/wrong/annoying is actually comforting, in my opinion. I would very much like to know if something some “women in the workplace” seminar told me to do is making me seem like a loon.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I agree there is a lot of conflicting issues about a woman saying “I did this” or “I am working on this.”
        I tend to skew the other way with lots of “We created…” The team did…” “I worked with the team to…” language. Apparently so much so, that during an interview, one of the interviewers asked me “Well what did YOU do?” Ugh! Can’t win.

        And different organizations have different preferences for this kind of thing. At some places you may only say “The team is working together on doing X, Y and Z” once, but from then on you’d only be expected to preface with “I am working on X and Z” thereafter, even if others are also doing so.

    10. Orange You Glad*

      This is what I was thinking. I’ve been given specific feedback at work to stop responding with “We are working on…” and instead own it and say “I am working on…”. In this case where the employee is clearly representing the team at the meeting, I don’t see this as someone taking credit for someone else’s work.

    11. I'm just here for the cats*

      It could be true that she was told and read somewhere that it’s better to say I instead of we. However, how imreaf it was that the LW has asked her to take the lead and report out at meetings what the team has been doing. She should be using we not I since it’s not something specific that she is doing. Now, if she had done the majority not the work then I could see I did X with help from team members. However if she didn’t do any work or was very inactive she should not be saying I.
      Especially since she seems to have a history of not giving credit to others.

    12. Gazebo Slayer*

      Ugh. I am so tired of people advising women to emulate bad behavior that’s mostly done by men, rather than advising men to behave better. Why is the “male” option always the default?

    13. Yorick*

      There’s a few different things you could mean by “I” versus “we,” and you can just say the one that’s true.

      There’s kind of a spectrum:
      “I did X”
      “I did X with the help of Jane and Bob”
      “I put together a team that included Jane, Bob, and Sally and we accomplished X”
      “I helped Jane and Bob do X”
      “My employees/coworkers/whatever Jane and Bob did X” (when you might be your team’s representative who presents it to others)

    14. Spencer Hastings*

      Ugh. If that’s true, then the men should change — they’re the ones making an objectively false or misleading claim.

    15. LW1*

      I appreciate you suggesting this! It wouldn’t surprise me, and had occurred to me to for the same reason. I’ve heard some stories about the previous person in my shoes, and she was not a good manager. She said that were really unsupportive of another woman on the team when she was a new mom. Maybe I’ll ask where it’s coming from first. This is an employee who’s trying really hard. I think she just picked up some bad habits over the last few years.

      1. LW1*

        I appreciate all the discussion here. Because it looks like there was a question: This is a situation where I’ve asked her to represent the team at a meeting within the organization. So she’s definitely talking about things other people on the team are working on, or responsible for.
        All your comments made me give additional thought to how gender might play into this. It wouldn’t be a problem if this were a project she was lead on and doing most of the work with some contribution from the team. These are situations where she’ll describe a five-part project, and each part was handled by a different person, and she’s not the coordinator. Her role is reporting on it. So I think that’s a helpful distinction. Thank you all and I hope you see my gratitude although I wasn’t able to respond same-day.

  9. dealing with dragons*

    LW5, I also advise using such a folder to store history of work you did. When I started applying for new jobs after a five year stint it was useful to go back through and see what projects I did and my role in them. It made resume writing easier ;)

    1. Sara without an H*

      This is a good suggestion. I also find it helpful to keep a timeline, just a simple list of start and stop dates, and significant events. It makes it much, much easier to do things like performance reviews and annual reports.

  10. Jopestus*

    As someone who went through university with someone like LW1:s scenario. Take it down. Give one fair chance, and then unleash the demons. People like that are one of the most annoying kinds and should be burned on stake.

    Okay, way overboard, but I was approaching the topic from her equals point of view. People under you will start to resent her fast and they start to resent the manager as well if the manager does not put a stop to it.

    1. calonkat*

      Is it possible that she’s been advised to try to use “I did” more for situations such as interviews and is just extending it beyond? The case I have for wondering this is that she’s saying we did and then changing it.

      My apologies if this has been brought up already, I started typing this earlier and had a couple of meetings.

      I had trouble interviewing for state jobs because the rule at the time was that unless “I” did something, they couldn’t count the experience, and I spent the entire meeting talking about what “we” did. Because of course, “I” don’t do anything without approval and implementation by others! So it’s something that I have been specifically told to do, not say “we did”, even if I didn’t do all of the work. I could see this as a tough balancing act for a team leader, as to where it’s appropriate and where it isn’t.

  11. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

    OP4: If I had someone call me right before I finished up for the day, acknowledge it, and then barge on anyway talking non-stop for 45 minutes about items that were not time-critical, I reckon I’d have to start cooking dinner. The dinner that uses all the noisy pots hidden at the back of the cupboard. I’d probably be indecisive about the crockery selection for the table set up, and have to wash my hands a lot too.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Just tell them. Unless it’s clearly an emergency, say “I’ve got to go, let’s continue tomorrow.”

      That’s it. Learn to say what you want. If it’s hard to do that with your boss, practice in lower stakes situations first. Practice saying what you want in the moment.

      1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Assuming it’s a back and forth conversation where they stop to breathe, and not just a monologue aimed in your general direction, then yes of course.

        But I don’t quite agree that it’s just learning to say what you want… it’s not always as straightforward as increased assertiveness. Power disparity, office politics and expectations are relevant too. Eg: if the boss is much senior and a ‘could-talk-underwater-with-a-mouthful-of-marbles’ type, cutting them off mid-sentence could feel career-limiting rude for some people. (Although I agree that the boss is the one being rude)

        So while my suggestion was facetious, I was thinking along the lines of finding a softer way to intercede, if trapped and in need of an opening. Like the social cue equivalent of gathering your things and heading towards the door once someone hangs around in your office well after your finishing time.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “Like the social cue equivalent of gathering your things and heading towards the door once someone hangs around in your office well after your finishing time.” Wait, so in person you’d feel comfortable doing that to a big shot but on the phone you’re not comfortable saying you have to go? I don’t understand the difference in politeness/rudeness of these two things.

          1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

            No, not what I meant. I would feel rude cutting someone off mid-sentence to tell them I had to go, whether that’s in person or on the phone.

            In a regular conversation, there are natural pauses when you can say it. But not everyone “converses”, is my point.

            In person you could use body language or other cues to signal or create an opening. And that’s not necessarily being passive aggressive or rude, that’s the other 55% of communication aside from speech.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Right! And that’s exactly why phone scammers talk endlessly without breathing: because most people will not cut them off mid-sentence and certainly won’t hang up on them mid-sentence without saying anything. It’s a skill we have to learn. (My step-grandmother thought she was being kind to the telemarketers, letting them talk on and on without any plans to buy their stuff. She didn’t know that she was actually doing them an injury by preventing them from selling to other people. My mom explained to her and I think she got trapped on the phone less often after that.)

    2. Amethystmoon*

      This may depend upon the organization and your level. Also I’m a woman. As a support person where I work, if I did that, I would get chastised for it and it would go on my review at the end of the year. We would be expected to adjust our schedule, ask for overtime, and if overtime is not granted, to simply leave earlier on Friday.

  12. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    I’ve done video interviews before the corona virus and always dressed the same way as I would for a normal interview for that job. I don’t see why that would have changed. There aren’t that many opportunities to dress up these days anyway so it could be fun to wear something more formal.

    1. Sally*

      Normally I feel this way about dressing up, too. But these days, not so much. Makes me kind of sad actually. I hope I go back to my usual love of dressing up once we’re working in offices together again.

      1. filosofickle*

        I feel this way, too. There is fun to be found in dressing up sometimes, and during this time I could use a zoom call or a trip to the store as a reason to put on nice clothes. But it feels so empty, a waste of energy, to get dressed up for an hour then take it all off again! Tomorrow I have a prospective client call and yeah I’ll put on a blouse for it but…meh. It will be the first time I’ve worn makeup in 8 weeks, that sounds more fun.

        It comes up every time someone writes in about interview wear: I’m the exception, working in a very creative/casual industry on the west coast. That there are places or businesses where it’s normal to interview in suits just blows me away! Every time.

    2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “I don’t see why that would have changed.”

      I worry it would look over-the-top and disconnected from reality.

      1. Environmental Compliance*


        I think you’d be fine with a dress shirt & blazer. Or heck, just the dress shirt. Just wear some kind of pants. Too many horror stories from interviewees standing up and whoops well that’s your sleep shorts that kinda look too much like boxers.

        If I were video interviewing right now, in all honestly I’d be wearing a nice dress shirt and black jeans. Because on video, you can’t tell they are not slacks, they’re just nice, solid black bottoms that fit well and are comfy to sit in. WFH for me consists of yoga pants and a tshirt anyway (woohoo for no video Zoom!). I don’t know that personally I would attribute anything *bad* to someone who interviewed with a full suit over video, but it would feel odd to me.

        FWIW – I am not in a field where you would normally wear full suit. You’d wear a dress shirt, tie, blazer, and dress slacks.

        Second FWIW – my boss’s boss, when video interviewing me right before COVID went down, was definitely in just a normal basic polo & jeans. This person represents the national section of the company and reports to the global head. I would have felt very, very overdressed if I would have worn full suit/equivalent.

        1. nona*

          But – it’s also not unusual for the interviewer to not be dressed to the same level of formality. That happens for in-person interviews where the dress code for the location is more casual – but the recommendation is that job-seeker being interviewed still dresses up (suit/blazer/pant/skirt), right?

          In my mind it’s about showing that you (job seeker) recognize what the norms are/could be and can meet them if needed. I don’t see why that would change.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            You still dress up, but you don’t want to be so far outside the “norms” for that office that you look like a complete outsider. You should be dressier, but that doesn’t mean showing up in black tie when you’re interviewing at a startup (for example) and the office culture there is such that they wear jeans and a tshirt all day every day. You want to convey that you can mesh with the office culture.

            For a more specific example, I have never and will never wear a skirt & high heels to an interview. I expect that my job requires me to be out in the factory floor. I will bring or wear my steel toe boots instead, as that’s a relatively common safety standard in most facilities I have worked in. I can’t walk around the factory in a pencil skirt and pumps. I need to wear pants (usually cotton) and steelies. So I wear a dressier form of that to my interviews. I have actually gotten comments before that while it by no means was a huge plus, it was noticed that I wore safety-appropriate clothing to an interview while still looking professional, because (in their mind) it meant I thought ahead about the facility and what would be appropriate to bring/wear, and they could more easily see me in that position.

            1. LJay*

              Yeah. I hire for warehouse type positions and I definitely do notice if someone shows up in what would be unsafe or impractical for the environment.

              It’s not something that would instantly disqualify them. However, I take it as a red flag that they may be expecting a less physically demanding position than what I’m hiring for, or aren’t comfortable or familiar with the norms generally and look at those areas more carefully because of it.

              Though I do have difficulty with it, because almost all men’s clothes that I can think of that would be unsafe are also wildly less formal than is appropriate for an interview. (Shorts, flip flops or sandals, tank top, etc). While for woman, a pencil skirt, heels, and short sleeved blouse would be a perfectly appropriate interview outfit in terms of formality but would still have me thinking about the outfit in terms of what it meant for fit for my position.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                At a previous position, we had a man who showed up for a operations position (working out in the facility, in mud/grease/gunk) in a full suit. IIRC, he did get hired, but all people could immediately remember about him was That Guy Who Showed Up In A Suit, not really about his skills. He turned out okay, but definitely had a bigger hurdle of getting used to being in dirty environments (ie. not the generic office), which did frustrate some of his team members. And how to use tools like a shovel or broom.

