open thread – July 31-August 1, 2020

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

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

{ 1,111 comments… read them below }

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    Just wanted to share some good news this week:

    * My company approved my request to apply to a graduate certificate program and will be reimbursing me for the expense after each of my courses are completed. So even with everything that’s going on with Covid right now and our hiring/raise/promotion freeze, they’re still running our tuition reimbursement program.

    * The company grapevine also says that we’re proceeding with the process to go public as well now. This was put on hold for the third time right as Covid hit the U.S. I’m not sure how I feel about this because I think the fact that they were private led to some very sound financial practices, which in turn kept them from having to furlough or lay anyone off in our nearly 4,000 person company (and none of our benefits were cut or reduced either) – but maybe this means that they ran the numbers for the first two quarters and realized that this virus didn’t royally screw us, so they may lift the freeze on raises and promotions. I really hope so because I worked my ass off last year and would like to be rewarded for that. (I hope this means they won’t be cutting our quarterly bonuses going forward by up to 10% the way they suggested at the start of Covid either, but I’ll see in a couple weeks whether that’s the case.)

    * I was accepted into a mentorship program my company runs to build high performing female leaders, so will be mentored by one of the executives in marketing. It’s an 8 month long program, so I’m really looking forward to picking her brain and possibly shadowing her on some campaigns. I could see myself transitioning to a marketing role with my company or one of its subsidiaries once I’ve done all I can do in my current role. I just hope that my mentor stays fully committed to this process – I’ve seen other programs like this in other companies that had the best of intentions, but both the mentors and the mentees slow faded on each other over time and the programs died out.

    I’m still waiting to hear back about my participation in my company’s new diversity and inclusion group that they’re piloting, but overall, I appreciate how my company has been moving the past seven months (really, as long as I’ve been with them – a whopping 14 months). Leadership has shown that they really care about and value their employees, which says a lot about the character of the men who founded it and the people given the hiring power. I now completely understand why people who leave us end up coming right back – you’re not just treated like a cog in a machine. I hope going public doesn’t change this because this is the first company in a long time I could see myself retiring from.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      This is great in the short term!

      Going public is a big gamble. If the founders stay, it can work out, but it does make companies vulnerable to vulture capitalists and acquisitions. See: Sears, Red Hat. There’s a reason SAS decided not to go public.

      1. JustaTech*

        My company has been public and is now private and honestly I prefer being private. There’s no company stock, so there’s fewer ways to make money from the company doing well, but I’ll take that with the insulation from the wild permutations of the stock market and the stock market-driven business decisions.

        YMMV, and I hope you do well, Diahann Carroll!

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This is exactly why I’m not keen on them going public to be honest. There are just too many ways this can go wrong. I like that we’re private and have a very large cash reserve that helps to weather disasters like the current one we’re all living through. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I don’t know – it just doesn’t sit right.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Red Hat got bought by IBM last year and is no longer an independent company. Now, their CEO (Whitehurst) has moved to being IBM’s President, under Krishna as CEO, and is likely to become IBM’s CEO, so it may end up being a merger more than IBM blue-washing Red Hat, but… I think it’s early days to know. I’d actually expect the impact from that to hit 10 – 15 years down the road rather than in the first 5 years.

          And yes, Sears is *the* cautionary tale, but they are not the only victims. Vulture capitalists *really* suck, and can hit surprising targets.

    2. Altair*

      This is all absolutely excellent news! Congratulations, and thank you for sharing these with us!

    3. 30 Years in the Biz*

      So great! Congratulations on all this positive (and potentially positive) news! I really enjoy hearing of successes.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Thanks everyone! I just wanted to share some good news since a lot of bad is happening right now. There’s hope that some good is still being done.

  2. Zumba*

    I’ve been at my job for about a year and a half. My job previous to this I held for a year. Prior to that I was unemployed for six months. Before that I held a job for a year. I have good reason to stick with my current job longer.

    I like 70 percent of my job. I do these aspects well. I like the people I work with, salary, benefits. The company is flexible and family friendly. I like my colleagues and get along with my boss. I am grateful to be employed during this pandemic.

    The problem is that 30 percent. Part of my job is managing an IT infrastructure. The extent of responsibility for this was never made clear in my interview. Plus I am not an IT person. IT is not my skillset. I have no training or credentials to do that work.

    I am really struggling with the IT aspect of my job. For such an otherwise forward thinking organization it mystifies me they put responsibility for managing an IT infrastructure to a layperson.

    At what point should I have an honest conversation with my boss about this? Can I ask her directly if IT management is a permanent and unchangeable aspect of the job? She knows I am struggling and I’ve made my views known that this aspect of the job is better handled by an IT person.

    I’ve had one project embarrassingly go off the rails already as my inexperience was exposed. Not a fun experience to facilitate a meeting with Directors present where the words “disaster” and “train wreck” were used, and everyone was looking at me for decisiveness and expertise — which I did not have.

    I want to concentrate on the aspects of my job I thought I was hired for and which I am good at. I want to stay longer than a year and a half. But I don’t want to struggle a few more months and then be terminated for poor performance on the IT side of it. I could use some advice.

    1. PJS*

      I’m sorry I don’t have any advice, but just wanted to say that I know what it’s like and I feel for you. I’m an accountant but I’m also responsible for the IT side of our accounting software and I shouldn’t be. Now I’m expected to be in charge of our ERP conversion and I have no idea what I’m doing. We used to have an IT person who did all this. She left and IT decided not to replace her and it’s been on my plate for the past six years. My boyfriend is currently involved in an ERP conversion at his company. He works in IT and they have half their department working on it. Here, I’m somehow supposed to fit that it among my already full-time accounting job? I’ve broached the subject a couple of times and been shot down. I don’t know why people seem to think I should be able to do the background IT functions when I’m an end-user. Like you, I’m worried about eventually losing my job because I wasn’t able to do well the part of my job that has nothing to do with my training or experience (and was not what I was hired to do.) Again, no advice, but I hope you have a better outcome.

      1. Zumba*

        Thanks for your perspective! It does not remove the situation I am in but it is good to commiserate with someone on the same boat

      2. Lalitah28*

        I’m so sorry you’ve been put in this position. I’ve done two ERP conversions when I was “just” an administrative assistant, so this is the voice of experience speaking (what we did):
        – nominate ERP champions in each functional area that will be responsible for learning their functional area of the system (e.g. order entry, inventory management, etc.), creating the training, and training new users;
        -spread the responsibility of data review & data hygiene to the various data owners in the organization, that is, accounting data is reviewed and normalize by accounting people, product information by the product managers, etc., etc. It can be the functional area champion or someone they delegate to in their functional group. Normalize and clean the data BEFORE THE DATA CONVERSION while in the old system to minimize hiccups when you go live. Again, the VOICE OF EXPERIENCE speaking. Irregular characters can cause havoc on day one live because of system programming idiosyncrasies.
        -Positions these issues to your manager as a way to get better coverage of the issue and that your primary responsibilities are taking too much of your time to be effective in the IT aspects of the job so that you would need IT support.

        Hope this is helpful. I can provide more detail if necessary.

      3. Coder von Frankenstein*

        They are expecting you to do an ERP conversion, with no experience, on the side? That’s like Boeing expecting the janitor to design a jet engine between shifts! (Which, admittedly, would explain a lot about Boeing these days.)

        In my world, an ERP conversion is a project that takes years of work and hundreds of people and is extremely high-risk. You need only whisper “We’re thinking about changing ERPs” to strike terror into the heart of every IT employee from the CIO on down.

        Now, I work for a very large employer with an enormous amount of data to manage, so you’re probably not in quite the same boat. But still–that’s insane. I’m so sorry.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I cackled at this Boeing shade. Not so extremist but they really do not hire the correct skillset for a ton of their positions you’d think were really important *cough*

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      “The problem is that 30 percent. Part of my job is managing an IT infrastructure. The extent of responsibility for this was never made clear in my interview. Plus I am not an IT person. IT is not my skillset. I have no training or credentials to do that work.”

      If that wasn’t made clear in your interview, you need to sit down with your boss -NOW-. Expectations should have been made clear, and managing an IT infrastructure is not a part-time job. Your job set you up for failure. Communicate with your boss -today-. You need someone under you who is IT savvy.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        This. Managing IT infrastructure is a specialist job. Or jobs, plural. I can manage databases and most windows servers and software but utterly fall apart on networks.

        Having unskilled people manage IT systems is a sure fire way to end up with system crashes, security breaches, license piracy…etc. Maybe pointing out that this has a real chance of costing the company a lot of money in fines/system downtime might help?

        (For instance, one firm worked out the cost of my salary managing their licenses was way cheaper than the fine they would have got if anyone had found out how unlicensed software was on their network)

      2. Zumba*

        Thanks. I’ve broached it to my boss and she was very resistant to the idea of hiring another IT person. She was citing how expensive their salaries and benefits are and implied how my predecessor somehow made it work. I was deflated after that conversation

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Zumba, I hate to say it, but you need to dust off your resume, time now. Your boss is an ass.

          1. Anonymous Capybara*

            I work for an IT MSP. That can be even more expensive than hiring someone in-house and I doubt this boss that’s clearly trying to pennypinch by combining job roles would be open to it. And with IT management, you get what you pay for.

        2. Anax*

          Yeah, IT is expensive… but so is NOT having IT.

          – Who are the big names in your industry? If you google [big name] + “security breach” or “data breach”, do you get some persuasive anecdotes?
          – How laggy are your systems? Can you ask your coworkers to track how much time is wasted on loading screens or waiting for software to work, over the course of a day or a week?
          – How out-of-date are your systems? If you google [software name] + [version number] + “security vulnerability” or “bug fix”, do you see anything scary? How about if you google [software name] + “change log” and look at what’s been fixed recently? Is there any software which you know is no longer supported, like Windows XP, and which is no longer getting any updates?
          – Can you shadow one or two of your coworkers for a day, and see what weird workarounds they’re doing to deal with software issues? Do they have to take three times as long, converting between file formats and doing manual work, to do something that should be quick and easy?
          – You probably contract out SOME of your IT stuff to outside vendors. Internet service providers, any cloud-based storage, software you pay a license for… How do you know that you’re not being scammed or overpaying? Do you need an expert who knows the industry players in your area and can recommend reputable ones?
          – How IT-savvy are your coworkers? Do they fall for phishing emails? Do they get ransomware? Are their passwords on post-its under their keyboards? Is anyone training them on how to be safe with technology, or is there a liability waiting to happen? Any problems you can point to as examples?
          – How are your backups? If you had a major power outage, or the building burned down, or there was a historic flood, how would you recover? What resources would you need to make sure you COULD recover?
          – How is your hardware? Anything that you know is unreliable, or just barely working? Any software you can’t update because it’s not supported by your hardware?

          There’s LOTS of potential liabilities, and hopefully quantifying them will convince your boss that it’s worth the investment – I’m sure you’ve been doing the best job you can, but you definitely need more than 1/3 employee to handle all this!

          1. JustaTech*

            Zumba, if you need a horror story: my company does have a whole IT department for all our various databases and systems (including an incredibly complex ERP system) as well as the usual IT for all us chickens. Even with all those experts, we’ve gotten ransom-ware’d. Twice. The first time it took more than a month to complete the restore from backup, which was a month where I couldn’t analyze any data. The second time some stuff didn’t restore at all.

            It experts are expensive for a reason, but less expensive that having your technical staff sit around twiddling their thumbs because they don’t have their files back.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              One of my former places, despite being a software firm(!) got ransomwared 3 times in 5 years. Each time the infection/breach was traced back to a senior exec who thought IT stuff was ‘easy’.

              We never did get those servers back.

              1. MassMatt*

                My company’s branch office shares a building with another company, their wireless network would always pop up as an option for us, it was completely unsecured. A coworker did some poking around and within minutes had access to their intranet, including their marketing and sales database. All he had to do was click on an “Employees” button! And his was a network security company! The mind reels.

          2. Mama Bear*

            This. We had an IT department, but without a specific set of expertise. The IT guys laid it out that for us to do x and y properly we needed someone with these credentials. This was no longer fixing people’s desktops, but a heavy lift to the network that was critical to future goals of the company. I think more than “I don’t have this skill” it might be better to figure out the cost-benefit analysis. Yes, an IT person would be $$ but what is it costing them to muddle along without? If the boss is arguing dollars and cents you argue dollars and sense (spelling intended).

        3. Mill Miker*

          I think the only correct response to that is “Are you saying I’m being underpaid for this work?”

          Like… from the company’s point of view, you’re either going to do a bad job at this forever, or get good at it and be able to leave for drastically better pay and benefits. They’re really betting against themselves on all fronts in a way that makes you miserable.

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          “implied my predecessor somehow made it work.”

          Your predecessor may have been a unicorn and really understood IT along with the other aspects of the job but honestly, most likely they just faked it and didn’t let them see them sweat. That happens all the time. So please don’t internalize any of that, your predecessor most likely wasn’t really good or knowledgeable about it, they just are the “tinkering” kind of person who didnt’ complain so the boss assumed it was all A-OK.

        5. Not So NewReader*

          Then she can hire a company to do it and they can meet payroll, she can just pay for their administrative costs plus their payroll.

          Before I go too far, is this something you are actually interested in? It sounds like a huge time suck.

          So my suggestion is to ask your boss to send you for training to do the work. Tell her you have never, ever, in all your life experienced such a conversation involving the words “disaster” and “train wreck”. People fail to understand this is not a situation of your doing. You do not have the training, period. This is something that should have been thoroughly discussed on the interview and it was not talked about. And let her know that this is something you will be mentioning in meetings because as technology continues to grow it will become more and more of an issue. The company has a real problem.
          In order to pull of this conversation, sit or stand straight. Square off your shoulders, make eye contact. Speak a little slower than usual, perhaps talking a bit softer than usual. Let every thing about your demeanor convey that you are DEAD SERIOUS. It might be helpful to refocus your thoughts on “this is a company that is in trouble if they do not make serious changes”. This new focus would remove the focus of “I have to keep this job for [reasons] plus I like this job. I don’t want to job hunt.” It’s an entirely different delivery when you decide this is about saving the company not saving yourself.

          I am really angry on your behalf.

          I am in a strange setting where I have remote support but no in person support. I end up doing a lot of stuff that was never mentioned in the interview. For reasons that I cannot describe here we can’t get anyone to come in to help. (Sorry, please take my word.) It’s hours and hours out of my week and I work PT! So you can kind of figure my “real” work gets left undone. Unbelievably, stuff goes wrong. ha! My current hurdle is finding a package in UPS in order to fix a problem with the system. (Involved story but this package is not anywhere to be found.They don’t have it, I don’t have it and UPS does not have it. Peach.)
          So I know first hand what a quagmire this is. Fortunately, I have a good boss. I can’t always say good things about the remote support I have. I know that it is a probably a matter of time that I end up losing the job because I cannot be the degreed IT person they need.

          Going in a different direction: If you apply for jobs and they ask you why you are leaving the current job you can say, “I was not told how much deep IT work I would be doing.[Consider putting one or two examples here.] While I am able and willing to do some things to be of help, I do not have the quals for the level they need.” What is actually good about this, is the interviewer should try to elevate your concerns about their position that you are interviewing for.

      3. BRR*

        Yeah I also think ASAP. It’s going to depend on how it was presented in the job posting and your interview and how things have gone since you were hired. You might be able to present it as a skills thing but after a year and a half I could see that not being a great option (plus it can be hard to say “I didn’t know you needed X skill which I never said I have, why did you hire me?”). Would it work to present it as “When I was hired we thought it would be X percentage of my job but the company needs more time devoted to IT than my other duties will allow.”

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        At the very least, the manager assigned IT role should be authorized to hire a consultant or outsourcing vendor to do the design work and the hands-on maintenance.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      At what point should I have an honest conversation with my boss about this?

      Now would be the time to bring this back up, especially after what you said about the meeting where the words “train wreck” and “disaster” were used. You do not want your boss associating you with those things even though those remarks were about the infrastructure failure and not you specifically.

      Can I ask her directly if IT management is a permanent and unchangeable aspect of the job?

      Yes you can. If your boss tells you that for the foreseeable future you’re stuck with the IT piece because they can’t or don’t want to hire someone else, then you can tell her that you expect she’ll be the one handling the fallout from this decision meaning, if there’s another meeting where leadership is bemoaning the failure of the IT infrastructure, your boss needs to take accountability for it in front of everyone and explain that your team doesn’t have the budget to hire someone trained in IT database management, so they have been asking you to do the best you can until they have the capacity to bring someone else on. She also needs to run a cost/benefit analysis for them showing just how much money they’re losing by having you managing this piece and then having to clean up the mess instead of just hiring someone to do it correctly the first time.

      Your manager is falling down on her job right now. I’m sorry – that sucks.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m a bit confused by this bit:

      At what point should I have an honest conversation with my boss about this? Can I ask her directly if IT management is a permanent and unchangeable aspect of the job?

      Because right after that, you say

      She knows I am struggling and I’ve made my views known that this aspect of the job is better handled by an IT person.

      So you’ve already brought it up, and your boss knows it’s an issue. Do you mean how can you get across the urgency of it?

      Was this incident recent?

      I’ve had one project embarrassingly go off the rails already as my inexperience was exposed. Not a fun experience to facilitate a meeting with Directors present where the words “disaster” and “train wreck” were used, and everyone was looking at me for decisiveness and expertise — which I did not have.

      If so, right afterwards (i.e., now) would be a great time to bring this up again with your boss, and let her know that you don’t want more incidents like that to happen.

      That said, you have to be prepared for some follow-up questions. Like, if 70% of your job is what you’re qualified to do and enjoy doing, and 30% is something you aren’t qualified to do and don’t enjoy doing, and they take that 30% off your plate, what do you want to do with that 30% instead?

      1. Zumba*

        That’s right, perhaps in my past attempts at raising the issue I was not stressing how urgent this was. I got the feeling the previous time I raised it she took it as me complaining — or being a complainer — instead of me raising an issue that has cost and efficiency implications for our organization

        1. Mayati*

          Sounds like it’s time to quantify what you’re talking about. I know it’s hard to verbalize what you don’t know, but are there specific topics you know you don’t know? Specific business impacts you can point to, like the amount of time it takes you to do something you lack training for or look up resources where you don’t even know where to begin? Can you write down the steps you DID take to show you weren’t giving up, tackling the issue in an unreasonable way for an untrained person, or procrastinating? How about showing your boss how good you are at the 70% of your job you were hired to do? Can you look up IT management job descriptions to show what kind of training and skills qualified people have? One solution might be for your boss to talk to an IT management consultant about the best way to handle these issues — and why an untrained person just can’t do them.

        2. Observer*

          That is absolutely what you need to focus on.

          By the way, you don’t necessarily need to bring on a full time IT person. A lot of these things can be farmed out to firms that specialize in whatever and / or whoever you are already working with.

          Keep in mind that IT is NOT a single skill set anymore – there are lots of projects I manage that I don’t have the skills to do myself. So in addition to the general issues you have pointed out, it’s important to always have someone to manage the technical aspects of any new project as part of the budget for that project.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          See the “dead serious conversation” post above. Change your tone and demeanor to super serious, “No. You guys have a serious problem here. And it will not get better on its own.”

          Perhaps if you request a short meeting with your boss (in other words, you initiate the meeting) that will help convey how serious this is.

    5. Allie*

      I’ve been in a similar position and its definitely rough. I’d make it clear that you don’t have the technical expertise for situations like what you described. If they won’t / can’t hire someone else, do ask for time to do some trainings. Are you interested in IT? I also think this can be a great opportunity to learn

      1. Zumba*

        Thanks for your feedback. I don’t think I am cut out to be an IT person. I have a completely different skillset which is my bread and butter and I would like to concentrate on that. I don’t think I would be interested in IT training and running with it if given an opportunity to be trained. Of course I would take it if required as part of staying with my current job. But as far as falling within my scope of interests, no

        1. Coder von Frankenstein*

          “Of course I would take it if required as part of staying with my current job.”

          That’s actually not an “of course” thing. It’s an important decision to make: You don’t like this stuff but you are willing to do it, for now at least, to stay in your current position. It would also be valid to decide that it’s a deal-breaker for you.

          Since you are in fact willing to do it, if you can identify training that would help, that might be a good solution all around. Of course, if the work is highly skilled and specialized, a short course of training won’t help. But if you just need someone to show you the ropes, to get to the point where you can at least keep the lights on, it could be the ticket to keeping your job.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Hard agree. This is how people get sucked into work they do not want and then get stuck. You get good at this, OP, and the next thing you will hear is, “Oh we can’t promote you because you do our IT and we need you to do that. So we have decided to give new drifty-daffy person the plum job you wanted.”

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      First of all, it’d be good to get straight in your own head what solutions you would find acceptable. Let’s say this is in fact a required part of the job. If the company arranged to have you trained, to the point where you were at least competent, would you be okay with continuing to do it? Or is it a situation where you just do not want to do this kind of work and would leave the company if you knew it wasn’t going to change?

      There’s no shame in the latter, by the way. It’s your career and you have no obligation to stand by as it goes down a road you don’t want it to.

      Once you have that figured out: You say your boss knows you’re struggling, but have you ever sat her down and laid out your concerns as you just did for us? Because this is the sort of thing that a good boss would recognize as a major problem to address. Don’t assume that she understands the full picture. She may not realize that this IT work requires a specialized skill set which no one told you you would need.

      The answer may well be, “Sorry, this is part of the job and we’re not going to hire anyone to help you and we’re not going to pay to train you”–in which case you will have to either get training on your own dime or start job-hunting, or both. But it’s also possible that you and your boss can work out a solution that will benefit both you and the company, since the current situation is no good for either of you.

      (Also, as somebody who works in IT, this kind of thing is depressingly common. The curse of IT is that if we do our job well, everything just works and no one has to think about it, which leads them to think IT people don’t do anything very much. That leads to many unfortunate situations, and one of them is “Important IT work gets dumped as an afterthought on somebody who was hired for something totally different.” Then people wonder why stuff isn’t working, and take it out on you.)

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        Ah – I didn’t see you had already had this conversation, and got the “We’re not going to hire anyone and we’re not going to pay to train you” response. Which means, yeah, you should start job hunting. This is not going to get better. I’m sorry.

      2. Wintergreen*

        I like the idea of looking into and suggesting training classes. Even if nothing comes of it, it shows that you are not just complaining because you don’t like that aspect of the job but that you truly don’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable however you are willing to put in the effort to learn.

        Keep records of any classes or training you proposed but were turned down for so that you can pull them out as evidence that you tried to get more training. It’s possible that higher ups or other future managers might not know the whole story of why this IT aspect of the job was put on your plate when you have no familiarity with it.

        If the company does pay for the training, you may find out you don’t mind it so much and if you do still dislike that aspect you will be in a better position to argue why it should not be on your plate!

      3. Erstewhile lurker*

        I was about to post the exact same thing, the better you do your job, the more likely it is for it not to be recognised, and for decision makers not to take infrastructure seriously. That is of course until things start grinding to a halt and money flies out the window.

    7. WFH with CAT*

      Zumba – Sorry to hear you’re in such a bad spot!

      Since it seems that your boss is set on you handling the IT end of things, is there any chance the company will pay for training/certification for that part of your job? It might not be where you want to focus or where you want your career to go, but that could at least help you survive until you are ready to move on from this job.

      If they refuse to cover the costs of training, could you perhaps utilize online coursework to develop your own understanding of the work? That could at least give you enough information to understand how a project *ought* to be handled so you can talk to your boss about the scale of the work, how much time it will take, what internal/external resources will be needed. (I’m not in IT, but am pretty sure there is no significant IT project that doesn’t require input/work from other people, and if you’re presenting to directors, sounds like you are handling some large/important projects.)

      Again, sorry your company is being so foolish about this — and good luck getting thru this and on to better things in the future!

      1. Zumba*

        Thanks! I don’t think this is a case where taking training will help me. A significant part of the job is managing the work of vendors, making sure servers are configured properly, examining server performance and finding opportunities for greater efficiency, coordinating help desk requests from multiple projects and delegating them to technical vendors — stuff that is very hands on and requires a great deal of finesse and tech savviness that can only come from specialized expertise and experience.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          That place is going down the toilet. Best to look into not getting flushed away yourself if you can.

          (Also, I absolutely adore you for pointing out that IT is a specialised job and not everybody is suited for it. Seriously. It’s a really good thing to know your own strengths and weaknesses that well. Employers generally like that :)

        2. Coder von Frankenstein*

          Whoa, yeah, that’s not stuff you can just pick up in a two-week course. Either your predecessor just happened to have the skills to do this, or they got lucky and nothing burned down on their watch.

          Everything here is pointing to “You need to find a new job,” I’m afraid. And I know that is a hell of a thing to hear in this economy, but if your boss won’t take it off your plate, and it’s not feasible to get trained on it, and it’s a must-have job requirement… well, there you are.

          Also, your company sucks. As Database Developer Dude observed, they set you up to fail–inadvertently, perhaps, but now you have drawn their attention to it and they aren’t doing anything about it.

          1. Zumba*

            Argh. Thanks — yes, not the answer that I was hoping for but it looks like my gut and hunch aligns with what most folks have said so far. Thank you for giving me a chance to vent and get a clear-headed perspective! I will likely post again in AAM open forum seeking advice on job hunting during a pandemic and trying to overcome the perception of being a job hopper (given my recent history of 1 year stints)

            1. Marthooh*

              First thing: CYA. Your company (or at least your boss) will probably be looking for a scapegoat when the gates fall and the barbarians hack their way in. Make sure you have at least one more conversation with your boss about your unfitness for this part of the job, and follow up with a recapitulatory email to show you brought the problem up.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                At least one ‘your current system is wide open to attack or failure with no experienced people at the helm’ email now can prevent some real headaches later.

        3. WFH with CAT*

          Oh, my … there is no way that’s all doable with minimal training or as a newbie to the field.

          I am now downgrading my assessment of your company’s actions from “foolish” to “dumb as a bag of rocks.” Apologies to real rocks, of course.

        4. Observer*

          So, hire someone to do that as an outside consultant – your company may not need a full time person to do that, but they DO need someone with the right skill set. So, the best way to get someone who they don’t need all the time is to have a contract with an entity that will handle all of this stuff for you.

          The key you need to focus on here is not what you do or don’t want to do, but the cost / benefit analysis to the organization. And if your boss STILL won’t listen, then I agree that job hunting is probably your best bet.

        5. Cj*

          That’s insane. I’m an accountant, and I can troubleshoot a few things, but the answer I get from our “IT” guy when I told him my speaker doesn’t work since he updated to Windows 10 on my laptop is “it’s just a setting. Detect it and pick the speaker you want.”. I TRIED that right away, which I told him, and it says it can’t detect any speakers, even though I have one in my laptop and two monitors that have speakers.

          I’ve been after him about this for 4 months because I have to do Zoom meetings on my phone. I told him I found articles that this is an issue and there are fixes for it, but not a word from him. I can’t do this sort of thing because it I don’t have the correct permissions (which is a good thing). I think the reason this is happening is because he is in the same position as you are. IT is not at all related to his actual job, he’s not very good at it, and probably doesn’t like it.

        6. My 2 cents for today*

          I have a bachelor’s in computer science and, among other things, currently supervise our IT help desk and I would NOT touch the server stuff you mention. I am probably better positioned than you to learn it, but we still have specialized people in our IT team who take care of specific parts of IT.

          And I am familiar with a (my) company throwing responsibility for specific internal systems at me, but at least they have the good sense to limit this to basically a project management level (which ain’t my field of expertise either, but it’s uh more learnable than server! maintenance!)

  3. Summersun*

    What’s the general consensus of people who were casually job searching prior to quarantine? Are you still looking, bunkering down, accelerating your urgency?

    I’m torn. My company is historically good at weathering bad economies due to being privately owned and keeping large cash reserves, but their carelessness with safety/health protocols has me furious and eager to get out.

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      I’m still looking. My bunch have gone from “slightly disorganized” to “anarchy worthy of a reality TV show”. Since we don’t have a mandate or even a set set of things we’re responsible for, we’re getting all of the vaguely-related stuff that might or might not fall into our bucket. Our managers are so checked out that they’re simply saying “yes” to whatever anyone asks. I’ve taken this week and most of August off to accelerate the search, because I really don’t want to go back to an atmosphere like that.

    2. Anonymosity*

      If I already had a job, I’d likely hunker down for the duration. However, IMO a poor response to safety is reason enough to launch a search or intensify an existing one. I take it you’re not able to work from home?

      1. Summersun*

        Fully able, but not allowed. Working remotely is the norm for people in my field, so working for a dinosaur of a company is salt in the wound.

        1. Cormorannt*

          I’m in a very similar position, except that remote work is not quite as common in my industry so my wound is slightly less salty. I’m still looking. Part of me thinks I should hunker down, but then again, the carelessness with health and safety could potentially destabilize the company to the point that it wouldn’t weather the situation well. When the entire top leadership of the company is meeting in a conference room without masks on…that doesn’t seem like great business continuity planning.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m no longer actively looking. It’s an uncertain time to make a change, and I’ve been impressed with my current company’s quick COVID response and transition to WFH. If safety was a concern, I’d still be looking.

    4. Ama*

      I am kind of still looking but unfortunately my casual job search was in hopes of moving into a sector that has all but been destroyed by the pandemic (arts nonprofits) so I have tempered my expectations of finding anything.

      My problem with my current job is burnout and boredom after seven years, not the employer themselves, so it’s not urgent that I leave, but I’ve also started working on an idea for my own business that could either be a nice side challenge and a little extra cash or a path to self-employment (I haven’t fully decided what I want it to be), just so I don’t feel quite so stuck.

    5. Muriel Heslop*

      I was casually thinking of changing jobs and my response has been to just quit.

      I am a special ed department chair. My assistant chair will be great as my replacement and I told her I would make myself available for questions. My spouse insisted I take off 3-6 months to decompress but I have picked up some “pod economy” gigs and I also told three colleagues in underserved schools that I am happy to offer my tutoring/teaching services for one morning a week, through the fall.

      It felt like a nightmare just *imagining* implementing the restrictions. I don’t know how this is going to work. I thought I had seen it all in 20+ years of public education, but no.

    6. Soon-to-be Newbie*

      I kept looking, and a round of layoffs actually made me feel like I should accelerate my search (the head of my department was laid off and, of course you never know what’s going on at the top, but I got the sense that it was because I made a lot less but was still able to take on much of those responsibilities without any extra pay). It paid off, and I’m about to start a new job at a similar organization that seems like it’s got a more positive culture and is weathering the pandemic better financially! In my mind, there’s no downside to a casual search – my assumption was that any organizations that were able to hire would probably be weathering this storm pretty well.

    7. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Were I to start job hunting right now (I have no active plans to do so, but my current boss is leaving soon and much is up in the air, so the possibility has crossed my mind), I would take it slow and careful. Like you, I am fortunate to have an employer that can weather a crisis like this, and I’d be very wary of jumping ship to a company that might be out of business a year from now. Mostly I would use the time to just explore options, and plan to really ramp up the job hunt when things recover.

      However, unlike yours, my employer is taking all this very seriously, so I am not facing a tradeoff between risking my paycheck and risking my health. In your situation, I might go the other way and go all-out on the job hunt.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I’m in the US, and worried. So far, the hit’s been to health care and service industries. The hit to the wider US economy has not happened yet, unemployment #s are going up, and Congress is fumbling the next round of support. Since half the country’s not wearing masks, we’re not going to get back to normal until there’s a vaccine, which is another 6 – 9 months *at best*.

        So I’m bunkering and building skills so that I’ve got more options if my job goes.

    8. Donkey Hotey*

      Speaking for myself, I’ve stopped looking. But for me, my company, while frustrating in the past, has really stepped up their game with the pandemic. They are an essential business and my job is pretty much guaranteed as long as I want to keep it. But if they were careless with protocols and such, I’d be hitting “refresh” on indeed regularly.
      Good luck.

    9. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m basically pausing my search. My current job is pretty close to recession proof, we’re still working remotely, and being remote is making some of the problems more tolerable. I’m also using this time to figure out my next step, because I really am not sure what I want.

    10. NeonDreams*

      I look on a casual basis. I had made a pact with myself earlier this year to be more patient with the job and the search. Then COVID happened and I doubled down on that notion. While I acknowledge my frustration and boredom, now is not the time to act upon those impulses.

    11. Mama Bear*

      I’d look if you are unhappy with the protocols. There are still some companies hiring (like mine) and since you are currently not unemployed, you have some ability to find the right job, not just a job.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m in the interesting spot of having a new manager hired who is really making some changes. So I am diving in and working hard, getting new training, and nailing down specific resume bullet points. Because I believe that this manager is too good and too ambitious to stay in this role for very long. And my company is historically so butts in seats that I am afraid we will be called back to the office before there is a vaccine, which means I am going to spend parts of an upcoming vacation networking, polishing the resume, and scouring the internet for remote positions that I am qualified to do.

    13. LizzE*

      I am bunkering down for the time being. I was fairly unhappy in my job, pre-COVID, but I feel guilty admitting that my current job has improved since the pandemic started. For one, our financials are sound and I don’t foresee layoffs. If anything, we are actually growing because we are a philanthropy and our ultra wealthy donors have stepped up their giving in response to COVID. Additionally, my employer has handled everything really well and has been extremely flexible as we work remotely. Finally, my relationship has vastly improved with my supervisor, who has given me more substantial work since we have gone remote — this was my biggest gripe and reason for wanting to leave pre-COVID.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I’m accelerating my urgency. I had really hoped to weather out the storm, but my office seems to be turning cannibalistic and I’m worried if I can’t find something else pretty soon I’ll be kicked out the door. I feel like I’m living in a bizarre mash-up of “Survivor” and “The Office.” I’ve already been told that there’s a good chance I won’t be getting a step raise and they’ve gotten extremely nit-picky about my work. (It’s not just me, they seem to be doing it to lots of other people, too.)

    15. MissDisplaced*

      Posted down at the end on this. I was low-key looking prior, but all opportunities and interviews fell apart due to pandemic. I don’t hate my actual work, especially since we’ve been WFH, but I am very frustrated with some of the processes that make it extremely difficult to actually DO my job. And these frustrations have been simmering for a while. I know I should be happy to still be employed (for now), but it doesn’t mean I’m not frustrated.

      However, when I look at job postings, I just don’t feel interested or excited about anything, or I read the ads and just feel they’re total phony bullshit (like demanding unicorn skills but offering crap pay). I’ve applied for maybe 2 jobs since March. IDK, maybe I’m just not ready to throw in the towel? Or the problem may be that I am feeling unfulfilled with my field and it’s a deeper issue.

    16. SJZ*

      Hunkering down as we seem fairly secure. I was planning to go freelance but…they provide insurance and a degree of security. I am also learning new skills which they partially defray the cost of, and considering skilling in a totally different area as well to hedge my bets.

  4. HR Bee*

    I am the HR Manager for an essential business, a food manufacturer. While our office staff is mostly working from home (everyone does come in for a couple hours a week to get mail, etc…), our production staff obviously cannot.

    We have instituted heightened/more often cleanings, required masks, social distancing, temperature checks upon arrival and mid-shift, increased hand washing, etc… Since we’re a food manufacturer, everyone already wears gloves that are changed often, hairnets, and full body smocks. No one with symptoms or around someone with symptoms is allowed in the building. We’ve stopped allowing non-essential visitors and have stopped allowing employees to work in multiple locations. Everyone is staying in their home location for the foreseeable future. Talking with employees, everyone has been happy with the steps we’ve taken to mitigate as much risk as possible.

