my new job said I could work from home – and then changed their minds

A reader writes:

I have worked in tech for 10 years and just started a dream role with an incredibly welcoming team. During the recruiting process, I made it very clear to the recruiter that I would only be able to go into the office (located 70 miles away, or two hours each way with traffic) once a week. She said that was not a problem and that the company had invested a lot of resources during the last 15 months to ensure folks could be successful working from home.

This information, unfortunately, was not shared with my manager, which became clear to me on day two. When I talked to my manager about this, her response was, “I cannot make an exception for you, and had this information been shared, the hiring conversation would have been different.” After our conversation, a company-wide announcement was made requiring employees to come in three days a week. This would amount to 12 hours of commuting for me every week.

How can I make sure my expectations I set forth during my hiring process for working from home are respected and met? I hate the idea that I’m being a difficult employee. I want this role to work because I am genuinely excited about and care about the work, but commuting 12 hours per week will be bad for my mental health and ultimately prevent me from being successful. Of course, I know I’ll need to be flexible; there will undoubtedly be weeks where I need to come in more than once, but I would expect that to be the exception and not the rule. (And to be clear, I don’t blame the recruiter for this. The recruiting team here is understaffed and overworked. He was also based in another country and might not be in tune with this location’s expectations for working from home.)

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today — along with questions about returning to work with blue hair, asking to work from another country, and more. Head over there to read it.

{ 226 comments… read them below }

  1. Slightly Burned*

    Wow. This scenario just happened to me in almost the same exact way. Although it was actually the hiring manager that didn’t relay my expectations to my actual boss. Fortunately, my actual boss is willing to work with me, but it’s horribly frustrating to be put in a situation you worked hard to avoid.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I’ve had this exact scenario as well. I was hired for an internship while I was in still in school, and I made it really clear during the whole process that I was still in college. And then, on day 1, my manager told me that leaving early one day a week wasn’t going to work. It was a very uncomfortable conversation, and my entire internship was an extremely tense experience. I was made to feel guilty for leaving for classes each week, and I kept getting the sense from my manager that they thought I was a slacker and that I had lied to get the job. OP, if your manager is this steadfast in you coming in three days a week, I would start looking for something else. Another thing – if the communication between HR and management is this weak, what else is going to be so badly miscommunicated?

    2. Artemesia*

      Your boss IS the hiring manager; it is odd they were not more involved in the process.

      I think the OP in this case needs to look for another remote position and cut their losses here unless one more round of ‘this is what I negotiated’ fails. And odds are this business will then discover they need to allow remote work as they struggle to staff this function.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          No. The hiring manager isn’t the person who manages all the hiring for an organization. The hiring manager is the person who will be your boss if you’re hired for the job. They manage a team or department or entire organization. For instance, if you’re applying for a job as a finance assistant, the finance director is probably the hiring manager.

          1. doreen*

            I agree that the hiring manager manages the team or department – but there are still situations where there are supervisors or forepeople who are not managers. And it’s not uncommon in those situations for the immediate supervisor to not have any involvement in hiring.

          2. Scrabble*

            Yes but sometimes that isn’t the person who hired you! Eg they’re hiring a few people who get assigned to different teams after the one hiring process.

            My new manager did not interview me, for example.

          1. Luckily Not Me*

            Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There have been plenty of letters and posts where the manager/supervisor was not involved in the hiring process, regardless of what should be.

            1. RabbitRabbit*

              I think the point is the term is being used wrongly. The “hiring manager” is the manager of the person who is being hired. The person who does the hiring may be that person, or it may be someone in HR, or it may be someone above the hiring manager’s level, or someone else.

                1. BPT*

                  I mean…I honestly can’t believe we use the term “hiring manager” for someone who has no input into the hiring process. Of course it’s supposed to be the decision-maker for deciding who gets the job, and that is often the manager of that specific position. But if the “hiring manager” may not even have any say in the hiring process, then why is it suggested on this blog to address cover letters “Dear Hiring Manager”? I’ve also never heard someone use “hiring manager” in the real world to mean anything other than the person who makes the decision about the hire. If that is not the direct supervisor, then I’ve heard “the person supervising this position” or “this position’s manager” used, but never “hiring manger.”

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hiring manager = the manager who the role being hired will report to

                  We’re not making these terms up here, this is how they’re used in most cases (although like anything, you can sometimes find the company that’s the odd exception). You can certainly register your objection at the Bureau of Confusing Language :)

                3. Slightly Burned*

                  I didn’t mean to derail the conversation because of how my workplace describes their different positions, because that is the title they used to refer to the person doing the hiring, but I understand what you’re saying. In this case, just replace “Hiring Manager” with “HR” when reading my response.

            2. Person from the Resume*

              You do not understand. For the purposes of the definition of the hiring manager, it doesn’t matter if the hiring manager is part of the hiring process. The “hiring manager” is the person who will be the boss of the new hire.

              The person doing the hiring/recruiting does not have to be the hiring manager. The hiring manager should be involved in the process but sometimes they are not.

              In the example of the LW the recruiter made promises that the hiring manager was not willing to honor. To be fair, the recruiter may have made promises about remote work that they should not have because that’s not the policy of the office where the LW is primarily working.

      1. Lauren19*

        It’s not right but it’s happened. I was informed once that my company was hiring one of our interns full-time and they were going to report to me. I had never met him before. They told me our interview would be the next day, they told him that meeting was an introductory conversation with his new boss. I knew immediately in that meeting he wasn’t going to work out. Despite LOTS of coaching, help and support we had to let him go within the year.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Hah, I was interviewing a direct report at my last job, and my boss insisted on hiring the one person I interviewed that I absolutely did not want to hire.

          She doesn’t work there anymore; I quit shortly after she was hired.

          1. allathian*

            Did you tell your manager that you quit because you didn’t want to manage the new hire?

        2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          So for you it was an interview, for him, an introductory meeting. So you were meeting at cross-purposes, it was bound to be awkward until that was discovered. But other than that, the guy could have been great. He was set up to fail there.

  2. KHB*

    It sounds like this is a clear case of “Always confirm all details of an offer with the manager, not just with the recruiter.” It seems like there are so many letters about recruiters promising candidates the moon, a pony, and the kitchen sink, because they’re not the ones who are going to be held to those promises later.

      1. KHB*

        As well you should!

        …and I think another important question to ask would be, “Am I getting a pony because everybody on this team gets a pony, or is this a special perk you’re granting just for me?” There’s still no guarantee that you’ll get to keep your pony, but it’s a whole lot more likely if the boss doesn’t have to keep explaining to your coworkers that “Autumnal gets a pony and you don’t because she negotiated one at the offer stage, and you didn’t think to do that, so too bad for you.”

        1. Filosofickle*

          This is a great tip. It’s helpful to know if you’re getting something other team members don’t have — it can be harder to defend it later and there can be resentment. (I used to negotiate late start times and while it was low-level I never stopped hearing the end of it from colleagues. “Must be nice.”) Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t negotiate for it or take it, but go in with eyes open.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            oooh yes. I negotiated part-time work and didn’t work on Fridays. People were always jealous until I told them that they could negotiate a day off every week, they’d just have to accept a pay cut in excess of a fifth of their salary (part-time workers were paid less per hour than full-time).

        2. CommanderBanana*

          So, my last office didn’t allow work from home – except my boss hired someone and allowed her to work from home but didn’t tell anyone else and lied to us about where the coworker was.

          So we’d be looking for Soandso and had NO idea that she was working from home. This went on for three months until the manager finally came clean. We thought she’d hired someone who had a serious chronic illness.

        3. Heffalump*

          In this case the response to coworkers should be, “We messed up and told Autumnal she’d have to work onsite only one day a week. She wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise. She shouldn’t have to suffer for our mistake.”

          1. KHB*

            And then what? Things just continue like that forever, with one employee getting a perk that others want but nobody else can have, all because a recruiter messed up and promised something they shouldn’t have?

            LW shouldn’t be made to suffer for the employer’s mistake, but neither should all of LW’s colleagues be made to indefinitely endure an unequal and unfair situation that has no reason behind it other than the employer’s mistake. Because that’s going to result in suffering too.

            If the employer truly can’t extend the perk they promised LW to everyone who wants it, I think the fairest solution would be to keep their promise to LW for right now, but to work on transitioning LW into some other role (either a different role at the same company that allows from more WFH flexibility, or a role at another employer) on some kind of finite timeframe.

