pointing out grammatical errors in job ads, HR called me “fragile” in a public document, and more

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

1. Should you point out grammatical errors in job ads?

I’m applying for a lot of marketing jobs where “attention to detail” and “strong verbal and written communication” are musts. Just out of curiosity, when I interview with these places is would it be considered too cheeky to light-heartedly bring up their comma splice in the job description? Or their misspelling? Would this seem come off as showing attention to detail and strong communication skills, or would it just be a dick move?

Don’t do it unless you’re invited to. Copyediting when you haven’t been asked for input can come across as rude or know-it-all-ish. Plus you risk encountering someone who doesn’t know a comma splice is wrong and thinks you’re wrong for flagging it, and suddenly you’re debating that rather than talking about the job.

There are stories of employers who intentionally put errors in their ads to see if applicants will point them out, but there’s a far higher chance that it wasn’t intentional and that your interviewer will find the unsolicited correction annoying.

2. HR wrote that I’m “fragile” in a shared document

We have a company Sharepoint in which policies, procedures, guides, and other documents are stored for employees to research and reference for information. When navigating through it recently, I found a list of employees and assigned mentors. Employees generally have assigned mentors who help us on our career development.

When I scrolled down the assignment list and found my assigned mentor, I found they changed my mentor. It was not the change in mentor that concerns me. Rather it was the HR director’s comment attached to my assignment specifically. The HR director commented why they were changing my mentor assignment and then commented that I “seemed a bit fragile” and that I “would feel more comfortable” having my previous mentor be my mentor “since she’s a strong woman.”

I am not sure where the HR director would get this idea of my character or why they would feel to post it publicly, if they were aware that it was public. I’ve never made any complaints to HR and don’t have performance issues.

How would I confront HR about the fact that the comment is publicly viewable to anyone viewing the mentor assignment list? I don’t feel comfortable with anyone else seeing it and think it should be made private.

There’s a decent chance it’s not supposed to be public, or that whoever made it public didn’t realize they posted the version containing non-public comments. But now that you’ve seen it, you can certainly ask about it.

For example, you could say: “I’m not sure if you know that the mentor assignment list is public. That wouldn’t normally seem odd to me, but it includes comments that I seem ‘fragile’ and other personal assessments of me! That doesn’t seem like something that should be shared publicly, so I wanted to ask about it. I was also concerned to read that assessment of me and wasn’t sure what it was based on. Can you give me any insight into what was behind that?”

It’s also something I’d talk to your manager about. It’s possible that assessment came from her, and if it didn’t she should be in the loop that HR is making those sorts of notes about you. Tell her what you read and ask if she can help you make sense of it.

3. My boss wants me and my coworker to be the first to return to the office

At the small (less than 25 people) company where I work, we have been working from home since March. This week, in a meeting with my boss, he mentioned that he wanted to start getting people in his department back into the office because “everyone needs to realize they have to come back sometime.” (We’ve all been able to do our jobs just fine from home, so it’s not a performance thing). The problem: It would only be me and another coworker, Chris. (My boss isn’t even sure if he would be there yet!)

According to my boss, everyone else has a “reason” not to be there — they have children (our school district is online for now), they are taking care of older relatives, they are older and don’t feel comfortable, etc. Chris and I are both young, healthy adults and don’t have children.

This rubs me the wrong way, and I don’t know if I’m being “prissy” about this or not. It is true that Chris and I are the most low-risk people. But I’ve been seriously ill before (dengue fever), and even though it didn’t kill me, it sucked! I was very sick, in and out of the hospital, and it took months to recover from the fatigue and get my old energy levels back. Not exactly how I would want to spend the next six months of my life. And in the case of COVID-19, we don’t even know what the long-term effects are!

On a more selfish level, commuting is hard — it takes time, it costs money, and I have to wear real pants and a bra. I understand that my coworkers all have very legitimate reasons for not coming in, probably even more “legit” than mine. But at the same time, I don’t want to be the office guinea pig. Am I being unreasonable? Should/how do I talk to my boss about this without coming across as a bad team player and a brat?

You’re not a bad team player or a brat because you don’t want to expose yourself to the potential of severe sickness, long-term health problems, and even death. That is exactly the opposite of being a brat. It’s entirely understandable. If this were just about not wanting to have a commute again, then yeah, it might be something you needed to suck up, but that’s not the case.

It’s reasonable to tell your boss you don’t feel safe returning to your office until the virus indicators in your area are much lower, point out that working from home has been going well, and ask to continue where you are until the virus situation is significantly better. If he points out that your risk is lower than others’, you can say, “People in my demographic are getting seriously ill and having long-term health complications or even dying. Working at home is safer for all of us until the health indicators in our area are better.”

4. Out-of-office message when I’m helping my kids with virtual school

I’m a working parent in upper management at a large nonprofit. My spouse and I are splitting the virtual school supervision for our first grade twins. From the hours of 11-3 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I will be on virtual school duty and my kids need enough help that I will not be answering emails or messages. How do I craft a professional, yet real, out-of-office message for that time period that also sends a message to other staff at my organization that they don’t need to hide their caregiving responsibilities?

Well, normally, being away from email for four hours wouldn’t be something you’d need an out-of-office message for; you could easily be away from email that long for meetings or other work-related reasons and wouldn’t normally turn on an auto-reply then either. So the only reason to do it would be if you specifically want to use it as a strategy to reinforce to others that your organization is okay with people carving out time for caregiving. The thing is, though, it’s not the strongest way to do it — and if people aren’t getting clear messages and explicit support on this from their own managers (including help managing their workloads to make it possible), there’s even a danger that they’ll resent that you, a senior exec, can get away with it while they don’t feel they can. It’s the kind of thing where it’s not enough on its own … and if the stuff that is enough is happening, then you don’t really need it anyway.

But if you want to do the message anyway, just be very straightforward: “I will be away from email from 11-3 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays while I’m supervising my kids’ virtual school sessions and will respond to you once I’m back at my desk.” But I’d skip it and focus instead on what the organization and individual managers need to be doing to ensure others can do the same.

5. Should I tell my job I’m taking a test that would change my career plans?

I currently work for an international logistics company and in a couple of months I will be taking the U.S. Customs broker exam to become a licensed customs broker. No one at my work knows about this. I’m taking it to hopefully make more money in the future and figured quarantine was a good time to study. I have not mentioned anything because (1) the test has a very low pass rate, (2) if I do pass, it could be another six months before receiving my license and permit to operate, and (3) my company has never expressed an interest in hiring a customs broker, although it would be beneficial to them in the long run.

if I do pass, I have a few options open to me, including finding a job at an established customs broker, starting my own customs broker business, or working with my company as either a direct employee or contractor for in-house customs broker work.

The big issue is I would make more money with the license so if they do not wish to utilize it, I would move on. My company has been good to me and they would want to keep me, so I would prefer to talk to them before looking for another opportunity. But I have told a few people in the business and have had a lot of interest from them in either partnering with me or hiring me or wanting to become a client. So how and when do I tell my boss I’ve passed the test? Or should I tell them now I am taking it?

Wait until you’ve passed the test. There’s no point in putting your boss on notice that you’re hoping to change careers until you’re sure it’s happening. If you do pass, I’d alert your boss only if staying with your current company would be your first choice. If it’s not, then just quietly make other plans and let your boss know once you have an end date in mind and are ready to give notice and . Otherwise — even in a company that treats you well — you risk being pushed out earlier than you’re ready to leave, especially this year with so many cuts.

But if they’d be your first choice, then after you’ve passed the test and are within a few months of receiving your license, go to your boss with a proposal for the work you’d like to do — how you’d structure it, how it would benefit them, costs, etc. If they’re not interested, at that point it’s going to be pretty clear you’ll be leaving soon, so that’s why you want to wait until closer to the time that you’d be ready to do that.

To be clear, there are employers and managers to whom you could tell your whole plan right now and it would be fine. But it introduces risk enough of the time that I can’t recommend that without far more evidence that it wouldn’t speed up your timeline for leaving in ways you don’t want.

{ 294 comments… read them below }

  1. Greg*

    #3 your boss should absolutely be the first person back to the office. I am not sure how to word it to her. But she should go into the office every day for a month before anyone else goes in.

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      And I would feel 100% comfortable saying that with LW’s medical history, the doctor recommends that she take extra precautions to avoid exposure. Which is true. Dr Fauci recommends that for LW and Chad and everyone with a pulse.

      1. Genius with Food Additives*

        I’m honestly just deeply confused about how having the LW and one other colleague in the office is not just remote work in a different place, unless the two of them pretty much only work with each other. I would definitely push until the boss gives a better reason than essentially, butts in seats. If there was a definite timeline for everyone to return and they wanted to do it in phases, then *maybe* this would make sense (although I still think LW should push back on their own health concerns) but that really doesn’t sound like the case. If what’s happening is that your boss has Covid fatigue and just wants the pair of you remote working from the office just to feel like things are “getting back to normal” that’s some BS.

        1. valentine*

          I’m honestly just deeply confused about how having the LW and one other colleague in the office is not just remote work in a different place
          This might be a good argument for OP to make. Everything about it is nonsensical and reckless, including the commute and the fact the only two people in the building will be in the same space. If that includes kitchen and/or bathroom, I’d be extra concerned. Will cleaners be going in for just two people?

          just wants the pair of you remote working from the office just to feel like things are “getting back to normal” that’s some BS.
          I see this plus canaries in the coal mine. I hate Team Get It Over With. Just because you will one day put weight on your currently broken foot doesn’t mean you may as well do it now.

          1. Archaeopteryx*

            Forcing people to come into the office just to prove a point is so ridiculous and unnecessarily risks spreading Covid to more people, even besides the risk to OP.

            1. Quickbeam*

              My company forced the first wave back in June. Then they halted everything but still made that initial group continue in the office. Trust me, it bred resentment and lots of ill will towards the company and the ones who got to continue as remote.

        2. LCH*

          The only reason to go back would be if your job has aspects that just can’t be done remotely. Otherwise, what is the point right now?

          1. JustaTech*

            I’ve been in to the lab every day this week (taking Friday off) because I can’t do lab work at home. Which I totally get and understand (and was kind of glad to be back doing my “proper job”).

            But I really, really resent my 2X and 3X bosses grousing that “no one’s in the office” when we don’t go in because we don’t have lab work. 1) I’m trying to limit my exposure to other people, seriously, and 2) I don’t have a private office where I can take my mask off and drink coffee and eat my lunch. I have a pseudo-cube, which means mask on at all times unless I sneak into one of the “so you can eat/take a call” empty offices (that are shared). Which is hardly the end of the world, but why should I have to wear a mask and be exposed to people to do the same job I could be doing at home?

            1. Hazel*

              I agree! And why is the manager in the OP’s letter assuming that they and their colleague are low risk just because they are relatively young and don’t have kids?!

        3. ThatGirl*

          My husband is a mental health counselor at a university; all appointments are remote right now, and that’s not changing any time soon, but since the campus is technically “open” someone decided he and his fellow counselors needed to be physically on campus. So they rotate – two are there each day – and just sit in their individual offices, seeing students online, with no discernible difference from being at home. It’s all very performative.

          (Now, in his case, he does need some privacy obviously — so I could see the option if someone didn’t have a suitable workspace at home. But it’s still just kind of silly.)

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I think this is a very fair thing to factor in. Unfortunately give the cost of housing these days in some markets lots of people just don’t have the dedicated private work space that some jobs that theoretically could be done at home require.

            (And no, I honestly don’t have any ideas on how to solve that problem either.)

        4. TRexx*

          LW did not specify type of commute, if it’s by car or public transport. But, I would venture a guess that any reasonable person would agree that taking public transport now would probably be unwise and place you at a higher risk than necessary.

          A good question to the manager is if you are part of a phased return back to the office, and what the plan and timeline for that looks like. Also, what new protocols are in place at the workplace to reduce the potential spread and risk for the onsite team?

          If the manager is placing you two in phase 1 of a return to work plan with well thought out and implemented protocols as recommended by the cdc workplace guidance (and you don’t have to take public transport)…. then I would really evaluate if pushing back at that point would sound reasonable.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        This.

        Plus, she has a previous illness that puts her at a higher risk for complications of Covid-19 (IMnon-medicalO, IANAD).

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      Sending back two young, single people (and not himself) is not sending the message that “we all have to go back some time.”
      It would tell me that these two younger people WANTED to go back and/or boss thinks working from home is a big vacation but either doesn’t want to deal with individual push back from people, like parents or those acting as caregivers or was told by higher ups that he has to let them stay home.
      So OP, you are not being a brat. He is being a dick.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        “We all have to go back sometime.” Do we, really? My company is exploring who does and does not actually have to go back some time, and whether those that do can go back just part of the time. Seems like a lot of other companies are still hanging on to the butts in seats philosophy even though the work is getting done just as well while the butts are at home. I don’t understand this stubbornness.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, this! My company has decided that the IT department (my department) has been doing a great job of working remotely since March so we will continue to be “mostly remote” for the future. Which means that we will need to all come into the office twice a month for……what? Mostly face-to-face time and lunches out with the team, I presume. It seems like a waste of time to me, but that’s what the CIO wants so that’s what we will do. I wonder how long that will last.