    The issue we are running into is that employees are refusing to come to work now that coworkers who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered are now returning. These employees have fully recovered and have been released by both their doctor and our local health department to return to work. I haven’t been able to find any advice for this and am just kind of at a loss for what to do next. Obviously, our employees who went through this deserve to be at work now that they’re recovered just as much as anyone else does.

    1. HR Bee*

      Forgot to mention that, obviously, we don’t tell anyone who tested positive. Our staff is just very open and sharing and so basically everyone knows, half the time before I even do.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        What’s their rationale for not wanting to work with people that have recovered? Are they claiming that the people that were sick are somehow still sick and passing on the virus? If that’s the case, maybe you can get a doctor or health professional to do a (virtual) presentation explaining how the virus works and how recovery works in layman’s terms to show that these people are now safe to work with.

      2. HR Maddness*

        What is their concern about returning? Is it just “I don’t want to work with someone who at one time had COVID? Or is it because they don’t trust the specific person? How much information are you sharing about the conditions in which an employee is allowed to return? I think these help guide figure a path forward.

        I also have production that cannot do their work remotely and we have had 2 positive cases both of whom have returned to work. We are also small so even though I didn’t share names, everyone already knew who it was. I haven’t had your issue yet, but we are being very open with our processes around returning, connecting with medical professionals, department of health and keeping up all our safety protocols. We had no spread from the 2 cases and it’s been a couple of months since these happened.

        If you can be more open, that might help. I would dive deeper with the individual concerns as well, but if ultimately their response is “I just don’t want to work with someone who had COVID” that is not realistic and may end up with them having to leave the position.

        1. HR Bee*

          I posted below about our communication. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to be anymore open than we are. I’m in constant communication, sending updates, attending and talking at the pre-shift huddles. We’ve had the health department here too.

          We are following our attendance policy and disciplining accordingly, but also want to be respectful of the real fear people have right now. But their current fear is, like you said, not realistic.

          1. Coder von Frankenstein*

            It sounds like there is a lot of stuff you are communicating *to* them, but what about the other direction? Have you asked people “What would make you feel safe to work with someone who’s recovered from COVID-19?”

            Obviously, if the answer is “Nothing,” there isn’t much you can do except say “Sorry, this is a requirement of your job.” But some people might have ideas that could lead to a workable arrangement. And just the fact that you are asking them, instead of telling them, can make a difference.

            1. HR Bee*

              We’ve done COVID surveys (obviously not as good as talking in person) and have gotten really positive feedback on our response. But I know people don’t always feel comfortable giving honest feedback either. I started toward the beginning of the pandemic as the company’s first professional HR person so I’m building the entire program in addition to managing COVID.

              I really appreciate all the advice. I think, in this situation, I know fear isn’t rational, but what everyone is going through is traumatic and real, and I want to be sensitive to that, while at the same time, respect that those who went through this terrible thing are able to rejoin their normal life (as much as it can be normal right now).

              1. Coder von Frankenstein*

                I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I have serious and urgent concerns about my work situation, a survey does not make me feel like someone is listening or my problems are being addressed. And if the feedback on the surveys is positive, but people are refusing to come in to work, that shows a disconnect somewhere.

                There’s just no substitute for the in-person conversation IMO.

      3. Elizabeth Bennet*

        My company is requiring a negative COVID-19 test result once diagnosed and recovered.

        That makes me, as an employee, feel much more comfortable than a doctor’s note. I normally would just trust the doctor, but without knowing what criteria they used to clear the patient to return to work, I’m leery with a novel virus that is causing a global pandemic.

        1. Kinsley*

          The problem with that is that they also don’t know how long you’ll test positive. We have one individual who has never shown symptoms and has continually tested positive THREE TIMES, each a month apart, and has quarantined the entire time. He is, thankfully, able to work from home, but what do you do in that situation?

    2. Pretzelgirl*

      Is there any info you can provide them, that states when a person is no longer contagious? Are you providing KN95s or N95s? After an outbreak at my place of employment they supplied employees in that building with KN95 masks, until there were no more positive cases for at least 14 days. And now I think we still provide them but don’t require them (just standard masks).

      1. Steveo*

        I suspect some people don’t trust when the company says that a person is no longer contagious. Companies (not necessarily this one) sometimes have a perverse incentive to get people back to work as soon as possible, and the employees are likely just being cautious. More transparency around the medical clearance may help in this situation – around company policy is that a doctor must clear the person etc etc.

        And also – do we really know when someone isn’t contagious? This virus is so new, I wonder if doctors could be 100% on that.

        That’s what I might be thinking as an employee.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Yeah, that’s where I’d fall. If the company required 1) no symptoms for at least three days followed by 2) a negative test, I’d feel a lot more secure than if people were coming back when they decided they want to. Otherwise, if fully paid sick leave was not provided, I’d assume that people were coming back before fully recovering, for the income.

          I keep seeing “two weeks” quoted as the length of the illness. In Taiwan, where I am, patients are allowed out of the hospital after three negative tests on consecutive days (all detected cases have been hospitalized, including asymptomatic ones). The time from diagnosis to release has varied from two weeks to 71 days.

          Mind you, I’d still be more worried about the people who were pre-symptomatic and at work, breathing out the virus unawares.

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      What have you done so far to communicate the return to work policy? Is it disseminated in a way that people can see themselves as someone who might want to still have a job after they get COVID? Like, here’s what happens if you get COVID, here’s the path to show you are safe to return to work, here’s the sick leave policy, our goal is to keep you and your coworkers safe and also allow you to Get back to your job once it’s safe.

      Maybe if people stop seeing infected workers as “other” and start thinking about how they would want to be treated if they got sick the pushback will lessen.

      1. HR Bee*

        We’ve communicated the return to work policy during shift meetings, company email, and company newsletter. Additionally, all employees have to sign an attestation when they return to work (everyone has signed it at least once) with the different paths to returning and which they fell under, certifying that it was followed.

        Everyone is definitely aware, they just don’t care. They are acting like a positive test taints someone for life.

        1. nunyabeeswax*

          Then they are leaving you no choice. They are refusing to work, demanding people who are not recovered and healthy lose their jobs. If they don’t show, they get fired, and get no unemployment as well.

            1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

              I tend to agree in principle, though. If someone is shown to be recovered and no longer contagious to the best of current medical ability, then refusing to work because you don’t want to be around someone who has been sick is no more tolerable than not wanting to work with someone who is, say, HIV positive or has a neurological disorder. If you don’t want to accept the conditions that you are expected to work under then it’s probably not the job for you. Obviously there are exceptions to that but in this case it sounds like they have really good safety measures already.

              1. Taniwha Girl*

                I disagree because we still don’t know much about this virus, it’s still so new. But we do know it can be spread just by standing and breathing next to your coworkers, unlike HIV and neurological disorders. I really don’t blame people for being afraid of workers coming back when medical guidance on what is safe has been so inconsistent.

    4. nunyabeeswax*

      You can make clear if anyone returns to work has to released by their doctor and local health department. Then, you tell them they have to come in, or they will face the appropriate level of discipline your company normally employs for employees who refuse to show up for work. Also note those who refuse work will very likely not be eligible for unemployment.

      In effect, they are demanding you fire or permanently lay off anyone who gets COVID and recovers. Thats unfair, and simply unacceptable for them to press that demand.

      Its ironic, really, these recovered individuals are probably safer to work with.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Since when can employees demand that people be fired for any reason? This is novel.

        So I have to agree that if someone demands that certain people get fired, you can just say “That is not how employment works. Others do not get to demand the dismissal of particular individuals. And if you think about it, you don’t want that precedent set because this means that someone could demand YOU be fired for [reasons]. If this becomes standard operating procedure, no one is safe in their jobs.”

    5. Mama Bear*

      I think that you can lay out the reasons the company is satisfied with the return to work and then the other people need to make the decision for themselves. We had one case of COVID. Said employee recovered. We still have our protocols. No community spread in the building. I’m actually less worried about that recovered person because I know they take it more seriously than Guy Down The Hall With No Mask. Is there misinformation that needs to be addressed with the staff?

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Let’s talk Logistics on the other end. For all the people who are presumably healthy and never yet infected working on the line. How spread out are your workstations? Have you put up any lexan panels around locations where people need to work for a long period of time? Have you provided any sort of safety arrangements for break rooms, bathrooms, and other communal spaces? Have you figured out some sort of hands-free door opener? Does your building ventilation system exchange are frequently? If you’re not doing things like this, people might be frightened in general, and it’s coming out as fear of people who have already caught it. Go spend some time on the production line if you haven’t already, and see if you can come up with a way to make it feel safer for the people who must physically be there every day.

    7. Dancing otter*

      Are they concerned about relapses?
      There are reports that these have happened, but I don’t know how common they are. Also, the focus of the article I read was on the question of immunity — is COVID like measles, once and never again, or more like a cold? How they determined whether their test cases relapsed or caught it again wasn’t explained. (Article was probably in the Washington Post, but I don’t see it in my browser history.)

      Or is the concern that victims might not be careful enough, because they THINK they can’t get it again?
      That strikes me as not totally unreasonable, frankly.

    8. pcake*

      I would be scared to work with someone who had had Covid-19 because I know several people who tested negative at least once before testing positive, so a single negative test doesn’t convince me of anything. I have one friend who was tested four times for Covid-19 before he tested positive on test number 5. If his doctor hadn’t been so sure and pushed for retest after retest, my friend would have been considered to have something else despite being quite ill with textbook Covid symptoms and a negative flu test.

      Part of the problem is the test not being administered correctly – the patient is supposed to blow their nose right before, but less than half the people I know who were tested were told to blow their nose. And I’ve been told it’s a difficult test to administer, as well. So a single negative test doesn’t make me feel at all secure.

  5. ThatGirl*

    I’m a copywriter, and while I rarely do freelance work, I suspect it would be handy to have an online portfolio. Right now I have a rather mediocre site that just stores PDFs. So two things:
    A. Recommendations for a free or low cost online portfolio?
    B. Ideas on saving “clips” that are largely e comm? What do e-commerce copywriters DO for a portfolio?

    1. HR Bee*

      I use Wix for my freelance site. I’m 99% positive you can add a portfolio to it. It’s free if you keep the at the end of the link. If you want your own domain, you do need to pay.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        An FYI on Wix: some places blacklist that domain since it’s been used a lot for spam sites. It might be worth it to pay a small fee to use a different site.

      2. Lili*

        I use Pressfolio to manage mine. The lite version is $10 month, pro is $15. I can link back to sites/videos, upload PDFs and the best part is, if I link to a page, it automatically scrapes the text off and saves it. Very easy way to save alot of blog posts, especially if they get taken down at some point. For e-comm maybe just do some screenshots and save as a PDF?

      3. Anonymosity*

        I have a Wix site too. I switched from, which was clunky, limited in how clips are presented, and only allowed ten items on the free version. The Wix editor is pretty easy to use.

    2. Summersun*

      I use the free version of Contently, and while I’m not as happy with it as I would be something more custom, it does what I need it to do.

      It looks cleaner when you can actually link the piece to a real live web location versus just dumping a text file into your folder, but some of my stuff is behind intranet walls, so that can’t be helped.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Mostly I have PDFs because web addresses change and my older stuff is print. But currently I mostly do e-commerce, I can save Amazon pages as PDFs, for example, but it doesn’t work as well for slideshows or individual product pages.

    3. Ama*

      Could you save screenshots or print to pdf of screens that have your copywriting on it once it is live? I did that once when my best professional writing sample was an internal document that was posted on my then-job’s intranet — I provided the URL with the writing sample but I also noted that it would not be publicly accessible.

    4. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      For e-commerce, screenshots are great, and I also use Wix and haven’t had any issues with it. For longer form copy on blogs full of ads, I pdf the print view. I’ve also put in a link to the actual post and mocked up the blog with a better font and layout, when that’s made sense, using the original photos.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Do you have LinkedIn? You can post things and attach to your profile/jobs. If you need more, you can get a free LinkedIn Slideshare account and post items there.

  6. DrTheLiz*

    I am forty minutes away from a week’s holiday. I have
    #Removed the last of my bag of oranges from the work fridge
    #Put the bottle of lemon juice I keep at my desk (lemon water >> plain water) into the work fridge
    #Given Desk Pot Plant some water
    # Set up my Out Of Office message

    Have I forgotten anything, other than making sure that my computer is switched off?

      1. DrTheLiz*

        OOO will activate at midnight, and (highly unlikely) emergency coverage has been delegated – my org makes us do this before we can book leave. I had a bunch of deadlines today, which I managed to get out of the door on Wednesday so I can be fairly sure at this point nothing more will come up!

        My mind is mostly playing the refrain from the West wing about the “drinks, with little umbrellas in them…”

        1. Zombeyonce*

          I always set my OOO to activate immediately after my departure time (5pm for my vacation today, baby!) so people sending in things right after I leave today will know they’re not getting help from me next week. Why midnight, may I ask?

          1. DrTheLiz*

            Because I could work out how to make it do days but not times within a day…

            Have fun on vacation :D

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I actually set mine up to start at lunch time so I have an excuse to decline Friday afternoon meetings!

        2. ihatelogins*

          “Well, obviously, Lionel Tribbey is a brilliant lawyer whom we cannot live without, or there
          would be very little reason not to put him in prison.”

          1. LemonLyman*

            “Mr. Tribbey, I’d like to do well on this, my first assignment. Any advice you can give me that would point me in the way of success would be, by me, appreciated.”

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I shall drink a toast to you with the last of this Friday night martini. I stopped drinking gin a long time ago because my husband hates it…but I realized he doesn’t have to drink it! So little cocktail onions are back on the menu. :)

      1. DrTheLiz*

        We have a common office phone, so I don’t have a personal voicemail (thankfully, I am Millennial enough to Not Enjoy telephones).

    1. Anono-me*

      Put a post it note on your office/cube entrance saying that you are back on the 10th and to please call Fergus if there are any urgent issues.

      Hopefully most people have stopped ‘popping by with a quick question’, but..

      Have a nice vacation

    2. DarthVelma*

      Don’t know if this applies in your line of work, but if you handle any confidential information, make sure it’s put into a secure location and that any file cabinets or drawers that need to be locked are locked.

    3. Emilitron*

      You’ve done your due diligence. You’re ready! It is time to check up and down the hall and stroll out of the office 20 minutes early. If you printed out anything on the office printer, don’t forget to pick it up!

      1. DrTheLiz*

        We’re a very small office, so in the extremely unlikely event that something comes up that can’t wait a week she’ll just call me (and if it takes more than ten minutes to fix, I can probably wrangle the vacation day back).

    4. D3*

      I like to make some notes to help me remember anything I need to jump back into after the break.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh good call. I’m going back online in a while to close down after backing up active projects where someone else can pick up for me, and I shall make sure my chickenscratch journal will be legible next week.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Oop, thanks for the reminder. OoO set here now on *both* work inboxes.

    6. Elenna*

      Probably too late, but: make sure you’ve closed any shared files? Probably depends on how your system works, ours is on a shared network so if I have an Excel file open that’s not in read-only then nobody else can edit it.

      1. Drtheliz*

        I had left, but shutting down the PC closes all files as far as the servers are concerned :)

  7. Llama Wrangler*

    Covid re-opening question: How is your company thinking about equity in terms of plans to provide essential services?

    We have a situation where senior staff are taking more cautious approaches then some lower level staff, who seem more interested/willing to be on site. We also don’t want to have more people on site than strictly necessary to reduce risk for everyone. However, we also want to ensure that we’re not asking the lower level staff to take on all the burden of risk by being on site (most would commute on public transit, not in personal vehicles).

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Most of the essential services that require people to periodically be on site are held by lower and mid level employees, but there’s been some talk of asking senior staff to occasionally pitch in too. I’m kind of torn on it, because it doesn’t make sense to pay a higher salary employee to do junior work, but I also think there’s some value in the gesture of doing it occasionally.

      We use a sign up calendar to ensure there aren’t too many people in the office at once.

    2. Alex*

      Many of the lower level staff may actually want to be on site because they don’t have access to a decent and comfortable work from home set up (or even space for one to be located) while most more senior staff do have such a set up. While it doesn’t look goof to expect some staff to be on site due to seniority it may make sense to allow those who want to be on site because they are struggling more with working from home to be on site more often, both because such people may well be happier to be on site as well as because it is likely to boost overall productivity.

    3. Hillary*

      I work for a manufacturer where factory/dc are often attached to offices.

      I think it’s necessary to lead from the front right now. Our senior staff are in the office more than everyone else. They’re taking weeks on the supervisor rotations for roles that can’t be done from home (lower level staff are also rotating everywhere possible). Senior staff are also making themselves very visible in terms of presence and following safety protocols since people whose jobs can’t become remotely may resent that others aren’t physically present.

      We’re also following conservative reopening plans. If you don’t need to go to work, you can’t.

    4. atthebeachmom*

      So I’m in a different situation. I’m an essential worker in administration at our site. We have done well here until just this week. Previously, one of our sister sites was plagued by a ton of call outs from their milieu staff while ours were all showing up. The difference? All of our admins, teachers and clinicians were coming in and working. At the other site, all of the admins, clinicians and teachers were working from home. So the staff in the programs responded differently. The others were all told they needed to come in as well.

      We had some issues with staffing earlier this week so I worked all day on Monday and then did the overnight, leaving midday Tuesday. It made a difference to the staff to see that I was willing to stay and work the floor with them.

      Yesterday we found out that all of the residents from one of our cottages tested positive. So now we’re all getting tested on site next week. Thank goodness the cottage with the positive clients does not mix with the other two cottages. We’re hoping for no further positive tests.

    5. Going Back to Work*

      Our work place is aiming for maximum 50% capacity. We were encouraged to continue working remotely unless the type of work requires us to be in the office (e.g. receiving mail, dealing with actual paper or specific equipment, etc.) or we need to be in the office for personal reasons (e.g. no designated workspace at home, no required equipment, etc.). Once those people have been identified and depending on numbers, then they’ll start considering those of us who want to be in the office. We’re also encouraged to think about going in part time versus full time to allow people to alternate.

      I’ll probably keep working remotely, and if I’m told I need to go in for whatever reason, I’ll likely limit it to 2 times a week because I love not having to commute.

    6. Annony*

      Talk to your employees. Lower level staff may prefer to work on site because of poor work from home conditions. I moved during the pandemic, but before we moved I had no private area to work and three other adults sharing the space who were furloughed. If they can’t easily work from home they will not be happy to share their tasks with higher level staff and therefore have to work from home more. On the other hand they may prefer to lower their risk. Find out what they actually want. It is good that you want to reduce their risk, but make sure that they have a voice in that decision.

  8. An exhausted manager*

    This week’s drama: Fred called Robin “Stompy” as a nickname (I’ll admit that she does frequently walk fast and loudly) in an IM that was meant for someone else, but Fred inadvertently sent it to Robin instead and she burst into tears, refused to let him apologize, and left for the day for a “family emergency” and has called out “unwell” for the past 2 days.

    Fun fact for regular readers of AAM: Robin is the “ringleader” from the “contagious” staff thread recently.

    I can’t even.

    1. An exhausted manager*

      Robin is scheduled for vacation next week and my plan is to proceed as though she’s coming back after that and wait and see – ? I’m debating about whether or not to reach out to her as a nice check-in (not prying). Reach out? Leave her be?

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Leave her be. Let her use her time and if you’re lucky, she’ll come back refreshed and with a new perspective. Unlikely, but you never know. Also, do you work with high school students? These people need to start acting like adults. Calling each other snarky names (even in IM), refusing apologies, and taking off multiple days to be offended about this is all over the top and unprofessional.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Just to note: checking in on her at this point is just feeding into her idea that taking days off to be offended by this is valid. Assume she’s actually taking time off because she’s sick and hold onto that.

          1. Cary*

            It just occurred to me: Maybe the reason she got so upset is because she was coming down with something.

      2. Idril Celebrindal*

        So, is Fred in the group that didn’t go to dinner? I’m wondering if you’ve got some simmering resentment going on.

        Sounds like Robin is a disaster currently happening for your workplace. I would say definitely don’t reach out, it sounds very much like she is doing the pointed-loud-sighing-until-someone-asks-what’s-wrong(TM) thing, and asking how she’s doing is exactly what she is trying to manipulate you into doing. This kind of behavior is really concerning, and I suspect you will find the whole atmosphere of your office will feel like night and day while she’s gone. On behalf of all your other employees, I suspect Robin needs to be let go.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I missed the “contagious” thread. Going to look but I probably wont be the first to ask for a link so if anyone finds it and is so inclined, please link.

    3. NotAPirate*

      Where on earth do you work? Doesn’t everyone know by now that IT/HR can review chat logs? Never use it unprofessionally or in a way you wouldn’t want to explain to your boss. Good grief. Who bullies with names like that even??? Especially in work IM where it might be seen over someone’s shoulder even if he had the right recipient.

      1. pancakes*

        I wouldn’t characterize calling someone “stompy” one time as bullying. It’s not flattering, obviously, but depending on tone and context it could be closer to gentle teasing than bullying. The disproportionate response from Robin makes me wonder whether there’s a history or larger conflict between Robin and Fred, though.

        1. blaise zamboni*

          I feel like for something to qualify as “gentle teasing”, it should be directed towards the subject of the teasing (on purpose, not accidentally with disastrous results like in this case). Talking shit behind a coworker’s back really doesn’t read as “teasing” to me.

          It’s still a disproportionate response from Robin, who sounds less-than-awesome in both of these stories. But, this is the working world. We’re all adults and know better than to disparage each other for our corporeal traits…right? Right?? especially towards our colleagues, at work, on work channels???

        2. Observer*

          This wasn’t “gentle teasing”. For one thing it was behind her back. For another, “gentle teasing” is only possible with people you have a good relationship with and generally does not result in tears.

          Which is to say that yes, Robin is definitely over-reacting. But Fred is definitely misbehaving, even if he isn’t bullying her.

    4. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Hmm. So it sounds as if you have one system that is sending bad messages, and another that responds to these bad messages by going into an unrecoverable state.

      Obviously, putting a stop to the bad messages has to be the first priority here, to get the immediate issue under control (and to let you get the second system back online). That said, the vendor on the second system really needs to make it more resilient in these scenarios. It should be raising an exception to draw the problem to your attention, not going offline for days!

      It sounds like you’re having other problems with the vendor on the second system, which doesn’t much surprise me. Maybe you can replace both systems with open-source solutions?

      (I don’t have any actual advice to offer; all I’ve got is sympathy and bad IT jokes. But both are yours, for what it’s worth.)

    5. CastIrony*

      I did that once, but over running out of food. I called in sick that next day so I could see a doctor and get some meds for my mental health.

      I hope Robin feels better!

    6. Observer*

      I agree that checking in on Robin just feeds the over-reaction.

      On the other hand, you DO need to have a chat with Fred. The fact that Robin sometimes walks fast and loudly does not REMOTELY make it ok to make snarky comments about it. And name calling, which this is, is NOT ok in the office.

      Don’t let Fred sidetrack this with a discussion of how Robin walks – it’s not relevant and anything he says about it just makes hie behavior worse. Also, don’t let him side track it with a discussion of how she’s over-reacting. It’s true that she’s over-reacting, but that doesn’t make it ok for him to poke her and it doesn’t make it ok to make fun of her. Also, “I wasn’t planning to send it to her” is not an excuse. For one thing, these mistakes are common enough that he should not be putting anything like that in a system he uses to communicate with her. More important is the fact that he shouldn’t be engaged in this kind of name calling behind her back either. This needs to stop.

    7. Anono-me*

      There are lots of good points being made. I especially thought Observer made sense.

      A couple of things you might want to consider

      1. Is this the first time Fred has called Robin a name or otherwise implied that she is heavy? If this a pattern of rude behavior, it needs to be dealt with more aggressively that a one day judgment malfunction.

      2. Is Robin uncomfortable with or sensitive about her weight? Stompy implies the heft to take loud forceful steps. Being called Stomly could be taken as being called ungraceful, noisy and fat. If you think that Robin may have taken it that way, it is something to consider for context.

      Good luck with everything.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      What is she going to do when a difficult situation comes along?

      At some point people need to stop finding reasons to LEAVE work and start finding reasons to STAY at work.

      1. Idril Celebrindal*

        Based on the previous situation: be selfish, get defensive, blame-shift, lash out, and have FEEEELINGS all over the place to try to get everyone to coddle her and give in to her desires.

      2. Cassidy*

        By that same token, employees need to stop commenting on every move their coworkers make. So she walks heavily. So the freak what? What happened to going to work, to work??

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Out of curiosity, it’s been 2 weeks has anyone gotten sick from that group?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        and given how many asymptomatic carriers there are, did anybody get a test even without symptoms?

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Is there a group or resource for people with ADHD at work? What strategies have you guys done to make deadlines?

    I’ve tried lists and planners but I always forget some aspect of my job or procrastinate. ( Today is the last day of the month and I still don’t have my monthlies in)

    How do you keep from doing nothing when you’re overwhelmed?

    1. Emilitron*

      I don’t know how not to procrastinate, but I have definitely learned how to harness the burst of energy and productiveness that comes from a looming deadline. If I’ve got a task I don’t like, I can alternate working on that task with “that deadline is looming so you can’t slack off on the internet – but here take a break and do these other useful low-hanging-fruit tasks”. I love the “in the zone” feeling when that major project takes over my brain and I work for 3 hours straight, but I know I can’t get there except when it’s truly necessary. In general, I alternate my way down the to-do list between things that are difficult and things that are easy.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I wish I could work for three hours straight! The most I get is an hour of focus

    2. GigglyPuff*

      I’ve been bad the last few years, and am about to talk to my doctor again about going back on some medication. But at least for reoccurring things or new things, I set up automatic reminders. For my timesheet, I get a reminder every Friday morning. Or, so for monthly reports, I set it up so Outlook reminds me on the last Friday of the month, which is sometimes the last day of the month, but usually gives me a few days to get it done, and I make sure to never dismiss the message until I do it, even if I snooze it for a day or two. Or I just got assigned a completely different type of project, previously overseen by someone who is leaving. I’ve already set up a few reminders in my calendar to do routine things that need to be done weekly. I still procrastinate horribly on other things, but routine things, I got down.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I sometimes forget to set reminders so I end up say… double booked for Weds.

    3. Corporate Goth*

      For procrastination and being overwhelmed, I use a timer. I can handle just about any small task, broken down, for five minutes. Then a five minute break. Eventually, I realize I’m making progress on the bigger task and keep flipping the timer without a mini-reward – or at least the rewards are short. I usually know when I’ve hit the point of no rewards when I start instant messaging people telling them what I’m doing, because I’m really thinking out loud and seeking input on the topic at hand. Znewtech makes a digital, hexagon-shaped flipping timer with different time increments. It’s so useful I bought a second one.

    4. Squirrel!*

      There are many ADHD groups on Facebook, if you do Facebook. I recently joined one for women attorneys with ADHD (Squirrel Law Support) and there are a couple I am in related to my love of true crime (Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Distracted). So, poke around on Facebook and see what you find.

    5. blepkitty*

      Additude Magazine (I don’t wanna get stuck in moderation but you can google it) has articles on various topics, including handling adhd in the workplace.

      That said, I’ll be monitoring the replies to this thread because I’m also in need of resources. :)

    6. Collette*

      I have a number of strategies for when I’m feeling overwhelmed at work, which is pretty much daily.

      First of all, I keep a running list of what is due when so that nothing takes me by surprise.

      Second, in my bullet journal, I have broken down each major project into its smallest components so that I can just take on one thing at a time.

      Third, when writing my daily to do list in my bullet journal, I write the specific items and actions I need to complete in order to have put in a full day. So instead of my bullet journal entry being “Monday, August 2, work on project XYZ,” it has entries like “outline module X,” “write description for Y,” “read all source documentation for Z.”

      One of the things we struggle with is equating working on a task to completing that entire task in one sitting, so for me it makes sense to decrease the size of the tasks to what is manageable. Good luck!

  10. ampersand*

    I need advice! I think I’m about to be offered a job that I’m excited about, and I’m concerned I messed up during the interview re: salary. Interviewer asked if the posted salary was okay, I wasn’t prepared for that question (I know, I know…I’m kicking myself for that), I said yes, and the truth is I’d like to negotiate for about two percent more.

    If I’m offered the position and say, “I gave it more thought and would like to make X,” does that seem like it would be okay? Or no?

    1. londonedit*

      I think it’s fine. I might tweak it slightly to say something like ‘I’ve reviewed the salary on offer and I was wondering whether there would be any room for movement on that – in an ideal world, I’d be looking for a salary of X’, but I don’t think it’s a problem to ask. You never know!

    2. ThatGirl*

      An initial talk doesn’t lock you in, though I’d frame it more simply: “after considering the offer, I was hoping we could go up to X” – and leave it there. Don’t overexplain or justify. 2% more is not a huge amount and if they have zero wiggle room, they’ll tell you.

    3. BRR*

      I would either tweak the first part slightly to “After learning more about the role” or if you haven’t learned anything about the benefits, I feel like that is a good opening to negotiate for a higher salary.

      1. ampersand*

        Great–thank you all for the feedback! I’ll use a combo of this wording, assuming I get an offer. And note to self for next time to be a bit more prepared; I realized too late I should have said I needed to learn more about the position before being able to comment on salary.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think if it’s only 2% then saying yes in the moment wasn’t wrong, though. If you were asking for 50% or something then it would be clear their initial offer was unacceptable, but 2% means you heard a broadly acceptable number and thought you were in the same ballpark.

          Good luck with your negotiations.

      2. Indy Dem*

        Exactly. Something akin to “After reviewing your offer, including salary and benefits, and learning more about the role, I’d be ideally looking for X salary.

    4. Cassidy*

      It seems that when you’re offered a job, it’s at that time you try to negotiate salary.

  11. Super Anon for This*

    So my company did a lot of layoffs over the last couple of days. A lot of my friends were laid off, and my direct report was as well. It’s been a really rough week. The company is being really, really generous with severance packages and will be paying non-worked time through the end of the fiscal year, but I’m having a really hard time with it. I was able to keep my position when most at my level were either laid off or demoted, and I’m feeling some major survivor’s guilt. I feel terrible for my friends but also super thankful that I’ve still got a job. I’ve already made calls to help my report get a new position and he has some promising interviews coming up. I’m keeping an eye out for new jobs for my friends and checking in on them as well. Does anyone have advice for anything else I can do to help support them? Anyone gone through something similar and have tips for dealing with the survivor’s guilt?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      My one thought on survivor’s guilt – there’s a chance that they feel bad for you! By your account they got a very generous severance package, and are now essentially getting paid to job search full time. You, however, might now have to manage the same (or higher!) workload without the same number of people to support you, so your job potentially just got a lot harder. Plus, major layoffs may not be enough to save the company, so you might need/want to job search too, except you have to still work your job at the same time.

      I certainly don’t want your job/life to be harder, and I’m hopefully wrong and everything goes great for you! But getting laid off isn’t always the most awful thing in the world, so it’s good to keep that in mind.

      1. Super Anon for This*

        This is true! I do have a high workload and it’s unclear how much harder it’s going to get with the new team.

        Fair point about layoffs not being enough to save the company, but there’s no danger of my company shutting down, in spite of the layoffs, so that’s one load off my mind.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I think what you’re already doing is thoughtful and kind. The whole situation sucks, but you’re still looking out for your direct report to ensure he lands a new position, so I would just keep doing that. Anytime you hear of something you think he’d be a fit for, send him the information and if you know anyone at the company, reach out and talk him up a bit. Do the same for your friends.

      1. Super Anon for This*

        Thank you–it’s been really tough. And I definitely will do all of that!

    3. Indy Dem*

      I’m a big believer in challenging one’s own irrational thoughts. So, survivor’s guilt – is it rational thinking? Should you feel worse because you weren’t laid off? Do your feelings of guilt negatively affect how you would interact with your friends and direct report that were laid off? I’m not saying either way, just setting out a framework for you to think about. I will also suggest – we as humans are able to both feel relief that we haven’t been negatively affected by something at the same time feeling upset that others have. It’s okay to have these feelings, as long as they don’t lead to poor decision making.

      But, please give yourself credit for the things that you are doing for your direct report. Also, I’d just send an email/text or call the friends to let them know you are thinking about them, and open to maintaining the friendship.

    4. BethDH*

      My husband was one of three not laid off in a similar situation and we kind of wish we got the severance (he would have gotten almost 6 months of full pay, he’s in a field that hasn’t tanked, and we’re both trying to work full time from home with little kids and no local family). So for some of them it may be a relief.
      As for what to do, I think for your direct report especially be really specific about how you personally can help — recommendations, leads, etc. even helping brainstorm how to list accomplishments on the resume from their work with you.

  12. Alana Smithee*

    My department has two administrative assistants who support several employees, although they both report to a single senior level employee. I’m low in the department hierarchy, and due to bad experiences with her predecessor, I rarely ask the admin who supports me, “Ann,” to do something if it’s something I can do myself. However one thing I cannot do myself is process invoices, so if I am sent a bill for a vendor I send it to Ann for processing and payment through the company’s AP system.

    In May I received an invoice via email. I immediately forwarded it to Ann with a request that she put it through the payment process, and then promptly put it out of my mind. In the beginning of July I received an overdue notice from the vendor. Our AP department is known for not being the most efficient so I assumed it was close to being paid, and forwarded the overdue notice to Ann asking her where it was in the process. I got another message a week later and forwarded it again, asking her to check up on the process. She replied with a screenshot that showed a document date of two days after I had forwarded the overdue notice. When I asked what that meant she said it was when the AP put the invoice in the system, not when it was sent in. She also said that they were good about paying within 30 days.

    I responded asking when she sent it to them because being paid within 30 days doesn’t mean much if they wait 30 days to enter it in the system, and asked her to tell me when she sent it in so I can follow up with AP. She did not respond. Although she did not say it, at this point it’s likely that Ann just didn’t start the processing of this invoice until after I sent her the overdue notice. Now I have the vendor emailing me demanding to know when their extremely overdue invoice will get paid. How do I address this with Ann? Do I forward it to her supervisor? Her mistake (and I am assuming it’s a mistake and not anything malicious) is costing the company money and adding to my already overloaded plate. We’re all working remotely right now so I don’t have a chance to discuss this in person.

    1. No Longer Working*

      It’s been submitted to AP, so I would say the customer looking for payment should be contacting them at this point. (I once worked inAP).

      This bypasses all drama with Ann as well. It’s out of her hands anyway.

    2. BlackCatOwner*

      Yes, escalate to her supervisor or the AP Supervisor. If the invoice is over due, payment needs to be expedited. It’s possible Ann doesn’t have that authority so keep going up the chain until you find the person who can say “We need to print this check on the next check run.” or if you can do ACH or Credit Card payment, “this needs to be done today.”

      Note, depending on your office, that may require someone be physically present, so I know my AP department is only printing checks once a week, no matter how urgent the payment is, because we have a strict schedule of who goes into the office to print checks as part of social distancing measures. But they can do ACH and credit cards payments any day of the week.

      I’d focus more on “this invoice is overdue and needs to paid” rather than “This invoice is overdue because of…”

      To the vendor, as long as you confirm you’re taking it seriously, there’s not a lot more you can do. I work in AR and I definitely feel more reassured when people reply and say “I’m working on this and I’m escalating this” but there’s still a limit to how long that works before we cut off the account.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 Focus on getting the invoice paid, not why it’s late. Everyone’s processes are off right now.

    3. That'll happen*

      Has this ever happened before with an invoice? I would give Ann a call since you can’t meet in person. Ask her what happened with the first email – it’s possible she never received it or it just got lost. Work together to figure out a more effective method of submitting invoices – I’d be reaching out to her for confirmation that she’s received the invoice and put it in the AP system in maybe a week or so. Once you hash out these details, send an email summarizing the call and describing the new workflow for invoices.

