workers want support and flexibility, not quizzes and costume contests

As COVID-19 upends everything about how we work, many employers with newly remote staffs are trying to figure out how to support employees emotionally — and are leaning heavily on things like virtual happy hours, team games on Slack or Zoom, and personal check-ins centered on mental health. But in the process, some of them are actually increasing employees’ stress rather than easing it.

This has been a constant theme in my mail since the pandemic started, so at Slate today, I wrote about why many of these initiatives feel more intrusive than supportive, and what employers should be doing instead. You can read it here.

{ 140 comments… read them below }

  1. London Calling*

    I really hope that all this concern for employees and their mental and emotional health lasts when we are back at work. As I’ve had one catch up call from my manager in 10 weeks, excuse me if I’m cynical about all this. My department’s main concern seems to have been ‘how much work can we get out of them now they’re captive at home? and believe me, I’m not forgetting that when I was on my knees with stress, my manager’s reaction was to shrug and pretty much say so what?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I agree. I hope that one positive outcome of this is that as a society we are more open to discussing mental health issues.

    2. Retail not Retail*

      I doubt it’ll last – Kroger stopped their extra pay pretty darn fast for “essential” workers and we were supposed to get nice raises this year well now we’re broke. Thanks for working extra hard, we’ll revisit those raises somewhere down the line.

      1. A*

        I am sympathetic, but in regards to raises – if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there. I don’t think we can hold this against employers the same way we would under more typical circumstances.

    3. Lauren*

      I’m right there with you. When I went to my manager asking that we reprioritize work and adjust expectations for productivity, I was met with, “This is a great time to take on new projects” and “Watch this webinar on resiliency.”

      My husband and I work full-time and have a two-year old with no daycare at the moment. People need understanding, not another thing to do.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Do they not understand what 2 year olds are like? Lots of mobility, usually not so much worry about where they’re going.

        1. Lauren*

          Apparently not, and I’m asked every week when daycare is reopening. The two other folks on my team who have kids still have their nannies coming over. Our state is on lockdown and I’m a huge rule follower, so no daycare for us right now!

          1. Applesauced*

            Kids are germ factories on a good day, let alone during a pandemic – that’s going to be a very tough call for parents who don’t feel safe sending kids back to daycare when they reopen and companies that expect them to.

            1. Lauren*

              Absolutely – I keep asking myself if I’m wanting to send him back when daycare re-opens for his sake, my sanity, or to keep my job. And I don’t really like any of those options.

              My industry is one that has not been negatively impacted by COVID-19 (and is not likely to) – and I am predicting a mass exodus when things somewhat normalize.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        I *hate* when employers respond to stuff that abuses people with recommendations for courses on “resiliency”. No, jerks, being resilient doesn’t mean that I should swallow unquestioningly your garbage changes.

        (rant) I had to learn how to walk and talk again. A change to a crappy open plan with a worse commute that I loathe doesn’t mean that I am not “resilient”, it means that your “new, modern” office sucks. Stop being so damn patronizing. Your garbage cargo cult nonsense is not normal, reasonable, and shouldn’t require me to increase my “resiliency” in order to cope with your changes! (/rant)

        Seriously, whenever my employer has pushed “resiliency” training, it means they are doing garbage changes that they know are abusive, but have decided to do anyway and put the burden of coping on the employees.

        Needless to say, I tend to view that kind of “training” to mean nothing more than “shut up and obey, peon” when recommended by an employer.

        1. Lauren*

          That was my (internal) reaction! It felt like they were saying, “Oh, you’re a little stressed because you’ve been doing two full-time jobs with no breaks for 75 days? Watch this webinar to toughen up!” I don’t need training to better my circumstances – I need understanding. And wow, if you learned how to walk and talk again, I’d say you’re pretty damn resilient and likely have a good perspective on these kinds of changes.

          This is the same company that issued a survey to all employees to see how we were doing and how they could offer support. I was very, very honest in my responses – not complaining, but saying that this is the time to reprioritize and give people leeway, not pile on projects and cut deadlines in half. They went through the feedback recently in a firm-wide meeting and said it was ALL positive! The company is not large, so my feedback would’ve made a difference. I had an Elle Woods from Legally Blonde moment where I yelled “LIAR!” at my computer screen (on mute, of course).

  2. Jedi Squirrel*

    That’s a great post, Alison! Thank you.

    *emails it to every boss in the world*

    1. Princess Deviant*

      Yes, agreed. I could have written that first letter – I had to do a double take!

    2. Batty Twerp*

      “in the world”.
      Yes – because I’m prepared to bet others outside the continental United States will join me in saying we’re getting it too.
      Actually, my company isn’t *too* bad. We’ve got the “new pet colleagues” photo montage and a lip sync battle, but the only major difference between these messages and the ones we used to get when we were in the office is the frequency – every two weeks instead of once a month. I ignored them then, and I ignore them now. They’re entirely opt-in, and I’ve set a rule to move emails from the “Social Engagement Team” to a different folder – I’ll read them if I feel like it.

      I’m having more of a problem with my non-work related (an evening dance class) WhatsApp Group – *they* are driving me batty! I’ve left once, and got added back in by the dance class instructor who thought it was a mistake. I’ve muted all notifications from this group and now have approximately 500 unread messages to archive before bedtime.

    3. Amanda*

      Yes, every boss should read this.

      My company is being pretty awesome, actually. At the begining they asked what schedule worked best, and flexed it as close to that as posible; as long as you had a couple hours in the usual core hours available, managers weren’t even allowed to object, they were just notified. Even the people who requested middle of the night were accomodated as much as possible. Health insurance was upgraded, and they allowed us to flex some of our benefits.

      They’re doing all the pet-pictures, happy hours, send us a video, etc. But it’s all truly truly optional. We get ONE email about it, and that’s it until there’s a compilation video about it. After the first email, HR added a link to anonymously report anyone that got pushy about it, and I know some people got a talking to. I have actually forwarded a couple recent letters here to my HR, as sugestions for new stuff or as “in case something like this comes up”, and I know a couple of them started reading AAM since then.

  3. BeesKneeReplacement*

    “expected to attend the virtual weekly town hall in costume theme” Oh, noooooooo. I’m not really a costume person in general and right now I’m one of those parents barely holding it together. I don’t think I’d even attend a weekly town hall. Sounds chaotic and unhelpful and like yet another thing eating what little time I have during the day to get work done. Where are people expected to get these costumes from anyways?

