I quit a new job after they took away my office, and my friend says I’m being petty

A reader writes:

Earlier this year in January, I left an IT job at a large company to take a similar role at a smaller firm in a different industry that needed a specific skillset in which I am well experienced. I was referred by an existing employee who was a former colleague of mine. As part of the negotiation process, I requested an office and was told it would not be a problem by the internal recruiter. Ultimately, I negotiated a very good package with a better salary and the office, and I decided to make the move.

I started the new job and everything went well for the first three days. However, on the fourth day, the friend who referred me called me and said that a tenured employee at my level (assistant manager) who did not have an office (and was working on site a few days a week) had gone to HR and threw a fit over the fact I was provided with one. Later that morning, HR called me and said that I would be moved to a cubicle due to “internal equity,” as I was the only person at my level with an office in the whole firm. I told the HR rep that the change did not align with what I had negotiated, and that I expected the company to honor what was agreed to.

My boss called me later in the afternoon and said his hands were tied, and that I had the option of being moved to a cube or being fully remote. I told him this destroyed my confidence that I would have the necessary support to be successful in my role, ended the conversation, and called my previous employer, who immediately agreed to re-hire me at the same salary I had been offered by the new company. After receiving written confirmation from HR at my old employer early the next morning, I emailed my new manager, informed him of my resignation — effective immediately — packed my belongings, and walked out the door and took two weeks off.

I have since started back at my old employer, but am concerned about a phone call from the friend who referred me, in tears, saying I ruined her reputation at the company and she is now “on the rocks” with leadership because I quit without notice just one week in and left them empty-handed on a critical project. I told her I was a victim just as she was and that the situation was beyond my control since they broke their promise. She told me I was petty for leaving over a seating assignment and that she regretted recommending me, and then ended the conversation. I am now concerned about the impact this will have on my reputation. How worried should I be, and did I do anything wrong here?

Everyone messed up here, but the company messed up far more than you did.

First and foremost, they shouldn’t have agreed to something they weren’t fully committed to honoring. And once they did commit to it, they needed to stick to it — or at least treat it far more sensitively than they did.

The thing about office assignments is that sometimes they do need to change. Staffing can change, space needs can change, roles can change, and the way offices are allocated can need to change based on all those things. They should have been clear about that during the negotiations — because if they’d later hired someone senior to you whose work required privacy and no more offices were available, I highly doubt they would have sat that person in a cubicle.

So they messed up by agreeing to the office without any caveats. And once they realized they messed up, they should have acknowledged that. The conversation shouldn’t have been “too bad, here’s a cubicle.” It should have been, “We know this was important to you during our negotiations and we agreed to it. We’re so sorry that we didn’t foresee XYZ. Given what we now realize, what can we do that would make this work for you?”

Also, their reason for the change is bad. This isn’t “new senior person whose work requires privacy.” This is a person at your level who has been fine in a cubicle up until now complaining that they’re not getting what you’re getting. The way for the company to handle that is to explain that you negotiated this before coming aboard, and maybe see if there are other concessions they can make to keep that person happy. (And if internal equity on offices is important to them, they need to act like it in future negotiations so this doesn’t happen again.) After all, if that person had complained that you were getting paid more, they wouldn’t have taken away part of your pay to make things equitable … and if they had, they would have known you might leave over it. (That’s not a perfect comparison because office assignments do change, like I noted above. But it’s in the ballpark.)

So that’s their part of this.

On your side … well, you did kind of flounce out of there. To be clear, I don’t blame you at all for leaving — you negotiated something and started the job in good faith, assuming those negotiations would be honored. They broke that agreement and it sounds like they were pretty cavalier about it. If the office was really important to you, they shouldn’t be terribly surprised that them breaching that agreement on your fourth day might void the entire agreement, especially when they didn’t make any effort to find another way to preserve it.

I just wish you’d done it without the flounce. Ideally you would have talked to your boss, explained that the office was a key point in your negotiations, you wouldn’t have accepted the job otherwise and thus weren’t sure it made sense to stay if nothing could be done, and had a real conversation about whether or not there was a way to move forward. I know the two of you did speak about it that day — but it sounds like it was pretty adversarial (“I told him this destroyed my confidence that I would have the necessary support to be successful in my role and ended the conversation”). If that conversation had been more “let’s see if there’s a way for us to fix this and, if not, we’ll part ways with no hard feelings” — as opposed to what it was, followed by the email resignation later — this all might have had a different feel.

As for that email resignation … it’s not that odd that you made your resignation effective immediately. You’d only been there four days! It wouldn’t have made sense to give two weeks notice. But again, a phone conversation would have been a better way to go.

I don’t take issue at all with what you did. They cavalierly violated an agreement early on, you chose to leave. I just think that how you did it made it more dramatic than it needed to be. And that has probably allowed them to paint you as more difficult than they otherwise could have done.

But I also want to be clear: if someone screws you over, you don’t need to take it with a smile! You were ethically entitled to handle it how you did. I’m only talking about what would have gotten you the best outcome in all this.

And I want to be clear about this too: The ways they messed up far outweigh any errors you made. They have the lion’s share of the blame.

As for what to do … If possible, I’d try to patch things up with the friend who referred you. She may not realize the full context — that this is something you’d negotiated, you wouldn’t have accepted the offer without it (if that’s true), and when they breached that agreement a few days in, you felt it negated the entire agreement and you couldn’t move forward in good faith. Keep it calm and matter-of-fact (I’d avoid some of the language from your letter, like “victim”). Tell her you didn’t mean to cause problems for her, and you hope you can repair the relationship.

But the dramatic feel of how this went down may mean that that bridge is burned, unfortunately. And it’s possible people will talk about it. And some people will think “it was just an office — that was an overreaction,” not understanding the full context of how it was handled. All you can do is conduct yourself in a way going forward that will make people think, “Knowing what I know of her, if she left on day four, she must have had good reason for it.”

{ 1,031 comments… read them below }

  1. Roscoe*

    I agree with everything Alison said. I understand you reasoning, you just seemed to make it far more dramatic than needed. Its like the saying “You aren’t wrong, you are just a jerk”. And frankly, if you were my friend and you went scortched earth like that and left, I’d be very upset as well. You really didn’t seem to care at all what you were doing to her reputation at that company. Again, your issues were valid. But I think when someone reccommends you like that, you do owe them a bit more consideration. If you are find ruining your reputation with that place and possibly in the industry, fine. But this wasn’t just about you.

    1. FormerTVGirl*

      I’m wondering whether this is more about the COMPANY being unfair to Referring Friend than it is Flouncing Friend having wrecked her reputation at the company and putting her “on the rocks.” That is to say, no matter how dramatic Flouncing Friend’s exit might have been, ultimately Company has to realize that they’re the ones who rescinded something that was promised during negotiation. That’s not Referring Friend’s fault, and I am concerned about the type of people who wield power at Company if they’re being crummy to Referring Friend now because of how this all played out.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        It isn’t hard to wonder if a company that negotiates in bad faith when hiring is toxic in other ways, too, and that Referring Friend is – as so often happens in letters to AMA – so used to it that she doesn’t realize it.

        And leaving the way they did, the letter writer did, at least, get the company’s attention. The people who negotiated in bad faith are now aware there were negative consequences. Was it petty? Sure. But sometimes, pettiness carries and emotional satisfaction that’s worth the price.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, the referral runs two ways. Referring friend is telling the company this potential hire is good, and telling the potential hire that the company is a good place to work.

            1. Emi*

              Whoa, that’s not clear at all. There’s no evidence that she knew any of this would happen.

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                If I tell you the weather is beautiful outside, and you step out into a monsoon that I didn’t know about, I still lied to you about the weather.

                1. Zephy*

                  I disagree. Lying is not the same as being mistaken. Lying requires intent – if you didn’t know it was raining, you didn’t lie, you were just wrong or misinformed.

                2. NotJane*

                  But as Magenta Sky said above, maybe “Referring Friend is… so used to it that she doesn’t realize it.” Or maybe her experiences have been positive overall. Neither of those things make her a liar. It’s not a one size fits all proposition.

                  It would be more like, if someone asked you what the weather was like, and you said, “Beautiful,” because to you 50 & overcast is beautiful, but to the other person it’s chilly and depressing as hell. The other person not sharing your opinion or having a different idea of “beautiful” weather wouldn’t mean you’re a liar.

                3. Littorally*

                  You didn’t lie in that situation. You were factually incorrect. That’s materially different.

                4. Working Hypothesis*

                  No, you didn’t. If you tell me that the weather is beautiful, because last time you were aware, it was beautiful and likely to continue being as far as you knew; and I step out into a monsoon that you didn’t know about, you were *wrong*, not *lying*. A lie means a CONSCIOUS, DELIBERATELY TOLD falsehood; it is not synonymous with every statement that happens to be unknowingly false.

                5. Hil*

                  But if I tell you the weather is beautiful because its a nice fall day and I love fall, and you go outside and are angry because it’s 65 and that’s too cold for you, I didn’t like. I liked something you don’t like.

                  The friend implied she liked the company (or liked it well enough that OP should work there). OP disagreed after 4 days and left. Zero evidence anyone lied.

            2. Lady Meyneth*

              Doesn’t have to be a lie, and the company might be a great place for *Referring Friend* to work. It just wasn’t a good one to OP, who values and negotiated for different things.

              1. Momma Bear*

                I agree. I wouldn’t peg the referring friend as a liar because things didn’t work out with OP. None of this was on the friend and friend probably had no idea the drama that would go down, that she had nothing to do with. On a much lower level, I got burned in a referral and I will never refer that person for anything again, not even plant watering. OP is coming off pretty arrogant here RE: the impact on others. OP may be a great IT person but could work on their people skills.

                1. Lady Meyneth*

                  I don’t even think OP comes off as arrogant. She had options, and decided to take a better one when what she expected and agreed upon with one company didn’t pan out. She definitely should have given a heads up to the referring friend, but she was probably upset that what she negotiated for was denied her *four days* after starting. Who wouldn’t be?

                  That being said, OP should be aware she’s not likely to get another referral from that friend, even if the relationship can be repaired. Referring someone puts you on display too, and if you get hurt by them, even for a fair reason, you just don’t put your neck out for them again.

        2. Just Another Zebra*

          This is where I went, too. I don’t think I could ever trust a company that pulled back part of my negotiated after less than a week. I’m Team LW – this isn’t trustworthy behavior, and they handled the change badly enough that I’d want to leave.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            And it’s also a bit preposterous of the company to suggest leaving 4 days in with no notice left them in the lurch on a big project. They just barely finished the hiring process. Go get their second choice. Someone 4 days in can’t possibly be make or break for the project. If they really were, that’s terrible planning on the company’s part.

            1. AKchic*

              That’s how I feel. The company is telling some seriously exaggerated stories if they are telling the Referring Friend that the OP’s departure (after 4 days!) is going to harm/set back the project. I doubt they even did more than mention or introduce the project to OP and OP hadn’t even had enough time to do more than do a casual glance at the overview.

              Upper management is feeling some heat because a senior person felt slighted and called them out on something, then they got called out for negotiating in bad faith and lost a person they wanted. Now there’s bad feelings among the remaining staff (because you know the senior person has talked to the other staffers about the whole office situation, and everyone knows the new person left within the same week they were hired) so they are looking to blame anyone but themselves. Oh, hey, look at who referred that “Troublemaker” who “caused” all of these problems.

              No, LW, you did not cause these problems, and neither did the Referring Friend. This is all on management who didn’t value their employees enough to realize they’d want an office when you recognized the value of one, didn’t realize that by pulling a portion of something you negotiated for they were signaling their own values and bad intentions, and with everything that has happened, they are showing who they are as people and as an organization.
              This is a company to avoid.

            2. Kevin Sours*

              Having been in the situation where a new hire ghosted, it can be a blow. Nobody is a load bearing part of a project after for days but if you’d planned the project with that role starting at date with a x week ramp up time now you are already a week behind if a replacement starts tomorrow.

              But you aren’t going to get a replacement to start tomorrow. Even if you go with your second choice they’re going to want to give two or three weeks notice at their current job.

              But at this point it’s been three or four weeks since you made your hire. There is an excellent chance your other candidates have all moved on by now. So add whatever weeks it takes to hire a replacement to the notice period and the week lost onboarding the employee who bounced. Like I said, it can be a blow.

              Which, of course, the company really should have considered before screwing over an apparently critical new hire.

              1. LTL*

                “There is an excellent chance your other candidates have all moved on by now.”

                Perhaps, but honestly, it’s unlikely given the December 2020 job market.

            3. LL*

              Just wanted to say I haven’t seen a Homestar Runner reference in forever, and your username cracked me up. XD

            4. Margaret Liepmann*

              Four days in, you’re still trying to remember the passwords and getting the system settings to your liking, that project will be fine.

          2. Seen it.*

            Well, maybe for some excellent reason.

            But someone else threw a fit and HR caved? If I’d been there four days and watched an adult throw a tantrum and HR give in, I’d have walked out the door too.

            1. bopper*

              What was the context?

              Was this person there 20 years and told it was impossible to get an office and new person shows up and suddenly there is one?

              Was the tenured person female or a person of color and all of a sudden the white guy shows up and there suddenly is an office?

              1. Crystal*

                Yeah, I feel like I’m missing something here. I’m old, so my idea of “norms” is admittedly outdated, but I just can’t imagine that’s there’s not more to this. But if there’s not, I’m afraid i’m one of those going “It’s just an office. I don’t get it.”

                1. Crystal*

                  Can’t edit, so I’ll add that yes, capitulating to another employee throwing a fit would make me question my choice, but I still don’t know that I’d walk out in a huff over it. But clearly I’m not really grasping what everyone else is, so I’ll accept that my pov is probably the wrong one.

                2. Red 5*

                  Every time office space comes up at my company there’s nearly a war and it’s often over incredibly petty and random things. There’s another one going on right now because they decided to shift a couple people before we come back next month and I’m fairly sure at least one person will end up quitting over it. And there really isn’t much more going on besides “I deserve more space than that person because I say I do” and the like.

                  Sometimes people are just really weird about office space.

              2. JB*

                Yeah, this is what I’m wondering. Allison says ‘a person who’s been fine without an office all this time’ but we don’t know at all that that’s the case, and I’m guessing it’s probably not.

          3. Hrodvitnir*

            Yep, it’s the principal of the matter. The statement “I told him this destroyed my confidence that I would have the necessary support to be successful in my role” is very fair.

            I totally agree with Alison that it could have been handled with a little more grace on OP’s end, but if you have the ability to bail before you get in too deep with people who have already shown you they’ll cave to any pressure and not have your back, I have nothing but high fives for you.

            It sucks for their friend but it’s about more than the office.

          4. nonegiven*

            I don’t even see where OP quitting was unnecessarily dramatic.

            “OK, you can’t even hold up your end for a whole week, well I better hurry up and see if I can get my job back.”

            Surprised Pikachu face!

        3. Snuck*

          I wonder if Referring Friend has copped some fairly serious flak over this.

          She’s saying her reputation is in tatters… so it’s not just been a reprimand, it’s having wider implications for her. If the employer is so quick to sway over the office, are they also so fast to retribution over a bad hire recommendation?

          Your friend has some soul searching to do… it’s not just about recommending people as a simple task item – it’s important to consider the personality not just the skills of the person you recommend and whether they have a good fit to the culture of your workplace. She also needs to work out if she has the skills/resources to make this recommendation well – what does she know about where you would be working, who with, how your personality will interact… and whether she has the capital to burn right now (it sounds like she might not have), particularly if it went badly.

          But you (OP) have some soul searching too – as others have pointed out. Quick to leave a job – why did you leave your first job/what was the push/pull of the new one? Quick to return? While your flounce out was problematic if I was considering you for a role and this came to light I would be wondering about how considered your decision making is, how much I could trust you personally to stick by me, when I might be getting resignations from you and whether you’d a week later be trying to come back… and whether that would translate into all sorts of similar knee jerk behaviour. If I was seeking to employ you in a mission critical role I would have to consider that very carefully.

          I would say something to Referring Friend like “I’m really sorry that this has impacted you. I agree the way I left could have been handled better. It’s tricky, I felt that I couldn’t trust the company to meet the conditions of my employment that I negotiated, and I didn’t think it wise to stay longer. I could have handled it better, but the end situation would have been the same – I would have left with a minimum amount of notice, to return to my previous role. I had high hopes for this role in your company, but it was rapidly evident that I wasn’t going to be a good fit for the company ethos, as they have different ways of resolving issues and ideas of what is important than I do. I know you recommended me in good faith, but I am sorry I cannot stay and create a negative workplace for myself. I hope you haven’t been harmed dramatically by this and I will reflect on how I handled it and learn from this, you are right, I needed a wider view of this to do it well”.

          Be prepared to hear that she a) won’t be your friend again, b) is very annoyed, c) might be financially disadvantaged if she now has to pay back a recruitment bonus (or made plans based on getting one), or her bonus or pay rise or annual review is at risk (particularly given the company doesn’t seem to play by the fair rules).

          Sometimes it’s better to think beyond your own immediate emotional outrage and remember there’s others in the fish bowl with you.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        This was my first thought. They promised LW something and reneged on it less than a week into her employment there, how exactly did she leave them in the lurch? Four days isn’t enough time to onboard a high-level employee. Surely they can call up their second choice candidate to see if they’re still interested. And since LW is gone, Referring Friend is the target for the ire of upper management at a dysfunctional office.

        1. Rainy*

          It makes me wonder if the notice period at that company is typically used to berate and abuse the resigning employee, and the pattern of bad behaviour is so strong that the absence of the employee who resigned didn’t affect management’s berating and abuse except to shift the target.

        2. Weekend Please*

          It might not be so simple to get someone else in time. Their second choice could have taken another job. There may have been a significant delay between when the offer was made and the start date. I can definitely see how they may have been left in the lurch.

          But that’s not the OP’s problem. They created a situation where the OP felt everything she had been promised when making this move was subject to change at the employer’s whim. If she was so critical, the company should not have been so cavalier about changing the offer 4 days in.

        3. Nonprofit Anon*

          Just to be clear, I’m on the LWs side but for the leaving in the lurch:

          Some companies, mine included, have a very long hiring process. It can literally take months to fill a vacant position, so if we went through the multiple rounds of hiring interviews. Reviewed all the candidates, had current employees take time out of their schedule to interview, rubric review and discuss candidates, then notify all the people that did not get the job and then a week into the person’s work they quit, we’d be all the way back at the start and would definitely feel left in the lurch. And this has happened at least twice and it was very demoralizing for the departments that had to start the search again.

          1. Marny*

            All the more reason for a company to treat its new hires reasonably when they reneg on an agreement. Sometimes the employer has to accept they don’t always have the upper hand and may have to compromise.

          2. Ray Gillette*

            That’s fair, hiring is a huge time suck even under ideal circumstances, let alone less than ideal. I’m more thinking about the claim that she left them empty-handed on a critical project, which… really? Four days in? I suppose if what they meant was, “We told the client the project would take six months based on the assumption that this position would be filled on this date, now we have to go back to square 1 for hiring which throws off all of our projections,” but based on everything else in the letter, I’m more inclined to think they expected a new hire to be actively contributing on a time-critical project within her first week.

            1. Snuck*

              Yeah. It could be an ‘empty handed’ thing. If the OP has specific skills that are hard to recruit for, it could be that the company has thought it could kick off specific IT projects and brought on other staff to work with the project, or freed up current employees to get the project rolling, and suddenly the lead ?widgetwotsit coder? Quits just as he starts? Suddenly…. it’s dead in the water. Then what? Now there’s six or whatever staff sitting around with no work, while they recruit someone else.

          3. Your Local Password Resetter*

            Sorry if this is obvious, but why can’t you offer the job to another candidate?

            1. Nonprofit Anon*

              In the two instances where the person left within a few weeks of starting, the other top candidates had been notified weeks before that they did not have the job and then went on with their job search and were no longer available.

              And in another case there was a potential internal hire who was second choice, and they were provided in-depth explanations for why they were not the right fit. So it would be hard to go from “you aren’t the right fit for x, y, z… oh wait nevermind, our ideal candidate fell through so I guess you’ll do”

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                Yeah, if you provided me an in depth explanation of why I wasn’t the right fit, especially if I disagreed with you, and then came back to me wanting to give me the job because your choice quit… I’d be dusting off my resume because I’d never trust anything you told me, ever again.

                1. Julia*

                  I once interviewed at a company who told me they didn’t think I could do it, but would graciously hire me anyway. I took the job (it made sense at the time), but never felt comfortable there, and my confidence took quite a hit.

                2. Red 5*

                  Julia- I was once offered a promotion in a similar way. The person who was and would remain my direct manager had encouraged me to apply but her boss was condescending about my chances the entire time. Then he offered me the new job by almost literally saying “I don’t think you can do this but we didn’t really get many qualified candidates so I’m taking a chance.”

                  I quit the next day instead. I couldn’t imagine continuing to work for him, even indirectly.

              2. Your Local Password Resetter*

                Ah, yeah that makes sense.
                I assumed it was only 1-2 weeks since the hiring process wrapped up, but several months is a very different situation.

          4. Bibliovore*

            Agreed, but to be fair, that goes both ways. It doesn’t sound like it was the case for LW, but any new hire upon accepting the job might’ve withdrawn from other promising job possibilities after having gone through a long process and multiple interviews for those potential employers, and if their old job hadn’t been glad to hire them back they might’ve now faced restarting a job hunt having potentially already said no to other places they were interested in.

          5. allathian*

            I’m sorry, but that system is simply idiotic. If your new hire bails within a week, why not get in touch wit your second choice and ask if they’re still interested rather than starting the whole process from scratch?

            1. Nema*

              For all of the reasons described above, including but not limited to the fact other candidates may have moved on and may not be interested, having been previously rejected by the company. It’s not clear the hiring company will have to start again, but it’s not necessarily as simple as phone the number two candidate who is waiting by the phone.

              The number two (and three and four and five) candidates will have likely received feedback, directly or implicitly, that they weren’t the successful candidate.

        4. Quill*

          The fit being thrown, the change of a negotiated term only a week in… I would not be surprised if, a little down the line, there’s further ask a manager level bad behavior from this company.

          If they retaliate on the referrer that’s an even better sign that OP dodged several bullets.

        5. Snuck*

          Sometimes I wonder at the thinking of some management/companies…

          Apparently the OP has an in demand, specialist skill set.

          That has a value, can be hard to recruit for, can affect wider timeframes and deadlines and projects etc.

          Sometimes you put up with less than amazing employees because they have specific skills that are very hard to recruit for…. sometimes you bend over backwards and do whatever you can to retain highly skilled staff more than you might for a less hard to fill role. People are not chicken nuggets, produced on a factory line to a specific size/weight/composition.

        6. Natalie*

          Four days is barely enough time to on board an entry level employee properly. I’m getting the impression that the company that was “left a leach” doth protest too much.

      3. holding out for a hero sandwich*

        Yeah, the depth of this retaliating back on the Referring Friend reads more to me like the Company is retaliating.

        Maybe the company really wanted the LW and the HR thing could have been resolved if it had been escalated, and so suddenly the people who, a week into LW’s new job, expected to be meeting with LW and getting high-level work done, suddenly turned around, realized LW wasn’t there anymore, and retaliated on the person who was available to be dumped on, ie the Referring Friend.

      4. Green great dragon*

        Agree. Referring friend acted in good faith, LW had been a successful colleague before, and there is something seriously wrong if the company is now taking it out on her. In fact, even if referring friend is completely overreacting, I’ve got to wonder what’s wrong at a company that makes it believeable that her reputation is on the rocks because someone else left suddenly.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Agreed. What if LW had left due to sudden illness, a family emergency, or any of the millions of things that can happen that necessitate leaving a job that are not one’s fault? Would they have then turned it around on Referring Friend?

          The appropriate answer is no, of course not. But given the, admittedly little, data we have on the company, I really have to wonder.

          Referring Friend didn’t do the hiring, just the suggesting. Friend certainly also didn’t back out of the negotiated things, then give a shrug and a smile when called out on it, then act surprised someone didn’t take bad behavior laying down. That was all the Comapny’s doing.

        2. Clisby*

          Maybe referring friend acted in good faith. Since the company so quickly acted in bad faith, I have to wonder whether she was really that clueless about their dishonesty.

