open thread – May 8-9, 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.

{ 1,157 comments… read them below }

  1. Jedi Squirrel*

    Is anybody else actually happy to be going back into work, at least part time? I am, and it’s been a tremendous boost to my mental health. (Anxiety is still there, and probably will be for a while. But depression is less.)

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      We haven’t started doing that yet; our university probably won’t start sending people back in until after July 1. I’m the one on my team who didn’t want to work from home and stayed in the office until it was mandated that we had to go home, and now I’m the one who doesn’t really want to go back.

      I’m sure there are things that I’ll be glad to be back for, but right now I’m enjoying the fact that I can use odd pockets of time in my work to do my own household chores and maintenance. My house looks better than ever, and I’m getting much of it done in little 5 – 10 minute breaks from work. I’ll miss that.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I was trying to do house work on break periods, but found I was getting carried away and spending way too much time on things. What I’m doing instead is doing things on my lunch break and/or before or after work. I’ve managed to clean and clear out all of my upstairs except the linen closet and my closet, most of the basement and most of the main floor. (Although I keep buying food and having no storage room in the pantry so the kitchen always looks crazy!!). I just can’t make myself do these kinds of cleans during the week when I go in to work and there just doesn’t seem to be time for it on weekends, so I am really grateful for this time at home. Honestly, I hope I never have to go back other than once in a while for meetings or what have you. Even going in only once a week would make my soul sad at this point.

    2. Kate*

      I want to go back *so badly*, but without childcare, I am probably at home until September. It would do both my daughter and I a world of good to be back even part-time, but her grade isn’t considered a priority for going back (only grades 1, 2, and 6).

      1. Justme, the OG*

        Same. At least until school is back in session, if they go back at all in August.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          Some places have milestone tests, state I grew up in did, in certain grades. So those gradeswould likely be a priority to get back sooner. Plus with the mention of grades 1 & 2 being a priority I bet it’s got to do with how much of an impact missed time has in that grade. Missing substantial time in K/1st could set your reading level really far behind which sets you behind for every grade that follows, so it has bigger impact than missing the same amount of time in 8th grade.

        2. spock*

          An article in the NYT this morning said that some places believe younger children to be less contagious and thus are opening their grades first, while other places instead believe that older children are more likely to follow directions so their grades are being opened first.

          1. CatMintCat*

            And in NSW, Australia, we’re rostering the whole school on in sections – one day per week, with online learning for the other four days. Except we all know that once one group comes in all their siblings will be with them, and we explicitly can’t turn any child away. This starts on Monday and I expect we’ll be back to normal attendance by Friday.

            Schools (our schools anyway, don’t know about yours) aren’t a concern for Covid. We don’t need to socially distance because children don’t spread the virus. The kids can’t play in a park or have a birthday party but we can cheerfully send them to school.

            Our government is officially insane. I’m not concerned about my isolated little rural school, near a town that hasn’t seen a case of Covid in over a month (and the three we had were all tied to the Ruby Princess), but some schools in the cities are headed for a world of hurt.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Same here. I am hanging on to hope that at least some summer camps will be able to operate. So far only one has cancelled. If not… we’ll have that mental breakdown when we get there.

    3. CTT*

      I thought I would be since I loathe working from home, but the one time I went in, I found it way too stressful. They’re asking us to wipe down work spaces twice a day, always wear masks when not in our office with the door closed, use gloves in common areas, etc. Which all makes perfect sense, but it’s a lot to stay on top of and it created more anxiety for me.

    4. Justme, the OG*

      My depression has been worse since at home, so it should be better once I am able to go back in the office.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        Same here, along with my anxiety. I started tracking my moods throughout the day in an app back on the first of the year and…well, I’ve tapped on “good” a single time since I was furloughed. The rest of it’s been some “meh” and a whole lot of “bad” and “awful”.

        Unfortunately, due to my industry, I don’t foresee being back at work any time soon. The remote employees all went back this week though, but due to the nature of my specific position, that still doesn’t help me at all.

    5. Amy Sly*

      I’m very happy that I switched jobs at the beginning of April. Working from home wasn’t going well, even after just two weeks! They’re only three of us in the office, we all work quite a ways from each other, and I really feel my depression and anxiety are under better control than they’ve been in quite a while.

      People need to work to be happy — by which I mean they need to perform activities that they feel are meaningful, even after ensuring that basic survival needs are met. I’m staying sane. My husband is turning into an excellent house-husband to get his dose of “I did something useful today,” as he isn’t allowed to go to work.

    6. Tyche*

      We did 2 weeks working from home and then everyone back into the office on April 27th. I much preferred working from home. It was a bit inconvenient in some ways, but I found it less stressful. It isn’t for everyone though.

    7. Anon Anon*

      I’m still working full-time, but from home. I’m dreading going back into the office.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I’ve told my boss that I would rather keep working from home. Partly because my normal way to commute was public transit, and I would rather not risk the exposure myself or bring it home to my higher-risk spouse. Nor do I want to take on the expense of another car (currently we have one car, and it works for us).

        Fortunately, my company is indicating that they’re very open to people continuing to work remotely, and my particular job is very remote work friendly.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve got mixed feelings about it. The county stay at home order ends tomorrow, but my company will not re-open (partially) until at least June 1. In any case, I will be working from home until the end of the school year. I will definitely be glad to go somewhere other than my house. I’m incredibly lucky to have a fully set up home office already, but I feel like I’ve been sitting in a single room for two months, and it is very isolating. But on the other hand, I’ve been social distancing for so long, the thought of being around people other than my immediate family seems a little scary. Weird how your mindset can change so quickly.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      We were told def not till late July and probably not even into fall and it was such a relief. I don’t think my anxiety could stand it.

    10. LGC*

      I’m a bit ambivalent.

      I’ve posted way too much about this fact, but 1) I live just outside of New York City (so…yeah, the global epicenter, and actually in the area that’s doing the worst currently) and 2) am a public transit commuter. Starting next week, I have to go back in twice a week (I can WFH the other three days).

      I’m not looking forward to the hour+ commute (50 minute train ride, then ~20 minutes cycling cross-town), but it’ll be nice to see people more regularly, somewhat. I’d been in twice, since I prepare invoices and there’s paperwork that’s on-site (thanks guys for the boost a couple weeks ago!), so it’s not like I haven’t done this post-plague. And of course, I’m still a bit worried about whether I’ll catch COVID and spread it to my team. (And…you know, whether I’ll catch COVID and die.)

      But I’ll also appreciate my step count actually going up! It’s been depressingly low.

      1. OTGW*

        Me too. I want to stop doing dumb webinars and like… be in a building working with people. But I like the break from driving and having a real schedule again (2 PT jobs + school).

        But yeah, I’m worried about catching C-19 and giving it to my family. I’m not in NYC, but my state is in the top 5 of cases. So, pluses and minisis (sp?).

      2. voluptuousfire*

        Same. Now that I’m living alone, I can actually go into Manhattan if I need to for work. The only difference is that I’d drive in and would spend the $ on parking vs. taking public transport. I’m very leery of taking a bus at this time when I don’t have to.

        1. pancakes*

          FYI for those of you driving in, some streets have been closed to cars, to give pedestrians and people on bikes more space. Streetsblog has a list. I believe this will be expanded throughout May.

    11. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I am currently going in one day a week, and it’s been nice to put on “real” clothes including pants that button, and makeup. Once we “go back for real” (still TBD) I do think it’ll be at least part time remote for many of us for the foreseeable future.

    12. RecoveringSWO*

      I’m ambivalent as well. I have a ~1 hour commute. Between daylight savings time and teleworking my life has had a big influx of sunshine and personal time–most days I either workout or just chill/read outside while it’s still nice and bright out. So I feel like I’m going to lose not just 2 hours/day to commuting, but 2 hours of sunshine that’s been really great for my well being. That said, I am slightly extroverted and have a new manager whose remote-management style isn’t a perfect fit for me. So I know that I will have a difference kind of boost from working in the office as well.

    13. Dust Bunny*

      OMG yes. My job is one that can’t be done very effectively from home. I am immensely grateful that my employer has done so much to keep everyone safe and healthy (and employed), and have been very forgiving about us being less effective, but I need my physical workspace and materials back.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        AW DAMMIT

        I just got an email that we’re staying closed to the public through June 8.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I know what you mean. I’m a licensed massage therapist, and that’s a job they haven’t figured out how to do from six feet away yet, so until either they do (our work Slack is full of silly ideas) or there’s a breakthrough in vaccine or treatment options, I’m not working. I completely understand and agree with this in principle, and honestly I’d be more than a little frightened if they tried to tell us we could come back now… my husband is high risk, and I’d probably have to refuse. But dammit, I love my job and my clients and my clinic, and I want them all BACK.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Archives. The only options are to do it in person, or to miraculously find the staff, time, and funding to digitize and store a 9,000-square foot (x 15 feet vertically) literal warehouse of records and books bwa ha ha ha ha.

              I just got notice that, no, we’re going back to partial-in office, partial-WTF next week as planned. My department specifically isn’t in the main building so we’re isolated, anyway, and don’t get a lot of traffic (we’ll be closed to the public and only taking email and phone research requests), so it’s actually a pretty good situation for returning to work. Plus, we’re medical-related so everybody does take this seriously, but there just is very little that my department can do remotely.

    14. Chronic Overthinker*

      I never actually stopped going to work during this whole thing. Court is still in session (though mostly virtually) and legal professionals still need their assistants, now more than ever! I’m happy to report my duties actually increased during this time as most of my collegues are WFH. Mail still needs to be circulated and processed and documents need to be created. I’m happy to be working hard and not dealing with unemployment issues during this crisis. I feel for anyone who is dealing with it.

      1. TeapotExtraordinaire*

        what state are you in? I’m pressing criminal charges in rhode island, and I was told all the courts are closed.

        1. Chronic Overthinker*

          Wisconsin. Everything is virtual or teleconferenced right now, but I’ve still been working just about full time and acting as the go-between to paralegals and attorneys. It’s been a challenge, but I’m thankful I’m getting paid and actually working.

    15. Doc in a Box*

      We have been doing telehealth aside from injections (which we are clustering on pre-specified days), so I have been in clinic exactly two days in the last two months. I found it extremely stressful and harder to do my job, because I didn’t want to touch the computer, the doorknob (used my elbow and foot to get doors open and closed) and although I wear a mask of course, I find it uncomfortable. My telehealth setup is way better — no mask, widescreen computer (so I can split screen and look up lab values, MRIs, while still talking to patient), easy bathroom access.

      Unfortunately, telehealth uptake has been ~50% or less (geriatric patient population) so we are hemorrhaging cash. In order to prevent layoffs, they have announced that we will be re-opening for regular visits on May 18, and I am fucking terrified.

    16. Jaid*

      I’d like to, but even with my building working at half time/half a unit, people are still getting sick.

      I miss my work routine and the daily interactions with my coworkers. I’m hoping I remember everyone’s names by the time I get back!

    17. University press employee*

      My own company’s president has made it clear from Moment 1 that we are expected to sacrifice our lives for the business, so the prospect of going back to the office (which won’t even happen soon since my state is still on SIP order) feels like cowing to his death knell. I’m dreading it.

    18. Lucy P*

      Company got its PPP funding, so we start back on Monday after being furloughed since March. I’m grateful to have a job to go back to, but I can’t say I won’t miss this bliss.

      I’m hoping everyone else has had time to de-stress during also of this. We’re a small group with different intermingling departments. One of the departments has constant fighting–loud, occasional f-bomb, can hear it with everyone’s doors closed type of thing. I don’t want to go back to that.

    19. DataGirl*

      Still working from home- presumably at least until my state’s shelter-in-place order lifts end of the month, but I’ve gotten to go into the office a couple of times and it felt great. I’m looking forward to being able to go back eventually. It’s hard being home all the time with all my family.

      1. Jaid*

        I heard that the Post Office is holding our mail. It’s gonna be wild when we get back.

    20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m working in the office a full week for the first time in about two months and it’s fantastic. My mental health has really been boosted.

      My brother finally has picked up part time work and it’s night and day for him.

      I honestly wasn’t worried about it though, so there’s really no anxiety on that level for me. I’m still not going to go visit people, I haven’t seen my parents in these two months, so there’s still a huge social downturn. To add no office on top of that, it was brutal.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Exactly. I live alone, haven’t seen any parents or friends in forever, and I just needed to have a conversation where I could look at someone’s eyes.

        Anxiety is worse than it’s ever been, but depression is back to pre-Covid levels.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes!

          One of my coworkers was talking about how their adult child who lives with them but works a really traditional “leave me alone to my work” kind of job, even hates working from home. It’s not the same, just because I can do my job on the moon with the right equipment, doesn’t mean I want to be that far removed from my own little “society” here.

          We’re not alone by any means, lol.

    21. Square Root of Minus One*

      I would be happy. But so far, strict shelter in place ends on Monday, but news are we’re not gonna go until we’re called in. And it’s not gonna be on Monday, and probably not even the next.
      I’m REALLY disengaging. I need to go back because my motivation is down the drain. It’s gutting to feel so useless.

    22. Mazzy*

      I am WFH and am having major anxiety about the possibility of stuff opening up but requiring masks. I am out of the house for 14 hours at least three days per week, I cannot sit there all day in a mask. Please don’t tell me their comfortable for you, I don’t care, they’re extremely uncomfortable for alot of people. Not to mention, we need to eat and drink and take them off to breath fresh air every once in a while. Even before it gets itchy and uncomfortable or sweaty and harder to breath through, my brain is screaming “something’s on your face take it off. Something’s on your face, take it off. Something’s on your face take it off.” And I cannot concentrate on anything except telling my brain “hold on, it’s supposed to be there.” Also, I’m going to need loads of masks and a mask washing routine because they will definitely be getting damp and sweaty and so I will need multiple change-outs per day.

      1. Lucy P*

        One of my coworkers just cannot wear a mask because it makes them claustrophobic.

    23. Nita*

      I wish! My company is starting to talk about reopening, which is great and a real ray of sunshine in my day. But realistically, I don’t know where I fit in. It’s nice to think about going back, but my kids aren’t going to have anyone else to watch them for the forseeable future (into summer? until September? until there’s a vaccine?). Even if I could scrounge up some child care options, the recent news here in NYC has not been good for children.

    24. Quinalla*

      We are WFH until at least June – we are lucky that we can do nearly all of our work seamlessly from home – and I’ll likely be longer because of no end in site to childcare coming back and even if it did, would I send my kids to it? I don’t know…

      I will be happy to go back to work when it is safe, until then, it will be more anxiety for me to be having to go in, so I’m going to try and WFH as much as possible as long as possible.

    25. allathian*

      I’m not going yet, I work for the government and mandated WFH continues until the end of August.
      My son, who’s in the 4th grade, will be going back to school on May 14. Luckily school’s out at the end of May so it’s only 12 days.

  2. SpamItSpamItGood*

    I work at a big company and we had a “reply all” sort of fail this week. A whole bunch of people were added to an access list. That was slightly annoying, but was only like 6 emails. But once added, we were all on auto-subscribe to any reply. People started replying and asking what it was about (???). This caused a cascade of people replying “Unsubscribe” at best and rants about Spam at worse. Every reply was a reply-all under the covers. And if you removed yourself from the list, you were auto-added overnight.

    Aside from the total Fail at having added people to this thing in the first place, I’m disturbed by the number of people who thought replying with “unsubscribe” was the right thing to do when it was clearly spamming everyone. We work at a tech company. I can’t even.

    It did create a fun side conversation on slack as we witnessed the mayhem.

    It only stopped as someone “fixed” it and unsubscribed everyone from this list that I’m not sure why we were on in the first place.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m disturbed by the number of people who thought replying with “unsubscribe” was the right thing to do when it was clearly spamming everyone. We work at a tech company. I can’t even.

      Sounds about right, lol.

      Related, but something similar happened when I worked at an insurance company and, yes, an alarming number of people thought the best thing to do with this spammy email with everyone from our 3k+ company copied on the message was to Reply All. This went on for almost a half hour until someone in middle management replied something like, “Would you idiots knock it off! Just delete the damn email!” I was dying at my desk, then wondered if he would get spoken to at all by his division’s SVP about a) not calling colleagues idiots and b) cursing over an email chain where our company’s CEOs could see it.

    2. Anon for this*

      This happened at my university, but with tens of thousands of students.

      After people realized what it was it turned into a really sweet memory capsule of sorts rather than a tax form FYI. Unfortunately tech shut it down a few hours in, and not everyone got all the emails. I kind of wonder sometimes what was left in the ether.

      I can see it being less nice at a workplace, lol.

    3. RC Rascal*

      I’ve seen this happen twice: once at a financial services company, and other at a large manufacturer. My thoughts are with yours.

      I guess it goes to show you how many people think they need to get their two cents in.

    4. dealing with dragons*

      this kind of thing took down Microsoft’s internal email system some 20-30 years ago. My current company limits who can email large distros and IT is in charge of making new distros. Unless it’s a small one for a stated reason, generally hard to get new large distros added.

    5. Mazzy*

      I think people love the satisfaction of sending something out into the ether and getting a response. My job sometimes get long/useless chains where people reply all “thank you” and “welcome.” I think some people think a high volume of emails = productivity.

      1. Gatomon*

        Yes, for some this is a thing. My old job had a branch-wide email address (~30 people) and any little news or update sent would get 5-7 reply all’s that were basically just “thanks for sharing!” It was always the same people.

        I’m pretty sure the company-wide email at my current job is moderated because I haven’t seen a single reply-all come through in all the years I’ve been here.

    6. Aquawoman*

      You would think that people who got unnecessary email would understand how annoying it will be to others to hit “reply all” but they so often don’t.

    7. EnfysNest*

      My sister told me about an incident at her work where her company’s help desk was accidentally added to a company-wide email group. Well, her help desk has an auto-reply function, so it would auto-reply to the whole company… including itself. Which would activate the auto-reply again. O_O Apparently their on duty IT person was away from their desk at that moment, too, and it took about an hour to track them down and then get the email explosion shut down.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Sometimes computers remind me of the brooms in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

    8. Indy Dem*

      We’ve had something happen similar a few times. Big issue is that we are a global company, tens of thousands employees world wide. As each office opened there would be another slew of unsubscribe emails sent as reply all. Lasted a trip around the globe. It was fabulous.

    9. CoffeeAdict*

      Outlook should have a feature similar to “it looks like you have forgotten an attachment” except it would say, “you have selected ‘Reply All’ to this email, it will go to 1,784 recipients. Do you wish to proceed?” and it should be required to be enabled on all machines.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        This would be a great feature and I would love to have it, but Microsoft cannot even fix the “the message cannot be moved because the message has been changed” issue, which has been a documented bug for at least 15 years.

      2. tangerineRose*

        “you have selected ‘Reply All’ to this email, it will go to 1,784 recipients. Do you wish to proceed?” This would be so cool!

    10. Jedi Squirrel*

      I love reading about these things, but would never want to be a part of it.

      Google “wikipedia email storm” for more such atrocities.

  3. NGL*

    I imagine a version of this has been addressed in a Covid-related letter, but I can’t quite find anything.

    How are people-with-kids handling managers-without-kids who say all the right things about prioritizing family time, taking care of your physical/mental health, etc, but then aren’t giving you the grace to not be performing at 100%?

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Yesterday there was a letter from the opposite side. The manager has kids and employee is affected by not getting necessary things. There might be some good comments under that letter.

    2. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Sounds like my ex-boss says the right things but doesn’t act on them. I wish I could give some good advice but one thing my coworker does is that when it’s time to wrap up the call (because calls with the boss frequently go over by hours), he’ll move to a room where his kids are as boss hates the sound of kids. I know this isn’t the broader picture advice, but it’s a temp solution.

      1. NGL*

        I have definitely texted my partner before while on a call and asked if our kiddo could “break into” the bedroom where I’m working as an excuse to get out of it ;-) The appearance of a cute kid has been enough to get the long-winded people to stop talking and then I can say “Well, I think that’s my cue! Great talking to everyone, bye!”

    3. RecoveringSWO*

      “who say all the right things about prioritizing family time, taking care of your physical/mental health, etc, but then aren’t”–been there, sorry it’s definitely frustrating!

      Do you have a good amount of PTO? If so, you could try to use the formality of PTO and setting up coverage to force your manager to lower expectations/deliverables. Maybe take a day off per week or 2-3 half days per week for the long term. Then inform your manager of what you expect your performance metrics to look like for the week and refer to your progress as on track within those terms. Also, definitely be unavailable when on PTO. This might give your manager the swift kick they need to change their expectations and timeline. It also more formally puts the onus on the manager–of course your PTO time shouldn’t count towards their calculus of how many widgets you should produce this week. It’s more than just not following through with their previously supportive statements re:family&mental health, it’s earned time off.

      1. NGL*

        The company is requiring us to take some time off before the end of the fiscal year – which my boss has used as extra work time, and said I should consider doing the same when my day off came up this week! I told her that wouldn’t be possible – I was willing to check email on my phone, but I couldn’t sit at my laptop all day for project work! She kind of shrugged and said “You gotta do what you gotta do.”

        She’s usually SO GOOD about respecting boundaries and time off. I do wonder if it’s pressure coming from higher up. There was a flurry of activity and demands of new and innovative ideas when the WFH orders started, then it all leveled off, and now that we’re in week 8 or something the overall feeling seems to be that we should be used to this by now and back to something akin to our old standards (nothing said explicitly of course, but these expectations that everything should be getting done in the same fashion/timeline as it used to be in the office).

    4. What the What*

      My experience is not universal or representative of all managers. But I’m a business owner/manager with no kids. My employees have kids and are working from home. I’ve asked here and there how things are going and explained what options are available if they need to take time off, but I haven’t pursued it much further than that.

      If someone is having a problem, I would need them to communicate that, rather than leave me guessing. Because if you leave me guessing, I’m going to guess that there’s no real problem. I don’t have a crystal ball that tells me how they’re doing with their kids at home. Some of them have spouses, or older kids, and it’s not really a problem. Some of them never had daycare canceled.

      So I guess my advice would be to talk to your manager and be specific about what accommodations you need. Your childless manager isn’t going to be good at guessing and proactively providing what you, individually, need.

    5. Aquawoman*

      It depends! If the boss is aware of the day-to-day challenges you’re facing and turning down requests to change soft deadlines, or expecting you to respond to messages instantaneously, or the like, that’s difficult. If it’s just that they’re barreling through in a business-as-usual way, maybe increasing the communication on your end might make some headway. Thinking about and asking for things to work in a way that works for you and the company (what to prioritize/deprioritize/rearrange) and having a talk about that?

  4. not_kate_winslet*

    I am probably going to end up letting a probationary employee go, during a global pandemic. This will be my first non-certification of a new hire since I’ve been in my supervisory position (I’ve had two successful hires before him). I have tried everything, and this week I have been attempting to get him to commit to a last-ditch plan to commit to demonstrating that he is the right fit for this job. But it’s like he is making every effort to fail. Not showing up for meetings, making nonsensical excuses, etc. etc. HR is looped in and I’m following the steps, but I am nearly heartbroken over this. I was very excited about him joining the team. He was every single person on the hiring panel’s first choice. It’s been a little bumpy but I thought we were on the right track. I’m struggling to detach emotionally from this, especially given the current state of the job market. Blah. Any tips for getting through this? Or – if I end up having to keep him on, any tips for letting go of my now pretty entrenched bias about his attitude?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Maybe he IS trying to fail. It is possible that he took this job expecting one thing and now sees that it’s another. He doesn’t want to quit; he wants to be let go so he can collect unemployment. (I’m assuming that non-certification isn’t the same thing as being fired for cause, and that he would qualify for benefits.) Of course, you are not a mind reader but if he’s behaving this way maybe framing it as his choice will help you let the guilt go.

      1. RC Rascal*

        This. Not showing up for meetings is a loud and clear way to say “Fire Me”.

    2. mcfizzle*

      Remember that you can only control yourself. Also, as long as you are confident you’ve done everything you can to try to help / correct, then hold onto that. He’s choosing to sabotage himself. I had a coworker do the same thing, and just dig in ever harder. You and your employees will all feel much happier once the toxicity is gone.

      That being said, you are really a good human for caring about his situation. It’s too bad he doesn’t seem to share your concern (again, his issue). I felt that with the coworker, as he had just bought a new house. I kept thinking “well, why isn’t HE worried about this?”

      This may seem harsh. I don’t mean to be. More… pragmatic. Regardless, it’s not a good situation. I wish you the best and would love to know how it ends up going.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My first thought was very similar to this: you can’t care FOR somebody, so if you are putting more effort into protecting his job than he is, there’s something wrong. I would really second the advice about framing this as his choice, maybe even going so far as to tell him so: “I have been trying hard to give you clear expectations about what it will take to keep this job. We need to see X, Y and Z, and it needs to be consistent, all the time unless there’s a very rare emergency. Is there anything in that that you’re having trouble understanding, or need help doing? [Listen; if the answer is that yes, you’ve been clear and there’s nothing specific he needs… then:] “When I see you failing on very basic things like not attending meetings, it looks to me as if you’re making a choice that this isn’t a position you want. What’s going on? Would you rather we just decide mutually that this is not the right fit for you and discuss how to transition you out of the position?”

        I’m pretty blunt, though, and also not a manager of anything more than a small all-volunteer organization. So take what I would do with a grain of salt.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          I really like your languaging here – it’s clear and leaves no room for misunderstanding. But it also allows that in the off-chance he needs something he doesn’t currently have, he can articulate that here and you can get clarification on what the issue is. But it doesn’t sound like that is happening so I will be surprised if this is simply an issue of miscommunication.

          I agree with others that in many ways it does seem like he’s either self-sabotoging or just straight up not caring if he gets let go over this. But that being said, reading some of the other comments in this thread about how some people are really eager to go back to a physical office and how hard they have been struggling with remote work, I think there is at least a little potential that maybe he’s not trying to do poorly or actively not caring about things he should be responsible for. Maybe he’s just not coping well with the crisis or isn’t well-suited to remote work or any number of other things related to this crazy time we find ourselves in.

          Please know that I’m not suggesting that you need to keep bending over backwards to keep this guy or make his staying on your team feasible – I’m not! He’s still responsible for his behavior, as are we all during this time. It’s just that I can imagine that trying to navigate a new job during this kind of crisis (particularly if you have any complicating factors or aren’t well-suited to WFH etc) might not be the best environment for success.

          not_kate_winslet, I think you are doing all that you can: being clear about expectations, being transparent in your concerns/problems/challenges with his work, and treating him professionally and with compassion. As others have said, you can’t care more about him keeping this job than he does. You can only give him the tools and the space to do his job well and support him in those efforts. And if he can’t, it means the person and the job aren’t the right fit. There’s no need to assign blame on one side or the other – just acknowledge that sometimes things just don’t work out because the pieces didn’t work together the way you’d hoped.

          GOOD LUCK!

    3. Me*

      It’s your job to be a good boss – which you’ve demonstrated. If he doesn’t want to succeed you can’t do it for him. Let him fail and know it is a choice he is making. You’ve done all that’s your responsibility to do.

    4. Deja vu*

      I noticed you said “…I have been attempting to get him to commit…” – why? As the supervisor, it is not your job to make people commit to wanting to be employed. You are there to equip employees to do their jobs safely and effectively. I think that’s the key to emotionally detaching here: you do your job and he should do his. If he doesn’t want to do the job, he’s not the right fit.

      It’s worth taking a moment to self-examine your own actions. You don’t mention exactly what has been said to this employee, but the standard AAM advice applies: be extremely clear about your expectations (no sugar coating, no watering down, change “It’d be nice if you did X” to “I need to see X”, etc.), ask them what’s going on, and listen. You mention non-nonsensical excuses – did you explain that his explanation is unacceptable and his behavior did not meet expectations?

      For your last question, if you keep him, then communicating expectations is still key: you need to communicate them and review them often. Maybe even use a physical calendar to mark of each day with a checkmark that expectations are met: if you see 100% of the calendar filled with checkmarks, I think you’ll find it harder to think you’re employee isn’t cutting it. However, if he continues with his current trajectory, you should be addressing it frequently so he knows that he’s not on track.

      1. not_kate_winslet*

        Thank you for this. Yes, I’ve been explicitly clear about setting expectations, benchmarks, tasks, etc. His probation was extended by three months with clear expectations for seeing improvement. We’re about halfway through the extension, and it has deteriorated a lot – way more than I had expected. Granted, we’ve also shifted gears in a huge way due to COVID-19, telework, and agency priorities. None of us are working at 100%, and I’m trying to keep that in mind. Ugh.

        1. Deja vu*

          Got it. Well it sounds like you already have your recommendation for this employee – it sounds like it’s just a matter of what higher-ups allow you to do. Don’t feel guilty about it – you’ve done more than your share of trying to help. Some people refuse to be helped.

        2. Steve*

          > None of us are working at 100%, and I’m trying to keep that in mind. Ugh.

          Attitude can count for a lot in this type of situation. If my boss said “I feel that you aren’t meeting our expected standards” I would be able to explain what I am doing well, and where I am struggling, and how the current WFH situation is affecting my work (ergonomics, and inability to focus on specific tasks). I would commit to trying harder, and would be able to explain how being physically at work would help. I would hate for anyone to lose their job right now, but if they aren’t cooperating with you then there are larger problems that won’t be helped with time.

      2. Koala dreams*

        Getting employees to commit is also part of the standard AAM advice, though. You ask the employee: Can you do that? If they say they’ll do it, okay. If they say they won’t, then there is no point to keep them.

        The point is not that the manager gets emotionally invested, the point is to find out if the employee is invested in the job at all.

        Of course, this assumes that the employee participates in the discussion.

    5. Kobayashi Maru*

      I truly feel for you. I don’t wanna sound like a hard-ass, but there are some things in life that aren’t fixable by any means. It sure sounds like you’ve tried to save them, but – they don’t want to be saved. In the words of Capt. James T. Kirk: “I don’t believe in a ‘no-win scenario’. Except this one. Let it go.”

    6. Senor Montoya*

      You’re worried that this is a terrible time to fire anyone, but it’s possible he doesn’t need the job or has other resources. You don’t know, and he has chosen to not follow through.

      The only thing I would add is have you made it excruciatingly clear that if he doesn’t do X Y Z that he *will* be fired? If not, do that. If you have, you have done everything you could.

      We’ve got a couple of recent hires that everyone lurrrrrved when they were hired and for the first half year. As they’ve been tasked with working at a higher level and more independently, we’re seeing problems. Some of them of the “fix this or you’re fired” variety. It’s hard not to take it personally if you had a hand in hiring and/or training them (that’s me for one of them). I feel that I’ve failed my co-workers and my employer, and tbh I’m irritated that now I have to chunk in more of my time and mental energy into helping them get in good shape. Or document how they are not. I do feel bad if they lose their jobs, but it’s a long process for them to get there — sounds like the same for your situation, OP, remember that you are not kicking them out unexpectedly and for no reason.

    7. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Ugh, I am sorry. I’ve had to do this, too, and it’s not fun. But just know that you did everything expected of you as a manager (and then some, it sounds like!) and you aren’t doing anyone any favors (him included) by keeping him just to keep him.

    8. dinoweeds*

      Ugh, I feel you. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I had to fire a genuinely nice guy for a laundry list of reasons (one of which included drinking on the job!), but he had just found out his girlfriend was pregnant with twins and it was two days before Christmas. I had no choice but to let him go and even though I KNEW that it had to be done, I still felt like the worst person in the world because I was aware of stuff in his personal life. In the end I had to remember that my job is to my company first and my employees second – if I didn’t fire him I would not have been holding up my end of responsibilities. It sucked, but it had to happen.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We can only control our own desires, motivations and over all commitment. We can have encouragement from outside sources but in the end, it’s again a personal choice and push.

      So you have done your job. You’ve been supportive, you’ve been coaching and encouraging him to be able to keep his job. Now it’s time to cut your losses.

      LOTS of people interview and present lovely in an interview. And they may be very skilled in certain aspects but that doesn’t mean in the long term, they’ll end up gelling into that position.

      You could have also had a weak candidate pool if he stood out among all others. He could be charismatic but charisma doesn’t get work done necessarily. That’s okay too, I’ve had this happen countless times, the best is still not good enough. in the end or lets you down.

      This isn’t personal on his part. He most likely didn’t set out to deceive you. Most people do think they can do the job! But while in it, they realize that it’s a whole different rodeo than the last one they were in. That’s okay too. It’s part of the business world. They get to quit, we get to fire them, none of this should leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth in the end.

      Be respectful and you only need to keep your emotions out of it on the surface when he’s concerned. Clearly don’t break down in front of him. Don’t go try to talk about it to someone in his same level or what have you. You can be emotional personally, you can often talk to other managers who have been down this road before as well, we get it! We sympathize. Just know your audience but don’t lose your feelings.

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

      Did you ask your team privately for feedback? We’re dealing with a similar situation right now, and it’s not an easy situation to be in. I told my boss since day one, not accusating anyone but concerned since this employee comes from a background where following orders without questioning is the norm. I really don’t want to say “I told you” to the person who greenlit the hiring despite those yellow flags, but I did told them…

    11. Sara without an H*

      Try to detach your feelings from the facts. Suppose you keep him on permanently and the pandemic ends? You’ll be trying to manage an employee who skips meetings, makes nonsensical excuses, etc. Do you really want to do that to yourself?

      It sounds as though you’re doing all the right things: documenting performance issues and keeping HR in the loop. Will you feel good in the end? Probably not. But unpleasant feelings are an occupational hazard of being an adult. You can do this. And you should.

    12. Mazzy*

      Seems pretty clear cut. My heart would be broken if they were trying hard and weren’t a good fit, but someone not even trying, especially with 15% unemployment? My sympathy well is pretty low here.

    13. AnonandAnon*

      I wonder, if employees demonstrate they clearly don’t want to be there, don’t want to do the job, etc., why would they not be terminated? I’m even talking about someone who has been with the company for years, and has, time and time again, demonstrated their inability to be proactive or take any initiative while their coworkers are killing themselves. Don’t let this employee go any further, you can’t control what is occurring outside your department/company, but you can provide an opportunity for someone who truly wants to work.

    14. Uranus Wars*

      I have a note taped to my computer that says “You can’t care about someone else’s circumstances more than they do”. This was initially a prompt for me to set better personal boundaries with my father but it has leaked over into other areas. I hope it can help you get through this.

    15. Kettricken Farseer*

      Don’t fret so much about having a person you were excited to hire actually turned out to be a dud. About 10 years ago I interviewed a guy who seemed fabulous…but was so very not. He wasn’t good at his job despite a lot of coaching and mentoring. But the larger problem was that he was very paranoid and suspicious of others and had an issue with most of upper management being women (including me). That’s just not something that is detectable in an interview.

      All managers run into this scenario sooner or later. Well, maybe not paranoid people…

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

        Long time ago, I had a “former genius kid” as a coworker. He was neither a “kid” nor “genius”. He left before he was fired for his incompetence… and harassing a much younger female employee.

    16. Djuna*

      One things others haven’t said, that I think you may need to hear is that one bad apple doesn’t make you look like a bad manager. Probation exists for a reason and I doubt anyone at the company is keeping a scorecard on how many of your newbies make it through probation.

      I’ve worked for people who made bad hires, knew very quickly they were bad hires and still let them through probation and refused to ever consider letting them go because it would look like they had made a mistake. You can imagine what morale was like on those teams.

      This is not all about this one guy, it’s also about your larger team who don’t deserve the added stress of picking up after Dudley won’t-do in the middle of a pandemic. Your instincts here are kind, but be careful you’re not directing your kindness at someone who won’t see it, much less respond to it.

    17. Mavis*

      Having to keep him? Why?

      Why are you trying so hard for him? And why would you want to continue to do so ?

    18. not_kate_winslet*

      Thanks to all who provided feedback. I really appreciate the comments. I definitely cannot care more about him keeping his job than he does. And I think there is definitely a little piece of my ego that feels like him not being a good fit is a reflection of my hiring decision. So – sincere thanks for the advice and reminder that this is not about me.

      There were some questions about probation/why I’d have to keep him… I work at an organization with very solid and legally/culturally entrenched civil service and union requirements. All employees enter their jobs with a probationary period. At the end, they can be permanently certified. They can also be non-certified if things aren’t working out, but I need to ensure the process is followed accordingly.

