how do I stop my boss from contacting my dad, new hire dresses too casually, and more

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

1. How do I prevent my boss from contacting my father?

My employer has contacted my father twice this year. I am a 41-year-old competent, independent woman. I did not give him permission to contact my father and never listed my father as a contact.

I took time off for health reasons earlier this year. I returned as a part-time employee. I’ve recovered (but I have a chronic disability) and now my boss is trying to guilt me into coming back five days a week. He contacted my father too say if I don’t come back or don’t come back full-time, I won’t have insurance.

I’m in the process of launching my own business and decided this was the final push to resign. In my resignation letter, I plan to address him contacting my father, stating he does not have permission to contact my dad, I’m competent, yada yada. What is your advice for preventing him doing this again?

I don’t think you can prevent him from contacting your dad — he’s shown he doesn’t respect your requests or basic business norms — and I don’t know that it’s even worth the attempt with someone who’s this ridiculous. You can try! I just wouldn’t spend a lot of energy on it or get invested in having to find a way to stop him, because it’s out of your hands (and in the hands of someone with no sense of boundaries). But you can tell your dad not to take your boss’s calls or to immediately end the call if he does answer.

2. Interviewers who want to see your Google Drive

A recruiter reached out to my friend, Jane, with a job opportunity. Jane jumped at it since she’s starting to look for work. They spoke on the phone that day. During the call, the recruiter said something like, “They love using Google Drive. Just a heads up, they tend to ask during the interview if you can share your screen to see how organized your Google Drive is.”

Jane said okay at the time but upon reflecting on it with me, she considered it strange. First, what if she doesn’t even use Google Drive? But second, that seems oddly invasive, even if it’s a digital marketing role.

Do you think this is invasive or normal? If you don’t think it’s normal, do you think it’s worth asking about during an interview process? Or should someone just take that as the red flag it is and run?

It’s invasive — and you could have private documents in there! — but it also doesn’t make sense. It’s like assessing a candidate based on how neat their desk looks to you. Someone could do great work and have a disorganized-looking desk or a messy Google Drive. And sometimes systems that look disorganized to an outsider have a method to their madness that works well for the person who uses them.

If an employer wants their employees to have organized Google Drives, they’re free to require that. But assessing people on that when they don’t work for them is silly and won’t reveal anything about what kind of work they’d do.

3. New hire dresses too casually for client meetings

I work at a small start-up with about 15 people. We all work remotely. We recently hired a new employee for my team — he is probably the youngest person in the company. We serve a pretty conservative field in terms of dress, expectations, formality — think along the lines of investment banking, law, or accounting. In internal Zoom meetings, our team wears whatever — sweatshirts, ball caps, athleisure, anything goes really. Externally, when meeting with our industry, we usually take it up just a notch — some people wear a sweater or a nice top, others stay bit more casual but would wear maybe plain t-shirt with no writing on it, and generally appearing neat. We do not have any sort of “dress code” and like most start-ups we don’t have a lot of rules in general. We work with a lot of high-powered folks externally. This new employee wears a sweatshirt with writing on it and a baseball cap for every external meeting. It’s a little disconcerting! But it’s such a delicate topic. Should I say anything or just let them be themselves?

It sounds like you do have a dress code for client meetings! You might not have needed to formalize it in the past because everyone was on the same page, but now you have someone who isn’t picking up on the unspoken playbook so it needs to stop being unspoken.

This is really common with small organizations — you can get away with less formality and structure when you’re tiny but as you add new people, you need to set them up to succeed by giving them a clearer framework for “how we do things here.” How to dress for client meetings is part of that. Let this guy know! The longer you wait to do it, the more he’s likely to think, “Why did they let me wear the wrong thing for so long?”

I’d also take this as a flag to look at whether there are other systems (or more accurately, lack of systems) that worked fine when you were five people but don’t work well now that you’re larger. (Spoiler: There are! There always are.)

4. Quitting during a busy season

I am currently about three years into my first job out of college. I work in an industry which is notoriously demanding for several months out of the year — think along the lines of 60-80 hour work weeks. This is well known up-front and in no way a surprise. The bulk of my work happens during these busy months.

Covid made for a particularly difficult year at my firm. My hours rose more often to 80-100+ hour work weeks, stress began to affect my physical and mental health, and many of the perks (such as nice catered dinners) were eliminated. There was no consideration or allowance for any current events across the last year, and no empathy for any decreased productivity. Busy season stretched on longer than what is typically expected.

My compensation is near the top of my industry, but surprisingly low for the amount of hours/education required to do this job. It is not lucrative until you become a higher-up, which is not a goal of mine.

Another busy season is approaching and I do not know if I can do it (or if I want to do it!). I have made so many sacrifices for this job that I would not want to leave with any burned bridges. But I want time to read War and Peace! I want to go to bars and clubs in my city when it’s safe to do so! I want to be able to reconnect with friends! I can not do any of these things if I stay in this role.

Can I quit a job right before a busy season without burning bridges? What about quitting in the middle of it? I am considering quitting even if I don’t have anything lined up, but then I can’t say I had something “just fall into my lap.” Do you have any thoughts for how I should approach this situation? If worst comes to worst, I could tough out one more busy season. But man I would love to have time to read some books.

There are some jobs where it’s understood that you are expected to do all in your power to avoid quitting right before or during a specific busy season and where that’s explicitly stated up-front as almost a condition of the job. In those cases, unless you’re dealing with extenuating circumstances (like a health situation or family crisis), it can burn the bridge to time your departure then, or at least can singe it.

That doesn’t mean you can’t do it anyway. You’d just want to be prepared for the possible impact on the relationship, and possibly a change to how enthusiastic their future references for you are. Also, if you’ll be applying to other jobs with these same expectations around the busy season, it’s possible prospective future employers might look askance at it too.

If it’s really just that you want time to read and hang out with friends and if this year’s busy season will be over a few months from now, I’d lean toward sticking it out through then if you can, for the longer-term benefits. But if it’s affecting your physical or mental health, that changes the calculus. In that case, you could frame it as, “Last year’s busy season affected my health, it’s not yet recovered, and I’ve realized I need to prioritize taking care of myself.”

Note: this answer does not apply to jobs without this kind of explicit agreement. Most jobs have busy times and periods where it will be less convenient for your employer if you quit then, but dealing with resignations then still remains a normal part of doing business. This answer only apples to jobs that have these types of clear, field-specific agreements.

5. Should I be honest with my boss that I’m bored and out of it?

Is it better to be honest with your boss if you are feeling disengaged/languishing/bored/out of it or is it better to benignly cover that fact up? On one hand, it feels dishonest to pretend everything is fine and I’m passionate about the work, but on the other hand, I don’t want to draw attention to myself if nobody has noticed and/or hurt my long-term prospects.

What specific outcome would you be hoping for by telling your boss that? If you’re just filling her in because it feels like she should know … no, don’t tell her. She’s going to assume you want her to act on that in some way and will start thinking about actions to take, and those actions may be ones you don’t want. But if there’s something specific you want — like a more defined path toward a promotion, a more challenging project, help with a difficult client, time off, etc. — that is actionable. In that case, focus on the specific things you want from her and not so much on the feelings themselves.

Of course, this assumes the specific things you want are realistic. If they’re not — if it’s more like “to be happy in this job, I would need to ride in on a pony every day and read Chaucer out loud while everyone works” — skip the conversation with your boss and figure out if you’d rather stay where you are, with all that entails, or start looking for a position that brings you more fulfillment.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

  1. Frank from Boise*

    OP #1 – you should track down your manager’s dad and hand him your resignation letter.

    1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

      That is absolutely brilliant. You just became my favorite person.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Seriously funny…but seriously to new readers, this is a,wish-fulfillment fantasy. Unless you will never need a recommendation from this manager ever.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I wouldn’t want a recommendation from this manager…ever. Contacting a parent of an employee is so boundary-violating that you cannot trust ANYTHING this mangler would say.

      2. disconnect*

        Honestly, would you trust this person to give someone else an accurate appraisal of your performance and capabilities? No, you would not.

      1. Carol the happy elf.*

        Frank from Boise, you have now been enthroned in the Cat Herders’ Hall of Fame. Your business suit AND your Casual Friday polo shirt and chinos will be framed with your employee parking pass, your company logo blankie for long-haul nights, your New Company Name windbreaker, and your pen collection from the mergers and buyouts.
        However, since your suggestion was too intelligent for the latest iteration of this company, we’re going to have to “Surplus” your job title and rehire you as a contractor on an as-needed basis at 37% of your current compensation package.
        Have a nice day!

  2. Caramel & Cheddar*

    LW #1, if your workplace does exit interviews, that might be an appropriate place to share both your boss calling people who are not your emergency contact, as well as guilt tripping a staff person to do more hours than it sounds like all parties agreed to. I know many workplaces require a certain number of hours worked before you qualify for insurance, but when paired with the guilt tripping, saying you’ll lose your insurance feels more like a threat than it does an FYI.

    1. rachel in nyc*

      even if dad is the emergency contact (which presumably he is), it sounds like boss was calling when it wasn’t an emergency.

      maybe boss was concerned about LW#1 but that’s something to discuss with LW#1 not call LW’s dad up.

      1. Llama face!*

        It doesn’t seem like the dad was even an emergency contact because she wrote: “I did not give him permission to contact my father and never listed my father as a contact.”
        It seems more like boundary leaping boss found the dad’s contact info on his own and decided for some bizarre sexist and/or ableist reason that he should be talking to her menfolk instead of her. Which is just… there are no words for that level of facepalm.

    2. Abogado Avocado*

      LW#1: Excellent advice.

      May I also advise that you consult with a disability rights lawyer BEFORE you resign. You have a disability, and if you work in the United States, you’re covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to what you’ve written, this boss is infantilizing you (and in the process, creating such a hostile work environment that you are leaving), by contacting your father to discuss your health status — and this is all because of your disability.

      In this situation, a competent employment lawyer may determine that it would be wise to negotiate a severance to settle all claims you have against the company. And that likely would be helpful for the business you seek to establish.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      One thing I wish had been mentioned to LW 5 was the necessity of complete honesty; specifically that you don’t need to share every thought you have about your work with your employer. LW mentioned wanting to share that they are disengaged because it felt dishonest not to share it, but that’s… not an emergency.

      Just like you don’t have to chronicle every ache, pain, and struggle when someone asks “how are you?” the fact that your work is not 100% fabulous is likely only worth sharing if your boss can do something about it, which Alison said. Work is rarely 100% fabulous. That’s why they pay you to do it. If your boss can do something, sure, say something. If you can do something to help, sure, go do it. If this job will never be to your liking and it’s best if you find a new one, start looking. But If it’s more like announcing that the nature of work is frustrating because it’s not always a party? That’s something you might just need to get used to.

      It’s not dishonest to only share something if you’re realistically expecting a solution. It’s not dishonest to keep something to yourself if it would really come off more as an entitled complaint about a very normal fact of work life. As they say, being honest doesn’t mean you share absolutely everything there is to share; it means everything you DO share is true.

      1. BRR*

        Very well put. I’ve noticed this trend among letters and comments as well. It’s fine to withhold and it’s really even fine to lie in some instances.

        1. Anononon*

          Yes, there’s definitely a subset of people who think any type of white lie or omission is unacceptable. Like, when people lie about why they need off when they’re interviewing.

          1. meyer lemon*

            I’m a bit amazed by people who actually stick to a policy of never telling small socially convenient lies or even lies by omission. I guess some people have the social graces to make that work, but I’m just picturing going through the day telling my friends that their new haircuts look terrible and I can’t talk on the phone because their stories are too boring.

            1. Anononon*

              Honestly, I think it’s the lack of social grace that causes them to do it, I think.

      2. Selena*

        Your boss is not your therapist: there is nothing dishonest about only talking about the negative things that you want your boss to fix.

        Dwelling on a general feeling of depression or boredom is just going to make your manager feel awkward around you. Which tends to hurt your career in the long term.

      3. MassMatt*

        If a report came to me talking like #5 I would immediately start looking to replace them. What on earth do you hope to accomplish with this “honesty”?

        If #5’s manager is any good, she will already be very aware that you are bored, because it is apparent in how you do your job. You are almost certainly not hiding your boredom and disdain nearly as well as you think you are.

        There are all sorts of ways to make your job more interesting, such as saying “I’d like to take on more responsibility”, or volunteering for projects to build up skills. Or maybe this job/field is not for you, in which case you search for a new job. But no one will be inclined to promote or hire someone who says, or acts, like they are bored.

        Many jobs, especially at entry level, are repetitive and dull. This is why they are entry level jobs. It’s not your manager’s or employer’s job to excite you.

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          “If #5’s manager is any good, she will already be very aware that you are bored, because it is apparent in how you do your job.”
          I’ve been bored to tears with my current job and am still putting out high quality work, garnering praise from boss and grandboss, raises, and high performance ratings.
          I hide my boredom very well and never allow my feelings to impact my work. I don’t think that speaks to my managers’ lack of effectiveness or to their business saavy at all. I’m just a good actor.

      4. Archaeopteryx*

        Plus, your boss can probably tell to some extent that you’re a little disengaged. And if you’re working so hard (and well) that she can’t, that’s not dishonest, that’s just… doing a good job even when it’s not easy! That’s a good thing!

      5. Name Required*

        I think it can be hard for some to recognize the difference between discomfort with dishonesty because of their moral values (“I want to share this because I value telling the truth”), and the discomfort with dishonesty as a trauma response (“I feel I must share this because I may get in trouble if I don’t.”).

        There are families where being unhappy is considered a sign of ingratitude, and private thoughts aren’t allowed — if you don’t feel comfortable sharing what you’re thinking about all the time, you must be thinking about something bad, right? Overlap that with values such as “idle hands are the devil’s work”, and then you yield someone who thinks they have to 100% dedicated to their job, ceaselessly grateful, and tirelessly productive. Depending on your work environment, those values can get reinforced … who doesn’t love a chipper rockstar? It’s a nest that is best untangled with a therapist, not your boss.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. Never ‘share’ anything not to your advantage at work. Being bored is only something you share in the context of ‘need more challenge’ and then only if you can imagine what that would be. Anything shared that you want a boss to remedy should focus on how you can better contribute to the business.