    2. ValkyriePuppy*

      I agree that considering the person who recommended you is important, because yeah I’d personally make efforts to protect that person on the way out.

      However, I also think it’s a bit ridiculous to blame the friend for it. Some times new staff just doesn’t work out. So now they have to hire someone new for that important project… but even if the OP hadn’t just flounced out after 4 days, she might have left after 2 weeks or a month or 3 months, or maybe management would have let her go if she wasn’t the “right fit”. There’s so many reasons that it might not have worked out and blaming someone else for that is just ridiculous.

      The management seems super toxic, tbh.

      1. KayDeeAye*

        Yeah, I agree. Plus, the OP had only been there for four days, so really, how crucial could they be? Eventually maybe, but now? After four days, they barely know where the restrooms are, so I can’t think they’ve gotten very deep into important work. So I don’t buy that “left them empty-handed on a critical project” business at all. That was said either by management to make the recommending friend feel bad or by the recommending friend to make the OP feel bad…or both. If management did say it, they need to knock off the drama already.

      2. Batgirl*

        Yeah, right? They fall over like a house of cards because someone complained, they decide they’re willing to lose a new starter over it, rather than manage this person, yet somehow it’s the poor referrer’s fault they reneged on a deal? So much she should she in tears and feel her future is shaky? OP caught the right scent and dodged a bullet.

        1. Canadian Valkyrie*

          My thoughts exactly… it seems highly unrealistic to have your company hinging on someone who’s been there for 4 days. It’s not like she quit 6 months in. And, again, even if she had, that’s sort of a normal part of hiring and if your project is SO inflexible and critical that someone seriously can’t quit then… maybe treat them super well and don’t renege on an agreement???? That employee SHOULD be a big enough of a deal that you’ll give them things like an office and not take it away knowing it was part of their negotiations.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Yeah, if LW was so critical that the world was going to end if they left–wouldn’t you try and make them happy? Or at least compromise a little bit? Or like… deal with the person who felt like they were getting the raw end of the deal another way?

            1. Canadian Valkyrie*

              I don’t think LW thought this I think the company thought this, thus if they relied on her so much then, well, they should’ve tried harder to accommodate someone apparently so important

        2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          That’s a good point – management here has three or four strikes against them over the course of less than a week’s worth of work.

          Negotiating in bad faith (or in the dark)
          Capitulating to the complainer (“It’s just an office” can go both ways)
          Refusing to budge on either previous bad decision and costing themselves a new hire
          Taking punitive measures out on the referrer for the bad hiring decision, to the point she’s afraid for her career.

          I mean, let’s suppose LW was the ultimate bad hire – showed up late, burned down the copy room when they tried to xerox their butt, and peed in the boss’ potted plant on their way out.

          It still wouldn’t excuse any of the above list, except maybe not hiring any more referrals from friend.

          This is bad management, and LW Keanu-dodged that workplace.

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

          fall over like a house of cards because someone complained

          This looks to me like part of the pattern — didn’t they also in a sense fall over like a house of cards when OP made this non-standard (for people of her level) request for an office, so instead of saying then that that wouldn’t be possible it sounds like they went straight to “yeah that’s fine” and it wasn’t really a negotiation as such, just that they couldn’t say no. Then when the next person (the other assistant manager who is at the same level as OP) complained about the office situation, they couldn’t say no to her either… Management and HR at this company sounds quite spineless honestly.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            You make an interesting point I had not considered. If the real answer was that people in LW’s position don’t typically get offices/they’re doled out based on availability or seniority, then they should have said that. Not made LW think things were hunky dory when they weren’t.

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

              Not to mention the “that shouldn’t be a problem” wording which is always a red flag.

              1. Sal*

                Oh my god, word. See, eg, my experience with a federal court’s HR rep on what parental leave is available vs what actually happened when I got pregnant.

      3. Anonymoose*

        I mean, that’s typically how it goes though. If the new hire left after 2 weeks or a month or 3 months or management let her go because she wasn’t the right fit, these would all end up with questions about the referrer’s judgment. That’s not to say this isn’t a huge overreaction, but yeah, in all of the scenarios you spelled out as well as this one, there would be questions about the referrer’s judgment.

    3. Joan Rivers*

      But — 4 [four] days?!
      Four days is pretty fast to RENEGE on an agreement. Such a good word, RENEGE.
      Wouldn’t you hold your breath till your first paycheck to see if they RENEGE on salary too?
      How long would you stick around if they cut your pay? You’d sue.

      It’s how fast they did it that lets him off the hook a bit, they moved so fast to disrespect him and blatantly ignore their terms. So he moved fast too.

      True, he could’ve handled it w/more finesse, and I’d write a lovely long letter to friend explaining the details, and expressing gratitude for her help and sorrow that the company reneged on its employment terms. But explain it’s not just the office, it’s the speed of reneging and what else they might feel free to do. And their lack of foresight or problem solving.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        These are my thoughts exactly.

        OP had “negotiated a good package”, but what use is that, if an important portion of that package has been taken away THREE days after OP started working there. I’d certainly be wondering what the next thing to go would be. And would certainly not put it past the company to go, “well, OP rolled over on the office, how about we try pulling back some of their other compensation as well? tell them it’s for internal equity, since this line worked the last time.” If I were as marketable as OP appears to be, I would not work at a place I cannot trust. And the way they are now going after the friend is not a great look on them, either.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My only concern is the style – another really good word here “flouncing” out of the job. I have a feeling the only reason OP “flounced” is because they were able to basically arrange a counter offer to stay at their original job. If they couldn’t have gone back to the other place I bet they wouldn’t have quit the new job.

        But let’s put what the new job did into hours: three work days at most places is only 24 total hours. In just 24 hours this company reneged on an offer they negotiated with a person they apparently headhunted away from another company. It’s a really bad look to reneg on the terms that fast, and it’s really hard to blame OP for leaving. Honestly if I had been an employee at new company I’d be polishing up the resume to leave as well. 24 Hours…..

        1. nonegiven*

          >If they couldn’t have gone back to the other place I bet they wouldn’t have quit the new job.

          I’ll bet they would have started looking, maybe choose the WFH, while restarting the job search.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yeah – I said elsewhere it probably would have been a dust off the resume to leave ASAP – because why stay someplace that is showing “we can’t keep our promises” behavior?

      3. MissBaudelaire*

        I wondered about that! What if a coworker came up and threw a fit that LW was making a better salary than them or had more vacation days? Would the company just be like “Oh oops, due to equity….”? And if they did, would LW just tolerate that? Probably not.

      4. Snuck*

        Agree. If they can’t keep the basic condition offer together for a few days, what will the future look like?

    4. Librarian1*

      Yeah, this is the thing. I’m actually having trouble feeling sympathetic to the OP, probably because in the vast majority of the positions I’ve had, I haven’t had an office. I agree that they had the right to leave, but the way they did it is overly dramatic I would be really mad if I were friends with that person.

      1. Ash*

        But you can’t control what happens once you recommend someone and they get hired. This is in no way Referring Friend’s fault, and if the company is making it seem like it is, *the company* has way bigger issues than offices.

        1. Snuck*

          Technically agree – the company goes through due diligence and employs based on that, the decision is their own. (I’d be fascinated to see turnover numbers for this employer! I suspect there is many issues in the hiring process. But smaller companies can be very interesting swirly mud pools sometimes, and squeaky wonderful clean at others.)

          But the referring friend really can learn a lot here too. About her employer … that it’s not safe to refer people, that the employer doesn’t honour agreements (so recommending people need to be warned of that) etc. It’s not their fault, but there’s opportunity for learning.

      2. Observer*

        Yeah, this is the thing. I’m actually having trouble feeling sympathetic to the OP, probably because in the vast majority of the positions I’ve had, I haven’t had an office.

        So? The OP explicitly negotiated this and the company made a promise. A promise that affected the OP’s decision to leave a good job. It doesn’t matter how much a private office matters TO YOU. What matters is that this was important to the OP, the company reneged on it’s promise, and neither tried to make amends in some way or even acknowledge that they messed up. That’s a problem.

        It’s no one’s place to decide that THIS promise is important and THAT promise can be reneged on with no impact.

        1. Nanani*

          THIS.

          The promise could have been anything – start/end hours, vacation, excluding certain duties (“I want to do X, I won’t take this job if it involves significant Y”), anything.
          The point is the explicitly negotiated agreement was broken. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about offices.

          1. DC Cliche*

            Exactly. If you sub in “a private office” (which was clearly important to the OP), with “a 7-3 schedule to handle childcare” that was taken away three days in because of “equity” this would feel a lot more crystal clear to some people. That’s a bad, bad sign about the company.

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

            I’m aware this isn’t a majority opinion but I don’t think the office/cubicle situation is equivalent to hours, vacation, salary etc. Primarily because (hopefully vacation and salary are obvious and don’t need explaining) e.g. hours are presumably negotiated for some specific reason whether it’s for childcare, commute, other commitments or whatever, duties you are doing in this job directly impact what you can put on a resume (e.g. if I was hired as a Llama Detailer which fitted with my Llama Esthetics career path, but then given duties as a Goat Newsletter Editor or whatever — that would impact not only job satisfaction now but also potentially my career track down the line).

            An office vs a cubicle on the other hand… I can’t see how that materially impacts on anything (other than nebulous things like ‘I can be more productive in my own office’ which presumably apply to many people). The only exception I can think of is if it’s a (e.g. for a disability) “accommodation” in which case presumably there’s a specific process that they would follow about that.

            1. Observer*

              I can’t see how that materially impacts on anything (other than nebulous things like ‘I can be more productive in my own office’ which presumably apply to many people).

              That’s all good and fine. But it’s not the point! It doesn’t matter what YOU think has an impact. You don’t get to renege on commitments just because you think that the thing you committed to is not important.

              At least, you don’t get to do that and maintain a reputation for basic honesty.

            2. Tinker*

              Sometimes people are aware that having particular working conditions has a substantial impact on their productivity without having a known and documented disability to hang it on.

              Sometimes people have a known and documented disability but lean toward framing the accommodations for their disability as “preferred working style”, out of some combination of internalized ableism and pragmatic strategy for navigating potential ableism.

              I can say for sure that when it gets to the point where your performance is actually significantly impacted by something like a working environment accommodation for executive function or sensory issues, another potential way of looking at the situation that hovers ominously in the resulting conversation is “lazy bad employee with a victim mentality who is entitled and trying to get a perk they haven’t earned”. That isn’t fun to navigate, even in a place that would likely engage in the accommodation process with good intent on the conscious level.

              If I had an employer who went back on working conditions that we negotiated during the hiring process on day four and the option was available for me to return to a previous known-acceptable employer, I would 110% take that over playing a fun game of “guess whether new company handles disability accommodation with the same level of professionalism that it uses for offer negotiation”.

              1. skipping girl*

                +1

                Thank you – this is not a company I’d feel comfortable disclosing a disability to, even if the accomodation makes me a 10x more effective and productive employee.

            3. Ash*

              The OP could be pumping breastmilk and wants a private space they know they can do that. They may have phone calls with their psychiatrist and they don’t want others to overhear. They may just want privacy in order to focus and leave on time. Whatever the case may be, it was important enough to the OP to make it a condition of employment and it was agreed upon until all of a sudden it wasn’t. Everyone has different priorities based on their situation and circumstances. What if someone who was in high demand asked for a close parking spot because they have knee pain or sunburn easily, and all of a sudden the parking space was pulled from them because someone else complained that it was unfair? There are a million perks like this that could be a dealbreaker to someone that I might not understand, but if it’s important enough to be negotiated and agreed to ahead of time, it’s on the company to stick to the terms that they agreed to unless they have a REALLY good reason why they can’t (and then, they should also be prepared for that employee to move on if the loss of the perk is important enough to them).

            4. Momma Bear*

              Everyone has their price and an office seems to be OP’s. But even though it wasn’t a great thing that the company pulled it, OP didn’t handle it well. They didn’t discuss it or ask to trade it for something else. I think someone else who dodged a bullet here is whoever had to onboard OP. My sympathy for OP is limited. OP says they are concerned about the call but seems not to care about their friend’s distress. “I am now concerned about the impact this will have on my reputation.” OP is worried about OP’s reputation only.

              1. Lizzo*

                Is there a reason OP should prioritize something above their own reputation? If so, what is that thing?

              2. Rob aka Mediancat*

                Their friend should be angry for them, not at them. The company broke their word to the OP and told them that there was nothing that could be done, that they wouldn’t get the office they were promised.

                And that the company is taking this out on the friend is on the company, not the OP. The company should be looking at “what we did wrong to drive away OP,” not “Wow, friend really blew it by referring them.”

                Bottom line, OP doesn’t like being lied to and takes it poorly, and has no obligation to actually consider anyone but themselves at this point.

            5. bopper*

              But the OP may have thought “moving jobs is a pain…if I move to this new job it will be worth it if i get my own office. So I will take it if I get my own office, otherwise why bother.”

            6. librarymouse*

              I don’t know. It seems like LW is more concerned about the breaking of a promise than the office itself. When my old job was reopening during the pandemic, they had all the employees in to re-train us on the new safety procedures. When I returned for my first shift after a few days after they reopened to the public and discovered they had already stopped implementing some of the new procedures before I even worked my first shift, they lost a lot of my trust. I made my decision to hand in my notice that day because even though I still felt relatively safe, I knew that if they were going to stop performing safety procedures (that I felt were conditional to my returning to work) less than three days after they opened, the bigger and more important procedures weren’t going to stick either.
              (Btw, they didn’t and by the end of my notice period, safety was barely a priority and they’ve been hemorrhaging employees)
              I know LW doesn’t specifically talk about pandemic or safety, but I think their reason to leave (not having to work in a cubicle, but having their employer go back on a specific condition of their employment so readily) is pretty valid. And why not when they seemed to have the safety net if their old job still?

              1. Brad Fitt*

                PSA: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance form has a new checkbox for “I was fired or refused to return to work because my company wasn’t following state or federal health guidelines related to the pandemic.” FILE FOR THAT MONEY AND GET PAID. This is what the program is for.

            7. mrs__peel*

              Personally, I hated working in a cube so much that I’d take a salary cut before I’d agree to give up an office for a cube again. An absolute dealbreaker for me.

            8. Just a Cog in the Machine*

              As someone who has (in my eye doctor’s words) “pupils you can drive a mac truck through,” overhead lighting can sometimes give me horrible headaches that make it hard to function. But I do not have a disability. There have been times in shared spaces when I was unable to control the lighting in the room and I was often miserable. If my situation were a bit worse, or if I felt my position could merit a private office, I might make the same request when job hunting.

              Luckily, I currently share a space with two other people: one who doesn’t care what the lighting in the room is and another who suffers from occasional migraines so understands. And still I’ve had two people walk in the room, declare it was too dark – it’s not that dark – and turn our lights to full.

          3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            And breaking that promise witching 24 working hours . . . .

            Start how you intend to go, and this place started really badly.

      3. meyer lemon*

        The office thing makes it easy to spin like the OP is being really precious about a frivolous perk. But looking at the full picture about the way this company operates, I think the OP was correct in their assessment that this was a warning sign about how they would continue to be treated if they had stayed. If the company was functional, they wouldn’t be taking it out on the friend like this either.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          If one is doing complex technical work, such as programming, having the peace and quiet of an office, with a door that can be closed, can make a really important difference to both the quality and quantity of work produced.

          1. Quill*

            Especially in the middle of a plague it may have been non-negotiable in terms of “I need to enforce that nobody is walking around me and accidentally too close while I have my morning coffee”

            And the fact that they rolled over for someone who isn’t back in office full time, while OP likely can’t work fully or even majority remote until at least the second or third week of onboarding…

            1. Snuck*

              Yep. Taken over 100 comments to find someone bring up the “in office part time” part of this.

              That’s really hit me between the eyes.

              They value the guy who has complained enough that they will carve out a very high value piece of real estate for him to use part time, and sit empty the rest.

              Either he’s an AMAZING employee, or they suck at people managing. I’m going with the latter, because of the way it’s all been handled. But to take an office off someone who specifies it as part of their employment and give it to someone else to use PART TIME is wildly weird.

        2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          And let’s be honest – if “It’s just an office!” can be said to justify taking one away when it was promised, it could have been said to the person complaining they wanted one too, to justify their not getting one.

          If it “shouldn’t” matter one way, then it “shouldn’t” matter the other. But it did matter, enough that one person threw a heeny big enough that management decided to alienate a brand-new hire.

      4. Works in IT*

        While the desire for an office seems petty to me, I do understand where the OP is coming from, and it’s less about the office, and more about the fact that they negotiated for it, they were promised it, and not even a week after they started, the company broke their promise. Once you break something that was negotiated in a contract, where do you stop? “Hey, I have a vacation scheduled three months out, can we make getting those days off a condition of my contract?” “Oh sure, we can do that” “hey I know we told you you could have these days off but Joe wants the time off and Joe’s been here longer so sorry, you can’t have it” puts the same conflict into terms that don’t involve an office. It’s less the office, more “our promises to you are worthless if our senior staff want something you want more”.

          1. Works in IT*

            Oh, agreed, definitely, I just see why other people could see it as petty. Maybe “to me” was not the correct wording, there are definitely some jobs that need privacy.

      5. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’ve never had a company-provided car or cell phone. Does that mean if I negotiate for them in a job offer, and my new employer says “ha, just kidding” four days in, I don’t have a right to be seriously peeved?

      6. DCompliance*

        While I have never had an office either, I actually found the OP’s letter and Allison’s response empowering.

      7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        But did you have what you were promised in your offer? I had exactly one bait-and-switch job like that, except it was my work responsibilities and my commute, not my compensation, that were the opposite of what had been promised. I left almost immediately. Everyone in the office walked up to me on my last day with some variation of “I cannot blame you” and “In your shoes, I’d have done the same.”

      8. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        Good for OP for “flouncing out” as she did. The new company showed their colors early on. She ended up with a better salary at the company that respected her. If more people “flounced out” the first time they were treated badly, maybe employers would improve their practices.

      9. Frannie*

        Agree. And then to have the old job back so easy with no hard feeling from them. OP has the right to leave but how it was done has read to me as bratty. I feel for the friend that referred them. No one will listen to their opinion again for candidates. Amazing that anyone sticks their neck out and OP should at least have guts to apologise to the friend and explain.

        1. Beanie*

          I actually thought the fact that their previous employer wanted the OP back shows that the problem is more likely to be with Referring Friend’s company. If OP really had such an attitude, I doubt their old company would have taken them back, much less taken them back and given them a raise!

          When people show you who you are, believe them. That’s true of companies as well. New company showed that they couldn’t follow through on their promises. I’m with OP.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      It really is embarrassing when you refer someone and they do something overly dramatic. I referred a former coworker after making sure said coworker knew about the salary range, that this was a lower level job than she had prior, etc. Coworker said “Oh yes I understand” and then made totally insane demands after getting an offer. The hiring manager checked in with me and I said “I never saw behavior like this before but you certainly should rescind the offer if you need to.” I apologized profusely eventhough both the hiring manager and HR rep said “Don’t worry. This happens.” I still felt horrible.

      Oh, and the dramatic former coworker went around to mutual acquaintances and told them I ruined a job opportunity for her. I had people calling me for weeks to ask “What happened with Sansa?” I never recommended anyone for job in my company again. I’d give them the information to apply and say “I’m sure your record can speak for itself.”

      1. Esmerelda*

        Yes, this! When someone recommends someone for a job at their company, it is a big deal. Having it fall through so dramatically on the fourth day would be a hard blow to the friend who recommended the LW. This is exactly why I am terrified to recommend anyone for a job, honestly.

          1. allathian*

            Hard agree on this one! That said, I think that the LW should contact the friend who recommended them and explain. I don’t think they need to apologize for leaving, but certainly for possibly contributing to unpleasantness for the friend.

      2. GothicBee*

        But someone making absurd demands at the offer stage and someone leaving because the employer didn’t honor the offer they made are two different things. I don’t think it should be on the OP to put up with staying at this job just to avoid upsetting her friend when the employer is the one who reneged on their end of the bargain. I don’t think office space is worth leaving a job over personally, but at the same time, if it’s important enough for OP to have negotiated it to begin with, it shouldn’t be surprising to the employer that losing out on the office is a deal breaker for OP.

      3. MsM*

        The fact that you weren’t blamed for Sansa’s drama speaks to the difference between your company and this one, though. Embarrassment is reasonable. Fearing that you might be fired for not having encountered the other person’s drama tendencies before suggests they were right to get out ASAP.

      4. Todd*

        This is kind of the opposite though. Like of you’d referred a friend and explained the salary and then your company, after the hiring process says “oops we cant even meet the lower end of the range we discussed”

      5. Lilyofthefield*

        Would you expect a referred employee to stay if, say, their salary was summarily reduced by thousands of dollars because another employee pitched a fit over it? I’m pretty sure you would not be upset; in fact, I would venture to guess that you would be horrified that the employer would do something so egregious. It’s the same thing; the OP negotiated an office as part of her employment package AND contract, and it was just yanked out from under her with no warning or discussion. It is no different than an employer breaking a hiring contract over any other stipulation. It does not matter if some of us think wanting an office is petty or unnecessary; the OP negotiated that as a part of her offer, it was part of her contract, and it should have been honored. Period. And no one has ANY right to be upset with OP. Period.

        1. A*

          Oh come on, you can’t tell other commenters they have no right to an opposing opinion. I’m not even interested in sharing mine, just noting that this is not a fair stance to take.

          1. Honestly*

            Its not an opposing opinion. Its ignoring true facts. You don’t have to care about the office, but the initial negotiations made the office an important factor. The fact that many are jumping over that simple fact to proclaim LW/OP the villain speaks volumes to morality.

      6. Momma Bear*

        I made it very very clear to someone that it was a temporary assignment and limited role, they got hired, and in a few weeks they decided it was beneath them, and ghosted the job. It definitely tarnished my reputation there. I may have recommended someone a handful of times in the years since.

      7. The Rules are Made Up*

        Yeahhh. I agree. Neither Allison nor anyone else said that the OP should have stayed for the friend. So all these “But why should they stay just because…” comments are missing the point. The issue is HOW it was done. Not that it was done. OP leaving was justified. OP leaving, resigning via email, walking out and then replying with “But I’m a VICTIM too!” when their friend pointed out that what OP did also reflected poorly on her is where the issue is. Two things can be true. The employer screwed up ANNNDDD the way OP left likely was embarrassing for the friend that referred them.

    6. Jed*

      I agree with Roscoe here. The key phrase to me was “I am now concerned about the impact this will have on my reputation.” The sentence I would have expected there was “I am now concerned about the impact my actions had on my friend.” We can talk or squabble about the company’s actions–which I agree were out of line–but the letter writer clearly lacks empathy here. I don’t think I’d want to work with a person like this.

      1. Esmerelda*

        Agreed. There seems to be a lot of self-focus here. I do work with a few people who seem to have similarities with the OP. They are the kind of people who are constantly angry over perceived victimization and then wonder why people avoid them in the hallways and are astonished at their reputation. Admittedly, they are not fun to work with.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          It sounds like the phone call on day 3 made it very clear to LW’s manager that LW was very unhappy, and had serious doubts as to whether they would be able to work at a company that doesn’t stand by their agreements or support their employees. They didn’t hang up on their manager, they “ended the conversation” which indicates a far more professional response (e.g. “I need to think about my future at Company B. I’ll get back to you on this ASAP”). As a result, the email could be seen as confirming and putting in writing the logical conclusion of the phone call (given that LW had options that weren’t “accept the bait and switch”). It should also be clear to the manager that this was a response to the way this was implemented as much as the lack of an office itself.