      *Also, just as a follow-up, after he was a no-show on Friday, I sent him a detailed message explaining the expectation for showing up to today’s check-in with a solid explanation for where he’s been recently, and this morning I woke up to… another new excuse for being out today. I also checked in with the person who oversees one of his COVID related assignments and she confirmed that he hadn’t reported for those duties recently either. So, yeah. It’s not good :-/

  5. Is this... reasonable?*

    Hypothetical question for the managers out there- I used to be part of an office that had an under-performing, gaslighting, Nazi-enthusiast, serial sexual harasser that management never seemed able to do anything about. A real Fergus. Supervisors mismanaged the situation from head to toe- instituting reporting requirements for all staff that took hours to complete each week, assigning other staff to clean up this person’s mistakes, failing to acknowledge that Fergus actively sabotaged other people’s work. One thing that drove my coworkers crazy was that they constantly “reported” Fergus’s harassing behavior to supervisors, and the supervisors refused to take action. 

    What gives me pause is that my coworkers have told me that they either didn’t want to or couldn’t name specific behaviors. (Ex- “Fergus is having loud personal conversations that make me uncomfortable” when Fergus was telling his wife that she needed to wear tighter clothes, and then later, loudly discussing his divorce and all the things he was going to do to his now ex-wife; “Fergus is making the female staff uncomfortable” when he was waiting until the office was empty to corner and block the exits of junior female staff and asking them increasingly personal questions; “You need to address how Fergus talks to other staff” when Fergus was showing off his SS memorabilia to our Jewish coworkers) 

    Targeted coworkers either quietly quit (there’s been almost 100% turnover in this office in the past 4 years) or didn’t want to make complaints because they were concerned about their physical safety. Supervisors said they couldn’t do anything because 1) there weren’t specific incidents to address and 2) the targeted staff had to be the ones to formally file a complaint.

    So, AAM managerial commetariat, does this sound reasonable to you? How would you have handled a situation like this? This was in a US gov agency, if that makes a difference, with a pretty high bar to meet in order to take formal disciplinary actions.

    1. Em*

      I definitely think that 1. Supervisors should have asked them to name specific actions if that was necessary. But also 2. Someone literally should have just taken a picture of his SS memorabilia? I work in a state job that is hard to be fired from (think people being lazy and destroying very intense and expensive scientific experiments and just being retrained again and again) and this kind of thing would not fly. Especially after Charlottesville, many agencies have been more on top of this kind of behavior.

      If his behavior made anyone uncomfortable, not just those he targeted, they should have and could have reported it. But I don’t understand why a supervisor couldn’t? They could have just watched him?

      This sounds like an awful mess.

    2. GoingAnon*

      This is ridiculous. If people were making vague reports, the supervisors should’ve dug into things. If the people complaining weren’t comfortable making formal complaints, their reasons should’ve been explored and addressed. If they needed specific incidents, they should’ve asked staff who made vague complaints to clarify or make note the next time something happened and report it.

      Is it possible that the supervisors found out the details and just didn’t think the behaviors rose to the level of harassment or creating a hostile work environment, though? They definitely are, but some people are confused about what constitutes harassment or don’t understand how serious these seemingly minor things are.

      1. GoingAnon*

        But also, I worked in a government agency for a while, and managers often seemed to claim powerlessness. I left rather than figure out how much of it was bureaucratic nonsense. One woman in my department had been basically told she wasn’t allowed to speak to another employee in an adjacent department beneath the same grandboss after she’d essentially stalked this woman. Supposedly she caught the other woman sleeping in her car at work. Neither of these people was fired (I have no clue if the sleeper had a medical condition or was on break when she decided to nap–the other lady was also quite the slacker by the time I got there, so she had no leg to stand on).

        The one with the virtual workplace restraining order also once advocated genocide to my face and always referred to older black women as “girls,” which always struck me as a racist thing. I didn’t report either because she’d been there for decades, so the message to me was that nobody would do anything.

    3. Kobayashi Maru*

      I’m a retired manager – does that count?

      What sticks out to me is how “they either didn’t want to or couldn’t name specific behaviors.“ Fergus may indeed be a serious jerk, but as a parent *and* an ex-manager, I get suspicious when I start asking questions and the details start getting vague.

      I don’t know all of the details – maybe the KKK was using the office for after-hours meetings? – but based just on what you wrote, no, it does not sound unreasonable to me. Your account of the matter makes it sound like a conspiracy. But if no-one is willing to file a detailed complaint, I don’t think Fergus *should* be disciplined on the basis of what sounds like rumor and hearsay.

      1. Observer*

        When you have that many vague complaints and that much turnover, that should send a LOUD (like klaxon level loud) signal that something is very, very wrong.

        When you also know that you need to have people regularly fix someone’s work and you instituted heavy reporting requirements due to the behavior of one person, that should make it 100% clear that you need to dig.

          1. Is this... reasonable?*

            So, normally this is an office of about 10-15 people, and there have been about 20 departures in the past 4 years. (About 3 cohorts of hires have come through, and they’re about to hire a 4th.)

            # of complaints is difficult to gauge- Fergus has targeted people outside of the office that have also complained to their supervisors, who have taken action, even if it’s just to ban him from their office suite. I would say there’s been maybe 8-9 people who have made complaints, verbal and written, but it’s been spread across multiple managers and reporting entities.

            1. Kettricken Farseer*

              Does he have some skill so rare that your leadership is willing to overlook his behavior? The Nazi memorabilia alone should have been enough to fire him.

            2. Kobayashi Maru*

              Given the quantity and level of detail of information you have on the situation, I don’t understand why you yourself have not spearheaded an effort to get Fergus taken down?

      2. blepkitty*

        I agree with Observer. There was enough cause to suspect this employee of being a problem. Plus, there actually were specific events behind the unspecific complaints (showing SS memorabilia to anyone at work, let alone a Jewish coworker???).

        Also, you’re basically assuming the female employees are being cliquish bullies making up stories of harassment to get someone fired, without doing any investigation on your own–sorry, but this reads as Very Clueless about sexual harassment to me and possibly sexist, and I’m glad I was not one of your direct reports.

        1. Grace*

          I have, surprisingly, actually discussed a coworker’s SS memorabilia with him – but I’m not sure “memorabilia” is the correct term when it’s actually items his grandfather looted from ‘abandoned uniforms’ after he was freed from a POW camp at the end of the war and was making his way across Germany to where he was told the nearest British forces were.

          Even though his stuff is less ‘memorabilia’ and more artifacts of actual historical interest, if he brought them into work, our manager would be having Words with a capital W.

      3. Blueberry*

        From what I see in the original description, it wasn’t that anyone asked questions and got increasingly vague answers but that no questions were asked to pull sharper details out of vaguely described initial complaints.

        I’m not even going to touch describing multiple reports of sexual harassment as “a conspiracy”, or the KKK joke.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I did not see the “conspiracy” reference as meaning that the people reporting Fergus appeared to be conspiring to do so falsely, but that the LW had presented the HR staff as appearing to be conspiring to keep Fergus despite many credible reports, when later details suggest that they might just not have had enough detail to be able to do anything about it.

          This doesn’t mean I agree with what HR did — they clearly had enough information just in the form of “large numbers of people are filing reports about the same manager” to know they needed to dig deeper. But it does mean I don’t believe that Kobiyashi Maru was dismissing the claims of those who filed reports against him as “conspiracy.”

      4. soon to be former fed really*

        And you are part of the problem. Long time Fed here. Fed managers are mostly ostriches, and if misbehavior doesn’t affect them personally, they look the other way. Employees must be proactive and protect their own rights by documenting and reporting no matter what some lazy and scared manager does or doesn’t do. Ugh.

    4. Observer*

      Your supervisors were making excuses.

      It’s true that it makes it MUCH easier if people are specific and it’s definitely reasonable to ask for that. But it is absolute malarky to claim that they could only do something if the target complained. In fact, when it comes to discrimination / harassment complaints, the law is that if an employer “had reason” / “should have” known, they are liable.

    5. LGC*

      With regards to your department’s management: …it’s a pretty un-woke way to approach sexual harassment! And yeah, this is pretty much a “Fergus is creating a hostile work environment” sexual harassment training sketch.

      It’d be great if we could feel comfortable naming the behaviors to our managers. But actually having had to deal with people saying extremely uncomfortable things around me, it’s often really awkward to name it! I might have probed a bit more, myself and tried to get a better idea of what was happening, and I would have also said, “Look, I encourage you to take x action, and I’ve got your back.”

    6. What the What*

      I understand the need for specific incidents. “Fergus sucks” is not something management can act on. They need to know in what way he sucks. They can’t go to Fergus and say, “Someone told me that you make female employees uncomfortable, but I’m not sure how or when, because the complaints were unspecific.” That’s not helpful.

      Now, I do think it’s ridiculous that the victim needed to be the person to report it. If I witness Fergus showing Nazi memorabilia to a Jewish coworker and I report that, and they say “Well, he wasn’t showing it to you, so unless that coworker steps up, we can’t do anything…” that’s a flimsy excuse not to confront the issue.

      Or “Nancy told me that Fergus cornered her after hours and sexually harassed her at work and now she’s afraid of retaliation if she reports it,” and the response is “Well, unless Nancy steps up and reports it, we can’t do anything” uhhh no. They need to talk to Nancy and Fergus. Even if Nancy doesn’t make a formal complaint, they need to tell Fergus that if it did happen, that was wrong, or if they hear of any retaliation, he’ll be fired.

      1. Is this... reasonable?*

        Yes, the unwillingness to talk about specifics has been frustrating- my coworkers felt like a supervisor or HR person should be responsible for looking into more vague statements, or at least understand the implications of “Fergus makes people uncomfortable”, but that seemed like a leap….

        1. Sara without an H*

          Were they afraid of retaliation if they complained? Some organizations make a point of shooting the messenger.

          1. Is this... reasonable?*

            They were more afraid of retaliation from Fergus than supervisors.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              The supervisors had a responsibility to protect the reporters from retaliation by Fergus. If I were one of them, I would have gently tried to pry more details out of everyone reporting, but also made it clear that I’d do everything I could to make sure that Fergus couldn’t do anything to them, whether that looked like getting them permission to work from home/another site, so Fergus wasn’t physically near them, to putting them on a project that didn’t work with him in any way, to whatever else it took. If they were literally afraid for their physical safety to the point where protecting them in the office wasn’t enough because they thought he might come to their house to hurt them, I’d offer to help them get an order of protection. The details are gonna vary wildly depending on the office configuration (both architectural and hierarchical), but it’s my job as a manager, not the reporting employees’, job to protect them from retaliation by Fergus.

    7. AnonAtty*

      Nopity, nope, nope. I clerked at an entity involved with discipline for federal employees and whole heartily agree with Alison’s general assessment that government employees can be fired–they just require documentation. In general, when a fed appeals their termination it goes to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The Board weighs the propriety of the discipline by a number of factors called the “Douglas factors.” I’m going to list them below. You’ll see a number of factors that would support firing Fergus. They require evidence, but even if your employees weren’t willing to come forward with specifics, all management needed to do was continuously document his repeated poor performance.

      The Douglas Factors
      The following relevant factors must be considered in determining the severity of the discipline:
      (1) The nature and seriousness of the offense, and its relation to the employee’s duties, position, and responsibilities, including whether the offense was intentional or technical or inadvertent, or was committed maliciously or for gain, or was frequently repeated;
      (2) the employee’s job level and type of employment, including supervisory or fiduciary role, contacts with the public, and prominence of the position;
      (3) the employee’s past disciplinary record;
      (4) the employee’s past work record, including length of service, performance on the job, ability to get along with fellow workers, and dependability;
      (5) the effect of the offense upon the employee’s ability to perform at a satisfactory level and its effect upon supervisors’ confidence in the employee’s work ability to perform assigned duties;
      (6) consistency of the penalty with those imposed upon other employees for the same or similar offenses;
      (7) consistency of the penalty with any applicable agency table of penalties;
      (8) the notoriety of the offense or its impact upon the reputation of the agency;
      (9) the clarity with which the employee was on notice of any rules that were violated in committing the offense, or had been warned about the conduct in question;
      (10) the potential for the employee’s rehabilitation;
      (11) mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense such as unusual job tensions, personality problems, mental impairment, harassment, or bad faith, malice or provocation on the part of others involved in the matter; and
      (12) the adequacy and effectiveness of alternative sanctions to deter such conduct in the future by the employee or others.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        If you ever come back to this, I have a question: To your knowledge, do “Douglas factors” also apply to Dept. of Defense workplaces? For some reason, I’ve always thought DoD workers were not eligible for Merit Systems Protection Board involvement. Thanks.

    8. Humble Schoolmarm*

      No, your supervisors aren’t right. I’m taking this from a middle school teacher perspective where vague complaints about bullying (50/50 parents and students) are very common. When I go digging, “Sam made me feel uncomfortable” sometimes means “Sam spent the last 45 minutes ranting about Marvel and DC and I just need it to stop” and sometimes it means “Sam threatened to burn down my house” (true story). Yes, it’s a pain to talk to everybody involved when the answer is really live and let live, but you have to do it to make sure you don’t miss the serious things.
      That being said, people with complaints like this, I know context doesn’t always make it possible, but please try to make it as specific as you can. It makes it so much easier for everyone in the long run.

    9. Koala dreams*

      I’m not a manager, but I’m interested in the responses to your scenario. Sometimes when you read advice about harassment, there seems to be a fine line to thread between staying safe and fighting for the harassment to stop.
      I also don’t understand the rule about only the targeted staff making complaints. Wouldn’t that be risky for the organisation? If they know about illegal harassment and do nothing when waiting for the detailed complaints from victims, it will look to the other employees like they don’t care.

    10. Fikly*

      You wrote that management never seemed to be able to do anything about Fergus.

      That’s not what happened. Management chose not to do anything about Fergus.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        This. So much this. They could have fired Fergus ages ago — they decided not to, and then set policy (or invoked existing policy in ways that suited their original preference) to give them an excuse for doing what they wanted to do anyhow. Which was nothing.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      For the billion’th time, the targeted person doesn’t need to be the one who reports it. Anyone can report someone for being a discriminating piece of trash without a filter. I don’t care if it didn’t happen to Jim, Jim has every right to report it.

      Constant complaints about the same patterns is enough to demand answers from Fergus and terminate him in the end.

      They’re lazy and using the excuse that it’s ‘Hard” to terminate someone as an “out” for them. They don’t want to do their jobs. Management sucks. And when management sucks, you get a Fergus.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Well, if I saw management not dealing with Fergus not doing his job (taking way to long to complete work, having error filled work, etc) and additionally saw management not fixing THAT problem that should be OBVIOUS to management, I would know that management would not act on my behavioral complaints (the harassment). So, why bother to take the time to be explicit? Especially since I know Fergus will retaliate (because specific information will identify me). Also, I know that management has to be seeing at least some of what Fergus is doing – if they won’t act on what they see, why bother. I will put my time and energy into getting out of there. In addition, I am probably hearing from coworkers that management won’t do anything about Fergus.

      Management could make a point to investigate, observe, show up unexpectedly to see Fergus and his behavior. This is their JOB.

  6. Sockster*

    I’m feeling a little lost, because I know I want a new job, but I don’t know what job I want next. I’m not at all attached to my current industry (childcare).
    I’ve been working in administration and program management, and I feel like my skills would roughly transfer to a lot of workplaces, but the things I like about my job aren’t the industry, they’re the specific attributes of my workplace. I wish I could filter on LinkedIn or Indeed for positions that ‘spend 75% time or less sitting at my desk’, ‘a decent amount of social interaction and collaboration with the public, clients, and coworkers’, ‘sending lots of informative emails’.
    How do people find jobs that they’re compatible with? I feel like I just don’t know what jobs are out there!

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      One way to go about this is look at job boards for specific companies you think you might want to work for, across industries. You could have some fun with this.

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      Check under Administrative Assistant/Reception jobs. Or Marketing assistant. Or, like someone else suggested, find a company that you like and search through their listings/job descriptions. Keep your chin up and have fun finding out just what you want to do!

    3. cubone*

      I know this is probably groan worthy advice, but I really feel like “What Color is Your Parachute?” is a classic for a reason! It really helped me sort out all these components (eg. the skills, knowledge, environment, people, etc.) that I wanted in a job and made me feel more clear on exactly what I wanted (and then you can use that to talk to people or go hunting for jobs that match). It sounds like you already have this list, but maybe it would be a helpful exercise. Reading it definitely made me feel confident and encouraged that I could find jobs I didn’t know of before that would fit my desires.

      1. Sockster*

        I had actually forgotten about this book, so I think I’ll give it a look! Thanks for the reminder!

    4. Fikly*

      So last time I was job searching, I was in something of a similar position, in that I wasn’t super committed to a particular industry.

      What I did was really take some time and think about what things in a job would make it sustainable for me long term. Once I had identified those, I had to figure out search terms for job ads. That was super hard, but what ended up working well for me was searching “empathy.”

      I ended up searching that because I have very strong communication skills, and have worked for a crisis line for several years, so I’m very good at empathetic communication. And empathy as a search term really gets at job ads that are across a number of industries, and a number of jobs I wouldn’t have thought of on my own.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Can you go into something that’s not childcare but something related to the school system instead? That would be stepping away but not taking a huge leap.

      I mean I could also say that construction/manufacturing will take you away from the child aspect if you want to jump ship from that area. But the attitude and atmosphere is going to be a world apart. Sadly industries are weird and so individual it’s hard that even if they did give you that information to know if you’d actually like them in the long run!!

    6. Goomba*

      I think you actually know a lot about what you want! I was in a similar place where I wasn’t attached to the industry but had a good idea of what I wanted my day-to-day to look like. Actually I think this is a good way to ensure you’re happy with your job!

      I encourage you to check out the Kent University careers site, they had a quiz you could take and answer questions like “Do you like to work with your hands?” and give you options based on that. You can also google things like “jobs sending informative emails to clients” and see what kinds of job ads come up.

      Actually your likes list sounds kinda like my old job, I helped organize conferences and sent lots of informative emails to clients, participants, guests, and so on. It was very collaborative and while it had desk work days, often I had to go meet clients and attend the events. I can also see jobs in a library lining up with this; the “informative emails” makes me think of supportive jobs like HR, admin, maybe even marketing or something?

  7. Qwertyuiop*

    My boss set up meetings with an outside contractor to work on database cleanup. The contractor and I have daily meetings for a few hours to work on this. (My boss is also invited to the meetings. )
    For some reason, either the boss forgets or something, but while I’m in the meetings, boss will text me asking why I’m not in another meeting or where I am. I have to remind boss that the contractor and I have a meeting.

    Once the boss even made a remark like, “Qwerty would rather work with the (contractor) than go to the Teapot Meeting.”

    Umm….Boss was the one who set up the meeting!

    How do you deal with something like this?

    1. irene adler*

      Get clarification up-front from boss as to which is to be your higher priority- meeting with contractor or the other meeting(s). If boss’ response is “the other meeting(s)” then make sure boss understands that that will require you to cancel the contractor meeting -that he set up. You cannot be at two meetings at the same time.

      1. Qwertyuiop*

        My boss already told me that the meeting with the contractor is top priority though and that I did not have to attend the other meetings.

        1. irene adler*

          Sounds like boss has forgotten the priorities he set for you. Time to ask for clarification as this will require boss to assess the priorities. Then might ask why, if the priority is to meet with contractor, boss is texting you to locate you to join other meetings. This is causing you confusion as to what the priorities are.

          Might even text boss each time you are meeting with contractor : “Hi boss, it’s 8 am and I’m about to meet with contractor until 10 am today.”

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      On critical meetings that overlap, I usually IM my boss to remind him that I’m going to be doing X and that Y person will be in the other meeting.

      1. Sara(h)*

        This. I often send a quick text to my boss that morning, “Just a reminder that I’m attending the Koala Policy meeting at 10am so I won’t be at the Panda Procedure meeting,” and, if applicable, “Bearita is going to do our team’s report out.”

      2. tangerineRose*

        Yeah, a reminder’s a great idea, and if the boss still says this kind of thing, how about saying “I was in a meeting with contractor; I thought that was the highest priority?”

    3. Me*

      Is your boss just a dolt who has a bad sense of humor? I had a boss like this. He was incompetent to say the nicest thing about him and he routinely joked about things to deflect from his being bad at his work and also just in general to be funny except he wasn’t. Ever.

  8. Frustrated HospitalStaffer*

    TL/DR: My employer is cutting staff hours to the bone, while acting like their meager pay cuts makes them saints. They are also secretly laying staff off, keeping everyone in the dark, lying to the media, and patronizing us for having feelings about it all. Oh and BTW we are a hospital!

    Man my leaders are bringing on a new level of infuriating incompetence. I’m ready to burst! I work at a Hospital, which has naturally been very stressful these past two months. And like a lot of hospitals in our region, we are losing money and furloughing/laying off staff. This, I can understand, kind of, but the way it has been done is so cruel, so secretive, and maximum stress inducing! I’ve never been angrier at an employer in my life.
    Let’s start with the furloughs. They built this self-serving email, talking about how top leadership was taking pay cuts between 10-25% but that staff would have to take some time off too. Naturally they released this email at 8am on Friday, and then didn’t tell anyone what our cuts would be until the end of the day! And when the cuts fell, was it less than leadership or at least less than top leadership? No! They cut most of us 40%-80%! On a Friday at the end of the day so it was too late to call the banks or car loan and mortgage and bill companies. Then the next week they hold an all hands staff meeting, did they say “thank you for your tireless work and we understand these pay cuts are difficult” – nope! They, kid you not, went on a rant about how our productivity was slipping! Like – duh??? If you cut staff hours 40-80% you are not going to get maximum productivity. We then split into departmental meetings where our department leader really laid into us. He said and I quote “As salaried staff I expect more from you. You don’t get paid to be here every hour, you are paid to finish a job (remember they cut our hours 2-4 days a week!)”. Someone in the audience asked if we are expected to work while on PTO/unpaid leave and he responds “No of course not. When you are off you are off. Just get your work done!”. Can you see my eye’s rolling across the computer screen?

    This continued for a month, then on May 1st our company sent out another email first thing in the morning this time announcing layoffs. They stated it would start with leadership and to expect continued cuts over the next month. There were no details, but many of us had already learned of layoffs from the news which was announced BEFORE we were told. We are in week two and most people have started calling them “Fearful Fridays”. They also lied to the local newspaper and stated they were only cutting 5 executive leaders. In reality they cut 10 top leaders, and many middle and lower managers as well. None of us know exactly who is cut or how many or what departments are impacted because they are not telling us. When questions were submitted to the team asking when a new org chart would be provided they told us they are not going to be providing one.

    So we had another all hands meeting yesterday, and what did they say this time? Thank you for working hard and getting as much as you can get done despite hour and personnel cuts, here are the new departmental goals taking into account our new workforce? Of course not! The first sentence out of their mouth was literally, “Check your attitudes. You need to be coming to work with an attitude of gratitude.” They then showed us all these gag-inducing videos about “resiliency”. One memorable part of the presentation from senior leadership, that to me demonstrated just how out of touch they were with us workers, was when they did a “financial health” slide where they, kid you not, mentioned that not buying a coffee each day could safe you up to $100 a month. Literally – the buy less coffee tip! The only thing missing was a remark about avocado toast. They didn’t even have a single slide about student loans! That’s how out of touch they are.
    AAM community give me strength!!!!

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      I hear you and offer indignant looks and best wishes for you to survive and thrive!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s all we can really say, isn’t it? They cut people down to only working between 20 and 40% of their regular schedule and then tell these same people they should be happy about this? And they should still be able to get the same amount of work done they’d complete during a regular work week in way less hours?! Don’t even get me started on that bullshit coffee spiel – we’ve debunked that condescending ass “advice” many times on this site.

        Wow, OP – I’m truly sorry that your hospital administrators suck so hard. Take care of yourself and try not to lose it on them (I know how hard that is right now).

    2. dryroasted*

      Good gracious. That is just infuriating to read. I can’t imagine how it is to live it. I am sending you good vibes.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Send copies of all the emails to the news media and take notes during the meetings, send to news media. Of course the leadership is going to lie when the news media call.

      1. Anonessential*

        You could very well be working the largest health organization in my state Truly awful. I’m sorry.

      2. CM*

        I like this idea — talking to your leadership won’t help and may endanger your job, but shining a light on this behavior might get some results.

    4. Anon Anon*

      I am so sorry.

      This is what I fear in this depression/recession is that many employers are going to start treating employee’s as if they should feel lucky that they are employed as all. That whatever they get paid, however they are treated, is better than being unemployed.

    5. Koala dreams*

      Wow, that’s so bad! I’m a get with your management too. I hope you find a better job as soon as possible. Take care!

      Can you contact media about this? If you find a trust worthy reporter, it would be doing the public a service. Or maybe you can keep notes and report it later.

    6. Mazzy*

      Oh no, I’m about to walk off your job and not come back. Seriously! This doesn’t seem like a serious hospital or job. I would probably just start “acting out” by calling out the dumb videos and leaving meetings and not getting extra work done. This is ridiculous. This doesn’t seem like a “real” job anymore. Maybe you can get laid off and get unemployed and get hired somewhere else later and tell them what trash the management of the other hospital is.

      As a regular citizen, I’m pissed at the lying to the media part. So many governors are downplaying the impacts of the shutdowns and this is giving them more power to do that. I’d be terrified to have a serious medical issue right now where you can’t really get treated.

    7. Fikly*

      Are they similarly grateful to you for working for them? Somehow I think not.

      Employers like this are so quick to forget that they would not exist without their employees.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        They’ve bought into the idea that as “job creators” they are a higher order of being from mere employees, granting the boon of employment to those lesser entities out of charity. Of course they expect gratitude.

        If they had enough of a clue to understand that actually, they and their employees see just two equally valuable human beings who have entered into a business deal together for mutual benefit, and neither owes the other anything except what’s listed in the contractual terms (plus the basic kindness and decency that every human being owes every other, and which appear to be in short supply among this particular type of “leader”) they’d be much better bosses, and much better people.

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

      I knew hospitals could be crappy places to work , but this pandemic is showing the worst in some. Two weeks ago a regional hospital dedicated to elderly patients (not hospice) was closed down when a massive covid outbreak was uncovered. Everybody knew it was anything but a hospital, barely complying with standards, and patient’s families had reported it for ages, but not even the nurses complaints of lack of PPE were enough.
      Also, a top hospital in my city (who TESTED ME FOR HIV WITHOUT MY CONSENT when I applied for an admin job) annouced 15% pay cuts and layoffs of non essential personnel.

    9. pancakes*

      You should contact the reporter(s) who wrote about the executive cuts and let them know they’re being lied to.

    10. Melly*

      Sounds like healthcare administration to me (my first career). I got out because what the ever loving hell. My parents still work in a hospital and some of the stuff their administration put them through is just mindboggling.
      Of course, now I work for higher education, which is only slightly better…

    11. What's Your Damage, Heather?*

      I work at a hospital also and the politics and decisions are always infuriating esp cause they are typically made by people who have never worked bedside. I don’t know if I can give you strength but I know how you feel. Wish I could buy you a drink!

  9. Diahann Carroll*

    Good work news this week:

    * My manager informed me I’d be getting the full amount of my bonus next week, which is great because bonuses are expected to be cut across the board starting in our second quarter by up to 10%. This full bonus will finally give me four months of living expenses in my emergency fund, the most I’ve ever been able to save thanks to low paying jobs, insane student loan debt, and ballooning rent costs. It’s times like these where I’m very grateful grandboss didn’t try to negotiate me down from my starting salary ask, which was 11k more than what they initially presented me with – he just gave me everything I wanted (i.e., higher starting salary and an extra week of vacay). Now, if something crazy happens with this job and I lose it, I won’t have to worry about a possible eviction while job searching in this terrible economy.

    * Company extended our travel ban until the end of June. I was happy about this because the larger team I’m on meets once a year because we’re all dispersed throughout the world and don’t see each other regularly (our company doesn’t do video calls, only audio thanks to the differences in time zones), and they kept talking about planning a trip in June. I would have been the only one to nope out of that trip (maybe not – maybe my manager would have as well since his wife is now pregnant and has an underlying illness that makes her more susceptible to complications from the coronavirus), which would have made me look like the buzzkill. Plus, I actually like hanging out with this group for a week in the once a year setting, so I would have been bummed to miss it. Now it looks like it won’t happen at all since no one is talking about rescheduling anything. I know it’s selfish of me to be happy about this being cancelled for everyone, but I really think we should have just aimed for summertime next year anyway.

    * A campaign my direct team helped our marketing and sales department with recently was a huge success! We’re signing up new users for our software services for free (for a limited time), so hopefully, these companies will see the long-term value in having our stuff for remote work reasons and will sign paying contracts at the end of this promotion. Ditto for another one we just did this week as well – that campaign doesn’t go live until the end of next week.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right? I love reading all the good news posts here on Fridays as well, so thought I would finally contribute again – it’s been awhile, lol.

  10. Student Affairs Sally*

    I’m currently frustrated with an interview process that wants FIVE references (I’ve never been asked for more than 3 about a hundred of job applications in my field) before even moving me on to the second interview. My primary supervisor (who has been very supportive of my search) just had a baby and without her, I only have 4 people I can list, two of which are peers (I’m in my first professional job so I haven’t had many bosses in this field). I’m planning to give my supervisor’s information but provide a note asking them to wait to contact her until later in the process. Or is there a better approach I haven’t thought of?

    1. masters student of none*

      Not ideal, but were you vlose with any professors or teachers you could use?

    2. Dawbs*

      Can you ask the supervisor who is on maternity leave? In spite of leave
      I specifically told one of my mentees they could use me when I was (and 3 jobs for me later, I still gave her one. She’s awesome, I’m thrilled when she succeeds)

    3. Washi*

      Are they going to call the references now or do they want them to “save time” (which is what I find is why a lot of companies ask for references up front)? I’ve had success asking if I can wait until later in the process to give my list of references. I can’t remember if I gave a reason or not, probably was something like “trying to be respectful of everyone’s time” or something.

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I have to enter their information into an automated system, which will send them an email with a survey to complete about my work. I’m not sure if they will be contacting them again later for an actual call, or if this is the only contact they’ll have with my references. I’m pretty sure that as soon as I finish entering the information (which I have to do within 24 hours from when they contacted me), the email is sent immediately. I reached out to HR to let them know about my supervisor, and they responded that they could give “a few more days”. So at this point I’m not terribly hopeful that this position is going to come through – my boss literally just had her baby yesterday so I don’t think she’s going to be keeping a very close eye on her email.

        1. Washi*

          Ugh :( It’s not your fault at all, but I hate written references! Not because I don’t want to put it in writing but just because it’s way more time consuming. A survey might be better if it’s all multiple choice, but at that point, I can’t imagine they’re getting super nuanced information.

          Their process stinks, I’m sorry!

      1. Student Affairs Sally*

        I am not lol. I’m in education and make less than $50,000 a year :P

  11. LifeBeforeCorona*

    We just learned that there will be no bonuses this year. They are usually given out at the end of the month. It’s not a surprise (thank Corvid!) but it’s still a bummer. I’m happy to have work still but does it seem tone-deaf to be disappointed?

    1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Bonuses for last year’s work based on last year’s achievements? That is terrible. I’m sorry about that. You are quite within normal reactions to be disappointed. They are reassigning “your” money. I would be mad, too.

      1. Just J.*

        I would agree on being disappointed. You have every right to be so, but would you prefer your bonus or prefer to be laid off?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I normally hate that framing, but admittedly, it’s what I used to lessen my disappointment at our raises and promotions being frozen and future bonuses being cut. I could have been laid off or furloughed (I’m one of the creatives at my company, and many places feel they can do without those services during economic downturns), but I’m not – I’m still working. My base salary hasn’t been cut, my company-provided benefits are still fully intact (401k and HSA employer matching is still happening), and my workload is picking up.

          I’m doing well all things considered.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      Not in the least. You were expecting this and received very little notice about it.

      Our bonuses are at the end of the year, and I am fully expecting not to get one. But by the time that date rolls around, I will have seven months to prepare myself mentally for that. You didn’t get that amount of time.

      It’s okay to be disappointed. Be easy on yourself.

      1. Mid*

        I’m in a similar boat—no one got raises this year. My boss told me during my review that I would have qualified, but no one is getting them at all, and some of the higher ups are likely getting pay cuts. It’s disappointing. And just because some people have it worse, doesn’t mean I can’t be bummed about my situation, and the same goes for you. Be bummed out and disappointed!

    3. cmcinnyc*

      I know we won’t get raises this year, I totally understand why we won’t get raises this year (revenue for April was down 70%), I’m grateful that we still have our full benefits and that I have a decent job at all at this time–and OF COURSE I’m disappointed that there will be no raises. I’d be a jerk if I complained or pushed for a raise to my boss, but just *feeling* disappointed is normal. I’m disappointed about *a lot* of things right now. Pandemics are scary and sad and disappointing.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        My husband got a stellar review and no raise recently and yeah, no matter how much you know that it’s not personal and nobody is getting extra money right now because the money just isn’t there, it still feels bad. My sympathy.

        In our case, the disappointment was somewhat offset by the welcome news that our landlord won’t be raising our rent this year. That’s unusual in our area, and the second year in a row he’s kept it flat, so he’s really been exceptional about it. It still doesn’t even out to the amount that the raise would have been, but it definitely helps.

        Feel what you feel and try not to be hard on yourself for it. This is just one more crummy thing that is happening due to global pandemic, and it’s real. Just because other people are suffering worse didn’t mean you’re not having crummy things happen. Suffering isn’t relative — it doesn’t go away if someone else’s is bigger.

    4. Amy Sly*

      Nothing wrong with being disappointed but understanding of the circumstances.

      As always, destroying keyboards, punching holes in the walls, biting colleagues, swearing at colleagues, forming a duck club, or writing entitled emails to the C-suite demanding you get your raise anyway are contraindicated.

    5. CorporateDroneLiz*

      IMO it would only be tone deaf if you complained about to a friend or family member who’s been laid off/is unemployed. But feeling disappointed in and of itself is completely normal and a valid feeling to have!

    6. MissGirl*

      Totally fine to be disappointed. Our 401k match has been temporarily suspended and I’m disappointed. The key is not to complain about to people who are in worse conditions. Also don’t let the disappointment affect your performance.

    7. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Your feelings are valid. Feelings are not tone-deaf. Actions are tone-deaf. It is 100% OK to feel disappointed that you’re not getting a bonus. Ranting on Facebook about a loss of bonus when you have friends/family who lost their jobs or who got their pay or salary cut would be tone-deaf. (Not saying you would do that! Just an example.)
      No bonuses for my institution this year, either — it’s a disappointment, not just because a loss of money (the money is nice), but also because the money symbolizes recognition of excellent work. Not everyone gets bonuses. It’s the (potential) recognition I’m missing, too.

        1. anon4this*

          Yes! This helps me. Our organization is laying off about 300 staff. My job was spared, so I am very fortunate. Still, I felt gut-punched this week when a document crossed my desk relating to the layoffs that listed everyone in the department’s salaries, top to bottom, and I found myself in the bottom half, almost the bottom third. I am highly respected, always go above and beyond, have numerous accomplishments, and am easily doing the work of many of the people who get paid more than I do, but because of internal politics and union pressures (don’t ask) I’ve been stuck where I am.
          The point is, my feelings of hurt and disappointment have been butting up against feelings of gratitude that I have a job and the respect of my managers and peers in this environment when many are losing their jobs. The good news is that I kept it to myself as the last thing anyone needs and wants in my organization these days is any more negativity or whining.
          So, “feelings are not tone-deaf. Actions are tone deaf.” Glad I didn’t turn my feelings into actions which would have been a d–k move.

    8. Diahann Carroll*

      Nope, not tone deaf as long as you don’t act inappropriately based on those feelings. Honestly, your company should have sent out an email at some point when this crisis began indicating that it was possible they would need to cancel all bonuses for the year if revenue went down. My company told us all ahead of time that bonuses would be cut up to 10% starting in the second quarter of this year (because first quarter bonuses were based on last year’s fourth quarter results). We were also told that raises and promotions for the year would be postponed – then our CFO recommended a complete cancellation of the salary review process this year to our CEO, so we all know CEO will accept this. We were kept apprised of the situation the whole way through, so even though I was bummed about it, I had time to wrap my head around it. You didn’t get that.

