open thread – May 15-16, 2020

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

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

{ 1,142 comments… read them below }

  1. JKJK*

    I’ve been on here to express frustration dealing with a more junior employee before, and gotten some good advice as to how to communicate with them. I’m in a position now where I really dont know what the best course of action is.

    One of the people on my team is another animator who, frankly, I have had a lot of trouble with since she started. When a process can be recorded in detailed instructions and always done the same way, she does fine. But our job requires a lot of problem solving, and when she needs to make decisions without explicit instructions, her choices can make me really question her critical thinking and judgment, hence yesterday…

    The problem was this (its an essentially visual problem, so a little tricky to explain over text, or maybe its not and Im still doubting my sanity so much that I’m overdoing it)


    She was telling ME this because I had already made an animation with a ball rolling counterclockwise… but in mine the ball was traveling the other way (to the right, as above) and so was rotating correctly. She wanted to check in with me before she made her change so I had a chance to correct my animation to match.

    I was so baffled that she was having trouble with this concept that I started to question my own sanity, and went to both my roommates and drew them the same thing I drew here, and and asked them to draw an arrow showing the direction the ball would turn if sticking to and rolling along the surface.

    This is not the first time I’ve had this kind of exchange with her, and I genuinely don’t know what to do here….

    1. JKJK*

      Ok second try, my attempt at ASCII art seemed to format out all of the info in my post…

      I’ve been on here to express frustration dealing with a more junior employee before, and gotten some good advice as to how to communicate with them. I’m in a position now where I really dont know what the best course of action is.

      One of the people on my team is another animator who, frankly, I have had a lot of trouble with since she started. When a process can be recorded in detailed instructions and always done the same way, she does fine. But our job requires a lot of problem solving, and when she needs to make decisions without explicit instructions, her choices can make me really question her critical thinking and judgment, hence yesterday…

      The problem was this (its an essentially visual problem, so a little tricky to explain over text, or maybe its not and Im still doubting my sanity so much that I’m overdoing it)

      She had to make an animation of a sticky ball rolling along the ceiling from right to left, but the ball in her animation was turning counterclockwise instead of clockwise. So the ball was moving to the left, but rotating the wrong way, as though it were trying to roll to the right but being pulled backwards against friction.

      When my Boss gave her the feedback “the ball is rolling in the wrong direction” she asked for clarification. After some back and forth, she corrected it, but still didn’t seem to understand WHY the ball needed to roll clockwise. I found out about this because she was trying to explain to me over Zoom that “even though it didn’t seem right, the ball needs to roll clockwise.”

      She was telling ME this because I had already made an animation with a ball rolling counterclockwise… but in mine the ball was traveling the other way (to the right) and so was rotating correctly. She wanted to check in with me before she made her change so I had a chance to correct my animation to match.

      I was so baffled that she was having trouble with this concept that I started to question my own sanity, and went to both my roommates and drew them the same thing I drew here, and and asked them to draw an arrow showing the direction the ball would turn if sticking to and rolling along the surface.

      This is not the first time I’ve had this kind of exchange with her, and I genuinely don’t know what to do here….

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I’d just reply that your ball is rolling correctly. And I’d let the boss know what she asked you bit in a “I’m checking in with you in case she saw something I dont see” way.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It sounds like she’s having a hard time visualizing specific physical movement? I know that sounds weird, but it sounds like she’s imagining clockwise motion by thinking of the top of a clock and its hands’ movement to the right. But she’s not visualizing how it moves when the hands are traveling between 6-12, so she’s getting stuck on what constitutes left-ward movement. This doesn’t sound like a common sense problem, to me, but rather, a spatial and movement recognition block.

        I know this sounds silly and please shoot me down if it would be inappropriate, but would it make sense to sit down with her to talk about different kinds of common motion with a visual reference? Or about ways she can double-check her work against a visual reference?

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I don’t know every animation program out there, but the ones I use would totally allow for throwing down a motion path as a reference image. It’s way easier to delete a reference when I’m done with it than it is to reanimate an entire thing because I messed up.

        2. JKJK*

          I do appreciate these comments, because I think its making me realize that my frustration is misplaced. The issue is not so much that she didnt get this specific concept, even when it feels obvious to me. There are a lot of other factors here, and I think I’m just fixating on this one, because its a concrete example. I should give her the benefit of the doubt that its not intuitive, and make sure she gets it, and then we can move on.

        3. CatMintCat*

          I saw this as a problem visualising the thing too, because that’s something I have problems with. My head nearly exploded reading the original post and trying to visualise the issue and I never really succeeded. 60 years experience on this planet tells me I shouldn’t even try because I’ll never get it, but hope springs eternal. But somebody working as an animator probably shouldn’t have this problem, or at least not to this degree.

          I do not work as an animator, or in any field requiring visualisation.

      3. Cormorannt*

        Oof, a lack of spatial reasoning ability seems like a problematic skills gap for an animator. I don’t know what you can do about it, unfortunately. If she doesn’t see it, I don’t have any ideas on how you can make her see it, it’s literally already illustrated with animation! Perhaps have her stick to the more detailed work as much as possible.

        1. JKJK*

          This I think is the thing I should have communicated better… I don’t feel I should need to explain visual thinking to someone else whose job is visual thinking. Maybe I’ve done a poor job of explaining it (and I do understand how it could be difficult over text), or it really is a difficult concept, but to me it feels and looks like basic spatial reasoning and physics. Again, not to go into too much detail, but these animations are technical and nature and require detailed understanding of the subject matter.

          But I am getting a better idea from these comments that maybe this isn’t as intuitive as I thought it was, and that I should just accept that I’m going to have to explain things like this to her repeatedly. Maybe I am the jerk!

          1. Sparrow*

            I don’t think it’s intuitive for a lot of people, but I do understand why you’d feel it’s something that those in your field should be able to grasp. If a lot of her questionable choices come back to the same root issues, are there courses or resources of some sort that might be able to help her strengthen her understanding in this area? If so and you’re her supervisor, you might consider raising this as something that could limit her ability to advance in her career and setting the expectation that she take advantage of resources that could help her improve.

          2. Yorick*

            I guess it depends on whether she usually struggles with this kind of spatial reasoning, or if she’s having one clueless moment. Did anybody actually say something like “it looks like the ball’s trying to roll to the right but being pulled backwards against friction” to her, or did they just talk about the clockwise-counterclockwise direction being wrong? If they did and she still could never get it, that’s a bigger problem.

            1. Yorick*

              Sometimes you just have a brain fart. I was talking about how to overcome a data issue, and then I thought of a “solution” that pretty much completely ignored the issue and I got so excited, and the person I had just explained the issue to had to re-explain it to me. It was a real slap the forehead moment.

          3. Rachel in NYC*

            Different people can needs things explained differently to understand them. But she was animating a ball- if she grabbed a ball and rolled it, she could see how it moved (honestly, I’m almost asked you if she rolled a ball the direction she needed it go.)

            That said, I can barely do left and right so I just keep imagining a ball on the floor then transposing it to the ceiling and then wondered by the ball was on the ceiling (and got scared).

          4. Sciencer*

            For what it’s worth, I understood what you were trying to explain right away. I don’t think you’re crazy for thinking you should not have to explain this multiple times to someone in your field. And I’d have expected her to have an “oh duh” moment about it, not a “okay I guess I’ll fix it but why?”

            So it’s hard to say without seeing the animation, but is it possible in this specific instance that there’s an optical illusion thing happening? I work in a field that requires a lot of visual-spatial reasoning and understanding, and it’s true that some struggle with it more than others. But some visualizations “pop” one way for some people and the opposite way for others, and it takes significant effort to see it correctly if you happen to naturally see it the wrong way. With spinning balls in an animation, I can imagine this type of thing coming into play. Think about watching something that spins really fast – in some specific scenarios, it can appear to be spinning very slowly in the opposite direction. Maybe she’s just naturally tuned to seeing the ball spin in a way it’s not actually spinning due to some weird specifics about this particular animation.

            But. That’s pretty speculative and benefit-of-the-doubt. If this is just one example of an ongoing problem, it sounds like there’s something deeper at play – a gap in her skillset – that needs to be addressed by her manager.

          5. Not So NewReader*

            I am going to go from your specific situation to a generality: For me, when a work story contains the phrase, “I don’t feel I should have to explain”, are the times I have found myself in some the most head-banging problems at work.

            Try to forever let go of that phrase and concept. I am still working on this, it comes up less often now but when ever I catch myself thinking I should not have to explain, I know I have just fallen into a bottomless dark pit.

            There’s two parts to the problem here. Her lack of understanding and your frustration. If you can let go of the idea that you should not have to explain, then all you would have left is her lack of understanding.

            Believe me I KNOW this is hard. The easiest stuff to us can also be the hardest stuff for us to convey to someone who just doesn’t get it. We have never had to put it into words, it was intuitive to us, or we grasped it instantly, eh, maybe we aren’t even sure why we know this particular thing.

            But I can assure you that parallel examples happen in almost every arena. People hit brain voids. People get confused on a certain point whenever it comes up. (I can’t tell my right from my left. It hasn’t changed in all these years, I am not optimistic it will change now. Fortunately ?? I have a scar on my right hand. It’s a weird gesture, someone says an item is to my right and the first thing I do is look at my hands.) There are many reasons why we have to explain core stuff.

            And, check this out, you are RIGHT! We should not have to explain core concepts. But if we want the project or work to move forward, we can feel stuck and we have to explain this Basic Thing. (Wish I had a dime for every time….)

            Since this type of thing comes up every so often, I tried to think about tools I would use to keep my patience intact and develop an explanation for the question.
            –attitude of service. I am here to serve in whatever way I am needed.
            –next time could be me. I could hit that brain void and someone has to explain to me that 2 apples plus 2 apples equals 4 apples.
            –self-development. I think in pictures not words. Anytime I have to exercise my brain by putting things into words then I am probably developing myself in broader ways.
            –it might generate good will. Sometimes people realize I just counted up the apples for them and they indicate they are appreciate that I was patient.

            If she is otherwise good at her job, I’d be patient. If she has done this on many occasions, I would start to think about how to point her to resources so she can answer her own questions. I do believe in handing out fishing poles, not fish.

            I suspect that a good chunk of the reaction on your part has to deal with her assumption that YOUR work is incorrect.
            I assume you all can test things out to see if your own work is correct. You could let her change your work so she can see it was correct initially.
            If she has said this in the past then it appears that her go-to is that your work is wrong and hers is correct. You could ask her not to make those assumptions that your work is always wrong. Just say, “I don’t assume others are wrong, because I could be having an off day myself. However, you could ask me if I meant to do/write/draw something a certain way instead of just saying it’s wrong.”

            I may not fully understand the problem, but I might consider bringing in a ball with arrows drawn on it and rolling the ball around to show her. I don’t always do well with spacial stuff, so I could be off track here.

            Never forget the fatigue factor. Sometimes I have been able to say, “It’s late in the day. Why don’t we go home, get some rest and look at it in the morning.” This alone can work absolute miracles for ME as well as the other person. Once in a while the person comes in the next day to say, “Never mind. I was tired and not seeing X yesterday. Today, I get it, there’s X. Okay, we are all set here.”

            Punchline. I have never seen the phrase, “I don’t feel I should need to explain….” help me through any situation, ever. Matter of fact, it seems to make everything twice as hard. It is wise to check if one solution is to alert the boss that the person is really struggling with the job. Maybe that is the actual answer.

            1. BethDH*

              Most of this feels right on to me (and helps me personally, since a lot of what you said about OP controlling their own frustration really make me rethink some of my responses).
              That said, I don’t think bringing in a ball as an example is a good solution. First, I’m guessing this sort of thing is not part of a thing that should be taking enough time that OP would bring in a ball the next day — that sort of animating doesn’t take too long unless there are circumstances OP didn’t mention, and it would probably seem like OP was fixating inappropriately outside of work if they did. Think bringing in text samples the next day if someone was misusing semi-colons in a writing job.
              On a more practical note, I doubt it would actually help because I get the sense that the coworker is actually having a hard time precisely because she is visualizing movement of a ball on the floor and just transposing it to the ceiling. So on the floor, a ball rolling counterclockwise moves to the left. If it’s sticking to the ceiling, though, it’s reversed. So seeing a ball roll on the floor might just reinforce the same incorrect premise. Coworker needs to understand movement in terms of contact surfaces: the next part of the ball to touch the surface, whether ceiling or floor, is the one on the side of the ball that is facing the direction of movement. If the ball is moving left, the left side of the ball will touch the surface next, but on the floor this means it moves counterclockwise while on the ceiling it goes clockwise.

        2. Cj*

          Spatial problems are always the ones that give me most problems ontests. Therefore, I would never be an animator. I can’t imagine not being able to visualize this stuff and being an animator.

      4. Can't Think Backwards*

        I suspect she doesn’t understand because it’s rolling along the ceiling rather than the floor, so her intuition is backwards. I have trouble visualizing things that are reversed from the normal way I’m used to orienting them (e.g. figuring out which way is west when I’m facing south instead of north – west just always feels like it should be left to me). Maybe that’s a pattern in the mistakes she’s making?

        1. Clisby*

          Hah! I know what you mean. I always feel like I’m facing north, so obviously east is to my right. Too many years of school geography classes where north was always straight ahead. Fortunately, I have the compensatory skill of being able to visualize maps in my head, so I’m not totally lost.

      5. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I would be very confused by the boss’s feedback too. Granted, I’m not a designer, and I do better when I can see what the issue is, but if you told me, “The ball is rolling in the wrong direction,” I would have changed it to go across the ceiling from the left side to the right side and I wouldn’t have changed the rotation– because you’re referring to the rotation of the ball itself, not the direction in which the ball was rolling. It sounds like different communication styles. Design can be so specific, it sounds like that’s what she’s used to.

        When she said that it didn’t seem right that the ball needs to roll clockwise, did you explain to her why it does? She’s junior– she may need some walking through of the general concept beyond the specific instructions until she gets more comfortable with your team’s style.

      6. LemonLyman*

        This might be going a bit overboard, but could you record a real life demo for her? Building on what Princess said here, seeing what it looks like in actuality might help her visualize this and convince her you’re correct. For instance, if you took a tennis ball or something else round (even circle cut from a piece of paper) and tag it with something she can keep an eye on like a sketch of a clock. Then roll it slowly to show her how the clock is moving. You could even throw in a line of explanation that when you’re unsure, you like to test against reality to get the details correct. Even if that’s not true, it gives her a strategy so she can (hopefully) approach it more independently in the future.

        1. 'nother prof*

          Alternatively, suggest that she try rolling something in the relevant direction in her home and look at how it moves. Honestly, even if she’s junior, the use of reference material is such a basic tool for animators that I’d be questioning her here too. (That said, I agree with AvonLady Barksdale about the boss’ feedback, so if it’s possible that she got confused whether Boss was describing the overall direction of movement versus the direction of rotation, give her a break.)

          FWIW, I teach animation (analysis, not production).

        2. NotAPirate*

          Soup can, draw a line from the center to one edge on the circle part with a sharpie, roll it. Really easy visual reference for spin direction. Had some kids struggle with that in physics.

      7. Blue Socks*

        Do you supervise her in any way? Is making sure that she does her job correctly part of your job? If so, it would be very reasonable to loop your boss in here and say “I’m struggling to help Sasha address some skills gaps. Is there [insert what you think would help – extra training, etc] available?” If not, just tell her your ball is moving the correct way, leave it at that, and let the person who IS responsible for making sure she does her job correctly work on making sure she has the skills necessary to do her job.

      8. Kiki*

        I see how this would be a problematic point of misunderstanding for an animator, but it also seems like it could one of those things that could just be one personal brain block for her. Like, I am a pretty capable individual in most ways, but I still as an adult consistently need to pause before determining which is my right or left. Which I know is really weird and might give people the impression I am not bright, but it’s just a weird personal quirk I’ve always had.
        When you say you’ve had this kind of exchange with her before, how often do you mean and have they all been in the same vein? If they’re similar is there any sort of graphic or tutorial you could make her? If she seems to be struggling with basic components of the role generally, I think that’s something you should bring up in confidence to their manager and get their perspective on.

        1. CatMintCat*

          I had a childhood full of teachers saying “your right hand is the one you write with … not that one, you stupid girl!”. I still have to stop and think about which is which to this day.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sounds familiar. Back then we were stupid. Now we are ambidextrous. The people who said that, however, remain stupid. .. just my thought on that.

            1. CatMintCat*

              I like your thinking. Except I’m not ambidextrous. I remain very left handed.

      9. Hawkeye is in the details*

        Oh, I get your frustration, OP. In the course of a month, I had to explain to several people, all on the same team who have been doing their jobs for YEARS, why a 2-page PDF of a double-sided sign has arrows pointing in different directions, and how, once produced and put on the floor, those arrows will point people to the same place.

        It had never been an issue before. But the printer screwed up one sign one time, and once they all got overly cautious, they couldn’t remember how arrows worked and how people approaching from the front would turn right, and people approaching from the back would turn left to get to the same place.

        They had me doubting my sanity for a moment, and several of my co-workers too, and I ended up drawing arrows on Post-it’s and sticking them together to prove my point.

        1. memyselfandi*

          I just tried to visualize the balls rolling looking up at the ceiling and had them both rolling counter-clockwise. I had to take a round object (can of disinfecting wipes) and roll it along the underside of my desk to get it, and I had to really concentrate on the right to left motion to see that it was clockwise. My brain really wanted to see counterclockwise. Every brain is different! I really wonder if there is a dissertation in this somewhere.

      10. RagingADHD*

        You’re not insane. She’s not able to translate the instructions into images correctly, and she’s not able to visualize real-world actions in imaginary space.

        I don’t know that there is anything for you to do about it, other than choose her assignments accordingly.

        In this specific instance, you may have been able to get it across by having her highlight a quarter or a half of the leading edge of the ball in a different color, to show which section of the ball’s surface would contact the ceiling next.

        But if you’re expecting her to work independently, it could be an ongoing hassle to come up with these kind of remedial teaching tools. It comes down to what level she’s expected to work at, and if her skills are meeting your needs for the position.

      11. Flabbernabbit*

        The only thing I’d suggest is to set up your conversation so that she figures out the issue for herself. As in, “Sansa, roll an orange on the table. Okay, what direction the orange is rolling. Your left? Okay. Now, start over same direction. Look at the orange. Forget it is travelling. Is the orange turning clockwise or counterclockwise?” That way, you’re asking her to think it through first. Then next time she comes to you because someone tells her to fix something or she thinks you’re wrong, ask her to walk you through why, step by step.

        In my experience, it’s a lot of work at first, but when they realize that they need to do some leg work on their own, they figure it out before you see them. Or they own performance issues before you all their fixes. I’m not an animator, but I’m not a fan of my team asking for fixes, improvements or whole projects without providing any information on business value, impact analysis, or a business case for the big stuff.

    2. Yorick*

      Other people have given some explanations about why she may have been confused and good advice for how you could explain it to her. I just want to point out that you shouldn’t interpret her telling you this as her thinking you’re dumb or doing things wrong. When we don’t quite get something, we don’t realize it’s obvious to other people. Then when we finally get it, we realize how silly we were being at first.

      1. JKJK*

        I know she doesnt think I’m dumb or doing things wrong, she is a very kind and thoughtful person and I trust that everything she does is with the best intentions. I suppose I’m more concerned that even after corrected, she doesnt seem to understand the reason for the feedback she was given. She tried to correct my animation, that was already correct, because I feel she fundamentally misunderstood the feedback she was given.

        But point taken, maybe I need more compassion in this situation.

        1. bunniferous*

          I think the issue is the BOSS miscommunicated in this one example. If she misunderstood what he was saying of course she would think yours was wrong! Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know and in this case she doesn’t know that she is focusing wrong….

    3. NotAPirate*

      Are you her boss? Or do you share a boss? If you are at the point of wanting to PIP that’s a very different conversation than a friendly chat about better ways to use references for animation.

    4. Working Grandma*

      I have limited spatial reasoning ability,and this makes my brain hurt :-)

    5. Deanna Troi*

      If it makes you feel any better, I could visualize what the problem was from your first explanation. I don’t think that makes me smarter than anyone else – there are plenty of things I don’t understand. But it may be problematic for someone who doesn’t intuitively get this to do this particular kind of work.

      Another way to explain it might be that you have an animation of someone a dog walking along. The animation has the dog’s legs moving as though it is walking forward, but in fact the entire dog is moving backwards. This is awkward because most dogs have difficulty walking backwards comfortably for any distance.

    6. anon here*

      Hey, JKJK, I feel you here. Visualization of 3d stuff is super-easy to me; I’m a mathematician, and frankly I think my crafty family background helps too. (It’s funny: I find knitting lace patterns super-intuitive because they just “stack up”, and I thought I was a really great knitter as a result until I tried to knit a pair of socks with a pattern a friend picked out — it was a completely asymmetrical winding vine pattern that had no repeats at all, and I found it so frustrating that I actually quit halfway, because I was so used to just knowing what the next 120 rows ought to be without looking a the pattern, haha!)

      I would find your coworker really frustrating too. I just wouldn’t know how to explain this stuff that ought to be obvious, right, to a visual person, right? I don’t have good advice other than taking a lot of deep breaths and knowing that I’m sure you’re just as mystifying to someone else…. which I conclude from talking with my husband, whose mind is a complete mystery orthogonal to mine. I know he’s smart, but he truly, truly thinks really differently than me. He can replace the brakes on 1998 Volkswagen and rewire the door locks no problem, but things that are 100% obvious to me are 100% non-obvious to him. It’s weird. Good luck, that’s all I can say.

      1. AGD*

        I reacted this way too. Math and spatial visualization stuff is super easy for my brain, which is good because I do and teach heavily quantitative social science stuff. And I run into ideas from other fields that I just can’t wrap my mind around. This has come up in the context of my work maybe twice, but those were useful reminders of complementary strengths and interests.

  2. Furloughed in Troubled Times*

    For people who have been furloughed indefinitely without a return date, how long are you waiting to return to your current job before looking for a new one?

    I’ve been furloughed since the beginning of April, so a month and a half now. I have the savings to last six to eight months without income (probably longer now since I don’t have any ‘going out’ costs with staying at home and filing for unemployment). So I can last several more months. My job has been great about communicating with us so though I am of course still worried I’ll be laid off, I feel a bit better. I don’t know about launching myself into a job search because who would even be hiring right now with everything going on.

    How are other furloughed people handling this? Are you getting by in savings and unemployment that you can wait it out or have you dusted of your resume and started searching?

    1. Not a Girl Boss*

      Start looking now. Worst case, you can turn down offers that aren’t good enough. Best case, you get a job better than the one you once had.

      I imagine that as time goes on, and more and more companies realize they are not going to reopen, the competition will only get stiffer.

      1. Cj*

        The problem with that scenario is if you turn down a job offer of, you’re no longer eligible for unemployment.

        1. Darren*

          1. You only become ineligible if you turn down a comparable offer (i.e. there is a salary band it needs to be in relation to your previous work apparently it’s a state specific thing).
          2. Just don’t get offers. Ask the questions you need in the interview, and if it’s not the right fit or the range is too low opt out right there in the interview “I’m sorry after discussing this position in more detail I don’t feel this is the right fit for me.” Obviously you can’t count that interview to any job seeking requirements but those are in general waived at the moment anyway.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      100% start looking for another job. Job hunting always takes a good amount of time, and even more so right now. By the time you have a good offer for a job you really want, you probably will have more information about the status of your current job. And it never hurts to get ahead of things!

    3. B*

      Another vote for recommending kicking off the hunt. Even though my industry was hard hit, we have still had to proceed with hiring for a few essential (to our business) roles that were open prior to the shut down. I know many other companies are in the same boat, but these jobs are filling up fast.

    4. Emmie*

      I wonder if you’re concerned about leaving this job for another one. Do you like your current job?

      I would search now. You could wait, but that feels incredibly risky because returning to a pre-COVID economy soon feels out of reach.

      If you need any hope, companies, like mine, are growing and actively hiring right now.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I say go for it. As Not a Girl Boss says, you can always turn down bad offers.
      As to “who would be hiring”, well, business keeps going. Scroll back through Alison’s May & April posts. She’s shared success stories from people who have been hired and started new positions despite the current economy.
      Good luck!

    6. lost academic*

      If I were to be furloughed I’d be looking immediately. Quite frankly I’m already looking though haven’t actually sent any applications because I’m not in a position where being on call 24/7 without being paid will work for me.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I’d give it a month, which you have. Especially if your state started to reopen.
      Unless you’ve had some type of communication informing you of a potential return-to-work date, start looking ASAP. It will take a while and you don’t want to take just any old job but look for a good fit for you.

    8. Fikly*

      What’s the con of starting to look immediately?

      I mean, if the worst outcome is you don’t have a job, well, that’s the worst outcome if you don’t job search, too, right?

      If you don’t search, how will you know who is hiring?

      1. filosofickle*

        I’d imagine the con is going through a lot of effort and stress if you don’t need to. Job hunting sucks! But if income and steady employment matter — and they usually do — then yeah it’s good to find out what your options are.

    9. Artemesia*

      Assume a furlough is permanent and start looking now. There is no reason to assume things will go back to the way they were. This is true in most furlough situations unless an organization always has seasonal furloughs — and things we learned with seasonal furloughs are not relevant to this major disruption of the economy. You don’t have to take a job that doesn’t appear stable, but even if you took one and the furlough ended you COULD go back — if it doesn’t end then you are positioned to move on more quickly. And in any mass layoff the people who look and move first do best.

    10. Yorick*

      Start looking right away. As long as there’s a reasonable possibility of going back to your old job, you can always turn down a job that isn’t exciting.

    11. RemoteHealthWorker*

      I agree with others to look now. I was only partially furloughed and I started looking immediately. 6 weeks later I’m only just now getting my first phone interview.

    12. tink*

      We have a tentative return date but no guarantees our jobs will still be around, so I’m taking a week off (minus applying for unemployment) and will start doing a very focused hunt after that.

    13. Case of the Mondays*

      My advice would be different from the group if you have a very stable job that is only furloughing you because the business is shut down by the government – like a dental office. If you are a hygienist and all hygienists are temporarily out of work, I wouldn’t switch careers just yet. You will be needed in the future.

    14. Tiny Magnolia*

      I’d start looking now, just like the other commenters have said. Even if you accept a new position, if you’re called back to your old position, you have yet another decision to make.

      On unemployment, if you accept a new position, and discontinue unemployment, does the unemployment office let your former job know that you are no longer on it?

    15. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I got furloughed on April 9th and I started looking at the beginning of May, especially since my job hasn’t been great about communicating at all (except to mention in their last email that all the remote employees were coming back to the office and that was two weeks ago).

      No unemployment has come through (thanks, Florida DEO) and our savings is slowly depleting. I’m thankful for the schools giving out food for the kids on Fridays, but I doubt that’s lasting much longer with the school year ending in a couple weeks. Without unemployment, we can last maybe through July.

      Needless to say, I have not been handling things well at all considering anything I’m qualified for seems to come either with a massive paycut (and I was already paid below market value at my job) or a massive increase in terms of commute (from 90 minutes round trip at furloughed job versus upwards of 4 hours round trip)

      My mental state is, TBH, completely shot. I’m thankful I still have my medical insurance for my meds or I’d be in real trouble.

    16. AnalyticalAmy*

      I recommend finding openings on Indeed, but applying directly through a company’s website. This way you can be certain your formatting isn’t being changed and the company has all your contact information to reach out, this isn’t always the case on Indeed, and their recruiting services are…not great.

      I also find LinkedIn very useful and applying directly through there can help add to your candidacy if you have any degree of connection to the hiring manager. I used the free premium trial and was able to land a job before it expired (not a LinkedIn ad, I just benefitted from it-and my manager said seeing my premium badge helped her decision in initially moving me forward too)

    17. Bluebell*

      My husband just learned this week that his furlough will end at the end of May. He really likes his job, so he didn’t start looking when he was furloughed at end of March. If he hadn’t liked his job so much, I would have supported his decision to start a search.

    18. rear mech*

      UGH. I am furloughed from a job I was about to give notice to :( The new job offer is still there, but it’s from a business that was supposed to open a new location in April..the opening has been pushed back to September due to the industry depending on travel. I haven’t been applying to other jobs because I have two birds in the hand so to speak. The birds are looking a little bit sickly though. Both jobs involve interacting with travelers. Current job is outdoors so there is considerably less risk of infection. However, it is crappier in every other regard, a major one being part time vs. full time. But what if the new full time job gets changed to part time due to decreased demand? Even if it doesn’t, how do I weigh $, benefits, bathroom access, etc against a real increased risk of getting (and spreading) covid? HALP

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        I think you need to break this out next week into it’s own section, as people will probably have answers for you.

      2. BethDH*

        I would make one factor what impression you get from company 2. Do they seem like they’re making the best possible effort to support their employees NOW? What kinds of messages do they convey about the reopening? I know you said you’re going to a new location, but if you can find out what they’ve done about their other locations’ staff that’s important.
        Also, consider how/if the added money could make a difference to your overall health and safety. Would it make it possible to take other precautions around commuting, necessary errands, etc.? Would it mean you got better health insurance for non-Covid illnesses?

    19. First Time Caller*

      Agreed with other commenters that it’s not a bad idea to get started. If nothing else it could be a welcome distraction, and I think of any job searching/applying as practice. Even if you are able to go back to your current position, soon, should you want to look elsewhere down the road, that practice could come in handy!

    20. Flyleaf*

      15 minutes. Add 30 minutes if you want to have lunch before you start. So, no more than 45 minutes max.

  3. Jedi Squirrel*

    I’m trying to find a new job. Craigslist absolutely sucks for job searching.

    What are some job boards where you’ve seen decent help wanted ads? Industry-specific is fine, as I’m looking to make a change.

    1. Not a Girl Boss*

      I’ve found Glassdoor has plenty of jobs at all levels (eg plenty of manual labor jobs like assembly and warehouse).

    2. Rose Tyler*

      LinkedIn or Indeed. In my industry anything on Craigslist is direct sales or sketchy.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes! seems to have a wider variety.
        Yeah, I would carefully vet any job via Craig’s list.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Indeed is the best. Found my last 2 jobs.

        If there is a specific company that you are looking at or would like to work at try their website.

      2. Amy Sly*

        I like Ziprecruiter, if for no other reason than they tell you when someone has looked at your application. It’s a nice little ego boost that says “Yes! This application didn’t just disappear into the ether!”

        I got my current job with the LinkedIn job board three months ago, so just before everything shut down here. (In fact, one of my questions to my interviewers was “Do you expect the factory shutdowns in China due to the virus to impact your business?”)

    3. The Original K.*

      LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and industry-specific boards like the Public Relations Society’s job board for PR jobs, or Idealist for nonprofit jobs.

    4. Wordnerd*

      It’s maybe not the most stable industry at the moment, but higher ed has lots of non-academic jobs requiring different skillsets and are sometimes the main employer in lots of rural areas. Higheredjobs dot com.

    5. A Simple Narwhal*

      All of the suggestions everyone has made above are great, an old-fashioned “[title/industry] jobs in [your city]” google search can open up some things too.

      And I’ve always found that no matter where you find the job listed, you’re almost always better off applying for the job directly on the company’s website. Some companies are really good about managing their off-site listings, but not all of them are, and applying on the company website directly increases your chance of your application not going into a black hole. (Though most job applications are essentially throwing your resume in a black hole, but this hole is a little smaller.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        And I’ve always found that no matter where you find the job listed, you’re almost always better off applying for the job directly on the company’s website.

        This, for all the reasons you said. I never used to get responses to applications I sent through job boards directly, but once I went through the company’s website directly (after seeing a job posting on a board), I started getting contacted by HR for phone screens.

        Another reason to apply direct through the company’s website is because those job boards can have positions listed that are no longer open. You’ll be able to double check that before wasting your time writing cover letters and tweaking your resume for a job that may have already been filled.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          I’m right there with you! But I’ve never found blind listings to be worth my time so at least it lets you know to skip it.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve rarely seen anything that’s not a blind listing, it’s what makes job searches so sketchy feeling on the internet.

          I’ve never worked for an organization that does job applications via their website though, too small of a fish for that setup!

        3. Dancing Otter*

          Blind listings are not new. Back in the dark ages of newspaper want ads (yes, I’m old), probably the majority of ads just listed a box number at the newspaper, without even giving a location.
          Living in a large metropolitan area, it wouldn’t necessarily be worth relocation within the area, but commuting anywhere but downtown or to a nearby suburb wouldn’t really be workable, either. So how were you supposed to know if it was even worth the envelope and stamp to apply?
          Then, there’s the whole business of tailoring your cover letter to an unknown company, and frequently with only the vaguest of job descriptions. “Staff accountant for growing company” is so helpful!

    6. Raea*

      I’ve used Indeed for the last two major changes I’ve made. I’m not a huge fan of the site’s layout, but they have some quality listings and I know a lot of companies list with them exclusively.

      Also have had luck with LinkedIn, but it required sorting through a fair amount of junk.

      I’m also a fan of the whole choose a company, check their direct website for listings approach. But I tend to focus more on the employer than the position so this might not work for everyone.

      Best of luck in your hunt!

    7. Secret Squirrel*

      I’ve had good luck with Linkedin and Indeed
      for media jobs

    8. voluptuousfire*

      If you’re looking for startsup/tech, Built In is a good resource. They have different websites for different cities. Same for VentureFizz.

      SimplyHired is another. Craigslist sucks for anything other than selling your couch.

      1. Remedial Chaos Theory*

        Seconding Built In & VentureFizz.

        Another good one for startups specifically is AngelList.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, no, not Craigslist so much any more, except maybe for local gigs.
      Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, State Unemployment Office Board, FlexJobs, ZipRecruiter,, MediaBistro, USAJobs, We Work Remotely, Idealist, HigherEdJobs, Dice, Google for Jobs, Monster, SimplyHired

      LinkedIn actually has a special section called “Here’s who’s hiring right now” that is updated daily.
      Currently it includes: Instacart, Amazon, Albertsons, CVS, Walmart, Allied Universal, FEDEX and many more.
      Also find with a #hiringnow you can follow as companies post.

    10. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Reach out to your local public library. Many subscribe to databases that include jobs boards, as well as interview and resume advice.

    11. RemoteHealthWorker*

      Ive had good luck with LinkedIn. Just dont believe their “closed” status. Many times linked has said one of my saved jobs is closed, anf when i go directly to the company site its still available. There searches are very intuitive and pretty relevant.

      I was very dissappointed in Zip recruiter. The second I uploaded a resume I was spammed by recruiters for entry level call center jobs…Im a sr data scientist. The search function was weak and most postings were clearly recruiting agencies who were stealing company listings to repost.

      Indeed has gone down hill. I got my last two jobs from indeed but they now have outdated searches and lots of recruiting cross posts.

      Lastly I have had some luck watching specific company sites. YMMV depending in the companies and region.

    12. Nicki Name*

      If you’re looking for anything in software/IT, Dice is the place. I don’t dare even update my resume there with my latest job until I’m actively searching again, because it leads to calls or emails from recruiters I’ve worked with in the past, saying, “I noticed you updated your information, are you looking…?”

    13. Donkey Hotey*

      Adding recommendations for Indeed (first) and Glassdoor (second.)
      I don’t mean to sound crass, but Craigslist is where I go to get a laugh. (as in: really? You think $0.005 cents a word at a non-content farm writing gig is “competitive”?)

      1. Amy Sly*

        I can’t knock Craigslist too much … that’s how I got my first middle five figure job. I figured that a doc review company eight hours away from the city’s Craigslist site was probably going to be less picky than the local ones … and I was right!

          1. Amy Sly*

            I’ll fully agree that Craigslist resembles the Augean stables — you have to dig through tons of manure to find a cow. But there are a few cows to be found.

    14. Joielle*

      If you’re interested in working for your state or county, you can look on their employment sites – if you Google “[your state or county] jobs” you should be able to find it. There’s likely all kinds of stuff on there, since it includes all the different state agencies and levels of jobs. It’s kind of nice if you’re thinking about making a change, since you can peruse lots of listings and see if anything jumps out at you. I work for my state and I love it!

