HR in private Slack channels, being forced to work a late shift, and more

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

1. As HR, should I stay out of private Slack channels?

I’m the head of HR for my small(ish) international company. I’m a mixed-race woman and a mom. We have a variety of private Slack channels, including channels for parents, women, people of color, etc.

Our POC channel is a relatively new addition started by an employee of color who wanted a safe space for folks who identify as non-white. I was explicitly excluded from the channel because I am HR and the people in that channel wanted it to be a safe space to talk about the issues they face. As a mixed-race person, I felt the sting of exclusion, but as a person in leadership totally understand the desire to have a place where people can vent and express themselves without worrying about the ever-seeing eye of management.

This makes me wonder, though, if I should recuse myself from the other private channels that I am part of (parents and women) for fear of my presence making those channels seem “unsafe.” I’d be sad to lose that part of my work community but I want my employees to not worry about leadership watching their every word. Alternatively, should I make sure that I’m in those channels in order to keep a watchful eye? I don’t know the right answer.

Yeah, you likely should excuse yourself from those channels. It’s not likely to be a problem if you’re in the channel for, like, Doctor Who fans, but channels for parents and women are ones where people might want to talk about issues they face in your company, and they’re much less likely to feel comfortable speaking freely when the head of HR is there. They might even feel like you’re there specifically to keep an eye on them (a possibility you even floated).

A middle ground would be to ask if people would prefer HR not be present, but they won’t necessarily speak up if the answer is yes. The better option is to recuse yourself. You could explain why and add that if issues ever come up that they want to bring to HR, you’d welcome it but you don’t want your presence to inhibit discussion.

2. What do I do when I inadvertently pass on bad info from a coworker?

I have a question about something I’ve run into several times. Working on a project, I usually have multiple streams of information coming in that I have to manage for specifications, schedules, capabilities, etc. But every once in a while I get some info given to me either directly or secondhand that is wrong. It hasn’t been a very critical piece of information yet. Usually it’s smaller things like “Sure, we’ll move that piece of furniture over by two inches” or “We’ll have downtime tomorrow” but when it comes time to act on that information, the furniture has not been moved by two inches or there is no downtime.

If it was just to me, I wouldn’t mind because, again, usually not critical, but the real issue comes from when I pass this information along. I usually say “They said X” or “So-and-so told me Y” but still when the thing isn’t done or isn’t true, I get kinda thrown under the bus — “You said X and Y but those aren’t true!”

What’s the best way to handle these sort of situations? And when it is more of a critical item that I can’t check (because the person I’m getting the info from is the sole supplier of said info, like shipping dates), what can I say besides, “That’s the information I got from Person Z who apparently straight up lied to my face about that”?

You’re framing this as lying when it’s far more likely that the person just got it wrong. Thinking of it as lying is puts a strange spin on it — you should think mistakes, not malice.

And mistakes happen! People think they’ll have downtime and then it turns out they don’t. People say they’ll move a piece of furniture and then something else comes up and they forget to do it. Obviously that’s not ideal, but people are human and this stuff happens.

If you’re getting blamed for that, the right response is, “Jane told me they’d be able to do X; let me check back with her and see what happened / get an updated timeline.”

Also, for what it’s worth, it sounds like people are making things a lot more personal in your office than they should be! You’re talking about people “lying to my face,” other people are telling you “you said X but it’s not true” — this is all strangely adversarial and not how this kind of thing normally works. Typically you’d assume basic good intent and expect others to assume it of you too.

3. We’re being forced to switch from 9-5 to 3-10

My employer is going from a loosely 9-5 based schedule to split shifts (7 am – 3 pm and 3 pm – 10 pm). This will be permanent and mandatory. They have asked all current employees to decide which shift they want. No one has requested the 3 pm – 10 pm shift. Due to the lack of voluntary evening shift workers, the company is starting to hint that they will assign shifts and employees will have no choice in which shift they are assigned. Assignment will be based on seniority and type of work to be performed during the shift, regardless of personal ability to work then. Obviously, everyone hates this idea and lots of people are grumbling about leaving the company. Is this legal? How can this company expect employees to be okay with completely rearranging their lives?

It’s legal. They can change your work hours at any time and can say that the new shift is a condition of continuing in your job.

But legal doesn’t mean reasonable or smart! Forcing people who have been working 9-5 to suddenly start working 3-10 isn’t likely to go over well, and they’re likely to lose a lot of employees if they do that. It’s likely to be particularly problematic for anyone with young kids (particularly single parents — how will that work?) or other caretaking responsibilities. I suspect they will end up not assigning that shift to parents, or at least not to parents who cite child care responsibilities, and that’s going to cause even more resentment among the people who do get stuck with it.

It’s hard to advise you what to do without knowing the reason for the change; if there’s a pressing business reason to split the shifts, the reality might be that the needs of the job have changed in ways that no longer work for you (or your coworkers). But it’s worth digging into what’s behind the change and whether there are other ways to meet that need. You could also suggest offering incentives for people to take those shifts voluntarily; they’ll probably get more volunteers if it comes with additional pay or extra time off) But ultimately, if they won’t budge, you’d need to decide if you still want the job under those terms.

4. My husband’s office space is embarrassing

My husband is a professional engineer. After retiring from his job a few years ago, he went to work for a multi-state engineering firm. His office is in an old building that desperately needs some upgrades. It’s mainly older guys, but even my husband says the stained carpets and ugly walls are embarrassing and unprofessional. The bathrooms are horrible because there’s no cleaning crew. The then-boss decided that everyone could just pitch in and clean. Consequently, nothing gets done. The many other offices in the company look great in online pictures: fresh and professional. I’ve urged him to talk to his now-boss but my husband is more of a don’t-rock-the-boat type. I know better than to contact his work myself. Can you suggest some language that would give him the words he needs to get his boss to take a fresh look at his surroundings? I really feel (and he agrees) that any potential clients who come to the office are taken aback by the way it looks.

Does your husband want to talk to his boss about it? If not, it’s not something you should push; he knows the politics in his office best, and he gets to make the call on whether he wants to spend capital on this or not. If he doesn’t feel as strongly as you do, you should leave it alone — it’s his to handle however he decides. (I’m especially questioning this because you said you feel feel clients are taken aback — but you can’t know that since you’re not there to see them! It sounds like you might be projecting how you would feel, but that’s not necessarily how their clients feel.)

But if it’s truly important to him to speak up, the best thing would be for him to point out the client reactions he’s seen — that’s likely to be more convincing than anything else.

5. Should I disconnect from coworkers at my toxic old job on LinkedIn?

I’m trying to decide if I should remove my LinkedIn connections to my former boss and colleagues at my old workplace. I didn’t like the team I was with and quit on my own terms (the place was toxic, I recognized it and left). However, I’m concerned that still being connected to them on LinkedIn makes it look like I’m on good terms with them, and potential job leads or recruiters may contact them once they see I’m connected to them. I also don’t think they would speak favorably of me if contacted by other people. What advice can you give on this?

You’re over-thinking it! People don’t usually read that much into LinkedIn connections. Most people won’t think it means anything beyond that you used to work together. And recruiters who want references will usually just ask you for references, not contact people you happen to be connected to on social media. You can definitely disconnect from them if you want to, but there’s no harm in keeping the connections either.

{ 366 comments… read them below }

    1. mark132*

      I would also think if you have dr appts or other stuff it would be much easier to go to them.

      1. Clisby*

        It is. I worked roughly 3-11 or 4-12 for years as a newspaper reporter and then editor. I almost never had to take time off for appointments. Plus, I’m a morning person, so I got the best part of my day for my personal life.

        However, I wouldn’t have wanted to do it when I was wrangling kids. I knew a few people who did, because their partners worked an opposite shift, but that meant the adults hardly ever saw each other.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, 4-12 was roughly my shift for my copy editor days, and I actually liked it a lot fresh out of college – I didn’t have to set an alarm and I could grocery shop and run errands/do appts during the day. But – I lived alone, I didn’t have kids or pets or anything. And I also had to work a lot of weekends so I had very little social life to speak of.

      2. Green Goose*

        In my mid-twenties I worked a split shift 7am-11am and 5:30pm-9:30pm (all in the same day). It was sold as being able to go to appointments and enjoy the city during the day but when most of the people I knew outside of work had a 9-5 it quickly became inconvenient to have a social/dating life. Most people that got off at 5 did not want to wait until 10pm to hangout.

        And I was also super tired during the break, and would rarely go on an adventure just before getting back for the second half of my shift.

    2. Zoe*

      Yeah I think they have to explain why and how long, is this forever and if so why now? If covid, when ending? Can people switch in 6 months/year?

          1. MK*

            Permanent might mean “We have no idea for how long it will last and are not prepared to commit it’s for X time period”. Or it might be really permanent, and even if it isn’t, the company might find out it suits them to keep the new schedule.

            1. Mannheim Steamroller*

              The company might even use the split shifts as an excuse to permanently downsize the office (“This desk will be used by Alice for the first shift and Bob for the second shift.”)

            2. Good Day for a Pandemic*

              Permanent means permanent. Probably due to the pandemic. Workplace guidelines recommend staggering shifts if people cannot work from home. I see nothing wrong with what the employer is doing. There should be a transition period though.

              1. Crivens!*

                There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, but they are seemingly going about the messaging and implementation all wrong.

                They also can’t be surprised if people leave over it. I’d refuse either of those shifts and quit if they insisted.

                1. Rachel in NYC*

                  I also feel like part of the problem is that the shifts are so tilted. 7am-3pm is annoying but it isn’t so different from 9-5- you will be able to live your normal life with the early shift, not so much with 3pm-10pm.

                  It may work better if they are saying you have to pick a shift if the shifts are equally annoying. (I realize these are normal shifts but it sounds like this was previously a normal hours job changing to shifts- they might as well make up their own shifts 5am-1pm and 1pm-8pm. Or something like that.) Now both shifts are part equally crappy.

                2. Tidewater 4-1009*

                  Before covid I was looking at a temp job that had these exact shifts, 7-3 and 3-11. To me they’re equally unappealing. 7am is way too early – I live in a big city and use transit and I would have to get up before 5am to make it!
                  Second shift paid a little more and is more appealing in terms of not being a morning person, but taking transit home at midnight is not so safe. And neither paid what I’m used to making.
                  I was trying to decide – and hoping I’d find something better before I had to – when covid hit.
                  A shift of 1-8 or 2-9 would be perfect for me, but morning people run this world.
                  This reminds me of something I heard – a hospital in my former employer’s network had it’s data people working 6am – 2pm. Why??? Data can be done at any time… I would not have taken that job!

      1. AdvocatingAsAGroup*

        This specific type of change (from 9-5 to 7am-10pm) is really common when an office starts interacting with Europe, Asia, and Africa on a regular basis, especially Europe.

    3. Trillian*

      “The bosses aren’t around.”

      …which is great for the mediocre, but it means the talented never get noticed. Pretty soon the evening shift gets a reputation as the place where careers go to die. No thanks.

      1. Dan*

        Depends on the gig. At my job (which ran 3 shifts 24/7), if you f’d up on the night shift, the boss was going to hear about it. And if you rocked, the boss was going to hear about it. Mediocre was more or less the same as f’ing up, because there wasn’t a whole lot of middle ground. Either things got taken care of and everybody was happy, or they didn’t. And I have to imagine that the last thing the boss wants to deal with are complaints about the night shift.

        I had one of my clients tell my boss that “Dan is awesome.Dan needs to be day shift supervisor. Fire the useless one on day shift.” Naw. Dan was going to school during the day so he could make 4x would that job was paying.

        “The manager” typically worked 7-3 and “the night shift” was 9p-5a. I once walked into my annual reviews, ran down the client list (“how’s bob? How’s Frank? How’s Tom?”) with the implication being, “If the clients are happy, the boss is happy.” Since my job was to take care of the clients, no complaints = very good thing. Since I knew there were no complaints, I then looked at the boss and said, “Great, now can I get my raise and get out of here so I can go to bed?” I got a $2/hr raise and went to bed. $2 was more than 10%.

      2. andy*

        > which is great for the mediocre, but it means the talented never get noticed

        Honestly, managers are often noisy and like to interrupt peoples focus. Pretty often, if you want to produce you are better off not be there at the same time as managers. Especially when there is deadline that is stressful for manager that you are supposed to met. I also found out that being pressured on and being asked “when it is going to be done” or being explained tenth time how important is does nothing good to my productivity.

        Being in there at same time is good when you want to be noticed socially and befriend management, but if you actually want to do work, you are better off not being in the same room as manager.

        It may be different in other areas, I work in IT as programmer.

        1. Kate*

          I enjoy working in the environment where I only have peers and reports. As a manager, I get a LOT of freedom and zero micromanagement. IT, as well.

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Sounds like you work for my former boss. I once had to ping a colleague “sorry I haven’t finished that project. Boss in office”. I scheduled work according to his schedule: if I knew he was going to be out, I’d immediately block that time for the work I needed to concentrate on. I always tried to make phone calls before he arrived in the morning, because I didn’t want him listening in and trying to butt in.

      3. Phil*

        Actually in my business the night shift was where the really interesting and cool stuff happened.

      4. Oleusis*

        I love when my boss isn’t around. She’s not very nice, and everyone has a sense of calm. Also, things get done quicker because we aren’t waiting for bottlenecking. I get just as much, if not more work when she is not there and I feel less stressed.

    4. Dan*

      My first “9-5 job” was 9pm-5am. At work, I loved it, but away from work, I hated it. At that job, whoever worked night shift was pretty much the boss.

    5. I can only speak Japanese*

      So? Not everyone is a night owl, or likes not having their boss there, or can arrange their schedule like that. (As Alison pointed out, people have care giver duties!)

      This is like saying, “why are you complaining about feeling isolated when working from home? I’m a total introvert and I love it!” It’s just not helpful.

      1. Maybe It's This*

        My understanding is that it’s okay to comment about a personal experience here at AAM. Your comment strikes me as unkind.

        1. I can only speak Japanese*

          OP says they don’t want to work late shift. Alison says many people can’t work late shift. Yet the first comment is from a guy saying “late shift is awesome” – how is that in any way helpful?

          1. hamsterpants*

            OP may be underestimating how many people want it. Maybe the folks they’ve spoken to, who don’t want that shift, are not representative of the whole company. It’s relevant.

            1. Vine*

              Except that OP tells us that not enough people want to do it, so they are drafting people. In fact, she says no one has requested it.

              Not relevant or helpful in LW’s case.

                1. Quill*

                  Probably because it’s such a drastic change from their previous schedule. People who want night shift are generally not found in large numbers in a previously 9-5 office.

                2. Tidewater 4-1009*

                  Forcing *any* drastic change on people is going to make them unhappy. Especially if they aren’t given time, space and support to adjust.

            2. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

              “OP may be underestimating how many people want it.”
              doesn’t fit with:
              “Due to the lack of voluntary evening shift workers” and ” people are grumbling about leaving the company”

            3. pancakes*

              A comment from a stranger on a website isn’t relevant to estimating how many of the letter writer’s coworkers want this. Even a dozen comments from strangers on a website wouldn’t be relevant to assessing that.

          2. Treebeardette*

            I’m not sure why him being a guy has anything to do with it? But, lw may be forced to go to this new schedule. It’s ok to hear from others how they like it. Most people don’t know what it’s like working evening shift.

          3. Dancing Otter*

            I took the comment to be more along the lines of, “If you do get stuck with it, it might not be as bad as you fear.”
            That’s easily as helpful as all the comments about how much the situation stinks.

            1. pancakes*

              There isn’t anything in the letter to suggest that the letter-writers concerns are grounded in fear, though.

              1. I can only speak Japanese*

                Exactly. OP isn’t scared of hating their new shift, they know it won’t work for them.

    6. allathian*

      I worked a part-time call center job in the early 00s and my hours were 4-9 pm. At times I thought it was great, because it left me a lot of time for job searching and interviewing and for working freelance during the day, but at the same time it was annoying because if I didn’t have freelance work or anything to pitch, I still couldn’t do anything fun. It also left me with very little time to see my friends and no time for socializing during weekdays.

      1. hamsterpants*

        See, as someone who works more traditional hours, I get frustrated because so many fun things are scheduled at, like, 2 PM on a Tuesday! I guess the grass is greener on the other side.

    7. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      It would have been an ideal schedule for me when I was in college, but if I’d arranged my life around 9-5 it would be a huge disruption and I’d probably look for another job.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Same. It’s a huge shift and that means a lot of lifestyle changes. Depending on the location, someone might not feel safe walking to their car at 10PM, or taking public transit at 10PM (which may mean a longer commute b/c it’s after “rush hour”). Or they might have kids at home with no childcare after regular business hours – most schools are still working out summer programs and what the fall might look like and a lot of centers/camps are still closed. You might only see your kid for an hour in the morning if they’re in school (assuming we go back to buildings) and you’re at work by the time they get home. I would quit because I’d never see my kid. They’re going to lose people….I wonder if that might be the point? A way to reduce the workforce without laying people off?