  3. TransmascJourno*

    This is what dreams are made of — so sayeth the greatly underrated Hilary Duff.

  4. former odditor*

    #4 sounds like tax season, cue war flashbacks… anyway, if it’s anything like that or something similar, just resign before and not in the midst of the busy time. One reason is that your manager might have already mapped out tasks to be done by the staff and you leaving during would make those plans moot and as someone who had to pick up work from an MIA auditor who left in the midst of a tax season, it sucks cause my workload unexpectedly doubled.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yes. Depends on the field of course, but one of the distinctions between why most fields are OK with leaving during busy periods is that they’re often unpredictable. In fields/jobs where the busy season is really established, it increases the expectation that you’ll leave with advanced warning if you can.

    2. Pants*

      Absolutely is tax. I still have PTSD.

      My firm, and particularly my shareholder, was angry that I had to have surgery in August, just before fall busy season. Because I had cancer. When I found out I’d need chemo and radiation afterward, they asked if I’d still be able to work during the treatment. They never forgave me for having cancer (because obviously, it was out of spite) and wound up pushing me out a year or two later.

      #4 – If you want to remain in the tax or accounting biz, give them plenty of notice. The industry is incestuous and will happily blackball you for quitting just before or during a busy season.

      1. RVA Cat*

        That’s discrimination. So sorry this happened to you.
        Those bastards would’ve expected you to keep working if you *died*!

        1. Pants*

          Funny thing is that my second in command was a breast cancer veteran! (I like veteran over survivor. We fight.) When I returned, I got to hear stories of my shareholder saying “Why me?” about my absence. So crazy. I’m 10 years out now, btw so we’re all good. Especially since I’m not doing 80 to 100 hour weeks anymore. I’m not even a CPA – I was an admin/”tax processor” there, meaning I put the final product together, checked for K-1s, W2s, filing addresses, all that crap. Our firm was for “high net worth individuals” (rich people) so it was great filling out forms for people who made literal, Capital B Billions of dollars while I was working so often I had to buy clothes because I couldn’t do laundry. Woof. So glad to be out of there.

          Regarding the discrimination thing, they were a little shifty about the push-out. They didn’t expect me to push back with legal knowledge and physical back up. It pays to have friends who are HR directors and employment lawyers. It actually paid really well. Got a hefty check in exchange for a contract promising not to sue them. AND I got out of tax!!! I feel like I won that by a mile.

      2. Van Wilder*

        I’m sorry this happened to you. I work in tax and the hours are awful but the people are extremely nice humans. We work around all kinds of medical situations, family trips, and weddings. I can’t imagine making someone feel bad for having cancer. !!

        1. Pants*

          I’m glad you’re in a good firm; it’s nice to know they exist!! I was in a boutique firm that catered to rich people. (“High net worth individuals.” *snort*) It was made very clear that we were just there to lick the boots of the clients. I am not a CPA (see above response to RVA Cat) so I was able to get out of tax completely. And now I get to go to my fave music festival every year! First weekend of October. NOT tax friendly!

          I sympathise with you so so so much! Busy season 6+ months out of every year is just insane, even if it’s split into two cycles. Trying to squeeze your whole not-work-life into those 6 months of not-so-busy is miserable. I hope they cater in really good food when you’re not working from home!

      3. Tax Nerd*

        This is definitely tax. I feel for you LW4. My workweeks weren’t as bad as yours, but my firm was. (I still feel like I just finished a 15-month busy season due to extended deadlines two years in a row.)

        Leaving right before busy season is a bit more forgivable than leaving in the middle. Leaving during busy season is a definite no-no, however (absent a health issue). The user Pants is absolutely correct that the industry is incestuous, and that you left during busy season is what they’ll whisper behind your back, not how many hours you worked for months on end before leaving.

        If you can find a new job before fall busy season gets going, try to do that. Otherwise, try to hold out until your deadline, if at all possible. Don’t half-ass it, but don’t force yourself to be in permanent overdrive for the duration, either. Definitely try to take a few days off now, if you can. I know the temptation to not use them when you’re thinking of quitting and want the payout, but your mental health is worth a few days’ pay. (And if you’re not on there, join the fishbowl app to have people to commiserate with.)

    3. Cj*

      Just finished up a tax season myself. If you are working more than 70 hours a week you are understaffed. I’d never quit in the middle of it baring health reasons, but lots of shrimps are hiring around October. So if you get a job at a different firm it won’t be unusual to leave them, and then your friend would have to replace you by January. So I won’t feel bad leaving in October or November

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          I’m assuming it means “very small firms” but I love the image of little shrimps diligently checking my taxes!

        2. Gumby*

          I was assuming an autocorrect or voice-to-text take on “temps” but I am tickled at the idea that it is literal shrimps. I bet they work for less than minimum wage.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Lol I work in tax and I’ve never heard of shrimps. I wish I could say it were slang, though.

    4. The Original K.*

      Tax season was my first thought – I know my accountant (owner of a firm with about 15 employees) has catered dinner brought in for his staff during that time. Turnover there seems to be pretty low. I can think of one person who left in the 6 years they’ve been doing my taxes, and I think he left in the fall, so after the busy season. Not sure if he planned it that way but I’m sure they all appreciated it.

      1. PT*

        Since we’re in May I was thinking youth programming. Summer is coming up. First day of camp is going to be June 1 in the South, June 7 on the West Coast, and you’re looking at June 21-25 in the Northeast.

        If your camp director gives notice May 25 you are screwed. Even if you’re the Northeast (late June start) and not the South or West (early June start.)

        1. Family of Accountants and Lawyers*

          It’s tax. Tax season got extended this year, which totally tracks with LW 3’s comments re season being longer than usual.

    5. Selena*

      Yup: if OP can’t do it than it’s probably better to quit beforehand instead of doing tasks only half-way.

    6. Jenna Webster*

      And they really should write it into a contract. I have a friend who owns his own tax/bookkeeping company, and it is written into employees’ contracts that they get no bonus if they leave the company between January 1 and April 15. Those bonuses are pretty hefty, but they are mostly to reward the work that is done during crazy time.

  5. Heidi*

    It never occurred to me that a t-shirt with writing on it was less formal than a t-shirt with writing. Does it matter what the writing is?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      T-shirts with writing are on the very far end of the Informal Shirts spectrum. Doesn’t really matter what the writing is unless it’s something like discreet company branding.

      1. disconnect*

        Ok but what about “sweatshirt with writing” v. “t-shirt with no writing”?

        1. A Person*

          It depends a lot on the shirt itself, the fabric, what the cut is like…. Just the fact that it’s cotton jersey (thin knit cloth) is a strike against it for formality. Having a crew neck and stretchy cuffs (like a sweatshirt would) makes it completely informal because it’s similar to athletic wear.

          The crap here is that “formal” clothes tend to be less comfortable than casual clothes. They also tend to be pickier about laundry needs. And there’s a crap-ton of class stuff packed into that.

          In MY opinion, a long-sleeve single-color t-shirt with plain hemmed sleeves is equivalent to a sweater, and both are a step down from a button-up shirt. And that’s what I mostly wear once folks have gotten to know me at a new job (the t-shirt, that is). The trick for me is remembering to track which shirts have gotten tiny cat-claw holes in them and designating them as at-home-only shirts. And one way I do that is to have “work shirts” and “home shirts” even though they’re the same style of shirt.

    2. muddled*

      Not the writing per se but more on hmm perspective thing I guess? Like how plain anything looks more formal, an example I can think on top of my head is Steve Jobs with his plain black turtleneck. If it had a writing on it, it would have had a different appeal than it had as a plain shirt.

      1. aspiring chicken lady*

        LW1 may have some leverage to stop their boss on the grounds that they are being pressured/harrassed/discriminated against due to a disability.

        I took short term leave once and was getting calls from my boss about “temporarily ” turning in our standard issue phone and laptop so she could give them to a new hire. A quick call with an “innocent “question to HR about why this request was made and resulted in a swift nip in that bud.
        LW1 did not give that boss permission to discuss private health information with a third party. Period. This goes against all kinds of HR policies and could be legally protected under disability law.

      2. Chinook*

        Plain absolutely looks more formal than patterned. When I shop at eshakti, I can buy the exact same style of dress in plain colour, with embroidery or with printed material and they all have different vibes even though they are the exact same dress (and the content of the pattern or the embroidery does matter). Ditto for dark vs. light.

        One can argue that this is cultural, though I think some if it is also about what you are drawing attention to (dark colours, plain white and lacking pattern definitely fade away from awareness much more easily and allows for more focus on the person) but it doesn’t change the fact that writing on anything will always look more casual, regardless of the cut or fabric.

    3. Blue*

      I genuinely do think that, especially on a zoom call, a plain t shirt in a neutral color can read as polished or at least blend in. Any kind of logo or writing is going to scream casual. Think of a plain black v neck vs a black v neck with a big ol white nike swoosh on it. Very different vibe imo.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        I tend to agree. On the majority of days, I don’t have any video meetings, so I wear whatever t-shirt is handy. Which could be, depending on what’s on top of the drawer: a t-shirt from a science fiction convention, a snarky t-shirt, or something else random. But on the days I do have video calls, I wear a t-shirt with no writing and usually make sure I have on at least a bit of eye makeup. If an unexpected meeting crops up, I usually have time to go change shirts. Unless it’s just a quick chat with a coworker, in which case I don’t bother.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. Think plain white, black or colored t-shirts versus the t-shirts with band names, sport teams, free 5k run logo, or just anything. It can be a beautiful image and still look more casual the a plain t-shirt.

      It’s not a huge step up by itself but if you put on a professional looking jacket that steps it up a bit more.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My tees with designs are from museum shops, historical sites, or national parks, and I’d still feel weird wearing them at work unless we were having a manual labor day, like moving furniture.

      2. Rez123*

        Plain t-shirt can be assecorized to look quite formalish, Mancester United shirt would be a bit more of a challenge :D

        1. londonedit*

          Now I’m going to have to try accessorising my Manchester United shirt to make it formal…(as long as we win tomorrow night, obviously…)

        2. Mary Bennet*

          As a Chelsea fan, I feel that would be inappropriate attire at all times ;-)

          1. Rez123*

            As a Spurs fan I obviosuly meant that ManU shirt specifically is hard to accesorise ;)

    5. allathian*

      I don’t think so, unless the writing is so small it can’t be seen on camera. The only exception is probably employer-branded clothing that can be required in some roles, especially in customer service. When I think of t-shirts with writing, they’re often fandom t-shirts (rock bands, sports teams), or the sort of athleisure or sports clothing where the brand name’s written in anything from a 50 to a 500 point font, those were hugely popular among middle-school and high school kids a few years ago. They read as significantly less formal than plain t-shirts to me. The same thing can be said for any shirts with political statements on them.

    6. SwiftSunrise*

      I work at kind of an upscale bookstore, and my dress code has gotten SIGNIFICANTLY more casual since we switched over to curbside pickup and online shipping only because of the pandemic – from dresses, skirts and black pants to jeans, Keds, and various sweaters/t-shirts/casual tops.

      But writing on the t-shirts is the hard line I haven’t crossed, and I hadn’t even realized it!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Hugs (if you want them) or just a respectful bow. Bookstores are awesome and important parts of their communities. (I do my little bit by paying a small fee for annual membership and doing almost all book shopping at my local independent bookstore.)

    7. Beth*

      In general, I guess t-shirts with writing or an image printed on them do come off as slightly less formal to me than plain solid-colored t-shirts, regardless of what’s on them…but it’s such a marginal difference, because t-shirts in general are already on the very low end of the formality spectrum that I wouldn’t think to wear ANY kind of t-shirt in a context where formality is a consideration. In a place like OP’s, I’m not sure I would’ve picked up on the nuance either! (Or rather, my everyday wardrobe is more formal than this person’s, so I’d probably be fine…but just by coincidence, not because I’d caught on to the unspoken client meeting dress code.)

      1. BubbleTea*

        My school decided to shift from uniforms to business casual for the upper years and sought input from the student council. The staff wanted to include a rule that said girls had to wear blouses or shirts, no t shirts or other tops without buttons, under a blazer or smart jacket. I pointed out that of all the female staff in the room at that meeting, only one of them would meet this standard.

        I didn’t stay on at that school but I believe the uniform policy ended up allowing plain non-buttoned tops under blazers for girls. My legacy! (I was probably a bit of a nightmare but if you’re going to ask for input, you will get input.)

        1. Annika Hansen*

          Thank you from all the busty women. I can rarely find a button-down shirt to fit unless I get the shirt so enormously big in the shoulders and neck that it looks ridiculous.

        2. MassMatt*

          Did the boys have to wear blazers, and shirts with buttons under them? Sexism in school dress codes is a huge thing. I just read a story about a school that surreptitiously photoshopped over the chests of many of the girls’ yearbook photos. Meanwhile the boy’s swim team posed in their speedos.

      2. Brent*

        A plain shirt in a dark color fits well in business casual settings with a blazer, with a pair of slacks or a pencil skirt..

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          I once worked at a company whose dress code explicitly stated that we were required to wear “collared shirts”. Now, they were not unreasonable about this – the necklines of sweaters and turtlenecks were considered to be collars as far as the dress code went.

          One day one of the higher ups in HR stopped by the help desk for something. He was wearing a blazer over a nice solid color T-shirt. One of my co-workers asked him about this, and he explained that the collar of the blazer meant he was complying with the dress code. But if he took the blazer off, he would be in violation.

      3. Jessen*

        Depends on how you’re styling the t-shirt. One of my go-to business casual outfits for a while was a plain fitted t-shirt, slacks or a nice skirt, and a scarf or statement necklace. Plain t-shirts, especially fitted ones, form a sort of blank canvas that can be elevated or not depending on the rest of the outfit.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Explicit, violent, & offensive garments are specifically disallowed by our dress code. Politics is…not included in the paperwork but discouraged by company culture.
      (‘Garments’ because hats & sweatshirts & more can have the same issues.)
      “Artistic” graphic prints with cursive or otherwise hard to read text are pretty common. The cut & fabric also matters–I only see sports jerseys near big games, for instance.

