I’m not included in meetings about my team’s work, my boss says remote workers should get paid less, and more

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

1. Do executives prefer advice from consultants rather than their own staff?

I just finished attending a presentation from consultants to me, my boss, and a few other members of our executive team. The consultants just finished their research project and this was their final presentation with their recommendations. I was surprised to see that probably 80% of the consultants’ recommendations were things that I and other junior/mid-level staff have already been advocating for — sometimes for years and sometimes in similar, formal presentations to these same executives — and we’ve always met a brick wall. But now, suddenly, the executives loved the consultants’ presentation and praised them for their great suggestions and insight. Am I wrong to be annoyed? Do all executives sometimes need to hear an idea from a source outside the company before they take it seriously, or are my company’s executives particularly obtuse?

Nope, it’s really, really common — so common that in a lot of workplaces it’s a running joke that if you want a change enacted, you need to get a consultant to recommend it.

I don’t know what the psychology of it is — probably that when they’re paying exorbitant consulting fees, they assume the advice must be top-notch (it’s the old “you value what you pay for” — they’re paying employees too, of course, but they’re usually paying consultants far more)… and when they’re hiring consultants to solve problems, they’re committed to taking action in a way they aren’t when employees initiate a conversation about change … and consultants tend to be viewed as “experts” in a way that regular employees aren’t (even though employees are far more steeped in the day-to-day of whatever they’re giving advice on).

And yes, it’s annoying.

2. I’m not included in meetings about my team’s work

I’m in my first management role and was promoted to supervisor of a newly created team eight months ago. I enjoy the work and have received good feedback from my boss.

However, I work in an environment where it’s common for managers from other departments to initiate ad hoc tasks for my department. Often, I’m not included in those emails/meetings although the issue is directly related to my team’s work. I don’t know if I’m taking it too personally or if this is normal, but I feel that I’m missing out on important information, and I’m wondering why this keeps happening and why I’m often the last one to know about an issue.

Sometimes I find out that there was a meeting by coincidence, or they realize afterwards I should have been there and tell me, or one of my team members mentions the issue in one of our 1:1 meetings. Other times the meeting invite is forwarded to me 10 minutes before the meeting starts although it was planned for a week.

I’ve spoken to my manager about this and she told me to stand up for myself and that I should insist on being included. Among most managers, it’s improved after I’ve reminded them a few times, but it’s been quite exhausting for me to go through that process with several different managers.

However, it still happens that other managers (including my own) directly contact or set up meetings with my team members without including me. My team members also sometimes don’t include me in the related status updates. I really don’t want to be a controlling micromanager who must be included in every small thing, but I still feel left out and kind of useless when I’m not included in this type of discussions. What’s your advice?

First things first: do you need to be included in these meetings and emails? There are lots of contexts where a manager wouldn’t need to be, so make sure you’re not insisting on it just because you’re the boss.

But if there are work-related reasons you need to be in the loop, the biggest lever you have for that is with your own staff members since they’re the ones who are accountable to you. Tell them that if they’re approached about things like X or Y by other teams, they need to loop you in (and explain why so it’s clear you’re not just asserting power for power’s sake). Request that they get in the habit of alerting you early (not 10 minutes before a meeting that’s been scheduled for days) — and then hold them to that, like you would any other requirement of their jobs.

Also, with managers who frequently leave you out, it might help to set up short, regular check-in’s with them (every week or every two weeks or whatever makes sense) so you have a set time to hear about anything involving your team and can put yourself into the loop if you spot areas where you need to.

3. New employee of my old, bad manager won’t stop asking for my help

I recently was promoted out of my old position and into a new role. I’m loving the new job for so many reasons, one of them being that I’m no longer working for my old manager who was an underachiever and heavily relied on me to do a large amount of their work. Now that I’ve gotten away from my old boss, a new person was hired to replace me. The new hire has reached out to me week after week asking for help with at least one request or question. While they are very nice and I sympathize with the below-average management I know they are receiving, I’m starting to get annoyed with how often they are turning to me as a resource. I left detailed documentation of reports and processes they can refer to and I would expect my old boss to be able to handle any questions beyond that.

I haven’t mentioned anything to my new boss, as I make sure that the help I’m lending doesn’t interfere with my current job responsibilities. However the new hire is on Pacific time and I’m on Eastern time, so most of the time I set aside to help flows into my evenings. How do I handle this? Should I reach out to my old boss to say that I’m being used too often as a resource? Should I mention it to my new boss so he’s aware of the time I’m spending (about an hour per week)?

I’ve told the new hire that they should ask my old boss for better direction and only come back to me if they’re stumped. However, I know my old boss is terrible with instruction. And I feel bad going to my old boss because it could come off as 1) telling on the new hire 2) telling my old boss they’re not doing a good job teaching the new hire. And if I go to my new boss, it seems like I can’t handle a simple problem on my own.

You don’t need to do either of those things!

I know this is complicated by the fact that you’re still working in the same company but you can probably just … stop helping. Tell the new person that your new job is keeping you very busy and you have a lot of commitments outside of work, so you won’t be able to keep answering questions but you left detailed documentation behind that they can check. Then if they keep contacting you after that, repeat that you’re sorry but can’t keep helping and they should check with their boss.

I know you feel guilty because your crappy old boss probably isn’t helping, but this isn’t your job anymore! And really, that crappy situation is going to continue, and you can’t keep doing your old boss’s job indefinitely. You need to cut the cord, and it’s reasonable to cut it now. Your replacement will figure things out like you did, or they’ll realize it’s a bad situation and leave, or they’ll otherwise figure out how to handle things. Spending four years making things go smoothly for your old boss might have you conditioned to feel like you need to keep doing it, but you don’t.

It would be different if your new boss had asked you to keep helping your old team, but it doesn’t sound like it’s the case. And if she ever asks you about it, you can explain that you helped out in the evenings for weeks, but have directed the new person to the extensive documentation that you left for her.

4. Should remote workers be paid less because they have fewer work-related expenses?

My boss was talking about the logistics of remote work, and one of the things mentioned was that he thinks your salary takes things like business clothes and commuting into account — and therefore, if you were to work remotely, you would probably end up taking pay cuts because their employers would say that if you don’t have those expenses, you don’t need as much pay. I don’t think this makes sense! I do think that your employer should pay you a living wage, and if you have costs like business clothes and travel, that it makes sense to take that into account. But I don’t think the reverse applies, as your expenses are not your employer’s business. What do you think?

For what it’s worth, I am not specifically compensated at my job for my commuting costs or time, or for office wear. I actually assumed that I was being paid what my work is worth, not taking expenses into consideration at all, so this was odd to hear from my boss’s perspective.

Yeah, his argument is odd. And bad! That’s not how it works; salaries are based on the market rate for the work and its value to the company. What if you lived a block away and walked to work — would he think an employer should use that as a reason to pay you less?

People sometimes do argue, for example, that low-paying jobs shouldn’t expect them to wear formal clothes, but that’s more about “I’m not being paid a wage that makes that expense reasonable,” not an indication that costs like business clothes are literally factored into your salary.

If it comes up again, you should point out that working remotely can shift significant costs from the employer to the employee (such as work space, internet, furniture, supplies, and utilities) and ask if he supports increasing remote workers’ pay for taking on those costs.

5. People who cancel at the last minute

I play guitar in a classic rock cover band, and I love playing with the people in the band, but it has been difficult to get together to rehearse to work on playing gigs again. I’ve reached out to my vocalist, and it sometimes takes four or five days before I hear back, although sometimes it’s quicker. I’ve decided to start a second band to see if it would be easier to get something else going while I’m waiting on the others to get back to me.

Fast forward to the last week or so, several people have messaged me and agreed to come down for a try-out, but then texted me saying they aren’t going to come down, or have even emailed me 20 minutes after we were supposed to start the audition, saying they can’t come and they want to reschedule. I know musicians are a ridiculous bunch, but I’m tired of the flakes. I plan on telling the guy who didn’t message me until 20 minutes into the audition no. What would you suggest I tell him?

You don’t need to explain why or try to teach them a lesson or anything. The easiest thing is to just say, “Thanks, but I’m going to move forward with other people.”

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    [blockquote]What if you lived a block away and walked to work — would he think an employer should use that as a reason to pay you less?[/blockquote]

    Agreed. And conversely if you live several hours commute away or in another city would you get a raise to cover the increased commuting cost?

    1. Cmdrshpard*

      This is similar to what google and other companies have done, but rather than connect salary to in office or remote work, it is based on where you are located for the remote work.

      So people that worked in silicon valley could see their pay cut. If you live in the valley and go remote your pay stays the same, but if you live further away in a lower COL area and go completely remote, your pay could be reduced. I think the further away you live the greater the reduction.

      I don’t know how I feel about it. On one hand i get it if someone goes remote and moves to middle of nowhere Kansas the COL will be a lot less. On the other the person in Kansas is doing the same amount of work as a person working remote from the valley.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes, one notable exception to the salary issue is hiring for high COL areas – there has traditionally been a premium paid for professional salaries in areas with high COL, in order to attract and maintain talented people. (There are also, however, a lot of jobs which pay near minimum wage regardless of location). So with fully remote work, if the person doesn’t need to be in an expensive area to do the job, and they’ve got a good pool of candidates, there is no incentive to pay Silicon Valley salaries. If they need someone to be living in commuting distance for occasional in person events, there is.

        1. MAVM*

          I live in NY in this has caused a huge issue. NYC salaries are considerably higher than upstate areas. This is reasonable because the COL is so much higher. Unfortunately, many NYC people have moved upstate to work from home. This has caused increases in the housing market effectively making it difficult for local people to afford housing.

            1. Bluenoser*

              And they’re not just moving farther out in the GTA, The prices are going crazy here in the Maritimes for this very reason.

            2. a tester, not a developer*

              The only (tiny) bright spot is there’s more discussion about commuter buses or rail from places like London to the GTA for remote workers that need to go in periodically. The province has done some test runs of GO trains recently.

            3. Risha*

              I just finally got approved yesterday for an apartment in South Jersey after apartment hunting since late May. By the end, I was looking at a roughly 150 mile circle covering parts of NJ, PA, DE, and MD (which includes at least two states I’ve never had a desire to live in), and it was literally the first acceptable apartment I had found. Never mind the sky-high prices, there’s just no stock available anywhere right now.

              1. Risha*

                For the record, Jersey was my first choice. This apartment isn’t in the exact town or county I was originally aiming for but matches on nearly every other point, so I’m happy anyway.

            4. Canadian Librarian #72*

              Frankly the cost of housing in Toronto and the GTA has been insane for over a decade. I’ve been renting here for about as long and I’ve only seen rents go up. I’m seeing basement apartments at like Finch and Steeles go for nearly 2k by now.

          1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

            I live in Maine, 2 hours north of Boston, and houses have been selling in days to people from out of state who don’t even like at them before buying. Houses here have almost doubled in cost. And rentals are brutal in Portland and along the coast.

            1. Okay, great!*

              Same thing going on in Cincinnati. Housing prices have doubled, tripled in some locations. A lot of the houses are bought sight unseen. It’s making affordable housing for local people difficult. My husband and I are trying to find a home now that we have a little one, and it’s not easy.

              1. Florida checks in*

                Florida too! We’ve been in our home 20+ years and aren’t going anywhere, but my son has started looking. He makes a great salary but he’s been priced out. And our area generally has always had affordable housing.

              2. Fran Fine*

                This is happening to the rent prices in Cincy, too. I wanted to move this year, but couldn’t find anything reasonable (not even in my current building), so I stayed put. Hopefully, these prices come down so I can move next year.

            2. AnonInCanada*

              Same thing going on here. People moving to the outer outer burbs, or even cottage country, driving real estate values up through the roof in those parts Over 90% of Toronto’s suburbs have average home prices over $1 million now.

            3. Dark Roast Only Please*

              I grew up in SoPo and I used to think, well, at least I can probably afford property if I’m willing to move home. Not anymore.

          2. Not playing your game anymore*

            Heck even in little old South Dakota, housing prices are skyrocketing. We saw an influx of people running from the pandemic and with the ability to work remotely it’s just crazy. I could easily sell my house for twice what I paid for it 10 years ago. We in Rapid City have never had sufficient rental housing and things are worse now.

            We’ve always had snowbirds and now… well let me tell you about a friend of a friend of mine. He specialized in a very niche area of veterinary service. Let’s say he did Llama dermatology. He was living in Llamaville and making a very nice living, he came home once a quarter or so and treated a few clients as a visiting specialist, but he wanted to get closer to home, his folks were getting on and he was tired of the traffic and so on. He lived here, saw patients a couple of days a month, went back to his practice for a week at a time then did visiting specialist gigs at several different practices around the world. The pandemic knocked that model for a loop and he retired. But we are seeing quite a few people who do something similar. Piliots based in LA or NY, etc. Housing is/was cheap compared to the national average, lots of people would like to spend part of the year here, either for the nice summers or winter sports or… people who make way more money than in normal locally. Meanwhile, of course local people are being priced out of the housing market.

            1. A Feast of Fools*

              My ex’s nephew and his wife are moving to Hot Springs, SD next week. The housing prices are so crazy that they bought a 5th wheel RV to live in for the time being. (And to travel in).

              I searched on Zillow for homes similar to mine (in Dallas) and — holy hell — the prices are similar.

          3. Berms*

            I live in a wonderful neighborhood about 30 miles outside of DC. It’s a quiet forested enclave of family homes on lots of more than an acre but convenient to shopping, medical care, etc. The schools are considered petty good. The community is very diverse and, pre-covid, there was lots going on.
            This is a neighborhood where. after we raised our kids and they moved on, a lot of us have stayed into retirement because we can’t think of any place better to live. Until now it was an affordable community . We have seen the value of our homes rise over the years but, since the housing bubble burst in 2008, the increased value has been pretty gradual, that is until covid hit. Four houses near mine sold were put on the market since last fall and three of them sold in days for about 100K over list price which were already 150-200k above 2019 levels. (The other got a bit above list but was an estate sale and needed some updating.)
            Other neighborhoods are seeing the same kind of price increases which leaves me and others wondering how many folks can afford them. It’s driving out people on the lower end of economic scale, including my own kid. Since our real estate taxes are based on actual market value, I expect my taxes to jump next year. On a lot of levels, I would happily stay here forever but higher taxes will likely force me and others like me to go elsewhere .

        2. ConchRepublicDemocrat*

          I’ve had a home on Key West for the past decade or so. Prices have been high easily for the past 5-6 years, but the volume of sales was not (because expensive and not a big area).

          I talked to a realtor I know – just in the last 12 months, the *number* of real estate sales has *quadrupled* here! In his words, everybody is trying to live in a “dream area” (which we aren’t to be honest) and continue remote work from there. Even boat slips (for people on liveaboards who send off their work via satellite uplinks) are sky high.
          And rental prices are the same as in New York. I would not be able to live here if I had to move here now.
          All the normal people who work in retail, construction, service industry etc. are crammed into continuously worse housing (trailer parks, two to a room in shared apartments etc.) or just leaving the island. Our infrastructure is starting to fail for lack of these people… because of the remote work of the lucky few with above average pay.

        3. some dude*

          This is something that worries me, because I live near Silicon Valley. My salary could easily be 30%- 50% less if I lived in the rural south, for example. We get paid more in part because we live in a really expensive area, and the idea is the talent is better in said area (anecdoteally I think that is true, if only because the talent in a metropolis of 10 M people, many of whom are white collar professionals who moved there for work is statistically going to be better than the talent in a state of 10M people).

          But part of the reason why it is so expensive is because jobs are concentrated in these metro areas, and by and large the metro areas haven’t had the will or time to build housing for the additional workers, thus driving up housing costs. And then those employees with six figure salaries move into towns where everyone is making $40K, and it screws up everything.

          1. TardyTardis*

            This is why San Francisco built apartments specifically for teachers, because otherwise teachers were never going to be able to afford living there and um, teaching.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              Teachers in San Jose want this too–except people don’t want poor folks like teachers living in apartments nearby, so the NIMBYism is strong.

      2. Krabby*

        Yeah, I’m so on the fence about this.

        Like, for teachers where I live, salary is on a sliding scale depending on the COL where you teach. It doesn’t make sense to pay all teachers the same because then either the downtown teachers can’t afford to live within 100kms of their work, or our rural teachers are living in mansions (not that teachers don’t deserve mansions, but you get what I mean).

        But then, with remote work, why does it matter where you are?

        I’m really interested to see how this shakes out, because I think standards are being set now that will be in place for many years to come, and I don’t know what the right answer is.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          My bet is that the high salaries, like the tech salaries in the Bay area, will go down for fully remote work, and employers will hire from a wider range of locations – the much larger pool of candidates looking for remote work will offset the reluctance of currently high paid employees to take a salary cut for remote work. There are a lot of people who can’t/won’t/don’t want to move to expensive cities with long commutes but who would like the work and be good at it. Employers who want their employees to regularly be in their Silicon Valley office will still need to pay the premium to get it.

          Ultimately, it would be really good if some of the current pressure is taken off the cities. The current situation is really horrible for the lower paid employees who actually keep the city running, who can’t work remotely, but don’t get offered tech (or finance, or high level government) salaries in compensation.

          1. Scarlet2*

            “Ultimately, it would be really good if some of the current pressure is taken off the cities. The current situation is really horrible for the lower paid employees who actually keep the city running, who can’t work remotely, but don’t get offered tech (or finance, or high level government) salaries in compensation.”

            This. So much.
            Affordable housing is increasingly becoming a thing of the past (and you don’t even need to be in a big city to experience it anymore) and it’s just awful for anyone who’s earning a low (or even average) salary.

            1. quill*

              Yeah, housing overall is going to crash very soon – and then hopefully (?) stabilize a bit. Rent is going to have to stop increasing too… the economy is going more than a little nuts.

            2. jojo*

              Small apartments here run 900 to 1300 per month plus some charge monthly fee if you have a pet. My mortgage was 450 per month and a nearby house that is smaller than mine with a smaller yard was 900. Plus rentals get charged more for electric and water.

          2. Koalafied*

            Yes, I think long-term if the remote work revolution eases housing pressure in the cities and drives it up a bit in the outer areas, that will normalize the cost of living somewhat – the cities will still be pricier, I’m sure, but it may end up being a +10-20% in cost of living instead of a +50-100%. (Numbers made up for example’s sake.)

            And then as you say, if a company in the city still wants employees in the office, they’d have to pay that extra 10-20% to attract quality employees who are willing to come in, but if they don’t particularly care they could pay less and it would be up to the employee whether they want to shell out more to live in the city or stretch their salary further in the suburbs/country.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ve been wondering about this because I’d totally be willing to live IN the city in my chosen market(s), and I do want to be onsite as much as possible once it’s safe. Although I appreciate being able to WFH during bad weather or if I have a delivery /repair scheduled, I don’t like being fully remote. I want to get out of the house!