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I had a general idea that bonuses might not happen because it was obvious revenues were going to tank but it was still disappointing to hear for certain. Fortunately, pay raises aren’t affected and my last one was just before Corona so I have that at least. We have a good director and they’ve been working hard to find any financial assistance that’s available for the short and long term.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Well, that’s good to hear – I thought they were one of those places that weren’t giving their employees any info until the last minute. And it’s great that you at least got a raise and they’re trying to find you guys more money to stay afloat. Who knows – maybe your business will rebound sooner than upper management thinks and they’ll give you guys your bonuses retroactively.

    9. RemoteHealthWorker*

      As someone whose company has furloughed 30% of its staff, you have my permission to mourn the loss of your bonus.

      Seriously – the “be grateful for what I get attitude” benefits no one but stingy employers.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        This helps me feel a little better too (still furloughed here). I was due both a raise (haven’t received one in almost 3 years and I’m paid under market for my position) and a substantial bonus due to accomplishments from 1st quarter 2020. Of course now, I’d just be happy to actually get my UI pay.

    10. Fikly*

      Your emotions are always valid. Even if logically, you knew that this was going to happen, and you understand why, it still sucks!

    11. HA2*

      It’s ok to be disappointed. I think it’s natural.

      Just because “it could be worse” doesn’t mean that you have to be happy that you’re only somewhat worse off instead of a lot worse off.

      I mean, it could be tone-deaf to complain about losing a bonus if you’re talking to someone who just lost their job – but that’s about a particular conversation. There’s nothing wrong with the feeling itself.

  12. Anon for this*

    So, I work in outpatient healthcare at a fairly large private practice. We were furloughed for four weeks, during which I applied to a bunch of jobs but didn’t hear anything (unsurprising, given the industry). The practice got a PPP loan, and so we were all brought back to working online/some in clinic. I was told yesterday that I’m going to be screening patient’s temperatures and giving them masks prior to appointments for the foreseeable future. This is a significant departure from my regular job duties. I know through the employee grapevine that one employee doing screening has symptoms and is being tested for COVID. I help take care of two elderly relatives, one of whom I need to see in person since he can’t do all the essential tasks of daily living. I also live with one of his other caretakers, so even if I stopped helping I would be a possible vector. I gave my boss several other possibilities for what I could do, but I told her I wouldn’t do screening. I know at least one other person in this situation who lost her housing because of this (high risk relative lived with them, and her family kicked her out), and our boss told her it wasn’t a high risk position and to suck it up.

    This was yesterday afternoon and I haven’t heard back. I’m so scared I’ll loose my job over this, but I talked it over with my family and doing in-person screening is our risk line. I have my refusal, with the reasons, in writing. Is there anything I could do to increase my odds of getting unemployment if I get fired? Ideas/recommendations? This is my first full-time job out of school and I’m terrified.

    1. White rabbit*

      Alison answered a similar question on April 27; check out “can I get unemployment if I quit due to health issues.” So sorry you are having to deal with all this.

    2. Mazzy*

      Can’t you handout masks from afar and drop the temperature thing? That always seems like “security theater” anyways. No one is going to have a fever and not notice it. If they have a slight one, it might be from something else. Kind of pointless to test at the door IMO

      1. CatsAway*

        People can have a fever and not notice it (or be in denial). I had to take my spouse to urgent care (> 1 month ago now) and there were 2 teenage girls in there too. One was sick, and went back but they kicked her out after taking her temp and seeing she had a fever of >100. She hadn’t felt warm, she just had some chills.

      2. Fikly*

        Many, many people can have a fever and not notice it. I was about to say that you might always know if you have a fever, but unless you are checking your temp every hour, how do you even know if that’s true?

        Regardless, policy is policy, and suggesting she has the power to change her employer’s policy is completely ridiculous. Also, the point of taking someone’s temp is not to say do you have covid or not. The point of taking someone temp is to determine if futher screening is needed, or if they are clear to proceed. Which you would know if you bothered to look into it before forming an opinion.

        You can have many symptoms and problems and not notice it. As an example, I was hypoglycemic and my sugar was rapidly getting lower the other day and I had no idea until my CGM started beeping an alarm.

        1. pancakes*

          People can and do lie about whether they’re feverish, too! Or have been feverish recently. Especially when acknowledging that they are or have been could keep them out of work. Whether a particular commenter feels safe doing temperature checks and/or feels comfortable with their job changing are separate questions.

          1. Anon for this*

            The biggest thing is that screeners at my practice see a much larger number of people than anyone else, so the risk is correspondingly a lot higher. There are some positions I could fill that would involve seeing way fewer people (including my normal job, which is much less in demand than it was – we have too many people in the position right now), but the practice is having a really hard time filling the position. My state is reopening when it really shouldn’t (increasing cases and low test availability), and there seems to be no understanding from higher management of why we might be concerned. I get that they need to see patients to make money and that we need to screen people, but it’s been handled terribly.

      3. Liane*

        The temperature checks–which my restaurant wants to implement when they reopen dine-in–makes no sense to me. The idea begs the question, “So many people with COVID-19 are ASYMPTOMATIC, so how exactly are temperature readings going to keep sick people out?!”

        1. fhwdgads*

          Nothing will keep every sick person out, but keeping some of them out is still a valid risk mitigation technique, as are masks, as is social distancing, and handwashing, and sanitizing surfaces multiple times a day, etc. The theory is to do a whole bunch of stuff which, if done on its own is not helping very much, but in conjunction can actually make a significant difference. Success is that context is not “absolutely zero people who are ill enter the building”. It’s “reduce the likelihood of transmission here as much as we can with the tools we have available.”

      4. AcademiaNut*

        They’ve rigged up an automatic temperature screen at work, fairly simply. There’s one of those IR thermometers, attached at head height to a mirror, and a small makeup mirror set so you can read the display. We arrive at work, scan our ID card, lean in for the temperature check and use hand sanitizer, all without getting near to the person monitoring the process.

      5. tangerineRose*

        Can you hand them the thermometer and have them put it in their mouth? Stay 6 feet back the rest of the time until checking the thermometer. Then take it and sanitize it and wash hands?

          1. pancakes*

            Yes. I get my temperature checked a lot because I still go to a cancer center once a month for an injection, though I’ve been in remission for several years. I can’t remember the last time I saw an oral thermometer besides the ones sold in drugstores. Mine is taken with a head swipe that ends near / behind an ear.

            The cancer center is the only place outside my apartment I’ve been since late February (!!), and the screening process there is a bit different: Just beyond the usual front desk where one or two people always are, there’s another desk with three people (wearing masks of course) who ask a few screening questions. While that’s happening, a person standing off to the side comes over and holds out a paper mask you have to put on, even if you’re already wearing a mask. (A bit annoying since I finally have a comfortable cotton one with a pocket for a filter insert). My temperature is taken as it’s always been, by a nurse in the infusion center who also checks my blood pressure & whatnot.

            Another change is that patients can no longer be accompanied by anyone. That’s a big one because people often bring someone to chemo. I knew this coming in via voicemail, and they did make an exception for a woman who arrived with someone around the same time I did and claimed not to know, after getting the approval of someone or other higher up.

  13. Laura*

    Any tips on managing depression in the workplace given the current situation. I’m so…..down and on edge all the time and it is affecting my performance, but it is tough at the moment (lost a parent to the virus, partner laid off and homeschooling the kids who are miserable) and I’m just struggling.

    1. Duckduck10*

      Are you seeing a doctor? I would get some professional medical help if you are able. Take care.

    2. Justme, the OG*

      Does your insurance have teladoc visits? I’m lucky enough that I saw a doctor and got on a good medication regimen before all this started.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Can you declare a family holiday of 2 or 3 days? A staycation where you take off work, kids don’t do school, and you all just try and relax? Give the kids infinite TV time just those days, ignore the dirty dishes, stay in bed, read a book, take a bath. I have anxiety issues, and I find sometimes taking a day off feeling guilty about not being able to keep up with things really helps. Also being still gives my brain a chance to say “okay yes we are okay”, and reset.

      The best analogy I ever had resonate with me, was why don’t we treat depression, anxiety etc as real issues. If you broke your arm of course you’d give yourself slack, take a day off work as needed, ask and accept help. If you broke an arm of course you’d take medicine, see a doctor, tell your family you need help. But with mental issues we usually try to minimize the changes, pretend we’re fine.

      Right now, do you have friends or family local? Ask for help. Grieving is a real process. Maybe people could drop off a casserole to your porch, you can heat it up to kill germs and then that’s dinner sorted. If you don’t have friends/family local, do you have friends that might be willing to facetime your kids for an hour so you can take an hour off? (Or play them on xbox etc?) Plenty of people want to help, and don’t know how. Plenty of people are bored and might find listening to a kid for an hour a great break from their lives. I know in my circle we’re doing that sort of thing. Does your work offer bereavement leave? That’s another way to get a couple days off if you can’t afford to just take vacation day.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    4. Emi*

      Be honest with people. My dad died about 15 months ago, so my deep grief was not during all this, but it helped me just to be able to just say it out loud that I was struggling. The people around me were very kind, and that also helped, but was a separate thing from saying it. Trying to maintain a veneer of it-is-all-ok was exhausting. Give the adults around you a chance to extend you some grace. Most will.

      Also, be gentle with yourself. I am sorry for your loss.

    5. MissGirl*

      I don’t have a solution but wanted to say these are horrible things that have happened to you. Of course, your emotionally damaged. Think of it this way, you were in a bad accident and got injured. There’s no way you’re going to be 100 percent for the foreseeable future.

      Take off the pressure that you have to be where you were a few months ago. Do you have a good manager? Can you talk about what is realistic of you right now?

      Move everything off your plate that doesn’t have to be there. Your partner can handle all home schooling. Can you do the minimum at work? Do you have a support system to reach out to?

    6. Amy Sly*

      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.

      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.

    7. notMichelle*

      Have you looked into some of the mental health apps? I signed up for Better Help and even though it doesn’t take my insurance (annoying) I was able to get a slight discount b/c of income. I have my 2nd appt during lunch today and it definitely helped last week. There are a bunch apps now and the great thing is that you don’t have to wait long for an appointment.

    8. Working Hypothesis*

      I don’t have advice; just wanted to say I’m so sorry for your loss. My mom died not long ago — just before the Covid outbreak and of something unrelated, but I still have vivid current experience with grief, and it’s awful. I would call in all the help you can realistically get right now — accommodations from the office, medical help, whatever your partner can do to give you a chance at self care time — and be very gentle with yourself. You’re going through a lot. I hope it gets better soon.

    9. What's Your Damage, Heather?*

      Do you have an Employee Assistance Program? If not, I would look up resources through NAMI maybe. I know a lot of people are struggling right now. Try to get some sleep and rest.

  14. Anon for this one*

    I’m struggling with how many mistakes are acceptable in an employee! I am a new manager (about a year) overseeing an employee who is great. But, our work is highly visible (communications). I fully admit I am a perfectionist. I hold myself to extremely high standards and rarely make errors that show publicly (maybe once or twice a year). But my employee has been making errors approx every other month in publicly visible ways. I point out the mistakes and they get corrected quickly and without any push-back. But should I have a conversation about the pattern? They are minor mistakes like typos. I fully admit that my standards for acceptable errors may be out of line for most people. It’s just how I am. But I don’t want to push unreasonable expectations on my employee. How perfect can you expect someone to be?

    1. Ranon*

      It takes additional effort to reduce errors. Is the amount of labor required to reduce minor errors like typos from one every other month to a rate lower than that worth the cost of the effort to do so? Is there an actual cost to the error besides you not liking them, and is that cost balanced by the cost of the effort to prevent them?

      1. Laure001*

        I agree with Ranon. A typo every twenty messages seems “normal” to me. Now if you had someone else in your team who could be proofread, great, but you don’t, so you are going to drive a good employee crazy and waste A LOT OF his time – which will come at the expense of something else… and of his sanity.
        Also, worse case scenario… He will leave because he will be sick of the constant editing, and he will be replaced by someone with really bad spelling… Who will drive you nuts! :) :)

    2. not_kate_winslet*

      This would drive me insane too. Especially in a communications role, mistakes really shouldn’t happen this often.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Are you finding the typos in proofreading, or after publication? I imagine it’s the former. I don’t know any writer who doesn’t make typos, for all kinds of reasons, and I also don’t know anyone who can or should edit their own work. I’m not saying it’s not a big deal, but I do think there should be some space for a typo or two. I think it depends on the frequency and if you can identify specific patterns. For example, I often make typos in all-caps headers rather than body text because I see it differently, that kind of thing, so if it’s one type of text or font, then it’s worth mentioning.

      1. Anon for this one*

        After publication. This employee is tasked with full management of minor daily communications. I only edit and proofread major tasks. Setting up a system for me to review everything before publication would be very time consuming on my part. But certainly could be done if needed! Great question, thank you.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Are we talking… a Twitter post or an email? Sorry for all the questions! But if it’s a typo in an internal email or even an external tweet, then I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If it’s, say, a banner ad or an email to customers, that’s a different issue.

          Either way, having someone proof something that goes public would be good– it doesn’t have to be you, since they’re not proofing for content. I used to proofread my boss’s emails because English wasn’t his first language. I wasn’t his assistant, just someone who could read quickly and correct minor errors. Worth it in the end (and I got him to stop using so many ellipses).

          1. Anon for this one*

            More along the lines of a twitter post. Nothing internal! I would agree, ideally I’d have a larger team so we could check work like this as a matter of routine. But unfortunately my team is very small and we don’t have additional people to help out with proofreading.

        2. another scientist*

          My compass for addressing it would not be ‘I’d do it differently’, but ‘this impacts our work/reputation’.

          When you say it would be too much effort for you to proofread everything, what I’m hearing is that there is a significant amount of communications going out. So, maybe several short shout outs per week rather than two long, carefully researched articles per month. That means, your employee has a typo in one out of 20 published posts?

          The number is of course guesstimated, but if it’s in the right ballpark, plus there is no system set up for a second pair of eyes to go over these posts, then I’d think this is a normal error rate. Unless you are in a very formal or strategic communications role (security, legal, giving information to investors etc.), I would imagine that this low error rate wouldn’t have a big impact on reputation/achieving your communications goals. Another caveat is what the kinds of errors are. Typos in the text are harmless, in the title they are more embarrassing, and mixing up names and dates is more problematic.

        3. Meg*

          so, I once had a comms job where there was no one to proofread anything I did. There were occasional typos, and it ended up being a huge problem. My situation was different, it was a very poorly run organization where there was no other comms person, and no one reviewed even the big things. But I really struggled with that whole set up, since I couldn’t get anyone to understand that it’s really, really, hard to proofread your own work.

          I no longer work in comms, so I don’t know what the expectations/standards are around proofing minor things, but wanted to offer that perspective. It ended up being hugely demoralizing to me, but I felt like the root of the issue is that I would never be able to do a perfect job proofing something I wrote/put together.

    4. CorporateDroneLiz*

      I don’t think a pattern of typos and misspellings is a small thing in communications, so I would address it.

    5. Senor Montoya*

      A couple of typos every other month? Unless it’s in the website banner or on a billboard, I think you need to get over it. Is this employee ordinarily careful with their work? Is it possible to make this EASY and QUICK for the employee to catch? When you catch the small errors, are they fairly easy to fix? If yes, then just fix them.

      Look, I notice every friggin’ typo, grammatical error, and omitted Oxford Comma (all hail Oxford Comma!) in every piece of communication our office touches, and I’m on our comms team. I fix them quietly or I let them go. Because pointing out infrequent very small errors is counterproductive and makes people dislike you.

      1. Anon for this one*

        I am exactly the same, errors like this are extremely visible to me. I can’t not see them. However, I don’t expect perfection in terms of grammar and compliance to writing style. I could easily fix these errors myself, but I don’t have the time to constantly monitor this and I feel it’s a disservice to the employee to not bring things to their attention if they are not meeting my expectations. I’m just trying to gauge if my expectations are reasonable!

        1. another scientist*

          I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect no errors, ever. One is often blind to one’s own errors, but maybe you have your own tricks of proofreading your own work, beyond spellcheck? How do you find those one or two errors that you make yourself, annually?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yup. Whatever you do to catch errors, Anon, pass that info along to your employee. Maybe even write it down in a quick guide for proofreading – sure, this will take time from your busy schedule upfront, but may save you time and frustration on the back end.

    6. Observer*

      Are these typos in high profile places? Like the banner on your site down to the TITLE of a press release? Or are they in the second paragraph of a two paragraph blog post? For the headline stuff, that’s too much. Otherwise? Eh.

      I might have a conversation where you find out what the person is doing to mitigate the issue. Is anyone proofing the copy? If not, why not? Are these errors automated tools would find or ones that they are likely to make (or make worse)? The point is that you want to look at whether there a ways to minimize the problem that take an appropriate amount of effort.

      1. Anon for this one*

        The mistakes are not buried in content. More along the lines of a social post. Unfortunately, the only way to catch these errors are visual checks. Making sure sentences are not repeated, nothing is double posted, etc. We already have spell check in the tools. I’m leaning towards asking this employee to make it a step in their process to review their work after scheduling which would only take a few minutes a day.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Okay, yes, requiring someone to review their work as part of their normal workflow is not too onerous a step. Keep getting a second person to sign off as an option in your back pocket if just asking them to be more careful doesn’t result in improvement.

        2. No Name Yet*

          A few ideas that might help the employee/not be too onerous: have them read the text out loud, and/or read the text from the end to the beginning (sentence by sentence). I’ve found both of those can help me ‘see’ mistakes that my brain is skipping over otherwise. And I think you mentioned that it’s social media-type posts, which I would think wouldn’t take too long to do this (vs. pages and pages of material).

        3. Observer*

          The occasional typo in a twitter post is really not that big of a deal unless it’s a real howler or seriously changes the meaning of the sentence in a way that the mistake is not obvious.

          I do agree that the check after scheduling is a good thing to work into their workflow, but don’t expect to get to absolute zero.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I’ve learned that many people never see their own typos. Somehow the mind sees what is supposed to be there instead of what IS there. These people need to have someone else review their work before it is sent out, published, or otherwise goes public. You might want to consider having a formal sign off by a third person who wasn’t involved in creating the text. Depending on how common this is in your organization, you could require this for anything that will be publicly visible, rather than limit it to this employee.

      1. Meg*

        I posted above, but this has been my experience. I can never be a reliable proofreader for something I worked on. I just don’t catch those errors.

      2. Dolly Dagger*

        ^^^ This. I’m in communications. I can easily catch other peoples typos, but not my own. Esp if it’s something I’ve been staring at all day. Our entire marketing team has missed a few here and there simply because we’re the ones reading and re-reading it.

        If I see another person from another dept, If I know they’re not busy, I’ll call them in to look something over quick.

    8. Celestial being on a bike*

      At our org, we expect anything external facing to be error free. However, we do not expect folks to self edit because that just won’t be perfect enough. Everything requires a second set of eyes, and if it’s super important, third or fourth! If we didn’t have this system in place, I’d say we couldn’t have such high standards.

    9. Fikly*

      When you point out a mistake, does the conversation end with “I saw this mistake?”

      Have you had a discussion about how to prevent these typos from being in things going public?

      When a mistake happens, step one is correcting it. Step two is figuring out a plan to prevent them from happening in the future. Step three is implementing the plan. Step four is evaluating if the plan works. Too many people stop at step one.

    10. Lyudie*

      Is Grammarly an option for your organization? There’s a free app and I think a paid service as well (it was shot down at my company due to security issues IIRC…not that it has security issues, we’re a healthcare-related company and I think we have stronger tech security requirements than most). Running the text through that should catch a lot of those issues. Maybe it’s just my writing and editing background showing, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to put a process in place to avoid errors in communications…that’s kind of a big deal.

      1. Anon for this one*

        We do use Grammarly! Love that tool. It is has definitely made my life much easier. It is trickier to use in this context but very good for blogs and longer formats.

        1. Lyudie*

          Ah ok! I haven’t used it so I don’t know much about how it works with various platforms and such but thought I’d throw it out as an option in case it would work!

      2. Actuarial Octagon*

        I was going to suggest this as well. It catches things that spell check won’t, like missing prepositions or homonyms.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Pushing is one thing, but implementation is another.

      You can’t stop someone from making typos by telling them to stop. You need to change the workflow so that the errors get caught somewhere.

      Having the same person simply review their own work is logical in terms of efficiency, but not likely to reduce errors to zero, or whatever your acceptable number is. If their brain glossed over it once, it’s likely to do so again.

      If you are very good at spotting typos, it seems logical to have you do the final proofread.

      Other options include having them use proofing techniques that change the way the brain processes text, such as reading backward, reading aloud, using large-type paper printouts, etc.

  15. Marian the Librarian*

    I had an interview with an academic library. One of the questions they asked was, “What type of people do you want to work with? What type of people do you not want to work with?”

    I kept it general, saying that I try to get along with others and so on, but the hiring manager pushed for an answer. I gave an answer, but was a little surprised by the question.I have never had a question like this before.

    Has anyone had a question like this? What did you say?

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Maybe this question is trying to get at what work style you have? For example I do really well with direct feedback and instructions, but not well with unspoken expectations, so that factors into what kind of manager I want to work for, which I have talked about in interviews before. Apply to coworkers?

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        This is what I thought and how I originally answered the question, but the hiring manager explained that it was more personality based.

    2. INeedANap*

      I asked a question like this when interviewing! It sounds like the interviewer should have clarified what they were looking for.

      Basically, what I was getting at was seeing if this was a culture fit. My department is very small, and the employees tend to keep to themselves – although we all enjoy chatting over lunch or a cup of tea, it’s not a super social environment. Someone very extroverted who liked a lot of collaboration and team-building probably wouldn’t have enjoyed us.

      I was looking for an answer like: “I prefer to work with people who are excited about collaborating, and who tend towards an open-door policy. I work best when I can stop by someone’s desk to ask a question or talk through an problem, so I’m looking for a team that works together more than independently.”

      1. Melly*

        We did the same in our last round of hires, and that’s what we were looking for. We went further with the “what kinds of people do you prefer not to work with” and asked “how do you manage that when you must work with those people?” so it also got at conflict management.

    3. dragocucina*

      When asked something similar I focused on people who can support the library’s mission. The importance of customer service bother to the users walking in the door and the internal “customer” of our own staff.

    4. Rainy*

      I’d bet that they’ve had a problem in the past with someone who didn’t work well with their team, or else they have a missing stair they can’t get rid of and they’re trying to select for people who won’t quit immediately.

      I think maybe the approach I’d take is to name the positive behaviours you like to show in the workplace and see in your coworkers?

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Maybe the vacancy was caused by a (genuine, no-fault) personality clash, and the interviewer wants to prevent a repeat.

    6. J.B.*

      I’m not sure that libraries ask the best questions. I think they want people who are a little more touchy feely.

    7. button*

      Hm, I see what the other commenters are saying about this probably trying to ask about working styles, but I agree it’s a weird way to phrase it–it makes it much more personal, somehow. I could say I want such and such type of workplace culture but it casts it in a different light to say I like to work with one type of person over another. I would probably also have been stumped!

    8. fhwdgads*

      I have. I said something like I pride myself on being an expert and I like working with other people who even if they are not yet experts prioritize really knowing their stuff, and being at the top of the field. Or something to that effect. In the context of the position (and the work culture at the hiring company) this was relevant and also part of what made me a good fit. I might have also said something about really respecting other people’s time and starting and ending my meetings on time.
      For me, I felt comfortable giving these answers not only because they showed me as a good fit for where I was applying but also because I think there isn’t an inherently “wrong” answer. I didn’t phrase it as well here as I did in the interview but part of the point was to not make value judgements. So I wasn’t saying there’s anything wrong with a work environment where meetings start late or run long or whatever, but rather that I personally do not enjoy that type of environment. I think that’s the best type of example to use in these sorts of questions. Where you’re not dissing the thing you say you don’t want to work with, but just identifying that while it’s a style that works for some, it’s not what you prefer.

  16. pod person*

    Advice on how to be more polished? I’m very good at my job but feel I don’t always come across as “polished.”

    1. fposte*

      In addition to AE’s good question, is this about physical presentation or behavior/manner?

    2. Miss Catherine Moreland*

      Can you be a little more specific as to what you mean by “polished?” Do you mean in terms of manners, appearance, communication, all of the above or something else?

    3. NotAPirate*

      Just in general?

      For presentations, try practicing them in their entirety before giving them to people. I found that really reduced my anxiety and made me look and sound more professional. Saying “uh, um, uh” cuts down a lot if you know your transitions really well. Also repeat questions before answering, it helps the room here the question, and makes sure you’re going to answer what they asked, and it gives you another moment to think.

      For meetings, take notes, make eye contact, nod occasionally. Try to minimize fidgeting. Don’t get up mid meeting unless absolutely necessary. Review who’s in the meeting ahead of time, greet people you know by name (take up space, don’t just sit in the corner, small talk may be necessary pre meeting).

      For emails, take a second to proof read. Did you spell names right? Is the grammar fine? Have you anticipated questions they might have (eg if emailing to confirm a meeting, include the meeting date, time, location again).

      For appearance, as soon as you can afford it get clothes that fit you, make sure you don’t have loose threads sticking out (trim them!), copy cat the rest of your workplace (for style as well as things like do they tuck in shirts, wear jackets?), wear deodorant, brush your teeth.

    4. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      As a naturally scruffy person with a weird sense of humor, I’ve found a couple of things helpful in the quest for ‘polish’ or ‘professionalism’. First is to be deliberate about developing a ‘work persona’. It sounds kind of silly but for me it was helpful to make a clear distinction in my own mind between “Work Me” and “Personal Me”. Like, it’s not ‘inauthentic’ to behave at work in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily behave at home, it’s just responding appropriately to circumstances. Stuff like clothes can help with that… google “enclothed cognition,” or just anything else you can use to flip that switch mentally. I also found it helpful to identify individuals in my workplace who did have the level of polish or professionalism I was targeting, then observe how they conducted themselves and how it might differ from my natural instincts.

      …brb going to change out of my quarantine sweatpants to follow my own process better :)

    5. Mayflower*

      Please check out the YouTube channel for Vanessa Van Edwards – tons of practical, specific advice on how to improve your commications.

    6. TiffIf*

      Is there more context you can give us? Who is telling you that you are unpolished or what areas you need to be more polished in?
      “Polished” could be about appearance, or written or spoken communication, or presentation skills, or myriad other things–there’s a lot of ground to cover.

    7. Laure001*

      As a non polished person I know what I should be doing… And I’m not. :)

      – Don’t slouch. Don’t open your legs wide when you’re sitting.
      – have good table manners
      – try to keep your tone even. Do not exclaim, raise your voice, yell, laugh super loudly.
      – do not get super enthusiastic and talk super fast
      – think before you talk. Do not get into super long convoluted explanations. The summary answer first. Then more explanations only when needed.
      – do not joke all the time (sigh)
      – hair, clothes, shoes, fit and neat
      – do not use profanities, or really rarely.

      I am guilty of most of this (I do not open my legs wide when I seat though!) But I am in a professional situation where it works for me. If I ever had to get a real job at a real firm I would be screwed.

        1. Laure001*

          My mother would add to hold your tea saucer in your left hand while you drink from your fragile porcelain tea cup with your right hand, but I say, let’s not push it. :) :) This situation doesn’t happen that often in the office. :)

      1. designbot*

        I’d add
        * eliminate distracting behaviors like pen chewing or clicking, hair twirling, nail biting, nail tapping…
        * focus on the person or group you’re speaking with
        * instead of letting yourself become visibly stressed or exasperated, be willing to tell someone “now isn’t a good time, could we discuss this later?”

  17. Kramerica Industries*

    About a year and a half ago, I posted a comment that I thought was reasonable, but turns out it was a very cynical and negative take. Commenters on here replied to me with things like “that’s an awful view because of X” and “wow you sound like a miserable person”. The replies were harsh, but it made me realize that I truly did have something else going on.

    Shortly after, I started a bit of therapy for anxiety/depressive symptoms that had gone unchecked for a while. I just wanted to throw a huge thank-you out there for being a community that I trust for general work things, but that also helped shine a red flag in views that led me to come to terms with my headspace. So yeah – just thanks for being amazing!

    1. Me*

      Good on you! When your normal has become icky, it’s hard to see that…because it’s your normal.

      Glad you’re in a better space.

    2. NeonFireworks*

      This kind of adjustment takes a LOT of self-reflection, consideration, and work! Way to go!

      1. Laney Delaney*

        Agreed with NeonF — I am in awe that you were able to ” realize that I truly did have something else going on” – rather than act defensively, shut down and avoid the site, you were able to ask yourself the hard questions, and then you took action and are doing the work. Sounds like being amazing is on both sides.

      2. AthenaX*

        I agree with NeonFireworks. It’s wonderful you were able to deeply consider the feedback and not be defensive.

    3. Blueberry*

      I’m incredibly impressed that you didn’t just get defensive, but thought about the responses, and then went and not only did some hard work but proactively got help in doing so. Well done!

    4. nep*

      Amazing. Good for you. Wishing you all the best. Thanks for sharing this.
      (I have to say, love the handle.)

  18. Bunny Girl*

    I had an 2nd interview two weeks ago that went really, really well and I haven’t heard anything from them. They had said they were hoping to make a decision a week ago. I know to take that with a huge grain of salt, but I’m just getting really antsy. A couple weeks ago someone at my job quit and our department head announced during a staff meeting that I was taking over their duties. I was in no way, shape or form asked about this beforehand and I do not want to do this woman’s job at all. I tried to push back on it after the meeting but was told that it was too bad. I am desperate to get out of this job and have been applying as much as I can. Blegh.

    1. another scientist*

      Two weeks is not very long, and imagine half the people being slowed up by either childcare issues, or additional HR work with COVID! Hang in there!

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I keep telling myself that! Plus it’s at a vet clinic. I have a friend who works at one and she says they have just been swamped at theirs because of everything going on.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          That might explain it, too. I know my vet clinic has had to reschedule a few of our appointments due to staggering shifts for vets and techs. So even though they are working regular hours, between the short staff and emergency cases (like I ended up having last week) I think they are doing all they can to keep up with their work load and are likely coming up short in other areas. Hang in there!

          Also, I am sorry they dropped the extra work duties on you without checking first. Yikes!

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Thanks!! I know our vet clinic is doing curbside pick-ups and my friend said that is slowing them down so much so each visit is taking twice as long. I’m hoping that’s all it is! I’m actually a client at this clinic so I hope they don’t just full on ghost me knowing they’ll have to see me again.

            Also, I wish that was the worst thing my work has done. They’re beyond awful.

    2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      A couple weeks ago someone at my job quit and our department head announced during a staff meeting that I was taking over their duties. I was in no way, shape or form asked about this beforehand….

      Crappy Passive-Aggressive Management Red Flag #2281: Direction By Announcement.

      Good luck with your second interview (and the rest of your job search)!

  19. Middle Manager*

    Thoughts on how to credit a jointly written document on your resume?

    More detailed: I lead the documents, but they are very much team efforts, lots of input from subject matter experts and executive staff, including writing whole sections, and ultimately published under our agency head’s name (government agency, this is standard). I’m not the author, but do lots of the writing and almost all of the coordinating.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      “Co-authored…”
      “With a team of three, co-wrote…”
      Something like that, where you make it clear you did something, but it wasn’t just you?

      1. another Hero*

        I think something that indicates MM’s role in putting the thing together would be helpful. “Coordinated team that prepared,” “With subject specialists, wrote,” “Organized experts to write and publish”

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      Coordination at that level is a skill/beast that deserves highlighting along with your writing. I would go with Cowrote/authored _____, lead coordination of _ SMEs and _ members of executive staff in publishing document that ::insert positive fact about timeline, level of detail, impact of document, etc::.

      1. Middle Manager*

        I like that template, makes a lot of sense. Thanks! I was just really drawing a blank on how to capture it succinctly.

      1. Sara(h)*

        How about, “As lead editor and co-author of “Document X,” co-wrote, edited, and coordinated content from multiple contributors to develop final version for publication

  20. Posting anonymously today*

    I caught up with a friend/former coworker last week. Amongst other stuff, we talked a bit about work and he told me that the remote team I used to manage was doing poorly. The person left in charge is inexperienced and says that I didn’t train him properly.

    Well….no kidding lol. He was a good employee working under me but wasn’t manager level *yet*. My goal was to eventually bring him to a level where he could manage a team, but that was going to be a long term coaching. But then COVID hit and we were sent home and 2 weeks later I lost my job and he was thrust into the position. 

    So, ex-boss complains about how bad my replacement is. The two of us spent a year trying to build up the team and turn it around and we performed well. Ex-boss made the decision to put an inexperienced person in charge.

    I have to admit I’m feeling a bit….not happy, but…very slight schadenfreude?  This boss has not been a great boss through the years. They micromanage, they berate us, show preferential treatment to certain teams/individuals and are biased. There were murmurs that they do not like pregnant women or black people but it was so subtle that it could never be proven.

    Said boss is also anxious for the office to open up and everyone to come in to the office. Managers under boss are pushing back against that, as many are not comfortable with how safe it is just yet and would prefer coming in to the office be a choice. To that, the boss says “anyone who doesn’t come in to the office can collect UI like everyone else we fired.” (60% of staff was removed at the start of COVID). Shall I mention that this boss would constantly work from home and rarely allowed anyone else to WFH? (btw majority of managers pushing back are white and male if that’s relevant).

    The way things look, the company will probably go under as so many talented people leave.

    1. Stormy Weather*

      Wow, what a place to have been. I think a little schadenfreude is natural in your case. I feel bad for the good workers that will suffer when (not if) the place goes under, but the managers sound like they’re due to cash a check at the karma bank.

      1. Posting anonymously today*

        The managers were good, its the top level Director who deserves the karma.

        I do feel bad for the good workers. The same day I was let go, half my remote team was let go in a conference call (!). One said they were devastated and another who wasn’t available for the conference call as it was out of their normal working hours messaged me a few days later saying she couldn’t log in. Bad leadership all around.

  21. LilPinkSock*

    My company has traditionally held a low-key employee picnic every summer. For many reasons, not all of which are COVID-related, we will have to go in a different direction this year. One suggestion from a few colleagues is an company talent show. Has anyone ever organized something similar?

    1. Moi*

      Some tangential thoughts to your question, I would be aware of the culture and make sure a talent show would be something people are genuinely interested in.

      A past employer had multiple global offices. Our Philippine office could host talent shows, singing competitions, and similar team building activities to great success, but the culture supported it. Those kinds of events would flop in our USA office, but dodgeball, inter-company sports leagues, and an ‘easter egg hunt’ worked really well.

      1. lilpinksock*

        That’s a great suggestion. I sent out an anonymous and completely optional survey this morning asking my colleagues if they’d be interested in attending and/or participating. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 49 out of 50 said they’d go and about 20 people wanted to perform!

        At our usual summer picnic, we do have field day-type activities, but some of the feedback that we’ve been getting over the years indicates that increasingly more folks absolutely hate sports and therefore the picnic just isn’t an enjoyable day for a pretty big group. I think scavenger or treasure hunts would be great! Now to figure out how to do that around the office park while being social distancing-approved….

    2. Senor Montoya*

      Just…make participation in the talent part completely and truly voluntary.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        100% voluntary! Some of my colleagues are very shy, including one of the people who suggested it. They said they’d really like the free entertainment, but from a seat safely in the back. As a non-talented individual, I agree.

        1. Amy Sly*

          I would also provide some kind of minor reward for providing entertainment for one’s colleagues, along the lines of a $10 coffee card. Not so much that people feel compelled for monetary reasons, but enough to get enough people to participate to make sure it’s not just three or four people who sign up.