                It’s definitely a flag to me of whether the person would be comfortable in that kind of position – your second paragraph has it perfectly.

  13. Sara(h)*

    OMG, Alison’s comment about a boss who called her “the fastest writer on the planet” really sheds a light on how she is able to be so prolific on AAM while also doing other work! I knew she was one of the best and sharpest writers on the planet, especially when it comes to clear, concise, and direct yet kind communication, but it hadn’t occurred to me that she is also a very fast writer too, although I always wondered how she could possibly do it all!

    1. Erstwhile Lurker*

      Alison: Opens kudos folder and places Sara(h)’s post in. Gives self pat on back.

  14. Meg*

    I call my ‘kudos’ folder as ‘Positive Reinforcement’! It comes in handy when I need to do my self-appraisal.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      A former boss of mine used to call it “Psychological Income”!

  15. Aglaia761*

    My colleague has a two pronged approach. He and his partner swap off daddy daycare duties M-F with their 4 y/o.

    Step 1: He has an automatic out of office that he updates each week that responds no matter when he gets an email.
    It’s very helpful
    Hi there,

    [Company] is operating in full force at this time. With school out and
    my son at home, however, I’m only available half-time during business

    Here is my schedule for this week:
    [he provides a daily schedule of when he’s available in 4-6h hour time blocks]

    If you have reached me outside of these hours, I will do my best to
    return your message on the next business day, although it may take me
    up to 48 hours to respond. If it is an urgent matter, please call. [me, as I’m his backup]

    Step 2: He also schedules his daddy daycare time in his calendar. So if one of us wants to have a meeting, we see that he’s “busy” during those times and can shift. We also have a scheduling app for clients and those times are blocked off from booking an appointment.

    1. Mookie*

      That’s an interesting approach. The LW said they have no conflicting family responsibilities here, though, and I think using “daycare” in this sense and in an automated email would not go down well for many people, to put it mildly.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Do you mean it would not go down well if the LW were to use “daycare” in their out of office notice? If that’s what you mean, I agree that LW shouldn’t lie about why they’re unavailable, but I don’t think that’s what Aglaia176 was suggesting; they were giving an example of something that’s working well for a colleague (auto-reply with their schedule for the week) with the background we needed to understand it.

        If you mean anyone referencing daycare in an auto-reply wouldn’t go down well, I disagree. It wouldn’t be the phrasing I’d use personally (nor is it the phrasing Aglaia’s colleague is using), but I don’t see any reason for people to react poorly to it. Times are weird, people know that some of their colleagues are home with kids, and references to that aren’t inappropriate.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          I believe Mookie is referring to the “daddy” part of “daddy daycare”. You’re the parent, not the babysitter. “Daddy daycare” is a problematic phrase.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Just to make a follow up to that point, here’s a quote about it I really like from a blog called the Motherload (after spiraling around in a hole in the internet way too late at night):

            “‘Daddy day care’ plays down the important role that men do caring for and raising their children to be decent human beings. It puts down the important work that women do in their jobs as doctors, solicitors, teachers, social workers, child minders and mothers, and all the hard work we have done to get there. But most of all, it maintains that parenting in all its forms still isn’t equal.”

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Valid point about the term “daddy daycare” (spoken as a mom whose husband is primarily responsible for our kids during the pandemic). My reading of Moxie’s comment was that they thought the word “daycare” was problematic, but perhaps I misread.

          2. Aglaia761*

            That’s the term that he and his partner use (both men). If that’s what they want to call it, it’s not my place to tell them differently. They’re grown men who can do as they please.

            Also, it’s an internal term that we see on his calendar. It’s not client facing in any way, including in the email.

            1. Mookie*

              I’m glad it works for you. Referring to raising your child as “daycare,” daddy* or otherwise, would not bode well in all company cultures. Where I work, it would sound tone-deaf and detached from the lives of normal working people.

              Again, not helpful to the LW whose objections to run-the-clock availability does not stem from family obligations.

              *I agree that providing basic care for one’s own children is heavily gendered—women are expected to do it without crowing about it, otherwise they are entitled mommies hurting their careers, whereas men are praised—but it was obvious from your post that two daddies were involved.

              1. Mookie*

                “Childcare”/“childcare duties,” on the other hand, would not raise an eyebrow. I do think these words matter when giving advice.

              2. anon for this*

                Eh, normally I would agree that men being described a “babysitting” or providing “daycare” for their children is phrasing that reveals an issue in gendered parenting expectations. But in this case, I think it’s pointing out that since their regular daycare is out of the picture, the dads have to fill in as substitute daycare part time. I read it as tongue in cheek.

    2. OP4*

      I have my schedule set to show when I’m out of office (so after 3 PM), but he apparently doesn’t know how to check my availability because he regularly schedules meetings when I show as busy due to other meetings too. Like, I’ll literally have a meeting 10-11 and be out of office at 3, and he’ll schedule either 2:30-3:30 or 9:30-10:30. So with two things on my calendar I’ll still get a conflict.

      1. Mimosa Jones*

        I think that helps your situation because you can treat his ignoring your end of day the same as how you treat his ignoring your other meetings. It’s not that he’s trying to get you to work longer, it’s that he’s not checking your availability for anything.

      2. EPLawyer*

        This sounds like a longer conversation about scheduling. If he is literally not checking your availability that is an over all problem. Not just an I leave at 3 problem. You need to let him know about how not checking your schedule affects your ability to do your job.

      3. JustMyImagination*

        You mentioned that these are meetings with external people who are essentially doing your company a favor. He is likely beholden to their availability and may have limited options.

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

        What would happen if you rescheduled the meeting to a time you’re both available (if it’s a 1-1 or doesn’t involve too many other people)? Outlook has a “propose new time” feature that a meeting recipient can use. Try using that feature, saying “I have a conflict at the time you picked; will this work?” Unless the person is a complete dick with control issues (entirely possible) he might go along with your suggested rescheduling.

      5. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I have a colleague like that and it’s infuriating. He will have nothing else on his calendar and schedule a meeting with me in the middle of 10-12 meeting that is clearly blocked on my calendar — since he’s a peer I can just decline with a note to check my calendar for availability, but it’s still annoying when the information was *right there* if he’d taken a minute to check. Hopefully with AAM’s advice you can get this resolved!

      6. Kettricken Farseer*

        I think there is a difference between having a hard stop due to a meeting and a hard stop because you want to log off. In the first case, it’s not uncommon to say, “I have a hard stop at 10 due to X meeting.”

        For logging off at 3, I think there is a bit more nuance. I also work shifted hours like this too, with the understanding that occasionally there will be a need to work after 3 because my hours are different than my boss’s. Do you think you’ll burn political capital by insisting on logging off at 3 instead of 3:30 sometimes?

      7. HappySnoopy*

        Agree with Mimosa. Can you reject with message and/or suggest alternate time?

        Or maybe suggest standing meeting at 1:30 or so, obviously with his seniority note that it can adjust to his schedule (within reason) so that it is keeping efficiency and being cognizant of his (subtext and your) time

    3. Marlene*

      It’s great that he’s so clear with his schedule!

      Does he use the term “daddy daycare” in his correspondence? It feels a little sexist like he only takes responsibility for his child when the default caretaker, mom, is not available. It’s sexist toward the father because it implies he doesn’t normally care for his child, and it’s sexist toward the mother because she is assumed to be the primary responsible parent unless the father steps in. When my husband took care of our children, we just called it “parenting.”

      1. Marlene*

        If both are men, it’s still an odd term to say “daycare” for their own child.

        1. Phoenix*

          Calling it “daddy daycare” in this context makes perfect sense to me – parenting is shared, “daddy daycare” is when one or the other has pre-scheduled, full responsibility without expectation of assistance from the other parent. It’s a fundamentally different responsibility split than “parenting”, and I can see how delineating it that way would be helpful, mentally.

          1. Batgirl*

            If it was helpful to them, there’s also nothing wrong with women explicitly naming their childcaring time as ‘mum duty’ or whatever. We know that calling it parenting or simply ‘I have my kids then’ should work but as we know, many people think the toddler should get on with reading war and peace when business demands their parent’s attention, so it’s not a terrible idea to be more explicit.

            1. Rachel in NYC*

              I feel horrible b/c normally I’m not a fan when dads use the term daddy daycare to refer to caring for their kids but here I’m okay with it. Stepping back- I think it has less to do with it being two dads (though I’m not willing to rule out that playing into my response) and more to do with him using it in a relaxed way.

              Besides, I’m not sure what else he could have called it. Kid time? Parenting time? Make sure my child doesn’t jump off the countertop time?

      2. Mockingjay*

        I think we’re getting off topic. Aglaia761’s point is that hours of availability are clear in this type of OOO message. Use what language works for you.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      That honestly seems like overkill to me! Does he usually respond to emails super quickly? Unless his inability to respond to emails within a day or so is a huge change from his normal response time this seems like way too much detail to include in an out of office message.

      1. Aglaia761*

        We work with a lot of nonprofits and they can be a bit needy. Pre Corona, he was typically fairly quick to respond to emails. So it’s setting expectations for them.

        The auto responder gives them an understanding of when they can expect a response. He typically responds throughout the day when he can. But if they need to talk to someone ASAP, they can call me. I technically oversee his work and act as PM for his projects.

  16. cape daisy*

    I’ve had 3 video interviews over the last month and I’ve worn a nice single colour blouse, which is in shot, jeans out of shot and light make up.
    I also did a check of how I looked on screen with lighting, height of my screen and checked the background. Ended up taking a graphic poster behind me down as it was distracting.
    I also had my notes in my eye line but out of shot, in case I had a panic.

  17. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I have kudos post its on my screen *shrug*. If someone pays me a compliment that inspires me, I find it helpful to see it right there when the impostor syndrome looms.

    I haven’t ever needed to cite precise examples in reviews, but I have quoted from them in interviews. It’s part of your arsenal of support for achievements – there might be a quantifiable measurement in certain fields, so you can say you had 25 positive comment cards last quarter, or it might be that you say a client took the time to write to thank you for your input on their project.

    1. Caaan Do!*

      I have something similar within my eyeline, when my job gets particularly frustrating it cheers me up to look at my card a colleague put on our recent Women’s Day wall of inspirational women, which says I’m a superhero (he even drew a little picture of stickperson me striking a suphero hands on hips pose) :)

      I also have a card a colleague who has now left wrote me saying thank you for all the times I helped her out while she was here. It does give me the warm fuzzies to know I have touched other people in some way no matter how small.

  18. Mike on the Mic*

    I would be concerned about #4 showing an unreasonable lack of flexibility. A 40-hour work week rarely means exactly 8 hours a day. Were I their manager, I would be concerned that LW is taking advantage of a generous flex-time policy to the detriment of the rest of the team. It’s not really fair for the rest of the team to have to organize themselves around one member’s unconventional schedule. The fact that they’re working from home makes it even more unreasonable.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      I was also wondering whether they were allowed to flex in between days? I also have a flexible schedule, but I wouldn’t decline a later meeting unless I had a firm outside commitment. I’d just shorten some other day to make up for it. Before the Plague, I’d work a bit extra Mon-Thu and then hit the pool early Friday afternoon, which felt strangely indulgent.

      1. Julia*

        How does that work, though, when boss does this every day? You can never use your accrued flex time.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          The letter says it happens often, but doesn’t say it happens daily. If it does, you can take it in the mornings.

          1. EPLawyer*

            It also says she doesn’t find out about the meetings until the day off, so she can’t plan to start work later in order to stay later.

