manager keeps talking about astrology, recording video calls, and more

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

1. Manager keeps talking about everyone’s astrological signs

I work for a large, regionally significant nonprofit. My manager-twice-removed has been with our office for about three months. I have not interacted with them much, but every time we’ve met one-on-one they’ve asked me my zodiac sign and mentioned their own as the reason they hold certain viewpoints. On occasion, they’ve justified decisions they’ve made based on astrology. I’ve now heard from a colleague that, during his recent annual review, the manager discussed his sun sign and how it impacts how people perceive him and his relationships with others. He said he told them discussing astrology made him uncomfortable, but the manager persisted and later brought up his sun sign as their perceived reason my colleague decided to hire a particular candidate for his team over another (think along the lines of “you’re a Leo, of course you’d choose an Aries over a Taurus”). I have information from a second colleague that suggests the manager may also be selecting members of our office for professional development opportunities based on their zodiac signs.

I cannot approach my immediate supervisor about this because he gets along well with the new manager and has a history of retaliating against employees who raise concerns about management. We are not unionized.

I’ve always kept my head down but this worries me as it is uncomfortable and unfair. Is this worth approaching HR about? Does it matter that I’m not religious and all this astrology talk makes me uncomfortable as a non-believer? Should I just look for a new job?

It’s totally inappropriate for a manager to bring astrology into work decisions this way, just like it would be utterly inappropriate if he were doing that with a religion. In a reasonably functioning organization, it’s definitely something HR (or someone above the manager) would want to know about. Whether your organization meets that bar I cannot say, but one way to hedge your bets is to approach HR not just on your own, but with a small group of other concerned coworkers. It’ll be a lot harder for this manager to hold it against you if you speaking up about it as a group.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. We’ve starting recording our video calls without everyone’s permission

Hoping you can weigh in on something which is becoming a “new normal” at my place of work (a large multinational company). We’re all still working from home and will likely continue to do so into the future, so all of our meetings are on video software.

Quite often at the start of project meetings, someone will ask if it’s okay to record the meeting. The usual reasons are because a key colleague can’t be present and they’re going to watch it back, or in case useful information is shared and we want to refer back to it. This is almost always met with one or two people saying, “Yes, okay with me” while the rest of the group is silent (is there really an option to really say no?). The meeting recording then starts.

I can’t nail the reason why but this makes me feel icky! I’m worried that I may slip up on detail during a question, or forget to mute myself while I baby-talk to my cat, or I commit a total faux pas and forget a colleague’s name. It would all be immortalized on video.

Also, I don’t have any control over where that video goes within our workplace. I don’t think it’s on a par with existing CCTV in our site offices, which is pretty unobtrusive where we are. This is a close-up video of my face, of my voice, etc. which can be accessed by anyone with the recording link. I’m a deeply private person (I don’t do social media) and feel as though I’m now having to compromise my principles around online privacy in order to participate at work.

I should say that I’m fairly senior within my division and have some say in our ways of working post-Covid, but I feel like pushing back on this makes it look like I have something to hide. Is this just something we have to live with now?

You can speak up! In fact, as a senior person you’re especially well positioned to do it. Rather than trying to tackle it in the moment when someone is asking for permission to record (which is likely to derail the meeting), bring it up separately with other decision-makers. Point out that with meetings having all moved to video, there have been more requests to record but no clear guidelines for when it is or isn’t appropriate to record, how that video should be stored, or how it can be used later. It’s very reasonable to propose creating guidelines for all of that.

That said, a lot of offices record meetings for various uses and I promise you it’s not to scrutinize anyone’s routine slip-ups!

3. Missed out on a scheduled raise because I gave notice

I work for a large tech company that has regular raise cycles. In order to be paid out for vacation days, they require people to give one month’s notice. My team has lost a lot of people recently so I decided to give three months notice.

The problem is the raise cycle recently came and I did not get any pay bump. Now, people who I manage are making more than I am. Technically the day raises are announced is exactly one month from my end date, so I could’ve waited to give notice. To an extent, I understand that they likely don’t want to give a raise to someone who is out the door, but I feel like I’m being punished for trying to do the right thing and give longer notice. Do I have any standing to go to HR and see if I can still get at least some money?

You can try but it’s unlikely to happen. Raises are retention devices and when you’re leaving, they’re not going to see a real business reason for them to give you a raise. You could try arguing that by handling it this way, they’re making it less likely that people will give them generous notice periods in the future … but they’re still pretty unlikely to give you that raise. I’m sorry!

4. Manager can’t give out contact info and has to report requests for references

My husband is classified as a temporary employee for the length of a project and won’t ever be considered “permanent” but he has been at his job for 10 months now. Every few months, the company puts him on a new team with a new supervisor. The other day he was told it was his current supervisor’s last day with this team, and he has had a great rapport and great reviews from this supervisor, so before the teams were changed my husband asked him if he could have his contact information to use him as a reference for jobs sometime in the future. They work remotely and the only way to ask this was using internal communication.

The supervisor replied that it is against company policy for him to share his contact information, and, not only that, he was required to report to HIS supervisors that my husband had asked to use him as a job reference. My husband was shocked! Have you heard of this situation? How does one navigate this?

Some companies do prohibit individual managers from giving references and instead everything to go through HR, but not being allowed to even share his contact info and having to report the request is highly strange. He could have just said, “I’m sorry, we’re not allowed to give references at all.” Either the manager misunderstood the policy (and doesn’t really need to report it / is allowed to give out his own damn contact info) or this is a very odd company.

As for how to navigate it, one option is to ask the manager if he’s able to give a “personal reference” (which as a rule are pretty useless, but when the person giving it is your former manager, most reference-checkers will consider it a professional reference while the manager gets the cover of saying he’s not speaking for the company). But if he refuses that too, then the only real remaining option is to find out if the company’s HR department will at least confirm the basics, like dates of employment and your eligibility for re-hire.

5. Giving notice to the wrong person

My coworker is giving his two week notice. He isn’t going to our/his immediate manager with the news, he is going to her manager (the CFO). Granted, this coworker doesn’t really like our manager and is leaving for a better job, but isn’t this the wrong way to handle it?

Eh, it’s not a big deal. Yes, in general you should give your notice to your manager, but it’s not a disaster if you give it to another appropriate person instead (whether that’s because your manager is out, or hard to reach, or you just can’t stand them). In fact, if he’s leaving because of your manager and wants to explain that, it would make particular sense to speak to her boss instead.

{ 448 comments… read them below }

  1. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

    Heh, astrology manager reminds me of a former manager who was heavy into astrology. She refused to believe I’m a Leo (granted, my personality is much, much closer to a stereotypical Virgo, but it was as if she believed I was lying about my birthday).

    1. Pennyworth*

      Ah – but are you a Leo according to the original Zodiac or has your star sign changed on accordance with the movement of the constellations over the last 2000 years (so perhaps you really are now a Virgo), and was she using the differing lengths of time that should be allocated to each star sign (they can vary from several weeks to several days, and lastly is she taking Ophiucus, the 13th star sign, into account? I have read up enough on the Zodiac to be able to argue woo-mongers into a state of confusion if they try to inflict their nonsense on me.

      1. caps22*

        Haha, can I please bring you to the next time I see my astrology crazed sister? Everrrrrrything is about astrology, and she, too, gets mad when I act non-stereotypically (then she tells me I have too many squares in my houses).

        1. Worldwalker*

          “Real” astrology is not the horoscopes you see in the paper. (it’s still woo, just vastly more complex woo) For example, the process of drawing up a natal horoscope requires the precise date, time, and location of a person’s birth. And there are not just 12 kinds of people; astrologically, everyone is unique.

          So not only is your sister wrong, she’s doing it wrong! As is the manager the OP wrote about.

          1. lilsheba*

            very true, and it has nothing to do with religion. I’m an atheist, and while I’m not enveloped in astrology I won’t put it aside either, it has nothing to do with deity worship.

            1. Nanani*

              Supernatural forces like the position of planets fall into the umbrella of things atheists disbelieve, for a lot of us.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                I regard astrology as proto-astronomy. Lots of disciplines went through this: a period when people realized that there was something interesting going on, but hadn’t really worked out the intellectual framework to work out what exactly this was. Chemistry and alchemy is another example. Some disciplines don’t have a distinct name for the proto form. Modern physics comes from Aristotelian physics, but it was essentially all nonsense before Galileo’s time, and the framework really only goes back to Newton.

                The peculiarity of astrology is that some people still take it seriously. If someone claimed to believe in alchemy, I would suspect the claim to be an affectation. And not even the most woo of woo medicine practitioners talk about your humors being out of balance. I have never been able to put my finger on why astrology is different.

                1. anonymath*

                  Honestly, I see astrology and other such things as an attempt for modern humans to speak the language of poetry or dreams. Our very-rational post-Enlightenment Western world is still full of irrationality; humans don’t just operate on a conscious and rational level. So as a hyper-rational person on one level (see username) I have over the years developed a real respect for the language of poetry, dreams, symbolism, coming even from my experiences of the interlinkage of some physical pains and mental states (so for instance I’ve felt stomach pain and realized that I’m in a situation where “I can’t stomach this” — not at all trying to argue with the existence of cancer and broken bones and the utility of allopathic medicine, but saying that I often feel in my body and paying attention to how my culture conceptualizes those feelings in physical language has allowed me to figure out a few puzzles).

                  Religions provide somewhat-unified cultural languages of symbolism — that’s half their utility in my opinion. Greco-Roman mythology and culture also provide such a language in the West. Tarot provides a language of symbols. In an attempt to be more “scientific” people have gone to Myers-Briggs or Strengths Finder. Whatever. The thing I find more useful about older languages of symbolism is that they provide physical ways to interact with the symbolic world — Tarot has the cards, crystals are pretty rocks, sage is a plant, herbs are plants you can eat and drink that incidentally taste good or at least interesting, Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism or etc have physical places and rituals. Modern life tries to provide substitutes for some of these things but generally loses some key parts of the language of dreams and symbols because “it’s not scientific”.

                  Anyhow, none of that has a place in management given our pluralistic society!

            2. quill*

              Astrology is very fun if you want to do recreational math, receive some fairly general life advice without having to get too personal about seeking it out, or study various cultural superstitions and has zero other relevance, ESPECIALLY in the workplace.

              1. MusicWithRocksIn*

                Now my goal for the day is to use the phrase ‘recreational math’ at least once.

                1. Worldwalker*

                  Now I’m worried because I *have* used the phrase ‘recreational math’ in the past.

                2. Mannequin*

                  I’ve always said that my dad was the only person I’ve ever known that did higher math for fun. Recreational math is the perfect descriptor.

            3. Chinook*

              It is not that it is a religion in and of itself but that is banned from certain religious practices (Catholicism specifically bans it in our Catechism complete with biblical explanations of why). Part of that is because astrology heavily implies a lack of free will. So, if my boss insisted that I give her my astrological sign to work with her, I would be going against my religious beliefs to do so (and if I gave it to her but didn’t take it seriously, I would be in a sense mocking her beliefs).

              That being said, I would be very tempted to point out that she can’t blame me for any negative personality quirks because that is just what comes with hiring a Scorpio – we have nasty bite when cornered.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I’ll have to send you to work with my husband. He works at a (rigorous, science-focused) college and a while back one of his student employees told him it was sexist of him to doubt astrology, because lots of women believe in astrology…? We couldn’t quite figure out her logic on that one.

        1. Anonymous Today*

          I’m afraid this is a sign (pun intended) that this person “slipped through” the screening process and never should have been accepted to a rigorous, science-focused college.

          1. Lucy*

            I think it’s fine (good actually) for screening processes to not systematically exclude students for a silly or wrong opinion!

        2. Vega*

          I’ve also seen some people claim its “homophobic” to criticize astrology because so many LGBTQ+ folks believe in it. I can’t figure out the logic there either.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        And maybe your moon sign is Virgo? That’s what every astrologer I’ve talked to gets around clear mismatches in birth date and sun sign.

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        oooh, OP, you need to ask this manager if she’s factoring in moon signs, or just sun? Because moon signs have *such* an impact on personality!

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Born on the cusp of the two and have had a few people tell me that’s what caused my occasional shifts in how I react (no, that’s the schizophrenia).

      Never had a boss ask my star sign but I did have one who wanted to know everyone’s blood type to reason out what kind of job they’d be best at (btw I’m in the UK and not a country where this is more normal) and got a bit tetchy when he found out mine’s one of the rarer ones that he hadn’t done an analysis for :p

      Anyone willing to put in a bet on whether in future we’ll see a manager convinced they can easily judge people based on what season of the year they prefer? (“You like autumn? Oh you’re not suited for IT if you like things falling down”) :p

      1. English, not American*

        That’s so bizarre, I had no idea “blood type personality theory” was a thing! Now I’m sad I don’t know my blood type.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Donate blood and they give you a card that lists it. I figure it might be handy to know, though I’ve got no idea how.

            1. Clisby*

              The only thing I can think of is that I’ve occasionally seen appeals for blood donors where they’re really urging people with particular blood types to donate.

            2. Student Affairs Sally*

              If ever you need a transfusion, you (or a family member) can tell them what blood type and they can get you transfused faster than if they had to do the test first.

              Also if you like to donate, it’s helpful to know your blood type so that if you hear there’s a shortage of your type in your area, you know to go donate :)

              1. Jerry Larry Terry Gary*

                Don’t they test anyway? I’d be surprised if they take someone’s family members’ word for it.

                1. quill*

                  yeah, the card is really not for telling the people about to transfuse you, it’s just faster processing for the next blood drive. :)

                2. Artemesia*

                  I would hope not since the consequences of getting it wrong can be death. My daughter did a test in a bio class in high school and believed herself to be O negative — so I gave her the lecture on the problems of negative blood (e.g. the need for Rhogan if you have a miscarriage as well as when pregnant). When she was pregnant and told them she was RH-, they tested her 3 different times before assuring her she was RH+

                3. Worldwalker*

                  Yeah, it takes a minute to test and the consequences of not knowing can be lethal. Saving that minute (which would probably be lost anyway finding someone who can tell you, even if it’s just walking out to the waiting room to ask a family member) isn’t worth the risk of killing the patient by getting it wrong.

          2. English, not American*

            I’ve never donated blood, and it’s not in my medical records from when I’ve had blood tests, so it can’t be that important. My doctor told me they don’t tend to include it with blood tests because they can’t trust the record to be accurate. If someone needs blood, they test for their type at that point.

            1. Worldwalker*

              And I believe they also test the blood being administered, because a labeling error could, again, kill the patient. Better safe than sorry.

          3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

            It is a good idea, but for medical reasons, not for weird pseudoscience in the workplace! I’d respond to such a request by saying that it is my confidential medical information and unless I am requesting an ADA accommodation and my blood type is information that is necessary to working out that accommodation, I am not disclosing. I certainly am not disclosing things for someone to use a pseudoscientific method to assess my personality rather than taking the time and patience to just get to know me.

        1. EmmaPoet*

          There was a blood type diet craze back in the 90s and several books came out on the subject. They also covered what exercise you should do, personality types, etc. I’m supposed to be vegetarian according to their blood profile, but in reality I can’t eat soy or beans or too much dairy. So, not accurate or helpful.

        2. Autumnheart*

          It’s where we got words like “phlegmatic” and “sanguine” to describe people.

          1. Worldwalker*

            And “bilious” and “melancholy”.

            Phlegm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile.

        3. Jaid*

          It’s pretty big in Japan. Lots of character descriptions in manga and anime include their blood types…

        1. Emma*

          In some South East Asian countries it’s common to believe that blood type is strongly connected to personality, and is often used in dating apps etc

          1. Myrin*

            Ah, yes, the possible other East Asian countries that might conceivably exist. Good lord. “possibly“, of course.

            1. Jules the Goblin*

              I thought this was a snooty remark until I realized it was the same person replying to their own comment! Lol

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Kpop stars have blood type show up in fandom writeups. I loved the one that said which blood types are most common, and then proceeded to show the breakdown is within a % point of South Korea itself.

          1. JohannaCabal*

            Blood type is also a thing in Japan. When I was into manga and anime, they would always include the blood type in character descriptions (and even in biographies of mangaka).

            I can’t even remember mine. I have to check my birth certificate.

            1. rachel in nyc*

              i had mine wrong for years…my parents had it flipped basically. i didn’t know it until i started donating blood (they put it on your donors card because…)

            2. LunaLena*

              There’s a pretty hilarious chapter in the Cromartie High manga, where the author makes fun of his culture’s obsession with blood type personalities. The characters discover that one of their classmates is a Freddie Mercury-lookalike who never talks except to randomly break out in song (and to be fair he is not even the most unusual student at the school), so in an attempt to find out more about him they get a book that explains blood type personalities and monitor everything he does to figure out his blood type. For example: “Look, he’s spontaneously doing push-ups!” “That indicates type A!”

      2. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

        I would rather have given a blood type than do a handwriting sample which they then faxed to a fellow in the UK (we were in Canada) to determine my personality. All job candidates had to do a handwriting sample at the interview. I got the job but quit six months later. They were awful people.