        The fact that no one wants to work 3-10 should be a clue and rather than assigning people, they should find out why. If I were younger and single and had no kids – maybe. But that’s not my life and I’d be very resentful at being placed on a shift like that. I’d push back about whether or not there were truly no other options, like other flex time or telework. If it’s a body in a seat problem vs thinking outside the cubicle, then that’s not really the best solution.

        1. Carlie*

          “The fact that no one wants to work 3-10 should be a clue and rather than assigning people, they should find out why.”

          Exactly. They need to really consider the benefit they think they’ll get from this and weigh it against the cost. Will they need to give people a raise of X to do it? Would people be willing to work shifts of half a week or every other week on that schedule? Would it work if the second shift was earlier and overlapped the first? Or will they have to hire and train all new people because no one working now will do it?

        2. Person from the Resume*

          I am a bit surprised that absolutely no one is happily jumping to the swing shift because moving from 9-5 to 7-3 means a much earlier wake up than before. A person who is not a morning person might be really happy to be able to sleep late and start work at 3pm. But it is a sign that all these employees lives are oriented to doing personal stuff after work and they will be particularly unhappy to be permanently forced onto a swing shift schedule.

          #1 – incentives for swing shift to hopefully get volunteers from current employees. More pay or more time off.
          #2 – If this is permanent and not just permanent until COVID-19 is contained (whenever that might be), start hiring people for the swing shift. Look for people who want to be on that schedule like college students or night owls or whatever. Make it very clear you are only hiring for that shift and they can’t expect to move to days after a short time on the job This could mean you have to lay off current employees who you don’t have room for on the day shift and who refuse to move to swing shift.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Yeah, the incentives are key. The fact that not one single person has volunteered makes me think that they are not being paid extra for this and maybe aren’t being paid enough to particularly care about the business needs in the first place. It’s a pretty major change to ask people to make, and it’s ridiculous to ask them to make it with no other motivation that “we want you to”.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              Unemployment rate is 14%, the company doesn’t have to pay any incentive. The worker’s incentive is to not be unemployed at the same time as millions of other people.

              It’s crappy but that is where we are.

              1. Lora*

                They may not *have* to, depending on region, but usually there is a pay differential for second or third shift – when I did it, +20% was the norm for second shift, I think third shift got more like 30%. Swing shifts and two shifts in a row got a LOT more, because it’s so stressful.

                Another option for management trying to figure out how to spread out people: we also did 2 days on / 2 days off sort of thing, with longer shifts. Some people might be interested in working 4 10-hour shifts, with a Friday off or a mid-week break. The important thing is really to keep it consistent whatever you do, because people can adapt to a new routine but when it’s constantly changing it does a number on your stress levels and sleep habits. That’s why swing shifts typically pay extra. In unionized workplaces I’ve seen (e.g. where my brother works), the swing shift pay differential is often driven by bonuses offered on the spot: Nobody wants to work 11-7 Sunday night? Okay, how about you get an extra $50? Extra $100? Extra $200? And they would sort of auction it off.

              2. EventPlannerGal*

                I mean, yeah, they can just fire half of their staff and hire new people to replace them for the night shift, that’s true. I just question if that is actually the most practical option even given the unemployment rate. It would be expensive, and if this job requires specialist qualifications or training it would be time-consuming, and if they fire employees who are very experienced there will likely still be a big quality gap until they can get the new staff up to par, and it would absolutely tank the morale of the remaining staff. Again, they can do that, but it may be cheaper for them to figure out some incentives and maybe pay for some post-shift taxis home.

              3. Dr Rat*

                I agree with TGFQH. I’ve been working for the same Fortune 500 company since the last recession, and here’s what I’ve noticed: when unemployment is low and good people are hard to find and retain, we get all kinds of extra perks and bonuses to keep us happy, and the company bends over backwards to keep good employees. When unemployment is high and they have 20-50 people begging for every position, most of that goes away. Employees get fired for minor mistakes, new hires are hired in at much lower salaries, bonuses become scarcer, etc. In the current economy, it’s a buyer’s market. The reality is if they move the OP to the evening shift, he probably has 2 choices in this economy: take it or leave it.

          2. Mama Bear*

            I suspect this is what they will do one way or another. If people aren’t laid off/fired for not taking the new shift, they may take it only as a means to an end and leave later. The company will have to backfill for that shift.

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            I’m a night owl that would be personally happier with later hours, but I have children and am somewhat at the mercy of their school/activity schedules and somewhat limited childcare options. If I worked 3-10 p.m., I would see my children for an hour a two per day in the morning scramble to get everyone to school (so no sleeping late), and that is untenable to me. The earlier shift would be torturous for my internal clock and also require an unusual childcare arrangement that, in my area, would be fairly expensive (limited, early hours, plus driving).

        3. SomebodyElse*

          Does it really matter ‘why’ people don’t want to work it? If those are the hours the business thinks it has to staff then that’s what they need. And the reasons why employees don’t want to work it are largely irrelevant to that need.

          It sounds a bit harsh, but employers aren’t in business to make employees happy. If they can great! They should be trying as much as possible within the context of business needs.

          1. Mama Bear*

            I think why matters because there could be a way to meet in the middle, but the company hasn’t explored it. Companies can do all kinds of things that aren’t technically illegal but are demoralizing. I would not be surprised if there are other problems with this company in the leadership department.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              How do you meet in the middle? Either people work the 2nd shift or they don’t. If they don’t then they are not needed.

              This isn’t even in the realms of illegal. Not everything is nefarious when it comes to company decisions.

              1. UKDancer*

                You talk to the staff and ask them whether there are other ways of doing this, other patterns that would work better. You ask whether incentives like, e.g. paying for a taxi back for people on the late shift would help them be more willing to take the job.

                Yes at the end of the day the company can compel people to take the shift pattern or leave, but they’ll have a much happier and more willing workforce if they talk them through why they’re doing this, ask their input on any better options and make them feel engaged in the process.

                It’s (in many countries) perfectly legal to impose this shift pattern but it may not be the best thing for staff retention or morale.

              2. Jules the 3rd*

                A tech support group I worked for added part timers for the late shift, so that it was half long-term employees and half new part-time people. The part timers would work M / T / W or W / T / F. It was a greater burden on the company – shift differential, more hiring / training, more people on company healthcare (PTers got company insurance at 2 shifts / week), but there was a fairly stable group of part-timers the two years I worked there.

              3. Yorick*

                They could look into what incentives might make people more willing to volunteer for that shift – yes, they could lay off everyone they don’t need for the day shift and hire new people for the night shift, but that’s likely to be more expensive than offering a slight pay increase or something other small benefit.

                Also, they could explore whether they need those precise hours for business reasons, or if an overlapping earlier afternoon-evening shift might be ok, and whether people would be more willing to work that.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            I think it matters quite a lot, actually, because figuring out why people don’t want to do it could help the company figure out if they can offer anything to get them to agree – which means, you know, employee retention and not having to hire new people and train them, and not completely tanking staff morale, all that good stuff.

            Like, if the issue is primarily childcare, could the company offer assistance with that? If it’s about people’s social lives, could they offer to rotate the shifts so that nobody is stuck on lates forever? Is it just that they don’t pay people enough to care about the business needs (I would not do those hours for my current pay, but for a guaranteed bonus or a raise, I might)? Are people worried about getting home from work at night? There’s all kinds of reasons why people might hesitate to do these shifts that actually do have potential solutions, but it doesn’t sound like the company has offered anything beyond “we’re saying so so you have to”.

          3. pancakes*

            You don’t think it would matter to the company if it lost experienced employees and had to invest in training their replacements? It’s far from impossible that that could happen, and happiness would have little to nothing to do with whether that financially makes sense.

          4. Taniwha Girl*

            Sometimes by exploring what makes your employees happy, you find a more efficient way to achieve your business goals. And you get more out of your human resources as well.

            This is like HR 101…

      2. A*

        Yes. This is not comparable to a situation where someone has chosen to work an alternative schedule or later shift. These are people that have specifically sought out a traditional 9-5 schedule, and have made it clear they are disinterested in volunteering for that change.

    8. NYC Taxi*

      Yup. 530pm-1230am was my most favorite shift ever. Did it for a decade. I had all day to do whatever I wanted, then went to work. Still got home earlier enough to keep a normal sleep schedule. Good days those were.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Not always true. Often we straddle shifts with our own hours. So neither shift is completely boss-free but it certainly gives you some breathing room if you prefer it ;)

    10. TardyTardis*

      I worked 3-11 back when I would come home to watch Johnny Carson back in the Olden Times, sleep, wake up, and have tons of time to do stuff. But that shift will not work with kids, because I don’t know any day cares who run those hours (if there are, they could probably charge an arm and a leg).

  1. atgo*

    LW#1, at my old job we had some ERGs that met regularly and would include specific time in the meetings for non-managers/HR. So if the meeting was monthly and an hour, the first half would be for everybody and then folks with institutional power would leave and the others would talk. At times, this led to the groups surfacing concerns as a group without identifying anyone individually. It seemed to me to be a good compromise that protected everyone while giving room for the commonalities and connection, too.

    I don’t see a way for that to happen in a Slack channel, but wanted to mention as food for thought.

    1. Web Crawler*

      Seems like the easiest way to do this in a slack channel is by making two slack channels- one #resource-group and one #resource-group-no-management

  2. Catherine*

    OP #1, I agree with Alison that it’s right for you to step out of those channels, but your coworkers should not be using Slack to vent or discuss issues they face at the company!

    Slack is not a safe space because the data can be downloaded/exported by the company. Nothing on Slack, not even the deleted messages in “private” chats, should be considered private. If your coworkers need a safe space, they need to find a platform they have control over.

    (Even the analytics can betray you–a previous employer of mine found out about employee unionization efforts partly due to a spike in private chats.)

    1. Gaia*

      A good reminder that nothing on any company asset (including third party software you use company logins for) should ever be considered private. Even if they promise it is, it may not be.

      1. Dan*

        I work in a “government adjacent” field, and we’re pretty much told that if we wouldn’t want something to appear as a headline in The Washington Post, we better not put it in writing anywhere.

        Way, way back in the day, I had a grad school professor who more or less refused to use email for anything but routine administrative stuff. He advised some academic groups I belonged to, and finally one day I just had to ask, “Prof. X, why do you refuse to use email for anything but the most mundane stuff?” I forget his exact answer, but it was something along the lines of what gets said in person can’t get forwarded, inadvertently or not, in an email.

        1. andy*

          I like written communication precisely because it can get forwarded in case people play political games and lie about what was said. “I told them to do X” – “we understood this email to mean we should do Y” is invaluable.

          1. doreen*

            I know many people who want to receive emails in order to document what was said to them who simultaneously do not want to send emails for anything important. But there are other reasons for avoiding email besides political games. For example, right now my employer is planning our reopening. We don’t want to give the staff details until we have the final plan and therefore none of the plans are in email – it’s just too easy for someone to make a mistake.

            1. Picard*

              Yep. I have an ongoing issue with a vendor right now and he keeps wanting to chat on the phone. After the first phone call, I took it to email because despite what I have continued to request, he continues to ask for more phone calls and what I need is in writing explanations that can be reviewed with purchasing.

              1. leapingLemur*

                Some people just don’t communicate well when they have to write an e-mail. For something like this, it might be worthwhile typing up what he says he wants and sending it to him and asking if that’s right or if there are any changes that need to be made.

              2. Quill*

                Generally speaking I need my decisions and the data they’re based on to be traceable.

          2. LQ*

            I hate written communication because I will spend 30 minutes to write out clearly something that it would take 2 minutes to say if I had the chance to get the “you aren’t making any sense” stare from folks. Should I be a perfect written communicator, yes, but I’m not. It’s amazing how everyone here is, and everyone here assumes everyone else is both perfect and malicious.
            About half the time my 30 minute precisely written and rewritten to death emails get misunderstood anyway so it’s not useful even then. Though I’m sure that people would call it political games instead of LQ is a messy writer.

            1. andy*

              I am not perfect writer either. I do mistakes too, in writing or in verbal. When I make mistake in verbal, yes other person cant prove it. But I still made mistake in that verbal communication and if other person acted on that mistake, it is not their fault. Even if it would be more comfortable for me to pretend it was their mistake. Then I apologize, fix the issue, validate other person feelings and then we can move on.

              When I am given instructions I do act on those instructions. Whether verbal or written, if they are faulty, end result will be faulty.

              First, not everyone is nice honest person. Absence of written track record makes it too easy and too tempting to start blaming people around.

              Second, people tend to just shoot their ideas and guess instead of properly verify everything. Absence written track record means that they will never learn about own wrong guesses. It means that they become increasingly confident with their guesses. It means that the people who randomly shoot are seen as faster better workers while their mistakes are blamed on us.

              I have seen customers and managers yell at people too many times for their own mistakes. I have seen them do blaming behind peoples backs when they can not defend themselves. It does not even matter whether they knew it is not true what they are saying or not. What matters is that when my boss asks me about the situation (and I am lucky enough to have one that asks) I can pull out emails and figure out whether it was my fault or not.

            2. Jules the 3rd*

              I’m the other way around – I’m so chatty that verbal conversations take 15 minutes to get something said that I could write in 2.

              For written stuff: I really like bullet points / outline format. It helps me organize thoughts into groups, and I can run back through it like a checklist to see if I missed anything.

            3. TardyTardis*

              I needed email to confirm that what I had been told to do wouldn’t be changed or forgotten.

      2. Renata Ricotta*

        And lots of times, they can’t (and shouldn’t!) promise that. They can promise not to look unless they HAVE to, but having the ability sometimes means they have to review. For example, they have a legal obligation to investigate discrimination and harassment – if someone told HR they were being subjected to that behavior in a private chat, the company would be legally obligated to look into it (which I think is a good thing). As a white collar defense attorney, I got subpoenas and document requests all the time from governmental regulators, and companies are likewise legally obligated to comb *all* of their available information platforms for responsive information.

    2. valentine*

      As OP1, I would be concerned about seeing something I have to report or forgetting the provenance and sharing something outside the group.

    3. WellRed*

      Ye, I’m actually a little surprised about all these Slack channels. But I work for a very small company so we only need a few ( still work-based) but we’re a friendly group and do some off work topics and chatter.

      1. MassMatt*

        You are not alone. Many jobs I had computers were for work only and surfing the internet or using chat programs was a no-no. I can see maybe having some that are work-related for easy collaboration, especially with so many working from home, but this seems like a lot of slack use. And the older story Alison pointed the link to—-OMG, don’t these people have enough work to do?

        1. mikeyc*

          I still cringe about stuff I’ve posted online years ago. I can’t imagine there being non-work Slack channels where colleagues potentially controversial chats are kept in perpetuity on some big cloud server ready to be dug up at the first sign of trouble.

          Imagine if your boss takes a dislike to you and wants you fired, so they find their way into the #secretchat slack channel where you said something very uncomplimentary about them. I thought everyone learnt long ago not to have private conversations on work email, why is slack any different??

        2. pancakes*

          There are entire industries full of people who have occasion to use the internet and chat with coworkers in connection with their work. I’m a lawyer and often need to pull up a quarterly earnings call transcript or a press release or whatnot, for starters.

          1. MassMatt*

            True, but this doesn’t seem to be what the letter (and especially the link to the older letter) was about. In the older letter there was talk of multiple social channels where people talked about recipes, sci-fi and TV show fandom, etc.

            I’m just as social as the next guy in the right context but here it seems a lot of work time was going to something other than work.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              You sometimes see it in offices with lots of exempt workers who work long hours, where the company supports them building relationships, collaborating, having camaraderie. It’s not that different than offices with foozball tables.

        3. another scientist*

          Academia is one field, but far from the only one, where the expectation of living for the job is made slightly more palatable by deriving all your social life from your place of work. Everything blends together. It definitely has its downsides.

        4. Quill*

          Part of my job includes maintaining a conversational level of spanish proficiency, so I exchange pleasantries over skype a lot. In an indsustry more focused on networking I can see how there would be a lot more slack chatting.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Slack channels worked well at the tax place when you *really* needed help on trying to find a way to keep sone poor schlub from getting hit with the ACA tax.

    4. Washi*

      I don’t know, I think there are levels of venting.

      I have used company-provided IM services to vent to coworkers about things that I would still stand behind even if leadership saw those chats. Like they were the same things I would have said to HR or the CEO if she’d asked my opinion on X, just maybe phrased more bluntly.

