I secretly moved people’s desks 2 inches and they freaked out, late-night work emails, and more

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

1. I secretly moved people’s desks two inches over and they freaked out

When I joined a new team several years ago, I was told by my new manager that I should move my things to their area on a different floor so I could sit with my team members, ASAP. Only they didn’t actually have a free space for me, and every table was occupied all the time.

I started asking people to get that done. I went to the office manager, who told me they could/would do nothing. I asked everybody on the floor how they felt about moving around teams — which already was happening every few months at that company, and since the floor I had to go to was now super full, there was enough room on other floors to hold several of the smaller teams, which everybody also said no to.

Nobody would budge. I spent an entire work week going around talking to people, trying to get a desk, all while my managers told me I had to move there RIGHT NOW or they would start to doubt my allegiance to the project, but would not do anything themselves to make that happen.

But hey, turns out there was actually enough room to seat more desks! If they were spaced a bit better, that should be doable! But a few people in the corner were steadfastly defending their space, which was almost twice as much as others had, whose backs were almost touching.

In all this stress, I hatched my plan: If I came in early and moved every row of tables 1-2 inches to the side, the added up space would allow us to squeeze in two more tables.

The day comes and people notice immediately. They get very angry and start blaming the cleaning crews. I confessed right then, and everybody was pissed at me.

How wrong was I? I do regret doing it, and wish there was a better way but it seemed like the only option. I feel like the anger I received is at least slightly out of proportion, and nobody ever said “finding a desk is not your job, your boss should be doing it” or “yeah, these people already here are not moving because they have seniority / a special deal / some other good reason and we must allow them to have twice as much real estate as everybody else.”

I don’t think you were wrong at all. What did your bosses expect you to do? You’d exhausted all other avenues, and they were threatening your job over it! And really, each person losing two inches is not an outrage when the alternative was you having absolutely nowhere to sit or getting fired for lacking the magical ability to conjure new space into existence. So no, you weren’t wrong. Your bosses were ridiculous and put you in an impossible position.

I do wonder if you went back to your bosses and laid it out really clearly: “I understand you want my desk in the X area. There’s currently no room there and no one is willing to move. The only options left that I can see are for me to sit in Y or Z instead or you could tell people they need to make room for me there. What makes sense?” If you didn’t do that, I would have advised it — but otherwise, this isn’t on you.

Read an update to this letter.

2. Sending work emails late at night

As a manager, new parent, and generally busy person, I work some strange hours. For example, yesterday I was online at 2 am (as my daughter woke me up during the night and I decided to use some time to clear my work inbox ahead of a busy Monday) and 10 pm (as I finished early to play with my daughter but needed to meet a deadline). I absolutely don’t expect these kinds of hours from my team or want to encourage people to work outside of hours if it doesn’t suit them, but sometimes these are the hours that suit me!

What can and should I do to make it clear that what I do isn’t what I expect from the team and that following my example won’t have any impact on my opinion of them or their performance? Working hours is part of my “welcome to the team” conversation and I do talk to each person about it periodically using phrasing like, “You may see some emails from me at strange times. This is because I don’t have a set working pattern and sometimes work early or late to allow me flexibility. I absolutely don’t expect anyone to reply to me or be checking their emails outside of their normal working hours so please work whatever hours suit you.” I feel like that’s clear but I just keep having “actions speak louder than words” going round my head.

I strongly recommend scheduling your emails to send during normal business hours! Write them as late at night as you want, but have them send the next morning.

I work strange hours too, and I used to send emails to my staff at all hours and think it would be enough to just tell them emphatically that I didn’t expect responses at that hour, that it was just my own preference and didn’t need to be theirs, and all the rest. I learned over time that it didn’t really work; people see you online then and worry it’s expected of them regardless. Or they happen to be up and online but not working, and then they see a work email come in from you on their phones so they decide they might as well answer it, and now other people are working at 2 am too. Or they don’t answer it but now they’re thinking about work at 2 am. It just creates pressure on people, no matter how diligent you are about telling them it shouldn’t.

Schedule your emails and it’ll be a non-issue. (Or, if you can’t schedule them, save them as drafts and send them the next day.)

3. How to quit at the same time as a teammate when we’re both going to the same competitor

After three years at my first post-college job, I’m ready to move on. My teammates and I have been consistently overworked for over a year, to the point where several of us have had mental breakdowns. The company doesn’t seem to care even as we repeatedly ask for help and more manageable workloads, so when an opportunity appeared to do a similar job at a competitor, I applied.

The work I do is a relatively new methodology, so there’s not a lot of people with the experience I have. I know from your blog not to assume you’re getting the job, but in all of the interviews I’ve had so far, the company has made it very clear they’re interested. I have a final interview coming up soon.

I feel a lot of guilt about quitting my job, even though I know I shouldn’t, but this is the first time I’ve left a job for a reason other than “I’m graduating.”

What complicates matters is that a teammate of mine applied for a different job on the same team at the competitor company and seems to be moving along in the process just as quickly. If one of us left, our whole team would be scrambling. Two people gone (and especially us in particular as the two most senior people on the team), and they won’t be able to function.

Assuming we both get the job (and I know that’s an assumption), what advice do you have for how we resign? Should we go to our shared boss at the same time? If one person goes first, how should we handle the conversations about replacing that person knowing we’re leaving too? Should we keep it a secret we’re going to the same place?

Definitely don’t jointly resign; do it individually. If the other person resigns before you’re ready to quit and you’re pulled into conversations about the plan for their absence, handle it exactly the way you would if you weren’t leaving. Until you have a job offer that you’ve accepted, you’ve got to proceed as if you’re not leaving (because you might not get the offer or you might not like the details of the offer). If you go second, it’s fine to say “I know this is bad timing,” but you also have nothing to apologize for. People leave jobs! It’s normal! Your company will make do. That would be true even if your company had treated you well, and it’s extra true when they haven’t.

You don’t need to keep it a secret that you’re going to the same place. You don’t need to proactively volunteer it if you think that will cause weirdness, but if you’re asked, there’s no reason you need to hide it. Do keep in mind, though, that some companies have people leave immediately without a notice period if they’re going to a competitor (still paying out their notice period unless they’re jerks), so plan for that if you think it’s possible.

4. How to find out a salary range

As a longtime reader (and occasional poster), I know one of your pet peeves is job listings that don’t include a salary range. A new law in Colorado addresses this and Lifehacker had an article today about how jobseekers can to use it to figure out what a job is worth no matter where they are, at least in the U.S.

This is a good tip.

5. The Mortification Week finale

I’ve been top heavy my whole life, and finally I had to have a significant breast reduction. I saw my body when they changed my bandages, and my new tatas were the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, even with all the stitches and drains. This was major surgery so I was on a morphine drip. For some unknown reason, my husband thought it would be fine, just fine, if he let me have my cell phone while I was stoned out of my skull.

It’s good that my boss and I are close, because apparently, he was my first call post-surgery. He knew what I was having done – it’s not something I’d be able to hide and I was out of work for a few weeks – but I don’t think he was ready for a call like this:

Him: Hey, how are you doing? I’m surprised [Hubby] let you have your phone.
Me: (slurring badly) I made him gimme it. I hadda call you. I quit.
Him: You what?
Me: (enunciating carefully). I. QUIT.
Him: …Wait… what?
Me: I juss gotta look at my new girls and they are FREAKING HOT. I don’t needa work for you annymore. Me anna girls gonna go work at HOOTERS.
[sounds of choking laughter coming through the speaker as my hubby realizes his mistake and grabs for my cell phone]

Don’t think this hasn’t been mentioned a time or two in seventeen plus years together.

And with that, we say goodbye to Mortification Week.

Let’s end with this quote from Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness by Melissa Dahl: “The things that make you cringe are usually the things worth sharing, because they can help others feel less alone. … Little humiliations can bring people together, if we let them. The ridiculous in me honors the ridiculous in you.”

{ 422 comments… read them below }

  1. Not In Colorado*

    4 is so interesting! I’ve been looking around at remote job postings lately and noticed quite a few that say something like “$xx,xxx salary in Colorado, adjusted for cost of living elsewhere”. I assumed CO had an average cost of living, or maybe it was just geographically central or something, but a new law makes much more sense…

    1. pancakes*

      Honestly that’s nicer than the alternative I read about, which was a number of companies refusing to hire from Colorado.

      1. Stitching Away*

        And being stupid enough to literally put the phrase “open to all applicants, excluding Colorado residents” in actual job postings. I look forward to the massive lawsuits with glee.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s not illegal though. It’s perfectly legal to decline to hire in a particular state. (Quite a few employers have also been declining to hire contractors in California since AB5 passed there.)

          1. Stitching Away*

            The phrasing of “insert ethnic group here need not apply” springs immediately to mind.

            I imagine there is an argument that excluding a type of employees based on residency is different than excluding employees based simply on state residency, especially when it’s not that you are open to say, 14 states, but rather that you are open to any US resident, except for those in 1 state.

                1. Database Developer Dude*

                  Thanks to nesting, this comment appears out of order, but I am very happy to hear Rhode Island mentioned!! Thanks quill!

            1. Littorally*

              Now that’s hyperbolic. State residency is not in any way equivalent to ethnicity, either practically or morally.

          2. Willis*

            Would Colorado’s law apply only if you’re hiring for a job that would be in Colorado (including a remote working who would be living there)? I’m guessing that companies in other states who advertised a job without a salary listed could still interview someone from Colorado if the job would be in that state and the person would move upon being hired. But is that guess right?

            1. Recruited Recruiter*

              Colorado HR person here.
              This is accurate. The Colorado law requires that the job be performed “entirely outside of Colorado,” so if there is any travel to Colorado, it still requires the salary posting.

          3. Koalafied*

            I actually just read yesterday that Colorado’s DOL has recently clarified the law applies to *all* jobs posted by a company that has even *one* employee in Colorado – so just saying a particular role isn’t open to Colorado candidates doesn’t get them out of the requirement if they already have anyone working there.

            Will find and post the link in a follow up comment.

            1. Koalafied*


              “The delinquent companies can’t keep this up forever. At some point—maybe in the next few months, maybe later—they’ll realize that they don’t actually have a choice in whether to push forward with Colorado carve-outs. What happens if the holy grail of job candidates sneaks into the applicant pool but lives in Fort Collins? If a particularly essential remote worker in Texas needs to move to Colorado to care for an ailing parent, is the company going to just fire them outright? Earlier this month, [Colorado Department of Labor lawyer Scott] Moss tried to clear things up by telling employers that if they have even a single worker in Colorado, these carve-outs are indeed illegal.

            2. CO Anon*

              My understanding is that they can still dodge the requirement if the job will be performed entirely outside of Colorado, and I haven’t seen anything to contradict that reading. My company is one of the ones declining to hire any new employees in Colorado. I live in Colorado and we have a number of employees working remotely in the state (no office locations here), but new job postings are by default not open to new or existing employees to work from Colorado. We comply with the promotional opportunity notification requirement with a weekly email to all Colorado employees, but the opportunities specifically do not list Colorado as an available work location. There is a procedure if there is a specific hiring need in the state, but that would be rare. I can also say with confidence that the reason they are avoiding it is because we are also one of the companies that has the stupid practice of limiting increase amounts for internal promotions so we have a significant issue with equity between tenured employees and new hires. I don’t have full data so I can’t say for sure, but my observation (from an HR-adjacent role) is that we don’t appear to have an equity problem by gender, race, or other protected class, but the tenured employee equity issue is bad. I am in favor of salary disclosure and make it a practice to be transparent on pay during my first conversation with candidates, and I look forward to more states (especially California) passing similar laws.

      2. Ann Onny Mous*

        Yeah, compliance with the law has been bumpy. Right now the state is working with companies on implementing the new law but there are companies who have stopped hiring people in Colorado in response to the new law.

      3. Amy*

        Some large companies such as Nike, Cigna and Oracle have announced they will not be hiring remote workers from Colorado.

        There was an Atlantic story two weeks ago.

        1. MassMatt*

          Amazing that employers are so committed to salary opacity that they are excluding entire states from their candidate pool. The Colorado law doesn’t even mandate any particular salary, it simply requires a range to be posted.

          I wonder if any of them realize that some job seekers “vote with their eyes” and simply ignore job postings without a salary range. No doubt we will see these same employers whine about how they “just can’t get” workers.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I looked up my job (copywriter) in Denver and there are still some pretty big ranges in there, swings of $30k or more. It’s not like any company is committing to paying any given candidate the top of the range simply by having one.

            1. LC*

              That’s what I was just wondering, if there’s any sort of check for companies posting ranges big enough to be essentially useless or posting a range and then just ignoring it. I’m not sure how that would be enforced, but if companies are going to try to get around it, that seems like the easier way (if any companies are reading, don’t do this! Just post the damn range and pay people appropriately!).

              I think this law is so very much a step in the right direction and it is absolutely fascinating/horrifying to see how certain companies are reacting to this. What an overreaction to being told they have to just … give a pay range. Not even post exact salaries. Not pay a higher salary. Just give a range.

              What are they so damn afraid of?

      4. pancakes*

        I used to use the user name pancakes but stopped commenting a few weeks ago. Odd to see someone else has picked it up.

        1. fake pancakes*

          Ha, sorry, I just don’t usually comment here and was having pancakes for lunch then! Didn’t mean to accidentally half-impersonate someone.

      5. LTL*

        I hope a state with a big city implements this law. It’s going to be awfully hard for a lot of companies to cut out all NYC applicants for example…

        1. it's just the frame of mind*

          I agree, although they might jump at the chance to try it given NYC’s COL…

      6. I edit everything*

        I wonder if they actually *would* hire someone in CO, and this is just their way of saying, basically, “this job posting isn’t posted in Colorado.” I’m not familiar with the law, but if it says “all postings for jobs in CO must include a salary range,” not “if you hire someone in Colorado, your job listing has to have included a salary range,” that’s two different things.

        1. xtinerat*

          I agree they’re two different things but companies currently seem to be just rejecting everything Colorado right now. I know someone who is currently working as a contractor for a large, multi-state company. She’s in Colorado but her team is fully remote and spread across the country. The company opened up some permanent employee positions (equivalent to what she’s doing now as a contractor) and my friend’s supervisor encouraged her to apply. She did and her application was rejected solely because she’s in Colorado. I presume because they don’t want to deal with whether they’re in compliance with this law.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m really glad that my state’s law is having a nationwide impact. Everyone I’ve talked to is glad it got passed. I’m finding it helpful because I’ve been wondering if my pay makes sense for my position, and I’m reassured that I’m not grossly underpaid.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      The problem is that they have to give a range, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a useful range. For example, they can say that x position has a range of $55,000-$140,000. Clearly, that doesn’t tell you very much.

      1. MassMatt*

        I ran into this for an *internal position* once. There was a meeting for all interested in a new position, the presenter basically went over all the requirements (which were extensive–experience, ratings, licensing, etc) and responsibilities and said nothing about the salary. When someone asked she said “it’s grade 12”. It took me several phone calls to find out what that meant, it indicated a salary band between $24,000-$68,000. Not very useful.

      2. Koalafied*

        Definitely true, though even that is still better than nothing. If I’m looking for something in the low 100s the fact that it goes as high as 140 tells me that asking for 110-120 is not going to be an immediate end of conversation, so it’s worth putting together an application.

        If I was looking for closer to 140k that tells me I’m at the very top of their wildly distorted huge range and I can probably only get that number if I’m their dream unicorn candidate, which in most cases I probably don’t think I am, so I wouldn’t bother.

        If I’m looking for something around $75k, the fact that’s below the midpoint of the range tells me there’s a really good chance they can afford me, so it’s worth applying.

        The wide ranges still suck in terms of giving you enough information to be able to name a number first and not leave any money on the table – and I would still try to get the company to name the first number when the conversation got to salary for that reason. But where they do help is with all those jobs where you’re not sure if it would be a total waste of your time to apply because the bare minimum you would accept is a number that they can’t afford and would have to reject you on that alone regardless of your qualifications.

    4. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Okay, I had to look this up, this no to folks from Colorado.

      “We can’t hire you because you will expect fair wages! You’ll get to see the range before! No! Gah!”