      I’d give Ann the benefit of the doubt no matter what. If this has never happened before, chalk it up to a mistake. If this has happened before, then the method you’re using isn’t working and you can work together to tweak it. If you approach this as a collaboration instead of a fight, I think you have a much better chance of being successful.

    4. BRR*

      I would treat it as “something went wrong in the process” instead of “Ann made a mistake” and then bring it up to whoever you need to bring it up to. I’m assuming by “cost the company money” it was because there was a late payment fee and every employer I’ve worked for would want to know about this.

      The exception to this would be if Ann has a pattern of making mistakes. Then I would address it with your supervisor or her supervisor depending on what would be appropriate with your structure.

    5. Blue Eagle*

      Whoa, calm down. Sorry to hear that you have so much on your plate but – you emailed the invoice to Ann and never followed up with her and everything is her fault and you are not responsible for anything? And then your follow up is just another email that you didn’t followup on when you got no response? Even if you can’t meet in person, have you ever heard of something called a telephone where you can talk directly to her.
      It sounds to me like you dropped the ball on any follow-up and now are trying to blame someone else and don’t want to take any responsibility for resolving the situation.
      If I were in your shoes, I would call AP directly and ask them the status of the invoice. Then let them know that it slipped through the cracks and the vendor would like payment expedited if possible. I would be polite and not demanding. I would NOT escalate to Ann’s manager, but I WOULD take some responsibility myself rather than saying “this is adding to my overloaded plate”. Maybe talk to your manager about ideas on how to deal in the future with a situation where an invoice slips through the cracks or how to avoid it from slipping to start with (like maybe you should follow up after a week rather than waiting 2 months for the overdue notice).
      But with COVID, everyone is stressed (including Ann), and everyone has too much work on their plate. So please slow down, calm down and think about how you would like the situation to be handled if you were the one to make the mistake. Wishing you serenity and good luck in your efforts to get the invoice processed through AP promptly.

      1. JeanB in NC*

        Why would OP need to follow up with Ann? The invoice processing is done by Ann. As someone who’s done A/P a lot (like, a lot!) if I got a follow up call from everyone who sent me an invoice I’d never get anything entered!

        1. Stripy*

          Yeah, I don’t quite track with the whole sending a follow up email to the person who’s job it is to do the job just in case they don’t actually do their job….

    6. RagingADHD*

      Just take it up with AP.

      They don’t want to pay late fees either. If it’s a pattern with Ann, let them be the ones to get on her case about it.

    7. Alana Smithee*

      Thank you everyone for your responses. I’ve contacted AP directly to ensure that the vendor is paid asap as you are correct in that that is the most important thing. I will also work with Ann to clarify the invoice submittal process, because, as it’s been rightly pointed out, this is also on me for not following up initially. Unless similar things happen in the future (and hopefully clarification of processes will prevent that) I don’t plan on bringing it up to her supervisor.

      I wish everyone a relaxing weekend.

    8. Observer*

      What exactly do you want to address with Ann? And why are you focusing on that rather than the vendor?

      Step one is getting the vendor paid, so call or email AP and find out what the status of the invoice is. Tell them that the invoice when the invoice actually came in, and ask them to expedite it because the vendor really doesn’t care what happened to your internal processes.

      Once you have that straightened out, you can ask them when they got the invoice – not in accusatory way, but that you are trying to track down what happened.

  13. Sunflower*

    Does anyone else work at a company that everyone LOVES and you just don’t get it?

    I work for a big consulting company. Our employees are constantly boasting that we have an amazing, innovative workplace with amazing people. Our HR dept seems to really care about retaining people. We have decent perks and pay a little less than competitors- but people stay because of the culture.

    I just don’t feel it. Oddly enough, I’m having a really hard time making connections with people here and the connections were the main reason I took this job. It’s due to a few reasons but one of the big ones being think I’m just not a fit and I can’t get behind the company’s mission.

    My last job- most people ran out the door and never looked back. I…miss it. I don’t think I’d ever return but it makes me feel even more disconnected that everyone LOVES working here and I just don’t get it. If I had my current job with the tasks and perks and had the people at my last job, I’d be happy as a clam. The love for this place just makes me feel even crazier that I feel so unhappy here.

    1. Ashely*

      Yes! I used to but at some point I stopped drinking the kool-aid and realized how much of my office is not normal. (Alision has really helped.) Now my partner gets loads of stories about the absurdity of all these loyal company employees who think it is the best place ever. And for them it is because no where else would let them get away with some of the stupid.

      1. Cassidy*

        >And for them it is because no where else would let them get away with some of the stupid.

        Yep. In a nutshell.

    2. many bells down*

      I may have overreacted to an incident this week. One of my jobs is organizing our digital files. I spent several hours organizing just one part of our database, with appropriate subfolders by categories and years, and for the SECOND TIME someone in my org who doesn’t really understand Sharepoint deleted everything off “their computer.”

      I can restore it, sure, but I have to comb through like 400 deleted files to figure out which ones I need and which I don’t. The person in question thought they were just deleting duplicates, and some of them ARE duplicates.

      Anyway I sent my boss some messages about it in a towering rage/frustration over all my work getting deleted, and Boss spoke to the person, who sent me an apology. But I feel silly now and I’m afraid that person will be scared to ask me for things.

      1. Katrinka*

        You can share without editing/deleting privileges, can’t you? That’s what I’d do, then give editing privileges only if asked.

      2. Alice*

        I think it would be good to tell them you accept the apology and explain how you’re going to change permissions and articulate who has responsibility to get rid of duplicates, so that accidents like this don’t happen again. And then tell the person — really, I do want you to ask me for things when you need them — we’re colleagues.
        Also, bigger picture, since this is happening more than once, I think there’s a bigger issue that the colleague. That’s why the permissions that many bells mentioned are important.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        Solidarity fist bump. I’ve been there, too.
        I’ll agree that accepting their apology, explaining a little of what’s going on, and drilling down permissions are great. AND I’ll add that your anger is totally justified. That’s a lot of work to clean up an “Oops.”

      4. many bells down*

        So, it actually looks like something may be wrong with our Sharepoint. I’m seeing notifications that I’ve spent the last 3 hours moving and deleting the same folder. Which has not actually been deleted, and also I was in meetings and not deleting folders. Or trying to.

        I’m wondering if there’s a sync issue because we’re each logged into multiple devices in different places since we’re working from home but we’re all still logged in at the office too.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      My friend moved to a city with a great reputation for a job at an org with a great reputation. Neither lives up to the hype. Friend is shocked and wants to ask everyone if they have ever lived, worked, or traveled anywhere else, ever. We talk about it all the time, its such a strange dissonance for my friend.

      I have no advice, just I can see how strange it is.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Does anyone else work at a company that everyone LOVES and you just don’t get it?

      Our employees are constantly boasting that we have an amazing, innovative workplace with amazing people.

      This tracks with my experience.

      The one cult-like workplace I worked in had employees bragging constantly about how amazing and innovative it was, even though it was by far the worst place I’d ever worked. The best places I’ve worked have had great work environments and good perks… and nobody feels the need to brag about those things.

    5. Anonymoose Esquire*

      I’m kinda in the same boat here. I’m at a firm that has a great reputation and everyone in the firm seems to love the place. But I find it incredibly dysfunctional and have been contemplating leaving (even without a job lined up) because this job has been giving me weekly stress breakdowns. Of course, this is also a place with a big turnover rate so everyone who doesn’t love the place has already left….

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        That was me two months ago. I’m unemployed, and stressed about money, but I’m having 1-2 panic attacks per month, not per week.

        As of right now, it has been worth it.

    6. FormerTVGirl*

      Quick question: How long have you worked at New Company? I was kind of in a position like yours — when I joined New Company, everyone talked about how great all the employees were, how generous leadership was, how amazing HR is. I … yearned for my last (disfunctional) workplace. But! After about a year and a half, things really changed a lot. I don’t know exactly why or how, but now I’m really happy. It might be a matter of time?

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

      I worked for one of the Big Ones in IT, and the experience was a nightmare. They have an excellent PR and social media departments, because the reality is so grim ex employees consider themselves as “survivors”. I lost touch with all my former coworkers once I left.

    8. A Simple Narwhal*

      I used to work at a company similar to that, and it can be a lonely feeling. To me, the job was just a job, and for others it was a way of life. I wanted to do my job well and go home, others wanted to spend all their free time devoted to it, whether it was meeting up after hours with coworkers in private to discuss project ideas, constantly reading industry publications for fun on your commute, or watching lectures and trainings on evenings and weekends. There’s nothing wrong with doing all that, it was just really hard to put in a 50-60 hour week and then go do more work stuff in what little free time I had. Plus, all those extracurriculars started as optional ways to get ahead, but then morphed into a full-blown expectation of the bare minimum effort to keep your job, and I had signed up for a job, not a lifestyle.

      I’m honestly much happier working with like-minded people in this regard – we all want to do a good job, but we also want to go home and live our lives and pretend work doesn’t exist in the evenings and weekends. If the culture is supposed to a benefit that makes up for lower pay and the culture isn’t benefiting you, you may want to consider looking into a job with one the competitors.

      So yea, you’re not nuts! Not feeling connected to a place where the connections are a big deal is a good enough reason to look elsewhere. If you felt like you needed someone’s permission to leave, you have this internet stranger’s blessing.

    9. LDF*

      People love drinking the koolaid. My company has been on a lot of best-of lists and it’s like, fine overall but lots of people act like everything they do is amazing. I remember around election day they published guidelines for how to organize taking time off to vote in our various offices and people were like “wow they care so much about democracy” and like, it was literally just the legal state minimum for every city with an office. Somehow the fact that different offices got different amounts of time didn’t register with people as a notable fact. Company is amazing ergo everything they do is amazing, they do amazing things ergo they’re an amazing company. Weird cycle.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        I’m always so wary of “best-of” lists – they’re usually a lotttt less objective than you might think. They’re typically handed out based on who applied and had time to write a fluffy entry about why they thought they deserved an award.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I think a lot of people just desperately want to be “believers” whether is is a job, religion or other movement.
        It’s a deep human need to want to belong, at least for most people.

        I’m an introverted square peg! Never been a believer or a follower and give anything that smacks of the all-in mentality a huge side-eye. Myers-Briggs says of my type (INTJ) that we can be both the most positive dreamers and the bitterest pessimists at the same time. Like, YUP!

    10. ampersand*

      I’ve had a similar experience: I left job A for job B, and while job B paid better and was so much better on paper, I missed job A–it was also the type of place people ran from. I ended up going back to it several years later (and was glad I did). I never missed job B.

      Not being able to get behind the mission sounds like a big part of the disconnect. That would be a deal breaker for me. I can see how it’s crazy making to have everyone else love it when you don’t, but there’s nothing wrong with you for not loving (or even liking) it.

    11. Teach*

      I’ve had the opposite experience lol- I’m a teacher, and five years ago I got my absolute dream job- the pay was absolute garbage, but I had 100% freedom when it came to curriculum, lessons, everything; class sizes of like 8-12 kids, I WROTE MY OWN BUDGET… it was a magical unicorn school. Our principal was wonderful- had his flaws as does everyone, but he was the reason the school was able to run the way that it did. But somehow I was THE ONLY PERSON to feel that way; everyone else complained nonstop about him and the way the school was run. I wanted to shake them and force them to teach literally anywhere else for awhile lol.

      Anyway, the principal was forced out and we had a succession of replacements, the current one who is running the school into the ground so badly I left mid-year just so I could work anywhere else. It’s been devastating to watch.

    12. Workerbee*

      Yes. This is my current situation. There’s a lot of vocal expressions of gratitude for being so lucky to be working at such a place. So much so that leadership brought everyone back to the office in the middle of May and doesn’t require masks.

      In reality, I see magnitudes of time wasted in long meetings, people lauded for being great idea people without anyone realizing that their ideas are either never done or would involve great effort for low impact, and a lot of shifting accountability and blame. You can show someone an email they wrote stating to do X and they’ll still tell you and everyone else that you should have done something else.

      There are a couple good people here who are more like me, and want to get stuff done, deliver a good product, and respect our clients’ time. I don’t know why the others are here, except maybe to hold down a cushy job.

      Not to be all bitter! :) I’ll get something else one day.

    13. Seal*

      My first job out of college was as a staff member at a large academic library. While I liked the work, the place was beyond dysfunctional and the culture was horrific at best. The leadership was non-existant, librarians were encouraged to bully staff members on a daily basis, and everyone had to work around policies and procedures that were at least 20 years out of date. When I finally went to library school, I was STUNNED to learn that this awful place was widely considered to be one of the most innovative, forward-thinking academic libraries in the country. It was not uncommon to see it referred to as such in textbooks and assigned readings. In fact, one to the textbooks used was written by an administrator who was considered to be all but useless. All these years later, I still can’t wrap my mind around it. Granted, having that institution’s name on my CV helped me get my first professional position, but have made a point to distance myself from them ever since. I saw how the sausage was made there and it wasn’t pretty.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, I went to a library school that was similar. People were always singing it’s praises (which makes me wonder if its the same place) and man, it was a mess. Super duper huge mess.

        1. Seal*

          To clarify, the academic library I worked in as a staff member was awful, but apparently widely regarded as innovative. The library school I attended was great!

    14. Accountant, etc*

      I had this experience when I worked for a young company that had several young employees.
      They would have happy hours almost every single Friday and the big boss would cover drinks.
      So great for them, but not so great for me because I’m not a drinker and I don’t want to spend Friday evening with my coworkers. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the culture just wasn’t for me, even though all my coworkers loved the place so much they literally wrote a quote book about it.

    15. JessicaTate*

      I used to. It was a large non-profit with an extremely prestigious reputation, etc. Before I signed on, I heard lots of boasting from people on staff about how great it was, how people stayed forever, particularly how generous the benefits package was, etc.

      I hated everything about that place. The rules were rigid and micro-managey (as in, salaried employees had to use PTO if they worked less than set hours, even a little); the organizational culture was 100% cover-your-a** and pass the blame; bosses were inept; certain people (old white academics) were coddled, while others were treated terribly. And when I analyzed their benefits, they were decidedly not great. Other than a generous retirement contribution for people over 50, the health insurance was expensive (I paid less to get individual insurance directly), the PTO for new staff was minimal (given that it was pooled vacation and sick, which is awful).

      I side-eye everything about that place now.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      Yes. Sometimes you simply are not a good fit for the company culture.

      My current company is very large and very siloed, with a pretty strict hierarchy because it’s a Japanese company.
      The company has lots of strict processes and procedures and rules you cannot get around, even though some are so ridiculous and excessive. A lot of people are perfectly fine with that, only doing EXACTLY what they were hired to do and no more.

      I came up in my career from smaller, flatter companies where you wear a lot of hats and get involved in everything, and where I often had a lot of authority to manage my own budget and make my own decisions. I am not a fit! And it is so, so frustrating. I often feel like I am blocked or prevented from doing my job when I could do so much more!

    17. Chaordic One*

      That was certainly my experience at a nonprofit educational institution. I think that the school’s mission was basically sound and that it provided a good education for the majority of students who took courses there. It did bother me when the school started putting out rather misleading marketing materials that portrayed the school in an unrealistic and positive light in an attempt to lure in students who would otherwise not consider the kinds of experiences the school was offering. But the enrollment figures were up, even if the student satisfaction scores were down.

      Most of the happier employees (and all of the members of the higher levels of administration) were alumni, although there were a fair number of alumni employees who were not especially happy. There was a lot of insiders club stuff going on among the alumni employees. There weren’t really good ways to measure work performance or productivity in the first place. Management was willfully ignorant of the cumulative effect that numerous small changes had on specific jobs and that made the jobs more difficult and challenging over time and they seemed unwilling to let anyone take anything off of their plates until after that person quit.

      Otherwise, it was like any run of the mill dysfunctional office where people got ahead based on their personal relationships with the people who could promote them, instead of on actual work performance. And if you had a “good relationship” with those people, you could offload certain job tasks to someone else. Allison has written so well about that.

  14. blepkitty*

    Hi! Two questions:

    If I apply to a position within my company but in an entirely different area than I’m currently in now, are they likely to bring it up with my current manager without asking me? There’s one in a field I would consider moving into, and there’s a lot of appeal in staying with my company. But I don’t want my bosses to know I’m job hunting.

    Secondly, any thoughts on if it’s a good idea to inform my references from prior positions about an ADHD diagnosis? I’m starting to look like a job hopper, and this would help explain why my current role doesn’t work for me beyond whining about my boss’s micromanaging and perpetual strange trainings. But I wouldn’t necessarily want them to bring it up in reference calls. (I know job hopping is bad, but this boss is terrible for my mental health. My attempts to address my issues with her have gotten me nowhere.)

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I think it is likely they will talk to your current supervisor. Can you talk to the hiring manager of the other department to say you are happy with your job and are not looking but saw the posting and just could not resist throwing your hat in the riing for this position because it fits so well with your long term goals (or reasons that make sense for you). And would it be possible to hold off speaking to your supervisor so they did not get the idea you are searching bc you are not. Or say the same thing to your supervisor.

      I think I would talk to your references to give them a heads up but if you share the diagnosis, I’d do it in a, “I figured this out and now I am managing it well” way. And let them know how much you appreciate their reference.

    2. Katrinka*

      You can check with HR as to what their usual process is, but you really won’t have any control over what the other manager might say to your current manager. I tend to think of internal moves as different from external job searching in that just because you’re interested in this internal job, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you’re also looking externally. And that’s the line you can take with your current boss if asked. You are under no obligation to disclose that you are job searching.

      What explanation are you planning on giving when you are asked by HR or the other manager why you’re applying for the position? Obviously, you don’t want to complain about your current manager, so whatever you come up with should also work to tell your manager if asked.

    3. The Vulture*

      My experience with intra-company applications is they have some kind of requirement about informing your boss – at some point, maybe once you have an interview. It is not great for those with not-great bosses, although my (not-great) boss was the type to push people he didn’t like out, so when my (great) coworker had to tell him, he was totally, way too thrilled about it. And I recently to a position in my same department, and my (great) boss was totally supportive and kind. So it’s the kind of thing that is worse for those who don’t get along with the boss, but I understand it from a company standpoint – we’re all in this together, we want the best thing for the company, it doesn’t make sense for us to keep secrets from our high-ranking employees about what their employees are doing, but, it can definitely be awkward when you’re in a bad place. I think it can be worth talking to the other departments/people about, if you can’t talk to your boss.

      I don’t think you need to tell references – I just don’t think it’ll come up? Are references usually asked to explain someone else’s job-hopping? They should focus on telling the story of the great things you did working with/for them. If you are close and you want to, of course that’s fine, but I don’t think they are owed any explanation like that.

    4. Zombeyonce*

      For the first part, it depends on the company. You can ask them to keep it quiet until you’re ready to tell your boss yourself but some companies tell current managers as part of their process. You’ll want to find out so you can break the news to your manager yourself before they do when you apply. You can couch it in terms like, “I’ve really learned a lot from you but I saw this job opening and it’s where I want my career to go so I can’t pass it up. I’m sure you understand and I hope you’ll give me a good reference.” (What you learned from them may be that you never want to work for someone like them ever again, but they don’t need to know that.)

      As a fellow ADHD-haver, I wouldn’t tell them about your ADHD diagnosis. Not because it’s shameful or anything, but because it doesn’t actually benefit you in this case and may do the opposite and look like an excuse. Some people will hold it against you and, sadly, you never know who those people are until it’s too late. Whether or not you disclose to references that you have ADHD, don’t let them bring it up in reference calls. Don’t let future employers label you before they really get to know you.

      Instead, you can say that you have found that you’ve found your work style doesn’t align with your current boss’ and you’re looking for an environment that prizes [skill you have], wants [thing you’re really good at], and values [type of work style in which you excel]. If the diagnosis is new, which is sounds like it might be, I recommend doing some real soul searching and looking back at your work history to see what your skills and strengths really are so you can go into a new job at your best and succeed and stop job hopping. Finding a good counselor, if you don’t have one yet, that helps you get some good behavioral skills to work with can be invaluable, whether or not you use medication. Be ready to ask for accommodation you need from employers in terms of work environments and schedule.

      I know this all sounds pretty secretive but I’m not saying you should hide your diagnosis. God knows I don’t. But there’s something to be said about getting to know your coworkers and boss before telling them things about yourself that can color their perception of you. I established myself as a solid worker before I told anyone at my current job about my ADHD, and while I think they now understand me better, I also know that they were never given the opportunity to blame something on my ADHD in the beginning and I’d never want them to. For me, ADHD isn’t an excuse, it’s an explanation. I’m still responsible for everything I do and I intend to keep it that way.

      1. blepkitty*

        Thanks, this is really helpful!

        I’m curious about how you’ve asked for accommodations? Do you go to your supervisor first, or HR? I’m struggling with my bosses liking to drop involved tasks on me and expecting me to get them done either during the same day or by early the next day, which interferes with my usual preference to sleep on things (i.e. planning my approach to tasks usually involves introducing the idea to the pile of tasks in my head and waiting until enough ideas on how to do it have been spat back out to actually get started, so I work better if I have a few tasks I can switch back and forth on).

        It is indeed a new diagnosis, and I’m still trying to get on the proper medications (my therapist is convinced, but my psychiatrist unfortunately is not, and insists that she can’t prescribe me a stimulant via telemed anyway, so I probably need to find a new psychiatrist).

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Definitely go to your supervisor first. Tell they what kind of work style is best for you (this is something to cover during an interview, even, to make sure they’re the right fit). If it’s someone you’re already working with, first see if they’re willing to change how assignments are given to best fit your work style. If they are reluctant or hesitant, that’s when you can break out the word “accommodation”, which should let them know they’re stepping into more legal territory. You can disclose your diagnosis then if they’re still seeming hesitant. Only if they are still refusing to acknowledge that you need a different way of doing things should you escalate to HR.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      You need to review your HR policy about internal transfers. Many companies state in their employee handbooks that if you are a current employee seeking a transfer into another department/division, you have to be in good standing in your current position (meaning no negative reviews, write ups, tardiness issues, etc.), you have to get the permission of your current manager first, and you have had to be in your current role for at least a year (some companies say six months).

      Even if your company has no such restrictions regarding telling your current manager you’re interested in a transfer prior to you actually applying for the role, many hiring managers will reach out to your current boss for a reference check anyway, possibly without you knowing about it (I’ve seen this happen a couple of times).

      You might as well get out in front of it and control the message with your boss. Say what the poster above said about how you’re not looking externally at all since you enjoy the company, but when you saw the job posting, you realized that position was more in line with your career goals. If you have a good relationship with your current manager, and if she’s a reasonable person, she won’t hold that against you.

      1. blepkitty*

        Thanks. I don’t see an HR policy, so I’ll have to contact HR. We have a lot of employees hired to work primarily on specific contracts, so people moving from job to job within the company isn’t at all unusual.

    6. Zephy*

      You should check your employee handbook – there’s probably a procedure for transferring between departments, and it will probably involve getting your current manager’s approval at some point in the process (my company’s policy requires manager approval before I can even apply for an internal transfer).

      About disclosing your ADHD diagnosis to your references, I wouldn’t frame it like that, but it’s fine to say something like “I’m finding this role is really not a great fit for me, so I’m looking again,” in the context of asking people to be references like you would normally. Why it’s not a great fit isn’t really their business.

    7. Too old for this sh*t*

      Your boss is going to hear about it. This is juicy gossip-it will get passed on. Assume your boss will hear it in the worst way. Better they hear from you.

  15. Rayray*

    Started a new job this week! I was laid off on March from a job I hated and that made me miserable. While the layoff was unexpected and they went about it in a super crappy way, I was relieved to be done with it.

    I’m at a new company with good coworkers and this company treats us so well. I was treated like a child at my last job and I’m adjusting to being trusted and treated like an adult. I still check over my shoulder if I need to check my phone or respond to a text real quick. I love that I can personalize my desk how I want it. I have my own email address. I actually get a reasonable amount of PTO. I’m not micromanaged. Everyone is patient with me learning and getting acclimated to a new job. It’s a total 180 from my last job. That’s my good news! :)

    1. henny from the block*

      congrats! :) our layoff story is so similar, and i’m hoping for a similar outcome.

  16. Details*

    I am currently WFH but most of my co-workers are not. Our accounting department has never been great to details or computer skills but I was able to walk into their office to clarify or hand them things instead of emailing. That has all gone away.
    Any tips on how to tell someone to slow down and read the entire email?
    Currently I have to keep emailing or trying to call /text to get multiple items addressed part of one project even if I do bullet points with spacing for questions.
    Yesterday was a discussion about how two people who work closely needed looped in on the same project. I got a response from Frank about how this should go to Carl for when Frank is out. I said I sent to Carl and Frank then a whole thing about how Carl didn’t get it even though the subject line clearly showed Carl and I had to spend time pointing to that basic fact in a new email.
    I just need them to slow down instead of rushing to respond. The boss will only get involved when it becomes a major issue — he doesn’t think these things are a big deal. (And I the accounting department keeps trying to tell me I need to return to the office to work to make these problems go away to which I keep explaining about state law and COVID protocols.)

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Anyone else terrified about an accounting department that isn’t good at details and documentation?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yes, that is deeply concerning since that’s pretty much their job to be good at those things.

    2. Katrinka*

      I usually respond to something like that with “as I stated in my [date] email to you and Carl, ….” or forward the original email that shows who it was sent to (and, since it seems to be a problem, start getting read receipts and forward them too). That puts the ball in their court to either acknowledge that they didn’t read it or didn’t pay attention to it.

      And I always cc my boss on the “reminder” emails.

    3. ten-four*

      Oof, obnoxious! Can you move the conversations off of email? If they just consistently don’t read, it might be easier on everyone to change the format to a meeting, either on the phone or by video chat. If they resist that too you might try a check-list or a Google form.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yep – sometimes a phone call is really needed. It drives me crazy because it’s a ton more work (you have to type up the phone discussion to confirm what y’all talked about), but there’s just some people who can not collect all information visually and need to hear it.

        1. Lost academic*

          You need both. If you don’t have written documentation it’s too early to make excuses about something not being said or not understood and then it’s a he said/she said. But it’s disturbing that an accounting department of all groups is having this level of problem with basic function.

    4. Campfire Raccoon*

      As an accountant, this is the most frightening thing ever- except most accountants of my acquaintance have poor language skills, so maybe it’s not a surprise?

      But I feel you, Details. I’ve been handling all of our company’s emailed service requests (and answering the phones too) for months now and only ONE PERSON has realized it’s Campfire Raccoon emailing, not Bonfire Wolfdog.

      I EXIST, dagnabbit!

    5. BRR*

      Short answer: I don’t think there’s a way that you can really tell them they need to improve on this. Your accounting department sucks and isn’t going to change.

      Long answer: If you and the accounting department don’t have the same boss, can you raise the issue to your boss and ask how if they have any suggestions? If not, it’s unfortunately probably going to be on you to try and ease your own stress over their bad work. You might have to repeatedly follow up with them, when this has happened to me in the past I’ve cared less about the wording in an email over time so it got quicker to follow up on things. You also might need to arrange meetings for bigger projects. I would also use bullets in my emails as much as possible. Last, if you’re sending a longer email with many items, would it work/are they better if you send more emails that are shorter and only have one question?

    6. Anono-me*

      That does not sound fun.

      Have you tried numbering your bullet points and referencing the total number of bullet points in your first paragraph?

      I frequently have to email documentation requests to departments that usually don’t have to do much paperwork at all.

      I’ve seen a big improvement in responses since switching to leading with the number of questions I have and numbering each one.

      My request usually starts out

      ” Please respond to the five questions below?

      The Federal Department of Llama Registration has requested this information for the llama known as “Fergus Shmergus” and we must provide it all.”

      1. Form 23344568876554a – often called the “Emergency Form A”. It lists the emergency contacts for the Llama.
      2. Form 2334456887655b – often called the “Intake Form B”. It lists the owners’ names and contact information.
      3. Physical Description: Height, weight, coat coloration.
      4. Spitting distance capability
      5. Most recent veterinary exam summary

      Thank you
      A. Me

      Most offices seem respond fairly well.

      If if I get a partial response, I push back with a brief email in the same chain saying “Thanks. Could you resend the answers to questions 3 and 4 please? I didn’t receive those .”

  17. sequitur*

    Does anyone have suggestions for how to come up with an hourly or day rate for consultancy work?

    I’ve been approached by a former colleague who’s moved on to a new company and they could use some consultancy support in my area of expertise (internal comms). I’m keen (and my manager at my day job has no objections), but don’t know what kind of day rate to propose.

    I’m in the south east UK (but not London), and have around five years’ domain experience (including 1.5 as a manager/head of the function at my current company) and an additional two years of experience before that in a hybrid role with some internal comms responsibilities.

    If anyone has ideas for what would be reasonable to charge or can point me to resources for figuring this out, that would be very much appreciated!

    1. Prairie*

      One time I went out socially with a consultant who worked with my company and her mentor. She told us about how she designed a program that saved another company $100,000. Her mentor was like “and you charged them $70/an hour?” which was her normal fee. He was said “So they paid you 5 or 6,000? Instead of selling your time you should have sold them the project. You should have charged $20,000.”
      So I think if you investigate how much your expertise is worth to the company (maybe in terms of retention or employee efficiency) that can help you find a number.
      Sorry I don’t have a concrete number/resource but wanted to share that perspective.

      1. Katrinka*

        Bouncing off of this, if they want to use an hourly rate and it’s similar to the work you currently do, you can use a rate of 1.5x or even 2.0x what your current rate is. This allows for the taxes you’ll have to pay on your own (if you were having to do your own benefits, I’d definitely go with 2x).

        1. Filosofickle*

          I heavily encourage value pricing / project pricing whenever possible, but it takes some time and experience to figure that out what those numbers should be. As a quick starting place, 2x what you earn per hour is a good number.

    2. Parakeet*

      The rule I’ve heard is the salary you want plus 30% (to allow for taxes), divided by the number of working days per year. Think there are about 260 working days a year, so knock off bank holidays and 25 days leave (common in UK!) = 225ish.

      1. 867-5309*

        As someone in the field, I would expect the maximum you can anticipate with 5-7 years experience is 75 pounds per hour.

        For my day rate, I typically take my hourly rate ($150-$250 per hour depending on the client and type of work), multiply it by 8 hours, and do a 20% discount. (Note – my hourly rate is higher than yours because I have nearly 20 years of experience.)

        In some fields or if you are especially sought after then the salary plus 30% works but honestly, that’s rarely what someone is thinking when they look for freelance talent. I’ve seen director-level (7-10 years experience) freelance gigs in the New York City area list for $75 an hour & they get snatched up.

  18. MrsH*

    How do I give my notice gracefully?

    I have a final round interview coming up for a position I’m really excited about. If all goes well and I’m offered the position (which I hope), I’m really struggling emotionally with how to give my notice to my current boss.

    I’ve been with my current company for nearly 5 years, and I feel like I have a very close relationship with my boss and other colleagues. Since the pandemic, we are all working remotely and I hate knowing I won’t be able to see her or my other colleagues in person to break the news.

    Also, I feel like 2 weeks notice would be too short of a time span to transition out of my role. I want to show more respect towards my colleagues and boss and try to ease the transition more.

    How would you handle this situation? How would you break the news?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      How is 2 weeks’ notice not showing respect? Just remember that the point of 2 weeks’ notice isn’t to make sure that they’ve hired your replacement before you leave. The point is to just make sure that no major balls get dropped. 2 weeks’ notice is fairly standard, so absolutely 100% do not feel bad about giving 2 weeks’ notice.

      That said, some workplaces are flexible with start dates, so talk to your new boss about whether you can start 3 or 4 weeks out.

      How would you handle this situation? How would you break the news?

      Well, it is nice to give notice in person if possible, but you can’t do that. So I’d draft up an email giving official notice, and then ask your boss to have a call, and then on the call say you’ve accepted position at X company and your last day will be Y. Then, when that call is done, send the drafted up email that essentially says “As a follow-up to our phone call, I’m just writing to say….”

      If your colleagues and boss care as much for you as you care for them, they will wish you well.

      1. Katrinka*

        I think Alison recommends a phone call if possible, since you’d give notice face-to-face under normal circumstances.

      2. MrsH*

        I know 2 weeks is common here in the US – but I’m originally from a country where it’s more commonplace to give 2 or 3 months notice, so maybe that’s tripping me up a bit. 2 weeks just feels super short! But your right, it is standard, so maybe I shouldn’t worry too much

        And I know for sure they won’t rehire within 2 weeks – not even 2 months. Last time someone left it took them 9 months to fill an entry level position – and I had to take the double workload in the meantime. Though times – but I learned a lot about delegating, prioritizing, letting go of control, and develop trust!

        I’ll likely opt for a phone call, possible a video call if I can. But I’m struggling with how to frame it. It’s going to come out of the blue for her. But the reality is, when the pandemic started and our company suffered for a time with no incoming work, it was just natural for me to start looking, in case things wouldn’t pick up. It’s one of those applications that I’m now contending for a role.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          Two MONTHS notice? Great heavens. Yes, it’s understandable why two weeks seems short by comparison.

    2. Emilitron*

      My team has had a few people leave during the pandemic, and each time, we’ve had 10 minutes of our weekly Zoom call dedicated to the 3 managers saying kind things about that person’s time at the company, a ppt chart with photos from their past projects, and that person saying what they plan to do next and that they’ll miss us all.

      I agree with Anonymous Educator’s suggested order of events. If it were me, I would:
      – schedule a meeting with your manager, ideally about a day before a regular team/project meeting
      – draft official resigning letter, resigning as of today, last day to be 2 weeks.
      – At meeting tell them your plans and discuss what makes the transition easy for the team, decide together on a transition plan and schedule your last day. Discuss your current teams/projects and agree on who you should contact and who your manager will inform.
      – After the meeting edit the official email 2 weeks if necessary, then hit send (to your direct managers and HR, as appropriate)
      – Contact project leads (email most likely) as directed by your manager; contact your personal colleagues and let them know
      – You send general announcement over email, and/or manager makes general announcement at a meeting
      – You go on coworker’s social Slack or IM channel and tell people where you’re going and how much you’ll miss them, they say nice things (then take all their gossip to a side channel, then somebody mixes up the channels, hilarity ensues, etc)

    3. Soon-to-be Newbie*

      Do you have a weekly check-in meeting with your boss that you could use to give your notice if/when you have to? I just gave notice to an org that I’ve been with for 15 years, though not the same position or boss, and the timing worked out very well where I was able to break the news to my boss at the beginning of my (video) annual review. Definitely would have preferred to do it in person, but a video meeting is probably the next best thing.

      As for colleagues in my department, since I didn’t want to wait for our weekly department meeting, I sent out an email to everyone, acknowledging that it obviously wasn’t ideal to share that way but, you know, WFH.

      And I know it may not seem like it when you’re in the thick of things, but two weeks is probably fine – once people know you’re heading out, there’s a good chance they’ll stop bugging you about little things, especially if you begin to transition responsibilities to others.

      Good luck with the potential position – rooting for you!!

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Goodness, you do not have to feel bad you’re leaving! This happens. It’s business.

      >Write a formal letter of resignation, stating your last day. YOU decide that, not them.
      >Have a little speech prepared about why you’re leaving (if you want to share). Common themes are: exciting opportunity, promotion in duties, change of duties, bigger/smaller company, etc. You DO NOT have to divulge where you are going if you do not wish to.
      >Ask to speak with your boss privately and tell them before you tell others.
      >Give adequate time (2 weeks is standard in the US, but it depends on your role) to tie up loose ends and hand over work or projects. I would not give more than 4 weeks though unless you’re leaving for school or something. I understand some countries must give longer notices.
      >If it was a good relationship, be, as always, polite, professional, and unemotional about it. Thank them heartily if thanks are due, and wish them well.
      >Finish your last weeks professionally, document things if need be, and leave. There really needn’t be any drama about it.