      But definitely truly super sensitive stuff (like a sexual harassment concern) is not good to put in writing on company platforms/company property if you wouldn’t want other people to see it.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes. Discussion along the lines of “I preferred the snack selection in the vending machine before we switched to _______ Co., what do other people think?” doesn’t need to be hidden.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      In the pre-Slack days, three of my teammates vented daily about our boss on the company chat client. They even held prayer chats, asking God to ‘smite her’ in what they thought were hilarious ways. One of the bad-mothers joked about it to someone outside our department; this person told our boss, who asked IT to check the chat logs. IT found months of supremely nasty comments and bitter complaints about being held accountable for their work. These chats logs proved that the threesome spent as much time venting as they did working. The logs also showed behavior that clearly violated our Code of Conduct, our employee handbook on the use of company property, and just plain common sense.

      The bad-mouthers claimed it was all a joke and no big deal – everybody vents, right? – but they were walked out by HR the same day IT sent our boss the chat logs. Well deserved in this case, but the message is the same for even casual or company sanctioned discussions: be aware of how your conversations are tracked and stored.

    6. Mediamaven*

      I’ve only worked at small companies so reading this question I was like, what? Is this normal to have groups set up for employees to have private discussions and segregate certain people? Sounds super dangerous and unhealthy to me.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Many companies let people set up Slack channels around their interests – a Game of Thrones channel, a pets channel, a running channel, etc. It’s not unusual to also have a channel for parents, etc.

        1. TardyTardis*

          We had a lovely Random channel to pass around pictures of when we got two feet of snow, etc., and that was fun.

      2. Web Crawler*

        These kinds of groups have been super useful to me as a trans person. Because I don’t know any other trans people in person at my company and it’s not like I can ask my coworkers “hey, do you know how to change my gender in the company address book?” But we do have an LGBT resource group, and somebody there usually knows the answer. I don’t know what I’d do without that.

      3. JustaTech*

        I would be delighted to have some Slack channels for Game of Thrones or sportsball to get those conversations away from my cube (because I don’t care about those topics). I’d also love to have Slack channels for hobbies so I could meet/talk about those things with like minded people, because I’m at a smaller site and I’m not good at figuring out who is into what.

        I’m not sure how it would be dangerous or unhealthy?

      4. Altair*

        There’s a huge difference between solidarity and segregation. The employees who use the BIPOC channel or the Parenting channel or so on aren’t restricted to only those channels, they simply have a resource to be able to discuss these particular topics in a space where people who do not share those topics will not be present to tell them they’re wrong about their lived experience. This is only dangerous to those who benefit from keeping employees isolated from those with similar or congruent experiences, who benefit from preventing employees from helping each other handle those experiences.

  3. Cobol*

    7-3 isn’t necessarily good either for most people, especially those with kids. Most childcare around here starts at 7, especially during summer. Honestly, even prior to kids I’d struggle. I have to imagine this is going to cost a ton of people.

    1. MK*

      Possibly, assuming these people can afford to leave in the current climate. But I would be very surprised if the company decided to make this drastic change on a whim; most likely there is a compelling reason behind it and they won’t be going back on it.

      1. Karia*

        I hope so for their sake, given that this change will tank morale and cost them any employee with kids, elderly parents, responsibilities outside of work or health conditions. Not to mention anyone who has literally any other option.

      2. WellRed*

        Then they need to communicate that reasoning and not just tell the employees, this is it, fight it out! That’s just bad management and I’d bet there are other issues.

      3. Cobol*

        Well costing doesn’t have to mean they quit right away. This is just for me personally, but even if it took two years, this would be the reason I left. And the better the employee, the more likely they are to have other options.

        As for the company having a reason, I’m sure they do, but given nobody has signed up for the later shift, it seems like their environmental analysis wasn’t ironclad.

        1. MassMatt*

          Not to mention, both shifts but especially the later shift give the employees lots of time to job hunt and interview. No need to worry about someone coming back from their “doctor’s appointment” in their interview suit.

      4. AndersonDarling*

        I worked for a company that ran 24/7 and people chose day or night shifts. The job entailed 3 specific tasks and no one was great at all 3 tasks, but everyone was great at one of the three tasks. So they broke the one role out into 3 roles and the staff was sorted out into to jobs they were good at. But…that meant that all the shifts had to be shuffled so that there were 2 of each role on each shift.
        What resulted was what the OP is going through. No one wanted to move to the night shift, and some of the night shift didn’t want to move to the day shift. There were some volunteers, but in the end, some people just got assigned to shifts they didn’t want. Some stayed and some left.
        But the change dramatically improved performance. Like, insanely improved it. Managers were giving presentations at industry events and the system was picked up at other organizations.
        At the time, it felt like the change was made on the whim of a manager, but it was actually really well thought out. It was a risk because they knew they would lose some great staff members, but it was a risk worth taking.

      5. TardyTardis*

        My old ExCompany is splitting shifts like this to allow for more social distance inside the building (a converted lumber mill, no I am not joking, the building engineer has his own personal suicide hot line just keeping the temperature in there livable).

    2. Momma Bear*

      True. The *earliest* I could drop my kid at before care was usually 7 or 7:30 AM. There were days I had to wait in the parking lot for them to open, and leave IMMEDIATELY for work. Some of the earlier options weren’t available for a kid attending that school. It’s no good if the kid can’t get to class from daycare.

    3. Xrayed*

      It seems like the most likely motive behind suddenly splitting shifts is to reduce density because of COVID.

      1. LunaLena*

        Yes, this was what I was thinking. My workplace has also been contemplating staggering work days or hours and partial work-from-home as they explore options for returning to work.

        But the fact that they’re making this a permanent change makes me wonder if LW3’s workplace does something like manufacturing or production, so staggering shifts increases productivity since there would be less dead time on the machines. For example, I used to work at a place that made promotional products. There were six machines that made the products and weren’t automated, so they had to be run by people. Having two shifts instead of one would mean twelve people could run the machines instead of six, essentially doubling production. And even if they weren’t looking to hire more people, it might increase productivity anyways. The machines at the place I worked at broke down constantly, so if they staggered it so three machines were at use 7am-3pm and three were in use 3-10pm, if one broke down there’d be three back-ups and production could continue at its normal pace while the one is being fixed.

    4. A*

      Interesting. That was the one thing that struck me as a potential benefit. In my area 7am-3p is often a preferred schedule for parents (often previously referred to as ‘mothers hours’ *barf*). Most day cares and child providers either open earlier than 7am since most people are already into their morning commute at that point, or they have ‘before hours’ programs at an added expense. And most of the schools get out ~3pm so I’ve had plenty of colleagues have that as their ideal departure time.

      When I lived farther away from metropolitan cities I did notice that child care providers seemed to open later, so this might very well be regional.

      1. Cobol*

        Interesting. I’m in a city with a two million metro area. Commutes aren’t awful, but starts after moving later vs. earlier.

  4. Something Clever TBD*

    If your job changes to 3-9, and you quit bc that’s not doable – are you eligible for unemployment?

    1. Natalie*

      In my state, potentially yes, but you’d have to go through a process to determine that.

    2. Jack be Nimble*

      I think you would be, in my state (although our unemployment office tends to grant benefits unless there is documented proof of malicious wrong-doing on the part of the former employee) but I think it’d be treated similarly to being let go after refusing relocation. Quitting because the terms of the job changed dramatically is different than quitting for other reasons.

  5. JKP*

    Is the sudden split shift because of social distancing? Companies that can’t fit all their workers in the space and maintain social distance are needing to create split shifts so that only half the employees are there at once. If that’s the reason, then maybe this will be somewhat temporary and not permanent.

    1. HA2*

      Yeah, that was my guess too, a COVID thing where they’re trying to run the office at 50% capacity by splitting everyone up.

    2. LGC*

      That’s what I thought…but I don’t think it matters because she says it’s permanent anyway.

      Although…assuming they can WFH, why have people return to the office full time? (That’s assuming they can WFH, which LW3 doesn’t say in the letter.)

    3. Koala dreams*

      It seems rather extreme as a solution. Are there so few employees that can work from home? If half the employees could work from home, the other half could still go to office.

      1. doreen*

        Lots of jobs can’t be done at home – and I don’t see anything that suggests that this is an office based job. It could be almost anything that isn’t typically done in multiple shifts per day already – just as an example ( which I am sure is not the OP’s situation) , rather than having four bakers working an overnight shift from 12pm-8am, maybe a company will have two people from 4pm-midnight and two from midnight to 8am to allow for more distancing.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Depending on what that job is, there might genuinely be a lot of employees who can’t do it from home.

      3. A*

        I assume this is in relation to a work environment requiring employees to be on site. My first thought was manufacturing or production. My employer had to add an extra shift at our manufacturing facility to keep capacity up (necessary for us all to have jobs) while maintaining the required social distancing and other safety measure in place. Luckily we were already one shift shy of 24/7, so it wasn’t a radical enough departure from other available shifts to leave us without volunteers – which is definitely a different situation than OP is in.

        Same goes for my R&D folk. There’s only so much innovation and QA testing that can be done reliably in their apartments/homes.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      That was where my mind first went. I wondered whether it had perhaps been worded as something like “for the foreseeable future” and it’s come off as permanent. If they don’t know yet how long that’s likely to be needed then I guess they can’t be any more specific than that – I can see them not wanting to say something like “until September” and then find out they need it for longer than that.

      1. NVHEng*

        I am a boss who is looking at making this type of change in my organization. The lab isn’t big enough to hold everyone we employ safely (with distancing) and the testing needs to continue so that the business operates. We offered multiple concepts to the team (split shifts M-F vs two separate day shifts Su-W,Th-Sa etc) and will likely go with whatever the team thinks is most sustainable. Both options will also require extra work for me and the supervisors, some of whom have kids and all of whom also have social lives. None of us think this is a wonderful change, but it’s necessary this year.

        Whichever option we choose, we will be asking people to switch (or be willing to) every three months, so that no one is stuck in a non-preferred shift forever. My team gets it and is working to help, so the engagement and morale will hopefully not take a terrible ding (not more than 2020 already deserves).

        LW – I recommend understanding more about why the change is being made, talking with your co-workers about whether there is a better option and then proposing that. Your manager may not know how difficult it will be for you if you don’t discuss it with her. And a request to make this a rotating schedule may help with morale. Your boss probably has no desire to voluntell people to work the night shift (I certainly don’t) but if all she gets is radio silence then she will make a decision without your input.

        1. WellRed*

          So every three months people have to make all new life arrangements and adjust to new lifestyle schedules?

          1. Person from the Resume*

            I know. But it’s somewhat fairer for the people who don’t get the shift they want to be able to get the preferred shift in 3 months. But it’s chaotic for everyone.

            Other option is switching shifts every week which is a mess on employee’s sleep schedules and also chaotic for the personal life.

            1. A Non E. Mouse*

              Are you going to force the shift switch in 3 months? Or could you do another check-in and see if there are people that would voluntarily switch (and leave everyone else as is)?

              I do think forcing the switch is the “most fair”, but it’s also the most disruptive, so if there’s a way around it….

              1. NVHEng*

                We landed on 3 months vs a shorter time because it is safer (we do product safety testing and I don’t want tired people making mistakes) and people can plan better – both their work and their lives.

                It will definitely be more of a check in than a forced musical chairs event. If someone no longer needs the day shift and will change, someone else could come to days. Our team is actually great and if someone needs or wants to move, they will probably be able to find a taker. I know that not everyone is 100% when they work at certain times (I do not work well after 10pm) so it is important to give people the opportunity to try something and change if it doesn’t work.

                One thing I learned by asking the team what they wanted was that many preferred a super early and a day shift, not a first half of the day second half of the day (midnight-8, 8-4 vs 6-2, 2-10) which was surprising to me. The older people prefer to work early and get things done and have their day, the younger people and parents have a more normal life. It is not totally a generational split but it’s significant. I would never have thought a midnight shift was preferred. But my management style is to let the team tell me what they need. I hope it works out!

          2. Washi*

            Yeah, I think if the 3-10 shift is so disliked, you might need to offer a substantial bonus for every 3 months that you do of that shift, enough so that it becomes a perk for the people who can swing it with their schedules.

          3. Em*

            This is how my employer works, albeit with shift-bids — new schedule every three months, most senior employees pick first. We’re a 24/7 operation, and this does work genuinely well to make sure that nobody gets stuck on a shift they hate for longer than three months. I will say that seniority’s gained fairly quickly at my employer, which helps. We’re always hiring, and it’s a pretty good company in terms of promoting from within — I can think of more colleagues in the past six months who’ve moved on to other roles in the company than who’ve resigned. It took me two shift bids to wind up on my ideal shift.

          4. Grapey*

            Everyone’s been doing this already for the past 3 months. Look at it as building resilience for when this happens more frequently in a society that doesn’t take science seriously.

          5. jahjahjahaha*

            Police departments, people working in security, etc. rotate schedules every few months so no one has to work all nights/days or work all holidays. If someone stays with the company for a couple of years, it kind of comes out in the wash.

        2. Mockingjay*

          LW – I recommend understanding more about why the change is being made, talking with your co-workers about whether there is a better option and then proposing that.

          This is an excellent idea. LW #3, since the proposed shifts obviously aren’t feasible for you and your coworkers, figure out a couple or three scenarios as alternate solutions. I say several because it’s more likely management will pick one you can live with. It’s easy for boss to say no to a single alternative. Also, if/when you talk to your coworkers, understand that there is no schedule other than the current that will work for everyone. Aim for the majority.

          Sorry you are dealing with this. We schedule our lives around work. It really should be the other way around.

        3. Observer*

          Whichever option we choose, we will be asking people to switch (or be willing to) every three months, so that no one is stuck in a non-preferred shift forever.

          You may want to rethink this. These are probably bad shifts, but people can adjust. Those adjustments are not simple in many cases, though. Asking people to make those kinds of major adjustments every 3 months may simply not be doable.

          1. Mama Bear*

            It may seem like a dead horse, but it’s not – this will be unworkable for caregivers and parents. It is really hard to find a provider that is open before 7AM and stays open past about 6PM. The latest I had any daycare available was 6:30 PM. Childcare can’t be switched around easily every few months, especially right now where centers are also opening at limited capacity so the slots you get are already hard to come by. I don’t know the hours of adult care centers, but I can’t imagine many of them being more flexible than the ones for kids. Right now we have an employee who has daytime but not nighttime nursing care for their spouse. Etc.

            Please don’t do this. Talk to your staff about a more equitable way to share the burden but if you switch shifts every three months, you’re going to cause chaos for anyone with a caregiver role.

      2. MassMatt*

        Why are people again second-guessing what the OP says? She said it was announced as permanent. We all know what “permanent” means. What purpose is served by wondering whether or not the OP means what she says? Or whether the employer means what they say?

        1. WhisperingPines*

          +1 the verbiage lawyering with this commentariat can get pretty off topic and distracting

    5. Bagpuss*

      I assumed that that was the reason – in which case, if it is feasible, it might make sense for OP3 to push back with coworkers to try to advocate for other options – maybe more WFH for those with suitable jobs, asking the employer to consider whether there are ways they could make changes so that more people can safely work at the same time.

      Also ask about how they are going to deal with it if they don’t get a split of volunteers for each shift – will they introduce variation so that people don’t get stuck forever on the ‘wrong’ shift for them?

      1. Good Day for a Pandemic*

        People just don’t read, and when they do, think what is plainly said means something else. SMH.

  6. namelesscommentator*

    OP4 – Do you know about the office because you’ve visited or because your husband vents about it at home?

    If your husband is venting, ask him if he wants actual suggestions or just a place to vent and get out the things he can’t say to his boss’ face? Then follow that lead.

    1. jahjahjahaha*

      This. People don’t always need suggestions, just a safe place to vent and get things off their chests.

  7. Gregory McIntyre*

    LW3 are you hourly because I can’t help but notice the loss in hours as well for the later shift.

    1. valentine*

      Unless it’s a typo, I’m thinking the 7-3 includes an unpaid hour break and someone thinks the 3-10 people don’t need one (!), in which case I hope they are working from home.

      Unless overlapping, or even later, shifts are possible, especially if this is telework, I would choose 3-10 so I don’t have to worry about whether I’ll get, and possibly later lose, 7-3.

          1. valentine*

            the original shift was 9 to 5 which was 8 hours though.
            And 3-10 is seven hours.
            Yes. There are those who would think night shift doesn’t need a “lunch” break because lunch is a pre-3 activity.

    2. linger*

      I hope employees are exempt, which would make the 1-hour reduction the company’s (insufficient) attempt to make the night shift more attractive. But yes, if they’re hourly, it’s that much less surprising that nobody wants the night shift.

  8. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

    #5: I think it’s fine to disconnect from them- even block them if you want to (they won’t receive a notification or anything like that), especially if you don’t think they’d speak favorably of you if asked. A reasonable potential new employer won’t have the time or inclination to analyze your connections. In fact, you can also hide your connections so they can’t even see whether you’re connected with anyone from your old job. A lot of people hide their connections for competitive or confidentiality reasons, so that wouldn’t be seen as outlandish.

    1. Gaia*

      I disconnected from one former coworker because every time I’d comment or post on anything, they’d find a way to take a dig at our mutual employer. I get they felt slighted, but it was incredibly awkward because it was so obvious.