              So if the salaries go up and the rents stabilize because everyone is moving to the boonies, maybe that will help me? *fingers crossed*

        2. NerdyKris*

          But that’s more of a general cost of living issue, not an individual expense. When you start breaking their budget down to line items and saying “If you cut this thing from your budget we can pay you less”. With cost of living, it’s everything that’s more expensive, not just paying $100 extra dollars a week in gas.

        3. MAVM*

          It drives up the housing costs because people will rent/sell to the person who can pay the most. This makes it difficult for people working in theses areas to afford housing.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        The “problem” is that the company could decide to pay a market rate wage for a low COL location and only hire in rural areas.

        I don’t know what remote work will do when so much of market rate of work is dependent on the COL where the employee lives. When companies can allow people to work from “anywhere” (legal restrictions apply), do they take into account the COL for the guy who lives in NYC because they want to live in NYC and because the company requires or encourages it?

        I don’t know the answer. I;m curious to see how it all shakes out; although, the shaking out process will take many, many years.

    2. Xenia*

      I think the only way that this would make sense to me is in the context of accepting WFH as a perk—so if you’ve got a job offer that has a limited starting salary you can negotiate some WFH days as an additional benefit, like getting more vacation days or a flexible work day, which are both things we’ve seen Alison suggest before. But that’s not because of things like salary or commuting, it’s supplementing one benefit (if you feel WFH is a benefit for you) with another.

    3. Snow Globe*

      What is likely to happen long term is that if more people decide they prefer remote work, companies that want people in the office will have to pay a premium because there will be a smaller pool of candidates that want to work in the office. Many people will be willing to take lower pay for a fully remote job. As Alison said, it’s not about the expenses, it’s about the market rate for the job, which is largely based on how many qualified people there are who would be willing to do the job.

    4. Nurse Rachet*

      For someone in a job that cannot be done from home my perspective is people that are able to work from home should be paid on the lower end of the wage scale appropriate to cost of living and expected salary for where they live. There is a huge savings even factoring a home office setup and internet and phone costs. People who work from home do not need to schedule days off to wait for a plumber, get appliances delivered. They do not need to pack a lunch. Some can roll out of bed and start working. Plus all the time saved on commenting. It doesn’t matter if you live 10 min away for 2 hours away. There is a savings. You can go walk your dog on a break. You can be doi g laundry while on a conference call.

      1. CatsOnAKeyboard*

        But my company makes a profit on every piece of work I do. So you’re basically saying that they should make an even bigger profit since I’m working from home because I should get paid less … (and to be truthful, they’re benefitting even more from my wfm than I am … they were going to have to expand office space and now don’t)

        I should get paid a fair wage based on my work, regardless of if I am doing that work in pajamas or a suit.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I should get paid a fair wage based on my work, regardless of if I am doing that work in pajamas or a suit.

          This.

        2. RetailEscapee*

          Agreed agreed agreed. Once the company I work for is no longer paying for commercial space the savings to them is much greater than the savings to me. Why should their profit increase while I take a cut?

        3. OldAdmin*

          “…and to be truthful, they’re benefitting even more from my wfm than I am … they were going to have to expand office space and now don’t)…”

          Same here! After a poll showed 50% of the employees want to continie work from at least part of the week, our company moving plans have been scrapped, saving huge costs (that partially are on us now – electricity, heating/cooling, work space/desk/chair complying with company standards strictly enforced etc.).
          We might in future hot desk the partially remote employees (a new problem unto itself), and either move to a much smaller space or not at all.

          1. GreenDoor*

            Came here to say the same. Husband and I worked from home since the onset of the pandemic. Our electric and water bills have gone up. I have two more loads of laundry to do with all the hand and dish towels we go through eating and working at home. Our heating bills went up a lot too – normally we turn the heat down when we’re all away at school/work but we’ve had to keep it up higher all winter (6- months in my area). If anything, I’ve saved my employer a lot of money!

        4. A Feast of Fools*

          And not just the benefit of savings in the form of less physical office space and all of its costs.

          My company benefits from my extra hours. And from the fact that those hours are more productive because I’m not dead tired from waking up at 5:30 AM to leave my house by 7:00 AM so I can be sure my butt is in my cube by 8:00 AM; then not getting home until 7:00 PM and trying to cram allllllll of my household chores and self-care into the 2.5 hours before I have to go to bed at 9:30 PM in an attempt to get eight hours of sleep (hahahaha) before the alarm goes off at 5:30 AM again.

          I am a better employee and a better asset to the company when working remotely.

      2. lost academic*

        If you really want to make that argument you need to take a much broader look at the costs and savings associated here. Not every position would allow for all the flexibility you cite either. You just can’t limit the assessment to the handful of things you consider off the top of your head. At the end of of the day, most people would need an entirely different HOME to work from home as a matter of course.

        1. Duckles*

          Right? I’ve been remote for several years and renting a place large enough for a home office is the biggest WFH expense by far. WFH literally shifts square footage and utilities costs to employees it’s not a cheaper solution for people overall, even with some company reimbursements.

          1. Junior Dev*

            yes! I was looking at moving earlier this year to save money — I had a two-bedroom I’d been sharing with a roommate, but they moved out and I didn’t want to get another roommate. I decided against it because anywhere that cost significantly less would have a lot less space, and not be divided up well for having a dedicated office. I make enough now to afford it, but it definitely makes it harder for me to save money and pay down debts.

        2. Kathlynn (Canada)*

          Exactly. I can rent a 1 bedroom apartment or room in an apartment from 400-900 dollars/m. Goes up to 1200-1600 for 2 bedrooms. And I really don’t want to work in my bedroom. if my desk would even fit in the room (it’s a corner desk, as I need 3 monitors). I get paid minimum wage, and cannot afford to pay for 2 rooms. (but my health can’t afford me not working at home) right now I’m living with a family member and get cheaper then normal rent. Don’t want to live with her for ever though (that is also not good for my health)

      3. Jennifer Strange*

        Except there are increased expenses with working from home as well, including a higher usage of all utilities (electric, water, gas) and even things like toilet paper and napkins. It may not sound like a lot, but it adds up, and it’s a cost that the employer is no longer taking on (at least not to such a degree).

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          I’ve been home for almost 18 months because of Covid. I love it, and would like to stay that way.
          If it came down to, “you are getting a pay cut because you have fewer business expenses,” I’d definitely reply with, “I’ve absorbed the company’s business expenses. I have a third of my living room set up as an office. A desk, a chair, a table all dedicated to work. I have pens, pencils, paper for work. A mouse and keyboard. (They gave us a laptop dock and external monitor if we wanted, but no mouse or keyboard.) And of course wifi in addition to Jennifer Strange’s list.
          My company is overall great and I have no complaints, but OP’s boss needs to realize, if he wants to crunch the numbers, he’s going to lose.

        2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

          This! I did not have the internet at home until WFH began. I live in a rural area with only 1 provider available. $120 a month. $110 if you sign a 2 year contract. That is an expense I only have due to WFH. I had my utilities set on a programable timer so the heat kicked way down and the ac kicked way up during the day while I was gone. Not possible with WFH. I had to purchase a desk $75 off craigslist and a chair $15 off craigslist. Yes I am home if the handyman has to drop by but before I could take PTO to cover those things. And now unless I actually get Covid or hit by a boss I am not likely to ever get to use most of my paid sick leave. Roughly once a month I still have to go into the office so I’m still paying car insurance and having to have office appropriate clothes even if its less then before.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            Ooooooh, you bring up a good point about PTO! Minor illnesses that would have previously kept me home won’t really factor in as much (I wouldn’t want to go into the office with a cold, for example, for fear of passing it along, but could definitely work from home with one). Also, snow days! Previously if the snow made the roads bad enough they’d give us the day off. Now, there’s an expectation that you’ll still get your work done (allowing for things like loss of power, school closures, shoveling, etc.).

      4. Brrrr*

        I suspect a lot of people would not take a job where salaries are determined this way. My salary should be determined solely be the company’s and my negotiations about my work and my role in the company.

        Last year I tracked work-from-home costs and savings against the previous years of working in the office, and found that, if I did want to entertain this nickel-and-dime-ing about the relative costs associated with my commute, clothing, etc. vs. work from home costs in my salary negotiations, I would come out with a higher salary for working at home. This is primarily because I live in a cold climate, in a wood-heated home, and the extra fire wood required to heat to occupiable conditions on weekdays through the cold months far exceeds my former commuting costs, even based on the federal mileage rate.

        Yes I spent less on clothing – but more on electricity.
        Yes I have time previously spent commuting, and I have more flexibility for things like the occasional appliance delivery – and the trade off is less clear delineation between work and personal time. I’m contacted frequently after work hours, and I spend a lot of the time that I used to spend commuting on work.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Very much. Remember the boss who wanted OP to bring in monthly expenses so he could determine if she really “needed” a raise? Not “deserved a raise for her work” but if she was living within her means and not wasting “his money.”

        2. banoffee pie*

          Yeah you could arguably be spending more on food working from home, if your work has a free or subsidised canteen. And what if you dress formally all the time (some ppl do) and don’t need to buy extra clothes for work? Then you wouldn’t ‘deserve’ the ‘clothing allowance money’ for coming intom the office. I don’t think bosses should be second guessing your spending to this extent, because they don’t always get it right, and also, butt out ;)

      5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        But that simply opens the door for people asking for more pay because they’ve got more expenses (which is the flip side of your coin). Should a person working from home get more money because they have childcare costs? Should a disabled person coming into work get paid more for the struggle to get up and dressed and in?

        One cannot base a person’s pay on their expenses. It’s based on what the job is and how well they do it.

        1. Kal*

          I would love it if my partner was paid a bunch more based on the fact that I am disabled and have very limited jobs I can do (so I’m unemployed now) and because that comes with a bunch of extra costs as well. But organising pay that way could lead to a whole lot of nonsense.

          I once applied to a scholarship that was based this way, as a sort of needs-based system. At the time I couldn’t afford to buy things like clothes or enough food, so I only bought what I could. But according to the scholarship, that meant I was living within my means and wasn’t needy enough to qualify. So I technically did a fraud by pretending I ate an almost normal amount of food and bought more clothes and necessities than I actually did so I could qualify as having enough expenses to count as poor enough. So that’s just one example of the silliness that can happen in a system where compensation is determined by expenses.

      6. MissBaudelaire*

        Kind of depends on the job, doesn’t it?

        When I start working, I can’t leave. Period. I can’t go let in the plumber. I can’t be folding laundry while we’re in conferences. I can’t load the dishwasher on a break. I’m not even promised breaks, depending on the day. If it’s a rough day, I *might* be able to dodge out to the kitchen and snatch a bag of chips and duck back in. Maybe. I’ve accounted for this and have a mini fridge, but still. That’s a luxury.

        I don’t think I should be paid less. I’m doing the same amount of work as people who are in person. Sometimes I’m even asked to do more, because I’m home and don’t have to drive. I’m asked to start earlier, stay later.

        Consider too most people I know didn’t buy a house with two extra offices. In my area, in order to get that kind of space you’d be paying a higher mortgage–if you could even get a house. (See discussions of housing markets elsewhere in this thread.) So my mortgage goes up so I can have an office that meets the requirements of my job, but I should get paid less than someone who goes in? Sure, they have to drive in and park, but I had to get another Internet plan to accommodate my data use, and run my A/C more, and use more electricity in general. And my energy provider did crappy ‘summer rates’ during peak times, which is most of the work day! They said they did this so that we’d be more environmentally friendly.

        So no, I think I wholeheartedly disagree with being paid less just because I work from home. I’m still working and my work has the same value, no matter where I do it.

      7. BelleMorte*

        another consideration for WFH people that hasn’t made the list is that the expectations of availability is a lot different. So many places that previously may have stopped work at 5 because that’s when you went home are now expecting you to work later, check in during the evening because hey, the laptop is right there so can you “just send me a file” etc. They are also saving on thing like employee perks (food, events, equipment, cleaners). I think that employers who are stamping their feet and saying they should be paid less are not really thinking of the big picture. Perhaps a better way to look at it is paying a premium for in-house staff who are willing to come to the office, (similar to how premiums are paid to those who are willing to work in SFO) rather than reducing market rates for remote work.

      8. wouldn't they*

        I also think people are missing the point that job X in San Francisco pays much differently than job X in Post Falls Idaho. Market does matter. If company X is advertising for Job X all over the country for work from home, I would expect they would have market research to back up what Job X would pay in those locations.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, when I was just recently promoted to a comms manager role in my current company, my new manager made sure I got a sizable pay increase to my base salary (took a pretty steep cut to my bonuses though). The reason? She wanted to get me to what the starting salary would be for this role in my city (which is almost a grand less than the national average). My company is headquartered in a state that neither she nor I live in either.

      9. Faith the twilight slayer*

        I… what. The proper response to situations like this is to GIVE perks to someone who comes in to make up for the advantages that people get by staying home, not by taking away anyone’s pay. Perhaps in-office meals or snacks, or extra PTO to balance out the time needed for household issues. I can’t imagine my response to someone if they looked me in the eyes and said my time and effort is essentially worth LESS simply because I produce my work from a different location.

        I mean, I can, but that language isn’t appropriate here.

        1. Brent*

          So you agree that the office workers should get some perks, but the perks can’t be higher wages? Would cash bonuses be ok?

      10. Sleeve McQueen*

        But if I am WFH I still need to make that lunch? And it’s the same lunch that I would take into the office (leftovers from dinner). Also, I feel like this is veering into “paying people on how much they need the money” territory which pisses me off enough when people try to play that card on Survivor (the point of the game isn’t “who deserves the money most based on personal circumstances”) let alone in real life. And how would you means test any of this? If I am going to the office I can swing by the supermarket next door, but if I am home I would need to drive to the shop, so in that sense there’s not a savings.

    5. BRR*

      I previously had a job in NYC and lived in the distant suburbs of NJ. It was roughly $30 a day in commuting costs, which I knew about when I accepted the job. I asked for a raise and an additional work from home day since I was traveling almost 4 hours sometimes to just work on my computer and not even speak to anybody in the office. My manager offhandedly said the additional work from home day was basically a raise and I flat out replied that my compensation never took into my account my commuting costs. I remember possibly saying something about then needing to discuss back pay to take into account my previous commuting costs but that might have been an internal monologue.

  2. Roeslein*

    OP#4’s boss perspective doesn’t make any sense to me. If anything, working from home is more expensive. In the sort of city where I live, moving to an apartment with a spare room to use as an office (so you don’t have to work from your bedroom or kitchen table, which is bad for optics, work-life balance and mental health) costs a lot of money (significantly more than the monthly public transport pass), and not everyone wants to move to suburbs. Also, heating etc. I took a job out expecting my employer to provide me with office space. If they’re not going to do, I believe I should be compensated more, not less.

    1. august*

      I think it would depend on different circumstances which is more cost efficient. Some days prior there was an ask about a whole team quitting if they return to office because it would cost them more.

      That doesn’t mean the employers shouldn’t compensate for an appropriate work space for those that do remote work though.

    2. MK*

      As Alison said, the salary is supposed to be determined by the market, and supply and demand plays a big role in that. Right now, there is a loud slice of the workforce proclaiming they never want to work in an office again. If they are a majority, and they do indeed stick to their guns about only wanting remote work, it may well lead to an overall reduction of salary; employers being able to find good workers for less money by offering fully remote work.

      And the thing with remote work is that it can make factors like col irrelevant, since you are not required to be in particular location. If you took a job in an office, and it’s your employer requiring you to work from home, your argument stands. But for jobs that will be remote from the beginning, or where it’s the worker asking for wfh, there is little incentive for the employer to pay you a salary that allows to live in an expensive city, when they can just hire someone who doesn’t.

      1. Daisy*

        In the UK there’s talk of the civil service removing London weighting for employees who choose to work from home
        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/aug/09/civil-servants-in-london-could-see-pay-cut-if-they-resist-office-return

        But I think perhaps a counter-argument to the idea that wages will go down is that if job-hunters can take a job anywhere, they will also have vastly more choice, so for in-demand roles and good candidates, at least, employers might have to offer more.

    3. doreen*

      People should absolutely be paid market rate- but the thing is, lots of things determine market rate. I know of a government job where one location was so difficult to travel that all the people doing Teapot Specialist 1 work were given provisional promotions to Teapot Specialist 2. That didn’t go for the Spout Specialists though- although the travel was just as difficult for then, the assignment was more desirable and there was no need to entice them. You may believe you should be compensated more for working at home – but if the other potential candidates are willing to take a pay cut ( and many of them are) you might price yourself out of the job. Remember, everyone’s circumstances are different- some people don’t need to move to an apartment with a spare room , others don’t mind moving to the suburbs, some already live in the suburbs and pay more to commute than your monthly pass , others would take a paycut even if their expenses went up because they will get their 2 hour plus round trip commute back.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Ah, but Roselein, if you were fully remote you could move to the suburbs or the rural areas where you can get a big house and yard for less than that 2 bedroom apartment. A remote employee choosing to live in the city is making a lifestyle choice and company’s should not pay people more for that.

      That’s just me playing devil’s advocate. Once jobs are fully virtual/remote, you will run into these issues.

      1. anne of mean gables*

        I’m in a rural town, and the shift to remote (if it persists, which in my sector, I think it’s likely to, at least hybrid) is likely going to cost my family a lot of money. My husband and I bought a home in 2019 that is big enough for the family we have planned. We did not plan on dedicated office space – we both are in jobs that had been “ad hoc/rare” telework – the kind of thing you can do at your kitchen table. Fast forward two years, and I’ve been home 100% of the time since March 2020, and my husband has been home about 50% of the time – and in the future, any promotion or advancement for either of us would likely be close to 100% TW. That “extra bedroom” for the kid we plan to have has been an office and I don’t see how we move forward without dedicated office space in this “new normal.” So, now we need to plan to either build an addition or move to a bigger home. Definitely not the dire space crunch of someone in an urban studio apartment, but I think increased costs for remote workers are going to be true across the board.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Yeah I think the full impact of permanent telework on housing setup is not well understood. I work in the guest room, which has been pretty much completely uninhabited since March 2020, because travel and visitors are not particularly welcome in the pandemic.
          Only I’m pregnant with our 3rd kid, so my office about to become my 2nd kid’s room and I’ll be moving my desk to the nursery temporarily when the baby is in our room and then to a corner of the master bedroom once the baby moves into the nursery, and my husband’s office (a previously empty room much smaller than my current office/guest room) is now going to have to squeeze the guest bed in with his desk.
          We’re already lucky our house is as big as it is. but we’re about to be squeezed a bit and its gonna be a lot less comfortable to work full time from home when the third kid arrives. If we were really going to do this permanently, we’d want at least 1 more room in the house, for sure which would come with more mortgage, increased utility costs, etc.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        A remote employee choosing to live in the city is making a lifestyle choice and company’s should not pay people more for that.