            1. Message in a Bottle*

              This is like proming the desk! Then the other coworker wanted the desk.

              I always think of new hire negotiations that the person was shrewder than me. Like if they negotiated a higher salary for the same work.

              So as a coworker, I’d never ask for the desk or to WFH. They negotiated their terma and I had had my chance to negotiate mine.

              That is me. If someone else can negotiate from a place of already working there, more power to them. I just can’t do it.

              1. Message in a Bottle*

                Probably, was a office, not desk. Oops. ;-)

                But heck, to that new hire that office was as important as a desk!

                I just never would have seen that and then decided *I* now needed an office.

                But then they gave the existing employee the office! And new hire left over it! To get their old job at a higher salary.

                My head was spinning with how savvy both employees were. They got what they felt they needed.

        4. Meep*

          I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, we had a guy try to negotiate $55/hr – which isn’t unreasonable for his qualifications – while we had a contractor with 15 years of experience + a PhD making slightly more than me at $32/hr with 2 years of experience and no PhD. The contractor was annoyed, but at the same time, he refuses to fight for himself. On the other hand, I managed to negotiate 2 weeks of PTO straight off the bat and was annoyed when my male coworker got 4 weeks will less struggle.

          At the end of the day, unless it is clearly discrimination that you don’t get these perks, I see nothing wrong with different people having different benefits based on needs.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Except your male co-worker received better benefits than you with less struggle. Sure, no discrimination *there*. Right?

          2. KHB*

            Employers have a responsibility to offer equal compensation for equal work. It’s a legal responsibility when it comes to protected-class status, but it’s still a moral responsibility in all other cases. Employers shouldn’t be offering salary/benefits packages of wildly different value to people doing the same job at the same level. I know that plenty of employers do this anyway. Those employers are jerks.

            It’s one thing if an employee “negotiates” by giving up some of one benefit in exchange for more of another (like a lower salary in exchange for a part-time schedule, as mentioned above). People have different needs, and “equal value” doesn’t have to mean “exactly the same.” But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening in either of the cases you mentioned. Your PhD colleague shouldn’t have to “fight for himself” to be paid fairly for his work. Your employer should be paying people fairly to begin with, because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s maybe worth thinking about what it means that they don’t seem to see it that way.

    1. Heffalump*

      I’m sure you know the old “with all this horse shit, there’s got to be a pony somewhere!” joke.

      1. An American(ish) Werewolf in London*

        These horse jokes are unstable – we should rein them in.

        (Sorry, couldn’t resist. Do say neigh if you’d like me to stop)

          1. Carol the happy elf*

            So saddle have to find another job because some horse’s *** said neigh.

            (Sorry- my late father adored puns. We spent a whole hour on shirt-related puns jest before he passed away.)

            Seriously, though, I had this sort of promise once. Six months later, moving on to a new job, I had an exit interview and just cheerfully mentioned that the people were fantastic, the job was fulfilling and really broadened my experience.
            But if only they had been able to keep their word on my work from home, I could have been able to stay.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Yup, we’re saddled with a few of them. Should we quit horsing around?

    2. Momma Bear*

      Does anyone remember the person who was offered an office and didn’t get it? Kind of feels like that, but in reverse. A 2 hr commute is not insignificant, and I would be looking for another job if that was required.

      1. KHB*

        Yeah, that was one of the letters I was thinking about. That one, too, was a case of a recruiter making a promise that the company wasn’t willing to keep.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      I don’t think you should believe a recruiter. They have incentive to not be 100% honest here.

      A friend of mine got promised something by a recruiter and then didn’t get it. She objected very vociferously to the company and then promptly lost the job. Jesus. I would have just sucked it up and gotten less money (or whatever it was) rather than have no job at all. She works with dozens of recruiters and they all sound divey as heck, though.

      1. Peachtree*

        It sounds like your friend trusted the company to deliver, with her only mistake being her assumption that the recruiter was honest. Seems … off that you think she should just suck it up and get paid less than she was promised? How was she supposed to predict that they’d fire her for it?

  3. saradactyl*

    I’m looking for a new job that’s ideally remote or mostly remote and I dread this happening to me. Good luck, OP!

    1. June*

      Negotiate terms with the actual company, not just a mention to a recruiter, and it’s not likely this will happen. Know exactly what expectations are.

      1. NY LAWYER*

        But it seems to imply that it was an internal recruiter who should have known better.

      2. Sc@rlettNZ*

        Surely this is the sort of thing that would be covered in a written offer? I’m not in the US, but here, if someone had negotiated to work remotely, that would be stated in the offer letter – it would form part of your employment contract. So each side would know what the arrangements are and there wouldn’t be any surprises.

        1. Cj*

          Unfortunately, in the US, an offer letter is not a contract. In fact, there are no contracts for most employees in the US. Having it in writing reminds them of what they actually said, and may help you in your argument to get what you want, but it is not legally binding.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, that’s probably the biggest difference in employment practices between the US and Western Europe, in addition to health insurance stuff. In the EU at least, employment contracts are binding and they’re signed between the employer as an organization and the employee. So a change in management doesn’t mean that the new manager can change employment conditions at will. They have to be renegotiated at the very least, and in many cases, at least in Finland, the organization’s hands are tied by collective agreements signed between employer organizations and trade unions. And those conditions are binding whether or not an individual employee is a member of a union or not.

            1. Good Vibes Steve*

              I’m curious about how health insurance works if you don’t have a contract. Surely your health insurance itself is contract-based, right? So how do you get a health insurance contract without an employment contract?

              1. NaoNao*

                Health insurance is not contract based. It’s a service you sign up for and pay for monthly using pre-tax dollars taken out of your paycheck.

          2. Snailing*

            Yep, and I’ve come up against this multiple times when I’ve negotiated something in conversation and then have to push to have it added to the offer letter so that it’s in writing. Still not legally binding, but I want it in writing!

        2. Bird*

          Actually, this is the kind of thing that OP should have asked to be put in the offer letter, regardless of the fact that an offer letter is not an employment contract. The offer letter does state the initial expectations of both parties to the employment arrangement. Beyond title, salary, bonus, hours, etc., offer letters can include other important details, like work location, remote schedule, etc. If I expected to be able to work remotely because of these commuting circumstances, I would want to see that stated in my offer letter. Yes, the employer can change the terms of the engagement at will, but at least the expectations are in writing. At every employer that I have had, any variations to the standard offer letter language get internal approval and buy-in, before the offer letter is released.

        3. rachel in nyc*

          One of my friends and I recently discussed this. Basically making sure we understood that an offer letter isn’t a contract so much as a pinky promise.

          I suggested the real benefit is that if it’s in the offer letter, a company will likely do it for at least 6 months.

    2. anonymath*

      I think it really does help to make sure you talk with the manager you’ll be working with. I was able to hire someone in a mostly-remote role this year, and as the hiring manager (the person the new hire is working with) with full knowledge of the geography/roads/expectations that we worked out mutually, I’m able to represent my employee appropriately in conversation with higher-ups (or just let it fly under the radar, as needed!).

      It of course really helps that this employee who lives a long long drive away is immediately excellent :) No one wants to mess this up.

      1. TardyTardis*

        Getting it in writing can really make a huge difference, though. We were sold a timeshare (please do not tell me what a bad idea it was, please?) and we agreed we should get a certain season. I had the salesman put that into a typed memo. So when we were given the contract in a much worse season, I produced the memo (on their letterhead) and tada, the contract was changed.

  4. The Original K.*

    This scenario happened to someone I used to work with – not directly with on the same team, but for the same employer. Her commute was 60 miles each way and she negotiated remote work. The company had no formal remote work policy; it was up to your boss. Everyone on our team commuted at least 45 minutes (the company was pretty inconveniently located, frankly), so our boss, whose commute was about an hour and 15 minutes, worked remotely once a week and the team policy was basically “don’t worry about it, work from home when you need to.” There were other teams where remote work was not allowed, period. This person’s boss reneged on remote work and the person ended up quitting – she said she wouldn’t have applied if the expectation was that she commute 60 miles each way, and she wasn’t willing to relocate.