    15. AnalyticalAmy*

      I recommend finding openings on Indeed, but applying directly through a company’s website. This way you can be certain your formatting isn’t being changed and the company has all your contact information to reach out, this isn’t always the case on Indeed, and their recruiting services are…not great.

      I also find LinkedIn very useful and applying directly through there can help add to your candidacy if you have any degree of connection to the hiring manager. I used the free premium trial and was able to land a job before it expired (not a LinkedIn ad, I just benefitted from it-and my manager said seeing my premium badge helped her decision in initially moving me forward too)

      1. lazy intellectual*

        Also, for both Indeed and LI, you can change your settings to “willing to be contacted by recruiters”. Recruiters do notice this and contact you. However, in my experience, none of the recruiters were very helpful.

    16. Lalitah28*

      An HR post on LinkedIn had this post:
      Top 10 Sites for your career:
      1. Linkedin
      2. Indeed
      3. Naukri
      4. Monster
      5. JobBait
      6. Careercloud
      7. Dice
      8. CareerBuilder
      9. Jibberjobber
      10. Guide4info

      Top 10 Tech Skills in demand :
      1. Machine Learning
      2. Mobile Development
      3. SEO/SEM Marketing
      4. Data Visualization
      5. Data Engineering
      6. UI/UX Design
      7. Cyber-security
      8. Cloud Computing/AWS
      9. Blockchain
      10. IOT Top

      Top Sites for Free Online Education:

      1. Coursera
      2. edX
      3. Khan Academy
      4. Udemy
      5. iTunesU Free Courses
      6. MIT OpenCourseWare
      7. Stanford Online
      8. Codecademy
      9. Open Culture Online Courses

      Top 10 Sites to learn Excel for free:
      1. Microsoft Excel Help Center
      2. Excel Exposure
      3. Chandoo
      4. Excel Central
      5. Contextures
      6. Excel Hero b.
      7. Mr. Excel
      8. Improve Your Excel
      9. Excel Easy
      10. Excel Jet

      Top 10 Sites to review your resume for free:
      1. Zety Resume Builder
      2. Resumonk
      3. Resume dot com
      4. VisualCV
      5. Cvmaker
      6. ResumUP
      7. Resume Genius
      8. Resumebuilder
      9. Resume Baking
      10. Enhancy

      Top 5 Sites for Interview Preparation:
      1. Ambitionbox
      2. AceThelnterview
      3. Geeksforgeeks
      4. Leetcode
      5. Guide4info

      Hope this helps.

    17. lazy intellectual*

      Indeed is a good one. I recommend signing up for tailored e-mail blasts. GlobalJobs if you are open to some jobs that are international in scope. LinkedIn isn’t too bad either. Once you click through some jobs you are interested in, LI starts suggesting similar jobs.

    18. Jedi Squirrel*

      Oh, wow! So many great suggestions and ideas!

      Thanks, everybody! You’ve really cheered me up. I was having a really hard time figuring this out.

      It’s supposed to rain all day Sunday, so no outdoor activities for me. But that’s fine‒I’ll spend the day working through everything you’ve all mentioned.

      Live long and prosper!

    19. BeachMum*

      My company (and I do all of the hiring) uses Indeed. That said, if you sent the CFO or my husband (the company owner) a resume, they’d forward it to me and I’d keep it for the next time we were looking to hire someone.

      (My position is ‘wife’, but I also do most of the hiring since most of our employees are clerical and no one else feels like going through resumes. I also have a strong track record of finding good people.)

  4. Potatoes gonna potate*

    One of my reports from my last job sent me such a nice message on LinkedIn, so sweet!

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

    My company sent an email this week that said “Do you know that quarantine is also beneficial? Click here to know how!” You can imagine our reaction.

    1. Justme, the OG*

      Now I need to know how they think quarantine is beneficial. Other than stopping the spread of disease, that is.

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        I can think of a few ways it has been beneficial. I’ve put 125 miles on my car in 2 months when usually I would drive that much in 2 1/2 days. I am getting more sleep since I don’t have a long commute. I’ve reconnected by Zoom with old friends. My house is cleaner than its ever been with well organized closets. This doesn’t mean that I want to stay at home forever or that there aren’t negatives, but there are some positives.

        1. Artemesia*

          We are eating better since we have to actual plan meals. I usually would just wander up to the grocery store on foot at the last minute — now where we get Instacart every two weeks, everything is planned and thus meals are better.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, I haven’t used Instacart, but my weekly grocery trip is a lot more organized. I like grocery shopping, so in normal times, I’d be walking slowly through the produce section, evaluating what’s there, thinking about what I could make with it. Not now. It’s like a military assault – plan, get in, and get out. I notice that even though I’m spending more on groceries, our monthly expenditures are going down. Way fewer restaurant meals (and even if I get takeout, that means if we want beer/wine with dinner, we’re not paying the restaurant up-charge price, we’re just drinking what we bought at ordinary retail.)

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          So far this month I’ve run/walked 63.5 miles when my normal monthly mileage would be around 35-40 since I usually spend 2 days a week cross training. So that’s been pretty great. I do miss getting to go to the gym though.

        3. twig*

          I actually forgot that I have a new (to me) car. That’s when I knew I’d been in the house too long.

        4. Justme, the OG*

          The experiences of you and the other commenters are not like mine at all.

        5. Sparrow*

          I think focusing on the positives in your own life is a good thing to do, and I’ve tried to do the same. But your company presuming to know all the ways that quarantine (and the virus situation as a whole) is affecting you and telling you it’s a good thing is different.

          I’m just thinking of the letter from a few days ago when a colleague stopped communicating and it turned out his father was in the hospital and later died of covid. Can you imagine getting a “quarantine is good!” email from your company while that was going on?

          1. Lynn Whitehat*

            Yeah, it’s different for everyone. My husband and I are both still employed full-time, and we have to support our kids’ distance learning. I haven’t been this slammed since they were babies. I cannot relate at *all* to the stuff going around social media about “LOL so much time on my hands I’m going to re-create ‘George Washington Crossing the Delaware’ in Legos”. I would be really unhappy to get something from my employer that assumes we’re all on Easy Street now.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I walk so much more (vs not at all). I am putting almost no miles on my car (used to be really heavy traffic). I am eating better overall, although my baking picked up significantly. Chores are not as daunting because I can do small stuff like doing a load of laundry or dishes during lunch. I am spending WAY less money buying clothes, shoes, make-up.
        I mean, I would start driving in traffic again the second I was allowed to because I work so much better going to the office, but it haven’t been all gloom.
        Of course we both have our jobs still, so that helps.

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

        We thought that too! I feel the person who wrote this is scraping the barrel of ideas, and this was suuuuuper out of touch.

    2. hermit crab*

      I mean, sure, it’s beneficial – for slowing the spread of disease and keeping people alive! It’s not like we’re doing it for fun. Something about the framing of “also beneficial” just makes it even weirder!

    3. Nita*

      Maybe it was phishing? I mean, the “click here” kind of suggests that. I also really want to believe it was phishing, and not someone being so tone-deaf.

  6. AnotherAlison*

    My high schooler has finished 10th grade, and will be going to work with my husband and other son next week. Thank God. No more mom teaching chemistry, math, or for the love of all things holy Spanish. Or just generally asking 20 times a week if he turned in the stuff for the other 5 classes. WFH is going to be a lot better when I don’t have that going on and I can actually take a break during lunch.

    1. Merci Dee*

      My daughter finished up her work for 9th grade on Wednesday. She’s excited that all the work is done and turned in, and she can get in to “real” summer mode a week and a half early. Under normal circumstances, her last day of school would have been May 21.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’m afraid “real” summer will be disappointing here. Almost all rec activities have already cancelled and most pools aren’t opening.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          And this is also showing the great class divide. Kids that leave in big suburban houses with their own pools are going to have a much different summer than the city kids.

          1. pancakes*

            They always have. I’m not saying that should continue, just saying it’s not a new development.

          2. Mr. Shark*

            Yes, this. I’m not in a bad situation compared to many, that’s for sure. But I see some co-workers or others on FB jumping in their swimming pools or saunas, and enjoying their nice big houses. I see others with lots of family around that even though I’m sure it’s stressful to be quarantined with a bunch of people 24/7, you at least have people to talk to and hug.
            Me in my two bedroom apartment, no balcony, no family, no nothing, all alone, it’s miserable sometimes.
            As I said, I’m still lucky compared to many. I have my job, and I live in a nice area where I can walk to the beach. So I can’t complain too much.

        2. Merci Dee*

          My daughter’s idea of an ideal day during the summer is sleeping until whenever she feels like getting up. Eating whatever she’s in the mood for. Then jumping on one of her game systems to play matches against random users for a few hours. Texting her friends for a while. Working on a couple of art projects. Taking one or two walks during the day. Picking up sticks and limbs from the back yard. Taking a nap. Playing with the cat at random points throughout. And then figuring out what we’re going to do for dinner once I’ve gotten home from work, if we don’t have to make a quick trip to the store for groceries.

          She’s very much an introvert and most pleased with her own company.

          1. AA*

            Good on you for recognizing that and supporting her! I am exactly the same way, and spent my whole upbringing under my parents house being forced into activities that I disliked because they thought it was unhealthy / unnatural for me to be more inclined towards solo activities (keeping in mind I did indeed have an active social life). When I was very young it was helpful, but when I look back at ages 15-18…. so much of my time was wasted on things I hated, and by the time I was old enough to ‘do what I want’, it was too late, no such thing as free time.

            You’re a good parent : )

          2. New Senior Manager*

            She’s not alone. Introvert here who prefers her own company. People are great, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer them in small doses throughout the day.

            1. Cassidy*

              This is me exactly. I can readily socialize but prefer my own company, with other people in “small doses.”

              Also, what AA said about being a kid and being forced to socialize (not by my parents, who lovingly accepted and supported my introverted nature) by relatives who’d push me to play with neighborhood kids I didn’t know, when all I wanted was to hunt for rocks, wade and build small dams in the nearby creek, read, and otherwise not have to accommodate anyone else.

              I am terribly sorry for the circumstances, of course, and feel very lucky to be employed, but being at home has been wonderful.

              But I miss being able to see my parents and brother whenever I want to, and worry for those who are at the mercy of employees and relatives who frame the pandemic as a matter of individual choice and Constitutional freedoms. What those employees and relatives ought to be angry at is a federal government that doesn’t give three shirts about anything other than good p.r. and a top-shelf bottle of bleach.

    2. hamburke*

      2 weeks… I have 2 more weeks of keeping track of my 7th grader’s classwork! I’m not struggling to help him with the work (I taught 7th grade in another lifetime), just tracking him doing the work! Making lists and schedules isn’t working and I can’t spend all of my time sitting and refocusing him (husband and I already share an office)…Bless those teachers!

      I hired out the Spanish – DuoLingo – and if the school doesn’t like it, they can send him back to Spanish 1 next year!

  7. Secondhand genius*

    How are the social workers doing? Are you getting hazard pay, or working remotely, or dealing with secondary trauma, or getting excited about new resources? Are you OK? How’s it going, social workers?

    1. Donovanable*

      Am a social worker in a fairly cushy job (I do not work in hospice or long term care, for instance)
      No hazard pay for us–I don’t know any place that is, and I work in a hotspot.

      I haaaate doing my job from home (talking to people about their sexual trauma while sitting in my bedroom sure is SOMETHING), but it’s keeping me and my high-risk partner safe, and that’s worth everything else.

      I’m getting more sold on remote therapy, but I still would rather be face to face. Group therapy by phone/video is kind of a disaster in that it feels like doing 1:1 but with an audience.

      tl;dr: …meeeeeh….?

      1. Secondhand genius*

        “Group therapy by phone/video is kind of a disaster in that it feels like doing 1:1 but with an audience.”

        OOF. That sounds rough. Have they thought about making adaptations to group therapy now that it’s remote, or is it business as usual?

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Working remotely and struggling. Its so hard to do paperwork over the phone

      1. Secondhand genius*

        What are ways you are able to keep your paperwork confidential? I feel like my only option is to keep it on the kitchen table, which is not ideal for client privacy

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          I’ve got a lot of it on my locked down computer that nobody else is allowed to touch

    3. Anonymous because reasons*

      I’m finding it really tiring doing assessments over the phone. Not being able to see people’s body language to help with communication (especially when people have a communication disability) is hard. I’m not as productive as I was face to face.
      My employers are good though. And my line manager, although furloughed right now, has been fantastic.
      Thanks for asking. How are you doing?

      1. BethDH*

        I am not a social worker but I consult on things that people have a lot of feelings and self-bashing responses to and I’m really frustrated by not being able to see their body language AND use my own. I can’t imagine how much more frustrating it is in your context!

    4. Old dog*

      I’m a sw providing outpatient therapy. We went remote 3/16 and are using a video platform. Folks with more serious chronic illnesses seem to be doing ok due to the “time out” of staying at home and fewer external pressures. Those who typically work are stressed about the pandemic and the thought of either losing work or returning to an unsafe work environment. Lack of social interaction and activity is impacting people. I’m seeing lowered motivation and mild depressive symptoms.

      1. Maxie*

        I work for a homeless shelter. All case managers and shelter staff who do any onsite work get a weekly bonus. These onsite hours are minimal, t work is remote and staff get full pay regardless of hours worked.

      2. Atalanta0jess*

        hahaha, no.

        I work in community behavioral health, though am not a SW. We definitely are not getting hazard pay, the money just isn’t there. I saw recently that something like 6/10 behavioral health agencies are at risk of insolvency right now.

        1. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

          This has been keeping me up at night. My agency is really good at fundraising so we’re not at risk for layoffs and we’re getting a teeny tiny amount of hazard pay. But there are many agencies in my city that have shut down in-person services, even though about 75% of clients don’t have cell phones or internet. Even if they did provide phones, which they’re not, we have a lot of older folks who would struggle with the technology. It’s a huge fuck you to our clients, but also these agencies are dependent on monetary donations to stay afloat, and no one is going to donate to the agency that went fully remote when the soup kitchen in the next neighborhood is still serving meals (and rightfully so!) I’m worried when the dust settles, many social service and community mental health agencies will go under, and there will simultaneously be a greater need for our services due to the economy tanking. While I’m so thankful for both my job security and to be doing work that is impactful right now, I was overworked and underpaid BEFORE corona.

    5. Artemesia*

      I have a BIL who does social work in England — he is keeping in touch on line with some of the people he was assisting but he is not in contact now AND he is getting his full salary covered. The safety nets most developed countries take for granted seem impossible to Americans who have been taught they aren’t worth much at work and any hazards of the business cycle are to be borne by themselves.

      1. Cassidy*

        ‘The safety nets most developed countries take for granted seem impossible to Americans who have been taught they aren’t worth much at work and any hazards of the business cycle are to be borne by themselves”

        This x 1000

  8. Mission Driven Seeker*

    How does one find a good career counselor? I have skills and experience that I think there will be a new demand for, given the Covid-19 crisis, and would like to have help in figuring out how and where to market them.

    1. irene adler*

      One avenue would be to seek the advice of those already in the field. Look on-line for professional organizations in the industry you are interested in working in. Contact those that have chapters local to you. Ask them for referrals to someone(s) that knows the industry and can offer guidance/career advice/counseling, etc.

    2. Lyudie*

      I found a career coach a few years ago on LinkedIn, they have a thing where you can find a professional for various things and people will send you messages and you can figure out who is a good fit. I found someone local who helped me with my resume and talking through things, it was worth it I think.

    3. epi*

      I would check out your alma mater and alumni networks first. Some schools provide those types of services to grads. A good friend was able to use her undergrad alma mater’s premed counselor when she applied to medical school four or five years after graduation. In fact, I graduated in 2009 and all of my friends’ best career change experiences involved going back and getting advice from someone at their school.

      I know college career counselors sometimes get a bad reputation here, but the ones connected to a specific school, major, or career path can be quite good. And I’ve seen plenty of stories here of independent counselors who were no better– just self-certified life coaches preying in the unemployed. Someone connected to your school will also know which alumni actually want to be contacted for networking.

  9. Bazzoom*

    I am interested in freelancing in the future. I have been looking at Linked profiles of people with skills similar to mine who are a step or two above me in job title or who have launched a freelance consulting business. Would it be awkward for me to contact them to ask for an info interview? What would be the best approach to take? What questions would you ask? I am highly interested in what aspects of their skillset brings in the most business. Is that a fair question to ask?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think it’s fair to ask, I also wouldn’t be surprised if they got back to you and asked you to pay them for a consultation. I’ve had a handful of people approach me over the past year to ‘pick my brain’ and I’m happy to answer a couple questions in broad generalities. Once the questions veered towards more business/strategy I pushed back, said I’d be happy to go into more detail, gave them my business card and would close and ask for an appointment and write my rates on the card. That always separated the lookers from the buyers.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Lol likewise. I wish people would just say, “Hey, I think you’re pretty sharp and was wondering if you’d be willing to dole out some nuggets of wisdom for free.”

        2. filosofickle*

          “Pick your brain” is so predatory. Please, people, find another phrase!

    2. Betty (the other betty)*

      There might be groups in your area that meet to discuss their field and businesses. That would be a great place to start connecting with people. Once you’ve met someone, they’ll probably be much more receptive to meeting for coffee to answer some of your questions. Try Meetup .com.

      I’ve been running my own business for more than 10 years. I have a large community of colleagues in the same and related fields, most of whom I met through meetups and other groups.

  10. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I had another conversation with a recruiter a few weeks back and it seemed to go well. My application was sent out and he actually followed up with me and we had a good chat I think. And like I anticipated, he did ask a lot about college and what I did between graduation and starting my recent position (2011-2014). 

    This was a bit embarrassing but during the call, he asked if I have any experience with “floater businesses?” I….had no idea what that was. I said I could learn it. He paused and said OK and moved on. After a few seconds, I said “oh did you mean flow through entities? Yes, 85% of my work experience is in that! Im so sorry for misunderstanding!” We had a good laugh at that. Is it bad that I misunderstood and waited a minute to ask? If I hadn’t figured out, who knows. He would have thought that my entire resume history is a lie or something. Ugh. 

    Anyways….provided that misunderstanding doesn’t ruin my chances, it at what point should I mention I’m pregnant? or ask about benefits? If I get a job, I do plan to go back to work after the baby. No idea yet if it will be remote or whatever based on whats going on. 

    1. another Hero*

      I think there have been questions on here before about interviewing while pregnant. Alison recommended telling them once you get the offer – don’t want it to affect their decision, but of course you want to know what to expect before you commit. Link in reply.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        That makes sense, I’ve read those but I wasn’t sure if working with a recruiter vs directly with the company has different nuances.

    2. oh dear*

      I’m sure you’re fine — you figured out what he meant and corrected for it. People mishear things!

      Don’t mention you’re pregnant at all until you have a written offer in hand.

    3. SpamItSpamItGood*

      For a good job/boss, I think it’s a point in your favor that you were were able to think in parallel, admit fault and laugh about it. Versus the person who doesn’t correct it at all. Or someone who’s all “Oh, you used the wrong term. The correct term is Flow Through Entities.”

      1. Amy Sly*

        You demonstrated that you were able to figure out what he meant, as opposed to what he said, which is too rare of a skill. You then demonstrated the ability to ensure that he got the information he needed politely. And from the sound of it, you weren’t stumped by every question and had to constantly backtrack the conversation. I’d say you did absolutely fine.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Oh bless your heart!! I absolutely think the “floater/flow-through” thing is on him, not on you, and it’s great that you caught it. 95% chance that he’s more embarrassed about it than you are.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        One can hope…I had a recruiter argue with me about something job specific that they had completely wrong (like how to calculate mortgage rates when the job was in manufacturing finance). I told them that their question had zero relevance to the job position so why were they asking about that. They informed me that they knew more about the job than I did and they would report this to the hiring manager. Did I mention this was the internal recruiter for my current company? And that the job was for a position within my same team and related to cost of goods sold and inventory?
        I said ok I’ll go ahead and transfer you to him…he is my current boss. That particular recruiter was taken off our postings. He had apparently Googled a bunch of random finance terms to make sure candidates had the proper knowledge base but didn’t take into consideration that a) I was an internal applicant already on the team in question or b) what the job actually entailed and the terms he was using were more for commercial and personal finance (which is very different from cost accounting).

    5. Artemesia*

      My daughter got her last job while pregnant — and it has gone well (baby is 2 now and the job is WFH safe and also going well). Don’t mention it until you have an offer. The only time this is not appropriate is if they are hiring for a particular project where you wouldn’t be available at the critical time for the project. Otherwise, get the offer ask about maternity leave policies — then discuss your maternity leave issues.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        No…? I got laid off at the end of March due to COVID so been looking. I freelance on the side occasionally but that’s not steady work.

    6. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Good advice everyone, thank you. Just wasn’t sure if it’s different nuance with recruiters than applying directly with employers.

  11. ThinMint*

    To help me as a manager, I’d like to start asking my direct reports to submit weekly status updates via email. I don’t think that’s an unheard of thing to do, but I am worried about the timing of it. Our jobs are not currently in jeopardy. We are in higher ed and pretty insulated from the furloughs right now based on what part of higher ed that we are in. But I don’t want them to think these status updates are being used for any purpose related to evaluating staff for potential furloughs.

    I feel like it’s best to mention that directly but I know some of my staff will have never considered that until I say it and then won’t believe me.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I would actually appreciate it if my boss did this, but just on a weekly basis. Right now, no one is keeping tabs on my workload and it is out of control.
      If you frame the request as just wanting to know who has room for additional work, then it should be fine.

    2. JKJK*

      If anything about your working environment has changed (ie WFH, serving classes differently, etc) I think you can just be explicit about why you’re asking for this without even mentioning furlough. “To help me keep track of who is doing what and to foster good communication since we’ve gone remote/started x/whatever, I’d like to start getting weekly status updates from you all about what you’re working on. These will be used to help me make sure everything is moving along and to distribute work fairly” etc.

    3. Anonymous because reasons*

      Do you have a reason for asking then to do this at this stage of the lockdown, and not before?
      I think if there is a valid reason then fine, but bear in mind that if they’re producing good work already from home they may feel that it’s a bit ‘micromanagery’ to ask them now. It might also come across like you don’t trust them to work unsupervised.

      1. ThinMint*

        I do. It doesn’t actually have to do with any work from home change, just me finally settling on a system that I can easily digest and keep track of for reference later. There is also an employee on the team that is being required to do this as part of a PIP and that is what sparked the idea.

        1. Alice*

          I’m not saying not to do it — you’re the manager and it sounds like it will be a good process. But from the employee perspective, if it came across as “from now on we are going to treat everyone on the team like we treat the low performer” I wouldn’t be thrilled.
          If it was “this has worked so well with Tom that I want to implement it with everyone,” maybe I could get behind it. If it’s “This has allowed me to document Tom’s shortcomings in preparation for laying him off, so I want to track everyone else the same way,” I’d be react badly (internally).
          The more you can focus on, “these short weekly reports will make it easy for me to digest information, to refer back to past accomplishments, and to identify situations where I need to intervene to help you reprioritize work or rebalance assignments across the team,” the better.
          Also: decide if you want a summary of the week, a list of important accomplishments, or what.

        2. Melody Pond*

          I second @Alice’s thoughts about this.

          I have seen this in all of my previous workplaces. It seems like there is a tendency in management to solve problems with low performance by instituting an across-the-board process change that now applies to everyone (high and low performers alike), where everyone is now required to do more detailed documentation or has more bureaucratic hoops to jump through. And the goal of this appears to be avoiding the issues or challenges for the team or management, that the low performer caused.

          But – and I cannot emphasize this enough – if you have someone who’s truly ill-suited for the work, or whose core behaviors as a worker are mismatched to the requirements of the role, no amount of extra documentation or status updates is going to prevent those low-performance issues from occurring. These measures are no substitute for actively managing the worker and holding them accountable for their performance, including and up to letting them go, if they can’t meet your needs (which in fairness it does sound like you did this part, with a PIP?).

          I would also question the requirement for weekly status emails as a means of you getting what you need to manage the work your team is doing. Candidly, that sounds to me like you’re offloading basic managerial work onto your employees – unless the written status updates you are asking for are SUPER short, like short enough to fit in a single tweet. But assuming that’s not the case, why not institute regular one-on-ones either weekly or every two weeks, where your employee can just talk through these status updates, and you can take notes on what you think is essential?

          1. Melody Pond*

            I see now in a later post that you are already doing 1:1 and that you’ve said:

            I really don’t want those to turn into the kinds of list updates I am looking for in the weekly status report, which is why I want to do both.

            I guess I would ask – why not?

            It’s totally possible that I may be having a negative gut reaction to this because I’ve had it imposed on me badly in previous jobs, and I’ve always been a super detail-oriented, fairly high performer. And I just don’t want to spend my time writing out updates about what I’ve done to my manager – in part, because I’m so detail-oriented that it would become very easy for every one to turn into a novel and consume hours and hours (which then takes away from the work I signed on to do, which I do well). I do see that you’re trying to put thought into it, which seems good.

            But I still am curious why it wouldn’t work to carve out 15 minutes of these 1:1s for a more structured update section that mirrors what you’re looking for in these written updates.

            1. TechWorker*

              Possibly because they have a large team and adding on 15 minutes to everyone’s time is not useful? (It’ll take maybe that time for each person to ‘remember’ their list and write it down but def nowhere near that to read it…). Some managers have 10-15 reports so an extra 15min each is a significant time sink for purely factual info…

      2. Double A*

        I think it’s pretty easy to explain, considering going into lockdown and shifting to remote work was often done on the fly. “Now that we’ve settled into our remote work set up a bit more, I realize I’d like/need more information about X for Y purposes.”

        If you do any kind of all-staff meeting, I think that could be a good time to launch it, or maybe send out a note in advance of the meeting and ask people to bring their thoughts about it — Is there anything they’d like to add/revise about the format you’re proposing? Any concerns or information they would like to be able to share about on a regular basis?

        If people are given a chance to give input and know it’s an open dialogue they’re usually fine.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If I were one of your direct reports, I would be more interested in what you’re going to use the updates for and why you want them, rather than what you will not use them for. You say it will help you as a manager– can you articulate why? Even something as simple as, “With all of us working remotely, I don’t have the benefit of chatting with you about what you’re working on. I’d like to start getting weekly updates, just to keep me in the loop. Of course, I’m available at any time if you need help with something.” Then give them an example of what you want in an update. A bullet point? A quick summary? A list of tasks accomplished? (Sidenote: I would rather provide the first two of these.)

      1. Brownie*

        Oh man, please do not include that third. My bosses want a task list for everything we’ve worked on, not just finished, each week and it is a complete production killer. They say it’s for WFH auditing, so that if someone says we’re slacking because we’re at home they can show the task list of what was done every day on every project. Which… no. I’m overloaded and overworked as is, adding something where I have to spend time and resources tracking everything I do when I’m simultaneously juggling multiple tasks for many projects? It’s a productivity and morale killer.

    5. Sunshine on a rainy day*

      I wouldn’t mention that. Focus on why you do want these reports for (how they’ll help you to accomplish your goals, what the work benefit is) rather than on what they’re not for.

      And separately, make sure your employees are being reassured and kept in the loop on the status of their roles/your institution’s position on furloughs etc.

    6. A Simple Narwhal*

      My manager has us submit a quick update at the end of the week, but they specifically framed it not as a “tell me everything you did”, but a “let me know if there’s something I should know/wouldn’t know from your general work”. So I don’t tell them every little thing I did, but small things they might not know otherwise, like if there’s a delay on a project for an outside reason and that insight might be helpful if a higher asks about it, or a quick update on an ongoing task I’m working on, etc. I know they trust me to get their work done, they just want to know if there’s anything they should know.

    7. NW Mossy*

      If you get their buy-in on the problem you’re trying to solve, it’ll be a lot easier to bring them along for the solution. Also, the practice of crafting this message will force you to think carefully about what you want and why you want it. That authenticity will help you stand behind your request in a way that people believe, because it’s genuine.

      You don’t say exactly why you’re wanting status updates, so I’ll craft an example out of my own experience:

      “Hey team! With the slowdown in new sales, I know that many of you are taking up different efforts to help the business since you have some spare time. I’d like to be able to pull together a snapshot of what everyone’s working on and how things are progressing, since these projects don’t flow into our normal reporting. Having this info will help us toot our horn about our successes so far, as well as address any roadblocks you’re facing and make good choices about what projects to pick up after the current ones end.

      To that end, please send me a brief rundown of your active projects at the end of each week. No need to get deeply detailed since we can cover that in your 1:1 – just a few sentences on what it is, where you’re at, what your next step is, and any blockers you need help with.”

    8. OtterB*

      Agree with the others to say what you want it for. I have in the past done weekly updates using a template of what I did this week, what I expect to do next week, and any problems/issues/barriers. Not in great detail. It was actually interesting for me also, because I hadn’t realized how often things jumped around. “Last week I planned to do A, B, and C this week, but X and Y dropped on me unexpectedly. X is finished, Y is waiting for review, A and B are now planned for next week, and C turned out to overlap with OtherColleague’s project so she has taken it.” I also found it made me more productive because I was more focused. What was I doing? Oh yeah, these three things this week.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Supplying a template and an example of what you want with the announcement email would be extremely helpful, ThinMint.

    9. Lucette Kensack*

      First, you need to get very clear about why you want them to do this. Do you need more information in order to manage them well, help them prioritize their work, etc.? Are they not getting done what you want them to get done? Are you getting questions from others about what they are working on that you are not able to answer? Are you having trouble figuring out how you can be most helpful to them? Are you concerned that they aren’t working as much as they claim to be? Etc.

      Then, you need to think about what the best tactic is to meet the needs you identified. I’ll show my cards: I think it’s unlikely that an email status report is going to be the best tactic. Are you having one-on-one meetings with each of them on a regular basis? Can you integrate a status report into that conversation?

      Finally, if you decide that you really do need them to write status reports, explain why you need that information and how you’re going to use it.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      A weekly status report is totally normal. My manager always required this even when in the office as a lot of our sales team was remote anyway, and it’s due by EoB Thursdays because we have a team call Fridays. I write mine as more of a “to-do” list and cross off what’s done for the week. The sales people generally write theirs in terms of accounts called on, prospecting, client status, etc.
      Ideally, you should’ve started this when you went to WFH if you haven’t done them previously. But there is no reason you can’t institute it now as a way to help keep track of what everyone on the team is working on. In fact, you may find some of your employee already do something of the sort.
      It might also ally fears to keep the lists fairly high level like project status type lists as opposed to requesting anything more granular “time worked on” this or that type details.

    11. Madeleine Matilda*

      I’d also suggest regular one on ones so you can have a discussion about the work that is being done. I find that much more useful than just a status report. My team leads usually send a status report ahead of our one on ones which helps us have an agenda for the meeting.

      1. ThinMint*

        I have 1:1s with them weekly, but the format of those is far less structured and in a good way. We problem-solve current issues, discuss what is upcoming that directly impacts them etc. I really don’t want those to turn into the kinds of list updates I am looking for in the weekly status report, which is why I want to do both.

    12. Artemesia*

      In a shift to WFH it would be expected to have some new supervision strategies and I would frame it that way — you need to keep on top of everyone’s workload and are not in a position to do so informally at the office.

    13. T. Boone Pickens*

      If you decide to implement this for the love of everything holy please make sure the report takes less than 5-10 minutes to put together. Nothing is going to make a top performing employee go from zero to nuclear than having them spend an hour on Friday cranking out a status report that you might not look at. Do you currently do 1:1s with your team? If so, there’s the perfect time for status updates. Also, if you already do 1:1s I’m going to wonder why you need me to do an additional status report.

      1. TechWorker*

        The way it works at my company in general (eg I’m a manager but I inherited the system) is that the status email is sent on a Monday, prior to the in person check-in. It’s for both task updates (spent 3 days on this, half a day finishing off that, a day on new thing) and to raise anything that’s blocking or that they want to talk about. It means that for the actual 1-1 the factual stuff is out of the way & I can make sure I’m prepped for what they need from me. Seems to work well in general.

    14. NotAPirate*

      Instead of a weekly report email (one more thing to do, and writing those up is going to slow down actually doing work) , can you start using some tool like Kaban or Trello? That lets you track whose working on what and what pieces are held up by other things. It also lets you reprioritze things quickly as needs change. (You can see at a glance Milo has 13 active tabs and Jess has only 6 and add people to new stuff as they finish their tabs).

    15. Sheila E.*

      I have weekly 1:1s with my direct reports. When we were in the office, they were in person, but relatively short – could last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on workload and any departmental updates I need to share with them. I keep a notebook specifically for those meetings where I list projects and tasks that they discuss, which I review for the next meeting if there’s anything that needs to be followed-up on or updated.

      Now that we’re WFH, I still have weekly phone calls with a similar structure. I also have a group virtual meeting, more so as an opportunity for the team to chat and brainstorm and have some interaction with each other while we’re apart.

    16. International Klein Blue*

      I think this is a great idea. Yeah, I’d like to know that this is to help you better track status on your people’s work and not some dastardly scheme to decide who gets thrown off the sleigh. But if you told me this was just to help you manage in this new WFH world, I’d have no problem with it.

      In the past, I’ve had managers who wanted a weekly meeting to go over this stuff – frankly, I’d have preferred a weekly written status report (with an optional follow-up call or meeting to clear up concerns or details).

      One caution: I’d keep each of these reports private between myself and each employee. The last thing you want is for people to get all competitive over who submitted the ‘best’ report, or who got the ‘most’ work done.

    17. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

      Do you do one-on-ones? This is a great place to transition to status updates.

      1. ThinMint*

        I’ll be honest. I do have one on ones, I do take notes in them. But the notes are detailed. When I have to provide my stuff to my manager monthly and evaluate performance mid-year and at the end, I am drawn to these small updates that, if always in the same format and sent to OneNote as pages, I can click through at a much faster rate.
        I think it would help my employees as well because the littler random things you do through the weeks can often get missed, but it would help them (and me) to know that even though 1 report may not take too much time, I see that she wrote 32 reports this term for different customer requests. That kind of stuff… and it’s not stuff we would touch on in one on ones because she doesn’t need my assistance and it’s a routine part of her job.

    18. HR Exec Popping In*

      I would ask you to think about what you are trying to accomplish. Is it to understand how they are spending their time? What their workload is? What they are accomplishing (or not)? I find that conversation works more effectively. That way you can discuss the work, ask questions and generally engage.

      FWIW, years ago I had a manager that did this and I hated it. Creating and submitting a weekly status report added about an additional 1-2 hours of work per week. And I don’t think he ever did anything with them other than file them away. No questions, no comments, no feedback. It felt like busy work.

    19. Jemima Bond*

      For what it’s worth the three people I manage do what the whole agency has been instructed to do if working from home, which is they drop me a quick email when they log in saying morning Jemima, today I plan to work on a new design for llama hair clips, and maybe start on alpaca hair ribbons if the colour charts come in today. I reply hello sounds good I’ll chase that colour chart for you. Then when they are finishing for the day, they say ok I’m logging off now, IT was a bit glitchy but the hair clip files are in the accessories folder. And I say thanks have a nice evening.
      My boss calls me each morning to say hi etc.
      This is very much framed as being for the purpose of staff welfare; an opportunity to discuss any issues and check we are all ok, as much as to resolve work matters.
      Nobody thinks is micromanaging at all a and tbh if we only communicated with manager/staff once a week I think that would be strange and isolating, considering normally we are all in the same office.

    20. Dancing Otter*

      Consulting background, here. We always prepared a status update in advance of our weekly meeting with a client. Not extremely detailed, but it guided the discussion while providing a record to which the client could refer later or in discussions with their higher-ups. We also followed up with a confirmation of what was decided (if anything) and agreed-upon next steps.
      Each status report was fairly quick, as we simply took the previous week’s report and updated it. (And gave the file a new name, except when we forgot and much gnashing of teeth ensued.) The first one took longer, as we had to enter all the tasks and milestones, the distribution list if it went to multiple people, but we had a template.

  12. BadGuySally*

    I’m gonna sound like the bad guy, but I’m getting tired of kids busting into video conferences. At first it was cute and everyone waved and asked silly questions, but I think it encouraged kids to come in anytime they hear conference voices. I had a meeting about furloughs that was delayed 5 minutes because the director’s son had to say hi and show off his sunglasses while we were waiting to find out if we had jobs.
    I had another call regarding a serious issue and there was a 10 minute meltdown because manager’s son wanted to say hi.
    I know there isn’t anything that can be done, because everyone is in a tough spot with daycare and WFH. I’m just venting.