        No, but they should pay them the same they would pay them if they weren’t remote.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yup. And my current company is doing just this with me even though I was hired as a fully remote employee from the door over two years ago.

      3. Nora*

        Forcing an employee who wants to live in the city to move to the suburbs because their pay gets cut and they can no longer afford to live where they want to live is not an argument in favor of cutting people’s salaries

      4. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        If I moved to a more rural area I would increase my expenses for food and utilities. plus lose the reliability of those services. Used to live in a small town. Couldn’t guarantee that your electricity would work due to snow fall and forest fires. And food is much more expensive. And it’s only 2 hours away from me. And I’d risk getting snowed in if I moved further from the center of town (I’m already close enough to the outskirts, that I don’t like it)

    5. Nora*

      Yes 100% this! My electricity costs have doubled since I started working from home during the pandemic. I had to buy expensive noise canceling headphones (can’t afford an apartment with an office), and my desk chair broke because I started using it more than an hour a week all of a sudden, and I had to increase my cell phone plan because I don’t have a desk phone to use anymore

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I made a comment above about the business costs I’ve absorbed since moving home. I remembered Wifi, but forgot the phone. Before they got an online service, we all forwarded our work numbers to our cell phones.
        Full disclosure, we were mostly on Teams, I got half a dozen calls in a year, but still…I had a phone at my desk that had just as much use. They thought it was important enough to pay for.
        Again, not complaining about the overall situation, just amending my list.

        1. Nora*

          My phone gets way more use now, since previously my coworkers could just walk over to my cubicle if they wanted a quick conversation but now they have to call me on the phone instead.

    6. Ama*

      My husband’s employer was just acquired by a larger tech company (not one you’ve probably heard of unless you are in tech yourself) that considers themselves a fully remote company and he actually gets a stipend for working from home. It’s not a ton ($60 a month), but it does cover a chunk of our increased electrical costs. They also just announced that anyone who wanted a new or additional monitor for their home workspace could spend up to X (I don’t actually know what the amount was), and they would reimburse them.

  3. Aaron Poehler*

    #5: First band you’ve been in? Because that’s SOP for most musicians, sorry to say. That’s why the good ones are mostly those who communicate well and show up on time, not musical geniuses.

    Putting a band together is much harder than it looks–herding cats is how most people refer to it.

    1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Yep. Bassist here. Thats pretty much the way bands are. Most folks that I know that play have a day job, family and other obligations that come before music.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      That probably explains why my teenage son gets invited to play with so many bands. He’s a good-but-not-awesome musician (he can play anything that has strings, but bass is his baby), but he’s always willing to play anytime and anyplace and he shows up for everything on time.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Musicians may be more notorious for it, but the further I get into my career the more I value I place on reliability.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          If you ever do any gigs of any size ever, you want to know that everyone will be there on time with all their gear and at least a passing acquaintance with the set list.

          LW5 is not wrong to reject someone for flakiness, if reliability is a desirable quality for the “job”!

      2. quill*

        My brother gets a lot of trumpet requests (He’s pretty good) because he’s organized, punctual, and has a flexible schedule.

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      It’s not just bands. That’s often true for any small business. And yes, a band IS a small business.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, I re-hired my voiceover actor because not only did he give me good work, but he also did not flake out or take an inordinate amount of time getting it back to me the first time. If he had, I would have found someone else even though his voice is divine.

    4. Run mad; don't faint*

      #5 reminded me of one of my son’s friends who worked in a local recording studio pre-pandemic. He said that if the session was set up for 8 pm, you could count on the musicians showing up anywhere from 8:30-10.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Sort of like that friend everyone has, you have to tell them two hours early if you actually want them to be on time. Makes me want to rip my hair out.

    5. Melissa P Cooper*

      During my semi-professional years in the music area, I figured out early on that many directors, band leaders, etc. were more interested in putting me to work because I was reliable, than people who started out with more natural or developed talent. and then I worked hard to bring my own talent up to the level of these other folks. I also have little to no tolerance for flakiness as a result of having had to work to hard to catch a break.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        This is fascinating to me. I don’t have any knowledge of the music/entertainment industry.

        It does remind me of playing DnD, which is not at all the same thing. But we’d rather play with people who actually show up every week to keep the game going, even if they’re kinda dry players, rather than really great players who call five minutes before game every week and say why they can’t come.

      2. OldAdmin*

        ” I figured out early on that many directors, band leaders, etc. were more interested in putting me to work because I was reliable, than people who started out with more natural or developed talent. ”

        Same here! I’m not a great musician, but an OK one – but I turned up to every practice session and used every shred of talent there might be to try and create something. And helped build the practice room, chase after flaky musicians etc. All that gave me a lot of opportunities. :-)

    6. Music Townie*

      It’s so funny how soooo many musicians will say “lol musicians are flakes, it’s how we are!” and will then plan and execute extremely logistically challenging multi-week tours where they have to be at a place on time almost every day, arrange lodging, food and coordination/negotiation with venues.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Why are musicians associated with flakiness I wonder? I like playing music and don’t think I’m too flaky (I hope). But stories like this would definitely put me off starting a band. Could the legendary flakiness of musicians also explain why a lot of bands have siblings/spouses? Easier to pin people down for rehearsal!!

    7. Grayduck*

      Music is like any other professional arts field. There are three legs to the metaphorical table of having steady employment. Starting out, you really only need to show proficiency in two:
      Be good.
      Be on time.
      Don’t be a bum-chapeau.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Not just professional arts fields! I do community theatre (in an area where there is a LOT of community theatre and plenty of competition). While I know that I’m talented, I’ve definitely been told by folks that they enjoy working with me because I show up prepared and on time. As with any job, the soft skills still matter!

        1. Grayduck*

          Absolutely! The reliability leg of the skills table is even more important in community level arts. If everyone’s doing something for fun, a person who isn’t fun to work with (for whatever reason) should find themselves on the outs.

        2. ferrina*

          Spoken word as well- I have a family member who used to coordinate a slam poetry team, and trying to get folks to show up on time was always a losing battle.

        1. Grayduck*

          Synonym for the slang term a$$hat. A person who is awful to work with. (See also: posterior panama, tail trilby, butt beret, hindquarters helmet, shank sombrero, glute glastonbury, thicc toque, etc)

            1. Grayduck*

              Ha! I will come to all your shows! (Provided you can get Don’tRun’s son’s friend to sign up- I hear he’s very popular these days! ;)

  4. Sincerely, in-house attorneys*

    Caveat to #1–consulting with outside counsel on big and/or risky issues is worth it and a must-have cya. It doesn’t matter if we’re almost positive we know the right answer; if the topic is novel or outside our niche (or 100% self-taught), we’re getting another lawyer to fact-check our work.

  5. Artemesia*

    #1 Re consultants: . Jesus said to them, “Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour.”…he was amazed at their lack of faith’ (Mark 6:1-6).

    I have been in that position of watching a consultant pompously declaim on something our team has been advocating for years. I think it is sadly common.

    1. Adam*

      I don’t think the consultant is necessarily being pompous here. They were hired to make suggestions, they’re doing their job as requested, and if they’re making the same suggestions that the employees have been making, that just indicates they’re probably good ideas.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        This – and sometimes what seems like a simple recommendation of something internal staff have been asking for for years is much more than it seems. In fact, a lot of times consultants are called in to take the suggestions from the staff and figure out whether they’re workable. The consulting company has done a lot of research, talked to multiple stakeholders, analyzed the costs and benefits, looked at how the change would affect downstream processes, looked at industry best practices, figured out whether there are risks that haven’t been identified, etc. etc. etc.

        At the end of the process, the consultant is presenting the findings, which may come across as restating what staff have been asking for, but the the report that goes to management shows the entire process that the consultant took to get to that conclusion.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          This is the kind of phenomena I call “the wrong messenger.” If the wrong person says something or other, nobody will care or it will be ignored or everyone will get mad. It has to be the Right Person who communicates that message in order for it to be heard and/or listened to and/or done anything about. In this case, it’s a consultant who is the Right Messenger, presumably because they’re a specially paid for voice of authority.

          (Guess who’s likely to be the Right Person and who’s likely to be the Wrong one?)

          I mean, it sucks, especially if you tend to be Wrong (as I do), but if you need a Christian to deliver Cyrano’s message, sometimes that’s just the thing that has to be done to work.

          What I’m sad about is we HAD a consultant come through, supposedly wrote a report…and then we never heard another word about and the guy who commissioned it got another job! So much for that!

          1. OP1*

            Yes, I think this is a great way to put it and my takeaway too. My boss is the one who commissioned the consulting engagement, and after talking with her about it later, this was basically her thought process. Seeing that nothing had been done about the issues for years, she decided the other executives needed to hear from a Right Messenger. And it worked, so, I guess she was right. A lesson for me in upward management with executives.

            1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

              As a former consultant who made recommendations when I knew nothing, and then as a knowledgeable team member whose recommendations were ignored because I wasn’t a consultant, I’ve seen this way too often. My rule of thumb: companies that listen to consultants over their own people are not good places in which to work. Either they don’t have the right people working for them or (more commonly) they don’t value their own people.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                Same here. A company I consulted with was so happy with me and my success on a long-term project, they made an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was great at first, but I gradually went from being a respected subject matter expert to just another employee with grand ideas. Not everyone thought of me that way, but enough did that my job included a lot more managing up than I expected.

                Even external consultants have to manage up, buy-in is a real thing. But consultants usually have a big stage and a more invested, receptive audience. Employees? Eh, they’re often just part of the scenery.

              2. Lora*

                It means that the managers they have are piss poor at listening to other humans, but great at waiting for their turn to talk.

                A nonzero part of my MBA consisted of professors trying to teach students the importance of acting like a decent human. Which, to my mind, is a REALLY low bar for a manager, but there you have it.

              3. tamarack and fireweed*

                I tend to agree. The situations is of course a huge bugbear if you’re the one who makes a good suggestion – and know what you’re talking about. I know how infuriating that feels! To a degree I’ve been trying to make excuses for the employer especially if I make a suggestion based on something I’m not credentialed for (even though I know my bases are solid). That could be that I have actual expertise in a technical field (eg. databases, or storage systems) that is not core to my job, but affects how I think about the business problem I’m trying to solve; or it could be something I’ve just educated myself, such as DEI, equity issues in hiring, conflict resolution. My employer may see me as “Tamarack, in role X” and not someone who would be considered an authority when speaking about the topic. And to a degree I can understand that TPTB don’t have the bandwidth to figure out whether I DO have something worthwhile to say, or am just spouting off.

                Ideally the company would at the very least have the suggester work with the consultant, and the consultant give proper credit to the internal people who are advocating for the exact same thing the consultant is there to train the company on.

            2. Koalafied*

              Yep, I went through this where I work. In my experience, this is especially important when the change/idea you’re asking for will cost the company money. Management tends to be inherently skeptical that spending more money is ever a good idea, even if you have a the most airtight argument for an all-but-guaranteed ROI. They think, “Ehh, the employees are just asking for {{some_kind_of_support_resource}} because they want to do less work and have cushier/easier jobs, they aren’t able to be objective because wanting their own job to be pleasant is a conflict of interest that biases them.” The perception is that the consultants have no dog in the fight, no particular vested interest in employee satisfaction over corporate success/profits, so if they say the company needs to spend more money on something, they can trust that more.

            3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Sometimes it takes an outside observers opinion to be heard. Sort of like couples counseling.

            4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              Ah, the nuclear option. I’m glad you met with your boss and found out the reason. I would hate for you to be festering about her management when the problem is above her. And as I type this, I see it’s a real eye-opener about the business leadership overall.

            5. Alexander Graham Yell*

              I’m a consultant and have literally had a client say, “Look, we know what we need to do and we’ve been saying it for years. But upper management hasn’t made it a priority and now wants experts to come weigh in because X department is refusing to budge and they want a neutral party who can explain why it’s worth ignoring X department and going forward with this.”

              And they really did know what needed to happen! They really were totally on board! And we were able to listen to the people blocking the project and pull data they didn’t have access to that showed why we needed to ignore them and move forward. Sometimes it’s not just the recommendation, but the confirmation that other companies do this too and this is the quantifiable benefit that came from it.

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                Yeah, me, too I had similar conversations with consultants – consultants who are aware that they are coming in basically as “the right messenger” for something that’s blindingly obvious to the subject-matter specialists in the role.

          2. Batty Twerp*

            It’s a central tenet of good communication: the right Words are said by the right Messenger to the right Recipient at the right Time.

            Get any one of those wrong and the communication is lost.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              The problem of course is that who gets to be “the right messenger” is frequently a management issue, and way-too-often an equity issue. As in, we won’t listen to the woman, the non-white person, the working-class person, the junior person, the old person, and so on.

        2. Weegie*

          Except – as happened in two of my previous workplaces – it is not unknown for outside consultants to given documents written by employees, and the documents contain proposals and recommendations that later turn up in the consultants’ reports *without attribution*. And also without the originator’s knowledge. So while it’s probably true that the consultant is often taking a wider view and more aspects into consideration, it’s extremely galling for the employee to see their work turning up in someone else’s report, verbatim! And to know that their manager didn’t trust/value their advice enough to implement the recommendations, but *did* trust it enough to hand it over to the consultant.

          1. Forrest*

            Yes— the 2014 consultant report at my work which said exactly what we keep saying (but was never implemented) is occasionally referred to wistfully.

          2. Snow Globe*

            When my employer hired consultants, the consultants pulled employees into “focus group” meetings, where they employees told the consultants all the things we had been trying to get changed, then the consultants just put that into a power point presentation. So it’s not like the consultants are coming up with these great ideas independently.

            1. misspiggy*

              Absolutely. A good consultant will give credit to employee suggestions that are likely to go down well. But judging that is tricky. If a lowly person comes up with an idea and I know the idea will be knocked back because they’re lowly, I’ll frame it as recognised good practice. Better that than never getting anyone’s ideas implemented, I hope.

            2. Nicotena*

              Yeah, as a lower level employee I don’t really “get” consulting. Every one I’ve been involved in, takes a bunch of my staff time send them all this info we already had (but maybe needs to be better sorted or explained to them a bunch – more staff time!), and then they set up a bunch of meetings to interview the group, write down what we say, and then repeat it in a report I’m expected to implement. For a lot of money.

            3. Consultant*

              Hello from the consultant side! I am literally on my lunch break between hosting a focus groups. It’s true- we do want to hear everything you want to get changed. A good consultant will also take a look at that idea from the top, bottom and sides to know the holistic impact. We hear lots of good ideas, but we also hear lots of bad ideas. We definitely don’t come up with ideas “independently”- you know more about your company than we do. We verify the impact, consult with stakeholders, compare it to typical industry pain points, quanitfy the affect….and all the jargon.
              Sometimes what we do is just say “yes, they are right”. But sometimes we say “did you think of this?” or “eh, that’s not a typical way to approach it…” (read: we think this is a terrible idea)

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                That’s a good contribution. It’s just that the whole consulting ecosystem is so tied up with status and high-money. If there weren’t these gaps it would be completely fine to have specialists who sift through the institutional knowledge distributed in various teams (sometimes silos), document – sometimes discover – connections, separate the wheat from the chaff, and present it in a way senior management can digest. The regular staff doesn’t have the time, and often not the skillset for *all* of these tasks. It’s just infuriating if you’re an underpaid and overworked underling saying the same thing and miss out on the recognition, and compensation, the consultants get.

          3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

            Been there, seen that, left the company because of that. Plenty of my colleagues did the same. Company’s stock proceeded to drop over 50% because the consultants could parrot what we had been recommending, but couldn’t implement anything without the actual employees.

            1. Expiring Cat Memes*

              Don’t get me started on the “value add” implementation plans. Nothing like having to figure out how to implement a steaming brain fart that floated out of a consultant’s head and somehow got enthusiastic executive endorsement without any consultation with employees.

            2. Nicotena*

              I’m in nonprofit so it’s especially egregious where morale and effectiveness are low because of bare-bones budgets – but somehow here’s 100K to pay a consultant to repeat what we’ve all been saying.

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yes, I work for a consulting firm and one of the first things we do with new is have one on ones or focus groups with the staff when we’re trying to wrap our heads around a new project. A lot of times the staff have the best suggestions, but maybe the higher ups need it spoon fed to them how those suggestions would work out in a business sense. An outsider is able to a) confirm the staff’s standpoint and b) provide a high level breakdown of how the suggestion would work, perhaps using framing the staff wouldn’t have. It’s definitely annoying to not have your suggestions taken and to then have them taken from someone else, but often the way a message is delivered makes all the difference.

        4. Artemesia*

          sounds like you have had excellent consultants. The ones I have observed both in organizations I have worked in and people I know who were hired in at entry level in consulting companies, not so much.

          e.g. A college dean hired a business consultant to look at the structure of her school. The final report recommended getting rid of a couple of layers of bureaucracy which were not typical in organizations; it was the entire apparatus that dealt with students — which most organizations don’t have. They didn’t see the need for the student affairs function.

          e.g. I have known several entry level consultants who tell me that they basically provide the same boilerplate recommendations to every organization just changing the specific data to match the customer. There was not a lot of idiosyncratic analysis of the particular circumstances of the client.

          So I am cynical about the consulting business. I have also done some consulting with organizations and made fabulously helpful suggestions. So I know it can be helpful and of course gathering insights from employees who may have been hitting their head against a wall for years can be part of it.

          Classic example — in the Challenger disaster, those at the bottom knew of the risk and tried to prevent it by halting the launch; the management layers were more concerned about the politics and people died. No one listened to the engineers during the analysis of the disaster; an outsider, Richard Feynman, on the investigation committee violated the ‘rules’ and individually sought out the engineers at the ‘bottom’. And he was able to be heard when he shared their conclusions with the world. No one was willing to let them be heard.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            “I have known several entry level consultants who tell me that they basically provide the same boilerplate recommendations to every organization just changing the specific data to match the customer.”

