remote jobs that aren’t really remote

A reader writes:

I am wondering how to deal with employers posting job vacancies as remote when, in reality, they want people to work from the office. And also, what is the deal with that?

A few weeks ago, I applied for a job that was advertised as remote and open to people from a vast but specific geographic area that includes several large states (think, the midwest or the northeast). I happen to live close to the company’s HQ, but am not interested in jobs that require me to commute to an office. During my interview, I asked a logistical question, and in response the employer told me they would expect me to work from the office two to three days a week and that they posted the job as remote so they could have a bigger pool of applicants. I was flabbergasted and was unsure how to respond, though the situation ultimately resolved itself as I did not get an offer.

Additionally, I have seen several job announcement that are posted as “permenantly remote from anywhere in the U.S.” but include things in the job description that say otherwise (along the lines of meeting with clients in a specific metropolitan area on a regular basis). Do employers post jobs as remote when in fact they are interested in someone who would work in-person? Should I apply to jobs that are advertised as remote if they contain phrases that suggest the need to work from an office? How should I have handled the situation with the misleading potential employer during the interview?

Yeah, some employers are doing this. Mostly it seems to be employers whose employees are currently remote but who are expected to return to the office when it’s safer to do so … which of course makes no sense if the remote part is temporary, not a normal part of the work. They’re going to end up with candidates many states away with no interest in moving and/or people who are only interested in permanent remote work.

Your letter is the first I’ve heard of an employer saying they did it to increase their applicant pool, and that’s a special kind of illogical since there’s no advantage to filling up your pool with people who won’t take the job. To the contrary, it’s a huge disadvantage because now they’re going to waste a bunch of time talking with people who aren’t viable candidates.

Regarding jobs advertised as remote when the job description includes obvious in-person duties: If you’re very interested, it’s worth applying and asking for clarification if they contact you about interviewing, because it’s possible the job description is outdated. (That happens all the time; HR or whoever just pulls the job posting they used last time they hired and no one updates it.) Just make sure you ask about it when they first contact you so that you don’t waste your time if it’s fake-remote.

And with your interviewer for that not-actually-remote job, it would have been fine to say, “I applied because the ad said the job was fully remote, but if it’s not I need to withdraw since I’m only looking at remote positions” (or “because I live in Ohio and don’t plan to relocate” or whatever makes sense).

Employers: don’t do this.

{ 293 comments… read them below }

  1. Observer*

    To me, that is a red flag.

    It’s one thing if they just re-used an existing job description without really thinking it through – even otherwise good companies can make some mistakes like this. Maybe not great at hiring, but that doesn’t make a company really bad. But when someone tells you up front that they basically lied to trick people into applying, THAT is a problem. For one thing, they are telling you that they are comfortable lying. For another, why do they have to trick people into applying?

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      There are plenty of companies that are lazy (using the same JD over and over again as Observer outlines), not forward thinking (they think the job will be remote forever, but it won’t be) or simply kidding themselves (when 10% travel becomes 50% travel). But outright lying? Yikes! Stay far away.

    2. Smithy*

      I do think the difficult part is teasing out companies that have posted a job description out of laziness or vagueness vs maliciousness.

      I know my sector is one where trying to pinpoint the exact benefit of in-person meetings, when to push for their return, and when to flag that their absence is leading to real problems is still murky. For better or worse, this has left a lot sloppiness remaining in where people are comfortable with staff living and what the future will look like. Not so much red flag, but rather understandable ambiguity.

      1. Observer*

        I do think the difficult part is teasing out companies that have posted a job description out of laziness or vagueness vs maliciousness.

        Normally I would agree with you. But in this case the employer OUTRIGHT SAID THAT THEY WERE LYING. They said that they know it’s not remote, but are saying that it is to get people to apply. That’s not “ambiguity”. That’s lying and a huge red flag.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          It’s a straight up bait and switch. They know that remote jobs are more appealing, and they are hoping to trick someone into taking their less appealing job by luring them in.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I would be so tempted to bait and switch them in reverse: take the job and then look confused and say, “Oh no, I can’t possibly come in to the office! Why, you said right here that the job is 100% remote!” after they have committed enough that they won’t want to go back to the beginning and hire all over again. They’d probably still fire me and do it, but they’d hopefully be sufficiently unhappy with the results to try that BS again. This is, of course, coming from a position where I don’t really need a job right now; I couldn’t afford to do that if I did.

    3. Narise*

      I applied and had an introductory call with a company and once the discussion moved to my wanting to be remote for this remote position I knew there was an issue. Never heard back. I don’t believe it was really a remote position but a remote for now position type thing.

      1. Badasslady*

        OP here – to be honest, I was relieved when I didn’t get an offer from that employer. Throughout the interview there were small red flags like this one that made me concerned about the job being very different than what was communicated to me when I first applied. It would have been different if the employer politely asked if I was willing to work from the office on occasion, but the way they discussed it made the whole thing seem shady.

        1. Worldwalker*

          The job was undoubtedly very different from what was communicated when you first applied — and, I suspect, would have been massively different if you’d actually worked for them — because, as they’ve demonstrated, they’re liars. What they tell you: job is fully remote, working on teapot design and development. Reality: job is in the factory, gluing handles onto teapots, for half the salary. “But it’s still working for our company, so that’s the same thing!”

          1. quill*

            Ooof, I’ve had a few where they seemed to be paying for one listing for two or three separate junior level jobs.

            And then the interviewers (who didn’t write the copy) get confused that you’re talking about your experience in beverage snorkeling rather than beverage scuba diving, because those are two separate jobs that their HR think are the same because they both occur in water.

          2. Good Vibes Steve*

            “Aren’t you really *passionate* about teapots anyway? Many people would kill to work in this industry!”

        2. Peppercat53*

          If I had found this job listing on a site like Indeed and had gone through what you went through I’d be reporting the posting on Indeed if it was still up for being incorrect/inaccurate. Indeed says that may not be a violation of their quality standards but that they might update the information. It’s better than nothing and the employer deserves what they get when they do stuff like that. I’ve been seeing a lot of people complaining that there are salary/hourly wage discrepancies popping up on postings where the employer posts a higher salary/hourly wage to get applicants and then can’t meet those posted amounts when it comes time to give an offer (which is another really shitty thing to do right now)

        3. DJ Abbott*

          Lying to trick people into applying isn’t a small red flag, it’s a big one!
          And they admitted it as if it was no big deal, which means they don’t even know it’s wrong. If they think this is ok, what else will they do?

    4. Momma Bear*

      Yeah…It is one thing to say it’s partially remote or has a flexible schedule, but another to state it’s FT remote. That’s a bait and switch. If that’s a deal-breaker, I would be honest in the interview. Maybe someone will take the hint that it’s not a good tactic.

    5. Worldwalker*

      That is not just a red flag; that’s May Day in Red Square.

      If a company wants to START their relationship with you (and everyone else) by lying to you, it’s not going to get better.

      If they’ll like about the *location* of the job, they’ll lie about raises, they’ll lie about promotions, they’ll like about responsibilities, they’ll like about hours, they’ll like about policies, they’ll like like a whole warehouse full of rugs about everything and anything whenever it suits their convenience. And, like lying to fill up their applicant pool with people who won’t want the job anyway, they’ll be *stupid* about it, and do things that harm not only you but themselves because lying is just how they do business.

      You didn’t just dodge a bullet; you dodged a missile.

  2. Threeve*

    Did the first job mean that they would accept fully remote employees, but if you lived close enough they would expect you to work from the office half the time?

    1. Roscoe*

      I posted something like that below. Its essentially how my company is. If the best candidate is from Utah, where we don’t have an office, they absolutely would hire them. But if they are in New York, where we do have an office, they would expect them to go into the office a couple of times a week.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        But what if the best candidate is in New York but only interested in fully remote jobs? Do you now not hire them because they don’t live in Utah? If you are willing to hire someone fully remote, it seems short sighted to punish someone for being local.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Yep especially as in this role as described, many folks are still “remote” from one another even if some are in the office. That’s what gets my goat.

        2. Alex*

          This is something that companies need to learn – yes, coming to an office if the work CAN be remote is a form of punishment, not a perk, not normal (anymore), and absolutely not justified.

          1. green beans*

            it’s not a form of punishment – plenty of people enjoy working onsite. I wouldn’t apply to a remote or mostly-remote job (but I would get annoyed if a job was listed as remote but wasn’t actually intended to be remote.)

            It’s misleading to promote something as remote when it’s not; people who want remote will be upset when it’s not offered and people who prefer not to be remote won’t apply.

        3. Anya LastNerve*

          I think you have to be careful with this type of argument. I live in the NYC area and many national companies (mine included) pay higher salaries for folks in this area due to the higher COL. If you are going to say “I could do this job remotely if I lived in Utah, so I want to do it remotely from NYC,” it’s not unreasonable for the employer to then pay you a Utah salary. Honestly one reason why I think more employers should hire full-time remote staff is because it would enable them to set standard salaries without regard to regional COL differences, since the job can be done anywhere (and one reason many financial companies are salty about getting workers back to the office is because they have moved to low COL areas while maintaining their NYC salary – and the difference between a salary in NYC versus say Des Moines is staggering – 20-50% higher)

          1. Combinatorialist*

            Oh, I think it is totally reasonable to set a “remote salary” and only pay people the NYC COL adjustment if they are willing to come into the office some X amount. If you are fully remote, you should get the remote salary if you live in NYC (with a very high COL) or small town Texas (with a very low COL).

            If you want to live in NYC and work a fully remote job, I don’t see why it has to be your employer’s problem to subsidize that choice. If you work a fully remote job, I don’t see why your employer gets to care if you are local, and only let you be fully remote if you aren’t.

          2. Worldwalker*

            Saying that someone living in a lower-COL area should be paid less, for doing the exact same work in the exact same way, is much like saying that someone who has no kids should be paid less than someone who has kids, because their expenses will be lower.

            Remember the boss who wanted to go over employees’ personal expenses? It’s in that category. Salary should be about what value the employee brings to the company, not what their expenses are.