  5. HereKittyKitty*

    Support for the blue hair question! If it’s not written in the rules, go for it and most of the time people will be a bit surprised, but I’ve never had a negative comment. I’ve had every color under the rainbow and it’s never been a problem for me (through 3 different jobs). When I start jobs, it’s actually been helpful because people remember me more often, and I jokingly tell them if they need to find me and can’t remember my name, just say “woman with the pink hair” and someone can direct them my way!

    1. All the words*

      Right there with the blue hair support. It’s gotten quite mainstream these past couple of years. For context, at 58 I dyed my hair purple. I work for a large banking institution in the U.S. (bankers aren’t known for being overly relaxed or fun spirited).

      Nobody batted an eye and I wasn’t the first one who’d shown up with a wild color.

      1. Jay*

        I now have fuschia streaks. They’re not noticeable on Zoom and I haven’t seen any coworkers in person since the pandemic started. I do see patients every day and so far the only comments I’ve had are admiring (and the occasional “where did you get that done? I want something like that!”) I absolutely love it.

        1. Maroon haired Librarain*

          I work in library science and got maroon streaks (at a a salon). Nobody even noticed. My profession is conservative. Since parts of my hair are a dark red/purple it only shows in certain lights. I didn’t have any issues with my latest zoom call.

        2. Forrest*

          as of six weeks ago, my hair is my (natural) dark red-brown on top, and pink/orange/purple underneath! My hair is super thick, so the dark top layer pretty much covers the pink peekaboo layer unless I pull it back. I love it SO much.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I don’t do a peekaboo layer, but I’m going on ten years now of natural red down to the shoulders, and some combination of green/purple/teal/blue from the shoulders down to my hips.

        3. Pretty Haired Lady*

          Same here! I work in pharma and I have one side of my head fuschia and the other blue and no one has cared. I even interviewed and was hired at a new company with my hair like this.
          Lots of industries have relaxed about appearances nowadays

      2. Life is too short*

        I work in a conservative law office. During the pandemic I began highlighting my hair purple. Floored my bosses for a few days but a year later, my hair is still purple. (I will be 50 later this year.) I’m still the same competent person I was without purple hair and most people realize that quickly.

      3. Lunita*

        Agreed! I had been at my nonprofit long enough and was sure enough of my position to just dye my hair blue-green without asking internally. It was fine. And it’s mainstream enough that at industry conferences I often get compliments on my hair. When I left that job and interviewed, I had the same color. I figured I wouldn’t take a new job anywhere that wasn’t relaxed enough to accept my hair.

    2. The Rural Juror*

      A friend of mine worked for a company for a while where she was only customer-facing some days. She had pink highlights in her hair, but they were strategically-placed so they could be hidden when she pulled her hair back and into a bun. On days where she needed to be in front of customers, she just did the bun and hid the unnatural color. I don’t think her company cared one bit when she was in the back of the office in private, but we are in a mildly conservative area in Texas…so some customers could be kind of judge-y -_-

    3. Pool Lounger*

      My doctor just dyed her hair pink! It’s definitely much more nomal in most places now—I live in a medium size southern city.

    4. Venus*

      Support here too. If you want to be really careful then ask your boss, but definitely don’t make an effort to go natural unless you get specific direction it isn’t wanted.

      We have very little color in our office and bright hair would be appreciated!

      1. RJ*

        Second this! Go back with it blue and don’t worry about it – if they don’t like it, they will tell you.

        1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

          I disagree – dyeing your hair bright colors is EXPENSIVE (my appt in August is going to be $300+). I would want to know before I drop that kind of money if it’s going to be allowed. I would be so upset if I spent $300 to go blue and then turned around and had to dye over it the next day because work threw a fit.

          1. Metadata minion*

            It sounds like the LW has already dyed her hair, so it won’t be a new expense, and the cost also varies enormously depending on where you go or if it’s a home dye job.

          2. GothicBee*

            But in this case the LW’s hair is already blue, so it’s not going to make a difference in how much money is spent. If anything, showing up with blue hair is more likely to mean they don’t have to run out and spend money on dying it back to a more natural color right away.

      2. Punkrock Barbie*

        Asking the boss backfired for me. I really wish I had gone with forgiveness over permission (but YMMV)
        The policy was something like, “Haircolor must be professional”. I was not customer-facing and my boss had never met me in person. I was wanting dark blue streaks in my already black hair. Her answer was to ask HR. HR said it was up to my boss. Boss said she would ask her boss, and I never got answer.
        This was honestly a nail in the coffin at my time there. The company was always professing to support diversity, as long as you were part of the suit and tie crowd. (I get it, my hair color is a choice, but I’m no less professional with green hair than solid black. My current boss doesn’t care at all).

        1. Jay*

          I made a conscious decision not to ask or look up the dress code before I got my streaks. Plausible deniability and all that. And I also know that a lot of those rules are not reliably enforced – we have a “no visible tattoos” rule and we have a lot of patient-facing providers (including me) who have small tattoos on their wrists or ankles. No one says a word.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            When I was in the hospital for a major surgical procedure (pre-covid), I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how many of the nurses had ink. I don’t have any myself (yet, anyway), but I think tattoos are cool, and I’m always happy to see workplaces not being stuffy about things like that, just on principle!

    5. DeweyDecibal*

      Yes- my various bright hair colors have never been an issue, and oftentimes helps people to remember who I am!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I definitely remembered my child’s teacher with their green hair!

        I agree to go to the office and just be professional in all other ways and see if anyone even cares.

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        I once went a conference and a blogger that was known as the “Pink Haired Llama Groomer” found me and connected with me because I also had pink hair haha. It’s only helped me!

      3. Decima Dewey*

        In libraryland, it’s basically “wear clothes, okay?” I’ve seen higher ups with brightly colored hair, children’s librarians with visible tattoos, and so forth.

        The odd thing is people think there’s a rule against wearing open toed shoes, but I’ve never seen evidence of such a rule. That said, it’s not a great idea to be wearing open toed shoes when you accidentally dump a book truck full of heavy reference books!

    6. Artemesia*

      If it were me I would pay particular attention to having a really good haircut and then just go in with it blue. The cases I have seen where people felt it was unacceptable were people who had colored hair that was also ratty or not well maintained. You can get away with sloppier hair care if your color isn’t shouting ‘look at me.’

    7. Jenny20*

      I’m a managing director at an investment bank in a senior client-facing role and have had red, pink, and orange hair both before and through the pandemic. I haven’t had any pushback and agree it can actually help me to stand out and be remembered.

      1. allathian*

        I love the way so many people in traditionally conservative industries like investment banking are chiming in to say that bright colored hair is fine and can help you stand out in a good way.

    8. Joielle*

      Another blue-haired office worker here! My advice is go for it. I was hired at my current job with blue hair, though it was more navy at the time. I’ve dyed it a much brighter blue during the pandemic, but as a slight compromise, I’ve started growing it out a bit so it should be more of a dip-dyed effect by the time I go back to the office. I figure I can keep my very bright color but I can also pull it back for more formal meetings and it won’t be quite as noticeable.

      Nobody at work has ever made a negative comment about my hair in the many years I’ve had it a variety of fantasy colors. Worst case, your boss asks you to change it and then you can decide what to do at that point – dye it back to the original color, dye it a more sedate version of your fantasy color, or buy a boring wig and keep on living your colorful life underneath.

    9. Aerin*

      I kind of laughed to see the blue hair question because I have my appointment to get my very first mermaid color on Friday! My spouse finally offered to pay for it because I’m really bad about following through on that sort of thing. I haven’t mentioned it to anyone at work yet. We’ll see what reaction I get on my next video calls… Luckily, they’re talking about bringing us back in September at the earliest, and my team possibly later, so if I’m told to change it back before returning to the office I’ll still get my money’s worth. But it looks like we’re moving to a “dress for your day” dress code, and my job has no face-to-face contact outside my team, so I’m cautiously optimistic I’ll be allowed to keep it.

      1. HereKittyKitty*

        Yes to mermaid hair! Blues and greens were always so fun for me, but I’ve been more into the pinks and purples as of late because for some reason pink dye STICKS to my hair like no other, so it saved me some time and money in the pandemic when I’ve been dying it myself. I just got my hair cut and colored for the first time in over a year and I got a shag cut with fuschia and purple dye. I’m in love with it.