        1. londonedit*

          I’ve heard of handwriting analysis being a big thing in France (maybe also Germany?) but absolutely not in the UK!

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Good lord, I shudder to think of the mess if we implemented it here. Myself included we all write like engineers.

        2. Heidi*

          It seems a lot of trouble to determine your personality when they could just…talk to you?

              1. Free Meerkats*

                I prefer retrophrenology where you tell the practitioner what personality you want and, through the judicious application of a collection of hammers, they give you the bumps to suit that personality.

    3. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Lol! Reminds me of freelancing at a place where one of the managers was REALLY into numerology. She was an 11, which apparently meant that she was *special* and her path was destined for greatness. This was of course all explained to me with a sneer of obvious superiority, since my number was a lowly, common one.
      Last time I worked there her special path was to HR to get written up for wearing literal pyjama pants to work.

          1. Worldwalker*

            There are times when I *so* wish this comment system had a “like” button. This is one of them.

          2. JobHunter*

            I respectfully request that everyone please hold any further requests of this nature as I am already backlogged with the “Gumption”, “Brain weasels are stupid”, and “When your house is on fire…” samplers–though this one might get prioritized.

            Thank you ;)

          1. Lunar Caustic*

            I am absolutely going to learn how to do illuminated letters and write this up in a Gothic alphabet for my office.

            1. Worldwalker*

              If I had an email for you, I could comp you a font I sell on DriveThruRPG for that sort of thing (multiple color layers and all). It’s not as cool as the real thing, but saves a huge amount of time learning calligraphy. Figure out how to get in touch and I’ll get it to you.

              I’m now thinking of doing that up myself and sending off a high-res graphic of it to a friend of mine, who had a former co-worker I nicknamed “Nopantsman” for predictable reasons. Though in his case, it was less about glorious purpose and more about truly epic cluelessness. And no pants.

                1. Anoni*

                  I worked with a guy who, when a pipe broke in the ceiling at work and flooded our office, decided it made less sense to roll up his pant legs to roll the copier into the hall to avoid the waterfall than it did to COMPLETELY REMOVE HIS PANTS.

                  That one lives in infamy.

            2. quill*

              Somewhere in my boxes from moving is a very comprehensive calligraphy textbook… My pens are probably deceased though…

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        You made my day with this: “her special path was to HR to get written up for wearing literal pajama pants to work.”

      2. Autistic AF*

        I knew someone who was raised JW, left, went back, then left for good… He changed his name the first time and added an extra, silent letter because numerology told him an 8-letter name was better. Think Antoiwne instead of Antoine. He wouldn’t let people nickname him either.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I once dated someone who was well into numerology. The only positive thing I ever got from her was the ability for me to claim I’m 21 for the rest of my life.

        (It all depends on what base you’re counting in :p )

      4. Queer Earthling*

        my number was a lowly, common one.

        I mean, it is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. (Although I have it on good authority that two can be as bad as one.)

    4. Bagpuss*

      I once had a client decide to dis-instruct me as she decided that our star signs were not compatible.

      She didn’t actually know what my star sign was, but had apparently deduced it (incorrectly) from our conversations. I decided not to tell her, for fear that she might decide to re-instruct me..

      I had previously had to explain to her that no, I did not think that asking if she could place crystals at strategic points in the courtroom during her hearing was a good idea, (especially as her explanation was that they would influence the court in her favour) and that it was important that she tried to work with the Social Worker even if their aura was the wrong colour.


      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Crystals…in the courtroom? Oh man I’d have loved to see the look on the bailiffs faces if she’d actually tried it.

        (Did have a coworker years ago who wanted to smudge out evil influences in the department. I suggested not burning incense or sage in the IT department – it makes the computers cough :p )

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Imagine explaining that after the fire system triggers the sprinklers.

        2. Hotdog not dog*

          I had a coworker years ago who had some kind of “specialist” come in and burn sage in the office to “release the bad energy”. I guess it worked, because the fire alarms went off and we all went outside. Most of us took our “bad energy” to the bar down the street to wait for the all-clear.

        3. Bagpuss*

          It was family court so no bailiff, but it would not have gone down well.
          She had a very eclectic and ..interesting… set of beliefs, many of which appeared t the outside eye to be mutually contradictory.

          Her initial response when we talked about why Social Services were concerned about her having left her 2 years old child alone in her home was to tell me it was fine because her Guardian Angel was watching over the child. I had to explain that unless she could get the Angel to give a statement and attend court, visible to everyone, (even those of us who were not strong in faith and pure of soul) to confirm that , the court was going to see it as her having left the child unsupervised.

          She was a nice lady, but a bit odd, even in the area I was working in at the time, which attracted a *lot* of people with alternative beliefs .

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            One of the interesting insights about conspiracy theories is that it’s unusual to just choose one: people who believe one are far more likely to believe others, even if they seem to be contradictory.

            1. Bagpuss*

              Yes – in her case it wasn’t conspiracy theories but instead huge swathes of religious / spiritual beliefs, but I imagine the same sort of thing applies.

              But despite her odd beliefs, she was generally perfectly pleasant to deal with, I just had to think a little bit sideways to work out how to advise her in ways that fit with her understanding of the world while still being legally correct and without committing myself to beliefs I don’t share.

              It was easier than the demon possession case, anyway.

              1. The Prettiest Curse*

                Oh, I would LOVE to know about the demon possession case. Was it something like “not my fault, a demon made me do it” and the court was “nope, not a valid defence” or was it more involved than that?

              2. SD*

                Was your demon possession case the one that is currently being advertised all over my TV? The promo goes like this: courts have always accepted the reality of God as shown by swearing on the Bible, therefore they must also acknowledge the reality of demons, which leads directly to accepting a plea of not guilty by demon possession. Somehow I’m just not rushing to find a pencil and paper to know when to catch that show.

              3. Bagpuss*

                It was
                Client: “Social Services have just removed our children”
                Me : “I’m sorry to hear that. What reason have they given?”
                Client “It’s because [child] is possessed by a demon”

                Me [the ink is not yet dry on my admission certificate, but I’m trying to maintain a professional attitude and look as if I’m just filling in the ‘possessed by demon’ check box on my standard instruction form] OK, can you give me a bit more information about that…?”

                I felt for the poor Church of England vicar who had had them show up on the doorstep requesting that he exorcise the child for them.

                1. trekkie*

                  This does remind me of the Star Trek trope where cast members do horrible things, but are not held responsible, because they were controlled by an Evil Alien Entity.

                2. The Prettiest Curse*

                  Wow. Congratulations to the vicar on keeping a straight face. Does the C of E even DO exorcisms or do you need a Catholic priest for that?

                3. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  I wish to learn from you how to keep a straight face even in those circumstances. Seriously, you’re GOOD.

                4. The Prettiest Curse*

                  Oh, and congratulations on your straight face too. I would have found it impossible not to laugh.

            2. Artemesia*

              Same is true of people who fall for scams; there are lists of these people. When my husband was prosecuting securities fraud one of the first questions he would ask a potential victim was ‘do you have any other investments’ — and invariably they would have an ‘investment grade sapphire’ in their safe deposit box, or have bonds from a local fundamentalist church, or have bought steamer coal to be held till the market went up or similar.

        4. Liane*

          A few years ago, in one of Allison’s open calls for “Weird/Funny Work Stories About ____” there was a reply about a group who did smudge their store with sage to remove the bad energy caused by other workers. The poster stated that the only “bad energy” in the place was the Sage-burners’ toxicity. No word on what the sage did to the registers.

          1. quill*

            If it had caused computer problems with the registers I doubt anyone would have noticed, everyone who has worked a computerized register knows what POS, nominally Point of Sale, really means…

        5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Did have a coworker years ago who wanted to smudge out evil influences in the department.

          I try that, but my employers like Micro$oft… <evil grin>

        6. Argye*

          Oof. Where I used to work, the IT guy decided that burning incense in his office right next to a museum and library full of incredibly flammable materials was a good idea. He was very irritated when people smelled smoke and flipped out.

          1. Lenora Rose*

            I’m reminded of the guy who thought the place to sneak into to try and have a smoke was the bakery’s flour silo.

            Immediately after they fired him they re-posted pictures from the bakery fire they HAD had 20 years before all over the billboard.

        7. Worldwalker*

          IT aside, I thought of a reason why smudging might actually work, at least in enough cases to be above random chance: If an area has a faint bad smell … mold, perhaps, or a former un-housebroken dog … someone might not notice it consciously, but it would bug them subconsciously. Aka “bad vibes.” Burning something with a distinctive, lingering smell — white sage, incense, whatever — could override that faint smell, and improve the environment in a physical way, which a believer would think is a spiritual way. It doesn’t have to be the case every time, just more than chance. It’s basically like burning some incense because your whole kitchen has been smelling like bacon for days, except on a subliminal level. It makes more sense than “driving out the negative energy”, anyway.

          1. Mockingdragon*

            Besides, even if it’s just aromatherapy, if it means a person goes from being subconsciously cranky to subconsciously neutral, I’d say that IS negative energy being removed =3

          2. Bess*

            A lot of times I think it’s a way to physically do something to release some mental barrier someone may have. So you “cleanse” a space and you mentally feel like you can let go of some baggage or start fresh. A lot of human rituals operate like this.

            I do think it’s a little weird to do it in a communal space if not everyone is on board, or secretly in a space you don’t own. That seems unhealthy, and more about wanting unrealistic levels of control (and/or the illusion thereof) over something that is not yours to control.

        8. Free now (and forever)*

          Years ago I clerked in the case of 12 anti-abortion protestors who had broken into an abortion clinic, lay down and handcuffed themselves in pairs to each other through a series of pipes that they had brought along. It took a long time for the police to get them out of there. Every morning as I sat in court, the defendants arrived, sprinkled holy water on the entrance to the courtroom and recited psalms. I worked very hard at maintaining a straight face. We did have to tell the defendants that I had observed their protest because I lived next door to the clinic. We didn’t tell them that I had bought donuts for the police.

        9. quill*

          Doesn’t she know you have to leave snacks on top of the servers as offerings to the network gods?

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            No, no, no, you leave offerings of DOS 5.0 manuals. Or threaten to hit the computer with them, either works.

            1. quill*

              You have to relabel all script manuals belonging to systems or languages that have been unsupported / unused for over ten years “how to kill insects” or they start to create illusions (of relevancy) to trap the unwary.

            1. quill*

              If you take them out of the packaging, is it truly an offer to the server, or an offer to the server room mice?

        10. Lenora Rose*

          I’m pretty sure you can find someone who can do a full proper Indigenous smudging without making he computers — or fire alarms — cough (though if the business/location was serious about it, they’d arrange it shortly after hours, properly alert the fire department and disable the system for the duration Just in Case, and ventilate so it would be clear by morning). I’ve been smudged (also before s church service) with a sage fire that literally fit in a holder in the palm of someone’s hand (And done outside so they didn’t have to do the fire department rigamarole). I get the impression a lot of Newage “smudging” isn’t so modest, though.

          (A smudging was done in our church after serious vandalism, and I know some schools with high-percentage Indigenous enrolment do the same. I can’t see this being needed in a typical workspace or during a workday, though.)

      2. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I am guessing that means you are a lawyer and as a fellow lawyer, I assure you, I encounter this kind of thing WAY more often than most people believe! LOL

    5. EvilQueenRegina*

      If I’d been born on my original due date I would have been a Leo, in the end I was a week late and that one week pushed me over into Virgo. Wonder what that boss would have made of me.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Same: If I had been born on time I’d have been a Leo but I arrived early and ended up a Cancer. And I am literally all the things they tell you Cancerians should be: Hypersensitive, fussy, domestic, sentimental. It’s pretty hilarious. Even better, I’ve accidentally (because this is definitely not something I ask of potential dates) dated compatible signs: Tauruses, a Virgo, and one Capricorn where things got predictably weird. I tried dating another Cancer once but there was drama. My best friend is a Scorpio, as is my prickly boss with whom I get along particularly well. It just keeps getting worse/better/funnier.

        I still don’t actually believe in astrology and I sure as heck don’t want it brought into play at work.

    6. East Coast Girl*

      In my previous work life working in an archives, one of my first reference questions from the public was a woman looking for hospital birth records from decades before. As best we could tell, they had long ago been destroyed and are not something that ever would have come to the archives, anyway.

      She was really pressing the issue and it finally came to light that she wanted to pin down the exact time of her birth for “astrological reasons” – I had no idea this was a thing until then and even years later whenever I hear “astrology” that’s what I think about!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        A friend took me to a psychic fair on a whim and bought me a tarot card reading with the psychic of my choice. The lady I picked said she needed to do my ‘star chart’ first. She asked for the exact time of my birth and I told her what was on my birth certificate. She said, ‘Oh, no. That’s not right. And you’re adopted, aren’t you? Maybe they lied to you.’

        She had my attention. I was adopted at birth but hadn’t told her that. When I was finally able to get my original birth certificate, the time of my birth was different. Not sure if that made me a different kind of Libra, but psychic seemed to know something I didn’t.

        1. East Coast Girl*

          Very interesting! I have certainly had enough spooky/hard to explain things happen in my life that I don’t “not believe”, it’s just so hard to qualify these things and so easy to second guess them after the fact.

          It’s entirely possible that the long-form version of the woman in question’s birth certificate may have had time of birth noted but unfortunately those hadn’t been transferred to the archives yet so our options were zilch. I don’t know if she ever got the info she wanted, she was definitely on a mission.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            When I was adopted 60 years ago, it was normal for the time and even the date of birth to be changed for the new birth certificate issued after the adoption. If the adopted person went to the hospital of their birth to search for records, the hospital could only confirm a birth on the date and time you were born, nothing else.

            My state was pretty restrictive about adoptees’ right to birth info until about 10 years ago, all to ‘protect’ us. The changed time of birth was likely deliberate, not a bookkeeping error.

      2. Worldwalker*

        For “real” astrology, the exact time and place of birth is of overwhelming importance. Everybody born in June is not somehow the same — exactly when and where they were born is far more important. As I said in another post, it’s still woo, but it’s much more complicated woo.

    7. PhyllisB*

      I find it interesting that OP says astrology makes her uncomfortable because she’s not religious. In actuality religious people do not believe in the practice of astrology. The Bible very clearly instructs Christians to have nothing to do with it. Not trying to start a religious debate, but this is a valid concern. If you have religious people on staff this is probably very upsetting to them.

      1. Klio*

        You are equating religious with Christian. Religion is the umbrella term, Christian is just one of many religions. And, yes, astrology sounds very much like just another religion.

      2. Needs Caffeine*

        There are other religions. You can say “I’m not religious” and be referring to not being a Christian or a Buddhist. And I’m not sure what making other religious people uncomfortable is the issue, people have to work with people who hold conflicting religious beliefs every day. It’s just the fact that unless your working for a religious orginzation, religious beliefs are personal and you can’t cite them as the reason you make decisions that’s relevant here. You also can’t be trying to convert people, which I guess the manager is kind of attempting.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        There are many people of faith who utilize astrology, but they don’t happen to be followers of Christ. Please remember that Christianity isn’t the only religious franchise available.

        Also, I once joked that I would have to check my horoscope before I did something at the office, and our department admin gave me a severe lecture about making fun of her belief system. She was a practicing Catholic as well, maybe she missed that part of the bible.

        1. Chinook*

          There are also those who use a form of astrology but not the ones based on the zodiac (which is culturally specific). I would love to see the OP’s boss get into a discussion with someone from another culture who believes in a different interpretation of the stars.

      4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        In this context, OP1 was likely using the statement that she’s not religious as a short hand for being a skeptic/non-believer in most/all things supernatural and/or the concepts of fate/predetermination/the idea that we are controlled by outside influences of any variety.

        Also, there are innumerable religious individuals around the world who do believe in astrology, regardless of which religion they happen to hail from. Kindly refrain from insisting that your personal interpretation of any particular religious text is the only valid and viable and correct way of being a religious person.

        That having been said, you do make a very valid point, that many people would (and should) object to being subjected to a manager’s spirituality to this degree. Ideally, all workers should manifest their personal beliefs internally only, so as to avoid inflicting them on any unwilling coworkers.

        1. AskJeeves*

          This. I can’t speak to the New Testament, but for Jews, while the Torah (Old Testament) does forbid magic, astrological signs based on the lunar calendar are an ancient and accepted part of Judaism. People don’t tend to assign a lot of significance to it today, but it’s certainly not antithetical to Jewish observance.

          And the manager is behaving totally inappropriately, of course, regardless of whether it’s tied to religion or not.

      5. Hiring Mgr*

        I would think that astrology and religion are two sides of the same coin in a sense. But regardless, does not belong in a work context at all, unless you’re Darrell Martini, the Cosmic Muffin

          1. Hiring Mgr*

            “It’s a wise person who rules the stars, it’s a fool who’s ruled by them”

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, this: I’m not religious, either, but both religion and astrology are . . . not sure how to phrase this. Belief in the noncorporeal and non-provable?