          1. LilPinkSock*

            Great idea! I have a stack of Panera cards I need to work through–and we would be giving out little prizes at the company picnic anyway. I told my manager that providing snacks is an absolute must, so knowing my colleagues that’ll get more than a few butts in seats :-)

        2. Gumby*

          It depends on what kind of talent show it is. I used to work at a company that had an annual talent show. Participation as a performer or audience member was 100% voluntary. But, frankly, some of the best acts were not the ones that displayed a lot of talent. Don’t get me wrong, on occasion there were some truly talented people who did wow us with their abilities. But mostly there were acts like the work group with no actual experience at it doing Irish step dancing, another department with no voice performance experience singing a slightly-altered song from a musical, and a group performing a medley of movie music by blowing over the top of glass bottles filled to various levels (they were quite impressive given their tools). “Cutting bananas by throwing playing cards” made it into one show. Also, it helped the the emcee for the shows was one of the higher ups and the CEO usually performed as well.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Make it super super optional! There have been letters on this site from the very shy coworkers who get punished or teased for not wanting to participate.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Absolutely. We have regular employee engagement stuff going on throughout the year, and no one is ever singled out for not participating.

    4. dinoweeds*

      This might just be me, but combining the words employee + talent show sound like an absolute cringe disaster. Even if it was super optional and handled really well, there is zero chance of me attending.

    5. another scientist*

      my employer of 3000 has now hosted two talent shows on videoconference, and a third one is scheduled. When I first heard this, I totally cringed. But the first one was in the beginning of shelter-at-home, so we were all disoriented and frazzled and so I tuned in, not expecting much. It was amazing! About 15 colleagues had signed up to perform, and they played instruments, sang songs, read poetry and prose, some of it original! Some of it was high-brow, and some of it was more crowd-pleaser or utterly dorky. Everybody loved it and the chat was overflowing with cheer, and people had their video on, bopping along. If you are getting the sense that a few people are willing to put themselves out there, it’s worth a try!

      Also, my department had to skip their staff appreciation picnic, and donated in our names to the local food bank. That was a very nice touch, I thought.

    6. Coco*

      On top of making sure it is totally voluntary:
      Have a minimum number of participants. If only 2 acts want to performance, it is awkward.

      Have a decent MC/ host. Someone who enjoys being on stage and can make kind and funny comments if the time between acts is too long.

      Have people willing to volunteer with audio equipment. Nothing is worse than having to listen to bad microphone squawks or it just not working.

      Good luck.

    7. Narvo Flieboppen*

      My company used to host an annual talent show as part of our holiday party.

      Until the year that a dept. manager/wanna-be stand-up comedian thought the best way to do this was to ‘roast’ the CEO with a bunch of anti-Semitic “jokes” (CEO was Jewish). This did not go over well, on so very many levels.

      We have never again had a talent show.

      I guess my advice would be to have someone with some common sense vet all of the incoming talents, perhaps a dress rehearsal or something of that nature. It doesn’t guarantee that something unpalatable won’t slip through anyway, but it could help.

    8. somethingcleverhere*

      People here are being very kind to you so I’ll lay it out straight: do not do this. I am so tired of people planning childish activities that no one’s interested in and then demanding participation. Remember the person here who literally made her office color hand turkeys? We are professionals, not preschoolers.

      I believe you were also the one looking for KPIs for a secretary? Honestly, if I knew my secretary was spending her time on childish summer camp activities that everyone will hate, instead of the actual work I have assigned her, she’d be fired immediately. I hope your boss doesn’t feel the same way, but seriously, stick to your job and stop wasting company time on forced kiddie crap.

      1. another scientist*

        nobody said anything about demanding participation. I think it’s fine for you to abhor this idea, but there are a) people who enjoy spending social time with colleagues, and b) dorks that enjoy talent show-style entertainment. It’s ok that you don’t, but you are making some big assumptions here about what everybody else thinks.

      2. lilpinksock*

        This is so out of line, incorrect, and frankly mean-spirited that any more commentary isn’t worth anyone’s time. Please re-read my question. If you have helpful feedback in planning an event of this type, I welcome it.

    9. Deanna Troi*

      I don’t have anything to add, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your name!! I adore everything Mutts related!

      1. LilPinkSock*

        Thank you! I am but the humble servant of a former street kitty who is Mooch’s twin…big nose and all.

  22. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the problem that musicians are having with regards to practicing and producing music while in their homes. I was amused because AAM hit that topic weeks ago. Stay ahead as usual, Alison!

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Yeah, I’ve started supporting some of my favorite musicians and podcasters on Patreon. Not a lot, but it’s a little more than they would have gotten.

      1. pancakes*

        Bandcamp has had two days during all this where they waived revenue-sharing and let musicians keep all their sales. They raised over $11 million! Too much of which was from me, lol.

    2. NotAPirate*

      That letter made me appreciate my neighbors, who while terribly loud at least don’t play an instrument.

    3. Sara without an H*

      As an amateur (very) vocalist, I really appreciate the fact that my apartment building has excellent soundproofing between units. I can’t hear my neighbors and they can’t hear me.

      The doors to the hallway are just builder’s standard — you can always hear people walking or talking in the hallway. Why the developer chose to spend good money on soundproofing the party walls, then cheaped out on the doors, is beyond me.

    4. Windchime*

      My coworker lives in a funky Seattle neighborhood. One of her neighbors is a member of the Seattle Opera, and he goes outside every afternoon at 5 PM and seranades the neighborhood with several musical pieces. People gather on their porches or on the sidewalk and enjoy a few minutes of world-class music. Me? I get the trombone of the kid next door.

      1. Anono-me*

        It could be worse. You could live next to me and my violin. (Actually I don’t make anybody listen to me practice right now.)

        1. Daphne Moon*

          Or worse yet, my child gleefully plays their recorder for the suggested 30 minutes 3 times a week.

  23. Macarena*

    I really hate my job (unpleasant work environment and it was a stop-gap job) and wanted to try and get something better paying and more in my field…..but then Coronavirus came and I am worried the pandemic has put a huge DON’T FORGET YOU’RE HERE FOREVER sign above my desk and I am struggling. How does one try and get a new and better job in the coming years with the great depression coming?

    And telling me to just be grateful I have a job…..any job…..isn’t helpful, please.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Hey I just want to say I’m right there with you. My job is so horrible and I hate it. I have been there for two years and really started upping my job search in November of last year, but then it was holidays and then COVID-19. My manager just announced I was taking over someone else’s job who had just quit (without asking me and now refuses to let me say no) and so now I’m doing my job, their job, and half of another lazy coworker’s job. Honestly the only thing that keeps me going is spite. I know when I eventually do find a job, I’m going to be screwing my entire department over because they have a hiring freeze for at least the next year and that makes me really happy because I swear I’m actually in hell and all my coworkers are just demons. Anyway so that might help.

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

        So when Hell has a hiring freeze… (sorry, couldn’t resist!)

        It sounds like your departure will be glorious, and I hope you share the story.

    2. MechanicalPencil*

      I am in somewhat similar shoes, except I accepted this job as a progression in my career, and it has now morphed into I-didn’t-sign-up-for-this. No advice, just commiseration.

    3. murph*

      I don’t have solutions for you, just empathy (very much in the same boat) and a glimmer of hope: my husband actually started a much better job with a higher salary in the middle of this insanity. Not all hope is lost – things are just much more difficult now. Hang in there and attack that job search with everything you’ve got – I’m sending you a virtual hug and support.

    4. August*

      I commiserate, I’ve been in a funk this whole morning. Literally just spent an hour job searching and frantically trying to see if I reeeaallly make a lower-paying job work. I’m going to try to funnel all of my spite into teaching myself new skills (for me, it’s database and language stuff) and hoping they’ll give me a leg up whenever another job does pop up (even if that’s in 6 months to a year, auuugh).

    5. cmcinnyc*

      I think the only way to get a new job is to start looking and let your network know you’re looking. Since it’s probably going to be a challenge, I will make the counterintuitive suggestion to be picky and look for a job that will really suit you. You already have a stop-gap job you don’t like. No need to get another one!

    6. the.kat*

      Ugh, this is really awful and I’m sorry you feel this way. Is there any way to concentrate on firming up the skills that will help you ace the next job interview when it comes? Tinker with your resume, set alerts on job search boards, take some free webinars (I’m not sure if this is true in your field, but everyone seems to have one in my field), research interview questions, etc. It’s like packing your “bug out bag” just in case and getting ready, because COVID or not, your opportunity could open up at any time. You’ve got this and you’re not stuck. You’re already planning your escape and it’s going to be GLORIOUS.

    7. IHATEUCOVID19*

      I don’t have any advice sadly, but I do have a “Me too” to add. I hate my job. It got crap 13 months in because of co-worker changes (I liked the 2 people I worked most closely with….both quit, and the replacements terrible).

      Told myself I’d stick it out until I got to 2 years for the sake of job history…..which is June 1. Sigh. I’m worried Covid-19 will keep me here until at LEAST June 1, 2021.

    8. Spearmint*

      How likely you are to get a new job depends a lot on your field. The corona recession is hitting some industries very hard and others hardly at all. I have a relative working in an engineering field who was stuck at a toxic company. They just accepted a job offer this week.

      So maybe figure out who much your desired field is affected, and which parts of it might be less affected.

    9. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      When I went through an especially trying period, I used to keep a note next to my desk saying “everything is impermanent”. I’d be reminded every day that everything is in a constant state of flux and nothing stays the same just because I want or expect it to. Wonderful times always end, and so do shitty ones.

      It may sound callous, but crisis = opportunity for some businesses or industries. It may not be immediately apparent, but doors will open where there were walls before. You’ll find something else even if it seems impossible now. Just keep up your search and know that your days at Horrible Job will end.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        It may sound callous, but crisis = opportunity for some businesses or industries.

        I’m starting to see this for my company. We make and sell software that makes remote work possible for other businesses, and we’re getting a lot of interest – I didn’t realize this during my initial panic about companies laying people off and cutting costs.

    10. Observer*

      Covid won’t last forever, and the depression won’t either.

      And even DURING the depression, people left jobs and found new ones. The same seems to be happening now – places are hiring although obviously nowhere near as much as pre-covid.

      Which is to say that it may take longer, but if you are good and persistent you still should be able to get a new job eventually.

    11. J.B.*

      This is tough and I’m sorry. The best advice I have is – 1. be kind to yourself. Things are hard sometimes, especially our expectations being upended. 2. – sometimes it helps to do smaller concrete things (work on a certification or something) even if the day to day is rough.

    12. Sara without an H*

      Macarena, go ahead and start looking. Review AAM’s archives for all pertinent information, then clean up your resume, LinkedIn profile, etc. Start now, and work your network for all it’s worth.

      Then just repeat over and over to yourself: “This will take time.” It’s not true that nobody is hiring, but fewer companies are hiring, and the process takes longer.

      So start now, acknowledge that it’s going to take more time than it would have six months ago, and please, please, stop thinking that YOU’RE STUCK HERE FOREVER. Only Hell is forever. No need to go there.

    13. Rainy*

      A lot of hiring processes were paused or cancelled, but a lot are still moving. Quite a few of my clients are still seeing movement in their job search, so don’t give up! Make your resume and cover letter the best they can possibly be for every application, and if you are able, start researching sectors that are still hiring–that info is out there in jobs reports etc–and think about pivoting.

    14. Fikly*

      Anyone who tells you to be grateful you have a job is an asshole, frankly. You do not have to be grateful for being paid in exchange for providing work.

      You cannot control the economy, or even predict it. (I am still laughing at the person in the comments here who got very angry at me in the comments in early March when I told them they could not predict the next five year’s economy down to the fine details of exactly what recession it would be like.)

      Instead, try to focus on what you can control. Right now, schools that have never done online classes are being forced to do them. I strongly suspect as a result, there are going to be more online offerings on a long term basis. That’s great for people who are working, because you don’t have to deal with the travel time, and often the class schedule is more flexible. There are a lot of ways you can use classes to help get a new and better job that aren’t an entire new degree, too, which is both cheaper and faster.

  24. COVID-19 Free!*

    I am a full time exempt experienced software developer at a Fortune 500 company. I am one of 8 Team Leads on the Teapot Project; my team is responsible for Teapot Visuals and consists of 3 full time developers and a subcontractor named Alex.

    Alex is a good developer but I find her difficult to work with. I think Alex believes she should be Team Lead. My company doesn’t allow subcontractors to be Team Leads. This does not prevent Alex from attempting to take charge: she slows down meetings by disagreeing on virtually everything, engages in various types of passive-aggressive behavior, confuses other team members, etc.

    Earlier this week Alex came to me, saying that she’d been talking to some of the other Team Leads, and they wanted to hold ‘informal’ status meetings at lunch every day. I managed to brush this off temporarily, but I’m sure it will come up again. Lunch has always been my time to rest and recharge and maybe catch up on minor paperwork. I’m not excited about “daily ‘informal’ lunch meetings”. But if I don’t go, Alex almost certainly will attend, which will almost certainly lead to more head-butting. Which won’t help the project and will probably make me look bad. And: she’s a subcontractor, I don’t think she’s allowed to charge for her time at lunch. But I’m uncertain about saying “you can’t go to these lunches because you’ll talk about work but you won’t be paid for it.”

    I’m going to ask you to believe me when I say that this is not a case of two large egos fighting for control. I simply want to do the job. Further complicating the situation is that our corporate culture frowns on taking these kinds of issues to the boss. And if Alex gets cut loose, I’m down a developer.

    Any thoughts on how to handle this gracefully?

    1. Amtelope*

      Can you suggest scheduling a Team Lead status meeting for a different time, and maybe less often than every day? You could phrase this as “many people are likely to be away sometimes at lunch taking care of personal business, so it’s not the best time for the whole group to check in.” Depending on how your company schedules meetings, that might allow you to control who’s invited (and tell Alex “oh, this is for Team Leads, and that’s not your role” if she complains.)

      Also … these are virtual meetings, right? There shouldn’t be in-person group lunch meetings for any reason right now.

    2. Short and Stout*

      Hmm. Would things really be worse without Alex, if the rest of the team got things done in meetings and were less confused?

      Also: is there not already a method of coordinating the teams? Like scrum of scrums or a program cadence meeting or some such? Why do you even need this meeting?

    3. merope*

      Have you actually talked to the other Team Leads about this proposed meeting? Or is it just Alex’s comment?

    4. BethDH*

      Have you talked to the other team leads to see whether they actually do want to do this? I wouldn’t be surprised if most or all of them don’t actually want to do daily lunch updates!
      I think you can tell Alex directly but kindly what you said about payment, but I’m not sure you need to if you can get rid of the meeting issue entirely. If there is a need for more frequent team lead updates, surely there is a more efficient way to handle them.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah I have dealt with people like Alex and it is probably one of two things —
        1. She’s claiming the team leads agree with her when maybe all they did was say “well that’s an idea, we can think about it” or something similarly noncommital. (Or they may have outright told her no — I had a coworker once who would get no from me and then go straight to my senior coworker and claim I’d said yes. We started calling each other as soon as she left our offices to let the other know what exactly we’d said.)
        2. The other team leads think she’s expressing *your* thoughts because she’s on your team and don’t realize she’s going behind your back.

        If you have team leads you trust to be discreet, just let them know that Alex seems to not really understand that she’s not a team lead and you’d appreciate if they’d redirect any ideas she floats by them back to you. But I think you need to decide if you want Alex attending team lead meetings at all — if you just tell her “we can’t have lunch meetings if you want to attend” she’s going to take that as permission to attend if they are at a different time of day. It sounds to me like you need to be reinforcing that, as she is not a team lead, it’s not really her business what kind of meetings the team leads are and are not having.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          This. The first response to “I’ve talked to the other team leads and they want to do X,” is “that’s nice. I’ll talk to them about it, but since you’re not a team lead, it isn’t really your business; please stay in your lane.” Said with slightly more politeness, of course, but that message.

          The same is true with everything else that comes up involving her trying to act like a team lead. “Alex, please stop trying to do the team lead’s job. You’re not a team lead.”

    5. Senor Montoya*

      Dump Alex. If you can. She’s undermining you all over the place.

      How long would it take to get another developer hired? once hired,up to speed? If it isn’t too long, worth it to be down a developer than to spend enormous amounts of time and energy managing Alex aka Eve Harrington all day every day

    6. Senor Montoya*

      Do you actually NEED this additional meeting? Just because Alex suggests it doesn’t mean you have to do it. Check in with your fellow Team Leads — see if they really want or need to do it.

    7. Observer*

      Well, I think you need to deal with Alex and also deal with the lunch meetings, separately and in conjunction. Because you should NOT be hearing about stuff the other team leads are doing / planning / want to do through Alex.

      So, tell her that she can’t attend meetings of the team leads. And that she can’t attend lunch meetings, because she can’t be paid for that. Also, stop letting her derail your meetings! Just because she disagrees with something and wants to argue it, does not mean you have to allow it. If she gives someone instructions counter to the ones you have given tell that team member to ignore her. Etc.

      You have standing to tell other team leads that you’re not enthusiastic about lunch meetings because that is generally time you’ve already allocated for other tasks. But before you do that verify that this is actually something that the other leads are interested in. And also make it clear to them that not only is she not the FORMAL team lead, she’s not the INFORMAL team lead and that she doesn’t speak for you.

    8. Fikly*

      Have you verified with the other team leads that what Alex is telling you is true?

      I suspect that Alex has suggested to the other team leads that this informal meeting be held, and it’s not their idea at all.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      She’s only good at part of her job. She sounds awful at the other things that make an employee good, like getting along with others, not causing disruption or confusion, and understanding how the reporting structure/chain of command actually works.

      10 to 1 the informal lunch meetings are her idea (why would other team leads be running that past her) and you can clear that up pretty easily with the other team leads.

      I understand ifyou think it’s better to keep her at least short term, but I think she needs to go.

    10. Aquawoman*

      I guess I’m curious why you came here rather than talking to any of the other Team Leads. It makes me wonder if you are maybe reluctant to communicate with them and if that’s leaving a gap she’s exploiting? I don’t know–just throwing it out for your consideration. I would talk to one or more of the other Team Leads. If they are really gung-ho about daily meetings, I think you could suggest another time of day, or if the reason for the meetings could be addressed by a daily email (today’s priorities, etc). If these meetings wind up happening at lunch, I think you need to go at least for a while and not allow Alex to go (shift your lunch time to get your down time, if workable). Talking to the other team leads will also let you know if they view her as informal deputy team lead or Alex getting ahead of her skis. It’s completely reasonable for you to not allow Alex to go to a meeting of Team Leads when she’s not a team lead.

      1. pancakes*

        +1

        Also, if Team Leads are asking her to come to meetings she won’t be able to paid for, that’s a pretty messed-up way to run meetings. Someone among the Team Leads has to take the actual lead there on sorting that out.

    11. Katniss Evergreen*

      I think Allison’s tip for “we” language could fit well here for at least the lunch meetings part and Alex’s subcontractor status. First, as other folks have said, I’d suggest leaning on other people’s/your own need to get personal business done during lunch or to use that period to recharge. If she says that’s not an issue, bring up the subcontractor pay thing; frame this as something like “we wouldn’t want the company to run afoul of any employment regulations regarding pay and break times, so even if you’re okay with sacrificing pay for lunchtime meetings, it’s not okay for the company to take on that liability.”

      If you are Alex’s Team Lead, you really have to get this person to stay in her lane. If you have any managerial authority here, I’d have a frank but kind conversation about boundaries at work, after discussing it openly with other Team Leads. Don’t be thinking you know what they hate about Alex’s work or disruptions, ask for examples. The conversation with Alex should be a discussion of a common goal and why she needs to change her behavior to reach it – e.g. you’d like to have a good working relationship, and her developer’s skills are good, but that she’s detracting from the goals of team meetings by dragging out items everyone agrees on, and other examples of issues you mentioned above if you have specifics. Only if she brings it up, say that your company’s policy makes her ineligible for a Team Lead position.

      Bottom line, somebody has to reign her in. She is making your team look bad, and the opportunity cost of saying nothing is high compared to her feelings being hurt if you address this directly and professionally.

  25. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    Essential worker check-in! I’ve been wanting to post here more often, but usually I’m at work on Friday mornings, and I don’t have the type of job where I’m in front of a computer. Today I’m going in late.

    How are things going for everyone? Any bright spots amid this mess? I’ll post my own response below so anyone who wants to opt out can collapse this thread.

    1. Jady*

      Bright spot for me is I got laid off from a job I hated. Lucky enough to be in a situation where my partner is still working (remotely & business is booming). We can afford to be on just the one income/insurance. Got a great severance AND they paid out a bonus they had been promising employees for months to those who were let go. (People who still work there don’t have their bonus yet, unfortunately.)

      Been a huge boost to my mental and physical health. I’m an extreme introvert so the lockdown isn’t difficult for me. I’m spending more time with my family, exercising more, eating better, my severe clinical depression is 100x better, I’m sleeping better, I’m regained interest in a lot of old hobbies, playing and walking my dogs more, getting so much around the house done that would always get put off.

      I’m incredibly lucky, but man.. this layoff has been the best thing to happen to me in years.

    2. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

      Last week, one of my coworkers passed away from COVID-19. I didn’t know them too well, but it’s still really upsetting. There are reasons to believe this person may have contracted the virus outside of work that I won’t elaborate on for anonymity reasons, although it’s impossible to know for sure, and no one else has had symptoms, but still. We haven’t been able to really process their death or do anything to honor them because of the current situation. All we’ve been able to do is take a collection up for their family and…just keep working.

      Even outside of this, I’ve really hit a wall this week. My boss and the coworker I work most closely with have been butting heads a bit. I don’t think either of them are right or wrong, they just have very incompatible ways of dealing with stress, and their conflicts stress me out. I’m mad that states are starting to reopen, because as much as staying at home sucks and is destroying the economy, we are nowhere near ready. It feels like politicians dgaf about my life and the lives of other people who can’t stay home. I also really can’t with all my friends and everyone on the internet complaining about how terrible working from home is. It’s not that your challenges aren’t valid, I just don’t have the space to care. I wish there was better support for frontline workers and the media would give us a little more love instead spending 90% of their focus on the WFH experience.

      Thanks for letting me vent. There have been a few bright spots–I did speak on my first ever panel last week on COVID-19 response and that went well. I was surprised I’d be allowed to do that, but my org is open to lower level staff speaking on public events with some training, which is unlike other places I’ve worked. Hopefully I’ll get to do more. A coworker and I are also treating ourselves to takeout once a week to reward ourselves for getting through another week and support local restaurants. I’m looking forward to lunch today!

    3. SaraV*

      Hello fellow essential!

      I’m…doing okay. I started in a new position/location in the New Year, and it seems like every time I think I _might_ be getting to where I have more control/understanding of things, something happens. (Addition of a brand new “department” to be responsible for, then Covid, now a FT employee retiring at the end of the month and I’m taking over a chunk of her responsibilities because they aren’t rehiring her position)

      I’ve just been putting my head down and keep trucking and TRY to get ahead.

    4. Now in the Job*

      Keeping to the brightness: My doggo has started to process his anxiety better, although it’s still not perfect. Husband’s mental health rounded a corner after I strongarmed him into playing a board game with friends via video chat last weekend, so I think he is responding positively to some sorely needed friend-time. He is now looking forward to the gametime this weekend. I have been able to consistently do some kind of physical activity/workout every day so far this week.

      I got a lot of superlative compliments from somebody whose team’s work is the sole reason I was hired. I have been thanked for being proactive in participating in some developing office re-opening work and my efforts have been put squarely in front of my boss, which is appreciated.

      And a friend who was diagnosed with Covid-19 and was in a real bad way rounded the corner and is actually being released from the hospital this weekend!

  26. Aggretsuko*

    So I have been bursting into sudden tears several times a day since this happened.

    I am going to be the only one left doing the workload of about six people starting in June. I already do a job that was four people and is now down to me, and now I have to take over literally the most complicated job in the office at the same time. My work group consists of me and one other person (two used to do her job, down to one there) and the other one is retiring. My work TRIED to hire two replacements and then got blocked by a hiring freeze, and the best they can do is to have one of our temps part-time work with me, but then the temp’s contract expires in July. I spend four hours a day in Zoom meetings having to train on the new job, and I have to answer a billion panicky emails, and attempt to find time to do my own job. It’s literally too much, but there isn’t a thing my work can do to help me. And they have been incredibly unsympathetic about me struggling in my job over the years–two weeks before the pandemic, they told me that I have to be genuinely happy at all times. No joke.

    And now I’m overloaded and crying all the time at home. I didn’t have a webcam here and it was great, because I called into Zoom via phone, nobody saw me, and I could put myself on mute when I cried and nobody knew. They have now sent me a webcam and I had to straight up tell them that I wasn’t going to use it and I did NOT want to disclose why. I know that’s not great, but it was literally the best option my therapist and I could come up with. I am out of emotional resources to fake that I am okay and happy. I am in dire distress, but there’s literally nothing anyone can do about it. Except write me up for crying, and before you say anything about how nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am. And we still have to have performance reviews soon! Even if they can’t afford to fire me, I can always get myself in more trouble.

    Anyway, where this is going is that I ended up crying during the 4 hour Zoom training yesterday, so now I’ve been found out by my coworkers and I’m terrified that one of them (probably the retiring one) will decide that ethically she should tattle on me. On the one hand, presumably any manager would want to know if their one remaining employee is having a nervous breakdown. On the other hand, they treat me like shit fairly frequently and she knows that and they’ve been telling me how bad I am for years before this. Is it going to do anything other than make things worse to tell on me? I don’t think this can be made better, but it can certainly be made worse.

    So now what?

    1. CatCat*

      If they can’t afford to fire you, why does it matter if you get yourself “in more trouble”? Like what’s the consequence that’s going to flow from that?

      Because the whole situation sounds unsustainable and it’s time to let some balls drop.

      1. Anonymous Elephant*

        Best statement.

        Aggretsuko, release yourself of the problems caused by your boss’ ineptitude. It is not possible to do the work of 6 people. It’s not. Balls will be dropped, tasks will be prioritized and left undone. That is not your fault. That is your employer’s fault. Be upfront and honest about expectations and let them handle the mess. You work 40 hours a week. That’s your job. Clock out after 8 hours a day and disconnect. Your mental health is more important than this work.

        On January 13, 2020, Alison posted “I’m burned out and overworked and my bosses keep piling more work on me”. Definitely go back and read that. That is going to be the best advice to help you release your own expectations and get your bosses paying more attention. (I’d link it but then my post would have to be approved. I’ll link it in a reply just to help.)

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          +100,000

          What CatCat and Anonymous Elephant said.

          *slow clap*

          …they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am.

          Your employer is a deranged hellscape. As soon as you can (be patient!), get a new job and leave Nurse Ratched in your rear-view mirror.

      2. Fikly*

        This, 100% this.

        They created this problem. Let them deal with the consequences. It’s not your problem.

    2. BethDH*

      Is the “they” your direct boss, HR, all leadership? I’m wondering if you can escalate this to someone? This might be totally useless, but can you ask what metrics are involved in “being happy”? Make them spell out what that looks like and maybe it will show them how unreasonable it is?
      I don’t really have anything very useful but this sounds so horrible and I’m sorry you’re dealing with it. I wish I had something to offer to help!

    3. NotAPirate*

      Tell them you are crying tears of joy, and it is a genuine expression of your happiness?

      Sorry, unhelpful response. Your work sucks.

      1. Double A*

        Tears of joy that in a crisis where so many have no jobs, you have six!

        (Sorry OP… I find gallows humor helpful, I hope you find it at worst neutral and maybe a little amusing).

        But I think that point someone made upthread is so good. You hold all the power here. What are they going to do… fire you? No, they would be screwing themselves worse. They can be mean to you, they can have unreasonable expectations, but you don’t have to believe them.

        First, take some PTO. Seriously, take a week off. Totally unplug. You cannot think clearly right now, and you will not be able to think clearly until you take some time off. I have been there, and I did not take this advice, and I had a nervous breakdown. Take. Time. Off.

        Then, the last day of your time off, think about what you want to do. Write it out. What will you prioritize? What will you get done? Then, share this with your manager and your team. You will be focusing on X, and when that is done, Y and Z. If they would like A, B, and C done, they will need to provide you with D. If they disagree with this priority list, they can reprioritize for you, but without clear direction, you will be going with your list.

        If you have an EAP, access it. You are ill right now. You need time off, and you need to make time for your health treatment. They don’t get to know the details. You CAN detach from this situation, but you MUST take some time off. My heart goes out to you.

    4. Nicole*

      Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. You poor thing.

      Pulling from previous advice on here, is it possible to reach out to your boss and have them help you prioritize what needs to be done? And cutting things that aren’t necessary? Expecting you to complete the work of 6 people is ridiculous. It’s just not possible. And expecting you to be happy about all of this is utterly insane.

      Have you tried getting some mental health assistance? I’m seeing ads all over Facebook about online counseling and it might be helpful to have a safe space to vent. What they’re asking of you is a lot.

      If/when you can, you should consider looking for a new job. It’s hard right now but staying like this is not sustainable. You are eventually going to hit a wall and your well-being is more important.

    5. Campfire Raccoon*

      Time to take FMLA leave, for your mental health. They have NO RIGHT to instruct you to be “genuinely happy” all the time. Especially with your working conditions.

    6. Libervermis*

      Oh Aggretsuko, all the virtual hugs for you. You are dealing with an impossible situation in the middle of a global crisis. I am not a medical person, but from your post maybe you need more mental health support right now – more frequent therapy, medication, etc. You deserve the support you need to not be so miserable all the time.

      It sounds like this is one of the “your manager/company sucks and is not going to change” situations. That’s awful, but it does give you the gift of freeing yourself from the obligation to make it better. You can’t make it better, because they suck, so now the focus is to survive. It seems like up until now you’ve been trying to keep up with too much work and focused on managing the (entirely understandable) emotional symptoms that come from that. Have you had Alison’s “I can do A or B or C but not all of them, which do you want me to prioritize?” conversation with your manager?

      If you’ve tried to have prioritizing conversations with your manager and gotten “everything is a priority!” (blech), then you can do the “I can finish A this week and that’s what I’ll be focusing on, let me know if you want me to focus on something else”.

      Alison has a bunch of letters in the archives about how to survive a job that sucks. It might be a good idea to start job hunting too – not much is available right now, but at least you can remind yourself that there are other options out there and you can plan for the glorious future when you can apply to them.

    7. Observer*

      Why are you not looking for a new job? I’m not being snarky, I mean it. Start looking, HARD. Yes, it’s a bad time to be looking, but it’s not like there are NO jobs now and forevermore.

      Also, have the priorities conversation. Not “I’m having a hard time”, “I’m struggling”, “This is bad for my health”. Just “This is not physically possible. What should I prioritize”. And, if they say “Everything” you reply “That’s not physically possible.” If they say “figure it out”, end the conversation. And STOP TRYING SO HARD.

      Work your hours and let things slip. Document what you are doing and how many hours you are spending so they can’t tell you that you are not working.

      What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the worst that MIGHT happen? They can’t really afford to fire you so that’s unlikely. If they are stupid enough to do that, you should be eligible for unemployment since firing someone for being unable to meet impossible is generally considered not the fault of the employee, but that’s where all of your documentation may come in.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. Aggretsuko, you have more leverage than you think you do in this situation. If your role is truly essential for their business and they can’t afford to fire you, then you can push back against these unreasonable demands. They won’t do shit but grouse, maybe write you up, but with the free time you’ll get back, you should be job searching anyway and, hopefully, you’ll be gone before they can really do anything about it.

    8. Koala dreams*

      Do you have any sick leave left to take? This sounds like a recipe for burn out, and if you can take some time off and plan some relaxing activities (watch TV in pyjamas, eat take out food and ice cream and fruit, take a walk and count how many dogs you see), you might be able to recover a little.

      I know there have been some posts in the past about dealing with a crushing work load. I doubt your employer will suddenly listen to reason, but you can decide for yourself that you will only do a reasonable amount of work every day. After that you shut off notifications, shut off your phone if necessary, and do something else.

      I’m so sorry for you. Take care, and be kind to yourself.

    9. Deja vu*

      First and foremost is self-care. I’m so glad you have a therapist to talk with – please keep going.

      In regards to your management – what have you communicated with them? It sounds like their “be happy” comment caused a huge shut down of information from your side. Considering that you’re already emotionally spent, consider writing down what you’d like to say and then reading it to them via phone call. Something to the effect of “I have extreme concerns about the workforce reduction and its impact on my responsibilities. I am already doing the work of 4 individuals and in June it will increase to 6 – the current situation is, of course, already unsustainable for any person for any length of time, so I’m wondering what the path forward is? I understand about the hiring freeze, so obviously tasks will be dropped, Could I get more clarity on what the priorities are?”

      For the “be happy” comment, did they just say it the one time, or was it a repeated thing that you’ve been reprimanded for multiple times? Sure, they don’t want anyone crying all the time (no employee is effective when under that much emotional distress), but they’d be ridiculous for not recognizing the strain that reduced staff levels cause; they should want to retain the remaining employees. They need to know the stress you’re under (and really, they should already know), and if they have any decency, they’ll want to work with you to come up with some kind of mitigation during this time.

    10. Blueberry*

      Except write me up for crying, and before you say anything about how nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, they have already told me I HAVE to be happy and I have no doubts in my mind I would get in more trouble if they find out how miserable I am.

      This is so, so unfair of them (and one of the effects of our business culture of Crying Is The Absolute Worst Always). I have no proper advice but I wanted to tell you that this is unfair and I’m very sorry.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, nice people wouldn’t do that in a pandemic, but they are clearly not nice people.

    11. Goomba*

      I feel for you. I have been there.
      Here are things you can do that the real Aggretsuko never did:
      -emotionally detach from work. Do not try to do a good job. Do not try to make people happy or feel happiness from your job. You are there to receive pay and be a robot, and when you leave, you leave the place behind.
      -find someone in your company you can talk to. Your boss? Boss’s boss? Older/mentor-figure coworker? Friend in another department? HR? Anyone you can connect with and feel like you have an ally.
      -talk to your boss and lay out that you are burned out and can only do XYZ, unless they want you to prioritize differently, as Alison has suggested before.
      -find a therapist or similar mental health support. There are some free options online. This will help you detach from work and heal.
      -job search. Seriously. There are lots of jobs out there that are better than yours now and you have nothing to lose by looking.
      -quit. Seriously. File for unemployment and take a month to just sit quietly at home and recuperate. Your job is destroying you and your body is crying out for help.

  27. Michelle*

    I recently got a job offer for a really great opportunity (yay!) I’m currently considering the offer, and one thing about the job that gives me a lot of pause is that they use a hot-desking setup, where you just plop yourself and your laptop down in a different spot every day. Obviously, this won’t be an issue for a while, given that everyone is working from home, but the office will eventually re-open and I’m not keen on the hot-desking thing. I like having my space and being able to personalize it a bit, which won’t be possible. I also have a lot of neck and back pain that I’m worried will get worse without any ergonomic supports, which I know is more difficult to address without assigned desks.

    That said, my current work situation is not good… the environment is toxic and dysfunctional (think all the red flags that come up in other letters on this site) and I’ve been feeling undervalued and sad all the time because of my job. I don’t think turning down a job because of hot-desking is reasonable, especially given my situation. Am I making a bigger deal out of the setup than it really is? Is hot-desking really as awful as I’m imagining? Any tips on how to make it a workable situation?

    1. Picard*

      I would not accept a job with hot desking. It just doesnt work for me. And if my current job changed to hot desking, I would be looking to leave ASAP. soooooo…..

      I would keep looking.
      But, I’m not in a toxic dumpster fire of a job so you’ll have to weigh that obviously!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same – hot-desking, especially now and moving forward (because this virus is not going away), is a potential health hazard. I wouldn’t risk it, so it’s totally reasonable to turn down a job because you would rather have a dedicated, personal workspace.

        1. Windchime*

          My job is actually planning to go to hot desking. But they are also telling us that we will only need to come into the office 2-3 times per month in the future and we are going to be a mostly remote team (yay!). So I have decided that I can handle it for very infrequent trips to the office. But every day? I don’t think I could do that.

    2. merope*

      Is it possible to ask for ergonomic accommodations for your neck and back pain which would also mean you couldn’t change desks? This could be done via a note from your doctor, for example. My sister works in a hot-desk environment but because of vision challenges requires a permanent setup, and her company was happy to work with her on that.