            Woooof, no, that’s not how a good consulting firm would operate

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Well correction there will be some common recommendations to common problems, but you wouldn’t go in with the end report half written

        5. RubberDuck*

          Consultant here! (Braces for the booing)
          As someone who has often done the whole recommendation process, I can confirm that executives get approximately 10000 suggestions from their teams on a daily basis, and don’t have a great mechanism for figuring out which suggestions are good or feasible. For every good idea someone shares, there are other ideas that are driven by internal politics or weird org incentives or some other shenanigans. A lot of times my job is to sort through the suggestions, find the common themes, and try and figure out the optimal way to solve the current issues. Often, that means incorporating recommendations that come from the team I’m working with – they know the company and business better than I do – into a globally optimal recommendation. So I often combine different suggestions into one recommendation, adjusting where needed to make it workable and feasible for all the teams. This also means that for every team that sees my recommendation and feels vindicated / like they’ve been asking for ages, there’s another team that has been pushing against this option and trying to solve the problem in a way that is optimal for them (instead of everyone).
          I super appreciate having interviews with experienced employees who can tell me what’s really happening on the ground and give me suggestions for how to change things! (And always try to pass on that credit!) I like to think of that kind of role as like, ideas arbiter or prioritization facilitator – my job is often to help the execs understand the suggestions, understand. Their actual priorities, and get willing to commit to change.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        As someone who worked for a few years as a consultant, part of doing that well is talking to the people who are there and doing the work and know the good and bad of what’s going on. Then that info is considered along side other analysis, best practices and the consulting team’s own observations and expertise to come up with recommendations.

        Sometimes folks doing the job are just seeing a slice of what’s going on, and changes they’d want don’t make sense given the big picture. Other times they are spot on, and it’s been inertia or the boss’s biases* in how work should be done or “the wrong messenger” that has kept things from changing.

        So even though it’s annoying to have someone else be paid to parachute in and say what you’ve been saying all along and have the boss listen to THEM, it’s not unusual. The other thing that happens is that good consultants are looking forward to “change management” and having recommendations actually go through, and if there are things the existing team has been advocating for, that they WANT, that could improve things, it’d be silly NOT to include it, especially if they are simple fixes, low hanging fruit or something where improvements can be easily measured and reported. Changes like that can give momentum to support more fundamental change.

        It still doesn’t change the feeling of “but that’s what we’ve been saying all along!” but it’s not unusual or necessarily nefarious.

        * it could be bias, but it could also be insecurity or a manager who wants to consider all options or best practices they might not have personal experience with

    2. John Smith*

      It is very common, sadly. My organisation excels in hiring platinum-plated consultants to tell them what their own poorly paid yet expert employees have been screaming from the rooftops for years. And they wonder why staff survey results are so negative for which they…… hired consultants to find the answer! Rather disheartening. I’d be charitable and say it’s because the organisation worries about bias and self interest, but as public sector workers, we’re generally in the job because we want to do “the right thing” above all else (with caveats… see below).

      But even when these paid consultants state the bleedin’ obvious, you find their recommendations are somehow classed as flawed when they’re unfavourable.

      A brilliant example is when my department was informed that staff were unhappy with senior management of our department for a number of reasons (all dismissed). Our senior management’s response? Staff weren’t sure which senior management was being referred to, so our department’s senior management declared that we were referring to the organisation’s senior management.

    3. Mircea*

      My brother used to work as a consultant and he’d used to say: “A consultant is someone you pay to look at your watch and tell you what time it is.”

      1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

        I had a boyfriend who said that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, and then keeps the watch.

    4. Queen Esmeralda*

      I remembered when we were going through a reorg–our team had been saying certain things needed to change for a couple of years, but upper management ignored all we said. When the consultant came to our department to talk to us, we told him all the things that we thought needed to change. He wrote them all down and presented the exact things we had been advocating for to upper management. Only then did things change. Which were, ironically enough, about cost saving measures. Could’ve saved a bunch by listening to employees and not paying consultants.

    5. Richard Hershberger*

      I once read one of those “how these clever fellows won World War II” books, where the clever fellows essentially were consultants to the military. Most of their work was about positioning resources to intercept U-Boats–not the decryption crowd, but more pattern analysis. In any case, in the preliminary throat-clearing phase of the book, one of these guys visits an army unit in the field. He observes that the soldiers clean their own mess kits after meals. The process used four barrels, two with soapy water and two with fresh water for rinsing. The soapy part of the process took longer, so the soldiers were always backed up waiting to wash their kits, while they breezed through the rinsing process. The consultant suggested that they change one of the fresh water barrels to soapy water to increase efficiency. The commander, so we are told, was amazed at this display of insight! My thought reading this story was that every enlisted man in the unit, and likely most of the junior officers, had figured this out long before and had suggested just this change.

    6. Still Trying to Adult*

      “A consultant: Someone you pay to fly to your location and tell you what time it is on your watch.”

    7. PizzaGuy*

      With consultants you’re paying for the messenger, not the message. It’s incredibly frustrating and very common. I have worked places that have a steady stream of consultants providing solutions staff have been advocating for for years. It can be very demoralizing. I would argue the only thing worse is when in the end the organization also doesn’t listen to consultants. Meaning they are waiting for someone to tell them what they want to hear. Eventually they will find a consultant who realizes this and does it.

    8. Nethwen*

      That consultant may have been pompous, but saying what the team has been saying for years isn’t by definition pompous. I had a boss who was a consultant in a former career and he told me that the first thing he did with every consulting job was to ask the employees what their thoughts were, then write those responses up into a fancy presentation because he figured the people who worked there knew best what was needed and his job was just to convince the decision-makers.

    9. Dark Roast Only Please*

      This is not the consultant’s fault and we have no information to suggest that consultant is “pompous”. It’s leadership’s fault for valuing the ideas of the consultant over the identical ideas that their own employees already brought them.

  6. Mouse*

    #4: Execs at my company have been talking about an article saying that Google employees are facing pay cuts for working remotely. It’s location based, so if you live within commuting distance but in a suburb or lower-cost area, your pay rate would change if you decide not to come to the office. The hugely variable cost of living across the US is going to be a big factor in remote work conversations into the future, I’m sure.

    1. Ocean of Ramen*

      My husband’s company did this. We moved to a lower COL area and they adjusted his pay down to account for that. Which seems odd to me because is he not performing the same labor that he was before we moved? Why did his work suddenly become less valuable just because we can now afford a modest home on his salary rather than a small condo? It kind of negated the benefit of moving.

      1. Asenath*

        That sort of thing was common a long time ago. My father, who was employed by a large international company, was paid less because he worked in a pretty remote area (although not, I guess, remote enough to trigger extra payments for isolation). When that site closed down and he moved to jobs with the same company in urban areas in the US, his salary went up. The idea as far as I can remember was that the company paid the going rate *in the location the work was done*. I don’t remember COL being mentioned specifically. It was more “the average salary for a llama herder in Y is $X, so that’s what we’ll pay our llama herders working in Y”. Obviously, in the larger cities, my father’s living expenses were also higher than they had been in a small remote town.

        1. doreen*

          It’s still common even where different employers are involved. There were a couple of times in the last 30 years when my husband and I considered moving. It turned out in the places we were considering , the going rate for our jobs was about 40% less than we were earning in NYC. It looks different when it’s remote work – but part of the reason we are paid what we are in NYC is because we have to live in commuting distance of NYC. In fact, if I transferred to my employer’s Rochester NY office, I would lose my location pay.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            I worked somewhere with multiple locations. Pay was based on CoL of the nearest metropolitan area. Then I found out that one office in an area with a very low CoL was being paid based on a city in a different state that nobody lived in (a 90- minute drive away). So, people in my city were underpaid, & people in that town were paid more than we were.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I worked for a UN organization and they based everything off of COL in Geneva (NOT CHEAP!), so when I was based in Bosnia I got a lower-than-Geneva salary (but still freaking high) with a Bosnian COL. Salary wouldn’t have gone far in Switzerland, but holy hell did it allow us to save a glorious nest egg while living in Bosnia.

        3. A Feast of Fools*

          Definitely on a company-by-company basis, even back then.

          In 1989 I wanted to move to California to be closer to my dad. The company I worked for in North Texas had my exact same position open in the area now known as Silicon Valley. It was expensive as hell even back then. They said that the position paid the same everywhere in the U.S. ($10/hour), so no COL bump.

      2. Doc in a Box*

        This is really common in federal government. Employees in HCOL areas get a supplement to the published pay rate, because otherwise they would not be able to hire anyone. But the flipside is that if you move from a HCOL to a LCOL area, your salary would decrease.

        1. Economist*

          But it’s not determined by where the Federal employee lives, it’s determined by where the duty station is. So, there are Federal employees who live 1-2 hours outside of DC, but their job location is DC, so they get the higher cost of living supplement for DC.

        2. Mockingjay*

          It’s a supplement, though; the base salary remains the same regardless of location. Your total income decreases but the salary does not.

      3. hbc*

        To be fair, if his company had a branch in your location, they might require him to transfer to that branch, do the same work (whether remotely or in-person) and get paid less. Or if they denied remote work and he had to find a new job in your low COL area, it wouldn’t be a surprise that he’d get a lower salary for doing the same work.

        This is just one of those situations where there isn’t one objectively fair solution.

      4. Colette*

        It’s likely the monetary value of his work is less in your new market – i.e. if he got another, local job, he’d get paid less.

        And that goes both ways – a developer in San Jose is not going to get paid the same amount as a developer in Bangalore, even when they do the same work.

      5. SheLooksFamiliar*

        A former employer of mine had 10 or 12 regional pay structures for salaried and hourly employees. Transferring to a lower COL area didn’t always adjust an employee’s pay downward, but the move usually slowed or leveled out raises. Internal equity and compression were a real concern for managers; we didn’t publish our salary structures and managers didn’t broadcast team salaries, but their teams compared notes. I recall some hurt feelings about this. The policy of keeping regional pay at certain levels is commendable, but adjustments to salary are never that cut-and-dried.

        Moving to a higher COL area usually did adjust pay upward, for obvious reasons. Even then, the formula to calculate it wasn’t consistent but most people moved to the average for that pay grade, in that location, for their particular job or job code. Usually.

      6. Aquawoman*

        His work didn’t get less valuable, his pay got more valuable and they adjusted it to have the same value it had before you moved.

      7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        This is SOP for a lot of federal jobs and the COL calculations the feds use are kind of whacky. They look at average salaries, rather than cost of living, and base the COL on that. So someone in Honolulu has a lower % adjustment off of base than someone in Houston because Houston has higher average wages. We’d actually looked at relocating to HI to be closer to family but the pay cut from AZ was way too steep

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Didn’t that happen a few years ago when they collaborated with the Chinese government?

    2. Cat Feeder*

      I think its better to think of it that companies were paying more for people willing to live in high cost of living cities and that if someone had started remote from a lower cost of living city they wouldn’t have gotten the extra pay to entice them to be close to the office.

      1. wanda*

        Yeah, this. My husband’s company has a named HCOL supplement for people who report to local offices in high COL areas like the Bay Area. When we moved from San Francisco to San Diego, my husband lost the supplement but his actual salary and bonuses stayed the same. When people go fully remote but stay in the Bay Area, they also lose the supplement.

  7. Skittles*

    LW1: a lot of the time consultants have done the extra leg work of defining, validating, measuring and analysing problems before coming so solutions and that can put a lot more weight behind their suggestions/recommendations.
    I experienced this first hand – after working in a team for several years where there were several issues we had with improvements or solutions the whole team had suggested. I was put on a project team (Lean Six Sigma Green Belt using DMAIC) as an SME and Lo and behold almost all of the improvements we recommended were the same ones the team had been banging on about. Management needed hard data and proof to make the investment in change.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Many consultants are also quite good at packaging and communicating ideas and findings in a way that makes sense and feels manageable to an executive audience. Employees may have mentioned the ideas before, but not in a comprehensive assessment with three catchy category names and a snappy acronym or slogan or diagram.

      It can be hard for a SME to see the value in that kind of analysis and communication, especially since it often seems oversimplifying or obvious or otherwise useless, but there’s often real value in that kind of higher level work for executive level management.

      Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I watch this happen at my office.

    2. MK*

      It’s like when a study is published about X, and you get snark comments about how every person who works with X knows this, and couldn’t they have asked one of them instead of doing a whole study. The answer being that one person’s empirical experience isn’t worth much, and the point of the study is to show overall patterns.

      1. Andy*

        It is not snark. It is people angry that they have not been listened to for years. That they have been dealt with problems and told they are the problem for informing managers about those. And they are not even getting validation of “you was right”.

        1. MK*

          Maybe. And maybe the study was commissioned or the consultant hired because people in authority did listen to the complaints, and wanted someone to give an informed opinion about the causes and the solutions, and no, the people who have to deal with the problems aren’t always the best positioned to do that. When I have heard workers informing about a problem, rarely are they all agreed about what the root is or what should best be done.

          1. Andy*

            That is not the situation LW describes. Also, management that do listen and calls consultants to evaluation situation because of listening does not tend to keep that secret. They will make sure you know you was listened to.

            I am also kind of surprised about faith in consultants said here. It is hit or miss, sometimes helping and other times causing additional damage. Oftentimes, that work it is mostly about extracting money and making sure contract continues. And yes, some of my colleagues are ex-consultants, it is what they themselves says about their former work.

            1. MK*

              I don’t think anyone has particular faith in consultants, but pointing out that there are incompetent consultants isn’t particularly useful. For that matter, employees pointing out problems aren’t always bold truthspeakers, a lot of the time they equate problem with things they don’t like, propose unworkable solutions or care only about their small area and ignore broader issues.

              1. Andy*

                > employees pointing out problems aren’t always bold truthspeakers

                If pointing out problems requires bold truthspeaker, then the original complain seem quite valid. Pointing out problems should be routing thing in well managed company.

        2. OP1*

          Yes, I think this is part of what bugged me. My boss, who commissioned the study, was very clear that it was about confirming things that we already suspected and help get a structured action plan for moving forward. But the other executives reacted as if these were new ideas they’d never heard before. It would have been nice if they had remembered and dropped my team a quick “hey great, the consultants confirmed what you said, now let’s get to work resolving the issue.”

          1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

            Executives tend to be bombarded with ideas and opinions. Getting through even with extremely obvious ideas can be tricky. I’ve seen it in my company where a mid level manager will use consultants as a way to push their agenda.

            Consultants bring in an outside perspective and data (competitors x and y both do it and saw z% improvement) which adds strength to the argument. Plus, as outsiders, consultants have more room to say things that would be dangerous to an internal person’s career (ie reducing problems with the 1-2 execs who could make your job much harder if you were the one telling them things they don’t want to hear).

            It’s frustrating for those that have been pushing the idea to see consultants take credit, it ends up requiring a lot of your time and effort to get the consultants the information they want, and it’s also probably not a great sign if organizational communication health, but the end result is that the mid level manager’s idea moves forward. It’s basically your boss saying “you’re right so I’ll go spend $1M with this consulting group to make what is obvious to you seem like the best thing since sliced bread to the execs.”

          2. Wendy Darling*

            Sometimes it’s also just the psychology of hearing the same thing from a different face in order to accept the validity of the message.

          3. GNG*

            Having worked both sides as a consultant and consultee, I totally get that feeling of frustration!

            I would agree that yes it would have been nice if Boss acknowledged what you previously said. At the same time, I also believe what the boss say or doesn’t say does not invalidate your knowledge in any way.

            I don’t know if you can find any way to manage your own expectations of that. Unfortunately none of us have control over what our Bosses says. Personally, it’s not something I would dwell on for even 5 seconds.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Eh, I’m not sure about that. Not all business decisions need to be studied and replicated the way we do with scientific knowledge. If businesses put that sort of burden of proof on employee’s feedback, they’re effectively saying they don’t want employee feedback.

        OP describes being met with ‘a brick wall’ — that sounds like a management issue.

      3. BigHairNoHeart*

        I hate that! There are certainly times when a whole study isn’t needed (I think that’s what some of the disagreeing comments are focusing on–in a business context it really might be overkill), but generally speaking, there is value in quantitative data, even if it points to an “obvious” answer.

  8. Coder von Frankenstein*

    At least these consultants *are* giving good advice, even if it’s the same advice the bigwigs could have had for free from their own employees.

    One of my college buddies runs a middle-sized company. He took over after the previous CEO almost ran it into the ground. If you want to listen to a ten-minute rant, just mention McKinsey consultants in his hearing.

  9. Drummer*

    There’s enough crap musician behaviour out there to keep an entire, very prolific advice column going for a long time! At the very least someone needs to write an etiquette guide. There are aspects of being in a band that are like romantic relationships. If you’re the one doing all the chasing, they’re not worth it. You might really want to be in a band, but one that’s dysfunctional and doesn’t bring you joy is going to be less fulfilling than not being in a band. Wait for the right band to come along! And never be afraid to leave if it’s no longer enjoyable. And, most importantly, if you’re playing in multiple bands with a day job, START A SHARED ONLINE CALENDAR. I cannot overstate the hours of the day you will reclaim from tedious email chains trying to work out when to rehearse, and if someone double-books themselves, it’s their fault for not keeping the calendar up to date. Good luck!

    1. Rosie*

      Absolutely this! I’m in one great band which I love, and although I’m interested in joining another to play other kinds of music I’m definitely waiting for the right one to come along. It really has to be a good “fit” in so many ways.

      1. Drummer*

        Yeah, the relationship is for sure one of the most important parts, especially if you’re touring – you’re going to be spending a DISGUSTING amount of time in very close quarters, in my experience, in less-than-opulent surrounds. Even if you have the right people, it’s still stressful… and boring… but not as stressful as recording! It’s so high stakes and you really need a collaborative focus on a common goal. I don’t have much experience with commercial bands (weddings, covers etc, which I imagine are more transactional) but in my experience with for-fun bands, you get to know each other VERRRRRRY well. I actually wouldn’t make rehearsal the first point of contact. I’d invite them out for a drink and a chat first. If you end the evening excited – great! The other person now has buy-in too and will probably turn up at your more formal ‘audition’ to gauge musical chemistry. If you feel awkward and bored by the meeting, good. You’ve dodged a bullet. Liking someone as a friend makes it much easier to tolerate/broach conversations about spending three weeks in a van with their rotting pair of boots.
        Also – do yourself a huge favour and ignore gender. It’s 2021. If you’re creating an environment that you think someone of a specific gender couldn’t “handle”, you think people of certain genders should stick to certain instruments, or you think you’ll have trouble “controlling yourself” please do some internal reflection.

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          We should start an AAM band and write songs of all the woeful and crazy things we read about on this site. Im guessing you play drums, I play bass, who else plays something here? Any guitarists, pianists, zither players or pan flutists?

          1. WS*

            Keyboards and bass – but most often keyboards because “so and so hasn’t turned up, can you play their part as well?”

          2. Merle Grey*

            Guitar, ukulele, violin/fiddle, cello, kazoo! I’ve played in community groups but not in a band (I do enough cat herding at work, and many of my musician friends are too busy with the rest of life or live an hour away).