            1. Roscoe*

              I get what you are saying, but don’t really agree. Like, I get the point of what you are saying. But if you live in a higher COL area, you can be more selective. If you try to pay people in NYC a “good” rate for Montana, you’ll never get anyone in NYC to take that job. If I found out my colleagues in San Francisco made more money than I did, while knowing the cost of living, I’d have no problem, because I know that they need more to just survive. I don’t feel that same way with kids, and I’m child free.

              I can’t properly express what the difference is to me, but I do see one.

            2. twocents*

              That’s not quite accurate. That’s why COL calculators exist. A job that pays $60k means something different in NYC vs small town Utah.

              Companies that don’t recognize that end up paying employees doing the same job less money, because it’s de facto a pay cut for NYC guy exactly 60k just like remote Utah guy.

            3. AcademiaNut*

              No, it’s really, really standard to pay a higher salary when you are hiring for a job that requires someone to live in a high COL area, because otherwise you’re not going to get good candidates. They’re going to look at the offered salary, compare it to the COL, and nope out.

              The default is never going to be to pay everyone the same salary you’d make living in Silicon Valley/Manhattan regardless of where they live. What I’m betting on is that fully remote jobs will pay a remote work salary, and jobs that require office accessibility in a high COL city will pay a higher value. So if you have a fully remote job and never need to go in the office, you won’t be able to afford a middle class life in an expensive city, unless you’re in a hard-to-hire position. (I say middle class, because there are an awful lot of people currently living in high COL areas on low COL salaries, because they’re in jobs that don’t pay well anywhere).

          3. calonkat*

            So according to Glassdoor:
            Utah Data Analyst: $64K
            NYC Data Analyst: $73K

            What I’m wondering is, how if NYC companies start offering 64K because they can just hire data analysts from Utah, how many qualified people do they think are in Utah?? I really can’t see that as a sustainable plan, and the fact that if their employees are remote, they don’t have to have cubicle space for them should provide a nice trade off in value if my understanding of NYC rents is correct.

            1. Bloopmaster*

              I think most of this would be solved by transparency in the pay listing. If you are willing to entertain both remote and in-office workers and in-office work is more beneficial for you by X amount, list both in your vacancy: This job pays $73K for someone who can be in the office 3 times a week and $64K for someone remote.

              Then both the NYC local and the Utah local can decide what works for them and whether they want to throw their hat into the ring (and potentially relocate, etc.).

      2. Aitch Arr*

        Same.

        And unfortunately, online job boards (looking at you, LinkedIn!) only allow for a ‘remote’ checkbox.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          And that’s why companies who have decent hiring practices describe that in the description, e.g.,

          “Location: Remote, though preference will be given to candidates who can come into the Candyland office 1-2 days a week.”

          Or…

          “Location: Remote, regardless of geography. Willingness to travel 25% of the time.”

          Or…

          “Location: Fully remote.”

          A checkbox isn’t an excuse for not describing what “remote” means in this context (and it’s terrible for the company, since that wastes recruiters’ time on candidates who aren’t interested in moving or who only want an actually remote job).

          Plus, in OP’s case, the company outright lied and thought it was no big deal, as other commentters already pointed out.

    2. code red*

      That would make more sense and is how my company is (or was before covid as we’re still allowed to stay fully remote unless we choose to go in a couple days a week). We were expected to be in office if we lived locally (could work from home if there was a reason like sick but well enough to work, expecting a package, etc), but we hired people out of the area that were not expected to come in the office except for rare occasions where they were flown in for something specific.

    3. Fran Fine*

      That would make sense, and isn’t completely unreasonable, but then they should have communicated that to the OP instead of just saying, “Yeah, we put it in there to get a wider candidate pool.”

      1. Badasslady*

        OP here – the communication about this seemed very odd and raised a red flag for me. It would have been one thing if the employer brought it up, explained the policy and asked if it would be possible for me to come into the office. But this expectation came in a response to a question I’ve had about some logistics, and the employer’s response was taking it for granted that I’d be comfortable with working from the office. I honestly think I wouldn’t have necessarily learned about this job not being remote until after accepting/rejecting an offer had I not asked that one question.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Oh wow – yeah, you dodged a bullet there. This company is going to get a rude awakening if they don’t clarify this situation upfront going forward because someone expecting true remote work will quit once they come onboard and find that’s not the case.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I sometimes think companies get themselves into this jam because they are thinking, “well, for a dream candidate we would consider remote full time, maybe.” So they leave it in there hoping to get that dream candidate but it actually just confuses all of the real-person candidates.

        1. Beth*

          Not to mention that the dream candidate might hear from one of the real person candidates/find out some other way what they’re doing and determine it’s a nightmare job.

          1. Badasslady*

            I agree with you about the dream candidate being a motivation for inaccurate job announcements. The thing is, the dream candidate doesn’t exist. And even if they did, there is no way you could know they are the dream candidate until months into their employment in your company, when they are out performing your expectations. So this delusional thinking that we might compromise for the dream candidate is just hurting everyone and making the job hiring process more frustrating to employers and employees alike.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      That’s what I was thinking. The only way it makes sense to me was that they wanted to cast a wider net and IF they happened to find a really stellar candidate who lived far away they would be willing to try to make that work, but otherwise they really wanted someone to come in.

      Still a terrible idea pretty much guaranteed to result in unhappy applicants, but I feel like that’s the least weird scenario I can imagine here.

  3. ellex42*

    This is the kind of ridiculousness that really makes you wonder about some peoples’ thought processes.

    1. Heidi*

      I could see how doing this could get more people to see the job posting; if applicants are searching for remote work, they won’t do a geographically restricted search. But what happens after that is a bit vague. Were they expecting someone to fall so in love with this job that they’d reconsider in-person work?

      1. Chc34*

        I really think that’s at least part of it, that they assume people aren’t really serious about only wanting remote work and that once the applicants hear about their job they’ll be willing to come in. Which might be true for some people! But it’s just wasting a whole bunch of people’s time who ARE serious about only wanting remote work.

        1. Worldwalker*

          So the company equivalent of those people who hit on you at parties because they’re certain they’re God’s gift to women, or men, or whoever else they’re interested in. “Dump them and come home with me” on a corporate level. *shudder*

      2. many bells down*

        I think that’s exactly it. Or, like a pick-up artist type on a dating site, they think they can persuade you that what YOU want is not as important as what THEY want.

        1. Badasslady*

          OP here. The geographical restriction had some logic to it. The job was something along the lines of “regional manager for region x”, so it made sense that you’d want to hire someone who lives in the region and is familiar with that culture. There wasn’t anything about the job posting that hinted the job might not be remote.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            The geographical restriction makes sense to me, as for tax reasons, I can see why a company would have restrictions.

            What crosses the line is that “remote” means “you don’t have to come into the office regularly.

            As others have said, OP, this company’s approach is a huge red flag, so I’m glad you dodged their terribleness.

      3. MissBaudelaire*

        ‘Were they expecting someone to fall so in love with this job that they’d reconsider in-person work?’

        Yeah, probably. They’re probably also hoping someone is desperate and will take what they can get even if it isn’t fully remote.

      4. meyer lemon*

        What’s particularly weird to me is that they’re also advertising to a wide geographical area. Do they really think they’ll be able to convince applicants to not only work in-person but also move to a completely different location because the interview was so magical? There’s a special kind of entitlement here.

        1. gamesgamesgames*

          idk, our company has a listing on Indeed, and there are only two options: remote or in office.
          the job we’re hiring for is hybrid, but there isn’t a good way to indicate that on their listing filters, only in the job description.
          I could see a company picking remote for a hybrid job, without fully thinking through the implications.

          Not that they should, more thought should go into the hiring process, but since my company is kinda going through the same thing, I get why other companies might try the remote option on Indeed and see what comes in.

          1. Stina*

            But sites like Indeed allow you room to create an accurate description explaining it’s hybrid. It sounded like LW’s posting may not been somewhere with that sort of restriction or deliberately omitted clarifiers in the description based on their conversation with the hiring manager.

            1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

              +1

              Exactly! Describe the job and working conditions in the description section?? What a concept…

              /Sarcasm mode

      5. LKW*

        This is my assumption as well, that the company koolaid is so delicious that of course as soon as someone interviews they are going to reject one of the specific benefits listed in the job description and …

        oy vey.

      6. Gothic Bee*

        Either they expect the employee to love the job so much, they won’t say no, OR they’re banking on desperate job searchers who won’t say no to an offer even if it’s not exactly what they want.

    2. Lana Kane*

      The closer I get to people in leadership positions, the more I realize that we’re all just screwed.

    3. PeanutButter*

      It reminds me of something that I ran into all the time when I was on OKCupid. I had a few “these things are not compatible with me, please do not message if they apply” – BIG things like no kids (don’t want ’em) and no dogs (I’m deathly go-to-the-ER-immediately-level allergic). People would message me, we’d strike up a conversation and meet, and THEN they’d bring up their kids or bring a damn dog along! THEN they’d get salty when I thanked them for their time and ended the meeting immediately. WTF did they think would happen? “I just wanted to increase my chances” was the most common explanation I got. But it didn’t increase your chances – it just wasted your (and my) time!

      1. Jackalope*

        I had the opposite issue! I made sure to mention that I had cats at least three times in my profile – trying to stay away from the “Crazy Cat Lady” vibe but making it clear that I had them and they were impt to me – so people with allergies, who hate cats, etc. would self-select out. I then ended up dating someone for a few months who eventually let me know that he was allergic to them, enough so that he could barely handle my place without allergy meds beforehand. I mean, why bother contacting me then? They’re in my profile for a reason!

        1. pamela voorehees*

          Having met this dude on multiple occasions, he absolutely thought he was so great that you’d get rid of your cats.

    4. Cat Tree*

      Honestly, this reminds me of how some men act on dating sites (some women may act the same way but I dint have experience dating women so I can’t speak to that). Basically, they don’t really care what others want and are hoping/expecting they will change their mind about it.