          1. MK*

            In my country there was something of a media battle raging in 2019 between astrologers claiming that it is a science, based on data and the “provable” influence the very corporeal planets have on humans and events, much in the way gravity works, and scientists debunking their claims.

      6. Snailing*

        In my mind, I’d be more upset that the manager is making decisions on what she perceives to be intrinsic traits based on time of birth versus what someone is actually like – it feels so much like “well, black people are biologically less smart” or “women are biologically more sensitive” – a bunch of bull! But also, it seems like OP is round-about saying this manager is treating astrology like it is a religion (and for some, it can be), so she’s feeling uncomfortable just like if her manager was Christian and basing promotions on what God told her, or Buddhist and basing promotion off of who is the most enlightened etc. It’s inappropriate no matter which way you look at it and no matter who the receiver is.

        1. MK*

          I admit I also read it as “this probably wouldn’t be as offensive to a believer”, which is not true, since some religions forbid or reject astrology and few endorse it.

          Astrology isn’t religion or anything like it, especially given that practitioners are fighting very hard to convince others it’s a science. But I think in the workplace, and particularly for the purpose of answering the OP, it is a comparable situation: you have a manager who is imposing their personal conviction about how the universe works in their employees.

          1. Black Horse Dancing*

            I disagree that astrology isn’t religion or anything like it. Astrology can be a sincerely held belief, just like religion. Like religion, it requires no proof or evidence but faith. It’s certainly no weirder or less credible than any religion.

            1. quill*

              And some religions or spiritual beliefs are compatible with each other and others are… not.

            2. Seacalliope*

              It makes falsifiable predictions which are then falsified. Most religions don’t make falsifiable predictions, so on that level, they’re actually more credible.

            3. MK*

              “A sincerely held belief that requires no proof” is not the definition of religion. There are myriad such beliefs that are not religious. In fact, atheism and agnosticism are sincerely held beliefs that aren’t proven. If someone who believes in astrology wants to define their belief as religion, ok, I won’t argue with that, though I have never known of astrology defined as a faith by anyone who practices it. If an atheist groups astrology with religions in a general category of non-proven beliefs, ok, but it doesn’t make it a religion, and the most astrology believers I personally know are agnostic. In general, I would say that astrology is distinct a religion, because it appears to be separate from belief in a deity.

        2. Worldwalker*

          Y’know, you could make a case that someone who adhered most closely to the Eightfold Path, whether or not they’re a Buddhist, *would* be most suitable for promotion. Especially the parts about “right conduct” and “right speech”. A significant number of AAM letters deal with someone who is violating those … taking what is not given, lying, causing discord, etc. Certainly a better criterion than “was born in June”.

        3. PT*

          We’ve seen similar letters about managers who get a little too into personality tests (DISC, Meyer’s Briggs, etc,) too. “Oh you’re a Fluffy Bunny on the Animal Assessment so of course you’d hire another Fluffy Bunny! But we’re really looking for a Tiger with a secondary Sloth! This training is really only for Frogs, I think only Frogs would benefit from the Social Media Engagement webinar, even though you are the Social Media Manager, you’re a Fluffy Bunny not a Frog so you can’t do the webinar.”

          That’s still inappropriate.

      7. Worldwalker*

        And yet there have been people who are both devout Christians and astrologers. John Dee thought he talked with angels. The admonition in the Bible is less clear than you might think; it might in fact be referring to poisoners.

        Plus, as others have pointed out, Christianity is not the only religion in existence. There are a dozen or so major ones and thousands, if not millions, of minor ones and variants. A not insignificant percentage of them accept, or even incorporate, astrology.

      8. Observer*

        I find it interesting that OP says astrology makes her uncomfortable because she’s not religious. In actuality religious people do not believe in the practice of astrology.

        This is a non-sequitur. Many religious people are uncomfortable with Astrology, just as many religious people are uncomfortable with the practice of other religions. That doesn’t mean that people who are not religious are not going to feel uncomfortable with the practice of astrology, just as you wouldn’t say that they would not be uncomfortable with the practice of any other religion in their workplace. One could discuss whether astrology is technically a religion but it certainly is religious-like.

        The Bible very clearly instructs Christians to have nothing to do with it

        Yeah, well “Religious” does NOT necessarily mean “Christian.” And actually some religions actually accept astrology as acceptable, and it’s PART of others (like Hinduism.)

        1. Worldwalker*

          Also, the Bible is equally clear, if not more so, about eating shellfish, getting a divorce, and so on, but a lot of Christians seem to find reasons for why that doesn’t apply to them personally. (I could add “avoiding hypocrisy” but that’s sadly true for any religion, or any belief system at all)

      9. disconnect*

        Ok so here’s a thought, anytime you find yourself typing anything like “not trying to start a religious debate, but”, or “don’t wanna derail, but”, maybe that’s what you’re actually doing? Just something to consider.

      10. Chinook*

        It is a mistake to says Christians don’t believe in astrology. We believe it exists, which is why we are prohibited from participating (because you don’t ban things you don’t believe exist). I know for Catholics, the belief behind it has to do with a) we all have free will and stars/planets have no influence over your choices and b) any manipulation of future events through manipulation (usually done by interfering with the free will of others) is bad. The flip side of this is that, as Christians (who believe in free will) , you alone are responsible for your actions (and attitude) and you can’t say that the stars made me do it.

      11. Bess*

        Well…modern, mainstream Christianity has interpreted the Bible as clearly instructing against astrology. Divination in various forms is referenced on and off in the Bible and has been practiced in association with many variations of Judaism and Christianity through the ages, without that apparent division.

    8. HoHumDrum*

      Once had a friend earnestly explain to me that if my personality doesn’t match my star sign I must be repressing who I really am/don’t understand my true self.

      I’m all for people having fun with astrology, or for people who personally find significance in it, but a lot of the astrology folks I know feel like talking to evangelical christians honestly, it’s exhausting.

      1. Worldwalker*

        Given how much more I know about astrology than the people who believe in it at the “newspaper horoscope” level (note: it’s still woo, just fancier woo) I’d say it’s more like talking to evangelical Christians who have never read the Bible. Most of the people who believe in astrology don’t know the first thing about it.

        1. Black Horse Dancing*

          No more woo than any other faith. I wish people would stop using that term. You don’t believe in it, cool. I call religion ‘woo’ and people get all butt hurt. Yet people call psychics, astrology ‘woo’ when it’s no more ‘woo ‘ than any sect of Christianity, Islam, etc.

          1. quill*

            It gets woo as soon as you use it to contraindicate observable, provable phenomenon.

            Prayer, personal reflection based on horoscope, community based on religion or spirituality: not woo.

            Praying away your illnesses, hiring people based on horoscope, communities forcing others to practice or cater to their beliefs for ordinary civic participation with community members: definite woo.

        2. HoHumDrum*

          Not to get into it here on AAM but- “evangelical christians who have never read the bible” is unfortunately a significant chunk of them. Got my eyes opened real wide by learning from my partner who was raised that way and has a lot to say on the way the religion is optimized for just picking and choosing passages that support what you want to believe and discouraging deeper study on christianity/the bible as a whole.

          Actually a lot of the friends I’m talking about are into astrology on a deeper level as well- that is where it gets frustrating. When I say “Yeah, I’m not really into astrology, my sign doesn’t really fit me and none of it really resonates with me” people never just let it end there, it’s always “Oh you need to do your whole chart!” (I have, still doesn’t resonate) “You don’t understand the complexities of your sign, you’re just looking at the surface explanation!” (I’ve looked into it, still doesn’t resonate) “Well you’re a cusp! You need to look at two signs and charts and how they intersect!” (Yeah, that sign doesn’t fit me either), and then that’s where it turns into “Well you just don’t understand it then” or “well I see you more like X trait so maybe you’re just not appreciating your true self” or whatever. And *thats* the part that angers me, and once we get to that level of persuasion for astrology there’s usually not a good way out for me without having to say things about astrology that will hurt and offend the person in question, and so I have to either agree with them or I become the jerk. So, to bring it back to the LW, if I had a manger who insisted on using this system to manage I would be enraged. I have no comment on how astrology works for others, but I can assure you that it is not a helpful lens for analyzing me personally, and if you insist on utilizing that lens for me I would think you are a poor manager and I would feel the same about you as if you told me I needed to be “saved” in order to move up at the job. Believe what feels right for you, don’t force it on me.

          1. Artemesia*

            No one who practices this woo has ever been able to tell me why the movements of stars literally thousands to millions of light years away would have any influence on a human personality.

    9. Van Wilder*

      I don’t get how people talk about astrology as if it’s general knowledge instead of a religious belief. Even people who are members of mainstream religions somehow also treat astrology as fact. It’s so ubiquitous at work, with friends, everywhere. It’s almost worse than pushing a mainstream religion at work because it’s so furtive.

      Anyway, best of luck, OP. Sounds very frustrating.

  2. Cranky Lady*

    #2 – Your office needs a policy…one that aligns with local/state laws and has been clearly communicated to all staff. Having said that, the reality is that no one really ever looks at these recordings, especially more than 30 days after the meeting. (I can’t find the Microsoft statistic I was looking for but something like 90% of meeting recordings are never watched after 90 days if at all.)

    1. alienor*

      It’s true, I have never watched back a recording of a meeting and I doubt many other people do either. If I need to know what was discussed, I get a recap from someone else who attended–there’s no way I’m sitting through an hour-long recording when I can read a few bullet points.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yes – I think if you push back on recordings, ask for an audit of how the previous recordings have been used. If they’re not being watched (very likely) then suggesting a system of sharing notes/action items for non-attendees is better!

        It’s easier for non-attendees and it’s more respectful of privacy for attendees.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Hmm, yes. As someone whose preliminary meetings are often recorded for those who can’t make the meeting, an efficient person typing up what you need to know would be faster than watching the video of the meeting. Though of course require person-hours, where recording is free to the company–that might be in play.

          Partial exception if screen sharing is important, a la “So you need to click here, then click here, then click here, then pull down this, and the “AQ17B code” you must enter is halfway down the fourth column.”

          1. Kate*

            I’d disagree that recording is free to the company. The cost of someone watching an entire meeting is their salary for the hour – and you’ve lost the opportunity for them to actually contribute to the discussion, which makes their presence even less valuable. If you’ve got a good note taker present in the meeting, they can take notes nearly simultaneously while still participating and will be much faster to synthesize (or to even catch up the absent colleague verbally). 95% of most meetings can be immediately forgotten – it’s only a few key decisions and follow-up actions that you need to save – and those are better distilled than having someone re-infer after an hour of video.

            1. Andy*

              Fair amount of meetings are 1-2 people talking and everybody else just listening. There are meetings where everybody discuss, but significant amount of them is not like that.

              If the meeting is about dissemination of information, note taking wont do it. Note taking is good for agreements, who is going to do what and simple factual info. I never seen notes that would be useful for anything more complex for someone who was in the meetings and thus dont remember context.

              1. Worldwalker*

                If the meeting is about dissemination of information, it should be a memo in the first place. This is why there are too many meetings. IMO, it’s an ego thing: “I’m so important that I can make 10 people spend an hour listening to me talk.”

                1. PT*

                  This is great if you work at a company with responsible people. But a lot of people are not responsible and they do not read memos. They ignore them.

                  I used to send out memos so I would not have to hold constant meetings and this was the general result. People ignored my memos, I had to hold two dozen 1:1s with everyone to catch them up to speed on the various memos because they ignored them or they misunderstood them, and they got annoyed with me for “wasting their time sending boring memos.”

                  Most of them were quick things like, “The gate to the llama paddock was unlocked and the llamas got out, please make sure the gate is locked when you leave!” or “The pitchfork is missing, does anyone know where it is?” or “Please read the new llama groomer’s checklist before you start grooming llamas, the procedures have changed.”

                  So, instead we had meetings.

        2. Grace Poole*

          We were just having this conversation in MPOW. Recording meetings seems easy and accessible, but the likelihood of anyone watching video of an hour-long meeting is so low. It’s much easier to skim a notes doc or minutes.

    2. MK*

      Yes, a policy would be good, but a lot of the OP’s concerns are a stretch. If you slip on a detail answering a question, you frankly admit you made a mistake and give the correct information. If you forget a person’s name, you apologize. If you talk baby talk in a work call, well, don’t talk to your cat when you are supposed to be concentrating at work, but also not the end of the world. The bigger issue is that none of these things are private, you didn’t do them privately and you have no expectation of privacy about them. You are not asked to “compromise your principles about online privacy”.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this is where I land, too. And really, how many people are going to go back and watch those meetings?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          As someone who might conceivably watch such a meeting, all I care about is “When the guidelines say ‘a short practical question’ here are five examples of what that might be” and “You need the national standard code, which is found over here. This column next to it you should totally ignore.”

        2. Worldwalker*

          Or give a flying whistle about the person down in the bottom right corner of the screen talking to their cat? (folks, mute exists for a reason…)

      2. EPLawyer*

        Yes. If you are on a work call, you are by definition not private. This isn’t the same as Alexa recording you and then putting it on the Amazon website (and the new street thingie that is opt OUT rather than opt IN is creating havoc for attorneys). It’s not twitter or Facebook where you don’t have a lot of control over the content. In fact, its not social media at all.

        Having a policy to make sure these videos don’t escape into the wild beyond the company is good, but recording them is not a huge invasion of privacy.

        1. ArtK*

          One of the big reasons I refuse to have an electronic spy in my house. These companies make money off of violating privacy.

      3. Antilles*

        “The bigger issue is that none of these things are private, you didn’t do them privately and you have no expectation of privacy about them. ”
        In fact, if OP reads their Technology and Usage IT Policy / Employee Handbook / whatever, I’ll bet the language already covers the privacy implications of this. When you read a clause like “the company has the right to record and monitor any activity on our network or software”, that covers recording Microsoft Teams meetings too – it’s a work-related activity on a work-related PC using software paid for by your workplace.
        A policy to clarify records retention, what meetings should/should not be recorded, whether videos should be shared externally, and so forth is a great idea, but more about risk management than anything privacy-related.

      4. Czhorat*

        That’s one hundred percent true, but a recording *feels* invasive and can add a sense of tension where we don’t need one.

        Given that there’s no real business reason to record routine meetings I think a small bit of pushback is perfectly reasonable on practical rather than privacy grounds.

        1. boo bot*

          Yes. The default should be, “we don’t record our workers unless we have a good reason.”

          The more meetings are recorded, the more that becomes the default expectation, and while it may be legally justifiable, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to prefer not to be regularly surveilled at work unless it’s necessary for your job.

          1. Anoni*

            I get what you mean, but being recorded while on a work meeting where ostensibly you’re supposed to be paying attention is not the same as being surveilled at work. It’s even less surveillance than your IT department being able to print out a report on the websites you visited that might have violated company policy.

        2. Anoni*

          I wouldn’t assume there’s no business reason as making it available to people who couldn’t attend is exactly a business reason.

      5. Guacamole Bob*

        I have mixed feelings about this. I agree that OP’s concerns are a bit of a stretch… but I wonder if OP is like me and is just vaguely unsettled by being recorded and is trying to rationalize what’s actually an emotional reaction. The kinds of details she’s focused on here sound like an anxiety reaction – that if she knows something is on video somewhere it’ll be harder to let these momentary mistakes pass. We’ve all kicked ourselves for saying something clumsy or wrong, and the sense that it’s Permanently Available can make it harder to let it go.

        I can’t really explain why I hate being recorded, but I do. It’s like having someone standing over my shoulder watching me work – there’s no rational reason it should throw me off, but I find both super distracting. If I’m presenting to a large audience or something it’s not so bad, because I’m already “on” and really being careful about what I say, but that takes extra energy that I don’t really want to be putting in to every ordinary team discussion.

        I recognize that companies can do whatever they like and that most recordings of this type will never be watched. If I worked at a place like this I’d probably get used to it eventually. But I sympathize with the OP’s dislike of it.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          I think this is a really good and thoughtful response, and I particularly like the analogy to someone watching over your shoulder. I can’t do my best work in that situation, and feeling self-conscious about being recorded for posterity when I’m just trying to give a quick update on alpaca neck lengths would have the same effect. Just stop staring at me!

        2. Smithy*

          This is really thoughtful – that there are other issues at play about being recorded that may not produce the best “work self” but don’t correlate to larger online privacy concerns.

          I will say that this discussion has also flagged for me that this idea that a recorded meeting can replace notes is nuts. Meetings that have content covering 30-60 minutes, vs 1-3 pages of notes is just not comparable in terms of usefulness.

          It also reminds of a debate I was hearing at the very end of grad school about how taking notes on the computer didn’t help students retain information as much as by hand. The point at the time was that it’s so much easier to nearly transcribe a lecture while typing, and therefore a student was almost copying the entire lecture vs the act of actively listening to paraphrase important information. As that was the early years of laptops in classrooms – I’m sure in the intervening years, there are better practices around best practices for laptop note taking. But this reminds of the difference of having one hand written page of important information vs writing everything a professor said during a lecture that I later would have to go through.

        3. MK*

          That’s understandable and I am not actually arguing against pushing back on this. But you are more likely to get results if you base it on practical grounds, like Czhorat said above, than try to claim privacy violation.