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      That “expected to attend” part has me wondering how much people are pushing back against this stuff. Clearly, some companies are going to far, but I also wish more people would express that they don’t want to do this stuff.

      I did. Our weekly staff check-in meetings started having “assignments” to bring things to the meetings, which I did not like. So I just declined to the invite and said I didn’t want to do that. And I’ve declined every one that has some kind of task that I don’t like. Perhaps not everyone feels safe enough in their job to do this, but if you can, push back. Imagine if half the staff did that. That’s be great. Standing up for oneself is a service.

      And “expected” isn’t enough for me. I’d skip it. Or ask if it was required and if the response didn’t make it explicit it was required I’d skip it.

      A response like “We very much hope all staff will be there” would elicit “I don’t think I’d enjoy it, and more importantly am very busy these weeks, so I won’t be there. Thanks” from me.

      And a company-wide Slack channel “that [they] cannot mute or leave”? No. I’d write to IT and insist they deal with that – “I’m too busy at the moment to be getting notifications from this channel.”

      Don’t put up with this stuff. People should push back if they can. That’s good for them and good for their company.

      1. Super Admin*

        The Slack channel thing was mine. I asked IT directly about being removed from the Slack channel or allowing us to mute it. The response was just to clear notifications without reading them. But every time I open Slack there’s 25+ notifications in that channel and that’s an aggravation in itself!

        I’ve basically stopped using Slack and now just use Teams to contact my direct colleagues. If there’s anything important I’m sure I will also get half a dozen emails about it :P

    2. Pomona Sprout*

      That sounds like the Show and Tell activities I remember from elementary school. (Do they still do those things in elementary school?) Even then, it was purely optional, and I don’t remember feeling pressured to participate or bored by the other kids’ “sharings.” But as a mandatory or even on a “highly expected” basis for ADULTS? Ugh, no. In a WORK context? Double ugh, hell no.

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Whoops, this was meant to be a response in another thread! Gonna copy and paste it there–sorry in advance for the duplication (since I don’t have a way to delete this).

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        It’s called “sharing” in my child’s school nowadays. Very much optional.

    3. Llama Face!*

      “Where are people expected to get these costumes from anyways?”
      Well if nothing else there’s always the birthday suit… ;)
      Bonus: It may shut down the costume party for good.
      Of course you may end up fired so probably don’t do it.

    4. Nanani*

      In my darker moments I wonder how much this garbage is driven by the urge to claw back any gain in time (such as from not having to commute) in the form of time spent focusing on the company.
      Some people cannot abide the idea of others having any free time at all.
      Employees with leisure cannot possibly have worked enough! MORE mandatory activities! You can only be sure that people are working enough when they spend 100% of their time on what you want them to do and 0% on what they want to do!

        1. James*

          It isn’t even a focus, except among idiots. Well-rested and happy workers are focused and productive workers. And business owners under capitalism hire people, they do not own them. “Payment for services rendered”, not “Grasp while grasp can.”

          1. Junger*

            They may be terrible at managing, but there are entire industries based on constantly overworking people and just replacing anyone who breaks down or flees for less rotting pastures.

          2. tangerineRose*

            Also, well-rested, happy workers tend to stay at the company and recommend it to friends. Turnover, on the other hand, is expensive.

          3. NaoNao*

            But with all due respect, you’re thinking about long term gains—perhaps even years out. “Well rested” workers absolutely perform better—but there are plenty of hungry/desperate first job/early 20 somethings who are willing and able to work crazy hours for a company—for much less than the well-rested, tenured employee.

            Even the quickest of perusals through this website will show you hundreds of examples of employers “inexplicably” treating employees **terribly** to get an extremely minor payout/advantage/short term gain.

            This has been played out through history too. Chances to sustainably maintain land and resources, which is unarguably better for the entire world, or pay workers better wages (that would result in “rounding error” type extra charges to the company) were roundly dismissed as socialist or worse.

            I respectfully suggest you check out the blog post “Sick Systems” for an eye opening look into certain toxic job and employer cultures.

            1. James*

              Removed. This thread has been perfectly clam and respectful. People are just presenting a different viewpoint. Calling them toxic for that isn’t okay. – Alison

              1. WantonSeedStitch*

                It may just be because I’m thinking about having fried clams for dinner that this minor typo amused me way more than it should have. :) (Also, thanks for keeping things civil.)

      1. Valegro*

        My old boss was like that. Somehow having personal time or emergencies was a betrayal to our clients. It led to a very uneven on call rotation because one person would overschedule herself on her on call days which meant she went home an hour “late” and someone else would be out for hours after closing. The whole job was like the owner read the Sick Systems blog post and decided it was a delightful plan for success. Boss would literally guilt trip us if we couldn’t stay late and wait for them to finish all their work before deigning to speak to us about some minor matter two hours after we were done.

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I have costumes around, but I also do theater and went to Renaissance faires. Most business people don’t do that stuff, so good luck. We couldn’t get 90% of my office to do more than maybe put on cat ears at Halloween before anyway.

  4. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

    My organization is doing things pretty well in terms of amount of activities – not too much but some efforts to connect.

    But our weekly connection meeting is too programmed – we have to come prepared to bring some “fun” thing such as movie we like. So it’s a chore at times.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      That sounds like the Show and Tell activities I remember from elementary school! (Do they still do those things in elementary school?) Even then, it was purely optional, and I don’t remember feeling pressured to participate or bored by the other kids’ “sharings.” But as a mandatory or even on a “highly expected” basis for ADULTS? Ugh, no. In a WORK context? Double ugh, hell no.

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Some people like it. Which is cool – people want to connect to colleagues and this seems to help.

        I don’t like this stuff, so I skip it. No big deal, and it’s a nice offering by the organization.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        We are doing Show and Tell at work, literally, once a month. I’m fine with that, it’s actually relaxing at work for a change doing that.

    2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      We have about the right level, I think (for us, ymmv):
      A dedicated intranet page on Covid-19 as it affects us (office rules, travel authorization forms, country-by-country regulations, EAP, …)
      About every two weeks a CEO video address (with transcript, yay!) published on the intranet
      A company news post on the intranet when needed, every few days – but no regurgitation of news you’d get on CNN
      In my team, we have a virtual daily virtual coffee break to chitchat, entirely voluntary and attended on average by 3 out of 5 team members.
      That’s it, no costuming (wtf?), funny hats or chores.