          While in the letter LW brushes over the damage to their friendship to focus on whether this will have potential repercussions, this could be because this is a letter asking for business advice, not an indication they don’t care that their friend is being punished for their actions. LW was concerned that perhaps they did genuinely do something reputation-damagingly wrong! We also don’t know if the referral was “Yes I worked with LW and suggested they applied because it sounded like a great fit.” or a credible “You have to hire LW in this role! They’re perfect and the only person I can think of who can possibly hit the ground running on Critical Project and meet the deadlines needed! Whatever it takes, you need them on board!” If it’s the former, then them being punished because it didn’t work out is ridiculous. If it’s the latter – there’s no point agreeing to something if there’s no follow-through. I can see them being upset about LW leaving, but if the company won’t deliver and 3 days in LW feels that their manager isn’t prepared to support them, that the company promised things they had no intention of delivering, and that they seemed to have found themselves in a red flag shop made of bees – I can see them feeling angry, stressed, misled…

          As to the word “victim” – LW invested time and energy into leaving Company A for Company B. They pretty much now have to be committed to staying at Company A for a reasonable stretch (it sounds like the pay rise may have been the main reason to leave, but if not, they will need to put up with the other factors). They will have handed over projects/clients etc and there may be some loss of face if they pick them back up, or they may receive less favourable ones when work is redistributed back to them. Company B will have impacted on them in a way that may affect them negatively for at least the next year (if they count as a new hire at Company A and the resignation can’t be revoked with 3 weeks’ unpaid leave, it may affect redundancy payouts and eligibility for other things that go on length of employment should LW need to use them in future, they may not be able to take leave for a while, etc). While they made a quick exit and were very lucky their old company was willing to match their pay rise etc, that doesn’t mean they weren’t harmed by Company B’s actions.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I mentioned that in one of my comments, too. OP is not worried about the friend. OP is worried about OP, and that attitude permeates the letter. Even though the company was wrong to break promises, there’s a lot in that letter that points to OP not dealing well with others.

      3. OhNo*

        But this isn’t a friendship advice blog, this is a work advice blog. Just because the OP didn’t mention that they worry about the relationship doesn’t mean they aren’t; it just means they focused on the work part of the problem because that’s what they wanted advice on.

        1. Roscoe*

          But when you get a job because of a friends recommendation, you can’t really separate the 2. And if you don’t consider that persons feelings/reputation, then that is bad. Despite whether or not the work issue was understandable.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat*

            The friend doesn’t seem concerned about them, though; the friend doesn’t seem to care that the company lied to the OP and wouldn’t do anything about it. The friend only seems concerned about the friend.

            Any friend of mine would understand my actions here. Honestly, it seems like a lot of folks here seem to think that the OP should have toughed it out for the sake of the friend who got them the job.

            And that the company is taking this out on the friend says a lot about the company, particularly considering the OP didn’t actually do anything wrong in leaving. The company is blaming the friend, and the friend is blaming the OP, and no one except the OP is putting the blame where it rightly belongs, on the company.

  2. Observer*

    lso, their reason for the change is bad. This isn’t “new senior person whose work requires privacy.” This is a person at your level who has been fine in a cubicle up until now complaining that they’re not getting what you’re getting. The way for the company to handle that is to explain that you negotiated this before coming aboard, and maybe see if there are other concessions they can make to keep that person happy.

    Maybe. But it could be that this legitimately blindsided HR. Is it possible that the manager made the promise without talking to HR? Is it possible that the other person was actually NOT happy with a cubicle but had been told that “no one at this level gets a private office”? I can imagine a scenario where that happened AND where the person who complained is a member of a marginalized group whereas the OP is from a less marginalized group, where HR realizes “OH no! We’ve messed up!”

    I do agree that they didn’t handle it well, but it’s not clear to me that this was just a matter of sloppy HR pandering to sour grapes.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I have seen way too many spats and outright fights I’ve seen over office space – who gets one, how it’s decked out, how large it is, does it have windows. And I vividly remember one person being furious because someone at a lower grade level got an office when he was only supposed to have a cubicle; we had lots of empty office space and it wasn’t a big deal until she made it one. Happy to comply with her demand that he sit in a cubicle, the guy got Facilities to build a cubicle in his office. Good times…

      So yeah, I understand office space is important, but OP’s reaction still seems extreme to me. I don’t think OP was lied to, more like the employer didn’t (know how to) manage or finesse expectations. Making a dramatic exit over an office seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      1. Nanani*

        They negotiated for it and the agreement was broken. It’s not extreme to leave over having the thing you explicitly negotiated being rolled back so fast.

        The office is a red herring, the broken promise -that was explicitly negotiated for at hiring- is the real issue.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          “The office is a red herring, the broken promise -that was explicitly negotiated for at hiring- is the real issue.”

          That hits the nail on the head. If they’re going to negotiate in bad faith before the potential employee is committed to working there, there’s no reason to think they’ll act any more professionally after.

          1. holding out for a hero sandwich*

            And after less than a week! What promises would they break after a month? Two months? A year?

            1. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I just don’t think the employer deliberately lied or capriciously broke a promise in this case. They definitely mismanaged the situation, no question.

              Regardless, I can’t help but wonder if the OP had second thoughts over leaving her previous job, and the office was a handy excuse to return to it.

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                The company absolutely did capriciously break their promise to this letter-writer – Which was also mismanagement.

              2. Kevin Sours*

                At some point it doesn’t matter whether a company is unwilling or unable to keep their promise. Not being able to trust the promises your employer makes to you is a bad place to be in. It only taking four days is a good sign that the situation isn’t going to work out.

          2. GammaGirl1908*

            Yep. It’s the brown M&Ms of IT job negotiations. They’re this cavalier about their promises when they’re wooing you and you have options; what will they be like a year down the line? There were ways to handle this. Flounce may still have left, Friend may still have been miffed, and Coworker may or may not have ended up in an office. But the job started it by snatching back the office.

            **
            Brown M&Ms: https://www.insider.com/van-halen-brown-m-ms-contract-2016-9

            “Van Halen was the first to take 850 par lamp lights — huge lights — around the country,” Roth said. “At the time, it was the biggest production ever.” In many cases, the venues were too outdated or inadequately prepared to set up the band’s sophisticated stage.

            “If I came backstage, having been one of the architects of this lighting and staging design, and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering table, then I guarantee the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we would have to do a serious line check” of the entire stage setup, Roth said.

            1. BeenThereOG*

              I’m a software engineer and I use the brown M&M’s story all the time! For some of us an office is absolutely needed for productivity. If anyone reneged on an office after I negotiated for one I would have left, the productivity of a developer in a cube vs an office can be dramatically different.

              This behavior also raises a massive red flag about anything else we have agreed to because now your word means nothing. In my experience this means I’m likely to be stuck building a UI tool for other developers rather than the backend feature development work for the business. I’ve been burned in the past by accepting changes after I started. I think there are better ways to handle it but the end result would have been the same, OP would have left and the company would have retaliated against the referring friend and be bad mouthing OP.

              1. Tinker*

                Ahhhhhh heck.

                You’ve basically reflected back to me a situation I was in — except, “stuck manually executing test cases rather than test automation development”, so arguably that much more egregious — as something that can be described straight up as “I’ve been burned” rather than (for instance) “well, maybe I’m thinking too highly of myself and people will think I’m entitled”.

                So now I’ve got to do some revising of my internal narratives, apparently, because seeing it written out that way makes it really clear that’s a fairly correct and probably more productive way of looking at the thing.

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I love the quick visual completeness check aspect of this story. I’ve heard other versions of it from other 80’s bands as well. Guessing Diamond Dave shared the tip.

              (Just cause they’re in the band doesn’t mean they’re stupid.)

          3. Weekend Please*

            Yes. It’s not about the office. It is about trust. If the person who negotiated with the OP was so out of the loop that they promised an office and didn’t find out until four days in that they couldn’t do that, what else did they promise without the authority to follow through? If the OP negotiated hard for things that were not in the original offer, what else will be rescinded because other people at her level don’t have them? Vacation days? Flexible schedule? Work assignments? Training opportunities?

            It is easy to leave four days in and just leave this off her resume. Staying longer only for other benefits to disappear could leave her in a much trickier situation.

        2. Autistic AF*

          100%. Was there room for OP to have left less abruptly? Absolutely. The company made a contract with OP and broke it just as abruptly, however.

        3. Third or Nothing!*

          “The office is a red herring, the broken promise -that was explicitly negotiated for at hiring- is the real issue.”

          Exactly my thoughts! In situations like that, I get far more upset that trust was broken than the actual thing that happened. Sometimes it’s not about the thing itself, it’s about the meaning behind the thing.

        4. QQ*

          +1

          Frankly, the company strained the trust the employee could have in the org. For most people going back to their old firm would not be an option— LW was fortunate to be able to go back.

          It leaves a sour taste in my mouth that the company didn’t try to compromise— it leads me to believe they felt they could pull a promise and there would be no consequences to them. Not the type of environment I would want to be in.

          I do agree LW could have handled it differently (to Alison’s point a call vs. an email) but I don’t think it was mishandled. It could have been handled better on the part of LW, sure. But if you treat someone like garbage you can’t be offended that they leave.

          Frankly, I would hope once LW’s friend would understand once she has context. I personally would feel rotten if I refer a friend to a job and they immediately renege on their agreement.

        5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          For me this is hitting the nail on the head. The real problem is the broken promise and the speed with which it was broken. That together makes it look like the new company negotiated in bad faith – and that being the case, what else are they going to renege on.

        1. Rainy*

          If Facilities was willing to do it, that says a lot to me about the kinds of fusses that the complaining coworker kicked up, and how sick everyone else was of it!

        2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Right!? I was about to say, hold up they built a cube in an office just to PO the other guy? That’s awesome!

      2. Allonge*

        I disagree about the part on the employer not knowing how to manage expectations making it ok (or, better). If anything the office part is a red herring here – the yanking of an agreed benefit is HUGE as a red flag.

        And it’s not like OP is going to have to live under the bridge now, so obviously they can be cautious about this. They got two weeks off, a raise at their old job and maybe a burnt bridge at a smaller company that seems not so healthy a workplace after all.

        1. Alison*

          Agree – there was basically no down side for OP (except maybe the friend’s reaction but OP may not have known Friend would be blamed).

          1. nonegiven*

            Rather than OP worrying about their own reputation, maybe they should be glassdooring this company on how fast negotiated benefits go away.

      3. Artemesia*

        I think the OP handled it perfectly i.e. in quitting when they didn’t honor the deal she had negotiated. Maybe she could have handled the flounce a bit differently — but leaving was perfect. ‘Hey, you are here now so there is nothing to be done about our perfidity’ — heck no — bye felicia.

        I think the OP needs to have a conversation with the woman who referred her one more time, apologize for her situation but re-iterate that she doesn’t have confidence working for a place that doesn’t honor their promise to a new employee 4 days in.

        1. Allie*

          The other thing is, a referral goes both ways. LWpresumably talked to friend Bout workplace environment there too. So friend didn’t just recommend LW to employer, she recommended employer to friend. Lw isn’t taking it out on her friend that the place didn’t work out.

        2. BluntBunny*

          I think OP should have mentioned to their friend what was happening and they intended to quit. I think that would be common courtesy so if they didn’t do that they should apologise for not letting them know before hand.

          1. Brad Fitt*

            But the friend is the one who told OP what was happening? Friend called OP and said someone who was in the office part-time had a tanty about OP (presumably in office full-time) getting an office and HR gave OP’s office away. Then OP’s manager called OP to say no more office and there was nothing they could do about it. Then OP got in contact with their old job, got hired back, and quit the next day.

            Points: 1) Everything seemed to happen really fast; 2) The office is full of bees; 3) Friend sounds like they’re a little invested in the drama and the chaos since they called OP to spread a rumor before OP’s manager could share the official news; 4) Drama and chaos are a function of beehive offices.

      4. Wintermute*

        Any company that would be so cavalier about rolling back something they promised you in good faith in a negotiation (well maybe it wasn’t good faith that’s the problem) is showing you their ethics. Their word is worth nothing, not about an office, not about bonuses, not about “no layoffs planned at this time”– when the chips are down they’ll fold like a $2 card table.

        That’s a red flag worth leaving over if you’re a good employee that has options, because they’ve proven untrustworthy and that they will not honor their agreements to you, that leaves little basis for a healthy relationship.

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

          cavalier about rolling back something they promised you in good faith in a negotiation

          But things can change — especially things like office assignments (as Alison highlighted). Where do you draw the line on the ‘time limit’ when it’s reasonable to roll back something that was promised?

          “In extremis” we could say a company that (implicitly, but still) promises an ongoing job by hiring someone as ‘permanent’ (rather than as a contractor or fixed term) then things change and they lay them off… that ties to your “no layoffs planned at this time” but makes it explicit. Anything could change at any time and there’s no guarantees.

          1. Wintermute*

            I would say that that’s a risk a company takes when they negotiate something as part of an offer. They should consider the job offer contingent, in that if they can’t meet the terms the person will most likely leave.
            But at minimum, as the original response said, it’s about making your case and mutual negotiation. This was a pseudo-contractual sort of setup, it wasn’t a legal contract but it was a negotiation over a benefit. Unilaterally changing the terms tells me, as an employee, you’re a Darth Vader negotiator (“I have altered the terms. Pray I do not alter them… further”) and I probably don’t want to do business with you. If you come to me and say “hey, look this is a sticking point, what can we do to make this worth and engage in a good-faith negotiation, that’s different than unilaterally deciding “what I promised you I would do I am not going to do”.

            Any time you alter the deal, they might decide it’s not worth it any more. A business that wishes to employ people who have other options of employment because they are skilled, capable employees would do well to remember that when they get the urge to start dictating terms on a “take it or leave it” basis.

            1. Emily*

              I’ve twice had an employer change the terms of everyone’s agreement around hours, once by cutting our PTO and flexibility and once by increasing the number of hours we were expected to bill. And in both cases, how cavalierly they presented this to us was part of the problem for me, and that there was no acknowledgement of the fact that they were changing the terms of our employment in ways that essentially translated to pay cuts. I think employers sometimes forget that this relationship goes both ways and both parties have choices, and when they change what they’re offering, their employees might not stick around.

              1. Wintermute*

                I think employers got “spoiled” for lack of a better term during the great recession. Jobs were scarce and they got used to being able to dictate terms to employees due to their lack of options. That’s become a habit some businesses are having trouble breaking, to their detriment.

                Obviously even in a recession you should be fair to your employees but in practical terms your ability to squeeze them goes up when they have few competing options and goes WAY down when you’re talking about people with highly-demanded skills and a more competitive labor market.

                It’s also something businesses that hire a lot of churn-and-burn employees have trouble internalizing as well– sure you can treat call center grunts that way, but you try to treat people with high-demand skills the same way and you’re liable to end up having trouble acquiring and keeping good talent in vital business roles. Your ability to mistreat employees goes down exponentially as the average time for them to find a new job goes down, if sunk cost fallacy is the only thing keeping people around you’re not going to have a good time.

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

                  during the great recession

                  And it is still ongoing in many respects.

              2. Red 5*

                Exactly this. I’ve had a couple jobs where they changed terms on days that translated to either more job duties without a raise or decreased benefits and I am always the only person pointing out that those things are parts of our compensation package and that the phrase is “salary and benefits” so unless they were giving me at least what they were taking away they just decreased my pay.

                But every time, even though we all begrudgingly accepted it, we all started looking for new jobs and they had over 50% turnover within a year, even during the recession.

                Meanwhile during the same time period as one of these, my spouse was at a company that cut hours and benefits and even pay trying desperately to stay afloat. But they were transparent and equitable about it, so they didn’t have much turnover at all.

                It’s all in the messaging and the intent.

          2. Antilles*

            This was only four days and it was just one employee complaining about it. Nothing changed between the time they made that “sure, you can have an office” promise and “we need you to go to a cub” that justifies the company going back on their word. I don’t know the exact time where it goes from “too fast” to “okay, reasonable”, but this is very clearly on the wrong side of that line. The company made it clear that they don’t feel bound to their promises.
            It’s also especially relevant that OP is in IT. In a lot of companies, IT is treated as a secondary role and has to fight to get what they need. It’s week 1 and they’re already devaluing you…and over something that essentially costs the company zero dollars. I’d absolutely have visions in my head of “oh god, what’s it going to be like in six months when our server needs replaced?” and “if you won’t back me over something as simple as an office, am I going to have your support when I suggest spending thousands of dollars upgrading to the newest software version?”

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Yeah – I think a lot of people are getting hung up on the office (which can seem petty), and glossing over the going back on a promise. It makes it look like the company won’t back the new employee – so when this person (who doesn’t have the same political capital with the organization) needs something/tells them X has to change – how can OP trust them when they agree because this company started breaking promises to OP in the first week.

              Begin the way you intend to continue. Well, this company showed the way they intend to go is broken promises and no trust. Why in the world would OP stay if they had another option.

              (I will agree that the dramatic exit isn’t awesome, but they had only been their four days total – why wouldn’t they quit with no notice in that circumstance?)

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I got that card table at the last tag sale I went to in 2019…It did not live up to remote school.

      5. Quill*

        “Happy to comply with her demand that he sit in a cubicle, the guy got Facilities to build a cubicle in his office.”

        He wins.

      6. PSB*

        This reminds me uncomfortably of a situation I was involved in a few years ago. The department I worked in had three different roles (A, B, and C) that were supposedly equal to one another within four levels: junior, regular, senior, and lead. In practice, this wasn’t true at all. Roles A and B were given several perks, including private offices, while all Cs but the lead worked in cubicles. I was a senior C and this really irritated me, but I kept it to myself because I knew people would think it was petty.

        One day our team was meeting with the director when one of the regular Cs asked about the office space discrepancy. He thought he was about to be promoted to senior and wanted an office. Our director explained the supposed standard again and said that the only reason I and the other senior C weren’t in offices was because there were none available. I pointed out to him (with some exasperation) that this was demonstrably untrue since even a junior B had a private office.

        It wasn’t that someone else had an office and I didn’t. I just didn’t care for them bragging about a standard that they didn’t actually follow. A few days later, the longer serving Senior C was moved to the Junior B’s office and the Junior B moved to a cubicle…right across the wall from me. He was good natured about it – we worked well together and he understood the point I was making. I still took crap from my team about it for the next year, especially when we were both in our adjoining cubicles.

    2. Joan Rivers*

      An office or benefits or salary are all agreements made for a job.
      But SALARY makes the point here best —
      if they cut his pay arbitrarily right away, this would be more clear-cut.
      It would still be good to be restrained, but who would accept the co. reneging on SALARY? Of course you’d be annoyed.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I’ll say this much. I’ve never had an office in my life, but if I were led to understand I’d be in a cube and then all of a sudden they plunked me in the middle of an open plan environment and said I’d be hot-desking, or if I understood I had the ability to WFH when I felt cruddy, or for things like “the plumber is coming,” only to find out that no, I was expected to be on-site every day without fail and I should schedule my illnesses for the weekend, you bet your ass I’d be reconsidering things. I don’t necessarily need an office, but I sure AF need some kind of wall because otherwise I would be terminally distracted. I can’t work if I constantly have people moving around in my line of sight. (ADHD) And being super inflexible about sick time or non-work situations is just not a good policy for employee engagement.

        Especially if I were such a strong candidate as OP seems to be. Like, time is money and if an employer’s going to jerk me around during my first week, then that sets the tone for my entire employment, doesn’t it?

        1. Oh Snap!*

          SAME SAME

          I am at a point of my life where I can live without income for a little while. If at this point of my life my company told me I was not going to hot desk, I would quit on the spot (although I would give 2 weeks notice- but if I was on day 4, it makes no sense to give 2 weeks notice).

          Is it a silly line in the sand? Maybe, but its my line. It would drive me nuts to hot desk, so I choose not to make myself miserable. If they don’t like it they are welcome to give me a permanent cube or find a new employee.

    3. JB (not in Houston)*

      I don’t see how that concern is at play here, from the letter. From the letter, nobody else at that level has an office, so there’s no worry that for example, only white male employees at that level have an office. If the OP is a cis white male, but all the other cis white males at that level are in cubicles like everyone else, then the OP getting an office is really not a concern unless there’s a pattern of granting exceptions to the rules but only for people in the same category of the OP.

      I’d choose a different term than “marginalized group” here because it doesn’t really spell out the legal issue–the problem is treating one demographic group better than other demographic groups with no legit basis for doing so, and that’s true whether the specially-favored demographic group is historically marginalized or not. It’s so rare for, say, Black women to get special treatment at a company over equally or more qualified people outside of that demographic (has it ever happened?) that we tend to think that equal protection laws don’t apply to everyone, but they do.

      1. Observer*

        If the OP is a cis white male, but all the other cis white males at that level are in cubicles like everyone else, then the OP getting an office is really not a concern unless there’s a pattern of granting exceptions to the rules but only for people in the same category of the OP.

        But that’s just it. It could easily be that such a pattern exists or that someone is worried that it will look like there is such a pattern.

        And it doesn’t have to be necessarily a white CIS male. It could be just gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, race / ethnic identity, any combination thereof, etc.

        And it doesn’t have to be a legal issue for someone in HR to have a freak attack. Again, I agree that the company did not handle it well, regardless. But it really could be that there was something for them to worry about.

        1. meyer lemon*

          They really should have thought all of this through before promising the office, though. And once the potential problems became clear, they should have tried to do what they could to make things right with the OP. And even failing that, once the OP left, they should have taken this as a lesson learned about making sure they could actually uphold their promises to new employees, rather than berating the OP’s friend.

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

          It could easily be that such a pattern exists or that someone is worried that it will look like there is such a pattern

          But that pattern doesn’t exist! OP was explicit that no-one at her level (or ‘lower’ levels, presumably) gets their own office. The exception was granted based on the fact that OP asked for it (although I guess you could say there are ‘patterns’ in who is more inclined to negotiate or not)

          And (based on what the friend said) that the complaint from another person in the Assistant Manager level was about internal equity between people of similar level (rather than perception of gender or other characteristics).

          1. Observer*

            But that pattern doesn’t exist! OP was explicit that no-one at her level (or ‘lower’ levels, presumably) gets their own office. The exception was granted based on the fact that OP asked for it (although I guess you could say there are ‘patterns’ in who is more inclined to negotiate or not)

            We actually do not know what patterns do or do not exist. The company made an exception for the OP. Have they made other exceptions for other people? Have they perhaps made exceptions to other rules?

            We don’t know. Again, I’m not saying that the company handled the situation well, because whatever their reason was, they handled it poorly. I’m just saying that we really don’t have enough information to know whether they were just being stupidly rigid about “rules”, pandering to someone with sour grapes, or (mis)handling a real problem.

    4. EPLawyer*

      If the issue was discrimination then the solution was NOT “everyone gets a sucky situation.” It’s address the situation for BOTH parties in a way that is equitable. It was not equitable to take away OP’s negotiated perk because someone else complained. Maybe they should have addressed the ROOT of the complaint.

      1. Observer*

        No argument. I agree that the company did not handle this well. I was SPECIFICALLY addressing ONLY the issue of whether it’s possible that the company was possibly dealing with a legitimate issue, albeit in a bad way.

    5. Batgirl*

      I don’t think they did realise that they messed up; because if they messed up, then it’s their mess to clean up. Part of that is gracefully acknowledging they aren’t able to offer OP the job set up they agreed on. Surely it’s great news that OP was still able to retain their old job and their screw up hasn’t affected them all that badly? Now they can call one of their many other candidates with a better thought out outline of what to expect! No: I don’t think they went from “Oh noes, our bad!” to “traitor!” quite like that; I think they just expect a new employee to have no option but to like it and lump it.

    6. Librarian of SHIELD*

      But all of that goes back to whoever made the promise to OP writing checks they can’t cash. It’s not the OP’s fault if the person who made them this promise didn’t do the research to find out if they could actually do it.

      1. Alison*

        It is possible that they were told they could do it and everything was fine and dandy until someone complained. Squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that. If you haven’t worked with this person before – the person that makes sure everything is fair and will loudly make it known if they perceive something as unfair – you don’t know the kind of pressure that can put on management, especially if management has no backbone. It’s possible the person who promised the office didn’t have the authority to do so but my money would be on that they got it approved and everyone thought it was fine and when the complainer saw that someone at their level was getting something they didn’t have they threw a big enough hissy fit to get what they wanted. I’d be interested to know if the complainer has the office now.

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

          until someone complained. Squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that

          I can identify with the person complaining. Why should the new hire get a dedicated office when she’s at the same level as us, has the same needs as us but I guess just happened to be hired into the New Project and is characterized as our saviour in some way.

          Why should the new hire get perks that people who have actually proved themselves time and again don’t get actually?