      1. Michelle*

        That’s a really good point! For some reason I was imagining this being… inflexible? I don’t know, the whole concept is super new to me. But it’s good to know that it’s worked for other people!

      2. Steve*

        Definitely this. Ergonomic reasons, doctor’s note, and see how they respond. Mention it if/when you get to an offer, probably not before, although work on getting a note before then if it’s easy.

        If they have people hot-desking then they likely don’t need you there all the time so you can maybe offer to go in for specific meetings and otherwise work from home. Essentially companies that hot-desk do it because people aren’t always at their desk, so they would likely either want you to commit to being there more often, or hardly at all.

    3. Jady*

      Idk, for me the idea of hot-desking is a nightmare. It would be a huge issue, and unless I was really in a terrible situation I wouldn’t even consider a job like that. In my snotty opinion, companies that do things like that are pretty short-sighted and don’t care a lot about their employees well-being.

      If it’s a primarily remote job, and (normally) you’d only be in the office a couple times a week at most, I could live with it. That’s really the only valid justification for hot-desking, is there’s only a small number of people actually in the office at one time, and those people vary.

      If somehow you could get a doctor’s note for reasonable accommodation for ergonomic equipment, that may help.

      I just imagine of all the incredibly small things that would grow extremely annoying. The chair will never be the right height/lean back enough or too far. The monitor’s position will always be different, and people will probably mess with brightness/contrast.

      I’d also suggest really digging into the company culture, and making sure it’s also not toxic and dysfunctional too. Find some people on linkedin who do a job similar to yours and ask them what they think about working there.

      1. Michelle*

        I totally agree with what you mean about how hot-desking can be a red flag, but from what I can tell, the company culture is actually really great. All good reviews on glassdoor, flexible hours and work from home options (more on an as-needed basis than a regular thing, but still), and basically unlimited sick days. The HR person I’ve been in contact with to ask questions said to me, “I’ve had to say this about a lot of places I’ve worked where I haven’t meant it, but I can genuinely say that the office environment and culture is phenomenal and supportive, and it’s a great team to be on.” Yes, it’s still the word of someone at the company, but the tone did seem genuine.

        I’m also pretty early in my career (currently in my first job out of grad school… honestly, if it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t have realized how messed up my workplace is), so I don’t really know what is and isn’t a deal-breaker for me yet, if that makes sense?

      2. Clementine*

        Every office is likely to change dramatically if or when we all go back to the office. One thing I keep hearing is that there will be staggered shifts. No one will be allowed to have personal items. Etc. One consequence is likely to be that hot desks will become the norm. So I would not let this stop you, because every other company is going to be doing something similar likely anyway.

    4. Hawkeye is in the details*

      Ask about reasonable accommodations for your neck and back issues. There should be no problem with setting you up at one desk with special equipment.

      Also, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the hot desk situation changes when they being everyone back. Many employers are constructing cubicles now. Ask about that too. Tell them that, in this current pandemic situation, hot desking is giving many people pause, and is the company thinking about changing their setup?

      1. Michelle*

        Thanks for the advise! Yes, I agree about how hot-desking is even less appealing with everything going on… it doesn’t sound like they’re thinking of making any changes once we return based on how the person I’m talking with is discussing the office setup, but maybe that’ll change? It’s also an NPO, so I don’t know if they’d be able to make those changes financially right now, anyway.

    5. PX*

      In my experience, hot desking tends to often result in people still claiming “their” spots, just less officially. And if you request a specific set-up for ergonomic reasons, this will absolutely mean you can have a specific spot.

      So yes, for me turning down a job at an otherwise sane looking job over this would be shooting yourself in the foot somewhat.

    6. MissGirl*

      We hot desk and most people find their favorite spots and everyone settles in. I would ask at the offer stage about ergonomic supports and how it works. Also ask if they foresee some work from home days sticking around after the office opens.

    7. Katniss Evergreen*

      Now that you have the offer, I would ask about ergonomic support when staff do return to the office! If it’s just movable equipment you would need, maybe the hot-desking setup allows for people to have cubbies in the office where they keep some essentials like a mouse/standing desk mat/etc. to bring to their assigned desk, or a closet where they keep special things like that + chairs (since you’d still need your own chair if you needed special lumbar support, etc.). It might not be as bad as it sounds, but if the company bristles at this and doesn’t totally prioritize other ways that employees can have proper space in the office (like having a damn nice breakroom as a trade-off for not being able to keep a mug at your desk), this is a bullet to dodge.

  28. Sunset Maple*

    My current company is like no other job I’ve had in that we are expected to drop everything and bend over backwards for any ridiculous, inane request a salesperson makes. It’s like nobody can ever say no to a customer, no matter how pointless or obnoxious the demand. This isn’t retail–I work a tech position supporting large industry.

    I currently have two major dumpster fires in progress, but now I have to drop everything and do what amounts to changing a sky blue teapot to baby blue. A customer misinterpreted a jobsite requirement, and despite being told that he’s wrong by TWO SMEs, he won’t sign off unless the teapot is baby blue. The salesperson won’t tell him off, because of course anything for a sale. It’s no problem in the eyes of the salesperson to shove this work on me, since he gets incentives and bonuses, while I get nothing except longer hours for the same pay. I can’t push back, because company culture.

    Is “Do you let customers treat you like a sniveling doormat?” an inappropriate interview question?

    1. tetris replay*

      Maybe “How do your sales teams handle a situation where there’s a disagreement between the documented scope of a project and what the client is insisting on in the final stages?”

      1. Hamburke*

        I’m forever saying, “I can do that but it’s out of contract and will be billed at the regular hourly rate”

  29. Janey-Jane*

    What’s a good way to tell your immediate department about furloughs? We’re a small department of less than 15 in a larger organization, which announced some furloughs. Our department head said nothing about the impact on our office for a week and a half. They finally mentioned it on our virtual all-staff meeting, while the 3 furloughed employees were there. (The three individual had known for over a week they were getting furloughed; the rest of the department didn’t.) Surely an email would have been a better to announce the impacts in our department, no? I’m not crazy that saving it for a meeting was at minimum awkward for the furloughed employees, and didn’t allow us to actually focus on shifting workloads to non-furloughed employees?

    1. London Calling*

      Can only speak for how we do it, but I was told about my furlough in a 3 way phone conversation with my manager and HR. My manager then asked if I minded colleagues being told about it in our every-other-day Workplace catchup. Shifting my workload has not been handled nearly as well and is going to cause massive problems for weeks. Otherwise we aren’t announcing furloughs at all, because when lockdown started HR didn’t know from day to day who it would affect until the executives had made that decision. While I was working I was trying to contact people and didn’t know if the lack of reply was because they were overwhlemed with email or not replying at all, amd virtually none of them have left out of office messages.

  30. Justin*

    Update from last week on the racist-dog-whistle email:

    I spoke to one (white) colleague I trust (via personal emails), and she said, basically,”Yeah that was super racist, I read it out loud to my boyfriend and we were shocked at the positive responses.” She is a manager (though not mine), and she expressed regret she hadn’t pushed back immediately (because when the director is co-signing it, you don’t know if anyone else will push back, and this is how these attitudes stay in place). She said she would bring it up directly when she meets with the director this week. So we’ll see. I just want the emailer to be told, “that was racist.” That’s all. Just to hear that applied to her. But it won’t happen. Maybe a “racially insensitive” “implicit bias” at best.

    In other news, these folks cannot stop this. We had a call on Tuesday, which was May 5th, and a manager (who is white) said, at the least no white folks would be filling the bars near his apartment for Cinco de Mayo despite not having any such heritage (and the fact that it’s NOT an important day in Mexico, etc). And I agreed with him, saying it was not a good day for sensitivity.

    And then the director (same one who co-signed the email) said, “Yeah but it’s a good day for drinking.”

    I cannot with these folks.

    But, yes, glad to be employed and paid. Hopefully I can find something better (not even the work, which is whatever, but the team) eventually and Let Them Know. Apparently a black employee who left had made several official reports about racism and nothing was done by our director’s boss (who used to be our director), because they’re all best friends.

    1. Justin*

      I had wondered why the black employee had left rather suddenly (we were told he got another opportunity, and yes, he did), but it makes sense now.

      1. Anon for this*

        AAAAAAAH this is maddening, I’m sorry.

        I had a similar experience about a year ago. Took concerns to boss, who shrugged and said it sounded like we’d had an “interesting sociological discussion.” NO WE DID NOT. We pushed away an internal PoC who was interviewing to be our new recruitment lead because in the final stages a white dude spent like 15 minutes telling the candidate that they hadn’t provided any “evidence” that racism exists. The person seemed completely unfazed, but accepted a job elsewhere and jumped ship before we could come to a decision. None of the other candidates got told anything remotely like this. I’ve been trying to get out of here myself since, and feeling icky about it.

        1. Justin*

          Ah, this is like my other colleague who said he was upset that his daughter’s teacher said the president was racist, and “We respect the president, no matter who.” This guy isn’t even conversative, he’s just… bootstrap lockstep foolish.

          People express their racism in these weird, off-center ways and then say, NUH UH.

          1. Justin*

            (Now, bringing up the president as an example of racism might be good, but I’d bet her teacher was saying, “racism is like this and only like this,” and thus allows most racism to flourish, but I’m off topic now…)

        2. leapingLemur*

          “white dude spent like 15 minutes telling the candidate that they hadn’t provided any “evidence” that racism exists.” Shuddering. What is wrong with people?

          1. Justin*

            I’m a doctoral student, and one of the things we have to do in our papers is provide a basis for our work. Fine. I write about race, and if I don’t go find some numerical evidence of racism, I swear people question the entire premise of what I write (outside of my school). It’s maddening.

    2. Fiona*

      Keep us updated on this… it would be great if your white colleague could reply-all so everyone doesn’t think it’s tacitly accepted but I know office politics play a role in this too. Rooting for the day when you can eventually Let Them Know.

        1. Justin*

          I am gonna tell you folks whether or not people wanna listen, lol.

          Also, I think “office politics” really just reifies power structures more often than not…

          1. Blueberry*

            Also, I think “office politics” really just reifies power structures more often than not…

            Word.

            1. Fiona*

              Oh certainly – I wasn’t trying to say that was a valid excuse. I can just see someone shying away from doing the right thing for those reasons.

  31. IHATEUCOVID19*

    I’m working from home and any tips on how to bring up with management that I feel like I am doing the work of my 2 co-workers who have kids with them at home? I get that it is hard for them with kids at home at the moment, I really do, but I don’t see why I have to pick up the slack and do triple the work to compensate for them always have to “duck away from the computer for an hour” to feed their kids lunch or whatever. I am not getting paid any extra and they are basically getting paid to watch their children, not do the work. I’m starting to burn out from 5 weeks of triple the workload and can’t handle it anymore. It’s exhausting and stressful and I can’t take it anymore. I need them to start pulling their weight or a pay rise because I’m doing the work of 3 people right now.

    1. Amtelope*

      Hey, so, “co-workers who are caring for kids at home due to the pandemic start ‘pulling their weight’ by being exactly as productive as they were in the office” is not a possible solution. Neither is you doing the work of 3 people, and that’s the part I’d bring to management. “This is how much my co-workers can do under current circumstances, this is how much I can reasonably do, and this is what’s going to be left undone — how can we either get more help with getting the work done (you probably can’t hire, but there might be people in parts of the company that have lost business who could help), or to postpone or eliminate non-essential tasks?”

    2. Ann Perkins*

      Are you doing the extra work because it’s specifically been assigned to you, or because it’s not getting done otherwise? If the former, I would push back and say, “Ok, I can start working on X, but that means I won’t have time to work on Y anymore.” and see what happens. If you’re jumping in on your own initiative, give yourself permission to step back from doing that.

      1. leapingLemur*

        Yeah, this. Work reasonable hours and let the boss know you can only do so much and ask what to prioritize. You don’t need to mention your co-workers.

    3. cmcinnyc*

      Look, we are not zebras. Our kids do not stand up and run an hour after birth. Alas. So no, you can’t complain about parents “not pulling their weight” because you are a member of this species and someone fed you lunch once upon a time. What you CAN say is “I can’t sustain this workload.” It’s on companies to take everything down a notch if they possibly can. There is just no way for the same pace of business to continue right now when a chunk of the workforce is unavoidably on diaper duty or homeschooling half the day. What used to be a reasonable deadline is no longer sustainable. Reworking expectations for *you* and how much you can get done, and at what pace, *is* a conversation you can have with management. This is a gravity problem right now. You can’t repeal gravity because your bag is heavy and you can’t fix the fact we’re dealing with a global pandemic. (Unless you can. If so, do. I will send cash.)

      1. GalleryMouse*

        I love these two sentences so much:
        Look, we are not zebras. Our kids do not stand up and run an hour after birth.

        So funny and so true. I’m going to think of them often during this horrible time.

        1. Double A*

          Also, once our kids *do* stand up and run it actually makes things worse! In terms of how much attention they absorb.

      2. IHATEUCOVID19*

        I get it. Kids need to be supervised and fed. But they are not MY kids. They’re not my circus not my monkeys. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and sure, but I didn’t sign up for the “person who does my work for me without any extra compensation” job in their village.

        I made a conscious choice not to have children because I know how difficult they are and how much work they are. I don’t want the extra work associated with kids……and I REALLY don’t want the extra work caused by kids I didn’t choose to have.

        1. Oof with the tude.*

          I understand your frustration with the situation, but as another commenter addressed – you need to take this up with your management. You’re sounding really adversarial about your coworkers’ situation – it’s not like they’re doing this to you on purpose. I don’t want kids for lots of reasons, some related to the work involved in raising them, but I can’t hate on my colleague whose 9-y.o. has interrupted a webex meeting because the kid is bored and needs some degree of attention and engagement throughout the day. Reframing your perspective here would go a long way in making this better in your mind, I’d guess – thinking of the expectation that you will take on more work during a crisis situation as a problem that either you need to address with your manager, or a situation that your company is allowing to continue is much better than this.. I doubt your coworkers are trying to give you the finger here – they are, like literally everyone else, trying to make the best out of a sh*t situation.

        2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          The impression I get is that you’re at the end of your rope. And I’ll bet even money you’re getting significantly less sleep now than before.

          I don’t think you’d be expressing these sentiments under normal circumstances.

          Please, address your workload — NOT your opinions about your co-workers’ families — with management soon. Both your sanity and your job may depend on it.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I don’t think your either/or has viable options in either direction. If I were you, I’d just work your normal hours while WFM and maybe if you can increase your productivity a little (say, if you had a lot of coffee or internet browsing breaks while working at work, maybe decrease those) and just do what you can do in the amount of time you have. Loop your boss in that you are doing your normal amount + 10-20% say (if possible without driving yourself nuts) but you can’t do any more so what does s/he/they want you to prioritize? Then I’d ignore the coworkers taking breaks for their kids – not your circus, not your monkeys on that one and they likely can’t help it.

      You can control your own hours and work output. It’s not up to you to control the output of your entire team/department so just let that worry fall off your plate.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Who is assigning the overflow to you?

      1) If it’s your boss, try Alison’s time-tested advice to ask them for prioritization. “Boss, if you want to add X, I still have Y and Z due the same day. It’s not feasible to get all three things done. Which should I prioritize?”

      2) If you are just picking up stuff that needs to be done, whether by coworkers’ requests or because your own work depends on getting their inputs, again, don’t. Flag the problem to your boss. “Hey boss, I’m not getting Lucinda’s spout and handle numbers in time for the monthly teapot production report. What should I do?” Don’t do Lucinda’s numbers for her unless Boss tells you. If so, repeat question 1.

    6. Koala dreams*

      Don’t bring up the co-workers, bring up the work load. There is some advice above, at the comments made to Aggretsuko, and there are also a few useful posts in the AAM archive. If your workload is too much for one person, that should be the focus of the discussion. I’m not sure if it’s you or the manager who brings up the children, but if it’s your manager, you need to bring it back to work. “Children are wonderful, but let’s get back to work. I need your help to prioritize my work tasks. I can do only one of (tasks). If I do task A, I won’t be able to do B or C. Would you like me to keep doing A?”

      If you truly can’t take it anymore, see if you can use sick leave or vacation days to relax and recover.

    7. Cat*

      I mean, “ducking away for an hour” here and there doesn’t equate to you doing the work of three people. Are they accomplishing nothing whatsoever ever while you work 24 hours a day? I find that framing suspect and hyperbolic, which I think you want to consider before approaching your manager.

      Absolutely go to them and say your workload is unsustainable though.

      1. IHATEUCOVID19*

        When they do it 3 or 4 times in an 8 hour day and are then frequently tending to their children by leaving their work station for 20 minutes here and 20 minutes here and ANOTHER half an our there and ultimately barely turning in any work, it is, especially because they seem to talk behind the scenes and seem to have agreed to protect each other when asked about it. It was was something like “Emily has the gastro today, I’ll be in and out because I have to look after her” or even half an hour of extra lunch every day to get the kids sorted would be totally fine. But they are not even hitting 2 hours of working.

        I get it. Kids need to be supervised. But they are not MY kids. They’re not my circus not my monkeys. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and sure, but I didn’t sign up for the “person who does my work for me without any extra compensation” job in their village.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Then don’t. Do your own work and let your manager manage them.

          If your manager is pushing you to pick up the slack, then you have a manager issue, not a coworker issue.

          If you really are doing the work of 3 people and nobody else is working at all, it’s not like they can afford to fire you.

    8. New Senior Manager*

      I get it, but everyone manages their children in different ways, to different degrees. My coworker’s child may make frequent appearances on a zoom meeting while another coworker’s child may stay in their bedroom and watch TV throughout the entire meeting. as directed. The advice here is to reframe the narrative before taking it to your manager and place the focus on your work load. Which is something your manager should be able to help you with if they are worth their weight. Good luck to you.

  32. EnfysNest*

    I work at a government medical facility campus where currently everyone entering our property is being asked screening questions related to COVID-19. There are 8-12 screeners at each check point to keep traffic flowing – they were hired as temporary workers solely for the screening.

    One of them, as soon as he is done checking his current person, calls out very loud greetings to every passing car he can catch, saying “God bless you! Have a great and blessed day!” Okay, yes, this is the south, I would just take it as a general nicety and not think any more of it if he was just saying it at a conversational volume to the people that he checked, which would statistically be me every now and then, but not every day. But he is calling this exact greeting out at top volume to every single car that passes.

    Even still, once a day I could deal with it, except that this checkpoint is just 40 yds from my office window, so I can hear him shouting “God bless you! Have a great and blessed day!” over and over for about an hour after I arrive at work every single day.

    Hearing anything repeatedly shouted would set me on edge, and I’m fairly cynical towards any “forced positivity” and anything that feels too Pollyanna-ish, so I’m sort of predisposed against this anyway, but especially because it’s a religion-based greeting at a federal facility, it feels even more out of place. I have no idea who the screeners report to or if they are direct employees of our facility or contracted through another company or what. I can’t address it directly with him, because we need to keep traffic moving through the check point as quickly as possible.

    I probably should just start wearing headphones for that first hour of the day, but do you all think it’s worth trying to bring this up to my boss to see if he knows who could talk to this guy about at least lowering his volume and maybe see if he would be up for a more neutral greeting, or should I just leave it alone?

    1. NotAPirate*

      So as a teenager I had my first jury duty. And the courthouse automated recording tells you to have a blessed day. I was super annoyed by that, ready to go launch a fight against that courthouse. But my father heard me out, and told me that he (buddhist) just takes those comments in the spirit they meant them – “be safe, be happy, have a nice day”, and that he appreciates them wishing him well even if they disagree on gods. His temple also volunteers at the catholic homeless shelter for the christmas shifts so that the catholics can spend their holy day with their families, so they definitely have some “we will respect each other even while we massively disagree on the afterlife” strengths.

      It’s a pick your battle thing too, do you want to spend the work capital on this one greeter? Doing the screenings is taking a risk to protect the rest of you, he’s being exposed to a lot more people in the day. I might give them more slack.

      Headphones, arriving later, work in a conference room for that hour, schedule early morning meetings in someone else’s office?

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      Frame it as “the greeter is yelling so loudly, it’s disrupting my morning work flow. Could we ask him to tone it down with a wave?”

      1. leapingLemur*

        This! Someone yelling anything over and over and over again would be frustrating to me.

      2. LJay*

        This is the way I’d tackle it. (As long as the OP can figure out who contracted or manages these workers).

    3. Colette*

      I’d suggest asking for him to lower the volume, since that’s probably the most disruptive part of it. I think it’s fine to mention that it’s also a religious phrase, but if he were yelling “artichoke hearts” every 30 seconds, that would also be annoying.

    4. Ama*

      I actually think you can just focus on the noise issue, which is really the problem, right? “Hey, I can hear the security staff extremely clearly as they greet each car every morning because they are yelling at the cars as they drive away — is it possible to tell them to try to keep things at normal speaking level?”

    5. Koala dreams*

      1. Bring it up with your boss. Someone yelling at the entrance is better than a car alarm that goes off all the time, but not much better.
      2. Use ear protection. Earphones, earplugs.

    6. EnfysNest*

      Thanks, all! I just wanted to check my perspective on this one, since I know it would probably have been easier to ignore four months ago without the other added stressors going on. I think I’ll try to bring up just the volume part of it on Monday if I can catch my boss in the office while it’s happening and see what he says.

    7. nep*

      I can see how hearing it all day would be annoying, whatever the content of the message.
      I used to be really irked by ‘blessings’ and ‘God bless you,’ for the assumption that everyone shares a certain belief. (We don’t, y’all.) But ever since I watched an interview Tom Snyder did with Ayn Rand, and their discussion of ‘God bless you,’ I shifted and saw it as just positive vibes/wishes.

  33. Duckduck10*

    Does anyone work in a physical job? I am in my 30’s are work a physical job. For many reasons this is the right job for me for now. But I am concerned about what I am going to do in my 50’s if I am still in this. There are not many people in their 50’s working jobs like mine full time. And of the part timers there’s not a lot who are older.

    I don’t have the skills to transition to something like office admin so I’m not sure what I will do, I’m trying to plan now for the future. I expect to need to work full time until well, forever really. Retirement looks financially unviable so I need to be thinking about future work options.

    1. Picard*

      can you transition to training/teaching what you do instead of doing it? (think dancers/ballet teacher etc)

    2. AnotherAlison*

      This probably depends on exactly what the job you’re doing is. Can you move up into a supervisory role? Is it something you can start a business in and hire people to do the physical part? Those are paths I typically see for people in trades (or house cleaning or hair styling).

      1. tetris replay*

        Is it possible to move into a more skilled/technical role further into your career? It sounds like you might not want to go into supervising/inspection/teaching, but there might be jobs adjacent to your role where you can be faster/more effective as you have more experience that aren’t as reliant on heavy labour.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Can you get the skills to transition? 20 years is a long time from now. I know engineers transition from active jobs to regulatory roles like inspection, reviewing proposals a lot. Teaching, supervising is always an option too. Insurance weirdly, takes a lot of former jobsite workers, because they know the components and can spot issues faster. Dancers become casting directors. Etc. If you’ve more specifics on the field you’re in it may be more helpful.

    4. Colette*

      What have you seen other people leave to do?

      What do you like about your job? You have time to develop skills that will help you transition to a new job, so how’s a good time to think about what kinds of things you like doing that you might be able to do in a different role.

    5. Brunch with Sylvia*

      My husband has been a laborer (with the same company) for 35 years–he is 56 yo and not only loves his work but also has absolutely no desire to learn new skills or change careers. He has been vigilant about ergonomics and safety for about the last 15 years–he speaks up when needing help or equipment to avoid strain and has invested in proper footwear and support. His company also gently pushes him to work faster but he pushes back against that. Colleagues his age are often out for long periods of time to recover from injuries, surgeries, etc. He also exercises, eats meticulously, prioritizes sleep. Hahahahaha—I know I’m kind of describing a diva but basically he takes care of his body as if his livelihood depends on it.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        You’re not describing a diva – that’s just smart behavior. Our bodies can only endure so much manual labor, especially if it’s hard labor, until it starts breaking down. You have to do stuff like this to protect yourself.

    6. another Hero*

      I used to work in kitchens and left for similar reasons – I enjoyed the work but figured I wouldn’t be able to do it for as long as I’d need to, at least not without really messing myself up. In that field, you can move to different kinds of employers – I knew older folks who started working at a state park that served three buffet meals daily, where they could go a little slower, but I’m sure there’s not a parallel option in lots of fields (and it’s not the one I went for). But it does sound like you have some time to make choices. Could you take classes, one at a time, online or at a local community college? Are there people in your field whose work is more manageable, and could you start talking to them about how they got into that, if it seems interesting? Are there fields where knowledge of the kind of work where you do now might be an asset for, like, planning, or otherwise in a way where it wouldn’t be your whole job? Is there something totally unrelated that you’d like to try, and you could spend some time trying to figure out whether you’d actually like it and what it would take to get into it?

    7. Lucky*

      Many members of my family are in the trades, and it’s very common to transition to less physical work as you get older because, frankly, most physical will leave you with long term repetitive stress and other injuries. My family members have usually transitioned into training & supervising within their trade (great especially if you’re union) or to project management within commercial or residential construction, or to driving truck, which brings a whole new opportunity for repetitive stress injuries. If there are equivalents in your line of work, I’d look toward that.

    8. Out of Retail*

      Not me, but my father has been a mechanic for 40+ years (he’s in his 60s now) and his arthritis is finally starting to really slow him down. He’s been thinking about maybe doing consulting building on his expertise from working in different shops for decades and seeing what set ups work and what doesn’t. I think consulting and training works out for a lot of people.

      But also keep in mind that you will change in the next 20 years or so. You may get more determined that a physical job is the right thing for you and you can start looking at ways to keep yourself in shape/ find ergonomic and accessibility adjustments so you can continue to do it as long as you want. Or you may find that your interests (and the world!) change, and you can react to that. You’re almost never stuck- you can always make changes.

    9. RagingADHD*

      The business you work for, no matter what industry, has relationships with other businesses to get things done – suppliers, specialists, consultants, designers, inspectors, team leaders, facility owners/managers, all kinds of things.

      Make a habit of getting to know people in these different aspects. Observe who is good at their job, who is reliable & easy to work with, who is growing in their career, and how these different businesses operate.

      This will, over time, give you ideas of other jobs you could move into. And as you cultivate these connections and introduce people to each other, you’re building a personal network that can connect you to those job openings.

  34. SaraV*

    I’m on my last weekday of staycation. All I could think about this morning is the amount of email I’ll need to get through come Monday. I created a whole bunch of rules in Outlook to send common emails to folders, but there will still be so. many.

    *sigh*

    1. What the What*

      I was on staycation last week. It took me until today to actually get through all my emails. Obviously, email wasn’t all I did for 5 days straight, but it sure felt like it!

  35. new kid*

    tl;dr – Anyone else anxious about appearance changes being noticed at work?

    I have a pixie cut style haircut normally that I try to get trimmed at least once every six weeks and it’s been almost double that now. It’s driving me crazy so I’ve switched over to just covering it with a headscarf instead. That’s a considerably different look for me and I hate when people notice things like that at work (eg. I try not to ‘dress up’ even if I have a new outfit I like because I worry people will comment). It’s such a silly thing to be worried about especially in the grand scheme of things right now, but I guess I’m hoping someone else can commiserate and I’m not completely crazy/alone on this. I’ve literally been practicing responses to theoretical comments so I’ll be prepared if (when) they happen.

    1. juliebulie*

      I think the scarf might seem more commentworthy to people than the grown-out haircut. I mean, everyone else will have a grown-out haircut too. If someone mentions your hair it’s probably because they’re just as self-conscious of their own hair!

      1. new kid*

        Yeah, I think that might be where the anxiety is stemming from honestly – the scarf is for my own comfort because my hair was getting in my eyes/sticking to my neck/being generally annoying.

        But you’re right that we’re all on edge right now and can’t help projecting a little on each other sometimes. I think about that when I notice things in the background of coworkers houses – I’m only even paying attention to that stuff because I’m nervous about someone judging my own place.

    2. Picard*

      er… yeah this is a little anxiety calling the shots here.

      Trust me, no one care what your hair looks like.

      1. new kid*

        My anxiety is really good at that. :)

        I wish my logical brain was easier to listen to because I definitely try to tell myself, “well, do you care what any of your coworkers look like?” but somehow I can’t turn that thought back around positively at myself.

    3. Sylvan*

      You’re probably fine. My short-haired coworkers are all wearing hats, even indoors… I’m wearing a ponytail or bun every day. We’re all in the same boat so you probably won’t get comments.

    4. CTT*

      Seconding those that think the scarf would draw more attention to it and that everyone’s looking a little scruffy. Also, don’t know what stage your pixie is at, but bobby-pins have been doing the lord’s work for making mine presentable.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yup. My mom made me keep my hair super short when I was a kid, and when I was growing it out, I discovered that my (Merida-like) hair totally defies gravity until it’s about halfway between shoulder and bra strap length. I’m pretty sure I single-handedly kept a couple of bobby pin factories operational for that year and a half, and I was afraid to walk anywhere near a magnet lest I get pulled off my feet by the amount of metal on my head. (And I don’t do short anymore – my last proper haircut, other than trimming it myself, was May 1999.)

    5. Millicent*

      We have an online standup meeting every morning. I have definitely noticed everyone’s hair has deteriorated. I think some are not even brushing it; many wear hats.

      Do whatever you need to make yourself comfortable, in terms of hair getting in your face. A normal coworker will not judge you for it, because this is just the reality we’re in now.

    6. Senor Montoya*

      “Thanks! It’s fun!”

      That’s your response whether they are complimenting you or compli-sulting or prying. Same response. Every time. Maybe occasionally: “Thanks! Yep, it’s STILL fun!”

    7. Stormy Weather*

      Yes, when it comes to my hair. My bangs are asymmetrical so there is no way I would attempt to cut them myself. Add to that some roots and I’m going to look rather scruffy. I’m sure it’s going to take a while to get appointments when salons open up again.

    8. anon for this*

      Everyone’s standards are being compromised right now. Several of my friends across gender categories have gotten so annoyed with their hair that they’ve simply shaved it off. For me, there is an excellent external reason not to be touching my face right now, but unfortunately I have dermatillomania and my hands semi unconsciously wander up there and start looking for excuses to pick at things, especially when I am a bit anxious. My work involves intermittent, unpredictable use of keyboard and mouse and stylus. While I am good at not picking at my skin when other people are looking, I am apparently very bad at not doing it when WFH in a pandemic. I’m experimenting with solutions (cotton gloves, duct taping hands to the table, giving non-dominant hand a stress ball), but it’s been two steps forward, one step back. My acne has become obviously worse, and it’s magnified on my webcam, but no one’s said a word. I probably wouldn’t notice this in someone else, and if I did notice, I’d just assume they were having a hard time with a medical issue. For hair, if there were a change and I noticed, I’d think, at most, “well, they felt like it!”

    9. TiffIf*

      I’m with you on the pixie cut getting too long (and mine looks weird because apparently certain parts of my hair grow faster than others so some parts are awkwardly longer and look like something out of a boy band lineup) but then I also dyed it blue on the spur of the moment last month. I think a scarf would cause more comments. I think most people won’t comment on your changed hair because most people understand that getting a haircut is not essential right now, but for those who do just prepare a stock answer somewhere around “I haven’t been able to schedule my regular trim.” or something.

    10. Shoe Ruiner*

      Just wanted to say that I, too, in normal times, do not like coworkers to comment on my appearance and try not to give them a reason to. It’s not just you! :)

    11. Kettricken Farseer*

      Our COO showed up on an all-staff meeting at my very very large company with a shaggy mess on the top of his head and the reaction was like, “Yep, everyone’s hair is getting bad.” So you’re in good company.

      When I was growing out a pixie cut I relied on really wide cloth headbands to cover up the worst of it. I don’t see how a pretty scarf would be completely different, unless it had a questionable print :)

    12. ..Kat..*

      Well, I am a bedside nurse in a pediatric ICU. Most of us (even male nurses!) are wearing headbands with buttons to strap our face masks to (keeps the elastic from being behind your ears for our 12 hour shifts – many of us were getting sores behind our ears from this). My hair is now a wavy, longer than chin length frizz-bomb (it’s hot with all this PPE! I am sweating!). I am wearing a headband. It is not a good look for me. I totally expected at least some jokes about it. But, nope. Most of us seem more self conscious about how we ourselves look. We each think the other nurses look fine. I even had some jokes prepared (wow, I forgot that was my natural hair color! or, it’s amazing that I can still change diapers and save lives while looking like this!). Have not needed to use these jokes.

      As for the parents of my patients, most of them don’t know what I looked like before COVID19. None of them seem to care. They just seem to be grateful that I am at their child’s beside performing quality nursing care.

      And finally, my hairstylist and I have a long standing agreement. She does not perform nursing care and I do not cut or color my hair.

      Hope some of this helped you to feel better about how you look.

    13. Alexandra Lynch*

      I have very long (hiplength) hair that I normally wear back in a bun or braid, and during the pandemic, I have been wrapping a scarf round my hair (keeps the wispy hairs off my forehead so they don’t tickle me) and over my face. I have discovered that I really like wearing a headscarf, and am probably going to start doing it most of the time. I’m not doing it for any religious reasons, it just feels good. I’m a little worried about people’s reactions, but so far the full head-and-face wrap has gotten several compliments, so maybe it won’t be anything at all.

  36. I miss going into the office*

    Never thought I’d say it but I miss going into the office. Last year we moved offices and had a transition period of 6 weeks where we worked from home so I’m accustomed to daily work from home. But this is just not the same. Maybe it is not knowing the end date? Or that there will be an end?

    I miss the end of the work day. I miss it mattering when I shower. I miss coffee runs with colleagues. I miss looking over at a coworker during a terrible meeting and seeing the same look of horror momentarily flashing on their face that mirrors my own. I miss taking a day off to get a haircut and feeling like I’m playing hooky even though I know it is my vacation day, it is a benefit, etc. I still take a few hours here and there but that is more for grocery shopping than anything else.

    On the upside because I’m home so much more, the dog is losing weight from all of the long walks.

    Anyway thanks for letting me ramble.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      I hear you. I figure I’ve been going to school or work for 37 years, other than during summer breaks when I was a kid. I don’t like not doing it. I always thought I would like working from home, but that was considering more independent work. Being tethered to my desk at home all day doesn’t have the upside I was looking for.

      My company is considering permanent telework for some, but we don’t know who or when, so that added uncertainty is also frustrating.

    2. Loves Libraries*

      I miss work too. However our dog loves the many walks. She is not loosing weight because she gets extra snacks because 4 of us are home all day long. She will be devastated when life returns to more normal.

  37. juliebulie*

    There is a recurring issue in my organization with managers who ask “why can’t you just ___” [gross oversimplification of what needs to be done].

    We are not the kind of people who like to make things more complicated than they need to be. We understand the complexities of a given task, and we try to explain them. Eventually our bosses see what we are saying, and agree with us… only to say “why can’t you just ___” again next time.

    I don’t blame them for asking once in a while, but it happens a lot.

    1. INeedANap*

      Can you write up basic explanations of these tasks? Kind of like a FAQ or job guide? And then just copy and paste that to them every time they ask?

      “Why can’t you just trim the llama’s tail feathers?”
      “Process for trimming llama tail feathers: Use database to identify where Llama is. Requisition a car, 24 hour lead time. Drive to Llama pen, 30 minute travel time. Wrangle Llama into grooming pen, anywhere from 5 minute – 5 hour work time. Organize Llama grooming materials (including cleaning brush bristles, sharpening shears, and waxing leathers), 20 minutes work time. Wash Llama thoroughly, 45 minute work time. Dry Llama, 20 minutes work time. Trim Llama tail feathers, 1 hour work time. Clean up from work process, 30 minute work time. Return Llama to llama pen, 5 second work time. Drive back to office, 30 minute travel time.”

      1. juliebulie*

        LOL, that’s exactly the kind of thing that gets a “can’t you just.” “Can’t you just send the llama through a car wash?”

        Plus, these aren’t standard recurring task. The details of how to do each thing is very much dependent on the project. We analyze what we need to do and how long it will take, and that’s what elicits the “can’t you just.”