          3. Mostly Managing*

            Piano and bassoon here.

            If I pull in my kids we also get fiddle, electric guitar, keyboard, flute, sax, vocals, and a dancer….

          4. Matt*

            Guitar and vocals. But none of them so good that any band will be happy with me – think karaoke singer and if there’s no karaoke playback available I manage to accompany myself in the key of A major ;-)

            1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

              Oooh yeah…I forgot to mention that my wife can sing soprano and I’ve been told I have a pretty good voice, but only for death metal.
              If you’re not familiar with death metal, look up Dethkloks-“Go into the Water” or “The Galaxy” for an inoffensive example.

          5. wendelenn*

            Piano. Could also work on the songwriting.

            Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeen, Wakeeeeeeen. . .

            Take This Job and Cod It, I’m Resigning Here Today

            Don’t Pee In The Sink and Tell Me It’s Raining

            The Tale of the Hanukkah Balls

            1. banoffee pie*

              great song titles! I think this site could provide a lot of material lol. I can play piano and guitar (mostly chords, you might want someone else for the fancy stuff!)

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      Ditto to the shared calendar online! My partner is in a band and that calendar has saved his sanity.

    3. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My partner has been leading successful bands since the 80s. His rules are “Be on time, play in tune, and know the effing song.”

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      This seems similar to any unpaid hobby group. There are three circles of participants. The inner circle are the movers and shakers, typically holding office if it is that sort of group. This can be an incredible amount of work, and only works with people who are passionate about it. The middle circle are willing to be put to work, but require direction. So if the group is holding an event, an inner circle person can wrangle some middle circle people to show up early and help with setup, but they won’t do this spontaneously. Then there is the outer circle, who enjoy the hobby but aren’t passionate about it. They will show up to that event unless something else turns up, so they won’t commit ahead of time so you can’t count on it.

      A couple of observations: (1) Which circle someone is in is not a moral statement. It is about how much this is their thing, that they will commit time and energy to. Any given individual might be involved with multiple groups in different circles. (2) If the inner circle of a group is too small, it is not sustainable. The individuals in it will burn out. Work to bring other people into the circle. You may find that they jump at the chance, but felt (possibly correctly) that the incumbents were keeping others out. Come to think of it, work to get new blood even if the inner circle is large and enthusiastic.

      Getting back to the LW, it looks to me like they are acting as an inner circle of one, and burning out.

      1. banoffee pie*

        You’re right, if the inner circle is too tight and possessive, the group will eventually fail because if even one person leaves, you’re in trouble. You have to keep trying to convert middle circle people to inner circle, and also outer circle people to middle circle if you can. It’s the same with amateur sport clubs

  10. Pippa K*

    LW1, you have my sympathies. My university is constantly bringing in consultants to whom they listen carefully, while ignoring the input of faculty and staff who have expertise on relevant subjects. And there’s “unfortunately not enough in the budget” for faculty research and other initiatives, but somehow we’re never short of cash for consultants.

    This was particularly annoying when they developed campus COVID policy without listening to our own virology and public health professors….

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Omg, your note about the budget just struck such a chord with me that I couldn’t help but laugh. My old (non-profit) workplace was exactly like this. Every project had to have an external consultant, but God help us if we tried to request additional staff for internal teams struggling to keep up with grant paperwork or similar.

    2. JelloStapler*

      “And there’s “unfortunately not enough in the budget” for faculty research and other initiatives, but somehow we’re never short of cash for consultants.”

      YES YES YES YES x 1000000.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Especially in higher ed where the result will be more talking about what the consultant said but not actually acting on any of it.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        That reminds me of company I worked for decades ago. They decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic but outsourced the work to a (costly) decorating company rather than using their own internal decorating group with the same skills. Why? We’ll never know, maybe the whole “fresh eyes, big investment must result in better quality” won out, but what I do know is the end result wasn’t very well done. The loose terms of the contract meant they could leave the cushions behind when they moved the chairs, so they did. Unfortunately the lack of internal work sped up layoffs for the internal decorating group, but the whole place went down within a few years anyway.

        I hope the Covid policies have a better outcome!

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

      Yes very frustrating. I remember in one company (several jobs ago now) there was a set of processes that was highly manual and labour intensive that could have been automated easily. I suggested this many times and even created a “proof of concept” of how it could work, but it was dismissed by management as it would threaten jobs of the people doing those processes manually. Over time, the amount of business increased and the company had to recruit additional people to carry out those manual processes. After about a year the “HQ” of the company decided (correctly) that it was costing way too much, mainly on salaries, and taking too long to carry out this part of the process, and commissioned consultants to investigate. Of course, the consultants identified quickly that that process could be automated easily and the people doing it (the existing ones and the ones who had recently been recruited) laid off. That was what happened in short order afterwards. I felt frustrated that I hadn’t been listened to, but also on behalf of the people recruited into short-lived jobs due to lack of management ‘vision’.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        I sortof had the converse problem, in a way that doesn’t involve consultants, but still may be of interest. I used to be technical staff for a research team that collaborated with various US federal agency labs. Those agency labs ran the automation of a process – in a legacy way that didn’t work for the site we were working with. I implemented a new process and authored the underlying software ( a web app). My boss, who more or less understood the technical complexity (= not super high) expected this to be a ~6 month process; but he had no experience at all with process complexities! I had some access issues etc., so it took longer… but I kept, against resistance, collaborating and working with our partners, and by the time I *was* done, I had written it in a way that other sites, run by various other labs, could very very easily implement it for their sites. The software was taken over by the agency labs and now serves ALL sites. (Also, I moved to another role, and my software ran without any maintenance for another 1.5 years until a certificate expired and the sysadmin contacted me about how to fix the error that had cropped up.) I consider this a great success, but my boss was always disappointed – he thinks it should have been faster.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      The most glaring issue I see in my academic corner is a terrible approach to managing the IT services. They don’t develop their own staff, so people grow insular. As a public institution they are afraid of letter writers in the local paper foaming at the mouth over “junkets” if they send a bunch of techies to USENIX or whatever. So if a mission-critical project is on the table, the existing staff can’t take it on without a suitable staffing and training budget. Instead, much more expensive consultants are hired. Who aren’t necessarily highly technically skilled outside their particular niche – and get in everyone’s way.

      I’m not sure how to solve this other than with some insightful, bold leadership that can stand up to political headwinds.

  11. Safety First*

    For #1, having been on the consulting side of the business, we actually had multiple models for our consulting engagements. We would start with fact-finding, then review those findings with the managers and technical folks before preparing our final reports for the executives / decision makers.

    One model:
    Sometimes we would find that the teams already knew what the problems were, and even had their own proposals for addressing them, so we would structure our reports to give them “cover” or justification for the resources needed to implement those improvements. After all, they know their systems best.
    Model 2: sometimes we would find that there were legitimate gaps in knowledge about best or processes, or there were problems that the team knew about but didn’t know how to fix. For these, we would make recommendations that included more follow-on training or bigger process overhauls meant to address those issues.

    I should note that is was not always cut and dried, e.g. sometimes there was one “problem” part of the organization whose gaps were affecting other, more knowledgeable teams, so it would be about surfacing those issues in a neutral way.

    As far as whether management could or should listen to their employees directly, I think Allison is right about the perceived value of expensive advice, but another big part of the value is in getting a neutral viewpoint that is not affected by department politics, the perception that people are fighting for budget, mixed messages from different departments’ management, etc.

    One other thing I learned is that people will rarely pay consulting rates to fix the problem, so we would expect that and structure our advice so that it could be implemented by the existing teams, or if additional resources were needed, that we made those needs clear expecting they would be addressed by internal growth. If we had follow-on engagements, it was usually to give feedback or training to the company teams.

    I realize not every consulting business works this way and that many are more rent-seeking, but that was my experience.

    1. Filosofickle*

      This aligns with my consulting experience. IMO one of the most important parts of my job is to listen to internal people and represent their point of view (and often frustrations) to executives. As a consultant I have an opportunity to deliver a reality check and be heard in a way most employees aren’t, and I take that responsibility seriously.

    2. Xenia*

      I think your point about neutrality is very valuable and reminds me of a thread about game design I ran into recently. A developer mentioned that when you’re getting feedback from players, it can have problems like not enough information included to identify the bug, a small but vocal minority that makes an issue seem out of proportion, or players requesting something that is low on the developer’s list compared to, say, fixing some critical security bugs that are this close to crippling the game. So game companies hire play testers to get professional, clear, and weighted feedback on what the issues with the game are.

      This seems similar in that what the consultant is saying matches what the employees are saying, the good consultant is trained to package the advice in a way that management can more easily understand the scope of the problem and apply a solution.

    3. Awesome Sauce*

      I work in a consulting sector as well, and this is my experience too. In fact I often ask, if I’m doing interviews, whether there is anything the employees would like us to signal-boost to the executives. And then of course I consider whether and how to present that – I want to give credit and support to existing work, and present the material in a neutral manner (not throwing anyone under the bus or overrepresenting a minority of disgruntled staff, but taking everything I’ve learned and considering it in the broader context of trends I’m seeing across industry, and then making recommendations they can actually USE.)

    4. Urbanchic*

      Thanks for flagging this. I’ve worked at all levels of a nonprofit org (including as an executive director) and I just want to validate and add to this. IME, one brings in consultants to package data, analysis, and then bring in market perspectives as a basis for formulating any recommendations. It can validate what colleagues are saying, but often internal recommendations are presented in a more piecemeal approach, and may not have the same rigor of facts or include industry best practices, knowledge of competitors. I think your best bet is to not be annoyed with this, but use the influence consultants can wield in decision making to your advantage to enact the changes you want to see at your org. When I first started leading projects someone recommended this approach to me and I have found it to be an excellent mechanism for driving organizational change. I see it now in the org I lead – the Directors who flesh out their ideas based on facts, best practices, and then get a credible third party validator – get more budget, more autonomy, more recommendations implemented. Consultants also provide cover for senior management teams when making changes – this matters to Boards, stakeholders (such as funders), etc. All this to say, there is more to this than senior leadership just not listening to staff and it being annoying.

  12. anone*

    #1

    I AM a consultant and I’m so constantly annoyed at being asked to come in and tell people things they (or their staff) already know that I’m refusing to do that anymore and am instead offering my services as someone who can help people within organizations talk to *each other* and surface that internal knowledge. Sadly…… I keep running into folks who say, “Sure, that sounds fine…. but at the end you’ll give us a bunch of recommendations and tell us what we should do next, right???” It’s frustrating. I’m an outsider–I can bring helpful tools and good questions, but I will never know as much about what you do as *you* do. But there’s lots and lots of consultants who are happy to come in and fill that role and lots of people willing to pay them to do it.

    1. anone*

      (I should add, the particular kind of consulting work that I do is the kind where you rarely need an outside party to tell you what to do/what the answers are as much as you need someone with expertise to help you/the org figure it out yourself. “Consultant” is a very broad role. But it’s annoying to me that it’s so often defaulted to “outside expert with all the insights” and I see a lot of consultants work from the model of positioning themselves as someone with special insights/smarter than their clients.)

    2. Awesome Sauce*

      UGH YES I run into this all the time. I can tell you what I think the desired end result should look like, I can tell you what the regulators are looking for, I can tell you about what industry trends I’ve observed, but I 100% cannot make you a work breakdown structure that lists which of your own specialists should do what and who should approve it. I don’t work there and I am not the expert on your systems – YOU are.

    3. Lucious*

      Here’s my read on LW1s situation:

      Executives are by nature risk averse. It’s a natural position to take when your decisions affect the organization and impact dozens to thousands of lives. There’s immense pressure to avoid making a bad decision; which is a problem, because there’s no foolproof method to avoid risk of a failed decision. In some firms and orgs executives are expected to uphold a strict “zero defect” culture- failure , as a certain Star Wars character says, is not tolerated.

      Enter the consultant. If an executive proposes changing a process based on internal feedback and it flops, they have to eat the political cost of a failed decision. If a consultant presents that same exact idea and it flops, the executive can claim it wasn’t their call. It’s the consultants fault the initiative failed. On to the next agenda item.

      So long as there’s a “zero defect” culture in corporate leadership, this behavior is likely to continue. The solution is jettisoning the “zero defect” superstition and accepting human beings sometimes make mistakes-and to learn from them rather than pretending they never happen above a certain pay grade.

  13. Ocean of Ramen*

    IRT #4- our household water and electric bills went up pretty significantly when my husband and I started working from home. Per your boss’ logic, we should be asking for pay increases from our companies to cover the cost of those expenses. After all, we’re saving our companies from having to heat/cool spaces for us, provide us water and coffee, or use electricity for our workstations. Oh, and they also owe us soap and toilet paper.

    1. John Smith*

      When my organisation underwent (another) restructure, they paid excess travel costs for those who found themselves having to travel further to their new office (though for only a year) which strangely outraged those who didn’t qualify for this as they continued to work in the same office.

      What this pandemic has made me realise is just how expensive it is to work. I’ve had (no, been forced) to come to the office two times a week during the pandemic and the reduced fuel costs and associated expenses has allowed me to wipe out my £3000 overdraft.

      1. Xenia*

        Yes! While household bills may go up it is valuable to weigh them against the costs you are no longer incurring. My gas expense dropped to a fifth of its normal during this last summer and during the height of lockdowns i was worried that I was using my car so little that it might develop mechanical issues. That meant I didn’t have to pay for oil changes and tire rotation and windshield washer fluid, or my parking pass, or anywhere near as much gas! I’m not discounting the increased home costs that people are experiencing at all but it’s valuable to remember that you’re not just adding costs, you’re also potentially cutting back on some existing ones.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          Not to mention your battery. I keep a ‘battery tender’ on my car since I no longer commute.

        2. UKDancer*

          Definitely. My electricity bill has gone up but my public transport costs have gone down as I’m no longer spending a large amount each month on a season ticket. I also save a lot by not buying Starbucks lattes as often as I used to go to the coffee shop opposite work frequently and now I don’t.

          On balance I’m probably slightly better off working from home but it’s swings and roundabouts really.

          1. londonedit*

            Same here. My electricity bills are higher, but I’m hardly spending anything on transport and while I’m obviously still having to spend money on food for lunch, I’m not getting tempted to spend £7 a day on posh sushi and coffee.

            It’s like the arguments for living in London or living outside and commuting in – yes, my rent is higher living closer in, but my transport costs are far lower. Personally, I prefer living in London and would rather a) rent and b) live in a smaller flat in order to live here, but other people who want to buy property choose to move further out and take on the higher costs of commuting in order to own a house, or to live in a bigger house than they could get closer to the city. It is swings and roundabouts.

            1. UKDancer*

              Yes and none of this counts how you are in yourself. I mean I was probably the best off I’d ever been during the hardest lockdowns last year when we didn’t go anywhere and everything was shut. I spent money on my supermarket deliveries from Tescos and online classes and that was it. On the other hand I was emotionally very low, had cabin fever badly and was climbing the walls.

              I’d rather be in the office some of the time and a little worse off than go through that level of lockdown again. I need to get out of my small shoebox flat regularly for my sanity’s sake.

              I think my ideal is some form of hybrid where I am in the office some of the time and working at home the rest of it.

              1. londonedit*

                Absolutely. There’s no way I want to do 12 weeks on my own in a studio flat again, no matter how much I like my flat! Luckily my employer is switching to a hybrid thing where you can work from home up to three days a week, so with any luck I’ll end up with a situation where I can still save a bit of money on transport but I’ll also have the opportunity to go and enjoy working in central London again.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                That’s pretty much me too. Yeah, our household bills went up (internet, heating, food) but I barely put 2k miles on the car in a year. Although did have to source a good chair for my disabilities out my own pocket and those aren’t cheap.

                But the amount of mental health care I required…yeah, a LOT. Like, the worst in my life.

                I’m okay with my current job being split between home and on site. I know my cat loves seeing me more often.

                1. quill*

                  Living alone during the height of lockdowns last summer sucked. Of course, my hometown also had a curfew for part of august so trying to run errands between work and curfew was unusually bad. But also it made me realize how all-consuming the work of living is if you have to do 100% of it on your own.

    2. Thursday Next*

      My electricity bill tripled because I live in a very hot climate, which is significantly more than what I would have spent on commuting/wardrobe/whatever.

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        Yeah, I’m going to have to find an air conditioner for my tiny room next summer because omg,that room gets to be 40c rather quickly with 2 computers running and the door closed. which us a job requirement to protect customer information.

  14. John Smith*

    #3, I’m curious as to whether you have (or could) report your old boss to someone senior or HR? Now that you can say your experienced evidence is backed up with someone else coming to you with the same problems, hopefully someone will listen and deal with your former manager who is the cause of the problem here imho.

    I’m very glad (and jealous!) that you escaped your bad boss. I’m still trying to escape mine.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It doesn’t sound like the old boss is doing anything reportable, he’s just kinda incompetent and over-relies on his staff. I don’t think it would be a good look for LW to be seen as trying to take him down.

  15. Andy*

    LW3 In my job, it would be 100% expected that old person still present in company will help out new person on that position. As in, refusing to help would reflect quite badly on me. It is completely normal to often help out old department for at least two months and then sporadically for some more months.

    That is just a warning, that depending on environment, refusing to help however gently would be seen as “you problem”. And if you are trying to let other team “fail” via not answering questions or not helping, you better doing it carefully or having very good reason, because that sort of thing reflects badly on you.

    Also, which is factor, no one here expects managers to be able to give complete instructions to new people. Management don’t have necessary knowledge, they don’t do that work actively. They give rough instructions, organizational instructions and then tell you who to ask. If those refuse to help, management is supposed to make them help.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      “no one here expects managers to be able to give complete instructions to new people. Management don’t have necessary knowledge, they don’t do that work actively. ”
      This might be true in your company but everywhere I’ve worked management had to know what we did and how to do the work. In many cases they took on escalations, so if they didn’t know how we did out job they couldn’t do their job. Also they were in charge of training.

      I could see the grand boss and above not knowing what to do, but my direct manger should know how to do my job.

      1. Cj*

        I get what you’re saying, and my manager’s have always known how to do my job. But like you said, the grandboss might not. So my manager’s manager didn’t know how to do the job, and would not have been able to train a new manger of mine.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        In the time I’ve been at my current job I’ve had two shift managers, one didn’t have a clue what we did, the other was promoted from the floor and could help you out anytime you had questions. Guess which manager we will miss when she gets promoted (and which one we started singing “ding dong the witch is dead” when we found out she was leaving).

      3. BadWolf*

        My manager can definitely not do the day to day of my job — but that’s normally where I work. Coworkers would do all the training.