          It’s like when there is a genuine workplace issue, and someone comes up with an unlikely scenario about catastrophic consequences: it actually weakens your case.

        4. yup*

          People speak less freely when they are being recorded.

          Recording a conversation will make them less frank when difficult subjects, particularly regarding the behavior of other people.

          This is not just an “emotional” concern – it’s a reality. So if candor is important – which it is in some sorts of meetings – then they should not be recorded. At my organization it’s not rare to record larger meetings such as staff meetings, where there are so many people that recording or no, please do somewhat self-edit.

          But tough, small conversations? No way.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Based on a quick morning search through our file servers: only 1% of all video stored is ever accessed after its creation date and most of those are things like safety briefings.

      Odds are a recording of a routine work meeting will end up on some server somewhere, forgotten within days and just end up as more ones and zeros filling up a backup tape stored in a cave that nobody is ever going to care about. Apart from the IT tech who has to swap those tapes out of course.

      1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I was wondering about the server space aspect! I’m resigned to infuriatingly pointless meetings regularly taking over my calendar and my headspace, but take over our network drive and make that go any slower or have any more issues than it already does and I’ll get proper pissy.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          One of the first laws of IT I learnt was: data expands to fill the space available. Buy massive amounts of storage in an attempt to stay ahead of server slowdowns? Somewhere else in the company somebody will authorise a new procedure/software that’ll start eating drive space.

          1. Worldwalker*

            IMO, data (or any other resource usage) expands proportional to the *square* of the availability of that resource.

            Double your storage, you have 4x as much data to put in it. Double your processor speed, you have a game that needs it 4x as fast. (don’t judge me!) Double your I/O bandwidth, and you have files 4x as bit that you need to transfer.

            At a recent estate sale, I picked up some old issues of Creative Computing magazine. “Old” as in 1979/1980. I mostly got them to read the ads. (and because I’m a nostalgia geek) It’s amazing to see what was being advertised as being both huge and useful for the unseeable future. (and at what price … a speech synthesizer card for the Apple II cost more, in today’s dollars, than a new iPhone, and Siri doesn’t sound like a robot with a sinus condition) Who could possibly need more than 64k of memory? Or a full megabyte of storage?

            Slightly less than 30 years ago, I bought a 1.2 GB hard drive. Now, I have *files* bigger than that. (zips full of STLs, but still) Thankfully, the 8 terabyte external drive I bought to stow some of them on cost a third of what that one did, back in the day … less than that, adjusted for inflation. But based on the availability/expansion thing extrapolated over time, I worry that ten years from now I’m going to be looking for storage for terabyte files. (given how easy it is to lose a micro-SD card right now, possibly *literally* “looking for”)

            1. Chinook*

              Side tangent – the SD cards are now small enough that I saw one Youtuber laughing at the fact that he had to redo a whole episode because he put the card down on his bed and his dog thought it was a treat and ate it. His dog literally ate his morning’s work (and was wagging his tail in pride at doing so).

              Makes me long for the good old days when disks actually looked like the icons we now see – square and big.

            2. yup*

              As far as I can tell the costs of storage are falling a lot, and file space is less than an issue than in the past. Certainly, how to *find* stuff can be an issue, but raw space? Less a challenge over time.

              Not a non-issue, but not a growing problem – a contracting problem.

              “Makes me long for the good old days when disks actually looked like the icons we now see – square and big.”

              I don’t.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m now imagining those being unearthed 5000 years from now, the only clue to how our civilization functioned…

    4. me*

      The only recorded “meetings” I ever watch are more like presentations/panel discussions because either (a) I need to get credit for watching it as part of continuing education or (b) I need to learn the information. I would *hate* to be required to watch a video of my coworkers discussing the merits of various themes for the office holiday party. If I were a manager, I’d be concerned about someone who was spending time watching regular office meetings rather than doing almost anything else, unless there was a really good reason to.

      Unless the people missing the meeting actually need to hear the minutia of the discussion, it seems a far better use of time for the person who missed the meeting to get the briefing from someone else or have the person running the meeting provide an agenda at the beginning and then the summary/minutes/decisions and action items afterwards for everyone’s reference.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this.

        Most of our meetings aren’t even recorded, and the few exceptions happen when there’s a key presentation and someone on our team can’t make it. At those, only the presentation and Q&A session are recorded, not the chatter before and after.

        I dislike being on camera, although as long as I’m actively participating in a meeting it’s not an issue at all. I like seeing everyone else, so giving others a chance to see me is only fair. I would hate to watch a meeting that I’ve participated in, though. I even hate listening to my own recorded voice. If I ever have to do a video screening with questions they want me to answer, I’ll nope right out unless I’m desperate for a new job.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yeah, I cannot imagine watching normal meetings. Who has time for that? The only things we record are training/continuing education sessions and, more recently, a series of software training sessions that had to occur before a new hire was scheduled to start. I know that the new hire did watch those videos to get up to speed, and I have watched some of the other videos when I had a meeting conflict with the original session (or had to drop out of the middle of one to deal with a fire).

    5. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think that’s a key point as well — you can certainly bring up cleaning system where meetings are deleted after a certain amount of time. Which is better for storage/organization purposes.

      I imagine a lot of people would feel more comfortable with recordings if they were only kept for thirty days and then cleared out.

      1. Antilles*

        It’s also probably a lot better from a legal perspective to regularly clear out recordings since in the event of a lawsuit, these video-recorded project meetings are discoverable…and boy will opposing counsel salivate when they realize that they can scrutinize detailed recordings of the decision making process.

        1. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

          I came here to say exactly this. I would only routinely record if it were paired with a meticulously maintained document (interpreted globally) retention and destruction policy.

    6. Shirley Keeldar*

      I fear this question will make me look very old fashioned, but…does nobody take minutes anymore? I’d much rather skim over the minutes of a meeting I’d missed than sit and watch the whole darn thing on video. And a minute-taker isn’t going to put in “Jane then said, ‘Who’s a pretty boy, you are, yes indeed you are,’ and we thought she was talking to Anton about the Manglewurzle contract, but it turned out to be her cat.”

      1. Coenobita*

        Right? I think it makes complete sense to record meetings that are mostly one-way transmissions of information, like a presentation from HR or a lunch & learn kind of thing. We record those all the time. Or if I’m talking to a journalist, I expect them to record (I want them to get my quotes right!). For everything else, though, the first question on the call is often “who can take notes?”

      2. Cookie D'oh*

        I host meetings with software developers where technical details are discussed. I record some of these meetings so I can go back and document items for meeting notes. I can’t always capture the details while everyone is talking so the meetings are really for my personal use. I’ll send out a link to the recording with my notes, but I doubt anyone watches them.

        1. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, for our larger org meetings, the EA’s take notes and then use the recording to flesh out/polish the notes. There’s just too much going on for them to capture everything. I think the only time we really share recording is when it’s something specific and important that can’t be fully captured by notes.

          1. Chinook*

            But, if there is a meeting with presentations, the presenter’s notes really should be given to the EA (preferably beforehand) to add to either the agenda and/or the minutes. A good minute taker is not taking dictation but recording decisions made. And if the presenter doesn’t have notes that can be distributed, I truly wonder how organized or useful their presentation really is.

      3. Me*

        Minute-takers are human and sometimes miss stuff. A recording would be helpful for them to double check their notes.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Meetings are attended by humans who can quickly check with the minute-taker “Hey Fergus did you make a note of that? Steve will need to know about it, so he can check back with clients.”

      4. SunnyGirl*

        I take minutes on the regular on our Zoom calls. I was still doing it my hand and then pushed myself to type directly into Word while on the call. Got really good at it in that the draft for my director’s review was ready by the time the call was done.

        Minutes are still important!

      5. OyHiOh*

        I take minutes at organization board meetings. For those, we follow a “matter, not the chatter” convention so each agenda item gets a 2 to 3 sentence summary, followed by any action the board needed to take. When the board has a work session, we do record those, because there are usually outside presenters bringing in complex topics that the board needs to wrap their brains around and mull over before the topic comes to a vote and we have board members who would rather listen to the full discussion than read summary notes. I do take notes on work sessions, and have those available if preferred, but for work sessions, our board seems to prefer recordings.

      6. Chinook*

        My women’s group still has an official minute taker (complete with a paper motion book with actual signatures which will need to be added when we next physically meet) and she thought she would enjoy being able to record our meetings so she could make sure she didn’t miss anything. That lasted one meeting and she reported back that it didn’t save her anytime so it won’t be happening again.

        Out national office still hasn’t announced we can officially meet online (because the motion must be passed at a national meeting which has to be done in person until said motion has passed) but we have been meeting this way unofficially like this for a year and a half. But, going forward, I can see us doing hybrid meetings (for those who can’t attend in person) but we will have to decide on whether these meetings can be recorded and, if so, whether the minutes supersede the meeting as recorded (because the minutes are voted on as being accurate and only record agreements and not minutiae) and how long said records should be held. Doubly so when we have guest speakers present, some of whom we pay for and others who volunteer their time. If it is being recorded then it can impact how they ask to be reimbursed.

    7. Kat Em*

      Yeah, we record ours so that whoever is taking notes for that meeting can go back and double check things that they’re unsure about or might have missed before sending out minutes. The only reason I can think of needing them a month out was if someone was on leave and wanted to catch up on things before returning? Or if something truly horrid went down and HR needed to keep a record of it. But that’s, like, evidence of someone going on a racist tirade. Not saying embarrassing things to their cat or forgetting a person’s name.

      1. anonymath*

        But who is going to be able to catch up on a month’s worth of meetings, even watching them at 1.5x speed?!!? Thinking about this in connection with maternity leave now. Watching 70 hrs of meandering meetings to ‘catch up’ sounds HORRIFIC.

        1. Peg*

          I took a 22 week mat leave last year. When I came back, I triaged my email, slack, MS Teams chats, and MS Stream meeting recordings so I could see what happened while I was out. I then sorted by filing away or deleting anything I didn’t need to watch or read because it wasn’t relevant to me or was no longer relevant based on amount of time that had passed. Then sorted into “ok to skim” vs “need to digest” and jumped in. I probably watched 12-15 meetings and filed away the other 90% of them. Meeting recordings aren’t going to be relevant for every person every time, but there’s a lot of value in those records nonetheless.

          For me it helped me dive right back into being a well-informed member of my team that had reorged and changed a number of ways of working while I was away. I routinely review meeting recordings when I come back from being out of office – I’d say i probably watch 20% of them.

    8. Student*

      A relatively senior person at my org recently expressed a desire for meetings not to be recorded and explained that he felt that newer or less junior employees would be less willing to speak up, exacerbating a dynamic we already see in Zoom meetings v face-to-face. We have other business reasons not to record our calls, but that struck me as a legitimately excellent reason to refrain unless there’s a serious need to.

      1. Anoni*

        This is something I can legitimately understand as a reason. If people feel intimidated to speak up because meetings are being recorded, you aren’t hearing from everyone who might have something to offer. The idea that you don’t want to be recorded because you might make a mistake isn’t a real case for not having the meetings recorded.

    9. High Score!*

      At work, you have no expectation of privacy. Our employee manual states this as well. For meetings, we expect to be recorded bc we’re all WFH now and not everyone can get to every meeting, so anyone can record. Teams puts up a notification so everyone knows. It’s very helpful especially since we’re an international company and I’d rather watch a meeting recording at 8am then get up at 4am to attend.
      Try to look at it as a tool rather than privacy issue. Trust me, no one wants to watch meetings and look for missteps. That said, it company cultivates a culture of trust and they treat people like people.

      1. yup*

        Legally, sure no expectation of privacy.

        But in a well-run organization, leaders should care about privacy. And if told “staff prefer that sort of meeting not be recorded because they will not speak are freely” those leaders should agree.

    10. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, I feel like everyone in my office would be pretty confused if there was pushback on something like this to be honest. These meetings are boring enough to sit through when you are part of them. It can be useful for the person who missed them but I promise literally no one is sitting around thinking “Aha! I have this link, look at all the meeting recordings I have access to; I can’t wait to watch them and judge all the participants!”

      I do think if they are recording pretty much every meeting though that just sounds really unnecessary. We record most of our meetings that are trainings, which was really useful at year-end when we spent a lot of time training a consultant on our processes and various software and then he had a family emergency so we needed to train a new consultant and she was able to start by just watching all the trainings we had already done.

      But if it’s just a regular meeting where something useful is said like 40 minutes in, having that to “refer back to” is just really inefficient and finding that one relevant thing is always harder than you think. So if it’s very important to you, you could maybe try offering to take meeting notes to send to everyone after, which provides a quicker and easier way to access what was said. Maybe if you get people to do that enough it could become the new norm?

    11. Kes*

      Yeah, we record things a) so people who join later or weren’t available can get context on certain areas, especially for overviews/introduction to the systems we work on, b) as a backup to have documentation of certain decisions, especially since we’re working on client projects, in case they change their minds and c) general interest sessions such as lunch and learns. Most of these recordings nonetheless likely won’t be watched and even if they are, it will be to obtain information that was discussed in that meeting, not to look for errors. After all, anything they see in a meeting recording is only what the people actually in the meeting already saw.
      I do think OP’s reaction is a bit of an overreaction, to be honest. And I think it’s pretty standard to note that the meeting will be recorded and then continue – your continued presence in the meeting implies acceptance (zoom does this more explicitly with a popup where you have to press a continue button). If you object you need to speak up or leave but if your objection is just ‘I don’t think we should record meetings because I don’t like it’ you may not get far (that said, there are certain situations like brainstorming sessions or project retrospectives where it’s particularly important people be comfortable speaking freely where I would consider pushing back on recording)

      1. Not a cat*

        Funny, project retrospectives and brainstormings are exactly the types of meeting staff in our organization rewatches.

    12. JI*

      I do. I work as a sales engineer. Recording calls allows me to be fully present (I’m terribly at multitasking), and I can capture notes after the fact.

    13. Not a cat*

      I rewatch meetings all the time. Particularly those w/ clients if I am writing a user study. We don’t have a retention/disposition tied to them (although we probably should), so I just delete them when I am finished with the recording. We’re not the most sophisticated organization when it comes to records management, which is amusing because we are systems integrators for Records Management SW. The shoemaker’s children have no shoes :)

    14. Chantel*

      “…the reality is that no one really ever looks at these recordings…”

      No one? Really? How do you know?

      1. JustaTech*

        You’re right that we can’t say for certain that no one ever looks at the recordings.

        But here is my experience watching recordings of staff looking for them to make a mistake (CCTV, so no audio): it is the most boring thing in the universe. As part of a re-training program I was supposed to watch people do a process and look to see if they were missing some fine-detail steps. What did I learn? A bunch of unrelated stuff about the workspace, a few techniques I needed to address, and that I had wasted two weeks of my life. Now, the video quality wasn’t great, and the people were in so much PPE that all you could tell about individuals was relative height (that person is very tall, that person is very short), so there was no “humanness” to it, but really it was just super boring.

        So maybe people are watching the recorded meetings, but they’re probably not paying much attention to anyone other than the person who is speaking, and maybe not even them.

    15. Legal nerd*

      Agree that a policy needs to be in place for recording internal meetings, including record retention and destruction. I would be surprised if a multi-national company doesn’t already have something in place, even if you aren’t aware of it. I’d reach out to your legal department and ask, not in a “I want to report this!” way but as “I want to make sure we’re handling this in accordance with company policy.” Your legal department will likely NOT want recordings of internal meetings floating around because they are a nightmare when litigation occurs. Somebody inevitably says something that is a joke/looks bad out of context/was later decided to be a bad idea and recording these just puts the company at risk. Minutes or meeting notes are much better (consider training the person who takes them to watch what they write down!)

    16. Alanna*

      I work for a small global company and we record a lot of meetings for the same reasons – not everyone is there and we want to make sure no one is left out of what happened at the meeting. We also record a lot of client meetings (with permission!) so that I can watch them later and document things (that’s my job). As the person in our company who probably watches more Zoom recordings than anyone, I assure you I never ever notice what people are doing, or even look at their faces. I’m listening for important info or looking at the screen share. That said, definitely ask your employer about a policy, or maybe turn your camera off if you’re not comfortable having your face recorded.

    17. Random*

      I just took a look at the last several meetings I was part of that were recorded, generally reviews of stuff the happened earlier or plans of future things. Most had zero views. A handful had a single view, with a smaller handful had at most 5 views. Nobody watches these things.

  3. restingbutchface*

    OP2 – glad I’m not the only one concerned with the slow erosion of privacy that seems to be a side effect of the pandemic.

    Unfortunately raising it as a complaint sounds like you have something to hide (which is so wrong). Can I suggest that you offer/announce that you’re working on guidelines on video recording best practice? That policy would include guidance on how to remove anything that shouldn’t be saved such as, overhearing someone ordering something on the phone and giving their credit card details. PCI and privacy regulations are always the issues I flag when talking about this problem, then I sound a bit less “I have something to hide” and more “I am proactively reducing the company’s risk”. Good luck!