    7. Aquawoman*

      A lot of people in this thread are saying the office is a red herring, and I disagree. The LW negotiated for an office, which means that an office is important to them. It’s not relevant whether an office isn’t important to anyone else, it was important to the LW. As a data point, I have ADHD and SID and having to work in a cubicle farm would be taxing and would make me less successful at my job.

      1. Nanani*

        I don’t think we actually disagree at all?
        LW negotiated for what matters to them in taking the job. You might have wanted a similar deal, but other people here wouldn’t. Some people think an office isn’t worth negotiating and the red herring explanation is for pointing out that breaking negotiated agreements is a real problem regardless of one’s personal feelings on office importance.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is my logic behind calling the office a red herring. It’s not that the office that was negotiated for and agreed to is unimportant – it is that the negotiated agreement was blown up three days into the arrangement. Ultimately, anything could have been that thing that was agreed to and broken could have caused the new employee to quit. That’s why I think the real problem is the broken agreement (and the speed of the break) and not necessarily the office itself.

      2. Rach*

        I have a documented disability (including ADHD) and have accommodations, an enclosed office (or even a cube) is not considered a reasonable accommodation since we have an open concept office (huge tech firm). Even my great-grand boss who oversees 500+ employees doesn’t have an office (he actually has multiple desks, one of them is near me). It sucks but you just have to deal if you want to work here. Obviously OP wanted an office and that was a deal breaker, which is fine, it is just so far from the norm for big tech in my area, it doesn’t seem reasonable. I agree with Alison’s take, but, OP’s attitude is over the top and playing the victim when they are coming out ahead is a bit much.

    8. Snuck*

      Hrm… so you say “ I can imagine a scenario where that happened AND where the person who complained is a member of a marginalized group whereas the OP is from a less marginalized group, where HR realizes “OH no! We’ve messed up!”

      Why would this have an impact? Why if a person is from a marginalised group would it make a difference on whether they are more or less entitled to the office vs the cube? If the marginalised group reason was given for why OP can’t have an office (“Your CoWorker is over 55 so should get the office because he is old”) then OP can claim discrimination surely? An older person doesn’t NEED an office. A person of racial minority doesn’t NEED an office…. If anything it should be “OP is here full time, so gets the office, if necessary we can give you a conference room, or a desk in OPs office for the few days you are here, but up until now you haven’t NEEDED one”.

    1. Batgirl*

      What’s wrong with flouncing out when the key part of the deal has been clawed back anyway? Granted there’s plenty of times you can’t do it, even with a bait and switch, but OP was in a position to do it in this case. So, why not? It’s just such a reasonable response to reneging, that the company can’t reasonably blame the referrer (how’s that for a tongue twister!). If they are, she has bigger problems. OP, make it up to her by getting her out of there with your own referral.

        1. Batgirl*

          That you’ll stick to agreements and advocate for yourself? I really wouldn’t mind having that reputation! But I agree generally about blaze of glory quitting (no pooping in pot plants) unless you don’t care about the reputation because you’re moving industries (spelling I Quit in fish). I don’t know that I’d classify simply leaving a bait and switch situation as that though.

          1. DCompliance*

            This.
            The OP was able to get her old job back. Sounds like her rep is still good and I think a lot of hiring managers would be okay with what OP did.

            1. Allie*

              I hire people and I have absolutely no problem with LW’s behavior. If my HR pulled something like this and a new hire quit, my thought would be “good for you”. I’d be extremely angry at HR.

              1. DCompliance*

                I was taking about her work reputation, not her reputation as a friend, which is what I got the sense OP cared about. Since her old job hired her back seems like she is in good shape.

              2. Momma Bear*

                I get the impression that OP doesn’t care about OP’s reputation with the friend.

              3. onco fonco*

                I think friend is losing her good reputation with LW, too. As is friend’s employer. I’m not sure anyone exactly covered themselves with glory, but LW is coming out on top in terms of reasonable behaviour IMO – why’s she the one who should be most worried about reputation damage?

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I said up above I think the only reason the OP flounced out is because they got their old job back. I don’t think they would have left in a “blaze of glory” if the other job hadn’t been still available.

              Betting they would have been polishing up the resume and leaving ASAP though. Breaking a negotiated agreement in three business days is really not a good look by a company.

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, this. The LW also had the option to permanently WFH, and I suppose they could have done that at a pinch. But they had the option of going back to their old job, and got a raise as well, so that’s good.

              2. onco fonco*

                Agree – turning on your heel and walking out is something you can only do if you have other options! Which to be honest is why it makes total sense to me that OP called her old job straight back before they’d replaced her, rather than waiting around for that option to disappear. Giving this employer more time to break more promises would also have made it much harder to leave when that happened.

          2. Stumped*

            Nope- that you act diplomatically when you exit a job. Nothing wrong with leaving but “flouncing” or whatever we’re calling it can get around and do you more harm than it did good. But it’s your right to leave on your own terms.

            1. Brad Fitt*

              Based on the information we have about the company (doesn’t follow thru on agreements, no reason given for abrupt reversal, manager was given no alternative negotiating options, tantrums get results, **employees calling other employees to spread rumors and warn about management decisions**), I have no doubt that “She left after four days because we didn’t give her an office, can you believe that?!” would be their side of it no matter how diplomatic LW’s exit was.

              This company shows all the signs of being built on a hellmouth, it’s probably obvious to anyone outside who talks to any of their employees for like five minutes and they can’t possibly have anything resembling credibility. So fuck ’em.

          3. fhqwhgads*

            It’s like Alison said, it’s not the What but the How. You can still bounce on day 4. But if you do so by being Exceedingly Reasonable And Calm and We Appear to Have Reached An Impasse, it’s different than a “How Dare You, Bye” approach.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Agreed – I applaud the leaving, the how they left could have used some refinement.

        2. NerdyPrettyThings*

          It sounds like the letter writer is fine, as I would be, with developing a reputation as someone who will hold people to a negotiated agreement. She quit a job she’d been in less than a week without notice when the company refused to honor her negotiations. That’s not exactly a “blaze of glory.” She didn’t yell, flip anybody off, or spell out “I quit” in fish.

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

            fine, as I would be, with developing a reputation as someone who will hold people to a negotiated agreement

            I fully respect this line of reasoning and I don’t disagree with you about acting on the basis of a principle (e.g. “people should always be held to a negotiated agreement” in this case). I do think there’s an alternative way this could be seen (e.g. if asked about it later, or just her ‘reputation’ in general if word gets around in a small industry or whatever): 1) Flounced off (as it may be perceived/re-told) when given something minor like an office re-assignment and she’d only been here 4 days! etc… 2) Left company in the lurch because of “something something seating arrangements” and 3) Bailed out after 4 days in a situation in which she was a critical resource and didn’t stick around to see how it would pan out.

            NB I’m not saying those points are how I see the OP! But rather – how they can become perception, and perception can become the de facto ‘reality’ which is one of the reasons to choose your battles. I would have conceded this particular battle.

            1. Allonge*

              I agree this is a possibility, but, if Sucky!Company wants to apply these labels to OP, they can and will do that even if they quit in a sonnet delivered by Sir Patrick Stewart, after three additional days of careful negotiations around the office issue. Or, whatever the calm, professional extreme of quitting in this case is.

              I like not giving people a single excuse to accuse me of unprofessionalism. But in this case and in some cases I met personally, no matter what one party does, malice from the other side comes anyway. And the very best you can do is to remove yourself from the situation, as soon as possible.

            2. HS Teacher*

              I think the problem is that you don’t see having an office as a deal-breaker, but OP does. She negotiated it, was told she had what she wanted, and left another job to come there. Anyone who would hold her as objectionable for leaving when discovering she was lied to wouldn’t be someone she should work for anyway.
              I feel bad that her friend is getting heat, but some of that is on the friend, who should be upset that her company jeopardized her friendship instead of being angry at her friend.

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

                I understand that, but can also put myself in the shoes of future interviewers asking “so, why was it you left your last place and went back to an employer you’d already left once? Why was it you left them again!?!” and on being told “well, I’d only been at the new place 4 days but they promised me my own office and then took it away! so I called up my old place and they took me back”, seems a lot of drama that you will need a narrative for.

                1. Who Am I*

                  They don’t need to give the details. “I was there for less than a week and the company chose to renege on our negotiated terms, which was a deal-breaker for me.” Not so dramatic, just factual and unemotional. Naturally that still won’t sit well with some hiring managers – but I’d guess that in that case, OP wouldn’t want to work for those people either.

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  OP will not put it down and it will not come up.
                  If it comes up in a full-on background check for something like a security clearance, the answer is leaving because the company could not hold to something they had negotiated in the hiring agreement.

            3. allathian*

              Give notice to a job they’ve been at for 4 days? Nope, nope. The company did a bait-and-switch on the OP. The OP asked for their old job back and got it, with a raise. Their reputation may be tarnished at the 4-day company, but who cares? If their reputation is good at the current company, it’s all to the good. And really, if the other company goes around the industry badmouthing the LW for quitting with no notice after 4 days when the company reneged on the contract and expected them to accept it without demur, well, it says more about the company than the LW, doesn’t it?

              Maybe the office wouldn’t have been a big deal for you, but what if a company told you during the first week that instead of the 20 days of PTO you negotiated you’ll get nothing for the first year and 5 days a year after that?

              I grant you that probably the only reason why the LW behaved as they did was because they had the old job to go back to. But really, unless the LW applies for a job in the future that requires a full security check of all employment, this isn’t really even going to come up. The LW is certain to leave this job off their resume.

          2. Avi*

            Yeah, I’m honestly taking a little bit of issue with characterizing this as a ‘flounce’. There’s no unnecessary dramatics here, just a straightforward ‘Nope, I’m out.’ The company and friend are the ones making it into a drama.

      1. CCSF*

        Yeah, it’s would be great except for that pesky part dealing with the relationship, professional and personal, with the person who advocated for you.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      It does put me in mind of the best cold rage quit stories.

      Like the one where they offered everything the quitting person wanted if she would just stay, she eventually agreed, and… management promptly called her into a meeting where they took it all back. So she took the other offer, which she had not turned down yet when they started playing games.

      1. Nea*

        Do you have a link to that one? Most of the rage quit stories I remember are the really out there ones, like spelling out “I quit” in fish.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m partial to the story of the woman who stole all the office toilet paper on her way out.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Honestly, OP would’ve been hailed as a hero at my workplace. We went through a period of toxic, incompetent leadership running the place into the ground with no one seemingly able to stop them. During that period, the leadership hired a new PM or scrum master (I forget which one), who came highly recommended with amazing credentials and work history. This person came on board, attended a few days of meetings, saw how things were being run, made a comment like “wow this is much worse than I was led to believe”, and within 2-3 weeks, she was gone. I suppose the toxic leadership was not thrilled, but the rest of us loved it. It was such an awesome power move, to show the leadership that they weren’t the ones holding all the cards after all. Because, let’s face it, the company yanking the office from OP after three days was a power move on their end too. I, for one, am happy to hear that OP was able to return the favor.

    4. Grand Admiral Thrawn Will Always Be Blue*

      I will never be in a position to flounce out… living the dream for us all !!

  3. EPLawyer*

    If a company is gonna have an open office plan, then they shouldn’t negotiate separate space for some people. And if they do, they are stuck with the consequences.

    When the choices are “cubicle” or “work fully remotely” without nuance that is a BIG problem. This is indicative of how they probably deal with other issues. I mean an office is not that big of deal, but it was a negotiated thing. You don’t just take that away because someone complains. It sets a terrible tone for everything that may happen in the office.

    I take issue with the flounce too. You aren’t a “victim” here. This is an office. Professionalism at all times regardless of how others act. There was a way to get your point across without being so adverserial.

    1. Littorally*

      Agreed. The company screwed up by negotiating in apparently very weak faith and not taking responsibility for what they agreed to. The OP is being really dramatic. Of the two, the company is worse. The OP could be better.

      1. Wintermute*

        exactly! When someone either lied to you and negotiated in bad faith or is willing to blatantly go back on their promises they have created the adversarial situation, not you. You’re just mirroring their posture.

    2. Mayflower*

      Equating softening language and deferential behavior with “professionalism” is a cultural value judgement that is often used to enforce existing power imbalances and I particularly dislike seeing it in a victim/perpetrator context where the perpetrator is offended that their behavior has been called out by the victim and now claims victimhood for themselves. The employer pulled a switcheroo and it’s not unprofessional for the employee to call them out on a load of bull (“internal equity” lol) and quit. Furthermore, as a fellow techie, professional norms of IT culture are rather direct compared to most other work cultures (and even furthermore, if OP is a woman, I wouldn’t be surprised if their behavior was perceived as aggressive when it was merely assertive).

      1. R*

        I don’t think anyone here is “equating softening language and deferential behavior with “professionalism”” and honestly the search for some form of “victimhood” in the context of sex or race, where none is present in the letter, is off putting. OP can still call out the company for their switcheroo in the way that Allison suggested, by being firm and insisting that the company honor its agreement, and making clear that if the company went back on its word the OP would no longer agree to work there. You can advocate for yourself without quitting in a huff and peacing out after 4 days with your middle finger up, which is the vibe I’m getting from this story. What OP did does nothing to “disrupt existing power imbalances.” No one is suggesting she should have quietly accepted the company’s decision. Just because the got the last word, doesn’t mean that she behaved professionally.

        1. Allonge*

          This is probably the best example of an attitude that I don’t get in a lot of comments, so sorry for addressing this to you only, but – WHY spend even more time and energy calmly negotiating something that 1. you were promised and 2 you were subsequently told is impossible after all. This, for me, is the worst waste of time ever.

          I already don’t trust a word coming out of this persons’ mouth!

          Talking to someone who already pulled a switcheroo on me and saying that I believed you first, but I don’t believe you now, and maybe can I explain again that I actually meant what I said, like, two weeks ago? How is this not a really weird conversation where everyone thinks the other is a complete idiot? And this with your boss? And in the first week of your new job? This would take every bit of enthusiasm I ever felt for the job out of me. And all this on the off chance that they will think I am more professional if I quit on day 7 instead of day 4?

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I think what most of us with the style issues would change is that you call the boss/Hiring manager and tell them in person that you will be leaving (and I personally would have offered to work out the week) effective X date as the company is changing the negotiated agreement. And of course also give them a written resignation letter. I don’t think pushing send and then walking out is a professional look (baring major safety/legality concerns that OP doesn’t indicate were an issue there).

            1. allathian*

              I really don’t see the point of a written resignation letter. An email, sure, but a written, printed out, signed-by-hand letter? Nope, leave those in the 00s where they belong.

          2. R*

            I for sure don’t disagree with your overall point. But just because there isn’t any value in the act itself (i.e. trust has already been broken and can’t be repaired), doesn’t mean that there’s no value in the appearance of the act. What I mean is, if OP had had the conversation as Allison suggested it, she would appear reasonable and rational but still firm and not willing to take less than what she was promised. You never know who you’re going to run into. Maybe VP of this place changes roles into a position where OP is later applying, or is a friend of someone who is considering hiring OP, and they remember her as the “aggresive phone call and e-mail” person who quit after 4 days, for a reason that many would perceive as petty. The adversarial phone call which she abruptly ended, followed by an email resignation, will leave a bad taste in peoples mouths. It’s not about boot licking or enforcing power structures. Its about realizing that you have some control, and therefore have some responsibility, for how you are perceived which is especially important in a work context.

            1. Allonge*

              Thank you, then I understand why we have different stances – for me, the relationship is broken beyond repair at this point, and a less then ideal resignation would not have any impact on that.

              You are of course right that sometimes it’s better to perform professionalism, for potential future relationships. I think I could manage, for a few days, but I know plenty of people who would be better off getting out asap, as they are not good at the pretense and would probably generate more issues in however short a period than by leaving. Especially in the first days of a job.

              (I also have to say, I have a total cultural issue – everywhere I worked, if it’s not written it did not happen, so the resign via email thing has a really different connotation. Anyway, it’s still not ideal over here if your boss learns of your intention to leave from the official process, but it would be a non-issue reputation-wise. I understand it’s different for the US.)

              1. allathian*

                Yeah, I agree with you on this.

                Of course, I’m in Finland where we typically have long probationary periods written into the employment contract, 4 to 6 months is common, although for fixed-term contracts that are shorter than a year the maximum is for half the fixed term. Deciding to quit during your probationary period would be a non-issue. To compensate, we also have long notice periods for employees on an indefinite-term contract, 2 months is typical.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Agreeing with you – if the business wasn’t going to be able to honour the agreement (and they SHOULD HAVE KNOWN whether they could or not), then they should have said that an office was NOT on the table. That would have given the OP the opportunity to either withdraw from the process or decide that an office wasn’t a deal-breaker.

      There’s really no excuse for the company, here. The hiring manager HAD to have known it was important to the OP, because the OP insisted it be written into the contract. If the hiring manager had any concerns – or even if they did not have concerns! – they should have thought about the implications, asked HR for their input and/or asked their own manager for thoughts. Considering that it seems offices at this level are NOT usual, it’s the manager’s screw up, not the OP’s.

      In terms of the OP, I think that their quick exit was really more about the fact that their prior role was unexpectedly still available, than about flouncing, per se. The open prior role was going to have a short window of opportunity.

      If I were the OP, I’d be focusing on convincing the prior, now current, employer that they are VERY, VERY committed.

      1. nonegiven*

        Would it have been so much better if OP had given two weeks notice in writing, then been sent home anyway? Would the company really have wanted OP to work out the two weeks notice?

        1. allathian*

          We don’t know. They might have, just out of spite. I certainly wouldn’t have jeopardized getting my old job back by offering it. Come on, it’s four days. They’ve barely started onboarding, it’s not as if the employer had got any productive work out of the employee yet. Even with longer notice periods, I’ve never head of anyone working out a notice longer than their stay at the company before deciding to quit.

    4. PspspspspspsKitty*

      I agree about the company. The guy who got the office wasn’t even working a full week. He was only there for a few days a week. If the LW was supposed to be working in office all week, even during the pandemic, I can see why the office thing is such a big deal.

  4. Toodie*

    Alison, I love how you consider the nuance of situations and always bring such a balanced perspective.

    1. DEJ*

      We need to be able to like comments on here, because ditto. I’ve learned so much from your even-handed view of the workplace.

      1. Julia*

        No thanks. I like that this is one place (almost the only place) on the internet where people’s statements don’t get popularity scores based on how many people “like” them. Even group chats have become popularity contests with “likes” attached to people’s chats! I think it’s refreshing to have a system that requires people who want to respond to a statement to contribute more nuance than “this thing is good!”

        1. Yorick*

          But then there are tons of comments saying “THIS” or “Seconded,” which could be avoided with a like button.

          I’m fine without one, but they do have their uses.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Also ditto. Such a refreshing change from the “either LW or the person they describe is an unreasonable monster” takes.

    3. DonnaMartinGraduates!*

      Yes! Alison’s balance and the insights are marvelous. Plus, we all gain so much practical advice on how to gracefully navigate these complex situations. I emphatically concur.

  5. SeattleSarah*

    The employer lied within the first week you were there. That is not a good sign of things to come.

    That being said, is there a reason why an office is so important to you? Is it work-related or status related? It may be worthwhile to examine why you are putting so much weight on having an office.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I thought this was a wildly disproportionate reaction to not getting a private office as well, which made me wonder if LW has a larger concern re: being able to focus, reducing extraneous sensory stuff, etc. All of which are totally valid reasons for wanting an office with a door you can close and might warrant feeling like you’d been betrayed by your company when that particular perk is removed.

      1. Louise*

        I know many people in similar jobs to me that suffer in open cubicles. For me it would be a deal breaker and I wouldn’t change jobs if I was forced to not have an office. Just because others do it doesn’t mean I want to.
        I would also question any company the agrees to something to only take it away upon me being hired. They should think through these decisions. Next time what happens if I get a raise and someone complains that they didn’t get a raise. Are they going to take my raise away? (And I get this can get into discrimination, but the answer here is to not take someone else’s raise away.)

      2. Jayne*

        An office can be a defining aspect of a job. I report to two different areas in my organization. Originally, I had an office in both areas. Then, one of them took away my office and offered me hotdesking at that location. Since I had an office in the other area, I refused and have now made the only office my main location.

        Did my loyalties shift? Yep. The location that removed my office has indicated that my effort for them is not worth an office. So, the place that appreciates my efforts gets more of them. The LW negotiated an office as part of a compensation package, then it was taken away because of a coworkers tantrum. Normally I don’t disagree with Alison, but in this case, I think that the complaining coworker is the true flouncer (flounce?) in this situation. Also, why did the friend call the LW to tell them about the tantrum? Did she think that it would make it better to have a bit of time to realize that all negotiations were subject to the loudest complainer at the company? Finally, I wonder if the referring friend a referral bonus and that is the real reason that they are mad. Or it is easier to be mad at the LW than to examine that their company are full of lying bees.

        1. staceyizme*

          An interesting point! Maybe they expected that the LW would be a soft target for a little bit bait-and-switch.

        2. SeattleSarah*

          Thanks for the insight! For a long time I traveled to different locations so I never had an office anywhere. When I did get a job with an office, I actually requested to be moved to a cubicle near the team I worked with because I enjoyed be near them and there was no office space available. I currently work from home so an office isn’t an issue.

      3. dealing with dragons*

        I don’t think having a valid reason for an office is the concern here. Think of it like Allison’s salary example – if the other person found out that OP made a significant amount more, and HR’s response was to cut salary in the name of equity is that ok? Like, I don’t have a “valid” reason for a 401k match but my employer does it. Should they cut it arbitrarily within a week of someone starting? It was negotiated and that’s that. If it wasn’t doable or could be arbitrarily rescinded like this, then they should have been open about it. Having “valid” reasons or being deserving of an office don’t really enter into it. It’s a red herring.

      4. Anon for Today*

        I’ve been with my company for 20 years and I have a small list of things that it would take for me to jump ship. If I left a job on the promise of having an office (or an extra week of PTO, or being able to WFH for 3 days) and that promise was broken I’d be ticked off. I don’t really have a need for an office, but I’d certainly try and ask for one, because that’s the time to make demands.

      5. nonegiven*

        If they had said up front the office is not going to happen, then OP didn’t have to take the job. You can’t promise something and go back on it in less than a week without consequences.

    2. WellRed*

      They didn’t lie, they changed their mind. They could have handled it better, lots better, but businesses are allowed to change their minds/needs.

      1. tectonic*

        OP negotiated the office as part of their offer. What if the company unilaterally ‘changed their mind’ about the salary? Would that be okay, too?

        1. Joan Rivers*

          But paychecks are for work already done, co. can’t cut the pay they legally agreed to.

          Co. can change its mind on a contract it signed but I’d sue if they cheated me out of past pay.

          And if they cut your pay after 4 days, won’t you question staying?

          1. PT*

            I’ve had *three* jobs where they attempted to fiddle with my pay after I accepted a different pay rate.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            OK make it health insurance reimbursement or training allowance or two monitors –the point is, OP no longer trusts employer and it’s an at-will hiring agreement. The employer just learned that at will goes both ways.

            1. allathian*

              Yes, this. I think it’s refreshing to see an employee with options who quit with no notice and just left. The company frankly deserves no better.

      2. James*

        Agreed, but with two caveats.

        First, changing your mind on something that you negotiated on 3 days after someone takes the job MAY be something that just happens, but it bears the stench of a lie. This is a case where a reasonable person would have serious doubts, where the company is coming right up to the edge. It is therefore the responsibility of the company to be as transparent as possible, and to acknowledge that employees affected by it are going to feel betrayed.

        Second, employees change their minds all the time as well. This is not a unilateral relationship, where the company dictates what happens and the workers just suck it up and deal with it. The company changed their direction, the worker decided it was not a direction they wanted to go, and they parted ways.

        1. KHB*

          Yeah, it’s just such a coincidence that the employer “changed their mind” the second after they got OP to sign on the dotted line, isn’t it?

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        They changed their minds within a four days of OP starting work. The label isn’t actually important, the timing is.

      4. Nesprin*

        Eh, but employers not allowed to unilaterally decide to change minds/needs without employee input. If my employer decides to change my responsibilities/shift/salary/benefit/hours off I am allowed to decide if I want to keep them as my employer. An office was important enough to OP for her to negotiate for it, thus she is allowed to decide whether she wants to continue working for them.

      5. Allie*

        I’ve participated in hiring and we would never get away with “changing our minds” on stuff like work environment or our telework agreement.