      1. LW5*

        Yikes! It sounds like the person has some issues that needed to be laid to rest. The person was doing this on Linkedin? I can see doing this on Facebook but not on a professional networking site.

    2. Rhymetime*

      I have actually found it to be a relief to anonymously remove connections after I left an old job. There was something sweet and empowering about severing that last tether to people I didn’t want to be connecting to in any way. Recruiters won’t be looking through your LinkedIn connections. If you have a recommendation for your work from someone prominent in your field, they might notice that but for anything else it’s not a big deal. They won’t notice. But you will, and that can feel great to cut those last ties.

      1. LW5*

        This is how I was originally thinking. I’ve had good time and space from the job now since I quit, and part of my thinking has been that I don’t want to be energetically connected to these people or this employer.

      2. lazy intellectual*

        I also disconnected with my former managers (but not coworkers) on LI. It was for no other reason than for my own peace of mind. There was something symbolic and final about doing that. I highly doubt they or anyone else will notice, but that’s not the point. It’s like “unfriending” an ex friend or bf on Facebook.

    3. Greenfrog*

      Whatever works for you! I have a few connections with people that I never EVER want to work with again because I want my current coworkers to ask me about them just in case they apply at my current job. Connection is not endorsement!

      1. LW5*

        Thanks for your view that connection is not endorsement. Whereas a lot of people in my field have hundreds or over 500 connections, I’ve purposefully kept my Linkedin contacts as only people I have either worked for or with or know personally, so I’ve viewed my smaller list as my personal endorsement. For example, I’ve had past employees want to connect with me, and I have declined and deleted the requests.

    4. RC Rascal*

      Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

      Think about staying connected to them so you know where they are and where they go, so you can stay as far away from them as you need to. Former coworkers can easily end up at at employer that interests you, or at a customer. Its the norm in lots of industries for employees to circulate between a finite group of companies. You could easily run across them at conferences or in your own future job searches. If you know where they are, you can be much more prepared if you do have to see them.

      1. LW5*

        Think about staying connected to them so you know where they are and where they go, so you can stay as far away from them as you need to.
        You make excellent points, thank you. My plan was to leave the industry I was in and do something completely different, so in my mind, disconnecting made next to no difference because I wouldn’t need, or need to avoid, any of these people. However, COVID has forced me to change my plans, and I may need to return to the industry at some point.

        What you said makes me think of the NBC slogan, “the more you know!”

  9. Observer*

    #! – If you have a US presence (either you are based in the US or have US based employees), this: “Alternatively, should I make sure that I’m in those channels in order to keep a watchful eye? ” is a legally problematic. Employees havea legally protected right to discuss the conditions of employment. Any action intended to curtail or “chill” the exercise of that right could create problems. Monitoring discussions and “keeping a watchful eye” would almost certainly be seen by many as an attempt to keep people from having negative discussions about your employer.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        I find #! in place of #1 to be one of the more endearing typos. It makes it look like the writer is excited!

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Agreed. The very fact that LW1 had that train of thought was to me the reason she should step out of those channels. If the whole point is to have a place where Big Brother isn’t always watching, your “watchful eye” totally defeats the purpose. I’d feel differently if LW1 had said she wanted to be there to have her own opportunity to share her work frustrations, but … yikes.

      That said, I agree even harder with those who say not to expect 100% privacy or discretion or secrecy or insularity or anything of the sort in a work-sponsored online space. If you need to really air grievances that you don’t want to get back to certain people in a safe space, your work Slack is probably not the right choice. On a privacy scale of 1-10, a work-sponsored space likely will never go above a 6, tops. For example, someone who was a peer could get promoted to head of Important Division and step out of a channel … but they’d still know what was discussed 6 months ago.

      1. LGC*

        It’s like…people didn’t read the article about Away last year. (Granted, that was on The Verge, so it was pretty big among tech nerds, but also – the entire article was about a CEO getting nailed for her bananas Slack policies!)

        I’ll give LW1 the benefit of the doubt, though – she does say that she’d like to participate, because she says she “felt the sting of exclusion” from being explicitly left out of the PoC channel, and that she’d “be sad to lose that part of [her] work community” if she needed to leave the parents and women channels. The watchful eye thing is a possible thing she floats, but it isn’t the entirety.

          1. LGC*

            I mean, I agree that it’s a potential issue. I just think that it sounds like she primarily wants to be a participant in the ERGs because she’s a member of those groups. The use of her position is an aside.

      2. MassMatt*

        If the topics are this sensitive it’s foolish for people to have these discussions at work using work systems. You don’t have a legally protected right to have the employer prohibited from noticing the chats you are having on their systems while on their dime.

        1. Wintermute*

          Not noticed, but potentially punished for. The NLRB has said that use of work electronics for protected labor organization purposes is protected.

        2. SnowQueenM*

          The company can absolutely still pull private Slack channels if they are a part of the main company-wife organization. Completely foolish. Get a Signal, WhatsApp or group text going, and protect your privacy!

        3. Observer*

          The company legally cannot punish people for having discussions about working conditions, even if those discussion are on the company’s servers.

          On the other hand, ANYTHING else is fair game. And to be honest, even if everything on the channel is pure as the driven snow in terms of ethics and professional competence, if people want privacy, the a work based Slack Channel is still a REALLY bad idea. Because there are a lot of situations where your employer may be acting in totally good faith but still will look at these “private” channels. In fact, in some cases they may not even have a choice.

          1. MassMatt*

            Well…. how about firing them for slacking (literally) when they are supposed to be working?

            I think we are talking about 2 different things here. You are thinking about things like leave policies and union organizing, I am thinking about social activities. Someone posting about their favorite Game of Thrones characters is not Norma Rae holding up a “Union!” sign.

          2. Altair*

            Yeah, this. Above I defended the existence of specialized spaces, but here I completely agree that those spaces need to be somewhere else than work property.

    2. Lance*

      I personally read ‘watchful eye’ in this context as making sure to find any instances of racism/sexism/any other applicable -ism as they pop up and put a stop to those, rather than the conversations/venting thereof. Though even in that case, everyone’s right; it’s not a great look to have the head of HR in there with an eye on things for any given purpose, whethre for good or ill. Rather to let people feel safe talking these things over with each other, then bring the issues up when they feel safe to do that.

      The best thing OP can do is be supportive when they come, and make sure to avoid discrimination in things that they, as head of HR, directly see.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I agree with that reading, especially given OP’s mention that she is mixed race. I can also see OP being helpful by being able to quickly correct any misconceptions or answer questions about what HR can do (eg, if someone says “Can’t believe this company doesn’t have any nursing rooms!”, OP can step in and say “Actually, we do have access to nursing rooms – here’s a flyer about it”).
        We hear so many letters about problems that are left for too long until they are finally brought up to HR/management, I can see why OP would think that having HR involved in the first place would be helpful. But, if people are requesting a space without HR, it’s more important that they feel the company is listening to their needs.

        1. Tera*

          With respect to OP1’s good intentions, if I was an employee and HR popped up like that constantly, I’d find it more uncomfortable than helpful. It would be a constant reminder that everything I said was being watched and noted by HR, which would make it harder to criticise/vent about certain things.

        2. Annony*

          I thought she meant “keep a watchful eye” to mean that she wants to be aware when employees are unhappy so she can try to fix the problem.

      2. Observer*

        it’s not a great look to have the head of HR in there with an eye on things for any given purpose, whethre for good or ill.


        And to be honest, if anything contentious comes up, the idea that the OP was trying to “keep a watchful eye” *IS* going to be played as keeping any eye on complainers, “troublemakers” and / or organizers, regardless of what she actually meant.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes I feel like people are taking a very uncharitable read on that! In the context of wondering whether she should excuse herself I think it’s more likely she meant should she be watching for people complaining about poor behavior from the company so that she could address the poor behavior, not so that she could stamp out any complaints!

        But excusing herself still makes sense because sometimes people want to casually vent and commiserate without necessarily making an official complaint.

        1. Observer*

          The thing is that it doesn’t really matter if the OP’s intentions are good. In fact, I do believe that her intentions are good. But it’s still a really bad idea. Because it can make people uncomfortable. In fact it probably will make people uncomfortable. She’s already been told so, explicitly. And, if she insists on keeping an eye on things, then regardless of her intent, if anything comes up that is at all contentious, those on the other side WILL play it in the most uncharitable way. And they will use the fact that she was explicitly told that it makes people uncomfortable as evidence that she was not acting in good faith.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            But she’s not insisting on anything, she simply asked a question and there are a lot of comments here implying that the fact that she even asked means she clearly has ill intentions.

            She asked, Alison said “no don’t do that.” Now she knows why it’s not a good idea. That’s all that needs to be said on the matter.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Honestly, given the contrast between the two, “Should I give the employees privacy on the company’s chat client, or should I monitor it to stay abreast of any legal problems we may be facing,” it indicates to me that perhaps these private chat groups should be deleted.

      You do not have privacy on the company’s network, and the company is responsible for what is said on its network.

      1. Observer*

        it indicates to me that perhaps these private chat groups should be deleted.

        That’s a valid consideration.

      2. Altair*

        I wonder if it would be feasible for them to be organized elsewhere than the actual workplace’s Slack channels. OTOH, wherever they are organized they’ll need an owner/maintainer and therefore be vulnerable to that person.

    4. Good Day for a Pandemic*

      If the company really wanted HR to know about problems, it would setup its own Slack channel for directly reporting/discussing such things. No need to be sneaky, Big-Brotherish about it.

  10. Ping*

    OP #2 – always include the source when passing along information.
    “Susan states that the furniture would be moved 2 inches by Sunday. Contact her if you need more information.”

    They can’t say you said it because you directly referenced your source. If they try to do it just say, “per the email, Susan is the contact for this.”

    If you want to be nice include “If you would like, I can contact her.”

    One thing isn’t apparent – are you the point of contact for your group to the other people? If so, this changes the dynamic. You may need to follow up multiple times to make sure the information stays current.

    1. MK*

      Also, I am wondering if it’s the OP’s job to pass along information, and if so, is she reading the tone of the information given correctly, and possibly considering the source. OP, if it isn’t your job, don’t pass along information that you have happened to hear, since it gets you into trouble, and/or be especially careful about how definite the information is and whether the person giving it was in a position to know: e.g. did the infromation about downtime come from a manager or was it a random comment by a coworker? Did the information about the furniture move sound more like “We have scheduled it for 2p.m.” or “yah, we ‘ll get to it probably some time today”?

      If it is the OP’s job, a tactic I found working is to make clear to the information giver that I am passing it along and they might be held accountable for it, as in “The furniture will be moved two inches? Ok, I will let the boss know, so that they can do X”. That makes it clear to the other person that people are going to expect this to happen, so they have urgency to do it, or alternatively to tell you it’s not certain.

    2. T2*

      As a general rule, I write down the contents of every conversation and meeting to properly source the information. It is just a CYA habit I developed in response to a demanding boss many years ago.

      My handle on this is depends on if it is inside or outside the client.

      If it outside: “ I apologize for the Incorrect data. We are correcting the problem as soon as we can.”

      If it is inside: “Sally, at the biweekly status meeting on 4/30/2020, you mentioned that the price of whatsits is X. It appears that is not correct. Can you please provide the corrected Information?”

      Assuming malice where mistakes are made is all kinds of issues.

    3. NYWeasel*

      Also, soften/pad the info before passing it along. If Susan tells you the furniture will be shifted by 2” per the stakeholder’s request, tell the stakeholder “I’ve asked the team to move the furniture and as of right now it looks like they can accommodate it, but if anything changes I will let you know. Beyond malice and/or lying, a lot of times people just overestimate their own bandwidth. I’ve gotten burnt a bunch of times saying something will “definitely” be done only to have the person who gave me the assurance come back two days later and say I won’t get anything I asked for.

      It’s a good practice as well to follow up with Susan in a non confrontational way about the info she provided—“Hey Susan, when we spoke last week you were confident you could get the furniture shifted over. Could you share what changed? Jane was really pressing for the shift, so it will be helpful if I can give her context on why we haven’t done it yet.” This has two benefits—obviously it’s a better sounding message when you can say something to Jane like “The team knows you want the furniture shifted but the issues with the plumbing took up more time than anticipated. Our options now are X, Y or Z, which do you prefer?” But also within your team, if Susan knows you are helping with the messaging upward, it builds trust. I’ve had people confess to me “Oh no! I forgot completely about shifting the furniture!” In those cases, while you don’t want to lie to your stakeholders, there’s a lot of ground between “outright lie” and “throw Susan under the bus”, and aligning with Susan ahead of time about what you will say helps foster a team mindset. Even if you feel the only accurate explanation is that Susan didn’t do what she said she would, just saying to her “I’m going to have to let Jane know that this didn’t get done because she was really insistent that we do it.” is way better than if Susan suddenly has Jane sending her angry notes about the furniture shift.

  11. Gaia*

    As someone who wakes up by 5am every morning (or 6am if I’m feeling particularly sleepy), a 3-10 shift would be an absolute show stopper for me. I once did a 12-9 shift and it was a nightmare. I can stay up very late (midnight or later) and I’ll still be wide eyes awake at 5am with no alarm.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      I’m the other way around. I naturally fall asleep around 5:00-6:00 am and wake up around 12:00-1:00 pm; I can’t go to bed before that even if I had to wake up earlier in the morning the day before. Morning shifts do not work well for me at all, and that’s one of the main reasons I freelance and work from home.

      That said I completely understand why people wouldn’t want to work later shifts.

    2. DyneinWalking*

      I wonder how popular each shift would have been if they had split it 6-2 and 2-9. I’d expect a more equal distribution as being ready to work at 6 should be a lot more uncomfortable than 7 for most, while 9 should still be too solidly in the winding-down phase of the day to feel like an objectively better option.

    3. Dan*

      Heh. I have a sleep disorder, and 7-3 would kill me. I tried 5-1 in my early 20’s and gave up after 6 months. I’d do 3-10 no questions asked. In an old life, I worked at jobs that were staffed 24/7. I could do second and third shift without a problem, but first shift was a killer. Still is. I have an office-based “9-5” job, and I probably won’t start work before 11am “tomorrow”.

      1. Quill*

        The sleep disorder that runs in my family nearly did kill my uncle when he worked nights. He had to go to the hospital to be sedated.

        As a result, I’m wary as hell of jobs with 24 hour coverage, it’s far too easy for them to make a change to your job timing and /or duties that will leave you high and dry, medically speaking.

    4. Tisiphone*

      I had to do 10 -8 (yes that’s nine hours of work time plus lunch) plus an extra weekend day 10-7. That was the absolute worst. Can’t run errands in the morning – nothing’s open yet. Can’t run errands in the evening – they’re all closed or about to. Can’t do anything with friends – events start earlier.

  12. Not All*

    I’m surprised so few people aren’t jumping at the later shift. I would guess about a quarter of my current office of a couple hundred are self identified night owls and are never at work before 9 but would prefer late afternoon. Most of us would immediately begin job searching if we were told we had to be there by 7. (I would also personally be starting the paperwork for an accommodation since I have a diagnosed sleep condition that means I don’t ever fall asleep before midnight on the best of nights even if I’m staggering from exhaustion.) Is this a field that self selects at entry level for early birds? Or is there something else undesirable about that shift? I’m in my 40s and can’t think of a single workplace that didn’t have at least a handful of people as nocturnal as me.

    1. Jackalope*

      I would assume that the employees are people who wanted the 9-5 -ish shift and that’s part of why they are working there. Their lives are set up around that schedule and that’s not always easy to move. In addition I have done business for many years with an organization that has to have people working almost exclusively an evening shift like the one listed above for specific business reasons. A number of employees from that organization have talked about how it can be a difficult lifestyle since you can’t plan anything for evenings ever (except on your weekends), it’s hard to be social with people not in the business because everyone else is working during the day and free at night, and it’s almost impossible to do with kids (virtually everyone who has kids quits within a short period of time even with accommodation attempts since it’s so hard to make it work).

      I foresee a lot of the same issues here. If you have school-aged children you might only get to see them on the weekend or possibly in the morning when everyone is rushing off to school. You can get stuff like grocery shopping and dentist appointments done in the mornings which is a perk, but doesn’t outweigh the other stuff. Someone else pointed out that the second shift also appears to be an hour shorter, which could be a typo somewhere but if not is also a significant change that would be hard to swing for some people. And it sounds like they are going from a looser schedule (roughly 9-5) to one that’s worse hours whichever shift you get and much stricter.

      1. MK*

        Eh, an around to 9-5 schedule is sort-of the default, so I doubt workers specifically chose this job for that reason. But yes to their lives being set up to this schedule and it being difficult to change.

        1. Jackalope*

          As someone who worked a job previously that had odd hours, that was absolutely one of my reasons for picking the 9-5 job I had. The employees may not have decided that this was The One Thing they sold the job to them, but I know plenty of people who just don’t bother applying for jobs with swing shifts and whatnot for the reasons listed earlier.