    10. Jack Straw*

      Another blue-purple (now pink-purple) haired support chiming in! I keep singing the song “having colored hair doesn’t make you unprofessional” as I read this:

      I’m a 45YO woman with the underneath of my hair (1-2″ at my temples to around to the back) dyed a vibrant pink-purple ombre (previously both a purple-blue and a blue-teal). I have only ever gotten compliments, and I’m in a fairly high level individual contributor role. Like others, I’ve had my grandboss compliment it it as well, too.

    11. Forrest*

      I have just gone pink/purple/orange for the first time, and my advice would be to think not about how you’ll feel at work with the instagram-ready, glossy, deep blue straight out of the salon, but the dry, kind of washed out faded blue-green with 1/2” roots you’ll have after four weeks unless you’re prepared for a LOT of care and maintenance. If you’re in a fairly strict professional environment, then I think “wild colour” is less important than “how will this look as it washes out.

      I went for peekaboo colour, so all my roots are hidden under the top layer, and I don’t have to worry as much about the texture changing and needing much more blow-drying, straightening etc. Highlights and dipdyes can work really well too. But if you’re going for solid all-over bleach + vivid colour, think about maintenance or make sure you’ve got an exit plan!

    12. Jack Straw*

      Another unnaturally colored hair haver here. I’m in a high level individual contributor role and have never gotten anything but compliments and “how did you do that yourself?!!?”, including from my grandboss and greatgrandboss.

    13. Roulette Girl*

      I had a variety of fun colors when I worked in video production, then toned it down when I got a job in a government-adjacent organization. During lockdown I decided to be bold again, but asked my boss just to be sure. He replied with, didn’t you have pink hair when we hired you? Go for it! So now I have purple hair, and am planning to switch to magenta in a few weeks.

  6. Bookworm*

    Yikes. Even outside of a pandemic that sounds like a nightmare of a commute. Good luck, OP.

    1. JRR*

      The only way I would keep that job would be if it paid well enough to rent a nearby pied-a-terre to stay in two nights a week.

    2. Aerin*

      My job in LA was 90 minutes door-to-door, and even with most of that being on a train or shuttle so I could at least do other stuff or zone out, it was exhausting. Four hours of driving even once a week would be pretty brutal. It sounds like the sort of thing where you go in thinking you can totally make it work and it won’t be that bad, and you realize very quickly that you were Wrong.

      1. The Original K.*

        I had a 90-minute-each-way commute once and I was miserable, and because of it I am militant about the length of my commute (and prefer remote work now anyway). I 100% would not do the OP’s commute.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          The thought of a 90 minute commute, when my boss decided to move the office, actually made me finally decide it was time to get out. I was getting panic attacks at the thought of spending that much time in public transport. I had previously been cycling to work, along the Seine and past Notre Dame, an absolute dream commute.

    3. She collects dishes*

      I once took an interview for a job with an minimum one and a half hour commute each way in order to meet the unemployment searching requirements. On paper, it was a great job for me but, after the interview, there was no way I would work there, much less with three hours daily of commute time. I had to call the recruiter quickly to say “No!” so I would not have to turn them down and either lose my unemployment or lie to the state agency. The recruiter (probably overseas) was pissed and kept trying to contact me.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and here the conditions for turning down a job offer while still keeping your unemployment benefits are limited, but a total commute of 3 hours a day definitely counts as an unreasonable burden.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          I got myself a note from a psychiatrist to say that I had claustrophobia and couldn’t take underground transport, so that the boss had to make me redundant instead of making me work at a far-away office.

  7. Uranus Wars*

    OP, I commiserate and fully blame the recruiter. I hope this works out for you!

    This happened to a friend of mine (pre-pandemic); When she asked about flexibility to WFH, they explained the policy is 2-day/week company-wide. When she accepted the job her new boss told her that for specific reasons he only allowed his department 2 days A MONTH and couldn’t grant an exception – even when she told them she wouldn’t have accepted the job based on this information. He was on the interview panel when she asked specifically about WFH.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      What always gets me about stuff like this is that people are (rightly) angry about the bait and switch. What outcome do the managers who don’t clarify ahead of time expect? Because I assume your friend either quit or restarted her job search. And steered others away from the company.

      1. pbnj*

        And there’s no excuse for this situation – the hiring manager sat right there and chose to say nothing to clarify that the policy doesn’t apply to his department. It doesn’t bode well for your friend’s happiness at this job.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Makes me wonder if there were people in there (i.e., his boss) who didn’t know about his own personal policy and he didn’t want to call it to anyone’s attention.

          1. allathian*

            I suspect this could be the reason, but I just wonder what the heck the manager was hoping to gain by this. Nothing good, I presume.

      2. Ori*

        Yep. A few years back I had flexitime rescinded a month into new job, which rendered my commute a daily nightmare. Wouldn’t have taken the job if I’d known (or if I’d known about some of their other rather odd office policies).

      3. alienor*

        I think they figure that once you’ve quit your old job, they’ve got you trapped and you’ll have to accept whatever conditions they put on you. It happened to a former boss of mine who was recruited to come back and manage a team, with the specific promise that they would only have to make the 120-mile round-trip commute once a week. The company immediately reneged on that, so they did the commute grudgingly for a year or so (I think they got to work from home 2x a week and had to come in 3x) and then left for a fully remote job as soon as possible.

        1. WS*

          Yes, my dad moved cities for my mum’s new job, and took a senior position that would have flexi-time with only 10-3 mandatory in the office, so he could pick up his grandkids from school. They reneged in his first week because, despite his senior position, he hadn’t been there at least a year, so he quit on the spot. That night, the head of the company called him to ask him back, flexi-time guaranteed!

          But he was a very experienced worker in a senior role with a lot of connections in the field. This definitely won’t work for everyone.

      4. Starbuck*

        They expect you to be desperate enough for the job that you just suck it up and do it, I assume.

    2. Momma Bear*

      I once went to an interview where I’d been told they would allow a lot of remote work…only to find out notsomuch. 80-20 is a big difference when it’s not in your favor. I decided I would decline the role if offered (not offered – I think we all realized I wanted more WFH). So, yes, the recruiter should have known better.

    3. 2 Cents*

      Same here. Pre-maternity leave, I was able to work from home once every two weeks, provided I was cleared by my manager. Post-maternity leave (and way before COVID), they didn’t allow anyone to work from home because a few people (not me) had taken advantage of it. Rather than manage the problem people, they rescinded WFH from everyone. That was was one of the many reasons I started looking.

    4. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, OP is being more gracious then I because I would definitely blame the recruiter at least a little. OP probably should have confirmed with someone else or even asked to get it written in the offer if it’s a dealbreaker, but the recruiter should not be promising something that big if they don’t really know it’s the case.

  8. ElleKay*

    Oof. This sucks.
    In general you want to make sure any job changes/extra benefits/salary negotiations, etc are a) discussed with the manager (and not just HR or external recruiters) and b) that they’re in you offer letter.

    If you have any written/emailed documentation of this discussion I’d bring that to your new manager (or possibly, over them to HR) and/or loop the recruiter back in but… you might be stuck with this.

    Any chance you can compromise on 2 days/week in the office? Or, if there’s a bus/train option for commuting can you negotiate that one way of your commute count as working time? (This is fairly common in the metro-NYC area I grew up in where people may choose to live 90 min-2 hours out of NYC and take the train back and forth in order to live and raise families in the country)

  9. funkydonut*

    For blue hair: I have been sporting unnatural colors for a couple years now. I occasionally got some weird looks in the beginning, and then again when I changed teams, but no one ever had a problem with it.

    One way you could feel it out now is to start letting the pretty bright blue show on video calls! Make sure everyone knows you’ve got this hair now. Then you can gauge the reaction, and you give time to your manager to decide if it’s a problem before you’re back in the office seeing everyone in person. If no one says anything negative, you can walk in with confidence on the first day!

    1. Lana Kane*

      One of my coworkers debuted their blue hair on a Zoom meeting. We’re all a pretty laid back bunch so they got lots of compliments from us. I agree with doing a sneak peek on video to gauge that initial reaction.

  10. Wisteria*

    LW1 — oooh, something really similar happened to me! I asked the hiring manager, who became my actual manager, about how something worked, he gave me an answer, and I accepted the job partly based on his answer. Then I get here and find out, whoops, no, that’s not how we do things! I don’t think I will get them to sign up for what I asked for, but I do need a way to say, “Look, here’s what I signed on for. If that’s not how you do things, how are you going to support me to be able to work to these new expectations that were sprung on me with no warning?”