    9. Sparkles McFadden*

      A plain T-shirt is ignorable. A T-shirt with writing draws attention, so it’s “not for work.”

    10. Tizzy*

      I had a student job while in college where our dress code was pretty casual, but we couldn’t wear t-shirts with writing or blue jeans. (Plain t-shirts and black jeans were ok though.)

    11. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Companies usually have policies about ‘no visible writing’ on apparel other than a designer label because they learned the hard way that some employees don’t use good judgment.

      A long-ago employer had to add that clause to their casual work attire policy because an employee came to work in a T-shirt with ‘Screw Japan!’ on it. He put up a fuss about freedom of speech and self-expression, which was easily shot down. When he said our dress code policy didn’t say anything about messaging or writing, he had his loophole.

      99.999% of the time people are appropriate in their choice of attire. But there’s always someone…

      1. Artemesia*

        Of course a company is not required to allow ‘self expression’ or ‘free speech’ at work.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          You and I know that, but many people don’t. In fact, many people think their employer should not only let them ‘speak their mind’ but give them a microphone while doing it.

    12. Smithy*

      I think that a main caveat to this is that with traditional men’s clothing, writing is very often far more obvious as more casual than women’s clothing.

      There’s certainly a niche of women’s clothing that includes prints with cursive on cotton and even more traditionally formal fabrics that do not register the same as a shirt with a university name/logo on it. I wouldn’t even put it past women’s clothing to have silk shirts with embroidered text, that even if it said University of Llama, could still read as fairly business formal.

      While I completely agree that the most common definition of “t-shirt with writing” falls to the far end of the Informal Shirts, if you’re a woman….there’s the potential for more blurry lines.

    13. More anon today*

      A YouTuber I regularly watch almost always wears a t-shirt with writing on it, and a blazer over it, and it is just the weirdest look to me. Like, this is a nerdy YouTube channel, I’m not going to judge you for what you wear at all, and definitely not for nerdy relevant t-shirts, but the combination just looks odd to me. Plus then I can’t actually read the t-shirt.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I have a large collection of novelty and concert T-shirts that I wear at home and throw on a blazer before Webex meetings to look a little more corporate. Turns out people liked my vintage concert shirts – Pink Floyd, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Eric Clapton got me some cool-points. They also like my ‘message’ shirts. Nothing political, more about music and the arts.

        I didn’t know Nerd Cool was a thing, but I guess I’m part of the trend.

      2. FD*

        Technology Connections?

        Yeah, I feel like he can get away with it because it’s clearly A Choice, with the printed t-shirt and the dated brown plaid blazer but I think that’s one of those things you can only pull off as An Internet Person.

      3. SnapCrackleStop*

        As a woman who works in Tech, this is definitely A Look. Purple blazer + Welcome to Night Vale Tee is my favorite combo.

      4. AnonInCanada*

        Too many YouTubers these days wear whatever merch they want to move. And yes, it’s tacky watching them wear it exclusively.

          1. disconnect*

            Because it’s another bit of individualism being willingly discarded in service of Capitalism.

            1. Simply the best*

              Not everybody really thinks of their clothes as an outlet for their individualism. I wear clothes that are comfortable. If the merch I’m selling is also comfortable and I have it for free, you can bet your ass I’m wearing it all the time.

    14. Golden*

      Haha, this makes me think of the snarky t shirts that were really popular in 2005-2010ish with sayings like “I can only please one person a day; today is not your day”.

      Something tells me that isn’t what the letter is about, but still funny to think about in a work context.

      1. Artemesia*

        My favorite was ‘I am getting in shape; the shape I have chosen is the triangle’ — but wore it to the gym not to work where a black fitted T was pretty much my uniform in warm weather.

      2. school of hard knowcs*

        I want this one after “I don’t know how to act my age, I’ve never been this age before.”

    15. SeanT*

      I have plain solid colored T shirts and long sleeved shirts, and then I have a black tee with Crow T Robot on it stating he wants to decide who lives and dies, I tend to not wear that one for more formal Zoom calls.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        Flashing back to someone wearing Big Johnson t-shirts to work (remember those?) and stating they were ok because it wasn’t specifically in our dress code that graphic t’s weren’t allowed.

    16. Koalafied*

      One way to think about it is that, essentially, you don’t want your appearance in general to be making any kind of statement other than, “I can present myself neatly.” Text is literally a message. It says “I like X thing” or “I went to X event” or just “I’m conspicuously brand conscious” (for very large logos/branding).

      Even more broadly, it’s sort of the same reason you don’t send business emails with non-standard fonts and a teal background or write “Stay gold” in your email signature, and why – outside of pandemic times, where this one has loosened of necessity – people who work from home were typically advised to make their background as neutral as possible. You want your audience to be focusing on the content of your conversation/writing – not picking up subtle clues about your personality and private interests from the messages that are in/around/behind/scrawled on/added to the business purpose message.

    17. Gerry L*

      Later this week I will be doing mock interviews with students from a local high school. On Zoom this year, due to Covid. I’ve already been thinking about what I should wear to make sure the kids get the right message from how I look for this exercise. It will be interesting to see how many have already “gotten the memo” about what they should wear, at least from the waist up.

      1. Chinook*

        I had this discussion with my remote adult students who were transitioning from either blue collar jobs or jobs that wore scrubs to office ones. Both make and female, they were often wondering what to wear in an office as they literally maybe only saw the office staff once or twice a year. As a result, I made sure to model office norms and share where to buy when asked (never in a way that benefits myself) so that, even if they never ask, they can see what someone who works with a computer may wear.

  6. Blue*

    A lot of things about a dress code can be delicate, but “don’t wear a cap when in external meetings” does not seem remotely so. I am worried about what other basic aspects of the workplace the LW may be dancing around in ways that will leave new employees clueless at best, set up to fail at worse.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yeah, I want to push back on that and shout at the LW “just talk to him.” There’s nothing delicate about that dress code correction. A dress code in and of itself is not delicate.

      If you’re getting into discussions of underwear or policing woman’s bodies that can be delicate and problematic, but you’ve got to dress up a bit more when meeting with clients isn’t at all delicate or problematic. Speak up.

      1. Beth*

        Agreed, dress codes can be nuanced and delicate to discuss but OP’s situation doesn’t come anywhere near that level. This is a quick, straightforward policy update: “As we’re growing, we’ll need to formalize more things to keep everyone on the same page. Bear with us as we sort these out! In that spirit, here’s our updated dress code. Going forward, casual wear is fine for internal-only days. For client meetings, though, please follow these guidelines: ___.”

        1. Rez123*

          Yeah. Also, it doesn’t mean thay you need to introduce a written dress code. It can be a casual let people know the expectations without going into specifics.

          1. introverted af*

            I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to take the time to see a problem, find a solution, create expectations for future behavior and share it with the staff, you should write it down. Especially in the realm of dress codes, which can be really obtuse if you just say it’s “business” or something.

            Case in point – my former job in a small nonprofit was “business casual.” Blue jeans were ok, we had work polos or cardigans you could wear with them most of the time although my tshirt with our logo on it was acceptable most days too. Occasionally when speaking to the public or the board of directors you would dress up more. My current job in a larger nonprofit is also “business casual” but jeans are never ok, even black jeans get looked at askance. My logo cardigan over a plainer shirt with pants is pretty much my uniform since I’m in office most of the time, but our fundraising staff frequently wear suits and ties. Fortunately, my current job provided a great dress code as part of the handbook with examples and expectations, and I picked up more nuances the longer I was there.

            1. Rez123*

              I’m the opposite. I really dislike written down rules regarding appearance and it is a massive turn off for me. It turns me into a teenager who wants to rebel against. It makes me lowkey angry whenever I read about dress rules. I’m fine with an instruction like “we usually wear suits to client meetings” but there is something about it being written down that makes me mad. I totally understand why others might prefere it, but it really does not work for me.

              1. LTL*

                Without written rules, managers will have to spell out the dress code for multiple new hires and/or new hires will be left guessing. If a business has a rule, it’s easier for everyone if it’s written down in an accessible place.

                1. LTL*

                  Wanted to add, it also ensures that said rules are being applied fairly and consistently.

                2. UKDancer*

                  Definitely. All of ours are in the staff handbook for example. I don’t always like the rules at work but I accept they need to exist and I need to know what they are. If I really don’t like the rule then I know what the process is for seeking to change it and can decide if I want to expend personal capital seeking to do so.

                  But I think you need to write them down somehow so everyone is starting from the same place and knows what the baseline is.

                3. Rez123*

                  That’s fair enough. I can understand why people think it’s good. It really does not work for me (the rules in schools are even worse) and thankfully I’ve been able to avoid it in my seducation and professional career. I can understand that it’s a me problem :)

                4. Koalafied*

                  This can backfire though, when what you write down is too specific and detailed, and you get the amateur lawyers who want to litigate whether Item X was really disallowed because of Technicality Y. Then someone in HR decides to add Item X to the list of disallowed items and before you know it you have a 2-page document that is so specific that by its nature it communicates “everything not on the No list is fair game or else it would be listed here” (or the opposite, “everything not on the Yes list is prohibited”).

                  General Motors famously condensed their dress code, which had grown to a staggering 10 pages long due to this culture of “if it’s not explicitly in writing it’s not enforceable,” into two words: “Dress appropriately.” Employees are allowed to exercise their own judgment and pick clothing in which they’re comfortable, and managers can coach them if they cross a line. That’s clearly an extreme swing in the other direction, and if there are a few hard and fast, simple rules that you can anticipate might need clarification because they can vary from place to place, like “jeans are not considered business casual,” or, “no visible tattoos,” then it probably makes more sense to put that in the dress code and save people the trouble of asking or getting it wrong.

                  Whatever you end up putting in writing, it does need to have some flexibility built into it that trusts employees to exercise some judgment (which can also help avoid inadvertent discrimination, like with leaders who are unfamiliar with religious garb in some minority cultures and fail to account for it in a detailed policy, for instances) and gives managers the space they need to coach employees on dress without feeling like they can only address things that are explicitly mentioned in the dress code.

              2. Lenora Rose*

                I dislike written rules that are *overly specific* for this reason (something like “Do not wear spaghetti straps” makes me think of kids — GIRLS, let’s be honest — sent home to change clothes in high school, and I don’t even wear spaghetti straps), but a polite written “We prefer business casual overall, and please no jeans” or “We’re casual among ourselves, but please dress a bit more formally for client meetings” tends to point people in the right direction in advance of issues without being too demanding.

        2. Mockingjay*

          It really is a simple conversation. Dress code is one of the few things ExToxicJob got right. Most of the time it was casual or business casual, since the facility included engineering labs and a warehouse. Before a big meeting or presentation, an email would go out to staff: “Here’s the draft agenda, please review. Dress is formal business. Please park in the back lot so the VIPs can have the front spaces…” Everyone turned out appropriately without having to delve into specifics of what to wear: suits, tailored dresses and heels (Ann Taylor/Talbots type stuff), slacks and blazer.

          A heads-up might be all the new employee needs. A reminder email to staff a few days before the meeting can also help.

          1. Koalafied*

            Yep, or just adding a line: “Dress is formal business. (If you’re uncertain whether a specific outfit qualifies, ask HR or your manager for guidance.) Please park in the back…” You’ve made a resource available to those who need it – like a new grad in their first job, or someone from a working class background who hasn’t had much exposure to formal dress, for instance – without hamstringing people who are already equipped with the knowledge to dress appropriately.

      2. Czhorat*

        Also if it is a young, new team member this is a normal part of mentoring. In the beforetimes, if I were taking a rookie to a client meeting I’d grab him the day before and say something like “client tomorrow, let’s wear jackets and ties”, or “casual client this time. Jackets, no necktie” or whatever feels appropriate to the situation.

        One thing I promise – the person isn’t going to get it it if isn’t, at some point, explained to him. So.. just take a moment.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Absolutely! You do a new-to-the-workforce (or new to this kind of job) person no favors by not telling them this stuff explicitly.

        2. Smithy*

          Absolutely this. And also….if this is a field with some more nuanced pieces to external meetings dress codes, then it’s particularly worth it to NOT rely just on a written dress code to explain those pieces. Clothing that is “neat” or “polished” is not going to be automatically intuited. Or the fact that someone’s Shirt A reads as more formal throughout the day because it’s of heavier material whereas Shirt B being a lighter color/thinner material begins to wrinkle over the course of normal wear.

          This isn’t about someone losing their job for showing up in button down shirt that appears too big, a bit wrinkled and with pants that don’t quite match. Rather, it’s about mentoring someone to succeed in an external facing role to the best of their ability, style and wallet.

        3. Sandman*

          Yes, exactly. I cringe when I remember what I wore to my first job (working in a state legislative office, so a very formal environment), and yes it did include printed t-shirts. How I didn’t pick up on what everyone else was wearing I don’t know, but I really could have used a lot more explicit guidance than I got in those days.

          1. UKDancer*

            I don’t think it’s just you. I did a summer placement at a law firm as a student and one of the partners had to tell me to wear longer skirts and less sheer blouses. I had I think drawn on Hollywood and Ally McBeal a bit much in planning my work wardrobe. She was very embarrassed to have to have the conversation but I was really glad she did because I actually learnt from this the right sort of thing to wear to this type of white collar job in a setting where the overall impact of my bad dress choices was fairly low.

            I think students can be a bit oblivious to subtle hints (I know I was) so it’s better just to give them guidance more explicitly than you might have to do with a more experienced staff member.

        4. ScruffyInternHerder*

          Ah, this brings back memories!

          Two interns. They showed up the first day in “full business”. Typically we fell somewhere between “dress pants and no tie” and “dark wash jeans” on the spectrum of dress code in the office.