          1. Quill*

            It’s definitely part of my job search considerations. No split shifts or split weekends, very specific shift timings in terms of workability, no physical requirements that I absolutely cannot do.

      2. Lancelottie*

        My husband works a 4p-1a shift and we’re considering homeschooling our daughter (currently a todd

        1. Lancelottie*

          sorry, tech glitch.

          toddler) for exactly the reasons you mention. Its a good schedule for us in a lot of ways but the childcare aspect is rough!

      3. JM in England*

        A former co-worker’s wife was on permanent night shift when she worked as an investment banker. The main reason for this was because she specialised in the Far East markets, so night shift in the UK would tally with the normal working day over there.

      4. Third or Nothing!*

        When my husband was forced onto the night shift, it was really hard on us. During the week it wasn’t too terrible because he was still getting about the same amount of time with us as he would on the day shift, but on weekends it SUCKED. He would sleep until noon, then 30 minutes later our daughter would take her nap and not wake up until 2 or 3. Then it was time to put her back to bed at 7. We rarely got to visit family since even the closest relatives were still an hour drive away. He started having some mental health struggles from the isolation and we decided it was time to job hunt.

    2. WS*

      Yeah, I personally would love 3-10, but that doesn’t mean it would be suddenly easy to shift my life around to that. 7-3 would be awful but because there’d be another person home 7-9 to do the school stuff, it’s more doable than suddenly switching to being at work during the after school hours.

    3. Rexish*

      I think the key is the change. If I had signed up for one or the other when I got hired, it would be ok. But the change just makes it worse. It feels like something is taken from you. The next batch of people arriving will likely be fine with the new hours.

      I’m a night owl and would hate going to work at 7 and would start job searching. But 3-10 would mean job searchig as well. I would need to change my entire life and give up a lot of things that bring me joy.

    4. Dan*

      If you can actually fall asleep anywhere near midnight, I’m jealous. My night-owl disorder hasn’t been officially diagnosed, but my sleep doctor said he’d give me one if I wanted it.

      I probably won’t go to sleep before 4am tonight, and I have a “normal” job.

      I’d jump at 3-10, especially if I was receiving the same amount of pay for the 35 hour work week as I would if I were working 7-3, which would be 40.

    5. Beth Jacobs*

      Going solely by my biorythm, I’d like 3-10, but the way rest of society is set up, it means giving up a social life. None of my friends will have time for me at noon. I worked nights a couple of summers through HS and college and I didn’t actually mind it at work, but it felt really lonely in my off time.

      1. Kiwi with laser beams*

        Yeah, I finish almost that late and I’m noticing that it gives me fewer options for social stuff. Everything else about the job is worth it, but it’s important to consider.

        1. UKDancer*

          Definitely. I’m a night owl by inclination but I wouldn’t want to work 15:00-22:00 because it would ruin my social life and activities which are mainly in the evening.

          I actually find it better to make myself get up earlier than my body clock would prefer as it leads to better quality of life overall.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I worked the 3-10 shift after high school and really complained about it because I’d never see my friends, etc., but ended up dating my now-husband and the social part worked out. He was a night owl and liked it. You could get off work, go out and party, sleep late and make it to work on time the next day.

        He had a different job with that shift for 1 year in his late 20s, and that was more challenging with kids and me having regular daytime work hours, but the 2nd shift is still ok for reverting to “normal” hours on the weekend. Overnight shifts are hard to adjust from.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah, I worked 2:30-11 a lot and it sucked. I didn’t mind it because I’m a night owl, but almost no one wants to go to bed at midnight after working until 11, so that meant the socializing I did was with coworkers and friends who also worked late. So I’d get home at like 2am, and then not want to get up before noon, at which point I had enough time to eat and do a few small things before going to work again.

        You think, “oh, it’s fine, I’ll have the morning to do things,” but you don’t because you need to sleep and socialize and do other stuff. I was living with my parents at the time but if I wasn’t I would have to use that after work time to clean and cook and maybe do laundry. It wasn’t terrible for me at the time but long-term? I would have hated to do it full time. The job was part time so I didn’t work those hours every day, but since I was post-college and without kids or a second job, I got put on that shift often because it was less convenient for others.

      4. emmelemm*

        Same. Definitely a night person, but it’s really hard when your schedule is opposite from most people you know/socialize with.

    6. Audrey Puffins*

      I’m a night owl but I also have hobbies which involve meeting other people at prearranged times (at least when there isn’t a pandemic on). If I’m suddenly forced to work 3-10, then it’s great for my sleep schedule but it kills 98% of my social life and the things I do that bring me joy.

    7. Former call centre worker*

      I’m a night owl but evening shifts are a pain in the arse. I used to work 2-10pm sometimes and you can’t do anything much with your morning in case it takes longer than you think, you can’t get your food shopping after work to save yourself a journey because the shops are shut, you don’t get as much time to unwind after work before bed and because it’s a non-standard working time, you can end up with breaks that don’t match when you need to eat a meal. And when do you cook? Do you eat your main meal of the day at 12pm, or cook dinner when you get home at 11 when the rest of your household is trying to sleep? I hated 7am shifts but at least they fit in with a relatively normal day.

      1. Clisby*

        When I worked 3-11, I’d get off work, go home, and go straight to bed. I’d get up by 7-8 a.m. and start my day. Breakfast in the morning, main meal around noon or 1, a sandwich or something during my shift. (I could pick up groceries after work if I wanted; a couple of grocery stores were open 24 hours a day.)

        A lot of my colleagues couldn’t do that, though – they needed time to unwind after work and would end up not going to sleep until about 5 a.m. My superpower is that at any given moment, there’s a better than 90% chance that I can just lie down and go to sleep.

        1. Bagpuss*

          YEs, that would be me, I definitely need time to wind down after working, and I am not good at late nights – I wake up early regardless of when i went to bed, and unless I am ill, I can’t sleep in the day (It also doesn’t take much in the way of loss of sleep / late nights to get to a point where I *am* physically ill as a result ) a 3-10 shift would be a massive problem for me.

        2. Turquoisecow*

          Yeah I would work until 11, and even if I got home by 11:30 and went to bed immediately, there was no way I was asleep at midnight. I need time for my brain to unwind before I can sleep. No point to even trying at 12:00.

        3. A*

          “My superpower is that at any given moment, there’s a better than 90% chance that I can just lie down and go to sleep.”

          This is truly the greatest superpower in the world. I am so, SO jealous!! I bet you sleep well on planes too, ugh.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I’m also a night owl, but I assume most people feel the early shift is better because it’s a smaller change compared to the late shift. If you are used to work 9-5, then it’s just shifting the day two hours, while the late shift is shifting the day six hours. (also the possible issue of shorter hours/no break on the late shift?) Another possible explanation is that many household split their work hours so that one adult works early and one late to be able to split the care-taking duties, and probably the employees are used to being the late “shift” for care-taking duties and don’t want to change.

    9. EventPlannerGal*

      My job involves many late nights and I’ve found that even a lot of self-proclaimed night owls don’t enjoy it as much as they thought they would. (I’m not talking about people with sleep disorders or anything, I have no experience there, but just people who say they work better later and so on.) Some do, of course, but there is a difference between being up late and choosing to work because you work better then, and actually HAVING to do it all the time. When it’s just something you like to do then you still have the flexibility to decide to have an early night or go to a party or catch a movie, which isn’t the case when these are your actual main hours of work.

    10. Marmalade*

      Yeah but it’s not just about whether you’re a night owl or not. Working a late shift like that makes it virtually impossible to socialise during the week, and cuts out a lot of hobbies too (e.g. dance classes etc). It would be a huge quality of life hit for most people.

    11. allathian*

      I’m a morning person. I have very flexible working hours, so before mandatory or strongly recommended WFH I would occasionally go to the office by 7 am. I have a reasonable commute, about 45 minutes door-to-door, so that meant getting up at about 5.30 and out the door by 6.15. I’m most productive before noon. Between 2 and 4 pm I’d better stick to routine stuff that doesn’t require too much brainpower. If I’m really busy and need to work a longer day, I often get a second wind after 4 pm, but if so, I’m absolutely exhausted when I get home and don’t want to do anything except sit on the couch and watch TV.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        Yeah, it’s not just the shift, but the sleeping. I know people who work evenings and overnights and used to myself, and invariably it takes several hours to go to sleep. Which often means whiling away some late night/early morning hours, then waking up maybe 2-3 hours before having to be back at work. It really does feel like “living to work” instead of the other way around.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      On my team of 23 people – 26 including the management folks – there are literally 21 of us who are pretty consistent about starting our (fully flexible, like the 23 ICs can choose to work their eight hours literally anywhere in the 24 hours around the clock) shifts between 5-7am. One does 3-11pm or so, one does midnight-8am or so, and the other three all still start before 10am most days.

    13. NotRealAnonForThis*

      The field I’m in has a relatively standard “work day” in my region of roughly 7-3:30 with a half hour lunch at noon if you’re field, 7-ish to 4-ish with about a half-hour either direction as “office professional”. Most “office professionals” are indeed salary, and the week is based on 45 hours and compensated accordingly. Most offices have what I’ll call “overlapping hourly”, with one early, a big overlap between the two, and one late, in order to avoid the 45 hours for those not salaried.

      I’ve not met very many night owls in my field over roughly 20 years, I will say. There’s really no switching of the hours, either. Sometimes our work days and hours are even set into our contracts. Given that, I’d guess most don’t apply for the office professional type position, and it sure seems like apprenticeship for the field jobs would be difficult to navigate if you fight to be awake at early hours.

    14. Kiki*

      I am very much a night owl and would probably opt for the late shift over the morning one, but, depending on the job, shifting to the late shift can be harder in practice than people expect. Unless you have a lot of friends with similar schedules, it can be hard to have a social life. And if you have a partner on a more traditional schedule, that may mean you never see them during the week.

    15. NotAnotherManager!*

      I am basically nocturnal, but I have children and a spouse who works. If I worked 3 to 10 p.m., I would see them for 1-2 hours per day before they headed to school and miss all their activities in the evenings. My spouse would be doing 80% of the parenting, and, bluntly, I’m a better homework helper than they are. My work schedule isn’t only dictated by my internal clock, I’ve got several other people’s schedules – some of which are dictated by school hours or coach availability – to consider.

  13. AS87*

    OP #3: A larger department at my company started staggered shifts due to COVID. The age range between most of the employees is roughly 45-65 so some of them may fall in the high risk group. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on how well this was taken since I went on remote status at the same time although I do know a small group of them were eventually laid off. If your company is indeed taking these steps due to COVID, it appears to be more of a safety measure. However, it should be on your company to be transparent about the situation and to probably also brace for some short-term turnover. It may not be a bad idea to give good references (for good employees) or some severance pay to employees who decide to move on. It might help blunt some of the fallout.

    Disclaimer: I of course don’t know what your company’s culture is like.

  14. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Re LW #4–Why do employers think it’s OK to shove cleaning responsibilities onto staff who were hired for other things, instead of getting some kind of cleaning service? Is it simple cheapness or is it cluelessness? An ongoing gripe of mine is employers who think office administration includes housework like washing other people’s dishes, which is a slap in the face to the professionalism of administrative employees. But expecting people o scrub bathrooms is ridiculous. Why why why?

    1. MK*

      I don’t think some light housekeeping is necessarily outsdide the scope of admins, as long as it was made clear when they accepted the job, much less offensive to them; actually cleaning the office is a different matter.

      1. Adminette*

        The problem is that is quite frequently isn’t made clear. I ask about this stuff in detail at interview now because I’ve had many admin jobs where I was told *after* I started that anything from loading industrial dishwashers with my colleagues dishes to scrubbing toilet floors or ladling out food to my coworkers cafeteria-style was apparently part of my “administrative” work. Quite frequently in offices where the admin team are the only women in the building. “Light housekeeping” my ass.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Housekeeping is for housekeepers. More and more “professional” responsibilities are put on office staff all the time, and office staff is thinner and thinner. And if you’re the one wielding the dishcloth, (a) you’re not at your desk doing office administration, and (b) you’re not being taken seriously or seen as a professional. And yes, it is offensive, especially given the education and skill level required for many administrative staff now.

        1. Adminette*

          Thank you. This is exactly it. Having a Masters degree was a condition of my current job, it involves a huge amount of highly detailed, painstaking work in which accuracy is absolutely key, and yet I am constantly interrupted at my desk by people telling me that the bathroom floor is dirty or the dishwasher needs to be emptied. People do not take you seriously when they regularly see you doing this stuff, which is why I plan to quit as soon as possible. (And then people complain that they can’t get good admins, because naturally all well-qualified, reliable people want to sign up for a lifetime of trying to fit their actual job in around doing the dishes and cleaning toilets.)

    2. Cedrus Libani*

      Cheap and clueless are not mutually exclusive. Sure, you can reduce head count by removing “support” employees, but that doesn’t make the support tasks disappear – it just cuts down on the amount of time your specialists have to do their actual jobs. Good job, genius: you fired the janitor and the office manager, and now you have to hire two more highly paid engineers to make up for lost productivity.

      1. Karia*

        Also, from experience? Those jobs often end up falling on women, regardless of seniority.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Yes, and they aren’t done well. I am more than capable of properly cleaning a toilet in my home, but I’m not getting on my knees in a skirt suit to scrub one at work. “Pitching in” might mean going over it with a wet wipe at best, which is why they are filthy in OP’s office.
        Not to mention the fact that there are simply support tasks I do not know how to do. Being qualified for one job doesn’t automatically mean you know how to do all jobs that are paid less than that!

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I would imagine some of it is not wanting to figure out how to get someone in for what seems like “so little” work for a satellite office compared to the main one. I mean, cleaning services exist partially to solve the “we only really need an hour of cleaning and no one wants to work only an hour a day” problem, but I can see why it seems like it should be so little work that you shouldn’t need to do something “extra” like this and if your other sites are big enough that you hire full-time cleaners it might not occur to the decision maker (who almost certainly never visits the satellite office) that there are options between “full time on-site cleaning and maintenance staff” and “make the other employees do it”.

      I would imagine the time that it stops working for employees to do their own cleaning is when there’s a second employee at the site. I could imagine someone with their own small, rented office keeping it clean themselves, and certainly plenty of people who work from home do their own cleaning in their home offices, but it all starts to fall apart as soon as it could possibly be someone else cleaning or someone else’s mess.

      I’ve worked in a 3 person office with a limited kitchenette (sink, fridge, toaster oven) that we all kept reasonably clean, but it had shared bathrooms with other offices that were professionally cleaned. (I assume someone from the building cleaning crew came in to do things like mop the floors after hours as well, since I was the lowest-ranking employee, no one ever told me to do it, and the floors seemed to stay visibly clean even though one of the other employees brought in a dog sometimes.)

    4. Lora*

      Can answer this: it’s a bit of everything.

      Source: Years of working for archictecture / engineering firms.

      They are cheap. Many of the senior staff are, shall we say, “traditional bachelors” (ie men who believe that cleaning is Women’s Work and therefore live like total slobs themselves) who are unconvinced that they should spend money on cleaning anything more than is absolutely necessary. And since their mommies aren’t around to clean up, they often try to stick the task on the nearest woman. If she is an assertive woman, and we often have to be extremely assertive, they will regret asking…but also won’t hire a service, you’ll just get this mealy-mouthed answer and basically it’s a low priority for them because they’re used to being slobs.

      Typically while their offices might be a disaster, there will be a front conference room area for guests that is kept in good condition and stocked with coffee / tea / bottled water for guests, and clients aren’t allowed to visit the office area in case they should happen to glimpse a competitor’s project the firm is working on. The offices the architects use is often very clean too, I never knew an architect who wasn’t fussy about looks. But the civil / mechanical / electrical / chemical / environmental engineers are expected to have a higher tolerance for mess and dirt.

      If your husband wants it done, he might be able to take up the task of finding cleaning services, getting a bunch of quotes / bids, and presenting it to management. Often I’ve found that they consider it such a low priority, and they look at the leg-work of finding vendors and getting quotes as Just One More Thing further down on the non-billable-hours to-do list, that if you go ahead and do the work for them, they might be just as happy to write a check. Or they imagine it would be a LOT more expensive than it actually is, because they think cleaning people also charge $200/hour each or something, and they’re happy to find out that it’s barely the amount they spend on a single client lunch.

      1. JustaTech*

        This is exactly the experience I had when my parents worked for a small engineering consulting company. The bosses were deeply cheap (single-ply unperforated toilet paper cheap) and only ever cleaned the microwave when it was beyond disgusting.
        (My mom refused to do any cleaning, although she did turn off the coffee pot for safety’s sake, and also wouldn’t let me clean for sodas as a kid, so as to not reinforce the “women clean” thing with the guys there, and to make sure I knew that I didn’t have to clean up after adults who were perfectly capable of doing it themselves.)