      2. willow for now*

        Agree, this is always, in my world, asked by bosses who have no idea of the process for the thing they “just” want you to do.

    2. Dr. Tony*

      Yeah, it can be rough. “Can’t you just expose that to UV light?” “Have you tried Lysol?” etc. I get this stuff all the time from my boss. I’m pretty sure that, as a ‘boss’, he wants to be helpful and contribute. But he’s more of a ‘big picture’ kind of guy.

    3. willow for now*

      Oh, how I hate the use of “just”. It reminds me of those TV ads – Just do it – for Nike, and Nancy Reagan’s Just say no to drugs. It makes me just … GAH!

    4. Kettricken Farseer*

      I had a boss like this years ago. We made large, complicated software which he didn’t understand in the slightest. He would always ask, “Isn’t that just a pop-up?” even when he was asking for something that would require basically reorganizing our terabytes-worth-of-data database. This was years ago and we still go, “It’s just a pop-up!” and laugh and laugh

    5. Claritza*

      My middle school students opposed so many directions from me with “Can’t we just….” It was exhausting and my answer always began with “No”

  38. Nicole*

    My husband and I have been talking about starting a family in the past year and yesterday I found out what my new job’s maternity benefit is. It’s so bad that I’m actually disgusted. This job has posters all over the place about self-care and getting enough sleep and such, so I assumed they’d actually care about pregnant employees.

    My benefits are: use up all vacation/sick leave, then I need a doctor’s note to confirm I need leave (wtf?), and then the benefit is a measly $170 a week. That’s not even 20% of what I make. That’s $4.25 an hour.

    So basically, my husband has to be okay with being essentially the sole source of income if I have a child. I’m wondering if it’s worth it to just quit my job and go on government assistance at that point.

    Like, it took me a long time to be open to the idea of having kids. Now that I’m mostly on board with the idea, this info completely took the wind out of my sails.

    1. Jules the First*

      If it makes you feel better, statutory maternity pay here in the UK is £151.20/week…which is roughly what I earn for a single morning’s graft. And out of that princely sum, one must pay income tax, plus national insurance and pension contributions at the level of your usual salary if you want to maintain your pension entitlement and retire before you’re like 90…

      1. Bagpuss*

        Except you get the first 6 weeks at 90% of your normal pay then 33 weeks at the level you mention – I think most US workers get far shorter maternity leave.

    2. Ann Perkins*

      I hate that this is the state of paid maternity leave in the US. Do you have a group short term disability policy available? Otherwise… it sucks but unfortunately the majority of employers in the US still don’t offer paid leave. Mine doesn’t at all, we just had to save a bit extra leading up to leave.

      Quitting your job is a big step though – some careers are easy to take a few years off and then hop back in, some that would really set an individual back in terms of overall career trajectory and income potential. If you would have to go on government assistance to make ends meet, it’s not a good idea to quit.

      1. Nicole*

        Not really. I’ve only been here 3 months, and I got the job through a good friend. Also it’s my first time in this field. So, I’d be kind of burning bridges if I did.

        1. pancakes*

          Would you be? With the employer, or with your friend? Leaving a job with paltry benefits for a better one is something decent people should understand.

          1. Me*

            exactly. and AAM has lots of advice on leaving a job you’ve only been with a short time because it’s not right.

            just don’t forget there are companies with GOOD benefits out there.

            1. Nicole*

              The thing is, when I moved into this field I was able to do so at the same rate of pay I was making in my previous career because of my friend. I think if I moved companies it would be much harder to justify paying me as much as I’ve only been doing this type of work since I started this job in February.

              They’ve actually boosted our pay a little during this pandemic so I’ve been able to start building up my savings. I know that other companies with similar work haven’t done that, so outside of the shitty maternity it’s actually been pretty decent.

    3. Senor Montoya*

      I have pretty good benefits (state employee). Maternity benefits are: File for shared leave. Use your sick and vacation leave (paid at 100%). Use any shared leave. Go on leave without pay if you need/want more time. I think that’s pretty typical, the fact that you’re getting paid *anything* is not that common.

      Is this a good state of affairs? No.
      Is it a typical state of affairs? Yes.

      1. Althea*

        Agree. Large Gov contractor here and exact same leave policy. Here in California the state will pay 60% of salary for ~14 weeks, but we also pay for it in the high taxes.

    4. shhhh... don't tell*

      Is it financially possible for you to get a 3rd party short term disability policy?
      Some companies like AFLAC, Colonial Life, etc., will do a policy for you. It will still have to go to your HR to be payroll-drafted, and then they have to send the money for the premiums to the insurance company, but you would pay a premium based on your gross wages and receive 66.67% of your salary when you go out on leave.
      Word of caution – STD is usually only approved to pay for the weeks you are out medically. If you wanted to take the full 12 weeks as covered by FMLA (assuming you are US-based), but your dr clears you to return to work after 6 weeks, you’d only get the benefit for those 6 weeks.
      Also important to note, most policies have a 1 week exclusion period for maternity leave, so if your dr has you out medically for 6 weeks, you get a 5 week benefit.

      Sorry your company is a bag of dicks.

    5. dealing with dragons*

      do they offer short term disability insurance? my job does and it will pay 65% of my salary during fmla leave. the doctors note is possibly related to fmla as you do need proof that you can’t work. So if it’s $170 + 65% of your salary it’s not too bad. you can also look at getting yourself short term disability but it needs to be before you get pregnant.

    6. NewWorkingMama*

      I know this won’t remove much of the sting, but my org has really good maternity leave benefits and I had to get a note from my doctor stating when I would be out and that I needed leave. I think it was a requirement for the STD.

    7. Double A*

      So… this leave is shitty, but it is probably better than average in the US.

      I had a union teacher job in California when I had my baby. Great, California has parental leave! Except not for teachers, because we have our own whole thing and don’t pay into state disability, and my union had not negotiated any sort of maternity benefit. So I bought my own short term disability policy, for about $110/month. Here’s what you do:

      -Go on leave. You need a doctor’s note, because it’s a medical leave.
      -You start disability leave. This can start 4 weeks prior to due date, then continues 6-8 weeks after, depending on type of delivery.
      -Use all vacation and sick time during disability leave. Once that is used up, leave is unpaid unless you have purchased your own short term disability.
      -Then, you start FMLA leave, which is unpaid.
      -If you have purchased STD, they pay 60% of your salary for up to 12 weeks.
      -Return to work with 0 sick or vacation days while having an infant at home, so any time you take after that point in unpaid.

      I cried a lot of times while figuring out maternity leave. But it kind of prepares you for the other types of misogyny that you will, for the first time in your life, truly *feel* once you become a mother.

      (All this being said, I recommend having a baby. It is awesome. But society will not support you in any systematic way in that choice until your child is school age. You are really on your own. You will batter yourselves against our society’s stinginess when it comes to families, and it will make you sad, angry, and bitter in varying degrees. Just remember it when you vote).

  39. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    Has anyone started a new job during the Days Of Plague..? Any particular challenges you found, or tips you can share? Or even just random stories shared in the spirit of solidarity..?

    I start a new job next week and I’m a little nervous about getting up to speed and adjusting to the new role given the current environment. It’s already a stretch role with a steep learning curve!

    1. Searching for a New Name*

      I started my new job (at the same company but a different role) back at the beginning of April. Training has been a struggle. Normally, I would be sitting with a member of the team, going through the process and observing them, and then taking part in processing with them. That’s impossible right now for obvious reason, so we’re trying to train remotely by going over processes (we can’t, unfortunately, listen in on active calls) and reviewing documents, but no one has really written out the processes for this team and I’m woefully not prepared to finish training and go live. Not through any fault of the trainer — she threw together our training program last minute and it’s as good as our current tech will allow, but it’s just not nearly what it would be if we were all in the office.

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

        Yeah, this sounds pretty similar to what I’m worried will happen in my situation.
        So what happened in the end, did they extend your training or give you any other additional support to get fully prepared..? Or are they just expecting you to wing it?

    2. Just a PM*

      Alison just posted a fantastic update from one of the readers about someone who started a new job recently. Could you take some of those tips to share with your new boss to help you on-board and adjust to the new work?

  40. Marie*

    My situation is like so many people’s right now. First my hours were cut back to 0.75 time, then we got an across-the-board 2.5% salary reduction, and now we’re hearing that layoffs are coming. I’m still scraping by, using up my PTO to make up the lost hours and picking up a side job, but I’m just so stressed and tired.

    1. Picard*

      I hear ya. We got 25-50% salary cuts and no hours change. So basically the same job for (A LOT) less money.

      1. Marie*

        It sucks! I’m so sorry, Picard.

        My position is hourly, so when my PTO runs out it will be effectively a 25% + 2.5% overall pay cut. And layoffs here are based on seniority, and I’ve only been in this job for 1.5 years. I’m probably going to be on the cut list.

  41. Sylvan*

    How do you address a possible need for time off when your parent is sick? My dad has symptoms of COVID. I don’t live with him, but I’ll be needed if an emergency comes up.

    1. queen b*

      I think you could frame it as that! “My dad is elderly and he is starting to show symptoms of COVID. Right now, he’s mostly okay, but I wanted to let you know that if an emergency happens I’ll need to take some time off with little warning.”

      1. The New Wanderer*

        That’s what I did when waiting to hear if my mom was going to need immediate help or help within a month or two due to a sudden and critical (non Covid) diagnosis. I emailed my manager and said basically what queen b wrote. I didn’t end up needing to take leave (yet) but my manager thanked me for letting her know and reiterated that family needs come first, which was good to hear.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      Just came to add this is covered by FMLA. If he needs your care, you can take time off at reduced pay.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        Clarifying point that FMLA is unpaid and you need to have been with that employer for 12+ months.

        The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) does mandate up to 2 weeks of leave to care for someone with covid, at 2/3rd pay, plus an additional 10 weeks if you’ve worked there more than 30 days.

        Both have restrictions as to the size of your employer.

  42. Telephone Questions*

    Just got notified we are returning to work early next month. Usual precautions- daily temp checks, masks, gloves (if you want), social distancing, etc. A good portion of my job is talking on the phone. I feel like this will be difficult. When I asked about it, I was told that if I am facing my work station that I can take my mask off. I just learned that masks don’t actually protect you from getting anything contagious, it just prevents you from spreading your droplets to others. Would it be safe to take my mask off if no one is within 6 foot of me?

    1. INeedANap*

      You should be relatively safe if no one is within 6 foot of you, but I would be wary of employers who want to cram people EXACTLY six feet away. If there is a very healthy distance between you and others, more than 6 foot, I’d say you’re fine, but if that isn’t a very generous distance I’d ask that person keep their mask on and keep yours on too. Which sucks, for being on the phones, definitely.

      1. Telephone Questions*

        I have a cubicle with high walls. I am on the end, so I have someone directly across the wall in “front” of me and the cubicle next to me is empty. Another person who does nearly the same job as me is across the aisle, but if we are facing our work stations, our backs are to each other. I expect there will be a lot of “yes we are open but we are limiting the number of people in the facility and you need to pre-purchase a timed ticket” type conversations.

        They will be opening the banquet facilities for us to use for breaks and lunches, so we have been told 1 person per table and the tables will be placed at least 6 foot apart.. We have to clean/sanitize our tables before and after eating, which cuts into my 30 minute unpaid lunch. So I either have to download the mobile app to clock in and out so I don’t have to walk to the time clock after sanitizing my table before eating but know I wonder about washing my hands after I clean the table. I’ll use gloves of course, but I try to only use hand sanitizer when absolutely necessary because I already have dry skin and sanitizer just wrecks it. Or we can eat in our cars. I hate trying to eat in my car.

    2. WellRed*

      We just learned we may have to mask up and I also do a lot of phone work. Curious how your company is handling temperature checks?

      1. Telephone Questions*

        The reopening plan they sent us says that they will be using a touchless temperature scanner/thermometer . We are to go in, have our temperature checked and logged on a spreadsheet and as long as we are at or below 100.4, we are considered safe to work.

        I asked about who is taking the temps and logging. It will be done by either our security staff or a member of our EDU dept. Since we have cancelled all EDU programs and any programs or activities that would draw large crowds, they are asking if any EDU employees would want to do this to be able to get hours.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        My mom’s employer has a nurse on staff that is stationed inside the front entrance. Any employees who come in have to stop at the nurse’s station and answer questions, including whether they have taken their temperature. If they haven’t, she takes their temperature. If they don’t have a fever, only then can they move on to the elevator banks.

  43. August*

    Coworker lost it and started near-screaming about how wrong X review process was going (with focus on one of my comments in the review doc, fun!) and manager sat there and let him do it. I wish there wasn’t a pandemic so I could quit on the spot and have a somewhat decent chance of finding a new job. I’m just so…sad.

    1. leapingLemur*

      It’s probably worthwhile looking for a new job anyway – who knows, you might find something great!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, start the job search. You may get lucky like a few people who regularly comment here and find something new.

  44. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

    I’m looking for thoughts on the best way to resign when you have two bosses who are married to each other, and we are not meeting in person any time in the foreseeable future.

    I’ve got a verbal offer and am waiting on details, but I expect that as long as the details are good, I will hopefully be needing to resign very soon. Hooray! But I’m curious about the best way to resign. I expect that at least one of my bosses might get emotional, which adds unnecessary stress. Anyways, they are married and live together. I meet with them regularly on one day a week, but at different times, via phone/video call. I am not sure if I should call a meeting with both of them on whatever day I need to resign, send an email to both at once and say we can discuss details individually, or some other option. I feel like it’s not possible to tell one and expect that they would actually not tell the other before I got the chance to speak with them myself. This is the first FT job I’ll be leaving ever so any advice is appreciated!

    1. Picard*

      Personally, in these times, I would send an email to both and offer to chat about the particular of the transition via SKYPE/ZOOM whatever.

    2. anony*

      Here’s one option: schedule individual calls with each of them, in whichever order makes most sense to you. Compose an email to the 2nd person, before talking to either of them. Hit “send” on that email IMMEDIATELY after speaking to the first one (or even while you are on the first call), and say in it something like, “I am expecting to talk to you about this on our call today, but wanted to be sure you got the news directly from me.” They will probably talk in between, but that’s okay… what matters is that the email is there and says the news in your words, and then you get to speak to each of them individually as that is what you are used to.

      1. anony*

        Actually, after seeing Picard’s comment… I think I’d include both of them on the email, and send it just as you’re calling in to the call with the first one.

  45. Belle*

    Happy Friday, all.

    I am currently applying for a position as Director of HR for a local private school. I have worked in non-profit before but not specifically education. Plus I have for-profit experience in HR but know there will be some differences.

    If anyone knows of a good resource on HR for educational institutions, would you mind posting it for me? I googled and was able to find some general info, but I am hoping to do a deeper dive in case I am selected for an interview.

    I am open to any type of resource: website, book, etc.

    Thanks all!

    1. Anono-me*

      It might be helpful to take a look at your State’s teacher licensing board to familiarize your self with the process and CE requirements.

      It might also be helpful to look at your local or State teachers union website, that way you could get a feel for some of the more common current workplace issues.

      (Ideas from a teacher adjacent person)

  46. CatCat*

    I’ve been feeling a little checked out at work lately. I’ve been having a ton of generalized anxiety and sleeplessness. I had an interview this week and while I was initially ambivalent about the thought of changing jobs in a tough economic landscape, the interview made me pretty excited about the opportunity since the work is more aligned with my interests and strengths than some of my work at my current job. I was also able to get in touch with a couple people outside the interview process who work there who verified that it’s a great place to work.

    Getting excited about this new opportunity has made me feel even MORE checked out the last few days. Ugh. I really need to focus at work. But it’s so tough with anxiety, feeling exhausted, and dreaming of greener pastures at the same time.

    1. Drivesmenuts*

      I feel you! I am having a hard time adjusting to the new Rona-related job changes at work and the fact that my company took this as an opportunity to let go a great CEO who I really clicked with. I am sad and angry and just don’t want to deal with the BS anymore (BS that has been happening well before Rona). I interviewed for a new job and now I have no patience for my old job. I’m basically ready to say if I don’t get the new job, I’ll quit anyway to relieve my stress and anger. Hugs!

  47. Jules the First*

    Oof. This was a rough week.

    I had to let a newish but quite senior member of my team, John, go at the beginning of the week for poor performance and although it should not have come as a surprise to him given that I had to step in and take over a major project a month ago, apparently John was blindsided by it. He’s found the learning curve hard, but I thought we were making progress until an external partner called me last week to mention, casually, that Project X had really suffered from not having one of my project managers on the team…which was awkward as John had allegedly been the senior project manager on that project for five months. I worked with HR to investigate and ran the results past legal and their conclusion was that the very best case scenario for John was termination for non performance. Legal said it was borderline fraud, but I didn’t want to go there right now. So we are paying out several months of severance and benefits even though we legally don’t have to, and providing a neutral reference, but boy, John was angry. Name calling, mudslinging, accusations of bullying and intimidation and setting him up to fail. He even compared me to a moderately obscure genocidal dictator! I’m actually cravenly grateful that we got to do this over video call instead of face to face. I really thought John was our gilded unicorn, but even being charitable about the timing, his response makes me very glad he is no longer on the team.

    Please send hugs…

    1. new kid*

      That really sucks. I’m sorry you had to deal with that/had to listen to his exit tirade. People definitely seem to show you who they really are in those moments.

    2. Picard*

      ugh. Hugs for sure.

      I had an ex employee situation yesterday where the person accused me of all sorts of shenanigans which yes, I took personal offence at (but didnt respond to) This was over the phone – the person hung up on me and I did not call them back. I followed up with an email and evidence attachments proving what I was saying was accurate. MIC drop.

    3. WellRed*

      I’ll bet if you really dig into his past work history, he has a pattern like this (I am not saying to actually do this).

    4. Laure001*

      Who was the moderately obscure genocidal dictator? And such a great turn of phrase. :)

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      So wait – he wasn’t actually working at all, screwed up an important project, and was surprised and pissed off when he was inevitably let go? Wow. The level of arrogance/entitlement is astounding.

    6. Bagpuss*

      A little late, but sending hugs and sympathy. Sadly I think it’s not an uncommon reaction for someone who is failing and unwilling to a accept it to take it out on the person who has to call them to account.
      I‘be come across it 2 or 3 times- in each case where we had already done everything we could in terms of making sure that the person knew there were problems, providing support and training etc. I think it’s about not being able/willing to admit fault (& being a jerk!)
      On the plus side, he’s out of your hair now and you can fix the problems he caused .

  48. Ann O'Nemity*

    I want to hear your crazy job rejections stories. Mean rejections, funny rejections, WTF rejections, etc.

    Here’s mine: I was invited to apply for a job by the hiring manager and the outgoing person in the role, both of whom I know professionally. We had super transparent conversations about the role and salary. I went through a time-consuming hiring process to appease HR requirements, but knew I was a shoe-in for the position. The hiring manager told me I was selected, and that HR would send the formal offer. Two weeks later, HR reaches out with an offer that is 20% less than the bottom of the range we discussed. Won’t answer questions about where the number came from, why it’s different, etc. Tells me everyone takes a pay cut to work there (WTF?!). I reach out to the hiring manager and try to negotiate for a higher salary. Standard stuff, like Alison has advised here. A few hours later, I get a curt email from HR telling me that because I wasn’t happy with the first offer, they were rescinding it. Since then, they’ve added me to their mailing list, all efforts to unsubscribe have failed, and I had to block them to stop getting the spam. Still a little bitter.

    1. CatCat*

      After paying out-of-pocket to travel across the country on short notice for a final round interview, I got an email rejection a few weeks later, the entirety of which said, “Applicant not selected.”

    2. Been There*

      You should report the company to the FCC – it’s HUGELY illegal to send email to people who have unsubscribed from your mailing list, and they could get fined for it.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Ha! It makes me laugh just thinking about being that vindictive.

        When unsubscribing didn’t instantly work, I tried to be patient. Maybe it takes a couple days? After awhile, I unsubscribed again. And again. Every email was like salt in the wound. And this is a company with an active email marketing push. Finally just blocked them.

        1. Been There*

          well…. you’re not being vindictive if you’re right? Ultimately it’s not about getting revenge, it’s about the company following the law, and it sounds like they’re not. They may not get fined right away (or at all) but they will get investigated and that should be enough to wake them up to their completely unethical marketing practices.
          I wonder what email marketing software they use… Most of them have a built in system to remove unsubscribes from the email lists.

          Btw it sounds like you dodged a proverbial bullet there.

        2. Ama*

          Actually if a fairly low threshhold of people complain that a sender is spam (i.e. they are ignoring unsubscribe requests), they can sometimes get blocked by their bulk email service provider (because ultimately the service provider could also be held responsible for violating spam laws). I know Blackbaud in particular does this because my employer uses Blackbaud and we had to have a whole staff meeting about it to explain why people need to think carefully about who should receive their emails and not just send to everyone in the database.

          1. Anonymous Elephant*

            This is true. My former employer was a University and every 3-4 months any email going outside of our server would be blocked because we had been reported for spam. We finally switched over to G Suite so we could be whitelisted and it solved the issue.

    3. pretzelgirl*

      Right out of college I was offered a job at a major, major bank in the customer service department. I had to do a background test and get fingerprinted to get the job. I was really young and a super goody 2 shoes in college. I barely had speeding tickets so I wasn’t worried. I got a call from an outside screening company, that asked me about every job I had held at that point (which then dated back to HS). They wanted to know, what I made, why I left, if I gave a 2 weeks notice. Which was super strange. In college I left 2 jobs w/o a 2 weeks notice. It was silly at the time, but I was young and didn’t know better. The lady on the phone said bc I had left w/o giving a 2 weeks notice, my offer was rescinded and I would no longer be working at the company. I was flabbergasted. No mention of this was made in the hiring process. I was so shocked and I was mortified.

      A few weeks later, I got a packet in the mail. In the packet was a check for my first week of work (???), a new hire packet and info about insurance. I was so confused. I never was communicated start date info, or anything since my offer was rescinded. So I threw everything away and didn’t cash the check. Months later I got a call from collections saying I cashed the check. Which I didn’t (way to rub salt in the wounds). They finally realized I never cashed it and stopped contacting me.

      It was the strangest experience ever. I have never experienced anything remotely close in my professional career. To this day I still, I am not sure if they ever officially rescinded the offer and they counted me as a No call no show on the first day. I wonder what would have happened if I just showed up to work!

      1. pretzelgirl*

        Also I am not 35 (this was over 13 years ago), and I am still not over it. Every new job I get, I make them run the background check, and then give me an offer letter confirming the job. I had actually resigned from my college job (which paid decent for the time and given my age) and was worried I wouldn’t get it back. Thankfully I did, but to this day it still worries me!!

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        If you hadn’t said “major bank” I would have expected something shady with the employer. So weird.

    4. RC Rascal*

      Out of college in the 1990s I got an interview for large brand name Consumer Package Goods company. I was really interested in the job so while I was in the interview process I mailed my resume to the HR departments of all the other brand name CPG companies I could think of.

      After a month of interviews, I was offered an awesome job with the initial brand name CPG company. Yay!!!. They had me wait 3 weeks to start. During that 3 weeks I received a letter from one of the other companies that said I was completely unqualified to work for them and they would never consider hiring me. The tone was extremely rude and patronizing, especially for a company marketing brands everyone buys. Ironically, this company was a major competitor of the one that extended the offer.

    5. What the What*

      Our of college, I went through multiple interview rounds for an entry level accounting/CPA job. Every interview went great and the firm was my first pick. They told me they were ready to extend my offer and were super excited to have me on board. The HR recruiter gave me a verbal salary and start date.

      There was just one formality they had forgotten… an online personality test. So I take the test online. It was one of those “there’s no right answer” types of tests.

      Apparently there are right answers though, because the next day, I was told they would not be extending an offer to me.

      What did it say about my personality that was so bad?

      I knew the guy who got that position, and he told me he lied on his personality assessment and just selected random answers. LinkedIn sent me a message celebrating his 8th year at the firm, and I quit my job and started my own firm. So I guess maybe the personality test was right about us. He was the right man for the job.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      An internal recruiter contacted me about a job because I had previously worked for a parent company and would be familiar with their policies and procedures, etc. I was on the fence due to location, but decided to see where it went. After the second round of interviews, I received a rejection email that said “we have much better candidates than you from our internal referral process.” Fair enough, although they could have phrased it better. But the commute would have been brutal, so, whatever.

      Two weeks later, I got a call from another internal recruiter to see I could start, because I was the best qualified candidate. LOLwut? I declined. One week, later, I got another call, pleading with me to take the job. Same internal recruiter, not a headhunting firm. I firmly declined this time and told them not to contact me again.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        I feel like there is some really great story here that none of us will every know involving an internal candidate emailing all of the external candidates rejection letters.

        1. Can't Sit Still*

          That got a belly laugh! I will forever after imagine that’s what happened.

        2. Uranus Wars*

          Next week on AAM “What to do when an internal candidate retaliates by sending all external candidates a rejection letter for the position they were unqualified for”

    7. Anon for this!*

      I had applied for a job where you meet with people one-on-one after they have potentially broken a rule. Most of the time things go just fine, but sometimes there are volatile situations. I had done that kind of work before, and I am trained in how to respond if something goes wrong. I had great references that the hiring manager knew. The hiring manager, who was also a mentor, invited me to apply.
      I didn’t get the job, and I was bummed out but ok. When the hiring manager gave me the news, she invited me in for feedback, which I really appreciated. But then the only feedback she could give me was “you’re a small woman and the guys you have to meet with here will run right over you.”

      So, bullet dodged, I guess. Don’t want to work for her.

    8. Bloopmaster*

      About a week after an initial phone interview, I received a call from HR inviting me to an on-site interview. We confirmed the date, time, location, and itinerary. Everything sounded great. Ten minutes later HR calls back and tells me there had been a mix-up–I wasn’t invited after all….
      At least the personal calling was very nice and apologetic about it.

    9. Rachel in NYC*

      Not sure if this counts as crazy but it definitely made me roll my eyes.

      I graduated law school in 2011 so it was a lot of apply to anything that you remotely kinda qualify for. At the same time, if you were actively using the law school’s job application portal, the school’s career center could see your activity. They would sometimes receive requests for applicants and would send out resumes of former students who were currently actively job hunting. (How I got my current job in fact.) There didn’t really seem to be a system for what resumes they pulled- after all, the potential employer would cull out anyone who didn’t meet their needs presumably.

      So I got a call from an insurance company in Brooklyn. They were looking to hire in house litigators. I had no background in litigation but sure, it would be good experience. I go to the interview – we do the whole song and dance, someone looks down at my resume -which is 95% Intellectual Property related- and says to me “What are you doing here?”

      Really, no one looked at my resume before I got here?

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Do you think they were just testing you, like “prove that you can handle this job despite having a different background.” Or that they seriously didn’t even look at resumes before the interviews? If it’s the latter, what a waste of everyone’s time.

    10. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      I interviewed in person 4 times, met a total of 16 people, was taken out to lunch and dinner, took a personality test, created a presentation and did not get the job. The person I would have been managing was promoted instead.

    11. The corn is in the roaster*

      A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I interviewed for a teaching position in a rural area of Pennsylvania near the Pocono mountains area. I had worked as a long term full year substitute teacher for my first 2 years and this was really my first real interview. To say I was unprepared and terrible would have been kind. I was awful. I never heard back from the school district and got another long term sub job in Philly. The first day of school I answered the phone at 6:30 am with a frantic voice, “Where are you?” After the who is this phase, it was the school rural school district wondering where I was (they start early in farm country). Then they asked if I could start tomorrow. I wonder where life would have taken me f I had worked in the hinterlands instead of teaching in the hood.

  49. MicroManagered*

    Low-stakes question: What’s the best way to deal with using the restroom during a zoom meeting? We typically don’t use video on zoom at my organization. In a conference room, one would quietly slip out and it would just be understood by all that she is probably using the restroom and will be right back. It doesn’t seem appropriate to interrupt the meeting to tell people you’ll be right back if you’re not the one speaking. I’ve tried to just sneak away real fast, but at least once I’ve come back and someone was trying to talk to me. People in my group don’t always utilize or think to check the chat. Should I just drop off of zoom and rejoin when I’m back?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      If you’re not using the video feature, are you still using the laptop screen to see who all is on the Zoom call? Like, with little black boxes that show your names? If so, you can change your name to say “Micro: I’ll BRB!” and then change it back when you’ve returned.

      If you’re using Zoom just like a conference call, I think dropping off the call will garner the same results as silently stepping away: no one will know you’ve done that. I think a quick, “so sorry to interrupt, this is Micro. I need to step away for a moment.” is your best bet in this case.

    2. Sylvan*

      Say you’ll be right back, then mute yourself and turn off video? I’ve done that in a more casual conversation. You could also leave the meeting and rejoin when you’re back.

      1. Sylvan*

        Sorry, just saw you’re not using video. Logging out for a minute might be your best bet.

    3. LGC*

      I’d just…slip out, to be honest. But you could also change your name to something like “MicroManagered (BRB)?”

    4. Oxford Comma*

      Mute yourself, turn off the video, and type in the chat you’ll be gone for a moment. If your absence is noted, just state innocently that you’ve put it in the chat.

      1. MicroManagered*

        We don’t use video, but I think you’re right that I should just use the chat. If people don’t think to check it, that’s them not knowing how to use the technology available to them. Maybe having that happen a couple times would teach them?

        1. leapingLemur*

          A co-worker of mine used to IM me that she’d be away from her desk in a few minutes if anyone asked for her during the meeting we were both in.

        2. Hillary*

          we’ve been teaching everyone to use the chat by deliberately sharing links/files that we would otherwise email there. it’s slow going but it’s starting to take hold.

        3. Ann O'Nemity*

          What’s I’ve found is that at least one person checks the chat. If you say BRB, and someone calls on you, someone else will probably say that you stepped away.

    5. Anony vas Normandy*

      Years ago, we’d just say “bio” in the chatbox.

      But that was in World of Warcraft, so perhaps not recommended here.

  50. BillieB*

    I’m a teacher and have been interested in making a switch to instructional design. Does anybody have any tips or advice on how to get started? I work in elementary special ed, have a Masters of Ed, and 7 years of teaching experience. I’m not sure how much my current skills would be transferrable.

    1. Lyudie*

      I am an ID! LinkedIn Learning has some decent courses, and check out the website for ATD (Association for Talent Development). They have a lot of resources available even without a paid membership. I’ll post the link in a reply. They are pretty well regarded and have a lot of certifications…I did a three-day workshop certification when I was first starting out and got a lot out of it.

      Teaching adults is somewhat different from teaching kids (from what I understand, I do not have a background with children) but I suspect a lot of skills are transferable. Adults are more self-directed, self-motivated, and need to see the benefit of the training upfront (they don’t want to spend time on something they don’t think they can use). And a lot of the fun things you can do with kids isn’t going to go over well with adults (games and music, etc., you don’t want to seem infantilizing). But I bet a lot of the principles will be the same…integrate practice, show examples, etc.

  51. Qwerty*

    One of the YouTube covid related conspiracy theory videos was shared to my team’s group chat this week. This person shared it to spread the “real truth” about the pandemic. My less-than-professional reply called this global conspiracy absurd, which was not received well.

    I have probably offended my coworker, and honestly I partially regret even responding at all. However, I do think letting these kinds of things go without pushing back to be dangerous. I feel awkward towards this person now, but I’m not sure what to do about it. I don’t feel that I can apologize given that I do think this conspiracy is absurd and that sharing it at work was inappropriate. Am I being a jerk here?

    1. Sylvan*

      No. Your coworker posted something absurd and you called it absurd. You could have tried to be diplomatic, but I think that kind of unintentionally lends credibility to what your coworker posted, as if it’s worth taking seriously.

    2. Box of Kittens*

      Want to say thank you for calling it out! A ton of people I know have started sharing that video (if it’s the one I’m thinking of; not that it matters bc misinfo is misinfo) and while I know it can happen to anyone, it’s really disconcerting to hear people I respect (respected?) getting taken in by misinformation. I usually hate posting on social media, but I’ve started trying to call this stuff out too because like you said, it can be so dangerous. In your situation it’s maybe worth apologizing for the language but reiterating that you strongly encourage people to research stuff better before they share, or even suggest not sharing stuff like that with coworkers at all.

    3. Picard*

      oh hell no. You did exactly the right thing. If this was your boss or an upper level, might have had to handle it differently but a peer? Nope.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      Don’t apologize. We’re way over the line on this stuff. Being “professional” and “nice” are not helpful. You didn’t swear at the person or use a slur–you called out their absurdity. You’re good.*

      *this advice absolutely workable on the East Coast, may horrify onlookers elsewhere.

    5. International Klein Blue*

      No, you are not a jerk.

      Actually, I think of you more as my hero for the day.

    6. new kid*

      I would argue your coworker was the one being unprofessional here. The lines are admittedly getting blurred between discussing ‘politics’ at work right now when the biggest political issue is a collective pandemic we’re all experiencing, but there’s a difference between sharing a factual article about all the schools in your area closing (for example) as a heads up for folks who haven’t seen it, vs. sharing unfounded and/or contentious opinion pieces about the cause of the pandemic or even (I would argue) how it’s being handled by various levels of government currently. Those opinions aren’t appropriate to discuss at work normally and I think that should still apply even in a situation like this.

    7. Rebecca*

      No, more people should call this stuff out. My God there are more conspiracy theories out there than episodes of The X-Files. You did the right thing.

    8. Annony*

      I do not think you need to apologize. I would request that the work chat remain conspiracy theory/politics free. If you don’t feel you have the standing to do so, talk to your boss about it.

    9. Oxford Comma*

      There is a Forbes article about tactics for responding to the video that I think you are referencing.

    10. leapingLemur*

      In the future, I’d generally try to find a different way to call this absurd. Maybe Snopes has some details about why this is wrong? But I totally get why you said this.

    11. Fikly*

      Sharing this video, and others like this, leads to more people dying. Your response was not over the line.

    12. Jedi Squirrel*

      Your coworker is an idiot, conspiracy theories are beyond ridiculous and absurd. This kind of stuff needs to be called out. Thank you for doing so.

    13. The New Wanderer*

      I would have preferred if a manager stepped in to say “Stop using company resources to spread misinformation, especially during work hours.” Or something to make it very clear this is not okay.

      Short of a manager stepping in (which could have been done behind the scenes, I suppose), I think you did the right thing.

  52. Not a Real Giraffe*

    I would love the input of the collective genius of this community to help me figure out other career paths, please.

    I am a corporate event planner. I like it and I am good at it, but I am ready to start looking for a new job in the next 3-6 months and I am just not sure how stable the events world will be by then. (I am lucky enough that my current job encompasses more than event planning, so I have not – as of yet – been furloughed or laid off.)

    I have thought about looking for HR roles that involve a level of event planning (new hire orientations, staff retreats, leadership training seminars, etc.) but I lack any formal HR education or training. I don’t want to pivot roles that are exclusively Marketing-focused because while I enjoy working with InDesign and putting together print collateral, I am less creative on the writing side and again, have limited training/background here.

    Where can I go? Am I stuck in event planning forever?

    1. RC Rascal*

      Try industry associations. They plan lots of events. I am acquainted with someone high level in our industry association who came from a hospitality event planning role at one of the major hotel chains.

      She is very good at what she does.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Thanks! I actually started my career in industry associations :) It was a great experience.

  53. Britta Perry*

    I am preparing to do a review with a new employee, whom I supervise. Is it okay for me to ask his peers (same job title/responsibilities as this new person) how he’s doing–if there’s anything they’re seeing that I haven’t? I definitely wouldn’t share my own evaluation of him with them, either before or after the review. But, I do feel like it’s very possible they’ve seen behaviors (good or bad) that I haven’t, especially since we’re working remotely right now, so our interactions are more limited. So, I’d love to get that additional input from others who work closely with him.

    1. International Klein Blue*

      Just me, but I think you should tread carefully here. Imagine I’m *your* boss, and I sit down with you for your review, and I said “okay, here are some anonymous comments some of your co-workers made about you …”

      I’ll take it further: “Britta sometimes uses a word that I find offensive.”

      “What word is that?” you ask.

      “I can’t tell you, sorry.”