          Then the day where I said “field trip tomorrow: wear jeans that can get dirty, company polo, AND bring work boots. If you don’t have work boots, let me know and I’ll reschedule!” Apparently I was joking? Sneakers. For an active construction site. They showed up in sneakers instead of letting me know to reschedule. We started the morning at the boot shop with me having corporate credit card in hand. (And this is how I got the nickname ScruffyInternHerder…)

          To their credit, they never again thought I was kidding or joking about a directive, so it was a good lesson for the first month!

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            (Point of clarification: the corporate policy was to cover the cost of appropriate jobsite work boots for interns. They’re expensive and the company felt it an unreasonable expense for the interns to incur personally. If I’d had to reschedule, I’d still have likely dragged them to the same boot shop as its who we used.)

          2. Mannequin*

            I love that you got the nickname from having to deal with interns that actually weren’t scruffy enough for your industry.

        5. pleaset cheap rolls*


          One of my best professors in library school did the same with us before a class visit to a series of libraries.

          At the same time, a student club I was in also organized visits to libraries (to spark ideas about careers) and one guy wore shorts and flip flops to a visit to a corporate library. WTF. I guess we should have guided him – but we were just students too.

        6. Chinook*

          Exactly. My mother was a town councilor who had a brief chat with our new mayor (who was my age) who ended up on national tv wearing an old golf shirt because an emergency happened while he was golfing (and he had enough sense not to waste time to go home and change). At the first town meeting after the media scrum, she took him aside and mentioned that he may want to have an “emergency business outfit” in his car at all times. The guy looked much more polished on tv going forward but I don’t know if he would have thought about it if someone hadn’t spoken up.

          She said she did it because, when she was a school board chairman, the school board chair for the other system in town (also a woman) took her aside and gave her similar advice about presenting herself in a polished manner. Both my mom and that mayor came from blue collar backgrounds where a “public face” is not something you had to think about and could have easily been left to look like unpolished hicks, which can then lead to not being taken seriously by the public they represent.

    2. Sara without an H*

      OP#3’s situation is probably complicated by relying on office culture norms that were established when everybody was working in an office. The new hire has mostly experienced the job as remote work. The little cues he/she would pick up in an office just aren’t there.

      OP#3, please talk with your new hire ASAP about what to wear for external client meetings. “Business casual” is vague terminology — spell your expectations out.

      And I second Alison’s advice to start looking out for unwritten rules that really need to be written down. Your firm is getting too big to rely on oral tradition as an onboarding routine.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        One other point on unwritten rules: it sounds like you are waiting for the new employee (who may be relatively new to this type of client interaction) to pick up on items that you feel are important. Management does not work that way. It’s YOUR role as a manager to give them the information and guidance needed to succeed. Waiting for them to pick up on subtle hints is not effective management.

        In other words, if you want them to learn the unwritten rules, write them down and share them.

      2. Artemesia*

        We have apparently lost the war that hats including baseball caps are not worn indoors (although fancy women’s hats at afternoon tea or weddings or church are an exception)
        but we ought to be able to make it clear to the the Youngs who have never heard that rule, that it is not appropriate in client zooms or in the actual work meat space.

        And yeah, you have to tell people. I still shudder at what I thought was appropriate to interview in for y first big professional job. Still got it, but if it had been a more formal field, it probably would have done me in. I didn’t grow up with any of those norms.

        1. Chinook*

          This is one of the hills I will die on. Unless you work in an environment where things may fall in your hair, if the hat can easily be removed, then it should be removed either when entering the building or in a meeting or at a dinner table.

          Fancy hats that require your hair to be pinned in (which includes various types of religious hair coverings) fall into the category of “can not be easily removed” but toques, beanies, baseball hats and cowboy hats do not.

          The reasons are practical – I want to see your eyes/face when we talk and “easy to remove” is an clear line to draw.

    3. Quinalla*

      I had the same thought, this isn’t really a delicate dress code situation. There are those for sure, but this is an easy one!

    4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      This stood out to me. Giving a new employee guidance on what to wear at a client meeting isn’t a delicate subject. It’s a completely normal part of onboarding. This makes me wonder, OP3, why you feel this is so delicate. What other normal aspects of business has your very small company decided are too sensitive for discussion?

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        I kind of wonder if OP is new to managing or the company is so small/informal that she hasn’t really had to do much managing before this. It’s the comment about “should I just let them be themselves” – it’s just kind of an odd way to think about something like this. You’re not there to be this person’s friend and let it all hang out, OP – you’re leading a team and when you’re in external client meetings you’re all representing the company. It’s fine to ask this person to not be 100% themselves if that would involve them wearing a ball cap to meet with high-powered clients in law or banking.

        1. Selena*

          I assume the ‘let them be themselves’ comes from newspaper stories about f.i. black people fighting a dresscode that forces them to look more white.

          Which is a completely different issue than what OP is talking about: there is nothing wrong with expecting employees to dress up for important meetings. And ‘plain shirt, no cap’ is not a dresscode that will make any ethnic group feel repressed.

          1. Chinook*

            I was going to disagree but then I think of the dress shirts worn by First Nation Chiefs and almost all of them still fall into the “plain shirt” category with their cultural expression available either in the vest (whether seal or leather with optional beading or embroidery) or with ribbons in straight lines.

      2. UKDancer*

        Definitely. I would always rather someone told me what sort of things to wear for which sort of meetings “we’ve got the big bosses coming over so it’s a best suit day” or “we’re going out to see the llama grooming sheds so wear steel toe capped shoes and hi vis” or “we’ve got the llama groomers awayday, casual clothes are fine because we’ll be moving around practising grooming techniques.”

        It’s much easier in my view when you’re new to a company if someone tells you directly and clearly what the rules are rather than expecting you to deduce them.

        1. Momma Bear*

          Absolutely. Spell it out! I had an old boss that was very direct about it and would say “This is a suit and tie meeting”, which was appreciated. I had a boss before that who took away jeans on Friday because they didn’t want to tell one of our new hires that they’d gone a bit too casual on Casual Friday. The problem with “business casual” is that it leaves a lot of room for interpretation and not everyone picks up on hints. Just let him know he’s expected to wear x or y type clothes for client meetings going forward.

    5. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I wonder if maybe the guy came from a much more conservative company, and concluded that your dress code is “do whatever you want” because that’s what it looks like from his perspective. I struggled with that myself at a past employer where my initial impression of “holy crap, you can say whatever you want at this place” came from a sharp contrast with my last few employers (and ended up getting me in trouble a few times).

    6. Caliente*

      I’m glad other people are saying this because I was practically distressed at OP thinking this is some delicate topic. That’s so odd. Some of the other wording was kind of interesting though, also. It’s just a job OP, like other jobs, just handle things, tell people things they need to know. I feel like startups want to be super special but…it’s just a job/business y’all.

    7. JRR*

      Ironic that LW is complaining of the employee being too informal, when it’s the employer who has failed to formalize their dress code.

    8. RagingADHD*

      It’s been +/- 6 years since I worked in finance or law, but I would never associate t-shirts (plain or otherwise) with the formality level of law and finance! Casual Friday (if we got it) = a polo or short-sleeve button-up with khakis, no jeans. Or a cotton print dress (with sleeves or a cardigan) instead of a tailored dress. That kind of thing. I’m sure things are different when working remote, or maybe stepped down a notch for in-person stuff. But that’s still a huge gulf between normal weekday wear and what’s being described here. I’m finding it hard to imagine that things have changed that radically in the interim.

      I think an overall fuzziness about what is formal or casual may be part of the problem.

  7. Mark Roth*

    For #2, if they “require” seeing a google drive, what if that leads to problems? I have a google drive. And I only use it for work, through a work provided email, to store work related materials.

    There are no good outcomes from that scenario.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, it’s odd to say the least. Oh well, at least I’m in the EU and I suspect that here it would be questionable if not downright illegal for GDPR-related reasons to ask to look at someone’s private Google drive.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Yup. Under data regulations I’m not allowed to ask for that any more than I could ask to see all the contents of your home PC’s hard drive. Or what kind of post gets sent to your house. Or demand to be friended on Facebook so I can scan all your locked posts…etc.

        (Additionally, who has the time?!)

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        This doesn’t seem like a company that’s troubled by little things like “privacy laws” in interviews.

    2. PollyQ*

      It’s no different to me than asking an applicant to show the inside of their purse or wallet. Hugely intrusive for nearly no gain. If the employer really wants to know how people organize things, they can just ask the applicant to describe their file storage philosophy, or even do an exercise and ask them to organize a bunch of files in a drive.

      1. Allonge*

        This! Also: I am a librarian, but at home I don’t store my books according to author’s last name (I will admit to having subject collections). That says precisely nothing about my ability or willingness to do either at work. If a company wants to have a specific filing system, it’s just a manual and some training away.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          My oldest friend is a university librarian and her bungalow has literal piles of books on the floor. No organisation in it. Conversely I enforce data structure regulations at work but my home PC has a tendency toward folders named ‘misc’ with over a gig of pictures in them.

          1. Alex*

            I have a pile of shame that is three folders deep called “unsorted (or a derivative of that)” with pictures from various trips, events and so on..

            1. pleaset cheap rolls*

              Part of this issue is about who is the drive/files for? If it’s multiple users, it absolutely should have some kind of structure.

              If only one user, if they can find their own stuff, then pretty much anything goes.

              Signed – non-practicing librarian

        2. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Another librarian here, I’m a bit pushy about organizing folders at work, especially on the shared drive. My google drive, not so much. I use it differently and tend to search for docs or look in the most recent docs. Its likely a mess and I don’t care.

          1. LifeBeforeCorona*

            My friend is a librarian and has won awards for their cataloguing work. Their own collection at home is everywhere and are often surprised at what they find buried in one of the piles.

            1. Sans $$*

              Another cataloger here, regularly give presentations on optimizing organization and the discovery process, also in the middle of moving to a new apartment with my partner. They were unpacking the bookshelf, paused, said “really you should be doing this, eh?” paused again, then we both laughed merrily, knowing that he would immediately sweep in behind me to re-do it anyway because I would just shove everything on the shelf and not care. He’s the one who it matters to more at home.
              Work life does not equal home life, for sure.

        3. pretzelgirl*

          I am not a librarian but in a field where organization is important. I am pretty organized at work, bc I have to be. At home is completely different story, lol. People depend on me to be organized and to be able to find info they need fast, so its a must.

          Now my personal google drive is very rarely used so I don’t organize it at all. It has maybe 10 documents on it.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        ‘We need to look in your bag to check how neat you are’

        Good luck finding anything in there. The amount of medications I carry around with me would scare anyone off (even my husband won’t get stuff from my bag. Claims I have a tame black hole in there)

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          These things are also so arbitrary. It’s not like there is a binary of disorganized to super-organized.

          My outdoor storage area? Clean and neat!

          My bookshelves? Friendly chaos.

          My purse? Sparse and neat.

          My clothing drawers? Disorder!

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            My sewing box: everything has its exact own place so I can find everything within seconds.
            My sewing cupboard: fabrics stacked with no rhyme or reason to anything
            My bookcases: the one nearest my bed contains my favourite books that I re-read regularly, books signed by the author and other books that are precious for some reason. Then there are two other bookcases with books sorted roughly according to theme, then there are books piled up against the walls, basically everything I’ve read since I last had to move my bookcases.
            My bag: I have an inner pocket for everything I need to be able to find without rummaging (credit card, business cards, pen, nail file, phone, mask, glasses), then there’s a jolly mess of dog poop bags, dog treats, human treats, purse for small change, tissues etc in the middle
            My clothing: neatly folded and sorted into categories, except for stuff that I’ve worn maybe once, heaped onto a pile of books (used to be on the floor but the cat started peeing on them)

            1. Usagi*

              Completely off topic, but the way your comment got formatted on my screen (I guess a combination of the physical size of my display plus the size of my font?) made your comment read as:

              …then there’s a jolly mess of dog poop
              bags, dog treats…

              And I definitely paused for a moment wondering what kind of person would carry a “mess of dog poop,” not to mention call it “jolly.”

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah. A guy in the metro once warned me that my bag wasn’t fastened properly. I answered that it was OK, I couldn’t ever find anything in there, so a thief wouldn’t either.

        3. Sled dog mama*

          I use a backpack and my husband won’t touch it. He won’t even take things out of the outer mesh pocket for fear of being sucked in.

        4. SnappinTerrapin*

          My mother taught me that a woman’s purse was inviolate.

          My wives found that amusing.

          I did adjust, of course, while working as a peace officer, to the necessity of searching purses incident to arrest.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, exactly this. And if the candidate would be responsible for designing file structure (not just following an existing procedure) then ask how they’d expect or prefer to do so.

        I’d gladly talk for far too long about how to organise, nest and label a file structure, plus remarks on autosync and the reliability of different cloud providers, but then that’s been my responsibility in my current job and at least one past job. I could give you chapter and verse on the why as well as the how. But there’s no way I’d let you see even a screen grab of my personal Google Drive, even though it’s super tidy and organised because (1) it would provide the kind of potentially sensitive personal information I don’t disclose at interview such as family status and medical history and (2) ha ha ha nope butt out.

      4. E*

        Anyone remember the letter about a male interviewer asking a female interviewee to show him the inside of her handbag? His oh-so-sensible rationale: that’s a sign of how organised a woman is.

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          Shows what that interviewer knew – my purse is one of the most organized parts of my life! (Granted, it’s a pretty idiosyncratic sort of organization, but it’s a lot more organized than say, my desk. Or my sewing room. Or my Google Drive.)

      5. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, exactly. My company acquired another company a few years ago and I was on a team that worked to align our work processes. During one of the meetings, two of us were sharing desktops showing how we completed a process — me and an employee of the acquired company. The whole room had a laugh that our file structures were identical (we have a similar name, too). Now actually working with this person, we have completely different work ethics and output levels. All our file structure did was show how we *store* information, not how we process it.

    3. Bryce*

      I’ve been getting a lot of that spam where you get unsolicited PDFs shared full of nudity and such. I report and delete, but I haven’t a clue what’s actually going to show up if I click around folders.