    I never want a costume day or a happy hour or a ‘fun’ quiz. This unite the team stuff is such BS and was such before Covid 19. Pay well, work to develop and support a good work culture, provide proactive management and non-adversarial HR. You will have a happy workforce.
    They’ll have fun together with no intervention if you have set the table with a non-dysfunctional workplace. Team building does not fix poor work force dynamics and does little to improve well-functioning teams. In short, it’s a band-aid stuck on a wall.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      +1000! If you didn’t have it in place before, it’s not likely you’re going to get it together now.

    2. Gotta go anon now*

      Yes x100. Pay well, develop a good culture, and may I add, train managers how to actually manage.
      My workplace has become a dumpster fire since the Crisis. Our turnover was terrible before but now it is out of control. People are just walking away from their posts, some even long time employees. I don’t see an end in sight.
      I predict the business will be shuttered within the year unless drastic changes are made.

    3. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “This unite the team stuff is such BS and was such before Covid 19. ”

      “They’ll have fun together with no intervention if you have set the table with a non-dysfunctional workplace. ”

      I don’t agree. Mandatory events are really bad, but a company creating space/opportunities for this sort of thing is a good idea for people who are feeling isolated – especially now. We spend so much time at work that some of these things can be great.

      They absolutely cannot substitute for good management, fair treatment and good pay and benefits. But they are not bad things if they are perqs and don’t siphon off too much resources.

      I skip almost all of my organization’s after-hours parties. I don’t like parties and would rather just go home. But some people like them – a majority or at least a large majority where I work. Arguments against them as mandatory are stronger if we don’t deny that some people like them.

      1. Anononon*

        Yes, this. To some degrees, I enjoy these types of activities, and a decent amount of people I work with do as well. They can be a nice addition at a decent workplace. I think on AAM, though, we generally only see them when workplaces think these things alone can boost morale (when it’s the opposite).

        1. Federal Middle Manager*

          Yes. AAM commenter definitely self-select towards abhorring work socialization of all stripes (which makes sense – they are choosing to read on-line comments rather than chat with a coworker *right now*!) .

          But contrary to the commenariat here, there are definitely people who enjoy the photo sharing and virtual birthday parties. I manage a team of a couple dozen people in a very conservative professional environment and I regularly hear people say how much they enjoy these things and wish we’d do more of them. As a manager, I definitely take the AAM comments on this subject with a grain of salt.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        It’s worth noting that the AAM commetariat leans heavily towards people who regard work-related socializing as a form of torture on par with waterboarding. However, there are people who genuinely enjoy this sort of thing normally, and people also people who are isolating alone and desperate for social contact.

        So I think it’s actually thoughtful of an employer to arrange venues and opportunities for social interaction. The key is that it should be not just optional but opt-in, and ideally, particularly for larger employers, there should be a couple of options to suit different people.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I am totally OK with work-related socializing. I have developed friendships this way that have lasted long after the job. It is *forced* work-related socializing that is the problem, with people whom I have nothing in common except the workplace, and who often are perfectly nice people but not ones with whom I would otherwise socialize.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Bingo. I have numerous friends from past jobs. But no one said “You have to socialize with your coworkers”. If they did I’d have been looking for a new job. I’m an introvert, and socialize when it’s my choice, not someone else’s.

      3. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I agree that these activities are fine to have for people who want to participate. But it shouldn’t be seen as betrayal or lack of commitment to the job in terms of those who prefer not to participate. One’s livelihood shouldn’t depend on whether they attend the costume-themed zoom meeting, or whether they attend with enough gusto.

      4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yes these things can be great if people want to participate, but I think the point of the initial comment is that if the work environment is toxic to begin with, no amount of socializing virtually while we’re all stuck at home is going to fix that.

    4. knead me seymour*

      I think these things are so dependent on the situation. For what it’s worth, my employer does occasional community activities like pub quizzes and participating in local parades, but they’re not imposed on anyone who doesn’t want to participate (it’s usually not managers who organize them). They arise naturally because most of my coworkers get along and have similar interests, not because someone thought it would improve morale. When morale is bad to begin with, team building can feel pretty grim.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        That’s my company’s approach. Our company is a long way from toxic and is not stingy with compensation, benefits, and flexibility, so employee engagement is not seen as an weak attempt to pacify. Activities are posted on our staff intranet and are purposely designed to be low-impact, family-friendly (a specific request from a lot of my colleagues), and of course since it’s all virtual it’s easier than ever to dip out if you’re not interested. Our employees work closely together within their teams, but it’s nice to have this light-hearted outlet to connect with the people in other departments that we’re missing.

        On the other hand, my old company held giant blow-out “staff appreciation” parties once a quarter when we hadn’t had any compensation increases or retirement contributions in six years. All the fancy free booze in the world didn’t boost my morale one bit.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I feel like if you already have a good, collegial work culture where people respect one another and enjoy working together, this kind of stuff can be fun and appreciated. For example, we have recently instituted a weekly “happy hour” on Friday afternoons during the summer, after which everyone has permission to sign off for the day, a couple hours early. One, the ability to get out early is appreciated. Two, these happy hours are not mandatory at all (or required in order to get the time off). Three, our office really is very close and friendly, with a great collegial culture, so many of us really enjoy the opportunity to chat about non-work-related stuff like which local restaurants are doing really good curbside pickup, and what new sourdough recipes folks have tried. But you hit the nail on the head: you have to build up that kind of culture with much more significant stuff, you can’t create it with little gestures. The little gestures are gravy on top when things are good, and insulting when they’re bad.

  6. Fikly*

    Spoiler alert: employees don’t want to be placated, they want actual help/benefits/compensation. They know when you’re bsing them.

    1. James*

      “She doesn’t want to be fed, she wants to hunt!”

      Sorry, couldn’t resist a Jurassic Park quote!

      But seriously, yeah. We don’t want to be treated like children, to be entertained, to have a manager act as Mommy and Daddy. We are adults (most of us anyway). We want to do our jobs, put in our 40 hours and a little overtime, then live our lives. A stable server that is easily accessible when we need to transfer files is worth 1000 costume parties. We can handle our own lives, and in those cases where we can’t a manager is not equipped, trained, or qualified to assist.