      “Well, who said it?”

      “I can’t tell you that, either, sorry. These comments are anonymous.”

      (Sad to say I’m not making any of this up – that’s a pretty much direct transcription of a conversation I once had with a horrible boss).

    2. Annony*

      I think it is ok depending on how you use that information. Honestly, it probably would have been better to ask earlier and use that as a way to know what to pay extra attention to. For example, if someone says he has been missing some deadlines which has been causing some issues, you could verify that for yourself before bringing it up. Essentially, I would not use anything they tell you in the review, but use their feedback to guide what you look at yourself and use in the review.

    3. Black Horse Dancing*

      I wouldn’t. It comes across as having the coworkers/your reports do your job. Also, what about personalities that just don’t like each other? Are you going to let the person your’re reviewing know who said what? No? Then how can she (your reviewee) explain anything? Use your judgement and ask your report questions. Don’t aske that person’s co workers to judge,

  54. Been There (except this time?)*

    How do you stop yourself from panicking when you find out on the same day that your spouse has been laid off, you have to take a minimum one week furlough, and your job is not guaranteed after July 1?

    I just relocated, emptied my savings for this move, and signed a 28 month lease on the promise of job security (union) and I’m trying so hard not to lose it right now. None of my stress management tactics are working for this and I’m finding myself alternating between wanting to throw up and bursting into tears.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Breathe. And then throw yourself into Plan B preparations. File for unemployment, dust off resume and start applying, review union contract, etc.

      I’ve often found that when things get really bad, the only thing that helps me is to stay busy.

      1. Nita*

        Another thing that might help – plan out where you can live, if you can’t live at your current place. A cheaper place? Crash with parents? I think it helps to have it in the back of your mind that even if your finances are in tatters, you will have a roof over your head. Also, don’t know if this is happening where you live, but here in NYC there’s been a ban on evictions for the time being (into summer). I am a little fuzzy on whether that means owing back rent after things settle down, but people definitely can’t be evicted.

    2. cold toes*

      Poor you. All of that is objectively stressful. Can you go out for a walk? Spend a couple of days in denial, and then on Monday, start with the revamp of the resumes (you & spouse) and poking around for what could be out there that you two might fit? And breathe.

      1. Been There (except this time?)*

        Another part of me feels selfish for taking this so badly when I know there are people who are worse off than me. There are people with houses and families who can no longer pay for their mortgages. There are families where both people have lost their jobs. Single mothers working from home who barely make ends meet before this whole thing – and while things will be tight for a while (provided I don’t also lose my job permanently) we should be okay.

        It’s beautiful here today, so I am going to go for a walk in about 10 minutes. Hopefully that will help.

        I suppose there are benefits to being a web and email communications manager during a pandemic… everyone is communicating via the internet at the moment…

    3. Me*

      Hey so it’s okay to be upset. It’s an upsetting situation. Fighting that feeling doesn’t often help. Let yourself have a moment, or three, to express how ever you feel. It sucks – you get to feel that.

      And then know that it’s hard, and things may be hard, uncomfortable, stressful, but that won;t be forever. There are jobs and you will both have one eventually. You are not alone in this. There things that are in yoru power to do, cut expenses, start job searching, find social services.

      Things suck right now and also you can handle it.

    4. Picard*

      One step at a time. If furloughed, in most states you can apply for unemployment – start there because also in most states, its not retroactive. Also you want to get in on the federal subsidy. Then stop and breathe.

      Give your self one major task at a time and dont worry about the other stuff until that ones done.

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        And there may be other help available, things like rental assistance that might not normally be available or be available as readily.

    5. Generic Name*

      Is there a reason why you can’t burst into tears? That sounds like an upsetting situation, and it’s reasonable to be upset. Maybe let yourself cry for a certain amount of time and then sit down with your partner and come up with a game plan.

  55. IL JimP*

    I’ve been thinking about doing consulting for a while now but I’m not really sure if the skills I have would be marketable in that way. I don’t really have technical skills they’re more business skills like leadership, coaching, team engagement and maybe change management.

    Does this sound like something I could do as a consultant and are there any good resources for moving in that direction with these types of skills? TIA for any help

  56. Drivesmenuts*

    IATA: Is it normal for workplaces to not directly tell their employees when their jobs change or am I being overly sensitive due to all the crazy going on in general right now? My company has apparently decided to move to shift work (morning and evening shifts for all) and I guess it’s permanent by the way they have been talking about it but no one has directly been told. It’s not just my department that doesn’t know what’s going on, it’s everyone. Also I think I am now the evening shift manager but I don’t know because I haven’t been told. I’m being given responsibilities that would fall under that title but no one has said “Hey, what do you say about being evening shift manager?”. Am I crazy for being upset over this? I am getting mad and my first reaction is to refuse to do anything until directly told. Is this a normal thing? Unfortunately, I can’t go to the people in charge and ask because I’ve tried and they don’t like to answer direct questions like that. Maybe they’re just not straight talkers and I have to stop having high expectations?

    1. CTT*

      Are they usually opaque in their decision-making or did they start becoming less communicative during the pandemic?

      1. drivesmenuts*

        They are usually opaque. This lack of communication is not new to the company. I’m just not sure how much I should tolerate because I am already frayed quite a bit from the current crazy situation with the Rona. I guess since this stuff bugged me before this, it’s not entirely a symptom of the “new normal”.

      1. Anono-me*

        In addition to being told that your responsibilities are increasing, there should be a discussion about your new title and increased compensation. (Even if it is just an acknowledgement that you deserve a raise of X, but for the next three months it will only be .2X due to the current crisis.)

  57. cold toes*

    Vent ahead. My company is advertising for a teapot painter scientist. Minimum qualification is a PhD in painting teapots. (note: we’re a private company, and most teapot scientist jobs would be at universities, but there are a handful of private teapot painting companies). In reviewing the applicants this week, out of 18 only 1 (one!) addressed the features of the job advertisement. The other 15 described themselves/ their work only. A couple were very condescending in the sense of “due to my PhD in teapot painting, I am clearly superior to all the teapot painters you have on staff” (hint: no. At least look for our company website to see some publications. You won’t be the smartest in the room). A couple of people *could* have stood an interview chance if they had bothered, as in “I have a PhD in plate painting”. Great! Now tell us how that carries over, or doesn’t, to teapots. And to the guy to sent a 10-page CV of full-color graphs you’ve made. Very pretty, now tell us how your teapot painting skills apply to our project.

    1. Senor Montoya*

      Hahahaha– that’s a laugh of rueful camaradery.

      Well, it’s helping you winnow the field.

      Maybe look at your job description. Can you revise it to encourage people with reasonably related skills or qualifications to apply?

      Can you reach out to your network for referrals and to share your job posting? Can you send it to university career centers or alumni centers for sharing? (apologies if you’ve already done this).

      1. cold toes*

        Yep, totally winnowing the field. I think the majority of the problem is that academia is its own bubble. So that the candidates, most of whom have had post-docs, are used to selling themselves/their techniques to others in academia, as opposed to a job in industry. I also feel sorry for the one poor guy who really wants to work for us: he’s applied to a few of our postings over the years, and while he does have related skills, they’re just not on-point enough.

        1. Cat*

          Maybe it’s worth doing phone screens with some of the people who may have the right qualifications but don’t know how to apply in industry. If this is a consistent problem, it sounds like it’s more about the type of training they’re getting than the individual and it might be worth doing a little more legwork to find the right candidate.

          1. cold toes*

            oh yes. we’ll do phone screens with 5. I think my view is colored by reading this blog too long! And, you know, the top candidate was not the one who referenced the ad.

  58. queen b*

    I am a consultant and had a really … sad? phone call with my consulting manager this week. I’m pretty unhappy at my assignment (the best way to describe it is the feeling you get when you tell a joke but no one laughs) and she basically told me the job market was trash and I should be happy to have a job.

    Yeah, I am happy to be able to pay my bills but I guess I’m feeling a little down that there really is NOTHING they can do to help me.

    1. New Senior Manager*

      I don’t think there’s a way out of this assignment. You asked your manager and she said no. Prepare as much as possible for this assignment to ace it, then look for plan B, seeking other employment.

  59. Secrecy*

    My (extremely large) company has started to take cost-cutting measures and it’s freaking me out. They’re rolling back the merit raises that went into effect earlier this year and contractors and consultants are starting to be phased out (not me; I’m full time salaried).

    The company operates across three industries, two of which have been hit extremely hard and one that has remained afloat but not without damage. We are owned by an even larger parent that is doing very well, but not enough to offset our losses. I knew this was a possibility but I was hoping we’d be able to hang on and ride this out. Unfortunately, it’ll be months before the two hardest hit areas of the business will be able to phase employees and the better performing area can’t keep things afloat alone.

    I don’t think my job is at jeopardy currently as I work in finance in the only functional arm of the company and we’re giving new estimates on a weekly basis right about now so it’s all hands on deck, but I can see thinning the herd a little if this keeps dragging on.

    I just hate all of this so much. All I want is for covid to leave.

  60. Mallory Janis Ian*

    I was reading the letter yesterday about how to stay focused while working remotely, and tips from several commenters led me to re-adopt a paper-and-pen task-tracking system. I’ve been one to try all kinds of different digital task lists, but those always seem to end up out-of-sight, out-of-mind for me, as several other people mentioned.

    I always think I’m going to like the digital tracking because you can mark things as ‘important’ and they will automatically sort to the top of the list. I guess I could create a ‘top three’ section on my notepad and write the important things there, but what I really do — that actually works for me — is just brain dump everything on the notepad as I think of it, and then I put three exclamation points in front of the important things, and if it’s really, super important, I highlight the exclamation points with a neon-pink highlighter.

    When I complete things on the list, I put a check-mark and cross the item off with several diagonal slash-marks through the entry. Then when I move things forward to the next day, I don’t move anything that is crossed off, and I cross off items that I move forward to the next day (so if an item is crossed off and not check-marked, it means it is unfinished and forwarded). Also on forwarded items, I write a shorter version of the whole entry and include a parenthetical note (ex. “see Fri. 8 May”) to remind me where the full version is.

    What tips do other people have for managing the paper to-do list?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Bullet Journal.

      I’ve started keeping a notebook for to do’s and notes to self. I previously did this digitally, but recently moved to pen and paper. As everything else in my job has moved to digital and virtual, I guess like having one thing that’s not. The “bullet journal” method is a really organized and tidy way of managing an analog to do list. An internet search for it will walk you through the process.

    2. Just a PM*

      I do color-coding, in two ways (usually depends on my mood). I’ll use the different colors to represent either the priority or what the task is for. For priority, the colors represent when things need to be done – like blue needs to be done right now, green needs to be done by the end of the week, orange is wait till someone mentions it and then do it. For task, it’s based on who/what it’s for. Due-outs for my boss are in blue. Action items for the grandboss or our leadership team are in green. Work for my team is in black. Training-related stuff is in green.

      I also will keep only a to-do list for the week and keep adding to it as the week goes on. A daily to-do list usually overwhelms me because things that don’t get done strike a panic nerve, but a weekly list makes it easier to manage and balance my workload. I don’t know why it works that way for me.

    3. Mediamaven*

      I much prefer a notebook/paper task list too. I also highlight the things on the list that absolutely have to be done that day.

    4. Picard*

      I’m so very basic on this. I make a list every afternoon before I leave for the day (or first thing in the morning when I come in) of everything I have to get done – usually most of it is copying over from the prior list. I then literally put a star on the items that HAVE to get done that day. I cross stuff off when its done.

      BOOM. DONE. If I try anything more complicated, it just doesnt happen.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s kind of where I am. If I use a digital method, I’ll get bogged down in the bells and whistles and spend all day manipulating the tasks around, instead of actually doing anything.

        1. Sam I Am*

          So, I read that deleting something off of a list in digital format doesn’t ping your brain chemisty the same way that crossing off an item on an analog list will.
          I wish I could recall where I read it, but can’t….

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a … I dunno what you’d call it, it’s a yearly planner (one quarter per page) with the days across the top and then like 10 lines underneath, so each line has a box under each day?

      On one, I listed the lines as work tasks I have to do regularly, some daily, some a couple times a week, some weekly, and every time I do one of those standard tasks, I put an x in the box for the day I did it so I can keep track both of “what I do every day” and also “when was the last time I worked the llama tea-pouring report”.

      I have a second version of it that lists each of our trauma facilities and keeps track of the last time I got trauma reporting from each (hospital system) – some of them send the reports daily, some weekly, and a couple just, you know, every couple weeks when they get around to it, so being able to see their pattern at a glance lets me know that hm, I haven’t gotten that facility’s trauma report in a couple weeks, I should check in and make sure Outlook didn’t eat it.

      I got my template from Day Designer, which has a whole bunch of free downloads for planning pages, and I use it in Notability on my iPad.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That sounds great for keeping up with those intermittently regular/seasonal work (and home!) tasks that have a pattern, but it’s too far apart to be apparent at the daily or weekly level.

    6. D3*

      I use a two column steno pad. Most tasks go on the left side. Priorities are highlighted.
      Small (5 min or less) tasks go on the right and I take care of those when I have a few minutes here and there.
      When more than 75% of the tasks are crossed off, or when I run out of room, I move to a new page.

    7. Cassie*

      I’ve tried using digital planners but kept hopping around, looking for “THE PERFECT” system, which of course does not exist. So I’ve moved back to paper and pen. I don’t like having to-do lists because I didn’t like having to rewrite tasks on the following day(s). I also didn’t like a running to-do list because I don’t need/want to see tasks that have already been completed.

      So I adopted what I think of as the “Doc Martin” plus Kanban method. – if you watch the British tv show, the doc writes down notes of a patient’s visit on the patient’s paper notes (each patient has their own set of notes). In my case, I have a pile of quarter sheets of paper on my desk – when a request comes in, I write it down on a quarter sheet (along w/ any notes or subtasks to do). I take notes on the sheet as I make progress. When I finish the task, I mark it as done and put it in the “Done” stack. If I need more info or am waiting for approval, I put it in the “Waiting” stack. New tasks are in the “To do” stack. The benefit of using quarter sheets of paper is that I can sort them or arrange them easily. I don’t have to rewrite anything and stuff that I don’t want to deal with today can be safely ignored today because it’ll be in the “To do” stack to be dealt w/ another day.

      I’m really liking the system as we’ve moved to WFH because I have limited space around my at-home work area and I keep the stacks separated by colored paper clips in a little zippered pouch. For minor tasks (like schedule a mtg), those just go on the notepad I have next to my computer. Anything that requires >5 minutes, has subtasks, or requires someone else to do something, goes on the quarter sheets.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m so glad I came back to check this thread a couple of days later — I never would have thought to do this, and I’m going to start trying it. Thank you!

  61. Liane*

    How my state’s UI agency is handling social distancing. (State is one of the few where the governor has yet to issue any stay-at-home/shelter-in-place type orders.)
    UI seemed to be getting it more or less right for a while. They were fairly timely in telling people they didn’t have to go into an office to complete their online claim. (Normal procedure is do online claim, then go into UI office to sit at a PHONE to talk to an agent.) After a week or so realized their phone system couldn’t handle call volume, UI decided that all claims would be considered complete. So far, so good, even though I keep getting notices that I can’t be paid benefits for cut hours because I have none left in this benefits year. (True but you’d think this is one of those elgibility requirements they’d suspend.)

    Fast forward to this past Wednesday. I got a letter telling me I could apply for extended COVID benefits if I needed them & to do so **go to Local UI Office!!** So I reluctantly went in that afternoon. We could use the money and UI might change their minds about my situation, or I could get though to someone to find out how to appeal, or (Heaven forbid) this crisis might last past July 1, when new benefits year begins.

    Their idea of enforcing social distancing? 1) all the signs saying “social distancing–apply online or by phone!” 2) a laminated giant numbers and a portable “Serving number X” sign, plus employee to hand out signs and yell numbers 3) table with piles of blank applications and Reset PIN forms, with flimsy cardboard box to secure filled out forms (ID theft risk for the win?) 4) applicants standing closely in line together.

    Imagine all the WTF, rolling eyes, “I do not think that word means what you think it does” & “Batman smacks Robin” memes

  62. Just a PM*

    Could use some advice. I’ve been tasked to redesign and rebuild our intranet. My boss is giving me almost carte blanche to do whatever I want. Her goal is to make the intranet be useful for employees. Right now it’s mainly used by our executive assistant to blog weekly activity reports and news articles for the higher-ups. What do you use your intranet for? What kind of information and content would you want to see in it? Our software is SharePoint (blech) and any social kind of stuff like IMs, Facebook-ish newsfeeds, group boards, or Slack is a no-go.

    1. Chronic Overthinker*

      Intranet is great for informational things like commonly used forms, staff directories, HR Policies/Procedures, Employee Handbook and the like. Think of it like a staff library for resources. Good luck, that seems like a monumental task!

      1. new kid*

        I’d echo this. Think about what information is useful but maybe lives inside people’s heads or in random duplicated places right now – could be as simple as instructions for mapping printers or how to update your employee photo. Having a one stop repository for that type of internal documentation is what I think intranets are built for – especially a Sharepoint site that doesn’t include the extra social/interactive features.

      2. Super Duper Anon*

        Third this. That is what our intranet is. The front page is the latest news, recordings of company meetings, and links to our work apps and other common resources. Then each major function has a department page where they post policies and procedures. It also has a search built in (I am assuming a Google search) so you can easily find what you are looking for.

    2. NotAPirate*

      My old workplace had literal binders for different equipment. Binder had the procedure for use as well as information for writing up the data after using it. Finding the binder vs finding the information on google was about equal time. It would be great if you could have a repository for that information. Then multiple people could “have the binder” at once.

    3. Colette*

      New hire/setup info
      Org chart (or “who to talk to for X”)
      Documentation
      Price lists or other info people need to do their jobs

      1. Rachel in NYC*

        Documentation!! I call it hit by a bus insurance. (and it seems extra relevant right now when some many companies have furloughed employees and then find out they have no clue how to do so-and-so’s job.)

        If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I have an SOP for almost anything on Sharepoint. I can’t guarantee anyone will be able to find it b/c it’s not the most intuitive system but it’s there.

        (and I admit I include in that stuff like what computer programs people in my department need, useful internet shortcuts. It double’s as SOP and a basis for a training manual.)

    4. cubone*

      Better approach: ask your staff what would make it useful for them! Make a short survey and send it around (if you have the time and energy for it, you could alternatively do ‘focus group’ style calls to get input). I know a lot of people see this as ‘extra work’ but I feel like engaging your stakeholders (the people using the intranet) will help make sure it gives what they need. I’m leading a project right now to revamp a very tense, issue-ridden process and expected tons of pushback from people — but building in consultation opportunities has given SO much buy-in and support that I know we would never have gotten if I came up with the exact same idea and informed everyone what it was. This doesn’t even need to be unwieldy – I would focus on 3 areas:
      The current: what do you currently use the intranet for (it sounds like you have an existing one)? What is challenging about it? What is useful about it?
      The future: what do you need from an employee intranet? You could also do a “pick the top 3 goals” of the intranet and include things like: share new updates, repository of necessary info/documents, connecting with staff, updates from executive, industry news, fun stuff, etc.
      The past: have you ever used an excellent intranet in a past job? What made it amazing?

      My org has kind of a mishmash and needs to update our intranet as well… even though we did a huge update 3 years ago, but they never consulted anyone. Make sure the goals you have for the intranet are what people need from it! This will also help immediately mitigate any out of scope or unreasonable expectations (eg. if everyone says they want a social space and you have a no-go on social stuff, well, someone higher than you needs to grapple with that outside of the scope of this project).

    5. Jaid*

      My intranet has:
      A catalogue of internal forms and publications, work manuals/procedures, a link to commonly used addresses and phone numbers, and a directory of employees searchable by name, location, and phone number. It also allows people to ask questions about the manuals and procedures for improvement/clarification. There’s a “Newsroom”, where articles, etc about my agency is posted. Links to HR related material, EAP material and the union. And for silliness, there’s a link that leads to an online gif of a banana dancing to the Peanut Butter Jelly song…

    6. Observer*

      Things that should go on an intranet:

      Forms
      Workplace calendar
      Policies and procedures
      How To’s and instructions Guides for your company systems
      Announcements
      Tutorials for commonly used software and equipment
      Interesting news and events – people will often find them useful, but will almost never go to find that. If you get the rest right, this is good to have.

    7. Workerbee*

      SharePoint Online modern is both fun and functional, but even if you’re on a hybrid (on premise and online) or on classic, you can do really neat things to make it useful for staff. Leave the comments marked to “on” on the pages, too, as a test case. Using SPO as a communications hub can be awesome and allowing comments could be an intro wedge into more robust integration.

      If you’re interested, search on tracyvanderschyff dot com for her SP tips.

    8. blaise zamboni*

      My company intranet moved to SP recently-ish. It hosts our HR page, LMS, payroll, timecard, employee self-service (for demographics and benefits), IT, etc. It also hosts all our policies & procedures, a company newsfeed (4-5 sliding image cards linked to articles – nothing fancy), and an org chart with a page and contact cards for each department. It was a really ambitious project and it connects us to basically everything within the company that we could need, which is great and usually works well.

      My suggestion, though, is that you focus first on making the site navigation *very* intuitive. By no fault of the site owners, SP’s search engine is…bad. I’ve literally searched for policies by name and got nothing but irrelevant articles from 3 years ago. I hunted for 20 minutes to find our EAP when I was in crisis. Link directly, on the homepage, to things that employees will need frequently and/or urgently. It might feel redundant to put an “HR” button next to an “EAP” button if EAP is a subpage of HR, but it’s not — remember that your users will have no idea how content is organized.

      Congrats on the cool project and the freedom you have to design it!

    9. Just a PM*

      Thank you all for the advice, everyone! You’ve all validated that I’m going in the right direction to focus on HR/employee/documentation-type information instead of news-focused. You’ve also given me a lot of new ideas I hadn’t considered before and am excited to develop those!

  63. Flustered*

    What are some good questions to ask when evaluating telework positions? I’ve never job hunted for specifically telework positions before. Now thanks to COVID, it’s my defining criteria – if a company won’t let me work from home, I am not willing to consider it. Beyond making sure they’ll give me the equipment I need on their dime, anything else I should look for when assessing remote jobs? Any red flags that I should steer clear from?

    I am also willing to potentially consider more traditional face-to-face jobs, as long as the employer will firmly commit to letting me work from home as long as is necessary. (And won’t require me to pass through a probationary period first). While I’ve had positions that could have been done from home, no job I’ve held has ever allowed me to do so (including my current work…which is why I am trying to leave). So admittedly, I’m a little skeptical of employers actually making telework happen unless the position is advertised as remote. I don’t want an employer who is going to make us come into the office the moment my state decides to reopen. I am looking for someone who understands the severity of COVID and will not make people physically report as long as there are active cases in our area. Any recommendations for determining who is sincere about telework?

    1. BlackBelt Jones*

      One thing I’ve noticed lately at Indeed.com – if you do a search for work-from-home jobs using common keywords like remote/telecommute/wfh, you will get many responses that include “remote work available”.

      I think that the phrase was created as a result of the pandemic. I’d never seen that wording prior to Covid, and I use Indeed a lot. Some of those ads actually indicate that the remote working is temporary. That said, read VERY CAREFULLY if using Indeed. This may also be true of other sites.

      Best of luck.

    2. Paquita*

      I know I’m late to this but check out this Facebook group. VEO – Virtual Employment Opportunities. These are legit WFH jobs that the moderators post information about.

    3. Wheezy Weasel*

      I saw an executive write last week ‘Companies who have a working culture of completely remote will have an easier time than companies who are 50% remote’. That tracks with my experience as well. It takes a considerable effort for leadership to create a culture where remote workers are engaged at the same level as on-premise, and it needs to be from the top down.

      Ask questions about how the company handled remote work pre-pandemic. Did they only allow hard-to-fill positions to be remove? Was it the nature of the role itself that defined remote? How did the position’s immediate team handle remote work? How did that team collaborate with other team members remotely? For companywide meetings, how much notice was provided for remote employees to ensure they could attend in person? Did they have a chance to participate at the same level as onsite employees – ask questions in real-time or beforehand? Were videos of meetings made available afterwards? Did someone take notes and follow up on these questions?

      A company who is accustomed to a remote or partially-remote culture would be more likely to have easily accessible answers to these questions and perhaps share a bit of history surrounding their decisions. A company who is just starting these transitions might only be able to tell you about the ‘end state’ or how they think remote work will be handled, but not have a lot of information about how it works out in practice. If you are met with silence or blank looks or ‘that’s a good question’ that’s yet another response to consider.

  64. Eos*

    Any tips for once you’ve realized your job and boss of a number of years are horrible for your wellbeing? Obviously I’ve dusted up my resume and already found a few positions I’d like to apply for but my motivation to work is gone. I’m just tired of giving my all to erratically get berated over small things, and I feel sick with worry whenever I try to do anything, which of course doesn’t help keep my performance sharp. Anyone else been there?

    1. new kid*

      For me, it was attaching the goal of my work output to something other than my manager (or in my case our inept upper leadership). I was going to continue to do my job (reasonably) well because my customers and my teammates who I deeply respected were the actual recipients of my work. It was really just a shift it mindset but it helped in the day to day of my last job until I was able to move on.

      Not sure if that is applicable to your situation, but sending you good vibes either way. Good luck; I hope you move on to greener pastures soon!

    2. voyager1*

      When I realized how bad one of my managers was, it was quite liberating. I realized it was them not me. All you can do is apply for jobs and get out. Good luck.

    3. International Klein Blue*

      Been there. I’d advise that you congratulate yourself for figuring out the truth before it was too late.

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      Honestly, for me the realization of this fact, and that I could in fact leave my job was what kept me going. I had been sticking it out at my job for various reasons even though some toxic stuff had been slowly building for years and the company finances were getting shaky. Adding to the stress was that my husband got laid off. As I was helping him job search, I also started scanning through job listings for myself. One day, I finally just admitted to myself that I was ready to leave. That admission made me so happy and that happiness kept me going. The enjoyment of looking for a new job helped too. It took a few more months after I started looking to land something, but I did and left and it felt great.

  65. Needingabreak*

    Is anyone else struggling with handling newly absorbed responsibilities in the midst of massive layoffs? My employer laid folks off weeks before COVID-19, including someone on my team, due to financial challenges. So my team of 5 went to 4. Shortly after that colleague was laid off, another team member departed and we were down to 3 (plus the temp who was hired to fill in for my coworker who quit).

    Since COVID my employer has laid off more folks, first round was part-time and on-call staff, and two weeks ago it was announced by exec leadership that 55% of staff would be furloughed. Based on my salary and title, and overall experience with my employer (underpaid, undervalued), I was pretty certain that I would be furloughed. I wasn’t given an update on the status of my employment until the evening of the day the announcement was made.

    My boss (and maybe my manager?) advocated for me to keep my job, and then my team of 3 plus temp, went to a team of 2. My boss decided to transition out of the org and the temp’s contract was terminated, leaving just me and my manager. I have been tasked with absorbing some of the responsibilities the temp was handling and some of my other responsibilities have shifted to other teams to make space for that— that hasn’t been enough. The first week was not great, nothing I did was excellent but I did get all , if not most of the work done, though I was doing work every day of the week, including Monday (which I had requested off as vacation time). This week however, I’ve hit a wall. I really struggled with completing my to-dos yesterday and woke up today hoping to be more productive. Things were initially pretty promosing but after completing a task (One that I had to push to today) and updating my supervisor on it, I started crying and took a break to write this comment. None of the work I’m doing is “great”, it’s passable at best. I had a discussion with my manager earlier this week about needing more time to plan and accommodate my new responsibilities, and that I must have a hard stop 15 minutes after our working day. I also expressed that I would appreciate a great deal of patience during this transition because I am Really trying my best, but I can sense that what I’m doing just isn’t meeting expectations. I am properly burnt out but I NEED this job to survive this pandemic, and now my job has in some ways become essential (though it clearly wasn’t before) and I am struggling to step up and help my team get through this.

    I left out a lot of details because there just isn’t enough time for me for me to write them out. As bleak and ungrateful as this sounds I was in some ways looking forward to being furloughed. I could use the break and I’ve been actively trying to leave this job long before the pandemic. Time off would help me do that and work on other things I’ve had to put on hold since my workload has increased. Maybe I’m just incompetent, but juggling this pandemic and my increasingly stressful job have just been too much for me this week.

    1. WellRed*

      What did your manager say? Also, not sure what you do, but for many of us, good enough, instead of excellent, may be the best we can hope for right now.

      1. Amtelope*

        +1
        Aiming for “great” is just not doable for most people right now. How good does the work have to be to avoid causing problems for your organization/making more work for other people/jeopardizing your job? Aim for that, right now.

      2. Needingabreak*

        My manager was surprisingly receptive and admitted that she was not aware of how much time I’d need to plan. We agreed that I’d have a day of the week set aside to mostly plan for the nee responsibilities. I had ny first try this week but I still couldn’t get it all done in that day. I don’t know if it’s a combination of my lack of experience with the new responsibilities, my burnout, or again just plain ol incompetence. My anxiety had admittedly skyrocketed since all the changes were announced.

        Most of the work is do is fairly visible so I make sure things like copy are clear, concise and free of any blaring grammatical errors. I also do a gut check with my partner on things that I’m unsure of. Part of my new responsibilities involve working with editing copy and images, with a quick turnaround and I have to make decisions, swiftly correctly. It’s admittedly been taking me longer to work on these things because I want to make sure it’s presentable, but it feels like “ok” or “good enough” aren’t cutting it. I’ve already been asked about some of the decisions I made that suggest I’m not doing it well.

        1. Flyleaf*

          That’s a good sign. Going forward you might want to make sure that your boss is always informed about what you are able to do and what is not going to get done. For the stuff that’s not going to get done, don’t sweat it. If your boss wants to re-prioritize things, that’s fine — some other stuff will move to the pile of what’s not going to get done.

  66. WellRed*

    Ugh. I work for a media company (division of much larger non media company) that has of course been C19 impacted. The CEO, who is not media, wants us to come up with a plan moving forward for what we might add or do differently. Like, do virtual conferences instead of live ones. I have literally no idea what to suggest. I’m a reporter, not biz development. And frankly, we have all sorts of products but if ad sales can’t sell them?

  67. Seal*

    Question for the group. I am a manager with half a dozen departments of various sizes reporting to me. My boss often asks me to put together proposals for new projects and initiatives, most of which are eventually implemented. Because of the nature of our work, I usually put together working groups comprised of department heads and other staff members as appropriate to draft these proposals. One department head has gotten into the habit of pulling together members of their staff to write up a draft proposal on their own and presenting it to the working group at the first meeting, claiming they’re doing so to “save time” or to “get the conversation started”. They never send their proposals to me or the working group prior to the meeting to be vetted, but instead either bring paper copies or send an electronic version minutes before the meeting starts. From my perspective, this department head is being passive/aggressive in forcing their agenda and intentionally excluding people they would prefer not to work with. The last time it happened, I ignored their proposal and went forward with the planned agenda; this was not well-received, although the department head did not make say much in the meeting. I obviously need to address this directly with the department head. Any suggestions as to how to proceed?

    1. Rachel in NYC*

      Would it work to pre-emptively say something like “if anyone, including department heads, wants to submit a proposal for the working group to look at the meeting, they are welcome, but it must be sent electronically to Seal@companyname.com by no later then time, date. any proposals received after that time, including proposals brought to the meeting, will not be considered for this meeting.”?

  68. totally anon for this*

    Anyone deal with post-toxic job trauma, even when they’ve moved on to a much better job?

    I’ve been working for 6 months in a job that I love and have actually been doing well in, getting good feedback, etc. Unfortunately, prior to this job, I worked for 2 years in a job with toxic leadership and horrible managers. It was my first full-time salaried job, so unfortunately a lot of the stuff in that job still affects my frame of reference to this day. I find myself afraid to ask questions and make mistakes (in my last job, making even a small, inconsequential, honest mistake was used to dismiss your capabilities as a whole, even if you never made it again in the future. In my last performance review before I left, my manager used a mistake I made when I first started the job as an “ongoing performance issue” reason for why I couldn’t get a raise.)

    The other day, my supervisor corrected me on a small mistake for a report I was writing, and I’m still bummed out about it.

    Even when I get lauded on a job well done, I don’t know how much it matters, because in my last job, my company’s clients rated my projects highly but I still was told I had “performance issues” and never got a raise or promotion. My managers usually took credit for my successful projects, and blamed me for my coworkers’ mistakes. So I’ve lost the ability to internalize my successes.

    FWIW, I am someone who has anxiety in general and have been trying to get access to a counselor for a few years now, but it’s difficult in my area.

    1. Mill Miker*

      You’re absolutely not alone. I was in my current job for the better part of a year before I realized it was actually a decent place, and almost every problem I was seeing was actually the ghosts of seven years and three jobs worth of the same kind of stuff you’re talking about.

      Realizing that helped. I still get angry and upset and anxious all the time, but properly identifying the source is the only thing that got me past the “Why did I take this job. It’s awful, it’s bad, I should have stayed freelancing, what have I done. How did I let myself end up back in this situation?” panic attacks that I was having several times a week. Now it’s like “CurrentJob is good. I’m remembering OldJob, or OldOldJob. I’m not there anymore, I’m carrying the situation with me.” Which is still exhausting, but I’ve regained the ability to feel happy in my off hours, so that’s good.

      I’m also having a hard time finding a good therapist. The few I’ve tried keep ending up being social workers, not actually therapists, and so when I bring up work-related issues they want to coach me through them, and it’s like “No, I didn’t say I had trouble managing my time, I said I had trouble with talking about Time Management, even in the abstract, without my heart pounding and my head spinning” but I still end up with advice to use a calendar, which… makes my hard pound and my head spin and causes me to immediately distrust the counselor.

      So, best of luck, I’ll be rooting for you! You’re not alone.

      1. totally anon for this*

        Thank you – I appreciate your comment. Wish you the best of luck finding a good counselor! They are rare.

    2. Kettricken Farseer*

      Are you able to have a conversation with your manager about it? I have a couple employees who came from the same super-dysfunctional competitor and they struggled at first, but we had an open conversation so that I could understand their fears and work toward allaying them (“Mistakes happen; what’s more important is what you do after that mistake.”)

      For my highly anxious people, I often remind them that “nobody’s going to die” if something goes wrong.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        My sympathies. I had work-ptsd for a couple of years after a job with a boss-from-hell. Referred to her as Dolores Umbridge to my friends. She thought she was god’s gift to the profession (when actually she was mediocre at best, and we had to clean up any individual contributor work she did). She threw boulders in the paths of her reports, and had no boundaries. She’d go and talk with someone who sat near her reports to see if they were leaving early. Any time any of us put in a weekend day she didn’t consider that real work. If she didn’t see you warming the seat, you weren’t working.
        Took a long time in subsejobs to realize that other bosses treat you like a grownup and judge you by the quality of your work.
        What you’re feeling is natural – it will get better.

  69. lifeisweird*

    My best friend got laid off this week :( I have a contact who is a VP at another company in the same industry, same city. We went to school together and were very close at the time, but now only occasionally chat on social media. I want to connect the two friends to see if there are any employment opportunities. How do I do so without being insensitive to my VP friend? I obviously don’t know the situation at her company, so they could be gearing up for layoffs as well, if it becomes an industry wide issue. Thoughts?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If you go down this route, it’s best to just speak directly with the VP and see if they’re still hiring, still interested, if it’s okay to connect them.

      Don’t bring it up to the friend, don’t get anyone’s hopes up. I think as a VP, you expect your friends in your position to at least go fishing for information just in case.

      Approach it as “I know that business is experiencing some wild times right now, so many aren’t hiring or are even downsizing. A friend with a lot of experience in your industry has been laid off due to cuts. Are you looking at hiring on anyone at the time or if you are in the future, I could connect the two of you.”

      Just leave it up to them to say “Yes we are hiring” or “no we’re actually not hiring/we are really unsure about the onboarding of new employees any time soon. But I”ll keep this idea in the back of my head and reach out to you if things change.” or if they say “Oh that sounds like a great idea, give them my details.” etc etc.