      6. Magenta Sky*

        It is entirely possible that no single person in the company lied, but the company itself did. It made a promise, and didn’t keep it. An abstract distinction, but the conditions that make such a distinction possible do not lead me to wish I worked there.

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

          no single person in the company lied, but the company itself did
          An abstract distinction

          But in the final analysis there is no ‘company’ as such (except as a legal entity, of course): there’s just the accumulation of a bunch of individuals acting individually and according to some social structure — and if you track back far enough through the chain of ‘who authorised/sanctioned this?’ there will be someone who the decision / statement / lie sits with. Somebody decided / said / lied about X – either because they had been delegated the authority to (by somebody further up the chain) or because they acted unilaterally outside of the “chain of command”.

          There is no ‘company’ in the abstract — it’s just the accumulation of a whole bunch of decisions and actions by individuals. It’s just that these acts become part of the ‘fabric’ of the company going forward.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Two possibilities:

            One or more people made a promise they knew they wouldn’t keep, either because they couldn’t, or because they just lied.

            Or somebody made a promise in good faith, but the company’s management structure is so broken that it couldn’t be kept, and the person making the promise didn’t realize it for whatever reason.

            The difference is academic, because the end result is the same:

            The company made a promise and broke it in less than a week.

            (And unless it’s not a corporation, there is, actually, legally and practically speaking, a company that is separate and distinct from any and all people working there. That is, in fact, the entire point of a corporation.)

      7. Weekend Please*

        And the OP didn’t lie but changed her mind as well. Why is the employer allowed to change their mind but the OP isn’t?

        1. KaciHall*

          OP didn’t change her mind. She agreed to work there for x salary and an office. She did not agree to work there for x salary and a cubicle or teleworking. She left because she DIDN’T change her mind.

          1. Weekend Please*

            I meant that she changed her mind about working there. I agree with you that she said what she was very consistent in what she was asking for.

      8. Wintermute*

        okay, sure, and you’re allowed to decide that once they pull a take-backsie in the first week you will not be able to trust them again, about bonuses, about staffing, about vacation time (oh I know you booked a european holiday but… bob complained he wanted that time off, better cancel that reservation in Paris or you’re not a “team player”), about any and everything.

        That leaves little good basis for an ongoing work relathionship.

      9. Snark no more!*

        They didn’t lie. They didn’t change their mind. They buckled because one person cried “no fair!”

      10. Batgirl*

        Oh sure, they can change what they like! …. but then they are so baffled and blindsided that OP can change their mind too! How?! After OP explicitly negotiating an office the company didn’t see that coming and make the loss of OP part of their equation? I probably would have left too, simply because it’s no fun working for fools who can’t make obvious connections.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          I once briefly date someone who made sure I knew beforehand that he cut people off easily if things didn’t work out. I said I totally understood and that I firmly believe ALL relationships are conditional (all via text before we first met). He was then shocked, SHOCKED!!! when I ended things three months later because I was unhappy in the relationship. SHOCKED, I SAY. (And has since reached out to me several times despite his strong statements that he never does that with exes and despite my never, even once, reaching out to him…) Some people really believe all the rules apply only to one side.

      11. Stumped*

        Agreed – this message of complete and utter deception by the company is a bit dramatic. I understand being pissed if they took the office away but this wasn’t a bait and switch – it sounds more of a screw up that feels unfair but really isn’t as egregious as it’s being made out to be.

        1. Batgirl*

          I don’t think an employer needs to be deliberately evil to be a bad employer though. If all their screw ups and reshuffles expect my forgiveness because they don’t really mean it; I’m not necessarily going to be happy working there.

        2. Jayne*

          And people with options don’t have to accept a screw-up. Their former employer took them back at a presumably higher rate of pay. The company changed it mind very quickly and the LW changed their mind very quickly. Why is there more obligation on the individual than on the corporation?

        3. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I agree that it wasn’t a purposeful bait and switch. I’ve had ill-intentioned managers before, who would do something like this on purpose and I’d never recommend working for them. But I’ve also worked for managers with terrible levels of foresight and planning who I can see doing something like this entirely accidentally without meaning anything insulting by it, and you know what? I wouldn’t recommend working for those managers either.

          The bottom line is that OP negotiated an employment package with their new company, and the new company announced during their first week that the package they’d negotiated was going to be reduced. It doesn’t really matter what their motivation was for doing it. What matters is that the job is now different than the one OP negotiated for, and it’s within their purview to decide that the job isn’t worth it to them on the new terms.

      12. Grapey*

        “but businesses are allowed to change their minds/needs.”

        “Allowed”, yes, but it’s terrible strategy to not realize giving a new person an office might cause grumblings elsewhere. I see it like bringing on a new person at 2x their market rate just because they asked and then backpedaling once other people in that same role want the same thing (and an office is obviously a more transparent perk than salary).

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

          terrible strategy to not realize giving a new person an office might cause grumblings elsewhere

          Agreed, and (at least based on this incident, including characterising the OP as a load-bearing employee for the critical project… although I can see how this happens and have seen it play out in the past) the company has shown itself not to be very good at strategy in general!

          It seems so short-sighted to offer a perk that (as you say) will be obviously transparent in the way that salary isn’t, just to get OP on board.

      13. Kevin Sours*

        They are. So are employees. But it’s important to the success and happiness in your job in so many instances that when you are promised things will happen that your employer does not capriciously change their mind. After only four days it becomes clear that this organization does not place a high value on honoring their commitments.

      14. Autumnheart*

        In effect, it’s the same situation as when a job-seeking employee gets an offer, and then their current workplace makes a counter-offer: “We’ll promote you and give you a 20% raise if you don’t leave! Please stay!” Then the employee decides to stay and then finds out that the company has no intention of delivering on that promotion or raise. Or they get “promoted” and then laid off 6 months later.

        Companies do that kind of thing all the time. It’s so common that the going wisdom is “Don’t take the counteroffer!” because it is so frequently a bait-and-switch. The only variant here is that it was the NEW employer who was like “Oh, actually you won’t be getting what we agreed to” and the OLD employer gave them the better deal for coming back.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Anyway, it’s only incidental that the dealbreaker was the office; the principle is the willingness of the new employer to bait-and-switch their new employee only days after their hire. And it was reasonable for OP to leave immediately, because no doubt OP’s former company would have been moving pretty quickly to fill that position. As others pointed out, OP wouldn’t have been onboarded in that timeframe, so it’s not like OP would have been involved in any workstreams yet. It’s a lot easier to hit the undo button on a job switch if it happens pretty quickly after leaving the old job and starting the new.

    3. DC*

      I don’t know if why they want/need an office matters. If they, over their career, have decided it’s important enough to them to negotiate, how is that different than negotiating more vacation or pay? We all value things differently.

      1. pbnj*

        Agreed. We all have certain things that are deal breakers, some that may seem odd to others.

        1. holding out for a hero sandwich*

          I withdrew myself from a hiring process because of the office set up. I’d be going from sharing an office with 1-2 other people, to a “pod”/”hot desking”/absurd arrangement. Nope.

          1. SarahKay*

            While I’m not bothered if I have an office or a cubicle, whichever it is I want it to be my space, so the chair and monitors are all at the right height for me, the only ‘ick’ in my keyboard is my ‘ick’ and I can leave my coffee mug there for the next day.
            Unless I’m unemployed and have to find a job then having to hot-desk would absolutely be a deal-breaker for me. Given that, why shouldn’t an office be a deal-breaker for others; we’re all different.

          2. Batgirl*

            The hot desking fad, especially the clean desk/no storage nonsense should be over by now. It’s absurd.

            1. allathian*

              Yeah. My employer has several offices all over the country. Some of them have gone over to hotdesking. My office was due to start planning the office remodeling when the pandemic hit and we were all sent to WFH, with the exception of a few job descriptions that simply can’t be done other than at the office.

              Those who must be at the other hotdesking offices in person have been told to pick a desk and stick to it rather than switch around. This works mainly because the vast majority of employees are WFH, so even in a room that has 12 desks might have only 1 or 2 employees working in it at opposite ends of the room.

              Whenever the WHF mandate is lifted, I still plan to keep doing it much more than I did before the pandemic. If my office ever starts hotdesking, I just might stick to WFH most of the time and only go to the office for mandatory face-to-face meetings and the occasional day here and there for networking.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          This. It doesn’t have to be meet some “any llama herder would (want/not care about)” standard–you can know that for you an office, or a fixed start and stop time, or 2 days/wk work from home, are what you want and what your skills put you in a position to demand.

    4. Not So Super-visor*

      This exactly– 3 Days into working there they went back on something that they agreed to. That would absolutely destroy my confidence in the company. If OPs skill set was as in demand as it seems to have been, OP was within their rights to negotiate for certain things and expect that to be honored.
      I’ve had to deal with employees upset about things that were negotiated by another employee during hiring in the past (more PTO, certain schedules, in demand PTO days off). The answer to the person with the complaint that this was something that we agreed to as part of accepting our offer to work for the company. HR really did the company a disservice here.

    5. CR*

      Yeah, I have to admit that I don’t understand why having an office is more important than anything else about the job.

      1. DC*

        I don’t think we are in the position to try and determine why OP values this,nor is it necessary to understand why what the company did sucked. They reneged on a negotiated part of the job offer- it’s the same as saying “sorry, that extra $5k? We take that back,” and expected OP to be fine with it.

      2. tg*

        Yes, but for whatever reason,having an office was important to the OP and they negotiated for an office, and the company agreed they would have an office.

        1. Allie*

          Plus it showed OP that management doesn’t have her back and has no problem going back on agreements.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this, even more than the office. OP had every reason to interpret this as promises about other things being quickly ignored.

            Company: “Here’s some 6-foot tall writing on the wall.”
            Employee: “Kthxbye.”
            Company: “…. Wait, what?”

            1. James*

              Another thing to remember: The LW was right. As soon as they left, the company lashed out at the LW’s friend. The LW saw a warning sign, made the smart move to bail, and the company acted exactly as the LW predicted.

      3. Allonge*

        Presumably because OP could get everything else in their old job, too?

        I understand this seems outlandish for someone who, say, has been unemployed since last March and is desparate for any job at all. OP is obviously in a position to be picky.

        1. Batgirl*

          Right! Perhaps, just maybe, OP has made a point about respecting agreements that will be remembered when it’s someone with fewer options, who can’t about turn. If I were the next candidate I’d be grateful to her.

      4. Foxy Hedgehog*

        Nobody said it was more important than anything else; they simply said it was important enough to be a deal-maker and, the next week, a deal-breaker.

        For all that matters, the deal could have been that the OP had first choice from among all the ballpoint pens in each order of office supplies. It doesn’t matter what the OP valued; it was given to them, and the OP accepted the job with that understanding, and then it was immediately taken away.

      5. LDF*

        I don’t think there’s enough info to say it’s more important to them than anything else about a job. It’s one important factor to them and the fact that the company reneged cavalierly reflects badly on them.

      6. Clem Fandango*

        I don’t know why it’s so important to OP to have an office, but it becomes a canary in a coalmine of what she can expect from the company when they take it away three days in. I wouldn’t want to work for this company at this point either.

      7. Artemesia*

        It would be to me. I was lucky to have private offices during my entire professional career — I cannot imagine trying to concentrate and write in a cube farm. I was lucky. the privacy is important too. I think it is great she got her old job back with raise and would not worry too much about ‘reputation’. do men worry about their reputation when they don’t stand for being dissed like this and having their negotiated deal negated? A man who did this would be seen as a hard ass you don’t mess with. Kudos to her. (and if it is a guy, kudos to him)

      8. anon here*

        Gotta admit, the office situation was a contributing factor in leaving my previous position. Along with the financial mismanagement, demands to work on diversity stuff rather than the STEM research I’d signed up for, and other things, I had initially had an office and then they started to move in other employees and postdocs. It was truly frustrating: you demand I spend all my time talking to students and in particular dealing with mentoring and occasionally emotionally difficult conversations, then you put two additional random dudes in this small office that really has trouble fitting three chairs? How is some student going to be comfortable discussing gender disparities in their classes when two random dudes are snuggled up next to them and me?

        Yeah, noped out of that. Doubled my salary, halved the BS.

        1. BeenThereOG*

          High five to “double the salary and halved the BS”, this is now my ideal for jobs.

      9. Wintermute*

        It may not even be, it’s not ABOUT the office, it’s about the fact that they’ve proven you cannot trust them to keep their word.

        It’s like the famous story of brown M&Ms. A band once had an elaborate rider, which included safety issues for their elaborate stage setup. One time the rider wasn’t obeyed and as a result they caused thousands of dollars of flooring damage and it could have caused a stage collapse and serious injuries. So they put in a rider clause about a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed. They could walk in, look at the bowl of M&Ms and know if the venue had A) read the entire rider top to bottom and B) had someone with some basic attention to detail attending to their requests. If they saw brown M&Ms they knew that it was likely other things, potentially serious safety things, were missed too.

        The office was the brown M&Ms, potentially insignificant on its own, but when you use it as a highly visible marker of their ability to make and keep a promise, makes total sense why losing it would be a red flag.

            1. RickT*

              Youtube has a video of David Lee Roth discussing the rider and what happened when promoters didn’t read it. In one case the stage destroyed a new resilient gym floor.

              1. Wintermute*

                thanks for that! I did hear the story about the floor, it often gets reported that the band, so incensed by the offending M&Ms caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, but in reality, well, flooring isn’t cheap.

    6. Lucy*

      Not the LW, but I’ve worked in a cubicle and worked in my own office, and I would absolutely not take a new job if it were a cubicle job. Having my own office is massively important to my day-to-day happiness on the job. I don’t think it’s wrong to recognize something about yourself and make sure you negotiate for it (or decline the job).

      1. yup yup*

        I totally agree. Taking on a new gig (especially if I’m in a high demand position to negotiate) would very well be influenced by the environment I’d be spending my workday in. Going from having a private office to sitting in an open workspace is like going from six weeks of vacation to two — I’d definitely be furious at the bait and switch if I’d negotiated for one and then was told I’d be getting the other.

      2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        Some jobs need the privacy and quiet of an office. Some people need it. Some people don’t. The company didn’t take that into consideration for the OP.

        It’s a red flag in how they handled this. Their reasoning was petty and indicated OP wasn’t important due to level. OP rightfully should be concerned about the company’s willingness to provide support and called them on their pettiness.

        The company then had a temper tantrum on the person who referred the OP. Maybe OP burned some bridges but it also feels like OP dodged a bullet.

      3. Batgirl*

        Same. I can work pretty well in the open but an office is a game changer. It’s a huge productivity boost and is just a more pleasant daily experience. If I could go back to a similar deal + office, I would, even if I didn’t have any bad vibes over the company’s trustworthiness and critical thinking skills. My friend calling me up telling me the company were crucifying her over it would not make me feel fonder towards them, either.

    7. Pescadero*

      Cubicles are literally horrendous. Not open office bad, but terrible.

      I’ve been working for almost 25 years. I’ve had an office for the last ~18 years.

      I would have to be paid SIGNIFICANTLY (like 50%) more to even consider taking a job without an office.

      Cubicles, like a long commute, are pretty much a line in the sand.

      Telling me I was getting an office then moving me to a cubicle is the equivalent of telling me I’ll be working at the office 10 minutes from my house and then on the first day of work transferring me to the office an hour away.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Not open office bad, but terrible.

        Oh god, open offices. OldJob was at a university, and they decided to renovate my parent department’s offices to an open plan. The result: even my boss’ boss’ boss didn’t get her own office.

        And yet, because of where I had to be on campus for my own work, I had a giant private office to myself that once comfortably held three employees. It was dreary (basement, cinder block walls, no windows) but easily the size of my current living room. Plus multiple empty offices around me. In fact, I was functionally the only person on the floor. Only one other office was officially occupied, but the nature of the work kept that staff member out of it 90%+ of the time.

        When some peers from Open Plan Hell Land needed to come to my space and saw my private kingdom, they were not amused. Neither was I! I had all the privacy in the world, and I was also desperately isolated and lonely, not to mention overworked and unsupported.

        I would have loved nothing more than for them to join me, but the stupid management decision that led to the nightmare open office reno also refused to let anyone relocate to this wasted space. Or let people move within the open plan when it became blindingly obvious that putting the PR staff (always on the phone) next to the writing staff was a terrible call.

        Anyway, fuck those managers. I absolutely agree that an office is a perfectly valid dealbreaker. My ideal setup is to share one with one other person but everyone’s needs are different and it makes a massive difference.

      2. Miss Betty*

        I worked for 10 years in an open office, so when I got a new job and I had a cubicle, I was so happy. We relocated during the pandemic and the new office is an open office – not as bad as the former job, but still, when I return, I’ll be sitting in a pod in an open arrangement rather than in my lovely cubicle. I’m very sad about that. It’s all relative. (Though I have had an office twice in my life and yes, compared to an actual office, a cubicle is horrible. But it’s heaven compared to open office space.)

        1. Winnie the Bish*

          What part of the pandemic made your company think “What we need is less walls and less division between people”

    8. Gene Parmesan*

      I recently had a situation that was similar in some ways. There was a proposal to move me and a colleague, who currently have individual offices, into a shared office. I dug my heels in and I think they have dropped it. My reasoning is, no one else in our division has shared offices except the student assistants, so it seems like they are demoting the two of us (youngish female staff members) to the level of student assistants, not the professionals that we are.

    9. Manders*

      Some people are sensitive to noise and have a hard time focusing in open-plan spaces. Some people really want to have some control over the space they’re in for 8 or 9 hours a day. Several of my job searches early in my career were because I was fed up with being stuck in a space where I had a hard time concentrating on my job. I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to negotiate for an office. It can be one of the biggest factors in someone’s satisfaction with their work environment!

      There’s also the fact that we’re still in a pandemic, and the letter writer might have felt that a separate office space was safer than working in an open cube.

      If it were me, I’d also be really put off by the evidence that this company responds to people who pitch fits and not people who negotiate in good faith. I’ve had a bad time in work environments that prioritize the squeaky wheel over the one that runs smoothly.

    10. Elsie*

      I think the issue is not only about the office but about the employer immediately violating the employment offer that had been negotiated. Changing jobs can be a major risk since it’s attached to our ability to provide for ourselves and our families. The person had given up their previous job. They were lucky they could get it back but if not, they would have been stuck with an employer they can’t trust until they could find another position. This is a big deal. It’s an abuse of power and it’s unfair. It’s like when someone accepts a job and then quits in the first week for no good reason. It’s dishonorable to make an agreement and then immediately break it for no good reason- that’s what the company did

      1. Bostonian*

        This is how I see it, too. Yes, the office was important. But the way (and the reason why) the company went back on the deal is really not a good sign.

      2. iglwif*

        Yeah. Many of us wouldn’t care about an office specifically (I personally would take the WFH and run away cackling!), but I would think we’d all care about a company that’s either so incompetent or so nefarious that they promise candidates things they’re unable or unwilling to deliver.

    11. iceberry*

      Offices matter to a lot of people in a lot of industries for various reasons, usually nothing to do with status.

      But it is fair to say this is not about an office. If you see clear signs of bad management and you have an exit, take the exit.

    12. Clisby*

      Seriously? My first career was in journalism, where open offices were the norm. I then got a degree in computer science, and was hired at the company I eventually worked for for 27 years. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I realized that I, an entry-level person, got a private office. You better believe that was important. If the company had taken it away, I’d have been job-searching in a skinny minute, because having a decent space to work in is not something minor. It had nothing to do with status – all the computer programmers got private offices, because, well, that’s the best way to work.

    13. JSPA*

      But…it’s not like “valuing an office” is a strange preference requiring deep explanation, is it?

      Even if you’re neurotypical, having your own compartmentalized air (Covid!) your own excellent sound barrier, visual barrier, smell barrier…that’s broadly something a large percentage of people value.

      For that matter, it’s just because OP wants to take off their shoes and pick toe jam in peace (or scratch whatever itches, whenever it itches) it’s OP’s right to value that.

      1. D*

        Thank you! Yes! My initial reaction was ‘well I relate to the OP, I need an office because x, y, z’ but then I thought why does this require so much justification? I’m not a bad employee or a bad person for hating open plan or cubes. Personally I don’t find those environments productive or collaborative. Work is too big a chunk of my life to work in an environment I don’t like and I’m in a position where I have options, so yep I would absolutely quit over this. Maybe not flounce though! (Although I would totally want to, it would not serve any purpose).

    14. EBStarr*

      There are so many incredibly clear reasons why having an office would be important that aren’t status-related that aren’t even necessarily work-related that I wonder why we even need to impugn OP’s motives by bringing up status.

      Just off the top of my head…

      Privacy (I can’t tell you how many times I was late seeing medical providers because it was too hard to find private space during business hours, in the Before Times).

      Not having to listen to your *coworkers’* doctor phone calls (or personal phone calls, or annoying work phone calls, or whatever).

      Not having to listen to your coworkers clear their throats, clip their toenails, hum, eat chips.

      Having a place to take a nap if you need to.

      Being able to check Facebook if you want to.

      Not having to SMELL your coworkers (one of the only consolations I have in the pandemic is that I don’t have to deal with stinky coworkers).

      Having a space you can make the way you want it to. Control of the thermostat, maybe (I wore fingerless gloves in the office during the summers every day).

      Oh, the list goes on and on and on!!

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

        I can understand all these reasons: privacy, lack of interruptions from co-workers, lack of smell from co-workers, somewhere to take a nap (!), somewhere you can make into your own space etc.

        The question is why one person out of a number of peers (other people of their level) ought to be entitled to that ahead of anyone else.

        1. anonaccountant*

          They’re entitled to it because they negotiated for it in good faith, and because it was, presumably, a term of employment. Had the employer said that an office was off the table during negotiations, the potential hire could/would have declined the offer, just like if the company couldn’t meet their salary requirements.

          Companies often treat peers unfairly- that’s not inherently wrong. It’s rare that everyone with the same job title makes the exact same salary, for example. One person may have more years of experience, an accessory skill, an additional certification, etc. OP obviously has valuable skills, and should advocate for themselves to get the best possible outcome.

          There’s also no indication in the letter that the OP knew, prior to their original request, that they’d be the only one of their peers with an office.

        2. JSPA*

          Entitled, in the pejorative sense, means you think it’s due to you as a matter of course, or because you’re special.

          OP is in fact literally entitled to the office because it was explicitly made part of the job offer. OP is entitled to the office as they are to their salary. OP could have negotiated for yet more pay, or for vacation days, or for different benefits; OP negotiated a private office.

          The time for the company to say, “wait, if we do that for you, others will be ticked off and demanding, so we can’t do that” was BEFORE they said, “yes.”

        3. EBStarr*

          >> The question is why one person out of a number of peers (other people of their level) ought to be entitled to that ahead of anyone else.

          Actually that’s not the question — the person I was responding to specifically asked the OP why they *cared* about the office (not why they were entitled to one) and suggested it was because the OP cared about status. This is an unnecessarily insulting question given the long laundry list of concrete, non-status-related reasons why someone would care about having their own office.

          Analogously, there are probably people in the world who want to make more money so they can buy fancy clothes, and good for them! But that doesn’t mean it’s kind to ask someone who quit over a salary cut, “Why do you care so much about your salary? Is it so that you can buy fancy clothes?” when there are so many other obvious reasons the person might object to a salary cut.

    15. meyer lemon*

      I mean, I would think that most people would much prefer to have a private office if they could, particularly if your job requires a lot of focus. Most people have to learn to make do without one, but I don’t think it’s an insignificant thing to want privacy and quiet at work. I’ve never had an office, but a previous boss once let me borrow his when he was away for a long stretch of time and it was the best.

    16. Autistic AF*

      Why is it so important for you to know? It might not even be legal for the employer to know (if there’s a disability involved).

        1. allathian*

          Why the LW wants an office is utterly irrelevant here. They negotiated for it and accepted an offer that included an office. The company reneged on the office after someone else whined about the unfairness of the new hire getting an office, and the LW had the option of returning to their old job and did just that.

          The company acted in bad faith, or simply through incompetence, and the LW quit. The company shouldn’t have offered something in a negotiation unless they were sure they could actually provide it. No sensible employee who has any options is going to stay at a company that proves itself to be this incompetent.