      4. Andy*

        I am programmer. One manager manages programmers, analysts, testers and support team.

        While I insist that manager MUST be technical person, it would be completely absurd to expect them to be knowledgeable in all our professions, processes and habits. It would be completely absurd expectation.

        Besides, even if manager originally had that knowledge, the longer they manage the more they forget.

    2. Rebecca1*

      OP 3: If you do want to keep helping this person, I’d suggest pre-scheduling occasional training meetings or telling them “I have a hard stop at 2 pm your time” etc.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think this suggestion, to still help but to but some very firm structure, including a hard time I am not available after is probably your best bet. This way you get goodwill from other parts of the business for being a “team player” but are also able to still leave work at work and have an evening.

    3. ecnaseener*

      I’m curious, is the level of help expected at your company the same as what’s being asked of the LW? I can totally understand the expectation to answer a few quick questions, but if it’s cutting into LW’s evenings, that suggests it’s a significant amount of actual work.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      This would be the expectation where I work, too, but there is a line, and you are allowed to draw it. For example, requests for help that come in after 5pm Eastern can be deferred until the next day. There isn’t an expectation that the previous job-holder will drop everything or work late to help a newcomer. LW3 should not be putting out fires for the old dept, just sharing institutional knowledge. An email noting “Oh yes the Blackbriar account folders are all in a safe in Boss’s office; you’ll need his fingerprint to open it” is enough. You don’t have to strategize with new hire how she’s going to manage to get her hands on those folders without Bad Boss’s cooperation.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Help with a question here or there, sure, but if my manager knew I was being dragged back into the business of my previous role multiple times a week for weeks after transitioning, he’d put a stop to that. It’s not about “helping out” or not. This is your new job and you’re needed for your new job. There is a line between helping and being forced to continue doing your old role part-time and it sounds like in the letter, that line’s been crossed. He’s got our back and has told other departments “they left that role for a reason, and I don’t want to lose them from my team, so stop it”.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think it depends on how long OP has been out of the role and and how long the new employee has been in the role. If it’s been a month or so, yeah questions are okay – but more of this is where you’d find the answer, with the number of questions tapering off. If it’s been a couple of months, then yeah it may be time to ask advise of the new manager for how much help they should still be giving the new person.

  16. Allonge*

    LW1 – full empathy! It also happens internally – there are times it’s really difficult not to tell my boss ‘I TOLD you so’ when we get the input from various experts (in the same field I am expert in).

    That said, as this seems to be an immutable law of life, I have found it better to treat it like you treat gravity – work with it rather than against. Consultants are just as human as everyone else: if they hear a good proposal from you, they will run with it. And beyond the annoyance there is also validation: see, I was totally right.

    1. JustaTech*

      There’s also the value of novelty (consultant) vs the familiar (staff). I’ve encountered this in my family: my MIL was amazed when the nightly news corroborated something technical I had said. “I have a degree in this, of course I know what I’m talking about!” “Well, yes, but to me you’ll always be a child.”
      It’s quite possible that in some ways, to some senior people, staff will always be “new” and “junior”, even after they’ve been in their role for years and are experienced and respected experts.

  17. Liv*

    LW2: Definitely take Allison’s advice and make sure you actually do need to be included in these meetings and convos. As an employee, I’d get really annoyed if my manager wanted to be in every meeting I have with other teams. Obviously roles vary, but my work isn’t set by my manager, it’s set by my stakeholders (which includes other managers!) who email me, put requests in, and put calls/meetings in with me to discuss their asks. If I need a hand with something, or Ive got too many requests, or I’ve got someone asking for work outside my remit and I need help pushing back, that’s the point I ask my manager to get involved. But if he was like ‘hey can you include me in every meeting with X’ person I’d be like ‘… absolutely not’.

    As long as you’re having regularly 1:1s with your employees so you know their work stack, and as long as the other managers aren’t taking the piss by getting your team to do work that’s not their remit/detracting from their other responsibilities, then there’s absolutely no need for you to be involved or even given a heads up about meetings.

    1. Amaranth*

      If I were LW2 I’d also take a hard look at whether I’ve got some behaviors that make people want to avoid my presence in meetings. It might just be that these are patterns formed before LW became a manager, but they should check themselves just in case, that they don’t take over meetings or micromanage outside of their own expertise, etc. If its just a case of wanting to know tasking, wouldn’t a shared calendar work to get alerts on upcoming meetings for reports? Then LW2 can ask for details as needed.

      1. Wisteria*

        “If I were LW2 I’d also take a hard look at whether I’ve got some behaviors that make people want to avoid my presence in meetings.”

        Yup. I am reminded of my former lead who wanted to be invited to every meeting I had. She didn’t want to *go*, but she insisted on being invited so that, as she said, she could stay informed. I did not invite her. I privately felt that if she was having trouble staying informed, she needed to find a better way of staying on top things that did not look like micromanaging, and probably examine her own behaviors that were causing people not to give her updates.

    2. Asenath*

      LW2: My problem was simpler than yours in that I didn’t have multiple people assigned work I knew nothing about, but the underlying situation was similiar – the person I was supposed to be assisting would attend a particular recurring meeting at which I, not present, would be assigned work which he might tell me about immediately – or simply forget until someone or something reminded him that “wasn’t Asenath supposed to do that?”. So I invited myself to every single meeting, and soon I was also taking the minutes – not my favourite task, but if someone mentioned “Asenath will do that” during the meeting I knew about it and made the official record of it.

    3. Emilia Bedelia*

      Agreed. My role is very similar, and I take on a lot of projects “ad hoc” without getting my manager involved. A lot of times, it is because the person asking for my help doesn’t know who they are supposed to go to and is just emailing the last person they worked with, or they asked someone for a name and mine came up. As Liv said, if I have too much work or if it’s not really my problem then I’ll tell my manager… but most of the time, the project is less than 5-10% of my time for 2-3 weeks, and it’s not worth wasting everyone’s time getting my manager to approve.

      If OP is really concerned about keeping track of all the projects/requests, I second the suggestion to start with the team. Set out guidelines/expectations for when the manager should be looped in, and give the team the independence to solve problems and manage their own work. If you don’t trust the team to manage these kinds of projects without your involvement, that’s another situation entirely and definitely something to address- but if the team is doing their work well and keeping you informed of any big issues that do need your attention, it’s not “useless” to step back and let them handle things.

    4. Red Swedish Fish*

      I agree, asking to be invited to every meeting is alot. I think if anything the OP needs to look at making sure their team calendars are connected so the OP can look at meetings, having a Monday team meeting to share any new things, and creating a shared file where the team puts all of their ad-hoc work assignments.

    5. LW2*

      I definitely liked Alison’s advice and will give more thought to what conversations I actually need to be part of. One reason I’m a bit stressed out about not being in the loop is that sometimes managers in the other department we work closely with will come and ask me for a status update (which I can’t give if I’m not included status emails and so on). But I guess I should just tell simply tell them something like “The last thing I heard is X, but I don’t know the latest status, do you want me to check with Maria and get back to you, or will you check with her yourself?”

      Also seeing my letter in print made me realize I didn’t really give the full context. About 90% of the time I felt left out, the meeting was only for managers. The impact of me being left out of those meetings meant that sometimes my whole team were not in the loop about projects they were supposed to take care of. I’ve brought it up with several other managers and after that things got better. The other 10% is related to conversations including my team members and I think I just got in the habit of feeling bad when I’m not included that I felt bad even in the cases where there wasn’t any need for me to be there. I will definitely reflect more on how to handle those cases so that I don’t annoy my employees.

      Finally I’d like to add that most of my team’s work is “regular” projects that I know are happening and I’m never participating or asking to participate in those meetings.

  18. Empress Ki*

    4 WFH can actually be very costly. The amount of heating I had to spend last winter was off the chart ! It costed me more money than the cost of commuting.Did the my employer offer to pay for that ? Nope !

    1. twocents*

      Same. There are things I like about WFH but the tiny bit I saved in gas was more than offset by my other expenses. For example, when my office chair broke, at the office, the business foots the bill. WFH, that came out of my own pocket. I had to buy a printer and other office supplies. My utility bills have all increased.

      If I cared most about money out of my pocket, I’d be gunning to RTO full time.

  19. Koala dreams*

    #4 The argument is not unheard of, it’s common to account for cost of living and pay workers differently based on location. Larger companies with locations in many cities or countries can have quite the pay difference. The market is made from people, and if they have a choice, they’ll prefer a salary that covers their costs where they live. A company won’t be competitive paying the global/national average market rate in a high COL area.

    However, there’s nothing inherent cheaper working from home. Some costs go down, some go up. It’s not the same as the general cost of living in city A is lower than in city B. And it would be very bad for a boss to ask for everyone’s private budgets when determining raises! Very dystopian.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Oooh, wasn’t there a letter awhile ago about a boss going over his employee’s personal budget when the employee asked for a raise?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Worse than I remembered – he went through her bills! “when I asked for a raise, my boss went through my bills” posted feb 9 of this year

  20. Violet*

    LW1 – I once worked at a large discount store, and a manager implemented a new way of placing of shopping carts at the entrance. It was horrible and inconvenienced employees and customers alike. After a few days, told him the issues we were having and suggested we return to the old way. His only response was an icy glare; the horrible new idea stayed in place.

    A couple of days later, when the manager was standing at the front of the store, two women walked in and stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the carts. One of them exclaimed quite loudly, “What IDIOT put the carts like this? This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my whole entire life!”

    The old cart placement was quietly reinstated overnight. Public humiliation carried more weight than the knowledge of the worker bees! I never said anything, but I was a little smug every time I walked past the carts after that.

      1. Violet*

        Haha – cart arrangement is more interesting than I thought! In the good arrangement, an employee pushed a line of carts straight through the open doors and stopped once all the carts were in. Customers walked into the store and grabbed a cart from the front of the line. New cart deliveries would simply be pushed into the back of the line. There were several lines of carts, so several customers at once could enter and get carts without waiting on anybody else. In all my years, I’d never given much thought to cart arrangement, but I have to say that was flawless.

        In the manager’s vision of “new and improved,” the employee would push the stack up to the front door, then grab a couple off the front of the line and make a sharp left with them so that they were perpendicular to the doors. Due to space constraints, it was only possible to move a couple of carts at a time into the store, and even that was difficult.

        There was only room for one line of carts. When customers entered the store, the employee had to stop and wait for them to grab a cart and get out of the way. Customers with children had to turn their backs on their kids to grab a cart, but they’d eye the doorway nervously, afraid their kids would be kidnapped or run out into traffic. If multiple customers entered at once, they had to wait on each other, and the employee had to wait on all of them.

        The new arrangement also cut off the shortcut access for customers to walk from the the register to customer service, forcing them to either exit the store and reenter or go backwards through cashier lines until they were back in the main aisle. It was unpleasant all around. Gee, as I write it all out, I feel smug all over again.

    1. OP1*

      I’m so curious to know what the bad way of doing the carts was! I’m sure I will think about this the next time I’m at a store.

      1. Violet*

        OP1, I answered it above as a reply to WellRed’s comment. And I admit that I now have a deep appreciation for good cart placement in stores. I can’t believe I took that for granted for so long!

    2. ecnaseener*

      My guess is…a big wall of carts blocking the entrance, so you have to stop short as you walk in the door. Am I right?

  21. Mannheim Steamroller*

    #2… [“However, I work in an environment where it’s common for managers from other departments to initiate ad hoc tasks for my department. Often, I’m not included in those emails/meetings although the issue is directly related to my team’s work.”]

    Just ask them point-blank: “What is the BUSINESS purpose of keeping me out of the loop?” That will force them to admit that there isn’t one, and that they’re simply acting in bad faith.

    1. JustKnope*

      This a really adversarial way of approaching it with the other managers!! Definitely do not recommend doing that.

      1. Knope Knope Knope*

        Agreed! If I had a manager who expected to be included in every meeting and email I was on my work would grind to a halt. And if I were to then expect that of my team in return there would literally never be enough hours in a week to accomplish anything. I think this is much more about the new manager learning to communicate, delegate, and set expectations rather than needing to confront other managers for working with their team.

    2. Emilia Bedelia*

      Before doing this, OP should consider whether there is a BUSINESS purpose for them to be included, or if it is just them feeling excluded. It’s not bad faith to not invite someone to a meeting if they aren’t involved in the project and don’t have anything to contribute.

      This isn’t a slight against the OP – as a manager they have higher level priorities/responsibilities, and they should really consider whether their input is actually needed in these meetings if someone from their team is already attending.

    3. Colette*

      The business purpose is likely that they don’t think she needs to be involved. And frankly, that’s an odd question – you could ask the same thing about every single meeting the company (or another company has).

      1. ecnaseener*

        Seriously. “Uh…the business purpose was respecting your time and ours by only inviting the necessary people?”

    4. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Not a good idea. There is such a thing as matrix organizations – planned or not – with various lines of interaction and instruction from other managers. If her company is matrix, OP doesn’t need to approve everything her team is asked to do… and that’s true in non-matrix orgs. The approach you recommend is confrontational, territorial, and comes from a position of weakness and suspicion. This does nothing to help the OP.

      Also, there doesn’t need to be a BUSINESS purpose to exclude someone from a meeting, and the reason isn’t always ‘bad faith.’

  22. LKW*

    LW#1 – Consultant for 20 years – I tell my clients “my job is to make you look good.” And my job is to potentially take the fall if things go wrong (sometimes it’s not my fault and I’m not going to fall on my sword for the fun of it).

    Your frustration is totally and completely understandable. Your management may have wanted some plausible deniability: This idea might work, but then we’re totally responsible. If someone outside the company validates our ideas, I can blame them if it goes awry.

    When presented with the “solution” does your management say “Well why didn’t you guys come up with that?” If that’s the case, then yeah, your management sucks. We love coming in to clients with ideas – big, little, in the middle. Ideas are good. It’s great working with people who think and are vocal about what will and won’t work in their organization.

  23. Dee Dee*

    Just sympathy on the consulting thing. The leadership in my org loves consultants and is constantly bringing different big consulting firms in on different things. As someone whose role is strategic and is trying always to improve the way we do things, it drives me crazy when a recommendation I make is ignored until it comes on a slide from one of those other companies. I do thing (some) leaders hire consultants so they have someone external to point a finger at, but I’ve also experienced and seen how demoralizing it is for consultants to come in and leadership listens to them rather than give their own teams opportunities to tackle big problems themselves.

  24. agnes*

    I’m concerned that some organizations have heard from employees that remote work is so preferable to them that it’s fueled this idea “Well let’s test the water on just how valuable it is–what would remote workers essentially “pay” to be able to stay remote? Just how valuable a “benefit” is it?” It’s a horrible HR strategy, but some organizations are so focused on the bottom line that they look at any way to cut costs in the short term.

    It’s important that, in these types of dialogues, remote workers point out the value to the COMPANY about being able to work remotely, not just the value to themselves personally. Here are a few ideas:

    1. Companies get more work hours out of remote employees-studies show remote workers “give back” some of their commute time to the workplace without additional compensation .
    2. Companies can reduce their overhead costs.
    3. Companies can hire the best talent regardless of where that talent lives–gives them a bigger and better qualified labor pool.
    4. It reduces absenteeism since many remote workers will still work even if they are a little sick, or have sick family members they are tending to.
    5. It improves employee retention and therefore reduces the cost of turnover, since it is a highly valued work option.

    1. WellRed*

      I disagree people should offer to give back commuting time by working more for no increase in pay.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I don’t think it’s so much that people “offer” to do so, but that for a lot of folks it just sort of happens to some degree – I officially start working at 7am, but tend to be logging into my computer ten minutes before that because if I’m ready to start my day, I’m not going to go find something else to do for that ten minutes on principle (and I’ll probably functionally burn it throughout the day in reading AAM or petting my dog or whatever), and if I’m ears deep in a task at 3:30 when I’m officially done, I’m more likely to put in the last twenty minutes to just finish it if I’m already at home and I don’t have to run catch a bus or worry about rush hour traffic or whatever — mostly because it’s more convenient for ME to just get it done now than to stop and start up again tomorrow. (I’m salaried – this wasn’t something I did when I was hourly, of course.)

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yep. If I’m driving to work, and I’m ready a little early, I might try to empty the dishwasher or something. If I’m teleworking, and I’m ready a little early, I’ll sit down and start to work.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            Same here. And if I’m waiting for something at the end of the day, I’m more likely to stay signed on at the end of my work day & check for updates in between doing non-work things. But if I’m in the office, I shut down & go home.

      2. Autumn*

        I didn’t read it that they were expected to work in the time they used to commute, I think it’s more that they might be ready to sit down and start at 8:00 and then they might knock off at 4 or take a nap 1-2 but work until 6. They can manage their time comfortably and as a result working a little extra takes less out of their energy than when they faced 90 minutes of drive time every day.

      3. agnes*

        Just to clarify, I don’t think people should “offer.” to work more. I’m just saying that studies show that to be true.

  25. hamsterpants*

    LW#2 — my default assumption is that people don’t want to be included in meetings unless they absolutely have to be. I have been at a new job for three months and I’m still figuring out when to include my boss in meetings and when to not include him. I agree that you should speak to your reports about this. The other thing you can do, if you really need to be looped in on something, is to feel confident stopping work until you have been fulling briefed on whatever it is. People will learn really quickly to include you! But only do this latter thing if there is a concrete, work-related reason why you need to be included in the meeting.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      This.

      Attending less meetings is generally a good thing. There need to be ways to keep people informed and not assign people tasks they cannot do due to other demands, but attending less meetings is a good thing.

  26. Marquette*

    LW3 – A diplomatic – and often true – “out” of this situation is to say that you no longer recall and/or don’t have full information on what has changed since you left. And then directing them to how you would approach the problem if you were still there…eg talk to Person A about topic A and consult Resource B about issue B.

    1. Yet another person*

      Agree, it’s absolutely true the longer you aren’t in the role, the less you will remember, and the more will have changed. You can be very pleasant and just not recall, while directing the new person to the documentation and appropriate resources. Also, I doubt your new boss expects you to work after hours on your own time to help do your old job – always have a hard stop/ another commitment when your workday ends. You can still be nice while saying no!

  27. NewYork*

    I think that salaries for remote people will go down, because enough remote people will take a lower salary for remote work. Simply supply and demand. And then that will drive down salaries in high COLA areas because some companies will end up moving out of high COLA areas, and others will realize that they do not have pay higher wages. Now, some jobs cannot be done remotely (like many in the medical field), but for those than can, I think it will drive salaries down. You can make logical arguments as to how remote workers save the company money, but as long as many people will take a remote job over an in the office job for less money, this will happen

    1. Student*

      Counterpoint: This could just as easily be about incentivizing work-from-the-office as about keeping business costs down. The motives of the managers who are driving this decision matter, probably more than the supply-and-demand dynamics. We don’t really know what they are trying to accomplish. I suspect some are looking to cut costs, as you’ve speculated, but others are looking to get employees to return to the office. If this approach doesn’t achieve the manager’s goals, regardless of supply and demand, they will just change tactics to achieve the desired outcome.