    1. Anonymous because reasons*

      I don’t mind it, but it’s incredibly rude that people don’t mute themselves while it’s happening!

    2. Not a Girl Boss*

      I think there’s a huge difference between “my child needs something for me” and “my child is interested on being on ‘TV'”. The second one I agree is not cute anymore.

      1. EddieSherbert*


        At this point, most of my coworkers will mute if their kids decides to “come hang out” with them on a call so the meeting can proceed, but that doesn’t work if it’s the person leading the meeting!

    3. another Hero*

      Is there also essential info? If not, pop in occasionally/skim/don’t pay it too much attention. If so, ask to take other stuff to a separate chat bc with more posts you worry about missing something important

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Someone internal was on a call this week with her kids yelling and carrying on among themselves. They’re kind of the worst ages–3-5, so I have sympathy, but also, I cannot hear and I hate needing to yell myself to be heard. It’s frustrating. Then one needed to go potty and she told her to go ahead and go, but he had to confirm that she would come wipe him. That softened up my frustration a little, because that is just life I don’t have to deal with anymore.

      I don’t think I could deal well with the cutesy things you’re talking about though. This isn’t a call with Grandma.

      1. pancakes*

        Whoever was running the meeting should’ve taken charge of asking the person to mute themself.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          It was a small working meeting and she was key to the discussion. Facepalm.

      2. BethDH*

        I certainly don’t encourage the cutesy stuff, but my 2.5 year old really doesn’t get the difference at this point between it being grandma on the video call and work people on the video call, partly because there are so many calls that aren’t at one end of the spectrum or the other — the adult friends, the work buddies when it’s a coffee chat and not a meeting, the seminars where I’m muted and just need to listen. We don’t have enough space or devices to say something like “when Dada is on a meeting on his computer you can’t go in”.
        I know you are being overall supportive and understanding of this situation, I’m just feeling particularly frustrated because the lines between work and home are so elided at this point that I feel like my toddler can’t even figure out what the expectations are.

    5. BB*

      Oh gosh. Ya the examples you gave are ones where there should have been more of an effort made to contain the situation. I have no issue with kids popping up in meetings, but if it’s a meeting to update people on their employment status – it needs to be handled with greater sensitivity.

      Our CEO has two young kiddos at home (SO still working outside the home) and it’s impossible for her to prevent them from walking in etc. so the more sensitive announcements have been made by another member of the senior management team that does not have that factor to contend with.

      Heck, when I was waiting for the meeting to start on the day I was finding out if I was furloughed or not – I wanted to scream at the hold music. I could barely think straight. I would not have responded well to having to sit with that feeling longer than necessary, and with a fake smile on my face, just because ‘omg think of the children’.

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        I agree with this. I don’t have kids but I do have two dogs, who, turns out, bark nonstop all day long? For sensitive meetings I’m careful to schedule them when the mailman isn’t due to arrive, put two layers of doors between us, give them their favorite bones, etc. I’m not saying its the same as kids, because its not. But I feel like furlough calls are a time where you make special arrangements.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          Ugh. Yeah. I have a coworker who has barky dogs, acknowledges she does, and yet also sucks at muting herself. We got to hear barking a few times yesterday, and a distinct “yeah baby, that’s OK” after one of the doctors on the call asked if we could go ahead with that decision. (Coworker was of course talking to one of her dogs unmuted; the doc handled it by basically not acknowledging the weirdness.)

          1. Not a Girl Boss*

            hahaha, love the yeah baby.

            I have never understood people who don’t default to mute at all times? I only unmute myself specifically when I have something to say, and its so much the same with everyone at my company that the conversation is someone stilted as we wait for people to unmute before every sentence.

            1. Windchime*

              I don’t know, but I was in a big Zoom meeting yesterday where someone was trying to do a demo and I finally had to hang up. One person had dialed in and then proceeded to noisily wash their pots and pans. The meeting host was somehow unable to universally mute everyone. He kept saying, “Even if you think you are muted, please check and make sure”. No go. The pot and pan washer kept merrily banging away while the presenter was gamely trying to carry on. I finally just hung up.

    6. Art3mis*

      I had a meeting a couple of weeks ago with an internal career coach, a program our HR is now offering, and the person’s kids were doing gymnastics and kept popping up to the camera every minute or so. It was very distracting.

    7. Fikly*

      It’s flipped at my company – for our meeting near Mother’s Day, we had some kids do planned cameos, and they were all “can we leave now?”

    8. R*

      You aren’t the bad guy. If I know I have to talk on a call, I need to park my kid with some cartoons and snacks. If I’m just listening and she is being annoying, I have to be on mute.

      The people that mute my husband when he is talking and I haven’t managed to wrangle the screaming child out the room yet? THEY are the bad guys. Like jeez, give us a (literal) minute before giving up and muting some one who is trying their best to do their job.

    9. Alice*

      There’s video conferences and then there’s serious issue, livelihoods at stake, let’s try extra hard to be professional and respectful video conferences. Sunglasses during a furlough discussion? I would be fuming.

    10. WellRed*

      I’ve been lucky this hasn’t been an issue for me, but I would also have zero qualms saying, “let’s reschedule this” when it comes to something like a 10 minute meltdown.

    11. CupcakeCounter*

      My son was threatened with the loss of anything and everything fun if he interrupted me during a meeting for anything other than serious injury or the house burning down.

      1. Anonymom*

        Yep. Exactly this. Being that I’m the ONLY Mom on most every call, inevitably I’m automatically blamed by someone for any “kid noises”. But guess what? Other than that first day? Its never been my kids. Not once. Because they like their electronics and playing sports if we get those back ever, and they’re old enough to understand that I need to work.

        I even got blamed for a very obviously a young baby squalling – and I do not have a baby in my house!!!!!! (Sorry. Sore point.)

        1. tangerineRose*

          Did you let them know the noises aren’t your kids? That type of thing might eventually shut this down.

      2. NGL*

        I know someone who phrases it as “the house burning down or arterial blood” – so not just a scraped knee, someone better be in danger of bleeding out if you’re going to interrupt!

        My kiddo is only 2 though, so he doesn’t get it yet (and luckily my spouse is able to keep him contained/entertained during important meetings. He is a really good excuse to get out of social calls though)

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Reading these are making me squirm as my “inner kid” comes out. My mother would have straight up made me think I was gonna die [and she spanked me only once that I can actually recall, so it wasn’t in that corporal punishment kind of way!]

        My most vivid memory is of her disciplining me at a garage sale. I threw a hissy, she snatched up the books we were going to buy, put them back and took my butt home. I still miss those books I never got. If it was the age of electronics, she wouldn’t have just taken them away, she would have given them away and things that were given away were not replaced because that would defeat giving them away.

        I wouldn’t even interrupt her phone calls with friends/family, that’s unacceptable.

    12. Guacamole Bob*

      I have twin 6 year olds and I’d consider that kind of interruption unacceptable from my kids. Yes, they occasionally walk into the room when I’m on a call and ask for something or need a minor injury dealt with or stuck legos pried apart or what have you. But it’s pretty possible to contain that to less than a minute and I mute. The kids don’t get to say hi to my colleagues.

      It’s harder with toddlers, I know, but kids should not be actually participating on work video calls (as opposed to occasionally being visible or audible), especially ones on serious topics. Popping in to a discussion with a friendly coworker or a friendly internal team call, maybe, but that’s pretty workplace and person dependent and should be rare, and only if the topic and level of formality allow.

    13. White Peonies*

      I feel like everyone is trying to get their kids to make an appearance now. At first it was one kid here or there half dressed, and messy haired appearances asking for a snack or asking what are you doing. Now we have kids full on with their hair done and dressed well appearing at 8 am on a Tuesday and not leaving sitting through the whole call. On Wednesday my boss had to ask one of my co-workers to sign off the call 20 minutes into our hour meeting, because her 3 kids under 5 were all sitting together in her chair un-muted while we tried to work on a financial plan.

      1. Jackers*

        This is going to sound really judgmental and horrible of me, but I get the sense there are some (SOME, not all and not even most) who want to show off how awesome they are at multitasking. I can do my highly demanding job and be super parent at the same time! I am on a conference calls with another woman frequently and her two young kids are always in the background and she doesn’t mute. The most recent was she was overseeing them play in the bathtub. And while they were screaming and splashing in the background and I couldn’t hear anyone over them, I couldn’t help but wonder WHY, of all times, she chose that time, 12 noon during a call that had been on our calendars for over a week, to let them play in the tub and make that much noise.

    14. lazy intellectual*

      Noooo that is terrible. The problem isn’t just kids interrupted a call for 10 minutes – they are doing it during very bad timing.

      I work in a fairly young company (20s and 30s), so people’s kids are basically babies. They will hang out on their laps (which I find cute), but it would be insensitive for this stuff to be happening during serious conversations!

      1. Cassidy*

        It’s the context in which that delay occurs that matters.

        I find it just plain weird for anyone to regard employees, who might be about to find out that they are losing their jobs, as being big crybabies who can’t manage a 5-minute delay consisting of a tone-deaf messenger who can’t resist showing off his or her kid FIRST.

        I mean – seriously? The employees are to be scorned?

    15. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      That sounds really annoying. I have three kids and many of my coworkers have kids, and that hasn’t been an issue in my office. People mute when they aren’t talking and no one is doing the “isn’t my kid cute” thing. I think we are all really stressed (pandemic has made our work much busier) so no one has time for that. It sounds really grating and my kids would know better than to interrupt me like that and ham for the camera.

    16. Cassidy*

      I have a colleague who shoves his kid down our throats to the extent that it seems he is obsessed, to her detriment.

      She is 7 or 8 years old and it’s obvious she is going to have a very tough time having a life of her own once she’s an adult.

  13. Anonymous because reasons*

    I’m in a work group chat where the group admin is basically Charles Boyle when it comes to sending Facebook memes and posts etc.
    Now others post family stuffon there, like their kids’ achievements, or even videos from their recitals :/

    I’m not even on Facebook, and I hate all that cutesy/inspirational stuff.

    Is there a polite way to get out of it? I actually think it’s useful for work related matters but it’s not often used for that, and it’s worse now we’re in lockdown! There are a lot of ‘chin up’ type posts.

    Yesterday I deleted 75 messages that had nothing to do with work. Today it was 54.

    1. Ali G*

      Is it a Slack or Zoom channel or similar? I think you can just “leave.” If it’s an email list you can send that crap to a separate folder and just empty it from time to time.

      1. Anonymous because reasons*

        Should have mentioned – it’s WhatsApp! I can just leave but the group is very occasionally useful. I guess I have to balance it with how much it’s annoying me right now or ever.

    2. another Hero*

      Is there also essential info? If not, pop in occasionally/skim/don’t pay it too much attention. If so, ask to take other stuff to a separate chat bc with more posts you worry about missing something important

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Can you ask that the chat be kept more work-focused? Say something about how you want to make sure you’re not missing out on anything work-related, but you’re getting overwhelmed with the constant updates (possibly even citing the 50+ daily non-work messages – that’s a lot!). Could you even suggest two groups – one for work and one for more personal topics? That way you can mute the personal one/not join but still get the work updates.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s what I’m thinking — frame it as a great new thing she can create. It’s something new! social! Everyone who wants to can sign up! Key being, people would opt into social vs work-only.
        But think first about the people in your company — would they get lazy and mis-categorize the posts? If yes, you risk work-critical things going on the social-only place… and things going to BOTH places.

    4. WellRed*

      Speak up! Suggest a separate thread or room or whatever for people to post that crap and leave the other one for work related communication.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      To save the other pop-culture illiterates (like myself) – Charles Boyle is an inept character on the US series police comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine.

    6. Anonymous because reasons*

      Thanks all! Yes, I was hoping to be able to extricate myself from it without using words…kind of slinking off unnoticed (although we are a small team so that wouldn’t happen!), but that is not really going to work, so – although I hate any kind of dissent – I will have to use my words and be an adult. Gah.

  14. freelance writing work*

    Looking to pick up a little freelance editing / writing work (e.g. editing journal articles for non-native English speakers, business writing work). I know, I know, this is terrible timing with the pandemic, but I’m a humanities phd student who, now as always, needs a little extra money.

    Any suggestions about how I’d get started in this? Asking here because I don’t actually know of anybody in my department who does this.

    1. Former editor*

      When I was in grad school, I edited journal articles for a company called American Journal Experts. It was ok – if I remember right you can set the number of papers you want to edit in a week, and you can update that at any time. The reason I stopped in the end was that I ended up spending far more time per paper than their estimate, so the hourly rate ended up being terrible. But I might just be abnormally slow. It’s worth a look at their website.

  15. cmcinnyc*

    I’m working on a side project with a lovely person who has poor administrative skills. That’s usually OK–my admin skills are top notch and I handle that area, while she focuses on her area of expertise. But now? Working remotely? She has to do a lot more technical/administrative stuff just to participate and it’s driving me slightly crazy. I’m really trying to stay in the head space that this is stressful and difficult for all of us, and some mistakes and kerfuffle are really not that big a deal. But I’ve been waiting for two hours for an answer to *a really important question that I must know the answer to STAT* and phew… breathing. This is making me think I should be polishing my weaker skills, too.

    1. Sunflower*

      What steps have you taken to get in touch with her? Are your expectations for responses aligned? I’ve noticed people have very different levels of comfort and expectations on response times (biggest example being ASAP is not a clear time table). I work across a lot of different groups- a majority of people I work with are working on ONE project at a given time so while something may be a priority for someone else, that doesn’t mean I can operate in the same way. It might just be a matter of aligning on communications and modes.

      1. A*

        Ya, I think this is really important. I juggle 4-5 projects at once, but have several colleagues that are sole focused on one. I have to continuously remind them that I cannot always make their urgency, my urgency. I will do what is best for the company based on prioritizing on a larger scale, and sorry-not-sorry but your project isn’t always at the top of that list.

        The rule of thumb in my industry is 24 hours for critical time sensitive questions etc. as we need to be sensitive to all time zones etc. And that was in the best of times, right now it’s just understood we are all doing our best and that just needs to be good enough for now (which it is / has been, delays are expected).

        At least in my work environment, expecting a two hour turn around right now would not be considered reasonable unless it was truly make/break it once-in-a-blue-moon kind of exception. But my employer has also made it clear that they do not expect 100% productivity, and it is not reasonable to expect people to be sitting at their computer all day in the midst of a pandemic, regardless of childcare needs or not etc.

        Heck, two hours could just be an extended lunch?

        1. cmcinnyc*

          This was supposed to get done yesterday by 5pm for a Saturday event, so the timing right now is not unreasonable at all. It’s overdue and we’re leaving people hanging who have to schedule for tomorrow. I just got the info half an hour ago and we have smoothed it out! But this is her main project and my side project. It’s really a mismatch in skill sets that doesn’t happen when we can meet in person because all she has to do then is show up and do her thing. But now she has to handle more admin (Zoom, emails, etc.) so she can “show up” virtually and it keeps falling down. Like I said, she’s great–but this new work format is exposing our mismatches in a frustrating way.

          1. A*

            Ah, gotcha – ya that is frustrating. I didn’t see the bit about it being overdue already, that’s obviously not acceptable!

    2. new kid*

      I think everyone understands that “out of office” still has the same implied meaning as it always did, even though most people are not “in office” at all right now. That said, if you want different language, I’ve also seen folks using “offline”, eg. “I am offline today (Friday 5/15) due to illness. Please reach out to Fergus for any urgent requests.” (or whatever is appropriate for your office norms – I added the ‘due to illness’ reasoning because giving at least some sort of vague reason is popular in my office, but may not be necessary in yours for example).

      1. Anon attorney*

        I set my OOO/voicemail to say “I am now away from my desk until x time “.

  16. lbf*

    what are you all putting in your “out of office” responses if you’re taking a personal/mental health day but still have access to your computer/email because you’re at home? am i over thinking this??? i usually say something like “i am out of the office today…” but… i am now at a loss and i feel silly! :P

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I’m “out of the office” at least a half day every week because of a maxed out PTO situation and all my actual spring plans canceled. Some days, I’m at my computer doing personal stuff and I don’t put on a responder. If I get an urgent email, I respond, even though I’m off (I’m salary, so not an issue). Other days, I’ve left to go to the park or grocery shop and I say I am “off work” in my auto response.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I just used my standard out of office message. It’s familiar, people understand what it means. No one had an issue with it.

    3. Anon Anon*

      You are overthinking. My out of office message is literally, thank you for your email I’m out of the office and I will reply to when I return on “x” date.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yep, this is mine, with an added “if you have an urgent need please contact COWORKER at EMAIL”

    4. Gatomon*

      I usually just tell my boss/team I’ll be around if needed and put up my standard out of office message. If I see something that warrants response, I will, otherwise, it waits. I don’t think you necessarily need to indicate your level of availability unless you’re at a management level.

      I feel mental health days are just as important as physical health days so I don’t like to distinguish between them at work.

    5. Not a Girl Boss*

      I just put “out of office today, for emergencies call my cell”
      People all know what that means.

    6. BugSwallowersAnonymous*

      I don’t think you need to worry too much about it- people get that you need time off (hopefully). One of my coworkers said something like “I will be away from my ‘virtual desk’ until X date”.

    7. new kid*

      I think everyone understands that “out of office” still has the same implied meaning as it always did, even though most people are not “in office” at all right now. That said, if you want different language, I’ve also seen folks using “offline”, eg. “I am offline today (Friday 5/15) due to illness. Please reach out to Fergus for any urgent requests.” (or whatever is appropriate for your office norms – I added the ‘due to illness’ reasoning because giving at least some sort of vague reason is popular in my office, but may not be necessary in yours for example).

      1. Bostonian*

        Exactly. Think of it this way: if you have colleagues who work remotely full time, they probably also say “out of office” when they’re not working. People will know what you mean even though it feels weird because it’s not literally correct.

      2. pancakes*

        That’s what I say, “I’ll be offline for a couple hours this afternoon” or whatnot. Sometimes “away from my desk.”

      3. Artemesia*

        The meaning of ‘Madam is not at home’ didn’t mean she was out of the house in the old days — maybe we should adopt that — or just recognize that ‘our of the office’ is today’s equivalent of being ‘not at home — to visitors.’

    8. Tibs*

      I am working from home for now too and still just use something like “I am out of the office until (date). I’ll get back to you as soon as possible upon my return.” I think in this day and age “out of the office” just means not working, not the literal office.

    9. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Yes, you are over thinking it. I would put the exact same thing that you normally do. If you do not feel comfortable saying “I will not have access to email during this time” you can put something like, “I will not be checking emails during this time”. However, I would have no problem saying “I will not have access”. Yes, it is not the exact truth but it is standard. In fact, there is no real need to put either. You can just put something like, “I am not in the office today. I will only be checking email on a limited basis.”

      In summary, I think you can just put what you normally put.

    10. Ama*

      I totally understand that struggle because I like to be very precise with my language as well, but I finally just went with “out of office and not able to respond to email until I return” because that’s something people understand.

      Although since our email system allows us to do internal and external messages in the internal message I will often specify “taking a day off” in the internal one so it is clear it isn’t serious.

    11. Ranon*

      I consider out of the office to be a state of mind as much as a physical location- really what it means is “don’t expect me to answer your email on these dates because I won’t” but “out of office” sounds nicer…

      1. hermit crab*

        I totally agree! I took the day off for my birthday last month and my auto reply said that I was “out of the (virtual) office.”

    12. I'm A Little Teapot*

      “I will be unavailable until x date” or similar. I’m off today, and actually forgot to put an OOO message up. Oh well, it’s just one day.

      And really, this goes for ALL types of electronic communication: just because you get a text, or a phone call, or an email, doesn’t mean you have to respond immediately.

    13. Recalcitrant Potato*

      I used “away from my desk” in the Before Times and it still works beautifully now.

    14. cat socks*

      This is what I put:

      I will be out of the office on Friday May 15th and will be returning on Monday May 18th. For any issues, please contact my manager, Joe Smith.

      1. cat socks*

        And we use Outlook so I may sure to mark my calendar so I show out of office. That shows up as a different color rather than just being booked for a meeting.

    15. Oxford Comma*

      I say that I will be off work on such and such a day and not checking email. I provide an alternate person/dept to contact.

    16. Melody Pond*

      I work from home full time, anyway – and I always say “I am out of the office” on my auto-reply when I’m taking a day off. I think of “out of the office” as just being a polite/formal way of saying I’m not working.

      I would use “offline” (on my IM client status, like Skype for Business) for partial day situations, like if I was going to be away for 2 or 3 hours. For context, I’m exempt.

    17. Anonymous because reasons*

      “I’m out of the office with limited access to emails until (date). If you need an urgent response, please contact (colleague).”

    18. Jemima Bond*

      In normal circs I tend to say I’m out of the office only if that’s true but I am still working – perhaps on a training course or at a different office not logging in to my email much. So “I’m out of the office Wednesday 5th and Tuesday 6th and will only have occasional access to my email, if you have a problem and nobody else can help, please hire the A team*”
      If I’m on annual leave I say that and put when I’ll be back; I’m not expected to log in during that time. (Similarly if I’m ill I’m not expected to log in to set my OOO).
      Could you just put that you are taking PTO, or that you are “off work today”? I mean you might as well be clear about what’s up that you won’t be answering their email until [date].
      *i do not actually say the last bit!

  17. Red Sunglasses*

    For people who aren’t afraid to speak up- how do I get more confident at doing this? Especially when it’s an opposing viewpoint I’m not an expert on.

    I seem to be OK at expressing my thoughts when I’m 100% confident I’m right but if I’m not and it’s not an area I am an expert on, I find it difficult to share my opinion. I notice there are lots of people who don’t struggle with this and I’m wondering what their thought process is. It’s something that is really holding me back and knowing the reasoning and thought process behind people who don’t struggle with this would help

    1. tab*

      I think that having lots of ideas to choose from is good for a team. If I’m not sure it’s a good idea, I start with, “I wonder if we could…” The more experience I got, the more confident I became.

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      You can always qualify what you are saying with something like, “I could be wrong about this but …”

      That let’s people know you are not an expert and I gives you an out if you are wrong.

    3. Ali G*

      When I think I have something to contribute, but I’m not super knowledgeable about the topic, I ask questions. Something like:
      Why when you groom llamas why do you wet them down first? When I used to groom horses we brushed them first, and then wet them down – is that something you’ve tried?

      1. JPVaina*

        I second this. Force yourself to ask 1 question in a meeting. If it’s a meeting where you have documents or anything to review beforehand, come prepared with that question. Ask for clarifications on things. Take notes during meetings of things that you’re thinking, so you have the language in front of you for when you’re ready to speak.

        1. JPVaina*

          Also adding: To build up your confidence, look around at other people’s contributions. Michelle Obama, when asked what it was like to be in rooms with lots of intelligent people, said something along the lines of the people not really being that smart. This is my petty side, but sometimes, I’m like, Well I certainly can’t sound as uninformed as Llama Groomer #2, so I feel more comfortable speaking up.

    4. Gatomon*

      I would love to hear from others on this too. I struggle as well.

      Quarentining with my mom may have helped me find a contributing factor though. Any conversation with my mom where we don’t agree and I’m not recognized as an expert on the topic already just escalates fruitlessly until she’s half screaming at me about her views about the subject. Then I give up because she won’t listen to reason or fact or even discuss it in a calm manner. I realized that I feel the same sense of panic at the end of it that I feel when debating whether to speak up at work.

    5. Alianora*

      I think about what I would want if it was my project or something that tied in closely to my work. I would want to hear what my coworkers have to say. They have a different way of thinking about things than I do, which is incredibly valuable.

      If it’s a topic I’m not so sure about, I’ll wait a minute or so to give my more senior colleagues a chance to speak up, but I will speak up if it seems like someone needs to break the ice. I think that’s an important role someone should play.

      1. allathian*

        This! I can’t stress this enough. When it’s obvious it’s safe to be wrong, the stakes are much lower.

    6. Lora*

      1. Frame it as a question
      2. Be ready with an alternate suggestion or a suggestion of how you would decide or prove whether your idea is better or the other person’s is better

      Nothing is more annoying than someone who questions your proposal / results / whatever but doesn’t have any other ideas how to do the thing either. If possible, there’s also 3. Explain that your suggestion has the benefit of XYZ and was proven to work in (example).

      If it makes you feel any better, it’s actually good to do what you’re doing – err on the side of caution when you’re not the SME. It really drives the SMEs absolutely bananas when someone with 0 experience or education on a subject aspires to have an opinion contrary to the 100 years of experience and decades of education in the room. I don’t mind educating people who genuinely want to learn the intricacies of why don’t we do XYZ, but hot DAMN when they insist we can totally break the laws of physics and violate several federal regulations is it ever annoying.

    7. Amy Sly*

      I’m currently a contract administrator for a mechanical service company. This routinely puts me in the position of trying to draft and administer contracts for things I know practically nothing about. My strategies:

      1) Stay humble. If you don’t understand, just ask, but make sure your tone says “I genuinely want to know,” not “These are irrelevant details” or “I’m too stupid to understand this, so you’re wasting your time.”

      2) At the same time, stay confident in yourself. You’re part of the team because you bring something valuable, and you should be expected to ask questions and note concerns that pertain to your piece of the puzzle.

      3) Accept that sometimes, you’re going to be the rubber duck in rubber duck debugging — that is, the subject matter experts might never have thought about your concern and won’t really know the answer until they try explaining it to you. The dummy who asks the trivial question or makes the trivial comment that allows the genius solve the mystery is a TV trope for a reason; it happens a lot. So speak up, even if you think your question is a bit trivial. You might prompt an epiphany from someone else!

    8. The New Wanderer*

      If I’m not sure whether I agree (or have a gut reaction against something that was said but I can’t explain why), I’ll try to ask a clarifying question rather than speak up to disagree. First, because it gives the opportunity to get more context to the position/opposing viewpoint that I don’t know yet. Second, because as Amy Sly points out, it might reveal that there is a gap in what’s been said and the SMEs might recognize that for what it is because they’re being asked to revisit the reason behind the position.

      I feel more confident if I ask a question than if I try to disagree without anything concrete to support my own position but I also think it’s a better overall approach. I have had meetings with people who are completely comfortable speaking up to disagree and it’s quite frustrating (as others have noted) if someone speaks up but doesn’t have anything to offer other than “I don’t agree with your opinion.” Especially if it’s NOT an opinion, it’s a scientifically backed position. And *especially* if it’s a senior person who then gets deferred to because senior, even if they are not an expert and have no actual basis for their position beyond “I don’t agree.”

    9. Joielle*

      I’ll literally say “I’m not an expert on this, but…” Then if I turn out to be wrong, or my idea won’t work or whatever, I take that info gracefully and thank the person for explaining it. “Ah, I see. That makes perfect sense, thanks.” And if I’m REALLY wrong, or missed something obvious, I say that too! “Oh, I should have realized that, sorry.” Like another commenter mentioned – stay humble.

      It helps me to keep in mind that I’m a generally smart person with good and reasonable ideas, and even if this particular thought isn’t a winner, I want to show that I’m engaged in the discussion and thinking analytically about people’s contributions.

      In my experience, you don’t look bad if you share an opinion that turns out to be wrong. You DO look bad if you share an opinion that turns out to be wrong and then double down on it or otherwise act like a jerk or make it weird for people to contradict you, or offer dozens of opinions per meeting. I don’t think you’re in danger of doing any of that, so opine away!

      1. Joielle*

        Commenting again to add – sometimes during a discussion I’ll have a question and think “this must be a stupid question because it’s so obvious.” But sometimes it really hasn’t been brought up! (It’s like when a bunch of people are standing around outside a door that everyone assumes is locked, but nobody’s actually tried the door.) I feel like it’s best to just own that feeling – “This might be obvious to everyone but me, but just in case…”

    10. TechWorker*

      Honestly the thing that helped me most was having a bit more responsibility & seniority – not that I used to prevaricate loads over stuff but I would worry about whether my suggestions were ‘right’ and look to always check things before sharing them. Then I took over a project, got super busy and just had to make a bunch of decisions and trust my own judgement cos there was no other way to get through… I wouldn’t exactly recommend trial by fire but it also works. So:

      You don’t need to be 100% right, you just need to be right enough (and know when it’s okay to hedge privately, and when you need to say something along with the suggestion like ‘I think x would be a good direction but we’d need more investigation into y to be sure’.

      Also – it’s ok not to know all the answers. It’s better to confidently state the boundaries of your knowledge than sound apologetic for not knowing something when it’s out of your area and totally reasonable not to know about it.

    11. Melody Pond*

      When I’m not confident or super knowledgeable about the topic at hand, I add lots of qualifiers – e.g., “my understanding is”; “I was under the impression that”; “I’m still gaining experience in this area, but my thought was”, etc.

      Or if I know straight-out that my thoughts are conjecture or speculation, I’m not shy about saying so, like, “I would speculate that”; or “this is just conjecture, because I don’t know for sure, but my instinct is”, and so on and so forth.

      I do this regularly when I’m not confident about whatever I’m talking about. Probably more so than an average person would – but I grew up with a step-parent who was (and still is) often in error but never in doubt, and I really, really hate it. Intellectual humility is important to me. On the other hand, though, using these qualifiers to excess could also give a poor impression, so I think it helps to balance this out with clear displays of assured confidence in your knowledge whenever you’re on a topic that you ARE very confident about.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      “I seem to be OK at expressing my thoughts when I’m 100% confident I’m right but if I’m not and it’s not an area I am an expert on, I find it difficult to share my opinion.”
      You may not need to share your opinion. OR
      You can phrase your opinion as a concern that you make into question form. OR
      You could develop ideas about how current issue impact your work/end product.

      “I notice there are lots of people who don’t struggle with this and I’m wondering what their thought process is. ”

      My guess is that at least 75% of people struggle with this stuff. Their struggling can manifest differently then the way you struggle. Perhaps they talk but they stutter, or they lose their train of thought, or maybe they have a buddy who signals when to stop talking. We can get so lost in our own struggles that we fail to notice when others are struggling.

      “It’s something that is really holding me back and knowing the reasoning and thought process behind people who don’t struggle with this would help”

      Most people struggle- it’s an illusion that they are not struggling.
      Decide to speak up when you are 80% confident. This isn’t an all or nothing thing. Right now you are using a system of 100% confidence or nothing. So wade in here, start by going down to 80% confident.
      Notice that not everything that is said is an opinion. Sometimes it’s a question or a statement of concern/worry. Other times someone can just plain really like another person’s idea and express that.
      In a given group decide who you admire/respect the most and just watch that person. When do they speak? What are they saying? Here instead of watching everyone, which gets to be more like watching a ping-pong game, pick one person and watch that one person. See what you can learn from them. The next time the group meets pick the person #2 and repeat the process. If you find a specific thing said and you admire the way they said it, make mental note of that.

    13. Jemima Bond*

      This is very much a cliché of advice for people in new jobs, new to the working world, or doing any kind of training; but it’s a cliché because it’s often true:

      The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

      It may help to keep that in mind?

    14. Sam I Am*

      I’m looking specifically at your language of “opposing viewpoint,” where just asking technical questions (“I’m unfamiliar with <> being used to describe this group, does that include everyone making tea or only our clients working with loose leaf?”) may not apply.

      If you have an opposing viewpoint at work, a genuine statement of where you’re coming from and asking them to explain their thinking is pretty good… “Oh, I thought we weren’t doing X because of Y. Can you explain to me why we’re doing X?” Tone is important, speaking with a collaborative and not a combative tone is a skill you can work on. I like direct language and less “softening” language. I do this in person, in writing I definitely use softening language because tone is so difficult to write.

      1. tetris replay*

        I like the (in-person) approach of using direct language but in a collaborative way. Softening language can be so imprecise.

    15. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      I compartmentalize my insecurities. I’m confident about my professional knowledge and have no trouble sharing opinions, asking questions and respectfully disagree. I’m a lot less comfortable about nearly every part of my life, though, and tend to ask questions, be a good listener and really only disagree if something key is at stake. I think I became more confident at work because of praise and promotions…you don’t get that kind of regular feedback in non-professional life.

  18. What to do*

    I recently worked at a small family business. A woman applied for an open position. I do not know this woman, but she had done work for a friend and she was obviously very skilled.

    I recommended her for the position. That part was strange, because my boss arranged and conducted all the interviews, but told me to talk to the owner. The owner and his wife told me separately that they would not hire a woman, because she would have had to work with men in a non-customer facing position. They were afraid that the current male employees would say something inappropriate in front of her, which would in turn cause her to sue the company.

    This seemed illegal, but I had no say in the hiring process and they ended up hiring a man who was skilled and more experienced (he had not yet applied at the time this woman applied, and quit after a couple months). I no longer work at the company, but I am wondering whether it is my place to reach out to this woman and tell her why she wasn’t considered.

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      If I had a grudge against the company and wanted them to get sued or something….I probably would mention it. Doesnt’ seem like there would be enough proof to prove it.

      Good for you for getting away, that’s such yucky thinking.

      1. pancakes*

        Why would that require a grudge? Gender discrimination in hiring is illegal in the US, and the woman this happened to would be well within her rights to file a complaint with the EEOC regardless of how you or the OP personally feel about the matter. Do you think they should only investigate claims against employers you personally have something against? I can understand being reluctant to bring this to light for other reasons, but lack of a grudge against the employer seems like a bad one. Likewise a potential lack of evidence — why not let the EEOC decide that? If there isn’t enough to go forward with, they won’t go forward with it. If other people have made similar complaints about the same employer that would likely be very interesting to them, but you wouldn’t necessarily know about that.

    2. Fikly*

      It’s totally illegal.

      Also, super gross to penalize the woman because they’re afraid the men can’t control their behavior. Fire all the men and hire a team entirely made up of women, I say.

      I’d tell her if it was safe for me, but if there is a lawsuit, you’d probably have to testify.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So if the employee is male they cannot sue if other males are saying gross things?????

      NO. I would not reach out to that woman. I’d just know my time with the company was on a short rope.

      They need to learn how to manage.

  19. Anonymous Writer*

    Suggestions for how to break into freelance writing / editing?

    I know, I know, terrible timing! But I’m a humanities phd student who needs, now as always, a little extra income. I envision providing editing services for science or business grads, some business writing, etc. I don’t know anybody in my department who does this, so I’m asking here?

    1. dragocucina*

      You may contact the Independent Book Publishers Association. First they are a nice group. Second, they work with hundreds of authors who need this type of assistance. They might also be able to connect you with small presses that want to provide names to their authors.

    2. Annie Nymous*

      You could ask the person who asked the same question two minutes before (and about five comments above) you.

      1. Ramona Q*

        The person who asked an identical question with identical wording is presumably the same person maybe not realizing their comment would post twice, Annie.

        1. Anonymous Writer*

          Yeaaahh, sorry. It’s me both times. I thought the question got eaten and I guess not. :P

    3. Laure001*

      I’m a writer and there are a ton of Facebook writers group (romance, Sci-fi, etc…) who are always desperately looking for editors.

    4. Sciencer*

      I used to do contract English-language editing for scientific papers. I specifically worked with American Journal Experts but there are quite a few companies who do the same thing. I don’t know if a similar service exists targeted toward humanities fields, but if you’re comfortable with scientific jargon it could be worth looking into. Fair warning that it is NOT interesting work – it’s entirely focused on correcting technical errors on the sentence/word level, and to maintain brand integrity you have to use stock phrases and such in your comments. For me it was a fine stop-gap to get a little extra cash while I was adjuncting. One of my friends made it work well enough to be her sole income for almost a year.

      Are you a fast typist? I did freelance transcription work in college and it paid really well, and was more interesting (depending on what I was transcribing, usually interviews – court cases were mind numbing). I did that entirely through word of mouth connections but it was pretty fun for a side gig.

  20. Recruiters and the Unemployed*

    Final post for today I think lol

    So I’ve been on LI a lot since losing my job, updating my profile, connecting with recruiters etc. I came across a post a while back that said something to the effect of “If you’re unemployed in these times, don’t go through a recruiter!” It was actually posted by a recruiter themselves so I thought that was interesting. Has anyone come across this line of thinking? If so what are your thoughts? 