            This wasn’t a problem when they were in the office. It is a problem now with WFH. If meetings could be scheduled around her before without major disruption they can be scheduled around her now. This is more likely a team lead with the attitude of everyone’s always available now because they have a work set up at home instead of accepting most folks don’t want to be at work 24/7.

            1. Me*

              But she can start later the following day. Unless it’s the Friday of pay ending week.

              Not that she should but she’s being very rigid in a time that calls for flexibility and may *may* reflect not so great if she’s not a little flexible on occasion.

      2. Mike on the Mic*

        Exactly. My last job had a very similar policy: 8 – 4:30 opening hours with 9 -3 core time (if work allows). If the boss needs to talk to them, why can’t LW log in late or take a long lunch on another day?

        1. Julia*

          Would you feel the same if OP worked 9-6 and had to stay past 6 almost every day? Because that’s kind of what’s happening here.

          1. leapingLemur*

            I agree with Julia. LW is having to work late regularly for what doesn’t sound time-sensitive.

    2. Mary*

      I don’t think cutting short phone calls that start fifteen minutes before you’re due to finish is inflexible, but I would treat scheduled meetings that start at 2pm differently.

      OP4, how committed are you to still finishing at 3pm every day? If it’s easier for your colleagues and everyone else in the meeting to have a meeting from 2-3.30pm, could you do that? That seems like something worth having a conversation with your boss about–is he just scheduling meetings at 2pm because he forgot that you finish early, or would he appreciate you flexing your schedule a little later on those days because it works better for the rest of the team?

    3. SusanIvanova*

      But it’s not unconventional. It overlaps core hours; that’s the whole point of having them. Meetings that fall outside that time need a much better reason than “my workday extends past core hour time”.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        As someone who schedules a lot of meetings with a lot of busy people, trying to schedule around core hours would be near to impossible. OP is WFH and has no family responsibilities that would take her away from work. I think that yes, they need to have a chat with manager, but also be more flexible and adjust their schedule on other days accordingly. We’re asking that managers be more flexible right now, but unless you work 100% alone without collaboration from anyone, everyone needs to be flexible.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Let me push back gently on the “no family responsibilities that would take her away from work.” Just because she does not have childcare does not mean she is available more than 40 hours a week. She is a family of one. She has responsbilities to herself. She needs a break from work just to … not work.

          Again, if this was not a problem in the office, it should not be a problem during WFH absent some other factor not mentioned in the letter that would be pure speculation to imagine.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think the point of family responsibilities is to do with *timing* of non-work time, rather than necessarily its importance.

          2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            I wasn’t referring to her ability to work more than 40 hours. I was referring to the fact that it leaves her with more flexibility than someone who is trying to take care of others who may interrupt a regular work schedule.

            1. Important Moi*

              Different flexibility not more. You don’t know what anyone else has going on unless they tell you.

            2. stiveee*

              This mentality is so toxic. Flexibility should be offered regardless of parenting status not just because you never know what’s going on in someone’s life that may demand their time, but also because you shouldn’t offer flexibility to one group on the backs of another.

              1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

                Yes, just as flexibility should be offered by management, employees should be willing to be more flexible based on their own situation. The OP specifically mentioned why she used to leave at 3 (which is no longer warranted) and the fact that she has no additional responsibilities. This tells me that she CAN be more flexible, but doesn’t really WANT to be more flexible. I would not have mentioned it if the OP hadn’t stated it in the letter.

                1. OP4*

                  I actually am also taking several grad school classes at night, with meetings occurring pretty regularly based around my work ending time of 3, so I do have commitments I need to work around. I didn’t even think to mention it because they don’t generally conflict, but sometimes I do need to stop at 3 so I can switch to my grad school mentality and possibly put in some work there before a meeting.
                  I also don’t know why everyone’s getting this idea that I’m not being flexible? I stay late for important calls (or even just my team lead wanting to check in when it’s not urgent). I just prefer an earlier schedule, even without the traffic, and deal a lot better with a set schedule for my mental health, and so I don’t want to adjust my schedule to be later for occasional meetings.

                2. Autumnheart*

                  The OP’s coworkers know when she starts work. If they want to catch her during her workday, they can “be flexible” and get up earlier that day.

                  You get paid for 40 hours, you work 40. There’s no reason for OP to put in 45-50 hours a week if a) that isn’t critical for meeting a team/business goal, and b) OP’s coworkers just don’t want to work a 7-3 instead of a 9-5.

    4. PX*

      Eh. The fact that they are working to typical core hours and already worked this schedule before the current crisis means I’m not really buying what this argument. More likely it’s just miscommunication. Manager assumed that now that there is no longer a commute to get OP4 out of the office they would work longer/different hours.

      OP4 – you need to do basic things here. Send an email out to everyone you typically work with reminding them that your hours haven’t changed. Block the time in your calendar. And then be strict about keeping to it.

      1. Mary*

        Other people’s schedules may have changed significantly with the crisis though (especially for anyone with childcare or elderly care responsibilities), and it may not be possible to keep the same level of flexibility about meetings involving large numbers of people. I don’t think that means OP4 *has* to quietly give up their own early pattern of work, but it makes it worth addressing it explicitly with their boss and finding out whether it’s just an oversight or whether it’s considerably harder to coordinate meetings than it was pre-Covid.

    5. Mx*

      Her organisation rules is that they don’t work more than 40 hours a week. And if her boss keeps her on phone until 3:30, that’s a lot of OT.

      A solution might be to start 30mn later and finish 30mn later everyday.

      1. Mike on the Mic*

        Yes. I thought that was implied in my “40 hours doesn’t mean 8 hours every day” comment. The LW can flex in late on other days to accomodate working the extra half hour one day.

        1. leapingLemur*

          Do we know if LW’s company allows this kind of flex? And it sounds like it happens regularly.

    6. OP4*

      When I wrote in to Alison, it had happened four days that week. So I had a call go until 4, started half an hour later the next day but then worked until 3:30, started an hour later the next day but then went until 4 again, etc. so I ended up not being able to flex the time. Even when I had the long commute I’ve stayed in the office until 6 and just sucked up the extra traffic when there were urgent things, 4 PM was the only time our bosses could meet about something, etc. It’s when it happens almost everyday for non-urgent matters that it gets to be irritating, and at that point there’s not much leeway to flex back to 40.
      And I may have an unconventional schedule compared to many offices, but it’s not really outrageous for mine. When I stay until 5 or 6, the office is almost completely empty by 4, and many people leave at 3.

      1. Bark*

        It sounds like the bigger issue is that you are not able to stick to 40 hours a week the way you’ve been instructed to. I would focus on that issue with the team lead because that could actually cause serious problems if you’re working overtime every week when you’re not supposed to.

        1. blackcat*

          Schedules are really wonky right now. My husband and I trade off childcare so there’s a lot of the traditional workday we’re no longer available. We can sometimes flex between our set schedule, but if he’s told me I have Tuesday morning free, I have meetings at 10 & 11am, he can’t take a meeting at 10, even though it’s core hours.

          I’d focus on the total # of hours and having thing scheduled sufficiently in advance. If you know two days ahead you’ll have a late call, maybe you could start a bit later?

      2. Colette*

        Yeah, there’s a difference between staying late because there is truly no other time, and staying late because someone doesn’t consider your schedule. I’d be annoyed, too. But I think the answer is to start speaking up. “I’m finishing up now, so I’ll pick this up in the morning.” “Sorry, this isn’t a good time. Can we set up something for tomorrow?” “I can get on the call at 2 but have a hard stop at 3.”

    7. Amethystmoon*

      Right, again it depends upon the organization, one’s level in it, how long one has been there and how much personal capital one has to spend. In some organizations (the one I work for), we would actually get in trouble for refusing to attend a required meeting. We would either need to ask for overtime or adjust our 40 hours appropriately, like leave earlier on a different day.

    8. Marlene*

      But 9-3 is six hours, roughly, if one accounts for starting a little early and taking some time to eat. If he is fitting in another 2 hours later in the day or working more than 5 days per week, then he may need to adjust his schedule to fit in afternoon meetings. It’s not entirely fair to expect that others to work around such an early end to the OP’s workday.

      1. boo bot*

        I may be wrong on this, but I think the idea of having 9-3 core hours is that everyone is there for those six hours, and then some people work 7-3, some people work 8-4, some people work 9-5, or whatever.

        The expectation with that kind of setup is that collaborative work will get done in the six-hour window when everyone is around, meaning that others actually are expected to work around such an early end to the OP’s workday (and in return, the OP is expected not to schedule meetings for 7 AM). It seems like all this has worked up until now, and it’s just the pandemic timezone that’s throwing it out of whack – it may turn out that the OP has to make some adjustments, but I think it makes sense to try to hold onto their previous schedule if it is possible.

        1. Lady of Lasers*

          Yeah I’m kinda annoyed at the pile on of the OP for being inflexible. Flexible hours are a perk of their job, and they have a right to be annoyed that it’s consistently being trampled on! Particularly when it’s just one person being inconsiderate; everyone else seems to be handling their schedule okay

          1. A*

            Ya, I’m a bit surprised. I wonder if it’s regionally driven at all. This has been a very common arrangement in the higher COL areas I’ve lived in, and is a perk that allows companies to attract/maintain strong talent in the form of work/life balance perks.

            In speaking with my friends in more remote locations (not necessarily rural, just not metropolitan cities) it sounds less common.

          2. leapingLemur*

            Yeah, I don’t think the LW is being inflexible. I think the team lead is being thoughtless.

      2. Batgirl*

        OP clearly starts earlier. I work in a school and our ‘business hours’ are 8.30-3 because that’s when we are in the building teaching children. Now you can’t get a teaching workload done in those hours, so you’re either doing prep at home in the evening or early in the morning. I start at 6am. There are some weekly scheduled after school meetings but if a department called a surprise after school meet without notice there’d be uproar, not just because people have already put a full day in, but because some people took the job in order to pick up their kids, or they have a real early bird preference. It would only happen if there was a real work emergency and even then it wouldn’t last long. I can’t imagine pulling this four days on the run without concern for OT. It must be a simple mistake.

    9. Snark no more!*

      I did not take it as the LW being inflexible, but rather guarding his time. I personally do not give my free time to the office and not expect remuneration. But if it was not a problem in the office that LW left at 3, why is it different when working from home? I seriously doubt that LW insists on exactly 8 hours a day. The issue is being treated differently just because they’re a captive audience for shenanigans. Also, the team lead presumably has the same option of stopping work at 3.

    10. Koala dreams*

      It’s interesting that you perceive the inflexibility to come from the employee. The companies I know of with core hours combine that with rigid flex rules. The core hours provide the flexibility, and in return employees need to make sure they work 40 hours a week. If you regularly work more or less than that it would be a performance problem, and dealt with accordingly. If the culture is like you envision, there might be limited opportunities to push back. If it’s like I assume, pushing back might be necessary.

  19. My2Cents*

    For #4, I definitely think AAM’s scripting will work well, but in the case where the team lead is choosing meeting times based on changes in his availability (due to child care or other social distancing factors) maybe LW4 could consider being flexible. It sounds like the LW selected their original schedule based on traffics patterns, which is less of a concern during WFH. Is shifting schedules to start later an option if the team lead needs flexibility on their part?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, although it highlights a wider issue: while people’s schedules are temporarily affected by external factors (including perhaps sharing childcare responsibilities, or when pharmacies are open), how best to arrange meetings? The usual analogy of trying to line up the holes in Swiss cheese applies here, and the more irregular the patterns and the more slices involved, the more difficult this becomes.