      Be aware though, that some companies will escort you out when you give your notice. It’s not the norm, but I hear it is the practice in high-security situations and/or with very petty and punitive companies. But not the norm!

  19. Young + Conflicted*

    Good morning everyone, happy Friday!

    I was planning on submitting my 2 weeks notice today, since the workplace that I’m at basically doesn’t value or appreciate me at all for the past few years. I was originally going to meet with my manager on Tuesday, but she requested to move to today. Cue to today, she had something come up, and asked me to push to Monday, and says that she has wonderful news regarding the future of the company.

    I’m obviously a bit hesitant about this, and never dealt with something like this before. I don’t want to strain this relationship.. has someone been through this before? If it’s a counteroffer and major company changes, I’m concerned why this would all come out now as I’m about to give notice.

    And if someone has the experience of accepting a counteroffer, how did that work out for you in the short and long term? Thank you!

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      Here is what I think I see here over and over:
      1. Believe people when they show you who they are. You have a lot of evidence that they are not people who value you. Would 1 counter offer change that?
      2. Do you like the new job, is there a new job? What could your current company do to be better than the new offer – not just money and benefits but the culture and type of work and other intangibles that are important to you.

      When you finally talk to your boss, if you need the 2 week notice to start from today, back date your notice. You might even email your boss now and say you are sorry for sending email notice but you need to give 2 weeks notice and do not want to shorted the notice you give them.

      Best in figuring it out.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your questions are on point. I highly doubt this meeting is a counteroffer – what would she be countering if she doesn’t even know you’re resigning? Plus, even if she somehow intuited your unhappiness, OP, and was pushing back this meeting to tell you that this new and exciting direction in the company is going to require your assistance to get off the ground – they waited years to provide you with this kind of meaningful work. Are you just able to let go of the years of resentment you built up of being undervalued by these people? I know how I’m set up, so my answer would be hell no, but you may be different.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I left a job like that about 8 years ago. The day before I resigned, my boss put in his notice to retire so when I put in my resignation they countered with “but we were thinking you might be the next boss”. It was utter BS – no way would they have promoted me to that position if I had stayed. I didn’t accept their counteroffer (I refused to give them any details about my new offer so their counter was woefully short of my new salary) and have absolutely zero regrets. I’d probably be making $20k or so less if I had stayed.

      Go to the meeting on Monday, hear the big exciting news, and turn in your notice if you still want to. If you don’t have anything lined up, I would strongly hesitate to leave for anything other than very toxic or unsafe work environment. With the economy the way it is, turning in your notice and then accepting a counter could put a target on your back if the economy tanks further (i.e. “Young was ready to quit anyway so put her on the top of the layoff list”).

    3. Katrinka*

      I have given two weeks’ notice on a Monday, with the Friday of the following week being my last day. So, that’s what you could do if you want to hear what she has to say come Monday. But if she puts you off again or it’s just BS, you can still give notice right then and there.

      I did have a boss offer me a raise just as I was getting ready to give notice (I was moving back home). It was awkward, but not too bad.

      1. Teach*

        Yep, I had to do this with my last job, and I think that’s fine, especially if you don’t particularly care how you leave things with them lol (which I deeefinitely didn’t).

    4. WellRed*

      Why would you accept a counteroffer from a place that, in your own words, doesn’t value or appreciate you? You are leaving for a reason.

    5. ampersand*

      If you don’t feel valued or appreciated, and haven’t for years, my advice is not to accept a counter offer. Anecdotally, they often seem not to work out well for the employee. If the company is truly making drastic changes for the better, maybe you can come back in a few years when they’ve gotten it together?

    6. The New Wanderer*

      I think the only time a counteroffer makes sense is if you love your job and everything about it except for One Thing (the salary, your manager, a problematic coworker, your current project but not other projects), and the counteroffer is a raise that brings you up to where you want to be, a transfer to a group you want to be in, or a new project you’re excited about.

      If it’s more than one thing or it’s something fundamental (bad culture fit, lack of respect) that a counteroffer is just a band-aid solution, the underlying issues will still be there and taking the counteroffer might only delay the inevitable.

    7. BRR*

      I would recommend you read Alison’s post on why you should never accept a counteroffer.

    8. L.H. Puttgrass*

      “[S]he has wonderful news regarding the future of the company.”

      I’d bet a shiny new nickel that the “wonderful news” isn’t about you (otherwise, why push off the meeting?). It’s a reorg, a meaningless (to you and most worker bees) management change, a round of new venture funding, or something like that. Heck, I’d lay even odds that the “wonderful news” will be something that would mean more work for you but not more pay.

      If it were about you, the phrasing would have been more like, “I have wonderful news about your future at this company.” And the meeting to tell you about it wouldn’t have been bumped twice (talk about a signal about how important you are to the company!). Better yet, a good manager wouldn’t play it coy and would just tell you you’re getting a raise or a promotion. Also—are surprise raises and promotions even a thing?

      BTW, the manager pushing back your resignation meeting is another point in favor of Allison’s advice to give notice via a phone call.

    9. Cassidy*

      Not sure if you’re leaving for another job, but, if not, and if it were me, I would make absolutely sure that I had the luxury of resigning, especially if I didn’t have anything else lined up and I was on my own, i.e. not in a dual-income household. I’d learn to keep telling myself that just because someone doesn’t consider me to be valuable doesn’t mean they’re right, and let that carry me through until I could afford to move on.

      It sucks to feel devalued, but this thing is only getting worse, due in large part to the misfits who think wearing masks is some kind of government tyranny or overreach or whatever lie they tell themselves to validate their refusal to grow the hell up and use common sense. Meanwhile, tens of millions of unemployed people would give anything to be in your shoes if it meant having a steady, reliable stream of income, especially if medical benefits were included.

      It is an employer’s market right now. I’d tread carefully.

    10. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Probably no one is reading this thread anymore, but I’m really curious what the “wonderful news” was.

  20. Goose*

    I’ve been told I need to take an Excel test during an upcoming interview. I think I’m good at Excel, but I do a lot of “google and copy/paste a formula” because I can never remember what each one does. Does anyone have any advice for what kind of test I might be taking? The position is reporting and data adjacent.

    1. A Jane*

      Excel has a “tell me what you want to do” help function that you could look things up in if needed?
      No idea about the test though. Good luck!

    2. Tuckerman*

      It makes sense for a data role, but I find these stressful. In my current job, I did fine one task but totally froze and blanked on the other. I still got the job.

    3. BlackCatOwner*

      Ask questions – not so much about the content of the test but the logistics and purpose. Some examples:

      Will the test be timed? If so, do I need to answer the questions in order or will I be able to go backwards and forwards in the test? If I cannot go back to a question, do you advise skipping a question that I get stuck on in order to proceed through the test, or it is necessary / advisable to fully answer each question before proceeding?

      Will I be able to access Excel’s help or Google during the test?

      Will I be able to ask questions if there is an element of the test I don’t understand?

      Is the purpose of the test to objectively score my knowledge, or is there a subjective element to the assessment? (In our case, it was more subjective – we wanted to evaluate what you know but also how you approach the data and looking up a formula you don’t know. There was no objective score)

      Does my performance on the test objectively determine whether I move forward in the interview process (i.e only candidates who score above X will move forward) or is it based on how my score compares to other candidates? Or is the assessment merely one part of determining whether I move forward?

    4. MissGirl*

      I did one and there wasn’t time to do any fancy equations. Mostly they wanted to see my analytical process.

    5. Zephy*

      If it’s anything like the “Excel test” I took as part of the application process for a clerical job…

      “Cheat.” Google the answers on a separate device (you probably won’t be able to leave the tab that the test is in). You won’t be able to click through the menus and look for the button you need – you need to execute whatever function the test is asking for you 100% perfectly in one go. So, if it’s any more complicated than “bold the text in cell C2,” Google that shit, get step-by-step instructions, follow them. Unless the primary task of the job you’re interviewing for involves verbally reciting Excel functions from memory, the thing they’re interested in is your ability to use Excel, not remember where all of the buttons in the ribbon are and what they do. Knowing how to find and interpret the information you need to complete the task is as much a part of “Excel skills” as using the program itself. Same goes for any other software test (I also had to take a Word test in addition to my Excel test).

      1. Goose*

        That was my plan…. I’m doing a quick refresher course on Coursera this weekend, but I even mentioned in my first interview how much I loved how helpful the excel online community was, so I really hope it’s not considered “cheating.” That’s just how people use Excel!

    6. Chaordic One*

      I had a similar test some time ago. I consider myself competent in Excel, but I did some cramming and reviewed how to input the most common basic functions. The irony was that they were not really very concerned about that, and almost totally fixated on how the data was presented and I ended up reformatting the fonts and putting in lines to define the columns and headings, and colorizing some of them. Anyway, I came up with a really pretty spreadsheet, aced that test and got the job!

  21. SpringIsForPlanting!*

    Anyone here hire engineers? (Or is an engineer who’s really good at getting hired?) My sibling is looking for MechE jobs and is unsure of the value of a cover letter. If you were hiring for a senior-level MechE (Engineer III or similar), would you say Alison’s general cover letter advice applies in this field? If not, what are the differences?

    1. Emilitron*

      Yes, I’m an engineer who’s helped my managers with resume screening and hiring. All I can say is, it really depends. I would love to have a cover letter instead of just the resumes passed along to me, but usually that accompanying info gets stripped out by whoever did the pre-screening and I just get the short-list resumes. It’s still important to have a good one because if/when someone does actually put eyes on it, it will help! You can get a sense of what someone has done and what their skills are from a resume, but engineering is also about why you like doing what you do, which aspects of the job are the ones that keep you engaged with the work, and there are definitely a variety of philosophical approaches – in your ideal world would you be digging deep on modeling thermal-induced stress or building a prototype and measuring it? would you want to inherit a basic design and scrub through refining all the details, or be the person coming up with the notional sketch? etc. So a cover letter that expressed who you are as an engineer really does make a person stand out in ways that just a resume can’t. BUT there’s no guarantee that the hiring manager gets to read it, given HR structure and website applications, etc.

      1. Emilitron*

        Which is to say, in the context where everyone’s cover letters are getting retained and read, a letter that says “Hello, I am pleased to apply for your position, as you can see from the attached resume I have done X, Y, and Z. Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards, Sibling” would actually count against them in my book, but I understand the temptation not to bother when it seems unlikely anybody will really see it.

        My personal approach, each of my 2 post-graduate job searches has involved <5 resumes sent to jobs I genuinely thought were good matches, and 10 more less-likely but I sent out anyway; I only did those few as real custom cover letters, and a more generic version for the other 10.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        +1 – I have been in the mechanical engineering field for 20 years. HR doesn’t pass on the cover letters to us. It’s been a long while since I worked somewhere else, but that company didn’t share them, either. I agree with what Emilitron says if we did receive them, though. You wouldn’t really know a company’s processes.

        I would advocate for networking with coworkers who have left, ex-classmates, acquaintances from professional societies, etc. A lot of the candidates I’ve interviewed lately are referrals, not from ads.

    2. Uncivil Engineer*

      I hire lots of engineers (civil, though, not mechanical) and am also hired for a new job every three years or so (within the same organization… but we’re still required to interview and compete with all internal and external candidates). Most of Alison’s cover letter advice still applies. I see a lot of cover letters that are just repeating what is in the resume or are poorly written (e.g., grammar, spelling, formatting). Those do not make the cut.

      The one difference I’ve noticed is that we’re less interested in hearing your story of “how i got here” or “why i like your company”. At the senior level, we like cover letters that tell us what you solved, how you did it, and how you think that could be applied here. How much did you increase production? How much money did your redesign save? How much time did you cut off from the process? It can also be personnel related when applying for a supervisory position. Do you have a string of mentees who were promoted? Did you do something that significantly increased morale?

      Show us numbers. We like math.

      1. SpringIsForPlanting!*

        Thanks to Uncivil and AnotherAlison; I’ll pass on these good thoughts.

    3. As Close As Breakfast*

      I’m the engineering manager at a manufacturing company and regularly hire mechanical engineers. I actually just wrapped up hiring a new entry level engineer (freaking yay!!!) and to be honest, this was the worst experience I’ve had to date trying to hire someone! It was surprisingly difficult, maybe because I (incorrectly?) assumed I’d be overwhelmed by applications from new 2020 grads that couldn’t find jobs or had previous offers pulled.

      Anyway, to your question about cover letters, I do think they are important for entry level engineering positions. I ask for one in the job posting, so right off the bat I’m docking points in my head if they didn’t have one. I still look at their resumes and interview them, but it does stay in my mind that they didn’t follow that very basic instruction. Another reason I often want them is for an explanation of why someone is applying if they are not local. This may not be as much of an issue/reason if it’s a huge company but I’m at a small/medium sized company not in a major metropolitan area. If you don’t live within 2 hours of here, I’d like at least some indication that you want to (or would be willing to) relocate and it’s astonishing how often I’m left wondering if someone is really interested in moving across the country for this simple entry level engineering job. Given the kinds of applications/resumes I’ve seen recently for the same type of job position, even a basic and simple cover letter can positively set you apart from the group.

  22. Prairie*

    Hi all. Thanks to the pandemic my work is somewhat limited for the foreseeable future. My grand boss and great grand boss met with me to say that instead of filling a vacant position in another area, I am going to do my current job 50% of the time and this other job 50%. Next summer we’ll evaluate if that needs to continue or if we can go back to normal.
    I’m hoping some of you have gone though this and can share how you navigated this? I’m excited about the new work and the new team I’ll be a part of, but I am very apprehensive about how I will balance the workloads. I’m interested hearing about issues that came up and tips for resolving them. How you organized yourself and balanced competing priorities. I’m also apprehensive about pushing back with the boss for my original job. She is very much a person who says “just make it work” when you have too much to do. That’s not really a problem for me generally but I’d love tips on how to tell her I’m cutting this or reducing that because I can’t do all the things I used to now that I’m spending 20 hours a week on another job.

    1. Prairie*

      Also a small stakes question. How did you change your signature? My job is coordinator for both depts. Is it ok to say

      Coordinator, Tea Pot Design
      Coordinator, Paint Acquisition

      or is there a better format?

      1. Dittany*

        I’d do that as a single line: “Coordinator, Tea Pot Design and Paint Acquisition.”

      2. humans are weird*

        I agree, single line is easy with your example.

        My title is different in the two different areas where I work — let’s call them Widget Production and Business Services — so I’ve also done things like:

        Widget Production Technical Expert &
        Business Services Analyst

        Two lines so it’s not too long but the & connecting them makes it seem more coherent to me.

    2. Mockingjay*

      This is an conversation you should have NOW. Don’t wait until there’s a problem.

      Meet with everyone you will report to and ask how they will communicate with the other manager(s) to resolve competing priorities and workload. Do not offer to be the bridge – managers need to manage. When you do have a conflict (and you will, that’s the nature of shared support), flip it back to both teams. Call or email: “Hey, Boss 1 and Boss 2, I’ve got reports due for both Team A and Team B on Friday. I’ll only be able to get one finished. Let me know which is priority.” Let them figure it out.

      The other thing I recommend is keeping a worklog of assignments which indicates who assigned what, when, and with due dates, time spent on it, etc. This will help you monitor your workload. One of the biggest issues with shared support is that managers tend to assign full loads to part-time people. A log to corroborate your tasks and hours gives you leverage to push back if workload is unsustainable.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      So for starters, it’s great that they at least presented it as actually reducing your current role to account for the new one. Too many times do we hear “that person left, now you’re going to do their job on top of your own”, so I’m pleased that they’re not doing that (at least blatantly!). Have they proposed how you’re going to split your responsibilities? Without knowing your job, I’m not sure if it’s going to be as simple as 8am-12pm job 1, 1-4pm job 2, or if it’s going to require more nuance than that.

      If they haven’t proposed a solution, I’d list out what your responsibilities are, and what you spend your time on in a typical week. From there, take a look at what a 50% cut might look like – are there certain things you absolutely would no longer be able to do? Are there non-deadline specific things that will just take longer or will have to be done less frequently? I’d also make sure that if you’re going to be managed by two different bosses that there is absolutely some plan established for them to communicate. Because there will definitely come a point where you have a high-priority, super urgent project from both of them and the time to figure out what to do with that is before it happens, or to get procedures in place to prevent it from happening at all.

    4. humans are weird*

      I’ve been doing half technical widget production and half reporting on said widgets — structured as a single position in production but with a dotted line report to someone in reporting for that half of the work — for about 6 years now.

      Balance can be hard. Communicate frequently with bosses and with people who use what you produce/work on. If the work allows, try to block off time for each half. Mornings on one, afternoons on the other for example. A predictable schedule helps both you AND anyone who needs to reach you or meet with you. If the two types of work mesh at all (as mine do) there may be some tasks that are legitimately part of both jobs — keep track of those.

      Also clarify how performance reviews will be handled given the split position.

      If you get pushback from your boss, can the grandboss who told you about this shift be enlisted to help? I had a similar thing happen – the head of my division is the one who wanted my job to shift so he is the one who broke the news to my original supervisor and explained that production wasn’t going to have me full time anymore. He put it in terms of company priorities. I’m lucky in that all my supervisors are (1) reasonable people and (2) want me to succeed, but if that’s not the case you may need to lean harder on the grandboss.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Does your company use any sort of project-tracking or ticketing system that you could start using?

  23. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

    For those in the commentariat who have worked a job with terrible work-life balance in the past but managed to get out, how did you motivate yourself to job search? I keep asking my boss to let me drop some things on my plate and he keeps saying no, with no possibility of anything changing for at least six more months, so it feels like the only thing left to do is look elsewhere. I’m lucky enough to have a secure job right now, but things have gotten way busier for us since COVID started and I’m putting in a ridiculous number of hours. It’s killing me–and not just because of my very real risk of virus exposure at work (yay for being essential!) I’m not a functional enough person to apply for jobs in the evenings after I get home, and weekends are sacred time for my mental health (although I usually still end up doing 4-6 hours of work most weekend). I burned through most of my PTO recently dealing with a non-COVID family health crisis, and I don’t have the financial ability to just quit without something else lined up.

    I know I just have to suck it up and keep applying for jobs, but how can I motivate myself? What helped other people stay motivated in the past? I’ve never job searched before while being in a full time job with benefits. Being able to pay rent and having health insurance were enough motivation for me in past job searches, but these are fortunately not things I need to worry about this time around.

    1. BlackCatOwner*

      Exhausted Frontline Worker, been there, done that.

      I used my lunch hour to look at job and I would select one or two to apply to. Then I would get up on the weekend and apply to those one or two jobs. That way I divided the searching piece from the applying piece because like you, I was so tired I only had so much physical and emotional energy to go around. And at the end of a month, you know will have applied to at least 4 or 5 jobs and it let me feel like I could enjoy my weekend (or work, which I did as often as not) because I got my job-application out of the way first thing on Saturday (or sometimes Friday night).

      I also saved all my cover letters in Google drive so I wasn’t always starting from a blank page – I could work off old cover letters. You need to tailor them to each job, but there are still some parts that can be reused or tweaked only a little to fit.

      It’s not about motivation, but self-discipline. You need to do it even when you don’t want to, even when you don’t feel like it.

      Also, can you use recruiters? They may not help, but they won’t hurt, and if you get lucky they bring the jobs to you.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I used my lunch hour to look at job and I would select one or two to apply to. Then I would get up on the weekend and apply to those one or two jobs.

        This was exactly what I did when I was working 60 hour weeks for nearly two years straight at Evil Law Firm and also freelance writing 20 hours a week at the same time. I would even tweak my resume during my lunch breaks (if I went home for lunch) so that I only had to worry about writing cover letters while completing my applications. I even did what you suggested by saving all of my cover letters and just reworked them slightly for each job I applied for. Because of this method, I didn’t put out a ton of applications, but the ones I did manage to complete were carefully curated and I landed a much better job making $10k more a year (with the potential for bonuses) at a much less dysfunctional company with name recognition. I agree that it takes self discipline and perseverance to do this, though, because lord, I was tired.

      2. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

        People don’t use recruiters in my field. And lunch hours, especially ones where I can sit in front of a computer, are a foreign luxury to me. But I like the idea of spending 15 min or so per day during the week after work looking at postings, and applying to the ones I like during the weekend. I’ll definitely give it a try!

        I do have a folder saved of old cover letters from my last job hunt, as well as a spreadsheet where I would track where/when I applied and if I ever heard back, so I plan to repurpose some old cover letters to cut down on work. But even filling out basic application forms feels more draining than it should right now…

        1. BlackCatOwner*

          “But even filling out basic application forms feels more draining than it should right now…” I feel you. I really do. This is where you need to build habit as opposed to motivation. It’s draining but if you work it into your schedule, you build it up as a habit, which makes it easier to do when you’re tired a de-motivated. Good luck! Just keep swimming.

    2. CM*

      Is it possible to drop some balls at work — just let some things sit longer than they should, and schedule an hour on your calendar every day during work hours to work on your job search?

      1. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

        I’m trying, but it’s not that simple unfortunately! I’m a social worker, and we were overburdened before COVID, but people have been in crisis 24/7 since the outbreak. I would have ZERO guilt about just doing less at a for-profit company, but it’s hard to set boundaries when it’s vulnerable people (and tbh boundary issues about saying no to taking on more clients are rampant in the entire field). Since I primarily work in the community and not in an office, and I’m legally mandated to document all my encounters within a certain timeframe, weekends and evenings tend to be the only time I have in front of a computer to do that.

        My supervisor isn’t great at keeping track of how much work everyone has, and has been over-relying on a few of the more experienced members on my team, myself included, for anything that isn’t directly client-related. Don’t get me wrong, the newer people are still busy and putting in 40+ hours each week, they’re just not comparatively *as* busy, and sometimes teaching someone to do something that isn’t a recurring task takes longer than just doing it yourself. I will say I did just announce this week that I would no longer be continuing a project that got dumped on me at the beginning of COVID since it’s turned into a timesuck, and if the agency finds it valuable, I’d be happy to train someone else on how to keep doing it. So far no volunteers…but also no pushback on me dropping it. But I definitely need to find more things to let go, and I’m struggling without my supervisor’s support.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t mean to be flip, but you simply have set boundaries, even with clients. Your taking responsibility for something (the shoddy social safety net) that isn’t your burden. And as you’re experiencing, it isn’t even possible to do that for very long even if you *were* responsible for it.

          If it helps, remember that a not-burned-out you can provide better service and support to the crises you handle. And if you keep going until you can’t anymore, abruptly leaving isn’t doing your clients any favors either. Whatever level is sustainable for you is the best amount of work for you to do, even if it is less than the work that needs to be done or less than your maximum output.

          1. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

            You’re definitely correct! Our social safety net is an absolute mess, and we can’t non-profit our way out of the problem. But unfortunately the culture at social service agencies is we’ll be damned if we don’t at least try. I wish I had a better solution than just quitting the field entirely, but that’s unfortunately the direction I’m headed in.

        2. Gumby*

          So, this is normally a terrible way of thinking about it but in your situation: what are they going to do if you stop working weekends? Fire you? It sounds like everyone is overworked and there is nowhere else for the work to go. Even if they would prefer that you continue working yourself to and past the point of breakdown, they are very unlikely to actually fire you over it.

          You aren’t being a horrible employee just because you work 50 hours per week instead of 80. So do what is legally required, but drop anything extra if it doesn’t fit in a realistic work week. Including reducing the number of encounters so you can do paperwork during work hours.

          Also, think of your approach to work like the safety demonstration in airplanes. Put your own oxygen mask on first. If you can’t breathe, you can’t help anyone else. I’m sure the work is never-ending and getting worse all the time. But it isn’t going to be solved by your overwork.

          1. Exhausted Frontline Worker*

            You make a lot of good points. You’re right I probably won’t be fired for doing less, but we’re getting pressure from our out-of-touch funders to do more, and it’s easy to run numbers on the contacts we have and the type of engagements we have. So I can cut back somewhat, and I need to prioritize figuring out the best way to do that, but I can’t cut back too drastically. Part of the issue is while I am excellent at time management for planned work, my job involves a lot of unplanned crisis response. And by crises I mean actual crises where emergency services get involved, not work crises where Big Important Project goes awry. Crises take up a lot of time. Some weeks nothing eventful happens, but other weeks it’s crisis central. Since the pandemic, it’s generally been the latter.

            When I told my boss I’d been working weekends and evenings, he hadn’t been aware, seemed concerned about my burnout and encouraged me to stop. But he didn’t let me drop anything. Basically I’m expected to somehow fit 60 hours of work into 40 hours when that’s clearly impossible. FWIW I’m salaried and ineligible for overtime pay, so it’s not a financial issue. We claim to have good work-life balance as part of our company culture, but management certainly doesn’t model good work-life balance themselves.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      There were two big things that worked for me…
      1. I basically said “suck it” and only did what I could get done in a 50 hour work week. Basically if it wouldn’t cause ME inconvenience, it didn’t get done. Boss got testy a few times until I reminded him I was here before him and here after him and got paid less than half what he did so if he was able to go home, then I was too. At that point I had a ton of documentation that proved that the workload was significantly different than my job description/what I had been hired for and was comfortable that if they fired me, I would have a solid case for unemployment.
      2. I enlisted the help of a reputable recruiter who specialized in my field. They did most of the leg work for me and worked around my crazy schedule so all I had to do was accept a phone call here and there and show up at the interview.

    4. Kathenus*

      Others have touched on this, but the part of your post that stands out to me is “I keep asking my boss to let me drop some things on my plate and he keeps saying no…”

      For how ever long you continue to work there, I strongly recommend you reframe your mind on that part. First, don’t ask your boss, tell him what you can get done in your appropriate work week, and how your prioritizing. If he wants you to prioritize a different way, he can speak up, but don’t frame this as a question, but as a reality that you are keeping him updated about. You can either choose certain tasks to prioritize and put others on the back burner to be done only if time allows; or do everything but at a lower level of time/detail than you would have otherwise.

      Next, you can’t control anyone else, but you can control how you react. So you have the power to take back part of your life by refusing to work late and on weekends. If you truly decide that going forward you will do what you can in your normal work week to the best of your ability and no more; and tell your boss how you are prioritizing the work; you can start to take back control. I know it’s easier said than done, but it starts with a paradigm shift that you aren’t asking for permission to do this, but instead that you are informing him of how your are planning and prioritizing the work within the available time. And stick to it. Good luck!

  24. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    I have a question about the ethics of using COVID-19 specific PTO.

    I am currently in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19. (Luckily, I’m mostly asymptomatic.) I was already a remote employee, so I have isolated in my home office and have been able to continue to work as normal. My company has offered an extra 80 hours of PTO to be used for COVID purposes. I don’t really want to take any of this time while I’m well enough to work in isolation. Working is giving me a distraction and has been a point of contact for me in isolation. I’m completely isolated in my home office to avoid giving COVID to my spouse, so any outside contact is helping keeping my mental health intact. However, as long as I don’t get any new symptoms, I should be able to come out of isolation on Sunday.

    Would it be ethical to use a day of this special COVID PTO to clean and sanitize my office and home on Monday? I want to really make sure that I clean any residual live virus (especially as my home is supposed to go on the market very soon and I will need to have a realtor and others in here). I know the PTO is meant for those who are too sick to work, but even though I have been able to continue working, this isolation has totally upended my life and I will need some time to “reset”. Thoughts?

    1. Web Crawler*

      There’s more to COVID than just physical symptoms- your mental health matters too. I’d say taking a day to clean (which would make things less stressful for you and protect your partner and others) totally falls under COVID-specific PTO and you’re in the clear.

    2. Altair*

      I think taking, say, 8 hours of PTO to clean and sanitize your workspace counts as “Dealing with COVID” and thus is an ethical use of the time. But I’m not a lawyer or an HR person, just a random internet glowy thing.

    3. blackcat*

      I think this is a “know your office” thing, but I’d put this in the same situation, say, if your spouse had tested positive, was isolating, and you had to do extra stuff around the house to support that. Sure, it’s not to recover from COVID per-se, but it is to deal with the impacts of a COVID diagnosis on your household.

      For what it’s worth, opening the windows and leaving the room empty for 24 hours is likely just as effective as trying to clean the surfaces. If you can do 48 hours, you’re almost certainly good.

    4. Indy Dem*

      Our company is allowing people to use extra time for COVID for various reasons, including child care. No questions asked. Is there any downside to using it?

    5. Natalie*

      One possible wrinkle – if your company is relying on the FFCRA tax credit to reimburse themselves for the cost of the COVID sick leave, there are specific qualifying reasons and required documentation. My read of the reasons wouldn’t cover cleaning your office. But you could always put in the request and see if they ask you for a letter from your doctor or similar.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Yes, it’s completely fine. Medical PTO is for dealing with the health situation in general.

      Caregivers on FMLA are not physically hovering over their dependents every second. They are taking care of life, and need extra time because of the caregiving situation.

      Moms on maternity leave are not laboring or nursing every minute of the day. They are taking care of life in general.

      Hope you’re 100% feeling better very soon.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You’re going to re-test negative before returning, right? This thing can linger in some people and Dr’s aren’t able to predict that yet.

  25. Wednesday*

    I can’t tell if I’m being paranoid or unreasonable… I’m part of a work team that requires close collaboration. Nothing has been officially stated that we need to come back into the office (relatively low COVID area) but most of the rest of the team is on-site daily unless they are taking PTO. I have daycare available for my children, but don’t feel good about sending them so I’ve been working remotely. But I feel out of the loop on the details of things. I do conference calls or zoom in for meetings but obviously I’m missing out on those informal conversations and brainstorming sessions. I’m starting to feel like the weak link and that I’m not part of the team, and that people are getting increasingly irritated that I am not up to date on the latest plans/ideas or that thing are falling through cracks because I’m working from home. I honestly don’t know if I’m the odd one out now or if I’m just spiralling out of paranoia and worry. Any outside insights?

    1. Web Crawler*

      Are you close to anyone at work who you can get their opinion on this? My read (as a person with zero knowledge of your situation, but I worked remotely full time while almost everyone else was in the office) is that it’s probably a little of both- you are probably out of the loop, but your anxiety might be making it worse than it is. And the best way to resolve this might be asking a coworker who is in the office and getting their take.

      1. Wednesday*

        Well. That was not very reassuring. I’m not super close to anyone on the team, whereas others have some close friendships. But I did call someone I’m friendly with and she was verrrry careful with her wording. Basically people are trying to be understanding but are frustrated that I’m home taking care of my kids and trying to work at the same time and can’t give work stuff 100% during the day. She said that of course the people on-site were just going to take care of things because I wasn’t always available in the moment and things are happening really fast at the moment since it’s our traditionally busy time and busier now trying to come up with contingency plans.

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          I think that is your answer. You know they would prefer you be onsite. I’m not saying that is right or wrong. You need to decide what is best for you and your family but also realize there might be consequences for those choices. I’m sorry. These are the difficult decisions that everyone is starting to have to make. Especially essential workers.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      I think this is a “know your workplace” question. Has anyone ever worked remotely on your team before all this?

    3. Anono-me*

      Base on your follow up. It sounds more like the problem isn’t the WFH so much, but rather the not getting as much work work done as before while WFH and caring for small children at the same time.

      1. Is there anything you can change up and how you do your work from home to give you a more focused work time? For example if you have a co-parent, can you start your work day at 6am and go to noon with the other parent doing the child wrangling, then you take over child wrangling from noon until 6 p.m. .
      Then family time until the kids go to bed and then a couple more hours of work until the parents go to bed?
      2. Is there someone whose level of covid precautions are in line with your family’s that you could hire to help out with the kids?

      Ultimately, you can only do the best you can. Good luck with what ever you decide is best for you and your family.

  26. jack*

    i just had a conversation with my boss and he won’t make face masks mandatory until legally required because “it would affect morale”. i’m so annoyed and also fairly sure they are legally required. no advice needed, just need to vent.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I’d say employees dropping dead of Covid would affect morale a whole lot more…

      (With you on the venting. It’s a lethal virus people!)

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          The place where I used to work and one of my dead-due-to-Covid friends worked has got a lot of people in extreme grief and unsure how to cope. I’m glad I don’t work there anymore because I couldn’t handle going back and having the firm tell me that everything must continue as normal.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      What state are you in (if you’re even in the US)?? We can look it up and tell you it’s mandatory.

      And yes, your boss is an ass. “It would affect morale?” My answer would be: “If I catch the corona virus and die from it because you won’t require masks, that will affect MY morale…and more especially if I don’t die and spread it asymptomatically to someone I care about, and they die”.

      Viruses don’t give a crap about your politics. Science is real.

      1. jack*

        I’m in LA County, so I’m almost certain it’s required for everyone when you’re interacting with people you don’t live with (if someone has a link that can confirm that though, I won’t mind).

        We work in manufacturing, so safety is a big topic for us. I responded with “we wouldn’t care about employee morale if we were talking about energy isolation, why are we worrying about it now?”

        1. CatCat*

          Face coverings are legally required.

          Also, here is LA County’s public health page:

          There is a “Reopening Safer at Work and in the Community for control of COVID-19 (07.18.20)” public health order that includes this. There are also appendices for various business types including manufacturing.

          You can report public health order violations at

          Or by phone or email at
          (888) 700-9995 (M-F 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

          Good luck! It’s not okay for your manager to do this!

          1. jack*

            thank you all for the additional links! i have shared some with my boss. I’d seen the reporting number before and think I’m going to take action by next week if things have not changed.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Absolutely report this. Your company is flagrantly violating a known ordinance and putting lives in danger.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      His lack of enforcing face masks is actually affecting morale, but somehow I doubt he cares. Sorry you have to deal with that.

    4. jack*

      UPDATE: Masks are required now!! thanks for the additional links everyone, I think it helped seal the deal.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Congrats! And good for you for speaking up – not a lot of people would feel comfortable doing so.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        +100 to you Jack.
        And kudos to this community as well for helping Jack save lives.

      3. pancakes*

        That’s great! But it’s worrying that your boss pinned this on “legally required” and didn’t bother to look into whether masks were in fact already legally required or would be soon. A responsible employer, by my standards, wouldn’t take such a passive and aimless approach to informing themselves about such an important and urgent question. It’s not a difficult question, either — it only required a few minutes of research for commenters here to find an answer. It’s a bit horrifying to think of what might’ve happened if you hadn’t taken it upon yourself to look into this.

  27. Mazzy*

    Subject: people who feel important by hoarding information.

    So I took over a medium-complexity task because the previous person doing it just went through the motions. I found a bunch of errors in it, to the point management thought I was making it up and had a third party verify what I was saying.

    Now that everything I said was wrong was verified to be true, the original party is coming back in with lots of emails, but not much substance. I think that they think they can just click a button or send an email or run a report, and the problem is solved. But that’s not how the real world works.

    What I’m writing about that really got to me was that I found out today that there were a whole bunch of reports and data that was getting sent to the other person about this area. I didn’t know this and they never mentioned it. Now they’re redoing the mailing list and still not adding me, even though it’s my task. I literally recreated that information by hand because I didn’t know it was available.

    This person has a history of acting important, smarter than other people, hoarding information, and generally looking down on people as being lesser than. There isn’t any sort of -ism, he’s equally a snob to everyone, which I thought I’d mention since those issues get brought up here. So I can’t go to my boss or his boss and say he’s sexist or something.