    4. Beth*

      Yes, I’d be pretty unwilling to share my google drive. It’s not even that I have anything particularly sketchy or confidential in there, but it’s not designed to be externally facing. The file names are informal because I prefer short names that are easily recognizable to me over professional-sounding language. The nested files are where I’d think to look for things, but would probably be very cumbersome to someone who didn’t already know where to find what they were looking for. One folder is just a pit of hundreds of PDFs; I have them titled in a certain format, so they’re easy for me to search, but I doubt it would look appealing to someone who doesn’t know how I use them. The file names aren’t even all in English—which serves a purpose for me (it lets me know what language the file is in!) but would likely be very off-putting to someone who doesn’t speak all the same languages as me!

      Filing for work is an entirely different task. If I think someone else might need to navigate a filing system, I’m going to take a much more common-sense-focused approach to structuring and naming, instead of prioritizing what works for me personally.

    5. JM60*

      I don’t get asking for someone’s Google Drive at all. Many people probably use it to back up all their nudes! It’s like asking a candidate to let you root through their phone.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I have one and I use it to edit my fan fiction (got a great beta reader in Canada). There is no way on earth, solar system, Milky Way galaxy, local group, Virgo cluster that I am ever getting a job if an employer sees that.

      (It’s highly not safe for work)

      1. sunglass*

        Hah, same! My Google Drive is very organised, but it’s organised by fandom, and then by ship, and then by explicit or not. Enjoy the various amounts of written smut, potential employer!

      2. Mary Bennet*

        I have to admit that this comment has made me very curious to read your fanfiction!

      3. bkanon*

        Same. Fic drafts, downloaded FAV epubs from AO3, and images saved from three hard drives back, most of which are named a variation of ognjidrh.jpg. It’s the junk drawer of my internet life.

        A work drive would be so ruthlessly organized and precise that Piet Mondrian would say I could stand to have fewer boxes and lines, but my personal drive? so cluttered.

    7. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Mine contains confidential stuff from my clients, often covered by NDAs, so no I’m not showing you anything. Some of my clients are so paranoid I’m not allowed to even say I work for them, so even just folder and document names need to be hidden.

      Recently I had a client trying to bully me into signing NDAs in which the client has the right to look at my hard drive and Google drive, to make sure I had deleted stuff as per the NDA. I deleted that clause pretty quick, saying that it was tantamount to making sure I only worked for them and nobody else, in which case they’d have to pay me a salary.

    8. Msgnomers*

      I was curious and checked my Google Drive just to see what I had in there. I rarely use it. I found: videos and pictures from my children’s births, paperwork from volunteering at a very liberal political organization, a script from a gay wedding I officiated, my benefits guide and salary info at my current job, notes from a Dungeons and Dragons game, paperwork for the time I was sued for copyright infringement (it was ridiculous and I won), and cover letters to other jobs I had applied to. What a hugely invasive request! And it shows nothing about how organized I am.

      1. violet04*

        I rarely use it either! I took a quick peek and have mostly cat pictures I wanted to share with my husband.

        On the other hand, I keep my local drive and Outlook organized with folders to keep track of various projects, training documents, admin documents, etc. But all that stuff is on my work laptop and that’s not getting shared in an interview.

      2. Ann*

        Yes! I use it for so many private things and have shared folders with my spouse for things we wouldn’t share with a potential employer. Medical info, our notes on researching local daycare options (I’m pregnant but not visibly showing yet, and wouldn’t disclose that to an employer if I were job searching right now), the last decade’s worth of tax returns, my benefits & performance review from old job, cover letters and resumes for previous job applications, vacation planning, wedding planning, funeral planning, all our financial docs from when we got a mortgage, budgeting info for when we rented out our house, records from a dispute with our neighbors when I got attacked by their unvaccinated dog. This is an outrageous request.

    9. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I wonder if they’re trying to steal your password to snoop for company files when you leave.

    10. kittymommy*

      The only thing they would find out from me is I don’t know what a Google Drive is (at least before this). It’s not on my phone (or I just can’t find it). I found it when I went to my email on my desktop – is it just file downloads? Now that I think about it, I wonder if that’s how I find it on my phone; through my email??

      I did apply and interview a job at a law enforcement agency. All applicants had to log into any social media they had and they printed off the first few pages of each one. Weird, but whatever. I don’t think I gave them all my socials. I don’t think I know how to get into all my socials. Hell, I don’t even know all the socials I have.

    11. 2 Cents*

      I work in Digital Marketing and this isn’t a question I would ever consider asking or consider to be a requirement. If it was a shared drive of some sort, where everyone needs to keep things neat, I could see why you’d *maybe* want to ask about a person’s level of organization. But honestly, every job I’ve had, we’ve just officially or unofficially appointed a “keeper of the shared drive” to clean up occasional misfiles.

    12. JRR*

      Sounds like the recruiter was aware of problems like this, which is why they gave LW a heads-up about it before the interview–basically telling them to make an alt Gmail account and throw together a Google Drive full of benign, well-organized files.

    13. Momma Bear*

      That would be a big no from me. Too much personal information. Also, what I deem organized for my own purposes may not meet the needs of a company.

    14. SnappinTerrapin*

      I might ask them a few questions, to satisfy my curiosity as to why they thought it reasonable to ask for this.

      But I probably would simply move on to working on the next job application.

      Not particularly interesting, but no way it is any of the company’s business what personal information I store, where I store ir, or how I organize it. If the company wants to explain to me how they want THEIR data stored, I’m happy to follow their protocols.

    15. Metadata minion*

      Google Drive also seems like an especially odd choice given that one of its key uses is for organizing shared documents and folders. The vast majority of my folders and documents are either shared docs or things I’m organizing according to our departmental shared folder conventions. I have no significant control in how organized they are.

  8. A Big4 Accountant*

    LW4 – sounds like public accounting! If you want to get out, then get out. There are plenty of finance jobs you are qualified for that also won’t make you hand over your life. If you’re worried about burning bridges, think about giving your notice further than two weeks in advance. My partner just left his public accounting job and gave six weeks notice so staffing could fill the jobs he was leaving behind. All the partners he talked to said to let them know if he ever wanted to come back. (Public accounting is so desperate for staff that they likely won’t let you go sooner than your desired end date.) Best of luck to you!

    1. Another Big4 Accountant*

      Sounds like public accounting to me as well. LW4, there may never be a good time to resign and it’s in your best interests to take care of yourself to avoid burnout – I’m saying this from experience. Your mental and physical health are your best assets. To avoid burning bridges when it comes to resigning, have the conversations early (but so that it still convenient for you, i.e., secure a new role first if that is important for you) with the stakeholders that you trust, such as your coach, and be genuine. Being genuine doesn’t mean that you have to tell them everything; it just means giving them the context in a way that is comfortable for you.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. Try to leave projects and files in good order but don’t wait for the “opportune moment” to get out if you need to.

    2. The Dude Abides*

      As an aside, seeing this makes me glad I took the route I did post-graduation. The big4 recruited hard from where I went to school (both in terms of boots on the ground and financially) and I knew going in that public is not where I wanted to be.

    3. HB*

      Ditto to this. I think the only time you *really* can’t leave is between January 15th ad April 15th (short of extenuating circumstances) but at any other point, so long as you give sufficient notice (my firm wants at least a month) then you aren’t really going to burn a bridge. But the staffing issue is getting to be a bigger and bigger problem, and I think it tends to warp your perception of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. When you know how hard everything is, then you know that when you leave it’s going to be harder on everyone else. And it is! But if you’re not a Manager/Partner then it really isn’t your problem to solve. Firms can either start paying people more money for the hours and stress so that they don’t leave, or continue to scramble.

    4. CheeseWhizzard*

      Agreed. Get out now. This year is basically one extended busy season for professional firms, especially in Tax. It’s not going to end. Demand is high in industry right now so it’s a good time to jump ship.

  9. Sleeping Late Every Day*

    LW4, working over 14 hours a day, 7 days a weeks, is not normal. It is not sane. Even people literally saving lives should not work hours like that, at least not for more than a short time! Is your employer too damn cheap to hire seasonal workers for this time period? I’m not sure I could even be civil when resigning.

    1. whoop*

      Well, it is normal in some type of jobs, like some here have commented, say in public accounting. Not gonna generalize but almost everyone who goes into public accounting knows what kind of hours they’ll be working on in those specific months and it’s a seasonal thing which assuages most I would guess and it’s not a permanent state of work all year round.

      1. LTL*

        I’ve heard some horrible things about busy seasons in accounting, but the OP’s hours are insane even then.

        I’ve never heard of anyone working more than 90 hours a week.

    2. Smishy*

      I mean, that IS public accounting though. That’s the standard. That’s why it burns a bunch of people out super fast. And CPAs aren’t cheap, so it’s actually fairly difficult to pick up a bunch of seasonal staff for busy season. Most people who have the skills to get their license, and the experience to get hired by one of the big audit firms, don’t want to just have a temp job. There’s SOME people that will do a seasonal temp audit, but it’s not a huge labor pool.

      Anyhoo, if the LW IS in public accounting then LW: it’s fine. People leaving is the nature of the beast, it happens all the time, and everyone knows it’s a stressful job. All the big firms are scaled expecting a pretty decent chunk of the lower ranks will leave and go into industry jobs. Give enough notice that your jobs can be restaffed and you’re good to go.

    3. Hamish the Accountant*

      I think most of us who have worked in accounting are pretty much agreed that op #4 is probably in accounting. And knowing that – it’s actually really difficult to find good seasonal workers in this field. I get really frustrated with the lack of critical thinking skills in the few people we manage to hire every year.

    4. CheeseWhizzard*

      It IS normal in many fields. Film, accounting, truck driving…. There’s no call to be uncivil when resigning given that every person in these fields knows the time they’re expected to put in.

    5. sofar*

      I work in e-commerce and grabbing three hours of sleep now and then is “normal” for the holiday shopping season (about 6 weeks out of the year). It’s brutal, it’s awful, but it is what it is. We hire some seasonal contractors, but if you’re SUPERVISING the contractors, you’re working around the clock (and you can’t really hire seasonal managers because of the level of expertise and experience required). And we can’t really hire more managers overall because they wouldn’t have enough to do year round.

      My company gives retention bonuses right after Busy Season to incentivise people not quitting in the middle, so that helps with motivation.

    6. DJ*

      I do wonder why the workload was higher during COVID than during a normal busy season. Did this mean they made more money? If so why didn’t they take on some casuals to do some of the additional work/the easier tasks. Especially with a higher unemployment rate.

      1. Tax Nerd*

        I’m under the assumption that LW4 is in tax, since they mentioned busy season being extended. The workload was higher than normal for a lot of reasons. People that normally wait to file in the fall wanted their returns in the spring this year because they wanted stimulus payments. There were a lot of questions from clients about the stimulus – why didn’t I get it, where is it, can I claim my girlfriend’s son to get more, etc. We had to ask clients how much they received so we could report it on their return (unless they were clearly too high income to have received any). Tax law got changed in the middle of busy season this year to exclude $10.2K of unemployment, and we had to wait weeks to figure out if we needed to amend previously filed returns or not, and then wait for tax software to get updated for new returns. The tax due date was pushed out this year, but not the estimated payment due date. More people teleworked from outside their home state during COVID, which led to questions about establishing new residency and/or filing more state returns. Heaven help those dealing with ‘convenience of the employer’ rules. People who e-filed their returns last year but mailed checks got scary letters demanding payment and threatening liens, even though their check was in the IRS mail room, waiting to be processed. They called their tax accountant to sort it out. Phone calls to the IRS that usually entailed some time on hold before getting a person weren’t answered at all. The system just hung up on you.

        Working from home made a lot of things harder, too. Catered lunch and dinners where you grabbed your food and went back to your desk suddenly turned into having to grocery shop and cook more during busy season. (Only the higher ups could afford delivery every night.) New staff and interns got virtual training, which just doesn’t ‘take’ as well as in-person training, so there were a lot more questions that a third-year person (or higher) would have been swamped with. I don’t know about LW4’s firm, but mine added two weekly meetings for most of COVID to keep the communication lines open. And maybe it did, but it also interrupted my day.

        Not this spring busy season, but for the past year, people have been trying to get through this while enduring the stress of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, race riots, a president likely to announce a war via Twitter, a contested election, and an attempted coup. All while trying not to get or spread COVID. Potentially topped off with child-care and/or homeschooling duties. And yes, everyone went through all this, too. Or worse. But on top of two extended tax seasons… it’s been a lot, and was far from normal. Lw4 has only had one “normal” year in this line of work.

      2. Tax Nerd*

        Oh, and to answer your questions about making more money or the firm hiring casuals… nope.

        There are exceptions, but most tax accountants in the US are salaried, even if they’re junior staff. So for most, it’s mandatory overtime, unpaid. Not unrelatedly, this is why firms don’t hire seasonal hires. They can just work existing staff to the bone at no extra expense. There isn’t a lot of this type of work that doesn’t require training, even if it’s just firm processes. We can hire interns, but temps or casuals just isn’t a thing. Even getting interns is hard, because far fewer college students want to go into this.

  10. Not Australian*

    If anybody *does* ride a pony to work every day and read Chaucer out loud while everybody works, I really think we should be told about it!

    1. SarahKay*

      You mean… you don’t do that? As my office’s audio-Chaucer-reader I thought this was very common. Is that…is that why there don’t seem to be stables for my pony when I visit other businesses?

    2. Rebecca1*

      A teacher or professor at a school or college with an equestrian program could totally do that, assuming they were small enough to ride a pony rather than a horse. The main obstacle would be affording the pony’s upkeep on a teacher’s salary.

    3. JillianNicola*

      It sounds pretty close to my dream job tbh, except I have no experience with horses or ponies (and I would definitely need a pony, I’m a hobbit and full size horses freak me out, why are they so BIG and also skittish).

  11. Allonge*

    LW2 – no, this is really weird. Beyond the privacy issues and the super specific request (there is file storage beyond Google Drive, people!), organised and at-first-sight-orderly has very little to do with each other.