      Sure there are going to be some people who never want to be networked, never want to be connected. You have to know your friend enough to know if that’s something that’s annoying to them. Most people really don’t mind as long as you’re not insistent or demanding. And as long as you aren’t just handing out her card all “Call my friend Beth, she’s the VP of Big Company and just say you know me ;) :0 :)”

  70. Trixie*

    Update from last week. I accepted an offer from my former boss’ boss, and am in the process of wrapping up my current position in higher education. I’m going to miss it but with furloughs coming, this offer was ideal timing. Includes a 15% salary increase and adds this title to my resume for future searches, which is perhaps most important. My new boss is aware of my plans to move closer to family and said we would find a way to give her a year but perhaps include remote work from new city. (That is a gift.) It’s a busy time in my current role but I’ll have a few days off before jumping in to new field. Meeting coworkers mostly in a virtual setting, which will be interesting.

    Looking back, this current offer resulted from such a random set of circumstances. I can trace it back to meeting someone in a group exercise class, then temporary placement, then permanent placement, and introduced me to my now future boss. Networking and random connections to help pave the way forward. So grateful for the lifeline and ready to dig in.

  71. Fiona*

    My spouse is job searching for UI/UX positions (prefers UI). He just graduated from a boot camp and has a strong portfolio for a recent grad, but obviously it’s a tough time to search, especially with limited real-world experience. Any advice from those in the industry on how to present as a great candidate, especially when you’re new to the field?

    1. Product Person*

      One word: portfolio. If your friend has a solid portfolio of UI work (boot camp & side projects count), the fact that he is new to the field won’t be an issue. The opposite would: an experienced UI professional without a portfolio would have a hard time these days of higher competiton.

  72. Furloughs and PSLF*

    I am working toward PSLF, but anticipate my employer to announce furloughs in the near future. Has anyone else who is working toward PSLF been furloughed before and can speak to how that affects qualifying payments? Are you considered to be below full time status, so the months where you experience furlough days don’t count?

    1. CatCat*

      Full-time status is defined in regulations at 34 CFR 685.219(b). Specifically:

      Full-time (1) means working in qualifying employment in one or more jobs for the greater of –

      (i)
      (A) An annual average of at least 30 hours per week, or
      (B) For a contractual or employment period of at least 8 months, an average of 30 hours per week; or
      (ii) Unless the qualifying employment is with two or more employers, the number of hours the employer considers full-time.

      (2) Vacation or leave time provided by the employer or leave taken for a condition that is a qualifying reason for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. 2612(a)(1) and (3) is not considered in determining the average hours worked on an annual or contract basis.

      1. CatCat*

        So how this will play out for you depends on a couple of things. Assuming you’re only working for one qualifying employer, if the employer considers you to be “full-time” and, over the course of a year, you’ll still end up working at least 30 hours per week on average, you should be good. Some of this may be unknown right now, unfortunately.

        I am not sure if you do an annual employment certification form for PSLF purposes, but I recommend that you do if you’re not. You can ask your employer if they expect to be able to certify you as “full-time” on that form even with the furloughs.

      2. Furloughs and PSLF*

        The part that confuses me is this quote from studentaid.gov: “For PSLF, you’re generally considered to work full-time if you meet your employer’s definition of full-time or work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.” My employer considers 40 hours per week to be full time.

        1. Furloughs and PSLF*

          I suppose it might jut turn out how my employer chooses to certify my employment on the ECF. Thanks!

          I was planning on submitting an ECF in another month, mostly just to verify that these six months of forbearance are actually counting as payments as stated by the CARES Act. But the furlough thing might put another wrinkle into all of this.

    2. Ranon*

      There was a whole thing about PSLF in the CARES package, I don’t know the details but the podcast Death Sex and Money just did a big student loan episode and they covered it. General gist was you should be totally okay though.

  73. Nicki Name*

    I’m feeling some survivor’s guilt. After a career full of staying at places too long, I made what was in retrospect a brilliantly timed job change last fall, moving from one industry that’s now suffering under covid-19 to one that’s relatively stable for now, with a significant increase in salary on top of it. I’m able to do my entire job from home, and I have a home situation that allows me to stay reasonably productive.

    I’m aware that this is not the case for so, so many people. I know a lot of self-employed people who have no work at all right now (thank you, US lawmakers who voted to let them access unemployment benefits). There are people being furloughed, people with kids wrestling with online schooling, people whose workload has gone up all of a sudden. And there’s nothing I can do about it except lend a sympathetic ear, make sure my taxes get paid so those unemployment programs are funded, and generally do what I can to keep the economy moving in my corner of the world while maintaining social distancing.

    First-world problems, I know.

    1. NotAPirate*

      Don’t feel guilty. You’re at least one less person everyone else has to worry for right now.

      1. Polar Bear Hug*

        Thank you for this. I have been feeling this same sort of survivor’s guilt and this is a great way to look at it. Much appreciated! :)

    2. new kid*

      I can definitely relate to this. I changed jobs almost exactly a year ago and all I can think about is what if I were trying to make that change this year instead of last? It’s just sheer luck that the timing worked out the way it did. On top of which, the company I worked for last year may not survive this and I still have good friends there.

      I wish I had advice, but mostly just watching this thread along with you!

    3. Pam Adams*

      There is also helping others- can you donate to causes that need assistance?

  74. stitchinthyme*

    So I’ve been talking to a recruiter about a position I’m not all that enthused about, just in the interest of keeping my options open. They sent me a “right to represent” form that they’re asking me to sign. Most of it is pretty straightforward: I agree not to do an end-run around them and take a job with the client company without their representation for the next 30 days, I agree not to up my salary requirement from what I asked for originally, stuff like that.

    But then there’s this: “If selected, candidate will positively & unconditionally join the assignment for which has represented you at its client location.”

    Is it me, or does this sound like they’re saying that if I sign this and the company decides to make me an offer, I must accept it? Because if that’s the case, no freaking way. I am not committing up-front to take a job I know so little about, before I even interview for it. This would be the case even if I weren’t already ambivalent about the gig.

    1. Me*

      That’s exactly what it sounds like. I personally would not sign that. And I woudl expressely tell them why I wasn’t signing it.

    2. stitchinthyme*

      Correction – should have read “If selected, candidate will positively & unconditionally join the assignment for (company name) which has represented you at its client location.” I had angle brackets and I guess the web form didn’t like them.

      But anyway, I did push back with the person who sent it, saying I was not comfortable with this item and explaining why. He said I could strike it out, which tells me that that’s exactly what they meant. But I guess they get a point for not insisting I agree to it — not that I would have.

    3. Penguin*

      I’m going to second Me’s earlier response; that absolutely sounds like you’d be committing to accept an offer regardless of benefits, conditions, or red flags. Don’t sign it, and tell the recruiter why you won’t sign it. At best, it’s a poorly-constructed contract written without due care. At worst, it’s a ploy to get job seekers to give up their own autonomy, likely in order to preserve recruiters’ income. That’s pretty despicable.

    4. emmelemm*

      Yeah, that sounds a little nuts. I would NOT agree without a lot of clarifications first.

    5. Annony*

      Honestly, I would only agree to the first stipulation that you not try to do an end run around the recruiter for this position. I would absolutely not want to commit to salary expectations at this stage.

      1. Goomba*

        Agreed. I don’t know why you need to sign anything with the recruiter, when they are paid by the company, not you. Why do you need to enter into an agreement with them?

  75. Humble Schoolmarm*

    This is a good problem to have, but how enthusiastic in your thanks should you be for a really positive performance review, especially over email? I got my evaluation today from my principal, who is new this year, and it was really positive. Obviously, my response reading it at home was “Woo Hoo! Time to break out the celebratory chocolate stash!” but I really struggled with how to respond over email. I don’t want to be overly effusive, but too blasé seemed to read kind of arrogant (like, of course you are acknowledging my greatness). Any thoughts?

    1. cubone*

      I think it does depend on the communication style/culture of your workplace. Like if you can see your principal saying to you: “woo hoo, time to break out the chocolate stash!”, go for it! If not, I’d be tempted to air a little more “formal”, but I think it’s okay to include a “wow, thank you for this” or other ‘excitement’ type statements, but I’d also be more inclined to show my gratitude with specifics of why it made me so happy.

      I do a lot of very formal communications, so might be leaning too hard towards that, but my immediate suggestion would be something along the lines of:

      “I want to thank you for your kind comments and positive feedback! It really meant a lot to me to hear that you thought my classroom management skills were excellent, as it’s an area I’ve been working to improve over the years and appreciate that you recognized the work I put into it. It was a joy to work with you this year and I look forward to what next year brings.
      Thanks again for this kind and thoughtful email/review – I have to admit, it made my day!”

      1. cubone*

        lol at my “I do formal communicatons” and then saying ‘air’ instead of ‘err’. Quarantine brain.

    2. Fikly*

      It would be weird to me to be thanking them for a review just because it was positive. Instead, I would focus my thanks on how the review was helpful to you.

      What did you learn from it? Things you have been doing that you should keep doing? Things that you can improve, but now you have concrete ideas on how to do it? That kind of thing.

    3. Alex*

      It never occurred t me to say thank you for a positive performance review. I mean, other than the kind of “thanks” that is at the level of “yes I received the email.”

      It’s not a favor to you–hopefully, it is an honest assessment of your performance! You don’t really need to have any particular reaction.

  76. Llama Face!*

    Hi everyone, I’m looking for resources on how employers are maintaining COVID-safe practices for employees in your workplaces.

    I’m in an essential (non-medical) workplace that is not doing well with this and am going to address the problem. But I want to go in with ideas for solutions, not just “this isn’t safe and you need to change it!” Please give me all your tips and processes and links!

    Particular issues in my workplace: it has busy areas with fairly close quarters, our work is fast-flowing and time sensitive, the higher-ups already made a decision that we are not eligible for N95 masks, and we are likely soon to be having increased public access since my area is starting to open things up.

    1. NotAPirate*

      My work is talking about staggering shifts, and staggering WFH and in office days so there will be less people physically in the room at once.

      1. Llama Face!*

        We are currently keeping about half our staff as WFH or rotating between home shift periods and workplace shift periods and I’m definitely going to urge them to continue this practice even as we open up more.

      1. Llama Face!*

        Thanks dragocucina, I’ll take a look at those plans and see what I can glean.

    2. Observer*

      Hand sanitizer stations and require masks. Yes, lower grade and cloth masks don’t do as well as N95 masks, but they DO make a real difference, even if you don’t get 100% cooperation.

      Provide staff with gloves and up your cleaning schedule.

      1. Llama Face!*

        That’s one thing they are doing better- they have cleaners coming in and sanitizing some high touch surfaces throughout the day. Of course the other day the cleaner was wearing his mask under his nose… (homemade mask because they are also not getting work supplies).

        I’m not sure if we’d have security issues around insisting on face coverings for everyone entering and working in the building (due to the type of work we do) but I might run it by my employers to see if they’d be open to it.

  77. Miss May*

    Does anybody have any good strategies for dealing with people that believe the C-19 pandemic is a hoax? Or aren’t taking it is seriously? Most of the time I go out of my way to stay out of conversations, or be non-committal, but sometimes I just. can’t. help. it (I’m a scientist, but coworkers are not).

    One girl I work with said that she was convinced that her boyfriend had COVID in November, and I interjected telling her that was nigh impossible, as we are in the Midwest, and the virus was hardly out of china at that time. But since that small interjection I’ve tried to keep it to myself.

    1. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      Well, now there are indications that COVID may have been here earlier than January so it’s possible but unlikely.

      There is no bonus points in attempting to persuade non-believers otherwise. First, your information and resources have to be solid. Second, you have to speak as an authority and since many people don’t believe Dr. Fauci or Dr. Birx, you’re not going to be too successful either.

      You.Must.Help.It. Your mental health depends on being the best scientist you can be and not a wanna-be persuader. There are many reasons why people believe it’s a hoax (not me) and you have to go deep into that psyche to change it. You can only control yourself, your mask-wearing, and handwashing self. It’s regretful that the lack of consensus, if not being safe with and caring for one another, is so lacking.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      I’ve been going with a very condescending “YIIIIKES” when I can get away with it. Then I leave or end the conversation.

      I had a customer try to get me to say that OF COURSE he was being sarcastic when he said to inject disinfectant into our veins because HAR HAR some political parties are so dumb! I started talking like I didn’t hear her, asked a question, and then “Karen? Karen? Are you still there Karen? UGH! This headset. If you can hear me, I am going to hang up and call you back.” Gave it a minute, and called her back. By then she’d forgotten what she was saying.

    3. fposte*

      Generally I don’t engage. If they haven’t believed it yet I’m not likely to make the difference and it ups my aggro and the workplace aggro to fight about it. If it’s clear that I’m expected to respond I just go with “I don’t see it that way myself.” The end.

      (Some huge percentage of America believes they already had it–there was a WaPo article on the phenomenon. I wouldn’t bother getting into that with somebody at all.)

    4. Amy Sly*

      There are many positions between believing the virus is a hoax and believing that the latest news is 100% accurate, seeing how often the news changes from day to day. We’ve gone from “masks are useless” to “masks are mandatory if the economy is to open up”; from “smoking makes the virus more lethal” to “smoking seems to reduce the risk of death”; from “ventilators are vital lifesaving equipment” to “patients do better without ventilators.” (Not to mention contradictions like scientist/policy consultant Neil Ferguson saying that married couples who were apart at the beginning of the lockdown shouldn’t return to each other even as his married lover with a Covid-sick husband was travelling across the country to bump uglies with him — in determining what is safe should we look at his words or his actions?)

      Frankly, treating today’s headlines with a bit of skepticism seems more rational than assuming that the scientists and policymakers have now got this thing 100% figured out. Unless you’re one of the virologists or epidemiologists working with classified or non-published information, you don’t know anything more about this than anyone else could. The best you can do is say that someone’s information is incorrect based on the information published today, and the best way to destroy people’s faith in scientists is to use your credentials in one area to lend authority to your pronouncements in areas outside your study.

    5. leapingLemur*

      My concern would be in how/whether their beliefs are impacting others. Someone who thinks masks are silly but still wears them and observes proper social distancing, etc. as appropriate – fine, whatever. Someone who tells me they’re planning to be part of demonstrations against social distancing – I’ll try to encourage them to at least take precautions while demonstrating.

    6. Fikly*

      You’re not going to change their minds, so give up on that right away.

      If I engage with those idiots, I do so if there are other people around, not to engage with the idiots, but so that those listening realize it’s ok to speak up, and that the conspiracy theorists are in the minority.

      If the only person around is one of the nutters, I don’t engage, there’s no point in wasting my energy on them, unless they’re doing something illegal/against clear policy, like refusing to wear a mask. And then I just report them.

    7. Observer*

      Actually, you are wrong about it being impossible, as others have noted. And even if she were wrong, who cares?

      Stick to the people whose “advice” is harmful, like dismissing the use of masks, physical distance etc. or whose attitude is cavalier about who is vulnerable.

      Someone wants to drink and orange juice and turmeric cocktail? Put an onion in every room? Whatever. As long as they don’t put the onions in the office.

    8. Penguin*

      You could try pointing out that for-profit entities (for example, Disneyland) that are unlikely to be going along with some kind of hoax when doing so directly impacts their bottom line are nonetheless very emphatically closed.

  78. Bagel Enthusiast*

    Today’s my last day at my first internship, and I have an exit interview scheduled. Is there anything I should do to prepare?

    1. irene adler*

      Be positive. If there’s an opportunity to do so, might tell them something positive you gained from your intern experience.
      And thank them for the opportunity too.

      Never know if you’ll be applying for a job there down the line. So leave them with a positive impression.

  79. Scout Finch*

    How do you organize your documents for work? I am struggling – ending up with too many folders.

    We have OneDrive. Bosses want us to use it, but I am not sure how secure it is.

    Any suggestions are welcome.

    1. J.B.*

      OneDrive should be as secure as your server. It is a Microsoft product and I think they sell it to companies that way.

    2. Alianora*

      Hard to say without knowing what type of documents you have. In general, standard file naming and taxonomy is helpful.

      I used to verify financial transactions, so I kept a folder for each month with all the receipts I received. When there was a big trip spanning several months, I kept all the documents related to that trip in the same folder as well.

      Now I work in an office that signs a lot of agreements, so I keep the ones that are in active negotiations in a folder called “my agreements.” We have a database, so the ones that are fully executed live there – I don’t save them on my computer. I also have a folder called “reference” for miscellaneous reference documents, and a folder for files related to our database.

    3. Sherm*

      Finding the best way to have folders-within-folders is key for me. For example, I help out a number of different people, so each one has their folder — I have a “Smith” folder, etc. And then within those folders are folders devoted to different projects, and then within those may be folders associated with the year the files were prepared, or with who the files were sent out to externally, and so forth.

      Folders can be like cleaning your house, too, where you ask yourself, “Am I really going to need this anymore?” I personally wouldn’t delete anything, but eventually files go into “Misc” or “Old stuff” folders to avoid clutter.

    4. Scout Finch*

      I work in IT, supporting about 30 third-party software applications. User guides & documentation that accompany an upgrade are easy to file.

      I struggle with mini-projects that may involve 5 of applications, ideas that may improve workflow, data for custom applications developed by my coworkers and other assorted one-offs.

  80. dragocucina*

    I have to share about my new job! I was the executive director of a public library. The staff, foundation, and I worked together to do some amazing things over the years. New building (renovating an old supermarket into the new library, 80% paid by donors), nationally recognized programs, being awarded grants that no one else in the state received, etc. The people I worked with were amazing and dedicated. The governing board of trustees, as with many non-profits, didn’t really have a clue about our day-t0-day operations, and didn’t want to be involved.

    Then boom, one group of local politicians decided to pull funding from the library to support a pet project for less than two dozen people. When the public pushed back a couple of the politicians went after me to paint me as fiscally irresponsible, overpaid, and incompetent. The lies were so bad that one of politicos lost the backing of his party and lost his primary in March. Lost BIG. Still the board wouldn’t respond and I was left fighting on my own.

    Miraculously in February out of the blue I was offered a position as W2 contractor at a local branch of a government agency (To Infinity and Beyond!). I’m the senior librarian starting a new library. I received a raise. My first day was March 16th. On the 16th I turned in my HR paperwork and on the 17th I was given a laptop and told to tele-work.

    It’s been wild. I went from little leadership from my board and bad leadership from local officials. I’ve spent this week having different people tell me how impressed they are with what I’ve accomplished in this work from home situation. They appreciate my specialized knowledge and experience. I can talk to vendors in ways they cannot. Plus, the contracting company told us that they are giving us bonuses to help cover unplanned expenses during work from home. Since I’m commuting to my dining room this was a really nice surprise. New stretchy pants!

    I’m not used it and I’ve teared up talking to my husband about how much stress has been lifted from me. Heck, I lost 10 pounds the first month because I wasn’t stress eating.

  81. No References*

    I’m breaking to rules here to ask a question I desperately need an answer to. I recently submitted this to Alison, but I’ve also submitted it in the past with no response and I need to get out of my current job for a number of reasons.

    What do I do if I have no professional references? “Surely, there must be someone; are you thinking hard enough?” I hear you ask. Yes I am, and don’t call me Shirley!

    I have held three jobs in my life: (1) grocery store clerk (no longer in touch with managers or coworkers, none of which are still there anyway), (2) Temporary position for a high school English teacher a decade ago (no longer in touch with coworkers, managers, who are no longer there anyway, and this is irrelevant to the work I am doing) and (3) The HR job I have held for the last decade, which cannot, under any circumstances, know I am planning to leave. My best references would obviously be those who work with me at job #3/current job but it is a small company and if I asked ANYONE to provide a reference, I would be outed. This actually happened in the past and my boss sabotaged the job offer I had by calling the other company and saying I had no integrity (she told me she believed my integrity to be gone since I had “job searched behind her back”). She ALLOWED me to stay on after this “incident” but things have gotten worse and she has “never forgiven me or learned to trust me again.” I have stayed because, well Bills, and the fact that I cannot offer any references. I do not work with customers or vendor (I’m in HR) to ask them to speak as my references, and have not had any experience volunteering (my schedule is packed, even outside of work, caring for a loved one). I honestly don’t know what to do.

    1. dragocucina*

      My oldest son ran into this in the restaurant business. Some folded, some were crazy, etc.

      First, you could list your current job, but with the condition that they not be contacted. This isn’t unusual. Don’t mention it the reference until absolutely necessary.

      Second, is there is any volunteer work you could list as a reference. Much of the same skills are involved. Reliability, ability to complete tasks, leadership, etc.

    2. Colette*

      Has anyone else left your current company? That’s one source for references.

      Volunteer work is another.

      And you can also look at finding your references for job 2 on linked in.

      But also, some jobs don’t check references, so be careful not to borrow trouble.

    3. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      Could you use LinkedIn to get in touch with your former coworkers from job 2? Is there anyone you know from job 3 that has left the company that you could reconnect with?

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Anyone you helped in your HR role who is no longer with your company? That’s where I would look. Do you belong to any professional organizations, or had any training where you made contacts that would be willing to say something? Finally, any friends who are willing?

    5. emmelemm*

      I don’t have any good suggestions but wanted to let you know I’m in the same boat. I’ve worked for the same small company for 20 years, and my boss/the owner would not be a reference for me because he would flip his lid. I do have some former co-workers, but the last of them left maybe 6 years ago? and the strongest one who worked with me for the longest time passed away. I could certainly get in touch with these former coworkers, but Alison is always saying if they only worked with you a long time ago, it’s very weak, and they weren’t my boss (even though I personally think coworkers can speak to your work pretty well – they can say you were collaborative or you weren’t, that you got things to them on time, etc.), and Alison says coworker references are also really weak.

      It’s… very frustrating.

    6. a thought occurs*

      You said you’ve been caring for a loved one–this would be a stretch for sure, but can any of them speak to anything “professionally” based on your relationship? If you were a professional caregiver, people like physical therapists, etc could possibly speak to your professionalism and flexibilty, those kinds of things. Maybe there’s something you can use there?

      (To be clear, you’re not asking your family member’s doctor to say you’re a great HR person. But perhaps they (or someone in their office) could speak to your great organization skills and thoroughness when submitting paperwork. I don’t know, that’s just a thought.)

    7. Product Person*

      “managers who are no longer there anyway” <- Just want to point out that this has always been the case for me, and was never a problem.

      Every time I listed a former manager or coworker as a reference, they weren't with the same company anymore, and often had already retired, and nobody cares! Their ability to speak to your skills, work ethics, etc, doesn't go away because they are no longer with the same employer.

      May not solve No References problem, but maybe will help someone else: when you leave a job, make sure to exchange contact information with former supervisors and coworkers who can speak highly of you. I can't count how many times this helped me land a new job. In many cases the employer didn't even bother to call all of them; just seeing how quickly I could provide 3 or more references including at least one former manager and one grandboss made them want to expedite the hiring process.

      Good luck, and start the habit of collecting potential references from now own!

  82. Undine*

    I just want to give a shout out to my employer for doing something right. I have been able to take a voluntary 20% reduction in hours for a 10% reduction in pay. They’ve offered this for up to three months during the pandemic. I don’t think many people are taking it because of everyone’s fears about money, but I am dealing with a non coronavirus crisis and it’s a huge help.

  83. grad student in quarantine*

    I’m a grad student in a STEM PhD program, and am going to be one of the grad student representatives on the committee for our department thinking about reopening research labs (as soon as our state/county allows). I’m one of the only people on the committee that doesn’t work in a wet lab (they wanted multiple perspectives to think about how this will affect computational/field based work as well).

    So far, my priorities are:
    1) Make sure that no one (particularly grad students/techs/postdocs with less power) are pressured into breaking quarantine. I don’t want anyone to have to ‘out’ themselves as being either immuno-compromised or as having the virus because I see how that stigma can carry with people.

    2) Make sure that people are able to safely work AND safely distance from each other.

    3) Make sure that risks are communicated quickly. Like if someone has been exposed, that everyone in the lab/on the same floor should be aware?

    I’m mostly concerned with the implementation of #1 and #3. If your PI wants you in the lab, I don’t see how you can get out of it without ‘outing’ yourself– any suggestions? Mostly, I think that the PIs who are going to be totally understanding and not biased against any health issues are not going to be the same PIs that are pushing their students/techs to go into the lab… And how do you balance privacy with efficient reporting of risk?

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I assume the university has HR for the graduate student workforce? If so, the grad students in #1 could be asked to submit a note from their PCP that they are being recommended to WFH due to a medical condition and doesn’t have to specify what. HR can then communicate with the PIs which grad students are allowed to work on papers/presentations, talks, read journals, etc from home.

      The other option is self-reporting, however, that ends up being either subjective or subject to abuse. Nearly everyone either has an older relative they care about or had some health issue at some time – you might end up with too many people refusing to come in to work because they occasionally grocery shop for their grandparents or some other reason which may not be justifiable. The doctor’s note follows the same rules as workplace standards (being a grad student IS work) and is more fair.

    2. NotAPirate*

      Pre lockdown our safety department had us all list out room by room who works in there and what is their contact info. It was a pain to do. But the idea was solid, if we know Joe is positive and worked on the centrifuge in that room we have a list of the other people who may have been in the room and need to be told to self quarantine. Our labs are open, like 3 labs per “room” with benches, then small rooms for various shared equipment, really terrible for isolating people.

      Re 1 – I can tell you immediately that my terrible former boss (old lab) would start questioning if people really are compromised vs if they just want to stay home. That job required doctors notes to be out for more than 2 days, even for the grad students. Could you have students get their doctor to write a generic “Student A should not work in lab right now due to medical concerns” type statement, without disclosing actual issues?

      People should not hide having the virus. The university needs to notify people in shared spaces so they can watch out for symptoms and self isolate. They can do that without giving names, but you need to let people know. One of the requirements for getting the test here, is having been exposed to a positive person. Our procedure is we notify our safety guy (who has the massive lists of people by room), and then he notifies the contact person for each lab affected who then calls all their labs people. (Joe in the centrifuge room has it, Joe tells safety head, safety head pulls lists of labs who use that room sometimes, safety head calls contact for each of those labs, contact calls their lab members).

    3. CatsAway*

      The university where I work hasn’t opened up to non-essential on-campus work but they have started to take proposals/plans about allowing non-essential research on campus. I haven’t seen any communication about official policies/protections for students or workers who don’t feel safe working in person yet. However, the university has been clear that it won’t be research at 100% yet, and that labs will have to follow some minimum social distancing guidelines (everyone in masks, enough space for everyone in the lab, no face to face meetings etc) and they’ve made clear that if they find a lab not following guidelines research will be shut down. Emails I’ve gotten have also made it explicit that if you can work from home you are still expected to do so. So it might be good to see what the universities plan is, and then build your plan off of that.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      1) It’s not just the employee/grad student. If they live with someone immuno-compromised they may also not want to come in – puts that person at risk.
      2) Both require masks, six feet of separation, will there be any kind of divider between work stations? And pay attention to cleaning protocols – what will be done, how often. Are you providing hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, etc.
      3) Yes, communicate quickly, but are you deep cleaning the places where that person worked, and especially near by high touch areas such as door handles, restrooms? People will want that info, too.
      4) I’d recommend a log-in system so you know who was in on what day for contact tracing purposes. (If you have badges and swipe in, your security people may be able to track this.)

      Good luck!

  84. J.B.*

    Just a general arrgh. I got contacted by an in house recruiter to apply for something rush rush. Then a couple of weeks later I got a form rejection “we had many applicants”. No, I strongly suspect that you didn’t. You were probably contacting me to make up your numbers. (Whether or not they were, it would have been really nice to get something a little more realistic.) Alas. Take a breath, move on.

  85. Stormin Norman*

    Has anyone else had their employer go radio silent on them during the COVID-19 shutdown?

    My last day at work was March 18th. My company never bothered to tell me we were closing- I showed up for work on the 19th and found a sign on the door saying we were closed until April 6th. Our work cannot be done from home, so this means that I’ve been unemployed since then. I received a call from my boss saying that we would not be reopening on April 6th and that we were closed until the city/county stated we could reopen. That was the last time I heard from my company.

    Earlier this week, the city and county announced reopening effective May 18th, but with restrictions in place. I reached out to my boss (the co-owner of the company) but no response whatsoever.

    Has anyone else had an experience like this? How did you handle it? The anxiety of not knowing whether or not I’m expected back to work in just over a week is killing me, as is the anxiety of not knowing what, if any, plans have been made to keep us safe when we do return to work.

    1. RC Rascal*

      Here is my thought on this:

      What you are experiencing is the equivalent of someone reporting to work on Friday and learning the business is closed. (This happened to a friend of mine).

      You are out of work; they just don’t want to tell you. Please proceed like you are unemployed. If someone calls you and asked you to come back, then you have a job again. But for now, consider yourself out of work.

      The COVID is just a cover for routine bad employer behavior.

    2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Yeah, I’d be pretty ticked off in your place.

      My guess is they are re-opening, just with a reduced staff…and for whatever reason it doesn’t include you. And they’re being cowards about it.

  86. New Senior Manager*

    I met with direct reports in my new role this week. One young woman is interested in promotion to a leadership SME position. I discussed it with grand boss for future. She said the direct report is a top performer but she’s know around the office as being very sweet, nice, always willing to buy a sympathy card or bring donuts, and has a sincere and warm relationship with everyone. She ended there and I told grand boss I’m waiting for the but. She said I need to see her as a leader, so groom her into leadership and I’ll take a second look. Anyone been through this? How can I help this woman to have a chance? I know she will be great because she also has both individual contributor and management skills. Sounds like grand boss is saying she needs to change her image. Help! All advice welcome here.

    1. NotAPirate*

      Give her the lead on some large projects with multiple people involved, so big boss and you can see how she manages others and what she needs to learn.

      Give her some tasks that involve decision making, so big boss can see she has good judgement.

    2. new kid*

      Did you get the sense the image problem was ‘too nice’ and he’s worried she can’t have the tougher conversation/make the tougher decisions needed in a leadership role? That’s the only thing I can come up with based on your description of the conversation. It might be helpful to try to clarify where exactly the perceived deficiency is because then you could coach her on that specifically or give her opportunities to show her strength in that area – eg. if it is the ‘too nice’ issue, see if you can give her a project that’s known to have some stronger personalities on it and see how she’s able to manage that/push back against them when needed, or etc.

      1. New Senior Manager*

        Yes! That was mentioned. Tough conversations and if she can have those conversations with “people who worship her in this department.” Quoting his words. Thank you.

    3. Alianora*

      Just gonna say, your description of your employee sounds a lot like my director, and she’s pretty widely acknowledged as a great boss! I don’t think the donuts/friendliness is a problem, but it’s also not the main thing that makes her an effective leader – she’s very good at communicating clearly, giving feedback, and aligning us towards a common goal. So those skills would be the main thing I’d look for in a manager. Could be the sweet image is overshadowing her leader-ly qualities.

      1. New Senior Manager*

        She’s good at communicating clearly? giving feedback, and specifically uplifting employees and helping them feel special, one on one, especially during tough times. Thanks!

    4. fposte*

      This is a classic example of how putting visible energy into traditionally female social extras can hurt you.

      It’s not clear from your description whether this is somebody who has otherwise fulfilled all the usual qualifications or not. That’s actually a question you might raise with grandboss–if you do consider her a leader and can articulate why, maybe you can get some specifics about what kinds of leadership she needs to demonstrate in addition.

      And, tbh, I’d suggest to her that she dial back on the donuts and cards and focus more on visible contributions in meetings, initiative on projects, etc., and I’d do my best to make sure grandboss noticed when she was stepping up.

      1. New Senior Manager*

        Yes, we do see her as a leader, and grandboss acknowledged that. Like you, I think putting visible energy into female roles has worked against her. Despite boss usually being the first person in line to grab 2 or 3 of her homemade donuts when she brings them. Although I didn’t hear it, another employee once mentioned someone made a joke that she this employee would make a great wife and leader. I have some serious side eye to this ‘compliment.’ I will use your suggestions, thanks.

        1. fposte*

          And I’d feel free to honestly acknowledge the irrationality of it with her. This does sound like a sexist hoop to jump through.

    5. New Senior Manager*

      Meeting set with direct report for Monday. Plan is to discuss suggestions mentioned here and discuss participating on a new project to gain to see her in action. She has no formal leadership or management experience. That was something grand boss mentioned twice. Like someone mentioned above, I think her image is one of sweet, collaborative team player and its overshadowing her leadership(ly) qualities in grand boss eyes. There is a way an employee have both but I can’t think of anyone in our company who carries it off well to even use as an example. For now, we will start here, and if anyone has any other suggestions of things to discuss I’m open to all feedback.

  87. Bigglesworth*

    Happy news: I just submitted my last paper and have finished my last law school exam. I’m so very excited that this part of my education is over and done with. Law school has stretched me in ways I would have never thought possible, but I’m glad I don’t have to feel the pressure of the curve again.

    Meh news: I’ve withdrawn from a hiring process without a current job or another one in the works. I was originally planning on moving to Nashville after graduation to be closer to my parents (Dad diagnosed with ALS in the fall made this an ASAP move). However, he passed before Covid hit so I’m back to job searching in DC. My career services person sent me a job in a nearby jurisdiction I don’t want to work in with a firm that has a reputation for burning out its associates. I applied to keep her happy, but didn’t put any thought into my application. Surprise! Got an interview. Went to the interview and oh my stars… not great. The woman interviewer was great, but asked some weird questions. The man interviewer kept discussing how much time I’d have to spend marketing myself and the firm while being a first-year associate. He kept talking over both me and the other interviewer and she seemed to be getting really fed up with it. Also, his first question was, “Are you just someone who hasn’t been able to line anything up yet or did you lose your job to Covid?” It was said in a very condescending way, which put me off immediately.

    My gut was sending me very big bad juju vibes, so I withdrew from the process the next day. The last time I didn’t follow my gut concerning a firm job, I ended up spending nine months being gaslighted with a boss who claimed that he was the real victim of my dad’s diagnosis since I quit shortly after he got it so I could spend more time with him. Spouse is entirely on board with my decision since he’s been the one dealing with the fallout ever since (in his words, I went from a self-confident, take over the world woman to someone who second-guessed every decision I made). Glad I made the decision, but job-bunting in the midst of a pandemic sucks.

    1. Tabby Baltimore*

      If you’re searching for jobs in D.C., then I hope you’ll consider coming to work for the federal government. It’s my understanding that lawyers often find the work challenging enough, but the hours are much more reasonable than the hours you’d be putting in at a corporate firm. Congratulations on finishing, and best of luck on finding a job.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Honestly, I would love to work for the federal government. My first two internships were with different agencies/commission. I’ve kept in touch with my supervisors at both and was actively seeking employment with the feds before the news about my dad came up in the fall. My GPA isn’t great so I don’t qualify for the honors programs, but I’m hoping my connections will be able to help me find a job soon.

  88. what to do*

    I am planning on doing a wide-range job search after my city’s lockdown is over. I am planning on using all job search methods I can find — recruiters/staffing firms, job boards, company websites, etc. There might be times when there are job offers that comes through after I just accepted a new job or signed a contract with a recruiter. I wanted to ask how do I deal with such situations?

    How do you deal when you get a job offer letter from a more attractive job after you just accepted a job with a recruiter or staffing agency? You might be doing the job from staffing firm’s client’s company in the first few days or the first few months and you got a job offer from a job you really want. What if the contract with the staffing firm is for many more months or a year? Will it be okay if I break the recuiter’s contract?

    I understand that companies need to pay staffing firms for hiring staff for them and recruiters’ reputations are on the line with the services they provide for their clients. But job seekers have a difficult task of juggling job offers and also thinking about whether our jobs will fulfill our careers or help us pay the bills in the long run.

    My background: I have been laid off from my job during the pandemic. It was a job with a company I love and it is the first job I got without having to rely on nepotism. But at the end of the day I am just an expenditure for the company, and I had to be let go. I usually don’t have too much luck with job search, mostly relying on job boards or nepotism. I am in my 30s and have never held a job with a “Senior” or “Level 2” title. Just positions that are a close to entry level. I have figured now that a job is something that I cannot love. I have to search through multiple entities, government, companies, nonprofits, etc. in order to find my jobs. I don’t get to choose my industries, it is more like the industries choo