    1. Amy Sly*

      You’re allowed to complain about someone who interferes with your ability to do your job, whether the interference is based protected status or is just equal-opportunity interference. Just lay it out to your boss the way you did here: his data hording is causing you to waste time and miss important information.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      You can’t go to your boss to complain about Hoarder’s “isms” but you can go to your boss and express concern that you might not be receiving the information that you need to properly do your job. Be concerned about use of resources “gosh I wish I had known that that information was already available before I spent 8 days creating it!” In other words, the conversation tone shouldn’t be “Hoarder is a jerk” but “I want to do a good job and here are the obstacles to that, do you have any ideas about how to handle that, Boss?”

      1. Chaordic One*

        Very good way to frame the issue, Lady. If the boss is reasonably intelligent she should be able to read between the lines and come the conclusion herself, but if not, you’ve framed the issue in such a way as to make it clear that all you really want is help in how to address it.

    3. Katrinka*

      Who is generating these mailing lists that you’re not part of? Have you spoken with them directly? Email them (cc your boss) and state that they need to add you to the list because you are now heading up the project. If the problem persists, take it to your boss immediately.

      If it’s the former project guy, then tell your boss immediately that you’re not being given the information you need, despite telling OPG that you need it. You have gained some capital by being right about OPG’s mistakes, so use it.

      1. Mazzy*

        A third party is making the email list. Technically I could have asked to be added but didn’t. I’m sick of having to ask to be treated like an equal with that group. I also feel like I have too many things to complain about so didn’t bring this one up yet. I guess I need to, apparently this is bothering me.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I get it, I’m dealing with something similar and having the same initial reaction of “give me the info I need to do my job!” without having to ask officially every time.

          What I’m trying to do is two things: first, address it like an efficiency thing. Frame it to your boss that you need access to all the same info that your predecessor had, so that you’re not recreating work or information that is available but you didn’t have. That raises a flag that things aren’t running smoothly because your predecessor is still involved somehow even though the work should be all yours now.

          Second, go ahead and ask directly for the stuff they should have been doing all along. It’s annoying that you have to do this (and to be honest, I haven’t made all of my requests yet myself) but I’m trying to see it as proactively advocating for myself, not begging for inclusion. It’s easier to ask for what you need from people who may really not know you need the information directly, than from someone you suspect will only give it up grudgingly.

  28. Ant & Dec*

    I got written up at work. It was my first and only time being disciplined. I’m worried my boss will think differently of me now. Do managers forever look at employees differently due to one write up? My write up was for using the internet on my work computer for non-work purposes. We aren’t supposed to use it for anything besides work and it is monitored and there are no exceptions to this at all. My boss even says it applies to him. Besides the write up I didn’t get in any other trouble. One other thing that I don’t understand, when my boss went over the policy with me he also mentioned:

    the mobile phones must be off and put away unless it is our lunch break rule

    the desk phones are for work only, with the exception being if someone calls you for a true emergency and the conversation is short rule

    the email is strictly for work use only rule

    even though I didn’t break any of these and wasn’t written up. I admit I was surprised to be written up for a first offense but apparently this is normal. Anyone I told about the write up was not surprised (my colleagues and family). But I’m still worried my manager’s opinion of me has changed even though this is my first write up.

    1. Emilitron*

      It might feel remedial, but it’s actually great that your manager went over policy with you. That means: (1) they don’t want to see you getting in trouble again – yes, they like you and they know writeups look bad and they didn’t want that to happen. (2) they know you want to follow rules and didn’t do this maliciously, so they trust that everything will be solved if they make sure you know what the rule are.

    2. Katrinka*

      Can you appeal the write up? Have you been verbally disciplined for other things in the past? If this is the first discipline ever and you have the option to appeal, I don’t know the circumstances of why you broke the rule, but you can ask them to take the written discipline out of your record since it was the first time.

      Your boss probably read the other things to you because they are all part of the same rule and he’s required to make sure you understand it.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I would not appeal it. This is a very minor infraction, and a clear-cut one: either you did it or you didn’t. As long as you don’t repeat it, should not have any impact on your job.

        But appealing it – for something that’s clear-cut, it’s likely to look like you are resisting the correction, which would make this a bigger deal.

        I do agree, “Your boss probably read the other things to you because they are all part of the same rule”.

    3. Buttons*

      If they are a good manager it won’t, as long as you have corrected the issue, they shouldn’t hold it against you. If there is a pattern of not following policy then they will see it, but a one time thing, hopefully not. Also, that is a stupid policy, and one shouldn’t get written up the first time. A manager should just say “hey, btw, we aren’t allowed to use our computers for anything non-work related. Please do not do that anymore.”

    4. Mazzy*

      If it’s for something “simple” like this (some attendance issues, phone use, etc.) I might not feel that bad about them, especially if you change the behavior. I might actually be relieved you stopped and forget about it over time.

      If the write up is for someone more complex like “doesn’t take initiative and let’s things slide,” then I’d be concerned, because write ups don’t solve their issues and it means your boss wants to document it for some reason.

      So in your case, and I assume it’s either a call center or a more entry level role given what the write up is for, change the behavior and your manager won’t care unless they are horrible to begin with.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      Don’t worry about it. They are just putting you on notice. Unless you were doing something horrible on the computer, you are fine as long as you don’t do it again. You manager will quickly put this out of his mind. Especially if this came about through an IT audit. Now if he saw you frequently using the computer (or on your cell phone) doing non-work things, that would be different. But if it doesn’t seem like he initiated it, you are fine. As for the other lines, I’m guessing it is all information in the same policy so he was covering off the other elements to ensure you understood the policy.

      BTW, that is a stupid policy.

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      This sounds like the law firm I used to work for nearly a decade ago *shudders.*

      Anyway, if your boss is reasonable, this one infraction will not make him look at you differently going forward. You didn’t do something illegal or unethical, you just went on the web and browsed when you weren’t supposed to. If you were written up because you consistently broke rules and did something to cost the company money, then yeah, you would probably need to worry. But something like this is relatively minor. Just stay diligent and make sure you don’t break the internet browsing rule again and you should be fine.

    7. Bagpuss*

      A reasonable boss is likely to see it as done and dusted. You did something you aren’t supposed to, they followed procedures and wrote you up, and they’ve probably already moved on. Unless you make a habit of it it’s unlikely that it will make any difference to how they see you, especially if you are generally a good employee.

    8. Kate H*

      Not unless your boss is an extreme stickler for the rules. I was written up a couple years ago at my current job because I “spent too much time talking to a friend over work chat.” It didn’t affect our productivity in any way. Whenever I walked by my boss’s desk, he had a chat window open talking to someone (most of the people in our office aren’t doing work for the same company as us, so it’s unlikely to be work related) so I thought it was okay. It was over-the-top but I agreed to cut back on my personal conversations. It’s never even come up since.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You also now have the opportunity to be a lifesaver to future new employees, by casually mentioning that the glossed-over rule against websurfing & other personal computer use is strictly enforced.

      1. Chaordic One*


        You can also share it to some of your co-workers. I and several co-workers who were all hired at the same time have been getting “dinged” for random, minor and seemingly inconsequential phone errors. (Oh, you’re supposed to know this and it is stated in our massive procedure manual here, here, and here!) Usually things that would further verify their identities when they call about problems with their accounts. Anyway, it helps to let your co-workers know and you can learn from their mistakes, also.

  29. Blue wall*

    How is the job market now, really? What would I use to measure this/learn more/set my expectations correctly for getting a new position?

    (I’m in the US, mid-atlantic, looking for remote customer service/operations work)

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      I think it’s bad and getting worse. Health care and service industry are badly hit. Unemployment claims just went up again, the impact is starting to ripple out into professional industries. Manufacturing’s still pretty strong.

      I use U3/U6 (US govt unemployment statistics), quantity of job listings relative to 8 months ago, and my employer’s internal job listings (US South, Fortune 500 Tech co w/over 10K employees). Both the external and employer’s listings have *tanked*.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s pretty bad. Lots of layoffs and hiring freezes. There are some companies still hiring, but I wouldn’t consider it a good job market.

      What would I use to measure this/learn more/set my expectations correctly for getting a new position?

      See how many positions get listed in your area of interest? Compare how many interviews you get compared to how many you’ve gotten in the past when applying for positions?

    3. DapperDev*

      Ya I have to say, from the tech side, it’s pretty bad in my region. I’m a member of a few tech communities. They used to post job-listings 3-5 times a day. Now, at best, we’ll see 3 listings a week. A majority of the time, these listings are for management positions. It’s really rough. I keep hoping my employer is in a great place, because if I get laid off, I don’t think I’ll have many options..

    4. pancakes*

      Looking at current unemployment figures for the state(s) you’re looking for work in would be helpful, but keep in mind the figures may or may not include people who are trying and unable to complete filing in states that are backed up.

    5. Chaordic One*

      I’m in the midwest, and while I don’t work in HR anymore (I’m in accounts receivable) the amounts being charged are smaller than they’ve been in the past (because our clients don’t have as much business) and an awful lot of my employer’s clients are behind in their payments to us.

  30. Amber Rose*

    Management: We don’t need HR, we’re too small
    Warring Staff: *lawyers up after tensions inevitably boil over*
    Management: We’re going to hire an external HR company

    Of course, the damage has already been done, and my boss who is the only person who makes this job tolerable may end up being asked to leave even though she is technically the victim here. She, of course, is one of the people with lawyers though, so we’ll see what happens.

    It turns out that in Canada, unlike in the US, by law employees can expect a reasonable degree of privacy even with work issued devices, and employers cannot monitor emails and such. But it’s very unclear as to the extent of that, because the current accusation is that she “illegally” obtained chat records through “hacking” and has violated the trust of the staff or whatever. Even though my understanding is that she heard from someone that people were trashing her on chat, asked for a record of that as proof she could take to the CEO, and was forced to read six people spewing absolute bile about her to each other as a result.

    Gaslighting, right? Textbook. And if my boss leaves, I’m going to be forced to try and work at a place where the victim was pushed out of the company and I don’t/can’t respect a bunch of my coworkers, to the point where I’m not even sure I could talk to them civilly. Like. This is horrendous.

    I’m trapped in Mean Girls and I hate everyone.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Remember when my biggest problem was what to do with the mustard gas in my desk drawer? I miss those days!

      1. ampersand*

        1. I’m so sorry.
        2. I read many of your posts, but I clearly missed the one on mustard gas! (I once dealt with something similar at work re: poisonous gases, but thankfully it was not in my desk drawer.)
        3. Yes, look for jobs!
        4. Maybe write a book about this later, once you’re in a new job and have some distance from this place? :D Because wherever you work sounds fascinating–not exactly in a good way…

        1. Amber Rose*

          The short form: The R&D department was gonna run experiments using it and I determined there were literally no arrangements I could make that would make it not extremely deadly to use. I couldn’t trust anyone with it but I also couldn’t get approval to spend $500 to dispose of 10 mL of liquid, so I locked it in my desk and kept the key hidden and it remained a source of mild stress for a year.

          This place isn’t usually that fascinating, but there are an impressive number of poor decisions made here sometimes.

    2. Altair*

      AS the song from Mean Girls goes, “I’d rather be me than be with you.” I have no advice and all the sympathy. I would absolutely feel the same in your place.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Thank you. I really am just venting. The only advice at this point is “get out!” and I plan to use this long weekend to start looking around.

  31. LibrarianJ*

    What advice do you have for finding a new career?

    I’ve been in my chosen field or training for it for close to a decade. I love what I do, where I do it, and the industry that I’m in; I’m generally a high-performer, at a well-funded institution, and I was ready to settle down for a long career. But COVID has changed that. My institution isn’t in serious trouble, but they’re making extensive cutbacks, including furloughing my entire department on a rotating basis — and we’re really getting the vibe that my department isn’t valued (most other departments in my job category/tier were not affected). While they wouldn’t eliminate my entire department, I do think layoffs are a possibility especially if anything doesn’t go according to plan in the fall (ha).

    I need to start making contingency plans, but with much of higher ed freezing hiring until at least next summer, and the job market inconsistent (and saturated) for other library positions, I’m probably going to have to come up with something new. The trouble is, I really don’t know how to do that other than perusing the entirety of Indeed — this was my first career, and one I’ve been interested in for a long time, so I’m having trouble adjusting my mindset.

    1. Ali G*

      How about looking at your transferable skills? What are some things that you could take to a new position? When I was trying to transition from being a SME and move more into leadership positions, I read a job descriptions to see what I thought I could do (this is slightly different for you, but could still help).
      Also, just as an aside, there are “librarian” positions in government and private sectors too. My husband is an engineer and his firm has a library where they file all the results of their projects. They do a lot of work with Federal agencies and highly regulated agencies so they need to keep records. They have a librarian that on site and she operates that department (he even needs to “check out” reference materials).

    2. digitalnative-ish*

      You could look into records management positions (private and public sector). That’s where I started and my MLIS definitely helped. There are always people realizing that being able to find things is pretty important.

    3. MissGirl*

      I talked to a lot of different people with different jobs and went with something I would like but paid well.

      Don’t go into details like I know how to work this program and this job requires that program. Think big picture. For instance, I used to do graphic design. I moved into data analytics because I felt like graphic design is taking data and making it understandable. It’s taking chaos and creating order, which I thrive on. Completely different careers but they share some foundations.

    4. blepkitty*

      Since it sounds like you’re in academic libraries, you might consider research assistant positions. I’m also a librarian on the job market, and I’ve seen a few research assistant postings that would work well with librarian skills. There are a fair amount open right now, at least where I am.

    5. humans are weird*

      Librarian skills are broadly transferable if you can get your brain outside the lanes it’s used to running in. Do you have other interests (personal or professional)? Hobbies, causes you support? Maybe start there with looking for jobs. Don’t limit yourself to things that say “research” or “cataloging” or “resource management” in the description.

      As an example, my spouse made the jump from academic libraries to Care Coordinator at a specialty healthcare organization. The organization is focused on a patient group that she has been involved in advocacy for for years. She spends her time finding information and resources for a specific patient population, communicating with those patients one on one much like a reference desk appointment to make sure the resources match with what they need, and building community partnerships with other groups that also help this particular population.

    6. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Second looking for transferable skills. When I was looking at a major shift, I did pursue the entirety of Indeed (etc.) but via searching for job requirements. Like, software I knew, or “communication skills”, or… etc. That helped me identify a few broad career areas that were looking to hire people who could do stuff I could do. It was a first step, but it was both helpful and just a huge emotional relief to see the possibility of another path.

    7. Night of the Living History*

      I’ve been looking at state/county/city government jobs and I’m noticing a few that want people with Library Science degrees and library experience. I asked a friend who works at the Records Office if she thought I had a chance/should apply and she said yes, based on my museum experience and education. The spefically mentioned libraries through, so I bet that would be even more valued.

    8. Honoria Glossop*

      Late to the party and echoing a lot of what was said. You might narrow your indeed search down to jobs mentioning an MLS; there are more of those than you’d think. Also, you might think of companies that are library-adjacent that would understand and value your expertise. I work for a ‘vendor’ that provides services to libraries and there are people here in all different departments from marketing to tech to content creation that have library degrees.

  32. Wait for internship*

    I really feel dreadful about job interviews and also needing to announce resignation. I am currently unemployed and job searching. I am planning on applying to an internship program from my local government. Ever since civid started they seemed to have postponed the program, and I hope that they would have it next year. So between right now and the potential date of the internship, I would probably be job searching. I usually don’t have much luck with job searches, for it usually takes couple of months for me to be accepted into one. If I did ace an interview and accepted another job before the government internship began, I would probably face the fact that I might have to resign from the job I accepted within just a few months of working there. It would be awkward to resign so early. I wanted to get into government jobs because it might be more stable for me as I support my family. I am not sure if the government will restart the internship program.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You don’t know that you’ll get a job before the internship, and you don’t know you’ll get the internship. So just apply for a job now. And, yeah, you might have to resign after a few months, and that will be awkward, and you may be burning bridges by doing so, but if you’re willing to accept the consequence of burning those bridges, just know that you likely won’t ever be able to use those folks as references, and they may think badly of you if you end up having to work with them or someone they know.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1 to just apply. None of us know what’s going to happen months from now, so keep your options open.

  33. JustaTech*

    I think I need a gut-check/reality check about the new promotion system at my work.
    To start, I don’t really know what the old system was, because it generally seemed pretty random. Like, I went 5 years without a promotion, and then got two in 4 years.

    But the new system says (among other things) that for everyone who isn’t on the sales team, you must have a rating of 4 or 5 in your annual review to be eligible for promotion. Which seems completely reasonable, except that it is incredibly hard to get a rating that high because only 5% of the company is allowed to be a 5, and only another 10% is allowed to be a 4. So if everyone in your department moved mountains this year, still only maybe 1-2 people would even be eligible for promotion.
    Then there’s the other part: your boss must personally argue your case before the executive committee. The head of HR, when rolling this out, said he thought it was great, he loves to talk up his people. But if your boss isn’t the selling type, or isn’t in a good position with the EC, even if you’ve worked your butt off, you may not get a promotion you’ve earned because your boss isn’t a persuasive speaker.

    I guess I’m taking this poorly because I’m on the technical side at work, where we solve problems and plan for the future, but unlike the manufacturing and sales groups, we don’t have obvious metrics, so it’s harder for the EC, who generally doesn’t understand what we do, to see our value. Add to that the general personality type of people in our field (think the stereotype of scientists and you’re not far wrong) and it seems like it’s going to be basically impossible for anyone in my department to get a promotion without single-handedly saving the company a million dollars.

    But my real question is: is it normal for a promotion system to be limited to at most 15% of all employees? And for their promotion to be dependent on the persuasiveness of their boss?

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Sounds like stack ranking to me – the theory is that the group’s performance will fit a statistically normal distribution. Which works if your group has at least 30 people in it. Of course, by the time you have a group larger than 7-10 people, the manager doesn’t have the ability to accurately assess everyone. So, it works for groups that are simultaneously larger than 30 and smaller than 10. (In other words, it doesn’t work.) Mostly it leads to infighting and your best people leaving.

      Microsoft used to use this system (maybe not in quite the same way, the other option is to cut the people who get the lowest rankings). They don’t use it anymore.

    2. Reba*

      I think you are taking it poorly because it’s a bad system.

      The boss thing I think is normal — think how often the phrase “going to bat” appears on this site — although it seems this has been formalized more around individual raises rather than “justify your department’s budget request” or whatever.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yeah. To some extent, every person’s potential promotion is going to depend on the persuasiveness of the boss. Unless your boss is the CEO, they’re going to have to answer to someone.

        The rest of the system doesn’t seem like a good idea, though. It can be really de-motivating if people know that only 1 or 2 out of 10 of them are going to be eligible for a promotion. Even for people who DO get a 4 rating one year, they’re probably thinking, “what’s the likelihood I’m going to get this extremely hard-to-get high rating 2 years in a row?”, and are less motivated to go above and beyond afterwards.

        1. JustaTech*

          It doesn’t help that the vast majority of people are ranked 3 (70%) so there’s no real differentiation between “doing just enough” and “very very good at your job”.

          Last year I got hosed by the percentages system. My boss originally rated me a 4, and the folks above him agreed, but some time after the pay raise had been agreed to (and I had gotten my paperwork) the Powers That Be realized that too many people had been rated a 4 and I needed to drop back down to a 3. My boss was super pissed but agreed so that another of my coworkers could get the promotion he’d needed for years. My boss also told HR that if they seriously wanted to rescind my pay raise they were going to have to tell me personally, and not use him as the bearer of bad news. I got to keep the raise.

          And this is also after two years of going above and beyond and doing stuff outside my wheelhouse for the good of the department, but it was all stuff like organizing the major clean ups for the building renovation, and a major archive project, neither of which were considered to be “value add”. I flat out asked my VP (in a one-on-one) what kind of projects are considered “promotion material” and he gave me this long thing about there being a very limited number of promotions for the whole department, and other people are working hard to. Grrrr.

          1. WFH with CAT*

            Geez, I hate stack-ranking systems. As you’ve experienced, JustaTech, they can be terribly demotivating and skew performance metrics in ways make no sense in most working environments. Unfortunately, stack-ranking is still pretty common with sales teams and call center environments because it’s seen as a way to promote productive competition between team members.

            I’m not sure what to say except I’m sorry you’re going thru this. It sounds like your boss has tried to fight for you and others on his team, but he is also having to make decisions based on who will be hurt the least by this truly crappy system.

            It also sounds like you might have to leave the company for the good of your career. That’s may not what you want to hear, but you are obviously a strong employee with a manager who can provide a good reference. Now may be the time to look for a new job, before you lose heart completely and/or before your manager does and moves on. It would be awful to be stuck there, answering to a new boss who won’t fight the system — or, worse yet, loves it.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              It also sounds like you might have to leave the company for the good of your career. That’s may not what you want to hear, but you are obviously a strong employee with a manager who can provide a good reference. Now may be the time to look for a new job, before you lose heart completely and/or before your manager does and moves on. It would be awful to be stuck there, answering to a new boss who won’t fight the system — or, worse yet, loves it.

              Because this bears repeating.

    3. Venus*

      They implemented a similar system with us. If you get a ‘1’ then you need to have a chat with the boss about improving performance. It’s a bit for show, because in theory you could get better promotions with a track record of 5s but my job is based on specific skills and promotionsare based on those. Typically with tech it is knowledge and experience that gets promotions, not how you do your individual job.

      When they first brought out the system we had to attend a presentation about it, and the presenter seemed confused at the suggestion that we should adapt by moving to a badly performing group so that we could improve our chances of getting a 5.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I work at a (very large) company that does rank stacking and it sucks for all the reasons discussed. They make a point of hiring top people and then decide arbitrarily that some have to be in the bottom ranks? Fortunately, the way it’s implemented here it doesn’t affect merit raises too much but it does affect how vulnerable you are to layoffs.

        As for the competitive nature of the system, I’ve had three managers in a row advise me to change skill codes to get into one with a larger population and potentially less politics determining who gets a good rating and who is female, I mean considered less valuable.

  34. legal rugby*

    I’m in the lucky position to be both employed and job hunting right now. I’ve had three zoom interviews in the last few weeks, and I’m wondering about how to get a feel for things. I think both the jobs that I like had positive opinions of me, but while one of the interviews involved multiple team members and community members who would work with the position, as well as a frank discussion of how the position would be impacted by the current shutdowns, the other was just the boss, who seemed wonderful, and an HR person who asked formulaic questions. Especially since both positions involve teams that I will be working with or supervising, does anyone have good ways to elicit that information over zoom?

  35. Question about Using Paycom*

    Does (or did) anyone out there use the Paycom payroll system, from the perspective of a permanently remote freelancer or employee? I’d really appreciate hearing any thoughts, opinions, and/or advice.

    1. Paycom User*

      Hi! I’ve been using Paycom as an employee for about a year, and been using it remotely since mid-March. It’s not that great, but it’s manageable if you use the phone app. The phone app lets you create a 4-digit PIN to login, while the browser version makes you remember your username and password – that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but up until last month your username was a randomly-generated string of numbers and letters that you could not change, and my password has been reset at least 6 times, which makes it really hard to remember. (FYI, the password had to be reset so many times because any time there’s an issue with the system, our payroll manager has to reset our passwords. Luckily this hasn’t happened recently.)

      It also defaults to military time, so if you’re not used to that you have to dig into the settings to change it. That was a big issue for myself and coworkers – sometimes when I adjusted my clock-in or clock-out times, I would input “1:00″…which registered as 1:00 am instead of 1:00 pm.

      Otherwise, it’s not bad. I like that everything is in one place and easy to access (like W2s, paystubs, PTO accruals, benefits info, etc.).

      1. Question about Using Paycom*

        Thanks very much, Paycom User. I really appreciate your taking the time to answer. My question came up because after having had no work since about January, I’ll soon be starting a remote (yay) position doing work I really like (yay-squared) with a company that uses Paycom, and I wondered what the system might be like.
        At least initially, I will be using a browser; thanks to you, though, I’m now alerted that I need to keep diligent track of password changes.
        Fortunately for me, the “what’s that in military time?” game was one my sibs and I liked to play when we were kids. I have no idea why we found it so entertaining, but that familiarity has come in handy more often than I expected.
        Anyway, thanks again.

  36. EagleHen*

    I am the classic “long-time lurker, first-time poster” who is a big fan of Alison’s and this forum’s.

    And I’m looking for advice on my son’s career path, at his request. First the questions; then the background.


    1. Does anyone have any specific experience with the Google Coursera certificates and whether people who complete them are actually getting hired without having held a related job? He has some IT training already (see background).
    2. What other fields could he consider that hire straight out of a certificate/technical program? He’s tried programming courses, and they were not a good fit. But all other suggestions are welcome.


    He’s mid-20’s with an undergrad degree in communications (emphasis on writing). He had a B average in his major, with an overall GPA of B-/C+ from a state college (not flagship). Unfortunately, he did not do an undergrad internship.

    Since graduating, he’s held a part-time retail job (1.5 years) while working on two certificates in IT from our local community college. The certificates are related to help desk work and cloud computing. He finished the help desk certificate just as the pandemic hit, and lost a potential internship due to it being cancelled.

    He’s applied for innumerable jobs and internships in both communications and IT, with no success and very few interviews. Even entry-level help desk jobs seem to require a couple years of experience. His resume/cover letters emphasize his education, since his work experience is thin.

    Thanks for any advice/suggestions/resources.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Back when I was working helpdesk jobs, I had half a degree in Mechanical Engineering*, and CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications. For at least one of those jobs, I was told that my certifications were what led me to getting the job. It still took a while though.

      Is there any volunteer work he could do to beef up his application? I’m thinking of things like helping a church or non-profit get some of their computers updated, or contributing to the documentation or testing of an open-source project.

      *Half a degree means I’d finished my general education requirements, enough comp-sci credits for a minor, and about half the credits for the ME program I was actually in. I was also out of scholarship money and had just realized I really preferred the comp-sci classes…

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      My son got into IT without a college degree. He says that his A+/N+ certifications were the key to an entry level job. These are national certifications with a test you pay to take (like the SAT exams). The other exam is a Cisco cert. Your son would not need both.

      My local public library has Learning for free and that has A+/N+ classes.

      Good luck to him!

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      What about Technical Writing? We had a forum on that here last year that made it seem like it was a skill in demand, and a quick ‘technical writer jobs’ google search came up with 30+ openings in my area (technical hub).

      He can build a portfolio of this on-line, by partnering with programmers. There’s also certificates in it that he should be able to build off his existing technical classes.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I can’t say for sure whether those certs will help your son or not, but if I were hiring and saw only his certs and no actual IT experience, I’d probably look at other résumés instead.

      Is there any real IT experience he can get, even by volunteering? Or can he show some problem-solving abilities via online help forums or mailing lists or post up some scripts on GitHub or write some blog posts with tutorials on how to solve problems?

    5. daughter of an attack helicopter parent*

      I get that you want to help your son, but a good first step would be to have your son come here and ask these questions. He’s in his 20s, let him work this out. You can see from a lot of AAM posts that generally parents doing the legwork for their adult children is never beneficial for them.

  37. Alice (in Wonderland)*

    I’ve noticed a trend at firm where some staff are given perks over other staff, or can get away with things some other staff can’t. I feel like this is blatant favourtism but no one else seems to care. For example my departmental lead routinely tells our manager no or debates him on the merits of things. If I do the same our manager says as a junior staff member it is my job to do as I’m told without arguing. I don’t think it is fair or right that some are given special treatment. As far as I can see this trend does not fall across any discrimination lines or single out a certain group of people. It is arbitrary. I’m looking for suggestions as to how I can help to address equality issues at my firm so changes can be made.

    1. Emilitron*

      I don’t feel like your example is telling the story you want to tell. You’re saying that as a junior member on your team, you feel you ought to be able to challenge your manager’s decisions, but it’s really only your team lead who has that right? That’s just hierarchy, not a “perk”.
      Even true perks get unequally distributed, and although it can turn into “blatant favouritism” if implemented poorly, that’s actually one of a manager’s tools for rewarding high performers.

    2. Toodie*

      It’s pretty common in most companies that the thoughts and opinions of junior employees carry less weight than the thoughts and opinions of senior employees. It’s not really a question of fairness.

    3. Alianora*

      Got any other examples? Because what you’ve described seems normal, and also is not a perk. May or may not be reasonable depending on what exactly you’re trying to debate, but either way I don’t think that’s something you’ll be able to change.

    4. Emilitron*

      About how you can address it – work within the hierarchy. Talk to your team lead afterwards when your mutual manager gives bad instructions, and your lead can then argue with the manager (as is in their job description). You’ll establish your reputation with your lead based on providing good suggestions and good reasoning, and over time you’ll get the standing to take those concerns up the ladder more directly. It only becomes “equality issues” if your lead starts presenting your good ideas as their own – but right now sounds like keeping your name off it would be shielding you from getting management mad at you.

    5. BlackCatOwners*

      If the departmental lead outranks you, it may be OK for them to argue but not for you to argue. The privileges / expectations of a junior staff member are different than the privileges / expectations of a department lead. That not’s favoritism; it just rank.

      It’s favoritism IF you are peers. If you are facing that situation, in which a peer is being given privileges or opportunities, you can approach your manager with:

      “I am confused about expectations. Person A is allowed to….but you’re telling me that I am not allowed to…. Can you clarify why the expectations for our roles are different?”

      Or “My job description makes it clear that I am supposed to do Y. You have told me not to do Y. I’d like to understand if the parameters of this role have changed so I understand what’s expected and how I will be evaluated.”

      Or even “I’d like more opportunities to do X, Y, and Z. You’ve said those are outside the scope of my role, can we discuss whether it’s possible to expand the scope?”

      Alison frequently recommends speaking up as a group – do you other co-workers share your assessment that there is favoritism? You didn’t seem to think so.

      It may be that a total culture change is beyond you as an individual, though I commend you for trying.

    6. Katrinka*

      Is the departmental lead your supervisor? Do any of your peers argue with the manager without repercussions? I think it’s fairly common for managers to be willing to discuss decisions/take feedback from more senior employees. I don’t know how long you’ve been there, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a position higher than yours has more “privileges” wrt dealing with the manager. In any case, your manager has told you how he sees it and you really do need to listen to your boss.

    7. Marthooh*

      What, no. This is just your manager listening to someone who has the knowledge and standing to give reasonable feedback. It’s not a perk or special treatment, just ordinary on-the-job communication, working the way it should.

    8. Mill Miker*

      If this is a hierarchy thing, then part of the team lead’s job is usually to filter and distill the needs and concerns of the rest of the team, so that the person on the next rung up has more time to do the other duties of their job.

      Ideally, if you had concerns you’d be able to raise them with the lead, and have a discussion with them. They would be able to clarify the merits of the decision with you on the manager’s behalf, or – if they agree with you – debate the manager on the issue themselves.

    9. Chaordic One*

      In my office these kinds of things have to go through our team lead. It requires team members to be able to document the problem and provide examples. It’s frustrating and time-consuming because we are expected to be on the phone with customers and there’s no time to do the documentation, so mostly it doesn’t get done. Problems fester and rot. And so it goes.

  38. WineNot*

    I have a returning-to-work dilemma.

    Until last week, I hadn’t been to the office since March. I live with an immunosuppressed mom and am able to function fully and be just as productive, if not more, from home. Two weeks ago, my boss told our team that we each needed to be in one day a week going forward. I didn’t question it to him or my team, but definitely questioned the necessity of it for me personally at this point in the virus. I begrudgingly went in last Wednesday and it was nice to see people and work at my dual monitors again. Everyone wore masks, I sanitized and washed my hands constantly, and tried not to get too close to anyone. I figured I would just appease them and continue to go in on Wednesdays only.

    Two days ago, I get to the office and it is much quieter than it was the previous week. A co-worker who works near me quickly told me that “Tim” in our office tested positive for COVID the night before, though he was asymptomatic. I call HR immediately (who is also working from home). My boss isn’t in yet. I told her I know someone tested positive and am not sure what to do or if I feel comfortable being in the office/continuing to come in. She told me that she only cares that I am comfortable and if I feel more comfortable going home, to leave. She also told me the whole reason they have people coming in once a week is in case they need to grab paperwork or anything, but it’s obvious I can do my job from home and do it well, so there’s no need to expose myself and my mom to more risk. I leave work completely stressed, thinking about the small possibility that I got it from Tim and am also asymptomatic. I go home to continue working for the day.

    My boss calls a bit later to talk about me leaving work that morning. He is so condescending and passive aggressive and is like “well, we are planning to bring everyone back in the next couple weeks so it’s not like you’ll be working from home forever” and was trying to tell me that it’s impossible for me to get it from Tim with masks on and everything. I didn’t argue back, I just said ok, ok, ok, and got off the call as quickly as possible. I ended up getting tested just to feel comfortable being in my house with my parents. It was negative, as expected. My concern is what to do with my boss being the worst. He is notoriously condescending and an asshole. He is definitely someone you want on your team, and not against you. We have never had any issues before, but he is clearly pretty intolerant and I am becoming intolerant of him. Any advice is appreciated!

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Yes this. But warn HR you’re concerned about retaliation if he figures out it’s you who asked them.

      2. Katrinka*

        This would be my advice as well. Either HR or your boss is giving out the wrong information and it’s reasonable for you to ask HR for clarity. And you could ask them to intervene if your boss is still pushing it when they’ve said you don’t have to come in. But I don’t think there’s any way to not be in conflict with your boss, short of going into the office when he says he wants you to.

    1. Amtelope*

      So, was Tim still at work, having tested positive, or was he sent home? If he worked on a different day, but wasn’t in the office the day you went it, it’s unlikely you were exposed, although I also wouldn’t have a problem with your choice to return home. If you and Tim were in the office at the same time in the last couple of weeks, you should get a COVID test — that should be possible with a confirmed exposure, although I can’t guarantee it will be if you’re in an area with a shortage of tests.

      If Tim tested positive and is still working in the building, even if he’s asymptomatic, that’s … very, very bad. Like, “time to look for another job” levels of bad.

    2. Eleaner*

      It’s not impossible to get it with masks on, way less likely yes, but not impossible.

      If the case was the night before, some states are requiring the company to shut facilities to deeply disinfect. Definitely check your state/country public health orders. In my state, the order also says that anyone that can work from home needs to be working from home. I have definitely used the “Oh the wording on these is super tough, but so and so law firm’s interpretation say that…” Works in a pinch.

  39. Firefly's Second In Command*

    Ugh. I want to quit to home school my child. We live in a corona hotbed of activity and the schools will basically be open this Fall. We haven’t had a lot of time to process the school’s plans as they are constantly changing.

    I work in academia, not as faculty but as a fairly senior administrator. I don’t think I can easily quit this time of year without seriously damaging my reputation. I’m thinking about just giving two months notice (usual notice in this position is longer 3+ months).

    And then there’s my entirely founded worry that the economy is going to tank even further and I won’t be employable again. I’m just tired of worrying!

    1. Reba*

      So sorry. I think the reputational concern, while valid, is going to be substantially mitigated by all this (makes gesture indicating 2020 in general). People will understand!

      Do you think a leave of absence rather than straight resignation could be something that you negotiate / that your institution would consider?

    2. JobHopper*

      FMLA leave? The special child care leave due to corona? Request to be part time ( 2 days per week or some kind of home based half time position)? Or fully homeschool and work from home if possible. Such hard choices…

      Some districts are doing distance learning “live” and in the same daily schedule as in the classroom. Math at 10, Music at 10:30, etc. So, for my district, families would have to unenroll to have flexible home school options.

      Please share when you make a decision. In my area we are in session Aug 19, so at least we know what is going on and our school is being consistent. Our state is having each district decide and what is going on in Town A School may be completely different in Town B School.

      1. Katrinka*

        Neither FMLA nor the COVID parental leave will apply to a choice to stay home to school a child. FMLA is for medical/mental health issues and requires a doctor’s certification. The COVID parental leave clause applies to parents who have no care options for their children (no school and no daycare).