    1. misspiggy*

      Yes absolutely. To give an example of why this needs discussing, I was in a recorded meeting recently where someone got upset and shared very personal information. We’d all given the OK to record, but I think she had forgotten, and the review discussion we were having brought up some difficult stuff.

      The manager, who wasn’t in the meeting, was about to share the recording with others who couldn’t attend, until I mentioned the incident. In real life the detail of a colleague getting upset wouldn’t be minuted: that shouldn’t change now.

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think pointing out that re-watching a meeting is very ineffective way of communicating. (After all, non-attendees can’t participate in the conversation, so they really only need the conclusions.)

      OP can suggest an audit to see if meetings have been watched — I think it’s very likely that they haven’t — in which case suggesting that sharing meeting notes/action items is probably a better way.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        I agree with IRBE Dumplings SO much. Who wants to sit through an hour of a recorded meeting just to hear that at the end it was decided to paint the teapots purple when one can get the same information just by asking someone? And unless the decision is particularly contentious (in which case all interested parties should have been at the meeting), it is pretty easy to succinctly give the reasons — “Engineering wanted purple because it is easier to see, Design agreed since it goes with the existing line, Customer service wanted yellow but the group decided against that for XYZ reason.” Who’s going to sit through an hour recording for that??

        1. Chinook*

          This information can even be officially distributed to everyone, instead of through word of mouth, simply be having someone who takes minutes (I like OyHiOh’s description of “matter, not the chatter”) officially and at every meeting. These are best done by an EA/AA or someone junior instead of a random person because there is both an art and a skill to doing it and the person taking them should be able to concentrate without feeling like they have to speak up.

          I fear, though, that we risk losing this type of record keeping in favour of full recordings because the latter is cheaper (i.e. no need for the extra human body) and can be seen as more detailed when, in reality, 99% of the information in the recording is irrelevant 10 minutes after the meeting adjourns.

          1. restingbutchface*

            Oh my gosh, can you be my co-worker please? There is such a terrible attitude towards taking minutes. It’s not old fashioned, it’s not unnecessary and it’s not something anyone can do!

            And no, just because I take notes doesn’t mean they’re minutes for everyone and I am not the team’s EA, please and thank you. End rant.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Re-watching a meeting is very ineffective way of communicating.
        This. Unless it’s more a well-organized presentation of how to use something, with Q and A at the end, waiting through all the irrelevant-to-me sidelines* is dull and my attention tends to slide in a way it wouldn’t in the direct meeting.

        If a knowledgeable person can’t type up the relevant parts, it helps to get some sort of table of contents a la “Meeting proper starts at 6:35; llama specifics start at 11:20; broader ruminant discussion is at 32:20…”

        *Like “We should wait for Janet” so the first 6 minutes are useless.

        1. quill*

          Yeah, minutes is the only way to really provide a good after-synopsis of what was decided

      3. Wisteria*

        (After all, non-attendees can’t participate in the conversation, so they really only need the conclusions.)

        That’s not always true. Knowing the rationale and knowing the discussion that went into the conclusion can be extremely valuable even when you cannot (or just do not, for those who are present but not speaking) contribute.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Those things are easily covered in notes/minutes for the meeting. If it’s a typical meeting (as opposed to say, a training) then there’s rarely a need for non-attendees to sit through back-and-forths. It’s not a great use of time.

          1. restingbutchface*

            This would be covered in *good* minutes. It’s not something anyone can do and we (in general) do not respect those people who can do it well.

            I take notes for my own benefit in all meetings and the number of times people say oh, RBF, can you email around the minutes is ridiculous. Personal notes are not minutes, because that is a skill and one I do not posses. But sure, I’ll email around a photo of my notebook, enjoy the pictures, doodles and shopping lists in the margins. Hope you can understand my own personal shorthand!

            … I have deeply held feelings on minute taking and I did not know this before this thread. Something for therapy!

    3. hbc*

      I’m unclear how this is any part of an erosion of privacy. You’re in a meeting. A person who would/could have been at the meeting might end up seeing everything that happened at that meeting, which they would have had they attended. And if you commit a screwup big enough that people are planning to go back and rewatch it, I promise that it would have been gossiped about after an old-fashioned around-the-conference-table meeting.

      I mean, go ahead and get a policy together, but it doesn’t sound like any of the actual security issues that could be raised have anything to do with OP’s concerns. No one who thinks the meeting has value is going to cut out the part where I called the sales guy by the wrong name again.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Yes, this. I hate being on camera for any reason but meetings are a part of office culture, but my privacy isn’t being violated because I’m asked to be on camera for a meeting I would have attended in person pre-Covid. My understanding is that the subjects discussed may be confidential/private for the team on the call, but the team presence is not.

        I agree with everyone who suggests a policy on storage of recordings, etc., but would be surprised if there isn’t already a version of one already in the employee handbook. Data privacy is more critical than ever, even if not yet fully legislated.

      2. Cookie D'oh*

        I guess it’s a company culture thing. It’s very common to record meetings where I work. We don’t really do video meetings so it’s just audio or recording what someone is sharing on their their screen.

      3. Student*

        Even now, when thirty seconds of video on Twitter can become national news, if it’s funny or weird enough? I get it entirely, and I suspect the Cat Lawyer who is not a cat also does.

        1. ampersand*

          This. It really *is* the slow erosion of privacy—I think it’s so slow that it has become normal, or unnoticed. And hence the slow erosion.

          1. pancakes*

            That’s not the same scenario, though. The cat-lawyer was (electronically) in court for a civil asset forfeiture hearing (i.e., regarding government seizure of property). Many court hearings aren’t private in the US, and the sixth amendment provides that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” There are numerous arguments in favor of making more legal hearings more accessible to the public, and have been since the days of the secretive Star Chamber in the 15th century. Workplace meetings and privacy expectations around them involve very different issues.

            1. yup*

              I love the Bill of Rights, but I suspect some of it would be quite different if the framers had known of the extent of technology right not. As an example, the ability obtain visual and sound recordings at extreme distances and store them forever might make them think differently about the concepts of privacy.

              And even in legal proceedings, there are issues arising with the wellbeing of victims, such as with the use of evidence of them in extremely vulnerable situations, where greater accessibility has downsides.

      4. restingbutchface*

        It’s a genuine security issue if the discussion is sensitive and OP can’t commit to saying the recordings are secure and restricted. It’s a business risk that the organisation’s compliance team should be aware of.

        On a more human note, with a lot of us still working from home, there are privacy issues for the people we live with, who may accidentally become featured in a call without their permission. Plus, meetings can get personal – I was in a Pride related call last week and talking about very personal things, to the extent that I and some other attendees were visibly moved. That meeting was not recorded and I wouldn’t have attended if it had been.

        When our meetings were all face to face, we were protected as the only record were minutes and notes. We had the ability to strike something from the record. I wouldn’t attend an everyday face to face meeting that had cameras in the room, with the recording stored somewhere I couldn’t access and there wasn’t a very valid reason.

        So in summary, there are very valid business reasons to be concerned, but also, if people are uncomfortable with being recorded, we should listen to those concerns. So much of our online and real life lives are recorded as standard now – it didn’t happen overnight, it was just a quiet and slow slide. I admire and respect the people who are flagging the unquestioned decline of the privacy our parents and grandparents took for granted.

    4. Kes*

      I mean I wouldn’t just announce this out of nowhere, or bring up spurious concerns because frankly those aren’t what OP flagged and may not be likely scenarios for their office. But I do think if OP is concerned, talking to those who would set such guidelines about creating them might be a good step. Even then, it likely wouldn’t be ‘we should stop recording meetings’ so much as ‘what kinds meetings do we actually need to record and are we going overkill on the recordings right now’. Chances are certain types of meetings may still be recorded and OP will need to be able to deal with that, and being in those.

  4. Tussy*

    My favourite ever answer to “what’s your sign?” was in Drag Race season 6 when Ben Dela Creme answered “Oh, I didn’t get one of those.”

    I stole it, it’s great.

    1. SwiftSunrise*

      In the Nickeleodeon show “Victorious,” there’s a song a couple characters sing called “Take a Hint” – I always crack up when they get to the lyrics, “You asked me what my sign was, and I told you it was STOP!”

    2. Canadian Yankee*

      I usually say something like, “I renounced mine and now I don’t have one.” I figure that if you can leave a religion, you can leave an astrological sign just the same.

    3. HailRobonia*

      A few years ago some coworkers were talking about astrology and asked what sign I was. I said I was born without one. Rather than getting the joke, they proceeded to discuss how that could happen… was I born on leap day? Was I born in an eclipse?

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t say I don’t have one because I would be concerned that people who are really dedicated to astrology would just start trying to figure out why or explaining the whole system to enlighten you

      2. Naomi*

        There was an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures where people were being mind-controlled through their astrological signs, and the only person who was immune was Luke, because he wasn’t born, he was created in a lab by aliens.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        In my actual college astronomy textbook, which was otherwise fairly straightforward, the author put a footnote about astrology and how due to stars shifting etc he was technically born under Ophiuchus, and how friends have affectionately suggested that means he has no personality. That is the only thing i remember from that particular textbook.

    4. Blossom*

      There was an episode of the PowerPuff Girls where a bad guy asks Ms. Bellum what her sign is and she says, “Stop.”

  5. HR Jedi*

    #2, I agree with you, but I think you will have more success if bring up a different issue: business confidentiality and compliance.

    When it comes to privacy, most places don’t require consent, only awareness which most conferencing tools provide. Additionally, I doubt that there is any reasonable expectation of privacy on an employer conferencing platform. The bigger problems are that:

    1. If the meeting is going over sensitive and/or confidential information, the recoding can be leaked.

    2. If a meeting is recorded, then it is subject to record retention requirements. That means it needs to be saved, and unless your company has unlimited server space, your IT people are going to get really pissed as they have to keep paying for more.

    The scenario that may get a lot more attention is what if someone makes a racially insensitive joke and now we have it recorded as discoverable evidence when they file an EEOC complaint. While I don’t like the idea of protecting the jerk, that will probably make more headway for you than I get caught baby talking my cat because I forgot to mute my mic (for which most of your coworkers probably want to see the cat on camera anyway).

    1. Observer*

      You don’t need a scenario like the one you mention. And it could absolutely backfire to bring up scenario like that. MUCH better to talk about things like client confidentiality, marketing materials, trade secrets, etc.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Yes to all these things. My previous company specifically forbade recording (almost) all meetings for this exact reason. It’s another place with sensitive IP that will need managing.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      To be honest, the tracking software that some firms brought in to continually monitor WFH employees during all this caused way more screaming fits when the servers kept running out of space (screenshots every few minutes? It’s not fun trying to get hundreds of thousands of screenshots off your production servers that are starting to smoke out the rear vents).

      The ‘worries it may be leaked’ bit is….remote to say the least and one could potentially say that of any kind of file stored on a company network. I mean, the amount of times I’ve done a trawl through the email archives to find that offhand racist email that person X sent a few months back because there’s now a complaint is..once.

      (For far more illegal stuff, and regarding safety violations it’s a lot higher)

      1. Observer*

        Oh, the capacity stuff is huge, even with the low cost of storage these days.

        The truth is that I’ve consistently pushed back on us storing sensitive information without some clear business reason, long before the issue of recording started. Mostly because I worried about getting hacked. But I do also worry about discovery. But as you say, the issue of finding the odd *ist comment is not where the real problems are likely to show up.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          We’re far more at risk from staff doing daft things like opening ransomware attachments (which causes you to lose the data entirely if you don’t have good backups) than hacking really in general operation. A hacker who gets into a system isn’t going to be interested in trying to download several terabytes of video or image files – it’s usually financial data or contact list information they’re after as that’s quicker to grab.

          1. Observer*

            Opening attachments can get you into trouble in a LOT of ways. It’s not that I’m not worried about ransomware. Things like ID theft are real and we’re been hit before, and targeted too many times to count.

    3. Global Cat Herder*

      Meeting recordings are specifically spelled out in our record retention policy. They auto-delete after 60 days. (It was originally 30 days but with European vacations being as long as they are, meetings were being deleted before people were back from holiday and could watch them, so it was increased.)

  6. LizM*

    OP2, if your company is big enough to have in house counsel and you’re in a position to do so, I would consider running this by them. This is not legal advice, but I suspect they’d have some feelings about certain conversations being recorded and archived. They might be a good ally who can raise issues other than it just feeling icky.

    1. Now In the Job*

      I was coming here to say this. It’s also potentially relevant for legal/regulatory reasons depending on your jurisdiction–if you’re in the UK or California, for example, there might be other considerations going on that the business folk aren’t aware of.

  7. RC Rascal*

    Removed because it became derailing. Let’s not get into a debate about the validity of astrology here — it doesn’t change the advice to the LW. – Alison

  8. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    OP 2 – My company has been recording meetings since pre-COVID. We don’t need everyone’s permission – the host does have to share it’s being recorded. The purpose is for people who are out or can’t make it to be able to review the meeting as needed. It’s come in handy for times I’ve been out.

    I do agree that not everything needs to be recorded. Especially if it’s a meeting where you’re trying to solicit feedback or brainstorm. And having guidelines are great! But if everyone needed to give verbal permission they’re ok with a recording we’d never get the meetings started.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, tons of work presentations/seminars are recorded without asking permission and it’s either “consent to this or leave the Zoom, folks.”

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I’ve been in the situation a few times where I couldn’t leave because I needed to be in the meeting but I did not want to consent to being recorded.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I agree. You do need to let people know that the meeting is being recorded, but you don’t need everyone to verbally say they’re okay with it.

      What the employer should have is some policies about what meetings need to be recorded, and under what circumstances. There are some meetings that shouldn’t be recorded. This is particularly important if the office is working remotely, and having a sensitive conversation face to face is not possible (your office Slack channel is on the record, as are emails). Sensitive conversations, performance reviews, brainstorming, or situations where you want people to feel comfortable asking stupid or naive questions are probably better off unrecorded. Also, people should know what the rules are for redistributing – for example, video/audio are not to be passed to people outside the office, or put online.

      It might be worth switching to recording just the audio, though. It can still be useful for people who aren’t there and want to listen, but not having the video recorded can make it less embarrassing, and make individual statements less identifiable. I’d personally be a lot more comfortable having the voice recorded than having video of my face during a meeting.

    3. Super Admin*

      Ditto, we’ve always recorded larger meetings or webinars for those unable to attend. In those meetings if I’m not speaking I turn mic and camera off and only turn it on if I’m talking/presenting.

      However, our recordings are only stored for three months, as per our legal team’s request. Maybe OP can suggest something similar on the argument of company confidentiality.

      1. Observer*

        Webinars tend to be a bit different than meetings, though. Of course it depends on the meeting, but is meetings are more that just spaces for some announcements and presentations, they tend to be more two-way than webinars are. That does change the dynamic a fair bit.

    4. Roeslein*

      That very much depends on the law where they are based. Where I am, recording people without their voluntary and explicit consent is a Big Deal and can result in very significant fines. ideally consent should be given in writing, and it should be clear who will be able to access to recording and for how long. (And there’s an argument that employees cannot truly consent to being recorded if their employer requires it.) Purely technically you would also need to prove that there is a special, good reason to record the meeting to justify the encroaching on privacy and that e.g. meeting minutes couldn’t work instead.

      1. TechWorker*

        Where is this OOI? It seems out of sync with the practicalities of an employer owning your work, and for example, having access to things like company email. (It’s illegal to read other people’s emails or open post without permission, I don’t think that generally applies in a work context).

        1. Roeslein*

          It does in Germany, unless the employee explicitly forbids any personal use of their email service, as there is theoretically a chance that the employer might access private content. Even so, the employer can only access it if there are reasonable grounds to believe that inappropriate behaviour (embezzling, etc.) is taking place.

          I opened my company’s German office and had to laugh when the compliance person asked me to sign their standard data privacy policy (which mentioned using things like keyloggers and all sorts of other stuff that’s illegal here.) I suggested they talk to a German lawyer first… Never heard of it again.

  9. Person from the Resume*

    I am very surprised about the concern about recording meetings. The exact same process happens for the meeting we record. A person or two speaks up but not everyone answers.

    It’s certainly not every meeting just certain ones, often the ones that someone will distribute minutes for after or very often requirements elaboration so the analyst can create requirements and check their notes against the recording.

    These huge recording are often difficult to share because of their file size; you can’t email them. I think we all agree they shouldn’t leave the internal network and if they were that would possibly be a security violation.

    That said, if you’re willing to say it in a meeting, why are you concerned about it being recorded? If you say it in a meeting, it can end up in the minutes or others can say that they heard LW say it. I really don’t understand.

    * my opinion doesn’t apply to a training environment where they specifically tell you that “this is a non attribution environment” at the start. Probably should not record those if you offer that promise. But work meetings are usually attribution environments because you gotta say that “Joe said to do it”, “Jim approved the expenditure.”, etc.

    Other caveat if you’re showing real information (versus test data) like SSN, financial or other private info, perhaps you shouldn’t record that. But if you can share it with the people in the meeting and there’s a good reason for it, I don’t see a problem with recording it as long as you put it under extra security to restrict access for need to know. But that’s how you would treat that entire meeting anyway.