      I’m appalled this is happening. It’s so stupid. It’s really shortsighted to not realize that it will benefit them when they go job searching too. Especially if they get fired for discriminatory hiring practices.

      but I’m glad Colorado did it. It’s one more blow against that wall that protects privilege.

    5. Sasha Blause*

      Interestingly the law doesn’t seem to apply to external recruiters. They’ll contact you like, “A job doing that thing you do! You want?” and then you ask about the salary and they never contact you again.

      1. Sasha Blause*

        my partner has even *argued* with external recruiters about this, and the recruiters just… refuse and dodge and play the “you say a number first” game, same as always. It’s so weird that recruiters are exempt from the law.

    6. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I saw a (remote) job posting that said “Colorado residents email us at xxx for the salary.” Way to totally misunderstand the law and turn off applicants.

      But that is a bit concerning the article says CO has a high COL. I’ve seen jobs that seem to underpay for the title/years of experience they’re asking for. (These were internal to my company that has multiple offices, and they’re only posting salary for some roles. Others aren’t listed in CO so no salary. And it’s not a range, just a starting number, but that still seems low.)

      1. le sigh*

        Flyover Cowtown wages with Big City rent!!! Now featuring the worlds worst Air Quality and E. Coli water!

    7. PhyllisB*

      Why would a law requiring salary disclosure make employers not want to hire folks from Colorado?

      1. Bartimaeus*

        Because if they don’t hire from Colorado ever (or have employees in Colorado, etc.), they don’t have to disclose the salary at all.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        It doesn’t make them not want to hire folks from Colorado. They start from a position of not wanting to disclose salary in postings. In order to comply with the Colorado law, they state they are excluding applicants from Colorado. Because if the posting were intended to be available in Colorado, they’d have to disclose.

    8. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I live in Colorado and will be working here. I just accepted an offer, but they refused to give me the salary range.

      Since I’m unemployed and getting desperate for work, I didn’t push back, but Alison’s scripts from past AAM columns (e.g., “Oh, actually, there’s a state law here that says job postings have to share the salary range. Could you please share that with me?”

      I’m kicking myself a little for not pushing back, but it seems like a good job and maybe an okay salary. Next time…

    1. Elbereth Gilthoniel*

      Mortification week was such a needed laugh. I hope everyone who’s story was posted knows that we were laughing right alongside them, not at them! I also can’t believe that there were that many stories in the archives and comments!

    2. MEH Squared*

      #5 had me grinning so hard! I second the thanks to Alison for the most entertaining week of mortification. It was such a mood brightener.

    3. Media Monkey*

      this was AMAZING! We don’t even have Hooters here (in the UK – there might be one branch but it’s not really a thing) and if anyone annoys me today i’m going to think “me and the girls gonna work at HOOTERS”

    4. Lily Rowan*

      YES. Thanks, Alison! I hope Mortification Week felt like a break for you, because it was SUPER FUN for me!

    5. Not playing your game anymore*

      Ah that’s not so bad. When you reached for the cell phone I figured a xxx selfie was going to be involved.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I really laughed out loud after reading this one! I’m glad her boss didn’t take her resignation seriously. (You never know what some bosses will do.)

      But seriously, though, I’m glad the surgery worked out well for the OP and that she’s happy with the results.

    7. Mimmy*

      Belatedly adding to the chorus of thank you’s to Alison for such a fun week–#5 was the perfect ending!

    8. laowai_gaijin*

      I desperately want breast reduction surgery. This story makes me sure I shouldn’t have my cell phone available right after, though.

  2. It’s late*

    My friend was in a car accident and they had to reconstruct her elbow. Her husband left her with her phone and somehow, with one hand, she started sending morphine texts after surgery. They were pretty hilarious. I talked to her the next day and made her go back and read them. She’s an English teacher so they had correct spelling and grammar, even if they didn’t make much sense!

    1. Wendy Darling*

      I had surgery a few weeks ago and due to COVID protocols no one was really allowed in to see me (the nurses did sneak my partner in once when they ended up having to keep me longer than expected, though, bless) so my phone was in with all my other stuff and they gave it back to me as soon as I was out of the recovery room.

      They were keeping me because I couldn’t pee, which is a fairly usual thing to have happen after this surgery. So of course they give my phone back and I text my friends like “THEY WON’T LET ME GO HOME BECAUSE I CAN’T PEE”. And then the next morning the same group of friends gets texts from me all “I PEED!” I’m very cheerful and relatively coherent when I’m stuffed full of opiates but I have nooooooo filter.

      My friends, fortunately, did not mind this one bit, but in retrospect I’m glad I don’t have my coworkers’ numbers in my phone.

      1. MineOwnTelemachus*

        A friend of mine had a surgery this past winter that had a similar requirement, and our group text (of people set up to care for her post-recovery because it has a loooong recovery time) ended up being filled with minute updates with her progress on the peeing front. I personally found it hilarious, so I’m sure your friends did too.

        1. Susan*

          My dad had to have an emergency surgery after a first surgery’s stitches burst (won’t go into details, but it was some serious stuff). After that he had to have a catheter until he could pee on his own. I had flown down to stay with him and his wife to help after the emergency, so I was there for the pee progress. The day he was successful he let us know, and I asked him if he wanted an M&M (like you do for kids potty training).

    2. Sue*

      Had a coworker whose Mom had her hospital phone taken away after she kept calling the police to report the nurses were dealing drugs..
      My own 80+ year old Mom demanded I come (I live in another state) to get her out of jail after her shoulder surgery. The joys of anesthesia.

      1. Stitching Away*

        I once woke up in recovery next to a teenage boy who kept insisting he had to go to school and repeatedly tried to get out of bed to try and do so. It was charming, actually, how earnest he was about it.

        1. Ann Onny Mous*

          When I was coming out of anesthesia, I whined to the recovery nurses that I didn’t want to go to school. I was in my late 20s at the time.

          1. M*

            I had my wisdom teeth removed recently, and apparently on the way home I yelled incoherently at my fiance as we passed a Dairy Queen, because I wanted ice cream. He had been told not to give me dairy because it sometimes interacts with the anesthesia and I could throw up. I also apparently kept telling him that they stole my tongue, and that I was SO HUNGRY.

            I’m just glad he loves me lol

            1. quill*

              So I had my wisdom teeth out on a thursday. Went back the next day and, come my 7th /8th hour block as a library aide, crashed mightily from the lunch Codeine.

              Apparently I very seriously insisted that people ask how my LACK of teeth was doing, which was fine, thank you, because the teeth themselves had been broken into twenty three pieces each to extract them so I didn’t even get to keep them. MY OWN TEETH! It wasn’t like I was a shark and going to get any more.

              Then I tried to climb the ladder

              The librarian passed me a biography of somebody or other, told me she needed it reviewed and I passed out in the library break room until she woke me up after school.

            2. SyFyGeek*

              When I had my wisdom teeth removed, the put headphones on me with rock music playing while they did what they did. I remember telling them Led Zeppelin was playing Black Dog Rag, and even though I wasn’t a big Led Zep fan, I did like that song and the catchy Hey Hey Mama, Said the way you move, Gonna make you sweat, Gonna make you move….

              With my mouth packed full of gauze, and still under the influence, my friend swears it was all gibberish, except I could yell Hey Hey Mama, then back to gibberish. And I felt the need to tell everyone the story.

            3. Sled Dog Mama*

              My younger brothers are twins so naturally they had their wisdom teeth removed at the same time which required 2 responsible adults to go with (I’m not so sure how responsible a 19 year old older sister is but all I did was sit in waiting room reading a book). I had had my wisdom teeth out a few years earlier from the same doctor and same location which was about a 45 minute drive from home, I slept the whole way home so I was totally unprepared for the twins coming out of anesthesia. They had a conversation the whole drive home. My mother and I were rolling we couldn’t understand a word but they talked very earnestly as if they understood each other for 45 minutes. This was more hilarious because they have never before or since had any of those spooky twin things (no language only they understood, no knowing things about the other when they were apart, nothing)

            4. A Feast of Fools*

              When I had my wisdom teeth removed, they made me go lie down in a darkened recovery room on a long padded bench that doubled as a bed, if needed. It wasn’t very comfortable and, just as I got my ponytail adjusted under my head like a pillow, the nurse came back and told me that my ride was there to take me home.

              I was like, “Why’d you make me walk all the way down the long hallway only to have me be in that room for, what five, ten minutes? Couldn’t I have just waited up front?”

              She said, “You’ve been in there for almost four full hours. We would have left you longer but we’re closing up for the day.”

            5. Thursdaysgeek*

              When I had wisdom teeth removed, I wanted to prove to my spouse that I wasn’t loopy. I told him to show him I was of sound mind, when we got home, I was going to pull out the calculus textbook and do some calculus. I remember saying it, and even remember it making sense. Obviously, I was loopy.

            6. nonprofit llama groomer*

              That’s hilarious. When my daughter had her wisdom teeth out, she started crying because she didn’t have a tongue. The next minute she was laughing because her legs felt like noodles.

            7. Allura Vysoren*

              I had mine out early this year. All I remember from the early hours was that I couldn’t walk in a straight line or balance well when I got home and I thought it was *hilarious*. My wife was home with me and I also kept telling her that I was hungry. I was so annoyed because I just kept eating jello and applesauce but I felt like I was starving.

          2. NervousHoolelya*

            My husband came out of anesthesia for gall bladder removal, and in his loopy state, got very irritated about all the IV lines attached to him. So he started singing (well, *slurring*) “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. I was cringing with embarrassment, but it made the recovery nurse’s day. She thought it was hilarious. Goodness knows what he would have texted to people if I’d given him back his phone…

            1. Squeebird*

              My husband had the same surgery last week, and spent his time in recovery drunkenly texting me about the wonders of the hospital’s “blanket ovens”

              1. StrikingFalcon*

                I mean, blanket warmers are pretty amazing. Hospitals are so cold and then they bring you warm blankets!

            2. A Feast of Fools*

              Darn. When I had my gallbladder removed, I just asked the orderly who was wheeling my bed back to my room if it was OK for me to go back to sleep now.

              Oh, and when they woke me up from anesthesia, still in the operating room, they hadn’t pulled my catheter out yet. My first instant of awareness was of it being pulled out and I said, ‘HELLOOOOOO MAMA! I don’t think I was supposed to be awake for that!”

          3. Windchime*

            I recently had minor surgery on my finger, but they had to put me under general anesthesia. I remember climbing onto the operating table and then solemnly informing all of the operating room staff that I had given myself a wedgie and then proceeded to adjust my undies. Several of the staff were laughing and then it thankfully all went dark.

        2. MassMatt*

          When I worked at a call center a fellow manager called in a day after surgery to complain his headset was not working. He was referring to the oxygen tube. We told him the tech repair crew was on the scene, look for the nice people wearing the white uniforms…

      2. Doc in a Box*

        When I was an intern, I rotated on the hepatobiliary service. This was mostly people awaiting liver transplant for various reasons, but were too sick to be home while they waited. Mostly because if your liver isn’t processing out all the toxic junk our bodies produce, you can get really nutso.

        So anyway, one overnight call, my resident and I get paged to a patient’s bedside. We head up there expecting it to be a medical issue, like an emergency paracentesis (stick a big needle in the belly to drain all the fluid that’s been collecting there since the liver ain’t working).

        Instead, we’re greeted by two police officers. One of our patients had managed to call 911 and said, “I’VE BEEN KIDNAPPED AND AM BEING HELD AGAINST MY WILL!” So of course the police had to respond. They chatted with us briefly, grabbed donuts from the workroom, and left.

        1. JB*

          My brother was recently in the hospital with liver problems, among some other health issues, and he was…less than lucid for a bit.

          One of the newer nurses let him facetime our parents. He asks them, “do you know where I am?” They assure him, yes they do. Outraged, he says, “then come get me! I’ve been kidnapped!”

          The nurse confiscated the phone at that point and was very embarrassed. She said he’d seemed lucid when he requested the phone call. (He’s doing alright now, living at home and going through the necessary steps to get a liver transplant.)

        2. PeanutButter*

          The one bad bite I got from a patient was a liver failure. The bite was really nasty, turned all sort of colors, she’d been totally nonresponsive, and then LUNGED towards my arm and sank her teeth in as I reached across her to unbuckle her seatbelt (no idea how her family had gotten her in the car). The patient was obviously going to die soon and was totally out of it, but I kept getting calls from HR in the Mothership (the parent hospital across the state) asking why I hadn’t pressed charges for assault on a medical provider when they got the workplace injury report. *roll eyes*

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Somehow, the combination of your username and my experience with an elderly pet who went into liver failure at end-of-life made me think you were a veterinarian and I was wondering how the heck you were supposed to press assault charges against Fido.

      3. Anonny*

        They gave me my phone after my top surgery because I apparently kept asking the nurses to relay the urgent message to my mum and fiance that I loved them. Many, many times.

        I used my phone to send them messages that I loved them, and also to send various people (mostly strangers) twitter DMs that their cats were cute. In my defence, the cats are cute.

        1. Queen of the File*

          I went to work after getting treated for a severely broken bone while heavily medicated and remember standing at another employee’s desk (not someone I really knew), CRYING at a kitten calendar they had on their cube wall because it was so cute.

          1. Anonny*

            In all fairness, I’m not currently heavily medicated and I got very overwhelmed and teary. looking at a photo of a baby Maine Coon. Just… so cute. Baby. Baby cat.

        2. BookishMiss*

          See, when I came out of anesthesia, my friends got bombarded with a series of texts that would undoubtedly count as blasphemy. I was in a catholic hospital, and there was a crucifix on the wall staring down at me. Drugged me found this endlessly entertaining, apparently.

          The next day, they got to hear about my cookie sundae, which was, in order of layers, rainbow sprinkles, 6 chocolate chip cookies, chocolate syrup, more sprinkles, ice cream, more chocolate, more sprinkles, a cookie on top, then buried in whipped cream.

          Poor friends.

          1. BookishMiss*

            Then again, one of them told me to go back under because my being awake was clearly holding back social progress. (Surgery was 6/5/20, so I woke up to news of all the protests and uprisings.)

      4. MeTwoToo*

        After my mom’s knee replacement she called me crying to apologize for abandoning me by myself in another state. I finally worked out she meant when she dropped me off at college to live in the dorms. I’m in my 40’s.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        My seventh-grade science teacher had some kind of surgery and the pain meds made her hallucinate Hell’s Angels riding motorcycles around her bed. This was before cell phones so she couldn’t call anyone but apparently she screamed in terror, traumatizing everyone else on the hall, until the drugs wore off.

      6. PhyllisB*

        This reminds me of when my grandmother was in the hospital. She had called the nurse (several times) for a bedpan. The nurse got exasperated and told her she would be there when she could. My grandmother told her if she didn’t come she was going to s…t in the bed. The nurse said “go ahead!!” My grandmother called 911. No one ignored her requests after that.

      7. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Once woke up next to a tween/young teen girl who was sobbing because she woke up and the werewolf pack kicked her out because she was now human.

        Unfortunately I woke up throwing up (my system doesn’t like to metabolize anesthesia medications). I’ve never gotten the people beside me, but I do have a tendency to spoil bedding and gowns….even with an empty stomach.

      8. Susan*

        My dad used to tell a story of taking Ambien and having a “dream” that might not have been a dream where he ended up naked on a couch in a hotel he was staying at in Vietnam.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          See, that’s better than my ambien experience. Turns out I’m allergic. I also scratch in my sleep.

          And I was in college, too, so I just went to class with a good chunk of face bleeding because what was I gonna do? Skip? Not unless I had a note for my own funeral.

    3. FD*

      My wife, who primarily listens to synthwave, requested that I put on piano music for her of all things post-op. She has no memory of this and has never requested any such thing before or since. Apparently her painkiller self has completely different musical taste!

      1. UKDancer*

        My exceedingly proper grandmother had to have certain medications for an inpatient procedure when she was in her late 70s and it made her lose all filter. My mother (who was with her at the time) had to endure a lengthy diatribe about how dryness of the lady parts was troubling Granny greatly and interfering with her love life with my grandfather which went into rather more detail about what my grandfather liked in that department than anyone wanted to know.