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Frustrating because our “choices” are:
          Full time virtual learning from home
          Send full time face to face, with the district acknowledging that social distancing isn’t going to happen because there’s no room.

          In an area that is currently seeing upticks big enough to hit the news.

          Haven’t broached myself yet, but am leaning toward “so do you want me to start working from home while they’re doing virtual learning from the start of the year and MAYBE able to physically attend after Christmas, OR do you want me to start working from home again when the entire state gets dialed back an entire phase 4-6 weeks in?”

    3. Senor Montoya*

      Can you take a leave of absence rather than quitting? Use up your PTO, go unpaid for any days not covered.

      Can you WFH? Don’t know how old your child is — if middle or high school, they can do a lot independently. Even an elementary school kid, depending on the kid.

      I’m so sorry! This is a terrible situation. I’d be freaking out if my son were still K-12. (As it is, he’s off to college out of state in a couple of weeks, his school is doing a pretty good job managing risk for housing and classes, and I wish he were staying in our nice, safe, boring house.)

    4. BlackCatOwner*

      Sorry for asking the potentially dumb question, but if you’re home schooling, can’t you start that after giving sufficient notice (whatever length of time won’t damage your reputation)? Is there a reason you would have to start officially home schooling in Sept? I realize there’s some regulation re: home-school and you can’t just not send your child to school and call it “home school” but it seem likes there should be some middle ground here? (But maybe not, bureaucracy being what it is).

      Can you find a local home school group on that could offer advice re: regulations in your specific state or county?

    5. Lucky*

      That’s an entirely founded worry. Can you go part-time or take temporary leave, and stagger that with (if you have one) your partner also taking temporary leave or going part-time? I think it would be much easier to go back to full-time after being part-time than to get back into the workforce entirely after a break, especially in a crap economy.

    6. Cabin in the Woods*

      This thought has been tornadoing around my head for 2 weeks. Our school will be doing a hybrid with 2 days in school, and 3 days at home “distance learning”. Aside from trying to figure out child care for the off days, I’m really concerned about the potential for repeated closures and re-openings and COVID cases inevitably happen at the school. I don’t want my kid yanked in and out of school a dozen times this fall/winter. Also I worry that the general environment might be more harmful/traumatic than helpful. Masks, can’t be near each other, who the hell knows if they will be able to have any kind of fun with friends or good learning experiences. For a hot minute I researched homeschooling, but I’m too scared to quit my job and and not even sure if financially it would be feasible. The last few months have been a torturous exercise in dealing with uncertainty, and I’m not sure I’m getting any better at it. Thank god I’m in therapy.

      1. Nita*

        We have the same deal being planned in school, I think. We did remote learning starting in mid-March, and I’d definitely rather homeschool. Too much uncertainty though. My husband and I both feel like our jobs are on shaky ground now, so it would be really something if I quit, and two weeks later he was laid off. Although, it’s entirely possible that my boss will get fed up with my limited hours and cut me loose before I decide whether or not to quit. It feels like everything in NYC is functioning only because businesses and individuals are eating through their savings, but the balance sheets are not adding up. My company still has only 50% of its COVID-related business back, and with what’s happening here, our city contracts will be drying up even more as tax revenue drops. The city is quietly emptying out… I have been able to park on the street since April, which is not normal here at all.

  40. Book Pony*

    I have an interview coming up soon, and for those who have been following my saga, I am desperate to get the hell away from my current job situation. To that end, I really need to make sure I don’t end up in the same toxic environment.

    I remember on one of the open threads, someone listed common questions they asked to suss out the creepy “we’re all a family here/we’re enmeshed” vibe from a company, but I can’t find it. Can anyone leave suggestions on what questions to ask?

    I already know I’m going to ask how they’re handling covid, and their thoughts on innovation, but any other sort of questions you can’t find on a google search would be really appreciated!

    1. ampersand*

      If you haven’t already, read reviews online (e.g., Glassdoor) to see what employees are saying. Also read client reviews, if applicable.

      I ask a lot of questions during interviews. If I’m interviewing with the hiring manager, I ask about their management style. I ask what kinds of challenges their department/office/the company is facing, or has faced in the past, and how those were or are being handled. I also ask about how the team works together–like what kind of interaction they have, how often they have meetings, etc. With so many jobs being remote right now, I like to know how often I’m expected to be on video/zoom for meetings (if the answer were ever “all day,” then that wouldn’t work for me). I ask how long people stay in particular positions, to get a feel for whether there are new ideas/people coming in, or if employees seem to be stagnating in roles. These types of questions have worked for me to suss out some of the bigger issues, as I think a lot comes down to management, how and how often people interact, and whether there are overarching company issues.

      1. Book Pony*

        Thank you! I should’ve specified that it’s a government job, so online reviews tend to be scarce or just not relevant for the city I’m in.

        Asking how the team works is definitely a really good question and not one I considered. Definitely going to ask that!

    2. CastIrony*

      If the job is something you see posted often, e.g LlamaDepot has posted a position for a Llama Cleaner twice in the past year, ask about turnover.

    3. Tabby Baltimore*

      I realize I’ve probably lost my window of opportunity to reach you, as you’re not likely to come back, but I’m posting in case anyone else sees this later on. I couldn’t find anything specifically related to avoiding the “we’re all a family here vibe,” but there are a lot of other AAM posts and commenter threads that might help you.
      In November 2017, Ask A Manager ran a column on how to recognize a bad workplace (

      In May 2019, a reader named MissDisplaced posted a whole set of interview questions ( she wrote to help interviewees suss out a bully boss or a perfectionist boss at a workplace.

      In this 2018 comment thread, you’ll see a lot of useful responses about how to ask, in an interview, how mistakes get handled by an employer (

      In February 2017, there were a whole bunch of great responses about how to screen out a micromanager in an interview (

      And while this is from 2008, it’s shorter set of interview questions to ask a prospective manager (

      Good luck. Please come back and let us know how it went.

  41. KV*

    I was laid off at the end of March due to Covid-19. Except I was never technically laid off.

    Our state did a total shutdown in mid-March and everyone at my company started working from home immediately. I worked from home for about one week after the shutdown.

    Then one evening my coworker texted me with a work question. I was about to answer her when she texted back, “Are you still getting paid? Don’t answer if you’re not getting paid.” I asked her why I wouldn’t be getting paid. She said that [Boss] had told her earlier that day that 25% of the company was being let go and I was part of that group.

    Note that this text conversation took place around 7:30 pm. There had been zero mention of layoffs to me during work hours that day.

    I immediately tried to log into my email to ask [Boss] what was going on, but I found out I’d been shut out of my email. I was also shut out of all the software and systems I used to do my job.

    I received one final direct deposit in the last week of March for the one week I’d worked from home. Neither [Boss] nor anyone else at the company has reached out to me to formally lay me off or explain what happened. I emailed [Boss] once from my personal email and received no response. It’s been 4 months of radio silence. 

    I filed for unemployment in April but was denied. I didn’t bother to appeal because I don’t have any actual proof that I was laid off. 

    What am I supposed to do going forward? Do I tell interviewers that I was laid off? Should I try to use [Boss] as a reference in the future or not? I’d been there less than a year. If not, is it ok to explain the situation if I’m asked why I have no references from this job? 

    1. Buttons*

      WTH. No they can’t do this and you do qualify for unemployment. You need to contact the the EEOC immediately and let them know this happened and file a complaint so you can get back unemployment pay. This is BS. They will be investigated and likely fined. Have you talked to anyone else who they did the same thing to?
      As far as future employment be honest, tell them exactly what those jerks did. Also, I would find them on GlassDoor and Linkedin and post what they did.
      I am so sorry this happened to you, don’t let them get away with this.
      I hope Alison or someone else who knows more about this chimes in on what you can do.
      Good luck!

      1. Natalie*

        The EEOC doesn’t handle unemployment, that’s going to be the OP’s state’s department of labor.

    2. WellRed*

      They’ve stopped paying you. That’s proof. Your date of separation is the last day you worked. It’ll vary by state on the best way to handle this. Did UI actually say you needed “proof” or did you just receive an automatic denial? Did they offer an appt (phone call, usually) to appeal?
      also, your company really and truly sucks.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This company is horrendous and the boss is particularly vile. How in the world did the coworker know KV was being let go, but KV didn’t?! What kind of garbage is that? And then to not even answer KV’s email to explain what the hell happened – I’m gobsmacked and furious on KV’s behalf. You don’t treat people this way ever, but especially not in the middle of an effing pandemic!

    3. Amtelope*

      You should definitely appeal the unemployment decision. Not paying you is constructive dismissal. You can provide bank records to show that your direct deposits have stopped.

      I’d try to get a coworker from this job to act as a reference, and just say really matter-of-factly “My boss stopped paying me without any notice that I was being laid off, and isn’t responding to email or phone calls, so I’m looking for another job.”

    4. CatCat*

      Reapply for unemployment for sure. The proof you need is that you are not being paid and totally cut off from work. You’ve been treated awfully.

      I would phrase it as being laid off. Do you know if your ex-boss is even still there or might have also been similarly just ghosted by the employer?

    5. Mill Miker*

      The… cynical optimist(?) in me is wondering if they sent you an email to your work adress explaining everything, and then pulled your access before you had a chance to see… that’s the only thing that half makes sense to me here.

    6. HR Exec Popping In*

      What?! That is horrible. You boss is the worst. Is there an HR department/person? They should be able to provide you with a notification / letter saying you have been laid off which should help you get unemployment. Even if the company refuses to do this, you should still appeal the denial of your unemployment. You need to let them know you were let go without notice. If it is denied, try to find out why. What is the employer telling them about your departure. Last step is looking at getting an attorney to write them a nasty letter which should get some result. I am so sorry. Things like this really drives me crazy. How can a boss and employer be so cruel?

    7. Accountant, etc*

      You need to appeal the unemployment claim, they need to be paying you that.
      How awful for them not to even have the decency to call you!
      If your employer contested the claim, I wonder what reason they gave.
      You don’t need ‘proof’ that you were let go.
      They stopped paying you and pulled all your access to software.

  42. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Query from a dear friend of mine who’s asked me for help and I’m stuck for a professional response (I’m reduced to swearing):

    Her firm is mandating a ‘sticker’ system, and she wants to push back on it because it’s ridiculous. People there have to wear a green, yellow or red badge/sticker each day and behaviour is regulated thus:

    Red sticker: you’re high risk, obese, have someone at home high risk or have tested positive for Covid. You’re to wear gloves and masks, not approach anyone of any badge colour, must stay 5 metres(!) away from anyone.

    Yellow sticker: you’ve had a recent negative test for Covid, have minor health issues or are slightly overweight and haven’t been abroad. You’re to wear a mask if you’re in the same room as others, but you can approach green stickered and yellow stickered people up to 4 foot.

    Green sticker: you had a mild case of Covid months ago so you’re no longer infectious, or you’re of perfect health and have nobody at risk close to you. Masks are recommended but not enforced and you’re allowed to sit/socialise with other ‘greens’ with no restrictions.

    This just….I dunno, I’m at a loss for words how to say this isn’t a good idea. Professional wording please! (Our emails back and forth are just swearing…)

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Apparently they’re touting it as ‘extra safety features’. The discrimination angle is good though, I’ll pass that along.

        1. Rosalita*

          BS on the extra safety measures. Its definitely discrimination. Id tell your friend to look into that angle. Also maybe throw a history book at them in addition to all of the medical books

      2. Mazzy*

        It depends if these are self-diagnoses or not IMO. If they aren’t, that is a problem. If someone says “I am high risk” then I look at it differently.

        Discrimination or not, the firm is taking on way too much responsibility in terms of diagnosing risk.

          1. Mazzy*

            No I mean self-diagnosis of how much risk you have. We often complain about people under-estimating risks and ignoring the whole thing, and then there is the other side (in my family LOL) that over-estimates the risk and I’m thinking, that little thing you had years ago was never listed as a huge comorbidity with covid.

            So I think the idea of people assigning themselves to the red or yellow group is a disaster.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer*

              I err on the side of ‘this thing can kill anyone, regardless of whether or not they have an underlying condition’ so I’m not that bothered about people overestimating the situation.

              Even if they’re healthy, and have no history/evidence of an illness, it can still kill them. I wish I didn’t know that.

    1. Margaret*

      Um, maybe send them some info on presymptomatic transmission. Frankly, I think young people with “perfect health” are, on average, more likely than people in the other groups to think they’re safe and take more risk on their own time, so are actually probably most likely to be asymptomatic or presymptomic carriers!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Also an excellent point. I don’t know why they’re assuming that healthy young people pose no risk to each other.

      2. londonedit*

        Absolutely. Nicola Sturgeon has just issued specific advice to people in their 20s and 30s in Scotland (which people elsewhere ought to listen to!) because since we started to ease lockdown measures in the UK there has been an increase in the rate of infection in younger age groups. They’re more likely to think they’re safe and to meet up with friends in larger groups.

    2. Alice*

      Why are people who have tested positive for COVID at work to wear red stickers? I mean, I’m assuming that’s current infections, because you have the green sticker past COVID diagnosis case.
      Sorry, no practical advice. Ridiculous.

    3. Disco Janet*

      Oh my goodness. Well, for starters, someone can appear to be of perfect health and in reality be an asymptomatic carrier of the disease, spreading it to others.

      The fact that they’re doing this by weight category is clearly discriminatory, as has already been pointed out. Yes, COVID can more dangerous for you if you are obese. But being overweight or obese doesn’t make you more or less likely to be a carrier compared to a skinnier person. And obviously skinny doesn’t equal healthy. So much wrong with that!

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        That’s part of my continued swearing. I’m a high BMI but that’s got nothing to do with my risk factor (the autoimmune disease et al does that) and weight discrimination at work is a real hot issue for me. Suppose it could be worse, they could be forcing overweight people onto diets to ‘reduce’ their risk factors…

        Will definitely raise that the virus doesn’t care about your weight, it just wants human cells to replicate in.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Suppose it could be worse, they could be forcing overweight people onto diets to ‘reduce’ their risk factors…

          That’s coming next.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Absolutely not ok. For so, so many reasons. But the best way to put it might be this:

      “In addition to contributing to some uncomfortable stereotyping, this categorization system forces employees to disclose or discuss personal medical information that they may not be comfortable sharing. It also contributes to an unfair hierarchy that will likely cause severe damage to employee morale. If the environment is not safe for everyone, then it is safe for no one.”

      To bring up exactly what this bs reminds me of, I am Jewish and you best be damn sure I am not wearing an alienating badge on my chest. But don’t bring that up because you’ll just sound hysterical. *eyeroll*

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        She’s Jewish and that’s her original complaint too, also not voiced because she doesn’t think that argument holds any weight in that firm. So we’re trying to find other things to say. I really, really like your wording.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      The only words that come to mind are “ass backwards.” Do they understand that the point of the protective measures are to prevent asymptomatic people from SPREADING the disease (not to prevent other people from contracting it). No, no — of course they don’t understand or they wouldn’t be doing this nonsense.

      Sorry, that was a rant and not the professional wording you are looking for, but I can’t even . . .

    6. Thankful for AAM*

      After I finished swearing I thought, great, give me a red sticker and everyone will keep 5 meters away. But can greens go near reds and yellows? (Cannot believe I just wrote That sentence, it fits the FB group “previously unsaid sentences in human history.”).

      If I had to work for those lunatics, I’d ask for a red sticker and stay away from the lot of them.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Greens are only allowed to get right up next to other greens. Yellows are supposed to stay away from reds and other yellows. Reds are basically to run in the other direction if anyone comes near them.

        (Sentences my friend never envisioned writing either….)

    7. Emilitron*

      To take the most-favorable interpretation, there is one aspect of this that I actually like: If I want all of my coworkers to be extra-cautious around me, this is an obvious signal requesting others to stay back, wear their masks, and consider if they’ve been engaging in risky behavior, before just waltzing into my office for no good reason. If the company can’t ASSIGN the red/yellow stickers based on their interpretation of whether I am at risk or not, but employees get to request them to add extra protection for themselves and their families, that’s potentially helpful. But the company has no right to decide that I am at risk (of catching it) because of my weight (?!) and if someone is at risk of spreading it because of their behavior, that person should not be allowed at work.

      1. Katrinka*

        No, the company needs to treat all employees the same and that should be at the level of most cautious – they should be having everyone keep 6 ft apart, not go to others’ desks/offices unless necessary, wear masks while at work, wipe down desk spaces, etc.

    8. Helvetica*

      I’m sorry, I do hope I am reading this wrong but are the red stickers for people who have tested positive…and are at work…while being infectious?? Or are these people who had it and have recovered but for some reason the company still thinks are infectious?
      And the differentiation between people who have and have not been abroad has no merit because there are really not many other countries which are more threatening, epidemiologically, to the US, than the US is to them.
      This is ludicrous and I don’t see any good reason for these categories. I think it would be worthwhile to appeal to the fact that there is evidence of asymptomatic infection, that masks protect everyone, and should be enforced throughout, and most of all, no one should be made to wear a colourful sticker and stand out as a “danger”.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I’m in the UK but your point is accurate because we’re in far worse shape than the rest of Europe!

        Did ask, and their ‘rules’ on categories aren’t that well described (quelle surprise) but it is guessed to mean ‘you’ve had a positive test but have no symptoms’.

        Personally I want to start throwing my old epidemiology and virology textbooks at them, but those things are really heavy and I have rotten aim.

        1. Amtelope*

          ‘you’ve had a positive test but have no symptoms’

          Oh, NO. Allowing people who test positive but are asymptomatic to come to work is such a terrible idea, I can’t even. Like, “possibly time to quit your job” terrible.

        2. Helvetica*

          Oh, well, that answer is *much* worse. Asymptomatic people can also become symptomatic!
          I’m also in Europe and it is true that on the continent, certain countries and/or regions have been declared red zones which require self-isolation – hello from such a country! – so people who have travelled should also not be at work.
          I support you throwing textbooks at them. I’ll come and help.

    9. Amtelope*

      Even leaving aside the discriminatory effects of this plan:

      People who’ve tested positive for COVID or live with someone who’s tested positive shouldn’t be at work (!!!!), they should be quarantining for the medically recommended period. Once the quarantine period is over, there’s no reason to treat them differently.

      And no one should be at work without mask wearing and social distancing. Young, healthy people can easily be asymptomatic carriers. That’s a recipe for an outbreak brought to your office by coworkers in “perfect health” who are also taking risks outside of work.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I think their ‘logic’ is that anyone who tests positive has had the virus and got over it…which isn’t how that works!

        (They’re not insisting on quarantine for people who test positive. I’m getting the impression their management is of the ‘it’s only like the flu’ mindset.

        As the emails from my friend go on I’m leaning toward ‘nuke the site from orbit’ opinion and suggesting she get out asap)

        1. Quandong*

          The more you write about this workplace, the more horrific it sounds.

          In your situation I’d be thinking less about how to reply to this dreadful sticker system, and more about how to get the heck out of that job and into a safer environment. I hope your friend is already applying to other jobs!

        2. Esme*

          You or your friend need to report this workplace. To the police and the HSE. The company cannot allow infected people to work on their premises!

    10. The Vulture*

      Oh, hey, wow, let’s just, not do anything that really sounds like it would make more sense as a teaching experiment that is meant to show how discrimination works, or a cautionary tale of how the Nazis gained power, a la “Brown eyes/blue eyes” experiment or “The Wave”. oooofffffffff

      1. pancakes*

        Or what happens with someone with no knowledge of public health tries to design a pandemic plan! There’s so little about this that makes any sense at all.

    11. WFH with CAT*

      Others have provided excellent advice and talking points for use with your management … just here to say that I’m swearing along with you. This system is totally bonkers, and utterly useless for preventing the spread of the virus.


    12. Senor Montoya*

      OMG. If I were your friend, I’d be tempted to say, “what’s next — yellow stars? pink triangles” or even “are we also going to need our employee number tattooed on our arms?”

      Or even: “Great idea! Seig heil!”

      I mean, what the actual F?

    13. Koala dreams*

      That’s awful! People who have covid or symptoms should be at home on sick leave, or work from home, not go into work. And distancing and other precautions are more effective if the majority follows them, including the low risk people. The other aspects are horrible too, but I just don’t know what to say.

    14. Mill Miker*

      I’ve seen something like this going around as a good idea, but also the exact opposite.

      Something like:
      Red: I’m high-risk or otherwise anxious or risk-averse. Please respect the distancing, be extra careful, etc. Don’t make me interact if it’s not necessary.
      Yellow: I’m feeling cautious, but as long as masks and distancing are in place, I’m comfortable.
      Green: Don’t do anything illegal. but I’m not super worried.

      I’m really misremembering this I think, but I think it was inspired by the “How comfortable are you with photos” badges some conferences have done, and was more about respecting other people’s boundaries.

      This version just seems like some kind of ranking system for judging people.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      This isn’t advice, but my reaction would be to refuse any sticker and dig out my old pink triangle pin.

    16. Diahann Carroll*

      What the hell?!

      That’s all I got, lol.

      Just wow – these companies are horrendous.

    17. Anono-me*

      I have so many thoughts on this, so so many.

      I think your flee and nuke from orbit advice is probably the best. Maybe also report the lack of quarantining if there is someone in media or government who might care.

      If I were her, I would wear a red sticker every day until I found a new job. I would also probably wear “My Christmas Dress” alot . It is red with big green circles and squares.

      Also I would be really tempted to ask HR the following: How will this work with color blind people? Aren’t like about 10% of the population color blind? How will that medical condition be accommodated ? Aren’t most of the people who have color blindness men? Doesn’t this have a disparate excludionary impact based on gender?

    18. Chaordic One*

      I seem to recall having heard of a country that forced its citizens to wear similar badges when they went out in public. I can’t put my finger on exactly why, but it really makes me feel uncomfortable. Not cool.

    19. Librarian1*

      THIS ISN’T HOW COVID WORKS. Even people in the “green zone” can spread the disease. Gah.

  43. Kind of Freaking Out!*

    When COVID first surfaced, I requested telework as a reasonable accommodation, including supporting documentation from my doctor. My request was dismissed, with the justification of “we just can’t do that here.” The position I have solely involves work over the phone and on the computer, and even prior to COVID, many companies allow for people in my role to work partially or exclusively from home. I was offered no rationale for why telework was not feasible; this is a large company with multiple sites, so it’s not a matter of not having financial resources to purchase technology for me to work from home. They alluded to the fact that telework wouldn’t be fair to other departments that can’t do their roles from home, but per the EEOC’s reasonable accommodation FAQ’s decreased morale among other employees is not an adequate reason to deny an accommodation.

    Soon afterword, I got offered a furlough. However my employer is now requiring that I return next week, and is still not willing to revisit telework. They are not willing to engage in the ADA “interactive process” to find an alternative reasonable accommodation. If I do not agree to return next week, they said they will count me as a resignation. I have filed reports with the appropriate state/federal departments and am looking into legal counsel as well. It sounds like if they claim that I voluntarily quit that I wouldn’t have an issue contesting my unemployment getting cut off, based on the conversations I’ve had with local unemployment lawyers who have dealt with similar issues in the age of COVID – this at least is reassuring. However, my big concern is losing my benefits. I would like to purchase an ACA policy so I can stay insured (COBRA is too much), but if I can’t recover damages in court, I really can’t afford to do this. (Provided the federal government does not extend the $600 extra dollars in unemployment, the cost of a basic ACA policy even with tax credits would be about 1/3 of my total unemployment earnings in a month! That’s not at all affordable, and unfortunately it sounds like I exceed my state’s Medicaid asset limit). I also am worried that in this awful economy it could take me a very long time to find a job. Particularly this is concerning if Congress doesn’t allow for the further extension of unemployment benefits beyond the additional 13 weeks they are granting. I wish my employer would just engage in the ADA process so I could stay at my job and not have to deal with all of this! Ultimately, over time I could lose thousands of dollars due to the discrepancy of unemployment benefits versus what I typically make at work. And my job was lower-middle class in terms of wages, so that income loss could have huge ramifications.

    The one thing I am thinking of to buy me time to find another job and keep my health insurance is to request FMLA. However, it looks like I am just shy of the number of cumulative hours worked that are required to qualify – unless PTO is factored into hours for FMLA eligibility? The other issue would be if filing for FMLA would undermine my ADA case. (I’m not incapable of working, I just need an accommodation!).

    I also am worried about what to tell prospective employers. I don’tfor want to say that I was terminated, but I also am not quitting. Explaining my employer violated the ADA would indicate to future employers that I have a disability, and they in turn could discriminate against me!

    Because I am a nerd I have been reading ADA case dockets to educate myself. What is really frightening to me is that many of the cases use the plaintiff’s name! I am pursuing a professional licensure program, and I don’t want the state board to find out details about my disability and extrapolate that I am not capable of performing in that field. If/once I do get licensed, I am concerned that future employers who Google my name may come across my ADA case and learn unflattering details about how my condition can manifest. I feel like I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I need to try and recover damages so I can meet my financial obligations, but I also don’t want to hinder my future earning potential due to legal dockets making my disability public information.

    Has anyone ever pursued an ADA case before – or considered going this route? Any luck suing for damages? How did you handle the stress of your personal disability information becoming publicized through legal proceedings?

    1. darlingpants*

      I have no idea about the legal stuff, that sucks and I’m sorry. I do want to say that if you live in a state that expanded Medicare, there are no longer asset limits, and you should be able to get on it the same month you lose your job. The rules have changed so much in the last few years that when I was getting on it my state DHSS asked me to verify my assets and I had to call them and point out the real requirements!

    2. Annony*

      Have you tried googling some of the names you see in those previous ADA dockets to see how much it actually comes up on a casual google search? That seems like a good starting point to evaluate the risk.

    3. Annony*

      One thing you may want to consider for the ADA plans is to contact an insurance broker instead of trying to navigate it yourself. Sometimes they are able to find a cheaper option that still works for you. It doesn’t hurt to make sure you know all the options.

    4. BRR*

      Ooh this is rough. I can’t speak to your actual questions but I know for requesting an accommodation that while the company don’t have to grant your specific accommodation, but they have to try and work with you. I’d try and press further. I’m not sure who you requested it to but if it was your manager, try HR. I’d also make it clear in email (bcc’d to your personal email) that you are not resigning, you have requested an accommodation and the employer is denying working with you.

      For what to tell future employers, I’d frame it as not wanting to go back into the office while covid rates were rising. I can’t figure out how to word that in the best way sorry!

    5. valentine*

      If you don’t get enough responses here, maybe email Alison to see if she wants to make it a post.

  44. CastIrony*

    Please keep me in your thoughts. My mental health has deteriorated to the point where I can only work one part-time job. I’m in tears!

    1. Anon too*

      I am so sorry. Last year around this time I had a PTSD breakdown, so I can sympathize. Since COVID I have been seeing a therapist on Better Health dot com and it has been great. I don’t have to leave the house, if I am too depressed to get out of bed I don’t have to. I can text with her daily and talk to her on the phone 1x a week, for less than I my co-pay was per visit with my previous therapist. If you can financially do it, I highly recommend it!

      Be kind to yourself.

    2. Amber Rose*

      These are extremely tough times, and I’m sorry they seem to be hitting you particularly hard. I hope there’s a light in the tunnel for you soon. <3

    3. CastIrony*

      Thank you. I had one outburst too many over being bossed around. and finally, my boss and I agreed I am a bad fit for the job I have had for years. I will look into therapy, and hope I become employable again someday.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Definitely and many virtual hugs too. I had a nervous breakdown earlier this year and time spent in a psychiatric ward isn’t fun at all.

      Just remember you’re doing the best you can with what you’ve been dealt. You’re holding down a job despite massive stress. That makes you a warrior.

      (Absolutely no offence to anyone who can’t work due to mental stress. We’re warriors too)

    5. Night of the Living History*

      I’ll be thinking of you. It’s hard to deal with the stigma on top of the condition. I hope you are feeling more like yourself soon.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Many warm thoughts and positive wishes. It’s tough out there, keep your own self-talk gentle. I wish you the best.

  45. Littorally*

    Maybe this is a better question to send to Alison directly, I don’t know, but I’d love to get everyone’s thoughts.

    How can a manager best support a direct report with clients’ racist (or other) bad behavior?
    This isn’t my situation yet, but I’m taking steps toward management and seeing this situation as a peer, so I’d love to be prepared once I do move into a management position. Our context is phone and email correspondence with clients. We are not traditional “call center” workers — my team are all highly trained specialists registered with our regulatory body, and several steps up the ladder from entry level. We are also in an industry that is traditionally very white and male. One of the people on the team is neither, and she has a noticeable non-American accent and recognizably “foreign” name. English is an official language of her home country, so while she has an accent to American ears, she is natively fluent, not ESL. Some of our clients give her a horrendous time; they question everything she says, give her a lot of pushback on instructions or information she provides, make her repeat herself over and over, etc. Refusing to acknowledge her as a knowledgeable and competent professional, essentially. She rarely complains about this, and a lot of what she’ll casually talk about with peers is not the kind of thing we can really escalate toward terminating these client relationships altogether, but more on the level of microaggressions. For example, if she’s verifying a client’s citizenship status, which is required in our work, some assholes will say things like “Well, I’m an American citizen – are you?” In situations that don’t rise to the level of firing clients, what can a manager do to make sure an employee feels supported, and as much as possible to deflect or suppress this kind of behavior?

    1. Buttons*

      People s*ck. Poor lady, as her manager I would be making sure she feels supported and is given the tools to deal with these people and is empowered to do so. I would want her to know that if she stands up for herself and these people ask to speak to her supervisor or report her, I would back her up and let them know that those sorts of things are not ok and my employee did nothing wrong.
      Tips for her:
      1. Decide if it is worth it? That awful question of citizenship, is it worth it to push back which is likely to escalate the situation or can you ignore it? I only tell people to bother with responses when the relationship is important. If this isn’t a person she has to talk to all the time or have a relationship with, I wouldn’t bother, because it won’t accomplish anything. If it is a regular relationship and someone she has contact with often then yes, she probably should address it.
      2. When people get called out on their racism they feel defensive and will tell the other person they are too sensitive or they took it the wrong way. One has to be prepared to clearly state what was said and why it is offensive and unacceptable going forward.
      3. Another great way is to challenge the person by pretending you don’t know what they mean. Citzenship question “why do you ask?” or if they say something about her accent “What do you mean by that?” Make them explain themselves.

      I wish people would stop thinking American= white and that any other human is less. :(

    2. Reba*

      I think one thing would be to have a conversation with the employee about what exactly would rise to the level of firing clients, and to be clear that the manager would step in firmly in those cases. Basically to say the manager has her back any time she needs it.

      An employee may not want the manager to intervene proactively but rather let the employee handle it as far as she feels able to. I think it would feel awesome to hear “you can’t talk to our people that way” from above, but I’m sure it depends a lot on the context of the interactions.

      If there are things a manager can do short of client firing or direct reprimand, find out what the employee would welcome as support. Maybe an example would be returning an escalation with “What Lucinda wrote is correct, you are in good hands as she is one of our best associates” or whatever.

    3. irene adler*

      My suggestion: Let your report know you “have her back” and will support her should she want to push back a bit or end the encounter with the client (i.e. hand off the customer to someone else-not fire the client).
      Nothing worse than experiencing boorish behavior and not knowing if boss will take the client’s side or yours when this occurs. Make it clear you are on her side.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Yeah, I think having clear actionable items is what you want.

      For example, if she has a script to go by to deal with rude comments, that’s good to have.

      If she has guidelines for what you consider unacceptable (by the way, I would consider that Well, I’m an American citizen – are you? comment to be unacceptable), that’d also be good for her to have.

      You don’t have to immediately fire clients, but you can let them know you don’t tolerate certain behaviors toward your staff. Hopefully, if they have any kind of decency, they’ll tone down that awful behavior. But they may also just fire themselves.

      Ultimately, your employees need to know you have their backs.

    5. TTDH*

      What *would* rise to the level of firing a client? It would most likely be helpful to her morale if you can define that and articulate it – certainly to your reports so that they know when to get help starting that process, and also to clients as part of the client onboarding process if that’s possible in your industry. Since she is an “only” on your team I would suggest going over it as part of a larger conversation about policies on acceptable client behavior, not just racism/xenophobia, because it’s pretty uncomfortable to be the person on the team that everyone is watching for their reaction. Also, to support her you and all of your reports need to be active in cracking down on unacceptable behavior and not feeding into microaggressions or inappropriate jokes with clients; it can’t just be her constantly having to flag clients’ bad behavior.

    6. Venus*

      Alison had a letter about a sexist client and how to handle it. Sorry I’m not good at searching archives!

    7. pancakes*

      In addition to what others have said, I think it would be helpful to have a process in place whereby she can hand horrendous clients over to someone else for her own well-being. A while back I read something about a code word people were encouraged to use with bartenders if they were on a dating app date that didn’t feel safe, along the lines of, “ask the bartender if [inconspicuous name] is here,” or “ask for [made-up drink].” I think it would be helpful to work out a plan for a couple people she can transfer horrible clients to without having to ask around or go into too much detail about how they’re being impossible. Having to seek out someone who has her back shouldn’t be its own burden.

  46. Disco Janet*

    About to lose my mind over how the school district I teach in is discussing handling COVID. They have committees putting together a plan, except last week the superintendent made it clear that the committees only exist to give the appearance of teacher input. He released info stating that while parents would have an online option, the district was looking forward to being back to school in-person, but that he did regret that social distancing would not be possible. WHAT. Union rep called him and was told that even if half of our students choose the online option, that means half of us will be at home teaching online while the other half are teaching in-person to full classrooms with zero social distancing. Again…WHAT.

    I know there is no perfect solution here and that every solution will make someone upset, but I think this is just about the worst option possible. It would make infinitely more sense to make it so that if half of all students chose the online option, teachers post all assignments online for those students to complete, then the students here in person can actually somewhat be distanced with an empty desk between each student. That’s still not six feet, but it’s better than nothing!

    We were also informed that we will be responsible for cleaning the 30+ desks and chromebooks in our classroom during the 5 minute passing periods between classes, twice daily physical and mental health checks with students, etc, making sure masks are being worn properly, etc. Oh, but don’t forget you’re being evaluated based on their standardized test performance and we have to play catchup from last spring!

    Just….wow. We went from “we’re all so grateful for teachers and they should be paid way more!” to “get back in there and put your lives at risk for the kids while getting up those test scores!” pretty darn quickly. We’ve rallied as a group in my district and were able to get 200 teachers and parents at the last virtual school board meeting. They were clearly flustered and not expecting the anger over this plan and are now backtracking, though the superintendent is being pretty stubborn. We’ll see how all of this shakes out. How are things going for other teachers (and those in similar roles)?

    1. Reba*

      Regrets! He regrets it!

      Good lord. I’m glad you have some community support in your district.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Right! I’m sure he would regret it even more if he was in my windowless classroom with 32 students per class period – so 160 per day – instead of sitting all by himself in his office. All of these people throwing around creative solutions and we just get back, “That doesn’t sound feasible – standard class sizes is a more simple option” Sure, but simple does not mean better right now! I am very thankful for the community members who have shown their support.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      …how does he expect you to sanitise that much in that short space of time short of just throwing a bucket of bleach into the room?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I was thinking the same thing – that’s impossible. Disinfectant has to sit on surfaces for a few minutes as well to be effective, so the kids won’t really be protected even if she did do a quick clean.

        1. Disco Janet*

          It’s absolutely impossible. I feel like they’re just saying what they think will make the parents and politicians happens regardless of whether it’s practical, possible, or fair.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      I work for a similar superintendent and I’m pretty stressed about it. I just can’t picture how I will have enough hours in the day to plan, teach 96-120 kids, assess, clean (!!), supervise, and support online students. I’m actually more worried about that than I am about getting sick.