          1. Junger*

            I can imagine some mandatory facetime to make sure the remote workers won’t end up disconnected from the rest of the office.
            When you never see someone, its easy to forget they’re an actual person or even exist at all.

            For practical work purposes though, I can’t see any good reason either.

            1. Zombeyonce*

              My small remote team does weekly team meetings where we’re all on video and our full department also does weekly (short) video standups where we check in and it’s half what we’re working on and half what’s new in our life if we want to share. We also chat very regularly on Slack in work and non-work channels. We’ve been doing it that way for years and I feel just as connected to them as I ever did coworkers I worked with in person. Companies are still working out the kinks (and some not so well), but when they do it right it can work incredibly well.

          2. Zombeyonce*

            My company has realized the immense amount of money they can save by giving up the leases they pay to seat several hundred IT people in an office building downtown and subsidize their transit passes since parking is really limited in this area. We all work just fine at home and they can save 7 or 8 figures a year by letting us continue to do so even after the pandemic is over. It’s amazing that all companies aren’t doing everything they can to encourage and promote remote work as the future of business wherever possible. You’d think that capitalism would win out on this one.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              It’s because for many bosses, it’s more about lording it over their minions than producing work.

            2. Curmudgeon in California*

              “Butts in seats” mentality will win over cost savings every time. Open plan offices were all about saving money while still allowing over-controlling bosses to watch their serfs toil.

        2. Witty Nickname*

          This. My company has decided that no, we actually don’t all need to go back ever. Other than a few people who DO need to be in the office (basically to keep our servers from crashing or catching on fire or whatever), we are a work from home company now.

          It’s been an interesting transition to watch – we already had quite a few remote employees (I have been for years now), but the company was really resistant to most people working from home. Now they’ve tried it, it’s gone REALLY well, and they are realizing how much money they can save if they close most of our offices and downsize the ones that will remain.

    3. Lady Meyneth*

      OP, perhaps you have enough capital to sugest another strategy to management?

      This may not help you much in a small company, but my gigantic company’s return system is:
      -the brass returned first of all (C-level, vice presidents and managers of managers);
      -then people who volunteerd to would return, and there were shockingly many! They were mostly healthy people , either living in very small homes with multiple family members or living alone and struggling with being too isolated all the time;
      -up to 50% of workers not in risk groups or living with someone in risk groups;
      -100% of workers not in risk groups or living with someone in risk groups;
      -all workers back in the office.

      Each of these stages was supposed to happen with at least 1 month interval and ideally more, to give time to evaluate any flaws, starting mid-August. We never got past the big bosses return though, and they were sent back to WFH, because infection rates in my country are rising again and the return plans were postponed. But IMO it’s an exceptionally good strategy.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is what my job did – but with two week intervals instead of a month. We were sent home in mid-March, and by mid-June we were all back in the office. Actually the managers never left the office, and have also taken the lead on cleaning and finding sanitizing products to keep the office healthy.

        1. Lady Meyneth*

          Wow, mid June?? And only 2 weeks intervals? Are you in one of those lucky areas that saw almost no cases at all? Because otherwise, this seems really reckless of your employer, makes the whole come-back-in-stages system completely useless, and would make me look for a new job immediately.

          1. DireRaven*

            I would ask Orchestra if we worked at the same place, except that we didn’t get WFH until mid-April. And then only part time and the “cast of characters” in the office was never consistent. Then they required everyone back by mid-June. They just started a couple weeks ago -after a scare that a couple employees may have been exposed/were showing symptoms consistent (all tested negative)- requiring masks be worn when not in your (private) office and when anyone enters your office (everyone has their own office, no one shares, but that pre-dates COVID.) Oh, and we live in one of the areas where cases had been rising. I have about a year left on my MBA program, then I may weigh my options…

      2. Kelly*

        Your workplace’s return system sounds like what most workplaces, both in the public and private sector should be doing. It’s a great strategy for multiple reasons, including the higher ups being the first to make sure the return plans they’ve worked out actually work in practice and for general morale. It does a lot of good to those down the organizational hierarchy that they aren’t the guinea pigs for testing if reopening plans work or don’t work.

        I work for a public university and got confirmation of what I had suspected for a while now yesterday from the head of our division. He confirmed that we will not be returning to pre-pandemic onsite staffing levels and public access until at the earliest summer 2021. He said we need to work on cross training between similar parts of our division to ensure continuity of operations in the likely event that a staff member working onsite tests positive or comes into contact with someone who has tested positive. With this new timeframe, it means that most people will be working remotely for 15 months. That’s a long time to be away from the office and your colleagues.

        Only a couple of the higher ups where I work have been on site since March, mostly our head HR person and the head of communications. Both are in a couple days a week. It was a nice surprise running into the communications person who has been working very hard trying to get everything ready for reopening for the fall semester last week.

        There are people who do need to be working on site more frequently, especially those involved in the planning process. It’s really telling how disconnected they are to the reality of working onsite when it comes to their planning. The person who prior to the pandemic was the ADA contact person and now has the fancy title of Health Ambassador has been working remotely the entire time. To be fair, we weren’t really sure what he actually did before the pandemic because most of our spaces predate the passage of the ADA. It sounded more like an ego boosting title, which is common where I work. He needs to be working onsite, preferably at a public services point to assist the staff in enforcing mask compliance.

        I know after 2 weeks of being open, I know it’s going to be a long semester. I don’t have the energy or interest in enforcing campus mask requirements. It’s already way beyond both my pay grade and the pay grade of our student workers to have enforce that policy. I’m already running into issues with permanent staff not following that policy. I had to remind the custodial worker that came in on Monday to vacuum our space that he had to have a mask on at all times because another person, myself, was present. He kept taking it off, even after I reminded him multiple times that it’s required in all indoor spaces. He also wasn’t following social distancing guidelines when entering our space, trying to follow me into my office after I told him that I would unlock our entrance for him. I don’t have to deal with him next week, and if he refuses to follow social distancing guideline and keep a mask on the entire time, I can report him to campus via an online form. I’m not sure how much it will do, but if it means we get another person assigned who wants to follow the rules, then that’s for the best.

    4. honeygrim*

      Oh my gosh I could’ve written some of #3. My direct supervisor has been in our building once since we shut down on-site work. Because there were things that needed to be done that required having someone on-site over the summer, I’ve been coming at about twice weekly since late June, and have been here every single workday for the past three weeks. One of my direct reports has been here just as often. A lot of people in our division can do all of their work remotely–and I’m absolutely fine with them doing so–but our small department requires someone to be on-site for a lot of the work to be done. My direct report could do most of this on-site work without me being here, but my leadership philosophy has always been that I will never ask someone to do something that I am not willing to do: I will not let my direct report take all of the risk when I can help out. I’m very frustrated that my direct supervisor doesn’t think the same way, and doesn’t seem aware that my direct report and I are taking all of the risk for the whole department. I don’t know how to express this, because my supervisor has (it seems) legitimate reasons for not wanting to be here. I’m not really comfortable being here either, and neither is my direct report. But if at least one of us isn’t here, the work doesn’t get done. And no one else is going to step up, it seems.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I appreciate your leadership philosophy, but doesn’t it make more sense that only one of you is there? That would limit any interaction between the two of you and possible spread since you are overlapping your time there. Maybe alternate your time there so you are not both there at once, if the on-site work can be done by either of you?

        1. honeygrim*

          We’re trying to get to the point we can do that, but due to some related scheduling issues, we have to both be here most of the day (one person to man the customer service area, the other to man the back office area). We plan to rotate once the other scheduling is worked out.

  2. MamaSarah*

    Dengue can be a very serious illness, and while it sounds like the LW is fine with no long term effects (yeah!), I’d be very cautious about limiting my COVID exposures. We are still learning lots about why coronavirus disease is harder for some the others. Your boss is making a bold assumption that you’re low risk simply because you’re young with no family caregiving obligations. Plus…life is so much better in yoga pants! Wishing the LW and all readers the very best of health as the seasons begin to change.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      Your boss is making a bold assumption that you’re low risk simply because you’re young with no family caregiving obligations.

      I think this is one of the most dangerous mindsets out there about Covid. In my experience it’s not only led a lot of young, healthy people to be less cautious, it has also led these young healthy (or seemingly healthy) people to be pushed to take more risks because others assume they’re not in that much danger (as we’re seeing in this case). Nevermind the fact that people, young and old, can have illnesses or conditions that actually make them high risk that they don’t even know about themselves (whether undiagnosed or silent. People who look at me don’t know I have an admittedly mild heart block, for example).

      The fact that LW’s boss is throwing in “you have no family caregiving obligations” on top of the assumption that young = not at risk massively rubs me the wrong way, too.

      I’d push back, too. Even if you had dengue a long time ago, it represent a significant risk factor, and just so what? The boss knows you’re sitting at your desk in an office and not in sweatpants in your couch?

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I strongly suspect that the friends I lost to this thought that since they were not old, not unhealthy, had no dependants that they were immune to any badness. I know they didn’t see much of a need to take strict precautions because we’d talked about that.

        If the job can be done from home, let people stay at home! We need to stop this pandemic.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I lost a friend in his late thirties. He did take it seriously, but the problem was that the government (local/state) hadn’t issued any guidance on business closures yet. He lived in NYC and took the subway to work every day. Not only that, but he did on-site tech support, so he would go to three or four different buildings/offices in a single day to fix servers and whatnot. He had contact with a LOT of people. His symptoms started in early April, and he died the day before Easter. I really wish we had started taking this seriously a little earlier.

          1. Dream Jobbed*

            I am so sorry about your friend. I’ve had some distant losses of older people, but it’s easy to forgot the younger (and perfectly healthy) people who have not only had massive ramifications from getting this, but have also died from it. I get irate at the television talking heads who keep downplaying this, but I can’t imagine hearing people say it’s no big deal after I lost a friend in their 30’s. Thinking of you and his family and friends and wishing you all the best memories.

        2. TomorrowTheWorld*

          I have had too many conversations that have had to start with “Lower risk is NOT the same as zero risk”.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Oh my yes. I was just reading about someone in their 30s who got it, spent a week on life support, survived, came home with shortness of breath and still posted that it wasn’t a big deal. The only good thing about going in early is insisting on stringent cleaning protocols and masking in the office so as the other co-workers return they are firmly established. Since the others have at risk family members LW should not be getting pushback from the manager about enforcing them.

      3. AnonEMoose*

        I have always hated the “well, you don’t have kids so…” line of thought. In my experience, it’s always used to make the person who doesn’t have kids agree to things like: pick up slack for parents in the workplace with no compensation and no returning the favor when the worker without kids has a need; take less desirable shifts; give up holidays off (or time around the holidays) – not having kids does not mean you don’t have a family.

        And in this case, it feels even more egregious – “you don’t have kids, so your life is literally less valuable.” I’d be really tempted to point that out to the manager. “It sounds to me like you are saying that my life, and Chris’s, isn’t as important because we don’t have kids.” Then let it get uncomfortable. I wouldn’t really advise doing that, but it would be SO TEMPTING.

        1. bleh*

          This. Seriously, you should die first because you have not spawned offspring. Just no. And some people really do think “your life is literally less valuable,” sadly. I’ve heard one say it aloud.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I also hate the sentiment that children’s lives are more valuable than adult lives. We had someone either drunk or high cross traffic and crash up on a sidewalk hitting a telephone pole. I walk there all the time and was really freaked out thinking OMG, I could have been killed. When I mentioned this to neighbors as we watched the cleanup they responded, “OMG, there could have been a kid there!” As if a child getting hit there would have been more tragic than me (or another adult) getting hit there.

            It’s always sad when anyone dies prematurely. It doesn’t matter if they are an adult, a child, a parent, etc. I think the reason people respond as they do as they think of those left behind to grieve. Children without a father, a mother losing her baby, a spouse losing his wife. It seems as if the tragedy of your death is measured by how many people will mourn you.

            1. Autistic AF*

              The local police have taken to an appeal to emotion in a long-term road construction area – there’s a sign with a photo of a child saying something like “that’s my mom working out there, slow down!” Ugh,

        2. Atalanta0jess*

          Oooh…that’s one way to read this, but I had assumed it was more about “you don’t have kids so you aren’t juggling childcare + working from home,” which is another, perhaps more generous read. Lots of folks with kids just don’t have anyone else to care for them right now.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            And that’s also true. But I think the boss should ask “Is it really, truly necessary to have anyone in the office right now?” For work reasons, not for perception reasons?

            I’ve just seen and experienced the “you don’t have kids, so you you have to do (X undesirable thing)” too often to be feeling generous about this. And whether or not it is the boss’s intent, I think it’s understandable for the people on the receiving end to feel this way. It’s not just intent that matters; it’s the effect, too.