      I like how my manager is handling this situation. She has bi-weekly calls (about two more a month than normal, due to the nature of our work), touches base with us all regularly, and works as hard as she can to ensure we have the resources we need. We lower-tier folks in turn take ownership of our jobs, including looking out for ways to help each other. I like my manager. I would probably hang out with her outside of work. But she isn’t acting like a friend here. She is acting like a manager. And honestly, it helps.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Hey, it’s not a bad comparison. The T-rex didn’t get her needs properly fulfilled by being fed like that, the employees don’t get their needs properly fulfilled by having mommy manager babysit them.

  7. Magenta Sky*

    The biggest mistake (of many) that some (many) bosses make is assuming that the same approach works the same way for everyone. Some employees *want* frequent check-ins, and can be effusive in their gratitude, so the manager believes that everyone else wants the same. Those who want to be left alone to do their job are less likely, I think, to tell the boss that because everybody knows bosses far prefer to be told they’re doing things well than that they’re being annoying.

    I think there’s also a large element of “if all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.” Frequent check-ins and shallow team building exercises are the tools they have, so all problems must be solvable with them because what else is there to try? Bosses are under a lot of stress, too, doubly so because they know how bad off the company is a lot better than most of the rank and file.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep! Advertising revenue is way down since the world was upended, and paywalls after a certain number of free articles are how many publications pay their writers, including me.

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        IME certain publications have always been stingy with free articles and imposing paywalls. Forbes and Chicago Tribune, I’m looking at you.
        I’m not buying a subscription when I only read a few articles a year. I would be willing to pay a small amount – say, 25 or 50 cents – to read an article. I bet if they tried that, they’d be surprised at the revenue.
        But no, they choose to be exclusive and provide content only to subscribers, and they’ll probably lose several as people lose their incomes. Then what will they do?

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          Love this idea. I would pay per article too but don’t feel I read enough to subscribe. I was able to read this article but I’m thinking of things like NYT and WaPo.

        2. Amanda*

          I could read this one, but I so wish virtual papers and magazines would do this! I just don’t read enough of *one* media to justify a subscription, more random articles from a bunch of medias. I’d gladly pay on a per article basis!

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, I can’t afford $30 to $60 per year for 20 or more publications just to read a few articles a month. I regularly have to say “paywall, didn’t read” on Washington Post, NYT, etc.

          If they wanted $0.50/article, I might go for that. Then at the end of the year I can go back and see which publications are close enough to their annual subscription rate to get a full subscription to that publication.


          I wonder if a third party can handle a slush fund where you put a chunk of money in, then each time you read a paywall article it allocates $0.50 out of your fund to that publisher, but batches the payments weekly or biweekly. Anyone know how to start this kind of thing? Would big publications get on board with it? (Getting paid by article is a great way to track value add…) Instead of a nasty paywall subscription demand, each site participating would pop up a screen “This article costs $0.50 via micropayment. Do you agree?” and a check box. You check the box, the money comes out of your pool, the publisher gets paid, and you don’t have to subscribe to the whole publication to read one article.

    2. Pomona Sprout*

      That’s odd (to me, anyway). I’ve never encountered a paywall at Slate, except for things that are marked as being for SlatePlus members only. Must be something new over there.

      1. pieforbreakfast*

        Yeah, started a month or so ago. I finally paid the fee since I’m there regularly and have been for years.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          I guess I should bite the bullet and do that, too. I really do like Slate a lot, especially the advice columns!

    3. ...*

      Wow I’ve NEVER seen this comment here before. People getting paid for their work, something people in the literal thread above this are discussing the importance of.

  8. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

    The article quotes a poster: ‘Do I really have to share my feelings? And if my feelings are “everything is on fire and I’m worried about death at every moment,” how on earth am I supposed to phrase that to my manager in a way that doesn’t alienate everyone?’

    I think saying something like “I’m very stressed at work – X, Y and Z project are important and we don’t seem to have the communications systems set to be as effective as we were in the office. So it’s difficult.. And I’m sure many of us are also stressed at home and worried about our own safety” would be good.

    At lot of people are feeling very stressed out. Speaking truth like that would be refreshing to many people who here it. And if the manager is good, they want some truth, not just happy talk.

    That’s not alienating unless the vast majority of people in the organization are doing great. But they aren’t. No way. Some significant minority or even a majority share those same feelings right now. It’s worth reminding ourselves of that.

    (And note, this is different than, say, expressing stress from a problem at home that is unique. Talking a lot about that can be off-putting.)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      “I was fine until I had to fill out a mental health survey for my job. I now spend every waking moment hunting for a new job.”

  9. Leela*

    My workplace has adopted a “totally not mandatory” meeting every day that takes place after our workday is over. It’s “totally not mandatory” but it’s impossible to feel like you don’t have to go

    1. PollyQ*

      Genuinely curious, why does it feel that way? Are managers or coworkers doing something to undermine the message?

      1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

        Yes, I’d like to know also.

        Perhaps if every other person shows up, it can feel like pressure. So I hope that some senior or mid-level people actually make it a point of not attending every single one – modelling the behavior that attendance is a choice. And that if they hear the slightest hesitation from people under them to not go, they emphasize the person should not attend if they don’t want to.

      2. Aphrodite*

        I don’t know about and can’t speak for Leela, but I can tell you that for me just having a daily meeting, even one that is “totally not mandatory” is actually mandatory. You can’t keep having meetings every day and not having people like me feel that not attending regularly (not even daily but 2-3 times a week) isn’t mandatory. It certainly is, it’s just voluntarily mandatory. Ugh.

      3. James*

        After this is over, who will get promotions, bonuses, and raises? The person who kept his head down and did his work to the best of his ability? Or the one who did his job okay, but attended all the “totally not mandatory” meetings? We are social organisms. Even with the best of intentions, the person who chatted you up in the office virtual happy hour is going to have a leg up on you come time for the annual review. People haven’t changed, nor have office politics; the board has a few new pieces on it, but the game is the same.

        1. Nanani*

          That’s a bad thing though.
          Promoting people who are fun at the social thing is bad for the same reason promoting the boss’ nephew is bad. It’s also potentially discriminatory – like for the “parents worked to the bone” mentioned above, or for anyone who can’t attend the happy hour (because of accessibility, because it’s not virtual and they can’t/don’t drink, etc etc)

          Your attitude of resignation is frankly weird. This stuff can and should change!
          Nepotism is now frowned upon even though it still happens.
          Those in a position to plan these things can and must push back on making it mandatory and especially on promoting people based on compliance. JFC.