    5. Worldwalker*

      This just reminded me of a bizarre example of keyword stuffing on a Web page. It was for automotive light bulbs, and I was, in fact, looking for exactly that type of light bulb. (I’d googled it) But I noticed the page took forever to load and there was a big blank space. So I looked at the page source. There were literally *thousands* of hidden words stuffed in there, and most of them were, um, how can I say it on AAM … “adult”. I had to wonder: did they think someone would be surfing for some such “adult” site and, upon hitting theirs instead, suddenly decide what they *really* needed was to buy light bulbs for their brake lights?

      (and I bought my light bulbs from one of their competitors; with that example of stupidity in front of me, I wasn’t sure *what* I’d actually get if I ordered from them!)

      1. Beth*

        Now you’ve got me wondering whether “brake lights” and “lightbulbs” are code for something adult!

  4. EPLawyer*

    Makes no sense. The employers are jumping on the “remote” trend but not really. but they are going to get people who only want remote and they will be AMAZED that people will not upend their lives to come into the office.

    Hiring is a two way street. If a company is willing to show they are doing a bait and switch, well you are free to say you are not interested.

  5. Chc34*

    When I was job-hunting a few months ago it was endlessly frustrating to wade through listings where the company had listed the location as “remote” only to read the description and discover they only meant “remote for now.”

    1. Fran Fine*

      Same. Especially since I already work from a company that has about a third of its workforce working remotely pre-COVID, and I was one of them – there was no way in the world I was giving up this working situation for something temporarily remote.

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      “Remote for now” or, like OP realized “Remote, but showing your face a few times a week.”

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      This was pre pandmemic but when I was looking I would find remote but you had to be located in a specific area. Which OK I get if your a small comany and you don’t want to pay out of state taxes and stuff, or if your company is specific for that area and someone outside of the area wouldnt understand the culture. But then why are you advertising in wisconsin if you want people in california!

    4. Parakeet*

      Idealist, the big nonprofit job board, eventually dealt with this by creating a “temporarily remote” category, and allowing people to filter by any combination of “remote,” “temporarily remote,” or “on-site.” It seems to have cut down a lot on this kind of situation, since the remote-for-now situation is its own category that employers can indicate and job-seekers can search by (or exclude).

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Of course, it only works if the companies tell the truth about which category they mean…

    5. Observer*

      it was endlessly frustrating to wade through listings where the company had listed the location as “remote” only to read the description and discover they only meant “remote for now.”

      I hear, but at least the job description clarifies it. It would have been even more frustrating if you had actually taken the time to apply, never mind go in for an interview.

  6. Sans Serif*

    Yeah, this is the new trick phrase employers think will attract employees. Before it was unlimited vacation (which means you end up taking less vacation than ever before and nothing carries over) or ping pong tables and dry cleaning on premises! (which means you never leave the office before 10 pm).

    Now it’s remote work (which means remote once or twice a week, or remote until you’re at the job and we suddenly change our minds and re-open the offices).

    I think the realization that remote work is viable is one of the few positive things that have resulted from the pandemic. I hope not too many employers take advantage of that trend to use it as a bait and switch.

    1. Mimmy*

      A big Amen!

      As I said below in my post, this is a concern I have. When you see a promising job that is listed as remote, it’s probably wise to confirm this if they call you for an interview, especially if there are discrepancies in the job description, e.g., duties that appear to require in-person work. It still stinks because it’s just such a waste of time for both employers and job candidates if a posting says remote but is really a primarily in-person position.

    2. Julia*

      This is a hugely insightful comment. For law firms, another pseudo-perk along these lines is two-track partnership. Make partner in 5 years! (which means make*non-equity* partner in 5 years, which means it takes *12* years to get to real partner status.) A certain type of employer is forever trying to deceive its employees to get ahead.

  7. Kiwi*

    It’s a little frustrating seeing all the articles about how employers can’t fill roles and then there’s companies pulling this kind of stunt.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Well hopefully this company is the rare minority, not representative of all the companies having trouble hiring. It’s not even a *smart* lie.

    2. Working Hypothesis*

      At least there are finally also starting to be articles pointing out the correlation between companies which can’t fill roles and companies which pay peanuts and treat their employees like circus elephants.

  8. Bilateralrope*

    If I ever get in an interview where the interviewer reveals they intentionally made such a major lie*, my next question would be to ask them what they expect to happen when candidates find out they were lied to. Just for my own entertainment/curiosity as the interview ended for me the moment I realized the lie.

    *My job can’t be done remote, so I won’t run into this exact lie. But there are others that are equally bad that I might find.

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I’m tempted to apply to jobs like this just to clutter up their applicant pool. I see a lot of jobs posted in my city with “relocation to Houston” or something like that in the fine print. Post the damn job in Houston, and people open to relocation will find it just fine. I also get annoyed when use my own field as a search term and I see ads for entry-level salespeople loaded with irrelevant keywords like “this job would be suitable for new grads in accounting, analytical chemistry, anthropology, architecture, art history, etc” where they rattle off every conceivable college major under the sun.

      1. anonymouse*

        This is what I wanted to comment. They are throwing the word “remote” into their job descriptions to blast out to more candidates. But these people will be the same ones to complain about disingenuous applicants who claim expertise at with software or tasks that they’ve done once or twice .

      2. raktajino*

        My husband applied to a job in Minneapolis (where we were looking to relocate) that had “3/4 travel” to locations in Texas. Turns out the “some travel” was spending three weeks out of four at an oilfield in remote west Texas. They strongly discouraged flying home on the weekends because it was so remote to access. It was unclear how much time you actually needed to spend in Minneapolis, probably a few days to be in meetings.

        This didn’t even come up until the second interview, too.

  9. Roscoe*

    My company is kind of like this.

    We have 3 physical offices across the country in major cities. That said, over half of our staff is remote. When they post jobs, they really are open to anyone (at least most of them, a few are city specific). But, if you are in New York, they also would expect you to go to the New York office a couple of times a week. I don’t think its lying, necessarily, as if the person they hired was in Montana, they absolutely would be able to stay there.

    1. 2 Cents*

      But, honestly, if I want remote work, and I happen to live in NY, I’m going to feel penalized because I happen to live near an office. Who wants to commute a few days a week when I could’ve lived elsewhere and never commuted? Then it’s not really remote work.

      1. Roscoe*

        I mean, they do make it pretty clear in the interviews what the expectation is.

        I went through this before Covid, and I don’t think I was misled at all.

          1. mreasy*

            Agreed, because I wouldn’t bother applying if I knew about the policy and wanted to be fully remote. It wastes aapplicant time.

      2. pbnj*

        I saw a job posting with requirements similar to this and it was a nope for me. Local candidates must work in the downtown office but candidates outside the metro area can be remote. I see they reposted it a few times so hopefully they figure out that people want flexibility.

        1. 2 Cents*

          Yeah, and to me, that flexibility would be I’d come into the office for meetings maybe once a month.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What if a new hire is in NYC and planning to move away? I hope that new employee would not be penalized.

      1. Roscoe*

        Its fine. There are people who live one place when hired, and then move later, and its never been a problem

      2. The Price is Wrong Bob*

        Yeah the reason I would change jobs is so I could go 100% remote and move out of my HCOL area. Because then I would have the salary I want in a much cheaper place. I will never apply for a local job again because I ultimately don’t want to be tied to the location anymore. It’s so annoying companies are doing this.

    3. Jules*

      But… why? What’s the point? If the employee can do the job remotely, there’s no reason to expect them to come into the office just because they happen to live in the city/close enough. That’s just companies being rigid for no good reason. It’s a waste of candidates time and effort to figure out that your company is being this sort of stupid, and it looks out of touch and deceptive. Not a good way to come across if you’re hiring!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Yes thank you!
        But this is exactly what my employer forced us to do pre-Pandemic.

        If you lived within 50 miles of headquarters you were required to come into the office even if your job could be done remotely. But you could be hired from anywhere for the same role and be remote.

    4. D3*

      Why would they expect that, though?
      If the job *can* be done fully remote, and they are open to it being fully remote – even advertising it as fully remote, WHY would they have that expectation at all? It’s ridiculous.
      It’s absolutely lying to say a job is fully remote and have expectations of in person a couple times a week for anyone!

      1. Roscoe*

        Honestly, there are advantages to being in the office. Also, the cities where we have offices are cities with our biggest client base, and sometimes we do stuff onsite. So its valid to want people in, at least on occasion.

        I get that a lot of people on this site see no value in going in at all, but I don’t agree there. Also, if they are paying for a space, I also get them wanting it used a fair amount.

        Trust me, I have no problem criticizing my company when it warrants it. But in this situation, I honestly have no issue with it.

        1. MechE*

          “Honestly, there are advantages to being in the office.”
          That is an awfully unpopular opinion to have around here these days. I fully agree though.

          1. Chc34*

            I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I’m saying that’s not what people are arguing in this specific instance. If you want people to come into the office, don’t advertise it as remote in the first place!

            1. Fran Fine*

              Right. Say there is flexible scheduling with occasional WFH opportunities and be done with it.

          2. mreasy*

            This is the case for some offices in some industries. For my open plan office and my creative team? We are maybe 50% as productive in the office.

          3. Working Hypothesis*

            There’s nothing wrong with having a job that’s office-based. There’s a lot wrong with having a job that’s office-based and advertising it as remote in order to lure in applicants who would not be interested in an office-based position.

            You’re absolutely right that there are advantages to an office job! For the employee as well as the company. There will be some candidates who are genuinely looking for jobs that let them come in and work on the premises, and those are the candidates these companies should be seeking, if they have jobs which require that. They should NOT be seeking candidates who are actively searching for remote, and then try to strong-arm them into tolerating an office job anyway.

            1. MissDisplaced*

              They should NOT be seeking candidates who are actively searching for remote, and then try to strong-arm them into tolerating an office job anyway.

              AND… That is pretty much what happens. Or, you get new management and they change their minds about WFH and strong-arm people into coming back in. Just because they FEEL LIKE IT.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          But…people here aren’t saying “There’s no value in going into the office.” Sure, sometimes there is value in that. My office requires us to come into the office two days/week as well, and since there are things that can best be done from the office, that’s fine.