            1. pope suburban*

              This. The boss’s line of thinking here rubbed on a very threadbare, worn part of me. The part that has to give more to create flexibility for others, but can’t take 30 minutes on the end of lunch for a doctor’s appointment. The part that has spent days and weeks juggling three other jobs on top of my own, only to come back to an absolute mess and multiple missed phone calls if I take a day off. The part that, after all that, is excluded from professional discussions by colleagues who persist in treating me like a child without any responsibilities or knowledge. Like, I understand the value of work-life balance and I embrace it, but it would be nice to be the party benefiting from it for a change, rather than the person charged with making it work for everyone else who “actually has responsibilities.” Reading that letter made me feel bone weary, so tired that I can’t summon up much if any generosity for the LW’s boss.

              1. bleh*

                I hear you. The you don’t understand because you’ve never had a child refrain gets very old. I *do* understand, which is why I chose not to have a child.

                Here’s hoping you are not still getting treated unfairly because of your child free status.

                1. AnonEMoose*

                  Right?! I decided not to have children because I didn’t have a desire to have them. And I had an idea of the responsibilities and sacrifices involved, and I decided that it just wasn’t for me. Honestly, I think the world would be a better place if it were more culturally “ok” for people to make that choice without the pressure and the way people feel the need to comment on it. But that’s another rant.

                  I just get really tired of my life and commitments being considered “less” because I don’t have kids, and I’ve experienced it far less than some people I know.

                  So, OP#3, maybe make some of those uncomfortable implications explicit, if you think your boss might respond to it. But you know your situation best.

                2. pope suburban*

                  Thank you. It’s mostly better now. The only thing I still have to deal with is condescension from a couple of coworkers, which isn’t unique to me (Most of my department is childless or childfree, in this case), and which is sort of a knock-on effect of how these two look at the world overall. I’m just feeling terrifically burned out at the moment, as one of two people regularly in the (closed to the public, sanitized, mask-wearing) office, and as someone who hasn’t had a proper break in over a year and a half, for assorted reasons. So when the LW wrote in with this, they spoke to a part of me that is closer to the surface than normal. I know we’re all, to varying extents, in this boat right now, and most of the time I accept it with good humor and keep on trucking. I hope they are generally treated better than this, and that management can be convinced to back down from this course of action.

              2. Paulina*

                I used to have a colleague who milked the “oh I can’t do that, I have to be home for my kids” very heavily. (Kids were in their mid to late teens, independent and doing well.) My retort as a younger person without kids: “Well if I have to keep doing extra work, I never will have kids.” Which turns out to be the case; not really by choice, but whether by choice or not, or not at that point yet, an absence of this in one’s life doesn’t mean the extra time and energy can be grabbed by others as they see fit. It’s a judgement on whether how we spend our personal time is sufficiently “worthwhile”, and I’m tired of it.

                1. AnonEMoose*

                  This, exactly. As I see it, my employer pays me for 40 hours a week of my time, and/or to complete certain tasks. The time beyond that is mine, and it isn’t anyone else’s business to comment on how I spend it. And it really isn’t ok for coworkers to decide they get a share of it.

                  Now, I’m perfectly willing to do someone a favor if asked nicely, but in a work context, I do expect that if the person is in a position to do so, they’ll repay the favor at least once in awhile.

        3. Gazebo Slayer*

          Making uncomfortable implications explicit is sometimes necessary. I once had a boss who would go on extensive rants about ~Obamacare~ and how subsidized health insurance shouldn’t exist. I was having a cancer scare at the time, and I was on subsidized health insurance; my low-paid job didn’t have benefits. I looked him in the eye and explained my situation, then said very seriously “You are telling me that I and people like me should just lie down and die.” He shut up.

          (Fortunately, I turned out not to have cancer, after some testing.)

        4. SometimesStuffisOpenandPeopleHaveToWork*

          Re #3: I’m a manager at a university. The department I manage is expected to be open and working. What else are people supposed to do? I have attempted to treat my staff fairly – everyone, including me, is working onsite part time. We stagger shifts. I’ve secured all the protective measures I possibly can. I respond to concerns, even when I think they are unwarranted. Honestly, I would say 80% are happy to be back and would work longer hours if they could on site. Especially the parents, including me. I’ve had to have talks with HR because in most cases, my staff was hired to be on site. Seriously, their main job is to physically be in the building and watch things. There is only so much they can do from home, due to lack of projects, lack of skill, and frankly, lack of time on my part to supervise extra projects. At what point do you say, we are not going to pay you full-time for minimal work anymore, like we have been doing since March? I have friends, neighbors, family who are truly essential workers and have to work all the time in person OR who have lost jobs or businesses due to this crisis. I have a hard time listening to people obsessing and upset because they saw one other person, 40 ft away from them in the building, pull down their mask. I don’t expect anyone to truly endanger themselves, but many of us have to go back to work at some point. And unless your commute is something that truly makes you vulnerable in today’s environment, like a public bus, wasn’t the commute bad before, when you had to go to work every day? When I have to drive, my commute is actually much better because fewer people are on the road. If I sound upset, it’s just because the amount of privilege I have witnessed over the last several months is truly stunning. Maybe it’s just the academic setting, but it’s staggering to me that people expect employers to literally bend over backwards to accommodate them 100% all the time. I’m worried that my institution won’t survive, and that I’ll lose my job, and I would rather work to be there safely in person, than to complain about why I have to be there at all. And, FYI, for all the people who don’t have kids, guess what? Parents DO have it pretty bad right now. I’ve seen marriages break up in the last few months because at no time in history were parents ever supposed to be 100% at home with their kids in their tiny homes or apartments. I have had no time to Netflix, write a scholarly paper, or even have one moment alone since this started and let me tell you, I have plenty of colleagues who are going to leap ahead promotion-wise due to the fact that they’ve been given an unofficial sabbatical while I’m spending hours trying to figure out how to log in to Google classroom and do EveryDay math in addition to my actual job.

          1. Tabby*

            @Sometimes: I get it; it IS tough for people with children out here. That doesn’t mean you get to decide that I have to sacrifice more for you. Your life is not more valuable than mine, end of story. The problem isn’t me, and people like me, it’s the workforce that doesn’t really account for these things. Fact is, I’m really tired of the expectation that because I don’t have kids, I automatically have more time. I do not. I assure you, I do not. I am certainly not sitting around watching Netflix or writing scholarly papers of any sort. I’m getting in my doctor’s appointments, my cleaning, my shopping, etc. in that tiny amount of free time I have left over after working. I don’t have another person to help with these tasks, and if I’m constantly taking up the slack for you, that’s even less time for me to run the rest of my life. What would you like /me/ to do? Will you take over my work when I’ve worked myself too sick to move so you can go to whatever thing you have for your child (you see how this can go around and around, here.)? You should perhaps be putting this annoyance toward your employers for not hiring enough people to cover these kinds of things without expecting those of us without children to be your plan for coverage.

        5. Tabby*

          THIS RIGHT HERE. There’s an expectation that the unchilded, especially, are expendable tools for the childed that I really resent. Like… no. You don’t get to sacrifice my life because you (general you) have kids.

    2. Zelda*

      LW3 to boss: “With respect, you don’t actually know, or want to know, a complete medical history for either me or Chris. Returning to the office is not something I feel comfortable with yet.”

      1. Amaranth*

        Is it weird that the manager feels so thoroughly informed about LW’s family connections and situation? Not having to be a direct caregiver doesn’t mean an automatic lack of vulnerable people in your life.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Also, there have been plenty of people who were not the normal caretaker who have been nudged into being the caretaker because of this disease. Just because you’re not the primary means zilch these days.

          1. snoopythedog*

            This! While I have no children and my partner and I are both healthy, we are the only people seeing my partner’s 89 year old grandmother. While she’s very independent, it’s also really important that we stay safe so that we can be her social bubble and ease the strain of physical distancing for her.

    3. LJay*

      This would be my biggest issue, honestly.

      I know age protections in the workplace generally are for those 50 and older, but my boss using the excuse that “you’re young and don’t have a family” to push to take remote work away from me would make me deeply uncomfortable because age and family status aren’t supposed to be used to make employment decisions. And it relies on a lot of assumptions that would require disclosure of private information to contradict. I don’t want to have to reveal my health information or information about my family situation to prove that I’m not low risk.

      The decisions about who should return to the office first should be made based on the needs of the role with exceptions guided by the ADA and other criteria, not assumptions about who can and should shoulder the most risk because of their age or perceived health or family status.

    4. not neurotypical*

      Yes, dengue can lead to long-term damage of heart or lungs — the exact organs most targeted by COVID. That puts OP at high risk of complications from COVID and their doctor probably would write a letter to that effect.

    5. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I am not a doctor, but if IIRC from my research when my daughter was suspected of having dengue, it is also an illness for which there is no cure, and you can get flare-ups for the rest of your life. A flare-up + Covid wouldn’t be good I don’t think.

  3. Beth*

    LW3: One of the major lessons of the pandemic so far has been that young, healthy people being ‘lower’ risk does NOT mean ‘no’ risk or ‘minor’ risk! Your boss can be forgiven for not thinking that through–after all, plenty of states somehow managed to have entire chains of people in charge who apparently thought reopening bars and schools and allowing large gatherings would be fine, because young people are ‘low risk’. But at this point, we have very clear evidence that people of all ages do get this, that even a minor case can knock someone out for several weeks, and that even young, strong people with zero health issues can suffer really severe health consequences from it, ranging up to strokes and death.

    It would be one thing if there was a clear work reason that SOMEONE needed to come in. If that was the case, I could see an employer saying, “Look, I know this sucks, we’ll do whatever we can to limit risk but I know there’ll still be some, and I hate to push anyone to take that on. But we need someone to do this, and you’re the lowest-risk person we have.” But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case here–it sounds like your boss wants people back in just to prove a point, not because there’s a real need. This is absolutely a time to put your foot down. It’s not entitled or bratty to refuse to put your life on the line just because your employer has a weird hangup about work-from-home.

    1. Anononon*

      My friend, who is in a lower risk age bracket, is still dealing with semi debilitating side effects four months later, and she had a relatively minor case (no hospital visits, etc.).

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        My family member was unrecognizable after a month in the hospital with it. They’re recovering but it is a slow process.

      2. Archaeopteryx*

        In D&D terms, no matter how high your Constitution, you still have a chance of failing your saving throw.

        And even if a young healthy person would be fine, they can still be spreading it to other people, even if it’s just a stranger at the grocery store.

    2. WS*

      Yes, my workplace is essential, can’t effectively work from home, and thus we’ve made these kind of decisions – the pregnant staff member and the over-70 staff member stayed home, and we changed a lot of work duties to minimise contact and shift overlaps. It’s been really complex and it’s pretty insulting to hear bosses like LW3’s saying they want people in the office just because!

    3. Mystery Bookworm*

      And unless you’ve submitted your medical history to your boss, and your boss is a doctor, they really have no call to suggest you’re lower risk. Age is just one factor and can be trumped as it were, by many other factors.

    4. juliebulie*

      I agree – it seems to be somewhat of a crapshoot as to whether a person will get a little sick or a lot sick, even with no risk factors. Getting employees into the office sooner will not hasten the end of the pandemic, but it might hasten something bad. Why on earth.

  4. Katrinka*

    LW#4, at the most, you could turn on an out of office message when you start working with your kids and turn it off when you’re finished, but I wouldn’t restrict the hours or say that you’re doing schoolwork with your kids. Others don’t need to know why you’re away from your desk while you’re at home, any more than they need to know when you’re in the office. They will assume that you are in meetings or doing something else that you don’t want to be interrupted. That’s really all they need to know.

    1. Anononon*

      While I agree with Alison regarding the ultimate effectiveness of the messaging through out of office messages, I want to point out that letter reads like the OP isn’t doing this to let people know she’s not available. Rather she wants to encourage others to feel free to take time for similar reasons. So, because of that, the “why” really is important.

      1. Anon326*

        I’d appreciate having a little background information like this. It’s a daily absence, it punches a hole through the working day and if I had to get in contact with the OP, knowing that this is a ‘hard’ absence with a ‘I’m definitely not going to be back at my desk for any reason and here’s why’ then it’s really helpful information.

        I’ve noticed many of my colleagues right now (WFH) have ‘weird’ absences like this. Having context is really nice. I don’t think it’s unprofessional – I don’t see why people should have to hide the fact that having children during pandemic times potentially may alter a working day.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          My boss sent us an email with the hours where she won’t be working or have limited availability online.
          I would recommend doing something similar and maybe if there is a shared calendar the LW could put child care and make that she is away.

      2. Ashley*

        I think it’s great that she wants others to know that it’s okay to take time like this. But instead of doing an out of office that people may or may not even see, she should be communicating that directly to her team! And unless she’s in a role where she needs to respond to people extremely quickly, I don’t think an out of office is even necessary.

        1. CTT*

          Agreed. If I were on her team and the only communication I received regarding splitting time with childcare duties was a manager’s out of office message, I would assume that was a privilege of being in upper management and not one that was being extended to the whole office (and probably feel annoyed with the manager about it!)