          1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

            “Your attitude of resignation is frankly weird. This stuff can and should change!”

            And I’ll add that those who can push back have a responsibility to do so. I try. More people should try. And stand up for people who don’t want to go.

          2. James*

            My “attitude” stems from my goal of explaining the concept. I made no statement enforcing it; that is coming entirely from you attempting to read more into my post than I put into it. I do not accept the popular delusion that to understand something is to agree with it; I in fact make a vigorous attempt to understand my opponents in a debate. If you know what their position is you can hit harder and where it hurts more. It is something I learned in the first day of my first rhetoric class.

          3. KoiFeeder*

            It is a bad thing. It’s also an incredibly human thing. Hell, in some ways the entire concept of interviews is about promoting people who excel at the social thing instead of people who are good at the work. I understand the attitude of resignation, because I’m not sure it can be changed! It’s very hardwired into allistic behavior, and unless we’re willing to induce autism in everyone (I support this), I don’t see anything changing even if people are aware of it.

        2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

          “After this is over, who will get promotions, bonuses, and raises? ”

          If you used the extra hour a day to get more done, even perhaps using some of the saved time for smaller work-related calls with important people, I think you’d have a big leg up on getting promotions etc.

          You’d have 10-15% more time in the day. That’s huge.

          “but I can tell you that for me just having a daily meeting, even one that is “totally not mandatory” is actually mandatory.”

          How do you know that? You might be letting your worries control you. As a start, how about skipping half of meetings. Get in some “face time,” but cut it back. Just a suggestion.

          1. Leela*

            It’s not about knowing it or not, it’s about the fact that everyone has to WONDER that when something like this comes up. And as others have said, it’s not just that management is going to be ticking boxes for “oh they showed up, you didn’t, therefore you’re bad” it’s that in their mind, they’re going to have more face time with whoever shows up and that has career implications.

            My worries aren’t controlling me. These are real issues that get discussed across workplaces, people write in about them, Alison has commented on them.

            1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              “everyone has to WONDER that when something like this comes up.”

              I don’t wonder much. I try to take what people say at face value. It’s very freeing to work this way. If it’s not clear that it’s optional, then I ask.

              “These are real issues that get discussed across workplaces,”

              They are certainly real – I don’t deny that. But they seem to be given undue power here. Or else many people here are in way more dysfunctional workplaces than I recognize. The founder of my organization has commented many times that I missed the holiday party. So what? It annoys me for a moment, but not enough to waste an evening. I see her at other times. I try to be in front of her with quality work, rather than going through the motions of face time.

              Try skipping a few optional meetings. If it’s too scary to skip all the ones you don’t want to go to. Try it.

              1. Avasarala*

                I think you need a lot of capital and job security to skip meetings in some organizations. Especially now that there isn’t another way to get face time in.

                The founder comments you missed the party. You shrug it off.
                But when you apply for a promotion that involves managing people, the committee brings your application to the founder for approval, and the founder says “I dunno about pleaset. They don’t seem very invested in the company, and I’m not sure how they’d do managing others.”

                Your competition is someone who attends the holiday parties. “They’re very good with people,” says the founder. Their good relationship built over drinks makes the founder more forgiving of their mistakes, and amplify their strengths.

                They get the promotion and you don’t.

                That’s what people are concerned about missing out on.

      4. Mongrel*

        I’ve seen a few where if you didn’t turn up there were follow up “Are you OK, Is there anything we can do?” type questions. And for all the “We understand everyone is different” ethos they project they’re completely oblivious to introverts and think everyone wants to\should talk out all their problems with work strangers.

        I’ve been WFH for the past 3 years and nothing has changed, work-wise, for me apart from being bombarded by the incessant calls for sociality.

    2. Leela*

      this got long I’ll just comment here.

      First of all, as someone pointed out, who’s going to get the promotions and raises? The people who “showed up for the team” most likely, and even if that’s not explicitly stated we’re all going to wonder that.

      Add to that the fact that we get calendar invites each and every single day that we’d have to accept/decline/ignore, which in a professional setting, multiple declines a week is just not a track record you’d like, whereas it’s not quite the same to just show up or don’t.

      Also, there have been a lot of layoffs and people are feeling the pressure to remind management that they’re here (this also results in these meetings having people bullet-fire list off random accomplishments about nothing to show that they’re doing things.)

      Occasionally work stuff DOES come up at these and if you’re out of the loop it has implications.

      But frankly, “no one SAID it’s actually mandatory!” isn’t nearly good enough. Anything your workplace invites you to, maybe other than a work party, you’re going to feel pressure to attend. And people are going to wonder what’s at stake if they don’t, even if you’re like “oh don’t worry it’s just totally for anyone who wants to!”

      Think of it like the boy’s club issue. Women don’t get invited to the after-work events and thus they don’t build the relationships that make careers. There’s always work benefits to strengthen your relationships with coworkers and management and detriments to not doing so, and anyone who’s making the decision of “do I have to go to today’s meeting TOO?” will have to factor that in to their decision.

      By the way, these meetings tend to be 1) hearing coworkers talk about their weekends or prior weekday for an hour, or hearing people bring up very specific work things that should have been an e-mail to the person they’re asking because it’s so completely irrelevant to everyone else there, not something where all of us have to sit silently for twenty minutes so someone’s individual question/item gets dealt with by the meeting leader.

      There’s also pressure to not leave until the boss signs off. I wouldn’t mind a quick ten minute check in but no one wants to be the one signing off of a meeting full of your boss and coworkers first.

      1. snoopythedog*

        A quick out is the moment a coworker asks a specific question that should have been an email and the person they’re asking takes the bite and starts to reply (and it’s going to take more than 2 min to reply). That’s your time to write in the chat box “Looks like this meeting is turning into specific work questions. I need to go focus on X project. Thanks for the meeting everyone.” Boom. You’ve bounced. Ideally if you do this enough and others catch on it will either a)start being more permissive to leave/skip these meetings, or b)people will stop derailing the meeting with project or person-specific details.
        Bonus if you can band together with others from your team who can follow suit and trigger an group exodus as soon as meetings get derailed into project-specific questions.
        If you’re worried about missing some project info; just loop your boss or coworker in later and check in “hey, I had to leave to focus on X when the meeting turned into a discussion Y, which I’m not involved in. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything else in the meeting that might have been pertinent to my work?” This gets you back in the loop and might trigger your supervisor into realizing how much of a time suck these meetings are.