        My mother could have done without hearing this from her mother in law. My Granny had a somewhat loud, carrying voice so the vicar (who was doing his rounds in hospital) was also privy to this tale and found it rather awkward when he had to give her communion the following week.

        Granny had no recollection of this conversation subsequently and it was never mentioned again. Mum did however manage in a subsequent conversation to bring up the name of a particularly good lubricant. I hope this helped them.

        1. Caliente*

          Your poor mother! And still dutifully trying to find a way to work a good line into a conversation. As an American Agatha Christie lover when the vicar came into this story- well it took it over the top for me lol

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My friend’s grandma kept commenting on how big the doctor’s you-know-what looked in his scrubs. He came to the side of her bed, where his crotch apparently was near her eye level, and she kept saying, “Look how big he is! Look! You can see it RIGHT THERE!

    4. Disco Janet*

      Haha, the last sentence cracked me up because I can relate! No matter how drunk I am, I use proper grammar. It might take drunk me like ten times as long with lots of backspacing, but the English teacher side of me just can’t let it go.

    5. Blackcat*

      So I process anesthesia super fast, and I also can’t have opioids due to a history of adverse reactions. The result of this is that after a minor surgery, I was the one 100% sober patient in recovery. I kept asking for my phone to update my husband, and the nurse kept saying “Sweetie, people regret their post-op texts, it’s better if you just sleep.”
      BUT I WAS AWAKE AND TOTALLY LUCID. The result was I just sat there, drinking my apple juice, listening to the drugged rantings of other patients. My god, the things people tell nurses in recovery!

    6. Jessica Ganschen*

      When I got my wisdom teeth out, I started filming myself on my phone as the very nice dental assistant wheeled me out to my friend’s car. I would say the highlight of it was when I poked at my cheeks, declared that I felt like a fruit because I was “firm, yet squishy” and then got a panicked look on my face and demanded of the dental assistant, “Don’t eat me!”

    7. AVP*

      I had a very unplanned last-minute c-section and needed a little morphine at the end when the regular drugs wore off a little too soon, so when they wheeled me out of the OR I was just. so. high.

      My doula had been in the room with me (husband cannot stomach even the smallest amount of blood) and I kept saying to her….”We should do drugs more!! Did I ever tell you about the time I took molly????”

      Doula: “do you, uh, want to meet your baby now?”

      No, I just wanted to make chitchat about drugs, apparently.

    8. Zelda*

      “they had correct spelling and grammar, even if they didn’t make much sense!”

      The colorless green ideas sleep furiously?

    9. A Little Bit Alexis*

      I run social media accounts for the university I work at. Several years ago, I got my wisdom teeth out and I was very out of it afterwards. There’s a two-hour block of time that I still don’t remember, but my mom decided to enlighten me recently. Apparently, fully under the influence of the good drugs, I decided that I HAD to tweet from the university account. I don’t know what I was going to say, but I thought it was urgent. Thankfully I announced my intentions ahead of time so my mom and roommate took my phone away from me. Then I just cried about how much I love my dog – a much better choice of pastimes when on the good drugs.

      Note to self: log out of all university accounts prior to any future surgeries. Dedication to job isn’t appreciated when it’s most incoherent.

    10. Sanity Lost*

      My 17 year old son had ankle surgery this past May. When we saw him start to wake up, the nurse (a very cute blonde) asked him how he was doing. His response “Better, now that you are here. Can you stay?”

      Yup, he’s fine.

  3. JBI*

    Re the email timing, I’m in exactly the same position with my toddler.
    I hired a couple of new people 6 weeks ago. During their induction, I explained about my daughter, said after putting her down, I might decompress for a bit, hang out with my wife, and send some Slacks or work while it was quiet, but I absolutely did not expect responses before 9am. They seemed fine with it.

    1. Off The Clock*

      I agree with Alison, though, that people might say they’re ok with it, but in practice, feel like they need to be available at all times. And even if they don’t want to be, a notification on their phone might pull them back into thinking about work.

      I’ve also been in situations where I log in in the morning to find that two people who work weird hours have been chatting to each other, and making work decisions at all hours. And that especially feels like I messed up by not being available to give my input.

      1. Green great dragon*

        Yeh, I guess Alison’s right. Though I’ve had some really productive evenings with the one other person working late – no distractions, instant responses to each other – and if I’d delayed my first email till the morning I’d’ve lost that. Maybe it’s more OK with peers/people senior to you?

        Many colleagues have it in their autosig since covid – something like ‘I am working flexible hours and may email outside business hours. I do not expect a reply at these times’.

        1. Hekko*

          I think what makes the out-of-hours e-mails most acceptable is knowing that the recipient is secure in their own working hours. Someone new to the company or even workforce might feel pressured; me (a company veteran of 10+ years) just thinks, meh, what weird hours this person works (if I pay any attention to it at all).

          1. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            Yes, I am secure in my working hours and my boss would be mad to see me checking emails late at night.

            As a secretary with no work phone, and before COVID, left the laptop at work, I wasn’t checking emails after hours nor was I working because my overtime has to be approved.

            My director and some of my project managers email well into the night (rarely in the wee hours) and I know many work related convos happen after six as well.

            Since I’m at the bottom of the decision ladder, I just wait for the direction to trickle down to me.

            1. ErinWV*

              I’m in the same boat here. I have my work email on my personal cell phone, but notifications are off. Late night or weekend messages don’t concern me because I don’t make an active effort to see them. My boss, who routinely keeps very late hours on email (because her days are totally spent in meetings), but adamantly does not expect me to, will frequently write things like “No hurry, but will you…?” or even “When you clock in tomorrow morning, will you…?” which makes it clear what her expectations for me are.

              But I wonder if feeling blase about this is part of my position as an assistant whose hours are non-exempt. I am frequently told not to work off the clock, and putting out fires is very rarely a part of my job anyway. If I were higher-level, or my work was higher-stakes, maybe I would appreciate the emails not coming in until morning.

            2. Meghan*

              Same here. Even though I have Outlook on my phone I am rarely checking my work emails at home unless I am waiting on something important or I’m just that dang bored.

              But because I am hourly I’ve never cared if my boss is sending me emails at 5AM because a) I am asleep and 2) you don’t pay me to check or respond to emails at that time. I might feel like I should respond *when I am able to do so* if I was salary, but I am also incredibly vocal about how you pay me for these hours and outside of that you’re on your own. (Again unless I know it is urgent- but my boss would text and let me know, or if I am specifically waiting on a time sensitive thing. And then if it takes me more than 5 minutes to handle, I’m filling out an adjusted time sheet form)

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          The folks I work for are all east coast and the folks I work with are Mountain or Pacific time, so we have learned to ignore weird e-mail times. I just assume it is normal for them

          1. quill*

            Yeah, when I was dealing with international emails I always either assumed “had to stay up late / get up early for a meeting” if it was an odd hours email from someone whose work hours overlapped mine, and “it’s tonight in asia already” when I had a 2 AM email from colleagues in china.

            But also I had my computer turned off when I logged off and we did not have our emails on phones unless we ranked high enough to have company phones. (I did not.)

      2. caps22*

        I don’t know if I fully agree with Alison’s advice, though I certainly see her point. I like being transparent about flexibility, and the reassurance would be enough for me. I would know that a routine email sent at 1 am isn’t that urgent to respond to asap, but if I routinely received emails from my boss right around starting time, I’d feel more pressured to respond quickly to show I was working if nothing else.

      3. Emilia Bedelia*

        I agree. I also think there’s a little bit of a difference between feeling pressured because it’s a requirement for the job and feeling pressure to look committed/hardworking in comparison to others.
        Similar to people who leave at 5 pm exactly vs. people who leave at 6:30 pm – yes, “working hours” are 8-5, but if everyone stays later than that, it creates an unwritten expectation to look the same as everyone else. Maybe 5 pm person started at 7 and 6:30 person came in at 9. Maybe 5 pm person is super efficient and 6:30 pm person is slower and takes more breaks. Their work product could be exactly the same, but an outside person might perceive these people differently. It requires security in your own work to have the confidence to set that boundary regardless of what others around you are doing. Even if the boss says “I don’t expect you to stay late/work in the evenings/etc”, if it seems like everyone else is doing that then there will still be pressure to do so just to keep up.

        1. Anon for this*

          This. On days when my manager works late and doesn’t use the “this is an emergency and should be investigated AT ONCE” flag on old things from a month ago that aren’t an emergency anymore but he wants them investigated because they didn’t flag automatically, no one notices and no one cares that he’s working late. On days when he flags a million things to look at, between 9 pm and 1 am…. we notice. And feel pressured to work the same hours. Because what else are you supposed to do when a ton of HIGH PRIORITY MUST BE DONE NOW work gets dumped on you?

      4. Anon.*

        My boss emails at odd hours, all weekend, and when on vacation. Our work should not have urgent weekend or evening decisions, and we are not in theory expected to be available at al times or to be on Slack during regular work hours. But, he’ll send emails and apologize for “interrupting the weekend”! The culture accommodates him but few people respond over the weekend. I think because of the nature of the job, almost everyone works independently and is very senior, so the culture does not get totally warped. Since it’s like we are each the captains of our own small ship in a fleet, and the boss is sending out weather reports or things we all have to agree on (should we refuel at Island A or B?), many people just respond Monday. But it is still stressful, and I try to plant seeds of the idea that the department and ideally the whole company should adopt the “schedule email for work hours” idea except for the rare occasions when communication at other times is necessary.

        1. Observer*

          But, he’ll send emails and apologize for “interrupting the weekend”

          That’s a problem because it indicates an expectation that someone will actually be checking email. If I ever suspect that someone is going to feel pressured to respond to an email over the weekend / holiday or leave, I’ll write something like “I know that you will not see this till you are back.” So, even if they DO see it, they know I’m not expecting a response.

      5. Observer*

        I agree with Alison, though, that people might say they’re ok with it, but in practice, feel like they need to be available at all times. And even if they don’t want to be, a notification on their phone might pull them back into thinking about work.

        On the other hand, it’s also nice for staff to know that they have that option as well if it makes sense in their position.

        One thing that helps is making sure that people don’t have work email on their personal phone unless they ASK for it. That’s our general policy – we do not ask people to put work email on their personal phones.

        1. LC*

          I agree with the no-work-email-on-your-personal-phone thing. I think that should absolutely be the default, and really, if they “need” (I use that word loosely) you to be available to answer emails every minute, they really need to give you a company phone. And probably pay you more. And maybe hire more people.

          I think some of my coworkers at my new job have their email on their phones, but no one has mentioned it to me at all. I wouldn’t even know where to go to set it up.

          I did put Teams on my phone, with notifications totally off, just so I could see my work calendar to ease the sudden and unexplicable worry that I have an 8am meeting in the morning that pops up occasionally. Even with that though, no one said I had to. No one even suggested it.

          I think it could also help if the manager words it as “You might see late night emails from, but I don’t expect you to even see them till you start at your regular time” rather than “don’t expect you to respond to them.”

          1. Green great dragon*

            I can’t have work things anywhere other than my work laptop and the 8am meetings fear is real. And I did once totally miss a meeting with Important Very Big Boss, because I merrily thought to myself ‘there is no way I will forget that so I don’t need to set a reminder’.

    2. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

      I think a bunch of new employees are unlikely to risk ruffling your feathers over something like this, so I’m not sure you can conclude from their reaction that it’s not impacting the culture.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Fromthis thread there seems to be a lot of variation in folks preferences on this matter. I wonder if setting up individual “Email Response Agreements” like WFH agreements for each employee at the time of hiring would work? That way the manager could explain their practice and ask the employee what they prefer with the off hours e-mails and emergency communications and, in some e-mail systems, set up rules for each employee to meet those preferences as much as possible. My work has an informal agreement that works (e-mails off hours can be ignored, text for minor to mid-range emergency, call if something is on fire). I suppose it depends on the size of the team?

    3. someone*

      I’d say I’m ok with it if I was new. Depending on who replies, how many people reply and when, I might conclude working late is implicitly required to succeed at this new job, even if my new boss says otherwise.

    4. Fried Eggs*

      I think this works only if people don’t need to be reachable at all after work and don’t have email and Slack notifications on their phone.

      I wouldn’t say no to a boss doing this, but I do NOT want to have my non-work time interrupted by messages from my boss, even if I don’t have to respond to them until the next day.

      My boss works in a different time zone, and while I have Slack and Outlook on my phone, I don’t have notifications enabled. It’s the only way for me to truly shut off and relax after work.

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Absolutely. There’s no way an employer can mandate an employee putting work email on a personal cell phone, and if it’s a company cell phone, turn it off when your work day is over. I understand this isn’t possible for all jobs, but unless you’re the world’s greatest trauma surgeon or work at the White House, few people’s jobs are so critical that they should be reachable at all times. As a Gen Xer who remembers (fondly!) the days before cell phones *and* email…I’m mystified by people who feel like they must be available just because it’s possible. It’s a device, nothing more. Turn it off and live your non-work life.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          I’m sure you don’t mean to come off as dimissive, but the reality is that many, many people face pressure to be available outside of regular hours.

          And most companies have a handful of roles that require on-call rotas or occasional emergencies which mean that people need to be available outside of regular hours. Ideally companies would accomodate for that by setting up decent systems and cultures, but they don’t always.

          When there is a cultural issue, such as the erosion of work/life balance, I think we should first turn our gaze towards those who hold the most power (in this case, the companies and managers) before we start laying the blame on individual employees.

          1. Overeducated*

            I think this is a little bit of the tradeoff for massive flexibility around hours though, particularly during COVID. There’s a difference between working 8-5, and then being expected to answer emails at 10 PM, vs. working 8-2 and 8-11, for example. The difference is that you are not actually available to have conversations with all of your coworkers during all regular business hours, and I don’t see the benefit of timing emails to pretend that you are. Part of the kind of flexibility a lot of us need right now is the understanding that some communication has to be asynchronous.

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              That is absolutely true. I don’t have an issue with late-night emails per se, but I got a little rankled by the suggestion that people who feel pressure to stay available are “mystifying” and allowing themselves to be controlled by nothing more than a device. I think it’s significantly more nuanced than that.

              1. Yorick*

                But that pressure wouldn’t come from a boss sending a message at 2am that’s clearly meant for you to see tomorrow when you start working, it comes from the boss expecting to have a conversation with you outside of working hours.

          2. Smithy*

            I’m here with you.

            First new or more junior employees are the least likely to complain and also least likely to genuinely tell the difference between varying levels of emergencies or rush.

            Second, for many of us the reason for those pressures of having alerts on our phone can really vary on the rush nature. I work with people based around the world, and the reality of juggling different times zones means sometimes if I truly wait for my work hours to respond, I can wildly mess up timelines. Similarly, I stay “online” until something comes in from a later time zone – that’s also not worth my time. It really takes a while to balance not only what can wait and what’s urgent – but also to tamper that immediate read to respond to the alert and read the message/email.

            Telling the most junior and new to the workforce individuals to regulate themselves is indeed blaming those with the least amount of power and ability to shape the culture.

          3. doreen*

            And sometimes setting up rotations is actually worse for the people who are in the rotation. I’m required to answer my phone pretty much all the time – which sounds terrible, but if I get ten phone calls a month after 5 pm , it’s a lot. I get phone calls from the people I supervise ( who often work outside of business hours ) , a 24-hour hotline my agency runs and very occasionally from one of my supervisors regarding a call from the 24 hour hotline. A few years ago, they set up a rotation that had each of the people in my title getting the calls from the hotline 2 or 3 weeks a year. I actually ended up with more calls that way- the people I supervise were still calling me and if a hotline call regarding my area went to someone in Buffalo, they would often end up calling me anyway because they don’t know how things are done in NYC and vice-versa. We were all happy when rotation ended.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      This is so much my experience (on freelance teams where I assume everyone is in the same time zone, but possibly someone is in New Zealand and a night owl). You work when it’s convenient; you send the emails when you finish them; maybe my up at 2 will be followed by Fergus’s “Up at 5 with the baby.” To me it’s a very normal thing with remote work–people deal with their email whenever that works for them, and no judgment is involved.