      Spouse and I are struggling this week to coordinate work time as he is onboarding new starters and I have an inflexible deadline (set by a foreign government). It’s sheer bad luck that they are coinciding, and we’ve been fortunate to have had so few clashes.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      That’s why AAM recommended saying “can we move this earlier” when responding to 2pm meeting requests — it gives the opportunity for the team lead to say “no, we have to resolve this by close of business and I’m unavailable before 2pm today because of childcare duties/other meetings/whatever.” Everyone should be flexible right now, yes, but that includes the team lead as well as the LW.

      1. My2Cents*

        I don’t disagree! Asking is definitely the best solution here. I simply meant prepare to be flexible upon request.

    3. OP4*

      My team lead’s wife was a stay at home parent before the pandemic, and he told me that she’s taking care of all childcare responsibilities while he works in an office away from the kids. He just prefers to start and end a couple hours later than I do.

      1. Shenandoah*

        Ugh, that sounds really frustrating OP4. I hope your team lead gets back to respecting your schedule.

      2. Threeve*

        I think many people are moving toward a standard 9-5 right now. I had an earlier schedule too, but because the majority of my reason was also the commute, I don’t feel like I can justify sticking to it when my team mostly works standard hours.

        Productivity and lines of communication are already being harmed by telework; keeping the same hours as my team is one way I can make things a little easier as everyone adjusts.

        I do feel like you’re being kind of rigid and unaccommodating. Particularly because your team lead’s preference is the workday standard and yours is not, I’d say to switch to it for now. I don’t understand why it would have to be longer hours–just start later and end later.

        1. Julia*

          Her office has core hours, and OP is sticking to those. I assume the flexibility was something she considered when she accepted the job. A boss doesn’t just get to say, “core hours are for other people!” for no good reason.

        2. leapingLemur*

          How is the OP being unaccommodating? The OP and the team lead have plenty of time when they’re both working; the team lead is calling and extending the OP’s day on a regular basis for things that aren’t time-sensitive.

          When I read these comments saying OP needs to be more flexible, it feels kind of like people think that 9-5 are the correct times to work, and somehow they just don’t like that the OP works different hours. There is nothing in the letter that indicates that the team lead can’t start the meeting earlier.

          I’ve spent a lot of my working life dealing with people from different time zones (and some who work different hours), and usually it’s not that big of a deal. The important thing is to know when they are going to be in the office.

  20. Erstwhile Lurker*

    #1 The person in question may crave validation or be trying to show you what a good job she is doing. If you align ‘doing a good job’ with ‘calling out individual contributions’ this may reset the need to hog the glory in her head.

    I’d consider phrasing it to her along the lines of “I need you to help me with something, as i feel that you are well placed to do so. Not everyone will get the opportunity to present their own work or take the lead in meetings so by calling out the positive contributions of individual team members you are contributing the team moving in a positive direction as a whole. Can I rely on you to support me with this?”

    1. Christy*

      Frankly, I think your suggested phrasing is far too indirect. This isn’t a thing to dance around. It’s straightforward. I might even be more direct than Alison’s language and say “When you report out on team projects, using “I did” instead of “we did” makes it sound like you’re trying to take credit for the team’s work. I know that’s not your intention, so please pay attention to this phrasing going forward.”

    2. Laney Delaney*

      One of my fantastic bosses used to do this monthly meeting to update everyone to give a general update on the dept, and then each project leader would give a quick status update. [This was a casual standing up meeting (everyone stood), which moved the meeting along quickly.] And after each team update, the project lead most likely would call out individual team members, and each team member would then call out others who contributed. It was not mandatory that if you were called out that you had to call out someone else, but it was common that they did. So a simple “Team Ranger has completed the Domino Project on schedule, in large part to Fergus fast-tracking the registration paperwork” would then lead to Fergus saying “We were able to submit the paperwork 2 weeks early thanks to Jules and Wakeen working creating a database of llama grooming product spend”, which would lead Jules thanking Pat for collecting the information from purchasing and our vendors. Surprisingly, this did not add a lot of time to the monthly meeting, maybe 2-3 minutes to each update.
      I believe that this not only made the project leads acknowledge their teams contributions, it also built a culture where everyone contributed — leads who tried to do it all (or claimed to do it all) looked out of step (and like bad leads for not developing their people).

  21. Lynda*

    If you are getting calls 15 minutes before the end of your shift let them go to voicemail and check back in first thing when team lead gets in next day.. As for the scheduled meetings I would ask the team lead to schedule them earlier in the day. I understand what people are saying about the teamlead needing flexibility but the oped might work better in the morning and deserves their downtime as much as anyone else. There sometimes is a bias agains People with no kids where they are expected to be ever availability and thats not fair.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Not picking up the phone (if phone calls are norm at the job) during working hours is not a good look. It implies the person has checked out early.

      I don’t do shift work, but I do cut calls off all the time. I’d pick up the phone, talk for a minute, and it was clear the call was going to take some time I’d say something like “I have a hard stop at 3pm, so let’s wrap up in the next few minutes and continue tomorrow. Say 9am?”

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Someone not answering their phone doesn’t imply they’ve checked out early. People aren’t able to answer the phone all the time for various work-related reasons. I spend the last 15 minutes of my work day doing my timesheet and making my to-do list for the next day…and I don’t answer my phone during that time so I can focus on those tasks.

        1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          The word “imply” has to do with others perceptions, not your reality. The issue is what do other people thing – do some think “Oh she’s left”?

          In an office with people around, they can see a person still working. With work from home, it’s less clear.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yes, it does have to do with others’ perceptions, of which there can be many. Not answering the phone at 2:45 when you log off at 3:00 can imply one thing to Person A (“she checked out early — busted!”), another thing to Person B (“she must be busy”), and yet another to Person C (“holy smokes, she didn’t answer, she must be dead in a ditch”…actual example from my past). And that even implies that any of those people actually *know and remember* that LW’s schedule ends at 3:00.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          I’ve never worked anywhere where ignoring a phone call from my boss would be considered okay. If I had stepped away from my desk, I was expected to see the missed call and return it. At home, when there’s nowhere to step away to (except perhaps a restroom), not answering a call from the boss during working hours would definitely be seen as slacking, if not insubordination, unless there was a darn good reason for it.

          No, OP needs to either use their words and express their concerns to their boss about how they keep going over time, or adjust their own hours to make this work. Given that they’re not commuting and this keeps happening, I’d think it’d be easier to shift hours, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss thinks the same thing.

          We’re all being more flexible about working hours when we’re home, so the OP may need to bend a bit, especially if 2:30 meetings work for the others on the team. If not, maybe they can push back as a group and say something about how the meetings used to be held earlier in the day so can they go back to that?

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            This is definitely a “know your office/boss” situation — in my job function and with most of the bosses I’ve had, it is acceptable to not answer a call from my boss if I’m focusing on something. Only LW knows whether they could safely miss those calls or not. And yes, absolutely, LW needs to have the conversation instead of just never answering the phone at 2:45, but I was pushing back on pleaset AKA cheap rolls’ statement that missing a call from someone at 2:45 will be interpreted as the LW having checked out early.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              That’s what I mean by “darn good reason.”

              “I’m leaving in ten minutes and don’t want to get dragged into a conversation or assigned more work” is not a good reason to most bosses. “I’m focusing on this project”…. maybe. But without knowing what Boss is calling about I can’t make that judgment call. What if she’s calling about something really important and now you don’t have that information? That’s not only not going to look good, it’s also going to hinder your ability to do your work effectively.

              1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

                To add to that, missing call a few times is no big deal. People are busy, might on another call, might have had to stop early that day specifically.

                Always missing calls late in the day would lead some people to assume the person they’re calling stops work around that time.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Many (most?) phones do not interrupt people already on a call. Computer phones (eg Skype, Lync) can be set to not interrupt meetings on a calendar.
        OP’s problem is a manager who ignores the calendar. The update above saying that the manager reliably picks a meeting time that is already blocked by OP’s calendar for another meeting makes me wonder if the manager isn’t reading the colors in reverse!

  22. Kiitemso*

    #4, may not work for your field or job but I work usually 7am til 3pm and what I do is that if somebody gives me a task I can’t complete by 3 sharp I will ask them how urgent it is, and then if they deem it urgent, they can contact Janet or Priscilla, two of my colleagues who work until 4 and maybe they can squeeze it in. If they say it’s not super urgent but could I get it done ASAP I will tell them I can make a note of it for the next morning so I will get to the first or second thing after 7AM and usually that is fine enough.

    Obviously if the world is fire, Priscilla is on holiday and Janet left for the dentist at 2pm, I will do it and stay a bit overtime but then I can usually negotiate with my boss to leave early some other day.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Good point. Often when people say they need it by end of today, what they really mean is they need it by the time they walk in the next morning. The phrase I use working across time zones might be helpful here: “I will have it on your desk by the start of your morning.”
      (For childcare reasons, I started leaving the office by 3. Working from home, I am keeping as close to the schedule as possible because I know how hard it was for people to get used to my schedule in the first place–and how impossible it was for my internal time clock to get used to waking up at 5am!)

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        What you ended with is the point I was coming here to make.
        Eventually this pandemic will wind down and people will have to start going into the office again. If the OP all of a sudden changes their entire workday structure, it is going to be harder for them AND their colleagues to revert back to the original schedule so that OP can avoid the traffic.
        Part of the problem is the conflicting advice people are getting about WFH. For the people who can (because no kids or eldercare responsibilities), they are suggesting sticking as close to possible as your regular schedule to try to create boundaries and keep work and private life separate. For those who have to care for children or parents or share a small space with someone else who is WFH, we talk about adjusted hours and understandable decreased productivity. So OP is following the “stick as close to your normal schedule if possible” line of thinking and boss is thinking “OP leaves at 3 for traffic but since they aren’t commuting that isn’t a hard stop anymore” without considering that OP is still starting at the same time each day.
        They need to have a conversation and come to an understanding. I’m only a few months into a new job (been WFH now longer than I was in the office!) and have cut my boss and coworkers off a couple of times because I had to transition to my home life. My son is almost 11 and I pretty much ignore him all day so by 5:30 he really needs someone to interact with (hubs works in an essential industry so they are still going in daily).

  23. DiscoCat*

    Re #4: Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t really understand what the issue is. I’ve had similar situations and simply started work later the next day to make up for the extra time. In cases where I had an early appointment I’d take off even earlier that 2nd day or accumulate and take the afternoon off on a Friday. Depending of course on the situation and context of work/ regular availability. Unless there is a reason like an appointment or family obligations, should a firm finishing time matter, especially in the current WFH situation and seeing that the company has some flexibility? In my case just let them know at the end of the call or early next day.

    1. Batty Twerp*

      If I’m reading it right, it might be that if these overrun calls and meetings are happening later in the week, there is no opportunity to take a shorter day the next day? If OP has already worked 39 hours by 2pm on Friday and then gets called into a two-hour meeting, there is no chance to go back in time and start work later on Friday morning.
      Although I would be curious to know how this was handled pre-lockdown. If the later meetings are a new thing to accommodate the team lead having to flex their time around childcare, it might be that OP has to flex their time a bit too. Since the team consists of just the team lead and OP, some additional communication needs to happen to resolve this.

      1. OP4*

        The issue is that: I can flex if it’s once or twice a week but they’re happening multiple times and unexpected so I can’t really plan around them. It happened four days the week I wrote to Alison, so I ended up working several extra hours despite starting late everyday.

        1. LGC*


          Okay, I think that’s why people were like, “oh, it’s not that bad,” since a lot of people just assumed it was just a couple of meetings a week. (I know I did.) It’s almost every day? No wonder you’re annoyed!