    1. Jen Mahrtini*

      A lot of companies are trying to avoid recruiter fees right now. Once a recruiter submits your resume, they’re generally owed a fee if the company hires you within a year.

    2. irene adler*

      Even if you are with a recruiter, continue to job search on your own.
      Don’t think the recruiter is going to put themselves out to find a job for you. It’s when they see you as a fit for the position they are trying to fill, that they will work to get you that job.

      And good point Jen Mahrtini re: paying recruiter fees

      And do not waste time with any recruiter who does not have a specific position to fill. Some like to talk with you to get more names to talk to (like your references) so they have a larger pool of contacts for future positions. They make it sound like they have lots of positions available. Unless they can give you the particulars about a specific job, then they are just wasting your time.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I personally can’t stand recruiters. Never had good experiences with them.
      But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t if they have a good job match for you and/or your industry relies more on recruiters because jobs in that industry aren’t posted the normal way.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      As someone who does recruiting, the recruiter that posted that message is stuck in the dark ages. There are loads of reasons for quality candidates to be unemployed and it’s the recruiter’s job to figure out why the candidate is unemployed and if they’d be a good potential match for their opening.

  21. Not a Girl Boss*

    I’m really struggling with my shift from individual contributor to specific-project-manager to general project manager. Its hard for me to no longer “own” anything or make “real” contributions. And since I manage projects for huge cross functional teams, its not like I can take pride in developing a team’s strength – I just manage several projects at a time with wildly different participants every time.

    I am also really really struggling because I currently DO have an individual-contribution task, but I can’t for the life of me get it done, because I have meetings for 6-8 hours a week. A half hour break between meetings is not enough time to dive into a complex detail oriented task.
    I talked to my boss about it and he suggested I try blocking my calendar with 2 hour slots well in advance… but that just led to people, even my boss(!), telling me I really really need to let them book up that blocked up time, or worse, scheduling meetings during lunch or at crazy hours like 7am and 6pm (which I also blocked off).

    The sheer number of meetings required to get these projects moving in the right direction is utterly baffling to me. And yet, every time I try to back off on them, or replace a meeting with an email, someone gets left out of the loop or no one makes progress in the week off or some other disaster ensues.

      1. TechWorker*

        Hahaha I was a bit confused by that! I manage a small team and have meetings probs ~3hrs/day on average and even then struggle to get large amounts of focussed time to do individual contributor work so I definitely sympathise :(

    1. Ranon*

      I do my detail oriented task stuff first thing in the morning, before even opening email. Trying to do it after (or worse, in between) cat herding is a recipe for your brain trickling out of your ears.

      And yes, it is astounding how hard it is to keep wildly different groups of cats headed in something like one direction!

    2. Raea*

      Just popping in to say that as a function lead on projects, thank you for all that you do as PM!! Keeping things moving, and connecting the dots between all the functions and deliverables is invaluable, and IS a direct contribution! We’d be lost without you folks : )

      In re: to meetings, oh I feel your pain. Similar to the other comment, I tend to tackle my own task oriented functions first thing in AM before diving into my emails. Otherwise I’m stuck multitasking during meetings, which is doable and sometimes necessary, but not ideal.

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        Thank you :) It might just be my imposter syndrome coming out to play, but I always feel like “I THINK I helped everyone out with my skills, but for all I know they’d have been much better off with a different PM, or even just left to their own devices.” Its just a much harder contribution to measure and improve on than when I was a regular engineer and my designs either worked, or, didn’t.

        I’ve always been an early bird and start work at 7. But then people on various teams figured out that I was up that early, and started scheduling early morning meetings. I just feel so out of control of my own schedule. Its not like the ‘secretary / treasurer’ can skip meetings about decisions/money. But also, will it really kill them to wait ONE extra day for a decision at our regularly scheduled status meeting?

        1. Ranon*

          Can you phrase declining meetings as protecting their schedules? Like “I know you all need non meeting time to get your work done, so let’s address (thing they “need” 2pm meeting for) at tomorrow’s 10am meeting. So and so, please keep working on (things not impacted by meeting thing) until then.

            1. Raea*

              Yes, I recommend this approach! I have some PM’s that desperately want the play-by-play throughout the week, and others who really only need the main highlights/changes – if any – through the week the rest during the weekly project updates. I STRONGLY prefer the latter, but still have to play to the former.

              Every meeting cancellation / request rejection I receive is a blessing : )

        2. Mockingjay*

          You are allowed – encouraged – to say “No” or “Not right now.” As the General Project Manager, you
          decide what meetings you want to go to.

          I hold a dual role – project coordinator and tech writer – and while I definitely don’t hold the rank that my program manager does, we are encouraged to set boundaries regardless of our level on the org chart. Just yesterday I sent an email to a team lead telling him, “hey, unless there’s a specific question about a deliverable, I’m skipping today’s meeting. I have something else to focus on.” He’s like, no problem, and I put the headphones on and knocked out an overdue report.

          Also, you and your teams should evaluate the number of meetings and “required” attendance. On a team level, you probably need only participate occasionally. Feel free to bow out; have the team lead email you with highlights if needed. Block out time on your schedule that is yours and only yours at least once a week.

          1. Not a Girl Boss*

            Thanks. Maybe I’m a control freak, but I always have FOMO with these meetings. Since I’m not anyone’s “Boss” technically they don’t *need* my permission to do things, and often it won’t occur to them to ask my opinion unless I’m there. So if I don’t show up to a meetings, its not like they can’t move forward – they often do, in the wrong direction. Which isn’t to say they aren’t fantastically technically competent, they are, its just that my sole job is to bridge all the silos, and if I’m not there they never think about the impact their decision has on the other teams.

            Of course, then there’s purely technical meetings that I definitely don’t need to be at. Its also occurring to me that the reason this got so much worse after we went to WFH is because many of the members of the team seem to have great anxiety over using WebEx. A lot of the time, I think they just want me there so they don’t have to figure that part out. Which also makes it impossible to multitask during those meetings, because it ends up being my call-in and my shared screen. So maybe I need to help them become more comfortable with WebEx. Getting “secretary of technical meetings” off my plate would free up a good chunk of time.

            1. NotAPirate*

              To be a good employee and someday advance their own careers they need to be able to recognize other projects and other employee impacts. Which in this case maybe means keeping a log of meeting topics and emailing it over post meeting to you to confirm new plan isn’t going to step onto another projects paths.

              Also the webex thing is ridiculous. They are skilled people in your words, therefore they are capable of hosting it. There’s so much additional how to and tutorials right now.

    3. Fikly*

      Do you want to be a manager?

      I mean this seriously – it’s perfectly valid and ambitious or whatever to be an extremely good individual contributer. Not everyone enjoys being a manager. If you don’t enjoy it, and you do enjoy being an individual contributor, I would look closely at whether there is a good reason to be a manager.

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        I always THOUGHT I wanted to be a manager. But perhaps I do not. While technical problems (even disastrous ones) bring me great joy, and I can accidentally work a 15 hour day without blinking… people problems are agony for me. I’m a very empathetic person, which I thought would make me a good boss – and maybe it does. But it means I find people problems so stressful, and a day of difficult conversations leaves me feeling wrung out and anxious.

        1. Fikly*

          It’s super hard to know if you’ll enjoy something before you try it! There’s no shame in taking some time to evaluate it.

          And just because you are good at something doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

          1. Not a Girl Boss*

            Thanks. Yes, its so interesting that the things that bring you joy aren’t always the things you’re good at. I guess I’m just now figuring that out. In school I always loved the subjects I was good at :) in life, not so much.

            1. Fikly*

              My dad tells a story about how back in high school, he took chemistry for the first time. Turns out he had a natural talent for it, but he found it incredibly boring, and had no interest in pursuing it further. He had a classmate who loved chemistry, but struggled to do well in the class. His classmate was horrified and offended that my dad didn’t want to do chemistry after school.

              I strongly suspect the classmate was angry because my dad was so talented at something he struggled at but desperately wanted to do, and seeing my dad able to do it easily but not want to do it was putting salt on the wound, so to speak. But as a teen, my dad didn’t understand that was what was going on.

              I’m not sure that you’re not good at being an individual contributor – I’m guessing if you got promoted into this position, they must have been happy with how you were doing before, at least!

              1. allathian*

                Chemistry was the only STEM subject I was really good at in HS. I could have been pretty good at math, but I was much more interested in languages and just didn’t want to make the effort. Because I wasn’t taking advanced math or physics, I opted out of taking advanced chemistry despite getting straight As in every compulsory module I took.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      Gosh…I absolutely feel you on this. Transitioning from an individual contributor role to a manager role while still keeping my individual contributor tasks was absolutely brutal for me and I only lasted about 2 years in the role before I needed to pull back. I echo what Fikly said about wondering if management is truly for you. I completely understand why you wanted to make the leap, as it’s extremely natural to take the next step to management if you’re a successful individual contributor because logically, it makes sense! The first thing I’d do is start to ruthlessly guard my time for your individual tasks. You mentioned that you’re an early riser so I’d block that time off and push back on your team members that are scheduling early meetings. You don’t have to specifically mention why, it can be something breezy like, “Going forward I won’t be able to accept any meetings after 9am.” Don’t forget, you’re the boss here!

  22. Jennifer*

    My unemployment finally came through! I’m in GA and it took seven weeks. If I wasn’t married and my husband wasn’t still employed I would likely be nearly homeless by now and definitely relying on food banks to eat. I worry about how other people are getting through this.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That’s great news and I’m sure a big relief. Out of curiosity, and if you don’t mind my asking, do you get paid retroactively to when you were laid off, or does it start from when you were approved?

      1. Jennifer*

        Thank you! I got paid retroactively to when I applied. So I can put a little away in case I haven’t found a job by the time the extra federal pay ends.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          Oh, that’s great! I assumed that was how it works, but I didn’t know for sure. Thank you for confirming.

    2. Grateful*

      Same! In New Hampshire and it took 7 weeks for my husband’s unemployment to come through. We feel so lucky we weren’t desperate for it. How are people living paycheck to paycheck getting by?

      1. Sam I Am*

        They’re not.

        The lucky thing people in NH have going right now is that it seems to have stopped snowing so even though their propane is locked out for non payment they aren’t freezing, just taking freezing cold showers.

        Important to know that the NH foodbank system is run by …. Catholic Charities. I fear that those with issues with the church simply go without, because they would rather starve than approach the church for anything. Or they think they aren’t eligible because they aren’t Catholic. Catholic Charities does a lot of publicity to let people know everyone is welcome… but how much of your budget for the foodbank do you want going to marketing?

        I don’t mean to be flip, I’m just answering your question about the folks I know. They’re running out of food, and even if utilities aren’t shutting of the phone right now, the bills are piling up. NH economy runs heavily on tourism, ski season was cut short and summer will start late, so it’s going to be tough.

  23. Middle Manager*

    Caveat: my office is entirely swamped by COVID19 response and so I’m trying to give wide latitude for less than ideal management right now.

    That said- this is becoming a trend that I really dislike. Our director will send out an email with 2-4 staff on it and sometimes with 2-4 staff cc:ed saying basically: X assignment needs done by Y date/time. It’s addressed generically and almost never specifies who should do it. On occasionan it’s “Sally and Sammy please get this done”, but it is very clearly a one person task, so it’s still unclear who should work on it. If there was a question asking for a volunteer it might more sense, but as is, it just leaves everyone super unclear on who should be working on what request, remote from each other, without a great system in place for group chats to hash it out. Occasionally the task doesn’t get done at all, more often two or more people start working on it and duplicate effort.

    Again, my director is swamped, but this seems like a super unhelpful way to assign work. I don’t know exactly how busy other people on the call are to compare to me, so it’s really hard to gauge how often I should be leaning toward volunteering myself (which is my tendency) or letting other people take on the request.

    Is this normal in some context and I should just try to get used to it? Or is it problematic? Since at least for now I have to just get used to it, any tips?

    1. Ali G*

      Do you have any insight to the workload of other people? You could step up and take the lead at “assigning” these tasks. So if you get one of these emails, reply-all (maybe remove your boss at first) and say, hey Sammy I know you are working on X and this is related, do you have bandwidth to take this on? Or, hey Sally, I know this is typically in your realm, but I have time today to do this if you don’t…
      Basically you get a chance to showcase leadership and make sure these things don’t get forgotten.

    2. RemoteHealthWorker*

      Your manager is signalling he wants the team to work this out together. If you have a lead, they should be doing the delegating. If there is not a lead then talk to your team about how they want to delegate. If they get squirmy and say ohhhh i am soooo busy then publicly volunteer to own some pieces and do not respond to the others. Its not your job to track these and if you try to delegate them it will bite you.

    3. Gatomon*

      I hate this! But it happens a lot here too. It’s expected we’ll sort it out amongst ourselves instead of waiting for a specific delegation. Usually whoever’s taking it on will send an “I’ve got this” message so everyone knows its being handled and by whom. It’s not odd to have multiple people taking a look before an ownership message goes out, but sometimes that’s necessary for us to see if we have the time/skill to complete the task by the deadline.

      If the email has grown stale, usually a “if no one has grabbed this, I will” email comes out. It would be odd for anyone on my team to delegate to anyone else on a regular basis. If only two people are singled out, we’ll hash it out privately via IM. Management usually follows up if they don’t see the email, but our tasks are usually deliverable to other teams or customers, so they don’t necessarily know it’s done without that bit of overhead.

      It seems to work okay for us, but we function pretty well as a team. I’ve been on dysfunctional teams where it turned into a nightmare – escalating emails from management demanding someone take ownership until finally someone is chosen, and that person is usually the busiest one because they are also the most dependable and the slackers are never called out.

    4. need a new screen name and have no imagination*

      I get these from time to time from my boss. Their wording is generally, “we should do X” and my response is to reply all saying, basically, “did you have a specific person in mind for this task?” but since my boss is fairly casual my wording is usually something like “who is ‘we’?”

    5. LGC*

      Like, I think you guys are taking your director too much at face value, from what it sounds like? I think your director is expecting you guys to manage your workload as a team, first and foremost. And it sounds like…people are waiting for someone in the team to take the lead in the right direction.

      In that case, it’s probably worth clarifying, and – like – your boss is likely going to tell you that you’re professionals and you should sort it out. In that case, you might want to work out an assignment system for your team – which is really something your boss should be taking the lead on (shall I say, they’re not doing much directing right now). Perhaps, someone could…maybe not be a director, but maybe be an informal (and hopefully formal soon) leader for your team.

      (And yes, I am suggesting y’all need a team lead.)

      In light of that, I’d suggest…taking what you’re able. Like, grabbing tasks if you’re free. Don’t grab all of them, but start with some of the ones you’re named on. (So, like, if the email has your email in the To line or you’re named in the email, that’s a good candidate to jump on.) Hopefully, people will step up.

  24. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How long did it take you to stop struggling at work? It’s been nearly a year and I can barely do the basics of my job…

    1. CheeryO*

      I think it just depends; some jobs do have long learning curves. My supervisor has been up-front with new hires that it can take five years to feel like you’re fully up-to-speed with things. That totally track with my experience – I spent a couple years feeling clueless, another couple feeling semi-confident, and then things finally clicked for me. Can you ask for feedback to see if you’re where you should be?

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Unless there are extenuating circumstances, it should not take you a year to learn the basics of a job. If you feel comfortable you can maybe talk to your boss about your concerns and maybe get more training. If you don’t think that would go well, I would start looking for another job.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      It depends on the job. I’ve had jobs where it is understood it takes two years to feel like you know what you’re doing. Other jobs the expectation is that by a week or two in you should be able to do it fine.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I am struggling more now that I am all remote and the strategies I had for getting through work no longer work.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I agree with LadyByTheLake. It depends on the complexity of the job and the documentation, etc.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      It depends on what you mean by basics.
      Because with a lot of jobs, you’re expected to know the “basics” within a few months, while the unique particulars of the job may have a very long learning curve of 1-2 years even longer.

    5. Annie Moose*

      I work in software development and am part of a team that maintains/creates enhancements for a large, complex suite of software. It took me over two years before I started to feel that I had a good grasp on everything! So there are definitely jobs where it can take more than a year.

      Have you gotten feedback from your manager about this or is it just your gut feeling? You could try talking to a coworker about it as well–they might be able to give you an idea of where you are without having to (gulp!) talk to your manager about it.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        No, I haven’t gotten any feedback from my manager but I feel that my job has been overall subpar.. I’m doing a social work job so basics are like arranging visits, arranging respite, etc. If there are two parties or more I struggle getting them to communicate together

        1. Atalanta0jess*

          Have you had a chance to talk with coworkers about some of the stumbling blocks you’re hitting, and how they are able to do these things? I think a year is longer than average to be struggling with this stuff. At the same time, some of it just isn’t easy. It might be helpful if you can find someone trust worthy to talk about whether it’s YOU struggling or just that the thing is always hard; and what strategies might help.

    6. Not a Girl Boss*

      I have a very technical job (mechanical engineer) and have jumped industries 4 times. For me, the job always feels the most horrible and unconquerable at 6 months and I hit an all time low in self confidence. By 9 months, it turns around and I feel like I can breathe again, and by 1-2 years (depending on the number of new ‘things’ to experience and solve for in the given job) I feel bored. So, in retrospect, I spend the majority of my life feeling bad at jobs.

      It can be so hard in the moment to determine whether you’re struggling because your skill set doesn’t align with the job, or because you just haven’t experienced enough of the ‘things’ to know how to handle them all yet. But at a year in, I’d start to take it as a warning sign.
      Maybe the training is inadequate and you’ve been forced to make things up as you go along – always a recipe for disaster. Maybe your boss has been ramping you up so slowly that you’re stuck in a never-ending learning curve. Maybe you got a job that was a bit above your experience level so you’re having to learn more than the usual person. Or… maybe your natural talents aren’t a good fit for the role.

      I have figured out the hard way that its not doing anyone any favors to hang out in a role that is poorly suited for your natural talents. Its torture for you, and even if you work *really really* hard, you’ll likely never be excellent at the job. I met my best friend at work, and she is a brilliant person, but she was horrible at her job. She was ultimately fired. She got a job that was a better fit for her, and in the last 3 years has been promoted 5 times.

      You said before you had coping strategies to get through the day – that makes me sad. Are you struggling to get through the day because you hate your job, or because you’re really overwhelmed? You can likely fix being overwhelmed by being open with your boss and making a strategy to learn what you need to… but no strategy for not hating your job lasts for long.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I had a strategy for getting the paperwork together but its 4:10 on the 15th and barely anyone has returned my call about the surveys I have to do with them over the phone, I was late for a meeting because I forgot about it ( it was in my phone!), I have a girl who is 1st grade reading level I have to get to do her high school classes, and I have trainings and meetings and I’m just overwhelmed. I don’t even have to go anyplace any more!

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          I mean to me all this sounds like normal hectic current world situation making life miserable stuff! I wouldn’t read too much into any of it. Everyones too stressed to get the work they owe you done, and you’ve got extra stress. Just because you’re saving on commute doesn’t mean you’re not more than making up for it in stress. Be kind to yourself and reassess after this is over.

    7. RagingADHD*

      It usually takes me about 3 months to feel like I’ve got a basic handle on things, somewhere around 6 months to feel pretty well settled in, and by a year I usually feel like I could help newer people with routine stuff.

      If there are job duties or special situations that are very complicated or come up infrequently, of course those take longer.

  25. dragocucina*

    There was a discussion a couple of weeks ago (maybe not, my sense of time is shot) about the end of open offices.

    Yesterday at an online meeting with a Grand Boss a lot of people were asking about hoteling. There is going to be a big evaluation of how much people can and want to continue teleworking. The Grand Boss is for it. But, on the other hand that would bring the need for hoteling.

    It wouldn’t effect me so much as I have to have a dedicated space for my materials. But, I’m curious on others thoughts.

      1. Mill Miker*

        It’s another word for hot-desking. You don’t have an assigned seat, and instead find one when you start your shift.

        It makes sense when there’s more staff than desk space, and not everyone is in the office all the time, but really sucks for anyone who is in every day and has to keep moving for no real reason.

        1. Anon Anon*

          Ahhh…I had not heard that term before. Hot-desking I’ve heard about, but I’ve learned something new.

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          I’ve always hated the idea of hot-desking and thought it would add a level of stress to my day that I didn’t need, but I’m wondering how I would feel if I only had to do it once or twice a week. Is there a threshold for when it becomes annoying/doesn’t feel cumbersome?

        3. Lyudie*

          My company is moving to doing this in some teams, we can reserve the desk online beforehand though…I am not sure how far in advance you can do that so possibly you can reserve the same cube for a week or two at a time. No one likes the idea though, at least no one I’ve talked to. You can’t keep anything in or on your desk, it has to be taken home or stored somewhere.

        4. Genuine Topograph*

          It’s not really the same thing, though, because hoteling usually involves “reservations” and hot-desking is more of a free-for-all. So instead of choosing an open seat when you come in to the office, you reserve a workspace for however long, depending on your needs and the parameters your org has set up. So if you’re in for half a day, once a month, you make a half-day reservation, but if you’re in all the time you can reserve for longer (usually a week, sometimes a month). Like a hotel, hence the name!

          If we’re looking at staggering the workforce going forward, which we may well be, hoteling makes a lot of sense, because e.g. Red Group reserves their workspaces for their four days on, and when they go do their ten days off, Blue Group reserves their workspaces. You need less space, fewer workstations, etc, and also you know, for contact tracing purposes, who was where when (with the obvious risks and benefits that go with that).

          1. DragoCucina*

            That makes a lot of sense. There are teams working on projects. Knowing that when they come together the week of February 30th they will have the same space would make things easier.

          2. Not a Girl Boss*

            I like the idea of a set week in the office at a time for groups. I adore teleworking, but its true that my team occasionally has collaboration needs better met in person. But we could totally save them up for a week a month.

        5. The New Wanderer*

          Our company uses “hoteling” to mean the open desks that are available if you happen to be working in that office for the day (or some part of the day), and they usually have signs to that effect. The majority of desks are assigned to individuals and have nameplates. No reservations needed in our setup, you just go with whatever desk is marked “hotel,” but I can see how that makes sense for other places. Hot-desking to me means that few or no desks are designated for specific individuals and all of them are first-come, first-serve.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      We have the same convo going on. They’re talking about only using half of the open office cubes and having people rotate weeks in the office and hoteling (not having their own dedicated cube). I’m in an office, so I’m not sure what impact there would be for me.

      For my whole career, we’ve all had to pack all our crap up every project and co-locate, so it’s mildly annoying that NOW we’ve decided we can all work effectively remotely when 12 months ago we couldn’t be sitting on neighboring floors of our office building. A couple years when we moved to new office locations, I ended up moving 8 times. Sometimes, just a row or desk away, but still.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m also curious about this as well. My company has always been very anti-WFH, only lifting restrictions very slightly in the last few years (you can WFH once a week, but not on Mondays or Fridays) when they saw they were losing a lot of people to competitors who did offer flexibility on remote work. Now that we’ve been 100% remote for a couple months and we haven’t lost any revenue or productivity, the higher ups are finally starting to see remote work as a viable business option, to the point that one of them mused the other day about how much money could be saved if we didn’t need our giant office to have everyone in all the time.

      I’ve been loving working from home so I would love if they offered more flexibility in this area (especially since I might be moving to an area with a less great commute than I have now), but I wonder what it would mean if we moved to a smaller office space. Would we hot desk? Share a desk with a coworker but trade off on who is in when? I don’t love the idea of not having a dedicated work space, but usually when I think about my dislike of hot-desking it’s that I wouldn’t want to do it full time – I suppose it would be different if I was working remotely 3-4 days a week and only having to hunt for space once or twice a week.

    3. hermit crab*

      We already had a modified hoteling arrangement because a lot of our staff (normally) travel a lot or work remotely part of the time. Staff who typically work from the office get an assigned desk; other staff don’t; there are a bunch of unassigned desks; everyone is supposed to reserve/check into a desk daily so visitors or folks without permanent desks can find a place to sit. If you don’t have an assigned desk you can get a locker or an extra little wheeled file cabinet.

      It works ok, I guess. The real challenge is getting everyone to reserve and check into their desks. We get a lot of accidental double bookings when assigned-desk-staff get complacent and let their reservations expire, and then non-assigned-desk staff (rightfully) think they are out of the office and reserve that desk for themselves.

    4. Not a Girl Boss*

      I had to hot-desk for 2 years and I HATED it. Its an ergo nightmare. It sucks not to have anywhere to leave snacks or papers or a spare fleece in case the AC was too cold. I spent the first 15 minutes trying to get the stupid chair adjusted and clean the cheetos dust off the mouse and find a working pen. It was objectively the worst. But, I’m also sorta OCD.

      One thing that did make it bearable was that a year in, they gave us all lockers. At least that allowed me a spot to store stuff I needed on a regular basis and lock pens away from thieves.

    5. Windchime*

      Our workplace is going from a pretty downtown building with lots of windows and spacious cubes with lots of storage to hotelling space. But we are also going almost fully remote (teams will probably come to the office one day every other week or so). When they first said we would be doing hotelling, I was upset but now that we are almost fully remote, I think I can handle it. There is going to be some kind of a reservation system so that our manager can block a section of spaces for the team; otherwise, it would make no sense for us to all come to the office only to be scattered around on different floors.

      Having our office come to the realization that remote work *does* work (and will save us millions of dollars) is one of the few positive things to come out of this whole COVID mess.

    6. New Senior Manager*

      Sounds like a germy nightmare. Make sure to include your own cleaning supplies when going into the office.

  26. AdAgencyChick*

    Would love to hear from other managers on how you’re thinking about PTO, and encouraging your employees not to hoard theirs for the second half of the year.

    Upper management has asked us to nudge people harder to take days during the pandemic, or at least to plan out what days they’re going to take for the second half of the year. It’s a tough sell — why not save the days for a real vacation later in the year, and what if you pick a week and it’s still not possible to travel by then? That being said, the second half of the year will be an all-hands-on-deck period for my team, and even if it weren’t, there would still be enough work needing to get done that we can’t have half or more of employees out at a time.

    I have been taking random days off myself to set an example. My team has been hanging on to their days, though. Beyond reminding them that I won’t approve overlapping vacation requests in the second half of the year and that the company isn’t going to allow a large amount of rollover (we’re not in a state that requires rollover or payout), is there anything else I can do?

    1. Not a Girl Boss*

      Can you try making PTO in the first half of the year “worth more” – maybe by giving an extra day PTO for every 4 days taken in the first half (so they can get a weeks vacation for the price of 4 days)?
      Ultimately, its not your employee’s job to make the company’s life easier, they have to do with their benefits what makes the most sense for them. So unless you make it make sense for them, or outright mandate that they use half their vacation in the first half of the year, nothing is going to work.
      The only other thing I can see working is to point out that its physically impossible for everyone to get their vacations in if people don’t start taking them by X. But still, why would they be the one to sacrifice vacation so everyone else can have the ‘good weeks’?
      Or perhaps you could require to put in vacation requests for September-December now, so that people who lose out on the lottery know far enough in advance to make staycation plans.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work people start asking off for Thanksgiving and Christmas in July to make sure they get it. You might want to start with that. Tell your employees that anyone who wants to be out over the holidays has to request it by date x so you can plan. And note that only y number of people can be off at a given time so not all requests will be approved. That will probably help sort the most difficult time periods, and get your team thinking about it. Ditto ask for PTO requests for family weddings or reunions that seem to have a date certain – people should ask for it now to ensure that it will be approved.

    3. BadWolf*

      Some of my coworkers are really stuck on vacation=leaving home. So taking vacation and being home seems to be a non-starter with them. I’m a little unsure how you nudge them.

      For me…I’m all about a staycation. I only haven’t taken more time (I’ve done a couple single days) because I’m running a project with a deadline and I don’t want to take a week when I’m clearly don’t “need” to. Do your employees have deadlines that they’d feel like they could relax at home knowing they were “doing nothing” when there’s something really important to do?

      1. Not a Girl Boss*

        Yes, I’m genuinely perplexed by the resistance to staycations. I’m burning through a dangerous quantity of my PTO right now because I just find that WFH and the current stress has me requiring more random days off. I just sit in my backyard feeling supremely overjoyed at my lack of work related stress for the day.

        But I do agree people were more weirded out than usual at my vacation time, and I had to pointedly decline calls from people to keep them from bugging me, when normally vacation is well respected.

        But, we do take one travel vacation a year, because sometimes it CAN be really hard to relax when you’ve got your Honey Do list piled up around you in the house. I always take a Friday off to clean and do chores, and a Monday off for the actual relaxation part.

        1. Koala dreams*

          Me too. Staycations are not less real than travel vacations. I’m planning a staycation this summer. A long weekend sounds very short, but I know US vacations are usually short. I would rather take the whole week, preferably so that I had the weekend in the middle and work two short weeks before and after.

          I don’t know if you can pressure people who don’t like staycations. For places that are open and can’t work from home (restaurants, stores), it’s possible to close the place, and I know a few places that did their vacations that way before. Now when many people work from home, and businesses that do stay open face a lot of uncertainty, that’s not possible or practical.

          If you do have a use it or lose it policy, it might be time to remind people about it. You can also remind people of the health benefits of taking days off, for example by sharing how you feel better after your own vacation. Just don’t expect too much results.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I think it depends a lot on what a staycation means for your situation.

          A staycation in a nice home with a backyard to hang out in, and space to work on projects is very different from a staycation in a one room apartment. If you add in not having the option to go out – no parks, museums, coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants, pools, gyms, all the things that would normally be fun to do with a week of spare time – and no opportunities to visit with other people, I can see why people would want to save vacation for a more enjoyable experience.

    4. Ali G*

      Definitely take time off yourself to model behavior. Also be crystal clear about the policy. I’s write up an email that lays it all out, what you expect from your team, and the consequences of hoarding days (not getting approved/losing vacation). After that it’s up to them to plan accordingly and you to stand firm when everyone wants to take time off between Thanksgiving and NY and some people won’t be able to and will lose days.
      Also, this is not your job, but people need to wake up and realize that the second half of 2020 isn’t going to be rainbows and unicorns and travel/planning to travel is still going to be risky. It sucks, for sure.

    5. A*

      We are making a (presumably) one-year exception to the ‘use it, or lose it’ policy so they can roll it into next year. We all felt strongly that it was either that, or accept that we will have staffing issues for the second half of the year as it wouldn’t be reasonable to place the burden of staggering vacation onto the employees given the circumstances. They earned that PTO and it’s our responsibility at and above the management level to ensure they are able to utilize this in a beneficial manner as intended, rather than by force – now, or forced limitations due to overlapping later in the year.

      Granted, this was a hill I was willing to die on. So I expect the conversation would have gone differently if I had been prioritizing my own job security above my teams. Luckily for my team, I would never want to stay on if my employer hadn’t supported this anyways : )

    6. Mediamaven*

      Last year we started giving the holiday week off but this year I’m going to require people to use their PTO for it. We give a ton of PTO so I don’t think anyone will have TOO much of an issue. I also already told people that I wouldn’t be approving a surge of vacations when restrictions are lifted. Just set expectations early.

    7. Holey Moley*

      My guess is some are saving PTO in case they do get sick with covid. My company doesn’t offered paid leave while in quarantine if I get exposed so Im planning ahead.

    8. Half-Caf Latte*

      Is this PTO all in one, or is there a separate sick/loa bank?

      I’ve been super reluctant to take any time off, because if I need to quarantine, or stay home because of childcare issues, I’ll be required to use my time for that. They’re “allowing” a negative balance of 120 hours, but then it would just be months of no potential time off until I got back to zero, which feels like a recipe for burnout.

      If there are mothers who have recently had maternity leave from your org, I’d look to them and their patterns of time usage prior to their leave as an indication. All of my friends basically had to hoard time for their mat leaves, and then were required to burn the whole bank, so came back to work with no safety net.

      1. Mockingjay*

        We also have one PTO bucket, so I reserve part of the year’s accrual for illness. “Hey, I can take a week off…unless I catch a cold. Hmm. Better accrue a couple more days before scheduling vacay.” Our PTO is average for our industry, not bad but not great either. (The rest of the company benefits are solid and salaries above average, so PTO is not a dealbreaker.)

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Could you ask people to take their leave in year-quarters or -halves? That is, if you have 12 days a year, you need to have used 6 by July 1st.

      Is it easy for people to use part-days? You might be able to approve more overlapping requests if they aren’t full days, e.g. Fergus is off all day, and Celeste requests half a day, yeah fine.

      (Frankly I’m not one to talk, though. My leave year runs Jan-Dec and because I’m in the UK I get six and a half weeks including public holidays. I have so far used … two hours.)

      1. Ina Lummick*

        It’s similar for me I’ve used around 2 days before C19 started affecting us here (and I’ve made sure to book between Xmas and NY as we aren’t shutting down in those days. But also my workload doesn’t allow for holiday currently, and until recently I was the only member of my team who was not furloughed so I couldn’t take time off anyway…

    10. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

      The best way to encourage staff to use PTO is to insure that your PTO system and polices are set up to give employees security to feel safe during this uncertain time. It’s not to pressure staff to use up a limited resource that they may need to exhaust in a likely to occur emergency.

      Is “vacation” separate from “sick” leave? If not break them out.

      Are staff going to be safe if they take a week vacation now and then have to turn around and take 14+ days to care for themselves and loved one who is sick? If yes lay out how it is for them. If not make it so.

      Is your company being transparent about furloughs, lay offs, and financial performance? Do you and your team know more or less where you fall on the “indispensable” scale? If not then of course people are holding on to their time; lack of security = hoarding mentality.

      Make it safe for your staff and they will take time off.

      1. TechWorker*

        Honestly I just don’t think this is true – we have separate PTO to sick leave, generous sick leave, no particular risk of furlough or lay-off (our industry is still going full tilt and our division is in a strong position). But I’m still wondering about the same questions on this thread. I know plenty of folks who’s companies are enforcing ‘half your leave by end of August’ or whatever but mine has made no central statement yet.

      2. allathian*

        I feel really privileged in that we have separate sick leave (basically unlimited, although 30 days at full pay) and vacation days, and if we get sick just before a scheduled vacation, we’re allowed to postpone the vacation. The idea is that we’re sick on company time, not our own. But this obviously requires a doctor’s note, and if we get sick in the middle of our vacation, then we lose those days.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s so hard. I have at least one friend who’s mad because her company is making her take PTO and she wants to save it for travel, but… she lives in NYC and I seriously doubt she will be traveling any time soon. We’re all reminding her that she’s in a use-it-or-lose-it situation, and also that she’s had some family stuff that requires that she step away from her work, but she can’t seem to connect that “time off” and “vacation” are not equal.

      I think upper management needs to provide clear guidelines rather than just asking you to nudge. Do you have official blackout periods? Is there a deadline they want to set? My friend’s company gave everyone a directive that they have to take one week of PTO by June 30th. My company has been approaching people separately and asking them to take the time off (these are people with tons of PTO, a different situation that yours, probably).

    12. Meg*

      I think companies need to consider allowing people to roll over more days than they normally would. My company is allowing us an extra week to be rolled over, which is really nice. I am still trying to take days off, but I’m not taking a full week off when I can’t go anywhere. I live in an apartment, so there’s limited space and things to do–it’s not like I can take a week to work on a home improvement project or sit in my (non-existent) yard.

      I think you need to be very blunt about coverage needs in the second half of the year, so that people understand that, and they have to understand that. But also realize that someone who lives alone in an apartment may not want a week or 2 weeks off when they can’t go anywhere (probably other people too, that’s just my specific perspective).

  27. Lamb Chop*

    In a few weeks, I’m starting a new job in an area I’m really excited about (yay!) I’m especially excited because my current workplace is not ideal… think all the classic toxic/dysfunction that people write in about. However, my current job is also my first job out of school, and I’m worried about bringing some weird work norms I may have picked up with me, without realizing it. It especially doesn’t help since I’ll be learning the new job remotely, so I’ll miss out on observing the norms in my new workplace. Any advice on how to make sure I don’t become “that co-worker” and leave all the dysfunction behind? Is my awareness of the dysfunction enough to shield me from bringing in odd workplace behaviours?