          What people – including me – are objecting to is the attitude that if you can come into the office, you must come into the office, but if you can’t, eh, no big deal. It’s the randomness of the whole thing. If it’s not a big deal that someone in Montana seldom or never comes in, why is it a requirement that someone in New York must come in X times per week? If the job is the same for these two hypothetical employees, why are the requirements different?

          Coming into the office for a reason is fine. Coming in just because of what sounds to me like some sort of whim is not fine.

          1. 2 Cents*

            Yes, to all of this. If someone in Montana never needs to come in, why does my NY butt need to?

          2. Guacamole Bob*

            I think companies are thinking about it on multiple levels. There’s the position level – does this specific role require being in the office, and if so, how much? But then there’s the company level – the company functions better if at least 75% of employees are in the office at least some of the time, let’s say. The benefits may be intangible, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Companies that are entirely remote find their own ways of functioning, but if you’re going to have an office and use the in-office experience to build corporate culture, develop relationships, etc. then you may find it works better when a critical mass of people are part of that.

            There are different ways to make that happen, of course, but a policy like the one at Roscoe’s company may be a reasonable one. Individual flexibility is generally good, but a company approach that says “we can have some fully-remote workers but things start to fall apart if the percentage gets too high” is pretty understandable to me.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              That said, the job posting should really make it clear up front. If they are listing all positions as totally remote that’s deceptive and will create problems.

              1. Crackerjack*

                Yes! It feels like it would make more sense to say: ‘In-person preferred, remote considered’ so they can get their critical mass but still make room for people.

          3. NeutralJanet*

            Just like job seekers sometimes settle for jobs that don’t check off all of their lists of wants, sometimes companies settle for a candidate that doesn’t check off all of their lists of wants. If a job would be done best by an employee coming in once or twice a week, but would be done okay by an employee never coming in, then it makes sense to offer the position to an exceptionally strong candidate who can never come in, but also require that an employee come in occasionally if that’s practical and possible

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Okay, but if that’s the situation they’re a lot better off describing the remote opportunities as “negotiable” rather than *either* saying (as they do at first) that the position is fully remote, or (as they admitted later) that office time was required. If they call it negotiable, they can figure out just how much they want you before they start negotiating the point… and do it all without lying to anybody.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Then why not explicitly say something like, “Candidates in City X, Y, and Z: Partially remote. Required to be on-site X days per week. All other candidates: Fully remote”? Wouldn’t that be easier than going through the hassle of interviewing and then finding out someone wants actual, factual fully remote?

    5. animaniactoo*

      I would see it as lying.

      I’m in New York. If they told me they want me to come into the office when necessary, or that it would be beneficial to come in a couple of times a month, that’s not lying to me. That’s saying “your nearness is a convenience that can provide benefits that we would like you to exercise”.

      But otherwise? No. That’s a partial remote job due to my location, not the WFH option that I am seeking.

      If it were asked for rather than expected, I would also see that differently. But when you tell me that it’s expected and therefore a regular requirement – no, you lied about what kind of position this is. Even if the only caveat is a difference due to location.

    6. Badasslady*

      I know some employers are like this. But they usually post their job announcements as “New York or remote”, so the expectations are clear off the bat.

    7. not a doctor*

      My company has something like this, but you can also apply to be reclassified as a remote employee, even if you live in the same metro area. I think THAT’S fair. It wouldn’t be fair to simply mandate based on location alone.

    8. PT*

      New York is a pretty big state, too, what are they considering New York? Are they saying “Anyone in the NY Metropolitan Area is expected to commute into the New York City office a few times a week?” or “You’ll be racking up the frequent flier miles from Buffalo to JFK?”

      1. mreasy*

        I love in the 5 boroughs but my commute is longer than a few of my colleagues who are upstate and in NJ…are they remote and I’m not? Where do we draw the line?

        1. Linley*

          That’s what I was thinking. Where is the remote/no remote line? Is it distance (which may have nothing to do with commute time)? Is it commute time (with traffic? without?)? There are so many complicated variables and almost inevitably ends up at least feeling unfair.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      This is lying. Because it’s saying you can be remote, but you cannot be remote within the NYC area.

  10. Remote from Corp*

    I worked a job that was remote from corporate, but required that I visit customer sites near me regularly. In my case, my employer was in Connecticut, but I was in Wisconsin. I only went to our office for training, but I met customers and worked at their locations up to several times a week. That was a situation where remote was true, but also that you needed to go to an office several times a week.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I had a job like that too, but it was clearly advertised as a remote sales position. We also had remove customer service people, too, and those jobs were accurately defined in the job description. From what OP is writing, this seems to be different–more of a bait-and-switch.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I don’t really see it (the second job) as a bait and switch. I have a remote job in that I have no home office, but I handle several territories– some in my city or within driving distance, some that require flights. Once I’m allowed to travel again, I’ll probably fly out for a few days every month. My employer asks people in my role to live near an airport, but it’s still remote in the “no home office” sense.

        I’m curious what types of roles the LW is looking at, because that does make a difference. Client-based work usually involves seeing clients in some capacity, so it’s not 100% from home, and I would be surprised if a frontline sales role was entirely, 100% virtual.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I should clarify– I have no BASE office. My office is in my home, but I don’t report to, say, New York or Chicago, and I will never go in to the office in my city.

              1. Badasslady*

                OP here – I’m a little hesitant to share which field I am in, since I am not interested in burning a bridge with the employer who interviewed me.
                I can say that my field is not in sales and is not a field where face-to-face meetings is needed more than once or twice a month (and that is a worst-case-scenario exaggeration).
                With my interview, I am fairly certain this job could be done remotely with occasional travel to the office 1-2 times a month, but that in reality the employer did not really buy into the idea of remote work and wanted someone that could work from the office full-time. With the other job posting I’ve been seeing, I’m a little puzzled as to what they’re about, since they are advertised as “remote from anywhere in the US”, and some of them seem like they would require someone living in a certain metropolitan area.

    2. RecoveringSWO*

      Yeah, I think the only good faith version of this situation would be a job that requires travel, but lets you work remotely when you’re not traveling to clients. Even then, I would hope that an employer would clarify the amount of travel in the ad, since 90% on-site with clients and 10% remote doesn’t really fit the intent of remote work.

  11. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “Your letter is the first I’ve heard of an employer saying they did it to increase their applicant pool, and that’s a special kind of illogical since there’s no advantage to filling up your pool with people who won’t take the job. To the contrary, it’s a huge disadvantage because now they’re going to waste a bunch of time talking with people who aren’t viable candidates.”

    They’re artificially inflating the applicant pool in order to claim that “we looked at many diverse candidates” before hiring the person they really wanted all along. (My employer has done that.)

    1. Junior Assistant Peon*

      Genius move! The job is in Nowhere, Montana, they need to interview the correct number of racial minorities as a box-checking exercise, and there are no local ones so they’ll invent some instead!

    2. Lora*

      Or they have internal company metrics that determine their bonus and they are trying to finagle the metric to make it look like, “hey, we sent over 24672405687240897 perfectly good candidates to the hiring manager, we can’t help it if Hiring Manager is looking for a purple squirrel / unicorn! Be reasonable!”

      Have also seen this, particularly from recruiting companies.

  12. Lucious*

    The root of the problem is there is no national /federal definition for what a “Remote Position” is. Does that phrase mean 10% on site? 20% on site? 75%? 99%?

    Right now every company can define a position as “remote” based on their own internal criteria, which puts an unfair burden on the applicant to extract via interview what “remote” means for that specific employer. It will lead to miscommunications and wasted time all around.

    1. LTL*

      If it’s not 100% remote, it shouldn’t be listed as remote.

      I mean, it’s one thing if they want you to fly out to a company meetup once or twice a year. But if you allow a few days a week WFH, that’s a perk of the job, it’s not a remote position. People use location as a filter on job boards so it doesn’t make much sense to have the location set to remote when you need people who live in Salt Lake City.

      1. anonymouse*

        I saw this in another discussion (maybe here) that the job boards have “remote” and “not remote” so the employer maybe stuck.
        Which doesn’t explain OP’s situation, yeah, we said it. So? but it does explain others.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, it was here because I remember taking part in that discussion (as one of the complainers! Lol) and finding that out – there was no “remote for now” options for many of these job boards, but that’s why the employer needs to be very clear in the first line of the job ad what kind of remote work they’re truly allowing.

          1. Badasslady*

            OP here – the job site I am using for most of my searches have options for “temporary remote” and “remote from location x” as options, so employers have ways to communicate complicated teleworking situations. Also, the misleading employer had a job description they wrote and that was advertised through email lists as opposed to sites, so they could have easily advertised more accurately.

        2. LTL*

          I’m arguing that if it’s remote part-time, it should be listed as “not remote” in the job ad. Otherwise you may not get as many candidates in the area looking at the posting.

          A department at my last company let its employees work remotely for a couple days a week. I’d find it strange if they listed their openings as remote.

    2. CorporateL*

      This. There isn’t a box to check for flex/hybrid work schedules, so then (some) employers contemplate checking “remote” to highlight that it is not a 100% in-office job (but perhaps also not 100% remote). For some remote job seekers, 50/50 would actually suffice, and it’s a way to get the job description in front of more people. IMO the job description should clearly lay out the reality (WFH 2 days per week; 3 days per week in XYZ office) so applicants can decide if it works for them before applying.

    3. Mockingjay*

      The percentage can be defined in a contract. My company has federal contracts, and mine states specifically that X% of the workforce must be immediately available to the government agency site; i.e., local. (Our offices are just outside the agency facility, so we can be onsite for meetings and engineering work in 5 minutes.) It caps remote work at a total of Y%. (The requirement has been lifted for COVID but will be reinstated at some point.) If you telework for an afternoon while waiting for the plumber, those hours are counted towards the monthly remote allotment.

      It’s fair, because 1) the nature of the work we do requires frequent onsite agency presence or in the company’s facilities and 2), the contract is clear. The company just had a town hall Zoom meeting and someone asked about permanent telework. The company CEO was very clear that while each request will be considered, most staff will be required to return to the office (when safe to do so).