          You might need to become an 8-4 person, but also I’d say talk to him and say you’d prefer to work 7-3. Don’t Bartleby the guy, but also it sounds like he’s forcing you into extra hours (and doesn’t have the best boundaries with his work hours to begin with).

          1. leapingLemur*

            I wouldn’t appreciate even just 2 unexpected late meetings in a week unless it was the type of job where there was time-sensitive stuff that came up at the last moment that couldn’t be scheduled earlier and had to be dealt with immediately. I mean, if it happen occasionally, sure, but if every week had 2 late meetings that could have easily been put off until the next day, I’d start feeling like the team leader didn’t have much respect for my time.

        2. blackcat*

          Does anyone in these unexpected meetings have new caregiving responsibilities now? If so, I’d team up with them to push back on the last minute meetings. Last minute meetings are THE WORST now that I have my kid at home, and you’ll likely find an ally if someone else struggles with the imprompto meetings.

          (To cope with the lack of ability to suddenly change schedules, both my husband and I have scheduled standing meetings that we don’t actually *need* as check ins with folks. If we don’t need it, meeting gets canceled! But if we do, it’s already blocked out and we can plan for it.)

          1. Koala dreams*

            Yes, that’s a good point. Last minute meetings is the worst, since you can’t plan for them.

        3. Other girl*

          So you might have to change your scheduele now, for different hours. You need to be available to do your job and now you can see that 7-3 doesnt work while you are working from home.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m not OP but I work a similar schedule. I use the time after 3pm to get groceries before the day-end crush. I suppose I could do it on a 2-hour lunch and work late, but that is hard on my coworker scheduling things.

          2. Colette*

            Maybe – or maybe she just needs to set reasonable boundaries. i.e. “I can go to this meeting, but will have to drop off at 3”, “I finish at 3, can we pick this up in the morning?”

          3. leapingLemur*

            How does 7-3 not work? Why can’t the team lead schedule meetings earlier? The team lead might just not have thought about this.

    2. LGC*

      I think it can work both ways, though. LW4 may like structure, and I think that’s a valid thing. Just because she has relatively few obligations doesn’t necessarily mean that she has to change things up a lot. On the other hand, it sounds like…honestly, the over-runs might not be that major. If it’s 15 or 30 minutes, it’s annoying, but not like if he was scheduling meetings from 2 to 5 (in which case I would push back hard).

      1. Bex*

        It doesn’t matter if it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours. LW4’s team lead is, through their own unwillingness to schedule in advance and with use of LW4’s calendar, forcing LW4 to violate company policy (no exceeding 40 hours in a week).

        There is also the fact that LW4 is doing a job where it is expected they will work X hours for Y pay. Expecting them to routinely work for free (which is what is happening when the work exceeds the agreed upon hours) is wrong. It is not fair to LW4, and it is not fair to other employees of the company, who will have to deal with a colleague who seems to think this is okay.

        Our employers employ us. They are not giving us a gift. There is an exchange system in place and the idea that they get to frequently adjust the terms of that exchange from a position of authority (such as team lead) is unacceptable.

        1. Bex*

          Also. I recognize this might come off as unusually rigid. I’m not saying when a lead or supervisor asks for something out of the norm that you pull out job description etc to say why you’re not going to do it.

          This is specifically in regards to a case where the intrusion has been repeated, with no acknowledgement of unusual circumstances or that it’s an ask or any vague impression at all that the person intruding gives a single fig about it. if team lead were sending an email the previous day saying “I know it’s outside your normal schedule but the only time I can get the Teapot Polishing consult group on the call tomorrow is if we start at 2:30”, that would be one thing.

          That’s not happening here.

          1. LGC*

            I think there is a bit of a difference, though, in terms of inconvenience to LW4. I mean, I adjusted my assumption after I saw her response above! What the TL is doing is inconsiderate in any case, but the amount and the frequency can make it more of a big deal or not. For what it’s worth it does sound like it is pretty inconvenient.

            I personally would have a different reaction to being kept five minutes late once or twice, five minutes late every day, half an hour late once or twice, and half an hour late every day, myself.

            1. Bex*

              Agreed. At my current role? I’d absolutely have no issue staying a few minutes late, taking a 30 minute phone call after my normal end time, etc. But that’s because my supervisor is good about asking in advance, trying to accommodate schedules, and just generally conscientious.

              It doesn’t sound like LW4’s team lead is doing that here, and that’s the part that makes me say no to an inch, no to a mile, no to anything. This kind of unthinking assumption, in my experience, often keeps expanding because it’s not pushed back on/corrected. Expecting you to stay late on the phone an extra 10 minutes once or twice somehow morphs into expecting you to routinely take calls and meetings that last beyond your standard end time. The last minute rescheduling or scheduling turns into an environment where someone just dump, dump, dumps everything last minute on you because hey, you’re lower somewhere on the org chart than them so this is okay.

              But. Like I said, that’s my experience from my past. Maybe there are good managers who don’t do that. All I’ve got to compare to is the manager who fired me when I left 20 minutes early after finding out my spouse had been hit by a car and was in the ER, and the manager who, after seeing my own flipped car on the side of the road, wanted to be sure it wouldn’t mean a delay to the phone training session I had scheduled for the next day. Not the greatest examples.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sounds like the boss needs to change core hours for their WFH setup. Than there’s nobody clocking off at 3.

  24. LGC*

    Like, I feel like…LW1 buried the lede here. To me, it doesn’t sound like the problem is just that she switches from “we” to “I” statements mid-sentence (which – other people have already written theses on sexism, so I’ll spare you my uneducated thoughts), it’s that she tends to go “off-course” fairly often and this has already caused problems. It’s just that this…tic is the most glaring example right now for LW1.

    For me, the employee’s behavior reads as especially annoying because of her tendency to not follow direction as-is – it makes it sound like she’s not only unwilling to go with the team on most things, but also like she thinks she’s in charge. So that might be the best angle to approach it by – it’s a small part of the larger performance issues, but a part of it nonetheless.

    1. EPLawyer*

      It might be time to take the presentation of the work at meetnigs away for a little bit. LW can model how to present so everyone gets credit. Then explain to the employee how to do it herself. Then let her do a meeting again. If the problem continues it might be time to do an overall evaluation of how this person is really fitting in.

      1. LGC*

        That’s actually…a decent idea, now that you mention it? Although, I’m not sure if she needs to actually model it in a meeting.

        We just have the letter here, but it already sounds like LW1 is evaluating the employee’s overall performance and finding issues. Like I said, I think she buried the lede, but she did mention that there were other general issues with her performance.

      2. WellRed*

        I was wondering this myself. Is this person in a role where she has to be the one to present? Is she some sort of team lead or manager?

  25. Bookworm*

    #4: I’d also encourage you to speak up about the mental health aspect of this, too. It doesn’t have to be anything “big” but rather it helps you maintain your routine, schedule, etc. by sticking to your previous schedule and that at the very minimum, more of a heads up is appreciated so you can re-arrange if necessary (and within reason!).

    It’s really not fair on a lot of us to expect the same output or same level of productivity right now and your org shouldn’t put that burden on you. Just because you don’t have a commute and have to beat the traffic doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t get that time.

    Good luck! It’s irritating when people don’t do this in “normal” times.

  26. Brainjacker*

    LW4: if you were leaving at 3 to beat traffic, and now there’s no traffic, why not just push everything 1-2 hours back? Or take a longer break in the afternoon knowing you may need to work past then (then enjoying it if you don’t?)

    I am ALL ABOUT schedule flexibility, but it’s a two-way street. You seem overly rigid on this considering the circumstances.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m not OP but would like to point out that some of us don’t change time zones easily. I have enough trouble resetting my body clock onto Daylight Savings time that I eat lunch at a different time in the summer and in the winter. It took me half a year to get used to waking up at 4:45 AM. I don’t want to go through that again! And honestly being off of work by 3:30 or 4 is the one thing that is saving my mental health during this pandemic.

    2. leapingLemur*

      Why should the LW have to do this? Is there some business reason why the team lead has to schedule meetings at 3 pm? Because if not, maybe the team lead needs to be a big flexible.

  27. Other girl*

    If you are the only person with a different schedule , I would change it to match the others. It doesn’t matter that you start work so early if you are not available when people need you . You will be at a disadvantage.

  28. Birds of a Feather*

    L #1– please please say something! You have the power to do so and keep the whole team engaged. My supervisor does this to me constantly– I discover an issue, solve something, etc and at the team updates it’s all “I did this, I did that, I found this.” It’s beyond frustrating. I don’t expect a shout out for every little thing but changing “I” to “We” would go a long way. It’s happened enough I see myself becoming more disengaged by the day and my faith in the organization is evaporating.

  29. Dagny*

    LW4: just a guess, but your office may have accommodated your 3 pm departure with gritted teeth when traffic was an issue, but now sees no reason to do so.

    You’re also forgetting that other people need flexibility in their schedules because of childcare. If your team lead spends part of the day entertaining toddlers or teaching math to a sixth-grader so his wife can be in a meeting, then he’s going to need to be doing work stuff past 3 pm. Some of that work stuff involves you.

    1. Colette*

      If it’s truly important that the OP stay, I agree – but it sounds like it’s more random calls to catch up and other non-critical things. But I disagree that it’s the OP’s responsibility to always change her schedule because someone else has childcare issues. There is time when they’re both available; that’s the time to schedule regular meetings.

      1. Dagny*

        Re-read what I wrote about gritted teeth. Consider that some large cities have truly horrific traffic that starts at or before 3 pm.

        Now think about the phrase “hill to die on.”

        1. LGC*

          …that’s…weirdly hostile? I think what she meant was that because they already have core hours from 9-3, that’s the best time to schedule things.

          We don’t know about her TL’s schedule – whether he’s dealing with other issues at home or not. But if he can accommodate her preferred schedule, I agree that he should.

            1. LGC*

              I’ll speak for myself, but…the way I’m reading it, you’re arguing that it’s a major inconvenience for LW4 to work from 7-3 and she’s in the wrong for wanting to keep those hours. I’ll speak for myself, but if it’s such a bother to the team lead or the company in general that she’s done at 3, then the team lead should say that explicitly. From the letter, it sounds like he hasn’t said that, and the company hasn’t adjusted core hours.

              If that’s not your point, please feel free to tell me I’m wrong.

        2. Colette*

          I mean, that’s your thought, but there’s no indication that there is any resistance on the part of anyone to the OP’s hours – just that she’s dealing with someone who asks her to attend meetings or calls that don’t mesh well with them. There’s also no indication that traffic has anything to do with it.

          It seems like you’ve painted yourself a picture of the OP’s circumstances that may not match reality.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      LW4 says in a comment further up that the 3pm departure is normal at their office.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        But it might not be as normal now that everyone is working from home and many people have other demands.

        If times are so weird that we’re excusing dressing down for job interviews, surely they’re also so weird that scheduling needs may have changed.

        1. Dagny*


          If the team lead is unavailable during the middle the day due to childcare needs and only gets around to scheduling meetings in the afternoon, that is very useful information for the OP. S/he can ask for a later start, a chunk of time off in the middle of the day, or to separate out work and chit-chat conversations. S/he may come to understand that the stop time is really 3:30, but without a commute, the day ends earlier than it normally would.

          I usually start work around 8:30 am. During this pandemic, I’m logged in at 7:30 am because everyone in my office is logged in earlier. As a chronic night owl, I would love to sleep during my normal commuting time, but my colleagues are not operating that way.