    1. juliebulie*

      Sometimes when working in a non-dysfunctional environment, you don’t have all the little cues that trigger the bad habits you developed at your last job.

      No promises, but that’s how it worked for me.

      Only other advice I can give is to keep your eyes open and observe (in a non-creepy, non-spying way) what others do and don’t do in this new workplace.

      1. Lamb Chop*

        I’ll be starting the job remotely, so that might be tough! But I’ll definitely keep that in mind when we’re back in the office :) Thanks!

        1. juliebulie*

          It can also be things like email and Zoom etiquette. Not necessarily stuff like clipping toenails at one’s desk. :-)

  28. Roza*

    Just want to vent a second about being in tech and the general lack of respect for “non-technical” (or even “technical” but not software engineer) staff. While there are a couple of engineers at my company who are wonderful co-workers, the majority of the engineers are incredibly arrogant and condescending. They ignore input from people actually familiar with the data or customers (obviously it is not THAT complicated, we’re just too stupid to see that it’s simple like they do), then when this leads to a solution that doesn’t work and tons of last-minute scrambling is needed, the problem was “unforseeable”, even when there are plenty of meeting notes documenting otherwise. They get treated like the only people who matter at the company, held to lower standards (one engineer at the same level as me does not have to document his code, ever, because he “doesn’t like it”. I don’t like creating documentation either, but I would never dream of refusing to do it bc as a senior technical staff member, part of my job is ensuring the larger team can easily use our tools..) even though the others working with existing clients, making sales, making the office function, doing analytics, etc, are all equally necessary to the company. Just wondering if my company is exceptionally poor in this regard, or if mediocre engineers acting like entitled jerks and being openly treated as more valuable than everyone else is endemic to tech. I’m at the point where I feel like I’m developing a bias against anyone with a SWE title…

    1. A*

      “the majority of the engineers are incredibly arrogant and condescending.”

      I say this not to be snarky, but just as a genuine observation. Honestly, your comment read to me as also being somewhat arrogant and condescending. Maybe everyone should just cut each other some slack?

      1. Roza*

        I get that, but I should clarify that I’m not making a blanket assertion. I don’t want to get too specific with examples for fear of outing myself, but I came to that opinion after multiple encounters with most of the engineers in which they were openly rude and demeaning (think calling me stupid for asking how their undocumented code worked) or insisted on doubling down on incorrect assumptions (think insisting that all client data we receive will be clean and neat despite massive evidence to the contrary) or being condescending (think informing me that llamas have four feet as though this is a grand discovery even though I have a PhD in llama biology and also told them this multiple times). I should just cut my coworkers slack about borderline – abusive behavior that interferes with getting my job done?

        1. emmelemm*

          Any software engineer who thinks data will be even remotely clean has a screw loose and shouldn’t be listened to.

      2. Alice*

        Roza’s comment sounds frustrated, not arrogant and condescending, IMO.
        To be honest, an organization where a senior technical staff member just doesn’t comment his code because he doesn’t like doing it doesn’t sound very functional to me. I can easily see how the engineers with soft skills would over time be poached away, leaving Roza’s org with a higher-than-normal proportion of jerks.
        Maybe the couple of great coworker engineers you mentioned at the beginning of the post can give you some insight into how to communicate effectively with the rest of the engineers?

        1. Amy Sly*

          I know a few “if code was hard to write, it should be hard to read” types.

          My response has always been “Comment your damn code. The poor schmuck who has to figure it out in six months might be you!”

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I’ll post a link to the source after this, but my favorite piece of coding advice is “When you write code, pretend that the person who will have to maintain it after you’re gone is a homicidal maniac who knows where you live.”

          2. Annie Moose*

            It’s always me, and I always curse my earlier self for not writing more comments.

          3. TiffIf*

            Lol one of the devs I work with is coding a new feature right now, but I had put in a comment a related thing that the same dev had done about a year ago that would need to be rechecked and integrated with this new piece–on a call the dev was mentioning the related thing, and I said “oh, you did that already last year, we just need to make sure it still works right when you’re done” and he was like “I did what?”

          4. TechWorker*

            If your design is correct your code ideally shouldn’t be that hard to write OR read. These folks are unreasonable and certainly not representative of s/w engineers in my office.

            It *is* true – like anything – that corners sometimes get cut when deadlines are tight, but then we go back and document after the fact.

            I hope I’m not a dick to non-software engineers… but there is also a challenge sometimes in explaining to non-technical people (or slightly technical people) why what they’re asking for isn’t simple. Very little is impossible – but there’s definitely things that I can tell almost instantly wont be worth the ROI and I have to stop myself jumping to that conclusion and actually explain it/make the ROI decision along with someone who knows where the money is coming from and whether anyone will pay for it. I would never tell anyone they were stupid, but I also interact with such a huge range of people (and the scope of what we do as a company is so huge) that I probably could end up sometimes explaining something in an email person x already knew, because it’s not that easy to know or keep track of how experienced person x is.

            (And then I’ve been in meetings where someone senior has asked for something that literally was impossible – and when this was pointed out he was like ‘not my problem’. So I’m sorry you’ve had bad experiences with s/w engineers… but there’s problems on all sides :p).

      3. epi*

        Nothing in the comment was condescending, just frustrated. If you didn’t like the opinions expressed that doesn’t necessarily mean they were expressed in a rude or inappropriate way. People are allowed to vent about their jobs, they don’t know you and aren’t talking about you, so it seems like you need to manage your own emotional reactions to things that dont involve you.

        My partner works in tech and, yes, he is affected by this exact dynamic at times. It actually messes up both of our lives because he has pager duty and a lot of the issues paging him are caused by people on other teams not doing their jobs correctly. If you look at the Glassdoor reviews for many tech companies, you will see pretty quickly that this is a common complaint among non-engineers throughout the industry. Some manage it better than others, but it’s a very real phenomenon regardless of your feelings about it. I have witnessed the same dynamic in other workplaces where one particular team is viewed as more essential than others, even if it isn’t true.

        1. LOL*

          “so it seems like you need to manage your own emotional reactions to things that dont involve you.”

          Well… that DEFINITELY is condescending. Yeesh. I hope your day gets better.

        2. BobbleBoy*

          I honestly had the same interpretation, and I’d like to think my opinion as valid as the next. Understood that you interpreted it as just frustrated, but clearly some read it a different way? It doesn’t necessarily mean we need to check our emotions, or whatever. At least two of us read it that way, so your reaction seems extreme.

        3. Jigglypuffy*

          FWIW I also thought it was. I assume based on the other comments its in part because I’m not in this line of work. But I don’t think the comment read as black/white as you think it did.

    2. juliebulie*

      It sounds like your company is exceptionally poor in this regard. Most engineers aren’t especially more or less arrogant than anyone else. But I can see how it would be possible to get a cluster.

      We did have a few people like what you described, but they were all purged in a big layoff a few years ago because they were so difficult to work with.

      1. Roza*

        That’s encouraging to hear! Before the whole covid thing started I was reluctant to job hunt since it seemed like it might just be a tech sector problem, but hopefully I can find somewhere better. Unfortunately all the worst offenders at my company are best buddies with someone in the C-suite, and are rapidly driving off all of the good engineers and bringing in more buddies from a former employer, so the problem is getting worse…

        1. juliebulie*

          Ah, so it’s become a vortex. Bad news for you now, but maybe the vortex will suck them all in so that you won’t encounter as many people like this when you move on.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Can you find out where the good engineers went and find out if they like it there and if there are job openings?

            As a tech person myself, it depends on the company and the people. A good company won’t put up with too much of this nonsense from anyone – tech has to pay attention to the people who are going to use the software, and they have to doc the code.

      2. cat socks*

        I agree that it seems to be a company specific issue. I work in software development as a system/business analyst so I spend a lot of time taking input from the end users and translating them into requirements for the developers to work from. In my company, the developers rely heavily on these requirements to start their coding. They will make technical decisions about the best implementation in the software, but they do take into consideration the actual needs of the end user.

    3. Brownie*

      I’m struggling with this and have always struggled because I straddle the line, skill-wise, between technical and non-technical in IT. One thing I’m finding is that a lot of the folks I’ve encountered who look down on non-techs are either hardcore into the whole old-fashioned idea that being technical is like a fantasy land where they are the chosen ones and everyone else are expendables/don’t matter, or else they are folks who have never failed before and therefore have this idea that they’re not reliant on anyone else and even if they were could do everyone else’s jobs just fine thank you very much now shoo, go away. I’ve also seen folks who matched the above change dramatically and become downright thankful regarding non-techs and support staff. What made them change? Good management.

      Take a look at the management of the folks you’re working with and see if management is conflict-avoidant (“I’ll let Fergus not do documentation because I don’t want to argue with him”) or otherwise adverse to managing these difficult personalities. The best manager I’ve ever had was a technical person who would not take that kind of BS from their team and for the time they were here we actually had a team instead of individuals forced to interact with each other. It was glorious. Now I’m in a situation where the manager is a combination of dictator and conflict avoidant (yup, this is exactly as bad as it sounds) with a side helping of technical=The Only Thing That Matters and will be switching teams to a new manager within the next few months to a better team where non-techs are valued. There are places out there that are much better than where you’re at, it’s not the whole tech field, and over the years it has been getting oh, so much better, and will continue to be so don’t lose hope.

    4. Nesprin*

      This is a case of mediocre engineers acting like entitled jerks.

      an engineer who thinks writing documentation is more important than writing code.

      1. tangerineRose*

        The thing some people don’t understand is that part of the documentation is about WHY something is being done. You can’t always get that from the code, even when it’s clear what is being done.

        1. Darren*

          That is pretty much what all of my comments are to explain why we are doing something that’s not obvious. So a function that squares a number doesn’t need a comment, what it’s doing and why are obvious (it was told to square a number and that is what it did) but depending on why the other bit of code is squaring the number it may require a comment (if it’s calculating the area of a circle it won’t as that’s a common formula the and function name would explain that quite obviously).

          Now obviously I try to structure code as much as possible to remove the need for comments (naming of functions and variables can make the what and why clear in 90+% of cases) it’s just for the cases where it doesn’t matter how you adjust those names it’s not going to be clear why you are running the same function twice with two different variables that have the same value in all the example everyone can easily think of. That corner case where they differ being impossible for anyone not deeply familiar with the business problem to see.

    5. NW Mossy*

      In my experience, these clusters of “brilliant jerks” develop when the culture privileges technical skills ahead of relationship skills.

      It’s hard to know where exactly that begins, but it seems to happen when the founding myth of the team/org centers around someone who was/is a gifted technician but not a particularly strong manager of others. If that person doesn’t correct for the natural human bias to pick people like themselves to work with, they will start to establish a culture where technical skill gives people greater status and power than being easy to work with. Over time, that can really distort how people behave. Basically, it’s not the role – it’s the incentives for the people who occupy the role.

      Unfortunately, this is a problem that’s really hard to solve without a clear and conscious intention from leadership to change it. If managers aren’t hiring for collaborative skills, pushing their staff to excel in that area, and ultimately parting ways with those that can’t/won’t improve, it’s unlikely that you’ll see much movement.

    6. No Tribble At All*

      As an engineer, I’ll say: I know that feel, dude. There’s a non-trivial cadre of engineers who like to think they can be jerks because they’re Just SO Brilliant, along with the general low-level “STEM is better than non-STEM”. It does sound like your company is extra bad about that, and new people are learning they can get away with not documenting because they’re on the software team. That’s a culture, and it sucks. If literally every user is getting errors, maybe it’s not user error, it’s a system design problem?? HmMM??? Nah, I’m sure it’s that we’re not smart enough to use it /s.

      I agree with other commenters that your company sounds exceptional(ly bad). Most of my encounters with software engineers being unhelpful were they just answered exactly the question that was asked without any additional context. I was trying to get X to do Y, and they told me how to implement it, but it turns out X can only do Y in very specific circumstainces and it’s better to do Z overall… which I only found out after emailing them a bajillion more times about X not doing Y. If they’d mentiond that from the beginning, it would have saved me a lot of time. Maybe they assumed I knew it? But I’m not a software engineer! I just occasionally write code. Gah. They answered like a piece of sofware responding to keywords, lol.

      Also, any engineer that assumes that data will be clean and perfect is a FOOL.

      1. Darren*

        Yeah sounds like you’ve also been working with software engineers with terrible business domain knowledge, and a lack of ability to improve it. When you’ve got a user asking you for something you don’t just answer the question you drill into why do they want it, what is the actual problem they are trying to solve. Once you get to that you can propose a solution that solves the entire problem not just whatever symptom they are complaining about today.


      “Oh god, was I ever that naive?” I remember when it sank in for me was when the non-technical staff started getting technical titles such as Business Systems Analyst or QA Engineer, about the same time I got to see what they worked with, when we switched from Excel spreadsheets to QA script software and they picked it up and I didnt. It also helped working with them on a one-on-one basis. Why do people like your software engineers get to keep their jobs when others who want to work together get pushed to the side and never promoted.

      1. Darren*

        Really there are three things that are valuable in technical staff. Technical abilities, ability to work well with others, and business domain knowledge. You really need all three to be really successful in a long term career, but I’ve definitely known some technical managers who assume if someone is smart enough to have solid technical abilities they have to be easily able to pick up the business domain knowledge and that they can work around any issues with them being able to work with others.

        I’ve had to reject candidates for all three reasons although it tends to be more the ability to demonstrate they can understand the business domain knowledge that most of them get rejected for. Usually the people who aren’t good to work with are going to be terrible at having business knowledge anyway because they aren’t listening to their users, aren’t understanding the scope of the problem they are trying to solve and instead just solve what they think the problem should be which isn’t useful to anyone.

        Frankly I’m shocked that these people keep getting hired but I guess some companies are hard up for options when it comes to attracting technical staff and have to make do with what they can get.

  29. oh dear*

    For resumes/cover letters/interviews, how do you talk about accomplishments that were essentially built on other people’s failures without badmouthing your company? For example, what passes for HR/operations at my small startup is deeply incompetent, so I’ve been taking on some of the most critical issues (like our total lack of a coherent onboarding system, people not getting contracts/paid on time, etc…).

    I’m proud of the work I’m doing there, and it will likely be relevant to future jobs, but I don’t want to be like “well X and Y are terrible at their jobs so I saw a need and filled it.”

    1. irene adler*

      Don’t explain why you undertook these things. No reason to air the “dirty laundry”. Just say that you took on a task and how you improved it.

      “I saw the need for an improved payment system for our contracts, so I initiated the [program] and successfully implemented a 99% on-time payment system for our contracts. ” Then briefly detail how this program works.

      “I revamped the onboarding program and turned it into one of the more successful aspects of our employee support program. New hires consistently rated it as the biggest reason they have achieved success at Company. ” Then briefly detail the program components.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        These are great examples. You can also go with the old standby of “outdated and needed a fresh eye to assist in the revamp” or “until my position was added, no one had the bandwidth to tackle these” or even “as I had worked in X at a previous employer I knew the system would work for the new company and my familiarity with the program and experiences with implementations in the past made for a very smooth and successful program update”.
        You could even formulate it as part of the reason you were hired. “I was brought in to revamp X, update procedure Y, and implement Z and all were completed on time and have been used successfully ever since.” Make it sound like the company identified the need and you were the best person to fill that role.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Only say that last bit if it’s actually true! If you spin it as you having been brought in to deal with X problem and you weren’t, then the truth will very likely come out during a reference call.

  30. TV Researcher*

    Is anyone else just tired? I know I’m extraordinarily lucky. I’m able to work from home and for the short term, it doesn’t look like there will be layoffs in my department (though, I may be wrong – lots of reorg going on). My company pays lots of lip service to making sure our emotional well-being is taken care of, in addition to us physically – and I do believe they mean it. I don’t have kids (so I don’t have to worry about home schooling them) or pets.

    And yet, I’m so tired.

    I know that part of my fatigue is my cancer treatment (immunotherapy – as my doctor says, every three weeks I’m getting a ton of drugs shot into my body). But, the fatigue on this medicine has never been this bad before. I did bring it up with my doctor and she says it’s normal, due to the treatment plus all of the other covid-19 mishegas.

    So, this turned into more of a vent than a question. I’m just so tired and want to check to see I’m not alone in this.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’ve had to shift your entire mindset, way of life, and general outlook in an instant. That’s exhausting! I’m not surprised anyone is tired. No, you’re absolutely not alone.

      Can you take a day off? Or a couple of hours in the afternoon for a nap?

    2. oh dear*

      I know what you mean. I also have a chronic illness (narcolepsy, among other things), so I’m used to being tired… but the past couple of weeks, I’ve been really, REALLY tired.

      I’m not even new to working from home — my job has been remote from the get-go, so I don’t feel like I have any particular excuse. :/

    3. NeonDreams*

      I hear you! I feel the same way. I think it’s emotional exhaustion. Most everyone is stressed out to some extent and it’s hard not to internalize that.

    4. seahorsesarecute*

      Oh yes. Nothing much has changed for us, both my spouse and I are going in to work like usual. We never did much outside the house anyway, so shelter at home didn’t change much for us either.
      But the mental energy I’m spending knowing I’m following the rules to not spread or catch a disease like this is wearing me down. I avoid the news and it’s still just so exhausting. I think it’s normal, I know it won’t last forever – it just currently feels like it will.
      You are not the only one.

    5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’m always tired at the moment. I suspect it’s largely depression for me but also just the feeling that the whole world is collapsing. But I’ve been so tired that I’ve had to take a nap several afternoons this week.

      I’m not even employed at the moment — I got laid off not long before the virus hit, and although some places are starting to hire in my field again I’m not sure that I actually want to be on site. Construction sites often have inadequate facilities for washing hands etc. even in normal times and I’d have to take crowded public transportation to work. I’m fortunate that my husband is able to continue working from home no problem and makes enough money to support us both for a while, but I am quite overwhelmed with the feeling that my career is completely over and I will be nothing more than a glorified housewife for the rest of my life.

      I’m going to try some supplements and maybe see about online therapy. I was thinking about it anyway before all this, but I’m tired of always feeling awful.

      1. Amy Sly*

        My depression advice from last week may be helpful:

        In additional to getting therapy as quickly as possible — easier said than done, I know — I have over-the-counter tips for anyone struggling with depression learned from a lifetime struggle with the black dog:

        1) Make sure you get the sleep you need. Block out the needed time consistently, and if you need benedryl or another sleep aid to manage it, do it. Alcohol is *not* a good sleep aid though.

        2) Make sure you get the nutrition you need. Water, protein, and vitamins tend both to be neglected while depressed but also help you generally feel stronger and healthier. If that means adding Ensure shakes to the shopping list, so be it.

        3) Make sure you get the exercise you need. It increases your metabolism, helps you burn off any co-existing anxiety, increases your appetite for real food, and helps you sleep better. Even if it’s just a walk around the block a few times, try to do something that causes you to sweat at least a couple times a week.

        4) To the extent you can safely do so, get sunshine on your skin. Interesting fact: the severity of Covid symptoms appears to be inversely correlated to the amount of vitamin D you get. Even without Covid concerns, vitamin D deficiency is extremely common and linked to all kinds of health problems.

        5) Make sure you keep up with your personal grooming. When I’m at my worst, dragging myself into the shower seems nearly impossible, but once I manage it, I feel so much more myself.

        6) Try to do at least one thing every day that lets you feel in control of your environment. Maybe that’s just making your bed at first. Studies have shown that living in a messy environment increasing cortisol levels (a physical indicator of stress) in women. Frame it to the partner and kids that keeping the house clean isn’t about some arbitrary standard but about keeping you healthy and sane.

        7) Try to achieve at least one thing every day that you can point to and say “I accomplished this.” Maybe it’s that you did one of the prior six things, or something from work, or something with the kids. Maybe it’s something that you didn’t do, like not yelling at the kids. It doesn’t have to be much: just something concrete enough to be a line item on a to-do list that you checked off. Ideally, keep a list of these achievements. Being able to see your successes as well as just the defeats that depression is bringing to your mind will help you balance.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Just reading this list makes me tired, LOL! I’m at the point where the Black Dog wants to go for a walk, and I’m like “Dude I am too tired even to be depressed. Go get someone else to feed you.” And then the Black Dog shoves his nose underneath the covers and I’m all “I will only scritch you if you don’t make me get up” and then the Black Dog asks for belly rubs and I’m all “I am sleeping here man!” And then I lose the metaphor and just really want a Newfie to snuggle.

          Seriously though, at this point I can’t tell depression from being over 50. Everything hurts and I’m tired all the time, and it’s an uphill struggle to keep each at bay.

    6. Animal worker*

      You are so not alone. I was just emailing with peers at other zoos this week about this. I see so many stories about all the things people are doing during the lockdown – cook a masterpiece meal, clean the whole house, learn a language, etc. I’m essential, split between WFH and work at the zoo; and between the workload, the stress of trying to support my team and the animals in our care I’m working harder and more stressed out than ever. On my days off I have no energy, I just want to lay on the couch and try to relax without work thoughts running through my head. I’m happy if I keep my pets alive and my house at a minimum of (kind of) cleanliness.

      We are all having our own unique experiences here, and each persons’ situation and stressors are unique to them, but you are absolutely not alone. I wish you the best in your treatment and in dealing with this very stressful time.

    7. Joielle*

      I’m tired all the time too, and no kids, elderly relatives, illness, or anything like that to deal with. My spouse and I are both working from home but it hasn’t been too hard of a transition. But I feel like I spend a lot of mental energy suppressing a simmering rage/sadness about everything, plus every trip outside the house just takes more planning and risk/benefit calculation than it did before. Things that used to be fun aren’t anymore, and we just straight up can’t do a lot of fun things at all.

      Overall, I’m really really lucky and have things very easy compared to a lot of people, but yeah, I am still tired all. the. time.

    8. The Transient Hamster*

      This post and all of the responses make me feel less alone. I am exhausted. Part of my job involves HR, which has blown up since Covid began. Just tracking and following up on everyone requesting and going out on leave is a full-time job. Answering the non-stop questions, dealing with the policies that need changing every week (and the questions that follow), and being on call to open workers’ comp claims all weekend long when an employee tests positive for Covid is taking a toll. Payroll is a nightmare that requires a 14-hour day to process what with the temp employees, Covid bonuses, and special rates being offered. The worst part is that our corporate office seems to have zero understanding of the increased workload and expects us to continue to do our regular jobs plus all of this extra work. And we’ve had a PTO blackout so taking a day off to decompress and breathe isn’t an option. Not that I could take a day off because the work would just continue to pile up and be even more unmanageable. I feel like a shark who just has to keep swimming in perpetuity.

      Logically I know this will end some day and I know there are so many people dealing with much worse, especially our nursing staff and those poor employees battling Covid, but I am physically and emotionally drained and don’t know how much more of this I can handle. I’m just fortunate to have great co-workers and an understanding boss all struggling by my side.

      So yeah, I’m more than a little jealous of everyone talking about being bored working from home and all of the amazing crafting/cooking/learning experiences they’re all having thanks to this newfound free time.

    9. allathian*

      I’m tired. I seem to get enough sleep now and I’ve finally learned to drink enough water during the day so that I don’t drink pints of it before bed, so I get to sleep through the night instead of getting up twice or three times to pee.
      My son went back to school on Thursday so I can focus on work in the morning. In general I’m a morning person, so I want to work on tasks that require more focus in the morning and routine stuff in the afternoon, if at all possible. But with homeschooling, my routines were messed up, because my son would interrupt me at least occasionally. Things did improve a bit as time went on because he got used to remote learning, but still…
      I hate being out in the rain, but weather permitting, I take at least a 20-minute walk every day. It gets my endorphins up and I get at least some exercise. I know I should do more, but it’s better than nothing.
      I still enjoy some things like watching my favorite TV shows or rereading favorite books, but I’m just doing what I more or less have to do, I don’t have any energy for any extras. Thank goodness I have a houseproud husband who does most of the cleaning and cooking at our house. He has tons of energy and has a lot of projects going on, but I just vegetate on the couch when I’m not working.
      But I don’t have cancer… I would be surprised if a cancer patient who’s getting immunotherapy wasn’t tired.

  31. Oh No She Di'int*

    Hi all! I’m hoping someone out there has a recommendation for some kind of very small, lightweight software or app or service to allow members of a remote team to mark themselves as “available” or “unavailable”, etc. Everything I’ve found so far seems to be more of a full service time tracking or time card type application. That’s not what we need, however. We just need a way to signal to each other that we’re at the desk or not at the desk.

    We do use Slack, which has some of those features built in. But for a variety of reasons it’s not ideal. My preference would be for something freestanding and very small and inconspicuous. Any ideas?

    1. new kid*

      Can you explain a little bit more about why Slack isn’t meeting your needs here? I think anything I would recommend does essentially what you already have, so I just want to make sure I understand the ask.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Sure. I am aware that Slack does automate some of this–specifically, if it does not detect any system activity for 30 minutes, it will show the user as inactive. However, I just looked and I see that “Dave” is showing as inactive. But I have no idea if that’s because he has stepped away or if it’s just that he printed off a research report and has been reading it for the last half hour.

        Also, with a half-hour window, someone could, say, take their dog for a walk and be back before the status changes. That’s not a problem from a work management standpoint, but if I know that someone will be away for half an hour I won’t spin my wheels asking them a question that I need an answer to right away.

        Finally, I want a way for people to be able to be at their desks, using what is often their own computers and not have that imply that they are are necessarily “at work”. Even if they are using a company computer, someone might be taking lunch and watching YouTube videos, and they’d have every right not to be disturbed during that time.

        I know that there is a way to set a status intentionally in Slack, but it feels a bit limited.

        1. Grapey*

          Sounds like a Dave problem, not a software problem.

          Adding another “lightweight app” that depends on a user manually setting themselves as away is going to be two modes of communication Dave will ignore and will be 2x as much work for you to check.

          If Dave doesn’t want to be disturbed during his youtube lunch, he’ll learn to set Slack statuses. (Kudos for actually respecting them.)

        2. new kid*

          I don’t know that another tool is the answer in that case, as it sounds like more of a process issue. If I’m understanding correctly, in the scenarios described you really just want your team to consistently & accurately indicate whether they’re available or not, right? Could you all just agree on a status that means unavailable (DND maybe?) and coach people to use it consistently when they forget (eg. someone is showing available but doesn’t respond for 30 min because they actually got up from their computer and the ‘away’ hasn’t triggered yet – when they get back you say something like “Slack was still showing you as available, remember to set to DND when you’re away from your desk.”)

          Otherwise, I’m not sure how another tool would solve for this, as they’d still have to manually change their status (unless you’re just wanting one with a shorter ‘away’ timer than 30 min?)

        3. LQ*

          I get it, but honestly you are going to be so much more likely to get people to buy into doing something that has some built in capability. I know it’s not perfect, but it’s the humans, not Slack that’s the thing here. You can also set out of work hours on Slack which can help too. Adding another tool just adds another layer of Stuff You Have To Deal With. It rarely makes someone who doesn’t want to do this kind of reporting start doing it. To get that you have to either manage that person, or automate it. Most tools obviously build in automation.

        4. BB*

          Ah, ok. Ya I think this is a larger issue. I hate this aspect of Teams – no override option, auto sets to inactive/away after FIVE MINUTES.

          It is by far the feature I miss the most from SkypeFB. R.I.P default away status after never minutes.

          I’m not aware of a program that offers what you are describing, and I’m not sure how it would be able to know if you are ‘away’ versus ‘working but not at your computer’ unless it was manually activated – which Slack and Teams does allow.

      1. cat socks*

        We use Teams and I just checked – I can right click and set my status to Available, Busy, Do Not Disturb, Be Right Back, Appear Away.

        If there is a meeting scheduled on my calendar it automatically changes to “In a meeting”.

      2. A*

        It has the statuses and can be manually set, but Teams has an auto default to away/inactive after five minutes. Unlike SkypeFB, it cannot be overrode or changed to a more extended time window. Sounds like commenter is looking for one that will still show active/available even if the employee is not working on their computer in the moment.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Try Pidgin. It’s a free universal chat program which lets you log into accounts on multiple chat networks simultaneously. Basically, it pulls in all kinds of chat programs (plugins) into one app that you log into. Its plugins include Slack.

      Pidgin is very easy to install and use, and lets you set availability messages. It has standard ones, but you can also customize your status. “Busy – In the NeverEnding Meeting.”

    3. International Klein Blue*

      A short cautionary tale: I once worked at a place that had a home-grown chat system that also served as a presence indicator. With a glance you could easily see who was logged in, who was busy, “dentist appt – back at 3pm”. It was nice.

      Then various groups decided to bring in Slack, which has its own version of presence indicator. But it did not integrate with our other system.

      As a result, it became confusing to figure out if someone was around.

      1. Windchime*

        We just use Skype for this. I think we are eventually switching to Teams, but for now it’s Skype and we just are expected to manually set our status if we are going to be away from our keyboards for something other than a beverage refill or a trip to the restroom.

  32. not_kate_winslet*

    I wrote in last week about having issues with an probationary employee, and concerns about letting him go during a pandemic, etc. I received a lot of very thoughtful feedback and advice, and I truly appreciate all of it.

    Update: I let him go yesterday. There were several other strange incidents over the last week and it finally got to the point where it couldn’t be explained away any more. I worked with my manager and HR and completed the process yesterday. It is the hardest work-related thing I have ever had to do. When I talked to him on the phone to deliver the news, I had in mind the question/comment/update from earlier this week about addressing situations with compassion. I started off by asking him if he was ok. As it turns out, after that conversation, I suspect there are some underlying issues that he never disclosed or asked for accommodations for. That made following through with the rest of the conversation even more difficult (for me). If he had requested accommodations or volunteered any information along these lines, this may have turned out differently. Maybe just a cautionary tale for those of us on either side of the situation.

    Anyway, thanks again for the feedback.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! I’m sorry that was so difficult. But the onus was also on him to bring issues to his manager if there was a need for accommodation, instead of letting the situation snowball to a level of unacceptable work.

  33. City Planner*

    Ideas for a remote/WFH retirement party? I have a long-term employee on my small team whose last day is June 1. Pre-coronavirus, we would have had a pretty typical cake-and-punch open house in the largest conference room and most of our larger organization would have dropped by. Now, we are all working from home and won’t be back in one place for a while. I haven’t even seen this employee since March, because she’s been calling into our Zoom staff meetings. I’d welcome any creative ideas for a retirement celebration — I’d like her to at least feel like she’s gotten a proper send-off from our team, even if we can’t involve the larger organization.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Send her a cake! Or cupcakes. If you know she drinks alcohol, send her a bottle of champagne or something else she might like.

      There’s a website called Kudoboard that will allow you to create a group card. I haven’t used it yet but was just invited to for a departing leader in my volunteer organization.

      Have a Zoom send-off, just something light and fun. If you have people on your team who are into decorating and cheesy stuff, you can encourage them to decorate their desks or make posters or whatever. And you can all sing “For She’s A Jolly Good Fellow”.

      1. City Planner*

        Thanks for mentioning Kudoboard! That looks really great and helps solve my card dilemma.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Maybe arrange for a delivery of flowers, balloons, followed by a quick Zoom congratulating her and seeing her off?

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Remote happy hour, BYO cake? Spouse’s team have been having the occasional quiz (kahoot dot it – good for doing this remotely). Maybe theme a quiz around the year she started at the company, or throw questions in about her particularly (with caution! favourite fruit if there’s a running joke about her hating pineapple, but not a dig about her hairdressing fails).

    4. Alex*

      Can you send her a gift? Even just a bouquet of flowers or something similar that says “Happy Retirement!” would be nice.

    5. JessicaTate*

      My mom retired in April, and they threw her a Zoom party that she found really touching. It was near the end of her last day, and I think everyone was encouraged to have a beverage (including of the adult variety, if you were so inclined). They toasted her. And I think they went around the Zoom and everyone said something nice… something they would always remember about her, something they would miss about her, etc. It was funny and warm. She was pretty choked up by the end (even though she was pretty DONE with this company).

      And I think they might have mailed her a small gift… I can’t remember if there was some goodies (and this was only a few weeks into quarantine, so people were still adjusting). The guys she worked most closely with individually sent more meaningful gifts and cards.

    6. Joielle*

      One of my coworkers is retiring soon, and her boss invited everyone else to send in nice messages for her, which the boss will collate into some kind of card or booklet for her. And I think they’re sending her flowers on her last day.

      If your office is more social than mine, maybe a Zoom meeting with her immediate coworkers so people can share memories and send her off with some warm wishes? I think it would be too overwhelming to do with more than maybe 8 or 10 people, but that could be a nice facsimile of the conference room open house. One of my friends got married a couple of weeks ago and we did a virtual wedding reception where everyone decorated their own house and dressed up and did toasts over Zoom and it was really nice – maybe a work version of that.

    7. Academic Librarian*

      Send her a gift from Edible Arrangements — they are wonderful! They are made up of cut fresh fruit that you can eat immediately — pineapples, melons, strawberries, etc.

    8. Anony vas Normandy*

      We did a surprise auto parade for a retiring faculty member last week. Her husband was told, so he could get her out into the yard, and everyone stayed in their own cars and otherwise practiced good social distancing. Some people decorated their cars with crafts stuff they had on hand. If your whole team is in one town/your retiree has someone living with her who can get her outside/she lives in a place where it’s safe to go out, she might enjoy that.

  34. two questions*

    1. Do people just not know how to manage their emails? I know management receive crazy numbers of emails, but from what I’ve seen my non-managerial coworkers just don’t have a good system in place. I personally love being cc’d so I’m at least in the know (even if I don’t have to do anything), so I cc my team members maybe 10-15 emails a day, and apparently that overwhelms them.

    2. Has anyone survived the corporate world being nonconfrontational? I often find myself being blamed for doing exactly what I was told to do simply because that person forgot what they said to me. I find it really awkward to say, “Actually, what YOU said was…” because that’s bound to make the person feel bad. Also, I know some people say to document everything in an email to CYA, but I also can’t imagine a situation where somebody starts blaming me for something, then I stop them to print out an email where I wrote down “Per your request…”, and show it to them. My position isnt high profile enough for me to suffer serious consequences, but I do feel if I keep not correcting anything, thus implicitly admitting I was making the mistake on my own behalf, it can damage my reputation as a reliable employee.

    1. not_kate_winslet*

      Do your team members really *need* to be cc’d on that many emails every day? My rule of thumb is that unless they specifically need that information because it’s actionable, or in their chain of command and in a “need to know” situation, or another really good reason, there’s really no need to include another person in a cc. This would probably drive me nuts too. It’s not a matter of email management, it’s about the time and distraction involved to look at it to decide whether or not it’s important.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      1. So I just went and counted the number of emails I received yesterday: 105. I’d say that’s on the slightly higher side of average for me, but well short of what I’d consider a “busy” day. I don’t think that the number is the issue, more likely the relevance is the issue. What percentage of those cc’s would you say are for general “FYI” purposes versus those that the recipient really does need the information at that moment (as opposed to, say, getting a summary once the situation has been resolved or executed)? Based on the limited details you’ve provided here, my best guess is that people are receiving a lot of email that they don’t need perhaps regarding situations that they have no control over or input into. 10 to 15 emails about a critical situation that involves me wouldn’t be so many. But 10-15 emails every day about subjects that I’m not involved in would feel like a lot.

    3. peachie*

      1. Eek, it me. I do my best but am not an organized person. I’m in awe of and intimidated by anyone who has a perfectly-clean, well-organized inbox. How!

      1. peachie*

        (Not actually asking how, I am about as good as I’m going to get, I’m just amazed.)

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Me too. I’m highly organized in some areas but for whatever reason I find it hard to not lose emails. I get a lot of stuff and important things just get lost (none of this is work email, by the way, just my personal projects). Maybe I just don’t know how to use gmail effectively? It seems determined to put some important things under the “social” or “promotions” tabs even if I manually set them to primary.

      3. Sally Cat*

        I don’t even try for a perfectly clean inbox. I use some folders and delete older and completely irrelevant stuff. To me, that’s what the search function is for. I don’t feel bad about it either!

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I would ignore your cc’d emails. Sorry. I’m at a point where I’m flooded with emails about my direct projects and that in itself is overwhelming. Unless you were part of a project and I was waiting on information from you, I would ignore and delete the emails.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Or at best, set up a rule to automatically push them to a folder that I only check when someone asks about the project in question.