      Spouse and oldest work with international groups in the hard sciences, and it would be very weird to be trying to time your email sendings so as not to be 2 am in anyone’s time zone.

    6. Nicotena*

      Ugh sorry but I haaaate getting late night slacks from my boss – and if she asked me, I’m sure I’d say it was “fine,” and she’d definitely say “it’s not you, it’s me! I don’t expect you to respond!” But either way the result is when I log in at normal hours there’s all these messages from 9Pm, 11Pm, 1AM, 3AM, which makes me feel like apparently I missed out on a lot of important things while I was, yaknow, sleeping, and I always feel a spark of shame that apparently she’s sooo dedicated etc etc.

    7. Drago Cucina*

      I used to tell people this all the time. My being a night owl doesn’t require them to be one.
      I tried the scheduled emails in Outlook and it was a nightmare. Sometimes they would send and sometimes they wouldn’t. I would check to see why someone hadn’t responded to an email only to find the email still sitting in the outbox until I forced it to send.

      1. sofar*

        Also, with schedule-send, there have been times where I draft and schedule my email to go out at 7 a.m. But then someone else logs on at night or before 7, responds to the issue, which changes the situation and renders my email moot, or makes me look clueless.

        So I usually just save as draft, check back again first thing and make sure the situation hasn’t changed, then send the thing. I do everything I can to avoid emailing on weekends.

    8. Tech writer by day*

      LOL it took me a minute to realize that “putting her down” meant putting her to bed, instead of something more nefarious!

    9. Paulina*

      Even while knowing that I’m not expected to keep similar hours, finding several significant work emails waiting for me in the morning can be derailing. A while back I had a boss who used to send out multiple key missives to our unit each week, late Sunday afternoon. She didn’t expect us to digest them and respond to them until normal work hours on Monday, but they tended to distract from my regular Monday morning work. So I’d start work planning to address existing work carrying over from the previous week, finishing preparations for that week’s ongoing work etc., and have to read 3 or so medium to major emails from my boss which, while they often could wait a bit, I did have to read right then in case they were something I had to act on or I ran into her wanting to discuss them. And they were usually quite involved.

      I started reading these emails Sunday evening instead. I usually didn’t act on them then, but I needed to digest them at a time that didn’t collide with my Monday morning work. I wasn’t being diligent or trying to impress her; I just needed to get dealing with them out of the way. Receiving them one at a time, if she’d sent them during the workday as my current boss does, would have been far less derailing than dealing with so much all at once.

  4. Sara*

    Lw#1 I’m so impressed you kept perservering in figuring out the seating issue (and solved it! Even with the backlash) I would have likely just stared at my manager and continually ask them where I should sit. And then probably end up on the floor or fired lol

    1. Kristina*

      This whole scenario is so baffling. I have never worked at any job (and I have had some very dysfunctional jobs!!) where I was asked to find my own desk, at my own peril.

      1. John Smith*

        It is baffling. If they get this freaked out over a desk move, what will they be like if something major happened? I definitely would have asked your new manager “what am I supposed to do?” beforehand, but your situation was almost impossible.

        I get that people don’t like change, but this is ridiculous. I’d be looking for new colleagues (in a new job. In a new company).

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I too would be looking for new colleagues and bosses in a new job, because that company is bananas. What company doesn’t give their employee a place to *sit*, for crying out loud??? I imagine that this is just the tip of the bananas iceberg at this place; I want to hear more from LW about how wackadoo their company is. This can’t possibly be the only way they are wackadoo.

        2. I edit everything*

          These managers sound like the “Make it work” variety–offering no guidance, assistance, or resources, and then getting angry when you do actually find a way to make it work.

          1. banoffee pie*

            The managers sound awful and the coworkers aren’t great either to make such a fuss about it. I’m sure OP didn’t feel very welcome after hearing all their complaints about moving their desks 2 inches (!). I wonder did they really notice the desks had moved 2 inches or did they realise something must have happened if she had finally manged to fit in her desk, and got the measuring tape out?? I feel like they never wanted her to find somewhere to sit and wanted her to have to keep wandereing around in exile forever. Some people are weird/mean

      2. Myrin*

        And to the point where it would cause higher-ups to “doubt [OP’s] allegiance to the project”, no less!

        1. Threeve*

          “Piss off a bunch of your coworkers” is a very counterproductive way of showing “allegiance.”

          1. Anon and on an on*

            For dress code, we follow business casual.
            For core hours, we follow bankers’ hours.
            For desk assignments, we follow prison rules.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              HA HA HA!! Except when are prisoners ever directed to create their own cell? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (That’s the closest corollary I can think of in the context of a prison.)

              Seriously, this whole situation sounds like sonething out of an absurdist drama. It’s really that ridiculous. It. Makes. Absolutely. No. Rational. Sense.

    2. GNG*

      I can’t wrap my head around any of it: LW having to find their own space, the boss not doing anything to make it happen, the office manager not solving the problem, and how no one was willing to move just 2 inches to make room. I wonder if these were signs of bigger dysfunctions in that team?

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, I think that office is full of bees. There doesn’t seem to be any cooperation or goodwill (and seating is a really low-stakes issue – I can’t imagine what their behaviour would be if the stakes were higher).

      2. Forrest*

        It’s also weird to me that the only issue that needed solving was “room for a desk”. The biggest restriction in most office moves I’ve been involved in is whether there’s an available data access point, which is why it’s usually organised by facilities / estates managers, not random individual workers!

        1. Anon and on an on*

          I can’t even imagine how you start a new job without “here is your desk; here is your chair.”
          “I do regret doing it…”
          Regret nothing except taking that job.

          1. Filosofickle*

            About a decade ago my sibling started at a big tech company and wasn’t given a desk, phone, or computer for their entire first week. Without a computer, training wasn’t even possible. Literally just roamed the halls trying to learn something useful.

          2. turquoisecow*

            When I started an old job they were in the midst of a massive sort of reorganization of the entire floor my department worked on, so they didn’t have a desk for me yet because they also didn’t know where most people would be sitting in the final plan and they were building cubicles.

            But I was not told to find my own desk somewhere! The first two days I sat at my boss’s desk, since I was training, and then he was off for a few days (and left me with some relatively easy busy work), at which point we briefly moved to another area and then moved back, and then I was thankfully able to take the desks (and computers, this was pre-laptops) of people who were out sick or on vacation, and about two weeks in I got my own desk. And a flat screen monitor, while everyone else still has CRTs, which pissed off some of the older employees who’d worked for ages on old equipment.

            It wasn’t ideal by any means but at least I didn’t feel like I was on my own looking for a place to sit.

        2. Jolene*

          I’m assuming laptop and everything is over internet. (Our office is now – even phones.)

          But I’m super interested in what industry this is. I’m picturing little desks circled up by group, like 6th grade.

      3. Nicotena*

        FWIW I don’t really blame the employees – space issues can be sooo contentious, especially in an open office / with hot desking. I remember in my old office, a cube by the window was worth years of salary – a few more inches of open space was huge bragging rights, and was related to seniority somehow (or favoritism, there was a lot of speculation). Yes they should have stepped up but if some folks were already crammed in and a few had more space I wouldn’t be surprised this was already a big issue on the team with history and bad blood. I completely blame management for making OP handle this and take the negative feelings – there should have been an announcement from the top so OP wasn’t being blamed.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Yes – once I saw that some people were back to back I didn’t really blame the people with a few more inches of space for defending it so passionately. Inch by inch is probably how those other people ended up back to back. That place sounds like the wild west, managers want to be hands off so everyone else has to fight for their own rights. Offices can go totally Lord of the Flies if management refuses to get involved and create a ton of bad will.

        2. often trapped under a cat*

          While this space issue seems to have many layers, as a person who is not neurotypical, having my desk in the “wrong” place–even if just by a couple of inches–can really throw me off. The cleaning crew regularly slightly relocates my desk, and I know immediately when I see it the next morning.

          Because my brain “knows” where my desk is supposed to be, how the light falls on it, whether HVAC is going to blow on me or not, where it is in relation to other furniture in the room, etc. It’s very unsettling to have it be in the wrong spot.

          I will absolutely move it back. If I can’t, I will adjust, but that will take some time, and I’ll feel fidgety and un-secure until it does.

          At one point I had a desk by a column and was relocated a few feet away, and being “in the open” felt weird for more than a week.

        3. LTL*

          I mean tbh I do blame them for getting mad at the new employee. They must have known how unreasonable their management was and if I saw a new person talking with multiple people on the floor about can he please get a desk so he has a place to sit, I’d at least feel kind of bad even if I didn’t want to give up my space.

        4. GNG*

          I do blame the culture of the team. Of course the manager is responsible for creating the culture, and at the same time, honestly individual employees do bear responsibility for their behaviors that contribute to the function and culture of the team as well.

          Sounds to me they made a culture of “Everyone for Themselves” on this team. Punching down on the LW1 the new employee, and focusing on their own 2 inches of space is just a snippet of their petty and self-oriented culture.

          I do hope LW1 isn’t stuck there anymore.

        5. quill*

          If I were crammed into that office where people were sitting back to back I simply would have turned into a locust.

      4. JB*

        Absolutely. It sounds like seating is a long-standing issue in this group (notice how LW says there are some people who have a lot of space and others who are crammed together – what on earth is going on there?) and the supervisors, office manager, everyone knows that if you change anything, people get ANGRY.

        And rather than doing something about this, they decided to protect themselves by putting it entirely on LW to find seating space.

        It sounds like there’s other odd things going on too (I think LW referenced tables rather than desks? There’s free space in other areas of the building, but nobody’s willing to move, even though some of them are crammed in like sardines?) it honestly sounds like a really substandard seating arrangement, like one of those stupid open concept officed with no desks or cubes, and as a result everyone’s gotten very defensive of whatever space they’re able to ‘claim’.

        1. Mrs. Norris*

          Am I the only one who would want to move the desks one inch closer each night, until they are touching. Well, just the territorial co-irkers and the managers’ desks.
          Maybe you can get some help from your new work mates?

      5. The Starsong Princess*

        This place seems super toxic. The manager says sit with your team or your job is at risk but no seat was provided. I’d have done what OP did because the only other alternative was to bring in a lawn chair, a lap desk and an extension cord.

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My first thought was “Isn’t there a facilities manager?” Put in an urgent work request for a desk or table and space to set it up.

      1. drinking Mello Yello*

        Hell, at my job, requests for moving your desk is a set option in our help desk system. It’s so utterly baffling to me that OP1’s company would put make them find their own desk in the necessary area on pain of death/firing. And it’s even more baffling to me that none of the people who’d be responsible for desk moves in every other company on Earth want to deal with it. Weirdness…

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Exactly. There’s a reason why Facilities handles desk moves and not the employee. They need to make sure there’s data and electrical access, among other things. I can’t imagine being a manager and making my employee fend for themselves trying to find a space to sit.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, we’re actively not allowed to do this stuff where I work–you always put in a request with [our equivalent of] FacMan and they come right out and do it.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          I also wonder about fire codes, because it could cause issues with people not being able to evacuate quickly and/or having too many people for the space.

          Is everyone in this space on the same team? If so then the team needs to move to another larger area. If not they need to boot those who are not on the team to another spot.

    4. Asenath*

      LW 1 did what I wish I would have done! I think it was brilliant! The closest I came to, mmm, using my initiative, was during my employment at a place with too little office space and constant conflict and inter-department squabbles over space. The whole business was more or less overseen by a group called something like “Space Committee”, which was pretty much guaranteed to fail a lot since there simply wasn’t enough space and there were a lot of people who thought they had claims to more or better space than they had. One of the worse situations was when I (being pretty much at the bottom of the hierarchy, I guess) had no space at all, and was sitting in the hall with my computer on a table with wheels, my chair, and no connection for my computer. I’m not even sure there was an electrical outlet nearby. My initial approach was to announce to everyone I could that I couldn’t do any work without my computer, so I would be reading. I spent each workday doing exactly that – reading novels and playing games on my phone. When I got bored (and increasingly anxious that they’d lay me off or fire if I wasn’t doing any work), I rather foolishly moved my computer so I could use the connection in the office of someone much senior to me – without asking! – on the grounds that he was almost never in his office. Anyway, they eventually carved another room into two “offices”, and I got one of them, solving the problem temporarily. The other bit was, temporarily, used by someone far senior to me and with genuine, privacy-related, and contractual reasons for a private office, but he’d been hired without apparently any thought having been given as to where he’d be working. That was awkward until someone somehow found private space for him.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Ha! I’m enjoying the mental image of you sitting staunchly at your little hallway table, refusing to work and waiting for someone to notice, gradually getting more and more panicked.

        But also was your boss included in your “announcement”?

        1. Asenath*

          Oh, yes. I made sure everyone I worked with directly knew, which included the two I usually reported to, and next up, who hired me and ran our little corner of the place (there was a rather complicated hierarchy). I didn’t have standing to approach even higher levels, or the senior but besieged Space Committee.

      2. ellex42*

        I did much the same when moved to another department where apparently no one could get me the access I needed to certain programs/drives. Just to make things more fun, the department didn’t actually have anyone in charge of it, and no one knew what I was supposed to be doing anyway. I had actually been sent there to find out what was going on in that department because my boss was about to take it over. I sat there and trawled the internet for a week before getting bored (and anxious) enough to contact IT myself and try to get what I needed. Which I did, but it didn’t help much, because no one knew what they were doing in that department.

      3. admin Amber*

        Wow! Why do employers do this? That is terrible to stress out employees trying to get their desk.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I can’t imagine trying to build productive work relationships with a team that was so snotty about desk space!

      In one job I was brought in to fill a newly created position in an already crammed newsroom, and ended up scooting the printers closer together to make enough space to prop a laptop next to them. The chief photographer was always out shooting stories so I stole his chair.

      That was also the place that employed 23 women, five of them pregnant, with one (1) women’s toilet. I ended up going out for lunch every day just so I could pee!

    6. Decima Dewey*

      Where I work, we’re supposed to put in a Building Service Request if we need furniture moved, assembled, and so forth. I’m told they come out fairly promptly, but some people do try to do the moving and assembling themselves. And presumably, these same people get to fill out an Incident Report if someone gets hurt doing something they had no business doing.

    7. Chaordic One*

      OP#1, I give you kudos for problem-solving and initiative! Well done!

      Yes, your bosses should have accommodated you and you shouldn’t have had to do this, but under the circumstances you demonstrated remarkable creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking. I’d want you on my team.

    8. Robin Ellacott*

      Agreed! People can be very possessive and passionate about seating, but I can’t imagine a scenario where someone is just expected to find their own desk, but also told nothing else can change. It’s crazy-making.

  5. Beth*

    OP1, how did this get solved? Did you end up getting a desk assigned, since everyone else didn’t like your solution?

    1. Cmdrshpard*

      Maybe someone can enlighten me but how does moving every row 1-2 inches create enough space for a new table? That must mean there was already almost enough space for another desk except for those two inches right?

      If I move all 4 rows 2 inches to the right it only creates an extra 2 inches of space on the left side. Or if I moved 2 rows 2 inches to the right and 2 rows 2 inches to the left I would only create 4 inches of extra space in the middle?

      1. FD*

        I’m imagining that what she actually did is reduce the space between each desk by 2 in? That would potentially create enough new space for a new desk.

      2. Birch*

        They were saying that there was a group in a corner that was hogging more space than everybody else, so I imagine that there was some room somewhere but not enough for a table, because they said there was enough space if they organized the room differently. I think everything else in the room got moved 2 inches into that corner group’s extra space which would have freed up just enough space e.g. at the far end. Alternatively, they said they moved all the rows 2 inches to the side and squeezed in 2 more tables, so it’s possible they also both moved everybody 2 inches and then stuck the new tables into the corner group’s extra space, thus giving them the same minimal space as everybody else. It’s a bit unclear.

        1. Elenna*

          I agree with FD, I read that to mean that they reduced the space each person had by 2 inches. So if there were, say, 4 rows of people with extra space, then that would save 8 inches which might be enough?

      3. Observer*

        Small desks in a rather large room would make it happen.

        This does NOT sound like a well managed company.