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say that. An OldJob tried it when the owner decided to save money on the cleaning team and only hired them for one or two nights a week. He split the rest of us into teams, with a supervisor in charge of each, gave us a list of responsibilities (wipe down the counters in the breakroom and bathrooms, put out new paper towels and TP, empty everyone’s garbage and take it to the dump outside – Can’t remember if sweeping and vacuuming was involved – I’m almost positive it was, but it’s been 20 years and I forget) and put us on a schedule with each team being on cleaning duty all week. It did not work!! it never does. At least he didn’t have the gumption to tell us to do it after hours. But then he ended up with a much more expensive cleaning team (developers and analysts, plus their managers) than the one he’d cut the hours of to save money. No one did a good job, everyone hated it. Eventually my supervisor, who had a lot of political capital to spend, got the whole cleaning program axed and a regular cleaning team started coming in. I am amazed that companies keep trying this, it never ever works, and to my point about the pay, imagine how much these senior engineers are making per hour. They’re essentially hiring a cleaning team for that kind of pay? How is this practical?

      1. Kiki*

        I feel like cutting the cleaning crew is something a lot of companies do because they misperceive the work. I think it gets misclassified as a luxury when it’s actually an operating cost. Perhaps you don’t need a cleaner to come in every day, but somebody needs to clean regularly and it can either be a trained cleaning crew who knows how to do the work well and efficiently or employees who are being distracted from other work and may or may not have any experience cleaning. If you want something done well, it needs to be someone’s job.

        1. JustaTech*

          “If you want something done well, it needs to be someone’s job.”

          Exactly this. One lab I worked for tried to apply the “it’s everyone’s job to keep the laser instrument working”, which meant that no one ever did the required maintenance (out of ignorance or disinclination) and so the quarter-million-dollar instrument was always broken.

          It’s the tragedy of the commons, written in the kitchen counter.

          1. Quill*

            Meanwhile when I worked in a lab that did UV sterilization but it was part of our job duties… we’d just set the thing’s timer on friday, do a quick check and stow of the equipment on monday, and never have a problem with getting it done once a month. Meanwhile for something that required more knowledge to work with and properly calibrate, we had a calibration lab and we loved them to death because everything came back working.

        2. Quill*

          This and low level maitenance and IT – they get cut from the budget because people tend to think that what is bought clean and functional stays that way unless major events happen. In reality daily grime builds up quicker than most people realize, and systems need constant maitenance, including systems like “the kitchen counter” and “the dishwasher,” where maitenance equals hygeine and occasional spot repairs.

    6. Michelle*

      I’ve been in admin for 10 years now and if cleaning up after other people (kitchen/restroom) was part of the job, I would not have accepted the position. I would almost bet if there was a woman working in the office they would have been “assigned” cleaning duties by now.

      You can hire cleaning services to come in once or twice a week to clean the bathroom/office. If the men don’t mind working in a dirty office and using a filthy restroom, then they should speak up. Seems like the boss who decided they should all pitch in hasn’t been doing much pitching in himself.

    7. Generic Name*

      Tell me about it. For a long time my company paid our accounting person to clean the office space. It got to be a touchy subject that was almost political if you complained about how clean the office was(‘nt). I’m sure I’m being unfairly judgmental, but I’d imagine office leadership thinks that everybody just pitching in to keep things clean is a workable arrangement because they think that a few swipes of a rag or vacuum here and there keeps things spiffy and not even realizing that it takes hours of actual work to clean a space because someone else has done it for them behind the scenes for their entire life.

    8. Kiki*

      I’m sure there are lots of different explanations people who do this could give, but I think a big underlying aspect is the devaluation of things that are traditionally “women’s work.” Because historically women have been expected to do this stuff for no cost around the home or whatever, a lot of people do not perceive it as “real labor” so they are reluctant to hire someone, even though it is completely real labor. I think also the false expectation that “if we all just don’t make a mess, we won’t need to clean often.” In an apartment with one or two people, this might be true, but once you get more people than that in a space, the passive build-up of stuff is something that needs to be addressed daily and doing the job well takes longer than what most people allot.

    9. Liz*

      Our office is the DIY cleaning type. In our case, this was in order to funnel more of the budget towards the provision of the service rather than running costs (we are a non-profit). The suggestion was put to a vote when the centre opened, and the staff voted in favour of this. Our system is that we stop work around 4:30 and do a light clean each evening. On fridays, we stop at 4 and do a more thorough clean for an hour. On the whole, everybody chips in, although occasionally somebody might have a lot on their plate and bow out of cleaning to get things done.

      On the whole, it works pretty well. The office is cleaner than many and it makes for a nice light half hour before we go home. I don’t think the extra jobs impact other productivity a great deal as these are often quiet times for our centre anyway.

      The downside is that there are occasionally complaints about some of the staff not pitching in, certain jobs that get forgotten (last time it was refilling the paper towels, the time before that it was cleaning out the fridge). Then there was the one dude that used to passive aggressively start cleaning early because he wanted to beat the traffic and his way of getting to leave early was to guilt us into getting the place clean by 4:30. Usually a couple of reminders are enough to make sure people keep on top of things.

      Due to the nature of our work, we have occasionally had to clean toilets as a matter of urgency (won’t go into detail) and I’m not sure how this would work if we weren’t able and willing to do this. Our centre is small and has only one accessible toilet, so if we weren’t able to keep it clean throughout the day, we would possibly have to close? Apparently our sister site has a cleaning contract/team, but when I have covered shifts there, they have still spent the last 15-30 minutes tidying up anyway?

      I will add that we are all (apart from our team leader) bottom rung employees. We get paid a living wage, but the org offers this as standard, and so hiring actual cleaners wouldn’t be any cheaper, and an external contact would probably be more costly. This saving would undoubtedly be offset if the employees who are pitching in are on a considerably higher rate than the cleaners.

    10. HS Teacher*

      I worked at an insurance agency that had a cleaning schedule. The problem was, only the female employees were on it, regardless of their level. I noped right out of that. I told them when I start seeing men on the cleaning schedule, they can add me to it. Besides, I didn’t even use the kitchen (I’m a germophobe and not a fan of work refrigerators or shared dishes at work).

      They finally agreed to add men to the schedule but, miraculously, they were usually out on an appointment when it came time for them to clean. So I started doing the same.

    11. Nanani*

      I’d say cheapness combined with cluelessness about what cleaning -actually- entails. When the people who make these decisions have never (or not in a really long time) had to do real cleaning, like not “put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher/socks in the hamper” but actually scrubbing and deep cleaning, they might think “Sure everybody can take 3-4 minutes to put their dishes away and take out the trash.”
      But the grime piles up because no one is actually cleaning anything and don’t have time/equipment to do so.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I don’t buy the “clueless”, because if they really were clueless about it, they wouldn’t try to get out of it, they’d be open to giving it a shot.
        Like white people pretend there’s no such thing as racism but if you ask them “would you like to be black” they won’t ever jump at the opportunity.

    12. James*

      It arises organically. In an office of 5 or 6 people, cleaning responsibilities can easily be done by the staff if they put even a token effort into it, and occasionally put an hour or two into deep cleaning sections of the office. As long as everyone participates, it keeps things clean. Then, as the office grows or people take on more responsibility, this no longer becomes viable–you don’t HAVE that random hour to clean, or there are too many people to keep up with. Cultural inertia is a very real thing, though, and if things accumulate slowly over time people adjust relatively quickly to sub-optimal situations. So by the time you realize there’s a problem, everyone else thinks your office is a pig sty.

      There’s also the fact that people don’t like hiring out for things that they think they should be able to do. I work away form home a lot, and live in an area where lawn care isn’t optional. Poisonous snakes, ticks that make you allergic to meat, various poisonous insects and spiders–go two weeks without mowing and you get to deal with all of that. Still, I was hesitant to hire a gardener. I’m a grown man, and have been helping with lawn and garden care since I was 5; I should be able to handle it!! Looking back, it was stupid; I was putting my kids at risk due to an irrational assessment of what I was capable of.

      My point is, it’s easier than people think to fall into these traps. You think “Wiping down the counters isn’t that hard; I should be able to do that once a week, I don’t need to hire someone for it” and forget to check your track record against that goal. And you start getting behind, which means it’ll take even MORE time, which is even harder to find–until it gets to the point where it becomes an actual hazard. It’s easy to see other people falling into this trap, but nearly impossible to see when you’re falling into it yourself.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I’d say it arises organically until a jerk gets hired. Statistically, the figures probably pan out the same as what you’re saying.

    13. NotAnotherManager!*

      I don’t know, but I would never work somewhere that required me to clean (other than picking up after myself, obviously) on top of my actual job responsibilities. I hate cleaning with a passion, and my field of expertise is entirely unrelated. I also have major gagging issues with seeing/smelling moldy or rotted food, and I will throw your tupperware out rather than open/clean it, if it’s suspect. I’d also be pretty miffed if someone tried to use my team’s admin for cleaning. That’s not why she’s here, and she supports five supervisors, any of whom would be ticked if they needed her to put together a presentation or report and she’s mopping out the microwave.

  15. MK*

    OP4, I wouldn’t assume that all the other offices look like they do in online photos, whicj are usually promotionale material. Also, in my expierience, commercial clients who go to specialists for a service don’t put as much stock in the aesthetic of the office as you would think.

    1. Asenath*

      I don’t worry about the aesthetic – I have been known to think privately, when I see a particularly luxurious office “This is what they’re spending my fees on instead of expertise in Y”. On the other hand, I do expect neat and clean with no obvious maintenance needed, and that especially includes a clean toilet. And for that, management really needs to have a cleaning crew, and also building management/maintenance workers.

  16. T2*

    I’m removing this because it’s derailing. There’s lots of reading you can do on why women and minorities might need spaces of their own. – Alison

  17. LGC*

    LW2: You say you expect X to happen. I’m not sure what your job is like – whether it is “weirdly adversarial” or whether you’re just bringing that energy – but it sounds like you’re communicating things as definite when you don’t (or can’t) know if they’ll happen.

    At the very least, it’ll allow for the possibility that X doesn’t happen, which seems to be a regular occurrence at your job.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, practice saying “to the best of my knowledge,” “the plan is to,” and “what I know so far is,” etc.

      1. LGC*

        It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn myself – like, I can plan for us to complete something, and then we get a bunch of call-outs and whoops things get derailed. In fact, reading it over, I can definitely imagine a situation where people might be a bit frustrated with LW2 because they have a habit of saying “we’re going to do X and Y,” and things constantly falling through.

        LW2 isn’t being malicious, of course. But they also need to give themselves (and their coworkers) some wiggle room.)

    2. hbc*

      Yeah, there’s “The furniture will be moved by Friday,” there’s “Jane says the furniture will be moved by Friday,” and there’s “Jane says they’re moving the furniture by Friday, but given that they tend to be optimistic, I’d bet it’s more like Tuesday.” Sounds like OP needs to at least move from the first to the second, but the third is where real value is added.

      1. S-Mart*

        I’m not the fan of the last one. You’re effectively saying that Jane/her group can’t hit deadlines and that’s implicitly ok. If I heard that from someone my takeaway wouldn’t be ‘ok, Tuesday’ it would be ‘what’s being done to fix that?’.

        1. LGC*

          Yeah – you don’t want to explicitly throw people under the bus here. That example might be better if it was “Jane should have it done between Friday and Tuesday.” (Or simply “Jane expects it to be done by Friday,” like your first example.)

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, I think you can build the idea of that timeline being optimistic into your sentence without sounding like you think other people are bad at their job or can’t be trusted.

          Maybe something more like “I talked with Jane and she’s thinking the Furniture will be moved by Friday” or “Jane’s team is trying to get the Furniture moved by Friday.” Those options give a potential timeline but allow for the possibility that it won’t get hit, and also make it clear you’re just passing on information and don’t have any control yourself over whether or not the furniture gets moved.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I’d change the last one to “Jane says they’re moving the furniture by Friday, and here is the contingency plan in case of delays”, or “….; should we create a contingency plan in case of delays?”.

        Of course, in internal meetings, we tend to use number three almost verbatim with certain groups/vendors.

      3. hbc*

        I get people’s discomfort, but someone who just relays “Jane says X” when Jane is consistently late in her dates is doing the bare minimum of their job. If OP has the actual power to make something change (fire Jane, find a different supplier, come up with contingency plans), then yes, those are important. But most of the time, a coordinator doesn’t have that power or bandwidth, and I *would* hold someone responsible if they told me “the furniture will be moved Friday” when they know that it’s 50/50 at best.

        You can probably phrase it more politically than I did, but if the Furniture Movers are often a couple of days behind their initial promised date, you should be using that fact to help figure out the schedule.

  18. triplehiccup*

    #1 I hope your company is doing something beyond providing a discussion platform to resolve the issues faced by your employees who are parents, women, and people of color. Your letter made me realize that my last org used ERGs to make it look like they were doing something about these group’s difficulties at work without actually having to do anything (and in fact created more work for the group leaders and participants).

  19. EventPlannerGal*

    OP2: Are you being clear about why you’re asking? It may be that you think you’re saying “I need an exact timeline on the furniture move so that we can start scheduling the painters, what are the confirmed timings?” and what they are hearing is “hey, do you have any idea when you’ll be done with that furniture?” If people think you’re asking for a guess, they’ll give you a guess. Asking follow-up questions (“so you’ll be done by 3pm so we can ask the painters to start at 4?”) might also help.

  20. Mannheim Steamroller*

    OP #3… [Assignment will be based on seniority and type of work to be performed during the shift, regardless of personal ability to work then. Obviously, everyone hates this idea and lots of people are grumbling about leaving the company. ]

    If I were a cynic, I might suspect that the split shift is a downsizing strategy — i.e. top managers want to reduce headcount but don’t want layoffs (which would trigger unemployment benefits), so they implement an intentionally unpopular policy and let people quit on their own. This can backfire very easily and very quickly.

    1. D3*

      It could also be a strategy to reduce the number of people in the office any any given time as an anti COVID strategy.

      1. Mannheim Steamroller*

        My employer plans to do that with…

        (1) phased return to the office,
        (2) alternating in-office and WFH days, and
        (3) staggered hours in the office, with start times ranging from 6:30 to 9:30, end times 8 hours later, and no working late.

  21. Nonny*

    LW2, are you by chance in theater? To me, that would explain (but not justify) the weirdly personal tone of offense that you’re both giving and receiving about incorrect information– the stakes feel high, everyone is deeply personally invested and there out of passion as much as professional goals, and you’re feeling at the mercy of other people’s errors in time-sensitive situations. However, I’d urge you to really take everyone’s advice and not let yourself be part of what is a widespread but ultimately really toxic culture of taking things extremely personally. Don’t assume that just because Alison’s advice is directed towards ‘normal’ offices means it doesn’t apply.

    1. LGC*

      While LW2 is a bit dramatic, I don’t know if she necessarily is in drama (and if she’s in the US and actually is in theater, she’s probably not working for the foreseeable future).

      1. Nonny*

        True! It wasn’t just the the dramatic tone, but also the example details (whether there’d be time for a break, moving furniture a negligible yet extremely important distance) that made me wonder.

    2. OP2*

      I’m not in Drama, but I am in Engineering. Reading back on my question I hear the frustration that was coming across which makes it sound a lot more dramatic. But when it is large pieces of equipment instead of furniture, it does drive up the stakes a little but not as much as my tone warrants. I think I sent in this question on a Friday after a particularly long week.

      I guess I’m just a little burnt of having bad information coming from multiple sources almost at once (or at least stacking). As an Engineer, I like working more with concrete information. Especially when moving multiple parties around, up to 4 teams, and a strict production schedule.

  22. capedaisy127*

    #4. Had a similar problem at my previous job. Not a dirty office, but too small, noisy with frequent toilet and air con outages.
    For my execs, we decided to hold any external meetings off site. So either in a hotel lounge or a booked meeting room. I had more relaxed execs and more productive meetings.
    The CFO didn’t like the expensed drinks or meeting room costs but if we don’t have a productive, professional meeting environment in our office, we have to go elsewhere

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      The CFO would totally freak out at the cost of decent premises too I expect, and it would probably look bad.
      I personally would find it suspicious if I never got invited to a company’s premises, like, what do they have to hide?
      Even if they’re working on top secret stuff, they should be able to whisk me down a corridor to a meeting room.

  23. Lostnformed*

    LW #3, would it be possible to suggest that everyone (or many people) work one night a week rather than have some people change their entire schedule to nights? At my job we all have one night scheduled consistently every week.

    Most people don’t love it, but a perk is you can schedule appointments without using PTO, and since it’s only one night a week it doesn’t totally upend you life and sleep schedule.

    1. Batgirl*

      I had a workplace do this; it works if the duties are the light coverage sort. We generally worked 8-4 but once a fortnight we did 2-10. Manning the phones, keeping workflow ticking, ensuring things were happening on cue. You don’t need half the staff permanently on nights for that. I have to say that it made daytime appointments and shopping much easier. Also, things are much quieter at night so you tended to clear your backlog of work pretty regularly.