    1. Mango Is Not For You*

      I would use the exact language you just gave. It’s okay to hold places accountable to the agreements made during the negotiation process, and it’s okay to remind hiring managers of the answers provided during the interview. In the US, at least (not sure about other countries) I think we have a bad habit of awkwardly assuming that This Is All Some Big Misunderstanding and quietly waiting for our reasonable expectations to be met.

      YMMV, but most of the big leaps and bounds in my career have come when I’ve spoken to my boss (or grandboss, or great-grandboss) and said “Look, had I known XYZ, I never would have agreed to this. I feel like information was kept from me that would have hugely impacted my decision and while that may not have been intentional, I’m pretty upset at the way things are. What are we going to do to resolve this?”

      1. Wisteria*

        Just for context, I’ve changed managers twice since hiring in (re-orgs). The first I heard that the policy was not as described was from my 2nd manager. I’m now on my 3rd.

        I have told HR that I would not have accepted the job if I had known, and there has been no real acknowledgement and certainly no change. :-(

  11. IrishEm*

    Re; The Blue hair question. I’m in finance (non-customer facing customer support) and had teal and magenta highlights and got many compliments including from my grandboss. Before the pandemic. In 2019.
    YMMV but it’s worth checking if your company’s dress code specifically bans hair colours not found naturally on humans and if it doesn’t, and someone complains about it rules-lawyer them.

  12. stephistication*

    I had bright bright pink hair at work and no one cared one bit. I mainly had people stop to admire. YMMV

  13. ElleKay*

    Re: Working from Another Country?
    What’s the dividing line for “working” from somewhere else? I have family overseas and I’ve been thinking about asking about spending summers with them (4 hour time difference and a short flight means I can run things as normal and since I’m *not* a morning person as it is could even end up more productive!) but I’m not sure where the dividing line is.
    If I’m in European Country X for a 2 week vacation and answer some emails that’s fine but if I go for a month or two does that open up a different level of ‘commitment’?

    1. KHB*

      I’m not an expert by any means, but I think what matters is where your primary residence is, where you spend the majority of the year. I have a coworker who often works for a month or two at a time from other countries, and I don’t think she had to make any special arrangement for that.

      1. KHB*

        …now that I’ve seen some of the other comments, I guess that my colleague’s situation might be more complicated than I’m aware of. But I know my company isn’t willing to jump through employment-law hoops that are too complicated (we won’t let anyone work remotely from California, for example), so whatever hoops she had to jump through must have been less complicated than that.

        So go ahead and ask about your plan to spend a month or two with your family in the summer. Even if the answer is ultimately no, it’s not a crazy thing to ask.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      For some of that, you should look at visa requirements. When you visit your family, and the passport officer asks “what’s the purpose of your visit?”, what are you going to say? For much of the world it’s anything-goes for tourism (no visa needed, pro-forma visa issued on arrival, etc), but business travel is another thing altogether.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Yes, exactly! When I had to travel to one of our sites in another country for work, I was told to tell the customs agent that I was there for a meeting (even though it was bigger than that). If not, then there would have been an issue with me coming into their country and “taking jobs” from one of the locals, and would have required a separate visa, etc.
        Going to stay with family for a few months while you work remotely isn’t the same as what I did, but it is all in the phrasing when asked.

      2. Artemesia*

        Lots of people run on line businesses from all over the world without dealing with work visas because they are not employed in the local economy. Most of them just don’t mention it. Is it risky — maybe; is it common — sure. And people who are traveling briefly for family visits or whatever would never mention it. Think of all the people who traveled to other states during COVID and WFH without involving conflicting state labor laws. I personally know of 4 young people who spent months with their families during quarantine and continued their now WFH employment.

        1. JRR*

          I wonder if border agents in various countries will be more on the lookout now that more people are working “from home.”

          If they know what type of work you do, you’re carrying a laptop, and you’re planning to stay for several months, it wouldn’t be hard to suspect your plan.

          1. I'm just here for the cats*

            But people cary laptops for all sorts of reasons. Watch movies/TV easily, personal email, writing (for personal reasons), photography. I don’t think having a laptop would be something to suspect. Heck I brought my tablet/laptop just for a weekend trip to another state.

            1. JRR*

              Obviously a laptop is not proof that you’re planning to work, but it might prompt a boarder agent to ask what it’s for.

        2. Starbuck*

          Yes, it’s definitely risky. It was an exceptional case I think, but I remember a story of someone during COVID who traveled to a foreign country to take advantage of the relative lower cost of living while working online earning $USD, then made the mistake of bragging online about it. I think they ended up getting deported because they hadn’t come in on a work visa but had overstayed a tourist visa. Not a smart thing to do.

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        For some of that, you should look at visa requirements. When you visit your family, and the passport officer asks “what’s the purpose of your visit?”, what are you going to say? For much of the world it’s anything-goes for tourism (no visa needed, pro-forma visa issued on arrival, etc), but business travel is another thing altogether.

        But this sounds like the opposite of business travel. The situation ElleKay described is literally visiting family. Why say anything else?

        1. Person from the Resume*

          That she’s planning to work a full time job while she’s visiting the country.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But it’s not a job that exists in that country. She’s going there to visit family. I don’t understand (this isn’t me being pushy, I legitimately do not understand) why doing your existing job while visiting family for a limited time falls under laws that are meant to prevent foreigners from taking jobs in that country.

            1. SarahKay*

              I think there’s a number of risks. The country she’s saying in might say that she’s earning money while there, so should pay tax on it. Legislation about preventing foreigners from taking jobs away from locals won’t necessarily be what we might consider entirely logical or reasonable.
              Basically, let’s face it, unfamiliar laws can feel weird, and most countries are (very) fond of collecting taxes, often especially from foreigners who can’t vote against the current government.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        And it you say, “I’m here to visit family” and don’t say “I’m going to work from my vacation home while here” you’re in the wrong. I’m sure tons of people do it with no intent to lie, but legally you should tell them you are planning to work in their country and you may require a work Visa.

        For all those people who wistfully want to move to country or claim they are going to leave the US if XXX gets elected, it is not that easy. You need some sort of work Visa that is not easy to get.

        1. Rebecca1*

          That depends on the country and on the type of job. Some countries specifically try to attract remote workers.

          1. allathian*

            Spain is one such, although I think their policies only apply to other EU countries. Some people even moved there to do remote work during the worst of the pandemic, including from countries where lockdown rules were a lot less strict than they were in Spain. I don’t know how they managed to do that, but they did. Spaniards were mad when they were told to stick to their own regions, while they were welcoming international travelers…

    3. JustAnotherAnalyst*

      In my industry, working from somewhere else is from within the country. For various reasons, including cybersecurity, working from another country is generally restricted to business trips. When abroad, we might not have access to certain types of information. We are also required to live within reasonable distance of the workplace because a scenario could arise where we must work on premise (again e.g. cybersecurity). The distance rule was relaxed a bit during COVID, but it was clear that these arrangements are temporary even if we go back to a hybrid model.

    4. Sharon*

      This really depends on the business and tax laws in the state/country where you are working. You could need a work visa or your company could need to register as a business, apply for a license, or pay taxes in that country (possibly impacting the whole company, not just your work.)

    5. PizzaSquared*

      Working even a few days or weeks in another country can open you and your employer up to various legal and tax challenges. Employment and immigration law are both extremely complex, and countries do not take these things lightly. Please, please, PLEASE do not just do this casually. You need to talk to you employer with the specifics of country, timing, etc. to make sure that it will be ok. I am not saying that it’s impossible, but just assuming it’s ok (especially when it is on the order of months) is extremely risky.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        +1000. Please speak with your HR department about this. Doing this casually can open up such a preventable can of worms in terms of tax liability for both you and your employer

      2. SarahKay*

        Seconded. I’m in the UK and work for a global corporation and we recently got a Europe-wide email that said something along the lines of “Three weeks maximum for working from a country that is not your employment country. Anything longer than that must be cleared with HR and Legal and may well be refused as it will break tax and employment laws. And by the way, if you’ve already done this due to Covid restrictions at the time, you need to let us know that too.”
        I’m guessing something similar was sent to other regions, presumably with relevant legal wording for the different areas.
        This is definitely not a case where it’s better to seek forgiveness than permission.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Speak to your HR department, and your HR department should talk to an immigration lawyer with expertise in the country you are visiting. This is *not* something you can do casually.