        1. karou*

          The whole thing is very strange, from management’s refusal to help then doubting OP’s commitment because they couldn’t magically make a desk appear to the anger of the other employees. Sounds like a terrible working environment. I would also love an update on what happened after.

      4. too young to die, too old to eat off the kids' menu*

        I thought they were going to move the desks two inches every day until they had room, but got caught on day one lol

        1. A Person*

          Yeah, I was loving that visual too. No, I think they moved desk A 2 inches, then moved desk B 4 inches, and so on. So somebody came in and their desk was TWO FEET away from where they expected, and now they did not have that lovely view of the drainpipe out the window…

  6. MistOrMister*

    OP 3 – I’ve been working for 23 years and I have almost never felt guilty when giving my notice. Even for jobs like when I was in college and they knew I would be physically moving at the end of the year. I think it’s a curse for a lot of us. That said, never ever feel bad about leaving a bad employer. That is doubly, triply true for an employer that doesn’t care where people are routinely having breakdowns. Sometimes quitting is just bad timing. You can’t put off doing what’s best for you in this type of situation. I’ve had some positions where I was the only one with certain knowledge and left, and I can assure you, things might flounder for a bit, but eventually they’ll get back in order. (Although I do still chuckle to myself thinking about 1 job where the manager made this huge deal about saying they would be beyond fine without me and I shouldn’t think otherwise, and then 6 months later the big client I’d worked on was still unhappy because they couldn’t manage to replace me with anyone halfway decent. Heh.)

    1. Momma Bear*

      I worked for a team where the management changed and within several months most of the senior people left as a result. It as like dominoes. You leave when you need to. Don’t hang it on your coworker, but also don’t feel guilty if the time is right for you to move on.

    2. Delta*

      I’ve definitely felt terrible while resigning. I was the 6th person that month to resign, and I definitely left them in the lurch. It was still the best decision to make for myself though. I just brought my manager flowers and explained the situation in depth. She definitely knew it was coming.

  7. Mockingbird*

    Just want to say how much I love Dahl’s book. I listened to it on a road trip alone through Maine, she reads it herself, and it was like having a smart, funny friend telling me fascinating things about anxiety and awkwardness and how our minds work. Then I bought a copy so I could underline and mark passages. Highly, highly recommend it. You might not have fewer mortifying moments, but it does actually help to understand why they affect us how they do.

  8. Rachel*

    Email tip (for Outlook users): Delaying delivery for each individual mail can be kind of a hassle in Outlook. But you can work in Offline mode (add it to the Quicklinks bar!), write a bunch of emails, and then turn off Offline mode when you’re in normal business hours to let them all go out. (If it’s outside of working hours, you won’t be missing (m)any incoming emails during that time. And if you work in global teams where it actually matters whether your emails go out at 2 am or 8 am, then you may have reasons not to delay delivery at all.)

    I also want to add that I very much agree with Alison’s feedback. I had a job for a long time where I got emails 24/7 and, though I wasn’t EXPECTED to respond at all hours and had some managers even discourage it, I absolutely got in the habit of “wouldn’t it be better if I just took 2 min to answer” and it had a pretty noticeable cumulative impact on me.

    1. John Smith*

      I’d get freaked out if I saw a bunch of emails sent at the same time! I get what Alison is saying about expectations, but the only response from colleagues when we get stupid o clock emails (from our equally stupid manager) is “what on earth is he doing working at that hour?”.

      Absolutely no-one thinks they’re obliged to be doing work things at similar hours, but I guess it’s a corporate culture thing (plus the fact we have zero respect for our manager due to his attitude and rather questionable decisions).

      If it were me, I’d explain the situation and make it absolutely clear that there is no requirement or expectation for anyone to be responding out of hours. In fact, I’d jokingly say that doing so would result in some punishment, just to get the point across. If people were uncomfortable still, then yeah, delayed emails.

      Btw, that you consider this, in my eyes, makes you a decent manager :)

      1. Allonge*

        Ha, I am having trouble with this as a manager, and had the same thought: if my team sees five emails from me at 8 am, 1, they will figure out I have been working late (or early, as the case may be), and 2, it may not be less frustrating.

        I suppose it’s still better than getting an email late at night as it absolutely avoids any question of having to answer at night, and setting up delayed delivery is not that much of a hassle.

        It’s just – I really wish this could be solved by clear expectations on when people do or do not need to monitor/respond to their emails (I have had some success there). AND that Outlook did delayed delivery when I am not online!

      2. Simply the best*

        I totally agree with this! If I came into the office at 8:00 and saw that I had five emails from my boss that had come in overnight, that would not face me. They’d be mixed in with all the other emails that came in overnight. But if I sat down at 8:00 and then immediately got five emails from my boss one after the other, that would feel like an emergency.

        1. Juniper*

          I can see how it might trigger a feeling of panic, but after 10 seconds of scanning the subject lines you could quickly ascertain the relative importance of each one. Plus, you’re at work, so you’re already in the head space of having to deal with things.

          But I generally have to keep my notifications on, on the off-chance my boss needs something urgently. If people are emailing at all hours, those plings will constantly draw my attention when I’d rather be with my family. That means turning to my phone, opening Outlook, checking what’s come in, and then in most cases exiting out again.

          1. Green great dragon*

            Eugh to the second para. I don’t think that’s typical for most people though – in the very rare occasions that we need someone outside their working hours we’d call or text/whatsapp a person number, because we definitely don’t expect people to be checking work emails.

            1. Allonge*

              Yes, there are ways to make this easier with tech. After-hours emergencies should have a different channel too (or at least something that allows people to set up specific notifications!).

              The thing is, managers could maybe be persuaded to not send emails after / before certain hours, but in this case everyone else also needs to stop sending emails after 5, which is not reasonable in a lot of orgs. We have both external and internal clients who email us at any time they please – at that point, an email from a manager is not a huge extra burden.

            2. Juniper*

              Sorry, what does eugh mean? There’s a difference between emergencies and things that should be dealt with quickly if possible. Agree that a true emergency warrants a call or text, but if my boss is working late preparing for a presentation to the board of directors and needs a certain set of numbers, I want to know. He wouldn’t call, but being available for sporadic off-hours assistance is part of my job. But this is likely a very role-specific type of scenario.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                There’s a strange unspellable sound expressing displeasure bordering on disgust. I’ve seen lots of approximations but none I really like, so I tend to switch to a simple ick or ugh.

          2. Mongrel*

            I can also see it being normalised pretty quickly as well especially if Boss explains why;
            “Due to $Reasons I work some hours late at night, since I want you all to keep clear boundaries and do not wish to make you feel pressured into answering I pile them up & auto-send them at the beginning of the business day. If anything urgent does come up then I’ll mark it as such”

          3. Observer*

            But I generally have to keep my notifications on, on the off-chance my boss needs something urgently

            That shouldn’t be handled with email though. There are a lot of ways you have your boss send you a message that he urgently needs you to look at your email. If you have a decent phone you can set DND off, with SPECIFIC numbers allowed through. You can use something like WhatsApp or Signal and assign a specific notification noise to that number, and put everything else on silent from that app. Of you could use an app that you don’t use for anyone else and have only that app send you notifications.

          4. Simply the best*

            I mean, I hear you, but I feel like I can respond the same way you responded to me. You glance at your phone for a second and see it’s not important and can put it back down. Not really that big of a disruption, is it?

            1. So sleepy*

              The thing is, you don’t always know what’s going to stress you out. I do a lot of administrative/managerial-type work for my partner’s business. He goes to bed early but I stay up late, so I typically keep my phone on in case of an emergency (we’re open until 11pm but occasionally staff can be there later… we once had someone accidentally lock themselves out of the building while closing, so someone really needs to be available).

              One night, I was at my cottage and received a text at 1am. From an employee. Who was not working. Asking if I could tell him in advance what the tax deductions would be on his pay because he wanted to know if he’d have enough to pay for a deposit on a puppy. I almost lost my frigging mind. It’s entry level work (for them), so I’m used to having to explain to newer staff about really standard workplace norms, but this just blew me away and I went instantly from totally relaxed to furious that anyone thought that could ever be an acceptable thing to text someone about at that hour! (and we have a centralized e-mail account for EXACTLY these types of questions, this particular employee just isn’t a fan of email… eye roll).

              Similarly, if I got a BS email at 2am from a colleague I didn’t particularly like (or doing something annoying like trying to bypass a required process) at my professional job and happened to read it, I’d be really annoyed.

              Thankfully, my workplace, while their has ridiculous expectations in terms of workload, will pretty much shame you to no end (kindly) if you’re emailing after 6pm and there hasn’t been an emergency of some kind (which does happen every month or two because of the line of work we’re in).

              I once flexed my hours into the evening and someone answered an email I sent at 6:30pm and it was the talk of our team meeting the next day (face palm).

              All in good humour, but I definitely make a point of delaying send on a lot of evening emails if I happened to spend 2 hours of my workday on kid stuff (thanks, COVID).

        2. Liz*

          This is interesting, because I don’t really pay any attention to the times on emails. Part of my morning routine is turning the computer on and seeing what emails have come in while I’ve been gone. We have a few senior staff members who seem to email at odd hours, and some who start at 8 rather than 9, so there’s normally a few, , and I don’t really think much of it or even notice anymore. My first task is to scan through and see if there’s anything urgent-ish – but I think I would assume that if anything was DESPERATELY wrong, I would expect a call to let me know rather than waiting for me to pick up an email.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Or at the least a high importance mark on the email!

            Maybe this depends on individual setup, but when I log on in the morning and open outlook, all the emails that have been sent to me since 5pm start showing up. There’s no difference in appearance to how it would look if they all had actually been sent at 9am. So I don’t get the argument that seeing them all come in at once would freak people out.

        3. Elenna*

          IMO either way the boss needs to tell people about it – either “FYI I work weird hours, you don’t need to respond to my late-night emails” or “FYI I work weird hours and auto-schedule, so you’ll get a bunch of emails from me at 8 am/9 am/whenever most people start, don’t worry about it.”

          That being said, I think the latter is better since people might be distracted by a bunch of late-night notifications even if they know they’ll happen, while I don’t think the slew of 8am emails would cause worry if people know to expect them.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I suspect it depends on the workplace in general. We have so many time zones that I get emails at all hours – and I am *not* one of the email heavy roles, not getting a ton, just that they could come in any old time. So I do not have email alerts able to reach me when I’m off, and especially not when I’m asleep. I just check it in the morning. If I have an email from someone in my timezone that happened overnight/during off hours, my usual assumption is that they were working for whatever reason (emergency call, couldn’t sleep, had to get up at 1 am for an inconveniently-timed meeting with another group) and handled some stuff then.

            In the even that something urgently needed me in my off hours (wildly unlikely now; fairly likely at one previous job), I’d expect a phone call.

        4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’d much prefer for my emails to drift in as people write them overnight rather than all in a bunch at 8am. Part of my morning routine is to skim my emails while I drink my morning coffee to get an idea of the shape of my morning/any major changes to my plans for the day (prior to COVID, I worked a hybrid setup where my day started at home where I’d get caught up on emails and paperwork, and then I commuted to the office after rush hour for the in-person portion), so having a bunch of emails come in while I’m already in the process of dealing with emails (or worse, after I think I’m done and have gone on to my actual morning tasks requiring focus) makes me feel like I’m stuck playing inbox whack-a-mole.

          Of course, I’m in a job where things that I need to deal with urgently overnight aren’t a thing (I chose my field rather than working in a more technical computer-based one partially because my field simply doesn’t have 3 am crises that make sense for my role to handle), so there’s no expectation that people will respond to an email until the next day. We all work somewhat shifted hours from each other (for a combination of coverage reasons and lifestyle reasons), so it’s normal for some people to have their email/paperwork/asynchronous stuff times in the evening, others in the early morning, and others in chunks throughout “regular” work hours.

      3. I'd Rather be Eating Dumplings.*

        Let me throw myself in as a counterpoint! If I see an email come in at ten pm, it will raise my blood pressure, even if it doesn’t merit a response. And if it’s something small, I absolutely will start thinking, “oh, maybe I should respond just to get it out the way”

        A chunk of emails in the AM would be far more preferable

        (Fwiw, I turn off notifications, but I used to be in a position where I couldn’t as there are sometimes were genuine “all-hands-on-deck” situations, and so little pings are even more annoying, because they primed me to get ready for a lot of work.)

        1. sofar*

          OMG are you me? I do some spokespersoning for my company, so there are indeed Slacks and emails that I need to see at weird hours, so I do a late-night check and several weekend checks. It’s very rare that I’m needed, but there have been a handful of times.

          Empty inbox/no alerts? Cool, I can go back to my life.

          But. Seeing all the other non-urgent crap in my inbox or Slack alerts during nights and weekends raises my blood pressure. And sometimes, if it’s a really annoying ask, I think about it all weekend. But the worst part is that, a lot of these group emails / Slack channels get out of control with people chiming in and making decisions. And, a lot of times, I know that me responding quickly will make things WAY more efficient, for example, “Hey all. That’s not necessary to do XY and Z. I assigned it to Ben last week and put it on the tracker. It’s there if you check it. No further action is needed from anyone. Please be sure to check the tracker.” People who stir up the hive and ask for collaborative things on nights/weekends when not all stakeholders are online are the WORST.

        2. too young to die, too old to eat off the kids' menu*

          so, you only work with people in/around your timezone?

      4. Klio*

        We don’t get freaked out but prefer that people send their mails at 2am instead of delaying till 1pm when they are at work again, or even 9am, because by that time we’ll already have the daily schedule planned and aren’t amused by having to negotiate the hassle of changing the schedule.

      5. OP2*

        I understand where you are coming from with the multiple emails, but I think I’m leaning towards that as a better option as it’ll be standard working hours when my team are thinking about the emails, rather than 9pm (or 1am). Plus to be honest, it often block out time to run through my email anyway, so it’s not unusual for my team to get 5 emails from me in very quick succession.

        1. Smithy*

          I’m a big fan of this response if possible – and also just want to flag that if your team is younger, this will not only help with work culture, but may also improve the quality of work you receive.

          It’s taken me a while to acknowledge that when I’m responding to an email at 10pm or immediately after I wake up at 6:30am – the likelihood of it being my best work is 50/50. There’s an increased likelihood of typos or awkward syntax. And it’s just taken time to distinguish when it’s worth quickly adjusting because it demands a response, or it demands a response to such an extent that the awkwardness is ok.

          Right now I sit on the the East Coast of the US, with the bulk of my team and my boss on the West Coast and our organization is global- and I’m so glad I took this job now and not when I was younger. Because it would have been a personal disaster. Time, experience and confidence have been crucial to building that. And, I think managers can take a more proactive response to helping staff build those boundaries vs expecting them to arrive fully formed.

      6. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

        I had a paralegal like that: he’d freak out if I sent him an email late at night OR at the start of the morning, since it seemed like I’d woken up very early just to tell him “hey, remind me that I need to close files today.” What I ended up doing was writing “this is a prescheduled email” ahead of it, so he knew it wasn’t a dire emergency and was just me being up late at night. I now do that for every prescheduled email, no matter when it’s supposed to arrive or when I sent it… except for parties outside of my workplace. They don’t need to know that I read their email at 2 AM.

    2. FD*

      You can also just use the delay delivery feature in Outlook. This might be a me issue, but when I just hit send on the emails while working in Outlook in offline mode, inevitably a couple of them get stuck on the way out later when I’m online.

    3. TechWorker*

      +1 on the global teams thing. I don’t work silly late but I do sometimes end up online at 8 or 9pm. A large proportion of my emails are to people in other timezones (but would also include others on my local team) so artificially delaying it til my morning time isn’t really sensible, it just means you have to wait another business day before there’s any chance of a response.

    4. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I had a job for a long time where I got emails 24/7 and, though I wasn’t EXPECTED to respond at all hours and had some managers even discourage it, I absolutely got in the habit of “wouldn’t it be better if I just took 2 min to answer” and it had a pretty noticeable cumulative impact on me.