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            Yeah, that’s exactly what happened to me in this situation. I had a senior manager tell me all about how between her husband and her they took a month of unpaid vacation because they “just couldn’t stand” balancing work and home life any more, and “isn’t our company great for allowing me to take that time?”
            I think she was trying to encourage me to take time if I needed it… but really I was just angry because I physically can’t afford to take that kind of time off. And also, I’m not convinced my company would let me have that kind of leeway either.

        2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          I think it depends on how much contact she has/is expected to have outside of her team. If it’s just her team, a schedule block/shared calendar would work (i.e., on shared Calendar, “Jane Offline 11-3” or something to that nature), but if she’s expected to communicate with outside entities, they wouldn’t see that.

          Noting my username, if I consistently did not respond to messages during what most consider core hours, this would come off as very suspect without additional context. That said, I probably wouldn’t offer as much information as all of that. Maybe just something, “I am unavailable for meetings or questions between the hours of 11am and 3pm. I will respond to your inquiry when I am back online. If you need immediate assistance, call X.” (If that’s an option/reality.) Might be helpful to list when you are online as well.

          1. Uranus Wars*

            I think this is a good approach; and it something I use sometimes when I know I am going to be in a training half a day or a portion of the day and am turning my email off. Some aspects of my job require a quick turnaround on requests and the people who drive those requests have my cell. So this way they know I won’t be at my computer but if something truly can’t wait until 1:00 they can text me. No one has taken advantage of this but it gives them a realistic wait time on their end, too.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      LW#4 wants people to know, though, in an effort to normalize it and show others it’s ok to take the time away to tend to kids during the pandemic. Another option, though, is blocking the time on your calendar as “helping kids with school” or something similar since you can make that recurring. Turning on and off an out of office email would get tedious (even with Outlook where you can schedule a OoO email one-time).

      The other thing to do, LW, is actively let your reports know that you will be doing this and it is appropriate and encouraged for them to do the same if they have similar needs. My boss’ children are grown, but in our staff meeting this week she explicitly told us to take time away as needed next week when school starts and as needed in the future, and encouraged us to let her know if we are having any difficulties so she can help.

    3. Not A Girl Boss*

      I think these kinds of things are better done as a single email at the beginning of the change to your team explaining the situation. And, if she wants to encourage similar behavior, she could also add a note encouraging others or pointing to resources to arrange special work accommodations.

      Honestly, I just find out of office bounce backs really annoying, especially when they’re ongoing. If you’re someone I work with on a regular basis I’ll have gotten the memo by day 3. And if I’m not, I probably don’t need your reply in under 24 hours.

      1. Yorick*

        Yes, OOO bounce backs are super annoying, especially when I’m just sending out a report or something and it doesn’t matter that this person won’t see it for a few days (or hours!)

        Don’t make an OOO message for a couple of hours. Adding it to a shared calendar makes more sense, and directly telling your teams that they can take time to do similar stuff will share that message better than an OOO.

      2. Amy*

        Agreed. An out-of-office is fine when someone is out a day or more. But for a few hour window, I’d prefer not to have my in-box cluttered up.

        Perhaps there are some offices where an instant response is expected from email but I’ve never found that to be the case anywhere where I’ve worked.

        Also the LW might not want to limit herself. I have three young kids, have supervised online learning this spring and certainly dash off emails from my phone during childcare. Not a long thoughtful email but anything that requires minimal work and thought, sure. Otherwise there just aren’t enough hours in the day if I carve a big chunk out and won’t touch even a bit of work.

    4. Malarkey01*

      I’m doing a similar schedule juggle right now and found the best way to both get the message out and normalize it was 1) sending a schedule update email to working group and those I work with daily and 2) updating my shared calendar settings to mark those as non-working hours.

      The other thing I worry about with out of office bounce backs is that unless there’s a real business need and expectation that you’ll answer all emails immediately, it reinforces the idea the people must be chained to email during the work day which is a habit I try to discourage in my staff. We try to encourage less multi tasking and more effective single task focus (and SO many studies back this up).

      1. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

        That’s what I did during the spring (and may have to do again starting next week, depending on how well my elementary school kids can keep up with signing in and out of Zoom at the right times on their own). If your company/organization has a culture of shared calendars, I’d just block off the time there so people can peek at it if they’re trying to estimate when you’ll respond to their email. And you can label it something like “offline–remote schooling” or whatever will help set that as a norm for others.

  5. Batgirl*

    OP3: “I’m really not happy being the first guinea pig to test the safety of our office. I’ve not always been lucky with my health in the past and I don’t see any reason to roll the dice now. I’ll happily follow health guidance, when the time comes”.
    What a terrible manager. He’s applying optimistic magical thinking to “the young” and then hoping that your example will reassure/pressure everyone else.

  6. Elan Morin Tedronai*

    LW #1: I may be going against the flow here, but I’ve pointed out grammatical errors on a job ad twice in my life – once for a copy editor’s position, and the other for an assistant editor’s. I got interviews for both of them. However, I only dared to do that because they were actual errors in spelling (think “attention to deatail” or “canddiate must have…” for example) rather than punctuation, which is much more of a grey area. On top of that, I only went in because I was trying to determine the market rate for my job at the time, so I would have been comfortable with not getting the position.

    I would not recommend serious jobseekers to do what I did. No one really appreciates being called out, so using your cover letter to point out punctuation errors would be neutral at best, and counterproductive at worst.

    1. midnightcat*

      In my experience (I’ve hired sub editors for newspapers and magazines in the past) I would say you got the interviews in spite of, not because of, pointing out the typos.

      1. Elan Morin Tedronai*

        I agree. Like I said, I wasn’t hunting seriously at the time. Shenanigans and tomfoolery are strictly off the table during Serious Searches.

    2. Hare under the moon with silver spoon*

      Pointing out errors is usually only 50% of these types of role – and it’s a skill many have. The feeding back of such errors in a tactful and respectful way is a far more intangible and valuable skill – so I would advise following this approach with caution.

    3. Esmeralda*

      If a candidate pointed out errors in a job ad, I’d be annoyed at the candidate. I already KNOW those errors are there, I had no control over the final appearance of the ad, and I have no way to get them corrected if it were even worth the time to get it done. More to the point, I’d be thinking, Really? you want me to remember you as the person who was nitpicky about a minor problem? I *might* see you as having good “attention to detail” (although now you better hope there were no typos or errors in your application materials), but as possessing poor “communication skills,” because you don’t understand how you’re coming across.

      It’s not a deal-killer, but it’s a piece of information and a hint about what you might be like to work with (snarky? tone deaf? possibly somewhat unprofessional?)

    4. Neosmom*

      While on a phone screen for an admin position that was posted as requiring “attention to detail”, I asked the interviewer if there were any tests that were part of the ad. When she said, “No. Why do you ask?” I took that opportunity to mention the two misspelled words in the posting. She thanked me and the online ad was corrected. No, I didn’t get the job. But, I kindly demonstrated my attention to detail.

      1. I edit everything*

        That’s probably the best way to do it, kind of a joking approach like: “You know how job hunters overthink everything? Well, I really do edit everything, and for a minute I was suspicious about the job posting being a test.”

    5. Annony*

      Yeah, pointing out minor errors in something you were not asked to edit could make them think that you would be annoying to work with. I had a coworker who would edit EVERYTHING sent to her and it was really obnoxious. Part of that was that she was doing style editing (so it wasn’t actually wrong to being with!) and also trying to correct things that were technical terms she didn’t understand. But having someone proofread your emails that have already been sent really isn’t helpful. Obviously pointing out typos in a job add isn’t to that level, but after that experience I would see it as a yellow flag.

    6. Sam.*

      I personally probably wouldn’t comment, but I agree that pointing out an indisputable spelling error is different from correcting grammar. If OP decides to say something, I’d leave out the comma splice.

    7. KayDeeAye*

      Aside from the fact that chances are that the person you interview with already knows about, and deeply loathes, the error, one other problem with pointing out errors is that the person pointing out the error will then (almost inevitably) make an error themselves. It’s not karma, I don’t think – it’s just the law of averages – and since even careful people make typos and other errors, it will almost certainly happen to this particular OP as well.

      Then…you end up looking, at best, clueless and at worst like a twit.

      Another problem is that some of these things are not cut-and-dried. I dislike comma splices myself and I agree that they are a common and avoidable error, but there are people who point out errors that aren’t actually errors – e.g., split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions. Those aren’t errors, in fact, so if you point out something like that, you’ll not only look like someone who’s difficult to work with, but you’ll also look like pedant. Sheldon Cooper points out the latter “error” over and over again on The Big Bang Theory, and much as I adore Sheldon, it makes me want to kick him in the ankle every single time. Avoiding appearing to be a Sheldon is a good job-searching strategy.

    8. Anon for this one*

      I work in IT for a multinational. We had one applicant (through the form on our website) who wrote that the website was hard to navigate and she could help – it has to match every other countries’ site, so no.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If someone brought up an error in my job ads, I’d be relieved because I swear most people don’t actually even read the ad itself in my experience. So that would be like “Oh wow, you actually read the post and not just the title!”

      But it will also depend on the tone of the person. I have had people who would do something similar and I’m like “That’s cheeky and I don’t like it one bit.” and others who say it, with a tone of helpfulness or thoughtfulness that I’m much more impressed. It helps me see how you point out errors as well, which is a new insight you rarely can set up to see in action so organically as an interviewer.

    10. Jennifer Thneed*

      I’ve done this exactly once, and it was requested. It was an exercise in the job ad itself. I don’t remember the details but I think it was written kind of stiffly and they requested a re-write of the ad as part of the application. (So, not factual or spelling errors.) Or maybe it was a chaotic spaghetti of words and they wanted bullet points. Along those lines. But that’s the only situation where I would do this.

  7. HA2*

    #3 – what’s even the point of just one or two people being back in the office? I would assume that when there’s a lot of people back, that helps facilitate communication… but only you and one other person? What’s the business use case?

    If you had work that couldn’t be done remotely, then sure, maybe there’s a reason, but it sounds like it’s just “butts in seats”…

    1. Ashley*

      I would ask the boss to address this in addition to the health concerns and cleaning. Is there a part of the process that isn’t working or is the boss planning for a post vaccine world? If it is the later I think the boss should slow down until there is a vaccine that is proven effective and available and then start looking at slowing moving people into the office. (I really hope we don’t have to debate the use of an effective vaccine given all the issues we currently have getting people to take vaccines but it does appear there is a push to put something on the market potentially without the long term studies and proof of long term effectiveness.)

  8. willow for now*

    LW1: “Would this seem come off as showing attention to detail and strong communication skills, or would it just be a dick move?”

    Can you find the error in this sentence?

      1. Triplestep*

        It’s one of two typos (that I saw; there may be more) in a question about pointing out mistakes by others in job application materials. I think it’s a pretty good illustration of why people shouldn’t do this, so it’s relevant in this case.

      2. Xavier Desmond*

        I think your reaction proves the point willow for now is making. Correcting grammar and spelling when not asked to is very annoying.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      This is such an excellent comment! In fact, I didn’t notice the problem until you pointed it out. Somehow my brain just added the “to” between seem and come when reading it in the original question. Maybe it was significantly more noticeable in your comment because the two words were next to each other whereas in the original question on my screen the word “seem” was at the end of a line and the word “come” was the first word on the next line.

      Anyway, good comment!

    2. KayDeeAye*

      Yes, if you point out an error, you’re almost certainly going to make one yourself in the very near future. That’s just the nature of life. I mean, you’ll probably make one even if you haven’t pointed one out, because even careful people do, but if you haven’t been pointing out other people’s errors, those other people are more inclined to graciously overlook yours. :-)

          1. Meganly*

            Not being sarcastic and I didn’t mean Murphy’s Law! The misspelling is an intentional part of the name haha. There’s even a Wikipedia page for it!

        1. Indy Dem*

          Never heard of that one before, thanks! I’m a big fan of Murphy’s law (had a poster of them when I was a kid).

  9. WFH Forever*

    OP4- I agree that if the company isn’t supporting staff in other ways, the OOO message likely won’t help. But, I still think you should do it. One of my favorite emails I have received during all of this was an OOO reply from a very senior person at another organization. He was very upfront in his message saying “due to the childcare demands during this time I will be away from my computer for longer periods of time.” It was so refreshing to see it acknowledged so bluntly.

    1. Vanessa*

      I agree. It normalizes the issue and shows it’s okay to do what you have to do. I think that’s a valid goal. Also I wondered if this wasn’t necessarily just an auto-response to emails but also for away messages on Teams or Skype programs – to explain the long periods of inactivity.

  10. midnightcat*

    #1 Don’t do it. Whoever wrote the ad and made the typo – it might be an HR assistant, the hiring manager might be infuriated by it – there’s something else you need to consider.

    ‘Attention to detail’ doesn’t just mean spotting errors. You also need good judgement about how and when to act on what you see – when to correct or fact-check people and when not to.