    As a librarian, I would be like ‘what are you looking for here, you KNOW there are multiple ways to organise stuff’ and as a person who relies on her memory as much as systems to know where her stuff is, it’s more or less the same – there is no one objective way to file personal things. Some people like to search!

    OTOH, if they are obsessive about this thing, it’s a good warning sign. Also that they don’t care about privacy. It’s a two-way street.

    1. Self Employed*

      Yeah, that looked like a huge red flag that the employer is likely to micromanage and cross boundaries.

      I have a filing organization story. A long time ago, I was an admin supporting about 25 engineers on a Department of Energy contract. The grandboss’s admin supported the grandboss and 5 engineers. He had lots and LOTS of time to add finer and finer levels of detail to the filing system, so every week I would get a memo telling me to add more and more subfolders and what documents needed to be moved into the new subfolders. Because I didn’t handle the same types of documents as the grandboss’s admin, nearly all of these were empty folders occupying space in the filing cabinet–and time out of MY schedule putting filing folder labels in a Selectric to type by hand. My schedule that already required 10-15 hours of overtime a week. So guess who started filing those weekly “filing updates” in a folder at the front of the filing cabinet without actually making any file folders?

      I think the grandboss’s admin found out eventually and had conniptions, but I stayed till the contract ran out anyway. Neither the boss or the grandboss really cared about the filing system but they liked having an admin who got all the technical terminology right in the project reports. (And I paid the down payment on my first and only new car with the OT from that job!)

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Oh the multi folder nesters. Bane of my existence when I have to keep file servers running.

        Worst was a guy who complained that he couldn’t add another layer of folders because I’d removed his ability to create folders on the server (not files, he could create those). He already had literally thousands of folders created, the majority of which were empty.

        One of our new graduates in IT actually did a project on their downtime to rationalise that server and proved that the monstrosity of a folder tree could be got down to no more than 32 folders total and still be easily accessible.

        Sadly, we couldn’t convince the department of the need so it wasn’t implemented. I still keep in touch with that graduate and 16 years on they’re writing their first book on database optimisation. Gonna get a copy.

      2. Allonge*

        Oh noooo. I once spent roughly a year of my life repeating ‘don’t create a folder unless there are multiple somethings to put in it (and subfolders do not count)’ what felt like every day to ~20 highly experienced people. And this was electronic!

        OT was the least you deserved for this. Yay for the car though!

    2. mreasy*

      This letter stressed me out because I just don’t have any sub folders in my Drive! This is probably terrible but I link to docs in other docs and frankly just search for the things I need. It works ish.

      1. NoviceManagerGuy*

        The only thing I regularly use in there is my personal finances spreadsheet and everything else is a one-off which gradually falls off the bottom of the screen.

      2. Allonge*

        But that is the point: it’s not terrible! Millions of people do it like that. In a shared folder at work it’s not ideal, but for your personal ones, it’s literally nobody else’s business.

    3. Delta Delta*

      I worked with a woman who had a horror show of a method for filing. She repeatedly insisted it worked for her, but it made no sense to anyone else. if someone needed to go into her files for some reason, it almost always took at least 10 minutes to find anything, because there was no obvious rationale to the system. If anyone complained to her, her response was always, “it makes sense to meeeeeeee.” Would have been fine if it was just her stuff, but since she frequently needed others to assist, it was just a time waster. Annoying.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Reminds me of the time Gomer Pyle reorganized the supply sergeant’s inventory. He had trouble remembering whether he had classified various items as “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral” when they had more than one component.

  12. Speaks to Dragonflies*

    In a case like OP 4’s, it isn’t the employee burning the bridge, it’s the employer, and it seems spiteful. When you work someone like a rented mule, don’t be surprised when they run off at the first chance they get.

  13. Ohno*

    #5 – A few years back, I found myself bored. I knew all the tasks at hand, I could complete them timely, when I answered the phone there were no new questions. Basically, working was not a challenge – and I realised I needed one. So I told my boss in our 1-2-1 that I’d like more interesting work, that I didn’t feel challenged, etc – and as it happened, there was a position in a different department she was looking to fill internally. I was moved over a month later. Success!

    Basically, you need to figure out why you’re bored and what solution you’re hoping for. If I’d just told my boss “I’m bored, I’m not engaged” I’d sound concerning. But by presenting it as me needing a challenge, this was something my boss could and would help with.

    If you’re just done with work and waiting to win the lottery… probably not worth bringing up BUT do try to find the source of your unhappiness. There’ll be a way to fix it!

    1. Lacey*

      Yes, absolutely! I’ve found that when a job becomes tedious it can be time to find a way to either make it more interesting by trying to level up my skills – or ask my boss about doing some more challenging work. But I think any boss would be alarmed if I just told them I was bored and that was all.

    2. bubbleon*

      Same thing happened to me earlier this year. I told my boss in our 2020 review meeting that I wasn’t feeling the position I was in was the best use of my skills for the company and that I wasn’t fulfilled by it the way I had been previously.

      (It’s also important to note I’ve been with the company 5+ years, so I have a proven track record and a good enough relationship with my manager to know that wasn’t going to backfire on me)

    3. RicksGuardian*

      #5, I too got bored at work. I just didn’t have enough to do. I approached my boss and told her. Her response? “No one else has complained about not having enough work to do.” Ummm… OK. I told her we all have different talents, and there’s just not enough work for me and what I could do. And I asked her for permission to do things for other offices in the company. She said, “No. Others have enough to do. You need to as well.”
      Totally ignorant.

      So prepare ideas for what you can do in the office that you’re not already. And what will you do if your response is as clueless and unhelpful as mine?

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      The same thing happened to me this year. I’ve become super burnt out at my job and was actively looking for a while. I didn’t say anything to my boss for five months about how disengaged I’ve become, because it wouldn’t help anything and there was nothing she could do. But then I was rejected for two jobs I was a finalist in, and at the same time realized there was an opportunity for me to shift my area of focus in a way that would get me out of my rut AND support the needs of the organization. I made a proposal to my boss that highlighted the need for this new role, and very briefly mentioned that I would find it challenging and fulfilling for many years to come. The proposed change is still pending but even having a possible new direction has reenergized me at work!

    5. Kat*

      Yes! Another possible path is mine. I was bored and feeling undervalued and unhappy – I hadn’t been allocated meaningful work in 6+ months. What I said to my boss was the objective part: “my track record is getting stale and I haven’t been commercially productive for 6 months. Can you please allocate me to a specific project?”

      He wasn’t surprised by this because I had similar but less direct conversations with him a few times already. However, he was totally unprepared to find a solution and instead suggested that I just needed to suck it up for an indefinite period. No worries – I’d already applied for other jobs and getting one of those fixed the problem he wasn’t interested in :-)

  14. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3, I think you’re actually making this whole thing weirder by acting as though it’s a terribly delicate topic. It isn’t! It is really really normal to have to occasionally ask people to change their outfit a little bit. It might be embarrassing if he had been dressing completely, wildly inappropriately for months and you hadn’t told him, but if it’s just “hey, FYI we try to dress a little more smartly in client meetings so could you lose the baseball cap for this one?”… that’s fine. Don’t overthink it.

    1. UKDancer*

      Yes. I think just use your words and tell him. As long as you’re not micromanaging his attire in the “shirts must be this precise shade of puce” way, or imposing sexist dress codes I think it’s fine to say to him that he should not wear the cap and should smarten up for clients. Or send around an email telling everyone very simply what the rules are.

      People are mostly not psychic so if you want them to know something you have to tell them.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Awkward would be having to tell a senior lab tech that his pants have worn out and must be replaced before the separating seams split. And then a week later having to tell him that his new pants are exposing his anatomy when he accesses the lower shelf.
      I carpooled with the head of HR who had stories.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Haha, second childhood
        My husband, a uni prof has a clothes buying system that involves holes in clothes. When one of his trousers gets a hole in the seat, its time to replace his wardrobe. Something about the way he sits I guess? So then he orders online 2 trousers and 5 business shirts to replace what he has. And then he rotates them till something wears out.

      2. NoviceManagerGuy*

        Yes, this doesn’t involve anybody’s underwear or swimsuit-related bits. As Alison says, that this is a challenge shows that they haven’t thought through what they need to tell new employees at all.

      3. Lacey*

        Haha oh no! Yes, I was thinking that a really awkward dress code convo would be more along the lines of this. Having to tell an employee their clothes are too old to wear to work or that they’re accidentally exposing themselves would still be necessary, but mortifying.

      4. Smithy*

        I used to work outside the US in a country and industry with an incredibly casual dress code. Seeing staff walk around the office barefoot wasn’t out of place.

        Anywho, at one point a very senior lawyer of staff was called on to do a international television news interview on a day he wasn’t planning to be in court. After he was lectured by the news team about why it was bad form to be on television with holes in your clothing, particularly the crotch of your pants, I got assigned to giving an incredibly uncomfortable presentation on how to dress to the entire office.

        That being said, as miserable and embarrassed as I was – it was the job that really taught me the subtleties in professional dress. Particularly as a woman and outside the upmost formal industries, there’s just so much middle ground for what to wear and how two very similar outfits on two different women can read completely different.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Working in cubicle-land, I once overheard a C-level exec talking to a department head regarding the department head’s plans to send one of his more unkempt direct reports to a remote location for a certain project. C-level exec was trying to come up with ways to talk to the employee about his appearance and representing the home office, when the unkempt employee walked by. As he passed, the department head yelled “Hey Fergus! Go get a haircut and shave. You look like a mess they won’t let on the plane. And dress like an adult at the remote office and not in those pants that look like you stole them from a clown!” Fergus yelled back “OK!” …and that was that.

      1. Smithy*

        I had one boss who overall I would not recommend her management style – but her bluntness really helped me figure out when my dress choices were wrong and as it happened, gave me confidence when I knew what I was doing was ok.

        In two instances, I had external meetings/events with very formal audiences. I was wearing “business casual” but that kind of business casual that quite possible had been hanging over a chair, was of thinner material and looked really wrinkled, and overall was just not well combined. In both cases she called me into her office and said “you can not wear that, you can do better – just look at yourself – go home and change.”

        It was always said very aggressively and not with kindness, but a) she was right about both outfits – I was so happy to have changed both times and b) it also let me know that the majority of times I was dressing fine. Cause she had no trouble telling me.

  15. Tom Petty*

    #2 – Go to the interview, but create a new Google account that just has a picture of you flipping them off in Drive.

  16. Phil*

    #2 I don’t use Google Drive, I use Dropbox. And they are not poking around in there. Though they might be impressed with the organisation of my folder of 220+ meticulously labelled gifs I have on hand for when online situations call for them.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I believe that’s the one that has a guy in a fedora pointing off thataway with the text of “You can F*$^ all the way off straight to F*$^ Off Mountain with that Bull $h!t”.

        I’m sure I have others, some featuring Captain Jack Sparrow, that will definitely cover the situation, but the “Fedora Guy” is my gut reaction here!

  17. Bookworm*

    #5: Agree with Alison’s response. I was in a somewhat similar situation not long ago and decided to be honest for the sake of being honest and in the hopes of having some small actionable changes on behalf of management.

    It was a disaster. There was no change whatsoever on their end and it really didn’t help because apparently nothing but the job matters, even in a pandemic and with increasing exhaustion.

    It really hurt but it also told me all I needed to know. And I’m acting accordingly. If it’s something you can stand and it’s not a breaking point for you then you may want to keep it to yourself. They may see this as a sign that you’re not engaged with the work or organization or whatever. Not saying that’s true (it’s not true for me, either) but that’s always a possibility.

  18. BubbleTea*

    I’m currently visiting Canterbury, which I feel like is the most probable place to find someone with this job. I will update you if I spot one!

    1. BubbleTea*

      (This should have nested under a comment about riding a horse and reading Chaucer, in case it isn’t obvious from the context.)

  19. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP4, can you get in a long vacation or even schedule a sabbatical?

  20. KHB*

    Q1: This is slightly beside the point, but your resignation letter isn’t really an appropriate vehicle for airing your grievances with the company. The resignation letter is meant to be a record of fact: I’m voluntarily resigning from this job (as opposed to being fired or laid off), my last day is X.

    Q5: Is there any chance that any of this is pandemic-fatigue related? I’ve been feeling “out of it” lately as well, just because (I presume) I’m so sick of being isolated from my coworkers and having so much of my human contact occurring through a Zoom screen. If you have a pre-pandemic record of doing excellent work, but you feel you’re not living up to your usual standard right now, it might be worth checking in with your boss about it. Even if you don’t have any specific remedy in mind, there can be value in letting them know that you know your performance has dropped a bit, you’re not slacking off on purpose, and it’s (hopefully) temporary.

  21. Ruth*

    LW 1- This is wildly inappropriate and way out of bounds. There is not a chance your boss would do this if you were a man. I’d talk to HR.

    1. Jennifer*

      It’s so Jane Austen. I’m guessing the OP is single. If she were married, her boss would have called her husband.

      1. Allypopx*

        I’m laughing hysterically at the thought of how confused my husband would be if my boss called him….first he’d think I died at work or something and then he’d be completely lost.

        1. Jennifer*

          I’m sure my husband’s heart would drop to the floor if he saw my boss calling him. Then he’d probably have the same reaction as your husband.

      2. LCH*

        and who would he call if there was no father, husband, etc? what on earth would he doooooo?

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      It also hints at ableism. Oh she has a disability so of course she doesn’t understand what’s best for her. I must call her father.
      I wonder how the boss even got her dads phone number. Sounds like a small town.

    3. Nanani*

      My thought too. LW1 can you ask around to your colleagues and see if this is a pattern?
      Flag it with HR regardless.