  28. Andrea McDuck*

    OP2: I’ve been in your exact shoes, and it’s not going to change unless you, your direct reports, and your senior leadership push back. The way you win is by emphasizing efficiency and planning needs. Couch it in a way that has a benefit for them – eg, “You’re going to get faster results if you coordinate through me.”

    It totally sucks, because you’re responsible for managing your team – but how can you do that effectively if you don’t know all the things your team is doing?

    You may not need to be in on all those meetings – but that should be a decision you get to make, not one someone else made for you.
    And you shouldn’t be finding out about assignments from your direct reports. Maybe Direct Report A isn’t the person you want working on Project 1 this month. Maybe Direct Report B is on a PIP and needs extra time to complete Task 2. Those details should be up to you.

    I guarantee the other managers would get quite pissy if you directly assigned work to their direct reports.

    1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I actually disagree. Many teams provide support/run projects to other teams and requests come from other managers. I see the OP as a new manager who is trying to hold control over everything. It sounds like these requests will be normal, so I think she needs to figure out the balance of having frequent and effective communication with her team members and establishing how and when she should be involved in certain things. And then she needs to trust her team to do their work.

      I think she needs to find the balance of what she needs to get involved with, not be involved in everything.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yeah, this is how my department works (I write contracts). The manager in another department will contact me about a contract they need and I work with them to get it done. My manager may sit in on one or two meetings if it’s really high profile, or I may get her involved if I run into a problem or realize it’s going to have an impact on other departments (because she’ll then manage that issue), but I am completely authorized to just Do The Work. I’d say that 90% of the time she knows what I’m working on because I’ve told her; at my company it would be very strange for her to insist that all coordination go through her.

      2. Andy*

        > Many teams provide support/run projects to other teams and requests come from other managers.

        And in that situation it is quite crucial for your own manager to have info about those things. To be able to prioritize, coordinate and intervene in case of issues. To be able to help own team members. That is an important job I expect manager to do – to protect team.

        Otherwise, team members end up being pressured, yelled at and criticized by 4 different managers. And those wont coordinate nor be understanding of the fact that you have already 50 hours a week tasks assigned by other three. They will come in with overly optimist estimates and expectations that they are the first and top priority.

        These negotiations are literally management job. And reason why the other managers skip the team leader is that it is much easier to pressure lower level employees. It is harder to say “no” or “later” for lower level people and easier for their peers.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          >That is an important job I expect manager to do – to protect team. Otherwise, team members end up being pressured, yelled at and criticized by 4 different managers.
          What if the team doesn’t actually need to be protected? If there are problem managers or people unfairly criticizing the team, the manager should definitely step up, but not every situation is like this. You’re describing a very dysfunctional situation in many ways, which is definitely reality for many people but is not normal in many other situations. If the team members feel empowered and able to manage their own schedules and push back on other teams with unreasonable expectations, then why would the manager need to get more involved if they don’t actually see an issue?

          > And reason why the other managers skip the team leader is that it is much easier to pressure lower level employees
          Sometimes. The other side, however, is that it is more efficient to go to the person who is actually doing the work. For a routine project, what is the point of having 2 people involved in all the meetings, if one of them is not even the one who’s doing the work?

          In a dysfunctional workplace where teams routinely fight over timelines and projects, your recommendations wouldn’t be out of place. But in a healthy workplace, a manager demanding to be included in meetings to “protect their team” will seem overbearing and unnecessary. It’s really important to consider the culture and whether it’s actually essential for the manager to be involved. I am in a role like this, at a mid-level where I have a decent amount of independence, and I would find it totally weird for my manager to be included in every meeting on very routine projects.

          1. Andy*

            > You’re describing a very dysfunctional situation in many ways,

            I am describing situation in which multiple managers give tasks to the same person and company without infinite resources. The moment some tasks take long, the other managers need and will compete among themselves.

            > What if the team doesn’t actually need to be protected?

            Then the manager can opt out. But here, it is not manager opting, out, it is other managers keeping the boss out of the loop.

            > If the team members feel empowered and able to manage their own schedules and push back on other teams with unreasonable expectations, then why would the manager need to get more involved if they don’t actually see an issue?

            That decision should be on the team and the team manager. Not on the managers of other departments.

            > The other side, however, is that it is more efficient to go to the person who is actually doing the work. For a routine project, what is the point of having 2 people involved in all the meetings, if one of them is not even the one who’s doing the work?

            Then the manager can opt out. Note that the manager here wants to acquire information she is not getting. It is completely legitimate wish to understand tasks being done in your team more. And managers are being asked about what is going on in their teams – what kind of work is done, how much of it, what resources are needed and so on. Wishing to be in loop is completely legitimate.

            > In a dysfunctional workplace where teams routinely fight over timelines and projects, your recommendations wouldn’t be out of place.

            Why would conflicts over timelines be dysfunctional? It simply means there are deadlines and finite resources and people need to decide what is going to be done first. Someone is going to have his work done later, someone sooner, people wishing to be sooner in the que are not necessary dysfunctional.

        2. NYWeasel*

          My team was dealing with being pressured by multiple stakeholders to add in work, plus I often wasn’t kept in the loop about new work until significant resources were committed to it. I have zero interest in micromanaging my team on their projects, but I do need to assess whether the projects that come in align with where my team’s resources are supposed to be allocated. The solution that works for me is that work requests need to be submitted via a portal, and nothing can be requested via email. I review the requests and assign my team members who then take the meetings themselves. I make every effort to keep related requests with the same team member, but I also help my team manage their workload by balancing out assignments. Since I switched to this system, we now have a log of all of the requests, so it’s also helped with team documentation of workload.

      3. pbnj*

        I had a new-to-managing manager who wanted to be in way too many meetings. It significantly slowed things down since they were often double-booked but insisted on being there.

  29. Steve Kershaw*

    Remote workers should be paid more because the company doesn’t have to provide office space for them.

    1. pancakes*

      By that logic, anyone working for a company that leases space in Manhattan should have their salary lowered on account of their employer’s extraordinary real estate expenses.

  30. Anon for this*

    Our manager wants to be copied in on everything. It’s frustrating at times, but also, as underwater as our department is, for all the people who bring things to be expedited straight to us, bypassing him, there are just as many who go straight to him, bypassing us completely, and he needs to be at least aware of all the last minute things we keep getting looped in on and pulled into so he can either provide the relevant info that we’re working on high priority thing, or tell us the “high priority” emergency someone else is trying to get us to fix isn’t, and to do the thing that was brought straight to him instead. Without an accurate count of what, exactly, is coming to us directly, he can’t do that. But it does make for a LOT of emails.

    1. The Rural Juror*

      My boss also wants to be copied on everything, but then he has hundreds of emails he’s never going to read. I would rather copy him on the important things he actually needs to be aware of so he’s more likely to focus on it. He even admitted one day, “I get so many emails that you copy me on that I don’t know what’s what.” I asked if he wanted me to copy him on only the important ones and he said no, he still wanted to be in the loop on everything. So now we’re still in this cycle where he doesn’t ready 90% of the emails I send him, even if they’re directly to him asking for something specific -_-

  31. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

    LW 2- I think you definitely need to ask the question – do I need to be in this meeting, but also fully embrace that you should not be included in all your teams meetings. If your team is the one doing the work for other manager than what is your role? Broader planning, prioritization etc? I have worked in teams where we provide support for whole divisions and my boss would have only ever been in meetings (sometimes 3 at a time) if he attended everything his senior managers did.

    So ultimately I would also take a look at how you meet with your team members and how you support them. Do your 1:1s give you the information you need to manage, if not is there a threshold for participation. Create effective communication within your team, trust them to do their jobs (with sufficient oversight and support) rather than participating at every level.

    I hope you can find a good balance, but try not to panic and get involved in every thing.

  32. lost academic*

    Companies that wanted to based in HCOL areas had to pay the market rate when part of the deal was having to live in that area and bear those costs because you had to be in the office every day for the most part. If they didn’t pay those salaries, people didn’t or couldn’t live in that area and take those jobs, or they’d go to a competitor who would pay more. It does create a spiral – talent concentrates in those areas, compensation increases in general due to the competition, which is attractive particularly for young single workers. If you take that imperative off the table or make it optional, you can hire and employ people in other locations that do not have to bear that cost and they will accept lower salaries to not live in those places. Jobs are generally tradeoffs in that respect – what do you want, need, what can you put up with.

  33. hola my peeps*

    I guess I’m old and out of touch, but I’m saving a fortune by teleworking and I’d be fine with a pay cut to be able to do it forever. Further, I’d accept less money if I moved someplace where my cost of living was half of what it is in my major city.
    It’s disingenuous to suggest that teleworking benefits companies more than it does the employees. My utilities haven’t gone up, I haven’t had to buy work clothes in almost two years, I’m not commuting hours a day, my gas and car maintenance costs are drastically reduced. Most people can say the same and companies know it. They don’t care if your water bill is $10 higher because they know you’re saving hundreds a month at least in other areas.

    1. Colette*

      If you have the space to set up an office, teleworking isn’t terribly expensive. Personally, my utilities have not gone up much, and I’ve saved on my bus pass and incidental food purchases at work. I did buy a desk and a chair, but those are a one-time expense.

      But if you have to get a bigger place to have space for an office, there’s no way teleworking will ever be less expensive than going to the office.

    2. Forrest*

      >>It’s disingenuous to suggest that teleworking benefits companies more than it does the employees

      I don’t think it’s disingenuous so much as you’d need to look at a LOT of data to decide, and there would be a pretty massive standard deviation. Everyone’s individual experiences by themselves aren’t worth much without a really detailed analysis because it crosses so many different costs and people live in such different situations.

      Me and my partner both walked to work, and live in a big enough house that we had two rooms we could use for offices without losing space for anything else. We’re paying a little bit more in heating during the winter but that’s almost certainly offset but always making coffee and lunch at home rather than buying it. There are just way too many experiences for any one person’s experience to mean much about the overall economic impacts for businesses and individuals.

      1. Bostonian*

        Agreed. There are so many cost factors that are vastly different among different people. And it gets really complicated when you consider costs that are unavoidable vs costs that are behavioral. (For example, I do spend more on coffee and eating takeout when I go into the office, but I don’t *have* to do that, it’s just easier.)

    3. ecnaseener*

      Your utilities haven’t gone up?! I don’t think “most” employees can say the same at all. Everyone I’ve talked to agrees that utilities went way up, particularly heating in the winter.

    4. Observer*

      It’s disingenuous to suggest that teleworking benefits companies more than it does the employees. My utilities haven’t gone up, I haven’t had to buy work clothes in almost two years, I’m not commuting hours a day, my gas and car maintenance costs are drastically reduced. Most people can say the same

      This is simply factually untrue. A tremendous amount really depends on the specifics.

      I’m looking at my employer, fir instance. If we had been able to get rid of office space (a common cost saving for companies, WFH would have saved us a very significant amount of money, even with the additional costs that we incurred with WFH. On the other hand, of a very a very significant number of our staff, WFH would have been quite costly if we hadn’t been the one providing appropriate equipment, and in some cases providing or upgrading internet access. And there are a ton of staff for whom WFH would mean moving to a different location (with all of the costs that that incurs) if this were a long term situation.

      Were there exceptions to this? Sure, for some staff WFH was a wash or saved them money. But it’s just not true that this is even close to universal. Even for families with decent income.

    5. Student*

      I lost about 15% of my home to work office space. That’s worth about $4.5k a year here, if I go by the lowest possible way to estimate its cost impact to me.

      I had to shelve two hobbies that I enjoyed to make room for that new pandemic work space.

      I had to buy office furniture and equipment that my employer would normally provide, which was also not cheap (and is of lower quality than what my workplace would’ve provided).

      Great that you had loads of extra room and furniture in your home to accommodate however many new office spaces your household has needed. It’s been a huge pain for people who don’t live in a large home, and those who have employers who won’t shell out for things like monitors, desk chairs, etc.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Person with tiny house here to agree! It’s been a real pain to find somewhere where both me and the husband unit can work. Luckily his firm doesn’t mind him sprawled on the sofa all day.

  34. Sharrbe*

    #4 sounds like the old argument that men should be paid more than women because they support their families. It’s just ridiculous to base pay on whether the employers thinks we really “need” it or not. We’re not their servants, we’re what makes their business possible.

    1. EPLawyer*

      THIS.

      Every person situation is different. Should Sacharissa get more money because she has student loans and Angua doesn’t? Hey, Nobbie drives a beat up old car to work which costs more to keep in running condition than but Cheery performs her own car maintenance? Should Nobbie get more salary (if he hasn’t nicked the petty cash already but that’s another problem). Once you get into reasons OTHER than market rate for the job being done, you run smack dab into other issues.

      1. NewYork*

        I agree, but I think that the market rate for remote jobs will be less than working in the office, and may eventually drive down market rate for office jobs in high COLA areas.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Yep. I mean my WFH expenses are *not* small – it costs money and time to set up a full time working setup when you’re disabled. To say nothing of how much I missed having air conditioned offices when it got hot (UK houses are built to keep the heat IN and we do not typically have air con at home).

        Now, should someone who is, say, able-bodied and has a great place to work at home with no adjustments get paid less than me? No.

  35. Tomato Frog*

    #2 – I think whether the OP needs to know about these projects and whether they need to be in the meetings are two different questions. The second could be addressed on an case-by-case basis if the first happened! I agree with Alison that the best way to accomplish that is to talk to the direct reports, not other managers.

    OP, I ask my direct reports to loop me in when they’re pulled into a new project as a matter of course — that often just means forwarding me the email after they’ve been contacted, or mentioning the project to me in our check-in, rather than including me in the ongoing discussions. I ask them to do this because I want to know how busy they are, what deadlines they’re working towards, and be able to protect their time if people are asking them to do work they shouldn’t be doing. After I know about the project, I can make the call about how involved I think I should be.

    1. Dino*

      This is my suggestion. Ask your direct reports to send you minutes/recap of meetings with other managers/working groups. But make sure you don’t bite their heads off if they do and agreed to do something you don’t want them to do! Take it up with the manager asking instead.

  36. Red Swedish Fish*

    #4 That is so odd, Hopefully this is just your boss making assumptions and not a company wide thing. Our company is looking into where everyone moved/is moving to this year since we are letting people decide if they want to stay remote or go back in the office. We are going to be changing pay (lowering) for people who moved out of very HCOL areas, like most company’s seem to be doing. Mostly people who moved from the New York Office to Arkansas and found out their 500sq ft 1 bedroom could buy a 5000 sq ft house with an inground pool. Since the announcement that it would not be mandatory to go back in the office our New York, Chicago, and LA staff has scattered to more affordable living.

  37. EngGirl*

    LW2

    This is the bane of my existence. The number of people who try to circumvent me to give my team work is astounding. Every single one of them seems to think it’s ok because “it shouldn’t take them that long” I’ve had to explain to other managers over and over that as they don’t know my teams work load they can’t give them work without consulting me. One manager actually told me they didn’t see what the problem was because “they can always tell me no”. As if any entry level employee is going to tell a director no.

    The thing I coached my team to say is “let me review with EngGirl and I’ll get back to you”. I also had to do a lot of checkins with my team and ask them to make sure they’re making me aware of their workload. My message is that we absolutely want to support all of the teams we work with and we will wherever possible but our actual work needs to come first. We can’t miss our deadlines because we were helping sales out.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      One manager actually told me they didn’t see what the problem was because “they can always tell me no”. As if any entry level employee is going to tell a director no.

      I won’t say no. I will tell someone to put it in my queue, then assign it the lowest priority and knock it out the next time I’m idle, bored, and fed, but I won’t outright decline.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          My employer doesn’t have that rank.

          If a VP that I don’t report to came to me with that request, I’d ask them for its due date and to email it to me (so I have it in writing when questioned). Then I’d position it in the queue ahead of the lowest priority thing before that due date.

          If a Manager from another department came to me with that request, as above and ask for the paper trail, and I’d direct them to my supervisor if they wanted more urgency.

          I also like having favors to cash in, so if I’m not particularly busy, I’ll probably try to work it in as decently urgent if I think I can get some rapport or good will out of the exchange.

    2. Wisteria*

      My manager doesn’t know my workload. He knows what programs I am assigned to, but not what my actual workload is. It irks the bejeezus out of that he says yes or no to things without asking me. I *want* people to come directly to me. I *will* say no to a director if I am too busy–or, at any rate, I will ask what level of effort it will be and tell them my current commitments, and we will see if that works.

  38. Colette*

    OP3, if you’re not comfortable just stopping, I’d suggest that your first question every time should be “have you checked the documentation?” You need to train your replacment to check the resources she has – right now you’re making it easier for her to ask you than to refer to documentation. (And if she says she has checked the documentation but you know the answer is in there, pull it up and go through it with her to find the answer.)

  39. Texan In Exile*

    LW3: I moved to a different group in the same company. I left behind for my successor what had not been done for me: Details of what needed to be done with examples and names of people to contact. I also spent two hours with him showing him everything. For the next few weeks, I answered his questions.

    Then one day, he asked me something. I asked him if he had looked in the documentation I had left him.

    No. He had not. Turns out he had never read it.

    I called his boss (who was my friend) and told her that he needed to figure things out for himself – that I had left him everything he needed to know – all he had to do was look.

    The main job was to find, qualify, and license training providers around the world. I had found seven new licensees in my 18 months on the job. He was there two years and never signed one new training company. And he was paid $17,000 a year more than I was. I still don’t know what he was doing with his time.

  40. hbc*

    OP1: I’ve definitely seen cases where management just isn’t listening and pays a consultant to tell them that the sky is blue, but I’ve probably got more examples of employees not being able to present their ideas in a thorough, understandable way.

    Often, what’s not noticed in the “That’s what we’ve been saying!” frustration is that the consultant has 1) filtered *out* a lot of ideas that were unworkable, 2) made sure that a proposed change doesn’t have unintended effects in other areas, 3) brought industry data to make management feel comfortable that something isn’t radical, and/or 4) developed a rudimentary plan so management can hit the ground running. There’s a huge difference between “We should cross-train to eliminate overtime” and “65% of the products from Team A could be done by Team B with minimal training, and with Team B’s average excess weekly man hours of 79, we can improve efficiency and eliminate 95% of overtime with the only cost being a 0.6% increase in total inventory turnover as we build to stock.”