  13. Oodles of Noodles*

    The second role makes sense based on the quick description we have. “You’re remote, but will need to travel X-amount of time to meet clients”. So long as the company is covering travel expenses, I see remote and travel as two separate things.

    1. Fran Fine*

      I was coming here to say exactly this. This isn’t a bait and switch. My current company hired me over two years ago in a fully virtual capacity, but I still had to go to headquarters in a neighboring state from time to time for meetings and even traveled to another state down south for a weeklong conference. The company asked me upfront if I would be okay with occasional travel, I said yes (because they have offices in Europe and Asia I wanted to eventually visit), and most of my work travel ended up being truly optional. Plus, they paid for everything with no question (including my pretty pricey car service to and from the airports), so I didn’t mind it.

    2. MechE*

      “I see remote and travel as two separate things.”
      +1

      I completely agree. I think the issue is that many folks think remote means they’ll never have to meet with anyone or go into any office, rather than that it means they won’t have their own office.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I certainly don’t think that and I’d be very surprised if anyone else does, since we each understand the nature of our jobs and how much meeting is typically needed.

    3. Lies, damn lies and...*

      Yep, I work remotely for a company that would have local hires in office. I am expected to travel (in before times) to client meetings and what not as needed, so remote doesn’t mean I never travel. Now, “remote” plus 80% travel isn’t remote at all, it’s client site work without a home base.

    4. Double A*

      Yes definitely. I have a 100% remote job, but am required to do a specific number of in person events (in normal times). It probably actually equals about a month of events throughout the year, but I still think of the job as fully remote.

    5. Amy*

      Yeah, I spend 4-7 nights a month in a hotel room on work travel. But I’m also remote. I don’t commute into an office. My “office” is wherever my laptop and I are.

  14. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Many, many years ago, I applied for an Assistant Teapot Designer job. The job description listed all sorts of duties that overlapped with my current job and what I wanted to do. None of the tasks were administrative.

    But when I went through the interview process (with seven people separately!), I found out it was literally an assistant job for the director. When I questioned why those administrative tasks (filing, making travel plans, collating, etc.) weren’t listed in the original job description, the director said, “Oh you can do all those things as long as you do the administrative tasks first.” As if I’m an intern…or Cinderella. I was 30+ years old at the time with over a decade of professional experience.

    The whole time, the director kept saying how thrilled she was to have someone “like [me] with [my] background” be her assistant. I sat there with my mouth open. The rest of the interview panelists were annoyed that their time had been wasted. When she asked for my references, I withdrew, and she was genuinely shocked.

    I wish I could figure out what the deal is with people like this. Do they think we’re going to be so emotionally invested further into the interview process that we’ll say yes? Why can’t they advertise for what they actually want instead of pulling the bait and switch? (Also, if you want an assistant, advertise for one!)

    1. anonymouse*

      Oh, the old Assistant TO THE Teapot Designer…
      Well, of COURSE you’d do the admin tasks. I mean, we are going to let you dabble in your hobby in your free time…but really…
      First of all, she’s delusional if she thinks a Teapot Designer would be a great assistant. I’m a top notch Llama Wrangler, but I was (sometimes kindly) let go from a number of admin/secretarial positions, because I suck at it.
      But I’m a woman! How can that be?
      And how many men did they interview for this position? And how many of them walked out during the first interview?

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        This!!! If you want a good assistant, you should hire someone who knows how to do that. Just because I’m good at the director’s line of work doesn’t mean I’d be good at booking her hotel arrangements.

        I suspect she wanted bragging rights or didn’t know how to hire people or both.

        But never will I ever forget the ugly stepmother line from her.

        1. Admin Issues*

          We have an Office Managing Partner who wants a personal assistant who knows accounting. It’s utterly ridiculous – the role is posted as an Executive Assistant, but we all know he’ll have them picking up laundry and shopping for his wife’s birthday, plus he expects them to know all about accounting as though they’re studying for their CPA so they can support him in dealing with his clients! The role on paper is not hard to fill, the role in his head is a Freaking Unicorn, and the role in reality is one that no one with that background will do for that pay. It’s beyond insane. It drives me nuts that his expectations are so skewed – he won’t pay accounting wages but he wants that background, and we can’t find an admin willing to work for our exec admin pay who hits his criteria. A good exec admin who can partner with a freaking Partner in the firm has a set of skills that are hard enough to find without his list of “needs”. …and he wonders why the role is empty.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Let him find out by himself. Eventually, when the role continues to be unfilled, he will either learn how to adapt what he’s offering/demanding, or learn how to get by without an assistant. Either one is a positive outcome.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I too have often felt that I’m getting shoehorned into more administrative roles because of my gender. I think people just assume I must be organized, love filing, be conscientious etc because of my appearance – I just *look like somebody who should be somebody’s secretary* – but in reality I’m not at all good at those types of tasks.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh yes, the ‘well, you’ve got boobs so you *must* be great with people and organising!’ thing! I mean, I’m female, over 40, therefore I must have a ‘motherly’ disposition!

          (Nope. Not even remotely)

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Once applied and got an interview for a job of IT Manager. DUring the interview they also pointed out I’d be expected to cover reception, get tea and coffee for visitors, handle incoming phone calls, administer all the day to day running of the office…

      Because they thought ‘IT Manager’ would, at best, take maybe a few hours a week and reckoned that they may as well get use out of my ‘downtime’.

      I am literally the LAST person you want working a front desk.

      1. quill*

        I did startup “quill can fix it probably” IT long enough that I’m internally screaming at the thought that an IT manager would have downtime more than occasionally.

        Much like I screamed when I spent 8 hours fixing a printer, was checking that I had everything connected for the last reboot I needed to make sure all the drivers were installed, and a coworker walked in, turned the thing off, and then when it worked afterward accused me of being stupid because all SHE had to do was turn it off and on again!

        Lady I spent 2 hours picking melted labels out of that thing before I could even get the drivers and wifi figured out, all you’ve done is come in and disrupted my process!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          ‘Just turn it off and on again!’ – ahh the look I gave that person. Half my job was trying to keep servers from *not* being power cycled during the day.

          1. quill*

            And this is why I will never work somewhere without an actual IT department again. My friends, I come to you with a fairly comprehensive documentation of the errors, PLEASE never leave me alone with a cranky printer or a virus I have to hand-remove from the computer ever again.

    3. Nanani*

      They probably genuinely do think their company (or self) is just THAT amazing that of course you’d be thrilled to take the switch instead of the bait.

  15. Francois Caron*

    If they’re willing to lie to you about the job description, how often will they lie to you once you work for them?

  16. BRR*

    My hunch with what I’m seeing is that employers ATS don’t intuitively handle hybrid set ups well and employers are often listing jobs as remote when they really mean partially work from home. And then never clarifying in the actual job description (because that makes sense *eye roll*). I’ve also encountered/heard employers who won’t consider remote if you’re near an office.

    For the meeting with clients, it’s always possible meetings remotely is fine or they expect some travel.

    1. introverted af*

      I’ve been really frustrated with my work on this. On the one hand, I can see how what they’re saying is accurate (a hybrid schedule may be possible for this position). On the other, this is so vague and basically meaningless to an applicant. Either say nothing, or say something substantive that actually means what you want.

  17. Chris*

    This was pre Covid – My job was advertised as remote eligible. But if we were in commutable distance we were required to be in headquarters. They were open to fully remote people as it was a specialized area of expertise so wanted a wider pool of applicants.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m curious as to what constitutes a “commutable distance.” I know what that means to me, but it can mean very different things to different people.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yup. I’ve seen job ads where employers would say, “We’re located in City X, but we’re open to WFH. However, if you live in neighboring City Y, we’d ask you to come in at least three days a week for meetings.” Sounds reasonable/commutable until I’d type in a distance locator the two cities and realize they were two to three hours away from each other, and that’s assuming you wouldn’t hit bad traffic on the way in!

      2. Alex*

        Yep. Since I started fully WFH due to Covid (I was partially WFH before), my acceptable commute has shrunk to about 10 minutes one way. Everything else feels like a bother at this point..

    2. Irish girl*

      I feel like my company does this. As part of reopening, i have to go back but my 2 co-workers who do the same job as me were hired remote with no expectation of every going to an office. While i want to go back in, i dont think it is fair to require it of me. All of the culture talk of spontaneous collaboration wont happen if i go it since no one i collaborate with is in the office.

  18. Kait*

    This is frustrating for me too, as someone who is not interested in remote work and is only looking for a job that offers office access (or will in the future). I would love to apply for a job that will have me in an office 2-3 days a week, but I won’t apply if it’s listed as fully remote!

    1. Allypopx*

      Right, they’re also chasing away clients that actually want to work for their ultimate setup!

      I only applied to jobs this past summer that were listed as “temporarily remote”. That told me they cared enough to be letting people work from home until it was safe, and that I wouldn’t be stuck WFH forever. You’re much more likely to find a good match if you’re straight with people.

  19. hellohello*

    I ran into the “we’re remote! (but only because of covid and eventually you’ll have to come into the office every day) thing so often when job searching last winter. I couldn’t understand why anyone thought it was a good idea. It clogged up the job boards and wasted so much of my time, and I can’t imagine it helped the companies find good employees. It’s one thing to note in a job description that you’re currently remote only because of covid, but these were companies who listed their location as “remote”, hard stop, so the job would show up for anyone who had specifically searched for only remote opportunities.

  20. MechE*

    “I have seen several job announcement that are posted as “permanently remote from anywhere in the U.S.” but include things in the job description that say otherwise (along the lines of meeting with clients in a specific metropolitan area on a regular basis).”

    Traveling to meet with clients, even on a semi-regular basis, doesn’t necessarily preclude a position from being remote at all other times. If a job is 25% travel and 75% remote, that is still a remote job (at least to me). Maybe there is a disconnect in terminology for this particular example. I think of a job as remote, even permanently remote, if it doesn’t require going into *your own* office.