      There’s so much more to being a good manager than just not being a bad manager, and I think being thoughtful about how you’re communicating is one of those things.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        It’s also worth noting that you only need one or two employees to occasionally respond to your late night emails, and then people will be coming in to see whole threads — that can pretty quickly communicate: “you will miss out on discussions if you’re not checking/responding to email in the off hours”

        1. Juniper*

          Ah, REALLY good point. I could see how this might lead to someone with stricter boundaries feeling like they’re being denied the chance to come with input or cut out of the decision-making process (however unintentional it may be).

        2. Nicotena*

          Yeah I thought Alison’s point that even one other person on the team adopting this idiosyncratic style is suddenly now A Part Of Your Culture, whether you want it to be or not. If important work is being done in the off hours, the whole team is going to feel like they at least need to be in the loop.

      2. Smithy*

        “There’s so much more to being a good manager than just not a bad manager” – that’s HUGE.

        In my last job, I initially thought I had a pretty good manager, because I’d come from a place where management was wildly awful. However, as time went on – the nuances of her style became more clear as a manager who wasn’t great and maybe a bit below average. With my next manager, it became obvious almost immediately what being proactively good meant.

      3. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        I would just like to note that your username means I am craving dumplings and will probably have them for lunch. Thank you.

    5. OP2*

      Thanks for the Outlook tip, that’s really helpful (delaying each of my emails is such a pain!).

      For your second paragraph, that’s what I am worried about. I REALLY don’t expect people to work hours that don’t fit their life but I’m not convinced that people believe me or they think it’ll factor into my perception of them.

      1. Amy*

        I never thought it bothered me either.

        Then I went from a manager who frequently sent late night emails to one who didn’t. Both are nice people and good managers. But it all feels so much more sane and comfortable without the 3am emails. I didn’t realize the stress it induced until it was gone.

      2. JustKnope*

        I got really crappy sleep last night because I saw three work emails come in between 10-10:30 and they made me super anxious. It got my mind going, even if I wasn’t expected to respond. Really glad you’re thinking about the delayed send features!

        1. Quoth the Raven*

          I had a boss who would routinely send me laundry lists of things I had to do the next day that were out of the scope of my job (think “other duties as assigned”) around 10:30-11:00 every night. Even if I turned the notification tone for my email, I’d still grab the phone and see the notification there (I had to be logged in because I was expected to be able to read and reply to emails while I was out and about during work hours).

          And like yeah, I wasn’t expected to reply, but it still got my mind going thinking about all the extra things I had to do the following day on top of the loads I already had to do. It got to the point where even seeing the Gmail icon on my phone at night made me anxious.

      3. LC*

        Are they required (or strongly encouraged) to have email set up on their phones? If they do have to have it, do they need to leave notifications on? Are they expected to be available for certain situations? If so, could they be made aware of that situation another way so they can leave general notifications off?

        Could you tell everyone that you expect them to set up their notifications so they are off outside of their work hours? (And you do it too!) I think that anything you can do to let them know you don’t expect them to even know about these emails till they start work, let alone respond to them, might help a lot.

      4. the Viking Diva*

        OP2, I too like to get emails written while they are on my mind, whatever odd hour that might be. But I don’t want people feel obliged to keep tabs or think I am nagging. I recently switched to Mailbutler to schedule sending later- I’m less likely to forget (e.g. compared to the “save as draft” strategy someone suggested) and Mailbutler has AI that learns optimal times to send to different people after I train it a bit. Works with several different email clients.

    6. DataGirl*

      my problem with delayed delivery is the computer has to be on and not sleeping for them to send, and even then it sometimes doesn’t work. I’m a night owl and the rest of my team are early birds. I may send something at 11pm that they need when they get there at 7am, but I am sure a heck not going to be up that early to turn on my computer and open Outlook so that they emails can send themselves. Even leaving the computer on overnight sometimes when I unlock it when I get up the emails are still waiting in my inbox even though they were supposed to be delivered hours before. So if it’s important I just send it whenever I’m ready to do I’ll know they for sure have it when they start their day.

      1. Amy*

        Outlook web access would be an option for you. It does not require your computer to be on to send a scheduled email.

      2. Emilia Bedelia*

        In your case, it sounds like your team already has an understanding that people are working at different times. If they know that they can count on you to get them what they need by the time they need it, you’ve already established that your working hours don’t impact them and that everyone can choose the hours that suit them best. I’m sure your teammates would say the same thing about your schedule – “If my teammate sends me something at 11, I just look at it the next day because I’m sure as heck not going to stay up all night working”.

        It seems like you don’t need to worry about delayed delivery/sending emails at a normal time, because everyone is happy with when they are working – that’s a good thing!

      3. So sleepy*

        In this case, though, just open the email with “sorry to be sending this so late, but I wanted to make sure you had it when you come in tomorrow morning” so it immediately indicates that you do not expect them to read it until the next day. That’s not so unusual to do, especially if it’s one of those deadlines where the handover is really when they receive it the following morning.

  9. Seal*

    #2 – Since the pandemic started, I’ve made it a habit to save drafts of work email written on evenings and weekends and send them out first thing in the morning instead. I was working from home at least a few days a week for a year and found it increasingly difficult to separate work time and personal time, as did many of my staff members. I didn’t want them to feel obligated to respond immediately to something I sent at midnight, which was starting to happen, so now I just wait to hit send until 7 or 8am. That also gives me a chance to reread messages and make edits before sending.

  10. IT project manager*

    Not often, but sometimes I work late and yes I do send emails. I work with mostly people in central snd east coast time zone, I’m in pacific time zone.

    If I’m working late it’s because we have a project with critical deadlines that need to be met and the work I’m doing to clear up any issues we are having.

    If I wait until I start work, even it’s 7am my time when I turn on the computer so any emails I saved as drafts or offline are sent, that’s going to be after 9am or 10am that my coworkers are going to get the information from me, losing valuable time when all of us are under a time crunch. No one at my company expects that just because an email is sent late that it must immediately be responded to before normal business hours. If it is an emergency and someone is needed off hours, email is not how we could contact them

    1. Asenath*

      I think it’s possible that in some workplaces it’s the norm not to respond to after-hours emails. Certainly, I worked with a lot of people who worked all night, while my hours were daytime only, and they’d send me emails whenever they got a moment. I eventually realized that they didn’t expect me to answer them when they came in – but the only way for me to personally disengage was to make an absolute rule for myself that I did not answer or even look at work email when I wasn’t working. I went so far as to not install my work email on my phone – I could still check it through a web-based interface, but that didn’t send me notifications and took a bit of effort to open up.

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      I’m in EST, but work with people across time zones in the US and India. With people working in so many locations, it’s not unusual for me to get emails outside of my normal 9-5 hours. A lot of the emails from India come in during the middle of the night for me.

      I also get Teams messages at all hours. I have Teams and Outlook on my phone, but I log out when I’m not working so I don’t get pinged at all hours. I sometimes work late or on weekends, but I don’t wait to send emails or schedule them. Especially with my offshore team, if I send something during my evening they can look at it first thing when they get into work.

  11. A Girl Named Fred*

    I absolutely love that last line in the quote; I’m definitely saving that somewhere for future reference!

  12. Coder von Frankenstein*

    Just for the record, LW1, none of this was remotely normal. Your coworkers were jerks and your boss was insane. (But your solution was epic.)

    You said this was a few years ago; I’m really hoping that means you’ve moved on.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yeah, I salute you, LW#1. Before moving their desks, I probably would’ve sent a snippy email to the people who were refusing to give up their space (and copying their managers) telling them that I had been ordered to move, really needed a space and to please let me know their suggestions – but otherwise, this is totally the kind of thing that I would do. Your managers and colleagues were being so obstructive that you had very few options.
      And if the managers were concerned about any potential safety, liability or injury issues caused by your moving the desks, they could have easily hired professionals or asked other staff to move the office furniture to fit in your desk. But they didn’t.

      1. Velawciraptor*

        The safety liability thing really gets me. But it does remind me of a similar situation from my office years ago. We couldn’t get the archives people to come pick up our archived records, which were in stacked boxes up and down the hallway. So some clever soul called the fire marshall, who issued an order that the boxes get removed or the office would be closed. Suddenly, archives was picking up boxes with a quickness.

    2. Juniper*

      Even more so than her boss, this was an utter failure on the office manager’s part. What are they there for if not to facilitate a healthy, effective work environment for all staff? It’s literally their job to assess team sizes based on available space, move people accordingly, and allocate work spaces.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, old and cranky current me would probably have sent an email to my boss cc’ing the office manager saying something like “I know you’ve asked me to find desk space in the X area but after looking at the space myself and talking to [office manager] it really seems like there’s nothing we can do, I am cc’ing her so she can explain.” But this is after years of learning how to firmly and professionally hold my ground when faced with uncooperative colleagues. If this had happened to me in my 20s I would have been absolutely lost at how to proceed.

        1. GNG*

          Yup same here. The current me would place the responsibility straight back to Office Manager, and Boss. I wouldn’t care if the office manager will hate me for doing it. Actually, let me rephrase that. I would want the office manager to know she can’t try anything on me without me pushing back.

    3. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      I’m so baffled! Why didn’t the bosses… do ANYTHING? They expected her to move the desks around? Truly bonkers.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Yeah, my mind is blown. People not having a place to sit in their team’s space was a common issue with new hires in my old job (myself included), due to the company’s fast growth and the number of people constantly outgrowing the available space. (We went from taking up two floors of a building to all four when I was there, and apparently several departments were moved to other, new locations after I left.) I cannot imagine the managers telling the new hires to produce a work space and a desk out of thin air, otherwise they’d question their allegiance to the job. So bizarre.

  13. august*

    Dear OP1, you showed much allegiance to that project in going to work early, not only moving mountains (of tables) but also showed integrity in owning up to the act against the deluge of naysayers. If your bosses weren’t impressed of your dedication to making sure you did what they wanted without their help then they are twice fools.

    This is peak malicious compliance and I am here for it even if OP didn’t do so outright for the malice part but for compliance.

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

      OP1 (desk move): from the pov of the manager in this scenario I’d have been most concerned about the liability/potential injury aspect of moving all those desks, especially when alone in the office (OP came in early to do it, presumably so no one would be around). Yes it was only 2 inches but to fit another desk in there it would have had to have been at least 10 rows of desks or so!

      1. august*

        If only OP1’s manager gave that much thought to their situation but they were left to their own means. It was a losing situation for OP and they found their own way to work through the problem.

        Though I am curious as to what happened after the move. Did they move the tables back? Where did OP sit if they did?

      2. Liz*

        Agreed – we have a couple of heavy tables in our office that get moved around depending on how we’re using the room, and I have been told not to move them on my own because it’s a liability issue. I can imagine if I came in early and shifted 10 of the things on my own, it would be a concern – but then my managers would never threaten to fire me if the room wasn’t set up.

      3. EPLawyer*

        The manager wasn’t lifting a finger to make sure they had a desk. So I don’t think liability was tops on their minds.

        If the way to show “loyalty” was solely based on where you sat, the managers sucked anyway.

  14. LizM*

    LW2, I totally agree with Alison.

    Especially if you work in a field that does occasionally have after-hours emergencies. I need to keep my phone on in the evening because we have actual emergencies (like, literal fires) a few times a year. It’s frustrating to get a notification, only to realize that it’s something that can wait until tomorrow. Even if I don’t need to deal with it in that moment, I still had to stop what I was doing to confirm that it wasn’t something I had to deal with. It makes it hard to fully disconnect in the evening.

    When I first started working here, they would push all the all-staff emails out at 3 am for some reason. I guess they finally got enough complaints that they go out at 7 am now.

    1. Allonge*

      This is not a criticism of you as most likely you don’t have full control of which systems you use, but to me, this calls for a separate sytem for actual emergencies and not for people to stop emailing at 5 pm otherwise.

      It does not need to be very complex – we have a text list for this in my org, and it can be used to connect to everyone if there is an emergency / messages people do need to see asap (used it last year for pandemic updates). Or set up a system where you only get notifications if the email comes from a certain address and only use that to send these.

      I too would be pissed if I had to check my email 24/7 for a relatively rare (but important to catch) occurrence, which was mixed up in all the day-to-day business.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I think you’re right, but assuming that LizM and her supervisor aren’t able to change this system (and as you point out, they may not be) then the manager should absolutely be setting up emails to send in the AM. It’s a small effort that will have a big impact.

      2. LizM*

        It honestly doesn’t bother me that much, in part because the culture has developed in a way that managers are respectful about personal time, and avoid reaching out after business hours unless it really is something that needs immediate attention. The emergency contacts really only come from one or two people, so it’s easy to set my phone to only alert me if the text or email is from one of them and ignore others.

        I guess my point is, if you have a legitimate reason to be contacting employees after hours, the manager needs to be mindful of this, and limit their contacts to those reasons.

        1. Evan Þ.*

          Or use a separate system. In my old job, where we’d have off-hours emergencies, there was a while I was really stressed about emails until my boss promised me that he’d text if he actually needed me to pay attention.

          (It turned out I was still stressed, which was the big reason I’ve got a new job now. But even so, not having to watch email really reduced my stress in the meantime.)

  15. MeowMixers*

    Thanks for the mortification week! As someone who has struggled with anxiety, I realize that most situations aren’t as bad as the individuals thought they were. I agree with the quote! It truly does make us feel less alone.

  16. Name Goes Here*

    When to send email is one of those things that I suspect varies a lot by field. In mine, email is asynchronous communication; it’s totally expected that you’ll send them at a time that works for you and that doesn’t obligate recipients to answer right then.

    My own boss is a person with kids and often sends stuff early in the morning or late at night (after 9), just because that’s what allows them to meet their other commitments. As long as I don’t blow off the reply, it’s fine.

    1. Striped Badger*

      A lot of businesses actually have policies about when you can send emails or texts for just that reason, especially for client facing… though they’re usually an obscure policy buried somewhere underneath the appropriate use of computer systems’ section.
      I know my company has one. I also know that practically everyone else has forgotten it exists, and those that do feel that their fall under the exemptions and exonerating circumstances category.

      1. Allonge*

        Ha! We are talking about introducing a ‘managers cannot contact their staff outside of [bandwidth] except for emergencies’ policy, to make hybrid work reasonable(ish). I am really curious what will come out of it – I agree with the basic principle but the devil is very much in the details.

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        The ideal to to build a culture such as what Name Goes Here say – email is asynchronous, with other systems such as texts for more synchronous communication.

    2. misspiggy*

      Same here – people are working together all over the world, so things will always be sent when it’s someone else’s downtime. This works well for me, as I often have to work odd hours due to health stuff.

    3. Allonge*

      Yes, by field and organisational culture / setting and a dozen other things.

      If someone 99% gets tasks via their boss, the boss’s email behavior is a huge issue.

      If you directly get requests / tasks from several hundred internal or external clients, the boss not emailing you is not going to significantly reduce your email traffic after hours. It still has an impact of course (it’s not like I would encourage managers to email at random hours), but it’s not as big.

  17. Juniper*

    I’m so glad Alison took an official position on late night (or for that matter early morning) emails. As an exec assistant I jump whenever I hear that pling, but fortunately have had great bosses with a strong sense of work life boundaries.

    The only situation where this gets dicey is working across multiple time zones. I’m smack in the middle of a time zone spread that covers 12 hours. If I’m working late at night (also a parent) and am emailing multiple people, I need to send right away so China sees it when they start their work day. But that doesn’t mean that the team member in the U.S. needs to all of a sudden deal with a last-minute email before the end of their workday. For the most part it hasn’t been a problem since these aren’t generally high-stakes matters, but I can see how this kind of “email creep” can slowly start to shift expectations and culture.

  18. Helvetica*

    LW#2 – as someone who has had a boss like you, I actually disagree with Alison. My boss made it very clear that if she stayed late or sent e-mails at night, you were never expected to be immediately available but work on them in your own timeframe. Same for another boss who was at work incredibly early but did not expect it from anyone else. And I never had any trouble believing it nor has it backfired in my career – and I work in a field where people are super responsive and available pretty much all the time anyways.
    Maybe the problem is people who say these things but then make passive-aggressive comments which imply you should have been available? That is then a problem of communication not really sending e-mails late at night.