      2. tangerineRose*

        Can you deal with other stuff during the meeting? Maybe work stuff, maybe something else? I used to be in hour long meetings most mornings, and not all of it applied to me, but being remote, I could work during parts of the meeting.

  10. Retired and happy*

    I worked at a company 13 years ago where morale-raising efforts backfired spectacularly. In an effort to raise spirits, a department director and his assistant started an employee-of-the-week effort. Instead of rewarding hard work, they rewarded people they liked. Needless to say it backfired. But the director and his assistant started an affair, which led to the director leaving and his assistant getting his job. She eventually left to run a business he started, and they married him after he divorced his wife of 25 years. Both the business and the marriage failed. Now the assistant has 5-6 marriages behind her – I kid you not – and the former director is driving a forklift.

    None of this did anything for morale. But it did cause lots of laughter. So maybe in a way it worked.

    Meanwhile, the business is on its last legs. Employees were furloughed ten years ago, lots were given retirement packages. A department of 20 people is now down to seven. Closure or at least further reductions is likely.

    1. A*

      Woooow!!! Drama, drama!

      Also, I’m mind blown about the assistant getting the director’s job?!? What kind of Director role is THAT? Talk about skipping a dozen rungs on the ladder!

  11. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    I’m glad I don’t have my old corporate job any more. Maybe management has improved since I left, but I can imagine how poorly they would have dealt with it when I was there: intrusive texts from managers who refuse to believe you’re actually working from home, managers using what you say in “share your feelings” meetings against you six months later in a performance review, and so on.

  12. Keymaster of Gozer*

    I’m in touch with most of my IT lot from a previous firm and they just sent me a rather humorous but actually sincere email they sent out to the entire firm reminding people that a lot of the ‘funny quizzes’ they’d seen on the forums/Facebook threads etc. contained LOTS of personal information from people that would aid anyone trying to crack passwords etc.

    So, I’m reminding people on my FB and email to think before filling in one of these ‘where have you lived?’ ‘Where were you born?’ ‘What’s your favourite xyz?’ kind of things. And never post them publicly.

    We need to protect ourselves from Covid, absolutely. We also need to protect ourselves from the digital type of attack too. So my former employer is on the ball which I’m glad to see.

    (They’re a heavy engineering firm, designated essential. Not one usually for humour.)

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Also just heard they’ve scrapped their employee morale survey for the entirety of 2020. A bit of sanity!

    2. RoseDark*

      Fun trick: instead of answering security questions with the truth, give a made-up answer.
      “What street did you grow up on?” Blue.
      “What was your first pet’s name?” Blue.
      “What’s your paternal grandmother’s name?” Blue.

      Either always use the same one, or have some kind of code set up (“security code answer is always the number of letters in the website name”). If anyone tries to break in using the actual information, it won’t work.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’ve got some very esoteric answers to most of my security questions! Really random stuff. My only regret is that you can’t use noises as answers because I’m still immature enough to find burping and farting as answers incredibly funny.

        (I’m over 40. No, I’m not going to grow up yet)

  13. theelephantintheroom*

    The Zoom meetings in particular make me nuts because I have a nursing infant at home with me. Inevitably, I have MULTIPLE meetings that coincide with either nursing or pumping and someone will say, “We can’t see you.” Yeah, honey, that’s fucking intentional.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Seeing is important for me because I don’t hear well.

        But apart from the person literally presenting at that moment (in which case a screen share would usually be enough) I don’t need to have a visual of every single participant. It’s very similar to the “default mute” convention.

        I will observe that meetings are very unhelpful to those WFH with children. We’re often working around a spouse’s schedule too, so multiple meetings are a real headache. I think many of them are just an indication that people don’t know how WFH works, and in some cases that they’re compelled to meet frequently because they’re so used to constant collaboration they’ve forgotten how to focus on their own work for any length of time.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        I want to smack anyone who demands I camera up when I am just in the background watching a presentation. You do not need to see my face for that and I am not the one putting on a show right now so you can see “smiling faces.” FU.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          I think it depends on the type of presentation. If I’m doing a training, for example, it is really useful to be able to see facial expressions. If people look bored, I move on from a topic. If they look really interested I’ll spend more time on that topic. If I crack a joke I can see if they roll their eyes or laugh. I really try to tailor my presentation to my audience. It also makes it easier for participants to chime in with questions in real time. That said, I absolutely do not mind if someone has to have their screen off, particularly as an accommodation to nursing.

          1. A*

            Yikes, this definitely wouldn’t fly in my workplace. We have no choice but to multitask during meetings/presentations/trainings etc. so chances are, my facial expressions aren’t even in relation to the meeting I’m in. Granted, we rarely use video to allow for as much flexibility as possible.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              These are trainings that would normally be in-person, in a classroom during non-pandemic times.

  14. Firestarter*

    I feel this. My company does weekly “fun” activities for 2 hours on Friday afternoons and we have to alternate each week who picks. My turn is coming up and I seriously want to suggest “just let everyone start their weekend 2 hours early”.

    My boss takes people not wanting to participate in optional teambuilding events pretty personally and I’m scared they’d use it against me in the future, so games it is I guess.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Group meditation. No, not on video. Just send everyone a link to a 24 hour long play of the Enterprise engine room and tell them to zone out. Send round an email of meditation tips maybe.

      No contacting people during it (would spoil the meditation!), no videoing people doing it (see previous point!) and no tracking software to make sure people do it.

      The business feels like they’re doing something good, that everyone is feeling better together! And the staff get all that time free of corporate over watch to do whatever they like.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        We are actually doing 15 minutes of Reiki sound healing every other Friday. So that’s a thing. Pretty relaxing, actually, though people constantly were emailing and Slacking me during the entire thing :(

        1. A*

          Wow… really? Is a holistic based company or something? I would not react kindly to this in the workplace.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Ahh, my writing is awful. I meant it as a suggestion of ‘tell your employer this because it’s a great excuse for you to just go do your own thing for a day’.

          I’m not actually in favour of companies trying to ‘make’ their staff relax.

    2. allathian*

      Your boss is an asshole. They should only hire social butterfly types who actually enjoy those things, not people who want to get their job done so they can focus on their own lives instead. Mandatory “fun” is not fun.
      I’m so sorry.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      Ooh! Ooh! Is it my turn? I will present a trivia quiz, all about 19th century baseball.