      1. Simply the best*

        But travel, unless it is to the office, doesn’t change whether or not a role is considered remote or on site.

        If you have a job that is 75% working on your computer and 25% traveling around the globe to meet with clients, if that 75% of working on the computer is done at the corporate office, then you have a fully on-site job with travel. If that 75% of working on the computer is done remotely, then you have a fully remote job with travel.

  21. mailbox*

    I don’t know about the US but in my country complete lies of a job ad are common. I am sure this will offend recruiters but in my country recruiters are seen as scum, on step up from real estate agents (also terrible here).

    They lie all the time. The do a bait and switch on the ads. It’s really common. Maybe these practices are spreading around the world.

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      That leaves me with a question. I’m the United States, there are truth in advertising laws, which limit how egregious the lies can be that a company tells in its ads. They’re basically applied to product advertising… but I can’t think of any reason off the top of my head why they *wouldn’t* apply to job advertisements, if somebody wanted to take it to court? Can any of the commentariat’s attorneys weigh in on this? What am I missing? I would expect they wouldn’t apply to ads thrown in by companies that are too small to have most corporate restraint legislation apply to them… but an awful lot of job ads are from companies which aren’t.

      1. pamela voorehees*

        I’m not an attorney, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly sure truth in advertising laws only cover commerce transactions of a business and a consumer. An employee isn’t buying a product from the business, so the job advertisement (despite the name) isn’t considered an advertisement for that sort of purpose.

  22. Blarg*

    We plan to allow people to live anywhere but will be expected to travel to our annual conference which rotates sites, and some positions have occasional travel built in (ie visit an implementation site 1-2x/yr). So it’s remote, but still not at your house 100% of the time (though 1-3 trips/yr is on the low end for our field). And of course expenses paid from wherever you are.

    1. Cookie D'oh*

      That’s kind of how my job is. I’m full-time remote because my office building shut down, but my company HQ is in a different state. There are also other locations across the US. We have quarterly planning meetings where people would travel to HQ. Those have all been virtual, but at some point those will be back in person.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I do consider this remote.
      Requiring you to attend something 2-3x per year is normal. But like 98% is remote at home.

  23. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    I’ve been contacted by companies doing this. The sense I’ve gotten in talking to them is that they’re thinking remote really isn’t important to candidates, and that, once hired, the employee will relocate if necessary and report onsite to continue getting that paycheque.

    Alison nailed it. Employers: don’t do this

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      Wow, that’s some magical thinking.

      I’m sure there is, somewhere out there, a unicorn that would LOVE to just relocate and continue getting the check. They’re eager, I’m sure, to pack up their forest and put all their talking animal friends in the U Haul to go with them.

      But that seems few and far between.

    2. cactus lady*

      My friend works at one of these companies. They’ve been hiring a TON of remote workers out of the area since the beginning of the pandemic expecting people would move once the office opened up again. As soon as they started talking about reopening, those people all started quitting.

  24. Trek*

    Our positions at my company are remote except we won’t hire employees in certain states, like CA, because their employment laws are too difficult to follow for one employee. We are very clear about this from the job posting and throughout the interviews. We can’t imagine training something in a position that takes 90 days to become comfortable only to have them move on.

    1. feral fairy*

      It’s a shame though that employers rule out candidates from states like CA because of their laws that are beneficial to workers. I get that it takes extra work if it’s only one candidate, but when it comes to larger companies, it says something to me about the company’s values if they are unwilling to hire workers from a state because the state has laws that actually benefit employees. I feel the same way about these remote customer service jobs that exclude states where the minimum wage is higher than what the company wants to pay or retail jobs where the companies give you the maximum amount of part-time hours because they want to avoid having to pay benefits.

      1. Irish girl*

        Some of the laws are great but if you dont have a HR department that can handle all the different state laws and rules as well as deal with taxes and ins in those state and pay a competitive wage for that state, then it makes sense from a business perspective not to hire someone from that state. A big company with a national presence would not likely have that issue, but a small regional one might.

        1. quill*

          We need more federal level worker protections so that we can have a decently coherent baseline for these HR departments to work from.

      2. MechE*

        You seem to be ascribing it to the worker-friendliness of CA labor laws when there is nothing to suggest that the is in factor the law being worker-favored. CA laws are complex. It is reasonable for a company to not want to have to, say, re-do a timesheet or payroll system because CA does OT after 8 hours in a day rather than 40 hours in a week. I’d take thread-OP at their word that it is because of the headache not because of work-friendly laws.

        1. Oodles of Noodles*

          That daily overtime is a big one. Our company has some onsite hourly roles with 24 hour coverage required. In the rest of the country, we have a 3 8-hour shifts and those staff get a little bit of OT from shift changes, so generally 41-42 hours a week. In California? 4 6-hour shifts per day, to prevent the daily OT and then the weekly OT on top of that. Great way to create jobs I suppose, albeit at 32-34 hours a week.

  25. D3*

    Saw a brand new job listing that went up just this morning that said it was 100% remote.
    But deep in the job description it said it was “remote until 9/1/2021, and after that in the office in (small town Texas). applicant will need to travel to (small town Texas) for two weeks of initial training upon hire.”
    So…. not remote at all at this point? Uness I got hired today, started tomorrow, and then I’d get 5 days of remote work.
    Gotcha.

    1. Thursdaysgeek*

      Is it just 2 weeks of in-office training and then you go back home and work remotely? That doesn’t seem unreasonable.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I sure wouldn’t plan any trips to Texas right now, so I wouldn’t consider it reasonable. (I’ve been looking at some very alarming maps.)

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think the problem is that it’s effectively only one week until 2021-09-01 and the remote carriage reverts to an onsite pumpkin.

  26. Exhausted Trope*

    I’m in an active job hunt and I’ve been seeing a lot of this. The ad states “fully remote” but when you read further it either has a list of duties that must be performed on site or states “temporarily remote due to Covid.” Sometimes the ad says that applicants will be required to come into the office for occasional meetings or to meet with clients. Kinda detracts from the remote aspect a tad.
    I think a lot of employers are desperate and trying any way they can to fatten their pipelines.
    Ridiculous waste of time.

  27. Ozzie*

    Wooo if there was ever a thing that would make me withdraw an application faster currently, it’s a fairly short (and worst-case-scenario) list. I would be so shocked at that response that I wouldn’t even be certain how to respond. It doesn’t make any sense! Incidentally a good thing to keep an eye out for, since… well it’s not as uncommon as I would have liked to believe, by reading the comments.

  28. Salad Daisy*

    I think I have been looking at the same job postings. The banner says “remote” but when you read the job description it’s not. In some industries, such as used car dealers, this is called “bait and switch”. You really need to read the entire job description carefully as so many of them to not match the titles.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s tough to fit all the nuance into a banner, even if it’s a free-text field and not a limited option from the job board. Explaining further in the job description is a GOOD thing, it’s hardly a bait-and-switch unless it’s buried somewhere you might not see it. A bait-and-switch would be what happened in this letter, where the posting was blatantly false and you don’t find out until the interview.

      1. Salad Daisy*

        If the banner specifically says Administrative Assistant – Remote then I expect the position to be remote. This would be like putting an ad on Craiglist with the title Puppies for Sale and then when you read the ad it says chickens, not puppies. There’s no excuse for purposely putting the word Remote in the title of the ad if the position is not remote.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Since you said you’d been looking at the same job postings as the one in the letter, I figured you meant similar jobs as what the LW described – mostly-WFH work but not 100%.

  29. CommanderBanana*

    It’s weird, it’s almost like a lot of employers are dishonest about job descriptions!

  30. A Feast of Fools*

    We’re hiring for a couple of open positions right now in my department. I just checked the job postings on LinkedIn and, yep, they use a couple of fudge words around remote work: “currently” and “option” for the two days a week we will be allowed to WFH when we return to the office.

    I can just about guarantee that we’ll lose even that little bit of flexibility if/when COVID is firmly in the rearview mirror, despite our team killing all of metrics after we got our sea legs under us when we switched to WFH 100% (after having zero WFH options before the pandemic).

    So anyone we hire now who thinks, “Oh, good, with two WFH days where I’m not spending hours commuting, I’ll have time to go to night school to complete my Master’s,” will be sorely disappointed in the not-so-distant future.

    1. Alex*

      Or, more likely, your employer will do the surprised Pikachu face why the staff they just spend thousands of dollars to get trained “suddenly” decided to leave the company again.

  31. Lacey*

    This happened before the pandemic too, but probably not as much. I was looking for remote work a few years back and tons of positions would be listed as remote, but later specify that you had to be able to come into the office.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      I remember this! Remote… except for when we want you to come in. Which will only be 2-3 days a week! Stinky-pinky swear.

  32. Emi*

    I think some of this is ambiguous, like if they want you to meet clients in a certain city every few months but the rest of the time you work from home, that’s fairly described as a remote job with a travel requirement IMO. I’m curious whether others would agree.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree, but you have to include the travel requirement. That’s a deal-breaker for some people.

  33. Canadian Valkyrie*

    So as it’s a class by my profile name thing I’m Canadian. Some jobs I have seen say that the remote but then require travel to an office sometimes I see there’s a fair amount with for example mine in jobs or certain forestry jobs or whatever where the mine (or whatever it is) is in a very very remote place so let’s say that the mine is somewhere in the Northwest territories it can be hard to get engineers or whatever who live in those places so they might have it be that you’re a “remote” where you do a lot of work for 4 weeks and then fly into the mine for 2 weeks or something. It’s usually pretty obvious why, and it’s not like they’re trying to cover it up. Any ways, I know this maybe isn’t exactly helpful, but I just wanted to provide an example where it wouldn’t be weird to say a job is “remote” when some in person is required.

  34. New Mom*

    This is an interesting question. I live in the Bay Area which is becoming quite expansive and just anecdotally I think employers who don’t expect an employee to go into the office regularly but still expect their employees to meet clients in-person would still consider their offices “Remote”.
    At my employer, and my friend’s employers, even remote employees are expected to go to certain events in person, so it does seem like a good idea to be very specific when asking how potential employers view and define “remote”.