        2. Autistic AF*

          “Curiosity” about others’ lives can harm people – it’s often accompanied by microaggressions or makes people feel like they have to share information they would rather keep private.

          It is not important for me to know why OP wanted an office – as noted by allathian below, that’s not relevant.

    17. Save the Hellbender*

      Other commenters noted we can’t really judge what’s important enough to negotiate, but I also think it’s important to note that if you have to work in person right now, there’s a huge peace of mind that comes with a door. I had to work in person from June to November, and if I hadn’t had an office, I would have caught Covid.

  6. Beepboop*

    I recently started a job where I was told of the reporting structure before I accepted it.

    On my first day, they informed me that the agreed reporting structure was official, but I’d actually be on a completely different “dotted line” reporting structure.

    Then they proceeded to insist I work in areas I was not hired for, repeatedly re-orged, and kept changing project assignments.

    I only lasted 6 months, and seeing that they were willing to take an inch my first day means they’d take a mile. OP was right to leave; this was a sign of dysfunction.

    1. Lacey*

      In my first office job, they hired me to do one type of work and my first day they announced a restructure that had me doing a totally different type of work. It was a deeply dysfunctional place where the CEO sometimes had the IT guy pick up his dry cleaning.

      1. Seal*

        Same thing happened to me at a student job in college. The branch library I worked in was being merged with several others to form a single library and per HR all of the student workers at the various branches were guaranteed jobs at the new library. Those of us with more experience were repeatedly promised that we would be given work similar to what we had been doing in the branches. But on my first day at the new library, I was assigned to do something I had been repeatedly assured would not be part of my job. When I complained, I was told that I must have misunderstood what the job would be. Since that was absolutely not the case, I quit on the spot and walked out. To this day, it remains one of the most satisfying work-related things I’ve even done. As it turned out, the new managers lied to ALL of the students they inherited and by the end of the semester every single one of the student employees had quit or were fired for questionable reasons. I later wound up getting a full-time job elsewhere in the library system and discovered that dysfunction I had observed in my brief tenure at my student job was sadly just the tip of the iceberg. Reneging on something you’ve promised a new employee is definitely a very big deal.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes, honestly, it’s a clearer situation for everyone – obviously LW is in the position to say thanks, but no thanks, and the sooner the better as being there for an additional week does not help anyone.

      I would also be pretty uneasy if this was my third working day, and the new company already broke a promise, also hinting at a cultural issue at the same time.

      A bit flouncy? Eh, whatever. Everyone is hiring IT people.

      1. Clisby*

        I don’t even see why this is seen as being flouncy. It’s no different from showing up to your new job and having them say, “Oh, sorry, your salary is really $10,000 less than we told you. Too bad!”

        1. Data Bear*

          Agreed. To my mind, a flounce would involve more performative anger, like talking about the grievance in great detail in the resignation letter and cc’ing the entire company. This just seems like setting boundaries.

          1. allathian*

            Agreed. I don’t think the LW did anything outrageously bad. Maybe a quick email to the friend who recommended them to say “I’m sorry to say but this job isn’t working out for me, so I’m quitting later today, effective immediately. Thanks for recommending me, though, and I wish you all the best.”

            I just hope that the LW contacts the friend and explains how things went down, and maybe commiserates with them about the flak the friend’s catching at work for recommending the LW in the first place.

    3. Notes from a windowless room*

      I totally understand where you and the OP are coming from! I accepted a job where I had negotiated specifically (in writing) that I didn’t want my desk to be in the little windowless room I had seen in the office during my interview. I didn’t care about having my own office, I just didn’t want to feel like I was in a cell. On my first day, I was shown to my desk, in the windowless room. It was shared by two other people and a hot desk. My desk was the only one without a wall behind it, so it did not come with any of the privacy perks of an office. What’s more is that all the other engineers were in an entirely different suite, so that I had to go outside the building and back inside just to ask someone a quick question. There was no internal messaging app. It might not seem like a big deal, but after being promised a window (open office is fine with me!) it really got me off on the wrong foot, and it was much harder to take everything after that in good faith. A couple of days in I got the courage to ask about it and I was told I would have a window after renovations due to be finished in 3 months. Unlike the OP, I decided to give it my best shot, but it really did turn out to be a pretty dysfunctional company, and by 3 months I was also back at my old company (the renovations weren’t finished, either). So, flouncing aside, I admire OP’s efficiency in getting out of there. Red flags are red flags, no matter how petty they sound to people who prioritize their office needs differently.

  7. Colette*

    I understand why the OP left – she negotiated for something, and the company reneged a few days in for a pretty terrible reason. Quitting was a reasonable response.

    But if I were the friend, I wouldn’t recommend the OP again. Particularly after this:
    I told her I was a victim just as she was and that the situation was beyond my control since they broke their promise.

    A lot of this was in the OP’s hands – not the company deciding that her options were a cubicle or remote, but the overly dramatic way she handled it. We’ve all had the “oh yeah, I’ll show them!” thoughts – but most people move past that and behave more maturely. And I wouldn’t want to recommend someone who didn’t – and who, when I pointed out she was putting me in a bad place, claimed to be a victim.

    1. No Hero*

      Agree. I would never recommend that person ever again, and most would 100% cool down that friendship–most likely end it. OP’s response was over the top ridiculous in my opinion. Business conditions change. I’ve had offices, I’ve had offices taken away for the ubiquitous open floor plan. It didn’t occur to me to act like a baby about it and take my toys and go home. I think the employer dodged a bullet – this is one of those employees who’s going to do the absolute bare minimum for their job because “that’s what they negotiated”.

      1. JI*

        Do you think they would have been justified if they had a meeting with HR and said politely but firmly “Sorry, this is a deal breaker. I’m leaving unless you get me the office we agreed by the end of the week.”

        1. No Hero*

          No, I think this is a ridiculous demand. I think OP should have shown more decorum and been mindful that their behavior could impact the career of the person who recommended her.

          1. Green great dragon*

            I think OP could have been a bit more sympathetic to friend. But in a decent company, it really shouldn’t have had such an impact on the recommender’s career – friend didn’t do the interviews, the reference checks, she just recommended OP as a previous colleague she’d presumably seen doing good work.

          2. Chilipepper*

            We are not all you. The OP is free to request an office and to leave a job over it. Employers can fire you for having brown hair. I can quit for any reason that I like. It sounds like the OP’s skills are in high enough demand to have moved on in 6 months or 6 years if the org restructured and took away the private office.

            And I’d be pretty unhappy with the friend who recommended the job. And yeah, id be saying the employer sucks, I’m sorry you work there, but I’m not sorry I left.

          3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            Then maybe that person shouldn’t work for a bunch of bad faith negotiating shysters. Or should warn people they are suggesting take a position with their company “Hey, they don’t believe their agreements with you matter.”

            Making a recommendation is putting your reputation on the line in two directions. That friend should have been in HR’s face, saying “hey, no! You can’t cheat someone I recommended come here” as soon as they found out about what was going on.

            1. Colette*

              Wow, no. The friend should definitely not have talked to HR about the OP’s issue – that was on the OP to handle.

              And there is no indicaation that anyone was negotiating in bad faith. The recruiter probably didn’t expect there to be issues (e.g. an office was available, they thought “sure, the OP can have it” and didn’t realize anyone else would be upset).

              1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                Usually I would agree with you, except the friend had already been looped in some how – after all, they were the first one to tell the OP that there was going to be an issue.

                At that point, the friend should have been saying, to whoever they made the referral to “if you renege on an agreement with my friend, it is going to make me and us look bad, and they won’t take kindly to it.”

            2. Batgirl*

              I agree with you. While I doubt that the referrer is in a position to actually say anything, in her shoes I would be thinking it was a misstep to recommend this company (which is now bullying her) to a friend.

          4. Rusty Shackelford*

            Pretend the LW negotiated for something you *don’t* find ridiculous. Not an office, but a particular salary or job title or benefit. Would you still be going tsk tsk? Is it this exact line in the sand that bothers you, or the fact that the LW had any line in the sand at all?

              1. Batgirl*

                Your productivity and environment certainly affect your future achievements and earning potential. It’s a bit more than a seating arrangement.

              2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                Definition dependent – it was negotiated for as part of their employment benefits. It very much can be considered part of their compensation.

                What if it was a company car, or a metro pass? Would you still have said it wasn’t part of their compensation?

                1. Allonge*

                  No Hero – and not getting it in writing makes it ok for the company to go back on it? What else is ok to just go ‘eh, well, we said we can but we can’t ’cause Myrtyl in Ops would get upset’.

                2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  @No Hero – That seems completely irrelevant, but I would infer it from the “I negotiated a very good package with a better salary and the office.”

                  Also, simply because an agreement or negotiation is concluded verbally doesn’t mean it isn’t binding – it merely means that it’s more difficult to prove the existence and terms thereof, in the event of a dispute.

              3. Allonge*

                Sure, where they sit. Eight hours a day, every working day, for the next couple of years. It’s pretty important to a lot of people.

              4. Fish*

                It’s literally about the place where they spend the majority of their life during the time period they work at that company. Being somewhere you feel physically comfortable, as opposed to miserable, makes an enormous difference to one’s quality of life! Not silly at all.

              5. Cheena96*

                Maybe it doesn’t have a dollar sign attached to it, but it was part of their NEGOTIATED package. It sounds like OP would not have accepted this position without the office, so it’s quite literally a deal breaker to them. It’s irrelevant how YOU feel about it.

              6. Pescadero*

                Where you sit, when negotiated as part of your compensation package, IS compensation.

                Anything done to compensate, is compensation.

              7. Rusty Shackelford*

                Strawman argument. We’re talking about where OP sits. Not their compensation.

                Well, okay, you answered my question, which is that you *do* think it’s appropriate to have a line in the sand. So now I’m wondering why you think *your* personal line in the sand is appropriate, but the LW’s is not? My working environment is very important to me. You seem to think I’m not allowed to feel that way.

              8. Clisby*

                Not a strawman argument at all. I’m retired now, but I’m trying to think of how much extra money my company would have had to pay me to get me to accept a move from private office to cubicle. It would not be insignificant.

                1. Bagpuss*

                  Yes.
                  I don’t care at all about the size of my office but I definitely care about having *an* office, and there are a lot of other things I’d be more willing to compromise on, including pay.

              9. Dream Jobbed*

                I’m ADD. Having a quiet space is literally a medical need for me to be able to do my job. I cannot tune stuff out the way other people can. I cannot work in a cubicle. Your position is ridiculous if I took the time to negotiate what I need TO DO MY JOB and then the new company took it away from me.

                Not a strawman argument. The company lied about something that got a person to quit their job and move over to them. I’m guessing they thought they could get it away with it, because they believed they had all the power. They didn’t. The employee had skills others wanted and were prepared to treat the employee decently to get.

                If you think this is an acceptable way to treat people, I am very glad you are not my manager. And simply because it is unimportant to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t to everyone.

              10. Tired of Covid-and People*

                Not really. The office was part of a total negotiated package and OP may not have even taken the job if not for getting an office. It’s not just where a person sits, it’s key to the working environment. You are missing the entire point.

                I wonder if OP’s friend received a cash bonus for the referral. In any event, I recommend nothing to anyone. Not my hair salon, nail tech, nothing. Invariably, despite my years of problem-free service, whatever I recommend doesn’t work out.

                The employer is being a total jackass about holding a grudge against the referrer. Only the company is responsible for the hire not working out. And the OP did not owe the referrer a debt of indefinite gratitude or staying in an untenable position because of the potential impact on the friend. If friend doesn’t want to accept that they took a risk by making the referral, and instead wishes to blame OP for the fallout and let it impact their relationship, then it is their loss.

          5. Clare*

            “No office, no me” is a pretty reasonable line in the sand if someone is able to negotiate for it. I wouldn’t have been able to swing that when I worked as a receptionist, but most of the admin assistants at my old-fashioned/older building office with offices (cubicles did not exist there). Now that I’m in a position where an office is standard, I’d be pretty displeased if I suddenly learned I wouldn’t have a door (especially for pumping).

          6. dealing with dragons*

            maybe their manager or HR should have been more open about the office situation? from OP’s perspective they were guaranteed an office. they might not have taken the job and avoided the whole thing if HR or the new manager had been honest in the first place.

          7. JI*

            I believe the demand was “don’t take away something that was core to my reason for moving here.”

          8. allathian*

            In a decent company, it wouldn’t impact the career of the person who recommended a new hire. It might cost them the recruitment bonus, if such is offered, but that’s all. Even if you know someone well enough to recommend them at your job, you don’t always necessarily know what will be a deal breaker for them.

            In the LW’s place, I might start sending the friend job ads, to help them out of an unfortunate situation. If the friend wants to keep in touch, that is.

            Sure, in the LW’s shoes I’d feel bad for the friend, but I certainly wouldn’t stay in an environment where I didn’t want to stay for the sake of a friend who had recommended me in the first place. That’s simply asking too much. No friendship is worth that.

        2. Observer*

          I do think that a polite meeting where the OP states that they need the office that had been negotiated, and if that commitment can’t be honored, they are retracting their acceptance of the position would be perfectly legitimate. And in that case, if the company were somewhat reasonable, the friend would not be in trouble for recommending the OP.

          1. Colette*

            Yeah, exactly. She could have handled it in a way that wouldn’t have affected her reputation – and her friend’s. And she didn’t. She started out adversarially, then quit via email.

          2. Artemesia*

            She couldn’t do that without first knowing she had somewhere to jump. Having negotiated her return with the former job with a raise, she could not continue to negotiate the office at the new place. This seems obvious to me. You don’t give ultimatums that will put you on the street. She told them she was upset with the change; they told her they were not going to honor the agreement. She then negotiated with her old employer and left. Sounds like the right move entirely to me.

            1. Observer*

              The issue is not that the OP walked, the issue is HOW they walked. There is a lot the OP could have done differently here, even if they chose to not try to negotiate.

              But also, the OP could have had a meeting with HR and / or their manager that clarified that this was part of the negotiated package and is a REALLY big deal to them, and is the company really sure that there are no other options? If the company response was “Nope, Too bad, so sad, you’re not getting your office and we’re not going to try to figure this out”, the OP doesn’t have to sign on to staying. A neutral response, followed by the same conversation with their former employer would be a perfectly reasonable prelude to giving notice. And given that they took two weeks off, they could even have graciously offered to actually serve out notice of the company so desired. I do think that if the OP had said “given that I’ve only just started, I don’t think it makes sense for me to spend the next two weeks here” it would have been ok as well. Because, yeah after 3 days, it’s kind of hard to make the case that they have projects to wrap up or hand over, etc.

        3. Batgirl*

          Nah, at that point it’s no longer about the office, but about the shambles that they call their managing style. Better to return to the devil you know while it’s still an option.

      2. Shan*

        Given that OP was immediately hired back at her previous company, at the better wage, I strongly doubt she just does “the bare minimum.” It sounds like she has an in-demand skill set and is able to be selective in where she works.

        And I’m really surprised by how out of touch some people seem think to negotiating for an office was… it’s not like she quit because they wouldn’t hire her a personal assistant whose sole job is to cut the crusts off her sandwich or something.

        1. Batgirl*

          “I can’t believe she asked for A OFFICE. I’ve never even SEEN a office, because my curtseys are so deep!”
          Etc. I have never been so amused in my life as I have been by all these scandalised responses to the idea of wanting an office.

          1. Allonge*

            Heee. It reminded me of the trainer we once had who showed the layout of an office floor (with actual offices) and asked the rhetorical question: does this inspire cooperative work? Does it? Well, DOES IT? I said it looked like a perfectly normal office setup, and asked what his workplace looked like. Oh, he works from a home office and as a travelling trainer, never had an office in his life… ok then?

        2. Anon for Today*

          Yeah, I’ve been with my company for 20 years and I’d definitely try and negotiate for an office if I were to leave…and an extra week of vacation

      3. Tinker*

        I mean, if an employer is the sort to say “It didn’t occur to me to act like a baby about it and take my toys and go home” about this sort of thing, then it’s not going to go any better a few months in when the conversation might be more like “ohhhhhhh, you’re not performing well and are claiming it’s because of the office environment, you’re probably one of those employees who will take advantage of any excuse so that you can get away with your intrinsic laziness”.

        Better to cut bait when the transaction can be cleanly unwound, I’d think.

      4. Asenath*

        I’ve had an assortment of office arrangements which were at the discretion of my employer, even the one where I was moved out of an office into the corridor. But if I’d negotiated for an office as part of the conditions for taking up a job, and the employer reneged on that before I’d been there a week, I’d have been out the door just as fast as OP was. Maybe I’d have worded my reasons more politely to the employer (and to my friend), but it would be a completely different situation than if I was already employed there and had not negotiated any agreement as to an office.

      5. staceyizme*

        An office wasn’t (and isn’t) key to your preferences or requirements for working conditions. That doesn’t mean that your experience of the dynamic is universal. Attacking someone else’s perspective with verbiage such as “it didn’t occur to me to act like a baby about it and take my toys and go home” reflects YOUR experience and YOUR view. But that’s not necessarily how others would experience the loss of an office. (Or a childcare benefit, or a company car, or paid overtime or an affordable health plan.) Everybody has things that are important to them because their circumstances, type of work and preferences are individual. It seems like moralizing about a functional matter. You WOULDN”T leave over an office. Somebody else WOULD. (And OP DID.) But why does that qualify them for a verbal tar-and-feathering?

        1. Artemesia*

          yeah love this characterization of the OP as a baby taking her toys and going home ‘just because’ they went back on the deal she negotiated. Would that apply to a guy who didn’t accept this downgrade? Somehow the employer is entitled to not honor commitments but the OP is a giant baby for not immediately curtseying and saying yes sir, can I have some more sir.

      6. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Saying the OP is acting like a baby is uncalled for, and probably in violation of Alison’s commenting rules.

      7. Despachito*

        I think LW handled the situation admirably, and do not see anything she did wrong.

        1. The company expressly agreed to provide X , then retracted within three days. . They broke an explicit promise and did not make any attempt to make it good , they basically said “tough luck, suck it up, buttercup”. For me, it is definitely a dealbreaker, and it does not matter whether X is an office or a rainbow unicorn. If they knew they would be unable to honour a promise, they should have not made it, period.

        2. LW was not rude in the slightest. She did not rant or throw a hissy fit, she just did not beat around the bush and was blunt and direct. Which was in my opinion the exact tone given the situation. Why get tangled in excessive diplomacy and bother when it was them who did not bother at all in the first place?

        3. LW was spot on when she said both her and her friend were victims. LW, because the explicit promise given to her only 3 days ago was broken and they were even trying to gaslight her. The friend, because who on the God`s green earth makes a person`s life living hell because she recommended someone who is not the perfect fit? This is absolutely not on the LW, and my take is that even if she was more diplomatic when resigning, the outcome for the friend would have been exactly the same. They were not mean to the friend because LW was not diplomatic enough, they were mean simply because they are bullies. LW was able to see it immediately, and just dodged the bullet. The friend is possibly in the position of the “slowly boiling frog” and does not see the perversity of it anymore, but it is there.

        4. The whole thing of “leaving them in the lurch with an important project” is utter BS. After 4 days? really?

        Kudos to LW, I think she handled the whole mess with flying colors.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I wish your post could be moved higher up the page so more people would see it.

        2. Yessica Haircut*

          This is so spot-on. The way the company is now flagellating someone wholly unconnected with the situation over OP leaving really reveals what a toxic employer this is.

    2. Kramerica Industries*

      I think this stood out most to me too. So instead of apologizing to your friend who stuck her neck out to recommend you, OP basically decided to say “it’s not my fault that your company sucks”.

      OP, you did not have control over what happened with the office. But you did have control over how you responded both to the company and your friend. With regards to your reputation, you turned this into more than just about the office. People will remember how you handled your exit and how you chose not to take any responsibility for the way you left.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        But their employer does suck! If I were OP, I’d be a little peeved that my referring friend didn’t warn me that there were some issues.

        I think Alison did miss that: OP should have talked to their referring friend about the company culture, especially around OP’s negotiating points. At my employer, there’s a big move to hot desking / agile spaces, and very few non-managers have offices. I would absolutely make sure anyone I referred understood that, and if I were a prospective employee who cared, I’d ask about that aspect of the culture.

        1. Colette*

          We don’t know that there were issues. It sounds like the company didn’t think it was a big deal to move the OP out of an office. Obviously, the OP disagreed, but that doesn’t mean the company is terrible overall.

          1. allathian*

            Perhaps not, but the way they seem to be mistreating the friend for recommending the LW in the first place gives a clue that there’s something amiss.

          2. Rob aka Mediancat*

            Company should have been falling all over itself apologizing and asking what the OP wanted instead of this important perk that they were taking away after 3+days. Instead, company basically shrugged and told them to suck it up. That is a company with issues.

        2. Artemesia*

          Hot desking is the way an employer makes sure the minions know they are not valued and are just cogs. Often they let them know this from their own well appointed offices. You hate workers and have contempt for them if you implement hot desking.

          1. allathian*

            Or simply open offices with no privacy at all. I would hate it if I had to work in a space where people can walk behind me and look over my shoulder at whatever I’m working on or reading on screen. I’d be hunching my shoulders all day and my productivity would go way down.

            At my office, I share a room with my closest coworker and we have a high screen between us. We sit with our backs to the screen. It works well, although because my coworker has a hearing issue serious enough to require hearing aids, if I want to talk to him I have to get up and peek over the screen. It’s about 4 ft high, so high enough to hide the other person when we’re seated, but low enough to see over if we’re standing.

      2. LDF*

        Recommending a highly-qualified friend is hardly sticking your neck out. It wasn’t a favor she did for OP. Ideally, it would have benefitted all parties.

        1. Malarkey01*

          Idk that I agree with this. In my industry recommending someone for a job is taken pretty seriously and carries a lot of weight. You’re vouching for them as a known quality and that gives them extra weight in the hiring process because there’s Jane who we know nothing about and Beth who our employee says is great and on paper they both look equal so Beth gets the job.

          If Beth turns out a bad hire we do look back at the recommendation as a bad call. Sometimes it makes sense as there’s no way you’d know some particular technical issue and sometimes it’s like how could you not think the fact that they’re dramatic in all interactions isn’t a red flag.

    3. Hemingway*

      Agree. Totally right for the OP to leave – absolutely. But her reaction was just so completely over the top. I wouldn’t trust her to deal with other issues that may come up and handle them in a mature way.

      1. JSPA*

        The company was either negotiating in bad faith, really incompetent, or both. It’s not that the office isn’t important (it clearly is). But the bigger problem is the attitude. Believe what people show you, over what they say. The company’s actions say, loud and clear: “we’re not really a functional company yet, we just pretend to be one, but we don’t understand that agreements and contracts mean anything, and we suck at negotiation and re-negotiation, so we don’t do that, either, we just pull the rug out from under people.”

        If OP had two weeks of paid leave subtracted on the 4th day, or been presented with a big cut in pay, you’d see it for what it is, no?

        The OP walked not because of the office, per se, but because they signed up for a real job at a real company, not at a sh*t-show held together with bailing wire, startup funds and threadbare promises.

        IMO, there’s a non-zero chance that the friend will be coming to mend fences with OP after their exciting company (that can’t figure out its processes, how to put people in spaces, or how to stick to a contracted agreement) goes belly-up.

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I don’t think it was over the top at all. OP handled the situation decisively, that’s all. No BS. I commend them for it.

    4. Kalico*

      I agree with this. The disregard OP shows for her friend’s feelings and perspective would be friendship-ending for me, even though I agree she was justified in leaving the position. I think it’s telling that OP seems concerned only with the impact this will have on her own reputation, not any fallout her friend may be experiencing at work and emotionally on a personal level.

      1. Chilipepper*

        It sounds like the friend wanted the OP to stay in a job the OP no longer wanted. I would also ignore the feelings of friends like that.

        1. A*

          There is a really wise spectrum between wanting OP to stay in a job they no longer wanted, and wishing they had exited in a less dramatic manner. Come on now. It’s not unreasonable for referring friend to wish it had been handled differently by all parties involved.

          And for the record, I’m on LW’s side – but to Alison’s point I think a final discussion on the topic would have gone a long way in parting as amicably as possible.