    1. Allypopx*

      I’m only really familiar with Zoom but it’s pretty easy to share meetings that are hosted in their cloud.

      I agree though, I don’t find it worth worrying about. No one is rewatching them specifically to scrutinize you (unless something particularly solacious happened, in which case I hope the recording would be deleted) and most people probably aren’t watching them at all. I’m sure you’ve been caught doing more embarassing things on the drug store security camera.

  10. Chocolate Teapot*

    Flashback to an ex-boyfriend who used to analyse people based on a cheap astrology book.

    I would feel very uncomfortable unless there was a way of tuning out the astrology during appraisals etc. (e.g. “As a typical Taurus, you should focus more on X”)

  11. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – I would absolutely bring up this issue to HR or to senior management, if you feel that your own manager would be retaliatory. Allison’s idea of going as a group is a good one.

    1. Mongrel*

      Fun is when they disregard Astrology as nonsense while proudly displaying their Myers Briggs type in their e-mails

      1. Worldwalker*

        At least Meyer Briggs stuff is based on things a person says about themself specifically, instead of dividing them into groups based solely on the date they were born, with the rationale being the supposed influence of stars that aren’t in those places anymore anyway, so if they *did* influence people, they’d be influencing different people! Meyer Briggs is arguably pop psychology at best, but someone who thinks they’re an introvert is more likely to act like an introvert than a Taurus is likely to act according to the traits assigned to Taurus. (if astrology actually worked that way, which it doesn’t; popular “astrology” isn’t just mere woo, it’s woo squared)

        1. pancakes*

          Self-reported answers to vague and poorly-devised questions aren’t any more valuable than fortune cookie messages, and Meyer-Briggs is definitely pop psychology / pseudo-science. The people who developed it had no training whatsoever in psychology or psychometric testing. Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter based it on observations Katharine made while reading celebrity biographies. Among numerous other problems with the test, it’s apparently wildly unreliable – one study I see cited indicates that “between 39% and 76% of people taking the test on different occasions get different results, even just after five weeks.”

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            That’s a pretty wildly unreliable result in itself, though. What study accepts a 40% margin of error?

            1. pancakes*

              Meta-analysis of several studies, presumably. I didn’t look at them closely but it’s clear there have been several.

    2. EPLawyer*

      One person has already said they were uncomfortable that this manager’s beliefs were part of the evaluation process. This has the potential to be a HUGE problem for the company if it is not nipped in the bud now. HR, if they are even somewhat functional, will be concerned by this.

    3. Xantar*

      I wonder if a case could be made that discrimination based on birth date is illegal. It’s not exactly discrimination by age, but it seems adjacent.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        That did cross my mind. Obviously not a protected category, but he’s discriminating against his employees based on something they were born with, that they cannot change. What is OP supposed to do if their birthday is in July and Manager only promotes January babies?

  12. Allonge*

    LW2, so, you are not alone in thinking this is icky. Over here in the EU it would most likely be illegal, and your company would be fined faster than you can say GDPR. Which is not going to help you directly but demonstrates the scale of ickyness.

    For me, the fact that what is being recorded is my private home would be an additional factor – I live alone so no naked husband to walk into view, but work invaded our apartments and houses enough already, there is no need to do it more.

    Practical matters: do try and insist on limiting the time the recording is kept. There is zero need for a full recording of many meetings after the highlights/minutes are produced, and the likelihood that someone will rewatch them is also decreasing with time.

    This will also make your IT people happy: storing these files costs a lot of money, people rewatching them consumes bandwith and guarding them against corruption mid-term is a pain. Money arguments go well with managers (and honestly a lot of people will not think of storage as an issue, so do mention this). It’s also an environmental issue, if the company would be receptive to that argument.

    1. Lucy*

      Zoom in the UK addresses the active consent principle of GDPR by having the participants press a button to show they are ok with being recorded following a recorded announcement.

      Highly doubt that companies are being fined for recording company meetings.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Echoing that recording meetings is not illegal in the UK. You can even record meetings with sensitive data, although some consenting signatures need to be exchanged.

        A storage/deletion policy is necessary, and is best practice regardless.

    2. MK*

      No, it isn’t illegal in the EU as such, as long as the company follows the (quite strict) regulations for recording and storing of data. Admittedly, the OP’s company probably isn’t in the EU and isn’t compliant, that’s why creating policies at least is the best option.

      I do wonder how the people who are making a strong push to switch to wfh are viewing the privacy matter. During covid most of us had no choice, but if you are actively choosing to make your home your workplace, you don’t have the same standing to demand total privacy.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah. Cameras off is always a possibility, but if someone is choosing remote work (as opposed to being forced due to COVID) I would expect that they have a set-up they’re willing to share. I’ve found that pushing my desk out into the room (so I’m sitting between the desk & the wall and thus the camera only sees me and my grassy wallpaper) works well.

        I also know several people who use privacy screens behind them, which I think is a great solution.

    3. Forrest*

      How do you think this would violate GDPR? I think the main protections that GDPR gives for data collected by your employer is that personal details are stored securely. I’ve never done any GDPR trading that suggested that we’d need to be particularly careful of photos or video of colleagues made at work events because of GDPR. Obviously, you should respect people’s wishes, but that’s good practice and good manners rather than having legal force.

      1. Xavier Desmond*

        Photos and videos that show peoples faces are considered personal data so there are GDPR implications. However, it’s unlikely a company would be fined in the circumstances described by the OP.

    4. Andy*

      I don’t think this has anything to do with GDPR. GDPR does not prevent you from making videos from presentations nor prevents you to keep them.

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      This doesn’t violate GDPR unless you’re in the habit of giving your personal details in work meetings – such as your address, credit card number, date of birth etc.etc. and even then it’s a grey area – I mean technically you could put your credit card number et al in a work email and then complain the company has to wipe all traces of it out of its servers/backup tapes or else be fined later but I’m not aware of any such cases.

  13. ToodlesTeaTops*

    LW 5 – This happened in my team. We got a new supervisor (who wasn’t new to supervising) and she was a terrible person all around. My coworker gave her 2-week notice that she was moving to a different department. She told all of us coworkers, she told our boss’ boss, but she never told our own boss. Half of us laughed about it because my coworker moved on “suddenly”. I would think that the department head would have said something to my boss about it, but apparently, she didn’t. We all enjoyed the shit-show that erupted from this situation. I too, gave my notice to the department head first. If I wasn’t allowed to, I would have just quit on the spot instead.

    1. Kaiko*

      I once gave my resignation to my grandboss instead of my actual manager, of whom I was terrified. He didn’t tell her for, like, a week! And then I got a stern talking to about not following the proper lines of communication, but by then I was like, look lady, I’m out of here.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      I once gave notice to my supervisor and had the team lead (also reported to the same supervisor) lose his mind when he found out I had resigned to supervisor and not team lead.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        What the what? Team lead must have been the assistant to the regional manager …

  14. meep*

    For living in a place with patchy internet, one advantage is I can just say I can’t go on video or it’ll lag :D which does actually happen and people are used to it by now. Most of us turn off video as default and meetings still go as usual.

  15. John Smith*

    #1. Where possible, have people tell this manager they’re a sign different to what they actually are. When manager comes out with the usual nonsense, say “oh, I’m actual a Snickers, not a Mars Bar (or whatever) so all of that is actually untrue”.

    Better yet, report the idiot to HR. I mean, FFS what’s next – tarot cards for deciding next year’s budget? Pinching people’s cups to read tea leaves to see if a disciplinary is required? Voodoo dolls to replace disciplinary sanctions? (Actually… I could get on board with the latter…)

    At least know that if you ever face disciplinary action, you already have your concrete evidence for appeal.
    Absolutely, utterly bonkers.

    John. (Aquarian through and through depending on what mood I’m in).

    1. Anonny*

      Tarot cards for budgeting is absurd. Everyone knows you should use tyromancy for that. /s

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My co-worker and I kept matching voodoo dolls in our desks as stress relievers when enduring our awful department head. Very satisfying to stick a pin in!

      Another Aquarian

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I’ve always been tempted to ask someone to guess (although I’ve never done it, since it does really put people on the spot)….

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’ve totally asked people to guess. They are always wrong. Whereas if I say what I am upfront, everyone says “I knew it!” It’s such crap.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          A woman I’d never seen before once tried to guess mine (as a Virgo, I don’t like to admit it). She got it on the 11th try, and immediately cried “I knew it!”. Why didn’t you say it on your first guess then?
          She then proceeded to list the attributes of Virgos, including setting high standards for yourself, perfectionism, attention to detail. I admitted to some of these attributes, but then pointed out that I’d learned them from my parents, who were both Leos. And my son, also a Leo, had obviously inherited those same traits.

    4. mreasy*

      What’s next…hmm…forbidding your GM to buy a new laptop to replace an unusable one because Mercury is in retrograde? That might be next, based on my personal experience.

      1. EPLawyer*

        If I am having a bad tech today, I WILL check to see if mercury is in retrograde. Sometimes it is, sometimes its just one of those days. But I still check.

        1. Generic Name*

          Ha, I think I read that Mercury goes retrograde like 5 times a year. And since technology can mess up pretty at any given time, it’s pretty easy to make a connection between the two.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          In my team we log school exclusion notifications, and when there seems to be a spate of them we’ve been known to check if it’s a full moon that week. But it’s more a running joke than anything else.

        3. Cooper*

          Sometimes all you need is a planet to blame your issues on! I don’t take it seriously, but sometimes a little bit of “Ah, yes, I dropped my coffee and almost had my car roll away from me at the gas station because one of the planets is doing something a bit funny (and not because I’m a hot mess)” goes a long way.

    5. YouHeardMe!*

      I tell people who ask that I was born on the 19th day of the 5th moon at the hour of the horse in the year of the dragon.

  16. Empress Ki*

    1# Not only using astrology in the workplace is inappropriate, but also an astrologer would tell you that using the star sign alone isn’t enough to make any astrological analysis of the character of a person. Astrologers use Moon sign, rising sign, Mars sign etc, which this manager hasn’t done. So even an astrologer would laugh at them.

    1. Pep*

      Exactly! If you’re really into astrology a sun sign is pretty useless on its’ own…the ascendant and then the location of Sun, Moon, rising, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus depending on if it’s a day or night chart will give a much fuller picture. For example the way my sun sign is placed it’s super buried in my chart. Also skeptics, it’s a whole system of looking at cycles of time, and people who are really into astrology are going to have spent way more time thinking about it than you. Just say you’re not into it and move on. Not that it’s for the office at all.

      1. Pep*

        And you wont know that info unless you have the exact time of birth and location and then consistently looked at people’s charts and compared them to what’s happening in the sky now…which would be an incredible waste of time.

      2. c-*

        The problem is not that the boss likes astrology, though: the problem is that the boss is using her personal faith system to assess employee’s work and assign tasks, and that’s illegal BS no matter how you chart it.

        1. Worldwalker*


          The fact that the boss does not actually know how astrology (the real woo, as opposed to the horoscope-column woo) actually works is just the fail icing on the wrongcake. Evaluating employees based on their preferences in music would make more sense. (“You like easy listening?* To the guillotine with you!”) And that’s only a paper-thin amount of sense above “zero”.

          *I used to have a boss who loved easy listening. He was a really cool guy, and one of the best programmers I’ve ever known, but he drove the entire office to purchase Walkmans (does that date this story or what?) and headphones.

          1. Pep*

            Yup, it’s like if you’re going to do the astrology thing, you’ve really got to go all in, or just not bring it up at all especially as a manager and especially related to work.

  17. Super Admin*

    OP1, I had a boss at an old retail job who talked like that. She owned the business, so there wasn’t much we could do, but I did successfully push back on her requiring people’s dates of birth on application forms/CVs – I argued age discrimination, she said can we just ask date and month, I said not hiring someone cos they’re a Leo would also be illegal discrimination (it is not, I just really wanted her to stop glancing at the top of CVs and saying ‘no, no Leo’s in this shop’ and then tossing it in the trash).

    I would definitely go to HR, as while it’s not illegal, it could create an uncomfortable work environment and put off people from wanting to work with this person. If there’s any way to stop this person having access to people’s birthday information, that might also be good – our current system only allows line managers to see Birthdays and HR won’t give the info out under GDPR (we’re in the UK).

    Needless to say, old boss and I had a rocky relationship (I wish astrology was the only thing she’d been insane about) and when I left she made a comment that after me she wouldn’t be hiring any more Geminis. True to her word – she shut the shop a year later.

    1. Selina Luna*

      I bet your boss also didn’t account for the stars moving into different positions over the course of the many centuries since the actual pictures in the sky were “identified.”

  18. Software Engineer*

    For #2, even aside from the privacy issues… who actually wants to watch a meeting back? It’s honestly a big waste of time!

    Much better to invest the time in making good notes to send out after a meeting (I say investing time because it takes work to turn the sketch someone was jotting down in real-time into clear, concise and useful notes)… this benefits both the people who missed the meeting but might want to know the outcome and people who were there but could use a reminder what they’re supposed to do after and a reference to look back on (two weeks later when you’re doing what was agreed on abs wondering wait… why did we choose this? Did we know about X when we made this decision or should I flag it as new info?). Always have somebody who is not leading the meeting taking notes and then the meeting owner take the raw notes and turn them into what you want to send out

    Meetings should basically never be recorded unless it’s a presentation or demo instead of a discussion. If somebody needs to know everything said they should be at the meeting so they can actually participate in the discussion otherwise it’s pointless

    1. Emma*

      Right? I can’t imagine choosing to sit through a recording of a meeting, which includes all the chit chat that I can’t participate in, all the back and forth etc when I could just… read the minutes.

      1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

        I use the recordings to take the minutes! I have to be actively participating in the conversation, so for me, it’s easier to do the minutes after, by listening to the meeting. I do send the recording out (to meeting participants), but I doubt any one ever rewatches.

        1. Charlotte*

          As the minute-taker, people getting all pearl-clutchy over recording meetings always frustrates me.

        2. twocents*

          Yes! It’s very difficult to be engaged and participating (and in my case, often facilitating the meeting) AND take clear, concise notes that you can revisit later abd understand what happened.

          The people laughing about recordings just tells me they aren’t the primary note takers.

      2. Andy*

        I did. Because when you don’t have documentation and you are desperate to figure out how something works, recording is waay better then nothing. Plus, some presentations are dense and remembering everything what was said is impossible. I did went through recording to find details.

        Yes, written documentation would be better, but someone would have to pay to make it happen. So it dont happen.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Where I work anything that is or could be a training meeting is recorded (and they are very up front about that) because our company is open 16 hours a day – so it’s hard to get everyone to the same training. Other than that I don’t know of any meeting that would ever be recorded (because we just don’t have the time to re-watch an old meeting given our never ending workload).

    2. Forrest*

      The more useful part is of you’ve got Stream or something that automatically creates a transcript. That’s very handy if you’re taking notes or minuting!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As much as I rely on speech-to-text, I am not a fan of automated transcription. It’s just not there yet, especially when the meetings mention names and technical jargon, or when someone has a strong regional accent or multiple languages are used.

        1. pancakes*

          Slate uses it for podcasts and there are so many errors, the transcripts are basically unreadable. It could work much better if someone familiar with the names were to proofread a draft transcript.

        2. TechWorker*

          +100 our company uses it but we also use a lot of technical/internal terms/acronyms etc and it doesn’t even begin to cope.

          I rarely watch meeting recordings back, but sometimes they *are* useful and you get more out of them that you’d get just from reading the summary notes.

        3. Forrest*

          I didn’t mean instead of minuting, but to make minuting easier. You can go back and check any details you missed, and generally speaking if it’s mangled any technical details, proprietary/local information. names of clients etc, the minute-taker will be sufficiently familiar with it to get the reference.

        4. meyer lemon*

          I went to a webinar that was partially in Cree, and oh boy did the transcript have fun with that.

        5. quill*

          Autocaptioning is one of the reasons I am certain truly independently useful AI is still several years away.

      2. Coenobita*

        We just tried out the new automated transcription feature on Teams last week. I physically could not finish reading it afterwards because I was laughing SO hard at all the problems. (When I saw that it thought my coworker Pam was named Ham, I just lost it.) This experience was probably good for my health but not very helpful for checking the minutes!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I once got an automated voicemail transcript from Google Voice offering to sell me scantily clad women. When I picked my jaw up off the floor and actually listened to the message, it was something about theater season tickets. I don’t even know.

    3. BookishMiss*

      Yes, a thousand times this. My team purposefully rotates note taking duties, but our meetings always have minutes instead of recording. It’s so much easier, and rotating who takes the notes shares the burden.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      So much this. Notes are infinitely easier to search through for relevant information! I’m especially shocked by the “in case important information is shared”—those are prime instances where notes will serve better!

      For meetings where a key person can’t be there, they could send someone in their place. Really, though, I wonder how many of these key people are watching the recordings. Again, notes. Or a recap sent out to invitees.