    1. Parasaurolophus*

      Definitely this. And honestly, as a consultant – I think it’s really important to get the perspective of the front line staff when recommending changes. They know what their problems are, and often already have an idea of the solution – we just have the time and resources to go research it, crunch the numbers and come up with a proposal that leadership will listen to.

  41. AndersonDarling*

    #1. I was just having a discussion on this topic and these were some of the unfortunate reasons that came forth:
    1. Leadership doesn’t want to acknowledge that their staff are intelligent competent employees. It’s easier to accept a consultant as their equal. Some leaders desperately need to keep the divide between themselves and the minions.
    2. Favors. Frequently the consultants are friends of a leader. Sometimes a team is told to hire a specific consultant by the next rung leader than needs to pay back a favor. The department lead doesn’t even need or want the consultant there, but they know they need to comply.
    3. Bias. Leadership can’t see through their bias and simply cannot accept information from minorities. So they hire a middle aged white guy or white lady in a suit to convey the message.

    We’ve had consultants that have less experience than our internal SMEs. Once we even developed and ran the performance analysis, walked the consultant through the statistical results, made the powerpoint, and coached the consultant on how to present the results. The consultant made six figures. It was incredibly demoralizing to know that our leaders thought so little of our skills.

    There absolutely fantastic consultants out there, so I don’t want to be overly sour. But you shouldn’t hire one before examining what resources are already available internally.

  42. Mannheim Steamroller*

    Basically, you hire a consultant to tell you what time it is…

    – Decent consultants will look at their watches and tell you the time.
    – Good consultants will look at YOUR watch and tell you the time.
    – Great consultants will get YOU to look at your own watch and tell them the time, then repeat the time back to you and bill you double.

  43. blink14*

    LW#5 – I’ve worked with a lot of musicians over the years in the indie music scene, many of whom are good friends, and I find there’s generally three types of musicians. Super organized, go with the flow, and those who tend to only do what benefits them. For your vocalist who isn’t responding – this rings so true with me! I get how annoying it is. This is the person that you have to truly manage – whether that’s as a friend, a bandmate, an actual manager, etc.

    Ultimately, what I’ve found is that for your own sanity and well being only put the level of effort that you are getting back. Try not to unintentionally create a situation where the person taking advantage just starts assuming that someone else will handle things, that they can be late because they are always late, etc. I have a long time close friend who I assist in all factors of his music career, and it’s come to the point that I can only engage on the music end of our relationship, because he’s always about what benefits him first.

    For your new band – if someone cancels last minute and doesn’t have a solid reason, consider that an example of future behavior and tell the person you’re not interested. Set the tone from the start, and you’ll likely get a group of similar minded people who want to create music and have fun, without the drama and drain of managing other band members who aren’t on the same level.

  44. Iris Eyes*

    As someone looking at a potential 5 figure basement remodel because the house wasn’t purchased with a permanent WFH office as a requirement I’m calling crap on the whole “WFH is so much cheaper” argument. If you spend over half your waking hours somewhere else that can significantly change what format your housing needs to take, which in most of the country at the moment you don’t have a lot of choice in.

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      Especially when the trend in housing has moved away from McMansions and more toward downsizing and open floor plans. Factor in room mates, kids, critters, neighbors who drop by unexpectedly because “your home anyway”, and things like work information privacy (HIPPA, social security numbers, etc) and it can be challenging. I love WFH. But one of the reasons I love it is because I live by myself in a rural setting.

  45. Art3mis*

    If #4’s boss wants to pay remote employees less because they have less “business” expenses then he can start paying those employees rent for the space that their work occupies in their home and reimbursing for electricity, heating/cooling, and internet.

    1. OldAdmin*

      Which is why my company soon after sending us into WFH gave us a small lump sum (about $250) for extra electricity, Internet costs, headsets etc. we might need at home. 1.5 years later it turned to be not enough, so we got an extra annual bonus. Nice. :-)

  46. Parasaurolophus*

    LW1 – I am a consultant and I can confirm that we are often hired to tell the board exactly what their employees have already told them, but in fancy powerpoints and reports. It’s a little ridiculous that it takes paying an external consultant to get movement from leadership, but that is often the case.

    1. BadWolf*

      It’s of cold comfort, but the employees have probably paved the way subconsciously. It’s not unlike trying to tell your parent or child something and it’s the worst! Then a third party tells them and it’s the best!

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Based on what I’ve seen over the years being involved in management and being in on some executive management discussions, I think leadership tends to believe employees are pointing out problems because they like to complain, rather than they see a real business problem that needs solving to make things run better. When the same problem is pointed out by a consultant, it’s coming from an objective party and it therefore must be a true business problem that needs solving.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yeah I think there’s a default mindset that employees don’t care about the business – and that’s just not true! The business running better makes everyone’s lives easier, including the employees. Some of it probably comes from the meta narrative of employee/employer relationships being hostile or combative by nature.

        1. hbc*

          Though a lot of employees *do* have a narrower view of the business, and will really only raise things that will benefit them. The salespeople will suggest that the business will run better if they don’t have to waste time on expense reports and accounting just takes care of it for them, and genuinely believe that it will improve the business. And they will never, ever point out that, should there actually be notable gains from offloading the reports, you can also cut one salesperson and hire a cheaper sales assistant.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think leadership tends to believe employees are pointing out problems because they like to complain, rather than they see a real business problem that needs solving to make things run better. When the same problem is pointed out by a consultant, it’s coming from an objective party and it therefore must be a true business problem that needs solving.

        I usually joke that consultants have credibility because they’re not dumb enough to take a direct job offer from the employer. It’s very interesting to see the same actions and behaviors explained in a way that completely and effectively sidesteps that cynicism.

    3. Boof*

      Although I am curious how often hearing it from a consultant actually generates the change? I feel like getting consultants and then continuing to not actually take their recs despite acting like they did something by hiring consultants is a thing, too.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I worked in a toxic job where the staff often made suggestions that fell on deaf ears. One day the owner of those deaf ears was lamenting not knowing how to fix problems, so I suggested he hire a consultant and he balked at that, too. My thought was that if he heard it from someone he paid he’d listen (and it would largely be the same as what the staff was saying).

      I left 5 years ago and the whole staff has turned over twice since then. Wonder why.

  47. Observer*

    #4 you can’t have it both ways. Either you believe that ” and if you have costs like business clothes and travel, that it makes sense to take that into account. OR you believe that “your expenses are not your employer’s business” The two are mutually exclusive. ESPECIALLY if you focus only on work related expenses.

    That said, Alison is correct. It’s not that common for WFH to be a net financial gain for people. And it’s quite common that it’s a net financial loss. At the same time, it is quite common (though not universal by any means) that WFH winds up being a significant net saving for an employer. So his thinking is off base.

    1. Student*

      Costs you may incur when working from home on your employer’s behalf:
      (1) Internet – did you need to upgrade your home service to support your work? Did you need to rewire anything, add wireless access points, etc.? Are you mostly using your internet for work purposes now? Is your service at home worse than what it was at work, and impacting your productivity negatively?
      (2) Phone – do you spend some of your personal phone time on work needs now, when you would’ve used a work desk phone before?
      (3) Real estate – do you now have to devote a portion of your personal home to work-from-home office space that you didn’t before?
      (4) Office supplies – do you have to buy your own pens, notebooks, binders, printer & supplies, stapler, folders, scanner, keyboard, monitor, whiteboard, headphones, camera, etc. when you would’ve gotten those at work before? Do you now forgo those when they used to be helpful to completing tasks efficiently?
      (5) Furniture – are you responsible for all of your own office furniture now?
      (6) Cleaning – did your office provide custodial service that you now need to provide for yourself in your home office?
      (7) Higher use of personal supplies – remember the great toilet paper shortage of 2020? Part of it was due to hoarding, but part of it was due to a giant change in where we were all doing nature’s business – offices had toilet paper they didn’t need, and homes needed toilet paper they didn’t have, just because we’re all home more often. Things like soap and office-provided food (coffee!) fall into this category.
      (8) Utilities – we’re all paying for our own air conditioning and lighting during the day, not to mention power for work computers. Your power bill likely used to be lower. Probably also applies to your water, gas, and sewer bills. Maybe also your trash fees.

  48. Nom*

    #1 reminds me of one of my favorite tweets from @ nonprofitssay

    “Staff: The sky is blue. I’m a PhD in Astronomy and Meteorology

    Consultant: The sky is blue. Our intern Googled it

    ED: We now know the sky is blue because our consultant tells us so”

    1. Mental Lentil*

      Well, now I’ve figured out my next career move.

      And if I put it all in a pretty PowerPoint with animations, I can charge double.

  49. BadWolf*

    On OP3 — in my job, it’s quite common for your old job to ask you questions when you move internally. We have a culture of helping — so if you can help here and there, that’s fairly expected for a period of time. If there’s an external customer/client involved, you can usually have managers agree that you need to help the old team. As time goes on, all of my managers have been interested when I’m helping out the old team. Mostly to just keep on a pulse on it so if/when they need to step in, they can.

    You know your office culture, of course, but are you sure you new manager wouldn’t like to be in the loop on how much you are helping? In my office, it’s generally seen as a good thing if it’s not excessive (especially if it gets them out of a client related bind). But I totally see that it can be personally annoying (my job from 4 years ago still pops up with questions). Don’t work odd hours. Maybe wait until the next day to answer. Maybe some “training” — “Oh boy, I can’t quite remember the steps for Llama intake. I think that’s in section 3 of the document. Have you been through section 3?” (assuming they’re not coming to you “Hey I’m stuck on section 3, can you help?”)

  50. Boof*

    LW4 – I think in the grand scheme of things, salaries are supposed to be based off the value of the work people do on the employer’s end, (and, on the employee’s end, what people are willing to do for the money), not their personal finances and expenses (except at the employees discretion of course). So if the topic comes up, state it like that I’d say. I mean, they wouldn’t pay someone more for a longer commute, or fancy clothes, unless it’s literally being put as an itemized business expense I think?

  51. No User Name*

    #5 – I feel for you. Really – I do. I do sketch comedy and have tried getting groups to perform together. Most times, people don’t even bother letting me know they’re not coming – they just stop showing up. One guy quit the day of a show! I’ll happily join other existing groups, but I’m done with the headaches of running my own.

  52. kvite*

    #1 – Quite often, management has already decided that they want to go in a particular direction, and they bring in consultants to make the suggestion, to provide the “evidence” and “expert testimony” that supports the decisions that have already been made. It can also be true that, depending on the business and people involved, leaders may treat the money as “play money” and think nothing of spending on consultants, who also happen to be their friends.

  53. Richard Hershberger*

    Pay cut for remote work: I have tried and largely failed to formulate a coherent thought on why this bothers me. The most coherent observation is that if this were a proposed pay increase for coming into the office there would be less pushback, but the underlying principle would be the same. See also: Salary bumps for jobs in high cost-of-living areas. My less coherent response is that this reminds me of the old idea of paying men more because they had families to support. Of course that was never the real reason. If it was, then the obvious business case would be to only hire women, as they came cheaper. Somehow no company ever worked its way around to that position. So I guess my semi-coherent response is that this is couched as a cost-of-living argument, but I don’t believe for a moment that this is what is really going on.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      A hypothetical job paying $100M per annum ($100,000/y) with a $25M/y premium because it’s located onsite in NYC.

      If that job went remote and the employee relocated to Dumpwater, OH, I’d be fine with the pay being fixed at $125M/y until the COLAs add up to the going base rate reaching $125M/y. Yea, it’s lousy not getting the yearly adjustment, but if the $25M/y premium is listed as its own line-item instead of being baked into the $125M/y rate, then the employee can see that premium falling and the base rate rising year-to-year even though the total hasn’t changed. That way, the rug isn’t being pulled from the employee on a mortgage, car loan, college payments, etc, which might well force the employee to interview out or take a second job to maintain the expected quality of life, both of which would negatively impact the work the business is getting for the salary. (If the employee’s work is still really good and their retention is prioritized, I’d argue to try to find a way to still get a 1%/y overall bump).

      I don’t know of any jobs that are structured this way, but it could be a solution.

    2. J.B.*

      I think that your less coherent response makes a lot of sense. I can’t find the link but I remember something about a writer/analyst who had tracked career progressions of fellow female Northwestern graduates. And it was very very common that ambitious women downshifted careers. On a family level it is obvious if dad is making more mom downshifts. But with that magnified across our entire society it reinforces dads almost always making more.

      My husband’s employer is much more rigid about coming back to the office than mine. And he interviewed for a promotion. So of course it makes sense for me to juggle the kid stuff, while working. But that’s really a bounded choice.

  54. Laney Boggs*

    LW1, my company just hired a “compliance team” to handle and investigate the fees we are incurring from our customers (Wal-Mart, for instance ,reserves the right to fine their vendors for short-shipping, shipping late, putting labels in the wrong place, loading trucks incorrectly, etc)

    The answer seems to be, “Well we don’t have product to ship, and we don’t have the workpower to get orders packed & shipped on time…”

    ….duh. Could we maybe fire the compliance team and put that money back into our DCs & plants?

  55. JelloStapler*

    LW 1: Nothing is better when your place keeps hiring consultants but also saying their budget is too tight for merit raises. Except maybe when the consultant tells them the same things the employees have been saying.

  56. Irish girl*

    I could go along with companies having a base salary for a position then having a COLA after that as long as it was clear in their polices. Then everyone knows up front. This changing now for people who were paid a salary with the COLA built in seems bit bait and switch to me. Would they add in a remote stipend for purchasing all the equipment as well as the rest of the utilities cost? What happens to the people who were hired as remote employees that were getting paid the same as the people in the office? Do they all of a sudden get their pay cut?

  57. Free Meerkats*

    For #1, I’m not a consultant (yet), but am a regulator. And I can honestly say that the staff people we work with at especially the larger companies know what the problems are and are frequently stymied in their attempts to take care of them. Sometimes they will point out something that I may have missed that needs to be fixed, but can’t get the funding to fix. It’s not unusual for an inspection report from us to say something like, “While I’m not mandating it, you should probably look at doing X.” They then have something to take to management and regularly end up doing X.

  58. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

    I don’t think those WFH should get their pay cut, but I would support a bonus or hazard pay rate for those willing to work in office during the pandemic. If their essential to have in the office and they are assuming more risk by being there then that should be rewarded. I know of a case where everyone who actually had to work in the building got a half a day off with pay because the building had to be deep cleaned due to exposure. WFH employees in the same department still had to work. Their benefit was getting to WFH and not getting possibly exposed.

  59. JelloStapler*

    #4, I make the same as a person who works 10 minutes away and my commute is 40+ minutes, so not- salary DOES NOT take those into account.

  60. banoffee pie*

    Letter 4, this always annoys me because you’re being paid to do a job, hopefully at market rate. It shouldn’t be based on what your boss thinks you need. (I know a lot of jobs don’t pay a living wage and that’s wrong too.) I never notice CEO’s taking pay cuts because they dont ‘need’ millions of dollars a year. And it isn’t too far from this kind of thinking ‘Do you really *need* to be paid as much as this family man? His wife doesn’t work, he’s the sole earner. Doesn’t your husband have a good job?’

  61. Girasol*

    #1 My favorite workplace hero was tops in his field, but when the company ignored his recommendations, he quit. His successors were great too but they got frustrated with being ignored and quit. With no one remaining who had expertise, the company sought a good consultant. They picked the guy who wrote the bible on the subject. (Your IT department surely uses it.) The author was the first employee who left. He had created a consultancy with his successors and suddenly our company and a lot of other companies paid a lot of attention to what they had to say. Moral: if you want your boss to think you’re brilliant, quit and then offer your expertise as a consultant. Consultants are always smarter than employees.

  62. Lizzybee*

    I just want to say to Alison “Spending four years making things go smoothly for your old boss might have you conditioned to feel like you need to keep doing it, but you don’t.” hit me HARD. I just left a company where that was more or less my role and I hear things are starting to hit the fan at my old job. I feel so badly for those who are left and I have to actively stop myself from helping them or my former boss. No longer my monkeys, no longer my circus. It only just occurred to me that it was conditioned behavior. So thanks Alison!

  63. PlainJane*

    Ugh, #4. I’ve heard of companies dropping salaries because employees don’t live in an expensive city anymore, too. Hell, no. The job is what it is. If the employee finds a way to make it stretch further, then that’s the to employee’s benefit. It’s not an excuse for the employer to say, “Oh, goody, we can pay you less than your colleagues.” If the employer wants to pay Buffalo wages, then maybe the employer should move its offices from Times Square to LaFayette Square. Just sayin’.

  64. Rick*

    #5. Thank you everyone for the feedback. This is not my 1st rodeo, as I’ve been playing in bands for over 15 years now, and have met plenty of folks from all different walks of life. I understand life gets in the way, people got families, kids,etc, but it’s aggravating trying to find people dedicated/wanting to make a little extra money playing cover gigs. I know we won’t be rich, but for me it helps me get better at the instrument, and get a little cash in my pocket.

  65. The Last to Know*

    #1
    I had been wanting to move our company to a timed ticketing structure, and even took several weeks to think it through and provide a good, solid structure. They brought in some huge advisors and decided to go a different way. Two years later, they’ve changed the structure again, and it’s the exact. same. thing. I suggested the first time. I’m still a little salty about it. :-/

  66. Broccoli*

    LW2: Can concur with Alison’s answer. My manager is in your position too, although I don’t think he minds (he has loads on his plate and only took my team on because our old boss and big boss both left within a short space of time – that’s another story). I don’t loop him in on many things, but if he asked to be I would have no problem cc’ing him on most projects. Right now, I loop him in only when I’m looking for someone senior to back me up on something. I value being free to do my work however I want, but I don’t think him just knowing what I’m up to by itself would damage that. It works well.

  67. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

    LW #4, even pre-pandemic, I didn’t have costs for business clothes or commute. I work in a very casual office with virtually no dress code and my commute was free (used the bus, the city has a free pass if you live or work in downtown as a way to try reducing parking in downtown). I guess according to your boss I should be paid less? Your boss is guessing employees’ expenses with this argument. Yes, you can look at a company’s dress code and assume some costs for business clothes, but beyond that, you really don’t know the employee’s situation and what their costs are really like. It’s just assumptions then, and bad ones at that. And Alison is 100% correct – your boss is also not thinking about the costs that go up for remote workers. If your boss wants to be truly consistent, he should look for studies (not anecdotes) that compare the “extra” costs of working on-site versus remote and adjust everyone’s salary accordingly, including additional pay for the ones who incur more cost.

Comments are closed.