  19. Jo*

    Mortification Week has been brilliant. I think it should be a yearly event – maybe with a Mortified Employee of the Year award along with the worst boss award.

  20. Homeofficedweller*

    LW 2, it sounds like you and your team are working remotely. I think it would be a great idea to generally have a session to agree on team rules (core working hours or full flexibility, expected response times, which communication tool to use for what, synchronous/asynchronous topics, camera on or off,…) and put them in writing. Maybe other team members feel pressured to respond at the moment – but maybe they are extreme early birds and night owls and actually work at odd hours for the same reasons you do. Team rtules may give them the certainty that they are allowed to nap at noon instead.
    I’ve relocated to a different continent and am working odd hours due to time zone difference, I added to my signature, “I am working remotely and may send Emails at unusual hours.
    Please feel free to respond during your regular working hours. “

  21. Green great dragon*

    Re emailing out of hours – assuming you’re working late but taking the time back elsewhere, are you being explicit about that? I think a late night email has a different feel if the team are aware that, for example, you stopped work at 3pm and did not check your emails between 3 and 10.

  22. TimeTravlR*

    #2 – With the amount of flexibilities my office has been allowing it’s really common to see emails at weird hours. I, for one, and not swayed by this and feel zero compunction to do the same. Mostly because I recognize it for what it is — parents trying to work around family. I’m glad our office affords people flexibility even if I rarely take advantage of it.

    1. Liz*

      I’m the same. My office went fully remote for a period at the height of the pandemic and we are now flexible/hybrid. Although a few of the staff had mobile phones, nobody had laptops, so even having access to work materials out of hours was totally new. Personally, I chose to treat my devices like the office – I work 9-4, and then I turn them both off when I “go gome”. A couple of other colleagues choose to put in a few hours in the evenings in exchange for taking time out in the day to run errands or chill out. Either of these work great.

      Then I found out that colleagues from our sister site were taking calls from clients at 10pm despite working a full day and stressing because “oh they need me!!” This is NOT our ethos at all. My phone is off by that time! Flexibility is great, but managers need to set some sort of guideline about what is expected, and maybe even coach employees in setting boundaries and managing work devices, especially if they are new to remote working.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Taking calls is a BIG one, especially for workers who are just getting their office phones forwarded to their personal cells and can’t just turn it off. My coworker who was stuck with our main office line confessed to me that she picked up calls as late as 7pm because “it could be urgent!” Even though there’s a pager for true emergencies!

  23. I should really pick a name*

    I’d love to know what your manager has been like since then. They sound ridiculous. The bit about doubting your allegiance to the project would have had me begging to return to my old team.

  24. Bubbly*

    #3: I was in almost the same position at my last toxic job. It was a very small business and my colleague and I both gave notice within a week of each other, essentially cutting the money making part of the business in half. My colleague wanted to give as much notice as possible and unfortunately did it while the boss was on vacation. That went over badly. When I gave my notice I was told I was stabbing him in the back. Except we had told him repeatedly we were overworked and we were just threatened with even MORE work instead of limiting after hours services to current clients only like all our competitors (and a lot of those people didn’t pay their bills anyway).
    I didn’t feel bad at all. I got pushed to use my leftover vacation time to finish up even earlier so I was actually thrilled. My new job has normal hours and pays almost twice as much.
    You do what’s right for you. I know for a fact he laid off employees during the recession when it was good for HIM so I’m returning the favor.

    1. RJ*

      This exactly. The thing to remember, OP3, is that you did not create this situation (and you even tried to tell them how bad it was). If the department was adequately staffed, the workload was appropriate, etc., then two people leaving would be inconvenient but not debilitating. The fact is, they created this situation, and you are not responsible for it. Who knows, maybe if they do implode, they will learn from their mistakes and make some changes that will improve things for everyone who still works there.

      Good luck, I hope you get the job!

      1. LW3*

        Thank you so much! And you’re right, this situation was avoidable and caused by the company. I hope it does make things better for everyone left, but I’m not optimistic.

  25. I'm just here for the cats*

    #1. I would have been tempted to set up camp right in the middle of the floor. When bosses or anyone else says anything I would say, I tried and you all wouldn’t move and bosses won’t make anyone move, but they are threatening to fire me because I’m not sitting with my team. What else am I supposed to do.

    1. GNG*

      Yes! I would even be tempted to go set up on the floor right next to Bosses’ desk!

      To show my allegiance, you know!

      1. banoffee pie*

        Sounds like the start of a screwball comedy. That could be quite funny, if it wasn’t happening to a real person who’s getting increasingly panicked about losig their job.

    2. Mitford*

      On the Homicide: Life on the Street tv series, when one of the characters was assigned to the new squad there was no desk for him in the squad room so he put his name plate on top of the water cooler and camped out there for a while.

  26. Anon for this*

    My boss works late, and while he says we don’t have to and we shouldn’t be working overtime, part of his working late involves flagging things from last week for further review…. except, whenever something is flagged, everyone on the team gets an alert (because these are typically emergencies when they’re NOT something from last week, normally as soon as they come in we get an alert) and whoever is on call has to sign in and deal with it. We’ve tried telling him, multiple times, not to flag them during off hours when theyre not an emergency, but he still does it.

  27. Roscoe*

    #1. I actually disagree with Alison here. The fact that you secretly came in before everyone else to do this, and only told people it was you when they blamed the cleaning crew shows that, on some level, you knew people would be upset. If you have to secretly do something, its likely because you know you shouldn’t do it. To me, its not about the “2 inches” (which frankly I feel is probably minimizing it), but the fact that you unilaterally decided to do that to EVERYONE else. Don’t get me wrong, I think your management handled this badly by not actually handling it on your behalf, but I also understand why everyone was mad. It makes you look untrustworthy to do this in the stealth way you chose to do it.

    1. Mannheim Steamroller*

      Management handled it badly by holding OP accountable for completing a task (get seated in the same area as the rest of the team) without providing the authority to do so.

      1. Roscoe*

        First off, as Alison says, lay it out really clearly: “I understand you want my desk in the X area. There’s currently no room there and no one is willing to move. The only options left that I can see are for me to sit in Y or Z instead or you could tell people they need to make room for me there. What makes sense?”

        But I don’t think its her decision to decide that other people NEED to have less space in their corner areas. If management didn’t give her that authority, then she shouldn’t have unilaterally done it. This was something she should’ve hashed out with her manager, not taken it upon herself to rearrange everyone else’s space

        1. Batgirl*

          See I read it as she did hash it out with her manager and that didn’t work. They just kept insisting, and threatening her job but “would not do anything themselves to make that happen”. If I had a choice between sudden job loss and pissing off everyone, I’d go with the former. Even if their desk placement was exquisite! Then I’d job hunt, naturally.

      2. Threeve*

        And people were only upset because they were demonstrably really unreasonable people.

        It’s pretty obvious there was no chance of finding a solution they would accept. If Office Manager had done their job and made people move, I guarantee they would have been just as pissed off.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Stuffing rolls of toilet paper down all the toilets on the floor is a popular solution.

    2. nelly*

      I actually agree with the LW and Roscoe, that it was kind of a wrong move…

      I mean your boss was a jerk and propably gave you too much pressure, but I didn’t get the expression that your job was in jeopardy? Or even participation in the project? Just that they were “questoning your allegiance”. That can mean many things. I propably would have been more straightforward with my boss/office manager and laid out my needs and let them sort it out. Because… it is their responsibility. And until that, did my work under those circumstances.

      BUT at this point, I wouldn’t be too shameful. I would acknowledge that I did a rushed decision, but also make sure to ask how they think I should have handled it. Then I would move on, knowing that my boss don’t handle these kind of situations well. Good luck!

      1. Elenna*

        I interpreted “questioning her allegiance” as her job being in jeopardy, especially since the managers had already demonstrated that they were unreasonable by not helping in any way.

    3. ezzle*

      I’d also be heartily pissed off if a colleague did this, but tbh LW#1 still has a claim on being the one who sucks least. (The management team who seem to be hoping some sort of Battle Royale over desk space obviously suck most.)

      1. Roscoe*

        Yeah, management screwed this up. But some of her solutions were, frankly, ridiculous. Like she suggested a whole team to move to another floor. That is a bit absurd. I get she was put in a tough situation, but i still dont’ think making that unilateral decision was right

        1. Ray Gillette*

          I actually don’t think that’s the worst suggestion ever. One floor was overcrowded, the other floors had room to spare. Barring some reason why the crowded floor is more desirable, relocating one of the smaller teams from the crowded floor to somewhere with more space makes sense to me even without the immediate pressure of the LW not having anywhere to sit. I’m more surprised nobody wanted to move, just imagine the noise!

          1. Greenygal*

            And the LW says that team moves were happening every few months, so yeah, that seems like a perfectly reasonable suggestion for her to make, even if it wouldn’t/couldn’t be implemented for whatever reason.

        2. The vault*

          I mean, of course you are going to try and come up with solutions to a ridiculous situation where you have NO place to sit, no one will help you, and you are being told off by the bosses for not having a place to sit. I’d frankly be freaking out. Even if they are ridiculous. I honestly don’t know what should have been done if the managers refused to help.

    4. Jackalope*

      Or…. Maybe they figured that it would be a pain to make everyone move while they were working and decided to move desks in a way that was less inconvenient for others. It’s much less of a pain to come into work and find furniture already moved than to have to pick up all of your stuff and wait while someone shoves several other desks around, possibly rocking your desk and derailing your current work. It doesn’t have to have been a nefarious thing.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        That’s what I’m thinking. She didn’t come in early to move desks to keep it secret, she came in early so she could do it while people weren’t actually sitting at their desks and working.

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I think that especially in a time of rising COVID infections, I would take the opportunity to work from home forever.

  28. Meg*

    OP#2, a colleague has this line added to her signature (paraphrased to protect confidentiality): Due to my flexible hours of working, I might send emails at odd or unconventional times. Please don’t feel obliged to respond immediately if you receive this email outside of your working hours.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I don’t love the implication that she *does* expect an immediate response within working hours. Email is asynchronous and that’s one of its benefits.

      I think there’s a route to better phrasing along the lines of “please don’t assess the urgency of this email by its timestamp”.

  29. ecnaseener*

    #1 truly sounds like a sitcom episode. How did you manage to find so many blithely unhelpful people in the same place?!

  30. Frances*

    Thank you for mortification week and today’s final contribution. It has had me in stitches and brightened a very stressful time of year for me!

  31. Mannheim Steamroller*


    You experienced the classic managerial practice of setting people up to fail by delegating responsibility for completing a task without providing the authority to execute it.

    The very fact that your manager pulled this on you with respect to the seating arrangement should make you wonder how else you’ll be set up to fail in the future.

    1. Batgirl*

      Yeah I would be job hunting at this point because what next will she be asked for? A box of snow from the highest mountain and the golden bough of a magic tree?

  32. Cordyceps*


    “Doubt your allegiance to the project”!?

    OP, you said this happened a few years ago. I seriously hope you will come on here and let us know what happened at this ridiculous company.

  33. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Oh #5 – I had a breast reduction and can relate to your experience so much.

    It was the best thing I ever did though.

    1. Pushybroad/Hooters Wannabe*

      I’m OP#5 and I’d get another one tomorrow if they’d let me. I was SO uncomfortable and even though I lost a little more than 3 pounds up there, he really didn’t take off enough. I’m not nearly as bad off as I was but I do wish they were smaller still.

      But that day, morphine or not, they were literally the hottest thing ever, especially if you are into the Bride of Frankenstein look. (Ha). I’d always been big, from junior high on, so to me, I could see past the nightmare to their potential and they were … art.

      My husband is lucky I didn’t divorce him. Who gives their massively stoned wife her cell phone?? This was fortunately still in the age of flip phones so pictures weren’t a real risk or I would have killed him.

    2. AaaahhhhRealMonsters*

      Seconding that! My breast reduction is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I went down NINE cup sizes. I can walk without pain! I can work without being on daily pain meds!

      The pain reduction alone would’ve been worth it. (I didnt take any of my post-op pain meds because the pain from the surgery was so much less than my daily pain that I honestly didn’t need any of it.) But add to that – clothes fit better! People look me in the face! I can buy my bras in person instead of online! I can buy a bra for less than $60 now! I can SLEEP WITHOUT A BRA NOW.

      Seriously, getting a reduction was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m sure I’m a bit off-topic by now, but I am STOKED whenever I see someone else relieved about their reduction. 100% worth it.

      1. I Look Normal Now*

        Likewise–I went from always looking kind of sloppy due to the fact that if my size was otherwise X, in order to accommodate my bosom I had to get clothes in size X+5, even though all the other parts (like my arms, distance across my shoulders, etc) were size X. Some of my first post-surgery purchases were $10 bras and casual tops that button up the front.

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone regretting reduction surgery.

  34. CatPerson*

    Aw, do we have to say good-bye to Mortification Week? This last one was EPIC. I have a pretty good one to share if you decide to repeat it. Thanks for all the laughs!

    1. DesertRose*

      My mom had a good one.

      Her last job before she retired was, basically, as an executive secretary for a US Navy office. Her primary responsibilities were to the commanding officer and executive officer, but she was also the main person to answer the phones.

      There was another office who had a habit of calling them to ask for really weird, random sets of information, then call a few weeks later, ask for a completely different really weird, random set of information, say that was what they’d asked for the first time, and basically make a headache of themselves for my mom.

      So one day, the commanding officer asks my mom to find a really weird, random set of information, and Mom asks, “What dumbass wants THIS?”

      Pause a beat. CO: “I do, [Mom’s first name].”

      Cue my mom falling over herself to tell her boss that she does not, in point of fact, think he’s a dumbass (she didn’t, and he wasn’t). He laughs and tells her not to worry, because he knew why she reacted that way.

  35. curious*

    Alison, how do all-remote companies determine their salary ranges? Is there one salary band for a given position no matter where you live, and if so how would they calculate that? Do companies ever set a new hire’s salary based on the cost of living where they are? I’d never thought about this and I’m super curious now!

    1. CatPerson*

      I know I’m not Alison but I do work in a corporate compensation department. Most large companies base their ranges on geographic differentials based on the cost of labor, not cost of living. That said, one of the outcomes of last year is that companies are now trying to figure out how to me”work from anywhere” policies and whether geographic differentials should be adjusted if associates move. Part of the equation is probably going to be whether the associate is voluntarily moving for personal (vs. job) reasons and whether the company already has associates in the new location. Not to mention the idea of international moves–that’s another whole can of worms. It’s going to be tricky, though, because employees could move to lower COLabor areas, but won’t want to take an associated pay cut. And let’s face it, hot jobs, such as cyber security, that are in high demand, will also factor in to this. Companies all over are working on this and this is just one of the many ways the pandemic has transformed work. Progressive companies will put a lot of thought and effort into thinking about all of the ramifications of this new labor world.

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Also not Allison, but I heard one exec interviewed on NPR from a tech company that made remote work products (Slack? Zoom? I can’t remember but it was a familiar brand) who just paid the same wherever an employee was based. Their theory was the work was worth $X no matter if you were in Bangalore or Boston. I thought that was kind of cool

  36. Jam Today*

    I know its under “mortification” and I’m sure its very embarrassing to the LW but when I read it I thought “I would get that entire exchange professionally written in calligraphy and frame it.” Its magical.

    1. Pushybroad/Hooters Wannabe*

      I’m OP#5 and believe it or not, it was not as mortifying as you’d think. My boss and I were together for a long time and we had that kind of relationship where even though we were completely professional, we knew each other well enough to laugh something like this right off, if that makes sense. I told this story at my boss’s 25th year work anniversary dinner party and brought down the house.

      What’s really funny is that I am kind of a stick in the mud and have never even set foot in a Hooters. Of all the places for my mind to go!!

  37. Spicy Tuna*

    OP3 – years ago, I worked at a large, multinational company that had a unionized workforce and a non-unionized workforce. I was part of the non-unionized workforce.

    The company was negotiating with the union folks, and they refused to come to an agreement on their contract unless the non-union people agreed to a pay reduction. The pay was already awful in my department and the reduction pushed everyone over the edge.

    About 8 or 9 of us in a department of 11 or 12 found new jobs… at three companies. So there was a mass exodus all at the same time, all the to the same three companies!