        2. Colette*

          Maybe – but there’s also no indication that that’s a necessity. Certainly people are less reliably available, but there is no indication that the OP is being asked to stay late, just that she’s ask to attend things that may make her stay late. Mild pushback might make the problem go way.

      2. Dagny*

        In a city like Boston, where the trains were famous for catching fire and rush “hour” lasts from 3 pm to 7 pm, yes, a 3 pm departure would be normal. Those reasons disappear when everyone is working from home.

        I am a firm believer in keeping a balance so work does not overrun one’s life; however, the OP should understand why certain privileges were granted before deciding that s/he is still entitled to them.

        1. Colette*

          There’s no indication that the OP’s schedule is or was a privilege – core hours are 9 to 3, which usually means everyone can pick their preferred hours as long as they are available during that time.

        2. New Jack Karyn*

          This notion of flexible hours being a privilege–and that OP is acting entitled for sticking to them–is a little weird to me. It’s how her office ran. It ran well.

          If members of the team, or outside providers, need more flexibility now for whatever reasons, it’s on her team lead to discuss that with her directly, not tromp all over her schedule with things that could wait until the next day. And, y’know, not schedule late meetings with no notice.

          1. leapingLemur*

            “If members of the team, or outside providers, need more flexibility now for whatever reasons, it’s on her team lead to discuss that with her directly, not tromp all over her schedule with things that could wait until the next day. And, y’know, not schedule late meetings with no notice.”

            Yes, this!

        3. A*

          At least in the offices I’ve worked in with core hour/flex arrangements, it’s not a ‘privilege’ it’s an arrangement offered to all in good performance as a way to offer better work/life balances to attract and retain top talent.

    3. Koala dreams*

      I don’t think the system with core hours and the 3 pm departure is primarily seen as a benefit to people with long commutes. It’s often part of a parent friendly work place iniative, or a life balance iniative. The idea is that parents can choose the early or late schedule depending on childcare needs, and the company should accommodate them by scheduling all meetings during core hours. Sure, it’s useful for others too, but I wouldn’t assume a team lead that ignores the core hours to be flexible to parents in other ways.

    4. Tau*

      It would be oddly dysfunctional for an office to explicitly say its core hours end at 3 and then be surprised/annoyed when people do, in fact, leave at 3.

      And although it’s in theory quite possible the existing core hours don’t work for the team lead anymore due to COVID, it would then be on him to bring that up with the OP. He doesn’t just get to extend her work day past her end time four days a week with no word and no notice, and it’s completely reasonable of OP to talk to him about it. She’s clear in her post that she’s willing to be flexible within reason.

  30. TotesMaGoats*

    As a variation on number 1. I ended up being on a search committee and interviewing my former boss. (I did disclose that right away and they decided to keep me on.) Boss put many things on the resume that “I did” but because I was there I knew Boss had ZERO to do with it. Items that I had explicitly done all by myself like securing a major relationship with a government agency for hiring. Boss certainly didn’t get presents from them like I did.

    Give credit where credit is due but make sure what you put on your resume is accurate because you never know who will read it.

    1. Dragon_Dreamer*

      Too bad you couldn’t call him out on it beyond your current company.

    2. Important Moi*

      Did you give him the hairy eyeball as he spoke? Did you all hire him? Did this affect how you view him as a person or as a professional?

  31. attagirl anon*

    I used to work with someone who is a big advocate of the “attagirl” folder and actually wrote an article about it that made the rounds on LinkedIn a while back, which circulated widely enough that it may have been what LW5 read. If that’s the case, I can confirm that the purpose of it is to remind *you* of the good things people have said about you – for the reasons Alison outlined, and also because revisiting it on bad days and/or during bouts of impostor syndrome is a mood/confidence boost. It’s a tool to help remind yourself of your own worth.

  32. Jubilance*

    #1 – my first thought was that your employee has heard that advice that women don’t take enough credit for their work & say “we” when talking about accomplishments, and has now defaulted to saying “I”. Definitely talk to her about it!

    #4 – I also have a hard stop due to daycare pickup, along with lots of other people in my huge company. It’s very common for people to block their calendars at their stop time – I have a repeating calendar block at 4pm that says “Daycare pickup – please contact before scheduling” (my company has open calendars so you can see the titles of meetings). When I do get meeting requests that will go past 4pm, I will accept or mark tentative, and send a note saying I will have to log off early. If I get a meeting invite for 4pm or later, I have no problem declining and asking for a different time. Remember, you own your calendar OP!

  33. Trout 'Waver*

    #1 drives me up the wall. Taking credit for others’ work is never OK. In fact, giving credit is a core part of leadership. Recognizing people’s contributions makes both you and them look good. It also builds the team up.

  34. Marlene*

    OP #2: How timely! I have an informational meeting about an internship this morning! Even though I already have the position, I’m going to wear a nice blouse and pants, fix my hair and put on some make-up. I’d probably dress a little more formally for an in-person meeting, though.

    Anyway, I’m excited to put on some make-up! I live in a mandatory mask state where people are even wearing them just to take a walk, so before I walk the dog I’ll probably wipe off all but the eye make-up. Ha!

  35. CheeryO*

    LW#4, why not ask to work 8-4 while you’re at home? No traffic to deal with, you can get some extra sleep or putter around the house… I get the schedule limitations, I can only do 37.5 hours per week as a state gov employee, but things have gotten a little fuzzy. You’ve got people caring for kids, people re-arranging their schedule to hit senior hours at the grocery store, etc. My supervisor has definitely allowed some unofficial flexibility as long as we’re getting our hours in.

    1. Tau*

      But there’s zero indication that the LW wants to work 8-4. Why not at least talk to her team lead before giving up on her preferred schedule?

    2. Friendly Canadian*

      OP may enjoy working early in the day or have a spouse with night hours. Theres no reason to think these new hours would be something they would want

    3. Mill Miker*

      It’s equally possible that the lead is trying to be respectful of LW4’s time, and scheduling the meeting at their end of the shift so that LW isn’t stuck with a bunch of small blocks of time in the afternoon, but is really bad at estimating the time of the meeting.

      If that’s the case, no amount of schedule shifting will help, the overrun will just be at 4pm instead of 3.

      A conversation should really help though.

  36. triplehiccup*

    Question about the advice for #3 – invoking the law is Alison’s standard response for situations where it’s being broken. Makes sense! But I wonder how it plays out in practice – if it comes across as a threat to inform the authorities, bc how else would they know? Would be curious to hear from people who have taken this tack with employers.

    1. Willis*

      I’m curious about the advice for #3 as well. Why wouldn’t the employees just ask how they’ll be paid for the work they’re doing while laid off? It’s more direct than making references to unemployment regulations and employment law, but I dont think it’s adversarial. If the employer says, “oh actually, we can’t pay you,” then OP could cite the law if needed. But it seems worth it to give them a chance to answer the question about payment first (and asking it may make them realize they do need to be paying people for stuff like this).

      1. WellRed*

        But, employees aren’t asking how they will be paid, that’s the point. They are just wishing and hoping and too scared (lest they not look like a ‘team player’) to bring it up. Hence, couching the language in regs and laws.

  37. Aria*

    Oh I interviewed over video and got a job at an organization like what you described during this quarantine. I wore a solid colored top because I thought that would look better on camera than the multiple lines of a suit. My interviewers also
    weren’t in an office like a normal video interview – they were also in their basements and living rooms etc.

  38. Matilda Jefferies*

    #2, we’ve been doing interviews this week, and all the men I’ve seen were wearing either a dress shirt and a blazer or a sweater with a collared shirt underneath. That seems to strike the right balance between “dressing up” and “I’m still sitting in my livingroom” that we need for this occasion.

  39. Dust Bunny*

    LW4: Are these meetings just between the two of your or are there other people involved/does he have other meetings with other team members during the day? Because it might be that everyone else has scheduling needs that are conflicting with yours and it would be sporting of you to bend your preferred–but by your own admission, not necessary–work hours to help out while everyone is less available than they would be if they were actually in the office.

  40. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – definitely bring it up. Whether she’s taking credit intentionally or not for work that was a team effort, it needs to stop. I’d be super pissed if I were on the team and she kept taking credit for everything.

    #4 – Just as we’re asking managers to be more flexible with work schedules, I think OP needs to be more flexible as well. You have people with all different situations at home, and sticking to your rigid “I’m done at 3” schedule right now isn’t a good look. You started it for your commute, and while it might be nice to be done at 3, I think you need to accept that your day may run later sometimes, and adjust accordingly. I tend to work 8-5 and take an hour in the middle of the day. But I work with people on the opposite coast who are incredibly busy, so sometimes I have to work later, and even in the evening if we need to meet about something important with no distractions from a normal work day. So I start late the next day, or take a longer break in the middle of the day.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Regarding #4, if her office decides that they need to extend core hours to 3:30 or 4:00, then they should decide that and publicize it. If her specific team has that need, then her team lead needs to bring that up to her. Not what he’s doing right now.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Not saying what the team lead is doing is right, but OP has not had a conversation with them yet (at least that’s not stated in the letter). And my point is that everyone – management and employees – need to be flexible right now. Everyone is dealing with unconventional situations and people need to come up with a fair solution that works for the entirety of the team.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          I guess what I’m getting at is that if there’s a change to the status quo, the person changing it needs to be clear about that. The team lead hasn’t communicated that to OP. It’s hard to say what OP needs to do, or be, when her team lead is failing to discuss the issue with her.

  41. SmileySometimes*

    #5 I call it a “smile file” – definitely great for times of frustration or feeling down :-)

  42. remizidae*

    LW4–I think you need to adjust your schedule. Yeah, I get it you want to leave at 3, but you’re getting a clear message that your colleagues want you there till 3:30 or 4. Sometimes we need to compromise our ideal schedule in order to work well with others.

    1. Good Day*

      I agree but apparently we are not allowed to have this opinion or express it on this forum.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh come on, read what I wrote. You are not allow to scold the OP for something there’s no evidence for. It’s perfectly fine to say, “Would it make sense to revisit your schedule?” It’s not okay to assume she’s in the wrong, as others have been doing.

        commenting rules

        1. emmelemm*

          Yeah, people are really going to town on this one. What is wrong with people today?

          1. OP4*

            I’m kind of surprised. I thought this was a bit of a “tame” question for this site and didn’t expect so many people to be making up these crazy scenarios about my work situation.

            1. emmelemm*

              Just read your comment up above that you’re doing grad school in the evenings, so that’s the perfect out with your team lead. Just say, “Hey, my usual schedule of 7-3:00 helps me accommodate my grad school commitments. If we’re going to run later than 3:00, I really need to know in advance, and if we could schedule meetings to start before 2:00, that would be really helpful.”

              (Unless for some reason your work doesn’t know you do school too and they’d be pissed about it.)

            2. A Simple Narwhal*

              Yea I’m pretty surprised too!

              I think there are some people who firmly believe work hours are 9-5, and anything outside of that is…a gift? Unusual? Wrong? I’m not quite sure, but they’re getting hung up on the “your day ends at 3” part. I bet if the question was reframed to “I work 8-5, but my coworker works 10-7 and constantly keeps me in hour long discussions at 4:45” or “my California coworker keeps scheduling meetings in their afternoon, which is my east coast end of day” their responses would be a lot different.

              Try not to let it get you down, Alison gave great advice and there are plenty of us in the comments on your side. These are unusual times, I hope everything works out and grad school goes great!

              1. leapingLemur*

                “I think there are some people who firmly believe work hours are 9-5, and anything outside of that is…a gift? Unusual? Wrong?”

                I guess that must be it. My point of view is that this is the same situation as it would be if the LW got off work at 5, and the team lead keeps the LW on the phone for 45 minutes on a regular basis for stuff that’s not time-sensitive.