    You’re not responsible for the job advert. You don’t work there. You haven’t been asked to correct it. It’s not appropriate, cute or helpful to comment on it, and it’s not going to help your candidacy. If they want you to complete a test, they’ll tell you.

    1. cleo*

      “‘Attention to detail’ doesn’t just mean spotting errors. You also need good judgement about how and when to act on what you see – when to correct or fact-check people and when not to.”

      This!

      1. Dust Bunny*

        This.

        I’m one of Those People: Believe me, I noticed the misspellings, mangled sentences, and awkward wording in your job ad, but I’m not going to rub your nose in it unless you ask me about it.

    2. Angelinha*

      Agreed! This reduces “attention to detail” to “copyediting” which is not what most people mean when they put that in a job description.

    3. Smithy*

      I would also add that a job post with an intentional typo as a test for candidates – I’d question what that is saying about an employer and if that’s a place I’d want to work for.

      1. Bostonian*

        Right!

        If they want you to complete a test, they’ll tell you.

        Add to that: AND they’re a reasonable employer.

        1. Smithy*

          Exactly.

          I work in a field where “tests” are very common. And every “reasonable” job candidacy test told me up front what they were looking to examine. Whether copy-editing, writing, subject knowledge, etc. One time after submitting my test, I was told they didn’t feel they saw enough and needed me to do more. To me, that was a worrying sign because it communicated that they didn’t really know what they needed and how to ask for it.

          The idea of a job posting spelling error “test” strikes me as similar. Is the test copy-editing? Speaking up to authority? If they were looking to get more insight on either, there are better ways of asking for and evaluating that.

    4. Littorally*

      “‘Attention to detail’ doesn’t just mean spotting errors. You also need good judgement about how and when to act on what you see – when to correct or fact-check people and when not to.”

      This! I work in a job where error-picking is a major part of it (not copy-editing, though) and knowing what errors to challenge and what errors we can allow to pass is a major part of the job. Someone who snags every tiny little thing would not do well here because the point isn’t to send the product back to the client over and over and over until it’s flawless, the point is to catch errors that would negatively impact the final product.

  11. Things That Make You Go Hmm*

    As a hiring manager, I have noticed that many of the people who point out errors are either mistaken (i.e. our material is actually correct) or they have overlooked errors in their own material. OP1, take a close look at your letter. Did you mean to write “… when I interview with these places is would it…” and “Would this seem come off as …”?

    1. Triplestep*

      I have been proofreading my son’s application materials, and he (very smartly, IMO) will tweak something rather than say it in a way that is correct, but that others often think is wrong.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        There is a massive difference between being right, and being correct. Situation dependent, just because you are right doesn’t mean you should be digging in your heels because you disagree with the correct answer.

  12. Tag Goulet*

    My personal favorite was a cover letter that began “I have always wanted to work with Fabio.” (My company’s name begins with “Fab…” but has nothing to do with fabulous romance novel cover models.)

  13. Mystery Bookworm*

    #4 – I think this is very a much a “know your culture” thing. I could see offices with a very quick e-mail turn around where this sort of message would be helpful and boundary-setting. But I could just as easily see one where it felt unnecessary and a little face-rubby.

    I think that how it’s recieved is going to largely depend on how else the culture is supporting caregiving and work/life balance during these weird times. It might be best to craft an overall strategy and then think about what tools could support it, rather than filling it out piecemeal as you go.

    I’d also keep an eye towards your staff members who don’t have children, since you don’t want to inadvertantly send the message that they should be “making up” for time that you and other parents have to supervise children.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      Sidenote, but needing to put an OOO message for 4 hours away would drive me crazy! My last company, we were expected to answer all emails within 24 hours (or the next business day if over a weekend), if we didn’t have a solution to a problem we were supposed to at least acknowledge the message. I thought that was fair.

      1. WellRed*

        I think it depends on the role. 4 hours is a big chunk in the middle of the day if she manages people or has lots of contact with others.

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yeah, that’s a span of the day where I expect my manager to get back to me within an hour, usually sooner. Since everything is remote we’re relying on email and other asynchronous communication more, and it would be useful for me to get that reminder that someone won’t be back until 3. I’m not in an industry or position where there are crucial things that must be handled *now*, but if I know that my manager can’t reply to a question right away, I might put down the project I’m doing and work on something else rather than waiting on a reply.

  14. V*

    OP4: I am in a similar situation to yours. I have not set an Out of Office on my email because I don’t ever want to give people the impression that they could/should expect a < 4 hour turnaround on email at any time! However we do use Teams and people will change their Teams status message to say things like "Working from home / [phone number]" or similar. My Teams status says something like "Please expect a delayed response as I am balancing childcare and work, and usually unavailable between [times]."

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another idea that might be helpful is to phrase it the other way: “I’m working a split schedule : 7-11am, 3-7pm.”
      Seeing a 12 hour day will put it into perspective.

      1. Angelinha*

        Yeah, I would block off 11-3 on your calendar if you don’t want meeting requests during that time, which will also send the signal that you’re not going to be immediately responsive then. But external parties don’t need to know that their response will come in a few hours and not now.

    2. cleo*

      I and my coworkers use the status in Slack the same way.

      My boss has a toddler and she just blocks off time that she needs for childcare in her calendar. I’d much rather see her availability in her calendar or Slack status than get an auto reply to an email. I’d find that really annoying – especially since I use email for things I don’t need an immediate response to.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Ditto this.

      I am not away from my desk for 4 hours during work hours without being off, but other work and back to back meetings can definitely keep me from responding to emails within 4 hours so I would not bother at all with an OOO email.

      OTOH given the nature of Teams chats/messages – i.e. interruptions like phone calls used to be – I’d put my OOO there because people would be surprised at the long wait for a response or wonder why I am showing up away or offline in the middle of the work day without an OOO message there.

      ** I barely bother with a unique phone voice mail any more. No one except telemarketers seem to call me by phone any more. Most people “call” me on my computer using Teams after messaging to ask if now is a good time.

  15. Elle by the sea*

    The funniest typo I have ever encountered was in a job ad of one of the biggest multinational companies: they were looking for a “detailed oriented” person. I really had to surf the urge to not point it out to them. Well, I said nothing and they went on having the same ad with the same typo for years.

    By the way, there is nothing wrong with the comma splice. I know that it’s considered to be wrong by many, but it is one of those nonsensical rules they teach you in school, along the lines of “split infinitives are wrong”.

    1. Anon for this*

      Best job ad typo I’ve seen was “commiserates with experience” for the salary.

      It was a few years ago, and I wonder if the person who got the job did indeed get experience commiserating over the salary.

    2. Tarso Infirma*

      The best cover letter error I have received is (and this is showing my age) they had one phone number for Voice and one for Massages. (i.e. Messages)

  16. Lady Meyneth*

    OP2, I don’t usually scream sexism, but to me this stinks of some guy in HR or management thinking all women are fragile and being mentored by a man (who is obviously more direct and objective than a fellow woman would be! \s) is too much for our fragile sensibilities.

    I hope that’s just my experiences coloring my take, not what’s actually happening to you, and I’m sorry either way. Please talk to both your manager and your HR, and if possible I’d try to discuss this with a female HR representative.

    1. Sara without an H*

      It’s either sexism, OR someone in HR who thinks she’s “compassionate,” “caring,” and unusually “emotionally intelligent,” and has decided the OP needs looking after. And I admit, my own experiences may be affecting my take on the situation.

      But OP definitely needs to follow up on this, both with her own manager and with HR. Maybe the manager made a throwaway comment within earshot of HR, and somebody over-interpreted it? In either case, both issues need to be raised ASAP, both the privacy breach — I’ll bet dollars to donuts that this document was never intended to be made public — and the condescending assessment of her personality and character.

    2. The Other One*

      Your solution to perceived sexism is to engage in more sexism by specifying the gender of the HR rep with whom you wish to speak? That sounds rather, um, fragile.

      1. Bostonian*

        Seriously? You can’t understand why a female HR rep might be more understanding or believing of potential sexism?

      2. Aquawoman*

        You can’t be sexist (or racist or any other -ist) against someone in the more privileged group. It’s not sexist to not want to address sexism with someone who benefits from and has not experienced sexism.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I was thinking the same. Or that maybe she is young or very young looking so the HR person assumes she’s fragile.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Being called “fragile” is bad enough, without the obvious sexist overtones. (And the “strong woman” comment, too – ugh).

      I’d definitely want to know more about this, as this goes right to performance evaluations. Somebody who’s been judged as so “fragile” that they can’t be trusted to negotiate a contract, or deal with an upset customer, etc. is not somebody with a bright future at their employer.

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

      I wonder if my mentor or my manager at my first job gave that feedback to HR. But then, my mentor was a creep who followed me to the toilet and my boss enabled my sexist coworkers and even attended a “gamer night” where I (the only woman in the team) was not invited…

    6. LongLucy*

      This is interesting because my interpretation was the complete opposite! I read it as a ‘fragile masculinity’ type ‘fragile’. As in, likely to overreact or respond aggressively when facing a perceived threat from a woman supervisor. That’s why they’ve been given a strong (read: experienced, no BS) mentor. If this were the case (and it may not be), bringing it up with multiple people would only confirm LW is difficult to work with and will push back on minor issues.
      Obviously I don’t know LW so this could all be wrong, but it is a different read on the situation presented.

  17. Hogsmeade AirBNB*

    OP3, I’m in a similar boat to you- I am an admin and our team is being asked to come in a week before others to see how working in the office goes and I’m being rubbed the wrong way by it same as you.

    I agree with Allison’s advice, and I think the language she supplied is perfect.

  18. Guacamole Bob*

    I’m not OP and everyone’s situation is different, but I’m a little surprised that OP4 thinks they won’t be responding to email for an entire 4-hour block of her kids’ remote school day. I have twins who also started first grade fully remote on Monday, and they need enough attention to make it hard for whoever’s supervising them to do focused work that requires real concentration (ugh), but sitting on the couch responding to email within earshot is exactly the level of supervision they need. Having an adult continuously focused on them would actually be a distraction and their teacher encouraged parents to give the kids some space, because otherwise the kids will be turning to the parent for everything.

    Maybe your district set things up in a way that needs more adult help (mine was pretty good about things like only one zoom link for everything all day), maybe you’re counting the lunch shift, maybe your kids are even more restless than mine or have special needs. And maybe you want to draw those hard lines for yourself and that works for you, and if the kids don’t need every minute you’ll just use that as your own break time. But I’d be wary of making a big deal of “I’m unavailable at these times” if there’s a decent chance that as the kids get more comfortable with the setup you actually will be a little bit available. If you start responding to email with your out of office still up, that’s a worse work-life balance signal to send.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      And I don’t mean to sound judgmental or like you should be able to work at the same time as you supervise your kids. I just know that I’d be unable to keep that boundary really strong in my own circumstances, and a lot of my colleagues are the same. Especially since the limits are around core working hours – will there really never be times when 6 other people have availability for an important, time-sensitive call during that window and you feel like you should join? Or someone needs an okay on something urgent in order to proceed, so you keep an eye on email?

      If you think you can keep that boundary, I’ m kind of jealous, to be honest. But I still think the possibility of the boundary eventually getting blurred is something you should think about when you decide how to communicate about it.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I agree that it might not be necessary to be 100% attentive to online schooling, but I also understand the OP wanting to block the time off. Trying to juggle both means you’re constantly having to reconfirm if you’re available and it makes it seem (to me) like I’m having to re-justify not being available every day or even multiple times during the day and feeling like each time is a “Malarkey can’t join us again” instead of a “oh Malarkey is off line for the next 3 hours”. That said, I’ve been a little flexible myself when there was a critical meeting and I knew I could fit it in, but I did it more as a special one off for something very important instead of a regular possibility.

        For me it’s just an easier way to manage the guilt and expectations (which I shouldn’t have but do) and to avoid people thinking I’m trying to claim I’m working when I’m not.

        It’s also nice to use some of that downtime to do some laundry, clean the kitchen, prep dinner since I’m going to be working in the evening to offset my afternoon down time (and my husband is doing the same). We’re also juggling a preschooler in the mix who really may light the house on fire at some point.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I totally understand, too, and blocking off the time makes sense and I hope it works out well for her. I just read the OP’s question to say that she wanted to set an out of office in part as a signal to others in multiple levels of the org chart that it’s okay to take the same kind of time for themselves – and if she does that but then ends up working through it, I think it may end up sending the exact opposite message from what she intends.

          Maybe making sure to use “limited availability” or such for the language might be better than saying “totally unavailable”, unless she’s really sure she means totally unavailable.

          1. NBGB*

            This may vary with different clients, but doesn’t Outlook have the option to NOT send auto-responses to individuals out of the organization? I think you have to specifically uncheck a box in the OOO setup. But that’s one way to send the message to co-workers but not outsiders.

      2. Jennifer*

        I was thinking this but didn’t want to say anything since I’m not a parent. But I have a good girlfriend that is working from home right now and her kids are in the same room as her on their little laptops doing schoolwork as well. They are ages 10 and 14 and don’t really need constant supervision.