        You cannot live in a country without a residency visa. Tourist visas are for short term visits where you are doing non work things, business visas are for short term visits related to your work. Residency visas are often difficult to get – you need a reason and often a sponsor to even apply.

        Also, I’ll point out that living and working in a country without a proper visa is called being an illegal immigrant. I think a lot of people don’t realize that Americans can be illegal immigrants in other countries. If you’re not legal, aside from the risk of permanent deportation, there’s a ton of things that are difficult to impossible to do – like getting a local bank account, signing a lease, getting a cell phone contract, hooking up utilities, being eligible for health insurance, signing kids up for school, and so on. I’ll also point out that a lot of countries check your passport when you enter and leave a country, so they’ll find out if you overstay your tourist visa.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, same for British people. They like to moan about ‘immigrants’ who apparently ‘take all the jobs’ here in the UK, but when they go off to live in Spain they’re an ‘expat’.

    6. balanceofthemis*

      If you are going to work in another country, you will need a work visa, even if your company already has a presence there. Answering the odd email for 2 weeks isn’t an issue, but a couple months working is. Unless, of course, you are from an EU member nation and go to another EU country. If you are from, say, the US, your company would need to sponsor you for a work visa (of one sort or another), even then, there is no guarantee you would get one.

      Most countries require the company to show that they can’t find anyone local who is qualified. That doen’t even get into the language requirements some countries have. And if it’s an EU country you’re looking to go to, it’s nearly impossible to get a work visa.

      I belong to several digital nomad groups, from my days working in content marketing, and this comes up a lot.

    7. Starfruit*

      To join the chorus — this is _extremely_ complicated for visa/immigration/tax reasons (even if you have dual citizenship). If your company’s big enough to have offices in the country you’d like to work in (and/or access to lawyers), you could ask, but honestly, the answer’s probably “no”, with _very_ severe penalties for both you and your employer if you get caught.

      Someone who moved to a different continent in late 2019, and who would love to be working from pretty much anywhere but here :-)

    8. Momma Bear*

      Companies are often charged taxes based on where the bodies are, and some create a tax nexus for that reason. I lost a job for being outside the “nexus”. I would not start working remotely from an undisclosed location. The company really needs to know.

    9. JamieG*

      Unfortunately, it’s not really a question that anyone can answer except your company’s HR and/or Legal department. Whatever answers you get, I would also check with my insurance provider to make sure you would be covered, and with a tax adviser to understand the implications of your stay in that country. We may have arrived at the age of the digital nomad with people’s attitudes and our technology, but international law (even interstate law) is just not there.

      1. Smithy*

        This is the best answer for this. There is certainly enough business travel that doesn’t happen on work visas (particularly thinking of conferences), but what any given employer’s appetite is for condoning what might be legally grey vs going through required legal hoops will vary wildly.

        Legal issues aside, if your employer does have offices in the countries where you want to go – it’s doesn’t mean that they’d allow you to take your Country A position & salary to Country B. There may be very different pay scales in different countries and I don’t see a lot of companies being excited about supporting situations that would see a junior staffer potentially making a similar salary to far more senior staff in one country.

        All of this to say – where I work, I recently had a colleague get approval to work for 2 or 3 weeks from a different country. Maybe it’s a country where a valid visa would allow for some kind of labor, maybe not – but for that period of time – my colleague’s boss didn’t see it as a risk. So it’s not that the question isn’t worth asking…’s just the answers may have a huge amount of variation.

    10. Autumnheart*

      I have a couple coworkers who have family in other countries (India and Eastern Europe respectively), and typically they’ll take a month or so to visit their family, and if they plan for some/all of that time to be working time, they put in their hours when it’s convenient. My employer doesn’t expect someone to work 9-5 Central time when they’re in Chennai. It actually works out pretty well, since they’re “ahead” time-wise, and therefore getting their work done hours before it would normally be done. We have some redundancy, too, so that if someone has a question and So-and-so is on Europe Time, that person has another team member who can help them out if it can’t wait.

    11. Aerin*

      The spouse was in Vancouver for business, and I asked to be able to work remotely from there so I could crash in his hotel room and have more of a chance to see the city. I was shot down HARD. I was told one day would require a bunch of approvals all the way up to the officer level, and the four I was asking for was right out. (I still went, I just had to use vacation days. And a sick day when my flight back got canceled and I ended up staying a day longer than planned.) My work is government-adjacent so our requirements may be stricter than others.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      A large multi-national is likely to have an office that handles this. My employer has a team that you can go to and talk about your hopes, and they can talk through the visa / insurance issues with you.

      When I spent a summer in an EU country, coming from the US, I was told that as long as I was continuing to work for my US team (not working for an EU team), and stayed less than 90 days, I didn’t need an EU employment visa, and my insurance covered anything that EU country health care system didn’t. I know two other people who got the same advice from different employer HRs.

      Time difference: I worked a slightly different schedule, to make sure I had a couple hours overlap with my Midwest / MX contacts, but we’re used to time differences.

    13. Leah K.*

      Talk to YOUR tax and YOUR hr departments. And please, don’t just go ahead and do it. You can end up costing your company hundreds of thousands of dollars if you end up creating filing obligations that they don’t know about.

    14. Good Vibes Steve*

      I’m based in an EU country, and at the start of the pandemic, a bunch of my colleagues looked at going to another EU country for a significant amount of time – moving in with parents who could help with childcare etc. One of the things that our HR flagged was that after a certain amount of time, there are tax residency implications – where you are taxed depends on where you live effectively, not just where you declare your residence to be. That’s to avoid tax evasion. Depending on where your residency is, it could also impact which country is responsible for your healthcare.

      So do check how long you’d be leaving for, and which rules apply!

  14. autumnal*

    Ugh – this need by managers to keep an eye on their employees makes me so glad I now work for myself. I get that there are jobs were you have to be on-site, but there are plenty where it’s just a matter of “how things are done” with no basis in what’s best for the employee or the company.

    And that “I can’t make an exception for you” thing? I quit a job over that when it was clear that it was about keeping claim to some physical space in the building rather than what worked best for me and my work. Most of my work took place in the town I lived in but they insisted that I keep an office 50 miles north and commute there on a daily basis. Even though I usually had to return to my home city to do my job. Just plain stupid.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Were you, by chance, in real estate or real estate adjunct? I used to work in education for real estate professionals and I heard similar stories.

  15. June*

    Not sure why OP didn’t discuss this with hiring manager and make the issue clear before accepting the position. I would not rely on a third party to handle this. If it’s a critical requirement, it has to be discussed directly. It’s a deal breaker both ways.

    1. Former Usher*

      I assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that the recruiter was in-house and was in a position to speak on behalf of the company. I’ve found that my initial contacts often know more about company policies and benefits than the hiring manager, so I’m not sure I would have thought to check a second time.

      1. Artemesia*

        The hiring manager is the person who is your boss; it is unfortunate that the HR person didn’t involve them in the process.

      2. anonymath*

        Your experience is right, in that I know very little about benefits and am a hiring manager. I can decide work location to some extent but I can’t tell you anything about retirement, health care, or vacation.

    2. irene adler*

      You make a good point.
      A candidate cannot know what the recruiter does and does not accurately know about any job situation. Best to go directly to hiring manager with questions about the work situation.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        It’s possible that the recruiter wasn’t wrong about what had been approved, but had not been informed that things changed. In my experience, hiring managers assume recruiting teams just know things, when they often are not included in status changes or updates.

        It’s a good practice to confirm WFH arrangements with your prospective boss, regardless.

      2. HarryV*

        Sometimes the hiring manger doesn’t offer their contact details and all communication went through the recruiter. Unfortunately, the OP should have inquired or verify the WFH details with the hiring manager during the interview.

    3. Cj*

      They should have, but even that doesn’t always help. There are companies that leave WFH up to the boss to OK or not. You might have one that does, but then they leave and the new one doesn’t. Or an example given earlier here where the asked the hiring manager, who said it was fine, but their actual boss didn’t approve it.

      Offer letters aren’t contracts, so unless you have an actual contract, which most US workers don’t, they could say in the offer letter you only have to come to the office once a week and still not stick to it.