        With my work email, I’m ruthless about folders — the only things that get to stay in my in-box are things I need to do something about. Everything else gets moved to a folder, sometimes with only the most cursory glance to determine if it might be important.

    5. juliebulie*

      1. Rather than forward 10 to 15 emails a day to all your teammates, maybe consider doing ONE summary email? That could be helpful and useful and non-disruptive.

      2. Don’t think of it as yelling “AHA!!!!! But here is YOUR email where you asked me to do this.” Instead say, “oh sorry, did I misunderstand this email you sent me?” (where it clearly tells you to do that thing.)

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      I think you are unusual in wanting to be cc’d on stuff that you don’t need to do anything with. I suggest that you take what you are hearing from your co-workers as their truth and stop doing what many people would find irritating, and critically, what your co-workers are telling you is irritating. Most people don’t have time to read emails for FYI.

    7. A*

      1. Oh no, please reconsider! I understand the inclination, but unless you know for a fact what your colleagues email/workload volume is like this can get messy quickly. I’ve had to have conversations with several function leads about this. I work on 6+ projects at a time, but several of our junior staff members might only have 1-2. While it might seem to them like it would be helpful to CC me as an FYI, it isn’t actually when that’s happening across the board with all projects. If I need information, I will request it – or ask to be included on the chain. Otherwise it’s going to be filed away and I will assume it truly is FYI only. Without this kind of clutter, I receive ~200 emails per 24hrs, and since I’m in a global position the flow truly never stops.

      2. It doesn’t always need to be confrontational, per say – but I do think assertiveness is crucial for success. I have to take the approach of CYA due to the nature of my position / amounts of money involved, and it’s not at all uncommon (not just for me, but in general, and across all industries I’ve worked in) to forward/attach the email backup and say something along the lines of ‘In regards to XYZ, I reached out to the supplier on X date (correspondence attached) based on your request made on Y date (also attached). Please let me know if I have misunderstood the request.’

      And it doesn’t happen often, but there have been a few times where I’ve pulled up emails/documents in a meeting to backup whatever it is that is being questioned. Everyone on the teams does, it’s a waste of time to beat around the bush or point fingers etc. we just handle it with full transparency in a direct/blunt manner, and move on. It’s not like a court of law where my colleague who has been ‘proven wrong’ or whatever is going to be carted off as a result.

      TL;DR: assertiveness is more important than being confrontational. I personally have not met or worked with anyone above a mid-level position that is not a strong self-advocate capable of confident assertiveness.

    8. Half-Caf Latte*

      Your tone here reads as judgemental, and if I had a coworker who insisted on CCing me on things because that’s their preference, even after being told not to, it would make me question their ability to critically think.

      I’m also confused about how these two issues dovetail. In my experience, the CYA emailers are also the ones who cc the world, so I’m fascinated how you’re including your whole team on all your communications but still having (frequent?) miscommunications.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      1. Your preference is not automatically everyone else’s preference. You are probably way over cc’ing. Dial it back. Unless they do actually NEED to know, or have asked/generally prefer to be in the know, don’t include them.

      2. There is a difference between nonconfrontational and being a doormat. Right now, you’re being a doormat. I don’t necessarily do CYA emails with everything and everyone. You start to figure out when they’re likely to be needed, or which people are going to pull that kind of crap. For example, there’s one manager on my team who is a tool, and he will try to throw anyone under the bus instead of take responsibility for his screwups. I always CYA with him, because it’s needed. Other people, not as much of an issue.

    10. Me*

      Because you like being cc-d you’re ccing others. Whether or not they like it or really need to know. They’re giving you apparently clear feedback that they don’t need or want it and you chalk that up to them to not managing their stuff as opposed to your behavior being the issue?

      I’m going to suggest you take a very large step back and reconsider if those people actually have a need to know. An FYI is because it may come up in their work or affect them not just so they know what is going on around them.

      90% of things I’m ccd on I do not care and don’t need to know.

    11. Mockingjay*

      1) Can you ask yourself why you are cc’ing coworkers? What’s the value added? Is the email something they need to proceed in their task, or is it just general awareness? If the latter, I would not copy them, especially if the info is available elsewhere or widely known. If they really need to know something specific, they can contact you directly. Too much of anything is the same as nothing.

    12. International Klein Blue*

      In reverse order:

      2. “I find it really awkward to say, “Actually, what YOU said was…” because that’s bound to make the person feel bad.“ That is kind of you, but I gather that this other person has no problem making *you* feel badly over *their* mistake? No, I don’t think these conversations should become pathological arguments, but I *do* think that if you don’t stand up for yourself, you’re opening yourself up for bullying AND you’re letting these people get away with sloppy work, which is not good for the company.

      I think you need to start small: practice something like “but your email said I should do X”. And then when you get back to your desk, find the email, highlight the words in question, and send it to them. Set the Subject line to “Re X” but don’t add anything else – the highlighted words will say enough all by themselves.

      Good luck.

    13. International Klein Blue*

      1. Two things: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Cc’ing people on work-related emails, as long as you provide a descriptive Subject: line.

      And: you are correct, most people use email poorly and inefficiently. This isn’t meant as an insult – most email systems tend to *encourage* poor use, because the UI is almost always a list and sub folders – the usage paradigm is like a filing cabinet. But you can get a lot better results from email if you consider it a database – perhaps think “google for just my email” – and search on keywords versus scrolling down the list and hopping from sub folder to sub folder. Oh, and these days, there’s rarely a reason why you should delete anything (except for egregious SPAM, and most systems nowadays do a pretty good job of filtering that stuff out automatically).

      But most email clients stick with their ‘antiquated’ UI. And while many email clients offer some advanced features (“put all email to/from Bob in the Bob folder and raise it to the top when new items arrive”) most people don’t take advantage of them.

      (In case you wonder, a similar case can be made for a computer file system: most file systems present like a forest of trees[1], and most users use an ‘explorer’ interface to navigate the forest. But there’s a lot to be said for treating the file system like a database. Apple and Windows both provide a very basic “search” capability, but it could be much better).

      [1] look at VM/CMS for an example of one that does *not*.

      1. Brownie*

        Oh my goodness! I’d never thought to consider my email as a database before, but that’s exactly how I’ve been using it, as a searchable repository, and why I’m the go-to person in my team for finding anything that’s been sent via email. I’ll have to reframe how I talk about email with people and see if I can’t get folks thinking about it as a database instead so maybe they won’t be quite so overwhelmed and frustrated with their inboxes.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I assume your judgy complaint about people not being able to manage their emails is because someone asked you to stop inundating them with spam?

      If you are blasting 10-15 emails a day to coworkers who don’t need and have not requested that information, they are not the problem. You are wasting their time and making it more onerous for them to do their jobs.

      Question #2 sounds like you are concerned about having a good reputation at work. If so, being the person everyone puts on “mute” or “filter” is not serving you well.

  35. Potential ID*

    Hey, are there any instructional designers here? If so, can you tell me a bit about your path to ID? I’m currently doing IT (database admin) and I mostly hate it, but I love working with people and teaching them about technology. I also have some experience with building courses in an LMS from working at a university’s instructional technology department a few years back. I’m curious what your educational/career path was and what you felt benefited you most in achieving your job.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. new kid*

      I came in sideways through an early career technical writing and then went back to get my Masters in Ed Tech. I do think most ID positions are looking for a masters so that may be one path if you don’t mind getting additional education.

      That said being a subject matter expert can matter more in some jobs than direct ID experience, so if you already have experience in tech and want to train on that specifically, I’d look for industry jobs with language like “experience in x preferred” where x is the experience you have from your current career. That may be your best bet if you’re not interested in pursuing additional education.

      1. Lyudie*

        Same here. A couple decades of writing then made a switch a few years ago. I think the writing background was helpful. I’m doing my MEd 100% online.

        It sounds like you enjoy delivering the training as well as creating it, and that will be a great selling point for you. My company has separate trainers and IDs but lots of places will have one person who does both. The technical pieces are great too, again we have separate technologists but smaller places might have the ID doing some of that work as well.

    2. periwinkle*

      I started off in IT doing tech support and some database work. Now I’m in the learning team for a Fortune 50 corporation… When I was in IT I handled training projects for both teammates and internal customers, and really enjoyed it. A combination of that plus seeing terrible management firsthand led me toward an interest in workplace performance. Being a regular AAM reader since 2009 or so helped! Hit a major bump when my employer imploded, wound up doing temp clerical work in an HR department, and discovered the HR-related field of training & development.

      Having a masters is pretty much standard in the field because you need to understand adult learning theory in order to build effective learning solutions. It’s not mandatory to have the grad degree but you really should acquire the knowledge. To move into the field, I earned my masters from the superb program (100% online) at Boise State University. I lucked into my first job through a fellow alumnus, got some experience, and then landed an ID job at my current employer. Since then I’ve moved laterally around to other learning teams.

      Learning technology is a big thing now. Many IDs can create learning with the usual software packages. Not many are skilled at understanding technology, thinking in terms of integrated system architecture, writing APIs, and so on. There’s also a growing emphasis on creating holistic solutions which connect formal learning with electronic knowledge support and hands on (experiential) reinforcement of learning. Tech is driving learning and as we’ve experienced, it’s even more important now to leverage tech.

      One more thing – business acumen is also critical. Don’t focus so narrowly on learning that you neglect the context. As a learning specialist my job is not to create courses. It’s to improve workplace performance. Learning solutions are just a tool to get that improvement. Thinking of it this way is the difference between being a cost center vs being a value creator. IMO, of course!

    3. Anom-a-lom-a-ding-dong*

      I’m an instructional designer/systems trainer who took a winding path to get there. I originally wanted to be a teacher, and my degree was in English, but I ended up not being able to find a good teaching job when I graduated, so I decided to go the corporate route and try to find something that still allowed me to teach.

      My strategy was taking jobs that got me progressively closer and closer to full-time training/instructional design. My first few jobs were in a technical support/customer service setting that had a training component- they had me deliver live/remote training. Eventually, at one place, I had a really great manager and so I decided to make it clear to them that training/instructional design was my main interest. I was a strong performer in general, too, so they didn’t have any problem using me when new training materials needed to be created. They took a chance on me, for sure- I was starting from scratch when it came to video production and LMS/curriculum development, and I had to teach myself almost everything. That said, it worked out- after I proved that I could do it, they promoted me to a role that was completely focused on developing and delivering new training for their products.

      Working in customer service actually taught me a lot about being a good trainer. It was super valuable to know how to listen to a customer’s question or issue and figure out what their real needs are. I know it sounds simple, but “needs assessments” are a huge part of my job now, and the best way to build that skill is practice. A lot of what I do now is work in a consulting sort of role, where I listen to what’s going on and then create a customized plan/training materials for my “customers” (they’re all internal- I mostly work with IT). Knowing how to use the tools to create training is important too, but there are so many youtube tutorials and instructions online than I didn’t have much trouble with that. Plus, once you’ve gotten used to a few of them, it’s easier to pick up new ones.

      It’s funny- out of all the training professionals/instructional designers I know, most of them came in through other fields. I don’t know a lot of people who took formal classes and got an ID job right out of college. That might just be anecdotal on my part, though!

    4. Fabulous*

      I got be degree in theatre, then worked in financial services for several years where I was always the one to train on new systems or when a new person joined the team. I always kept detailed binders on common instructions, etc. so I got really good at identifying each step needed in a process, as well as where processes could be streamlined or refined to make something easier down the line. The training bit just seemed to fall in my lap at each sequential job I held, and if it didn’t, I naturally found ways to incorporate it, such as implementing a quick training for new hires on expense reimbursement, etc.

      My current job doing instructional design started similarly. I was called in as a temp for a sales admin role, had to make sense of chicken-scratch notes from the old employee, and put together a comprehensive binder on the role. The training team took notice as I was updating a lot of the processes that affected how and what they train new hires and I got brought onto that team to update their training presentations. From there, they tasked me with creating new training content, then creating sample files to make sure everything was branded appropriately and followed the same templates.

      After a merger, team member turnaround and a corporate realignment, I’m now officially in an ID role and recognized for my work :)

  36. Leah*

    I am currently employed, but actively applying for jobs. I’d like to update my LinkedIn profile, but worried about tipping off my employer. Should I do it or leave my profile alone/hide it?

    1. new kid*

      I believe you can update your profile but set it not to ‘notify’ eg. your updates aren’t announced, just there for anyone who’s actively looking at it. That’s probably your best bet, as no one from your current job is likely checking your actually page frequently enough to notice changes on their own (I would hope!)

      1. A*

        Yup, this is what I’ve done in the past when in that situation! Moving forward I’d recommend starting to update your profile (and allowing the update alert to go out) every 6 months or so, that way you don’t need to worry about it raising a red flag.

        It also serves as a helpful reminder to keep job / responsibility descriptions up to date and reflecting advances made in the last 6 months!

      2. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

        Do this and also update it over several weeks. Maybe each weekend you do a chunk and then set “notifications” off on each one.

    2. Leah*

      Thank you for replying. My employer actually asked us individually if we planned on staying or leaving the company which surprised me.
      I do think I can tweak a few things without setting off alarms.

  37. FML*

    I just found out my new coworker has the same salary as I do. It was an accident how I found out, but I am pissed. We recently got a pay cut so everyone is hurting for money. However this guy is completely incompetent. The smallest tasks take him hours! The work environment isn’t great either, and I’ve been looking for jobs for the last few months. Unfortunately I’m in an industry are the typical job search can take months if not up to a year. Help.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, it stings to think about it, but people get bigger salaries because they negotiate well or are charismatic, it has nothing to do with their competence.

        1. pancakes*

          It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their negotiating skills or charisma. Sometimes, perhaps often, the bigotry of the employer is the cause.

          1. Eeeek*

            Sometimes people in the same role get the same pay regardless of how good they actually are in the job. We’ve seen letters here discouraging reducing someone’s pay for being bad at their job. Maybe it’s one of those things where junior X with 2 yr experience gets this much money. That happens at my work and then some people perform well and others obviously not.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Uh, we don’t know the race of the co-worker in question. Nor do we have reason to believe that race is relevant here.

        People doing the same job generally get (or at least, are supposed to get) the same pay. If someone simply doesn’t belong in the job in the first place because they’re incompetent, that’s a totally different issue.

        1. Fikly*

          Supposed to and reality are not the same thing. Just look at the gender wage gap.

          And even if this particular coworker is not white, there are so many white males making more than their more competent non white male coworkers. So of course we have reason to believe that race is relevant here.

          I’m going to guess you are both white and male, because your default is denying this is a problem.

          1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

            But in this case the two workers are in fact getting the same pay. So a few white workers making more than a few non-white workers elsewhere is not actually relevant here.

            Occam’s Razor: An incompetent person is making as much as a competent person doing the same job. That’s all there is to it.

            1. Fikly*

              Except they’re not doing the same job. They have the same job title. That’s two different things. Action and name are not the same.

              1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

                Same job title generally means the same job unless we have specific reason to believe otherwise. And so far we don’t.

                (And if they were doing different jobs, FML would have even less reason to complain of his or her situation relative to the incompetent co-worker’s.)

                1. Fikly*

                  Same job title generally means same job responsibilities. It does not mean the two people are producing the same work.

                  Incompetent usually means they are not completing the work to standard. Thus they should not be earning the same pay.

                  You have the luxury of denying reality exists. Those of us who are penalized for not being white males do not.

                2. Jeffrey Deutsch*


                  Same job title generally means same job responsibilities. It does not mean the two people are producing the same work.

                  Incompetent usually means they are not completing the work to standard. Thus they should not be earning the same pay.

                  That’s…the very reality we’ve been discussing all along. An Incompetent Person X, supposed to be doing the same things as Competent Person Y, but not doing them (that’s how incompetence works, after all), but still being paid the same.

                  Take your race-baiting elsewhere, please.

              2. BBBBB*

                You are working real hard here to turn this into a completely different conversation. I don’t disagree with your points… but…. perhaps this is not the time/place? I don’t see the direct connection, and I think the situation merits exploring beyond the assumed confines of race. Absolutely worth mentioning as a strong possibility – but why do you keep pushing? We literally don’t know and additional context hasn’t been provided. Continuing to push this is not helpful to commenter?

              3. Eeeek*

                One is successful in that job and one is not. But people are typically hired in at a rate and generally they don’t get pay cuts just for sucking they usually get fired or ignored forever. So my guess is he will be ignored. We don’t even know the OPs gender or race and we don’t know the incompetent workers race. So we know 1/4 which makes assumptions hard.

    1. Fabulous*

      No advice, but commiseration… I had a job once where I was the “senior” employee (not in overall experience, but in tenure) and I found out the new guy literally made more than $10k more than me – and I was at a $34k salary, had just gotten denied a $2k increase even though I had 2 years tenure, passed a difficult certification and was doing a completely different job than I was hired to do. I understood that the new guy had more overall experience than me in the field, but he was still messing up left and right :/

      1. Windchime*

        Story time: I know a young woman who had many years of experience and institutional knowledge. She was well respected at her workplace. Then some new people were hired at a higher rate than her. She was upset and asked for a salary to reflect her years of service and experience. Management said no. So the young woman quit and got a job doing the same thing as a contractor for TONS more money than she had ever dreamed of, and she lived happily ever after. The end.

        (No, it wasn’t me, but it was someone incredibly smart who I used to work with and I was happy to see her come out on top of the situation.)

  38. Hedgehog*

    I’m struggling with the never-ending-ness of trying to work from home productively (along with parenting a small child half the time). Does anyone have tips for helping reset or get new energy around this? What have you found helpful?

    1. White Peonies*

      For my 3 year old and me these help.
      -daily schedule that we have written out on a white board so I know when to stop and walk away and my daughter gets to mark off what has been done.
      -Lunch away from the computer we have been having lunch on our front porch, its tiny and we had to wear jackets last week but it helps.
      -Nap time for both of us even if we just lay and be quiet its nice, we set a timer.
      -Exercise time – we break for 5-15 minutes 3 or 4 times a day and run to the end of the street and back, do jumping jacks, jump rope on the deck, anything to get us moving and out of breath.
      -turning off the TV helped us, we were using it for background noise now we play a piano radio channel on low and it has helped

      Just for my daughter to keep her from driving me nuts:
      -we have a seek and find two or three times a day where I hide a porcelain bear and she searches the house for it.
      -I work at the sink in my bathroom for an hour or so a day so she can swim in the tub

    2. A Non E. Mouse*

      Seconding to step away for lunch. A walk is nice; a few days we built a fort (either in the living room or out on the deck, when the weather was nice) and had our lunch in there.

      It’s not a restful lunch hour, but does seem to be “enough” of my attention and time to get me a decent chunk of the afternoon free to work.

      Setting a timer has helped on bad days where my youngest just really wants attention and I have work to do – I set the timer and say Ok, I need to work for this long, then we can make popcorn/read a book/whatever. He then just comes and gets me when the timer on the stove goes off – and I have quiet time until then.

    3. Generic Name*

      I step away from my desk and cook something quick for me and my son for lunch. I also take the dog for a walk with my son every afternoon. I’m also realizing I’m spending a ton of time with my kid…

  39. Retail not Retail*

    Is there a reason my boss got so cagey when I asked what I would be doing this weekend?

    We need to clean the pit. It smells bad and the humidity makes the smell worse. Good thing we got this whole mask culture now.

    I said Am I on the pit crew? “Why do you need to know?” “So I can dress for it and know what to expect.” “Assume you’ll be doing it Friday or Saturday.”

    Looking at Friday, it does not look like I’ll be doing it tomorrow because something else is priority.

    He just never tells us what we’re doing until the opening meeting. Those of us who work Fri-Sat actually have an advantage as we can usually get an idea what those 2 days hold if he’s put the schedule outline up.

    Of course our plans change for numerous reasons, I’m not asking for stuff to be in stone! Hell, we were locked out of the office with our morning tools today.

    But – you’ll be working with sharp plants or in the poison ivy this week, bring protective gear. You’ll probably be in mud. Just something dude throw me a bone.

    (He’s also been keeping COVID stuff from us and I am livid. He had us clocking out the whole time we were closed while we were getting paid our 40 hours no matter what. He also had us working 40 hours until other department heads went above him and got him to stop. Why is he like this and what can I do to handle it besides making sure my welding sleeves are always in my car?

    1. Retail not Retail*

      Clocking in and out is unsafe – there are 2 clocks in the whole park in small rooms.

      The executives have known our pay was safe for a few months – my manager chose to tell us every two weeks whether we’d have work the next 2 weeks.

    2. Jr. Woodworker*

      That sounds frustrating as hell (and making you guys use the punch clock when you didn’t even have to! That’s infuriating). Is it a power-trip/is he a power-tripping kind of person in general, or is he just weird about this stuff?

      1. Amy Sly*

        Or so disorganized that he genuinely doesn’t know? It makes it no less of a problem, but sometimes the reframing can help.

        1. Retail not Retail*

          We just don’t know! He really wants to stuff to return to normal and it’s just not.

          I left early wednesday because I was falling over exhausted after 3 hours of work.

          Well he did that job after lunch and discovered it was too hard for one person to do.

          But I did it yesterday and today and probably tomorrow. I mean at least he does some of the same stuff we do to prove it can be done.

  40. Brownie*

    Need venting options in order to stay professional and not turn into That Pessimistic Perfectionist.

    My frustration levels with my manager are reaching all-time highs and I’m finding myself so upset at his buffoonery and incompetence that the urge to vent to my coworkers is nigh-on irresistible. If we were all in the office it’d be a quick mutual “UGH *eye roll*” with coworkers and then done, but now that we’re all WFH I don’t have that quick and minor pressure venting, so it’s all building up like an over-fired steam engine. I’ve tried venting to my dog, to my BFFs, but none of them can provide the full vent release that someone else affected by my boss and therefore in the exact same boat can. What other options are there so I’m not venting over IM to my coworkers and destroying my reputation? Any suggestions for in the moment things I could do? Swearing is sometimes my only option since I can’t just get up and leave my desk in the moment and that’s just not cutting it right now.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      My closest coworker (who works the closest with our boss besides me) and I text via the app Snapchat to vent. The messages ‘disappear’ after you read them.

      (I’m sure they’re stored SOMEWHERE in the app… but you should be fine since it’s on your personal private phone. The person you are talking with can save your messages -it notifies you if they do – but my coworker and I just have an understanding that we aren’t saving these conversations)

      1. Princess Zelda*

        My understanding is that Snapchat deletes all messages after they’ve been viewed by the recipient, unless you specifically save them. It’s part of how they afford to keep going — they’re not paying for excess server space.

        1. Sadie*

          snapchat messages are truly gone after 72 hours. Even a subpoena or search warrant won’t get them back.

  41. Training Mayhem*

    I am a Training Manager and I’m in frequent contact with staff of all levels within my organization. I have been running into an issue lately where new employees come running to me to complain about their boss. I understand they feel they have a relationship with me because I am in so much contact with new employees during their first 6 months of employment. Sometimes, they just want to vent but sometimes they express real issues with their manager. Sometimes I agree with their feedback of their manager, but i stay nutural about it. What do i do in this situation?
    Any advice on what to say to these employees? Their manager is my peer. Neither one of us out ranks the other

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      Can you focus your advice/response in terms of “here’s how we handle conflict at Llama Rama”?

      Jeez it sounds like you’re really frustrated, generally employees are expected to give that type of feedback directly to their manager, but if you have done that and it’s not getting you what you need, here’s who you could escalate it to?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If there’s anything you think they can do to help the situation, tell them that. That’s what I would do with anyone, peer or subordinate. I mean, of course it depends on the complaint and the situation. But there’s no harm in suggesting they do something differently to get what they want, if you think it would be helpful to them.

    3. Fabulous*

      I would redirect them to someone who can help. Manager issue, maybe they go to HR for advice. If it’s an issue the manager can (or should) help them with, tell them so. They need to be aware of other resources other than yourself for things.

      Also, ask them what they have tried to do about it so far? Get them thinking about ways to answer their own questions.

    4. new kid*

      Could you channel their feedback into a new management training seminar that could benefit the manager(s) in question?

  42. Art3mis*

    I know Alison has said before that after interviewing for a job you don’t need to remind them that you’re still interested because they know you are from applying and interviewing. Is that always the case? I applied and interviewed for an internal position/promotion. They put it on hold for awhile and now it seems that two others on my team are getting it (there were two openings) because, as my manager said, they seemed more interested. When being told about them putting it on hold I said I was more than willing to help out and learn more about the role. I’m not sure what else I was supposed to do.

    1. Penguin*

      There are, unfortunately, always going to be hiring managers who expect applicants to conform to particular (unspoken) expectations and judge accordingly, but you can probably dismiss them as being anomalies. That said, things might be a little different when dealing with an internal promotion with the same manager? I can’t speak to that but maybe others can.

  43. Tone Deaf?*

    My very large company typically outright pays for or reimburses membership fees and dues for professional organizations.
    We are all WFH for the foreseeable future, executives took a pay cut, last month about 10% of the staff we’re laid off (a few furloughed), we lost or paused several projects in the office…
    Would it be totally tone deaf to ask for an $800 reimbursement right now? It’s not a strictly necessary membership (I am able legally able to do my job without it) but it’s a big deal in the industry to have these letters after your name.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think a lot of it depends on the people you’re asking, but you can always ask what the plan is for reimbursements and whether you should go ahead and submit your documents (assuming that’s the process) or you should hold off for a bit.

    2. tetris replay*

      Don’t eat the cost without at least asking the company. IMO, this is a business expense that the company *should* be planning for (but might not be). Send the polite email asking what the plans for reimbursements like this are; just asking about it isn’t tone deaf.
      Personally, I’d be horrified if my staff was trying to avoid asking for reimbursement for business expenses.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      If your company benefits from those letters after your name, ask about it. Simple email to your boss or whomever is in charge of those.
      Hey my X membership is up next month – should I send in the renewal paperwork and submit my reimbursement or opt out this year?
      I know for some memberships/classifications, the employer can only bid on certain jobs if someone on the team has that so it could be very beneficial for them and $800 is peanuts compared to the other cost cutting measures they are taking. They may say no but its worth asking.

    4. Nita*

      Is there a reason to go for the membership now, vs after things go back to normal? Unless there’s a deadline to signing up for membership, I’d just hold off on it until later.

      1. tetris replay*

        If this is a typical membership/certification, then they renew annually and you usually try to avoid having gaps in your membership.

  44. SQL Coder Cat*

    So I’ve been doing okay with the whole quarantine/working from home thing, although some days the walls seem to be closing in. And then… my department (IT) announced that as part of the University cost-cutting measures, we would be transitioning to full time work from home. We will not be renewing the lease on the workspace floors that would end later this year, and the remaining space will be turned into permanent hotdesks (both manager offices and cubicles). That space will also be phased out, but over the next few years.

    And now I am just depressed. I miss my team. I miss my stupid cubicle. I miss running into people from other teams and getting to hear what they’re doing. I can’t imagine working from home forever. I think my reaction is partially due to my complete lack of outside-the-house socialization right now, but it’s really crushed me.

    So… people who worked from home full time in the before days, how was it? How did you address not having all the casual interactions that come from working in an office?

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I worked from home for 7 years. It is a difficult change. The main thing I would suggest is that you go out for lunch even if it is just to run to the grocery store. Get to know your neighbors. If you have neighbors who are home during the day, maybe plan a 5 to 10 minute walk with them or something during a break. Get out of the house during the day! That is the most important thing.

    2. Fikly*

      I was full time remote before all this, still am. I’m on a team of around 15, I would say about a third of us are remote, the other two thirds are in the office, but it’s a job with 24/7 shift coverage, so the people who work in the office are pretty much never all there at the same time, if that makes sense.

      Full disclosure – I don’t need a ton of social/people interaction, but I do need some!

      What works for me is that in my job, we inherently need to talk to each other as shifts overlap, to hand over important things to know about from one shift to the next. That means built in people time – we almost always do this over audio, though we also Slack a lot. And social interaction will get in there along with the work talk.

      I will also Slack on and off throughout my shift with the people also on (usually one or two other people) about common tasks, or just chatting a bit. You have to put in the effort to make the interactions happen, but they worked well enough for me.

      I also make a point of going out to get social interactions, and I don’t mean going out and spending time with friends. I mean things like going for a walk, running errands, chatting with people at my 2-4+ doctors appointments every week. I do PT twice a week, plus an individual Pilates session, that’s all people interaction.

      It’s enough for me, but it may not be enough for you. But I would look for ways to get interaction on purpose, rather than incidentally, as typically happens in an office.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      This is not normal WFH.

      I don’t need a lot of interaction with other people, so I don’t really miss being physically in a team day to day. But I do have school age children, so ordinarily I get the water cooler equivalent at the school gate, soccer practice, etc. There’s a community cafe I often drop into.

      When Spouse used to WFH full time, it was before we had children, and lived in a small apartment. He would be absolutely climbing the walls by the time I got in from work, and always wanted to go out, just for a change of scene. Meanwhile, after a three-hour round trip and a busy office, I just wanted to stay in and eat my dinner off my lap in front of the TV.

      So I’d say it depends hugely on your own personality, your home setup (can you designate a protected workspace and close the door on it at 5pm?) and your wider location and community.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        (realise that sounds contradictory … “There’s a community cafe I often drop into.” It is open once a week and I don’t go every time it’s open. So it’s often compared to the cafe, but not compared to working full time in a workplace with other people.)

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      Fellow higher ed person here– I’m sorry to hear this about your office! I WFH full time. When I took this job, I was coming from working on campus, and I really had a hard time for a while. I have grown to enjoy WFH and now can’t comprehend returning to an office.

      What has helped is texting regularly with my coworkers, having frequent calls/Zoom meetings, and trying to intentionally add a little personal life discussion in our communication. I’m generally very private so this last part is hard for me, but it’s essential to help maintain that collegial atmosphere.

    5. Mockingjay*

      One thing your department might want to plan for during this transition, is quarterly (or whatever makes sense) meetings, in which you all physically gather in a conference room somewhere (on campus, in a hotel conference space). Periodic face-to-face interaction can really help with team cohesiveness. It doesn’t solve the lack of daily interactions, but can help with big picture items. Example: If your department is going to launch a major upgrade, get everyone together for a kickoff meeting and assignments.

      Bring ideas like this up now, so they can be incorporated into the transition plan and budgeted.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Consulting is inherently scattered to various client sites. We had monthly 2-hour training sessions in office (a mixture of soft skills and tool-specific), and semi-annual day-long gatherings for announcements and team-building. Both sorts of meetings also included a fair amount of just general chatter, as well ask asking for advice from the group about issues at our various clients.
        In addition, the consulting managers made a point of client visits, not just to keep in touch with the clients but also with the consultants. WFH isn’t exactly the same, obviously, but once the health-related lockdowns ease up, there’s no reason that managers couldn’t do the occasional coffee meeting somewhere midway between the office and employees’ homes – maybe by zip code or census tract.
        I just had a vision of an invitation to meet in a local park, “BYO lawn chair”.

    6. Clisby*

      I worked from home for 17-18 years before I retired. I loved it. I guess I didn’t need a lot of casual interactions from working in an office.

      For more context: I worked as a computer programmer for almost 9 years in an office. I liked the work, I liked my colleagues, I loved the fact that I had an office. With a door. That I could shut.

      About a year after I left that job (because we moved from Columbus, OH to Atlanta) my old job asked if I’d like to come back as a remote employee. This was about 1998? I agreed, and that was the rest of my working life. Maybe it would have been harder if I hadn’t worked for that employer before; as it was, I knew a lot of the people I wound up working with remotely, and we still had good working relationships.

      I never relied on my workplace colleagues for social contact, though. I liked them, and I even married one of them, but my main social life was outside work.

    7. allathian*

      Before COVID happened, I used to WFH a few days a month, not necessarily even every month. Now I’ve been WFH 10 weeks and we probably won’t go back to the office until September. I don’t need to go to the office for any part of my job, but I do miss running into people from other teams or even other departments and the casual chats. Those are much harder to arrange remotely than ordinary meetings.

    8. Windchime*

      No advice, but…….I think we may be coworkers, because this is my exact situation.

  45. New Senior Manager*

    Any recommendations for places to obtain leadership training certifications and/or project management certifications for my direct report who has zero experience in both?

    1. LQ*

      Honestly if your company has access to a Lynda/Linked in learning or skillshare or something like that you can do some intial training through that. Are you trying to get them fully up to PMP right away? there are some places that offer like weeklong intensive courses (I assume some online/have gone online) , but I’d be inclined to have them do a few self directed things to start with.

      1. New Senior Manager*

        No, not trying to get them to PMP right away. Trying to get their feet wet. Last week I wrote about the direct report who made donuts and other treats regularly, great worker, but grand boss felt she was too sweet and well-liked in the office to hold a leadership or management position. I asked for more feedback and was told she basically needed an image overhaul. This didn’t surprise me because someone here mentioned that last week. He recommended she gain leadership, management, and/or project management certification before allowing her to have even a small role with leadership responsibilities. I will look into your suggestion. Thanks!

        1. LQ*

          I’d definately look into some of the online classes then. If your company doesn’t pay for stuff lots of local libraries have services like Linked in learning (formerly Lynda) that you can use (online) with just a library card. They’ve got a wide range of stuff. I did one on transitioning from individual contributor to leader a while ago that was decent too, some like that may be useful.

  46. Seeking Second Childhood*

    This is a bit tangential — is there any hope of getting a phone number off the web when the business is defunct?
    We moved to this house 3 years ago. We’ve always gotten a few calls to the business who used to have the number before us. But now that we’re working from home, we’re fielding sometimes a dozen calls a week. Apparently many accumulator websites list the old business as if it’s still open. It’s not — as far as I can tell, the owners aren’t even in town any longer. I’ve been unable to get any site to remove the number because I’m not the business owner.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Honestly your best bet would likely be to talk to your phone company about getting a new number.

      1. Anonymous because reasons*

        Yes this^
        When I moved into my home the phone number had apparently been used as a forwarding number for Microsoft IT support…I got a lot of technical questions from all over the world :/
        The only thing that stopped it was the phone company changing my number, and putting the old number out of service.

    2. AnnieG*

      How do the accumulator sites know you’re not the business owner? Can’t you just contact them and pretend you are?

    3. A*

      Is it a landline, I assume? If so, I’d recommend just changing the number. Or ditching it altogether.

  47. LGC*

    A word of advice: even in the middle of a pandemic, it is probably not appropriate to sing along to Megan Thee Stallion while in the office. (In most workplaces.)

    In other news, my first week semi back to work has gone all right.

    1. Atheist Nun*

      But what if you’re singing 20 seconds of one of her songs while you are washing your hands? Then it becomes a public health matter and you’re justified for being hygienic, right?

  48. JustaTech*

    Is this as bad as I think?

    My work just created a Women at Work group as some sort of mentorship group (company’s only been in business since 1995, but whatever), and they are #whatglassceiling.

    Am I out of line thinking that’s a terrible hastag? Like, what glass ceiling? How about that one labeled “no women in any kind of supervisor/leadership roles in 3 departments” or “only one woman in the C-suite” or the glass ceiling covered in spikes “no childcare now”? How about those glass ceilings?

    I just feel like you don’t address a real problem by pretending it’s not there.
    Am I being unreasonable? Should I be grateful we’re at least having this conversation?

    1. Jr. Woodworker*

      I don’t think you’re being unreasonable at all. Even if they’re not /purposely/ trying to ignore what sounds like a legitimate problem with sexism at your company, #whatglassceiling sounds like a ra-ra-girlpower slogan to me. Something that’s marketable and ‘feel-good’ without necessarily driving any change. I mean, some people like that stuff, so it /might/ be ok as one small part of a much larger effort to address sexism, but sounds like that’s not the case.

      1. JustaTech*

        I’m thinking it might also be related to the fact that the people on this “employee resource group” are all in the few parts of the org that *do* have women all the way up the reporting structure.

        That and they seem to have forgotten that a whole department (with a lot of women, just not above “manager”) even exists, because they didn’t ask anyone to be on their start-up committee.

        So far all they’ve done is send out some links to some webinars, so it will be interesting to see what they do going forward.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Oh goody, that’s two spots on my bingo card. The only C-suite women are in HR? Awkward and unrealistic hashtag? What’s next, telling me to lean in?