              2. Greg C.*

                I’m someone who works retail so for me there is no standard 9-5. It’s from when my shift begins to when my shift ends. That might be why I can easily side with LW4.

            3. A*

              I think today we learned that core hours are apparently still rare or unheard of (or severely misunderstood) in some areas. I’m surprised as well, but every employer I’ve ever had offers this arrangement and it’s no big deal. I still work my flex schedule hours while WFH right now, I’m flexible when needed – but you made it clear you do as well, it just so happens these late requests are NOT that critical/time sensitive.

              I do also think the added context of grad school at night does help as it’s a clear direction for you to take the conversation in. It might help him remember/respect your schedule more if they know there is a concrete reason.

    2. mlem*

      One colleague, ONE, is suddenly failing to respect the OP’s longstanding, requirements-meeting, *common in their company*, schedule. The “I know you’re leaving but [ignores leaving]”, 40-hour-workweek violating colleague is entirely at fault here unless and until the company changes its policies or he USES HIS WORDS to say WHY he suddenly has a problem with the OP’s ENTIRELY NORMAL FOR THEIR OFFICE schedule.

      I work 10-6:30; most of my division works 7-3:30 or thereabouts. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the early bird slammed and mocked as “inconsiderate”, rather than late owls like me getting mocked as inconsiderate/lazy. Funnily enough, it’s not any better looking from the other side.

      1. emmelemm*

        Same. I’m definitely a night owl, and any excuse to get up later in the morning (no commute) is a good one. But surprise, surprise, there are actually some people who work *better* when they get up early! And they have been allowed to arrange their schedules accordingly! And suddenly all these commenters (who, if I told them my schedule, would tell me I’m the laziest person on earth) are telling this poor OP that she’s totally out of line for a very normal office schedule!

    3. leapingLemur*

      LW4 isn’t getting a clear message; that’s part of the problem. If the team lead wants LW4 to adjust their hours, then the team lead needs to speak up like an adult and say so. It sounds like most people at this company finish work at 3, so this isn’t unusual for this company. For the LW to have to adjust hours without even talking to the team lead about this seems a bit much to me.

      It could be that the team lead really does need to have meetings right before 3 pm, but it doesn’t sound like it. I think the team lead thinks he only needs a few minutes and then ends up taking a lot longer.

      I’m very puzzled as to why people are just ‘change your hours” without even talking to the team lead about this. There’s nothing that indicates that this is time-sensitive.

  43. CupcakeCounter*

    I keep one of these. Mostly I use it to support the “self-evaluation” score I have to give myself on our annual performance reviews. So for category A I gave myself an “Exceeds Expectations” because of completing ad hoc project X for VP, closed the month on time 12/12 months, and completed the cross training and execution of tasks Y, & Z, and wrote the process documents for 13 out of 20 tasks against a goal of 10. For category B, I gave myself “Meets Expectations” for completed all required courses as well as the 2 assigned courses for skill Q. I was not able to complete the option courses for skills R, S, or T.

    I also used those items to update my resume when job hunting as well as making an “internal resume” when requesting a significant raise and/or title change. Mostly bullet points of achievements as well as a few kudos I received for excellent execution of regular job duties (i.e. per Director of Sales, the report is delivered consistently and without errors with no reminders needed on his end which has allowed better and quicker decisions in customer financing requests and potentially saved the company $X dollars by avoiding giving credit to customers with poor payment history/excessive outstanding balances).

    It actually came in handy when a higher up was complaining about a deliverable of mine not being completed on time (it was a really big deliverable and a very serious accusation since fines and penalties could be involved). Because I had that response from another exec thanking me for completing it a couple of days early so they could review the changes they had requested before distribution, I was able to prove that I had done my job properly and this person simply didn’t bother checking his email from people outside his direct line of reports (an ongoing problem). I was able to show my bosses proof on 2 levels that I had sent it.

  44. animaniactoo*

    LW4, I suggest a simpler conversation with your team lead:

    “Jack, several times recently, the scheduled meetings are running over the end of my work day. Some of them were planned that way and I can do that now and then, but others are also just taking longer than expected. Both situations together means I’m frequently running over the end of my work hours. Can you work on scheduling meetings that I need to be in no later than 1 pm to avoid that as much as possible?”

    1. Fulana del Tal*

      That’s sounds really passive aggressive to me. The OP has commented that some of these meeting are with external organizations who are giving the OP important data that she needs to do her job. If the only reason for leaving at 3pm was to avoid traffic and these later meeting keep happening she may need to adjust her schedule for now.

        1. leapingLemur*

          I was also going to ask how this can be passive aggressive. Sounds like a straight forward explanation of the issue.

      1. animaniactoo*

        The later meetings are happening because her team lead is scheduling them that way. He’s given no indication that he doesn’t have flexibility to do them differently. There is zero indication that they are due to outside partners” availability and it’s not saying that it will never happen. It’s saying “Going for 2 pm on the first shot is creating more of a possibility of it happening, let’s please work to reduce the chance by trying for 1 pm instead”.

        If her hours worked before, they should at least ATTEMPT to be accommodated before being directed to shift them because somebody else is only available after 1:30. And it should be that solid of a reason to shift for more than a day here and there.

    2. Koala dreams*

      This sounds good to me. You bring up the problem and a solution. The team lead can accept your solution or suggest another solution.

  45. J.B.*

    #3: I wouldn’t worry about having a job to go back to, to be honest. I would politely inform the boss that if he wanted me to work he needed to pay me, and present the hours worked so far. If he says no he is ah, not thinking clearly, as you could refer the documentation to (probably) the Department of Labor. The unemployment office might care too, as they are paying benefits to all his employees.

  46. mockingbird2081*

    RE5: I call it my Smile File, sure, I may use it one day to get inspiration for writing my resume or asking for extra compensation, but mostly I just use it on those days in which, as a manager, I feel like I am failing terribly or it is just a rough week. Its impossible to read through the smile file and not feel like “hey, I’m not actually terrible at this job and there are many who think I am doing great” and those files give me the strength to pick myself up by the boot straps and move forward.

  47. Vox Experientia*

    re: 4. My team lead ignores my work schedule
    I would be cautious about pushing back on this. your boss allowing you to start work early is a nice perk. I would worry if I pushed back on meetings with the team conforming to my special schedule during the pandemic that my boss would simply tell me to adjust my hours to match the rest of the team. I know as a manager if there is any difficulty in coordinating meeting schedules, if an adjustment is required and there is any difficulty at all, that’s probably the first thing i’d think of.

    1. WellRed*

      She says in the comments that her schedule is not out of line with the rest of the company.

    2. Hrodvitnir*

      I do not understand why people are so quick to suggest you should acquiese without a discussion.

      Even if it were true that these meetings were with OP’s direct boss, and their hours are a special perk (neither of which are the case, from the letter), there’s still no reason in a respectful relationship you couldn’t enquire about either reducing the late meetings or if there’s a genuine need for a later running workday.

      Perks are meant to be perks! The idea that because you’re lower in the heirarchy you should just change your routine without even checking in as to whether your boss really wants is it bizarre to me. (There are cases where I’d agree, but even misinterpreting OP’s letter if you keep the gist it doesn’t track that way.)

  48. Ann O'Nemity*

    #2 I’ve sat in on several interviews in the past couple months. In general, applicants are dressing more casually in the pandemic video interviews. I’m seeing t-shirts, which never happened when we did in-person interviews. The people who still dress up are standing out, in a good way. It looks like they care, they want the job, they’re putting in extra effort. It’s not enough to change my mind about an applicant who is otherwise qualified or unqualified, but it could tip the scales between two applicants who were similarly qualified.

    1. leapingLemur*

      I wonder how many people have interviews that are dry-clean only and can’t dress up much. I’m picturing someone who has work clothes and casual clothes who can’t get clothes dry cleaned right now.

  49. drpuma*

    OP4, I wonder if there is a way to lean on the “normalcy” aspect when you bring this up with your team lead? “These times are so weird, it’s really helped me that work still feels normal even though we’re working from home.” And then reiterate that you need to end the call in 15 minutes, ask to move the meeting, make sure they know you’ll start first thing in your morning so the work will be ready when they log on (a great suggestion from Kiitemso above), etc

    1. Fulana del Tal*

      These aren’t meeting just between the team lead and the OP but also with external organizations. It just may not be possible to accommodate the OP preferred schedule at this time.

  50. blackcatlady*

    LW#1: There is NOTHING more annoying than to sit in a meeting and have someone present a group project like they did all the work. It builds up resentment in your team that could erupt. Overall it’s very bad for team morale down the road. When I present I make sure I give credit, even if the work was done by a summer student. I’ve been on the other end of this situation where someone gave a seminar and presented all of my work like it was all their effort. I’m still steamed.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Agreed! I absolutely guarantee her coworkers notice what she is doing and it doesn’t sit well with them.

  51. Employment Lawyer*

    3. We’ve been laid off but our boss still asks us to work
    This is a legal/practical distinction.

    Legally, this is Not OK. You need to get paid. You’re due pay for all past work, at your most recent rate of pay. And your boss would be liable if they don’t pay you. You can demand pay now and you can refuse to do more work without payment.

    Practically, you may or may not want to raise the issue. If it’s clear that you are being asked/told to do specific work for the company, which matches your old job(s), that’s a risk you may rationally choose. It’s likely that you can always sue them later if they don’t pay. But if you’re reasonably confident you’ll get paid down the road and if you’re not otherwise doing much with your time then you may want to take the work and trust things will work out. You could consider factors like how the company is doing; whether the company has money to pay you now and/or in the future; etc.

    Again, just to clarify: This is illegal! But you can choose whether or not to raise a fuss NOW, versus “later” or “not at all, since I got paid eventually.” Sometimes fully exercising rights can result in a bit of self-immolation: You don’t want to be mistreated but you would also, presumably, like to have a job in the near future. It’s entirely up to you which path you take; you know the details better than we do.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Suing them later is only effective if they stay in business and have money to pay with. For that reason I would suggest bringing the issue up sooner than later. Many small businesses have already folded because of the crisis, and it’s possible that this business is next in line.

      1. Employment Lawyer*

        Yup, that is a risk for sure! I’ve won employment wage claims, only to have the owner declare BK. And again, I would never ADVISE not getting paid. It’s illegal. But I do try to give my clients the best information possible.

        Let’s say a client told me “Well, sure… usually I get paid $40/hour for this work. But then again I’m also usually stuck in a desk chair getting yelled at and working on projects to a stressful deadline. Right now I’m not doing much other than binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating Doritos, and this isn’t a real deadline-killer, and I don’t have much to do anyway. So maybe I’ll just try to put in 15-20 hours over the next week and hope it works out in the end. Best case they pay me retroactively, worst case I sue and don’t get any money, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

        I would not call that client insane. I would not insist that the client demand the $800 or refuse to help. I wouldn’t ADVISE doing free work but it can be a rational choice for some clients.

    2. OldMillenial*

      Thanks for the reply!

      I know our company is very small (under 20 full time staff at 100% capacity) and they just don’t have the money through revenue to pay right now (there’s no advertising happening) I’ve been doing some bare bones work when my boss requests, but trying not to do much more. Mostly out of the concern that if we are all working while laid off, maybe we won’t be “hired” back as quickly because why not wait to save a little more money up…

      Its a odd time and I know everyone is doing there best in a unprecedented situation

  52. Koala dreams*

    #4 It sounds like a difficult situation, being caught between contradictory expectations from different levels of management. You team lead wants you to work overtime several days a week, your company wants you to not work any overtime at all. Your team lead schedules over your other meetings, and naturally you don’t want to disappoint the other people by cancelling last minute. And what’s up with those last minute meetings with outside people? It sounds super stressful for all participants. Reminds me a bit of school, where the teachers thought their subjects were the top priority and didn’t accept that students had other classes too.