    We had a regular staff meeting before the mass exodus and someone wrote on the white board, “Resume writing skills for XYZ company”.

    Long story short…. don’t resign jointly, but don’t give it too much thought. A company will cut your pay, reduce your benefits, or lay you off in the name of “productivity”. You are the only one responsible for paying your bills and funding your retirement.

        1. heynonyanon*

          Well then, I agree with you and acmx. I originally thought you meant that the company wouldn’t agree to contact terms (i.e. will agree to give you a raise but only if we can take the money from the non-union workers). The reality makes zero sense to me.

    1. heynonyanon*

      I’ve read this three times and I still can’t figure it out – who was demanding that non-union workers have their pay reduced, the union or the company itself?

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        The union wouldn’t agree to a new contract until pay was reduced for the non-union employees

  38. Sporty Yoda*

    Re #2:
    My PhD advisor also keeps weird hours, to the point that if anything happens we all joke about getting a 2AM email following up about it. He has started adding a line to his signature that just because you receive an email outside of normal business hours doesn’t mean it needs immediate follow up; you can wait until 9-5 the next day to reply to an email sent at midnight. Scheduling emails is great, but depending on your relationship/title/whatever, that may be an option for you as well.

  39. Nope*

    OP #2, I, too, like to send emails in the middle of the night. I have insomnia and am often up at odd hours – why not get stuff done? I have often spoken with teammates and direct reports about how my late night work is not an expectation (or hope!) for anyone else, but I realize that my position as an executive in our company comes with assumptions…. but I will continue to insist that I do not have an desire for anyone else to keep the same schedule as me.
    Regardless, a friend of mine recently found a ‘Truly Human Notice’ in an email that he passed along to me, and I have now included it at the bottom of my email signature. I has been met with both chuckles and appreciation:
    “TRULY HUMAN NOTICE: Getting this email out of normal working hours? We work at a digitally-enabled relentless pace, which can disrupt our ability to sleep enough, eat right, exercise, and spend time with the people that matter most. I am sending you this email at a time that works for me. I only expect you to respond to it during normal business hours or when convenient to you.”
    If you think it might be helpful for you as well, feel free to steal it and adapt so it sounds like you.
    Good luck to you!

    1. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

      I was reading the whole discussion skeptically — how can one possibly trust that one’s boss doesn’t actually expect one to answer 2 am emails at 2:15, no matter what they say, because people, especially people with power, expect impossible things while denying it all the time — but with that Truly Human Notice I would actually believe you.

    2. Clisby*

      During the 17-18 years I worked entirely remotely, I never felt any pressure to answer emails sent after hours. I was on call 24/7, and if there was an actual emergency I had to take care of, they would call me – nobody would even think of relying on email. If it’s not important enough to wake someone out of a deep sleep for, then it’s not important enough to expect a quick emailed answer to.

  40. CoveredInBees*

    Ahhh, I still remember the angel of an anesthesiologist for my c-section. When he found out my inlaws would be visiting once I was in my recovery room, he said, “I’m going to give you a little something that will make you feel very happy for the next 18 hours.” Whatever it was, I felt like I’d had a few glasses of wine. When they came in, I tried to keep from saying anything silly and just smile. When they noted how happy and smiley I was, I informed them that I was high as a kite and giggled. They really had no idea what to do with that.

  41. Kate*

    I borrowed this email signature language from the divine Anne Helen Petersen: “Your working day may not be my working day. Please feel free to respond to this message during your normal working hours.”
    In my role I don’t really have people working *for* me, so I hope that goes far enough to push back against “always on” culture. To me, email is one of the easiest things to do at night or over breakfast in order to flex my hours and be home while kiddo is actually awake.

  42. radfordblue*

    OP 1, your boss failed at one of the most basic duties of being a manager – providing their people with the resources they need to do their jobs. At most, it should have taken one time of you saying “There’s no space here and no one is willing to move at all” for them to sigh in exasperation at the bullheadedness of their team and go in and solve the issue. The fact that they threatened your job over other people’s unwillingness to accommodate you, and that they weren’t willing to do anything themselves, is a HUGE red flag that they are a terrible and unreasonable manager.

  43. Captain Jack*

    #2 Regarding scheduling emails when you send them late at night: better to schedule them all at the exact same time so the person is getting 20 emails at exactly 9:00am, or spread them out to 9:00, 9:03, 9:05, etc?

    1. Allypopx*

      I’d rather get them all at once, personally. I think it would be pretty easy after a few days to just expect “here’s Jack’s morning debrief from his midnight musings” and that would be fine. I think getting n email every couple minutes would be more annoying but that might be a personal preference situation.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      I don’t think it matters. But would you send multiple emails all to the same person? I could see maybe a few, especially if one was part of a chain of communication or going to multiple people. But do people send individual emails for multiple topics? Wouldnt you put all of your info in one email?

      1. Captain Jack*

        These are all communications to the same person, but every email needs to be separated because each communication gets logged into the individual files for tracking purposes. So you can’t send one email on 20 matters. You have to send 20 emails on one matter each. Inefficient yes, but it is how they prefer it.

  44. bananab*

    My problem with late night emailers is twofold. One, while they don’t expect a reply at midnight or whatever, they do seem to subconsciously “start the clock” on an expected reply sooner, even if they know better.

    Two, and a bad combination with the above, these are pretty much the only category of emails I forget to reply to. They either end up buried way at the bottom of my emails for that day, or I happened to see it last night and forgot about it. To avoid this, I end up either making a note to myself at midnight (annoying as I feel that’s actually what the sender might’ve considered), or I pen some hasty reply so I don’t forget about it. I imagine that last part is what gives folks the impression that late night email recipients think they have to reply right away.

    1. Nothing Rhymes With Purple*

      they do seem to subconsciously “start the clock” on an expected reply sooner, even if they know better

      This. And one cannot say “the 6 hours you give me to answer emails started at 2 am!” Because, you know, employment.

      1. bananab*

        You see it a little even in some of the replies here. With suggested email signatures to the effect of “it’s ok to not answer til morning.” Well, depending what we are talking about, I may not be ready with a useful reply in the morning. Personal opinion, in e.g. a scenario where responses are expected within a working day, an email coming in at 2am Monday morning should expect a response by EOB Monday or early Tuesday. Not that morning.

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      When my wife bought me a phone that would receive email, the first thing I did was to turn off the email notifications. If someone needs to contact me for immediate response, they can call me on the phone. I’ll read my emails during normal hours.

      1. bananab*

        Wish I had your discipline. I have notifications on because if I don’t, I just constantly check it instead.

  45. learnedthehardway*

    I am self-employed and have found that while I don’t mind receiving emails from people late at night, it works better for my own work/life balance if I set my outgoing emails to send in the morning.

    I actually work at any / all hours, depending on the project. However, I find that looking like I maintain some kind of work/life balance tends to give me a bit more credibility (I guess people think I have all my ducks organized in rows?) and also somewhat tends to limit the expectation that I will be available at all hours.

    The other thing delaying my responses does is that it gives me TIME to think about what I want to say, without it being obvious that I’m ducking a client’s question / request. There’s some real value to not being totally available.

  46. No Tribble At All*

    OP #3: gosh, if your company didn’t want its employees to be fleeing to their competitors, maybe they shouldn’t treat your like garbage! You don’t owe them loyalty. Say it out loud in the mirror: “I don’t owe them loyalty.”

    Alison’s advice about acting like you’re going to be there up until you give notice is good. From the sounds of it, if your coworker leaves first, they’ll dump everything on you, which would be unsustainable anyway. If your CW leaving makes them actually come up with a good training & responsibilities plan? Good, they’re learning, but don’t stick around based on promises of change. It’s not your responsibility to save this company from themselves.

    1. LW3*

      Thank you, these are good things to remember. Yeah if my coworker goes first, there will immediately be talk of be taking on her responsibilities (without taking anything off of my plate to compensate for that). They’re notoriously slow to hire, so the rest of the team will suffer trying to make up for it. Maybe in a way two people leaving at once will be good because it will be too much to try to make everyone absorb? Maybe? But you’re right, not my responsibility. They had plenty of opportunities to make us not want to leave.

  47. Brooklyn*

    #2, offering a perspective from the other side, I had a boss who didn’t know how to handle higher management and didn’t protect her team or herself. We’d get kicked around from project to project on a whim, be expected to work without support and then be chastised for failing, etc. Every senior member left within a year. Our of the younguns, there were two of us who kept pushing for changes and were branded “trouble makers” and “ungrateful” and “little fuckers who don’t know how good they have it” which is a direct quote from an 11pm email I got.

    I’m not saying you’re a bad manager, or that you would ever write something like that (I hope you wouldn’t!), but I have to admit that every time I tell this story, I finish with something like “And I thought we all learned in middle school not to send angry text messages, but apparently not.”

    That is to say, the timing of such a message carries a connotation that this is what you’ve been obsessing over all day. Even in the case of a normal work email, what doe sit say if you think your boss wakes up at 2am to ask you about an inconsistency in your TPS reports?

  48. What She Said*

    #2 I am begging you please do not send out emails after business hours. Use the send later option or save in drafts and send first thing in the morning.

    I had a boss do this to us and while I refused to respond during off hours many of my teammates did not. It stressed them out so much. I tried telling them to stop responding but they just felt they could not. I tried suggesting they remove their email from their phones and they felt they could not. Tried talking to the boss about it and she was like “I’ll do what I want but I don’t expect a response.” BUT she really did expect a response. This was just a small piece to a much large toxic puzzle. I believe you when you say you really don’t want responses from your team at those hours but believe me, no matter how many times you tell them that some just won’t believe you.

  49. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP #1, I’ve never hired someone/been hired by someone else and not made arrangements/not had arrangements made ahead of time for a work station. There are often things you forget to plan for when hiring, but finding a seat/desk/station is never one of them. Even I was starting at a low level in a job with high turnover where a new person wasn’t a big deal, I was always made to feel welcome and given a place to work. The fact that it was overlooked AND no one would even help you is just mind-boggling.

  50. It’s not COLA!*

    The Lifehacker article isn’t quite right — the local labor market determines salaries. It’s influenced by the cost of living, but companies don’t look at the cost of living when determining pay. For example, imagine a town with two textile mills. One mill shuts down, leaving hundreds of workers with industry-specific skills out of work. The labor market now has excess supply (skilled people) and little demand (just one customer for that talent). These laid-off workers won’t see their cost of living go down — rent stays the same, local restaurants don’t lower prices on the menu, etc. The remaining mill, however, can bring in new workers at a lower base pay; some of those laid-off workers will be willing to take a lower wage in exchange for having a job. The cost of living will influence the floor of what people are willing to accept, but the company isn’t running any calculations on what it costs the average employee to keep their head above water.

    An actual current example is what’s going on with food service workers. The labor market is tight — there isn’t an adequate supply of people willing to work for $9/hour, so prices on that labor supply, i.e. wages, is going up. Underlying cost of living hasn’t changed.

  51. Observer*

    #1 – I’m curious. Was this a reasonable place to work? Were your managers at all competent? I mean the situation you describe just sounds so bizarre and so badly managed. I’m wondering what else was wrong with this place.

  52. sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Letter #1: People get weirdly territorial about their office, desk or work space.

    I was tasked with moving people into new desks and/or helping coordinate moves and furniture; one example was to create four work spaces out of a single man office; another was moving ppl out of desk space that they weren’t using for months so that other people could have badly needed larger space. There was so much push back and crankiness each time. One guy was really peeved that I downsized him but he only spread out his personal stuff on a huge desk and all he did was yak on the phone all day with support, three days a month. I had two people that worked with huge rolls of paper that really needed that space. “Minnnnnnnnnne!” And the reality is, no, it’s not yours. All of my moves made sense operationally but the way people freaked out really makes you wonder.

    I’m thinking the push back must have been so huge, loud and toxic at LW#1’s place that operations just gave up.

  53. Observer*

    #3- I want to point something out, to emphasize something that others have also pointed out. When a company has MULTIPLE people having breakdowns and won’t do anything about it, they lose any eight whatsoever to consideration. Not just loyalty – you don’t owe them even one minute’s worth of consideration!

    Quit when you find a new job and never look back.

  54. Urbanchic*

    I manage a remote team of 50 frequent travellers across 13 time zones and we are constantly having this discussion about hours, core hours, email times, etc. We have opted to do training/support for people to set their own hours and then learn strategies to unplug when not working their hours. I cannot ask our colleague in Singapore to time her emails to only appear during business hours in Atlanta, or our colleague based in chicago travelling in Korea to only send emails in the central time zone. We are in an incredible time when more employers than ever are open to flexible work schedules – meaning people can work early morning, then go on a hike, then log back in later to finish their day or pick their kids up from school. But with this comes the likelihood that more emails could be sent at weird times. I think employers can support employees in setting boundaries for themselves.

  55. Elizabeth Bennett*

    I just wanna say Mortification Week has been my favorite. Alison, I’d love it if this becomes a recurring event. :)

    And OMG, “Me anna girls are going to work at Hooters.” LOL

  56. First time listener, long time caller*

    I don’t enjoy the part of the last letter and all the comments suggesting that, if you give a person a their phone post-surgery, you are responsible for their stoned actions. Have you ever tried withholding a phone from a person in a hospital on opiates? The nurses don’t like it when they push the call button to demand the nurse demand that you give them their phone.
    How about some personal responsibility, people?

    1. Happy*

      Personal responsibility while people are heavily impaired by necessary drugs and have no idea what they are doing?

      That’s absurd.

      It’s a good thing for loved ones to protect people from themselves in that situation by withholding phones, etc.

    2. Pushybroad/Hooters Wannabe*

      Personal responsibility? Dude, I was on IV MORPHINE. I couldn’t even get the straw from my water glass to my mouth in one try. Hubby pretty much held all the cards. That’s why you have someone with you to look out for your best interests – even the law says you are legally incapacitated when you’re under the influence of pain killers, especially to that degree.

      I also had tubes and drains EVERYWHERE. Yes, EVERYWHERE. What was I gonna do to him if I asked for my phone & he said no? Get up and chase him down?

    3. Observer*

      I was with you till the last line. It can be hard to not give someone their phone. True. So, we need to not blame people when stuff goes wrong as a result of giving a person their phone.

      But if you didn’t notice, what people are describing is stuff that they actually, really couldn’t help. These drugs absolutely DO mess with people’s minds. And it doesn’t matter how “responsible” someone is.

  57. Amandalikeshummus*

    In honor of Mortification Week, I have a story that could have been horrifying if anyone really noticed:

    I am a cantor at a Catholic church. This means that I sing at the microphone, leading the congregation in song. Since it’s Catholic, many people don’t sing, so my voice is prominent. Over the years, many interesting things have come out of my mouth accidentally, but this one takes the cake.

    The line in the hymn is: “Let angels prostrate fall.”
    What I sang that day was: “Let angels’ prostates fall.”

    Now, whenever All Hail the Power of Jesus Name comes up, I can’t help but think of those poor angels and their prostates.

  58. SnappinTerrapin*

    LW1: Your workplace appears to be governed by the law of the jungle.

    Keep your claws sharp. You’ll need them again.

  59. EngineerMom*

    Mortification week was awesome! I seriously needed some giggles this week, it really helped me get through to Friday!

    Way to go out with a BANG!

  60. So sleepy*

    Letter #5, I just had the WORST DAY EVER, and now I can’t stop grinning and trying not to laugh! This makes me almost feel better about the time I accidentally showed my boss a photo of a positive pregnancy test before telling anyone but my spouse that I was pregnant!

  61. Nanani*

    From the headline I thought #1 was going to be about a prank where you move everything 2 inches one way and see who notices.
    This was not what I expected.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Same; this was so much more ridiculous! I can say I have never once been responsible for making space for myself at the office. That sounds so extremely unreasonable that the boss didn’t take care of this for them.

  62. Kevin Sours*

    I feel like something workers really need to internalize is that it’s not their job to want to stay in a position, it’s their management’s job to make the position a place they want to stay. And if they don’t do that *before* you say you are leaving you should be *very* skeptical of efforts made after you say you are leaving.

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