  22. Sled dog mama*

    LW #3 Ihad a similar experience last week. Our new intern showed up for first day at my site in jeans (we are very much not a jeans appropriate work place), she had dressed fine for the interview so it hadn’t occurred to me to say anything about dress code.
    She also didn’t bring her company provided laptop (she’s been with us 6 months in a hybrid remote/on site, this was her first day with me) and didn’t complete the “homework” assignment given by our boss of reading over a guidance document prior to showing up.
    I should probably say that she’s in a highly structured 2 year Internship program, she rotates through different parts of the company to get experience doing the same work in different settings and we each have different topics that we cover teaching more in-depth. I’m thinking we need to add at least a few days on professionalism at the beginning.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      Since she’s been working there for several months, including on site, she may have acted according to what she observed or what she never received feedback on in other parts of the company— that is, according to what she’d gathered were the expectations where few or none were explicitly stated. In any case, and especially since this isn’t about her interpersonal conduct or work product (so far), I’d frame instructions in this regard as providing clear expectations, for the company as a whole and for your department in particular, rather than addressing an expected deficit of professionalism.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes I think with an intern it’s better to be very clear as they are often young, may not pick up on the unspoken rules and are there to learn. Tell her exactly and explicitly what you need her to do and not do. Goodness knows I made enough mistakes when I was on summer placements from university because people expected me to know things I just didn’t know about being in a white collar environment. It’s better she learns now so when she gets a full time job, she’ll hopefully not make the same mistakes.

        1. The Original K.*

          My best friend did a summer associate stint at a BigLaw firm when she was in law school, as many law students do, and there were information sessions for summer associates that expressly laid out the norms for the firm, including the dress code. My friend didn’t really need it because she’d been in white collar environments before, but she said she was impressed that the firm did it because there were people in her associate class who had not and they had the freedom to ask questions. I thought that sounded very useful.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think you are being a bit harsh, especially since she is an intern. Could there be other departments where she worked that did ok jeans? The laptop thing is a little strange, but maybe she thought there would be a computer she could use? Maybe she thought the laptop was for only when she has to work from home? Or maybe she didn’t have a laptop case to carry it and didn’t want to chance it getting stolen or broke on her way in? As for the “homework” assignment. There are a lot of people who won’t do work if they are not being paid. If it was a brief 1 page document that would be one thing. Especially if it was guidelines for covid and being in the office. But if it was a multiple page guidance document that was specific to her work duties, why should she read it when she is not working? I wouldn’t. If the boss wants something completed prior to a meeting than there needs to be a way to build time in during the workday that she can go over the document.

  23. MacD*

    OP#2: I am terrible person. If I were in Jane’s position, I would dump all my files/folders into one folder, called “not porn”. I would create a second folder, called “definitely not porn”, and third called “;-)”.

    You want to see my Google Drive? Suuurrre!

  24. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP2: GAAAAH! Half the reason for using Google Drive is that you can do quick searches through it using, you know, Google!

    I’d wager good money that this is one of those situations of “the previous person in this position screwed up by doing X, so we’re going to go overboard and only consider people who would never do X”

  25. Apples*

    I think telling your manager that you’re bored is useful if you’re in a job where the work and intellectual stimulation itself is part of the reason people take a job, e.g. creative work, programming. Even if it’s not directly actionable by the manager, they might be getting that feedback from other employees too, and then they can feed up that the work isn’t interesting enough to keep good candidates and the business needs to compensate in some way (with benefits, pay, ‘20% time’, events, interesting tech stack etc). If your job is inherently a boring paper-pushing job then, of course, there’s no point.

  26. NotRealAnonForThis*

    The conversation that would occur if my boss had ever been stupid enough to call my Dad would have been complete gold.

    1. irene adler*

      In my case:
      “Go ahead, call him. But you’re gonna need a special kind of phone to reach him. Something that goes beyond the grave. Let me know how it goes.”

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        That might have similar results.

        Knowing my Dad, who raised me to believe that I can in fact do whatever I am qualified for, and that I have the capability of earning the qualifications, and not to suffer fools….well. I’m sure the conversation would start with “I’m sorry, why are you calling me about my adult offspring? Am I billing for this reference? My standard rate for consulting is (insert four digit number here) per hour….” and go straight up sideways from there.

  27. Jennifer*

    #5 Yes, please don’t go to your boss and just say, “I’m bored.” You don’t want to sound like a kid midway through summer vacation. Be specific about things you’d like to learn or projects you want to work on.

    If you’re bored just because it’s a boring job, then it’s more of a personal issue. I don’t mind doing “boring” work at times. I can listen to music or podcasts and just buckle down and get it done. But if you just aren’t intellectually stimulated by your work, and that’s something you need to be happy with your job, it may be job searching time.

  28. Jam Today*

    They want to see your *personal* Google Drive? Aaaaaahahahahaha oh hell no!

    I wouldn’t think it needs to be said, but people keep all kinds of personal stuff on their GoogleDrive from finances, to medical documentation, to nudes. Even without exposing even high-level pointers to sensitive information, there’s things that are just…personal; I don’t need a potential future boss to see my fanfic writing or screenshots of my celebrity crushes

    From an employer’s perspective, this could open them up to discrimination lawsuits. If I have a folder or individual files related to, let’s say LGBT activism or details about a disability or a tracker of menopause symptoms and I don’t get the job — it would be pretty easy for me to contact an employment attorney and make a case for discrimination based on seeing those files on my drive (also a surprising oversight by employers who demand access to people’s Facebook profiles. Sure here you go, I am in at least one protected class in my state so go look at all the activist posts I have and then reject me, I dare you.)

    1. Jam Today*

      Update to add: scrolling through the responses here and I’m delighted to learn how many other fanfic writers there are in the AAM reader base.

      1. Chinook*

        I am honestly shocked that AO3 doesn’t have an AAM section. Should I go looking?

    2. Anthony J Crowley*

      They don’t need to know that I have a list of my crushes on famous people and the details of my savings. They just don’t.

  29. Workerbee*

    #3, I found myself wondering if LW continues to say nothing, if gradually the rest of the team will go more casual in external meetings as well!

    But yes: If all you have to do is say that “we” do tend to dress a step up for visible parts on an external call, and that a solid top and no hat will do the trick nicely, then do a quick 1:1 call or send an email. Bam, it’s done.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was totally skimming and saw that you were suggesting a solid top hat. Oi.

  30. Lacey*

    LW3, I worked at a company that was not quite a start-up, but it had run for a number of years with only 2-4 people. I was a replacement, so it was still only 4 people at first and it ran really smoothly.

    But. When we started to grow, the owner didn’t modify our processes or codify our expectations. Over the next 10 years there was some slow progress towards that, but the owner was really awkward about it at times because he thought we should all just know what to do, but now the company was too big for him to sort of informally convey expectations the way he had when I arrived.

    Worse, there were a couple of long time employees who refused to accommodate the necessary structural changes. And since a decade had gone by with them refusing to change, what would have been an inconvenient few months of adapting here and there, like the other departments went through, was now all but impossible to change when I left. For all I know, it’s still running the exact same way and will until those people retire.

  31. Anon for this*

    LW4, I am a CPA who left public accounting in the middle of busy season. I gave a month’s notice and the opportunity was just too good to pass up. I do think it impacted the relationship a little bit but I’ve run into my old managers out and about and they always say hi and ask how things are going. Being able to expense dinners and free lunches was a perk I enjoyed during busy season, and given light of the past year I would have also been bummed to receive nothing in exchange for not being able to have that. On top of increasing your hours (to unsustainable levels, I never worked 80-100 in public!) with no consideration on bonuses or pay? Ultimately you need to do what is best for your health, mental and otherwise. Please take care of yourself.

    1. Cj*

      I know what you mean about the hours – 80 to 100 is unsustainable for 3 1/2 months, and you are going to make mistakes. I’ve worked at four different firms, and we’ve always tried to keep the hours between 65 – 70/week.

      I got up to in excess of 80 at the my job before this one because a long-term employee quit, and the person who was hired to replace her was not a tax person (just accounting/payroll), so there were only two of us to do over 600 returns. I either did or reviewed every single one. And that is why I am no longer there.

  32. Allypopx*

    Ack, #5 is making me cringe because I accidentally told my boss yesterday how burnt out I am. I mentioned I’ve been dealing with a lot of physical pain and just had grad school finals on top of how crazy work has been. Now I’m thinking that was a mistake. I didn’t want her to do anything, but I did know how tired I look/that I’d been dragging a little/that my ‘pep’ was a little forced lately and I wanted to give her context. I dunno it still felt like the right thing to do….sometimes just getting on the same page can be helpful.

    1. Lacey*

      I think it’s fine if it’s a “please bear with me, I have some external things effecting my energy, it’s not that I hate the job” – that has a purpose. It’s , “Hey boss, I’m burnt out, just thought you should know” that’s the issue.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yeah that’s fair. “Bored” is certainly not a word I’d use. If there’s anything OPs boss could do – new projects, something to change it up, that might be worth a conversation.

    2. Mike*

      This sounds fine to me, especially if you have a good relationship with your boss and you are in a normal place where it’s not seen as weird to acknowledge when the workload is high and that life is difficult sometimes and burnout happens. Complaining about a job and calling it boring is way different–it comes off like you just don’t like the job and think you are above it and sounds childish in my opinion (I just remember whining “I’m bored” to my mom as a kid).

    3. M*

      See, I think that’s very different. I had a similar incident about two weeks ago. I’d been writing an intensive research paper for one of my grad classes, and hadn’t slept much that week. I trailed off in the middle of a sentence talking to my boss, because I just couldn’t focus on what I was saying. He asked if I was ok, and I told him about the paper and what I was struggling with, and apologized, but my head wasn’t really in the game. He actually told me that only one of my assigned tasks that day was pressing, and that I should do what I needed to do for class. Depending on the relationship with your boss/supervisor, giving that sort of context can be really helpful. It lets them know what to expect from you. Doing it out of context, or if you don’t have that sort of relationship, can be off-putting I think, but what you describe doesn’t sound out-of-line.

    4. MCMonkeybean*

      I think it’s definitely fine to let your boss know when you are not feeling at your best! For one thing I think a lot of what you said is inherently temporary–like grad school finals–so it comes across more as just a “heads up, this is why you may notice I’m a little more sluggish than usual” and not just a general complaint.

      Also, letting your boss know that you are feeling burnt out is very different than that you are feeling bored. It may even be necessary sometimes and the “actionable” item that she should respond with if she is able is to help you shuffle work around or see whether anything can be taken off of your plate to give you a little time to recover.

  33. bananab*

    Google drive is funny since search is (obviously) its strong suit. I’m sure lots of people just rely on search.

  34. GenericName*

    OP #4 – are you in public accounting? If so, and it’s a Big 4 Firm, go ahead and quit. Sounds like you’re a senior 1 so time to go find an industry job with better pay and hours. Good luck!

  35. ecnaseener*

    #2: Privacy issues aside, this is such a bizarrely ineffective tactic! Your google drive is for you alone — you don’t need to organize it in a way that helps other people find things, like you do with a shared work drive.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Exactly! I have a huge book collection, enough for a small room to become a library (if only) but the books are organized to what makes sense for me, because I am the one using it. If it was a public library I would use the dewy decimal system.

  36. Jake*

    Our organization struggles with #3 a lot. We now have a procedure manual, but it is woefully inaccurate. Not a single person actually follows or uses it. OP, when your company does start making written procedures for these unspoken policies do your best to make sure they are reflective of what the company actually wants and is willing to enforce, or else you risk them becoming useless or worse.

  37. Hamish the Accountant*

    #4: Sounds like you’re in some branch of public accounting. Yeah, it can be awful. And the last two seasons have been the absolute worst. But there are a lot of firms with more reasonable hours expectations.

    If I’m right about your industry, you generally won’t burn bridges by quitting just before busy season, although they won’t be happy. The thing that really burns bridges is to quit DURING busy season.

    But either way you should do what you need to for your mental health.

    1. Cj*

      We just had somebody leave for a job with the city because their wife is having their first child next month. Between long tax season hours, and overnight audit trips in the summer, it just wasn’t going to work for him. Fortunately, his two weeks notice would have taken him up to the week before tax season was over, and his new job said it was fine to push his start date back another week.

      I don’t know what he would have done if this job had come up during the middle tax season. He was an awesome employee, and would have felt terrible leaving like that. However, he would have had to do what was right for his growing family, and just may have had to do it anyway.

      1. Hamish the Accountant*

        In my experience, hiring managers usually have some understanding of this dynamic when they’re hiring people from public accounting firms and expect to not be able to onboard someone until busy season is over. I’ve accepted new job offers during busy season twice now (once while working in Big4 audit, once while working in mid market tax) and both times I was able to start 4+ weeks later so that I could finish out the season and not leave my employer in the lurch.

        If not, though… yeah, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I hated working in audit. I can’t imagine going out on the audit trips and leaving a baby at home.

  38. lost academic*

    Also, people spamming you by sharing pornographic images and videos to your Drive is a big thing now. So that’s fun.

  39. MCMonkeybean*

    Having just been through “a few months” of the worst busy season of my life, I say if you aren’t up for another one *don’t* push through. It really does affect physical and mental health so much. I had several small breakdowns from the stress and was crying nearly ever day for a couple weeks in there–including a couple of times during meetings while on mute. I put off going to a bunch of doctor appointments.

    At one point when it was over I finally went to the doctor for a weird thing I had been ignoring because I didn’t have time to deal with it, and after one call from them on a Friday saying “don’t freak out but this test did come back weird so we’re going to have to run more test next week to make sure” I spent the entire weekend convinced I was dying. The main thing I kept thinking was “wow, if I’m dying I cannot fucking believe that I wasted the last 4 months working 12-18 hour days 7 days a week.” Don’t do it.

    And if the people you work with are at all reasonable, I don’t think it will burn bridges. They might feel a little resentful but I think they’ll understand. My recent experience was so bad because we were short-staffed. One person quit a bit before and another coworker had to take some leave, and a consultant we had worked with before and was going to be assigned to us again ended up quitting his job too. I don’t think anyone on my team really holds it against the people who left. I hold it against the *company* because I think they need to make our team bigger, hire more/better consultants to cover absences, and set more reasonable deadlines. They keep trying to move things up for no good reason and that has made us be behind since the middle of January.

  40. Essess*

    I would tell your employer that if he contacts your father again, you will contact your employer’s father to tell him how unprofessional he is being and to get him to stop.