      1. KHB*

        If your decision to take a job hinges on special arrangements you’re making with a particular boss, it’s worth trying to feel out how long that boss will be around. You can’t really ask that directly (and your boss would be under no more obligation to stay in their role for a certain number of years than you would be to stay in yours), but you can ask them how long they’ve been in their role already, and how long people at this employer (or in this division, etc.) usually stay in particular roles.

    4. Willis*

      I agree! This was a huge requirement, so I’m sort of surprised it wouldn’t have come up organically with the hiring manager as part of a discussion about the role. If I were the OP and was in the middle of a job search, I’d pick it back up at this point. Certainly ask the manager again and stress that WFH was critical in your acceptance of the job, but I’m not hopeful about this. And even if the manager agrees to something begrudgingly now, if they want people in the office, I’m skeptical of how long it will last or how well they’ll coordinate remote work with the OP. I’d be looking for other options cause no way would I be commuting 2 hours each way for 3 days a week.

    5. Soup of the Day*

      If I asked a question during the interview process and got a satisfactory, seemingly definitive answer, I don’t think it would even occur to me to ask again with someone else involved in the process. If the recruiter came off like they weren’t sure, then maybe, but I think it’s natural for the OP to have trusted the answer they were given. Maybe there’s a case to be made for saving any question of this type for the hiring manager to begin with, but I would assume that any information a recruiter gave me about a position would be correct. It’s not in the recruiter’s best interests to lie to potential candidates if they value their connection with their employer or their reputation in the industry, right?

      1. Filosofickle*

        This is how I’d have seen it too. If the person negotiating with me gives me a clear answer, I wouldn’t necessarily think to confirm with someone else. (Well, now I might.)

      2. Jackalope*

        When I first interviewed with my current employer they were hiring multiple people for different teams (all doing the same position), and they didn’t actually know who would be going to which team until we were further through training. (They had gotten a big hiring approval and needed lots of folks for their entry-level position.) I wouldn’t have had an option to ask the person who would be my manager up front since that wasn’t assigned yet.

    6. ten-four*

      I mean, that’s true but not helpful? Kind of like when I had my bike tire stolen and everyone told me that I should have locked the wheel. This is correct! But also: the thief shouldn’t have stolen my wheel.

      Naturally it’s wise to double check all the things, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect that the person hiring you is giving you correct information about the job.

  16. Need a WFH policy*

    I have an open role under me. The company does not have a formal WFH policy. Realistically, this role normally (pre-pandemic) includes quite a bit of travel, which I am looking to reduce, so WFH should theoretically be okay. However, I worry without a formal policy, we will have trouble recruiting. We are all ready concerned as we would much prefer any qualified internal employee apply and be awarded the job as there are some unique things that I cannot change about our company that would be very evident in the role which may be hard for someone new. It also is very high visibility to upper management but a relatively mid tier role.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes, it would be best for everyone if you could figure this out before recruiting someone – especially between ‘WFH is ok’ and ‘travels some’ there is a lot of space. Frankly, if I wanted the travels job, I would feel just as bad about WFH as the other way around.

      In a way we are in a similar situation: we know new rules are coming, we know it’s unlikely to be less tolerant of WFH than before, but we don’t have specifics. It’s pretty weird planning for hybrid when you don’t have an actual framework!

      Good luck sorting it out!

  17. rehtaej*

    I know a number of people in large tech companies, and none of them allow you to work from another country just because — if you’re part of of Aardvark Tech USA, you can’t work in Canada even though Aardvark Tech Canada exists. (Or Canada-France, etc.) If you have to go to the other country for work and get stuck there for covid-reasons, that’s fine, you can get paid, but if you go there for vacation, sucks to be you. Large international tech companies have complicated business structures and it’s harder than you might think to just work in a different country for a while.

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

      This. One of my coworkers was stuck in NY for three months and setting up everything ready to work from there was a paperwork nightmare for his boss. The approval for the company laptop alone took three weeks.

  18. Amaranth*

    Regarding work from another country, I’m not sure I agree with waiting to see how the new WFH model works out before even asking. Sometimes when a workplace is transitioning, you can get in on the ground floor of opportunities. It might be worth LW talking to their manager to see what the legal/permit issues might be, if its something they could be kept in mind for, or if there is certain training that would open up that kind of opportunity.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I think if they are more junior or very new it could be a problem because they may not have established themselves in the company.

  19. Mockingjay*

    Re: Working in another country – Alison is correct that location changes incur a lot of extra expenses for employers. I recently had a change of life circumstance which included relocating to another state. I asked my company for permanent telework in the new location, but I was fully prepared for them to say no. Fortunately they already had a business license in my new state.

    Be aware that many European countries place strict limits on non-citizens working abroad when the company is not located in that country. This is so citizens and legal residents have first opportunity for employment. (I’ll skip getting into the complexities of the EU Schengen agreement for citizens of those countries to move around.) I lived in Germany for a decade while my spouse was employed at a military detachment there. The restrictions on me getting employment on the local economy were terribly strict and impossible to meet. I’ve read reports of American expats around the globe getting deported or jailed while living in foreign countries without paying taxes or having official residency.

    TL;DR: Take a long vacation or try through legal means to find overseas employment. Don’t try to cheat the system – you’ll get caught.

    1. balanceofthemis*

      Even if your company has a presence in the other country, if it’s a Schengen Zone country, odds are you won’t be able to.

    2. Starfruit*

      Strong agree. I think there are some countries that are amenable to hosting remote-working US citizens, but most countries have strict immigration laws. Getting work visas is _hard_.

    3. Allonge*

      Yes, moving to another country has all kinds of legal implications. Residence permit? Work permit? Insurance? My employer wants me to have a bank in the same country they are located in. Taxes / duties?

    4. Nanani*

      A lot of people have no idea that there is a difference between an automatic tourist visa from stamping your passport on vacation, and the kind you apply for in advance to be able to work and do real life things like set up bank accounts.

    5. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      And which set of employment laws should you follow? An American company would, for instance, be crabby about an extra 9 months of maternity leave, while a European country would be equally unenthusiastic about companies doing an end run around their maternity leave laws.

      1. allathian*

        Indeed. Not to mention the fact that in countries where 9 months or more of maternity leave is the norm, it’s almost impossible to get daycare for children younger than that. In practice, the only option may be a live-in nanny, and they are expensive. In many such countries there’s also a very strong social stigma against parents of young children (or let’s face it, birth parents, usually mothers) who want to or have to return to work before their child is at least 9 months to a year old. Unless you plan on socializing exclusively with other American expats, are you willing to deal with being judged for your parenting/maternity leave choices/options all the time?

  20. lilsheba*

    I can’t read the article without a subscription now ….I really wish the answer could always be posted here!

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      So much free (for us) content here on AAM. She links to her other work that pays her directly for her words, rather than earning from ads on this site. Way to go Alison!

    2. Sarah in Boston*

      But who would pay Alison for her work then if it was always free here? She posts the vast majority of her content for free. Please respect that she needs and deserves to make a living with her work.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      Removed. Do not post ways to get around paywalls here. Paywalls are how I get paid for my work! – Alison

  21. restingbutchface*

    Re the wfh question, I’d be out of there. Mixups happen but a boss that thinks their efforts stop at applying the same rule to all employees without exception is not someone I’d want to work for. And also, where was the apology? “I’m sorry, there must have been some confusion…”. If the recruiter was internal, and I think they were, this is a company issue. Now with the company wide policy, you’re going to be fighting a losing battle.

    Short of an extreme circumstance, I’d be out the door and be happy to explain to anyone that asked why I left – some key information wasn’t passed from recruiter to the company and therefore we had differing expectations.

    OP, if you’re on probation (but even if you aren’t!) this period is for both parties to ensure they’re happy with the situation. This is as good as it’s going to get and a red flag this early would send me back to the job sites.

    1. No Name Today*

      “Mixups happen but a boss that thinks their efforts stop at applying the same rule to all employees without exception is not someone I’d want to work for.”
      The manager’s dismissive tone/phrasing “it would have been a MUCH different conversation.”
      Really, manager? Would have explained that your experience with the needs of the division are different than the those of the whole company because (valid reasons)? Or would you have shown that you are a petty tyrant who doesn’t trust people to meet their responsibilities?