  15. Nanani*

    Some of these activities remind me of school districts (or summer camps, or other kid activities) where the powers that be still assume every kid has a stay at home mom with nothing better to do than create costumes for theme weeks and bake for fundraisers and whatnot.
    Only worse somehow.
    People have jobs to do. You know this because you are their employer. What even the hell, workplaces?

    1. nerfherder*

      My kid’s school has done pretty well with remote learning since all this started, and I’m grateful for it.

      But now that the end of the year is settling in, I have a pile of requests for short videos of my child. The PTA, individual room parents, individual teachers and even an administrator all want to do end-of-the-year movies. All for different reasons/themes, so it takes some effort to create each of these.

      I recognize the archival value of these materials. But I have a job, and it’s taxing enough on my schedule to make sure the kid is getting all his actual work done, never mind adding this homework for parents.

      Still, it’s marginally better than the summer day camp that asks us to send them in costume *once per week* in the name of fun. It is exhausting, and the kids don’t even get that much out of it. But at least all of this is meant to actually placate children, and not adults as in the case of the article. Yeesh.

  16. Workfromhome*

    Honestly although my company is not over the top with this stuff I can see how many are or could feel that way. We do have all the stuff fin contests , daily emails etc etc. but my manger knows me well enough not to bother me with check ins he knows I don’t want.

    if I’m completely honest I prefer this new normal in a lot of ways. My role is really outside the work the people I sit near at work. I rather enjoy not having certain busy body people asking me why I didn’t go to the company picnic ,if I’m attending the bake sale or participating in the United way fundraiser. I’m not an antisocial person but have no interest in most of the stuff designed to “engage” the front line or entry level office staff. I just want to have the occasional friendly conversation with co workers, do my work, get paid and meet with people when its beneficial.

    I do not feel “isolated” at work in fact I get more done than ever without someone sticking their head around my door every 30 minutes to ask me questions

    If they want to do regular surveys during COVID then ask do you want more or less contact/meetings games etc. If someone says less then leave them the heck alone and depend on them as adults to ASK if they want more.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I think it’s easier to say “No thanks” or just skip something than to ask for something new from the orangnization that cuts into “productive” time.

      People are often reluctant to ask for help. I think organizations doing more, rather than less, of this connecting stuff is better, though I don’t participate much.

      1. allathian*

        It’s better, as long as it’s absolutely and completely voluntary and where people don’t even wonder who participates and who doesn’t. Quite frankly, saying something is voluntary and then acting like you’re a bad team player for declining the invitation or simply not showing up is worse than straight out saying something is mandatory. It’s more honest that way.

  17. Nothing*

    Is there anybody who works for a company that is the complete opposite of this?
    I haven’t had a single check-in from my manager, there have been no virtual happy hours or Zoom parties. The only thing we’ve gotten is 3 department-wide emails with practical information (extra parental leave, tentative slow return to the office) from grandboss.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Kind of. There was a survey but it was so optional I forgot about it until after the respond-by date, and it was about ability to work from home from a technical and ergonomic perspective, not a social-emotional-psychological one.

      A few managers have Online happy hours (not mine), and most have weekly or biweekly check in’s with people but the 1:1’s are normal, not Covid specific. Our division chief has a weekly half hour all hands call (also optional since over 1,500 people call in, not a typo) that he said will probably continue even after we’re back in the office (prior to the shutdown, we rarely heard from him at all so that’s an upgrade.

      There’s a dedicated reporting line for people with symptoms and a website that’s regularly updated with site specific info, but other than daily email reminders that it exists we don’t have to manage much new Covid stuff. And I’ll be forever grateful that they made a “no video” policy right from the start (to preserve the VPN bandwidth or something technical, whatever, I’ll take it!).

    2. Gruntilda*

      My company is like this. The first month or so I had almost zero contact with my boss or coworkers outside of occasional email or necessary calls. Finally I emailed my boss and said I was having trouble getting work-related info because I couldn’t tell what everyone else was doing, and we started doing daily video standups. I also held a virtual happy hour which was fun. But nothing top-down. Maybe that’s how it should be.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, if coworkers are encouraged to hold happy hour events on company time for those who want to attend, there’s less implicit pressure to do so than if the invitation comes from the manager.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Corporate sends so much all the time that I was already tuning it out. Local department is very task-focused because we’re understaffed. New manager asked me once about my insomnia “is there something going on” and I 100% borrowed something from this commentariat: “well, there’s a pandemic and I have several immune-compromised people in my immediate family.”
      “Got it” …and I haven’t had to field that question again.
      So in my case honesty paid off.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      I work for a solo practitioner lawyer. There usually are three of us in the office. I am still coming into the office every day, this being as isolated from the virus as I would be at home. I talk nearly every day to my boss, who is working from home, but these are work-related. I have been working for him for ten years now. We understand each other. Mental health check ins and the like would be absurdly pointless.

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

    I feel similarly overwhelmed by “quizzes and costume contests”, even as an extrovert who thrives on interaction with other people usually… I suppose because at this point, because it’s artificial rather than ‘organic’, it feels so forced and obligatory that I find it hard to see where the boundary is between “looking out for people and being aware of anything that comes up” vs “Making all the interpersonal stuff HAPPEN! because that’s what we need!”

    … if only it was so easy, to put in place the quizzes etc that will make up for everything (and isn’t that everybody’s impulse, really!)

    … it’s an obvious attempt at substituting “something you can control” (Friday Fun or whatever) in place of “things you can’t control”, which, ipso facto, ought to be pushed into the background and forgotten about. And I won’t put on costumes etc as a way of subordinating actual reality to the costume contests etc (even if I have done a few costumes on conference calls!)

    So no, I don’t necessarily want “support and flexibility” as a result of this, but I don’t want quizzes and costume contests either. What I want primarily is the acknowledgement that things have changed in a way that’s out of our hands, and that we too are subject to the forces of chaos and uncertainty… not just “this external business thing has happened and here’s our response”.

    Maybe it would freak out most people to hear that “we don’t even know what to do”? What are the right answers? They just want to hear that everything is under control?

    1. Aggretsuko*

      I think they want to hear that everything is under control. Oh, excuse me: “business as usual!” My management is so clearly floundering, but that’s pretty usual for them anyway.