          1. JustaTech*

            Aha, not HR! The woman who was in charge of HR quit so now we have a guy who was in the Navy (all his Navy stuff is in the background of his video calls). The only woman in the C-suite is the COO.

            And now that I think about it, all the people I know who are involved in running this “Women at Work” thing are in her org. (In normal times I’d be literally downstairs and maybe they would have remembered we exist, but with the WFH I’m not surprised they forgot us. We’re not what you’d call brilliant at communication, as a company.)

            A while back a group of women in my building wanted to do a book group of Lean In but someone (don’t know who) squashed it.

            1. No Tribble At All*

              Let me add self-imposed bias to my bingo card, then! ;) My company is very tech-y, so the only parts that have more than 25% women are HR and finance. Yet most of the managers in those department are men, too.

              I guess good for your COO that she wants to promote and support the women in her department? (I don’t know what a COO really does).

              Did you support Lean In? I haven’t read it, but I’ve seen articles critiquing it. What would you want out of a Women at Work program?

              1. JustaTech*

                I haven’t read Lean In, so I can’t say if I support it or not, though I know there’s a lot of lively discussion about how effective it can be. (My polite way of saying “raging controversy online”.)

                What I’d like to get is:
                Decent parental leave. (Maternity is like, 3 months? but paternity is 2 weeks. If we’re getting pawternity leave (for your pets), we need to have more leave for new kids.)
                Acknowledgement that there are several departments that are very male dominated and at least some reflection on why that is.
                Mentorship for women in *any* department and some real upward mobility.
                A general culture shift about listening to women who say “[Dude] talks down to me regularly and does not respect my knowledge, expertise or work.” (I just realized we haven’t had anti-harassment training in like 3-4 years. Oops.)

                I know a lot of that is a stretch, but would be nice to at least try.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      I agree that I hate the hashtag, but I am guessing it is intended to be aspirational, not factual.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, I could see where it might be intended defiantly, but a situation like this isn’t the right place for ambiguity.

  49. Cheesehead*

    My lovely state Supreme Court has decided to strike down our shelter in place order. I work for a small-ish non-profit, only 8 employees. My boss is telling us we will be back in the office on Monday since the order has been lifted. The real kicker is that the nonprofit we work for promotes quality in healthcare settings. Do we have any room to fight back here? Everyone is absolutely livid.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Oh hey der! :)
      I think you can push back – especially as a group if everyone is upset – about it. Point out the cities/counties/businesses in our state who are *not* going back to business as usual right away! In particular, if you know of other nonprofits or businesses similar to yours, see what they’re doing and hopefully you’ll find some really relevant examples.

      1. Cheesehead*

        That is a good point. The fact is that there is absolutely no reason to go back into the office. The transition to remote working has been seamless. And if we are back in the office, I will be sitting in my office with the door shut, not taking in-person group meetings, and having people call me if they need me… How is that any different than working from home but infinitely more inconvenient and dangerous.

      2. Cheesehead*

        Also hey der fellow cheesehead. Doncha know, this whole thing is a real mess. Hope you are hanging in there the best you can. And if not, at least liquor stores are deemed essential in the counties/municipalities that implemented the safer at home order on their own?

    2. Sky blue*

      Where specifically are you? Some counties or cities are instituting stay at home rules for their locations. It’s going to be a crazy quilt of chaos.

      1. Cheesehead*

        I am in Dane County, as is my workplace, so we should not even be going in to the office.

    3. JessicaTate*

      Absolutely push back! Just because stay-at-home is lifted doesn’t mean you HAVE to leave home. I think your nonprofit mission is a good thing to lean on as well, as it would align you with what public health officials are saying. I’m in a metro area that just lifted stay-at-home restrictions. But health officials have been clear: lifting that restriction doesn’t mean “back to normal;” it still means, if your work CAN be done from home, it SHOULD be done from home.

      It might be different if you had services that needed to happen on-site, or if there are employees for whom WFH is problematic. But it sounds like y’all have consensus that this is unnecessary.

      Good luck. Between this and the election last month, your Supreme Court is bananacrackers!

      1. Cheesehead*

        Thanks for your comment. The consensus is that it is absolutely shortsighted and ridiculous. Please do not let our Legislature and Supreme Court reflect poorly on our magnificent state. We are a fun and beer-loving people.

  50. Repair Trust*

    Does anyone have any advice for trying to repair a professional relationship and trust with a more senior employee (not my manager, but in a leadership role)?

    For context, everyone else I work with seems to think I’ve always been great to work with and have done swimmingly (my manager, coworkers on my team, mentors, etc.), I just have always had a somewhat rocky relationship with this one lead and have thrice fucked up in a way that meant he had to help me clean up the mess. I have profusely apologized and worked to not to fuck up again. My manager has told me that those mistakes were understandable, expected to happen for someone at my level, and really small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but I can tell the lead is now really skeptical of my work. (The mistakes have essentially been of this nature: I work for a couple days on something, but then it turns out the assumptions I made were not entirely correct, so then it has to be re-done. There was no real deadline for the tasks, per se, but I had wasted my time when I should have reached out to verify I was on the right track earlier. To keep things moving, the lead jumps in and “helped,” but basically just did things himself while I watched).
    I can still feel that things between us are tense. I am tying to be much more proactive about reaching out and giving more detailed updates so people can jump in if they spot something wrong, but the tension between us has been giving me serious foot-in-mouth syndrome. I can give good written updates, but when he asks me what’s going on in meetings, I just sound like an idiot. He hasn’t really directly addressed the incidents, besides when I apologized, but I don’t know if I should? So far I’ve just been trying to stay accountable, but it’s hard when I feel like this guy may hate me.

    1. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

      I would let it go. Don’t worry about his perception anymore. It’s going to make you stressed. It sounds like the lead is the one with the messed up expectations and has the repairing to do, not you.

      I’d just be professional, stop apologizing, and send in your work. If the lead keeps making comments about your mistakes, especially if it’s in front of others, then bring it up in the moment.

      You: Here is my TPS report.
      Lead: Did you make sure to enter the numbers on section 5 this time?
      You: You bring that up a lot – is there a problem with my work you’d like to discuss?
      Lead: Well you did mess it up.
      You: Yes I did make that mistake the first time I did the report 6 months ago. Have there been errors since then I’m not aware of?

      Who knows – maybe there are more errors. Maybe this will signal to the lead he’s focusing on a one-off mistake too much. If it’s in public it will signal to others the lead is being unreasonable.

    2. A Non E. Mouse*

      For context, everyone else I work with seems to think I’ve always been great to work with and have done swimmingly (my manager, coworkers on my team, mentors, etc.), I just have always had a somewhat rocky relationship with this one lead

      I mean…sounds like a him problem, not a you problem.

      If you work well with everyone else, and it’s always weird with him…I would guess whatever is happening is bad communication on his part, adjust my expectations of how (not) smoothly working with him will go, and then proceed to not care as much.

    3. LGC*

      I think that part of the issue is that he’s picked up on a pattern where you make (at the time) major mistakes that he feels like he’s stuck repairing. Which might not be the truth, but that’s his perspective. And…admittedly, it’s kind of hard to come back from that.

      I think what’s actually helped me fix my opinion with people junior to me is when I find out that while they’re not great at X, they are great at Y (another task). So you might have messed up on your assumptions! Is there a way to make your work more adaptable? Is there something else that you can do?

      And also, that might just be…the way he is. I’d ask your boss, if she’s a peer to him and has had experience working with him, if he just tends to hold grudges. It might give you some comfort if you just know that it’s not you (or it’s not all you), it’s him.

    4. Darren*

      So it sounds like you think he might hate you but he hasn’t mentioned the incidents (except when dealing with them/you apologising for them)?

      I think you might be reading too much into this, I’m a senior person and have had to come in to resolve similar issues where people could have asked a couple more questions to start with and done it right instead of making assumptions that led them astray and while in the moment it’s annoying and frustrating I’ve never held a grudge about it.

      The person involved being more focused on asking those questions and me not having to step in to resolve issues as a result is really all I’d want from the situation and it sounds like you are doing that. Now I’d probably be a bit more mentoring than he is being and actually say things like “I’m glad you asked that because it doesn’t work as you might expect.” and even have a chat after a few projects have gone well to call out that I’m appreciating that you are reaching out more but just because this guy is senior doesn’t mean he is any good at mentoring (in fact his actions to date make it sound like he is terrible at mentoring he should have been suggesting how to avoid these issues in future when they occurred not left it to you to work it out as well as providing appropriate feedback and encouragement when you are on the right path).

      1. Repair Trust*

        I definitely may be reading too much into this, but this role has offered me very little in the way of constructive feedback, so I am left to work off of what I feel/guess people may have issues with. I am the most junior person on my team by far and to be honest, I don’t think they were really equipped to handle a true junior employee. It sucks and is confusing. Most people I talk to say I’m doing well but don’t get into specifics, so I don’t feel that way, you know?

  51. peachie*

    Anyone else dealing with a member of their household going back to work soon with many stay-at-home orders being lifted?

    My partner works in a small clothing shop which is reopening next week. They’re a decent company and have released guidance about new safety policies, but it will still be a major change to our collective risk level. I’m extremely fortunate to have a job that has easily transitioned to WFH and I don’t imagine I’ll be back in the office for quite a while, so we’ve been isolated since March apart from a few scattered errands and occasional walks outside our apartment.

    Neither of us are super high risk, but he does have asthma (and anyhow, not being high risk is no guarantee that you’ll have an easy time), so this is making both of us anxious. (It also means it will probably be much longer before either of us can see our families again.)

    I’m lucky to make enough that I could cover our expenses for a while and have told him that he should quit if he’s not comfortable or if his work environment ends up being worse than expected. But, although he’s VERY stressed and anxious about going back, he doesn’t plan to quit, not least because quitting means no unemployment. He had a tough time finding a job when we first moved here and doesn’t want to end up indefinitely unemployed again, and I understand that.

    The chances of him getting another job — specifically one that would be WFH — are quite low right now. He has a Masters in humanities/arts and, outside retail, has primarily worked in arts education, though he has enough administrative experience/knowledge that I think he’d do well in an admin-type role. But, I mean, how do you do that? Especially now? The biggest employer in our small city is a hospital, and while they are still hiring, most of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ jobs that could be done remotely are for technical roles that aren’t in his field. The types of jobs at the second largest employer (mine) are more aligned with his background, but they’re on a hiring freeze until July 2021.

    I’m mostly just venting my anxieties, but I would like to hear (a) how others are dealing with this (whether you’re the one going back out into the world or the one staying at home); and (b) if anyone has had any success in getting a WFH role while in lockdown, particularly one that doesn’t demand a high-level/technical background.

    1. Lisa*

      I live with three young adults, none with health risks. I have no serious risk conditions but I’m a generation older and have a few borderline concerns. I was already mostly WFH. Two of the kids have continued working outside the home this whole time, while one is completely furloughed but will probably be back at work in June.

      I’ve dealt with it by accepting it as the situation we are in and looking at how to mitigate risks. I look at how our state and county are doing on cases, and how people in general are doing on distancing, masking, etc. I’ve stepped up household hygiene but not obsessively to the point that it becomes a new anxiety.

      A lot varies by industry, region and employer, or even project. For example, one kid works construction and he is pretty safe. His employer recognizes the difference between a commercial project where a few workers can spread out vs. tight quarters in an occupied home remodel. Everyone has their own truck, they can shop at hardware stores and lumber yards instead of more crowded big box stores, and they are breaking their heavy handshaking habit.

      For the other two, in restaurant and personal care, it’s a lot more risky. So there the focus is on masks and hygiene, avoiding public transit, washing up on arriving home. For instance my food service kid found a mask design that a friend is making that is super comfortable and cute so she can happily wear it for a full shift.

      And we also don’t just shrug and say “well, we are vectored now!” We minimize errands, mask in public and do all the sensible things the rest of the time.

      It’s not a perfect solution but it helps both the actual risk and the mental stress to be doing what CAN be done. I hope this is somewhat helpful.

      1. Natalie*

        This is how I’m approaching it as well. I’m on maternity leave but my husband is back at work and he is a laborer, so no WFH. We’ve talked about the steps his employer has taken and any additional things he’s decided to do beyond that. For my part I’m trying to strike the same balance you describe, taking sensible precautions but avoiding going overboard into compulsive behavior.

  52. Ray ray*

    Feeling a little stressed about job hunting. I was laid off right before everything shut down, and my layoff was not virus related. I’m finding that fewer jobs are being posted and I’m barely finding even just a handful to apply to each week. I had an interview last Friday and got a call this week that they were hiring someone else BUT he wanted to pass me onto another department that was hiring for a different position. I thanked humans have the okay,but I haven’t heard from them yet. I had another company indicate interest a few weeks back but then they went on a hiring freeze. Would it be a bad idea to email that recruiter again just to see if the job might open up again? I hope I figure something out. I’m okay financially with the UI and CARES money but I’m also bored and feeling super uncertain about the future

    1. Ray ray*

      Another thought I forgot to add, but I feel like most postings I’m seeing are just to collect resumes and research who is applying- not to actually hire. It’s obvious when jobs I know would be competitive have been up for a month or longer, but get reposted every now and then as “new”. I absolutely know based on the job title/description and how few openings there are for them compared to number of qualified people wanting work in that field.

      1. Fikly*

        I would be careful about assuming you know what’s behind the reposting – your stress and anxiety are going to lie to you.

        1. Ray ray*

          That’s a fair point, it just seems suspect when these Marketing Manager type roles can’t seem to be filled and the job gets reposted while the old one is still up too (I search on LinkedIn and Indeed and other sites too). Perhaps they’re just not getting the super experienced rockstar they want.

    2. Ray ray*

      Holy cow typo, when the interviewer called to see if he could pass my info on to someone else, I thanked him and gave the okay. I just saw that it said I thanked humans. *sigh*

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I’m in the same boat. I’ve had 2 offers rescinded due to Covid, and am finding it challenging to get interviews for ” real ” jobs. It seems like a lot of companies are just trying to get a feel for what kind of candidates are out there. I’m hoping at least a few of those will become viable opportunities at some point.

        1. Ray ray*

          Oh man! That sounds super discouraging. I’m hopeful things might get better this summer, so long as we don’t have a spike in cases soon. I hope you and I both find new jobs soon.

          1. Cassidy*

            Wishing you the best of luck, Ray ray and Hotdog not dog.

            It’ll work out fine, and I don’t mean that cavalierly. You’ll both find something, at least enough to carry you through until there’s a vaccine, at which point there will be plenty for you to choose from. Virtual hugs…

  53. Half-Caf Latte*

    Hi All!

    First and foremost, thanks to all who had kind words on my post two weeks ago. It really was helpful to hear that I’m basically stuck and expected to do the impossible, although I was really hoping when I posted that I’d get a solution I hadn’t thought of.

    My boss sucks and isn’t going to change, but I have recently heard that we’re not hosting any in person events through the summer, so theoretically there should be no need to go onsite until then, although she won’t commit to that. Intellectually I know I should just take each day as it comes and not burn any bridges until I get to them, but in practice for a planner it is so so so hard! I’ve always been strong at strategic thinking and planning so when I ask questions about things I think are obvious and no one has thought of them yet it’s really frustrating.

    I’m planning to stay put in my job for the time being – as rough as this is, the pay and other intangibles are preferable to other options, at least for now. Many other roles in my field would have more on-site requirements.
    I know some folks felt like my spouse should be the one to take a hit for a bit by assuming childcare duties, and I hope this doesn’t come across as defensive, but him stepping back would be permanently damaging to his career, and he (and I) genuinely value the oath to do no harm to patients. Sure, there are others who could fill in, but he possesses the strongest skill set and knowledge base, and really is making a difference in the quality of care for patients and safety for staff.

  54. CupcakeCounter*

    So I was laid off of my new job of 4 months in Tuesday. It was a position elimination so no chance of call back. I was pretty shocked as my boss spent the bulk of March and April telling me I was doing a great job and my position had been classified as a priority for the organization. Then 2 of the higher ups in the area I support took the voluntary separation and the project I was working on was eliminated which made my position unnecessary. I get it but am still pretty salty about it since I was just started to get comfortable in the position and hit a major deliverable the previous Friday.
    Well I’m one of the lucky ones and have an interview next week via Zoom. I would normally wear a suit (finance) so should I still wear the full suit or can I do suit-lite? Suit jackets don’t fit me well at all so could I wear a nice top/shell and one of those open blazers made of the stretch material that fit me way better? It’s navy so a good conservative color and when sitting should look very polished but less so than my traditional black and gray business suit.
    Any other Zoom interview tips?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve been dressing the same for zoom interviews as I would for in person, except I haven’t bothered with shoes! Pants, yes- just in case the camera accidentally moves!

    2. Ray ray*

      I agree with hotdog to dress the same as you would if you were going in person. Definitely wear pants too!

    3. hermit crab*

      The first interview for my current job (a couple years ago) was via video and I definitely did the “suit lite” approach. I think if a non-suit blazer makes you feel more confident, that’s great, and over video I doubt anyone is going to be zooming in to check whether your pants exactly match your jacket.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        I only have 1 quality suit that fits decently so I was hoping to go suit lite for the video interview in case there is eventually an in-person.

        And I was always going to wear pants…probably not suit pants but black or navy pants.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          How about a light cardigan style sweater instead of the suit jacket?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            This has come up recently on here, I’d suggest searching back. I can’t remember exactly when though.

    4. SweetestCin*

      I’d recommend a dry-run to make sure you’ve got the angle on the camera correct, nothing funky in the background, no glare from the lights, etc. I’ve discovered that some of those things change daily due to the time of day, weather, etc.

      1. A Frayed Knot*

        And please Please PLEASE make sure the camera is at your eye level. Put some books under your laptop to bring it up to a reasonable level. I hate looking up people’s nostrils!!! And good luck.

  55. TinaBelcher*

    I saw a post on LinkedIn where someone suggested that instead of providing your salary expectations you should ask the budget for the position. Is this something anyone has ever tried?

    1. A*

      Yes – this is my primary tactic, although I phrase it as ‘what is the expected salary range’. I might try this wording next time, it leaves less room for interpretation! There have a been a few times where they’ve bounced it back to me along the lines of ‘well, what are you looking for’? and I’ve had to push back with ‘I’m interested in hearing what range is being considered for this position’. It feels a little awkward, but it works. And often they will mention something higher than I would have said.

      This is sooooooo much easier to do now that employers can’t ask about your previous/current salary.

    2. Ems*

      Yes, I did this at a recent interview. The interviewer asked about my salary expectations, and I asked whether they had a range in mind (I prefaced this by saying that I had recently moved to the country and this was different sector to one I’d worked in in the past, although I’d also done my own research – in hindsight I don’t think it was necessary for me to say this).

      The interviewer replied with a $20k range (think $80k-100k), which may not have been super useful for a lot of people, but was actually really helpful for me as it was on the high side of what I was expecting – if I’d been forced to name a number first I would have said something at the low end of the range she gave. After she revealed the range I said it was in line with my expectations and we moved on.

      (I didn’t get offered the job, but I’m almost certain that was for unrelated reasons!)

    3. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

      What is the expected range for the position? [Silence]

      Silence is your tool. They will say something. I they bounce it back to you bounce it back to them with no qualifiers and then say nothing. It works so well.

      1. Raea*

        YES. Like in so many areas of life, the ability to master the art of accepting – and enduring unflinchingly – ;awkward’ silences is profoundly powerful. Job interviews, and when I ought my car outright are the two examples that come to mind – but it pays off in so many ways!!

    4. salary question*

      One time I asked and got caught in an undesirable loop with a recruiter. She actually said, “we’re not at that point in the conversation yet”. Yet, it was fine to push for my number? We somehow managed to get past it, but needless to say, I didn’t make it past the phone screen.

      I would’ve thought it was in my delivery, but most of the time, recruiters understand that I actually do need this info. My field has a pretty wide range, and it saves everyone a lot of time and trouble if we can have that conversation up front.

      Or, just post the salary and save everyone the time and trouble.

  56. Delta Delta*

    Just a bit of a rant. This week I had to work with lots of people to assemble a significant written project. I created a really comprehensive draft, and then the nitpicking started. The report was due yesterday. I had hoped to get it completed midday so it could be submitted. A flurry of last minute corrections were made (some of which were really constructive). The report was done and submitted. An hour later, I got a call from someone who had been silent on the matter all day and wanted to make changes. I diplomatically told her no. She started talking about how this, that, and the other were all really significant. But really, she had been involved in the process for 3 weeks, she knew the deadline, and she knew the report had been submitted.

    Also, if you’re working on a committee document, maybe designate ahead of time who will be the official editor. If you’ve got 12 people with their fingers on the edit button, make clear that one person is doing it. Do we all need to go completely insane because one person likes the Oxford common and one person doesn’t?

    1. International Klein Blue*

      I feel for you.

      It may or may not work in your corporate culture, but I’ve had some success with designating individuals as “crayon holders”: “Okay, Martha has the Crayon, when she finishes her changes she’ll pass it on to Jim …”

      I have very little tolerance for people who don’t play well with others, ignore the crayon, and send a bunch of changes in the day it’s due. If you’ve been very clear with everyone about the crayon, the due date, etc, and someone still does this? If possible, I’ve told them “sorry, it’s too late” (and leave their name off the document). Again, corporate culture will determine if you can get away with this. I try very hard to never complain to management about a coworker – but this kind of thing is the rare exception.

    2. Lisa*

      An internal style guide can really help as well, with the nitpicking. That can just mean picking an established guide, saying “we use AP style” and then adding a company-specific addendum for dealing with industry jargon and trademarks, e.g. “teapot” is lowercase but “Acme Teapots” is capitalized and it is Acme not ACME.

      Another tip I learned from a pro copywriter years ago when I was PMing a huge content project with a ton of stakeholders: a lot of people are unclear on what is appropriate editing at different stages. So your group might benefit from more structure. Eg, there will be three rounds of review. Draft one will focus on theme and structure, draft two on accuracy, draft three on polish. Designate an owner who consolidated all feedback and let people know that any premature edits will be rejected so do not waste time on punctuation and spelling in draft one. And consider having a couple people who are skilled in copyediting do the final pass on their own, with the style guide to back them up. Send everyone an FYI with a nearly-final copy when it goes in for final editing letting them know that it is just going through quality control before submission and any critical issues must be raised no later than noon on Thursday or there will be no further opportunity for revisions. And hold your ground, short of a stop-the-presses situation (such as legal risk). This is just an example of how a process can work but just something more structured with more advance expectations.

  57. Falcon*

    I’m trying to figure out if my circumstances justify breaking one of the primary rules of resume writing: never include student activities or awards prior to college on your resume. This is a rule I’ve never broken before (aside from when I was a freshman in college and didn’t have anything else to put on my resume). I am flinching at the thought of doing this, so am looking to see if other folks think the specific positions warrant a *one-time* violation of this rule.

    I’m applying for COVID contract tracing positions as an out-of-state applicant (these positions are open to remote applicants, and my state hasn’t posted contact tracing positions yet). Some states like Massachusetts specify that non-residents should have familiarity with the state. Unfortunately my family never had much money to travel when I was growing up, and as an adult I never was in a financial position to consider relocating for a job or going on vacations outside of my tri-state region. This makes me think my out-of-state contact tracing application could be headed for the trash bin.

    The only evidence that I have a good knowledge of and memory for geography is that I was a two-time state Geography Bee semi-finalist when I was a teenager (about 15 years ago). This competition went beyond memorizing capitals/borders and involved testing cultural, social, political, environmental, and economic knowledge of the US and the Earth. (Warning: I am not generally comfortable writing this braggadociously, but the following info is provided to contextualize so I can get input on if this justifies breaking a cardinal resume rule). To get to this point, I had to win my school’s geography bee, take a written test/have one of the top 100 scores in the state, and score high enough during the state preliminary round to advance to the semi-finals. I live in one of the most populous states, so with more students to compete against, your odds of making it to the semi-finals twice are quite low. Most of the kids got to the semi-finals because their parents took them around the country and the globe, so they got exposure to other regions firsthand through tours and museums. I was able to compete with them because I spent hours as a teenager researching the world on a slow dial-up computer and borrowing books from the public library – then quizzing myself on the content. I wanted to prove that I was just as capable as them.

    I’m wondering if it’s worth mentioning on my contact tracing application since it’s the only real way that I could make the case that I can easily memorize minutiae about a region and understand cultural/economic issues as well. I am hoping to demonstrate to the hiring manager that even though I’m an out-of-stater, I am a voracious researcher and will thoroughly prepare myself for serving their state’s citizens. Is including my experience in the Geography Bee (either on my resume and/or my cover letter) a risk worth taking?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      That’s a tricky one. Your HS experience might show aptitude, but it doesn’t show current familiarity, so I lean towards not including it, but on the other hand, I’d evaluate what you really have to lose if you do. I think it might show you’re a little out of touch because you haven’t really retained working knowledge. There were many things I was top-of-class in during high school that I can’t do now. I was in the all-state band, and I seriously can’t read music outside the staff now. But if your odds are zero now, why not?

      1. Falcon*

        That is a very good point, I definitely did not retain most of what I learned in high school! When I watched Jeopardy as an adolescent, I definitely could answer more questions that I can now :) I still do research geography things just for fun (have been doing a lot of that during my furlough), so I would say I still have most of my knowledge in this area although I may not be able to recite the currency of Belarus like I could in high school!

        1. Colette*

          I’d mention that conversationally in your cover letter – maybe something like “I’ve always been interested in geography – I was a geography bee finalist twice in high school – and still do geography research for fun – and so, although I’ve never been to Massachusetts, I have a good understanding of its geography.”

          (Although if I were hiring for that position, I’d be more interested in someone who understood the culture and how to get people to open up and be honest.)

          1. Reba*

            I agree, I don’t think the geography skills are really going to answer what they are asking for, regardless of how long ago it was. I think “familiarity” here is more about having a sense of what Lowell (to extend the Massachusetts example) is *like,* how it differs from Worcester, and essentially showing that you are able to relate to the people there. Not as much about the locations or which are the county seats or whatever.

            1. Avasarala*

              Especially if you can’t pronounce towns like Worcester correctly–instant loss of credibility in MA.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think if you include it, it would be more of a cover letter anecdote.

    3. Diluted Tortoiseshell*

      General rules of thumb for awards:
      Nothing from school after your first job.
      Nothing older than 5 years.

      There are exceptions. I’ll never take of the Fulbright Fellowship. Similar if I was a Rhodes Scholar. I also keep my prior to work publications (like an actual published work not the “who’s who” stuff.) listed.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        What are your thoughts on taking off things like the Fulbright if your career didn’t really continue along a high-achieving trajectory? I know a few people like that. Is it better to have people know you peaked early or to have them assume you’ve always had a fairly average career?

    4. RagingADHD*

      I lean toward “no.”

      Familiarity with the state in this context doesn’t mean knowing facts you can research. It means personal familiarity so you can establish good communication and trust across different communities.

      You may be able to know/understand that cultural issues exist, but can you establish rapport with strangers in a highly personal, intrusive, and upsetting situation?

      I don’t think it would give the impression you want.

      1. Falcon*

        I have done behavioral health telephonic intake as a prior position, so I definitely am comfortable developing rapport with people who are going through difficult circumstances. I am now leaning toward leaving out the geography bee piece, and focusing on my background in healthcare settings, since that is much more recent :) Having done some further reading on the contact tracing positions, many states do not allow you to deviate from a basic script, so I am realizing that maybe the geographic knowledge is less consequential than I thought).

  58. curiouskitten*

    Alison mentioned earlier this week that now is not the time to apply for a new job if yours is relatively safe/stable. What signs do we think we should look for that is okay to start searching again if your workplace is stable and has no bees?

    1. Fikly*

      I think she said now is not the time to accept a potentially unstable new job if yours is relatively safe/stable.

      There’s no reason not to apply. Applying does not obligate you to accept.

      1. curiouskitten*

        That is not what I’m asking. I’m asking what signs should we look for to take the risks again.

        1. Ray ray*

          Maybe keep updated on unemployment numbers in your state. If it’s not getting better, I’d probably stay at the stable job. Check LinkedIn and see if others are finding new jobs too. It’s going to be iffy for a while, but once companies lift hiring freezes and unemployment numbers go down, it might be a sign things are turning up.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          Perhaps less than record unemployment numbers? No stimulus plans or special unemployment needs to be in place by the Federal government. States are fully open for business without restriction. Travel is commonplace. Companies that plan to go back to the office have gone back to office work instead of WFH. That’s what I would generally look for, but if something equally stable to what you have falls in your lap, I would not necessarily tell you to wait for the economic recovery to make a change. One thing to consider–the job change premium you might normally expect may be gone right now and for the near future. I changed companies after a multi-year industry downturn many years ago. I moved almost immediately after things were picking up and was one of only a handful of new hires that year at my company. A couple years later, people were getting huge salary bumps to come over from competitors.

        3. MissDisplaced*

          You’d have to look at the economy as a whole: which type of companies NOT laying off and going out of business. If not, who are their customers? Which industries or sectors are hiring and showing indicators of growth. That kind of thing. I don’t know if there is one answer as these things (or signs) can be regional and industry specific, even within the larger US economic pattern.

          There is also a very personal risk factor. Those with other sources of family income and/or not as concerned about the stability of the new job long-term due to personal plans.

        4. Fikly*

          Ok, but your question is based on a flawed premise – that you shouldn’t search if you have a stable job.

          There’s no harm in searching. Searching and applying does not mean accepting.

    2. Colette*

      I think it’s fine to apply now, but you should be choosy about where. Is the place you’re applying stable? Will they continue to have funding whatever way this plays out? (Distribution centers will be busy as everyone ships more; boutique hotels are far riskier). Is the specific role you’re applying for one that is critical to the business?

      But “apply anywhere” will only be back in effect when the unemployment rate is low, and life is somewhat predictable world-wide.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Applying now is fine. But something like taking a less secure job that might be happier than your current stable job? Or quitting without something lined up and looking for work? I think we’re going to be looking at years rather than months before that becomes a reasonable risk.

  59. Ali G*

    We are basically WFH for the foreseeable future, so I am going to the office today to get my standing desk and a few other things. I’m oddly nervous about going in! My boss has been going every day so really there is nothing to worry about, but it feels weird!

  60. Choggy*

    While I’m doing fine working from home, I’m think others I work with are having a harder time. I’m very much an introvert, have no kids, or pets (hubby is an RN and works different days) and am kept very busy with my work. My work is very customer-facing, and I genuinely enjoying assisting them. I try to ask everyone how they are doing before any interaction, whether it be chat, email, phone call, or video teleconference, and trying to reach out more to those I used to see in the office daily but don’t interact with much now. I don’t want to bombard people with additional emails, chats, etc. so wanted ask those of you feeling this way, what would you want your coworkers to do to help you through this time?

    1. DragoCucina*

      One of the deacons at my church thrives on social interaction. My husband is more introverted. My husband says that the days they are both scheduled to serve together (they’ve been live streaming daily Mass) he can see Other Deacon physically starting to suffer. He’s taken to calling him every other day just to say hello. It’s now become his routine: Mondays call extrovert A, Tuesdays call extrovert B, etc.

      I’m an ambivert and with the number of online meetings I’m having it’s not a huge problem. Actually we have an optional weekly group where no work talk is allowed. It’s usually the same people who really need to chat with others.

  61. JustaTech*

    How to explain work from home to long-time small business owners?

    My in-laws own a small, (COVID essential) distribution business. Up until last week their sales and office operations team (2 people) worked from home while the two warehouse guys worked (separately) in the warehouse and the orders guy worked in his office.
    This week they asked (insisted) that the sales folks come back into the office to work. Now, each of these people has their own office, and there are lots of bathrooms (though not enough for everyone to have their own), and the cleaning staff is coming every night. But they each (separately) spoke to my in-laws about not feeling comfortable coming in to the office and asked if they could go back to working from home.

    My in-laws don’t want this. They’ve said they’re not happy with the sale’s team’s performance (but haven’t given the sales team metrics to meet, just “do better”), and they said that one of them should have been at the office because “someone ran a truck into the fence and [Salesguy] should have been there”.

    My spouse and I have tried to explain that 1) that’s what cameras are for and 2) you need to give folks specific feedback if you want them to improve and 3) they are asking their staff to take more risks by coming in.

    I don’t want to say “oh, it’s because they’re old”, because that’s just ageist and doesn’t fix the problem. Does anyone have resources (the more official looking the better) that would help them understand how to evaluate the productivity of their WFH staff? And that WFH isn’t just goofing off?

    For more context, we talk to them regularly and they are consistently surprised that my spouse and I aren’t bored, we are in fact working hard from home. (My MIL in particular has a hard time understanding that, in either of our industries, but especially my spouse who is a manager, there’s no such thing as “done” and he could work 24/7 and still have things to do. Before my MIL retired her work was all task-oriented, and could be “done” at the end of the day.)

    1. Fikly*

      Some people can be taught.

      Some people don’t want to be taught, and no matter what you say to them, it won’t matter.

      Given their surprise that you are actually working, and not goofing off, has not abated over time, I suspect they fall in the second category.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Honestly, I’d stay out of it. It doesn’t sound like you or your spouse work in the business. It’s not your problem to fix. If they’re venting to you and don’t believe your opinions so far, I’d save my breath. I can see the rabbit trail. . . Dad’s business fails > no income > our problem, etc., but I still think you need to let it go.

      My husband operates a small business and my parents are career employees of large companies and they don’t really understand realities of small business but seem to think their $.02 should be provided. I’m not saying your wrong, but not your monkeys.

      1. JustaTech*

        I wish we could, but my spouse provides all the technical support (no matter how hard he tries to get them to hire a local IT person), so he’s been doing a bunch of stuff to make it possible for the sales team (and my FIL) to work from home.
        I’m not worried about their income, thankfully. They’re well prepared for retirement and were considering selling the business when the whole ‘rona thing started.

        I wish I could just let them vent, but that’s not a skill set I’ve ever learned.

        1. allathian*

          Why do they vent to you? Just go not my monkeys, not my circus. Let your spouse handle his parents. One silver lining of COVID is that you don’t have to engage with your in-laws if you don’t want to and you definigely don’t have to see them in person.
          If your spouse isn’t already, he should start charging his parents for the IT services he provides. If it was a question of helping them keep in touch with friends and family, sure, family members should help each other if they can. Both my husband and I provide IT support for our aging parents. But I wouldn’t help even a family member make a profit on their business for free.
          Your in-laws are allowed to run their business as they see fit. If they get a bunch of salespeople quitting because they don’t want to go back to the office, they’ll have to recruit some new people. You’ve stated your opinion often enough, it’s time to shrug your shoulders and change the subject.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Why don’t you suggest the two employees take turns teleworking? One in week A, the other in week B. Provides more safety for the employees, while also satisfying their perceived need for physical presence.

      1. pancakes*

        Their perceived need for physical presence is nonsensical, though, and even an alternating schedule like this will expose the employees to needless risk. I have a real problem accepting the idea that these business owners should be free to opt out of trying to understand basic facts simply because they afford to pay people to play along.

        1. JustaTech*

          The thing that’s silly about the stated example of why [Salesguy] needs to be in the building (the whole fence thing) is that 3 people *were* in the building (the warehouse guys and the order guy), and no one can see that fence from inside the building anyway!

          Honestly, my in-laws were already pretty negative about these two people’s work before COVID, so they’re not willing to do anything they (my in-laws) perceive as “give them slack”.

          1. Natalie*

            You can’t reason a person out of a position they didn’t reason themself into.

            I think you’re viewing this as a problem you can solve, but you really can’t. Oniy your behavior is under your control – husband is not actually mandated to provide IT support and neither of you need to continue to be an audience for their complaints. If you’re going to spend a lot of energy on something, spend it on setting those boundaries. That at least has a chance of working.

    4. Generic Name*

      Two thoughts:

      This really isn’t your problem to solve

      Reasons are for reasonable people

  62. Honey Bunches of Boats*

    I’m miserable in my job — and right now, between employers across the board squeezing their workforces and COVID causing hiring freezes and furloughs, my chances of finding something else are slim to none. I’m going to start applying anyway, just in case. But in the meantime I seem to only have two options: Work every day in a place where I am being set up to fail, or quit to save my sanity and professional reputation but risk never getting hired again due to a gap on my resume.