    2. SarahTheEntwife*

      It’s definitely worth proposing in case people like that better, but when I had a schedule like that, I kind of wished we’d rotate by week or month instead of by day. With one late day and the rest early, my sleep cycle was constantly messed up. I’m definitely a morning person, but if I were working the whole week/month late, I could at least try to go nocturnal.

  24. Brob*

    For letter 4: our bathrooms at work get cleaned several times a day and they’re still disgusting sometimes. I can’t even imagine a bathroom that never gets cleaned.

  25. doreen*

    About Letter #3 – it’s been my experience that employers who say they will base some decision ( typically schedule-related ) on seniority typically do so, whether they are required to by a union contract or not – and therefore, “they will end up not assigning that shift to parents, or at least not to parents who cite child care responsibilities” doesn’t happen. Is my experience atypical – that is, is it common for employers to say they will base a decision on seniority and then base it on some other factor?

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

      Yes. At one job even seating was decided by seniority, as in the most senior employees called dibs on the best desks and office equipment, while the juniors, trainees and interns had to fight for the remains. And at my first job the newest were assigned the evening shift (11am – 7pm) and the oldest worked at the morning (8am – 5 pm).

    2. hbc*

      In my experience, it really varies, mostly depending on how well they’ve thought things through. Have they anticipated that the two senior QC people will choose 1st shift and the two junior QC people might quit if assigned to 2nd shift? If they have a plan to deal with that, then they’ll probably stick with it. If it never occurred to them that this isn’t as simple as someone preferring the 11:00 lunch break to the 12:00, they’ll probably flail about and work in all kinds of exceptions.

    3. Colette*

      If there are parents who don’t have childcare for 3-10, they will not be able to work it and will presumably quit. If the company wants to keep them, they will have to accommodate them. (This would apply to other people with caretaking responsibilities as well.) Parents with childcare and everyone else may prefer the earlier shift, but they will probably be less likely to quit over getting the late shift.

    4. NapkinThief*

      In this instance where the decision is so unpopular people may quit in response, they probably would stick to seniority because the most recently hired are generally the easiest to replace.

  26. Delta Delta*

    #4 – For a while I worked in an office where the entry way looked … shabby, for lack of a better descriptor. The carpet was stained, the walls were scuffed, it felt cluttered, etc. A particular staff member routinely pointed this out to the Big Boss, whose attitude was that if it was off putting to clients, then they could go somewhere else for the service. I was neutral at best about the appearance. Then I visited the office one day after having not worked there for a few years. The carpets and walls were the same, and looked uninviting. I think it’s easy to get used to seeing the same things over and over and to kind of get used to how it looks. It helps sometimes to have fresh eyes look at a situation.

    1. Quill*

      Pig Lab from Hell had a similar image problem once you went into the less trafficked areas of the building. And once you actually worked in the lab and learned how the biosample sausage was made.

      I got used to it and was legitimately surprised, at my next job, by my nice clean (if similarly aged) lab with good ventilation. Even more so at the job after that, where our nice clean up to date lab actually had windows.

  27. EvilQueenRegina*

    Likelihood is that Person Z didn’t “straight up lie to your face” – it’s more likely that they genuinely believed that something would be the case at the time, but then things changed and, say the downtime was no longer required or was going to be moved, but they perhaps didn’t communicate that as soon as they could have.

    Something I remember happening once with an office move that got postponed several times at my last job, at one point they were talking about “the week beginning 25th July”. People were hearing that as “25th July” and were wondering why no movers turned up on 25th, and I had to keep explaining that that wasn’t exactly what the manager said. (And in the event it was put back another two weeks anyway because it had been double booked with another move). Could anything like that be in play?

    Alison’s suggested answer seems the best way to go.

    1. Batgirl*

      It could be that OP was just emphasising the inconvenience of being told something unreliable, but whatever way I read the letter it seems to read ‘blame culture’. I think the LW needs to ask herself is this a workplace that prioritises getting stuff done, or a workplace that prioritises finding scapegoats. The latter can really mess with your professional norms. It might be fine now to just fume or point at Lucinda dropping the ball, but in future workplaces it’s going to be a hindrance if OP doesn’t expect anyone to be flexible and constructive about very small and common mistakes. The kind she mentions are almost to be expected.

      1. TootsNYC*

        another thing about blame culture: It often discourages people from actually being accurate, because it so often pairs with “tell me what I want to hear” culture.

        When I have had a process-management, deadline-management job, I have always had to give people a little speech about how an accurate estimate is far more important than a pollyanna-ish one. Because I will make plans on that info, and if I know you won’t finish by the deadline, then I can make decisions that take this into account.

        For our OP, that might be a tactic they can use–to probe those answers a bit to see how accurate they are, and to assure people that wishful thinking isn’t required and point out that it’s not helpful.

    2. LQ*

      Yeah. I had folks saying something would get done by June 1. Most of them are good people who are genuinely trying hard, it’s just more roadblocks and more complex than they thought. Part of this is that the larger and more complex either the thing people are being asked to do, or the work of the people who are being asked to do it, the more likely they are to be off in estimates. If you have someone who is frequently asked to do urgent, last minute, complex things then…yeah, it’ll take 10 minutes to move that piece of furniture, but finding 10 minutes where they aren’t stopped for something more important between their desk and the furniture they have to move can be really difficult. And on the other side if the work is new, complex, or has other noise as a part of it (if you have to get approval from someone internal or external for example) it will often take a lot longer.

      Some people lie, but I’d say the vast VAST majority of people who get estimates wrong are genuine. I’d say even most of the people who are shitty people, who are trying to lie and scheme will get their estimates wrong. People are really bad at estimating how long things take unless it’s just them, no outside interference, no complex problems to solve because the world keeps happening around you.

      1. TootsNYC*

        and I think they often feel pressure to give you an answer that will make you happy, instead of one that will be more realistic.

    3. Beth*

      Very much this — making a mistake isn’t lying, being wrong isn’t lying, being approximate and missing the mark isn’t lying, giving a best estimate and missing isn’t lying. It can add a really toxic element to interactions when this kind of black-and-white thinking is in play.

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

    OP3: Depending on the location, would they provide transportation for those in the evening shift? Depending on where you live conmuting might be more complicated (and dangerous) at night, and providing company buses for those who depend on public transport will encourage people to switch.
    Someone who waited the bus at night at a poorly lit street.

    1. Alex*

      Yeah, the bus I take (took, I now WFM) to work stops running at about 7pm. Working until 10pm would really throw a wrinkle in that.

    2. UKDancer*

      Definitely if you want people to work until late then it’s good if you can help with the transport. I worked previously in one company that needed people working on shifts for 24 hours of the day. If you were on the shift that finished very late or the one that started early they would provide a free taxi back home if you felt one was needed. They were based in a rambling old house and had some guest accommodation in the stable block so people could book (for a very nominal fee) a room in there if they really didn’t want to travel. This made people a lot happier when it was their turn on the late shift or the night shift. They also rotated shifts so everyone took a turn on each of the shifts.

      My current company does the same on the rare occasion anyone has to work past 10pm at night or early in the morning. It’s a small thing but it makes people feel more valued and willing to do the out of hours work.

  29. justabot*

    OP #3: My work also just added extended hours, now has a nightly shift as well that needs coverage, which doesn’t thrill me. I go to bed by 9:00 p.m. and get up at 5 a.m. every day! I like that! In my employer’s situation, it makes total sense from a business perspective. It kind of sucks because one reason I took this job was because my schedule was amazing and ideal, but there are enough other parts of the job I like to keep me there. They did offer me a little more money, and it’s important for me to be there at those times for my growing role, so it is what it is.

    One question I have in general – by returning to work, I’m now losing the unemployment and PUA benefits which was higher than what I am making, even with my raise. But, our business is open again and I appreciate that my employer was very cognizant about not bringing non-salaried employees back until they could give us more consistent hours again. And mentally, I need to get out of the house and have some structure again. (It’s not a job that can be done from home.) So I’m going back, even with the less desirable shift hour changes.

    But – if someone was NOT able to work a 3-10 p.m. shift for legit reasons, could they turn down going back to work and continue to collect the unemployment and PUA benefits? Is a major schedule change a legit reason? For the record, I don’t think anyone at my work will do this, even though the new hours aren’t great. But they do make sense. We all like our jobs and are going back. (Which says a lot about wanting to stay at a place where ownership treats their people well.) Just curious if a major schedule change would be a legitimate reason to not return to a job when called back after COVID-19 business closures?

    1. MPS*

      Depends on the state – in some states, no; in others yes – it’d be like a layoff where the job function changed drastically from the reason you were hired.

      1. justabot*

        I see. It’s not the typical dynamic since we already qualified for UI and PUA and are currently collecting unemployment. We haven’t been able to work since March. I suspect if we weren’t able to legitimately accommodate the new hours, (or frankly just didn’t want the job any longer if those are the new hours) our owners would appreciate that and not contest any continued unemployment claim. It feels easier since it’s already in place.

        That said, I like my job and feel lucky that this was just temporary, I was able to qualify for benefits in the interim, and that I do have secure/stable employment for the future. The added new evening hours are two days a week in place of my usual 8-4. I have a feeling it could turn into more, but for now I can deal. I actually haven’t heard anyone complain. I think we’re just happy to finally be going back to work next week and that they were able to bring the entire staff back without any layoffs.

  30. Maskmaker*

    My company switched to 4am-12:30pm or 2:30pm-11pm. Shifts were based on seniority. I’d only worked there for 2 years and there were people who’d worked there 20 plus years. I was supposed to go from 10am-7pm, to the later shift. I’d never have seen my family again! So I, and at least half the place quit. It’s one thing to hire people to work those hours, quite another to suddenly switch everyone. Also, my weekends off would have gone away as well, splitting my days off up. No thanks. I got a new job working 6-2, M-F and frankly, the fit is so much better here anyway.

    1. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      “So I, and at least half the place quit. It’s one thing to hire people to work those hours, quite another to suddenly switch everyone. ”

      That’s it. It might not happen so suddenly due to the state of the economy now, but there’s going to be massive turnover.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Oh wow, those hours are insane. Neither is good! I understand some places really need the coverage, but I’d rather work 12 hour shifts and at least then have some days off! Or as you said – hire people who are specifically seeking that schedule for whatever reasons or make the job remote in a different timezone (if possible).

  31. Green Mug*

    OP #3 Did they split the shift due to covid safety recommendations? In some shops, the equipment is too large to move so the business has to space the people.

  32. Elenia*

    So what then if there is a problem with the Slack channel? We are having weekly virtual lunches and I joined the last one. It was heavily political talk. It was on my side of the spectrum, but I still don’t think that’s appropriate for work. It;s supposed to be welcoming to all employees and I know we have employees of the other political stripe. Plus, it’s politics. I don’t want to.

    1. mikeyc*

      this is my worry too. It doesn’t take a lot of experience with trying to join in with well-established facebook groups, forums or (showing my age) usenet groups to know it takes a lot of work to keep groups welcoming, outward looking and free of unpleasantness. If they turn Bad, it’s going to be the company’s problem. I don’t know if this is because I am a hundred years old (37) – but I don’t get why people don’t understand work is not a public space let alone a democracy.

  33. Not using my usual name*

    #4 I hate to say this but speaking from experience if everyone in your husbands office is male there is a good chance that stained carpet and a dirty bathroom are not a priority at all. Some men this will bother and some really don’t even notice, I’m married and have produced the latter. My husband and a few friends (all male) started a business together,I had been there when they started to help set up but had not really been back. I got a phone call 6 months in from one of the girlfriends that had went by to get lunch and said it was disgusting. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t smelly just not clean to my standards. You have to accept this and let it go, this isn’t your circus. If it helps when they started getting higher end clients and needed to hire a staff, they found out that some women and men would not accept a position in an office that resembled a frat house. They had to sacrifice hiring 2 coders (work they have to do themselves) to afford a cleaning crew willing to attack the mess there. So at some point it gets better.

  34. A Simple Narwhal*

    For #3, it’s one thing to shift the 9-5 to 7-3, because while not ideal for everyone, it’s only a two hour difference and not entirely unreasonable, plenty of people work those hours or would like to work those hours. (Again, not everyone, and people didn’t sign up for a 7-3 job so they absolutely deserve to be unhappy about it.) But going from 9-5 to 3-10 is a 5+ hour change, which is absolutely major! That means completely changing your lifestyle!

    I also want to know what happened that necessitated an additional 7 hours of coverage in the business day. If this is social distancing related they should be up front about it, but honestly there’s a better way to do it than to tell half your workforce they need to completely change their life to keep their jobs.

  35. Lead Giant Atomic Lizard*

    Management should consider that being forced to work 3-10 makes leaves unhappy people a lot of hours during the normal workday to schedule interviews at other places.

  36. reelist1*

    Being on AAM during Covid has really demonstrated how many people have no idea what their legal rights are in the workplace. Yes, in most common employment situations they can change your schedule, your pay, and your time off (depends on state).
    I suspect the person writing in is in a position like those at my husband’s work-they split the shifts to social distance and to preserve at least one crew in the case of Covid outbreak on one crew. Then the management saw that they liked some efficiencies gained and made the move permanent. The management knows many on the late shift will leave. They also know it won’t be all at once and think that they can easily replace people when the unemployment rate is so high.

  37. juliebulie*

    #4 this sounds exactly like where I work, older men, stained carpets, and all. The building isn’t quite yet ready to be condemned, but it’s grody all over. The carpet in my cubicle is like 80% covered in coffee stains (admittedly mostly my fault). When the AC is off and fresh air isn’t flowing through the office areas, it smells like rancid socks. Meanwhile the company’s other offices are sleek and clean and new-looking.

    Many of us have complained about this over the years. The higher-ups are well aware of how it looks to visiting clients. Turns out they are going to knock the whole place down (and do a lot of environmental remediation because asbestos et al) and when we come back to the office at the end of the year, it’ll be in a different building.

    If that were the case for OP4’s husband they probably would have heard this before. Just wanted to let you know that this is not such a shockingly rare problem.

    Also, the reason we’ve resisted moving to the “nice” building for so long is because in the old building, we have full-size cubicles. When me move to the “nice” building we will have those tiny half-height things where everyone sits so close together we could braid one another’s hair without leaving our seats.

  38. Tisiphone*

    #3 I feel your pain. It’s even worse when everyone prefers the same shift and you don’t know who’s going to get stuck on the shift nobody wants.

    This happened to be at Crappy Tech Support Job many eons ago. I was working a great day shift (7am to 4pm) and was on the team that answered emails and did trainings. My location was another company that got bought out by a company that never saw Tech Support Our Location as being on the same team as Tech Support Home Office. One fine day we had a team meeting to tell us we were all going back to the phones. Oh and your hours are changing to 10am to 7pm. Starting Monday. (It was Wednesday.) One more thing. Mandatory overtime. You all are working an extra hour each day at the end of your shift and one 8 hour weekend day to be assigned. Just like that. We were told Home Office would be working Monday through Friday 6-3, 7-4, or 8-5. We would take on all the weekends, all the holidays, and all the evenings, mids, and overnights. No argument, no discussion, and no choices of shift. No notice.

    I had a training scheduled with a group of new hires that overlapped the meeting. After the bomb was dropped, I got up, announced I had a training, oh and by the way, I’m looking for another job starting now.

    I almost didn’t come back from lunch.

    I’m not sure if there’s much you can do about this. Do you have a good rapport with your manager? If so, you might want to ask questions about the change. You say they’re starting to hint about forcing people to work the shift nobody wants, maybe find out how substantial these hints actually are. Hints and rumors can be either dispelled or solidified by a chat with someone who knows more about the situation. If you can, have that chat. If they’re hinting around about using seniority to determine who gets stuck with the shift nobody wants, how many people are they putting on that shift and what’s the likelihood you will be one of them? If you know it’s going to be you with plenty of time to plan for it, it will hurt less than if it’s sprung on you with almost no notice as happened to me. And then polish up the resume. This is the kind of thing that leads to an employee exodus.

    1. Handwashing Hero*

      #3 Had a ditto experience to this. When management makes a change like this they KNOW and EXPECT that people will leave. And they are okay with that.

      In my case the schedule change was 4 on 10hr days then 3 off, including a weekend day in each shift. That was a big no thank you for me and many, many others. I managed to snag a new position at a different company before the schedule change came into effect (they delayed it once so bonus for me). I wasn’t the only one, it was mass exodus for many after that.

      My advice is to decide whether this is doable for you in the short term or long term. If not then shine up that resume and start marketing yourself like crazy. Good luck!