      Situations where it does make sense to record: demos, certain presentations, and conversations/Q&As intended to share information with a large group of people where it is expected some proportion will not be able to attend.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      As someone working in tech, I have rewatched recordings of training meetings, knowledge-transfer meetings, calls where a developer, BA, QA would all get together to investigate a bug reported by the users – so we would reproduce and troubleshoot it on the call. Then as a dev, I would rewatch the video while working on the issue that was discussed. But those were all recordings of somebody’s shared screen. I would certainly insist on webcams being allowed to be turned off if a meeting is being recorded. Nobody needs to see a recording of the inside of my home, or even of my face.

  19. Paul Pearson*

    LW#1: I’d be so tempted to just use star signs as a justification for everything. “I would have completed [onerous task] but I’m a libra. I’m sure you understand”

    LW#2 we record all meetings simply because it saves time and energy on minutes and stops minute fencing after the fact (while numerous people claim they said various scintillating things that have for some reason been omitted from the minutes. And people’s memories).

    1. Knope Knope Knope*

      I had a manager like this and the frustrating part was having them make those decisions for you. I couldn’t work with certain people or wouldn’t be suited to certain projects because of my zodiac sign. Even more frustrating, they made me take a personality test (some woo type thing, not one of the more widely used ones) and I didn’t really buy into it or think most of the answers really fit me so I just kinda filled in whatever answer to get it over with. Apparently I ended up with the same personality type as my boss’ mother. OMG the shock the ensued and assumptions they made about me afterward. Luckily I did not work for them for long!!

  20. Harper the Other One*

    OP3, if I’m understanding correctly, you’re losing a month of an increased wage but gaining payout for your unused vacation days, right? I don’t really find that particularly outrageous, even if you are now making less than some people you manage for 30 days.

    I think you should let this go. If you’re not in a place where vacation payout is required by law, your company sounds like they’re being pretty generous with their policy. Maybe if you think about it in terms of trading, say, a 5% raise for a month for 5 full days of pay or whatever, that can help you feel more positive about your last few weeks there.

    1. Knope Knope Knope*

      Yep. At the end of the day this is why people wait until after raises to give notice. The company really doesn’t owe anything extra to an employee who is leaving, so while it was nice to give extra notice, it’s generally not wise.

      1. twocents*

        Yeah, I honestly would have anticipated it. At my company, each dept has a chunk they can give out for raises. If Wakeen has 5 direct reports, and one of them has put in his notice, it would make sense that Wakeen would divvy up his chunk among the four remaining ones, because as Alison said, it’s a method of retaining people. They now get a slightly higher raise than they would have gotten had Wakeen wasted part of the money on someone leaving. At least at my company, Wakeen wouldn’t have been able to readjust everyone else’s bonuses once LW left; they’d be stuck with what they originally allocated until the next raise cycle.

    2. NoviceManagerGuy*

      Yes, this is almost certainly a trivial amount of post-tax money which OP3 will more than make up for at their presumably higher salary at the new job.

    3. MK*

      The OP only needed to give 1 month notice to get the vacation payout, but chose to give 3 months because their department is understaffed; they could have waited give notice and gotten both the payout and the raise, so they feel they lost by being considerate. It’s understandable, but, frankly, what sane management would give a raise to someone who has already quit?

    4. SomebodyElse*

      I think this is pretty common not to give raises/bonus’ for employees in their notice period and it does make sense.

      It’s always interesting to see who leaves my company after annual bonus payments are made. My boss told me a story about another manager in my company… The manager had received a resignation from an employee. She kind of side eyed the employee and asked if she wanted to hold on to it for a week and if they were taking some time off between ending the current job and starting the new one (pretty common to take a week to reset). The employee got kind of snotty and insisted they were resigning that day effective two weeks before the manager could say anything else. The manager shrugged and said “OK” … turns out the employee forgot about the bonus payout and left about $20K on the table.

      So yeah, timing is important on some of these decisions. That’s not to say I’d give up on an offer just because it didn’t align with bonus payouts or raises, because that probably doesn’t make sense in the long run. But if you have the opportunity to try and time things it’s usually wise to at least consider it (especially in the case of my story where they probably could have negotiated with the new company for a later start or something else).

    5. Nonny*

      #5 –

      I guess I’m an outlier when it comes to whether the OP should get the raise or not. If its a planned and scheduled raise, it sounds like its more performance/longevity or COLA-related raise, and not a retentive raise. A scheduled raise to me means that the OP has already earned it, and giving notice shouldn’t forfeit what they’re already entitled to. Leaving in a month doesn’t mean they haven’t been there long enough to reach/earn their scheduled raise or that their COL has changed. Whether they collect the raise for a month or for a year or whatever the period is between scheduled raises doesn’t seem relevant.

      1. Knope Knope Knope*

        I think the point is, though, that all of those types of raises are ultimately employee retention devices. These are benefits that make the workplace better and ultimately are given to keep and retain talent, not some sort of right they are entitled to that company must provide. So I see why the company would absorb the small amount of money back into the business rather than giving it to the OP who will no longer be contributing to their success,

    6. YetAnotherGenXDevManager*

      Not to mention – you’re probably never going to make more than everyone who reports to you. And you can’t compare yourself against that and still be happy. You’re either happy with the salary you have regardless of whether you get paid more than super senior engineer Jane, or you can find a new job.

    7. I'm just here for the cats*

      The only thing I would push back about is if the pay increase is retroactive.

  21. Loopy*

    OP 2 – I sometimes need recordings of technical meetings because I have to create documentation based on the discussion and am woefully not technical. Often I have to listen and playback not to mangle technical terms, catch and research acronyms, and just be able to figure out product names I’d never get down right if I couldn’t play back!

    I definitely never want to listen for anything more than I need to and don’t want to retain recordings beyond when I need them as they clutter up my files. That being said usually I try and ask for permission with security mind, sometimes I’m just met with silence, and I’d much rather someone just say no we can’t record and here’s why. But I’d have serious trouble if I could get recordings when security permits, they really are useful and I might legitimately significantly struggle with being denied such a useful tool based on preferences (just giving perspective).

    I’d suggest creating a policy to take the ambiguity out of it but also realize most people seeing these recordings aren’t viewing them with anything other than the limited reason they need them! I can’t think of a single time I noticed anything beyond OH WOW did I get that term wrong in my initial notes.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      As a technical person, I appreciate your effort to get the transcription right. I’ve seen badly garbled meeting minutes taken by non-technical people.

    2. Name Required*

      I rewatch meetings for the same reason now, and when I worked in account management, I rewatched sales meetings or technical meetings in order to practice and retain selling points for new product offerings before pitching to clients. I could play a meeting in the background while I cooked dinner or drove an awfully long commute home, and meeting minutes would not capture what I needed in the same way. Most people may not watch meetings, but there are legitimate reasons for some people to do so.

  22. Brooks Brothers Stan*

    LW2: In addition to the fact that roughly nobody alive will ever watch all of the videos being recorded (and thus are providing an illusion of benefit), one of the things you can offer instead of recording meetings is designating a revolving note taker. Note only are these easy to refer to for people who have missed meetings, but crucially they can be used to stop derailments from people who don’t agree with what the previous meetings were about or agreements reached.

    Heck, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia was just speaking today on the priority of good note taking during meetings, and especially when they’re done by someone with the technical expertise on the subject covered.

  23. Lilo*

    OP4’s employer is ridiculous. They are classifying him as temp, so he has no job security but they have to report it if the guy is looking for references? This place sounds completely toxic, like they’re expecting loyalty when they’re literally telling him he’s a temp.

    I hope he gets away from there soon.

    1. Czhorat*

      Yeah. The only thing I can think of is that he works for a temp agency which doesn’t want him to cut them out by seeking direct hire from the client companies.

      Even so, there are better ways to address this. I’m also side-eyeing the manager for not just giving the employee his gmail address or something so they could get in touch later.

      1. JohannaCabal*


        I wonder if the supervisor just didn’t like LW’s husband’s work and this was his way of brushing off the reference. Generally, if a supervisor is happy with someone’s work, they have no problem going around HR to give a strong reference.

        Whatever the case, husband should plan an exit. If this job is his current job, he does have leeway as far as references then. He should focus on references from other jobs.

        (I know Alison says most managers will sidestep company policy to give a strong reference but I’m hearing more and more about organizations cracking down on references. What I find interesting, is that I’ve never heard of anyone suing over a bad reference, though I’m sure it does happen. I just don’t think it happens as frequently as most HR and Legal departments think.)

      2. doreen*

        It actually sounds more to me like it’s a sort of in-house temp position. My daughter had a job like that- she worked for the employer, not a temp agency but she didn’t have a permanent position and would apply for/be assigned to her next assignment as the current one was ending. Sort of like a school district that keep its own roster of substitute teachers rather than using an agency. In that case, the manager not being permitted to give a reference wouldn’t seem odd, as many companies want everything to go through HR. The inability to share contact info and a requirement to report that he was asked for a reference seems odd no matter what the employment situation is.

      3. quill*

        Uh yeah, when I worked as a temp we just signed a noncompete and we could use our actual manager as reference.
        as soon as the contract was over we couldn’t work for the same client via any other contract company, but we could work for anyone else via anyone else.

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

      I worked at a place that had a rule in the handbook that if they discovered you job searching, they would consider you to have put in your notice. I had a lot of “house emergencies” in my last couple months there. I always wondered what would have happened if they deemed you to have quit, fired you, and then you applied for unemployment.

      (“House emergencies” was a bad choice because my manager, who was great, had had legit house emergencies. So when he came to just chat about the details conversationally because of his own experiences, I didn’t want to spin up a whole yarn about it, so I made it really awkward when I told him I couldn’t talk about it.)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is the advantage of “medical” appointments. While some people enjoy gossiping about their health, it is pretty mainstream to decline to gossip about it.

    3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right? How dysfunctional. OP, I too hope your husband gets out of there soon. If that’s how they treat their temps and contractors, they don’t deserve to have any.

  24. Virtual Assistant*

    #1. Definitively HR. But what you can expect – even if the manager would be forbidden to talk about astrology – is that they would probably still act according to their beliefs.

    1. twocents*

      That’s a good point. You might get him to shut up, but he’s likely going to continue making decisions in accordance with his beliefs.

  25. paxfelis*

    As a justification for LW#1, just imagine all the days you’d have off due to Mercury being retrograde.

    1. Allypopx*

      Oh yeah, if you are stuck in this situation for whatever reason it’s 100% exploitable and I give a full ethical pass for doing so

  26. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I know commenters are often quick to jump to “get a new job!” but that might actually be necessary here. In reading the letter this isn’t an astrology problem but a management problem. Astrology Manager bases all management decisions on astrology. Immediate manager lashes out in a punitive way if anyone raises issues. Employees (at least the letter writer) feel the need to “keep their head down” and are cowed into never raising issues out of fear of losing jobs due to lack of union protection. This isn’t normal and it isn’t sustainable. If there’s no HR (and there might not be), the only way may be to get out, because the management isn’t going to fix itself.

    1. Lacey*

      Absolutely. It doesn’t matter what the issue is that they’re handling this way – they’re handling it horribly.

    2. Sara without an H*

      +1. We’ve seen letters here in the past from people whose managers were obsessed with “positivity,” politics, religion, and various management fads. There’s no way to de-convert them, and it boils down to Alison’s old dictum: “Your manager sucks and isn’t going to change.”

      And given that the organization seems to be toxic anyway, I think OP#1 would be well advised to just give it up and start job hunting.

    3. MCMonkeybean*

      Long-term that may be necessary, but if this guy has only been around a few months I think it’s definitely worth talking to someone about it first.

  27. Lacey*

    #5 When I quit one job I gave my notice to the business owner. I’d been there forever so it felt a little more personal than quitting a job generally does. It actually didn’t even occur to me to tell my actual manager first!

    Later I realized it might have been a faux pas, but my manager assured me that I’d done the right thing.

  28. Mental Lentil*

    Reading through some of the comments on this post and some of the posts linked at the top at how many managers rely on pretty shady management techniques such as astrology, Meyers-Brigg, blood types (!), etc., to manage, rather than…actually managing. Yikes! I’m not even sure how to word an interview question that would address this.

    I’m off to HBR to see what research I can find out about the psychology behind why a small percentage of managers choose to manage this way.

    FWIW, I’m a Gemini and a Monkey, and I fit both of those descriptions pretty well, but I think it’s more because of ADHD rather than when I was born.

    1. Ama*

      I think you hit the nail on the head with your first sentence — it’s just another variation on “managers who don’t want to manage,” just in this case they replace “refusing to do anything at all” with “adhering to an arbitrary classification system that tells me what to do.”

    2. scribblingTiresias*

      You noticed that too? The pop-astrology definition of “Gemini” just reads like an ADHD diagnosis lmao

    3. Curious*

      Haven’t heard of the blood type one, what does the manager do if you don’t know your blood type? “You feel like a AB+ therefore you must have AB+ blood!”

  29. Czhorat*

    For #2, I’m generally in favor of privacy protections and am skeptical of corporate monitoring, but I’m with those who don’t see a real expectation of privacy in a meeting at your job.

    If you want to address it, I think there are two directions:

    1) As stated above, check to see how many times saved meetings have been accessed. For anything other than a quarterly “state of the firm” address I’d assume the answer is “nearly never”.

    2) Take – and publish – meeting notes at every meeting you attend. If it’s yours, send forma minutes. If it isn’t yours, send your notes to the person publishing minutes. Get yourself and the organization in the habit of creating a record. This is a more convenient tool than a recording of the meeting, and sending them to everyone gives the chance to correct omissions or misunderstandings.

    3) Ask “why” and “what?” A training seminar or introduction to a new procedure? Absolutely record it. Firmwide address from the CEO? Record that too. Weekly status meeting number seven on a six month job? Nobody’s going to watch that. Trust me, they aren’t.

  30. Khatul Madame*

    LW3, it is fairly common for subordinates to make more than their supervisors.
    If your salary was slightly higher before the raise and is slightly lower after, the deltas are probably negligible and you should let this go. Hopefully your salary and better job satisfaction at the new place will make up for this small loss.
    As for not getting the raise because you gave a longer notice – put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Would you rather give extra money to an employee who is leaving (as a thank-you gift?), or invest in people who are staying with the company?

    1. Allypopx*

      I probably should have posted my below comment as a response to this, but I’d be more worried about the employees observing how long notice periods are treated.

      1. twocents*

        I don’t think the average employee has 3 months notice themselves that they’re leaving.

    2. Khatul Madame*

      The employees wouldn’t know whether the LW got the raise, unless the LW complained to their direct reports about this.

      1. Allypopx*

        Depends on the culture. There’s a push to normalize sharing salary information (and it’s illegal for the company to stop them from doing so), and things like this sometimes leak, so it’s not outrageous to think they might know.

  31. Allypopx*

    If I were managing LW3 and it was in the budget I’d advocate giving them the raise. It’s a short-term expense and incentivizes long notice periods to those paying attention (or at the very least doesn’t disincentivize them).

    But that said, that wasn’t the choice they made and you probably have to let it go. Sorry OP.

    1. Epsilon Delta*

      Agree. Truly OP, it stings but is it really worth saying anything? For a person making $50k a year getting a 2% raise equates to $83 a month. For someone making $100k, it’s $116. Before tax. Now that’s not nothing, but comparing it to a full month’s wages, it’s such a tiny fraction.

      For me, for that amount of money, it does not make sense to have this be one of the last things your boss will remember about you.

  32. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP1 – your manager has outsourced much of their decision-making to an arbitrary set of rules. Are they actually, you know, managing at all? Do they do more than personnel stuff based on astrology?

    The risk that this piece of equipment fails is pretty high, so we ought to have a backup unit on hand. But since *whatever astrological thing* is going on for the next 4 months, we can save some money by not ordering the backup for a while.

    Because if they’re that far gone into it, I don’t understand how they can do their job at all. And this kind of objective stuff is more actionable to higher management as well.

  33. chewingle*

    I’m a huge proponent of recording videos just in case important info is shared because my company wastes A LOT of time arguing about decisions we made in meetings no one can remember. (Like…A LOT OF TIME.) It’s so handy to have those videos and be able to send it to people with a time stamp of when the issue came up and say, “We can reopen this conversation if the decision isn’t working the way we hoped, but here is the recording.” Also, I manage all the documentation for our department, so having those videos is so helpful with making sure I didn’t miss something during a meeting while I was taking notes on the new SOP being discussed and whatnot.

    1. Student*

      Let me introduce you to a tool that will fix your problem SO much better than videos:
      Decision memos.

      When a significant decision gets made, write a memo documenting the decision. This can be as short as a paragraph! Have the key stakeholders read and sign the memo. Keep a copy of the memo. Gives the stakeholders a chance to clarify /re-argue immediately, if somebody didn’t understand a key bit of the decision.

      Whenever somebody starts arguing about what the decision was, BOOM. Decision Memo! That you, Mr. Complainer (or Mr. Complainer’s boss, or whomever in your org gets to make the decision) have signed.

      We’ve got a little form to cover common decisions, but you can write one up for whatever the heck is happening.