      1. restingbutchface*

        Ding ding, I’ll take B for the prize please. This person is putting zero effort into presenting themselves well.

        “If I’d known you were going to be difficult and advocate for your needs, I wouldn’t have hired you” isn’t something I don’t really want to hear from my new manager.

  22. Delta Delta*

    I had colorful hair extensions maybe… 6-7 years ago and nobody said anything. I went to client meetings with them, went to court with them, etc. Nobody cared. Now it’s more popular – might do it again. (I know extensions are different than dying, but I also know the natural color and texture of my hair would not take well to dye, so I’ll have fun other ways)

  23. The Librarian's Cat*

    I’m a librarian in Indiana and I’ve had so many wild hair colors. One year I did galaxy hair to fit with our summer reading theme. :D Go for it!

      1. The Librarian's Cat*

        I work in an office-type setting in a public-facing position. Libraries and libraries have had a reputation for stodginess and old-fashioned ways that still linger to this day. And as LW mentions her office is business-casual (as is mine) I thought my bit of data may be helpful in showing changing norms.

      2. HereKittyKitty*

        I think it’s relevant. I know a lot of librarians and so many of those jobs are “conservative.” As in I know a librarian that was required to wear nude pantyhose in 2016! This could be an example of a more conservative workforce that’s accepting of vivid colors.

    1. Allonge*

      Oh, I thought I wanted blue hair but TIL about galaxy hair, and it’s obviously superior!

  24. Nanani*

    Working from another country – Any chance you can get the company to transfer you to the overseas branch?
    Short of that you are looking at a MASSIVE hassle for both parties. Taxes, visas, relocation – might be easiER with a global company that has experience with these things, but never -easy-.

    Don’t don’t DON’T just arrange an international move and then ask your company to keep employing you from othercountry branch though.
    Also keep in mind that visas for tourists, where you show up, maybe pay a fee, and have fun for a few weeks, often prevent you from working and accessing things like public services and banking. You need a work visa to work and those are a lot more involved. If your employer cannot (or doesn’t want to) prove to Other Country’s government that there is a need to send you there, you might not be able to get a work visa at all.
    “It would be nice to live there” is not a compelling reason to grant you a work visa.

    The complexity and difficulty varies depending on the countries involved and no internet rando, even one like me who does have international work experience, can actually tell you how easy or difficult it would be to do or to convince your company to do.

    1. I'm a Legal Alien*

      As someone who has to regularly jump through the hoops of the US immigration process, it’s a real pet peeve of mine when people talk about moving to another country like it’s no big deal. It’s frustrating, it usually involves lawyers, and you often don’t have the same rights as a citizen would. Each company is different, but I just can’t see anywhere going through all that for any employee without a very compelling reason

  25. No Name Today*

    This is a manager issue, not a company issue. I believe that the recruiter had the correct information from HR. This manager doesn’t care what others are doing, he wants nuts in seats. There are ways to handle this. I’m really surprised the job was offered before meeting the manager. My company is better this way. After HR, I had an interview with dept head, then my section head. No surprises the first day.
    (Except that my paperwork had the wrong salary, but that was fixed by lunchtime.)

  26. agnes*

    It sounds like the “job” did not agree to anything–a recruiter overstepped their bounds and made promises they weren’t allowed to make. If the recruiter is a company employee, you might have a little more standing to ask for some consideration, since it’s a reasonable assumption that they have the standing to speak on behalf of the organization.

    Unfortunately I can also understand the manager saying they weren’t willing to make an exception for you–I’m sure there are tenured employees who would not be happy to see a new hire get a “perk” that they themselves are not allowed to have.

    Good luck. This stinks all around. Let us know what happens.

  27. Richard Hershberger*

    LW2: A very small pool of potential personnel, requiring for no good reason commuting to an office in the middle of nowhere. This is a prime candidate for my Great Bifurcation Hypothesis, that jobs will split into those that legitimately require physical presence and those that don’t. This in turn will lead to the work force dividing itself between those who prefer to be physically present and those that don’t. The two groups of workers will naturally drift to the two groups of jobs. This hasn’t happened previously largely due to path dependency, with physical presence being a strong default assumption, but the past year has opened a lot of eyes. Those jobs that have no real need for physical presence are going to find themselves at a severe disadvantage in recruiting. Especially if the pool of potential employees is small and the office is in the middle of nowhere.

  28. Rusty Shackelford*

    I saw the graphic accompanying the article and thought I was reading the post about periods. ;-)

  29. bored lawyer*

    Part of the problem with viewing jobs as your “dream role” or being “genuinely excited about and care about the work” is that you stop seeing employment as a transaction. You are sacrificing your time and your freedom to perform work for this company. In return, they are compensating you in money and other negotiated benefits. Sure, if the work is more appealing to you than other work, maybe you will need less money in order to sacrifice your time and your freedom. You negotiated wisely and reduced the time you would need to sacrifice (by not commuting every day) before you accepted the job. Now the rug is being pulled out from under you. Pointing that out isn’t being “difficult.” You were lied to! You may not have any legal recourse, but it doesn’t mean you weren’t wronged. And if you are wronged it is in your rights to complain! I would be the biggest turd in the punchbowl that company has ever seen while I job searched and moved on as soon as I could.

    1. bluestreak*

      I dunno, whenever I think of a “dream job,” the dream always involves good (or even excess) compensation and benefits.

  30. hayling*

    How do you ask for something in writing in a way that doesn’t come off as combative?

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      It’s not combative to make sure a document correctly reflects the terms discussed before signing it! If anyone objected to that I would consider that a pretty big red flag.

    2. Wisteria*

      Assuming an actual offer letter is in the works, you say, “would it be possible to have all the things we agreed to as part of the offer letter?” or something.

      If offer letters aren’t typical, you say, “Is it possible to get an offer letter with the pay and remote work that we agreed to?”

  31. pleaset aka cheap rolls*

    The company in #2 seems stupid – not learning from experience in the pandemic and not adapting to changes in work. It’s a detriment to the company’s performance.

  32. RJ*

    OP, I was in a similar situation three years. I was hired through a group of department leads including my hiring manager, all of which knew I wanted an adjusted daily schedule (I would come in/leave an hour before anyone else) and WFH 2x a week. Well, after about a month, my hiring manager decided she didn’t want to continue this and that she thought once I was in the office, I’d change my mind and keep the same schedule as everyone else with no WFH.

    I immediately started my job search and left six months later. My exit started a chain reaction that led to almost everyone in my department leaving within a year. She was also asked to resign once management reviewed the exit interviews.

    Given everything workers have been through during the pandemic, I have a very low opinion on companies that don’t (to some degree) allow WFH or hybrid work situations.

    1. allathian*

      Yay! I’m glad the manager’s lack of flexibility had real consequences for her.

  33. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    When I was in the hospital for a major surgical procedure (pre-covid), I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how many of the nurses had ink. I don’t have any myself (yet, anyway), but I think tattoos are cool, and I’m always happy to see workplaces not being stuffy about things like that, just on principle!

    1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Ugh, I posted this as a reply in one of the threads, but it popped up down here instead. Sorry, would delete if I could!

  34. Software Engineer*

    Re the WFH one, if you’re working with a Seattle tech company that Just so happens to have recently announced a 3 day in the office policy (which to be clear was an update from previous assumptions that everyone would primarily be working in the office) I think the recruiter screwed up. They should not have made those promises! This announcement came with making it actually easier to get full remote exceptions (I had just had my own approved… but now it would have been done two levels earlier, at my VP instead of their grand boss)

    If you do in fact work for this company, it’s a large place with a lot of internal movement and I would ask for help getting moved to a team that is remote or distributed. It may take a few months to shake out teams that have just kind of decided to ignore the hard 3 days policy and do what they want, but there’s already teams that are remote or distributed by design.

  35. Machiamellie*

    I can’t read the article due to a paywall :(

    But when I was hired I made sure to confirm with the recruiter AND the hiring manager who would be my boss, that 100% remote was the deal. It’s sad we have to do that, but here we are.

  36. Bird*

    To anyone who may be negotiating remote work with a potential employer right now: Have your remote work arrangement stated in the offer letter. No, the offer letter is not an employment contract. But the offer letter states the expectations of both parties, in how the employment arrangement will initially work. And make sure that you discuss that requirement–and call it a requirement–with your new boss-to-be, before you accept the offer.

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