    By being set up to fail and risking my professional reputation, I mean this: I was promoted into a new role a couple of years ago but due to an unwillingness to backfill positions, I’m constantly having to fill in in my old job (same facility and managers for both the old and new role). I have begged for enough time to do the new job, because we run the risk of having our teapot production facility completely shut down or embarrassed locally this fall if I am not able to get all the documentation caught up. I have explained specifically why it’s so risky to keep pulling me away but it falls on deaf ears every time. And I can tell that come this fall, things will fall apart and I will be blamed for it despite months of pleading to be permitted to do that job. There are also occasional safety/ethics issues that come down from on high and worry me, I don’t want to be part of that and it’s obvious the whole company is OK with it.

    In my opinion there really is no one in the corporate structure to be trusted. My manager is basically a VP, so there’s only one person above him. It feels risky to stay and risky to go. My husband is pressuring me to stay to keep the income, but the thought of being ignored and dismissed until things blow apart in the fall makes me feel nautious. Any advice?

    1. Anon for this one*

      I don’t think the gap on your resume will risk you not being hired again. I think the question is can you afford to be unemployed without unemployment for an extended (think at least a couple years) period until the economy recovers? If the answer is no, then I’d try and stick it out as long as possible. If the answer is yes, then I’d quit.

    2. Fikly*

      Millions upon millions of people will have gaps on their resumes dating to now. It’s not going to be a problem.

      1. Honey Bunches of Boats*

        I wondered about this, too. I thought maybe given the timing, having a gap right now wouldn’t look nearly as unusual or scary as it normally would. On the flip side, everyone and her brother will be competing for probably even fewer positions as things reopen… right?

        1. Fikly*

          Yeah, but that doesn’t mean your gap will look worse than anyone else’s!

          What that means is, employers are going to be asking, what did you do while you were unemployed to help keep your skills fresh or build new ones? That’s how you stand out from the crowd. Which is true pretty much all the time, frankly.

          Gaps sound super scary. But I have yet to actually hear first hand of someone who had a gap, did things to become relevant to get hired in the current job market, and was unable to be hired due to gap. It’s all second hand horror stories. People who never get hired again don’t get hired because they don’t stay with the times – like people who drop out of the work force to take care of family for a decade, and then expect to get hired based on the skills they had a decade ago.

    3. Door Guy*

      I’d say make sure you have those times you begged for time or assistance documented in a paper trail, so you can show them that, hey, I identified this as a problem months ago and told you about it, and you chose to ignore me.

      My wife had a bit of that at her last job; she had some concerns on security, brought it up to her boss who told her “I don’t understand why you just can’t do your job.” Nothing written down, all verbal.

      Sure enough, about a month later they had an incident that could have been prevented if those security concerns were addressed, but she was let go anyways. (She did make sure that the state investigator into the incident knew she had told her boss about her concerns prior to the incident). She did hear through the grapevine that old job was instituting new policies, but then Covid happened and the location shut down.

      1. Honey Bunches of Boats*

        I have — in fact I have like a year and a half’s worth of schedules showing how I was almost never scheduled for my actual job. I know there have been times in addition to verbally that I’ve expressed concerns about scheduling or other wacky schemes via email — those just go unanswered. But TBH I don’t know who to even show them to! It feels like the whole company is OK with everything teetering on the brink of insanity as long as a nickel is saved here or there.

        1. Door Guy*

          Sometimes you just have to save them for when it all does topple down and they are looking at you for answers. “Why did this happen?” “Here is a giant list of every time I told you this would happen.”

    4. new kid*

      “My husband is pressuring me to stay to keep the income”

      I think you need to figure this part out first, unfortunately, because it has the biggest impact on what your (practical) choices really are. Is your husband’s job relatively safe/stable at the moment? Do you actually need the second income or will it just be tight? If you do need it, are you willing to dip into savings or take an underemployment type of part-time role as needed to ensure some form of income is still coming in?

      If you are actually in a place financially to be able to quit, then rest can mostly be handwaved (ie. many people will have gaps, you can easily spin your decision/the timing in an interview, etc). I wish I could say screw the rest and put your mental health first (trust me, I’ve been there) but I think you run the risk of actually putting yourself in a worse financial AND mental state if you don’t think it through all the way.

      1. Honey Bunches of Boats*

        His job is pretty stable (union job) and the pay and benefits are good. Our health insurance is through him. He makes more than I do. But what I bring in isn’t nothing. It would probably be doable for a while, and do have a little savings. And I’d be willing to take something else if I had to, as long as it wasn’t as toxic as what I would be leaving behind. But I can’t imagine that leaving a job where I was for 15 years, taking my degrees and working at something minimum-wage wouldn’t be a heap of red flags. I just wish there is a way to communicate to future hiring managers — “I am a hard worker, I’m reasonable, I tried very hard to stay where I was, but this is not a place where you can work if you have a conscience and a genuine work ethic.” or, “I left because I wanted to do the job correctly and safely, and they wanted to cut corners and blame me when the cut corners had consequences.”

        1. new kid*

          I think communicating why you left to employers is the easiest part of all of this. If you were to take a minimum wage job in the meantime it wouldn’t be a red flag you would just leave it off your resume and explain the gap with whatever your preferred spin is (personally I’d go with a vague health-related given the timing and tell yourself it’s no one’s business that it was your mental health – eg. “I took some time off for health issues that are now resolved thankfully!”)

          I think you’re getting caught up in the idea that you won’t be able to get another job if you leave because of the optics, but that’s likely not the case especially given the timing. Lots of people are going to have gaps after this year, no one will even blink an eye.

          (Not to say finding a job may not still be difficult and maybe even more so in this new market, but it won’t be because of the optics of you leaving and/or having a gap.)

    5. International Klein Blue*

      I agree with the others: a lot of people will show a “COVID gap” on their resume from this year. I don’t think it will be held against you.

      But I have to ask: what are the actual possible consequences of you being pushed into failure at your current job? If it’s something like jail or actual harm to people, yeah, I’d get out of there. But if it’s more like you’re unhappy and you might get fired? I totally get hating one’s job. But maybe if you put some time into keeping records and putting together a case for how you’ve been mismanaged, maybe that will help make the job tolerable until / if you get fired?
      Also, “I tried best I could to fix the problems” plays a little better than “they were driving me crazy and I quit”.

      All that said, if your job is genuinely causing you (say) health issues, then yeah, get outta there. Otherwise, maybe just try not to take it so seriously and ride that roller coaster to the end.

      1. Honey Bunches of Boats*

        Anything ranging from being fired/written up for a major failure of an upcoming test, to the closing of our facility because of it, which would affect people in the community who we support. Or being expected to work around the clock for a couple of weeks right at the end, trying desperately to do several months’ worth of backlogged work at the last minute. There are everyday things that are annoying, no question… but that test hanging out there in the fall feels awfully ominous to me. I just don’t see how I don’t get thrown under a gigantic bus.

        1. Academic Librarian*

          Make sure to keep copies of your evidence some place off the work property, like on your home computer. If you are fired as you fear, you might be escorted off the property without the ability to grab your notes/emails/etc.

  63. Jr. Woodworker*

    Hi all! About a year an a half ago I asked for advice because I was having trouble with sexist interviewers, and it was very helpful (thank you again), so I’m reaching out to the AAM commentariat again :) Basically, I’m a junior-level female cabinetmaker (1.5 yrs in a shop), and I’m looking for some tips for reaching out/connecting with other women in my field.

    I have some ideas for this, but want to ask my fellow women in the trades (or in heavily male-dominated environments): How do I make this happen in a way that’s not weird? And if you’ve connected with other women/slowly built a community–got any tips? Or is anyone else trying the same sort of thing? I’d love to hear!

    Finally, if you’re a senior-level woman in a male-dominated field, and a younger woman in the same field reached out to you for, say, an informational interview or something, how would you feel? I worry that this is offensive in some way or that they probably get a lot of similar requests.

    1. Policy Wonk*

      I am very open to younger women in my field, as I wish I had had someone to talk to. When they reach out to me, I will generally try to meet them for lunch to put them at ease, make it feel less like a meeting. But I know other senior women in my field who are not so open to this. Everyone is different. I’d recommend reaching out, offering to buy them coffee or something for a chance to seek advice on careers in this male-dominated field. (Expect to pay as you are inviting. That;s how it works. However, don’t be surprised or upset if she pays. It can go either way.)

      1. Jr. Woodworker*

        Oh, thanks! :) Yeah I didn’t want to assume that everyone would be open to this, but it’s good to hear that some, like you, would be open to this. (And for some reason I hadn’t even thought of inviting them for coffee, but I like that idea.) Thank you for the advice!

    2. Generic Name*

      I’d search for professional orgs aimed at women. In my city there’s a Women in Construction group, for example. I’m not sure if it’s a national org or not.

  64. Anon for this one*

    Does anyone who have direct reports that seem to have checked out due to WFH?

    I’m trying to provide a lot of flexibility and latitude, but I have a direct report who seems to have checked out and is coming up with a lot of excuses. Everyone else on my team has been great and has adjusted to the increase in conference calls and our new normal of all working remotely. We are down a team member, and I’ve picked up a lot o that person’s extra work and what I can’t do we’ve tried to reassign across the entire team so it’s not primarily sitting on person’s shoulders (other than mine). So I don’t think it’s a work load issue. This direct report has no children or elderly relatives that they are caring for, or other mitigating circumstances that I am aware of that would result in being quite so checked out. I’ve also asked this person if they are doing okay and if they need help with anything.

    But, more and and more it feels like this report is simply taking advantage of the fact that they can work remotely. They are not getting their work done in a timely manner (and I don’t care when the work gets done, as long as it gets done), and it’s starting cause people from outside of our department issues. I’m at a loss about what to do next. This is the first time I’ve run into a performance issue, and I’m struggling with how to address the issue with being sensitive that everyone needs some extra grace right now.

    1. EddieSherbert*

      Have you specifically let them know that you’ve noticed their work is not up to par? If not, I’d start there. I think you can be “that blunt” while also being kind/understanding that things are weird right now

      I would tie it into a “is everything okay?” conversation… assuming they don’t have any new details for you, let them know you that while you don’t expect things to be the same as they were in the office, you do need to see an improvement, and they should let you know if there’s anything you can help with for that to happen.

    2. Fikly*

      Have they checked out due to WFH, or have they checked out due to the many things going on right now, and it’s harder for you to deal with because everyone is WFH?

      That all of your other reports are coping and managing to be productive doesn’t mean that this person is able to cope and be productive. That this is the first time you’ve run into a performance issue is strongly indicative that it’s not someone just taking advantage of WFH – that’s not in character.

      1. Anon for this one*

        It’s definitely harder to deal with because we are WFH. And to be honest, what I’m experiencing now is an exaggerated version of what I’ve experienced in the past with this employee. This pattern existed before we all started working remotely, but it wasn’t nearly as pronounced as it is now. For example, I’d still get the excuses and dragging heels on some tasks, but the deadlines were still met. Basically, I think there was a pattern before all this started. The pattern was irritating and annoying, but manageable before WFH, but it’s morphed into highly frustrating and not manageable. If that makes sense?

        1. Fikly*

          Ah, that’s a different story!

          I had misunderstood, since you had written that this was the first time you had run into a performance issue.

          Have you had a conversation with them (over video preferably) about the larger pattern going on right now, rather than any specific task? I’d start with calling out that this is a problem, and this is what needs to happen, and then, depending on how you work, either you have plan that they agree to, or they come up with plan that you agree to, or combination.

          Then it’s about holding them accountable.

    3. Anon for this one*

      I should clarify, that this is the first time I’ve run into a performance issue during COVID-19 and everyone working remotely.

    4. Mediamaven*

      We’ve had some varying degrees of that and we literally tried everything. While people need some extra grace right now, lack of performance from one negatively affects everyone. For us, it was impacting performance with clients and being under threat of losing business. If we lose business, people have to lose jobs. It’s that simple. It was negatively affecting the morale of peers. Destroys trust in letting teams work from home. All kinds of bad things.

      I would set measurable goals and be very direct about expectations. For one employee, we had many, many painful conversations until we finally said, you have one week to improve or you will be terminated. Shockingly, she finally started to improve! For another, we did terminate her and in one week, everything turned around for the better and we were able to elevate more junior staff into more of a leadership position which created a lot of good will. Our team understood and no one was upset.

      This mentality that everything goes and you have to turn a blind eye to everything right now is simply not correct. Your obligation is to do the best thing for all of your employees, your clients, customers, your business etc…You’ll emerge healthier in the long run, more people will keep jobs, people will be in a better head space. The effects from this pandemic aren’t going away in two weeks. It’s not a let’s ride it out for a little longer then we’ll get back. This require long term tough decisions.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I think part of the issue is that right now even though this person is performing sub-optimally, I really can’t do without another staff member. And if we take steps to fire this person, I won’t be allowed to hire a replacement. I’m concerned about losing the position.

        But, I agree that we can’t turn a blind eye to everything. And I find it particularly frustrating right now, as I have members of my team that do have a lot of other stressors (young children at home, trying to home school, dealing with aging relatives, mental health issues) who’s performance is significantly better. I do want to make sure that i’m being understanding, and I’ve told my team, that aside from the required conference calls that our division director is demanding, that I don’t care when they work.

    5. FreshPrincess*

      I just want to push back on this sentiment: “This direct report has no children or elderly relatives that they are caring for, or other mitigating circumstances that I am aware of that would result in being quite so checked out.”

      Being childless/single does not mean the person is or should be less stressed than people with children. The mental/emotional exhaustion of everything going on right now can weigh heavily on everyone. Plus, if this person does not have a spouse/partner, having to worry about being the only one who can support them financially if something happens is a heavy burden.

      And since you said these performance issues somewhat predate the pandemic, one thing to consider: This person may have mental health issues (depression/anxiety) that influenced those performance issues before and are not aggravated under these circumstances.

      All that said: You should be clear with this person about the effects of their performance and set guidelines for when improvements to be made. Maybe saying something like, “What can I do to help you reach X goal?” would push them to make changes.

  65. Lemon Peel*

    AAM Community, I need a gut check here. My boss has been pretty cavalier about COVID since it began. The work that we do is healthcare-adjacent, and we have been seeing our core clients (a very small group) in the office since early March. Because of the nature of the work that we do, my boss has been pretty resistant to mask wearing in the office, thinking that it will impede the efficacy of the work that we do. The staff has pushed back on this and have managed to get everyone wearing masks in all common areas, and masks are only off while staff is one-on-one with our core clients in their closed-door offices.

    Well, yesterday we got a call from the Dept of Public Health. I don’t know who called them (though I don’t disagree with whoever did) and they informed us that we must wear masks at all times in the building. My boss has assured the Dept of Public Health that we will follow this directive, but with the staff has been noncommittal, as has been her pattern. She has said that even in closed offices one-on-one with our core clients, our staff should be wearing masks, but there is no formal policy in place. Immediately following this call, my boss told me that if an official from the Dept of Public Health comes by (which she thinks is unlikely), that I am to direct that official to her to distract and make sure that all of the staff and our core clients are wearing masks.

    Am I right to feel kind of skeezy about this directive? I feel as if I’m being asked to lie to a public official, one who is looking out for everyone’s health. How would you all respond to this? I was job searching before this, but have put my job search on hold because I don’t want to give up stable employment right now.

    1. Fikly*

      You feel like you’re being asked to lie because you are being asked to lie.

      I’d report this right to the department of public health.

      1. Lemon Peel*

        Thank you, I appreciate the response. I had considered calling the health department, but wasn’t sure if it was an overreaction or not. Sounds like it’s not.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I agree with Fikly.

          However, I would brace yourself, if there’s any chance it’s only you the boss spoke to and she’s trying to smoke out the whistleblower. Clearly her moral compass isn’t set quite right, so she might think it completely reasonable to punish whoever informed on her.

          1. Lemon Peel*

            Good to know! I don’t think my boss is trying to smoke out the whistleblower, because we share the building with another organization and there has been some tension over how to handle COVID safety protocols between the two organizations. I actually would not be surprised to learn that one of them had called the Dept of Health, and am pretty sure this is what my boss suspects. Regardless, I’m sure I’m the only one she asked to do this, as I’m the person who is in charge of the locked door. Do you think that if I explain this to the Dept of Health and request anonymity, that they will keep it confidential?

            1. Fikly*

              I would start by calling them via phone, don’t give their name, and ask what they will do.

              They generally won’t lie about promising anonymity. If it’s something they can’t guarantee, they’ll say something like, we’ll try, but can’t promise. You can decide what to do at that point.

            2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              They ought to, but if it could only have come from you then it’s kind of pointless.

              I still think it’s important, just might not be the end of the story. I’m sorry you’ve been put in this position.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Yes, this is 100% skeevy.

      You have to make your own choices based on your own persinal situation. But I have on several occasions been put in a position where a boss asked me to do something deceptive, dishonest, or against regulatory requirements.

      Each time, I told the boss, “That puts me in a vey bad position. I can’t promise to do that.”

      I never got fired or disciplined over it. YMMV.

  66. Princess Zelda*

    My job is reopening our physical locations with modified service on Monday, and one of the modifications is that we’re only going to be open for a couple of hours in the morning. Previous to this, I’ve always worked closing — I’m a night owl, so working 12-8 is just better for me. Now, instead of waking up at 10 like I’ve done for years, I need to wake up at 5am every day for the foreseeable future. I am going to be so tired.

    Any tips on how to deal? Last time I worked mornings, I’d just drink a ton of coffee all day long, but that might not be possible for mask reasons.

    1. Anon for this.*

      This happened to my daughter – she just turned her day around. Stayed up all night, did the work shift as if it were the end of her day, went to bed when she got home. It worked for her, made her more productive at 6:00 AM than if she got up at 5:00. Good luck!

    2. Aphrodite*

      I am an early morning person (so not a lot of help there) but one suggestions I have always followed and now seen others recommend is to immediately drink a minimum of two full (8-oz minimum) glasses of plain water upon rising. The reason is that you dehydrate during the night and your body is starved for liquid. Most people satisfy this with coffee. But if you push yourself to drink that much water your body will instantly feel more alert and alive (and maybe without caffeine). Keep it up, a glass an hour for at least the morning, and you may quickly see a difference.

      Good luck!

      1. SweetestCin*

        I was going to recommend that “Tik Tok coffee” because it has a significant caffeine content.

      2. Vermont Green*

        Caffeine tablets have gotten me going for years now. No need to pee on my way to work, no stained teeth, cheaper than coffee, and better for the rain forest.

  67. BWP*

    Already hunting for another job, but my close friends are trying to convince me to stay longer because they’re concerned my resume will make me look like a job hopper. I’ve been at my current company only 6 months but spotting several red flags, including a junior colleague lying about the amount of recorded time spent on projects and inflates the number of hours to appear really busy, which affect the amounts for for future engagements (boss thinks the project takes longer and requires more work than it actually does so he prices contracts higher for later clients based on junior colleague’s work). My boss is confounded as to why my hours are not as high as junior colleagues and accused me of not prioritizing revenue. I explained that I account for my hours very accurately and will not spend time twiddling my thumbs when done just to make the project time line longer. Boss response was to encourage me to “spend more time thinking about projects and instructions, then bill for thinking about the project.” He has expressed significant amounts of favoritism towards junior colleague, and did not reprimand him for the inflated hours once it was discovered he was” exaggerating” them and not recording them accurately. Fast forward to our current predicament with covid. Same boss doesn’t believe people are legitimately doing work from home (projects have lulled because of clients not wanting to spend money right now on anything not essential so everyone’s recorded project time is significantly lower) and has mandated that the office reopen in a week, despite the state still being under quarantine. Boss is trying argue our services are essential. Am I jumping the gun for trying to leave? I have a serious conflict with management’s direction, priority on billing over quality of work, and integrity.

    1. Fikly*

      Job hopping becomes an issue when it’s a pattern. Is this your only short length of time, or have there been several in a row?

      1. BWP*

        I was at my last job less than a year and ended up moving out of the state when I accepted this new job. Prior to that, I was at my company for 2.5 years. Would leaving this job after 6 months still look like a pattern? Should I stay the full year?

        1. Fikly*

          I would say no, given the job that was 2.5 years. If the jobs were one year, one year, then this six months, I’d be more concerned. 2.5 years is a good chunk of time these days. And if asked, you can easily explain switch to this current job as wanting to move out of state for whatever reason (even if the actual reason was to get this job).

    2. tetris replay*

      Boss response was to encourage me to “spend more time thinking about projects and instructions, then bill for thinking about the project.”

      I think it’s worth considering whether he may have a point. I’ve dealt with a lot of young employees and contractors that significantly underestimate the amount of time that they spend on project-adjacent tasks and ideation. If I were billing out their time, I’d be very concerned with making sure the client is actually paying for that time.

      1. BWP*

        Thank you, I appreciate that perspective. I understand that he has a point and don’t disagree that underestimating time can be a significant issue for billing purposes. My main issue is that junior colleague is flat out lying about his time. He bills an extra 1.5 or more hours per project. That may not seem like a big deal to the average person, but when you consider his hourly rate that’s getting billed out for the inaccurate and inflated time, combined with the number of projects he juggles per week, my honest timekeeping does not compare. This also affected my raise, because boss compared our hours and indicated I should strive to reach junior colleague’s hours, which is impossible because I do not believe in padding hours.

    3. Some clever pun*

      As long as you’re prepared to stay in the new job for a while it’s likely not a problem. That means carefully feeling out in any interviews whether the new job would be a good match for you and the stability of the company. If you have a history of jobhopping, that may make it harder to get interviews for this next move, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. If it’s just this one 6 month stint, that is very normal and not a problem imo.

  68. anoninkorea*

    So I’ve posted here before under another handle, but am keeping this anon as I don’t want to disclose my location and details under my regular one. This isn’t a question, more a story for those of you on the other side of the world and a vent in one:

    I currently work in the private cram school industry in Korea. These are private academies students attend after school to learn and improve in different subjects – English, math, test prep, etc. They’re common in East Asia, and a lot of them are not very good, both to teach at and to learn at. Many focus on rote memorization, and because they’re private businesses, treat parents and children as customers. This leads to a lot of issues, especially in terms of doing anything to keep parents on the roster, often to the detriment of exploiting the teachers working there and constantly blaming them or threatening their jobs based on arbitrary complaints. I, thankfully, recently got a job at a wonderful one that teaches English, and has a teaching method and philosophy that I agree with, and the leaders of the school are also reasonable, understanding people.

    Over here in Korea we’ve had a small second wave COVID outbreak the past few weeks because social distancing was scaled back, and (mainly) clubs reopened, and infected people visited them, putting tons of people at risk. The largest location of this was not only the center of a lot of LGBTQ clubs here, but also a district many non-Koreans live in. Unfortunately, people’s fear and desire to scapegoat someone has led to a rise in homophobia (Korea has very slowly been making progress in this area), and xenophobia. The cram schools and parents have gone absolutely bananacrackers. Among the things other teachers have experienced:

    Schools demanding any non-Korean working for them get tested, regardless of if they were in the area, or even the city itself, or not; Having teachers stay home, regardless of if they were in the area or not; demanding non-Korean teachers sign documents that hold them responsible for school closures if they ever get infected, in any away, with COVID, some even trying to state teachers will be responsible for paying the school for “damages”; One teacher in a public school (usually seen as less risky and better employment than cram schools, but it depends) just had a document left on their desk with no note or explanation, demanding he list every place he had been to since April 30th, as well as anyone he met and their nationality; threats of immediate firings and disciplinary action for just having been in these areas, not clubbing, just in the vicinity (despite the fact that at that point, everyone was allowed to be outside and in those areas); and at my school, one parent even called to ask the school GPS track our locations to “make sure” none of us were going to hotspot areas.

    I am so thankful to work at a school that absolutely does not entertain these kinds of things, and while asking us to use sound judgement and be cautious and responsible, is otherwise taking the burden of dealing with parents on themselves. The legal advice groups and advocate numbers have been lit up, and the whole thing is a mess. I love living here in so many ways, and I plan to be here for awhile, but if you or anyone you know want to teach abroad in an East Asian country, specifically at a private or cram school, please make sure you do your research on the experience and also the work laws! So many people who work these jobs are young people recently out of college who come in very unprepared, don’t know their rights here, and get bowled over by how things operate, and things can go very, very bad in those cases.

  69. Nacho*

    How do I get somebody to stop asking me such long questions? I’m in quality, so my job is to evaluate 1-2 teapots/agent each week. One agent in particular, whenever I give him less than 100, sends me a full essay about why he thinks he was in the right and shouldn’t have been marked down. And if I respond to him, he sends more of them arguing against whatever explanation I give.

    I’ve already talked to his direct boss about it, but she doesn’t see the problem and just thinks that there are some things you can’t express in 1-2 sentences. I’m fine with people contacting me to ask questions about their score, but this one guy in particular takes up way too much of my time. Should I just ignore his messages? Should I be direct with him about not having the time to respond to his huge freaking essays detailing exactly why his teapot was better than a 98%?

    1. Fikly*

      Is he actually asking a question? Or is he just telling you why he’s right and you’re wrong?

      If he’s not asking a question, I’d ignore it – your job is to evaluate quality, not to convince him you’re right, presumably.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Some people really don’t like getting corrected. Sounds like that might be a factor.

      You mark someone less than 100% and tell them why. They send back a book arguing. You reply something like “glad you’re thinking about this, you should have no problem doing it correctly going forward” (that’s terrible language, but you get the idea).

      It’s not your responsibility to manage his emotions. Be polite, be professional. As long as you are being clear about why they didn’t get 100% up front, then you’re doing your job.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Seconding Fikly.

      I’d say to send him one overarching email about this (maybe looping in your boss or his boss? Open to disagreement about that, thought) saying something like, “In all but the most exceptional circumstances, it’s just not possible for me to re-assess your teapots, so I don’t want you to waste your time writing out your reasoning behind why your assessment should be adjusted. If you have questions about the specific areas where you were evaluated slightly lower, I’m usually happy to answer them so you can make necessary tweaks going forward, but it isn’t going to be possible for me to re-evaluate.” And then talk to his boss again. “Susan, I know I mentioned this to you before, but I think the way I framed it is giving the wrong idea about the issue. This isn’t primarily about the length of the questions (although that is an issue; see attached examples), but the fact that they aren’t questions at all, they’re essay-length campaigns to convince me about all the specific ways I was wrong to give him a 98 on his eval rather than a 100. And this happens every single time his teapots aren’t evaluated at 100. I shudder to think how much time he spends composing these things, especially since they’re not going to make a difference in his evaluations. I’m happy to field actual questions but it isn’t possible for me to do what he wants, which is to change his score.”

    4. A*

      Could you implement a set stagegate process? At my place of employment we have two rounds of feedback for QA reviews (of which there are two handled within the immediate project team), and it helps having a pre-set amount of back and forths. Same approach with contract redlining.

  70. 'nother prof*

    Good but interesting situation this week. I was offered a job that I had pretty much concluded wasn’t coming my way. Made a point of negotiating, got results. In academia, you can negotiate relocation and a few other things on top of salary, but I didn’t. In thinking over why I didn’t, I realized that I’ve been more affected by the less-than-stellar management at my current organization than I’d thought. I’m so used to being pressured to do more and more (without any compensation) that I underestimated my value. It’s too late now, but I think I could have negotiated some additional funds/benefits. That’s a bit disappointing, but I had always hoped to gain the “benefit” of good management with this position. It’s not quantifiable, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

  71. CostAlltheThings*

    Calling all accounting AAMers!

    I’ve always worked in manufacturing but my new job is the first time it’s been a private company. Private companies that are still owed/run by “the family” are WEIRD! On top of that, my boss’s last day was the end of my first week so I’ve been reporting to the CFO. I have a new boss starting in about 2 weeks and I’ve been tasked with finding us a class/webinar that covers converting from tax to GAAP. We’re tax basis all year and then convert to GAAP for audit. New Boss is a CPA so CFO would prefer the class/webinar be CPE but it’s not required. I’ve dug thru the AICPA’s offerings this morning without much luck. I am not a CPA as it’s never been helpful in my former roles. Any recommendations for legit places to look for courses?

    Also, any recommendations for a daily/weekly reading source similar to AAM but accounting topics?

  72. Paperdill*

    I have a cleaner for my home, organized through a franchise. We have had a pretty friendly relationship and they do a good job of things. The couple that own the franchise had a new baby in December and, despite a couple of scheduling hiccoughs shortly after that, we’ve had no prior issues.
    When Covid-19 struck, we decided to pause their services for both their sake and ours (my husband was still having to take public transport to work every day, so could be bringing home bugs), which they, at the time, said they understood and hoped to see us soon.
    Things changed for us this past week and we’re going to be selling our house. As restrictions have eased I messaged (our previous form of communication) the cleaner asking them to commence cleaning for use again. No answer. I sent two more texts of the “Hi! Did you get my text? We’d love for you to come and clean for us again” nature – still no answer.
    I’m wondering how to proceed. I was first thinking she had just missed the messages, but there’s been 3 now. Now I’m wondering if they no longer want our business, in which case I need to get snarky with them and get our house key back…but I am concerned something bad/tragic may have happened to the family during all of this, in which case getting the snarky message is going to be horrible. I thought about calling the head office for the franchise, but I would be sad if I got them in trouble unnecessarily.
    How should I proceed? This kind of people managing is very far from my own professional skill set.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Call the head office. There’s no “getting in trouble” that I can see– you need to reach them to talk about cleaning, that’s all. When your first method of communication doesn’t work, there’s a chance there’s a problem with it for whatever reason, so try your other option.

    2. Me*

      I think you can ask for your key back without being snarky. There’s no way to know what’s going on in these peoples lives. Just ask for your key back. If you don’t get it you will have to determine whether you want to change the locks as theres nothing to stop anyone from making copies of keys you give out anyway.

      Especially now kindness and grace is so needed.

    3. Colette*

      If you’re selling your house, you don’t really need the key back – the buyers can (and should) change the locks.

      Proceed as if they aren’t going to clean for you and make other arrangements.

  73. Door Guy*

    I’ve been having an issue almost since I started working at my location that I have no idea how to deal with. I was brought in as Store Manager for a small company at their newest and most remote location. Previously, one of the owners had been pulling double duty since the location opened and was the manager for both. I was brought in because he wanted to retire. It was always going to be a longer transition period as originally he was still going to be around for another 9 months, and then there were issues with his buyout and it turned into 11 months, and then all the issues with Covid and the other owners ending up quarantined and so he was asked to stay on to help. Unfortunately, with that slow transition, it seemed a lot of people were treating me as “trainee” or “assistant” even after it was handed over last fall.

    My issues started right away with a sales manager who didn’t feel that they NEEDED a full time store manager and has both passively and actively acted against my position. From refusing to share any information without multiple prompts (and NEVER volunteering any), ‘pranking’ my office, to even just refusing to look up from his computer screen when I ask him a question. I’ve offered many olive branches, and it seems like every time we start making a bit of headway, something happens and he gets mad and we go back to square 1. Nothing is ever his fault, it’s always someone else’s even when it’s in black and white in front of him. He refuses any instruction into proper processes, even from the other owners. He should have been out on his butt well before I ever started, but he’s well connected and knows a lot of people in high positions and has gotten us in at a lot of locations, and he’s been playing the balancing game of gets us contracts and makes us money vs too problematic and cut our losses. The owner who just retired was his largest defender and freely states he covered things up because the other owners “only look at the negatives” so we’ll see how this plays out.

    Other big problem is my receptionist. She started shortly after I did, and because I was new too, would ask either the retiring owner or the owner she works under in her other role as accounting clerk. It was fine at first, but she never stopped. Even if I gave her specific instructions, she’d set it aside and say she’ll ask retiring owner, or she’ll email other owner and ask for clarification instead of asking me what I meant. When I brought it up with retiring owner, he brushed it off because “everyone’s so used to bringing things to me because I was the only constant in this office, don’t take it personally”. Also, she will try and talk down to me as though she were the manager and I was the clerk, even going as far as summoning me out of my office and over to her before springing it on me. Anything I do that she thinks “wasn’t right” regardless of how factual that may be, she reports to the other owner, who, thankfully, isn’t on his first rodeo. He may ask me for clarification but I’ve never been reprimanded. I’d be less upset about it if she was accurate in what she was reporting (I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes, and owned up to them) but all it takes is one sob story or angry accusation out of a customer and she believes them full stop. We had an issue just last week with an unhappy customer who had already been dealt with, but had to get in the last word and sent in a nasty letter along with her payment, I’d already done everything that needed to be done (or could be done) on my end, including utilizing one of the other managers as a sounding board who agreed with my resolution steps and gave me some advice on what to do moving forward with this customer. But letter came in and instead of telling me, she emails owner instead, who reaches out to me, and agrees with other manager after I explain. Receptionist takes it upon herself to write an apology letter to the customer to say she was sorry for how I handled the situation, and that she had told the owner who had directed me on how to handle it and sorry sorry sorry, signed, receptionist. She casually mentioned it after it was already in the mailbox, THANKFULLY it didn’t get picked up yet, but I had to retrieve it from the mailbox (on owners direction, I reached out to him to see if he had directed her to write one, he hadn’t). I have no idea what will happen with that one, owner asked me to scan the letter down to him and that was the last I’ve heard about it from him.

    This just kind of turned into a venting rant instead of asking for advice, but I’m just frustrated because it is just those 2 and myself in our office the majority of the time, made more complicated because receptionist is engaged to sales manager’s son so it feels like 2 on 1 a lot of times. Our field employees are all pretty good and I don’t have many issues there. I’ve spoken to the other location managers about the issues, but aside from some commiseration, they don’t have much advice beyond just doing my job to my best ability and keeping owners in the loop on any issues.

    1. Colette*

      I think you have 2 problems.

      1. You need to start acting as if you have the authority you should have. That means being clear with your receptionist (I assume you manage her) that she cannot be writing letters to customers or that she needs to bring issues to you, not the other managers,
      2. You need the other managers to back you up on that. That means that when she goes to them, they need to route her back to you.

      If the sales manager reports to you, you also need to be clear with him about what you need in the job and, if he can’t do it, take steps to get rid of him.

      Or you need to accept that this is what the job is and decide whether you want this job,

      1. Door Guy*

        For #1, I do manager her on one facet of her job, and the other facet her direct superior is the owner (who is also company president and CFO). I have had talks with her and she either gets defensive and accuses me of doing it in retaliation for reporting me to the owner, or she follows the instructions for a day or two and reverts. She plays the “He’s my boss, too” card a lot.

        #2 – the other managers are also owners (I’m actually the only non-owner location manager) and she doesn’t go to them at all, only to the one in her chain. I do know that the owner will back up my decisions but he doesn’t send her back to me.

        Officially – sales manager reports to me. Reality – he reported to the owner who retired right up until the day he officially hung up his owner hat, and now acts like he doesn’t have to report to anyone, but any issues that DO come up have basically just ended with me being told to send the information to the owners and then I don’t hear anything else. Retired owner told me when we were discussing it that it’s probably a combination of us getting off on the ‘wrong foot’ as well as SM already being a known issue causer and wanting to make sure there is no ambiguity in his instructions, but that’s only a guess. Sales Manager will argue loudly and vehemently with the veteran owners when it comes to any sort of criticism or direction, he refuses to even entertain the idea that I have any power over him.

        I like my job generally, and for the most part really like the people working with me. If I did leave voluntarily, it would be most likely because of one of them just driving me to the point where I can’t take it any more. The job pays well, has decent benefits and some good perks, and I do enjoy the work when I’m actually doing the work instead of trying to deal with their antics. I’m just getting worn down because it seems to be something new every week.

        1. Colette*

          So you need to sort out with the other managers who has hire/fire authority over these two. If it’s you, assert your authority (up to and including firing if necessary). If it’s not, pass your issues with these two over to whoever it is.

      1. International Klein Blue*

        I concur: Fire both of them.

        There is some possibility that you might end up out of a job. But here’s the thing: your company brought you in as a manager, and so they need to have your back when you make difficult manager decisions.

        If you try to fire them and your company prevents it from happening, I think you need to look for a new job. I know, I know, these are tough times. But your current job situation sounds like hell to me.

  74. Not Certified (Yet)*