        Now, a kindergartner may need some extra help. It just depends on the age of skill level of the OP’s kids.

    2. Kage*

      I think this very much depends on the school and the individual kid. Our school is only doing 60 minutes/day of live and together classes. The remaining time is self-directed activities which run the gamut between 5 minutes and 30 minutes each. Add in the variables of multiple kids (who might be in different classes with different schedules or stuff), a kid’s propensity to whine/be distracted easily (my oldest will fight me more with math than she ever would a non-parent/teacher), and also the potential need to physically help with random projects/materials (“film yourself trying to catch this ball 8 times” means someone has to hold the iPad), and it’s easy to see how one might not have the tone or mental bandwidth to want to tackle emails during that time…

      My husband and I gave broken our day into similar shifts and have also told our jobs that we’ll be completely out of pocket during our school shift. It’s just too unpredictable.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yikes. That makes me insanely grateful for the way our school has it set up.

        My school district had a pretty big focus on equity in their re-opening plans, which tends to cut down on the “you must have a parent sitting with you” expectations. They sometimes have breaks where they’re working independently, but they stay logged into zoom and the teacher calls them back at the end of that 10 minutes or whatever.

        We also chose to have my twins in the same class, and I’m super glad we did, because it cuts down the logistics significantly. Not ideal for them socially if they ever go back to the classroom, but a huge help right now.

      2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

        Gotta ask, is there a point to “film yourself trying to catch this ball 8 times”, presuming it is an actual example, or is the teacher making up busy work? If the teacher is assigning parent-supervised busy work, they are assigning busy work to the parent as well and that is NOT COOL.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            But at least in school it serves a purpose – the whole class works on a worksheet or something and maybe that’s not the optimum use of their 15 minutes, but having them occupied for that time lets the teacher rotate among small groups or work with a few kids one on one in a way that really does add value, and everyone gets a turn over time. But if you want small groups during remote lessons, just give the other kids a break! And definitely don’t assign it to the parents!

        1. 2 Cents*

          Yeah, but the teacher has to assign something to prove to their boss and boss’ boss and the taxpayers that they’re DOinG sOmeThING in this pandemic. Trust me, the teacher does not want to watch 30 videos of students catching a ball.

          The whole thing is a huge mess.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Older child’s Phys Ed teacher had something like this last year. The skill was hand-eye coordination involving larger objects, and they gave two days to get it done in (so accommodating the parents who couldn’t drop everything right that minute to help video their kids).

          I don’t think that would have made sense in a non-phys Ed setting.

      3. OyHiOh*

        3 students, one in first year of middle school.

        Each student has a 3 hour block of synchronous learning. My kids blocks are staggered through the day. They also have “3 hours” of independent work every day. Two of mine have learning disabilities with time and a half accomodations on their IEPs.

        I’m starting a new job in two weeks. Have hired a retired educator to babysit/monitor school while I work. There’s just no other way to balance the competing needs.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          That sounds super hard. Districts are really struggling with the question of synchronous versus asynchronous, I think, and each come with their own issues. But 3 hours of asynchronous work puts an enormous burden on parents.

    3. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I don’t think op needs to set up out of office message. I think she should communicate with the team that she will not Be available at x time for meetings, but she may be able to respond to emails, but they won’t be a priority. And I really think that if they don’t have a teams like app that they should so she can set away message there and also share her cake dar with those times blocked off

  19. Policy Wonk*

    #4 I support putting something on your out-of-office so that other employees will understand that this is acceptable. If you are working alternate hours instead, I would note that as well. I put my son’s school play on my calendar and noted that I would not be available for travel that week. The number of people who thanked me for doing that because it showed that they could also defer travel or refuse to work late for important family reasons was rather astounding to me. It showed me that the perception of my office that while we all talked the talk, few walked the walk, and they didn’t think such behavior was acceptable.

    I am rather breezy in my workplace, so would say something like “I have virtual school duty from 11 – 3 today so am not available during that time. I will get back to you after 3:00, and also will be available [alternate time, e.g., “until 6:30 PM” or “on Saturday morning.”]

  20. Obelia*

    I hire for attention to detail, and personally hate comma splices, but being corrected about the job ad before the person has even got the job would really put my hackles up. I’d worry that the candidate would be pointing out every typo in my internal emails. The attention to detail we need most is on critical documentation where an error could result in a lawsuit, not a missing full stop in a person specification.

    1. LawLady*

      Yeah, I think an important part of a detail-oriented job (even one with copy-editing as a responsibility) is having the judgment to understand when and at what level to edit. I’m a lawyer, and my word choice and grammar in documents is hugely important. BUT I send emails with typos all the time, as do the partners, CFOs, bankers, etc. I work with, because sometimes things are fast-moving and quick communication is more important than polish. I would be very annoyed if my typos were pointed out, as it’s not really the point.

  21. Jennifer*

    #4 I totally agree with Alison. Someone taking four hours or more to respond to an email isn’t that big of a deal and can happen for a number of reasons. If you get a lot of requests that people need answers to right away, you may want to have some sort of automated message letting them know that there will be a delay between 11 and 3 and who to reach out to if they need immediate help. If that’s not the case, I wouldn’t worry about it.

  22. AthenaC*

    OP4 – for what it’s worth, at my company we often need faster response times than 4 hours, so our rule of thumb is that if you’re going to be unreachable for half a day or more, put on your out of office so folks know to reach out to someone else.

    As for the specific message, I’d suggest something like “Thank you for your email. I will be away from my desk today from 11 – 3 CST attending to caregiving responsibilities; I will respond to your message upon my return. If you need immediate assistance, please reach out to Sally Warbleworth at 867-5309 or another member of the project team.”

    Good luck!

    1. Jennifer*

      I like that message but I’d leave off the “attending to caregiving” part. She’s unavailable from 11-3. Here’s who to contact if you need assistance urgently. That’s it.

      Of course, then everyone assumes they need urgent help when they don’t and poor Sally gets overwhelmed.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Unless, as Alison mentioned in her response, LW is purposefully mentioning the kids to normalize being away in the middle of the day to assist with virtual schooling.

        But yeah, everyone assumes their need is urgent. 9/10 emails I get because of my colleague’s out of office email receive a “Colleague will assist you with that after his return to the office.”

        1. AthenaC*

          Yup – the OP specifically mentioned that they wanted to normalize being away for caregiving responsibilities. That’s the only reason for mentioning that.

          Also, I should have clarified – “Sally Warbleworth” is a stand-in for my team’s administrative assistant who, among other things, is tasked with fielding urgent requests while folks are out. So for us, that sort of phrasing is pretty standard, but most clients will find another project team member that they’re familiar with if they have something that truly can’t wait. Our Sally doesn’t tend to get overwhelmed with requests, but yeah – I totally get adjusting for your office’s particular circumstances if your clients are super jumpy.

          1. Jennifer*

            Yeah, but if everyone doesn’t have that flexibility that could ruffle feathers. She may have it because she’s a senior exec,

    2. Pretzelgirl*

      Agree, I have worked places that had strict rules on replying to emails. Some were a bit ridiculous. I also have worked places, where it just a common courtesy to let people know you will be unavailable for a period of time. I like Allison’s suggestion and AthenC’s.

  23. Argh!*

    Re: #3

    This office sounds like a very low-risk environment if only one other person is there. I’m a very cautious person in four high-risk categories, and I wouldn’t have a problem doing this. If both employees are wearing masks, and if disinfectants & hand sanitizer are available, refusing to go in without a doctor’s note would seem uncooperative to me.

    I understand the anxiety about this, but how realistic is the fear?

    1. Colette*

      It depends on the space itself (How much distance will there be between them? Do they share any equipment? What’s the ventilation like?) as well as how they would have to get to work. (Driving? Walking? 3 buses and a train?) But even the least risky options would involve more contact with other people than staying in your home.

    2. Jennifer*

      Yeah I was also going to mention the commute. If she has to take the bus or train, then she is taking significant risk.

      But yeah, if she has a car, the office provides enough space to social distance and everything is sanitized – it should be okay. A lot depends on her coworker too. If they’re a Covid-denier that refuses to wear masks and social distance, it’ll also be a problem.

    3. pbnj*

      OP also mentions not wanting to commute. I would also be annoyed with having to commute just to sit in an empty building for no reason other than “just because”.

      1. tangerineRose*

        “I would also be annoyed with having to commute just to sit in an empty building for no reason other than “just because”.” This! There’s additional risk, additional work (the commute, cleaning), and there appears to be no real reason for coming in.

    4. Phony Genius*

      I feel like we don’t have enough information to judge. We don’t know how large or small the office is, how far apart the two employees would be, and how the letter writer commutes to work. So we have no good way to gauge the level of risk here. The local infection rate also matters. And if “Chris” ends up not coming to the office, which the writer says is possible, it will be really hard to use the risk-of-infection argument.

      1. Quill*

        On the other hand we have no idea what risk factors Chris brings into the office. Does he carry public transportation germs in? Is he someone who wears a mask with his nose sticking out like a periscope?

        Companies gotta keep sucking it up on their optics because they will ALWAYS be behind the times on the most current recommendations, and they will always take the path of minimal disruption over the path of minimal risk to employees.

    5. Aquawoman*

      And the inconvenience, expense, and discomfort are justified by what benefit to them or the company?

    6. MayLou*

      But if there’s no work-related advantage to having two people back in the office, why bother? The UK government are really pushing to get office workers back in even though WFH is perfectly fine, because they want to boost the economy by having people commute and spend money in coffee shops and cafes. I think that is an awful way to approach a public health crisis! The question shouldn’t be “what’s the most risk we can get away with?” but instead “what’s the least risk we can possibly manage?”

    7. JustaTech*

      For me the question is, what is the benefit of OP3 going in to the office?
      Even if they drive a personal car and the other person in the office will sit far away and wear a mask, they’re still substantially increasing their potential exposure time. So that’s the risk, but what’s the benefit?

      For me, I have to go in to the office with other people because it’s a lab and I can’t take the lab home. That’s the benefit. But unless there is a physical object OP3 needs to do their job (and it doesn’t sound like there is) then why go in?

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Well, there often are benefits to having people collocated beyond simply dealing with physical objects. Sometimes those benefits are a little nebulous and hard to quantify, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t real. My staff is 100% remote and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. We’re making it work, but I have gotten a few complaints that people don’t have a sense of the rhythm of anybody else’s day. Our workplace depends on lots of rapid-fire coordination and on-the-fly handoffs. To an extent this is possible using Slack, email, and phone calls. But it is certainly much, much trickier. So for us, it’s a tradeoff. We’re staying remote because it’s safer and it’s the right thing to do. But we also acknowledge that there are some down sides.

        1. JustaTech*

          This is absolutely true, that physical proximity usually makes it easier to collaborate. But in this case only OP3 and one coworker would be in the office, and everyone else would still be remote, which is basically the same thing as everyone being remote.

          Now, if there were something that OP3 and their one other coworker needed to work on that was just easier to do at the same desk (a complicated editing project, perhaps) then again, there is a benefit. But OP3 didn’t say anything like that.

  24. LCB 98*

    OpP5. LCB here… I’ve had my license since 98 so my experience with the process isn’t current but it is relevant. I agree with Alison mostly. Absolutely wait until you’ve passed. You may need to disclose during the backgroud check process. I needed three references, one was my manager. one was a licensed broker friend at another company and my third wss a CBP inspector I had a great professional relationship with for years. So you may need your manager or someone from your company to be a reference. Also not to discourage you but you msy not pass. I was one of only 5 in my largeish port that passed when I took the test. All that aside. your company may be genuinely pleased to have an in house broker. Upcoming changes to the regulations may make it more attractive for forwarders to keep their brokerage in house. You might be positioning yourself to head your own department at the least. You’ll certainly need to read the room so to speak. Absolutely you could make a strong case to your employer. A few tips on the test itself, Read the questions CAREFULLY, they’re designed to trip you up. Take your time as much as possible.
    Try to stay cslm, and not lose your focus. Last of all, if you don’t pass. protest anything you can. It won’t hurt anything. doesn’t cost you anything and it may boost you to a passing score. I personally know several people who passed after protecting. Best of luck to you! If you have any questions. I’ll watch the comments and try answer. No matter what happens, by getting your license you will give your career a significant boost. Trust a stranger who has been in the trenches for a very long time. One more thing and then I’ll shut up. You don’t need a permit unless you’re going to operate on your own. If your current employer decides to offer brokerage, they’re responsible for the permit. If you move to another company with brokerage you’ll be covered under their permit. Just make sure you keep up with the triennial reports or your license will be suspended. Again, best of luck to you!!!

    1. Hillary*

      Yes to all this. I’m not a broker, but I could have passed back in 2010 when I was doing nothing but compliance. I ended up deciding I wanted another career path.