      1. TiffIf*

        We don’t have it so formal but in our system I make sure to comment EVERYTHING. I work in software and one of our biggest issues in the past has been lack of documentation. Now whenever I am in a demo with a developer and I or our product team has some feedback or something that needs to be changed I always document it in a comment “Demo Feedback”.
        It is sometimes just a single sentence or bullet-point list.
        We also use the comments to ask other people ad-hoc “hey we didn’t think of this before, but how should it work if x, y, z?”

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Ideally if a decision is made that is something that is documented in the meeting minutes (that are distributed and approved afterwards) which can be referred back to instead of the video.

      But for really thorough meeting minutes, I think a recording is handy. It is painful to listen to a recording of a meeting to get minutes, but it is a useful tool.

      I am terrible minute taker; I get distracted by the conversation and participating in the conversation and I forget to write things down. Usually when I am the minute taker, I’m also the meeting facilitator. There used to be people whose job description used to include taking minutes, but that’s no more so it’s usually someone doing double duty who has no skill in minute/note taking.

    3. Pippa K*

      But having a video record instead of written minutes would limit Sir Humphrey’s machinations!

      “It is characteristic of all committee discussions and decisions that every member has a vivid recollection of them and that every member’s recollection of them differs violently from every other member’s recollection. Consequently we accept the convention that the official decisions are those and only those which have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials, from which it emerges with an elegant inevitability that any decision which has been officially reached will have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials and any decision which is not recorded in the minutes has not been officially reached even if one or more members believe they can recollect it, so in this particular case if the decision had been officially reached it would have been officially recorded in the minutes by the officials. And it isn’t so it wasn’t.”
      (Yes, Prime Minister, episode Man Overboard)

  34. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    LW#2, I guarantee you that if I ever open a recording of a work meeting, it is solely because I want to see someone’s cat again.

  35. Another Michael*

    LW4 – I find these policies to be very odd, but my understanding was that generally good managers who support their people don’t let the policy become a barrier to giving references. Can anyone who’s worked with a company like that weigh in on this?

    Is it possible that this manager was actually not as keen to be a reference for LW’s husband as he thought they might be?

    1. katertot*

      Yep- my company has the policy that the professional reference that should go through HR- the one that confirms hire/end dates, etc. but I give my direct information to anyone who wants a true reference that isn’t just confirming that they worked for us. I would guess this guy is trying not to be a reference OR as Alison stated is taking the policy too seriously/incorrectly.

    2. MsClaw*

      My company has a policy that does not allow *anyone* to give a reference. This is really common in my industry. All I can do is refer the caller to corporate HR, which will confirm job titles and dates the person worked with the company. It’s an absolute CYA thing, and while I suppose one could ignore the rule and give someone a glowing report and how would the company ever know, most people are just going say ‘here is the number for corporate HR’. And since this is so common in my industry, you’re almost never asked to give references. A background checker will call your former employers’ HR departments to confirm that you were a llama groomer from 2013-2016 or whatever, but they don’t even bother trying to contact references.

    3. Allypopx*

      I worked for a company that was very big on “HR only confirms dates worked, don’t give references” and just…ignored it. I just had employees give my cell number instead of my work number. Most of my direct reports were pretty new to the workforce and didn’t have a lot of references, I wasn’t going to penalize them because my company was paranoid about being sued.

    4. Another Michael*

      These are all really interesting – thanks for giving some more insight!

      MsClaw, what you’re sharing definitely makes sense across an industry, and it seems like your field has adapted to it. It’s definitely not common in my field, and I imagine it’s often worked around when it doesn’t represent an industry standard based on the other responses.

  36. bmj*

    For LW5, in my office it would be a pretty big deal, as a sign of a lack of respect for the company and it’s organization, if you didn’t go to your direct manager first with your resignation, even if you have issues with them. and if you have issues with them, it would need to be the kind of issues where HR would be or has already been involved, and then you’d just go to HR. The only exception would be a boss on vacation or leave. of course, if you are leaving then maybe you don’t care about it being a big deal.

  37. Charlotte*

    As the junior person/admin stuck making the detailed minutes that everyone is so fond of…

    We have one person who is adamantly anti-recording (not for herself, but because she thinks even asking people puts too much pressure on them, so we’re not allowed even to ask), which means that I get stuck trying to get everything down in a doc for minutes while simultaneously screen-sharing and advancing slides and answering questions as they come up…I find these meetings particularly stressful for this reason, particularly when my minutes subsequently get criticized by this same person for not being essentially verbatim.

    1. Elliot*

      Completely agree with this. If you’re not the junior/admin person assigned to take notes, don’t suggest that as an alternative!
      Taking notes keeps me from being able to participate in meetings, and therefore keeps me from standing out for my own great ideas/questions/contributions. It’s often a (potentially unintentional) way to silence junior/admin members and keep them from advancement opportunities.

      1. Chinook*

        This is the argument for having the admin assistant taking the minutes – they often will have little to say about a project (unless they are active participants, in which case a different admin should be pulled in for the minute taking) but knowledge of the details around the discussion are vital for them to assist everyone.

        But the person chairing the meeting should be the one screen-sharing and advancing slides so that they can control the flow of the meeting (which is one of the jobs of the chair). The same person should not be doing both. It is unfortunate that the role of admin assistant/secretary (an official role in some organizations whose job includes minute taking) has become either so undervalued to have disappeared or so bloated that they do not have the time to do this, because this is exactly why this type of position should exist. Unfortunately, this type of administrative support was often the first to go due to budget cuts (because anyone else can do it) or the skill to do it effectively has not been passed on.

      2. Chinook*

        Elliot, I didn’t mean to say that you are wrong – the role is now often given to the person who others believe have no value OR the view by those attending is that the notes are no big deal, but the flip side is that someone who has no direct input into the workings of the purpose of them meeting should be the one taking the minutes. I have been that admin. assistant and silently taking notes was the best thing for my job because I learned the details and about personalities behind the decisions.

        I have also pointed out this value to co-op students who felt like you about being assigned minute taking – being in the room taking the notes does mean that you won’t be able to speak up actively, but when you are hired fresh out of university (or while still a student), is there really anything you can add to meeting that won’t be covered by those with more experience on this project? But, because you are taking notes, you have standing to ask for clarification when things are unclear for the record and, depending on the leadership, to speak up if something has been missed (both of which I have done in meetings with senior engineers).

  38. Name Required*

    #OP2, I disagree with Alison that you should pursue this. What I’m hearing is that you don’t want your existance to be captured digitally at all, or as little as possible out of fear of malicious use. The risk of this happening is so low, and the likelihood that you’re already being recorded/monitored through various interactions with technology so high, that if you brought this up in my org, you’d likely look unknowledgeable about technology, unknowledgeable about company policy (which already dictates use and storage of company assets with increasing requirements based on the type of information within the asset), and suspicious of your coworkers. I also work in a sector with a lot of digital products, where it’s very evident how little privacy is actually possible if you interact with technology at all, so that does bias my perception.

    If you work at a small or negligent company that does not already have a policy on how digital assets are created, used, and stored, that is something to pursue. Narrowly focusing on your pixelated face being captured in a video that very few people are likely to access is not the way to go if you work in a technology-forward company; I think the risk to your reputation is higher than the risk someone will maliciously use your image, unless you work at a highly dysfunctional place.

    1. Allypopx*

      Well Alison really just says to focus on creating guidelines and policies, which you seem to agree is reasonable, so I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with the answer.

      However, I agree with your overall assessment. OP, definitely don’t center the conversations around your principles or your general aversion to being observed. “I’m uncomfortable if I don’t know the guidelines around what this recording will be used for” is about as far as you can push that. You’ll definitely get a reputation as paranoid and out of touch.

      1. Name Required*

        Ah, I read the answer to mean that the OP should pursue guidelines specific to recorded meetings, which I disagree with.

  39. Lisa*

    OP2: 100% agree that you should advocate for some shared guidelines. I also get that it can be unnerving to think about all your meetings being recorded. Another perspective: as someone with ADHD, those recordings have saved me on multiple occasions. I realize I forgot to write down an important detail, or I know I was assigned an action item but can’t remember what it was, or I just know my symptoms were particularly bad one day and I want to double-check that I understood things correctly. I’m not saying you have no right to be uncomfortable with being recorded, just pointing out a non-nefarious way in which those recordings can be used.

    1. TWW*

      After reading all this discussion about why meetings should not be recorded, my own conclusion is that I’m going to start recording all my meetings. In my notes I always miss some things, and it would be great to have a record just in case.

      At the types of meetings I attend, no one takes minutes.

  40. Loredena Frisealach*

    Agreed. I’m a consultant, and I work with an off-shore team, so we record a lot of our meetings with clients. Because those have demos and technical information that is important for the team to know and 1) it’s difficult to schedule a call that everyone can attend across 3 or 4 time zones and 2) language being what it is reviewing them later can be helpful to catch nuance!

    We also internally record corporate meetings for later review by anyone who missed it – but I have to say I personally will just read the notes or the transcript! Day to day meetings are rarely recorded.

    Now, for the OPs concerns, most of us keep our camera off; usually just the presenter/speaker has video on at all, and often not while conducting a demo or presenting a deck. The pushback I would suggest is less on the recording, and more on the expectation that everyone be on video! it’s draining, and bandwidth intensive, which can lead to poorer quality calls, and a recording of voice over face will likely feel less invasive in terms of privacy as well.

  41. Elliot*

    #2 – I do understand the desire for privacy, but it sometimes seems to weigh against a desire for transparency in business – which in my opinion, is extremely important. Having clear records of decisions being made, trainings, knowledge share, etc is extremely valuable – further, video recordings of meetings can be extremely helpful tools for those of us with disabilities like ADHD, anxiety, etc who had a hard time focusing at the time of the meeting.

    I do think there should be guidelines about how and when these recordings can be accessed and shared – but I will also note, unless you work with really awful people, no one cares that you mis-spoke or talked to your pet during a meeting. No one cares about your fumbles as much as you do.

  42. Ray Gillette*

    My company records meetings because our recording software includes auto-transcription. We don’t have anyone to take notes. There are certainly meetings that we don’t record, but the default is recording on and ask to stop recording.

  43. nonprofit worker*

    RE: Astrology – I used to work for an astrology-obsessed director who would not sign any contracts or pay an invoices when mercury was in retrograde (which happens 2-3 times a year, for several weeks at a time). This was such a professional nightmare, as I was dodging vendor calls and making up excuses to contractors about why we couldn’t pay them for another two weeks or lock in a contract. I wanted to yell into the phone that our director was waiting for the stars to align! This kooky behavior is part of the reason I ended up leaving that job. Sigh.

    1. quill*

      … Maybe this is why, at last job, there were week + patches where I could not get any paperwork out of my contacts!

      Though I think it’s more probable that it was a case of waiting for infection data to align, given that the original reason I had to chase these contacts down at all was because when they started working from home our ability to get ahold of them dropped off the face of the earth.

  44. I'm just here for the cats*

    The only time I have ever rewatched a meeting is when there was some training involved. are these regular meetings or is there some sort of training to them as well? I think it’s really odd that they are recording regular meetings just because someone is not able to make it. After all, if you were in person you wouldn’t be recording the meeting.
    If they are only recording it so those who missed the meeting can be caught up on missing information some could take meeting notes and share it with everyone.

  45. Sobe*


    Just as a remined, if you and other concerned coworkers raise issues about your working conditions, it may be protected concerted activity under federal law.

    Per the National Labor Relations Board: “You have the right to act with co-workers to address work-related issues in many ways. Examples include: talking with one or more co-workers about your wages and benefits or other working conditions, circulating a petition asking for better hours, participating in a concerted refusal to work in unsafe conditions, openly talking about your pay and benefits, and joining with co-workers to talk directly to your employer, to a government agency, or to the media about problems in your workplace. Your employer cannot discharge, discipline, or threaten you for, or coercively question you about, this “protected concerted” activity.”

  46. Gawaine*

    3: Most big companies I’ve been with had a raise budget. If you gave a raise to someone else, you were giving less of a raise to someone else. So we’d never give a raise to someone who’d given notice. I even had one raise cancelled after I gave notice, that I’d been formally told about but hadn’t taken effect yet – they cancelled it in the system and recoup’d it.

    4: Often, it has been corporate policy that employees were not required to give out references, and we were encouraged to slip that into being “allowed to”, as a way of reducing people forum shopping for references, or us having to have discussions with people after they left. Confirming dates quickly segways into more; most reference checkers either send me a written questionnaire or on the phone, segway into, “now that I have you here, confidentially, could you tell me about….” where you know it won’t be confidential. Negative stuff turns into legal action, so I don’t want to get into it if I’m not required to.

  47. fhqwhgads*

    My company records a lot of meetings. However, when a meeting is to be recorded, it says that in the invite. So people going to the meeting show up knowing it’ll be recorded. It’s not sprung on them as an ask when they’re already there. That said, we record meetings of two kinds: 1) it’s a training and meant to be saved for future new hires (or anyone who couldn’t make it on the day) to watch when they need to be trained on that thing. 2) it’s a Presentation Style meeting to begin with, with only a few, known-in-advance people talking, and a Q&A at the end. These are usually either department-wide or all-staff type meetings. Since we’re in too many time zones for them to always be friendly to everyone, they float. They get recorded so the people for whom it occurred in the middle of the night can watch it later. (but who ends up in the “that was the middle of the night” bucket varies; it’s not always the same time zone being left out)

    These to me are the types of meetings it makes sense to record, although the latter don’t have an indefinite shelf life. If it’s a meeting of much fewer people, or the type where everyone is discussing and deciding and you don’t have any idea in advance who might talk, that doesn’t make sense to record. That’s not the sort of thing it’s efficient to watch later. People who need to be in the loop on what was decided or what action items came out of it need the minutes, which hopefully include clear “decisions” and “action items” sections so you don’t have to hunt. If the point of a meeting is to make a decision, then if a person weren’t there to provide input, all they really need after the fact is documented what the decision was, and possibly key factors why so that doesn’t end up rehashed again later.

    Put another way: if the meeting could be described as “everyone was supposed to get the same spiel”, recording makes sense. Otherwise, it’s not an efficient thing to do, even if there were no privacy concerns involved.

  48. bluestreak*

    All the people that say that recorded meetings have no utility are off. They serve a number of purposes 1) assist notetakers get accurate minutes, 2) record slides and visual aids referred to in the meeting. seeing the slide along with the explanation and the pointing is helpful. 3) allowing people who can’t/don’t want to attend to view. THere are times for meetings that are informational that I don’t want to spend an hour, but I will spend a half hour rewatching at 2X speed.

    Push ahead for an archiving policy, sure. But bristling because of privacy concerns in a forum where you should have zero expectation of privacy is going to make you come across as weird, I think

  49. However, comma...*

    LW2, 99.999% of the time, recording meetings is totally innocent and also can be very necessary for some people. For example, I will often re-watch parts of meeting recordings to make sure I fully grasp the implications of what was discussed, or to make sure I don’t miss explanations of new products and tasks.
    Thanks to the pandemic and WFH, we’re also much better about letting each other be fallible humans because we’ve had to collaborate remotely using video tools. I don’t know anyone that loves it, but it’s just business. Unless you work for a toxic company, there’s no nefarious reason for recording a meeting. Even if you say something that turns out later to be wrong – so has everyone else at one time or another.

  50. Ladycrim*

    While the person in letter #5 is fine with going up a level with their notice, it reminds me of the time a new hire at our office decided to quit after a week and gave notice to the first person she saw … which was me. I’m an Admin Assistant. I am in no way someone who has anything to do with personnel.

    New Hire: “I can’t deal with this. I’m done. Tell [Staff Director] I quit.”
    Me: “What? Wait, I can’t do that. There’s a procedure-”
    NH: “I don’t care. I’m leaving.”
    Me: “But … but … you have to turn your key back in, and there’s paperwork, and -”
    NH: “Key’s on my desk. Goodbye.”

    And she left. I, feeling totally shocked, had to then go to the staff director.

    Me: “Uh, [New Hire] just came up to me and quit.”
    Staff Director: (jokingly) “What did you DO to her???”

  51. First time listener, long time caller*

    Re OP2, Recording the audio without notice is clearly illegal if the company is in a two party consent state and probably if anybody on the call is in a two party consent state. You don’t need actual consent, but you do need to make sure they know they are being recorded and have the ability to leave. There is no employee exception to this rule. Most of the online videoconferencing tools have the ability to produce a pop-up that says something like “this is being recorded, okay? Yes/No” and you get booted if you say no.

    If you’re in a one-party consent state, you’re going to have to let this go.

  52. TootsNYC*

    #3, not getting a raise because you gave notice:

    I’m late to the party, but I wanted to say:
    Be sure to tell colleagues at your office about this, so that they can plan their own notice periods appropriately.

    Given that you wouldn’t be paid for more than a couple of months’ worth, they could have given you the raise anyway, and it’s good for everyone else to know that they are not inclined to do that. It will help your colleagues plan their own departures, when the time comes.

  53. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP2: could you not just ask for minutes to be taken, then the person who can’t attend can just read the minutes to see what actually happened?

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