    4. Not This One*

      Our superintendent wants us to be synchronously and simultaneously teaching remote and in-person. So I somehow have to learn to teach the 4th grade in a way that is equally engaging for the half of my class that’s in person and online. Mandating teaching of new content daily, so I can’t designate certain learning for in-person versus remote days – I have to somehow make it work for both groups. No technology updates being provided. And yes, we have to sanitize and also apparently restock bathroom supplies? I hate it.

    5. Nita*

      Wow. What a mess. I wish we could trade school districts. Ours can’t get its act together either, but in the opposite direction. They’re playing musical chairs with teachers and students and basically squeezing everyone (including teachers with kids) out of the system, while one thing after another reopens and does not cause a spike in cases. They wouldn’t close in March when things were clearly getting bad because “schools are essential and vital and cannot shut down.” Now that the virus seems to have hit a wall, the chancellor is more set on proving that he’s taking the threat seriously, than on getting this no longer “essential and vital” school system working again. The latest (may or may not happen) absurd plan is: have kids in school anywhere from 1-3 days a week, let the parents figure out what to do with them the other 2-4 days. Presumably many of these kids will have some kind of caregivers during the no-school days, increasing everyone’s web of contacts. Just so the guy can look like he’s trying to keep teachers safe.

  47. Mellow Yellow*

    I’m concerned I messed up on salary negotiations! This might be a bit confusing, I’m sorry, I’m not using actual amounts and I’m not in the US.

    I had a couple of great interviews for a job I really want. We got to the pre-offer stage, and someone from HR called me to discuss my availability, equipment, etc. Then she asked what I’m expecting in terms of salary. I quoted an amount Y. She said she might not be able to justify that percentage hike, since my previous salary was on the lower side. I replied saying I’m completely open to negotiation, if she could give me a number that was more in line with the organisation’s pay scale. She said she hadn’t worked that out yet and would get back to me in a couple of days.

    1. I am changing fields, but in the same industry.
    2. Say I’m making X amount right now, it’s on the lower side but that’s because there’s no cap on commission-based income. I adjusted for the loss of potential income when quoting the number.
    3. Other recruiters I have spoken to have said they are prepared to offer up to Y amount (in pre-interview talks), which is what I quoted here.
    4. In my initial pre-interview phone conversation with this firm, I asked the recruiter how much they would normally pay for this role. He said it would be about Z amount pre-COVID. This was twice what I asked for! I even commented on how my expectation would fit comfortably within their range, and he agreed with me.

    But then! After I got this reaction, I asked an acquaintance working in a similar role, with less experience, for their perspective. And they were flabbergasted that I asked for Y amount, said I must have misheard the recruiter on the original call. They advocated asking for a percentage hike on my previous salary. I don’t get why my previous salary should matter here, I wasn’t working in the same role. Moreover, the HR person didn’t say I would be overpaid for the role. She just said the percentage hike would seem unjustified.

    Thoughts? Am I crazy? Did I torpedo my chances? I am okay with making a salary below Y, and I mentioned that to the HR person. I just didn’t want to start off lower. I’m worried that they will think I’m asking for too much and won’t make me an offer at all. How likely is it that’ll happen? I plan to accept no matter what offer they make. Is there any way I can do damage control, if at all needed?

    If you’ve read this far, thank you! Any advice is appreciated.

    1. Annony*

      I think you should be more clear about what you make currently. I agree that it shouldn’t matter, but since the company is stuck on that it is easier to work with it than to convince them to disregard your previous salary. Make it clear that while your base salary is X, you typically make Y due to commissions. Since this job does not have commissions, you need the salary to be Y to avoid taking a pay cut. If they are just worried about how to “justify the percentage hike” then including commission should close that gap for them. If they actually want to underpay as much as possible, I would reconsider if this is actually a company you want to work for.

      1. Annony*

        You should also double check your numbers to make sure you are asking for an appropriate amount. Companies “willing to pay up to Z” could mean that they would pay that to someone with a ton of experience and asking for that as someone who is switching field could come across badly. Can you ask your friend what they make? That would give you at least one solid data point.

      2. Katrinka*

        If this position is a step up in duties/responsibilities, you can also point out that your previous salary was for THAT job, but the differences in responsibilities are A, B, and C, and that also justifies a higher salary. But, really, the amount of commission is what you need to bring into the discussion. Figure out what you made in salary and commissions total for the last year, but also each month in the past year.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      Can you point out your precious salary was not x but x plus commission so y is not a large increase.

      I dont know if previous salary is typically part of salary negotiations where you live.

    3. Reba*

      All you points 2, 3, and 4 are valid to raise in this discussion.

      You could even say that in some places, the practice of tacking salary to previous earnings is being discouraged, and so you based your number off of your market research, *including* what you were told by someone at the company! But even if their process is to tie it to previous salary, rather than market rate, you point out how you made the calculation — different role, and commission earnings.

      (IDK that might sound a little agressive?)

  48. job search*

    Just feeling very frustrated with current search situation. Had a screen that seemed to go well, was told I’d be recommended for next step. When I didn’t hear back, sent quick check-in w/thank you… and was ghosted. Weeks later, standard rejection letter. I keep looking, but am not having much luck.

    1. mph grad*

      Same. I made a spreadsheet of all the places I applied to since Febuary, and it was disheartening to see for how many of the postings I had been ghosted after an interview or just rejected from since. It made me realize I have less prospects than I thought.

      With this in mind, I am trying to apply for more jobs – but the issue is so very little appeals to me. I dont know if it’s depression, overall decrease in postsings, but it’s so hard to be motivated to write a cover letter for job/company you’re only so-so about and feel over/under qualified for.

      1. nep*

        I can relate to this–I just can’t bring myself to write a cover letter and customize my resume for work that doesn’t speak to me. Life is too freaking short. I know–if I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from, I’d toss that aside, right? In any case, it sucks.
        Best of luck, mph grad and job search. May we get some great leads and finally land a job soon.

  49. Whats one drink?*

    Ok, question about drinking on the job.

    I generally work 9-5, M-F. I’m working from home until we’re all vaccinated, but I obviously do not ever indulge during those times.

    However, I’ve recently had to deal with a lot more on my plate (layoffs, then turnover, just as we’re trying to start new things), and I’m doing a lot of after hours work. Generally, I’ll get off work, have dinner, nap or work out, then go back to work for 3-4 more hours.

    When I go back to work around 7 or 8, sometimes I’ll grab a beer or make myself a cocktail (with no more than 1 shot) to enjoy while I work. Is that ok? I feel like I should abstain….but I also feel like I’m not going to get in 12 hours days any other way.

    What do you all think?

    Added context: I work for a private college that maintains a zero tolerance policy for alcohol on premise, but all of my work is administrative, not with students.

    1. Disco Janet*

      Are you interacting with other while working, or is it independent work? If it’s independent, personally I think this is okay (goes without saying, though I’m saying it anyways, that of course we’re talking about having A drink, not getting drunk). I have a drink sometimes when lesson planning or grading at home after hours – so long as it’s not making my work sloppy, I think that’s fine.

    2. Buttons*

      As long as I am not interacting with other people I will do the same. If I am working on my own thing “offline” so to speak then I don’t think it is a big deal.

    3. Annony*

      I don’t really see a problem so long as you are not drinking enough to become impaired and you are only doing so after hours when working from home. The only problem I would see if is if you are paid hourly rather than salary. Having an alcoholic drink could make you slower so I would be careful to make sure your hours aren’t getting inflated due to what is essentially a recreational activity.

    4. m*

      It’s up to you to determine whether one drink is impairing you or not. For some people it would be fine, for others it wouldn’t. It sounds like you would get into trouble if someone found out, considering your college has a zero tolerance policy. But if you have a high tolerance, I don’t actually have an ethical issue with it. (This coming from a workplace where it was common to have a drink at an office party in the afternoon, then go back to work for an hour or two. I didn’t do it, but had no issue with my coworkers doing it.)

      It does worry me a little bit to hear you say you couldn’t get through the day without a drink, though. I realize it might be hyperbolic language but if that’s really the case, it might be worth trying to find another method of relaxing.

      1. Emilitron*

        OP did not say they couldn’t get through the day without a drink! They said “I feel like I should abstain….but I also feel like I’m not going to get in 12 hours days any other way.” To me that means that that after an 8-hour day, having the option to drink a beer while doing the extra 4 hours of evening work made it more likely they’d take on those extra hours low-stress, while if they had to be “on the job” from 8am to 10pm they would burn out and quit.

        1. Whats one drink?*

          This is exactly what I mean! 8 hour days I can do – even the occasional 10 hour days.

          But a schedule that’s literally sleep-work-eat-workout-work-sleep 5 days a week for months leaves very little time for myself. Having something that I like and makes me feel a little less stressed makes it easier to swallow for a while.

          (And I DO know that this isn’t a healthy lifestyle, but I don’t see any change on the horizon in the current US economy, when so many businesses like mine are just struggling to avoid more layoffs for the next year.)

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Have the drink. Seriously – be discreet and make sure you don’t become impaired. This schedule sounds awful.

      2. Katrinka*

        The college has a zero tolerance policy to drinking on campus. Being in your own home is not being on campus, even if you are working in your home.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I worked at an office that was down the street from a bottle shop. We worked until 6, but we often went over to grab a beer at 5 while we wrapped things up. So I am not opposed. I am still not opposed, even out of an office– a couple of weeks ago I had a super annoying afternoon meeting and asked my partner to make me a cocktail at 4:45pm.

      You know yourself. If your work is solid and you can do it when you’re more “relaxed”, then I say you’re just fine.

    6. Helvetica*

      I’d say unless your work slips, e.g. your boss points out errors or whatnots, it is perfectly fine. And depends how alcohol affects you but if you don’t feel significant changes to your cognitive state from a beer or cocktail, then I think there is nothing wrong with this. I work in a career which is heavily imbued with social alcohol drinking on the job, so I am definitely of the mindset that if you know your limits, having alcohol while working is not a grave offense.

    7. Senor Montoya*

      Does the drink affect your ability to do your work at an appropriate level for accuracy, efficiency, judgment (whatever it is your job requires). You need to be honest w yourself!

      I;m a lightweight, I would not drink anything alcoholic even working extra hours in the evening. My husband however would be ok doing so.

    8. D3*

      Whether or not it’s a productivity issue, whether or not you have contact with students, if there’s a zero tolerance for alcohol on the premises, I wouldn’t risk it unless I was working from home. Unless you want to lose your job over it.

    9. Indy Dem*

      A few thoughts –
      1. If a drink doesn’t impair your ability to do your work, and you feel it does help you unwind at the end of the day, why not. But, and not blaming just something to think about, are you drinking more now than pre-COVID, and if so, is this something that is of potential concern.
      2. I know at least a few college professors who will have a glass of wine while reading and correcting papers, so it’s not unknown in the college arena.
      3. While my company no longer does it, it’s not unknown for businesses in the same space as ours to have wine and beer fridges to have at 3pm on Fridays, so take my thoughts on #1 and #2 with that information in hand.

    10. ...*

      All the comments below are really surprising me this is beyond ok, you’re doing extra work at night every night of course you can have a single drink.

    11. valentine*

      I also feel like I’m not going to get in 12 hours days any other way.
      This is troubling, and something to tackle and interrogate. Why do you need to work 12 hours, and for how long? Do you want to hem that in at all? It’s not sustainable and alcohol can only make it worse and speed the crash. It would be very different if the question were, “Can I have alcohol with dinner or do I need to forego it on workdays?”

      I work for a private college that maintains a zero tolerance policy for alcohol on premise
      I wouldn’t risk it. If you had to give testimony, could you refer to drinking alcohol while working without justifying it (until asked to do so)?

    12. Anono-me*

      I think the way you’ve described it. (A single drink that doesn’t impair you in the evening occasionally at home after an 8-9 hour work day.) sounds perfectly fine.

      1. Never ever tell anyone at work or at all connected to the place about it. Don’t put someone in a place where they think they might ethically have to report you. ( People can be weird about lots of things, rules and booze tend to be two of them.)

      2. I know it’s hard right now, but please try to find a way to not work multiples of 12 hour days. It’s not good for you.

    13. Anonymous Hippo*

      Heck, sometimes I have bailey’s in my morning coffee when I’m working from home.

      I personally don’t see an issue with it. Obviously you have to keep it reasonable, and make sure you aren’t impaired in a way that affects your performance, but I don’t see how a single serving of alcohol would have that kind of effect on most people.

  50. MrsH*

    Eroded confidence because of work

    I’ve been wanting to leave my current role for more than 4 years now, but have stuck with the job because of convenience/comfort and a high level of tolerance and persistence. Despite struggling in certain areas, I’ve been sticking with it, holding on, pushing through, hoping to arrive at a breakthrough moment where I emerge as a more skilled, and experienced employee. I haven’t wanted to give up, and throw in the towel – recognizing that my colleagues are exceptional at what they do, and wanting to learn from them and keep growing myself.

    But reflecting on the situation, it’s apparent that I’ve developed feelings of inadequacy that has eroded my self confidence over time. I used to be very comfortable with work and feeling very capable at tackling new things. But the culture in my company has revealed my shortcomings in light of the excellence of my colleagues (not that they are perfect, but they are admirable in their quality of work). I’ve received burning critique over the years, and I’ve tried my best to learn from it an better myself. But without clear action steps, I’ve been really faltering in the dark, and as a result, not made much progress. I’ve come to realize that neither of my two closest collages and manager are really good at mentoring, and maybe not a good fit for me. Instead of being inspired by them, I’ve become super intimidated, a feeling of inferiority. I thought that this was only me – but a former colleague of mine revealed she developed the exact feelings like me, and felt a lack of recognition for her work, which was a reason why she left. If this is a culture thing – where is the crux? My managers are great people, and I actually really like my boss, but somethings not working the way it should here…

    How do I repair this mental trap? I felt like I lost a bit of me doing this job, but afraid I would bring with me my harmed self confidence into a new role.

    1. Web Crawler*

      If you can access therapy, I’d recommend it. There’s nothing as effective as having a person trained in mental health to help you work through your negative feelings. Most therapists I know are doing remote sessions since the pandemic. And if you have good insurance, it might be covered too.

    2. Night of the Living History*

      I would second therapy. Also, staying in your current job is only going to make your confidence worse. I know it’s hard not to worry about that, but by looking for another job, you’re taking action to improve your confidence, if only by getting yourself into a better workplace.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. Just the act of searching and finding jobs you think you could do reasonably well based on the job descriptions should help to pick your spirit back up.

  51. KayDeeAye*

    COVID reality check: So my company, which is traditionally NOT very open to WFH, made a sharp U-turn in March, and we all worked from home for several months. Since the end of June, they’ve been trying to figure out a plan that can safely bring everybody back to work, but that plan has changed nearly every week since then, thanks to Mr. Coronavirus’ cute trick of going UP and down and UP and UP and down and so on.

    The latest plan, which starts next week and continues through the end of the year, is: Everybody’s in the office two days per week, but our in-office times are spread out so that less than a third of the 50-person staff is in on any given day. This is to reduce the number of people in the building. In addition, nobody works in the office on Fridays in order to give the cleaning staff more time to deep clean everything. And they are being pretty good about enforcing masks in the common areas, stringently limiting the number of in-person meetings, and so on.

    This sounds pretty reasonable to me. How does it sound to the rest of you? Am I being overly optimistic?

    1. londonedit*

      We aren’t going back to the office just yet, but these are broadly all things that the company I work for says it will be doing when we do go back. I think it all sounds pretty sensible.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      How will you contact trace and are you still exposing everyone to everyone else? We found we had to make adjustments and schedule people so we limited exposure. Like the pods or cohorts people are creating for schooling kids.

      There must be an easier way to say all this. If you go in M, T and person B goes in M, W and a person tests positive who usually works W, Th, will person B be told and asked to stay home and self quarantine? What about you, you worked Mondays with person B who might have been exposed. If some people don’t have a set schedule, you won’t know that the COVID positive person also worked with someone you are working with.

      And if it does spread to person B and others who work on Wednesdays, they will spread it to people who work on Mondays. In other words, you might still be exposing the entire workforce and that could damage the ability to get the work done.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      At the moment COVID-19 deaths/day are increasing. The number of new cases is something like 60,000 cases/day, and that’s without the possibility that some states are deliberately underreporting. If “work from home” is allowing your company to function, planning how to get people back in the office is vastly, enormously, gigantically premature, particularly if is uses staff time that could better be used for other purposes.

      I’d say that until there’s a vaccine or evidence of “herd immunity” (which we won’t really see for a year or more) nobody should be thinking of going back to the office. If it’s a priority for anyone they’re wasting company time and should be considering other issues, like how to actually run the company.

    4. KayDeeAye*

      To answer some questions: We do have a set schedule. Person A will always work Mondays and Tuesdays, person B will always work Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and so on. I do see what you mean as to virus vectors, though. Hmmm…

      I should have mentioned that we are pretty spread out – even when everybody was in the office at one time, nearly everyone had either an office or a very large cube – and now than only ~1/3 of the staff will be in the office at one time, we’re *really* spread out. So if everybody wears masks the way they’re supposed to, it is very possible to stay pretty isolated, and that is in fact what we’re supposed to do.

      As for virus deaths increasing, that is true – but not in this area. And in case that changes, we’re supposed to go home every night prepared to work from home the next day. So do I think that it would make a lot of sense for us to just, you know, work from home? Yeah, I do. But I do feel as though the risk of transmission is pretty low, as things are structured now.

      1. Esme*

        That’s not great. You should do the same fixed days as the people you’re with, not just have overlapping ones.

      2. pancakes*

        The risk of transmission is considerably higher than it would be if people continued working from home, though. Why exactly is it important for people to return to the office? And why now? If the work can be done from home, why not continue doing it from home until a pattern of decreasing cases is well-established? Not merely an emerging pattern of decreasing deaths, but a well-established pattern of decreasing illness, considering how little is known about long-term effects? There’s a new study out of Spain, published in the journal Neurology, indicating that “57% of these patients developed one or several neurological symptoms.” (I’m quoting a July 17 article in El País that I’ll link in a separate reply). Other studies show the potential for lasting damage to the lungs. If the only reason for returning to the office is that people are tired of things not feeling normal, I don’t see how that benefit could possibly outweigh the risks of death and illness.

      3. KayDeeAye*

        And update (in case anybody reads this later on): Management agreed that the problem with overlapping work schedules was a big one, and we aren’t going to be doing that any more. Half (approx) of the staff now works in the office Mon-Tues, and the other half Wed-Thurs. It’s very weird that there are now half of my coworkers who I won’t see in person for the rest of the year, but whatcha gonna do?

    5. Indy Dem*

      From what you are saying, yes this is a reasonable way of dealing with having people come back to the office, if they have to. But, do you have to? Has there been a lack of productivity? Are there things that only can be done in the office? And please, please tell me that people are still meeting electronically at their desks, and not going into conference rooms (even with physical distance).

      1. KayDeeAye*

        I can work from home perfectly well, due partly to personal inclination but also due to the nature of my job (which is mostly writing and editing). Other people aren’t so fortunate, though, and management historically has had a difficult time with differentiation. If there’s a rule, it’s almost always the same rule for everybody, which sounds OK in theory but doesn’t always work out very well in practice. For a while there, it looked as though they were going to require just about everybody to be in the office almost full time, but…well, you know what it’s like out there, pandemic-wise! So that’s why they came up with this two-days-in-the-office plan.

        As for meetings, I’m not sure how it’s going to work. I’ve only been in the office a very few days since mid-March, but when I was there Wednesday, I saw one meeting going on during which they were much too close to each other, and had I been part of it, I would have noped my way right out of there. But just today, we got a new memo on meetings, and if I’m reading it correctly, the meeting I saw would not be allowed under these new criteria, which basically say “No, you can’t do that.” (In fact, I wonder if the meeting I saw was one of the things that inspired the memo. Probably not, but it’s possible.)

        So it’s still kind of fluid. I’ve been told by my supervisor that I should feel free to insist on participating remotely whenever I want, and I intend to do just that. I’m personally OK meeting for a short time with one person, so long as we can socially distance and we’re masked, but we really only have one meeting room on our entire floor that is big enough to hold more than, say, 4-6 people, so I’m going to be attending most meetings remotely.

    6. Dancing otter*

      Just to be sure I understand what you said, the office is open four days, Monday through Thursday, of which each employee will be there for two? Wouldn’t that mean half of the employees on site each day? Half is significantly more than “less than a third”, no matter the size of the staff.
      Or are they opening the office Saturday and Sunday, for a total of six days? That’s still a full third of the staff each day. Also, I personally would not be keen on having to go in on the weekend.
      It sounds like the *beginning* of a good plan, but someone failed basic fractions in elementary school.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Another update (again, just in case anybody reads this later): I’ve lost track of the number of plans, but at one point the plan (let’s call it Plan G) was to have the staff in-office hours scattered over five days, plus there is a small number who work almost entirely from home, and that’s when there would have been about a third of us in the office on any one day.

        Plan H is for half of the staff to be in the office Mon-Tues, half of the staff in on Wed-Thursday, and nobody here on Friday. So…I think it’s fairly workable, but let’s see how it goes over the next couple of weeks!

    7. Anonymous Hippo*

      That’s close to what we are doing. Everyone, not directly needed on site (ie all admin), was sent home in march for 4 months. Then they brought us back, but it is one week in the office, one week at home, with half the people in at any given time. Meeting in person either have masks or everyone is more than 6′ apart. Not greatest with masks, but governor issued a mask mandate while I was quarantined for two weeks, so possibly they are policing it better now. They also instituted unlimited COVID-19 PTO for the foreseeable future.

      Some of it is goofy to me like staff being every other week and management spliting weeks (ie everyone exposed to everyone instead of creating completely separate bubbles) but all-in-all better than I would expected the response to be honest.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        One thing is they left it up to each department manager to come up with their 50% schedules so it is easier to work out a schedule that works for each person without completely redoing the schedule over and over again.

  52. Tuckerman*

    What do you all think will happen with work when a Covid vaccine is developed? Do you think workplaces will require the vaccine as soon as it’s available?
    The reason I trust vaccines is that they are developed and studied extensively. I wonder whether something developed so quickly is actually safe? Is there pressure from the administration to get something out too quickly so the economy can reopen?
    Just wondering how this will play out at work.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think we won’t know how effective the vaccine is, and there won’t be enough vaccine production scaled up for everyone to use it, so it’d be extremely difficult for workplaces to require the vaccine.

    2. Ranon*

      I highly recommend listening to This Week in Virology to keep up with vaccine development news, they have virologists and immunologists and while they get deep in the weeds reading some of the data coming out of the vaccine studies it’s also made me feel a lot more confident in my understanding of how the development is going (as well as the research on therapies and all sorts of other interesting science).

      Even if one or more of the Warp speed vaccines is successful in phase 3 trials we won’t have enough doses on hand to vaccinate everyone at once so honestly I wouldn’t borrow trouble at this point, there’s plenty of other things to worry about. The phase 3 trials seem very robust at the moment (Moderna is enrolling 30,000 people in phase 3) so we’ll just have to see how things play out.

      1. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

        I’ll need to listen to this, too, but I understood that at least some of the vaccines under development were building off of the already-existent SARS and MERS vaccines, which are also coronaviruses. It was my understanding that this was part of why they were developed so rapidly.

    3. nep*

      Dr. Fauci addressed that issue during the hearing today (of course, referring only to the efforts in the US)–re expedited does not mean rash/risky.

    4. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

      My sister works in a related field, and she was telling me today that the reason that they think they can do this one much quicker is a few reasons but a couple of big ones below:

      1. Lots of countries are happy to put money into these studies proactively rather than the companies having to raise funds to study it

      2. A lot of the red tape that goes into vaccines is getting waived or expedited. So, if you need a certain committee to approve something, they are much more likely to convene a meeting specifically for a covid vaccine rather than make you wait until their biannual meeting and make you bid for a time slot in front of them!

    5. Bilateralrope*

      Remember that it could be years to produce enough vaccine for everyone who is will to take it. So I’m expecting some letters to come in from people who have an employer that demands a vaccine, but aren’t able to get it because there hasn’t been enough doses shipped to their area.

      If multiple vaccines get approved, there is also the possibility of some bosses deciding that only one of them counts. Even if employees dont have a choice as to which they take, if they even get told.

  53. Ali*

    The woman who was facing sexism at work earlier this week was advised to document everything. I’m also in a job where I really should be doing this, but I find it so time-consuming and draining. If you have been in a place where you documented everything, how did you get in the habit? Did you type things up after meetings, record things on a voice recorder, or what? How did you decide which meetings or interactions were worthy of documenting and how did you remember to do it?

    1. Altair*

      It *is* exhausting and draining. I send you strength.

      Here’s what I did, and how I would modify it now.

      After every ‘meeting’ (scolding session) I would go back to my desk, open my email, and email myself an account of what had just happened. I had a folder in my home email for these records.

      What I would do now is to create a template for myself with date/time/people present/type of statement, and paste it into the Email To Myself before eahc meeting, then pause the email and go in. That would make it faster to type up my records.

      I’d also bring a notebook with me to jot down notes during the meeting, and refer to them while writing my email to myself. ANd I’d keep a rubber band around the notebook. It’s surprising how even little measures can deter snooping.

      *sends you more strength*

      1. Ali*

        Thanks! I do think e-mailing myself is the best way to go. I have been using a document that I try to record things in, but since most days don’t have a relevant event, it’s hard to build a habit around it.

    2. Grumpy Lady*

      My friend bought a recording device that is also a pen. At the end of the day she would download the data and reset it for the next day. You might want to check the recording laws in your state but it helped her with her claim.

      1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

        Ditto Altair’s suggestions. It is VERY exhausting, in part for the extra work and the emotional labor, but once you develop a routine it becomes easier. I also had a template and emailed myself everything (to my personal email) after meetings and/or conversations and filed it away in a designated folder. Make sure you keep track of names (who was there, who said or did what) and dates (time frame and context is helpful too) —I developed a shorthand for this (eg. weekly teem meeting @ 12 PM with JD and SL). The documentation became much easier once I started WFH, but if you are reporting to your place of work here are some things I did to ensure descretion:
        – Lingered in the meeting rooms, workspaces after meetings to collect or further process my notes/thoughts and email them to myself
        – If something happened during an offhand exchange or interaction, I’d leave my desk/area in question and send myself an account via email on my phone so it would look like I was simply texting/checking my phone. I also did this from my desk too, it just depended on the situation.
        – Sometimes I’d make simple, brief notes on paper, or send myself a quick email, and then take time later, either outside of work, or during my lunch break, to expand/process and then would send myself a more detailed account.

        Good luck!

        1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

          Oh I also forgot to add that I recorded phone calls/meetings while WFH. I used Rev to record the phone calls, and the Voice Memo app on iPhone to record Zoom convos—I made sure I was in a relatively quiet area of my apartment, kept my phone close to my laptop, turned my laptop volume up, and joined the calls without headphones. I did this primarily for peace of mind but Grumpy Lady makes a good point. If you decide to use the recorded documentation legally you need to make sure it complies with your state laws.

        2. Ali*

          This is a good idea, having an e-mail template I can whip out if something relevant happens. Thanks!

    3. CastIrony*

      I have a Google Doc that I was keeping. It states the date (mm/dd/yyyy) and the time and what happened. If you don’t remember the exact date, just the month and year would be fine.

      For example:
      June 2020

      5:40 PM- when I tried to tell the Llama Dresser grand boss told us to only use the red pajamas, he cut me off, yelling ,”Nope! Nope!” as he went to get the purple pajamas out of the pajama closet so he could dress them up and offer clients purple-dressed llamas as well.

      1. Ali*

        This is my current system, but it’s SO hard to get myself to go dig out the Google doc and update it. Seems like it would be basic but I really struggle!

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      I don’t have any suggestions, so feel free to skip over.

      But why go to the effort? If you are going to expend that time and energy, why not use it to look for a new job?

  54. Anon-a-souras*

    Temperature Screenings at Work- What’s your device and is it a good one?

    We’re going to start doing temperature screenings and I need to purchase no-touch digital thermometers. Anyone have any ideas, tips or things to avoid?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We have iproven thermometers, they’re lightweight and one click technology kind of stuff.

      I wouldn’t put that much thought into it ;) I just shot from the hip getting whatever I could scrape together. All of them are pretty straight forward and easy to use.

    2. Indy Dem*

      Our company is using a completely touch free temperature screening – thermal camera hooked up to a computer – if your temp is above a certain threshold, your image is red, if not it’s a black and white image. Security staff is monitoring from another room, not even near the screening area.

    3. Bilateralrope*

      They just measure skin temperature, so they wont catch everyone with an elevated body temperature. I suspect a high false negative rate. Still, the screening is quick and can catch some people, so they do help a bit.

      Also, I had my temperature read as “lo” a few weeks ago. But that’s because it was cold outside.

    4. AnonEngineer*

      Make sure your instruments come with individual calibration certificates that are certified to UKAS (or NCIS or whatever in your country), and that state the calibration uncertainty at each measuring temperature point.

      We supply industrial equivalents to our process operators. Handheld IR spot measurement devices, with a nominal measuring range around 10-500°C. We calibrate them against a UKAS calibrated black body before issue and every 12 months thereafter.

      Our experience is that:
      -Some are rubbish to start with
      -some are rubbish after 12 months.
      -some are still good after 12 months.
      -This is not well correlated with the device cost and manufacturer’s reputation.

      The measurment uncertainty (google that term, it gets complicated, but basically means the likely difference between the true value and the reading on your instrument) will be affected by:
      -Measurement spot size & distance to person.
      -The natural variability of human skin temperature
      -Skin emissivity (does emissivity vary with natural skin pigmentation, make-up or fake tan compounds? I have no idea whatsoever).
      -calibration uncertainty
      -instrument uncertainty (If you calibrate in your lab at 21°C, will it give the same reading at 30 °C outside in the sunshine?
      -is the skin dry or wet/sweaty?

      Good instruments will come with documentation that talks though this, but basically there is a lot that can go wrong, and you are trying to take a precise measurment: Is this persons body temperature >37.8°C or not? As part of a layered approach (e.g. no penalty for self-reporting with suspecetd COVID) with good quality instruments it may be helpful; with uncalibrated cheap instruments and doing nothing else, it could be accused of just being window-dressing.

  55. AZLove*

    The owner of my company offered me a promotion last Tuesday and we left it at let’s talk about logistically how that would work and reconnect on Thursday. Wednesday he offered it to someone else who accepted it. Didn’t tell me he turned around and offered it to him until I came back to him to say let’s finish that convo. However the person he offered it to told me he had been offered it not knowing it was also offered to me.

    Obviously I’m upset with the owner but I also wasn’t going to accept the job because of some health issues I’m having.

    How do I get over this? I want to quit but also the pandemic and my job is flexible with work from home.

    1. Alianora*

      I’d be upset too, but considering you were going to turn him down… it hasn’t really had a material effect on you. If he did wait until Thursday and you declined, your situation would be exactly the same as it is now.

      Maybe you can file this away under extra information you have about the owner, and factor it into your dealing with him going forward.

      1. Buttons*

        “Maybe you can file this away under extra information you have about the owner, and factor it into your dealing with him going forward.”
        Nicely said, I think this is by far the biggest take away from this incident.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Agreed. It would be a totally different story if AZLove had intended to accept the promotion.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Is it possible you were sending really strong “no thanks” signals on Tuesday so your boss had it in his head he needed to find someone else? He still should have waited if he said you would talk again but it makes it more understandable.

  56. Fake Assistants*

    Has anyone ever done this?

    I read an article on Lifehacker about women having fake male assistants. Basically, women have separate emails where an “assistant” with a male name schedules or even negotiates on their behalf, but it’s actually the woman writing on her own behalf. Link in reply.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I’ve previously just put my initials with my last name before with problematic vendors or clients. Sadly, I have noticed a difference in reactions to E. Compliance rather than Emma Compliance.

      I seriously considered asking my husband to schedule/sales pitch to clients for a side hustle for me, as it’s still STEM/male-dominated field. Might still set that up.

      I once had a contractor waltz into a meeting that my boss at the time set up, breezily tell me (the only woman in the room) how he likes his coffee, and then get short with me when I told him that the break room with coffee is (3 rooms down the hall), feel free to help yourself. I thought my boss’s eyebrows were going to fly off his head. Another coworker very unsuccessfully was hiding a grin. Contractor had a very rough time in that meeting after he discovered that I was the person he needed to convince to give him the business, as it was my project, my budget, my approval, and I was the technical expert for my company in that area. I do still chuckle at the memory of how fast that guy’s face fell after my boss introduced me and *in front of the contractor* asked me if I still wanted to hear what the guy had to say. Heh.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          What made it even better was that the guy very obviously had no idea what he was talking about either. He couldn’t answer many of my questions, and would bluster through with verbal diarrhea.

          That was one thing that boss was good at – he took no gendered/sexist BS. Or ageist, for that matter. I do look pretty young. Boss also stepped in a couple times with other vendors to let them know in that area my word was law, and if they had a problem with that, we could find another vendor, because they were ignoring my emails/phone calls. But again – I was the young woman and as soon as a man stepped in, the vendors cooperated. I can totally see setting up an email with a fake assistant just to decrease the amount of crap you have to deal with.

      1. ThePear8*

        That’s a really enjoyable story, I appreciate you sharing it. Out of curiosity, did he succeed in convincing you of anything? Or had he already shot himself in the foot so badly from the get-go? I wouldn’t be surprised if he had completely torpedoed his chances. Maybe he at least learned a lesson going forward.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            If the product/service that he was proposing would have been the best fit for what we needed, I would have still seriously considered contracting them for the project. This was the salesperson, not the service manager, so in all likelihood after that I wouldn’t have needed to deal with him (and I would have said something to the service manager if we had gone down that route).

            But he was all ’round incompetent, and really seemed like he hadn’t actually read our full quote request, so he had no chance at all.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The movie wasn’t a fake male assistant. It was Whoopi fully dressed with prosthetics to look not only male presenting but also white.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But wasn’t it the reverse of this? She had to pretend she worked for a fictional man, not that a fictional man worked for her?

        1. Anonymous Hippo*

          It was, but for the same purpose…so that men would respect her decisions, because they thought they came from a man.

    2. Phoenix from the ashes*

      I’m a huge fan of jm redmann’s Micky Knight books (lesbian investigator in New Orleans, oh my), and there are some background characters – elderly ladies – who do serious computer forensics and hire young men to do the customer facing stuff because optics. Every time these ladies turn up in the books I stand up and cheer :)

      1. Gumby*

        I kind of love the idea of elderly ladies doing computer forensics. But I also love Mrs. Pollifax books so probably I just love little old ladies being awesome.

  57. Pretzel Day*

    I am a long-time lurker but I need some advice urgently. I recently relocated to a city in my same state to be closer to family. Due to the pandemic, I had difficulty finding a position at the same level as the position that I left behind. I took a lower level position and a pay cut at a stable organization. I have only been at my new job for a few weeks. However, a recruiter has recently reached out to me regarding a director-level position at a reputable and stable organization in my new city. How terrible would it be to leave my current position after a short time of employment to pursue this position that is more in line with my qualifications? Obviously, I would not make any moves until I have a written offer. I have been wrestling with this for the past few days. Anyone ever been in the same boat?

    1. Buttons*

      It happened to me one time too a long time ago, I felt awful about it. But the thing to remember is, if something change tomorrow for them, they would lay you off. The recruiting process could take days or months. See about the job you want and handle the resignation they way you would want to receive it.
      Good luck!

      1. Reba*

        Agree! Pursue the better job, apologize sincerely and be totally professional if it works out.