    My suggestion is to bring up these conflicting expectations directly with your team lead or your manager (whichever is appropriate). Either you can bring it up in the moment as Alison suggests, or you can bring it up later, as a problem you need help finding the solution for. “Recently you have scheduled X meetings for me after the end of my workday. Given that overtime work isn’t allowed, how do you want me to deal with these meetings?”
    “Because of last minute meeting requests from you, I’ve cancelled the last few meetings with the teacup division, and that is not good. Can you help me find a better way to deal with the meeting conflicts?”

  53. Ray Gillette*

    I’m a little baffled by the comments saying OP4 is being unreasonable for expecting her schedule to still be honored when there has been no company directive regarding changes to flex time and core hours. If the needs of the business have changed, somebody in a leadership position needs to make it official. Right now, in theory core hours and flex time are still in effect, but she’s expected to be available outside of core hours with no acknowledgement of the change. That’s not cool.

    I work 6-3 because that balances my needs with those of the clients I work with. If a coworker who does project-based work and can stick to a more “normal” schedule wants to meet at 3, I’ll make it work if it’s urgent, but if it’s not urgent I’ll tell them it doesn’t work for me and ask them to pick an earlier time.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yes if nothing’s been said about it, then that implies it’s a mistake or simply hasn’t been considered. Why would OP accommodate something when it might not even be necessary to? A simple misunderstanding about schedules, which is causing too much overtime, should be easy to clear up.

    2. Arctic*

      It’s particularly baffling because it seems her Team Lead is totally fine with her hours and doesn’t expect them to change. He seems to just be miscalculating how long a “quick” call will take. And isn’t hyper-aware of the time the way he is in the office.
      If this were a real problem for her co-workers I’d, personally, agree that it’s time to be more flexible when there aren’t the same traffic issues. But that isn’t in the case.

    3. Middle Manager*

      7:00-3:00 person here. Also agree. If have some notice, I’m happy to start late on a given day for a 4pm meeting. Also if it’s truly urgent, I’ll kick in two extra hours, not a problem (I’m salaried, obviously it could be a problem for someone hourly). But it’s not cool to ask everyday/super frequently without having an upfront conversation about needing to make a change to policy/schedule.

      Right now, our expectation is tons of overtime, but we’re starting to shift down a bit from the 80 hour weeks at the start of COVID. I appreciate your post OP, it’s a good reminder to me that I need to start working towards putting those limits in place.

      I agree with the advice to start sending calendar invites back with an alternate proposed time. I’d also have a 1-1 conversation with the lead to explain why you’re doing that, if you have a weekly 1-1 meeting, I’d probably use that time.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I’m not baffled, I just assume those commenters are working at companies with a different culture, where you work until the job is done and there aren’t any official rules about core hours and flex time. People answer according to their own experiences. *Shrug*

      It’s interesting to read the different viewpoints, but not very useful to the letter writer, who needs advice for their specific situation.

    5. KoiFeeder*

      I’m tired and cranky so I may not be great at communicating my point, but why is it that people are expected to be flexible when their boundaries are being trampled, and the person trampling the boundaries can be as inflexible as they like?

    6. Third or Nothing!*

      It is indeed strange. There are even commenters saying she’s being entitled! For wanting normalcy and boundaries!

  54. From The High Tower on Capitol Hill*

    To the “Atta Girl Folder” writer, it is just something that puts a smile on my face. For a long while, I worked in the office of a prominent state senator primarily doing constituent services (responding to letters and emails, and also casework). I would save emails where constituents said thank you, some documents from when I went above and beyond and was actually able to solve a problem, etc. It was just something I kept because when working in politics 90% of the calls and emails are not the nicest to say the least. On the days that I felt bogged down, I would open it up and read about how I helped someone complete an open records request that a state agency had forgotten about, helped a woman in a violent relationship get services in her area, worked with a municipality on legislation to increase fines for a repeat polluter. It just made me realize that the work I was doing was important and for every 100 “you’re a b**ch” calls I would get, there would be someone that actually needed my help.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Like a pat on the back… good job! Usually to males. Short for “That’s good, boy!” or “That’s great man!”

  55. DataQueen*

    I regularly forward the content of my kudos folder to my personal email (minus internal stuff on the chain – just to be careful, i just sent the kudo part) because in the offchance i get dramatically and unfairly canned, i want some sort of “references” from my current company that i can use.

    I doubt any interviewer would take that in lieu of a real reference. But let’s just say I get canned for whistle-blowing on an illegal elephant tusk dealing ring going on in the warehouse. Even if i’m pursuing legal action, and even if i explain the situation, they’re still going to need some sort of evidence that i was fairly competent in my last role. But i can say “hey, if you call them, they’re going to say some mean stuff, but here’s what they said about me prior to the tusk debacle.”

  56. George*

    Regarding #4, I’ve found that saying, “I have to log off promptly because I have a commitment I have to prepare for at 3” works pretty well. Now, obviously most of us aren’t going out to places right now, but there are lots of appointments one can have via phone/video still… and sometimes a reminder of that will help. “Oh, I set my schedule this way because I tutor the middle school knitting league at 3:30. I used to drive there, but now I have to get my video-knitting setup going promptly at 3 or I’ll be letting the kids down!”

    Regarding #5, I am trying to figure out how to use my favorite… I was involved in a project where a client liked a bit of work so much they said they planned on getting it (a chart) as a tattoo.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      A chart tattoo? That’s awesome! Maybe you could say something like, “The client liked my work so much, they wanted a permanent record of it?” Possibly work in the word ‘posterity’ in there somewhere.

  57. Beth*

    LW1: It is INCREDIBLY demoralizing and depressing when someone takes credit for your work, and nobody calls them on it. It’s enough to drive away your best performers, the moment they have somewhere else to go. DO NOT LET THIS GO ON.

  58. Beth*

    LW4: I have the same schedule, for the same reason, and you betcha, even under optimal conditions there’s an ongoing need to hold the boundaries. It’s the schedule that allows my work to get me at my best (especially pre-Covid, when my commute could pick up an extra hour if I didn’t hit the road on time).

    Sometimes it takes reminding, or negotiating, or holding firm. But when I say “I need to start that meeting by 2” or “I need to hit the road, can you email me with the details?”, the usual reaction is “Oh, right, sorry.”

    I will work past 3 when it’s necessary (or sometimes when I lose track of time), but that’s on me.

  59. Chalupa Batman*

    LW #5, I call this my “Yay Me” folder, and it’s come in handy in some kind of surprising ways. I was asked to put together a dossier for an award nomination, and it helped me to easily show examples of times I went above and beyond from multiple angles-boss, coworkers, community, and clients. They’ve also been useful in sharing the outcomes of my work; for example, I had a member of a panel I hosted share how much she valued the experience and how she planned to use it within her organization, which I shared with my boss to highlight how our community relationships helped the people we serve. And sometimes I just look at it when I’m feeling jaded or I’ve made a mistake and feel like I’m not cut out for this work, to remind me that there are good days and bad days, but what I do matters and I’m good at it.

  60. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    LW#4, fellow 9-3 core hours employee here! I couldn’t get a good read if the meetings you are talking about are just between you and your team lead, or if your team lead schedules your team meetings with the other teams after 2pm. If it is between you and your team lead, I would attempt to set up a regular status meeting at a time convenient for the two of you (I know you said in the comments that team lead isn’t strong in checking on calendars so I would recommend you take the lead here). If it is for you to interface with other teams, (I’m basing this idea off of my workplace culture, it may not be how yours operates), look at everyone’s calendars and recommend a time that works for most (if not all) other participants, with a statement along the lines of “2:30pm does not work for me, would everyone be ok if we moved the meeting to 12:30?” I would also put blocks in your calendar so that people realize that just because you have white space after 3:00 does not mean that you are free for a meeting.

    I don’t know the personality of your team lead, and what you have told them, but I think you need to make it very clear that you are sticking to your regular hours, as many of us 9-3-ers have changed our hours based on what we need to do at home. That’s why I asked my teammates and the people we interface the most with to tell me what their normal working hours are right now so we can make sure that someone doesn’t get the short end of the stick.

    I see that a lot of the commenters are saying that you should be more flexible because of the fact that others are working different hours. While I agree you should be flexible, I see this as no different than being in the office, if you need someone who normally leaves at 3pm to stay later, you tell them a day (or more if you can) prior so they can make the arrangements to meet your request (at least I hope others are doing this!). You said in your comments that you are willing to be flexible should someone tell you ahead of time, and I think that is something people need to think about universally. Unless it’s a pressing issue, as there are a lot of people working different hours, please work with others to set up a mutually agreeable time for meetings. If you want people to respect your time, you need to respect the time of others (not directed at you LW4, just a unsolicited PSA to everyone out there).

    1. OP4*

      It’s a bit of both: my team lead will call me around 2:45 just to check in and he’ll also schedule meetings with external teams starting at 2 or later. For the external meetings, none of them are urgent; we’re working towards a project that will not be needed for at least another year, and I have plenty to keep me occupied without the meetings. I don’t think he checks anyone’s calendars, just schedules a meeting randomly and hopes for the best. I have very few meetings so it’s definitely frustrating that I need to stay late when we literally could’ve scheduled the meetings for any time earlier in the day. As team lead, he has more meetings but still only generally one or two a day.

  61. Leela*

    OP #4 – since we started WFH, we’ve somehow taken on “totally not mandatory!!” meetings that start 15 minutes after the end of our work day and go for an additional hour.

    EVERY single work day.

    And while it’s listed as “oh so totally not mandatory” that’s not some shield people can put up and expect that people will only come if they want to, there’s loads of pressure to not be the only one who’s not doing the team work thing. I hate it. I hate it so much. I need to process this pandemic and have that time back, not spend every day on an hour long meeting where no work gets done. But I’ve tried talking to everyone else about it and no one wants to push back so i’d be an army of one and I’d rather not if we have to move into layoffs. I hate it.

  62. Leela*

    OP #5 – I’d use that for talks about promotions/salary/anything relevant career move wise that you’re asking for, but as a hiring manager it would be both really odd and not helpful to me to receive that in an interview! I have no idea who these customers are, obviously you’re going to save the good ones in a folder and it’s not a complete snapshot for me of what customers/coworkers thought of you as a whole, merely what you wanted to show me that a few people have said.

    The only way that data would really be useful to me is if it was so comprehensive that I did have a snapshot, but I’d never spend the time in the middle of a hiring cycle to do that! We have *way* too many other priorities and hiring managers are usually people who have a very full plate of their real job, that they have to bounce off of to do a hiring cycle and they’re already overtaxed at that time.

  63. Cedrus Libani*

    About the kudos folder: I absolutely bust it out when it’s time for my review. I spend about 40% of my time on customer support, and it’s not something my boss has direct visibility on. (We have a support team, but if they can’t fix it they escalate to R&D…as a junior member of the R&D team, these often land on my desk.) If I can whip out an email from Lucinda in Support, saying “you saved the CamelCorp account, thank you”, then my claim that I was doing something useful with my time is a lot more credible.

  64. RoseDark*

    #5 Apropos of nothing, my best friend and I often find ourselves cheering each other on with phrases like “attagirl” and she’s landed on several ways to respect my genderfluid identity while staying true to the phrasing. My personal favorites are “attababe” and “attayou”.

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