      Does your employer already do customs brokerage? Most of the small shops I know only have one broker and would be happy to have more. I disagree with Alison a bit – most of the forwarders I work with want brokers enough that they’ll pay for classes and give you paid time off to study. The benefit of that might be enough to disclose early.

      Good luck!

    2. OP5*

      thank you for your advice! and yes I can already see during my studying they want to trip you up in the questions. this October will be the first time there will be digital copies available of CFR and HTS so that is exciting! I had previously asked about my company paying for the test but we had a salary cuts and were very slow for awhile so I figured not the best time to ask again. I discussed the possibility of starting our own business with someone else taking the test, so trying to keep my options open as far as permitting goes. if they did want to keep me on I would probably ask to be reimbursed for the test and materials, it was expensive!

  25. Kelly*

    #1: Unless the typo results in a word that may be considered inappropriate (like leaving the “l” out of “public”) I agree with Alison.

    1. Ada Doom*

      One of my coworkers used to work at a public library, and she absolutely notices this every time it happens on a library listserv. And it does. And we roll with laughter and sympathetic embarrassment.

      1. Metadata minion*

        I think it was on here that I saw the suggestion to just remove the word “pubic” from your word processor and/or browser’s dictionary (unless you work in public health or something where you might actually need both words). That way it’ll get flagged as a typo!

      2. Quill*

        I’m reminded of an archival newspaper story (possibly apocryphal) about ladies of the night in the old west. It went the other way: one of the ladies, in a quarrel over a gentleman, shot the other in the “public arch”

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      (at the risk of starting a derail) I have learned never to even attempt to type “one sec” in an IM to a coworker or boss. I just find another way to tell them I’ll get to their inquiry soon. Yes, the dreaded typo happened a couple of times. With that said, I agree with Kelly.

  26. MissDisplaced*

    3. My boss wants me and my coworker to be the first to return to the office

    If the CEOs, Execs, and managers want to force people Back to the Office during a global pandemic they need to be the very FIRST to go work in the office. Every day.
    Whatever happened to Lead From the Front?

    1. Generic Name*

      Exactly. My office is technically open, but most people are choosing to remain at home. Why bother going in if no one else is there? The people who have been working at the office are senior management and admin staff, and the ceo was one of the first to return

    2. Otto Delete*

      Very true! Also, no one lives in a bubble, you will still need to encounter people on the way and from the office! That puts you at risk right there. Maybe they didn’t think it through.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Eh. That’s not necessarily true. If you use a war analogy, the general is not expected to charge the enemy lines with the first line infantry even knowing some of those soldiers will die. To branch out from a war analogy, there could be a work reason to have say an admin in the office (accept packages, put together mailings) that wouldn’t apply to the C-suite. Or if the lower level people are lab techs who need to do bench work while the higher level people are in charge of research ideas. But there should be a good work reason – not just butts in seats – to justify possibly endangering someone.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I don’t know about this. I am a senior manager and I have been the only one coming into the office most days since the pandemic began. I have more or less insisted that my staff stay home. Yes, that means that I am now watering the plants, accepting packages, and printing out checks, none of which were my job before. However, I’m also aware that when I hired my staff, none of them were signing up for being put in harm’s way. When you enlist in the military, you know going in what that job entails. That doesn’t apply to office jobs. Ideally no one should be in harm’s way, but if someone has to, it should be whoever is benefiting the most, not the ones benefiting the least.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          This.

          I have a friend who works the mailroom for a major company. The mailroom staff are alternating weeks they come in so they can reduce exposure. Most of the rest of the staff is at home, because they don’t need to lay hands on things in the office. If they have mail, they come pick it up, with proper precautions, once a week.

  27. NewbieMD*

    LR #3, you mentioned commuting in your letter. Do you by any chance use public transportation? If you do, you could let your boss know that you feel uneasy being crammed onto a bus or train with so many other people. Of course, you shouldn’t HAVE to give an excuse because your boss is a dope who seems to be trying to use you and your coworkers as mine canaries but this would possibly help your case.

  28. Greige*

    OP 2, all of your concerns are valid and sufficient to justify not to returning to the office when you can do everything from home. But if you’re concerned about how your boss would react, here is another one: we’re not just staying home for our personal health. Covid is a public health crisis, and avoiding contact with others helps reduce its spread. You can spread it without knowing you have it. You’re protecting other individuals as well as the community as a whole by doing what you can to stay away from others.

    1. Shirley Keeldar*

      Exactly! We stay home as much as possible to minimize *everyone’s* risk. It’s for both public and private health. Your boss has decided that there’s no risk to your private health (which she has no business deciding) and has completely glossed over the risk to public health. I wish you good luck pushing back!

  29. IStealPens*

    #2…..

    Dear HR Professionals,

    I am an HR Manager with 15 years expereince, so I am not just any person who has it out for HR, or has a chip on their shoulder against HR. And it is this kind of experiences that someone else has that makes my job harder, as I have to overcome someone’s bad expereince with someone else in HR. Almost every time I see the words “Human Resources” or “HR” on this blog, i cringe because I know it is not good in 95% of all situations.

    Referring someone as “fragile” in ANY kind of official document is highly inappropriate and unprofessional. Using that word is personal, and not helpful. Observations about someone’s work performance should never be a personal insult. If you used the term “fragile” outside of the workplace, it is most likely a personal insult. I have to tell my stake holders all the time that someone isn’t a “liar”, they are “dishonest”. This is the same thing.

    In this case, the person who wrote this should have said something to the effect of “Liza and Kelsey’s mentor /protégé relationship wasn’t a good fit. I feel because Diana is stronger in her role and has more tenure in her career, she would be a better fit. Diana has established herself as a leader and a Subject Matter Expert, she would be better equipped to provide the right level of feedback that is both direct and helpful. It was apparent that the feedback Liza received from Kelsey was not taken as perhaps it was intended”

    Another thing – it is disgusting and offensive that only “strong women” can be mentors, or offer constructive feedback. Or to suggest in those words that Liza needs to be mentored by someone who is a “strong woman”. Yes, there are certain qualities that make someone a better fit for a particular role, such as being more outgoing, but referring to some women as “strong’ in comparison to another gives so many negative connotations as a result. My problem here isn’t the word “strong” – in fact it is an appropriate word to use – just not attached to the word “woman”. In fact – there is really no need to add the word “woman” to the equation. There ARE men out there that can lead a woman effectively.

    One last thing -just because Liza may not see this document, or it may not have been intended for her eyes, you have to remember that ALL documents other than those specifically classified as Attorney Client Privilege are deemed discoverable. This means that her lawyer can subpoena them in a legal situation. You should always write anything that is officially documented with the expressed belief that it will be seen by people you think shouldn’t see it. This goes for notes as well – I have had my notes subpoenaed on many occasions. And using language like this has not boded well for the organization.

    This is why i almost always review anything a manager puts in an employee communication or goes in their personnel record. This doesn’t mean in causal conversation about the person you can’t say things a little more frank (unless of course youre being recorded), but putting these types of observations that are making a personal character judgement rather than constructive professional observations is bad form and frankly poor HR practice.

    Sincerly,
    An HR Manager who actually cares about the people she supports.

    1. Cup of coffee*

      Thanks, HR manager, you are a rarity.

      My current role is to overhaul and manage the performance management process, and a big issue I had with managers – including the CHRO! – is to avoid using labels in feedback. My mantra is “describe, don’t judge”. Only note observable behaviors, and leave your interpretation off the table. Ask the person what is going on, don’t tell them “how they are.”. Who the heck are you to judge the person?

      And yes, it was sloppy work for the HR team to let that label be included in the document, and to not lock the document away. Shame on both. It makes me cringe when I read articles in SHRM how HR can help create a safe work culture, and then basics like this get overlooked.

  30. What's with Today, today?*

    #1. About 12 years ago, I had to send over some not important personal documents and a letter to the local hospital’s Chief Administrative Officer. I rushed through it as it wasn’t super important and I’m busy. His assistant edited my original letter in red pen and initialed the bottom, then sent it back in the return documentation. I was furious, but never said anything.

    Guess who was the chair of the hiring committee she interviewed with two years ago? She didn’t get the job.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t exactly get this.. why were you so furious? Enough to torpedo a job for her 10 years later?

      1. What's with Today, today?*

        We had already found the candidate we ended up hiring. I didn’t hold a grudge at all, but when it came to interviewing for a job where she would have to be an assistant for a high level person I oversee, her lack of professionalism (correcting someone’s document with red ink, initialing it, and sending it back to them, all unsolicited) was remembered and bit her.

    2. Things That Make You Go Hmm*

      Yay! This is the kind of story that makes me happy. It feels like justice was served. She was a jerk, and how much free time did she have that she could “correct” something unnecessarily?

      1. What's with Today, today?*

        No, I didn’t block her from a job for a full decade. I only interviewed her once for one job. I remembered her lack of professionalism from a decade earlier when she came to interview for a EA position for a high level person that I oversee. Correcting my document and letter with red ink, initialing it, and sending it back to me, all unsolicited isn’t something I’ll likely forget.

        1. Vanessa*

          Nor should you! You were lucky to see first hand how unprofessional and obnoxious she was. I would not want to have someone like that working for me. Pure arrogance and terrible judgement! Yikes

  31. DireRaven*

    OP 5:
    I don’t know if this is my cynicism or not, but one concern I would have for staying at the same company with brand-new credentials that could garner me a higher salary than my current salary, even if I pivot and do work that makes use of my new credentials, is that either my salary is not raised at all or is only nominally raised, but not to a point that I would be making market rates. (ex. Suppose I currently make $50k, annually, which is the average salary for my current job and experience level. The job I could possibly get with my newly minted credential offers an average starting salary of $100,000. But, my current employer could make use of my credential and decides to move me to working in that capacity. But, they only offer a 10% salary increase, bringing my compensation to $55k, slightly over half the market rate.)

    1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

      I worked at an employer who had a cap of I think 10% for raises, even with a title change. The only way to get an exception was to get the CEO’s personal approval (from what little I knew about the CEO, that was exceedingly unlikely.)

  32. NewYork*

    #4 — slightly OT, but are you certain you are not pushing work on others? Are you expecting team calls to be scheduled at ONLY the time that works for you? All professionals work OT at times, not certain how you can handle this and be fair to others and not drive yourself to an early grave. Have you asked for PT schedule.

  33. notacompetition*

    Pro editor and writer here. PLEASE DO NOT OFFER COPY EDITING ADVICE UNLESS ASKED. It definitely comes off as rude unless you’re interviewing to be a copy editor.

    In most situations, pointing out typos or small grammatical/punctuation errors are considered low-hanging fruit. It can put you on shaky ground because it’s a deviation from the point of the interview, meeting, or exercise. It seems like a one-up attempt, which will never, ever make you look good.

    Also, as someone who’s been slinging copy for years…errors will always exist. Errors are not an indication that the person who wants someone with “attention to detail” is not attentive to detail, and people have different strengths. Errors are a part of life, of writing, and of editing. Our goal is perfection, but we will all have typos and punctuation and grammar errors. There is no astral plane of constant copy perfection. Often, your boss is going to rely on you for copy perfection but is not going to be a perfect writer/editor themselves.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I am actually a freelance professional copyeditor and I have on ONE single occasion offered some unasked-for copyediting advice. A local meat business had started a website and I was poking around on it, only to find at the bottom of one of the pages it read something like “Sausage Made Fresh Daily – Meat Cut To Order – Live Nude Girls – Local Honey” and so on. I emailed them just to point it out, because I got the impression that someone was either playing a joke on them or was badly mistaken about their reason for existence. They never got back to me, but the error was fixed.

      1. notacompetition*

        HA! That seems like a really good example of when to speak up about copy errors!

        I think if someone pointed that kind of thing out to me uninvited, I’d probably say thank you.

    2. Northerner*

      Exactly this! I’ve hired a number of marketing writers and recall a couple of cover letters that pointed out a minor typo on some page of our website. This did not strengthen their candidacy! Even in a best-case scenario, where you’ve identified something I can and want to correct … OK, you’re adding something to my to-do list and distracting me from the question of what might make you a good fit for the role. Pointing out that your interviewer has mustard on her shirt would also show a certain attention to detail, but it’s not likely to win you any points.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Pointing out that your interviewer has mustard on her shirt would also show a certain attention to detail, but it’s not likely to win you any points.

        This is a really good point. The logic that leads you to correct a spelling error in a job posting also dictates that you should sit down in the interview and say, “The edge of the carpet is frayed. You have a hair out of place. There’s a spot on the table. The light in the hallway is flickering . . . Don’t you appreciate my attention to detail?”

  34. Oh No She Di'int*

    #1 In addition to what others have said, the other reason not to go down that path is because there are far too many opportunities to get it wrong. Serious editing and proofreading often require iteration and negotiation, and you just don’t have access to that structure in a job application.

    I once ran an ad for an editorial position and got a know-it-all list of “errors” from one applicant. Of the half-dozen or so “errors” listed, 1 was a true undeniable error, 3 or 4 were matters of opinion or preference that could go either way, and 1 or 2 were actually new errors being introduced. This is dangerous territory.