      1. Uranus Wars*

        In light of the pandemic I would say they KNOW and EXPECT but if the other option was to lay people off based on seniority and work a partial capacity this might have been the path they chose out of default, not out of “yay, let’s fire some people!”. I think they should have communicated it better and been more transparent but as someone making some of these decisions right now I can tell you know and expecting are not equivalent to “ok with it”. Because it sucks.

  39. anon4this1*

    At my old job everyone had a day that they were supposed to lightly clean the restroom. My day was wednesdays and I realized after a week that I was the only one cleaning it so I stopped. So basically that plan didn’t work at all because it resulted in me cleaning the restroom really well once and one other coworker wiping it down. I found it low key annoying that our company couldn’t just hire someone to clean as it was a very well off company with many locations. I also was one of the only two women there which I think led to part of the reason that I fell for the “that makes sense that everyone can pitch it” as I mentioned it to my male coworkers later and they said that they would never help clean and laughed that I actually thought everyone would help out since we were told to. The experience was a little humiliating to be honest. This was also my first “real” job.

  40. Cafe Lighting*

    As far as the job with the new shifts,it seems to me like the most fair thing to do would be for everybody to alternate. Everybody can work from 7:00 to 3:00 for a week and then the following week they have to work from 3:00 until 10:00. Obviously that would still suck to some people, but it’s the most fair way to do it in my opinion.

    1. Observer*

      It’s the most fair, because it’s going to be the most disruptive and the most difficult for the most amount of people. That’s NOT a good way to manage.

      1. Tisiphone*

        Agreed. And if you have a sleep disorder, crank that up to eleven with the constantly shifting sleep cycle.

      2. Quill*

        I’m not sure if it would legally count as creating an environment that enabled multiple forms of descrimination (people’s health and family status would be major barriers to succeeding on this schedule) but in practice? This is definitely making conditions at this job deteriorate in ways that can have disproportionate impact on people.

        Also there are oodles of medical research that correlate negative health outcomes with split shifts, as well as lower productivity.

    2. LQ*

      I mean yeah it’s “fair” in that it’s horrible to everyone and no one gets to settle into a good routine. That’s a pretty good guarantee that you’ll have a sleep-deprived workforce forever.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Changing shifts that radically WEEKLY is not feasible. Alternating maybe every three months or something could work but weekly? No.

      1. Cafe Lighting*

        I’ve worked in retail my entire career. I have to work a mix of day and night shifts. just this week for example I’m working 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 3 days and 11:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. my other two days.there are plenty of retail workers so work a schedule like this on a regular basis.

        1. A*

          Sure, but that comes with the territory. OP has made it clear that this is a significant departure from the norm pre-COVID. I think it is safe to assume OP didn’t just fail to mention they are in one of the few industries where this is extremely common and should be expected. It’s especially worth noting because moving away from that level if unpredictability is often one of the incentives people have for choosing a career/industry/employer/education path that lends itself to a more traditional schedule.

          As has already been noted, this situation is not comparable to individuals who have chosen to work a less traditional schedule (hours wise or predictability wise). These are people that have specifically sought our a traditional schedule, and have reiterated that by not volunteering for the *new* shift.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I’ve been a retail worker, and a hospitality worker and an entertainment worker, all with rotating shifts. I’m aware that it can be done. The difference is that I was perfectly well aware when I took all of those jobs that that is what the schedule would be like. The OP is clearly not in any of those industries, and asking a whole bunch of what sound like 9-5 office workers who have not signed up for this to start rotating *weekly* between 7-3 and 3-10 is not a reasonable proposition.

        3. Observer*

          It’s terrible practice. As others have mentioned, there is a TON of research on the matter, and there is just no way to spin it. This kind of schedule messes with people’s health and productivity.

          The fact that it’s common in retail is not exactly a ringing endorsement. In fact retail is so full of dysfunction that it almost feels like if it’s common in retail, it’s probably a bad idea.

  41. Mill Miker*

    LW3 – My wife went through a similar thing recently, due to covid. One thing to watch out for is if there is any kind of rotation or not. Her job had everyone pick if the wanted the day shift or the night shift, let them settle in, and then explained about a week in that they’d be swapping every two weeks, so day vs. night was really “day first vs. night first” and most of the company was pretty upset about that.

    1. Luna*

      Switching around sounds absolutely horrible and like they want to destroy their employees’ sleep schedule and health. And I say this as someone who has worked all three kinds of shifts. Night shift was worse because it ruined everything: health, sleep schedule, social, etc.
      And going from early to late and/or late to early is just as bad. Even with two weeks, your sleep schedule needs to readjust itself pretty dang fast, and that can be difficult to get accustomed to. This can lead to employees being tired during work, and can wreck havoc on their physical or mental health.
      I don’t blame them for being upset.

  42. Jaybeetee*

    LW3: Where I live at least, a dramatic shift in working hours would likely qualify as a “constructive layoff” and people could quit and get EI. Would that be an option where you live?

    I once worked at a place that went from relatively flexible scheduling (all daytime, but a “core hours” type place) to “You need to work 7-3 or 8-4, effective Monday.” That in itself caused a lot of grumbling, and a certain amount of chaos for those who had kids. I can’t imagine an employer just announcing people would have to work an entirely different shift. (And I say all this as a definite night owl myself, but like others here, I wouldn’t want to work a regular evening shift due to the social havoc).

  43. Uranus Wars*

    I haven’t read the comments yet, so apologies if this is redundant but is the 3-10 pm a response to keep people physically distanced due to the pandemic? Is this a situation where long-term WFH isn’t feasible and they need to figure out a way to make sure everyone can come back to work but still offer some distancing?

  44. Law Dept*

    Great question from OP#1 – do people think the same would apply to in house counsel? Like OP said, I love my micro communities but I totally see the value in excusing myself.

    1. miss_chevious*

      Yes, it definitely would apply to in-house counsel (I am in-house counsel). I have made a point not to have any social media connections (except Linked In, where I don’t comment) or join any non-professional Slack channel groups with coworkers because you never know when you’re going to come across something that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, but is going to have to be reported now that you do, and now you’re a snitch and your clients don’t trust you anymore.

  45. one pov*

    At one of my past companies one of the minority groups (women/POC/etc . . ) grew very quickly and started truly bashing a specific group of coworkers. I know this sounds like trolling, but it was at a large nonprofit and sadly this is what happened. So HR was added to that, and of course the group became much more muted and I think fell out of use. I think that while its good to have a space for people to feel free to talk, some conversations should be had in real time, in person or over a call, and not over Slack.

      1. one pov*

        This is a touchy subject. I am a member of the protected group. This is sensitive, so I don’t want give details. It was complicated. Did you see the article about a 13 year old who was doxxed and his parents fired – it was more along the lines of that than what you are thinking. It went from voicing valid complaints to making fun of / ganging up on one coworker in an inappropriate way.

        1. Altair*

          OTOH, there are examples upthread about how having a designated online space lets people network and find each ohter, rather than being isolated.

          No group of humans is composed of angels. This includes demographically disprivileged groups. OTOH, when a group of women, POC, etc, behave badly, as the people on the group you describe did by turning themselves into a clique who picked on others, this is often used as a judgement against all of us in the group and a reason to take away resources/argue against our rights/etc. People in unmarked groups aren’t given that corporate judgement based on other group members’ behavior.

          The people in the discussion group you describe should not have picked a victim and become bullies. However, the rights and opportunities of any given demographic group should not be curtailed because some members act badly, for several reasons, not least because this standard is not applied to all demographic groups, just ‘marked’ ones.

  46. Essess*

    If the Slack channels are being used by the employees, wouldn’t that fall under company liability for the content, as well as being FOIA’d if necessary? In that case, the employees should be aware that these channels are not 100% private and it would be reasonable to have HR or IT monitoring the channel. I understand wanting a safe discussion group, but if it is using company resources, then they can’t really tell an employee of the company (especially HR) to stay out. I’m not completely familiar with Slack so if it is NOT a company resource, then my concern about it being a company liability goes away.

  47. mgguy*

    Re: #5

    Not QUITE the same thing, but a few years ago a long-gone supervisor decided that it made more sense for me to work Noon-8:00PM when I’d been an 8:00-4:00 employee for a while(and I’ll also mention one of the few 8:00 people who was actually reliably there, in a function where 8:00 coverage is essential). It was between two of us getting the late shift, and I got the late one because “MG guy is young, single, and doesn’t have any after work responsibilities” while “Jane has dogs she has to home and let out, and sometimes babysits her grandchildren in the evening.”(BTW, Jane also just couldn’t be there at 8:00 because of her dogs, and also couldn’t stay later than 4:00 because of the dogs, yet still managed a full 7.5 hour day on her timesheet as an hourly employee with a 45 minute lunch break, but that’s another story).

    It pretty quickly turned into a disaster , not the least of which because something would come up 2-3 times a week that would require me to at least spend a half hour on the phone at 8:00AM(often because Jane wasn’t there) or even worse that I’d end up needing to come in early. I’d get in trouble for putting the overtime on my time sheet(I was hourly at the time), but if I refused to take calls before I was supposed to be there, I’d be in trouble for “not being available when needed.” I was never written up for it, but it was a once-weekly chewing out by manager.

    Fortunately, things did change. First of all, bad manager was fired(or rather asked to resign). The position was vacant for a while, and the person I was assigned to report at least met me in the middle and we agreed on certain days where there was a valid business reason for me to stay late and only required it on those certain days. I was also told to use my best judgement as to whether or not to take an off-hours call, and that it wouldn’t be held against me either way. Finally, current manager shifted me back to standard hours full time realizing just how many off-schedule hours I was putting in and also, realizing just how useless Jane was(in a lot of ways that actually hindered business, not just work hours) the current manager had her position eliminated…

  48. DJ*

    I’d be asking about working it from home, free onsite parking, taxis home (safety issues with late night travel). Also can they accommodate pre existing commitments ie a group/activity/sport you already attend, evening classes, special outing, system for swaps.

  49. TJB4DCP*

    I manage a call center with hours of operation from 8a to 8p. To be fair, the staff rotates among shifts, working 2 weeks on 8-5, 10-6 and 12-8. Some folks prefer later shifts while others prefer early. We encourage the team to work with each other on shift swaps, which allows staff to work their preferred shift and puts the responsibility on the individuals to work it out. The caveat here though is that rotating shifts was a condition of employment so no one was blindsided by the expectation.

  50. Quill*

    #3. Both of these shifts would make me sick, long term, though I’m sure there are people for whom it would be a non-issue…

    Actually half my job search woes in my chosen industry are from places where you apply and then they disclose that their shifts are significantly off from standard daylight hours (or split shifts, another scheduling decision that has been shown to have the potential for health concerns,) and the other half are from people who want you to be able to lift 50+ pounds. I’ve found it pretty damn alienating overall, and that’s when these conditions are more or less upfront : prior to being hired, if not in the job description.

    Expect some of your coworkers to be leaving over this, whether for medical, family, or “I did not sign up for this” reasons.

  51. Quill*

    Adding in that I used to do a very occasional 12-8 and I alternated between loving it (my boss was not there) and hating it (it definitely impacted my ability to do anything else the day of, and potentially had some major effects on my sleep schedule)

  52. TootsNYC*

    But ultimately, if they won’t budge, you’d need to decide if you still want the job under those terms.

    Can changing an employee’s hours that severely count as “constructive dismissal” in an unemployment claim?

    As a layperson, I would think so. Maybe not if it’s shifting from 10am to 7am, which doesn’t seem as unreasonable–but I think even then, maybe it could be. If you have kids, or a pet, or a family member you’re taking care of, or even a strong circadian rhythm, that’s a huge change to force someone to take.

  53. If Lucid*

    LW3 I once managed a department that underwent a similar change. We had 18 people working 8am-5pm and went to 10 positions working 7am-4pm and 8 positions working 11am-8pm. I didn’t have any input into that decision, but had full responsibility for communicating and implementing it.

    An important component was that the evening shift was created as a new job title, think “Service Agent shift-A, x10 FTE and Service Agent shift-B, x8 FTE”. This essentially meant 8 existing positions were being eliminated and I had to fill 8 new positions, that was the basis for how I communicated it to my team.

    I explained the reasoning and timing for the change and asked everyone to message me with their preferred shift, and that if any shift had too many interested people I would have to use the Staffing Reduction policy to determine which people would have their positions eliminated with standard severance. There was a lot of general grumbling (understandable) and a few people who were really angry. I did end up having to lay off 2 people and fill those positions on the evening shift with new hires. I don’t envy anyone facing that change for themselves, or anyone leading a team through that.

  54. A*

    #4 OP you seem…. very invested in your husband’s office space. Does he work on commission? Just trying to wrap my mind around what is warranting your involvement in this / your focus on this.

  55. eee*

    Maybe it’s because my company doesn’t have much a slack culture, but I don’t understand the advice for HR people to stay out of private slack channels. I get the value of having spaces to discuss issues that aren’t HR-led, but I don’t understand the value of total secrecy from HR. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if a slack conversation led to someone in HR hearing about an issue that they could help solve but wouldn’t have proactively identified?

    1. James*

      There’s a lot of room between “HR-lead discussion” and “total secrecy from HR”. If there was a Slack channel for dog lovers and I’m both a dog lover and in HR, sure, I may comment–but I should be doing so on the premise of “Dogs are awesome, here’s a cute thing my dog did today”, not “I need to keep an eye on my employees, let’s monitor their Slack chatter”.

      As for the benefits….HR aren’t saints. They’re people. Some are great, some are morons. That has to be taken into account. Look at all the problems workplaces have had with monitoring people working from home–people getting in trouble because they were away from their computer when it wasn’t their assigned break, companies using the webcams to spy on employees, that sort of thing. It’s understandable that people don’t trust their employers right now. To put this in another context: It would probably benefit society for the police to have a record of every phone call made–they could identify conspiracies and illegal activities before they started! The cost, however, far outweigh the benefits. Again, I’m not saying HR can’t be involved in casual discussions, but their role as a policing body needs to be considered. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Only the guilty have anything to fear”.

  56. Luna*

    LW#3: I worked in hotels at the front desk, which are set up into three shifts. The early shift (usually starting at 6:30 or 7 AM), the late shift (usually starting at 2:30 or 3 PM), and the night shift (10:30 to 11:00 PM). Some hotels have external, third-party companies that send them assigned employees for the night shift, so most hotel employees work the day shifts.

    I haven’t noticed any discrimination towards those that have no children, to which I belong, and those with children. But I have noticed that I was put onto the late shift more often than the early shift, and I can tell you that I began to heavily dislike it. After late shift, it was usually around midnight when I got home. I still needed time to relax and come down from work, not to mention having dinner. I usually didn’t go to bed until 2 AM. In turn, this meant I wouldn’t get up until 11 AM or even noon, giving me only a few hours of free time before I had to head back to work.

    This severely cut into my personal free-time, and hindered me in other matters, like if I had to go to the doctor: I would either have to set the appointment early in the day (cutting into my sleeping time, leading to my being groggy during my shift, which impacts your performance and increases the chance of mistakes) or try to squeeze them into that little time-frame between getting up and going to work. Or request time-off.
    I can also say that it cut into my socializing time. Since I came home late, the rest of the household already had dinner, and likely went to bed by the time I arrived or shortly after. It really sucks to not be able to have someone in your household to talk to about work and other matters. (Same with friends; they tend to already be in bed because they don’t have such late shifts)

    Such late shifts suck. I know certain locations require them, but I would prefer to have the early shift and still have time to do things, especially since the early shift means you can still work with the ‘normal schedule’ of most places.

    1. mgguy*

      My fiancé is a nurse, and of course standard hospital nursing shifts are 7:00AM to 7:30 PM(really later) or 7:00PM to 7:30AM.

      She’s not at all a night person, and when we met/first started dating she’d be on nights for 2 weeks(6 shifts total) out of every 6 weeks. There were a few crazy times in there where she’d end up working 4-5 nights in a row, once because of a snow storm where a bunch of people called in. Even 4-5 days drains her, but that many nights was murder on her(I remember during the snow storm, her parents came and picked her up and her dad drove her car home after the 4th shift because we were all concerned about how fit she was to even drive). I know I’d feel like when she was on nights, I’d not talk to her much more than a few texts through the day(when she wasn’t trying to sleep) and a few minutes on her way to work in the evening.

      About this time last year, she worked up enough seniority get rotated off nights completely, and after she’d recovered from her last one, I took her out to a celebratory dinner :) . She’s worked 2-3 odd ones here and there since just because they needed her, but she’s mostly been free of them and is a lot happier for it.

  57. eee*

    Huh. I guess I’m just lucky I’ve never worked in a place where HR functioned primarily as a “policing body.” To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that the slack channel needed to be monitored because someone there might be doing something bad. It struck me like starting a forum for people who deal with technology at work but excluding anyone who works in IT because it might make paricipants less likely to bring up problems. Especially in this case where LW wanted to be a part of the conversation because it’s about a community she’s a part of, not because of her function in a surveillance regime.

    Again, could be that there’s just something about the culture of slack use I’m not getting.

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