      2. Despachito*

        But I think that the friend`s perspective is heavily distorted by working in a dysfunctional environment (possibly for a long time?) . If they make her feel miserable for recommending OP in good faith, it is definitely THEM who is in the wrong, not OP.

        I once recommended a friend who definitely is a good and honest person, but due to some medical issues (which I was unaware of at the moment) was unable to perform and resulted in a disaster. It did leave her boss in the lurch, yet she (the boss) did not in any way hold it against me (I was really sorry and apologized profusely for having misjudged the situation but we both knew that there was no ill will).

        I think OP`s friend was wrong by blaming OP who was perfectly within her rights to do what she did. I can understand it sucked for the friend, and OP could probably show some compassion, but the problem here is definitely not OP but the company – it was them who broke the promise, it was them who were mean to the friend, it was them who thrash-talked OP and harassed the friend. It is 100 % on them, not on the OP.

    5. Magenta Sky*

      “But if I were the friend, I wouldn’t recommend the OP again. ”

      Perfectly reasonable.

      But after an experience like that, as the letter writer, I wouldn’t want you to.

      1. Allie*

        LW is also not likely to take a recommendation of an employer from that friend either, though.

      2. Rainy*

        My first husband once took a job at the company a friend–let’s say…”Bob”–was working for, after asking a lot of questions about work environment, company solvency (software dev in the late 90s, enough said), etc. Bob–it turned out–lied through his teeth to get my husband on board, and then left basically the second he could be reasonably said to have gotten my husband up to speed on his projects. My husband was Bob’s exit strategy. With fronds like these, etc.

    6. Mongrel*

      I’d clarify with the friend about what happened from your side though, just in case the company is gaslighting it as “A huge tantrum over a minor matter before walking out and leaving us in the lurch. How could you!!”

      If she was having the conversation after having the stress of dealing with all of that, then getting accusatory calls because your friend has been told you’re a Diva who flounced out…

      1. PT*

        This. I worked at a company that made a bad hire. He was a disaster. He got fired in under 2 months. But his boss and grandboss framed his firing in a way such that they forced him into quitting because in our state he would have been eligible for unemployment if he had been terminated. Then they went around and told everyone that he “quit with no notice and left us in a bad position at a busy time of the year.”

        I was involved in this because I had the subject-matter expertise to document his misconduct but I did not have a position that allowed me to handle managerial or HR matters. So I was aware of what was going on and how it was being handled but was not in a position of power to influence how they chose to handle it.

    7. nonegiven*

      I don’t think giving two weeks notice in writing would have improved this for anyone, not the company, not OP, and not OP’s ‘friend.’

  8. LinesInTheSand*

    Hey OP, from your letter, your friend has some weird involvement in all of this that I don’t understand. Why is she taking it upon herself to tell you you’re losing your office? Why did you hear it from her first? Why is her reputation on the line after you quit?

    From your letter, your friend may not have a strong understanding of professional boundaries and may be internalizing far more responsibility than is warranted. If so, don’t make her problems your problems.

    1. portsmouthliz*

      Agreed. The friend and the company are blurring and disregarding boundaries. Like, the friend is blaming OP because she is on the rocks with leadership. Leadership is CHOOSING to blame friend for OP’s action, and friend is CHOOSING to blame OP for leadership’s response. OP, walk away and don’t get drawn into the weirdness and lack of boundaries here.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Yeah, I think this doesn’t look great for either of them but it must be a dysfunctional company if she is really “on the rocks” after recommending one hire that didn’t work out. If anything, just be skeptical about her recommendations in the future.

    2. Workerbee*

      I read the friend’s response more as if this is the kind of company who would make you feel, in small or large ways, that because your recommendation didn’t work out for whatever reason, it is your fault.

      1. Marie*

        Good for you, OP. You stood your ground and followed your instincts. I don’t even see a “flounce” but a very healthy cutting your losses immediately—and the way the friend reports the company is now treating her (true or not) is another solid reason. You followed your gut and stood up for yourself. I wouldn’t let doubt and naysayers and frankly unhealthy behaviors (friend and company) and judgments (“its just an office”—no, it’s not) get in the way of that. I don’t like or agree with how others try (operative word) to make people who follow instincts and stand up for themselves out. Stay strong. And I was happy to read of your healthy decisions. Don’t let those others bring you down. Or intrude upon or make you doubt your own actually healthy instincts and actions.

        1. Yessica Haircut*

          Exactly. The way the company is now punishing her friend completely confirms her gut feeling here. This is a toxic workplace, and she was right to bounce.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        Which points back to how, while OP could have handled the way she left better, she was right to leave. She was there four days, it’s not like she left them high and dry right before a big project was due.

    3. Allie*

      I mean you really can’t owe your friend staying in a job with red flags. Something like a job is way too big of a deal to tolerate a bad environment for the sake of a friend. And if management is taking this out on the friend it’s just a further sign this place has problems.

    4. kitkat*

      > Why is she taking it upon herself to tell you you’re losing your office?

      I don’ t think that’s what happened — I read it more as the other employee got upset and the friend heard about it + gave OP a heads-up that someone was kicking up a fuss.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        Yup I read it as the friend just said that another employee on the same level got upset about the office and let them know. It was later that the got a call from HR.

    5. pbnj*

      I read it as the friend knew that the other employee was upset and going to HR, and not that they knew what HR was going to do about it. I can see wanting to give your friend a heads up that there’s trouble brewing. The other employee may have been very vocal about their displeasure.

    6. Philly Redhead*

      Her reputation is on the line because the friend quit after a very adversarial, non-collaborative conversation about the office. I mean, I get the OP was upset, but there were better ways to handle it.

      1. LinesInTheSand*

        I get it. But that’s something the friend can handle with her colleagues. “Oh man, that recommendation didn’t work out. I’m so sorry, this is out of character and I never would have recommended her if I’d had any inkling that this would happen.”

    7. Formerly Ella Vader*

      Why is she taking it upon herself to tell you you’re losing your office? Why did you hear it from her first?

      This part doesn’t seem inappropriate to me. I imagined it like, “Hey, just a heads-up. I know that having an office matters to you, and I just overheard a conversation about someone else insisting they should get the office instead, and now they look happy so management might have caved. Just wanted you to be warned, so you can be ready with how to respond.”

      1. LinesInTheSand*

        See, to me, that seems _really_ inappropriate. “I heard something I wasn’t supposed to hear, and I have no way of verifying it, but I’ve drawn a bunch of conclusions and now I’m going to spread bad info and uncertainty around.” I’m reminded of the letter where someone found layoff plans on the printer, told her staff, they all quit, and then she found out that the layoffs weren’t being implemented.

        I can see how the friend might have seen this as a way of being a good friend, just as you describe. I’m not questioning motives. I’ve just seen too much drama unfold from people with good intentions

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

      Honestly, my initial reaction to that was that she was set up to “guilt trip” the OP in some way.

      I wonder if there was any kind of referral bonus for a successful hire, which she was banking on but now will not get?

      I’m in the UK and in the various companies I’ve worked at over 20 years or so there’s been referral programs offering anything from $500 up to $2000 equivalent to someone referring a successful hire, with the caveat that they’d have to stay 6 months.

      Either that or the company is truly dysfunctional and friend has been asked to “pile on the guilt trip and try to get her to come back”…!

    9. Massive Dynamic*

      Some companies offer a referral bonus to existing employees if new hires they refer work out for X days after hire. Maybe the friend lost their bonus. Still not a reason for the friend to be mad or crying at the OP though!

  9. LifeBeforeCorona*

    I referred a friend to a job at an old workplace. I told her about the pay, hours, workload, etc. She accepted the job and then ghosted after 2 weeks because it wasn’t what she expected. I apologized to the manager and they said it wasn’t my fault that she was a flake. Hopefully, the friend will realize that she has no control over the LW and their actions.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Right.

      The employer can’t hold the referrer liable for every possible outcome. A referral is just that, and only that. The employer still has to do their due diligence: interviews, background check, etc.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Before we only assumed we didn’t want to hire her, but now we know! It’s so rare that one finds true certainty in this life.”

    2. HungryLawyer*

      Same here. I referred someone who turned out to be a really bad fit for the role. Our manager said it wasn’t my fault, especially considering I didn’t make the hiring decision. In this case, it sucks that OP’s friend is being blamed for what happened. But, that is another sign this company is dysfunctional. As an aside, I also don’t understand how OP was 3-4 days in and already assigned to a critical project, which the friend brought up in their post-flounce conversation.

      1. twocents*

        It’s possible they were hiring someone specifically because they had this critical project.

    3. Bored Fed*

      What room was there to collaborate? The boss “said his hands were tied.” And ulif that weren’t truly the case, then … that’s further reason to leave because of lack of trust. Moreover, the longer OP stayed, the more likely Old job would be filled.
      Should OP have reached out to Referring Friend? Probably, but recall that Referring Friend helped OP get into this mess in the first place.

      1. Allonge*

        This is also what I was thinking – it seems that OP has a preference for straightforward communication and being able to take people at their word, at least in work matters (how very dare they! /s).

        If the boss says there is no way to provide an office, and it turns out that if you sit down and talk about it for three weeks, maybe there is a way after all… is that a really good sign? Also: who wants to spend their frst three weeks in a job negotiating about an office? Talk about things you never live down.

    4. sacados*

      I think a big difference there is how your company handled it too, tho — to echo Magenta Sky.
      Your manager understood that your friend’s actions are not your fault, and that it was their responsibility to do due diligence with the hiring.
      In this case, it sounds like Referring Friend’s manager is absolutely blaming her for LW leaving the job. Which, regardless of whether the LW was justified/made mistakes or not, is not a great sign about the company.

  10. Trek*

    Sometimes the 90 day probationary period goes both ways and in this case the company didn’t meet expectations.

    1. Clem Fandango*

      Seriously. I wish this OP had spelled her displeasure out with seafood, but I am otherwise ok with her actions.

      1. holding out for a hero sandwich*

        I was hoping that the LW would say “oh, I can’t be having with this” and then walk out on the first day. (I don’t remember that whole story. Something about the dress code?)

          1. Gingerblue*

            Something about a nasty note from a higher up about start times to the entire department the day after they’d all been the office very late to finish something big, iirc?

            I have no idea why that story stuck in my brain so hard, but the image of their much-desired new hire just gracefully putting the note back on his chair and exiting after the insult is glorious.

            If anyone’s going looking for it, I remember he OP commenting on the recruiters taking the hire out for dim sum.

              1. Gingerblue*

                YES
                I forgot what a great writer the submitter was, e.g.: “We had flextime at that company, meaning every waking hour was spent there but you could pretty much choose when to be awake.”

        1. bkanon*

          I think about that post all the time. It’s the same feel here. I was on that person’s side then and I’m on this person’s side now.

      2. Llama face!*

        But what about bringing in an extra empty purse and then heading out for “lunch” and leaving your coworkers to eventually figure out that you are never returning when they look in the purse for emergency info and realize it was a decoy?

        (Honestly my fave weird quitting story of all time)

    2. Polecat*

      For sure. This is a dream scenario. I don’t think the OP did much wrong. She said “No this isn’t what we agreed to so I’m leaving.” There was nothing to be discussed or worked out, for the OP, the office was a deal breaker and that’s why she included it in her negotiation. It doesn’t matter why it was a deal breaker, it only matters that is was made clear that it was.
      I don’t think people would be criticizing the OP as much if it something else – say she had negotiated leaving at 4:30pm each day to pick up a child from daycare and on day 4 they told her she needed to work until 5:30pm each day because another employee had complained about it.

    3. Al*

      In Belles on their Toes, the sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen, the boys are trying to teach the youngest child, Jane, how to flounce. Even with their coaching, she doesn’t get it. Eventually, she gets fed up with them, and then… flounces. “That’s it; that’s flouncing?” “That’s flouncing? That’s easy!”

  11. Lore*

    It is one of my hugest pet peeves about my workplace (as of 2019; who knows what the hybrid model will look like) that they will let huge blocks of offices sit empty for years rather than temporarily assign them, made even more annoying by the fact that 2/3 of my department lost offices in the last redesign so we’ve all proven we can gracefully if unhappily handle being downsized to a workspace entirely inadequate for our actual job functions. (And to make matters worse, when I got promoted at the end of 2019, it was decided that I qualified for an office but not a “real” office so instead of giving me one of four empty offices in my area—one of which was being used as storage—they converted the only full time phone room for the 100+ cube residents on my floor. Which I thought long and hard about refusing but they needed my cube for a new hire and I didn’t trust my department head to back me in insisting on the proper office. Of course, I occupied it for 36 hours before WFH…

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      Agreed. When a department here was eliminated and the manager let go, the night manager and I (AM manager) approached our director to see if we could share the open office rather than staying in cubicles. It made sense. We each manage more employees than any manager at our location including the manager who was just let go. Director took it up to the President, but he declared that we couldn’t have the office as those were reserved for director level and above (upped the requirements there) and that it would be turned into a conference room instead. So now, every time that I need to have a 1-on-1 or performance discussion with an employee, I have to book out the open conference room/office that I had to set up a folding table in b/c they took out the furniture. There are 4 open offices on my floor alone. It’s ridiculous.

      1. JSPA*

        The open office and cubicle farm (as opposed to many having offices) became omnipresent in significant measure because of taxation (as well as the intrinsic cost of building more walls).

        That’s to say: a mix of property taxation on commercial properties being tied to the number of rooms / number of offices, and differential timing of depreciation on furnishings (e.g. cubicles) vs on buildings drive employers to keep people in that “one large room.”

        1. Antilles*

          That reminds me of the old stories about London’s window tax. Rather than measuring the exact size of dwellings, the tax assessors decided to use the number of windows as a reasonable approximation. Bigger houses usually have more windows and of course multi-floor houses have many more windows. So your annual property tax was based on how many windows your house had, with no mention of number of floors, number of rooms, etc.
          The end result was that people actually bricked up their windows to pay less taxes.

  12. Coco*

    While this is not as dramatic as resigning using cod, it was a rather satisfying to read.

    Bravo to you for knowing your worth. You may have burned a bridge with this company but sounds like your current employer does not/ will not care

    Insert applause emoji here

      1. the cat's ass*

        It was salmon at my former job, and nothing will ever be as epic. Now THAT is a flounce. A fishy, smelly, HAZMATty flounce!

    1. Chilipepper*

      I think if the friend who recommended the OP called herself a victim, the OP can use that term too.

    2. ???*

      Agreed… I get that the company is in the wrong here, but being so insistent on having an office just seems bizarre.

      1. MechE*

        I mean, a private workspace where you don’t have to overhear what can be nonsensical small talk nor be subjected to drive-by demands does seem appealing. Or the always-distracting din of folks taking conferences calls on speakerphone.

      2. Migrating Coconuts*

        They don’t say why they negotiated that. They could have sensory issues, ADHD, or something else that makes working anywhere other than their own office unbearable. But it really doesn’t matter. You negotiate something, the company reneges on it just a few days later, that does not look good. Especially for a terrible reason of some other employee whining. If they whined about pay, or extra PTO, or work-from-home, would it be alright for the company to yank that from the new employee? I think not.

      3. Heather*

        Does it really? I’m surprised. Cubicle farms seem to be almost universally despised, I would have assumed almost anyone who works independently would prefer an office to a cube, by a wide margin. OP obviously does since they made such a point of it during negotiations. Considering how many of the letters here deal with noise complaints, people nearby getting sick and not being considerate, or coworkers messing with or intruding in one’s space in one way or another, I feel like it would be a pretty big deal to a lot of people.

        1. Lacey*

          Yes, an office is SUCH a unicorn that it makes it more outrageous for them to promise it and pull it, not less.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I suspect when they offered cubicle or 100% remote, they really expected OP to take the remote option. That may have been part of their confusion. I still think they’re very in the wrong here, and handled the whole thing poorly. But just because OP would absolutely not consider 100% remote an acceptable alternative to private office in the building, doesn’t mean it was an insulting option. A lot of people, depending on why they wanted the office, might consider that an even exchange, or even preferable. I know also a lot of people hate being remote. The take it or leave it nature of the way it was presented is not a great look on the employer’s side, but it’s also not as though they didn’t try AT ALL to come up with an alternative. Of course it’s their fault for caving in the way they did that caused the need for an alternative.

            1. A*

              Agreed. I’m on LW’s side here, but I would have LOVED the fully remote option. I don’t think it was an unreasonable suggestion by any means (although that is the last thing the company did right – still needed to find a way to honor the original agreement or find a compromise that works for all parties).

              I feel like if this letter had been submitted sans that part, there would be comments about how they should have offered that.

            2. Rob aka Mediancat*

              The problem is them coming up with alternatives in the first place. The OP wanted an office, got an office, and that should have been the end of it, regardless of how much another staff member complained. the OP has no obligation to negotiate, or even to consider “full-time WFH” reasonable — or even, especially considering that this promise was yanked after three days, to think that THAT would last more than another three before “Oops, sorry, you have to be in a cubicle full-time.”

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        Why doesn’t matter. What matters is they asked, and it was agreed. It’s like, ‘I want dental insurance’, having it agreed, then being told, ‘nope, we don’t offer that!’ when you go to sign up for it. It’s a violation of the employment agreement.

        I don’t really blame OP for flouncing. I wouldn’t have, but once the hiring manager said their hands were tied, I’d have been out of there too.

      5. Clydesdales and Coconuts*

        Would it be any different if they were promised parking as a negotiated term of their employment and then suddenly they now are not allowed to park and have to find a space elsewhere and hoof it to work everyday… no. Negotiated terms are negotiated terms.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        Different things matter to different people. I managed from a cube for several years, and it meant having to schedule conference room time to discuss issues with people, which immediately ups the stakes from a quick, step-into-my-office conversation. I hated it and would never want to manage from a cube again.

        It was a perk important enough to OP to address it in hiring negotiations, and the company went back on their agreement.

        We recently moved offices, and a number of people who had offices in the old building have deluxe cubicles in the new one. People are very unhappy about it, and I won’t be surprised if some quit. The new place is also 80% glass, which many people hate.

      7. Clisby*

        It’s an extremely valuable perk that the company agreed to. What if LW had negotiated $10,000 more in pay, arrived to onboard, and was told, “Ha! We were just kidding about that $10,000!”?

      8. Anonymous Hippo*

        I don’t understand why people are judging their wanting to have an office. I’m pretty sure if you negotiated an additional $5K/yr and the company reneged the first week nobody would be reacting this way. To me, an office is worth a lot more than $5K a year. Even offering the solutions of a cubicle or remote doesn’t necessarily cover it, a person would be completely justified in not accepting a choice of additional vacation or shorter work hours in place of the $5K in my example.

        I personally feel like people are judging this from a “you should be grateful to have a job” angle and not “you get to decide your worth in the marketplace.”

    3. Not Australian*

      I don’t think we need to police OP’s word choices, do we? OP is clearly feeling aggrieved, and to a certain extent perhaps also betrayed, and is entitled to feel any way about it they may choose. Whilst you may not think you would feel the same way in the circumstances, we should be courteous enough to accept OP’s word for it and not try to reinterpret their words to suit ourselves.

    4. Ryn*

      This is all being taken so, so much more personally than it needs to be. From every perspective.

    5. Nia*

      Whole lot of real gross stuff in the comments today. Nobody would be batting an eye if this was over negotiated salary or insurance but someone negotiates an office and suddenly everyone’s acting like they’re a diva.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yep, agreed. Come on, y’all, this is normally a group that’s much more supportive of workers’ right to expect explicitly negotiated agreements with employers to be honored.

        1. Grapey*

          I don’t see anyone against honoring agreements. I do see an unspoken agreement that workers with equivalent roles shouldn’t get over the top requests accommodated. If I learned my manager gave a new hire with my role 2x what I’m making, I’d be 50% thinking “oh really?” about the new hire’s gumption, and 50% drafting a request to bump my own salary, and leaving if that wasn’t honored. Also, I wouldn’t hold it against whoever referred the new hire – that just seems silly and sounds like a CYA move from management for making such a thoughtless hiring decision.

          1. serenity*

            Negotiating for an office is not an “over the top” request and the subjectivity around this issue (individual offices may not be important to some people but they are to others, for a host of reasons) is making a lot of the comments today pretty unpleasant and unhelpful to read.

            1. Amanda6*

              Frankly, things are getting a bit reactionary in all directions. I’ve had to read multiple times that offices are ~essential~ for someone like me (ADHD, does programming work.) I’ve never had an office because I’ve never worked in a place that has offices available for anyone who isn’t a director or above. I’d love to have an office! Of course, almost anyone would! I can point to any number of people at my company who do important work that requires a lot of concentration, who are experienced and manage people, for whom a good case could easily be made about the importance of having an office, but it’s simply not possible because the offices are taken by their bosses.

              Not having an office is a deal-breaker for OP, and it’s all well and good for that to be a requirement of OP’s package, and it’s all well and good for OP to rescind their acceptance if that condition is no longer being met. However I can do without the comments imagining that an office being important to OP is because offices are important/necessary to other broad categories of people, because acknowledgement of hierarchy is largely missing from those comments. If programming can’t be done without an office, well, tell that to the ten programmers sitting around me. None of us will ever get an office just because we’d be able to concentrate better in one; we’d have to be promoted first.

              1. serenity*

                I think this is pretty definitionally subjective (your experience is your experience; the OP gets to decide what is important to them). That’s all I have to say on the matter.

          2. Observer*

            You have a whole lot of very personal assumptions being presented as “facts’.

            “Over the top” is hardly an objective standard. And may people have explained why a private office is important for them. Not that a private office is objectively necessary, but why it can make a real difference to reasonable people.

            More importantly, all of this talk about “accommodating” the (so called over the top) “request” ignores the simple fact that this was something that the OP explicitly negotiated for and that the company explicitly agreed to. Since when is it reasonable to claim that, absent evidence of bad faith or the like, a company gets to decide that they can renege on a commitment because the request was not reasonable or important to start with? If that’s what the company believed, the should not have agreed to it.

            To the extent that the company honored unreasonable requests, it was the coworker’s fit that was unreasonable. It is possible that the coworker did present a genuine problem, but it’s also quite possible that they are just a sour grapes grump. But in any case, that has nothing to to with the OP’s negotiated agreement.

      2. EventPlannerGal*

        I think OP was perfectly within their rights to quit if they wanted to, but saying “I’m a victim” about an office, to somebody who is upset and may suffer professional consequences over your actions, really does strike me as insensitive and a little diva-ish, yes. It’s a time and a place thing. There were better, kinder ways to say that to their friend and if OP is concerned about their professional reputation – which they specifically asked about – you have to consider things like language and tone as well as the bare facts of what happened.

        1. Courageous cat*

          Totally. They were in their rights to get what they negotiated for or leave, but “victim” is… a little extra. This whole thing was a bit more dramatic than was needed imo.

        2. A*

          Agreed. I’m on LW’s side, but that part definitely stuck out to me. Definitely a harsh stance to take with your friend. I’m assuming here that the friend could not have reasonably been expected to foresee how this would play out. If this is a common pattern of behavior for the employer and referring friend was aware, then all bets are off.

        3. Observer*

          I think OP was perfectly within their rights to quit if they wanted to, but saying “I’m a victim” about an office, to somebody who is upset and may suffer professional consequences over your actions, really does strike me as insensitive and a little diva-ish, yes.

          Yes, I agree with this. The OP’s decision to quite was perfectly legitimate, imo. Flouncing out the way they did? Not so great. The way they responded to their friend? Not good.

          1. Nia*

            Their friend conned them into taking a job with a trash company. The only thing the friend should be doing is apologizing.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              I’m sorry but I don’t see that in the letter at all, and I think that’s really ascribing a lot of malice to the friend and the company that I don’t think the letter supports. “Conned”? Come on.

        4. nonegiven*

          If the friend was a victim, it wasn’t OP’s fault, unless the friend meant they were a victim of not getting the referral bonus if OP had kept the job.

          1. Rob aka Mediancat*

            That strikes me as nitpicking the wording. The OP IS a victim, and more so than the friend — or at least more so than the friend should be. In any event, if the company’s treating the friend badly over this, that’s the company being problematic and the friend misblaming the OP.

            How is saying “I’m a victim” when one was jerked around by a company who didn’t seem to care that that they were doing it divaish in the least?

            — IT ISN’T.