    1. Lizzo*

      Agree that it’s important to have clarity. My role is 100% remote, but my particular position also requires travel to events. There is also the expectation that staff will be available for approximately one week per year to travel and gather in person all together for team-focused activities. I will gladly trade a daily commute for these trips, which are about once every 2 months.

  35. Allison*

    Sometimes there’s a misunderstanding between talent acquisition and the hiring manager regarding whether the job can be remote, where the HM goes back and forth between only wanting local candidates who can work in the office, and being open to remote but having a strong preference for local, and the recruiter lists it as remote because, as far as they’re concerned, it’s an option, and they know they’re not getting traction in the local market, but then the hiring manager is like “why are you sending me remote candidates? I told you I wanted this to be in [city],” and eventually you need to have this big alignment meeting to figure it all out.

    1. Bostonian*

      Omg I could have written this based on personal past experience. Luckily, my office has a formal policy on remote work now, so it’s more clear.

  36. Lizzo*

    I’d be willing to bet that this employer has the mindset of “we’re such an amazing place to work that people will obviously be jumping at the chance to relocate so they can work for us.”

    :MASSIVE EYE ROLL:

  37. Phil*

    (As Capt. Renault) I am shocked, shocked, to find an employer being untruthful to a job applicant.

  38. Yikes!*

    I feel like the way this company is doing their hiring process is a waste of time for them. It’s almost like a bait and switch. They are advertising one thing to get a wide range of applicants, but then have to sift through, call, interviews to candidates who are going to turn around and say “no; this is not full time remote; not what’s advertised”. And yes the candidate’s time is wasted as well, however they are one call to say no, the company is doing this process with hundreds (?) of candidates.

  39. Mimmy*

    Oh god this is my worst nightmare!

    As someone noted above, it’s becoming apparent that remote work is very doable. This is a potential boost for those of us with disabilities who cannot drive due to said disabilities. For example, I can’t drive due to my poor eyesight so my options have been limited because many places either aren’t accessible to paratransit or would entail a horrendous commute (train or bus transfers, long rides on paratransit since it’s a shared-ride service). Doing that every day or even 3 times a week would deplete everything from me.

    Remote work would really open more doors for me. Even if I had to go to an office once a week, twice a month, etc…. that I could probably handle. I agree with the individual above who hopes that employers don’t take advantage of knowing that people may be looking for remote work now knowing it’s possible.

    Oh, and don’t even GET me started on outdated or inaccurate job postings! I know HR departments are busy, but I think you’d get a much better pool of candidates if job postings are kept up to date.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      My favorite is when job descriptions contradict themselves OR list hours that overlap/don’t make sense. 6:30 am to 6:00 am, you say?

      *chin hands*

  40. JB*

    I ran into this a lot with my recent job search. (Now concluded! Today is my first day in my new position.)

    I wasn’t even looking for remote positions – I’m open to them but generally prefer most or all days in-office with flexibility for occasional remote work. But because these positions were marked as ‘remote – work from anywhere’ they would come up in my results, even though I was searching for things within my area. And then I’d have to research on my own and discover, no, this is an in-person position and their office was NOWHERE near me!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      (Now concluded! Today is my first day in my new position.)

      Congratulations!

  41. Elizabeth West*

    I’ve seen this a few times—the post says remote but then the duties obviously require you to be onsite at least part of the time. Sometimes they say “Must be local to X area” or “Temporarily remote due to COVID-19” and sometimes they don’t. (I actually prefer to go into the office most of the time but have the option to work remotely if the weather is bad.)

    I’ll go ahead and apply if it’s a job I want in one of my desired markets and then address that I’m willing to relocate in the cover letter. So far it hasn’t made much difference, and I wonder if some of these employers are doing the same thing as the OP’s recent interview. If employees are working remotely already, it stands to reason that a candidate who does want to move there and has experience telecommuting might be worth a phone screen at least.

    Regardless, employers need to say outright if they would accept a truly remote employee or want someone onsite. This tactic seems underhanded and makes me wonder about the company as a whole.

    1. Allison*

      Yeah, I was job hunting last year and it was often unclear if they were okay with the position being remote indefinitely, if they were open to a temporary employee being remote and they’d figure out the situation when it’s safe to return to the office, or whether the job was definitely going to be onsite when the office reopened, and they needed someone who lived a commutable distance from the office. You often wouldn’t really know until the phone screen what the deal was, especially since hiring managers love changing their minds and not keeping HR abreast of those changes.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know, right? I’ve been hoping that this situation with companies working remotely due to COVID would help me find a job in a better market, as this seems to be a larger version of the shitty one I just left. I can’t move unless I have a job, because who is going to rent to someone without an income? But employers will insist on deliberately obscuring the details and being inflexible.

        I’ve been super clear that I actually WANT to move and work in office. I don’t know how much more blatant I can be without just saying something like, “Dude, I am completely motivated to GTFO of here and if you hire me, I will get in the damn car and drive there as soon as I get my first fricking paycheck.”

  42. Tiffany In Houston*

    I made it to the final round of interviews for a remote Business Analyst position with a major insurance company, only to not receive an offer because the VP realized that he could only have 20% of his direct reports be fully remote. The recruiter was understandably embarrassed because she had been sourcing ppl who thought this was a fully remote role and she let the VP have it, in a professional manner, because they were making her and by extension the company look really bad. When she called me, she apologized profusely.

    Employers: get all your ducks in row!!

  43. feral fairy*

    When I was searching for jobs, I encountered this a lot even though I used all the correct filters on the search engines. My major pet peeve is how companies will list their openings as nation-wide when they are specifically looking for someone in the same state as them.

    1. Firecat*

      I can’t count how many jobs I found on linked in that were like Nationwide!

      Then in fine print on the bottom it would say – Requires relocation to Saudia Arabia

    2. Caboose*

      Not even just listing them as being nationwide, but specifically listing the jobs in other locations! If I wanted remote work, I’d look for remote jobs. If I wanted to work in Poland, I would have filtered for locations in Poland. But I don’t want to do either, so I filter by the area I live in. Why is this so hard???

  44. Teapot Repair Technician*

    That may be part of misunderstanding. If LW lives 5 miles away, the interviewer might have assumed it would be easy to stop by the office 2-3 times per week to pick up documents or attend meetings.

    That’s a bad assumption. For some people it would be a matter of hopping the car and driving for a few minutes. For others it would be an all-day ordeal.

  45. Firecat*

    Ugh employers are still doing this? Come on!

    I remember this being an annoying thing when I was job hunting in 2020. Remote Data Scientist! Then when you were filling out the actual application you would get a pop up on the last page that said I am willing to relocate when offices reopen yes to proceed no to cancel the application. Thanks for wasting hours of my time!

    I even had some HR staff reach out to me and say – why did you apply to this role when you live so far away? Because it said remote. Oh well we meant remote for now. Did you still want to interview?

  46. SimplyAlissa*

    We’ve been having issues w/ the job posting site listing our opening as “remote” when it’s really “local work from home” but you have to live in one of the three states we’re licensed in AND training is done in-office (and in an ideal world we’d want someone in our state to make payroll/taxes easier on our accountant, but that’s not a deal breaker at all). Once you’re trained, if you want to WFH, great! But our corporate office, that handles all the job postings for individual offices (so we don’t have to pay fees for listings), keeps changing our job ad to “fully remote” and we’re getting so many applicants from other states.

    It’s gotten to the point where I’d rather just pay to list our open positions individually because I feel like corporate is hampering our applicant search.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Will Corporate allow you to add those details to the job description? And can you add instructions to candidates to note if they’re willing to relocate in their application packet?

      When I was searching, I would list my willingness to move in my resume header or cover letter.

      1. SimplyAlissa*

        Unfortunately corporate locks down our job descriptions. Which is annoying, because we’re hiring, not them! (We’re not supposed to use the term, but we’re essentially a franchise, vs being owned by them/a satellite office.) I guess that’s the price we pay for getting free jobs listings posted on our behalf?

        Our solution (short of just paying for our own ads), is that we email applicants (who we’re interested in) and we straight up say that we really need the new team member to live in one of 3 states because of restrictions, but also there’s in-office training for X weeks before you can be WFH. If they’re still interested, please email us back, we’ll schedule a phone interview. Sadly, few do. But at least we’re not wasting their time with an interview if we’re not what they’re truly looking for?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Huh, I might do that. Put it on my resume, that is. I suspect people are not looking at my cover letters even though Alison says to write them and some job applications require it.

  47. Business Socks*

    Job: “The position isn’t remote, we just said it was to expand the applicant pool”

    Me: “That’s fine – I say in my resume I have a masters degree. I don’t, I just said that to increase my interview pool.”

    1. Nanani*

      “I said I’d accept an entry level salary just to expand my interview pool, I actually need five gazillion a month”

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          For five gazillion a month I’d go into the office for the first week and then retire. :)

  48. me*

    My employer is currently hiring for a technical position (for my actual job description, but not *my* job). They’re being truthful as possible about the remote nature of the work: “mostly remote”, “includes field work”, “occasional work at this specific location”. They’ve also left an allowance in there that the work location can be changed by the hiring manager, which sounds worse than it is. The employer operates only in this state; in theory an employee could start in the local area but request to move somewhere else and the manager would shuffle job duties around to accommodate.

    I live like 10 minutes from my office. I don’t go in unless I have to pick something up, which so far has been about once a month and it’s about a 10 minute office visit. I doubt my frequency of office-time will increase in the next couple of years, so I feel like my job is actually remote.

  49. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I don’t think the “meeting with clients” thing is really part of the same calculation.

    Plenty of consultants, speciality technology people, etc. fly out Sunday night or early Monday morning to the client site, work 10-hour days, and then go back home Thursday night or Friday. As long as it’s baked into the rates and everybody knows the deal going in, it’s just business as usual.

  50. Pyanfar*

    As someone who has recently posted several jobs on different job boards, the options to click “remote” can be confusing to employers…one site says click remote if any remote work is allowed, but when the job displays it looks like the job is 100% remote. *ugh* For me, if a candidate puts that they want 100% remote in their cover letter and I can’t do that, I’ll let them know right away!