    2. Every day is Caturday*

      Yes, please, acknowledgement and acceptance that the situation is NOT normal, NOT business as usual, and some employees are struggling with unusual factors—kids at home, sick relatives, unemployed family member, depression, anxiety, poor working conditions at home, reduced productivity, etc.

      I am routinely working 11 hours a day remotely (corporate type job), getting emails all night and weekend, and everyone is acting a bit crazy, quite frankly, from the stress of this pandemic. I find it very odd that expectations of productivity are the opposite of what they should…I am under pressure to accomplish more than normal, at a faster pace, and with unlimited around the clock availability. What the what?

  19. Aggretsuko*

    Honestly, I think workplaces who do this sort of thing are offering what they can: and they clearly can’t offer support or flexibility. It’s easier to offer some pizzas (or was back in the day) or some one-off token thing. than a day off or to stop breathing down people’s necks or whatever. My mom’s office would have office excursion days on a Saturday, which was great, but they cut her hours down to 3 days a week and basically have her work as infrequently as they can get away with. So what’s with that?

    My office doesn’t even offer the most minor of perks, though, so frankly I’d take that over nothing. My coworker is retiring and even though obviously they can’t throw a real life party for her anyway, she was told they had no money to do so.

    I don’t expect support or consideration or well, anything from my office other than a paycheck, health insurance, and a ton of work and stress. They just aren’t equipped to do better, or have the brains to figure out how, or can’t work around HR, or whatever other excuses.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      (Garbled) and the donkey they rode in on! FFS how expensive is it to send a bouquet of balloons to their house with a note saying “we wish it could be more you deserved more.”

  20. Richard*

    I don’t want all the games and quizzes and such, but I’ve been wanting more work-related interaction for sure. When my department meetings were in person, they were wide-ranging and chatty, which was great for me as the newest person on the team who could learn a lot from tangents and sidebars. Now that they’re on Zoom, we race through the agenda at breakneck pace, everyone’s on mute, half have their cameras off, and, even when we’re finishing in a quarter of our normal time, people are huffy about last-minute questions or anything coming up that would prolong it.

  21. nerfherder*

    We’re doing team happy hours every 2 weeks over zoom, which I think is a nice schedule as far as frequency goes.

    But there always has to be a game, and I’m so tired of it. Can we just…talk to each other? But everyone on my team seems to love these games so much that I don’t want to be the person to shit on them. I often feel slightly out of step with my organization’s culture anyway (i.e., they’re big Halloween people when I hate costumes) so the last thing I’m going to do is call attention to it.

    Though last time my internet was flaky for the entire back half of the happy hour game, and I felt like I’d won a prize.

  22. Over it all*

    My employer has broken some of our state’s COVID-19 laws, as set forth by the governor of our state. I wrote a very heart-felt email after my office mate’s partner passed away from the disease. We share a space, and my concern was mainly for the insistence that we come in to the office.
    The response I received from the second in command was “I don’t appreciate your attitude.”
    GFY, you ignorant ass. That’s my attitude now.

    1. Hollybear*


      An employee’s partner passed away from the virus and 2nd IC’s reaction is that?

      Brushing up your resume I hope.

    2. allathian*

      Oh dear, I’m so sorry. Surely there’s a state agency somewhere you can blow the whistle on this?
      Please brush up your resume.

  23. Seeking Second Childhood*

    An aside to those of you stuck with costume contests….. ‘Disney Bound’ was a freeing discovery, when I first lost my enthusiasm and wanted to deflect questions about the sudden lack of costume. Lavendar shirt and black skirt=Ursula the sea witch if anyone asked. Purple shirt, white pants? Aladdin. My personal favorite wasn’t Disney… black pants, red shirt, and when asked “where’s your costume?” I answered “I’ve got the red shirt on don’t send me down to the planet’s surface.”

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      My personal favorite wasn’t Disney… black pants, red shirt, and when asked “where’s your costume?” I answered “I’ve got the red shirt on don’t send me down to the planet’s surface.”

      I love this. Nicely done.

  24. anon for this*

    My company leaned hard into Slack! Culture! upon the move to remote. We were also newly adopting Slack, so I was certainly overwhelmed by it all because I didn’t have selected channel muting set up yet. They did, however, have a lot of the games and other nonsense on the company “general” channel, which also has important announcements I didn’t want to miss. When I flagged it as being a distraction, I was at first told they thought the morale boosting aspect was more important than silo-ing everything, but that I should feel free to mute since anything truly important would be emailed as well. (Raises the question of why the hell we need Slack, then, if important stuff will be emailed, but ok).

    Luckily, as time has passed, they’ve moved more and more of the “fun stuff” to dedicated channels. I’m really glad it’s there for people who want it, but I’m also glad I can mute the channels I care about and pop in only when I have time. Seems like a win-win to me, and I’m not sure why it took this long to land there, but I’m glad we finally did.

  25. SomethingCleverHere*

    This reminds me of that secretary in the comments who is planning a mandatory talent show despite the fact that she got really negative feedback, and also forces her coworkers to do childish stuff like hand turkeys. We’re adults, treat us that way instead of wasting company time and money on preschool nonsense.

  26. Bob Dob*

    Totally agree with AAM article. I’m sick of the Zoom check-ins, the Zoom happy hours, the Zoom games, the Zoom meetings, the “fun” chat channels, etc. Why do we have to have video turned on for everything now?

    I started my job during the pandemic. I’ve never even met the vast majority of these strangers that I am staring at on Zoom. How awkward to sit in a company “check-in” Zoom meeting, twice a week, listening to people make jokes and chitchatting—only one at a time please, so everyone can hear!

    How about, instead of the above useless fluff, my employer reimburses me for the computer equipment and supplies that I purchased in order to work from home at a normal productivity level? I can’t deduct these expenses on my tax return— that deduction no longer exists. How about reimbursement for the mandatory use of my personal cell phone for business purposes? How about a stipend for the mandatory use of my home to conduct my employer’s business? I’m paying for the phone service, the electricity, the wireless connection, all out of pocket with no reimbursement. I asked for reimbursement for my cell phone in particular, and I was flatly refused and told the company has never provided a work phone or phone reimbursement for anyone, not even prepandemic! Good grief. Let’s discuss that ridiculous policy at the next Zoom happy hour. *eye roll*

    3 months and counting of mandatory remote working, with no end in site. Sigh.

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