        I think Alison has answered a similar letter a time or two so look for her suggested language.

        1. Reba*

          I’m not finding a particular link for this, but I think it involves language like “this opportunity fell into my lap and seemed too perfect to pass up.”

    2. irene adler*

      Get off your back and apply!
      It may turn out to be a yucky job.
      And it may turn out to be a fantastic opportunity.
      And your current company has to be aware on some level that you took a pay cut/lower level position so you’d probably be on the lookout for something better.
      And, Buttons is right-they will lay YOU off tomorrow if business conditions warrant it. So no reason for you to feel terrible if you leave for this new position.
      I knew a guy who left a position of many years to go with a start-up. Six weeks after he was hired, the start-up closed; all were laid off. The promised funding did not materialize. (Yes he made sure to ask about their sources of funding and was told it was “in the bag”. )
      Only you have your best interests at heart. So take those steps to assure your best interests are protected.

      1. nep*

        So true–Business is business, and no one has your best interests at heart as much as you do. Period.

    3. KayDeeAye*

      Yeah, I think if you want a job with Company B, you should take it. Yes, it will burn a bridge with Company A, but so long as you’re polite, apologetic and professional (and don’t try to get another job with them down the road, because that probably wouldn’t go well), it’ll be fine.

      I do think it would have been kind of iffy if you’d sought out Company B on your own because you did make a commitment to Company A, and so long as they followed through on their commitment to you, you did owe them something. But this really did kind of fall in your lap, so how can you turn it down? Whatever you owe Company A, it isn’t very much – you owe yourself and your future a lot more than that.

  58. darlingpants*

    I work in a semi-contract position where the company who’s site I’m on (which is industry famous) treats me like a contractor but the company that employs me (who’s name is just initials) is VERY insistent that I’m an employee (and I do get benefits and have a manager). How do I put it on my resume? I’m considering:
    Scientist, Employer Name
    ABC program at Famous Company site

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      Do you need to specify on your resume? I don’t think you do. If you do, are you W2 or 1099?

      1. darlingpants*

        I’m W2. Having the famous company on my resume would be prestigious, and it would give a clearer geographic signal, but they haven’t actually hired me so only putting their name feels disingenuous and might mess up a reference check. My title is also higher at the company I work for than it would be at the famous company, so I don’t want to put only the famous company and imply that I have 6 more years of experience than I really do.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          Cant you list your w2 employer as the employer and say you did x great thing for famous company named . . .

    2. Emilitron*

      If the names are short enough that it all formats on one line (and initials help!):

      Scientist – XYZ Staffing – Onsite contactor at Famous Company
      – Project ABC, teapot handle science – did blahblahblah

      And if you’ve got bold/italics formatting that indicates role and employer in more straightforward job history, that can help you make your points here

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve been in a similar situation a few times. I worked at a couple of Government Institutions but was officially employed/paid by a gov’t contracting company.

      I handled it this way on my resume and it never raised any confusion with recruiters or interviewers:

      Contracting Company, Gov’t Institution, location
      – Job Title, Division (if applicable)

    4. Deanna Troi*

      I do it like this:
      Siberian Husky Groomer, Huskies R US, functioned under contract as full-time staff at Dogland Amusement Park.

  59. Quiet One*

    If Covid-19 cases in my area remain low, my office is looking at staff starting to return to the offices in September/October. One of my non-Covid related concerns is my loud co-worker. If normal speech volume is a 5/10 then she speaks at 9/10. This is sadly an improvement because she was politely asked to speak quieter and was previously speaking at a 10/10. There is no noticeable difference in volume while on the phone vs not.

    We have Client facing, phone heavy roles, so sound cancelling headphones isn’t an option. What my co-workers and I have tried is keeping headset on at times and ear plug in non-headset ear. This helps slightly but we can still hear almost every word of her side of phone calls or conversations.

    Anyone have any other suggestions?

    Our Manager has an office near us and is aware of the issue, but it is a non-issue for her because she has an office door that she can shut. The rest of the team do not have that option. Co-worker can be heard in her office when door is open.

    1. I hear you ;)*

      No advice, but I do have sympathy. Currently WFH with a loud (but SO beloved) human. <3

    2. That'll happen*

      I think this is definitely a time for approaching your manager as a group and express how the noise is affecting your work. Any chance you and your colleagues deal with sensitive information that shouldn’t be overheard by others (especially other clients)?

  60. Cruciatus*

    Can anyone help me reframe this in my mind? We will head back to work soon on a rotating schedule basis–probably 2 times a week. But I’m the only person who will lose full control of all of my duties. Part-timers are cross trained in my duties for when I’m out for a day or two, but now this is going to be permanent, at least for the fall semester. They will fill in on the days I’m not there…but they aren’t as skilled as I am in the day-to-day aspects (and now that it’s been almost 5 months of not doing these tasks it’ll be more difficult, especially since I may not be there to help). I realize it’s for my safety but part of me would prefer to go in every day to keep control so I can head off issues early. No other full time people at work are losing control over their duties, but my duties are meant to be done daily and on site, though I did ask if I could do them on the days I go in (no). I just feel helpless somehow. My duties were the *one* thing I could control during the pandemic and now I don’t have that. Gah!

    1. Gumby*

      Cross-training is essential from a business perspective because you never want to have a single point of failure. But it is also helpful to you on a personal level. By having those other people more fully cross-trained, even if it is rough at the start, you are giving yourself freedom. Freedom to take a longer vacation (one day when we are travelling again) without worrying that the office will fall apart in your absence. Freedom to take on other tasks and build other skills that are just as important and could advance your career. Freedom to eventually seek a promotion within the company since you are no longer tied to one position because you are the only one who can package the widgets the right way.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your last sentence is so important. It’s very easy to get pigeonholed when you’re the only one who can do The Thing – having other people know how to do it, even if they don’t do it as well as you do, frees you up to learn new skills that can help you to move up and/or on.

  61. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Has anyone heard their upper managers say ‘return to work’ to mean the end of covid-driven telecommute?
    I hear it a lot and I am looking for ways to push back. I have never been so productive as in the last 4 months, or as able to respond to late requests for evening meetings with teams in other time zones.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I lost a bit of text… I think it draws an important distinction saying “return to office” instead of “return to work”.

    2. Speak21*

      In my organization, the official phrase is ‘return to the physical workspace’ which amuses me but is a more accurate reflection. Every once in awhile someone in leadership accidentally says return to work and then catches themselves.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Ironically I just read Alison’s Kipling link and the title inudes the phrase ‘return to work.”

  62. Casey*

    I’m coming to the end of my internship and getting excited about applying for full-time jobs, which I know is a little uncommon. I’m just so excited to finish my senior year and move onto the next phase of my life! Obviously the job market has taken a hit, but I’m in a pretty steady STEM field that should be okay. Plus, I’ve got extensive internship experience and I read this site daily, so I’ve got a leg up!

    What are some things you wish you’d known when embarking on your very first job search?

    1. Nervous Future New Grad*

      I’m in the same boat! Are you my doppelgänger? Also in a STEM field, finishing an internship soon and getting geared up for a job search for graduating this spring! Would love to see what answers folks have for this.

    2. Kara S*

      Oh my gosh… so many things. Not all of these are search related (and many have been said on this site before) but hopefully they help you!

      1) The posted salary is probably not negotiable and you will be at the lowest end of it. I say this because I’ve seen people start in entry level roles and want a higher pay because they had a degree/training/etc, not understanding that their job was the easiest to fill and there was really no motivation for the company to pay a beginner above the starting wage.

      2) You will want to be at your first job for a while so that you can learn the industry as a professional, make a good impression, and really build your skills. Keep that in mind when searching and go into any interview with the mindset that you will be at this place for at least three years.

      3) Don’t freak out if you don’t find something immediately. A lot of my friends went into a post-graduation depression when they didn’t get hired for a few months. I had four months between graduating and my first full-time industry job — that four months was very scary and I spent a lot of time doubting my choice in post-secondary and thinking I had made a huge mistake. Looking back, I wish I had just enjoyed the time off because I didn’t get another break for four years!

      4) Look at your first job as an extension of your degree. You will spend so much time in the first few years learning how the industry works, how to work in professional settings versus school settings, etc. Even if the job is not the most rewarding, these aspects are incredibly valuable.

      5) This might not apply to your industry (I don’t know a lot about STEM fields!), but in my experience anyone fresh out of school is seen as a beginner that knows very little. They have basic technical skills and that is about it. Those who came in with an attitude that they were above anything or anyone weren’t usually kept for future projects.

      6) Research the company before the interview so you can speak to why the organization specifically appeals to you. It will make you stand out.

      Good luck!! :)

  63. Justin*

    So… dayjob still annoying.

    But, after getting an article published in WashPost last week, I’ve been interviewed (and quoted/cited) in several articles about educational inequity and race that appeared this week (Business Insider and, shockingly, Good Housekeeping). I’ll be on Texas Public Radio (idk why?) next week and local news (WSB? I think that’s ABC?) in Atlanta tonight.

    I’ll stop posting these so I’m not coming off as bragging. But I seem to have found a lane for my work on race/whiteness/oppression in education, and, regardless of the day job, this is gratifying.

    1. Altair*

      You know the expression, “you’re doing the Lord’s work”? You are quite literally making the world a better place, and I for one feel my heart lift every time I see an update from you. THANK YOU and GO YOU!

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’ve been following your posts on here for some time, and I am SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY to hear this! It’s not bragging – keep going :) I’m really, really happy for you. Thanks for the work you’re doing!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I second the “it’s not bragging” and ask that you continue posting – this is so cool and you should be proud of the work you’re doing. You’ll be leaving that annoying day job before you know it. Congrats!

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Same! It’s really uplifting to hear you’re getting real traction for your work, especially now. (By contrast, our company intranet just devolved into yet another flame war over “this race thing.” People are acting like it’s anonymous and it’s not and it’s getting as bad as any news story comments section)

        So please, continue to be an antidote!

  64. BethDH*

    TLDR; how do I make sure my newish boss knows that the work I’m doing during coronavirus is not really my job without sounding insulting or unwilling to help?

    My job is helping faculty/staff develop digital projects for teaching, including doing some sample projects that demonstrate both content and tech approaches.
    During the pandemic, I’ve been drawn into a lot of general AV/tech guidance on virtual programs and general workplace processes. I’ve been happy to do this but it isn’t the job I wanted or trained for and I look forward to returning to a more critical/creative role.
    The problem is that I got a new boss and I’m not sure she knows the difference between tech/IT work that involves supporting classes & our internal org and the kind of work I normally do, which is also support but about using digital tools for research & analysis.
    She has my job description but she’s just not familiar with the niche I’m in (which is new in our larger field).
    A lot of the tools overlap, which doesn’t help: think the difference between sharing google docs and writing google apps scripts to automate things with google docs; or using Dropbox for files vs using it to serve map tiles.
    Any thoughts on when / how to approach this? I don’t want it to sound like I’m not willing to do this kind of work when we need it right now, but I’m worried that since she’s new (started at our org 15 months ago and as my boss 2 months ago) this will get cemented in her head as my total job, especially since she doesn’t seem to get the difference from my job description.
    I also don’t want to explain it in a way that’s patronizing or seems like I’m splitting hairs.

    1. Indy Dem*

      It does depend on the boss. But I’d start with requesting a meeting to discuss your current duties. When the meeting starts, say outright that you want to discuss your duties pre-COVID, what you’ve done as an adhoc basis, and how you feel about continuing to do so. Also mention something to the effect “I’m going to explain exactly what I’ve been doing, so I apologize if it’s things you already know, such as the difference between supporting classes and internal org and using digital tools for research and analysis”. You don’t have to hit her on the head with the fact that certain things aren’t part of the job description, but do mention them as additional things you’ve been asked to help on. You can frame this as wanting to discuss how long she thinks this additional help will be needed, and if she thinks your time should be better spent focusing on your core duties. If she’s a good manager she will then ask for your thoughts on the matter. IF she does – BINGO!

      1. BethDH*

        Thanks, that seems feasible. I don’t want to sound like I don’t think this other stuff is valuable. It’s more directly related to her core experience and interests but wasn’t happening online before so there was no need for my tech involvement. It’s not that the project as a whole isn’t creative and high level, it’s just that my role on it isn’t.

  65. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

    Anyone know anyone who’s left a religious order and had to deal with job-hunting afterwards? A friend recently left a (Catholic) monastic order rather than taking final vows, but his whole adult life was spent there so he doesn’t have a typical work history for someone in his early 30s.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The only person I know who left a monastic order went straight to school and became a very successful instructor in his chosen field. What does your friend want to do? What kind of education does he have? What type of work did his order to? He should try to narrow down as much as he can; depending on the order, he probably has loads of transferable skills.

      1. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate*

        He was a discalced Carmelite friar, lots of theological and spiritual advice to their cloistered nuns. Eventually he wants to be a theology or philosophy professor but he wants some real world experience before going back to school. (He got his BA while in the order.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          What kind of real world experience does he want? How far away from the Church does he want to get? I immediately think he would be great in a church admin role, but then, I am a complete outsider. And if he left because he wants a totally secular life, then that might not work either. But maybe something counseling- or teaching-adjacent, like office or school admin work?

        2. Asenath*

          That makes it a bit more of a challenge! People I know who left religious orders often went into the same or related fields, but they were in active orders – teachers got teaching jobs in secular schools, nurses or hospital administrators did the same in hospitals, I think some went into social work. Jobs for people with academic expertise are harder to find. It’s sometimes possible to work your way into an academic setting by taking temporary contracts (as staff rather than faculty, I mean), although I suspect they’re getting thin on the ground too. They might be less likely than other employers to dismiss a degree in theology as being not particularly relevant to anything. In general, though, I wouldn’t expect the period in the religious order to be seen as a kind of gap in employment. I’d think it might be seen as employment that isn’t particularly relevant, so it’s really important to explain what skills were developed while in the order. He’s probably got a lot of them.

        3. KayDeeAye*

          The order of nuns who ran the hospital (and Catholic school) in my hometown disbanded when I was a kid, which I remember really well even though I’m not Catholic because both of my parents worked for that hospital. But like those Asenath mentions, they all (except the elderly ones) just transitioned into the secular version of their former jobs, which were mostly nurses or teachers.

        4. atthebeachmom*

          A few thoughts depending on what kind of real world experience he wants. I worked as an orderly in an operating room when I was pre-med, and it convinced me not to go to med school. He could quite likely get a job in fields that are traditionally female. He could be hired as a teacher. He could be hired by his state’s child welfare agency. Or he could try being a milieu staff in a psych hospital, residential program, homeless shelter, group home etc. He could be an aide in a nursing home. If he wants to teach at college some day, maybe he could be in the admissions or financial aid office or an office coordinator in one of the departments. He needs to figure out how real he wants his experience to be.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            OP, some great ideas here.

            I’d definitely recommend being strategic. If he wants to teach then get involved with schools on a slower level.
            I’d also recommend doing some volunteer work, again choosing strategically. I am not sure what “real” means to him. I grew up Catholic. From what little I have read clergy are not used to doing things themselves. This may have changed OR this may not have been as big an issue as what I read about. But using this as a starting point, he does not have to take a job cooking to learn how to cook. Likewise with laundry, gardening and many other regular tasks. Possibly he can meet some of his goals on his own time just by doing “life”.

            Going in a different direction, the local community college here offers many types of hands-on continuing/adult ed courses that may interest him. Additionally, a lot of libraries are standing on their collective heads to help people find things to learn and do, so he may want to check out freebies through his local library.

    2. Grumpy Lady*

      My dad was on his way to become a Catholic priest but left after the first year. He ended up going to school for a teaching certificate and taught middle school for 35 years. So teaching is definitely doable.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      The only one I know who did this worked at a Catholic School for a few years to establish a work history. They were about the only ones who would hire him – no one else would really understand what he had been doing. Now that would be compounded by the number of people with more common work histories who are currently unemployed.

    4. Chaordic One*

      The people I’m aware of are similar to the other examples given. I knew of a Catholic priest and nun who left their respective orders to marry each other and who found work as social workers. Another priest who left his order to marry became a school teacher and later a school librarian. A nun who left her order to marry desperately wanted to bcome a teacher and was certified, but because she lived in a town with a declining school enrollment she could only find work as a social worker.

      Then there were a couple of cases that didn’t turn out so well. I knew of a “brother” who taught in a Catholic school and after leaving his order was unable to find work teaching. He ended up working in a bookstore for many years, then worked as a gardener before he retired. (He came out and moved-in with his boyfriend.) Similarly, I knew of a young woman who left the convent and had no practical real world work experience. She also ended up working in a bookstore.

  66. Jennifer*

    Yesterday’s question about the childcare stipend made me wonder why there is so much animosity between parents and non-parents in the workplace? Personally I’ve run into an equal amount of parents and non-parents that were jerks. I think in any group of people there are a certain percentage that are jerks. But painting an entire group with a broad brush because of a few bad experiences is bigotry, plain and simple.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I don’t understand it either. Nor have I seen this bigotry play out in real life, thankfully for me and my small sphere. You’re exactly right, it’s bigotry and that’s why it doesn’t make sense, sweeping general judgements over any group of people is absurd and unnecessary. Just because “it happens” doesn’t mean it should be given this much thought or worry. Oh no, a bigot is mad, boo…hoo.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      I think it’s unfair to paint either group with any brush that has been dipped in negativity. The brush should be used on the employer and the managers who treat each group terribly, but in different ways.

      Childfree people are often told to pick up the work slack for parents who have to take kids to doctor’s appointments, soccer games, or whatever. I have worked at two companies where it was expected that childfree people would put in 50-60 (salaried) hours but parents were OK to just put in 30-40. And the parents got more face time with leadership because leadership consisted of parents and they’d all bond over child things. Huge resentments built up.

      Parents are often given short-shrift by employers when it comes to time off to take care of child-related things, starting with pregnancy and birth. Parents, particularly women, are sidelined in their careers because employers worry about giving them high-profile projects, thinking that they might drop the ball on it because of their conflicting childcare duties. Both men and women can also have their careers stymied if they prefer to spend quality time with their kids instead of working 10-15 hours a day, six to seven days a week.

      And, like yesterday’s discussion, each group gets upset when they see their employer offer a benefit that only applies to the other group. The party to be upset with is the company, but that’s a dangerous stance to take if you need that income; so people default to blaming the group who gets the benefit.

      1. Jennifer*

        Exactly. It’s the company at fault here, not the individuals. Even if they are behaving badly, it’s the company’s job to handle that.

        It reminds me of how people are complaining about people not wanting to return to work in unsafe environments because they make more on unemployment. It’s not their fault. We should be asking why aren’t their companies paying them a living wage or providing a safe environment?

        1. Altair*

          Word. I wish people would consider more who benefits from “divide and conquer” or rather “divide and continue to oppress”.

        2. TTDH*

          Absolutely. I don’t doubt the experiences of the commenters on either side, but bad management is what actually led to those experiences and those crappy environments, not the existence of people with different family configurations and needs than your own.

    3. Altair*

      It is pretty grim, isn’t it?

      I think one factor is that many people, in seeking to affirm their personal decision not to do something, feel the need to denigrate the activity as a whole. This goes double for activities which are linked to certain demographic groups. For example, I used to have a friend who felt pressured to cook because she’s female, so she constantly talked about how awful cooking is and how just buying ready made food is much more efficient, etc. I love to cook, and I found this kind of depressing.

      I think some of that happens between childfree people and parents, whipped up by jerks on both sides. People who personally don’t want to have children sometimes feel the need to attack the whole concept and any parents ever; some parents feel invalidated if other people choose not to have children and attack them for it. I think here on AAM we have a fair group of the former, at least, but I think they may have developed in part from exposure to the latter in other places.

      And so the rest of us, trying to uphold nuance and balance, get caught in the crossfire. :(

      Anyway that’s not all of it but I think that’s one aspect.

      1. Jennifer*

        I find people are the same way about marriage. If you don’t want to be married, great. If you had a horrible marriage and are happier single, great. But you don’t need to put me down to make yourself feel better. Makes you wonder if they really are all that happy with their decision.

    4. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Own personal opinion?

      I’ve worked for an employer who certainly helped worsen any perceived rift.

      Person A needs time off for XYZ thing related to kid
      However, we’re so low-staffed that taking time off for one person means that three other people have to absorb their workload for the day.
      So now Persons B, C, and D are bent that they have roughly 33% more work to do.
      Person B and Person D have kids and understand that this happens. Person C doesn’t, and because the employer frames it as “Person A needs time off for their kids AGAIN” as opposed to “we don’t have enough people and that needs to be addressed”, and Person C never sees the “benefit” of having time off for this reason? There you go.

      Granted, that was an all around trash heap of employment, but I’ve seen similar in other companies through the years.

      1. Jennifer*

        I wish people could see that it’s management driving that problem, not the parents.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Exactly. Pennalynn Lott phrased it much more completely above, but that’s exactly it.

    5. Asenath*

      I don’t understand it myself. Such feelings obviously exist, but as someone who was childless throughout her working life, I can’t say I was ever expected to cover for or sacrifice for co-workers with children, or put down because I had none. Sure, I ran into my share of jerks, but it never seems to make sense to categorize them by whether or not they had children.

    6. Anonymous at a University*

      At one point I worked with someone who told me, over and over, that I would never understand real love because I didn’t have children, and that I would never understand real pain because I’m willingly childless instead of infertile. She was a jerk and hard to work with. Other people (co-workers, my immediate supervisor, the grandboss) kept saying, “Oh, well, you can’t expect her to [finish work on time/be polite to you/answer your e-mails/stop lecturing you] because she has KIDS! Kids are so much work! Precious babies!” The last one kept being repeated even though her “babies” were all in their early 20’s and late teens.

      I’m lucky to be out of that place now, but it still takes a moment, if someone says something to me about how I’ll “never understand X” because I don’t have kids, or wants me to cover for them because of their kids (like someone who asked me to lie about her being in a meeting she didn’t attend), to remember that I’m not in that place anymore and it’s not a widespread pattern where I am now. I just say “No” and go on with it, because now I’m in a workplace culture that doesn’t support that sort of nonsense. It’s actually been easier with the pandemic to remind myself that working parents face all sorts of challenges and it’s affecting everyone, and that not everyone is the jerkish parent I worked with who got coddled because of “precious babies.”

      1. Jennifer*

        I’ve heard those comments too as a childless woman, believe me, so I can sympathize. I just don’t understand the people who hate all parents because of a few jerks.

        1. Anonymous at a University*

          I think it’s the same way people stereotype other groups; they get rear-ended in an accident and the driver is a woman, so it becomes, “Man, women aren’t good drivers.” It’s easier to think in stereotypes than in reality.

          And with parents in particular, I know there can be a sort of guilt complex that makes someone who’s been requested to cover work or do something else because of a second person’s childcare issues or other duties related to children think, “I SHOULD say yes because they have kids…but I really don’t want to.” So whether or not they say yes that time, a resentment builds up, which isn’t rational but can be powerful, and by the time it comes out, it has little to do with the individual situation. I know I had to learn to turn down my sister’s frequent requests for money while feeling I should say yes because it was For the Children, and overcome my resentment at the fact that my parents would give her money non-stop while lecturing me about spending $2. But my parents are entitled to do what they want with their own money, and I’m entitled to do what I want with mine, and I shouldn’t judge all parents by my sister. Now I can roll my eyes in private and just say “No” when she asks.

      2. Jennifer*

        Also, this is another reason why you shouldn’t stay as dysfunctional companies longer than you have to. They warp your viewpoints.

        1. Anonymous at a University*

          True. In that case I saw so many people just nodding when my co-worker would start saying, “Infertility is worse than being raped! It’s worse than being murdered!” that I started to think that was the way everyone thought of infertility and I couldn’t ever object to a ridiculous statement like that because “But it’s worse than being raped or murdered!” Being out of that workplace was the best thing that’s happened to me.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Wow. I actually want kids, but I wouldn’t say the fact that I’m sterile is worse than being raped and/or killed. That’s just messed up.

            Also, it kind of makes me wonder if your co-worker would think it was alright to “mercy-kill” someone who was sterile. Because when I see that rhetoric around autism, that’s where it always goes the end.

      3. Altair*

        Above in my analysis I wrote “some parents feel invalidated if other people choose not to have children and attack them for it, ” as an example of how jerks keep the whole mess rolling. Your horrendous former coworker is the kind of twit I was describing. The other people around you both should have called her out on her bullying and told her to stop, instead of facilitating her. I’m sorry they didn’t.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I wouldn’t say there is animosity between parents and non-parents. I would say that there are some people who are hostile to those who aren’t in the same situation. And some people just like to complain, others make themselves feel better by putting others down.

      Example: A guy in my office was constantly complaining about how people with kids got to leave on time, and those without had to stay late and cover for them. I had little kids at the time, and at one meeting his barb was clearly directed at me as he gave me the side-eye as he said it. He didn’t even have the same portfolio I did, so he wouldn’t have picked up any slack for me (and believe me, there was no slack!). But for the next two weeks I stayed until the absolute last minute that would still allow me to get to day care on time. Guess who was the first person to leave every single day for those two weeks? The complainer. And he was out the door five minutes after my preferred departure time (which was a full half-hour after COB).

      The same with the so-called Mommy Wars between SAHM and Work Outside the Home moms. At school events, when some of the SAHMs learned that I had a full-time job would say things like “oh, I thought it more important to actually raise my kids than to have a career.” Others were lovely, non-judgmental people.

      While there are workplaces that try to pit people against each other, usually it is just a few whiners and complainers.

    8. Koala dreams*

      I don’t think there are, generally. People who work in functional work places just have less interest in commenting, because they don’t perceive it as a big issue. There are employers that do cultivate that kind of conflicts, of course, and there’s a long history of discrimination based on (perceived) family status. I’m thinking of stories about men being paid more because they are seen as the family breadwinners, for example. There are many modern examples too. If you look at those arguments from the outside, they don’t make sense, but I’d expect it’s difficult to be unbiased when you live in that environment.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Just my thought- it’s mostly not driven by the two groups themselves. It’s driven by management favoritism of one group over the other.

      I get told someone’s kid is sick, I have all the compassion in the world. Sure, I will help cover. But when something comes up in my childfree life and I am told it’s not that important, go to back to work then I am sputtering. It’s not at the parents in the group. It’s at management’s favoritism.

      I very seldom need time for anything. Maybe I miss a day once every 18 months or so. One day my seemingly perfectly healthy 5 year old dog went from his normal bouncing around self to being unable to move at all, inside of 12 hours. wth. I had to go to work but my friend agreed to check on the dog. He called me later to say there was nothing good to report. I said to my boss, “Something is wrong with my dog…..” I never finished the sentence, nor did I tell her about the call or what was wrong. She said, “LEAVE. Right now. Go!”

      And this is the correct response. Assume that a fellow adult is speaking and they genuinely need the time to go deal with a matter.

      (A traveling vet-chiro happened to be nearby. By sheer luck, I called a friend for a rec and the vet was right there. She came over in a bit and about an hour later I was saying, “Easy Buddy, down Buddy, you have to be careful…” He had vertebrae out of alignment, once in place, he resumed his bouncing around stuff. If my boss had not let me leave I would not have caught this vet who was on a call 2 miles from my house. This could have worked into a several day epic if the dog did not have help this quickly. )

  67. Pennalynn Lott*

    On my team we non-managers report to, for HR and org chart purposes, one manager (out of five). But our work is project-based so at any point in time, we’re receiving marching orders from 2-3 managers (and sometimes all five). So employee performance evaluations are collaborative among the managers.

    The manager I’ve done the most work for/with, and who I worked for in 2018 and purposefully took my current job at this company because that’s where he is at, told me (after the fact) what he had shared with the other managers about me for my performance review.

    One of the things was that I had more “manager’s comments” (where a manager points out mistakes in our work) than the other team members. Which, fine, things are different here than my previous job and I’m still learning the quirks of this place. I started on Feb 3 of this year.

    BUT… there are several things about his feedback that are bothering me.

    (1) He never said anything to me about the comments. We have weekly 1:1’s and talk frequently throughout the week otherwise. He has had ample opportunity to let me know that I’m doing things “wrong”.

    (2) Easily 30-40% of his comments on my work are wrong. Like, he doesn’t understand why I’ve highlighted a date on the executive summary because it’s not in my supporting documentation. But it’s there. And I have to call him and share my screen to point it out to him. It’s not in an obscure place; it’s in the same format as the other supporting documentation. Or I got a comment saying that the item numbers on the master document don’t match the item numbers on my supporting documentation. But they do. 1-for-1, a perfect match, straight down the spreadsheet. Again, a quick screen share and we’re all good. Except that there’s a black mark “comment” in the system against me.

    (3) A huge chunk of my for-real mistakes were made during the 10 days he was out of the office and I was documenting processes that have never been looked at before. So I wrote up what I thought made sense because I couldn’t ask him for guidance. I now know that I should have not submitted my work for review and instead waited until he got back, but time is of the essence and higher-ups are measuring our output (quantity, not quality). I didn’t realize that there is apparently a HUGE difference between emailing my work to my manager and saying, “Please look this over; it’s a new process, not sure if I got it right,” and submitting it through our documentation portal *with the exact same message*. One is good, the other counts against me even though, either way, he’s the only one looking at it.

    (4) He told ALL THE OTHER MANAGERS AND MY GRAND-BOSS that I’m making a ton of mistakes. I have no idea if he included the 30-40% of his “comments” that were wrong. And I have no idea how to ask him. Or to bring it up with my direct-line manager, whom I’ve only done a couple of tiny projects for, so he has to take my project manager’s word when it comes to my performance.

    I could use scripts for the project manager and for my direct-line manager. And maybe some words of solace and advice that will help remove the huge brick that has settled in my stomach because of this.

    1. Emilitron*

      I don’t know if this is in line with other people’s experience and perspectives or not, but here goes: I wouldn’t fight it at all with the rest of the management team.

      It’s just one performance review, and it’s based on your 6 months at the company so far. There are so many performance reviews in your future. Those other managers will form their own opinions as they work with you, and will know that first review was incorrect. If you go to them now complaining about injustice in your evaluation and trying to clear up those misconceptions, the message they take away will not be “OP makes way fewer mistakes than Manager1 said they did!”, it will be “OP takes feedback pretty personally, and has an odd relationship with Manager1”. Don’t do it.

      Do address this with Manager1, not in terms of correcting the past review but in making your ongoing day to day work as well-matched to their expectations as possible. Bring it up as it happens, in the context of future reviews – the next time a situation like your #2 happens, you can follow up with “I’m concerned by the way performance reviews seem to be structured here, do comments on-record like this really end up counting against me in the end? How can we change the way we handle edits so that doesn’t happen?”

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Yeah, I definitely wasn’t going to complain. More like ask a question about it. Which is why I asked for scripts. because I don’t want to sound like a whiner over something fairly small. I’m still kind of gobsmacked by it, so I’m not able to pull my own reaction out of my thought process just yet (I got the feedback yesterday afternoon).

        I was hoping a community of unrelated third parties could give me some neutral wording. Or, a different perspective on it.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Also, FWIW, when Manager1 sent the feedback to me (via IM), I responded, “OK, thanks!”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Hey, I’ve been thinking about my performance review, and I have a question. You know the number of manager’s comments you mentioned? Does that include comments where you thought I’d made a mistake, but it turned out I hadn’t? And the ones where I didn’t realize I needed to email my work to you for review rather than submitting it? Do those all count against me, or do they get purged from the system?”

  68. AnonyForNow*

    So, I have taken the plunge and started a YouTube channel as an outlet for my creativity and passion. The subject matter is adjacent to the job I actually get paid to do, but it is not in any way something that my company actually does.

    When word gets out to my boss about it, how do I handle it? I want to keep my current job, but in the off chance that it does become a money maker for me, how do I make sure that my company knows that it’s not taking away from my day job?

    1. Bananatiel*

      Might not hurt to just casually mention that you’ve started one as a hobby at some point? Like when someone asks what you did this weekend: “Oh just spent some time working on a new YouTube video about x!” to open up a conversation about it, make your boss aware, and reassure them it’s not a conflict of interest.

      I’m a creative by trade so if I were to start a channel about photography generally that wouldn’t be a conflict of interest with my job even though I’ve done photography as part of my job. Now, if I work in the llama industry and I’m making videos about llama photography and representing myself as an expert from llama company that’s a whole different story and that would be inappropriate.

      1. AnonyForNow*

        Thank you for this idea! I will probably do that. And yeah I do mention my profession in my profile for credibility, but not where I work.

    2. nep*

      Won’t there be just an objective measure of whether your performance/productivity takes a hit at all? If it does, then you have something to work out and some decisions to make about how to devote your time and energy. Beyond that, I don’t think you’re obligated to explain anything to them.

      1. nep*

        (What I mean is if you’re confident in your ability to do both without your day job taking a hit, I don’t see the need to preemptively reassure your employer of that.)

    3. Kara S*

      I do the same thing! If you work in anything tech or entertainment related, make sure in your contract that the channel doesn’t fall under a non-compete rule. Most companies would allow this, but high name companies (ex Disney) own everything their employees work on while employed. If you aren’t sure, you can ask HR for clarification.

      Other than that, unless your work suffers I’m not sure that you’d need to bring it up. You could mention it casually like Bananatiel suggested below but since Youtube is done entirely on your own schedule, I don’t think it would carry the same issues that say, having an additional part-time job might have.

      Good luck! :)

  69. esemess*

    My living space is not set up for full time telework, and I’m realizing that I need to buy a few things to make my work life more comfortable. My employer has told us that we will receive $0 for any equipment apart from our company-issued laptop (including IT stuff like a mouse or keyboard!). We also cannot take our mouse/keyboard from our office workstation.

    So! What items are making telework more tenable for you? Bonus points if you’ve purchased things for small spaces. :) Interested in all things from the most mundane to the extremely extravagant. Thank you!

    1. Quill*

      A good chair is essential. But also – I need so many more postits than I thought I would. And not just because I draw on them every time I have to be on hold with IT.

    2. Buttons*

      I rarely sit at my actually desk. I have a big comfy club chair and ottomon and a roller laptop table that comes right up over the arms of my chair and is at the perfect height for typing. I am so comfortable. I don’t need a desk to work at because I rarely have any papers in front of me.
      I find when I sit at a desk I tend to hunch forward when I get really focused. I don’t do that anymore. No more back pain or shoulder pain form that. I also like that I can take the roller table to different parts of the house for extra space or for things to be quieter. Recently, we moved the chicken coop and it is closer to my office window, and when that rooster gets going he can be heard on all my calls. LOL! I don’t really mind for most of my calls but if I am meeting with the execs or if I am recording a webinar I move to a quieter part of the house.

    3. Amtelope*

      I have a dual-monitor setup at work, and buying a second monitor has made working from home full time much more doable for me. I grabbed one from a thrift shop for something like $15 — it works fine for what I need, which is to be able to compare documents or enter information from a document into a web form without switching windows.
      I also bought a headset with a microphone for calls — much easier to hear and cuts down on background noise.

    4. esemess*

      I did not write clearly…

      I was trying to say (snarkily) that my place of employment will NOT reimburse us or provide ANY equipment. So it is all on me; the upside is that I can pick out what *I* want! :)

    5. Capsicum*

      It can be expensive but: a real desk chair. I was super lucky and got to take one home from the office (along with a keyboard, mouse, and headset) a couple months into the pandemic, when my employer announced that we’d be WFH for the foreseeable future.

      Sitting at a real desk chair rather than a dining room chair has made SUCH a difference for my back/neck/everything.

    6. Tutti Fruitti*

      I have trouble with my tailbone hurting. I found three cushions that I use throughout the house (including my home office) ma