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      That’s interesting and helpful; I never would have thought to work a remote requirement into a cover letter.

      Thank you.

  51. Variant of Concern*

    I was accidentally guilty of this a few months back when I posted a job on Indeed. It was actually a hybrid position (most of it could be done remotely but there are significant duties that need to be performed in person) but that was not an option at the time – you had to check the remote box or not. While I made it clear in the job description that it was hybrid, many people clearly do not read the descriptions so I had to do more weeding out in the screening phase than I might have otherwise. Next time I guess I would just skip checking the remote box at all, but it’s a shame because in my field, even doing mostly if not 100% WFH would be a big perk.

    Anyway, my mistake but just adding to point out the reasons are not always nefarious!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In your case, where you described the specific nature of the hybrid location, is a great example of what to do.

      The problem is too many job postings (including some commenters here) only check “remote”, then fail to clarify what that means in the description, which is what is drawing much of the ire from job applicants

    2. Simply the best*

      Yeah, I think this is part of the problem. Job sites still haven’t caught up to this shift so nothing you click is going to be accurate. If you do click remote and then explain, they’re going to be people who are annoyed by it and think that you are trying to bait and switch them. If you don’t click remote there are going to be people who filter out the position. Until job sites have caught up, it’s a no-win situation.

      Of course, there are also employers like the one the op mentions who are just douche canoes but I think we are attributing that kind of douche canoe-ery to lots of employers that don’t actually warrant it.

  52. RJ*

    I’ve had this happen on two occasions in the past month. The first employer did not proofread their listing before it went live and ‘accidentally’ left the word remote in the ad. They also left in the first/last name of the person the applicant would be working with if hired. The second knew the position was only temporarily remote, but did the same as in OP’s letter – kept it in to widen the candidate pool. It is beyond annoying and only getting worse.

  53. Bookworm*

    Sadly, yes. I’ve found this with my old job, too. They’ve posted jobs saying it would be remote during the pandemic, yet talked about bringing people back after Labor Day (even under the “best” case scenario when COVID ends probably still depends on many factors and definitions since some countries still don’t have widespread access to vaccines).

    I’m asking in interviews about their COVID protocol plus what their office situation is going to look like. I’ve only applied to remote positions anyway so this hasn’t been an issue for me…yet. It sucks that organizations are doing this.

  54. Sun Tzu*

    Arghhhh, a recruiter from a consulting company just contacted me on LinkedIn about a remote position in a city far away. After a few messages, he told me the position was remote only during the pandemic.
    He also evaded my questions about the budget for the position — twice; after I asked him for the third time, he ghosted me. Why do recruiters do this? Thanks for wasting my time.

  55. CoveredInBees*

    You have my sympathies. I’ve been fortunate (?) enough to find out that the jobs listed are temporarily remote before I applied, but I really had to read all the small print at the end. I suppose they feel like they might attract a candidate who’d be willing to move at some unknown time in the future, but it is frustrating for those of us who can’t or won’t. Even more frustrating is when it is a role that could be, and often is, done remotely.

  56. Chauncy Gardener*

    So my company actually IS all remote, for real. When you post a job on Indeed, in order for it to come up as remote, you need to pay them $500 to sponsor it! Nice way to capitalize on the current situation….

  57. Waiting on the bus*

    Ugh, my company does this in a way.

    C-level wants people in the office, but we’re advertising remote work. Which works out into hiring people from all over the country remotely – but if you live in the vicinity of one of our offices, fully remote isn’t an option. Applicants just don’t get an offer in these cases, no matter how good they were, as they’re afraid that the people who have to come to the office will be unhappy when they find out other people can work fully remote.

    Allowing people to just choose whether or not they want to work from the office or not just isn’t possible, apparently. Even though our jobs are largely done remote anyway, due to our company having multiple offices around the country and decentralised teams.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      This is more or less what my company does.
      If you live within 50 miles of headquarters, those people used to be made to come into the office.
      But then they would routinely hire remote people. It always felt like you were being punished if you lived nearby. Some employees who wanted to be remote even said they were going to use a relative’s address to seem further away then they really were.

  58. Bossy Magoo*

    Yup, I had a friend apply for an advertised-remote job about 6 hours away. During the first interview they mentioned that they were hoping in a few months to be back in the office. She told them she had no intention of moving and they still moved her onto the next round. During the next round she asked what specific job duties required in-person and they said they just thought it would be good to have everyone together once a month. She again reiterated that she wouldn’t relocate in case that was something they needed to consider about her. In the end they called her back for a final interview but she had already accepted another remote position somewhere else, so we never found out what they’re actual intention was. But holy cow…

  59. Raida*

    One thing to note, for jobs which state they are remote but also duties which include meeting in-person – it’s very possible they mean ‘remote’ to mean “You don’t come into the office, you don’t have a desk, you can work from whereever you want.” but not “You can work from your house in your home town.”

    1. NeutralJanet*

      I don’t understand the distinction–if a company means, “you can work from wherever you want”, why wouldn’t they also mean, “you can work from your house”? Do you mean that you’re imagining the jobs want people who are local, but who don’t work in the office every day?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think it means that the job can be done from anywhere in the local region, but has enough onsite requirements that it can’t be done from anywhere more distant than you’d be willing to travel frequently on your own dime.

  60. singlemaltgirl*

    lately, i’ve posted jobs where it’s clear there’s a work from home with some requirement to come into the office so you need to be local component. it’s clear in the description at the start, in the job duties, and the closing. i still get candidates inquiring from all over the country and anticipating they can do the job from where they are.

    it may be the options listed for postings that don’t have a hybrid option or something. not sure. i wonder if more job posting sites will include a ‘work from home option’ in addition to ‘remote’ work.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think that will solve the issue, since we can’t agree on the definition (see comments above, especially about “remote but with travel/client meetings.”)

      You’re doing the best practice and, unfortunately, overly optimistic applicants is a bug of the system. Can you write up a canned response to send to the applicants, checking that they’re willing to relocate?

      And/or, can you make that a question really early in the application? So it would automatically kick off anyone that says “No, I’m not willing to relocate to [CITY, STATE].”

      1. Badasslady*

        I have to say I think in some cases, the applicants are the problem as well. I believe Alison answered a letter from someone who wanted to apply for a job that is currently remote but will be back in the office once COVID allow, and wanted to apply for the job event though they had no intention to relocate (Alison was against the idea of applying).
        I’m the OP of the letter. I have zero desire to apply for jobs that are temporary remote or that require me to relocate. If I see a job that uses the key words “telecommute”, “applicant must be located at x or willing to relocate to x” or “work from home within x metropolitan area” I stay away. But I don’t think that’s true for everyone.

    2. DC*

      My job was “come in two days a week, work from the home the other three” well before the pandemic. It was listed as “semi-remote”, which I feel got the gist across pretty clearly. It’s a shame that listing sites can’t always accommodate such labels but I’m sure there’s more of a need for it than ever and nature abhors a vacuum.

  61. RosyGlasses*

    One thing that is annoying is that some HR systems make you put a location – so I will state remote in my job ad but it still might pull in our office city/state into the ads that are pushed out to be posted elsewhere online.

  62. Stitching Away*

    A few weeks back, I found a slew of jobs posted as “remote” on LinkedIn by a cruise line. They were all shipboard jobs. That’s not what remote means in that context!

  63. Kathlynn (Canada)*

    I’ve been seeing job postings as remote but “you need to be able to drive because you have to visit clients” and I’m just like That is NOT remote.

  64. Badasslady*

    OP here – there’s been a lot of speculation about my situation and the intention of these potential employers, and I thought some clarifications would be helpful.
    I don’t feel comfortable stating the field that I am in, since it’s rather small. I can say it is not a field that entails traveling often, and is not comparable to a sales position where you might work from home but have to travel to meet clients. For the most part, most jobs in my field can be done fully remote with occasional travel, which I am happy to do. Of course, “can be remote” does not mean most positions are remote. Some employers want people coming into the office on a daily basis for the value of coworkers being in the same physical space. That’s totally understandable, it’s just not something I personally want to do.
    Of course, some positions in my field are hybrid with other responsibilities that might involved in-office presence, and those are the jobs I am trying to weed out and that leave me the most confused about whether they are truly remote.
    With the employer that interviewed me, it is my belief that they wanted someone who could work from the office, decided to post the job as “remote” to have more applicants. They pretty much said so in the interview. The way they communicated this to me in the interview was not intentional or straightforward (it was in an answer to a question I asked, and I do not believe they would have told me the job was only partially remote had I not happen to ask a question that could not be answered without revealing that detail). In their answer, they also said that they want employees to come in 2-3 times a week because of COVID, suggesting that the job might require full-time office presence in the future. So I don’t believe their intention was to have a hybrid model. I think they wanted an in-office person but decided to advertise the job as remote for their own reasons. I should say that perhaps if this situation was handled with more sensitivity (employer being upfront about the requirement to come into the office, acknowledging that they are changing the job description mid-process, and open to negotiating this with me) perhaps I would have considered accommodating this request. But the way it was done felt really shady to me.
    When it comes to the other job posting, these jobs are specifically listed as “remote from anywhere in the US”, and I’m applying to these jobs under the presumption that I would not have to relocate. My concern with these jobs are more about whether I am even qualified since I am not within commuting distance to those offices, regardless of my personal feelings of a hybrid model or coming into an office. If those positions did not contain the magical “from anywhere in the US” words in them, I would probably not apply, but since they do, interpreting what the geographical requirements actually are is tricky.

  65. DrunkAtAWedding*

    That makes no sense to me. What’s the point in having a bigger pool of applicants if all the other people won’t be interested? IS there a good reason like, idk, there’s a significant percentage of people who are more likely to apply if it says ‘fully remote’ but will also accept a semi-remote role? Because it really seems like they’re just wasting their own time.

  66. xtinerat*

    When the job description includes in-person activities, I report them to the job site as inaccurate.

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