        5. Delphine*

          The friend will suffer professional consequences for her company’s actions. It’s completely unsurprising that a company that would reneg on their agreement with an employee would also then blame the referring party for the employee leaving.

  13. Lacey*

    I think most people hearing about this second hand would think, “They pulled the office after 4 days!?” That’s pretty wild. I think the OP could have handled it better, but it’s so totally eclipsed by the company’s behavior that I can’t imagine most people thinking terribly of the OP.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I’d be really concerned too. If they’re so quick to go back on this agreement, could you ever really trust them when they talk about future raises and promotions. When a company tells you they’re unreliable, believe them.

      That said, I personally would have flounced in a more polite way, but maybe with a disapproving, judgmental stare.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        And vacation days and insurance coverage and all the other pieces of a full compensation package.

      2. Weekend Please*

        I agree. I don’t think that the employer was deliberately acting in bad faith, but being disorganized enough that things are promised that can’t be delivered is just as bad when it comes to building trust.

        1. Lacey*

          Eh. I worked for years for a company where the owners and management were so nice that when they went back on their word or did something that wasn’t quite right, I would think, “Well, they don’t mean to be awful, they’re just not great at management”

          But, after a while I started seeing patterns and sometimes outright admissions from the owner that… they weren’t operating in good faith. And, like I say, he admitted to trying to trick his employees when I called him on it – so he clearly thought this wasn’t a big deal, but it still wasn’t good faith either!

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Heck, I wouldn’t trust a company to act as a supplier or contractor, if word of them doing something like this got out. I wouldn’t be able to trust that they actually felt bound by any contract.

    2. Allie*

      If I heard this through the grapevine I wouldn’t hesitate to hire LW over this story. That’s just the consequences of their actions.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That, and I’d also be wondering if they really manage by who throws the loudest/worst fit. I’ve worked places like that, where whoever throws the loudest/worst/most recent fit to management is on top until the next person throws a competing fit.

      1. Batgirl*

        Exactly! If you’re mild and would rather get noticed by merit, nothing will go well.

    4. Batgirl*

      I actually think their old job welcoming them back with open arms is really the key takeaway most people will have! I mean, how can this story be bad for OP’s reputation with that detail?

  14. sub rosa for this*

    I worked at a pretty toxic place for a while that had a terrible VP who would occasionally come in and throw petty tantrums because we didn’t all start work at six AM the way he did. (We were told when we were hired that we had flex schedules, which was only sort of true. We were also told we could work 4/10s, but it turns out that was also only sort of true.)

    We’d been hurting for staff for a good long while and we’d finally made a new hire. Poor guy was only on his second or third day when one of these moods came upon the VP and he burst into our open-plan office at 6:30 AM and threw a real whangdoodle.

    New guy looks at all of us, goes “Does this happen a lot?” and we reassured him it was only a few times a year. He kind of went, “Hmm,” and got on his computer. Lunchtime comes around and he gets up and leaves.

    Apparently where he went was the HR office to resign, because we never saw him again. He was a nice kid, and I like to think he took a better offer somewhere else. None of us blamed him even one tiny bit. I think it’s fine when you dip your toe in the water, and find out the water is not to your liking, to just cut your losses and get out.

    1. holding out for a hero sandwich*

      It’s always too early in the day to get yelled at, but 6:30am is WAY too early in the day to get yelled at.

      1. Cat Tree*

        I’m not even awake at 6:30 a.m. Some people thrive in the mornings, but I’m not one of them. I love my short commute (pre-covid) and flexible schedule that allowed me to start at 8:30. I’d seriously consider leaving a job if I had to start at 6 a.m. long term.

        1. sub rosa for this*

          I originally took the job because of the flex hours and 4/10s, because I had a doozy of a commute. But every time one of these paroxysms of punctuality came on, we all had to start showing up “on time” for a while, which made life pretty much hell.

          It all got so bad that I actually quit without a backup plan, but I was foolish enough to stick it out for five years while waiting for the “partial work-at-home” carrot I was being teased with…

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, I think it’s great that we’re all different.

          I’m at my most productive in the morning, and usually at my desk by 6:30, certainly by 8 at the very latest. But I can’t get anything productive done past 3 pm unless I’m working to a tight deadline and full of adrenaline. Luckily my current job provides for a lot of flexibility and I can pretty well choose when I work, with the caveat that if I’ve accepted a meeting invite, I’m expected to attend unless there’s an emergency.

    2. the cat's ass*

      Former company hired a new director, seemed on the ball and sharp, and he quit right after the first board meeting after seeing Satan, our exceedingly quick to rage genius guy, in action. Director called HR at midnight and left a message!
      Seriously, now is better than later.

  15. CoffeeLady*

    I don’t understand how OP is a victim over not getting an office. I’ve never worked at a place where people can negotiate offices. Usually it’s just HR and upper management.

    1. Allie*

      In my workplace we are guaranteed an office as part of our union agreement.

      OP is the “victim” over having a negotiated work environment yanked for no real reason. Imagine this was something like work at home that was promised and then yanked. I have had both an office and a cubicle and it is a big difference.

      1. DEJ*

        Similarly, there was a story on here about someone who negotiated an extra week of vacation time and then the company refused to honor it. Anyone has a right to be mad under those circumstances.

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

        having a negotiated work environment yanked for no real reason

        It’s not “no real reason”! The reason is internal equity, as stated.

        What’s the business justification (other than “OP asked and at that point we didn’t see a reason why not, because there was an office not being used so we said she could have it”) to give OP the office? There isn’t one, really.

        Putting myself in the shoes of the co-worker who complained — I’d be wondering what’s next for the “favoured” new employee ahead of the rest of us. They ask to leave at 4pm when the rest of us have to cover. They get all the good projects. They really are the blue-eyed-child aren’t they!

        1. Allie*

          None of which is LW’s problem, though. They put the burden of their fix on LW. This suggests management passes on problems to employees rather than doing real fixes.

        2. Observer*

          It’s not “no real reason”! The reason is internal equity, as stated.

          The issues is that it’s not a reason that is germane to the OP.

          I happen to agree that there is a good possibility that there was a genuine issue of internal equity. But that is not the OP’s problem. The company should not have agreed to this, and if they really were blind sided that’s a bit concerning to start with. But at the very least, it should have been handled better with some attempt to compensate the OP and a real acknowledgement that the company had changed the terms of employment with no warning.

          What’s the business justification (other than “OP asked and at that point we didn’t see a reason why not, because there was an office not being used so we said she could have it”) to give OP the office?

          That’s a good enough reason right there. YOU AGREED TO SOMETHING When you agree to something, you have to honor you commitments. If the only time you honor your commitments, aka negotiated agreements is when you have a separate benefit you expect, you are not an entity I want to do business with.

    2. Foxy Hedgehog*

      OK, but this was obviously a place where you can negotiate offices. Because OP did exactly that, and then some other employee at the company did that, to OP’s detriment.

      “Victim” is a very loaded term, but OP was certainly badly treated here.

      1. Ryn*

        Yeah, I think that language choice actually might be what has so many people in the comment section rolling their eyes when they would have otherwise been sympathetic. I don’t say this to nitpick OPs word choice, but just to say that evoking victimhood over business decisions (shitty business decisions! but business decisions nonetheless) makes this seem like the OP is bringing this in the realm of interpersonal malevolence instead of business incompetence.

    3. Morticia*

      The office was part of the negotiated and agreed upon compensation package. If they are breaking the contract on the fourth day, what else will they fail to provide? Agreed upon sick days? Health insurance? Will they decide the OP doesn’t deserve the amount of pay negotiated?

    4. tg*

      Where I work they started moving from offices to open plan years ago. The first department to be renovated was the HR department. Made no sense to anyone.

    5. Nanani*

      It’s not the office, it’s the fact that they negotiated for it, had an agreement, and the agreement was broken in less than a week.
      They negotiated a thing, like all the good advice says to do, and their agreement was broken. Not even because of a need, but because someone else complained that they didn’t have the same thing – that the complainer evidently didn’t negotiate!
      What’s normal at your workplace has zero relevance.
      “I’ve never had the thing” doesn’t mean nobody is allowed to ask for it.

    6. GothicBee*

      To be fair, it sounds like the “victim” thing came in a conversation with her friend who was in tears, so the whole conversation was probably more emotional than would be normal for the context.

      If the OP negotiated for an office, then it’s on the workplace to honor that agreement. Just because most places wouldn’t or couldn’t allow employees to negotiate their work space doesn’t mean that when an employer does allow for that, they can just go back on their promise. It’s on the employer to refuse to agree to an office in the first place if they can’t honor the agreement.

    7. Bernice Clifton*

      But the LW *did* negotiate an office and they made an office available to them.

      It’s not like the recruiter didn’t have the power to promise an office and on the first day the LW was shown to a cubicle.

    8. Artemesia*

      She is a ‘victim’ because she negotiated something and it was yanked on her third day on the job. They hired her under false pretenses. She might have handled the flounce slightly better e.g. tell the boss that she negotiated this and would not stay if it were not honored, but she had already negotiated her return to the other workplace — so she really could not then agree to stay without dissing her old workplace and seriously burning that bridge. They gave her a raise after all.

      She is the ‘victim’ of their callous disregard for their agreement and she got to see how decisions get made in the new place i.e. by tantrum. She did exactly the right thing. And again, a man who did this would be seen as a hard ass standing up for his rights and not letting people push him around. This is not a bad reputation to have.

    9. Polecat*

      What is difficult to,understand? OP negotiated X as part of their offer. The company agreed to it. On day 4, the company pulled X away from OP.
      It’s not relevant what other companies do with their job offers, this company agreed to provide an office. They didn’t have to, but they did.

    10. Observer*

      I don’t understand how OP is a victim over not getting an office. I’ve never worked at a place where people can negotiate offices.M/i>

      Total non-sequitur. For one thing, just because you’ve never worked in a place where you could get an office doesn’t mean that no one below director is allowed to try to get an office or that it doesn’t exist in other workplaces.

      Secondly, it doesn’t matter what “standard practice” is or is not. If someone negotiated something that the company agreed to, having that thing rescinded is a problem. Period. Either you honor your commitments and don’t commit to things you don’t want to / can’t honor, or you’re going to have problems with employees who don’t trust you (and lose employees as well.)

    11. fhqwhgads*

      But if you can’t negotiate it there, then when OP did they should’ve said “no”, not “yes” and then 3 days later revoked it.

    12. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Here’s the thing. It’s not the office. It’s the negotiation.

      If OP had not specifically made the office a condition of accepting the offer, then yeah, I can see how this would come off as overblown. But OP specifically said “in order to accept the job you are offering me, I would need to be assigned to an office,” and the powers that be approved it. At that point, it’s the same as anything else you would have negotiated at the start of a new job, whether that’s a higher salary, extra vacation days, an ergonomic desk chair, or anything else. An employer who guarantees something to you at the time of offer and then takes that thing away after you’ve worked for them for a few days is not good.

      Victim may feel like a strong word, but I don’t blame OP for being upset about it and for speaking out of emotion when talking to their friend.

    13. Anonymous Hippo*

      I think people are trying to make victim mean something more than “this happened TO me and wasn’t my fault” ie victim of circumstances. Why are we getting tied up in knots about word usage?

  16. Lola Banks*

    Sometimes pettiness is justified!

    If this were any other benefit/comp (e.g., pto, insurance coverage, bonus $, etc.) that you negotiated for yourself, and your employer agreed to…only to take it away from you and give to another employee who complained, I don’t think we would think it petty to leave that employer immediately.

    1. jm*

      that’s a very good point. it feels like a lot of people are seeing the office as an luxury instead of something LW is entitled to because of their agreement.

    2. Heather*

      Agreed! I’m surprised more people aren’t sympathizing with the OP. For me at least, this would be right up there with being told I could flex my time or work from home four days a week and then have that revoked, i.e. a definite deal breaker.

      1. Chilipepper*

        Exactly. I dont get the “team OP is a diva,” “team employer” folks. Using the logic I see here,
        I have never worked at a place that allows flex time or work from home, including in a pandemic (and while conservatively 80% of my job can be done from home). So therefore all of you who are working from home or who won’t consider a job that allows flex time are divas.

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      Exactly!

      The company made a promise, and then immediately broke that promise. This is not a trustworthy place of employement.

    4. A*

      Yup. And I think the timeframe is really important. I’ve absolutely had terms of my employment changed after the fact due to business needs changing (no longer being able to WFH, or have flex schedule, that kind of stuff). Not fun, but fair enough. However that has only happened years after (although once it was ~9 months after being hired).

      This employer couldn’t even honor the terms for a full week. I don’t even consider that to have been honored at all.

  17. Allie*

    I’m going to side with LW here. The fact that they removed a negotiated benefit from LW because a coworker threw a fit is a huge red flag. I think LW was smart to leave. The fact that the management is being punitive to her friend is another red flag, as sometimes referrals simply don’t work out and if a single referral is enough to make them mad at friend, that’s a toxic workplace.

    Good on LW for getting out of there.

    1. Chilipepper*

      This. All red flags. Could OP have handled it better, sure. But if the OP did not have the bandwidth to do that with this company, meh, its fine.

      1. Artemesia*

        And once she renegotiated her job with the old company she had no choice but to leave. She couldn’t just quit if they didn’t honor the office deal and then stay if they changed back to giving her the office because that would burn bridges with her old workplace. Once she had negotiated moving back and the raise at oldjob, she had no choice at that point but to leave regardless of what newjob did.

        1. 'Tis Me*

          Yeah, it’s not like OP could have called up OldJob and said “theoretically, if I said I have a few questions about how reliable and trustworthy NewJob are and asked if you would be prepared to match their offer to me, and have me back, what would you say? You would? Oh, fantastic! Hang on a sec… [mute phone] If you don’t honour our agreement, I’ll walk. Yes, it is that important to me. I can keep the office? Great, thanks! [Unmutes phone] It looks like I should be OK here, but how long would the offer of returning be good for, just in case? That’s really good to know. Thanks again, all the best, bye!”

          Also, OP may have felt that everything that needed to be said in person had been said: they had asked for their agreement to be honoured, they were told it wouldn’t be and there was nothing they could do about it. Therefore the company had broken their agreement and as OP had no interest in entering into a new agreement on less favourable terms, the email was basically just confirming that, as the negotiated terms of their employment would not be honoured, there was no active employment agreement in place, and they would, therefore, not be in on the following day.

          Or even just felt that they would struggle to have a calm, professional conversation about this in person and a clean clear emailed resignation was their best option.

    2. Nanani*

      Yeeeeep.
      LW did what they’re supposed to do and advocated for themselves, negotiated for what matters to them, and got it taken away as soon as another employee complained.
      Nope nope nope. The company is full of bees, and LW does not have to stick around getting stung to make their friend in the hive look good.

    3. Elbe*

      If the company allowed the LW to negotiate benefits that one else at that level has, I think that the coworker was right to complain. I don’t blame that person at all, either. It’s the company’s job to decide what pay and benefits come with a role, and to stick to that equally among employees.

    4. GothicBee*

      Yeah, if the fact that they rolled over at the first complaint is at all indicative of the overall culture at this workplace, I can tell you it can be really frustrating dealing with that on a day-to-day basis. No one wants to work for the kind of employer who will just scrap stuff because someone complains or someone doesn’t want to deal with a little push back. And that’s not even mentioning what this might indicate about the employer’s future behavior when it’s time for a raise/bonus/whatever.

      If I was at a place that made this kind of impression within my first week, I’d probably go back to the known entity too (especially if LW was mostly happy at old job and just took this one because it seemed better).

    5. Anon Today*

      Yeah, I have to agree. And while I get that the friend who referred the LW feels burned, if I was the LW I’d be side-eyeing that professional contact, too. She’s being blasted by the company because her referral left them in the lurch? They were relying on a brand new employee to get a critical project over the finish line in the first two weeks on the job? Something ain’t right at that place. Flounce and keep flouncing.

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

      If I were an interviewer in the future and OP presented this situation to me as their reason for the ‘gap’ in their employment (although I suspect they will actually present it as a continuous period of employment so it would be moot and “I’d” never find out) I’d be inclined to ask questions like: how do you respond to changing situations? If your company came upon a period of uncertainty [+ details] what would you do? etc.

      1. Tinker*

        “How do you respond to changing situations, such as if something you negotiated as part of your offer was changed on the fourth day of the job” strikes me as an extremely informative question that I would greatly appreciate hearing from the representative of a company that I might later receive an offer from.

      2. Happy*

        I suspect that you as an employer and LW as employee would not be a very good match, anyway, so it would probably be just as well to figure that out quickly.

      3. James*

        That’s hugely unreasonable. First, they hadn’t completed their first week. I’ve taken longer vacations. And you are presuming that this indicates how they respond to any change in situations, which isn’t reasonable. If they’d been working there for two years and the company took their office away, that would be different; these things happen, for solid business reasons. But taking it away FOUR DAYS after you are brought on? Because someone else was upset by it? If you expect people to put up with that, I’d walk out of the interview. A certain amount of consistency is necessary in employment. Major changes need to be rare; having one before your first week is over is, by itself, reason to question whether you want to continue working there or not.

      4. Observer*

        If I were an interviewer in the future and OP presented this situation to me as their reason for the ‘gap’ in their employment

        What gap?

        And what exactly is your problem here. If someone told you “I negotiated terms of employment, and the employer reneged within the first week. So I left.” Would you REALLY question them?

        If I had a choice I would absolutely NOT work for an employer who questioned my decision to walk away froma job where the terms and conditions changed within the first week.

      5. allathian*

        It would probably never even come up, it’s not a lie to present it as a continuous period of employment on a resume if it was only a few weeks. Three weeks off at a time might be long in the US and Asia but it’s perfectly normal in Europe. My longest continuous vacation, not counting maternity leave, was 6 weeks one summer.

    7. Ellie*

      I agree, the company behaved really poorly to an employee who had the talent and means to leave immediately. I kind of love that. And I highly doubt that someone who had been there for four days could have caused schedule delays, they had no idea at that point if they were even going to work out. So I think the friend has been told a distorted version which has affected how she views the whole thing.

      I’d suggest mending fences with the friend, if you can, but forget the company. They sound toxic. Congratulations on getting out!

  18. Mihaela*

    Yeah so OP flounced, so what? What’s wrong with that? When the employer is not a serious one, why is it wrong to leave effective immediately?? I take it this doormat mentality needs to go already.

    1. Hello*

      It’s just that the flounce could have been a more netrual conversation, LW framed it as a big adversarial and defensive and maybe not as “lets find a way to make this work” then it could have been.

      1. Nia*

        The company made it adversarial not the LW. And there was no way for it to work. You can’t take away negotiated benefits the 4th day and expect a good response.

      2. Artemesia*

        She couldn’t ‘make it work’ once she had renegotiated her old job and raise. And she couldn’t take a stand and quit without having renegotiated her old job and raise.

      3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        When someone is unilaterally breaking an agreement with you, you do not need to help them find a ‘way to make it work’.

        In point of fact, you should absolutely NOT help them find a way to make it work. That way lies being treated like a doormat.

        1. Hello*

          I’m not sure why I’m getting pushback on this comment when Alison says “Yep — just a calm, collaborative conversation in which you make it clear that you’re trying to figure out if there’s a way to make it work or not (so it’s clear you’re considering there may not be). The OP did have a phone call with the boss, but the tone sounds different”

          1. A*

            FWIW while I am on the LW’s side overall, I agree with your stance & Alison’s comment that an additional/final conversation would have been ideal.

          2. 'Tis Me*

            Surely people who make it a habit of flouncing/being overdramatic/being unreasonable aren’t the sort of people who, having resigned and left, previous employers are generally inclined to happily take back with increased salary etc very shortly after they leave? Either:

            1) OldJob is so cliquey (with OP in the “in” group) that they can act as they please there. That they were easily rehired is a result of this dysfunction, not a positive reflection on them. (If this was the place, the friend would probably not have recommended them. Also, the OP would probably not be the sort of person to worry about their actions potentially having consequences.)

            2) Their skills are so hard to replace that they can basically dictate their terms of employment, so long as they aren’t driving away other employees, with a large company who understands their market value, having seen their contributions over the last X years, and their personality is irrelevant to this equation.

            3) They are very good at what they do, the compensation package they negotiated is a fair one for the position, and OldJob is pleased to retain/regain them because they are also a reasonable, pleasant employee who largely gets along with people, is fair and direct, and is valued for themselves as well as their skills there.

            If it’s the second or third possibility, they probably don’t need to worry – their track record (and more than likely NewJob’s dealings with other people) should serve as a stronger indication of who they are as a professional. If it’s the first, they are likely to have difficulties at some point but this incident will not be the main issue.

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      This was my thought on it as well. If OP has in demand skills, then OP can flounce if they are stepped on by the company for arbitrary reasons. It seems like OP must’ve had a good reputation with their former employer if they were willing to take OP back and give them an increased salary, so I wouldn’t worry too much about flouncing out on a flaky company.

    3. Colette*

      Flouncing is less likely to get you what you want. And in this case, it has hurt her reputation with her friend, and possibly other people.

      1. Allie*

        They weren’t going to give LW what she wanted and she got what she wanted from her old employer. Quitting early was the better thing for the employer here. LW can’t stay just for the friend.

        1. Colette*

          But what she wants includes not damaging her reputation. The office isn’t the only issue. (And who knows, if she’d had a calm conversation, maybe should would have kept the office. We don’t know, because she didn’t do that.)

          1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

            read the letter again. She did have a calm conversation with HR the first time. Then they came back and said “too bad”.

          2. Artemesia*

            She did do that. She asked, reminded them it had been negotiated and was told it was not possible. What else should she have done. SHE had the calm conversation when they told her she couldn’t keep the office.

      2. Nanani*

        Again, So?

        LW got their old job back and 4 days at the place where they break agreements isn’t going to be on their resume.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Reputation matters. At some point she’s going to be looking for a job again and reputation might really matter. And if nothing else, it sucks to have people talking about you like you’re a prima donna (and I’m not just talking about people at this company — word spreads).

          She could have left without doing it in a way that made that more likely.

          1. Despachito*

            While I agree that reputation is indeed a thing, I have two questions:

            It is really not within our power to have NOBODY trash-talk us, no matter how professionnally we behave. Some people are just jerks and will say bad things about us – are we supposed to bend over backwards and kowtow to them to stop them doing this? And if we do, will they?

            Does the credibility of the person who trash-talks us not factor in? If LW has a history of being a competent professional who gets on with most people, and one or two persons who are possibly known as toxic say she is a diva, do you really think it is likely to harm her reputation so much?

            And last but not least, thank you so much for this blog! It is like an oasis of common sense, and one of the few places I`ve come across where even controversial things are discussed honestly, justly, and where people really respect others` views. You really know your stuff, and if the atmosphere in a company was similar to that on your blog, it would be a real delight to work for.

      3. meyer lemon*

        Eh, if the company was functional, I don’t think they would be taking it out on the friend like this. I don’t disagree that it would have been better to handle this in a calmer, more collaborative way, but it’s ultimately the company that has treated both OP and the friend badly here.

    4. Elbe*

      ” so what? What’s wrong with that? ”
      …because it hurt her reputation and caused her friend distress?

      I totally get the impulse to go out with style – it would be so satisfying emotionally! – but it’s usually not the right choice to make in a professional setting, particularly when your friend who referred you still works there. There’s a ton of room between being a doormat and burning all of your bridges.

  19. Spicy Tuna*

    Several years ago, the company I worked for renovated the floor I worked on. Before the reno, I had an office with a window. In the reconfiguration, there were fewer offices with windows. The company decided that if there weren’t enough window offices for manager level employees and above, they would be given out by title seniority. In the re-org, there was one window office left. My boss said that a Director in a different department was entitled to it, but as a concession, a larger, interior office had been created for me. So, in giving up the window, I got a larger office. I was totally fine with that.

    We all move back in to our new offices and the Director that got *my* old office immediately started complaining that a) the office was too hot from sunlight coming in from the window and b) my new office was bigger than his. So I offered to switch with him and he refused, but still persisted in complaining about a) the heat and b) the size of his office relative to mine!

    1. identifying remarks removed*

      This was a long time ago but I once had a manager demand that an internal office wall be moved so that his office was the same size as his peer who had the office next door. The difference was only about a metre but the wall got moved. Needless to say that was not the only time he behaved like a petulant child.