  41. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I worked briefly with a woman who had a spotless desk. Believe me, she didn’t accomplish much. I worked with another woman (in the same office) who was a powerhouse. Her desk? A disaster and she refused to file paper. I can’t imagine what either of the Google Drives would look like but if they based it on how “tidy” it was, and hired the first one, they would have hired the wrong woman.

    You might as well judge someone by their Desktops on their computers.

    My Google Drive is seldom used. I’m probably overdue to take a look in there and it’s probably a lot of shared files with fellow Scout leaders.

    At work, I do love my subfolders. To my horror, someone in IT pointed out that soon subfolders will no longer be needed due to metadata tags. I can’t yet wrap my head around this concept. And if that’s the future, how organized your Google Drive is, is no longer relevant.

    1. The Original K.*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a family friend who is retired from heading up a big department and her office had stacks and stacks and stacks of files all over it – I don’t think she possessed a filing cabinet. It made me want to cry but she could put her hands on anything she or anyone else wanted in a matter of seconds. I worked for her one summer and I was like “… How do you live like this?” and someone else in the office said “Watch this. [Family Friend], where’s the Acme Explosives file from last year?” and Family Friend walked right over and grabbed it. It looked horribly disorganized to me but it was perfectly organized for her, which is really all that mattered.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I worked with someone who had stacks of papers on every surface and miraculously knew where everything was. When she announced she retirement, she spent the better part of a month trying to file all this paperwork into some semblance of order. And even then she left a mess for her replacement.

    2. meyer lemon*

      At a previous job, we once had an all-staff meeting where they displayed pictures they had taken of employees’ clean and messy desks to shame the messy people into tidying up more. I think this backfired on them slightly when everyone figured out that all of the messy desks belonged to top contributors and the clean desks belonged to interns.

  42. cosmicgorilla*

    LW1’s boss, yet another contender for (worst) boss of the year! Sadly, he’s not the worst of the ones we’ve seen this year or have yet to see.

    One thing I do want to call out to the LW. In the proposed resignation letter, there’s a hint of justification. LW writes that they would write that boss shouldn’t contact dad because “I’m competent.” This just reads to me as justification and protesting, “I’m competent, really I am!” Of course you are competent, you don’t need to call this out, and you don’t need to justify yourself. You are the employee, and you have a professional relationship with this organization. Full stop. Any communications should go to you as the employee of the organization. Any attempts to contact anyone but you, barring an actual emergency, are a violation of the employee/organization relationship and a breach of professional norms.

    Heck, even if in some way you WERE incompetent, it’s still a breach of professional norms.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      The thing is that it sounds liek the LW has some type of disability and the boss is being ableist. It can be difficult for people who go through this and it is only natural to say but I AM COMPENTENT!

      1. cosmicgorilla*

        Even if the LW has a disability, the boss should still not be communicating with dad. I am the employee, you talk to me.

        Let’s flip the script…when we talk about teenagers, we still say boss talks to the teenager, not the parent. A potential disability is irrelevant.

  43. Jennifer*

    #1 I think it would be difficult for my parents not to answer a phone call from my boss, just because when you get that kind of call you assume it’s an emergency. I guess if they answered and realized it was not an emergency they could request only to get calls if they were needed as my emergency contacts. When I was single, my emergency contacts were either my parents or brother.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I would tell my dad not to talk to the boss unless I’m mangled or something. Otherwise, there’s no reason for Boss to contact him/talk to him. Insofar as a resignation, I’d keep it simple. Not the place to vent about this boss’ behavior. Maybe mention it in the exit interview.

      1. Jennifer*

        That’s a good idea, but the thing is the only way you’ll know what’s going on is if you answer the phone.

    1. irene adler*

      Probably as an emergency contact.
      That’s why I never fill those things out. If asked about this, I tell them everyone’s dead – which puts a quick end to the inquiry.

      1. Hamish the Accountant*

        The OP said that she didn’t give her dad’s info as a contact.

        But it’s really not that hard to find people’s personal information if they aren’t trying hard to hide it.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        Yeah I am hoping that’s the case. It is still wildly unprofessional and unacceptable but I feel like it is the least weird explanation I can think of for why it is even happening at all.

      2. Confused*

        That makes the most sense but OP probably should have included that since they explicitly said that they did not give the boss their dad’s contact info. Weird to include all the context except that.

        Very appropriate username in this instance.

    2. Hamish the Accountant*

      If you know someone’s full name and address it’s surprisingly easy to find information for their family online, unless people are specifically making an effort to hide that information.

      1. Confused*

        That is horrifying, I would probably get a restraining order if the boss did that.

    3. meyer lemon*

      As someone with a very unique last name, it would be quite easy to find most of my relatives by searching online.

  44. Lilo*

    LW3 – “Hey New Employee, you’ve been doing great in the client meetings, however I have a quick note. I know we’re generally a casual dress place but even though it’s over Zoom, we try to dress just a little more formally for client meetings, so no logo shirts or hats. I realize I should have told you this earlier and I sincerely apologize for not saying anything earlier. Thanks!”

  45. Exhausted Trope*

    LP 5, a resounding NO here. Don’t tell the boss you’re bored. You have nothing to gain and quite possibly everything to lose.
    If it’s more opportunities or different tasks you’re after, you can try asking for those but not saying it’s due to boredom. Sounds like you might be ready for new challenges.
    I’m bored to the point of tears at my current job, but there’s nothing my manager can do. And no way would I tell them. I’m very gung-ho about my work anyway but I don’t tell anyone that I am very bored.
    There’s literally nowhere to go in the company and I’ve been given a plethora of new projects but I’m still bored and interviewing elsewhere to leave the field
    I know this isn’t quite where you are at but maybe you can explore other opportunities within your company.

  46. Dwight Schrute*

    Saw this comment on the Facebook post and thought it worth sharing here: maybe the google drive incident wasn’t a real interview but someone trying to gain access to personal documents? Such a bizarre ask! My personal
    Google drive is only half organized because I gave up on it the one day I tried to organize it and just find things via searching

    1. Mental Lentil*

      It wasn’t the recruiter that wanted to see this, it was the company that would be interviewing.

      I kind of think it would be hilarious to set up an entire company, employ a recruiter, and bring people in for an interview just to get a glance at their Google Drive though, considering how easy it is to hack into a Google account (which is why I don’t use them).

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Ah you’re right! I misread! But also, yes! I don’t store anything of personal
        Importance on my google drive. It’s slides and assignments from classes, etc

    2. Anon#24601*

      I search for everything too! I used to feel bad about not organizing my files, until it occurred to me that the purpose of organizing files is so you can find them. As long as I can quickly find any file I need using the search function, how my files are organized doesn’t make much difference.

  47. Anon for this*

    #5 – Do you want to blow up your job? That’s what happened to me when I tried to have this honest conversation with my boss. COVID changed my job dramatically and I grew to hate it. My team was catastrophically short-staffed and I spent most of my time working outside of my interests and expertise. I was so burnt out and depressed, which made the extra work of job searching feel almost impossible. After six months of faking it, I finally confessed to my boss. She was sympathetic, but told me that nothing was going to change. She offered me a generous runway to start transitioning things off my plate and look for a new job. Thankfully, my workload decreased and I actually had the time and mental capacity to job search in earnest.

  48. Van Wilder*

    #3 – I work in Big 4 accounting and I can relate. People quit:
    – During slow season (most common, most convenient)
    – Right before busy season (understandable, inconvenient but I get it and I don’t begrudge anyone)
    – During busy season – this almost never happens because it’s kind of considered a slap in the face to your teammates that will now be working longer hours. I would still not hold it against that person and probably wouldn’t let it affect my reference if I otherwise thought highly of them. But would be less enthusiastic than I had been previously.

    So, if you’re deciding between quitting before busy season or during busy season, I would do it before.

    1. Van Wilder*

      #4 – this was for #4! This is the second time I’ve done this in the last month, smh.

    2. automaticdoor*

      My husband is a big 4 director. I’ve dated him since he was a senior associate, from pretty much exactly where the OP is right now years of experience-wise. He’s had a few seniors/associates quit this year, and he said the same thing — he didn’t begrudge people quitting during a slow period (haha, as slow as it ever gets — so like, November-ish last year) or even just before busy season gets going (first of January)… but when it’s in the midst of things, he’s not super thrilled about it to say the least — there’s no one else to assign to those projects because staff are already on other projects and so you leave the remaining associates/seniors in the lurch. He’s had to step in way more than normal to get stuff done in a timely fashion this year, which throws the budgeted hours per staff level for these projects off and ultimately gets him personally in hot water with partners for going over budget. However, one of the two associates on his projects who quit during busy season this year had a mental health crisis and husband absolutely was fine stepping in there — so basically, your mileage may vary depending on WHY you’re quitting.

  49. Anonymous Hippo*

    #5 – I told my boss I didn’t have enough work to do, and then I didn’t get a chance to breathe for 2.5 years. As soon as things slowed down again I repeated my mistake and was drowned in work for 3 months. I recommend that you try and reach out and find specific projects to fill your time and give you a chance to grow, and not just dump “I’m bored” on your boss because you can’t control the outcome after that.

  50. Sarah*

    #3: OP, the topic isn’t all that delicate. As long as you’re polite about it, it shouldn’t be a big issue to tell the employee they’re dressing too casually.

    As part of the lower rung of management at my work, I sometimes have to pull new employees aside and tell them that their dress isn’t to company standards. The first few times I felt super awkward, but I have actually never gotten any negative response. In fact most of the time the employee have readily accepted what I said and fixed the issue. And some have thanked me, with the understanding it’s better that the warning comes from me with my limited authority, rather than from somebody higher up.

    Talk to the guy, let him know what’s up. Most likely you’ll never see the cap or sweatshirt at a client meeting again.

  51. a clockwork lemon*

    OP 4, if you’re in tax or accounting in some capacity–I feel for you as someone who has also been in those trenches, but you should be aware that quitting right before or in the middle of busy season in the absence of some sort of crisis could have REALLY long lasting effects on your career if you want to stay in the industry. If you don’t want to stay in the field that’s one thing, but it should be a factor in your calculus for jumping ship.

  52. Free Meerkats*

    The Google Drive one is easy. “I don’t use that.”

    Doesn’t need to be true, but they don’t need to see it.

  53. RagingADHD*

    LW#1, how did your dad respond to your boss? I can’t imagine the boss contacting him twice if he shut it down properly the first time. Not rudely (because of course your dad wouldn’t want blowback on you), but “I have nothing to say about this, why would you contact me? It’s got nothing to do with me.”

    You may have a dad problem as much as/more than a boss problem.

    1. opaque_chatterbug*

      I’m not LW#1, but man I was thinking the same thing.

      I have a unique last name, and Dad is like a minor corporate celebrity. People love him and love having excuses to talk to him. And of course he’s a gossipmonger. I had more privacy in college than I did in the workplace.

      I have multiple friends who have gone no-contact with their parents (many are LGBT+) who would be mortified to find out their work spoke to their parents. I had permanent damage to my relationship with my Dad and resulted in intentionally joining an industry/training down a different path that was far enough away from his reach to lower the issues.

  54. RB*

    How does one even work 100 hours in a week? That would be 16 hours on weekdays and 10 hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Even tax season is not that bad. Maybe it was for a political campaign, but those aren’t annual events so you get some slow periods in between.

    1. Hamish the Accountant*

      I’ve heard from one or two people who worked at firms where tax season did get that bad. Usually, pretty large firms that snatch up new grads and dump way more work on them than is reasonable, before they really know workplace norms or have strong enough resumes to have their choice of firms.

  55. basically gods*

    LW #2: Good grief.

    Setting aside the glaringly obvious list of privacy oversteps and violations involved here, people use their Google Drives for different things! And they need different forms of organization!

    I have a very specific system for how I organize my notes and planning for Dungeons and Dragons, but how on earth am I supposed to explain that system without spending a year explaining what it’s like to be a dungeon master first? Oy vey. This is the nightmare scenario.

  56. Middle Manager*

    For LW #1. I received an award at work where it was the company culture to invite a few close family- most often spouses, but as a single person, I invited my parents. It was nice, I got into my line of work inspired a lot by my Dad and I got to name that in my tiny acceptance speech. My boss, who nominated me, was obviously there and it felt incredibly weird having my parents meet my boss, even though there was a logical reason.

    Which is all to say, I cannot fathom the reasoning of your boss. It’s so weird, I really want to know what logic they have come up with to justify this (even though it would obviously be ridiculous). I’m glad you are getting out.

  57. NowALotSmarter*

    Op3 – may be a different factor, but I had something similar when I was starting out in finance. A manager pulled me aside and said people had been discussing my workwear and I needed to ‘smarten up’. Firstly, I was mortified and secondly, I didn’t have any money to buy new clothes – I had one pair of ‘smart’ tailored trousers and was making do with nice enough tops, one blazer and well past had it shoes. I’d just finished education, loaded with debt, moved into an expensive city for work from a small rural village and my first pay had wiped off my overdraft.
    I think you need to cut young new hires a bit of slack at first, I get having a dress code is important, but if you can see someone is genuinely trying with what they have available then please handle it sensitively. Even better, had I known I could have accessed a hardship fund, that would have solved my problems, but for some reason, work thought all of the new hires had come from privileged backgrounds.

  58. bopper*

    4: busy season

    Is this public accounting? If so, I would consider what your next steps are. Public accountants assumes many people will only work for 2 years (the amount of public accounting work time needed to get your CPA)…have you gotten your CPA? Have you done 2 years? Would your next job require a reference?

  59. Cat Lady*

    OP 2: My friends and I regularly have “Powerpoint nights” where we all make Google Slides presentations about silly topics and share them with each other. Mine include things like “rating how hot the cast of XYZ show is” and “a definitive list of all the bad hookups friend A has had” and all of them are stored on my personal drive. If an employer asked to see my personal drive during an interview and somehow ended up reading my rave reviews of William Jackson Harper’s abs, I would probably die of embarrassment.

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