  35. Heat's Kitchen*

    #3 – could you propose to your boss that the company open up returning on a voluntary basis? This is what my company is doing and I’m very happy about it. Just because others have kids at home doesn’t mean they need or want to be at home! There may be another caregiver taking primary duties, and being at home is distracting. This way, if people WANT to be in the office, they can. They could also likely schedule time for contact tracing purposes. Then, as they decide to open up the office fully, they can communicate those plans directly.

  36. Bree*

    The only time I would point out an error in a job ad would be if the mistake might prevent people from properly applying (typo in e-mail address, broken link, conflicting instructions). In these cases, it would be very clearly helpful to me, other applicants, and the company. Otherwise, let it go.

    As someone who writes and edits professionally, I know it can be tempting to fix mistakes whenever you see them! But it’s always good to consider whether it will make a significant and immediate difference in whatever function the writing is trying to accomplish. Otherwise, let it go unless you’ve been invited to help.

  37. Aunt Vixen*

    Re: #1, I once handed in a skills test at a temp agency and said “I went ahead and reproduced the error that was in the test paragraph, because this was a typing test and not an editing test, but just so you know, I caught it.” And the screener looked at my results printout and said “This says no errors, though?” /o\

    Me: “Right, because I typed up what it said. But the text is talking about the country in South America, Colombia, only it spells it Columbia, as in District of. So what I’m saying is my test is accurate, but it’s not correct.”

    Screener went “huh” and put the page in my file and I got some gigs with that agency, but who knows how many people they hired who’d get a manuscript, as I did once, with a line about a “grizzly murder scene” and let it go? Spell check is not always sufficient, hiring friends.

    1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      One of my favorite wrong word choices came from a published book by Jonathan Kellerman. Characters were hiking in the hills on a *bridal* path.

      Snerk. :)

    2. Phony Genius*

      Reminds me of a computer programming contest I did in high school. The way it was scored, you would receive maximum points by adding “remark” lines of code to your program so that the judges understand what you are trying to do with that section of the program. Well, when it came time for the contest, it asked us to write 3 short programs. For the third, the instructions said that you would only receive the maximum score if you used the absolute fewest number of lines necessary. Did this mean that we should leave out the “remark” lines? Nobody knew for sure if the instructions for the one question superseded the instructions for the overall contest, which were now in conflict. And since they only notify winners, nobody was ever sure how they ended up scoring it.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I’ve been on the other side of competitions and judging panels like the one you describe often enough to know that nobody had thought through how those two instructions were now in conflict. Most activities people engage in are full of competing values. So it ends up being shockingly easy to create conflicting instructions when trying to honor all of those values.

        The classic one for applications of all types is the need to be both succinct and thorough. There’s often just no way to do both. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a judging panel of some sort and people start saying “Well, they didn’t address this and they didn’t address that . . .” And I’m going, yeah, but we only gave them 100 words.

  38. Rachel*

    I don’t know if anyone has pointed this out (didn’t read through all the comments), but I think it’s a little ironic that the person wanting to correct grammatical errors in job listings, has a grammatical error in their letter. See, it can happen to anyone. (…” places is would it be considered …”)

  39. Mike*

    I don’t do copy editing but for me well-written communications don’t have to have perfect grammar. Instead, they just need to be readable and understandable by the audience.

    I also have a major gripe with the grammarians who have royal f-up’d how people think about and use the language. So much of it is BS. Like prohibitions against singular they (which had a long use before it was said to be incorrect) and split infinitives.

    I had to look up the comma splice and one example was “Koala bears are not actually bears, they are marsupials.” which is perfectly readable and understandable. Sure, a semi-colon is probably more correct than a comma but if someone pointed that out to me I’d be worried they focused on the wrong part of the message.

  40. Malty*

    A charity I really respect actually did the error on purpose on twitter and it really made me cringe – maybe two months ago they posted an ad including looking for attention to detail, including an obvious mistake, and then the next tweet was basically ‘did you point this out to us? Good because that would be part of your job.’ They’re not a small charity and I honestly couldn’t believe I was watching an AAM situation play out in real time

  41. Chronic Overthinker*

    LW 4: I would think a time block on your calendar would be more appropriate than an out of office message. You could add “limited/no access to email during this time, please contact ‘so-and-so’ for immediate assistance.” If it’s added to the calendar, people would see you aren’t available and wait until you are back. Just my two cents. I think this is especially effective if you are salaried as you can work outside of “normal” office hours.

  42. juliebulie*

    Rather than have an autoreply saying when you’re out, have an autoreply that says when you’re available. Like “I’m available 8 to 11 AM and 3 to 6 PM.” That is much more useful (and positive) than saying when you’re out.

    1. Partly Cloudy*

      I agree with this. And to me, it feels kind of like TMI to put that you’re helping your kids with schoolwork on an out-of-office message. I don’t ever put *why* I’m out, just that I am, when I’ll be back, and who to contact in the meantime.

      LW, I’d suggest blocking your calendar (which you may already be doing) instead of an OOO message on your email. If you’re concerned that people will have a problem or question about your response time, maybe just wait and see if it even becomes an issue. I’d be more concerned about IMs or phone calls where people expect you to respond right away. I know you can be “away” or “unavailable” or whatever on Teams so I imagine most platforms have this option.

      1. IsItOverYet?*

        that’s what I was thinking – do a calendar block. It’s not all that unusual for someone to take a few hours to return an email so I don’t see this as a big deal (at least in my office). I know must of my colleagues are working weird hours because of kids, and it seems unnecessary to do an out of office for it especially if you’ve told key people. Granted – this is all from the perspective of my work which tends to be very flexible in the first place.

        Good luck this fall! I’m rooting for all the caregivers out there!

      2. Partly Cloudy*

        I missed the fact that the LW said she wants to be transparent about the child care issue, but I still think the OOO message is not the place to communicate policy. As others have suggested, be upfront with your team about this so they know it applies to everyone.

        1. IsItOverYet?*

          oops, I missed that too. Transparent is good. This really depends on your office culture. In mine it’d be weird because this would just be communicated directly but then we are a small office.

    2. BadWolf*

      Yes — concentrate on availability! Plus it saves people trying to figure out “the math” of when is a good time to contact you.

  43. Former Retail Manager*

    OP #2….if you don’t ever interact with HR and they don’t evaluate you in any way, then it is only logical to conclude that they made the mentor change due to input or a request they received from someone that does interact with you regularly. Maybe that is the male mentor that is no longer going to be assigned to you or maybe your manager or maybe someone else that HR asked about the mentor/mentee relationship for some legit reason, but I cannot imagine that they would just make that decision and those comments without input coming from someone.

    Also, another possibility, if mentors are assigned to everyone, that probably means they don’t volunteer and it isn’t optional. Is there any chance that your mentor wants out of the gig, for reasons that may have nothing to do with you, so he came up with something that he felt might be a harmless reason and took that to HR? Or could have just asked to be removed, HR pressed for a reason, and he came up with that reason on the fly? Not saying it’s right, but I’ve known a couple of folks who have done similar things to get out of assignments they were forced into. They claimed a personality conflict when there was none or suggested that the mentee needed someone with X approach, whereas they were using Y approach.

    Best of luck getting this resolved. I know it can be both jarring and infuriating to read things about yourself that you strongly disagree with.

  44. juliebulie*

    OP2 I’d be more bothered by the “fragile” assessment itself than the fact that it is posted where everyone can see it (which, don’t get me wrong, is also very bad). You need to find where that came from and why! “Fragile” is not a constructive way to describe an employee.

  45. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Re #1 –

    My degree was in writing and English writing & grammar were my strong subjects in school. Now I work as an accountant and I hired for accountants/bookkeepers at my last position. If a candidate pointed out any writing/grammatical mistakes over an ad that I didn’t even write would probably be an automatic disqualification from me, no matter how “charming” they were. Likewise, I never rejected a candidate over writing errors. Some of the best communicators I know struggle with writing. A typo or error in a job ad/resume isn’t indicative of a person’s full range of capabilities and professionalism IMO

  46. RobotWithHumanHair*

    OP1: I would never correct an ad like that, but I will admit that I find myself apprehensive about applying to jobs where the actual job TITLE is misspelled in the listing.

  47. Bookworm*

    #2: Ooof. Not quite in the same lane but after an interview I received a misdirected email from the HR manager who interviewed me that was meant for the actual supervisor who was supposed to interview me next (somewhat similar first names) with comments that I needed to work on my social skills based off of one phone interview that lasted less than an hour.

    I’d tread carefully. This is inappropriate and it doesn’t seem cool that the language is there in a document for people to see. There are more constructive ways to word that assessment (what does that even mean, anyway?) when shared with colleagues.

    Good luck. If this is how they think of you (or how they assess employees), it might not be a good place to stay.

  48. NOK*

    LW4 – you could add a line to your email signature with your work schedule. A few of my colleagues who work in different countries have a line below their job title with when they’re available in the mothership office’s timezone.

  49. Dan*

    I’m not quite sure I agree with Allison for LW4. I’ve worked in offices where the culture expected that I’d turn around emails received during the normal workday very quickly (even if it was just to say “I’ve received this but will need a day or two before I can send a substantial reply), and while 4 hours is a pretty small window to not be replying I would have wanted an auto-responder or similar if I was going to be gone, say, 6-8 hours. The fact that this is something the LW thinks they may need at all suggests to me that their office has the kind of culture where having it might be warranted. I’d vote that they should ask themselves “If the roles were reversed and I sent someone an email at 11 and they didn’t reply until 3, would that be an issue, or would I not notice or care?”, and if the answer is that it would be a problem, take that as a cue to set up the auto-responder.

  50. The Just-In-Case Person*

    OP #3 – I work for a giant worldwide corporation. My site has maybe 6 or 7 different department’s worth of people. We were all sent home in March. 90% of us transitioned to working from home fulltime. Now they’re bringing us back to the office. Our company decided that it’s not worth leasing a huge building for the remaining folks, so they shut our site down and moved the remnants to a smaller site.
    They told us that this would be a small overflow site for folks who literally can’t WFH, and can we consider transitioning? Great, I thought! My chance to switch to telecommute! I asked my boss if I can keep WFH and she said no. I am the only representative of my department onsite. I do NOT need to be there physically. My boss won’t budge. She doesn’t have an actual reason, just a nebulous feeling that “someone needs to be there just in case”. So I feel you. Sometimes it’s all about your boss’ feelings and perceptions, even if they’re not going to admit that. Good luck!

  51. HN*

    LW4, if your office uses Slack, I’ve seen colleagues in similar situations working flexible schedules use messages like “Hours today x-x; x-x” as their status while they’re out on kid duty. And they block off hours in the shared calendar with “Childcare, please check before booking” or something similar. And simply letting their direct teams know when it’s a recurring thing or regular schedule they can plan around is all that’s needed most of the time. I haven’t seen anyone use an out of office on their email in this situation, but that’s my office culture around response time expectations for email vs. Slack!

  52. Just Saying*

    I hope that the company OP#4 works for is having the caretakers work other hours to make up that time, or giving non-caretaker employees the same kind of flexibility.

    I know a lot of people have kids at home right now, but as someone without children, it’s incredibly frustrating to constantly be told a person is “watching their kids” when I can’t even take a long lunch break.

  53. all the time*

    I have a question – don’t workers at some point really need to get back in the office? Our office is functioning – the tasks are getting done and the company is operating, departments are meeting and staying on track, regular meetings have been happening that happened in the office – but still there is much missing – collaboration that happened spontaneously is gone – passing someone in the hall and remembering a question you had – ending up in a discussion that leads to a change or idea – in other words it feels as if our company is just getting by – not functioning in a manner that would mean growth, efficiencies etc. I feel like the ‘if you can work from home you must do it’ mantra is going to really hurt a lot of companies in the long run.

  54. 6CM*

    #1 – Although I don’t think the examples you mention would qualify, keep in mind that companies implement/follow their own style guidelines all the time. The company that I worked for previously followed APA; the one I work for now follows Chicago (mostly) but also has their own “style” to adhere to. It took (takes) some getting used to, so for someone on the outside to point out something that they aren’t necessarily privy to would be offputting for sure.

  55. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #3 – this seems like an example of a boss who treats parents differently than non-parents, by providing the necessary flexibility to everyone but OP and one co-worker just because they don’t have kids. If you’re able to do your job successfully from home, there really is no reason to go back to the office just because “everyone will be back there eventually”. That reasoning is pure BS – it’s like the people saying kids should be in school because they don’t get COVID. **Please don’t come at me about the struggles of parents right now. I’m not downplaying that AT ALL. But there are plenty of managers who think non-parents should just be able to do everything every time just because they don’t have kids.**
    #4 – depending on the size of your office, I think it’s a good idea to set up an OOO message. If you only work with a small group of people and they’re aware of the situation, I don’t think it’s necessary. But if you work with others who may not know what’s happening, you need to prepare them for your time frame of replying, so they can go to others if needed when they can’t wait on you.

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