should I let my neighbor hire me, should I remove my mask in an interview, and more

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

1. Should I take a job working for my next door neighbor?

My boyfriend and I are the newest tenants in a very small and close-knit apartment complex. It had been a little difficult becoming “a part” of the community but we are finally adjusting. My immediate next door neighbor (and I mean literally a two-foot space separates our doors) offered me a job working at her job with her being my supervisor. I’m totally uneasy with it because although I like her very much, her husband is a very opinionated man who likes to voice his political views, which border extremist. It’s easy to just brush off here at the complex, but he has already complained to management that we had stuff on our porch and other extremely small pretty complaints, and we already walk on eggshells because of the fact we are new here and the previous tenants left a horrible taste in everyone’s mouth.

I truly like this lady and I give her props for dealing with her husband. Did I mention it’s efficiency living? One-room efficiency living! I honestly just feel this has timebomb potential. We can hear them from inside — we hear their arguments and discussions and we know when they leave and return, all without trying. I’m afraid that it could be more damaging to our living situation than it could be good. I know I might sound like I’m making excuses but the job is just a part-time day lunch prep job across town during hours I’m not used to working. My boyfriend and I are night owls and we are usually sleeping during the hours I would be working. We both have night jobs already and I truly believe I wouldn’t do well in the job to begin with. I just want to hear an unbiased opinion regarding my reservations. Am I over dramatizing my qualms or do you feel they have merit?

Do NOT take this job. Neighbor issues aside, it doesn’t sound like you even want it! The hours aren’t right for you, you don’t think you’d do well at it, and you already have a job. You’re not obligated to consider a job you’re uninterested in just because someone offers it to you!

If you were interested, I’d still be telling you to say no. Having a boss as a neighbor can be dicey under the best of circumstances; your lives intersect in ways that can be problems. (For example, if you call in sick, is she going to have Thoughts on seeing you go out that evening? Or recall that she heard you come in late the night before?) Doing that in a space where you can already hear everything about each other’s lives and her husband is already a problem and the community sounds more-than-typically involved in each other’s lives … incredibly bad idea.

You can just tell your neighbor, “It doesn’t sound right for me, but thanks for offering!” If she pushes, hold firm: “Nope, not for me!”

2. Should I take my mask off in an interview?

I have a question about how to navigate mask etiquette during in-person interviews. For context, I live in a state with a mask mandate in all public places, and in my workplace people adhere to the mandate unless alone in an office. Our numbers are starting to go down and people are just now starting to relax, and the statewide mandate will be lifted soon.

I recently had an in-person interview with two people, and was provided a seat across the room from the interviewers, who were also spaced far apart. One of the interviewers (who would have been my direct supervisor) said that it was up to me, but they were both fully vaccinated and comfortable if I wanted to remove my mask. I hesitated but eventually did and they both seemed relieved to remove theirs, and commented that it’s hard to meet someone for the first time when they’re wearing a mask.

I have a panel interview coming up next week, on the exact day that the mask mandate is scheduled to be lifted. I will default to wearing a mask, but I’m not sure what to do if given the choice to remove it in what may be a small room with a large group of people. I’m worried that I’m likely to offend someone whether I keep my mask on or remove it. Any thoughts on how to quickly read the room and make the right call here?

Someone who’s offended by you taking a more cautious approach to public health than they are isn’t someone you should cater to. You might feel that you don’t have the luxury of taking that stand when you’re interviewing, but (a) as you note, you risk turning someone off either way, so you might as well make the decision you personally are comfortable with, and (b) a place that penalizes a candidate for leaving a mask on in a large group is giving you valuable information about how they navigate serious crises like pandemics, something that will be highly relevant to you if you end up working there.

3. Why do coworkers email me when they know I’m not working?

I work for a U.S.-based firm that has a small number of employees around the world. Frequently, I will receive emails from colleagues outside the U.S. over the weekend and during holidays. Is there a way to discourage this practice? I don’t send emails during non-business hours unless there is an urgent, time-sensitive need.

Recently on the morning of a federal holiday, around 4 am, I received an email from “Sven,” asking to reschedule a meeting (two weeks away). I responded (big mistake, I know, blame my insomnia) and went back to bed. Except “Sven” came back immediately, thanking me for my reply and doubling down on the request to the rest of the group, asking for their availability. So I responded again, just to Sven, and pointed out that it was a federal holiday here and many folks may not be checking email. He thanked me and assured me that he was not expecting a response that day from anyone in the U.S. SO WHY DID YOU SEND THE EMAIL?!?!?

I did not ask that question but am wondering, how do I discourage this? Do I need to turn on my out-of-office every night and weekends and holidays? Are we ever off the clock?

I think you’re in the wrong here, not Sven! Email is commonly understood as an asynchronous communication method, where one person will send a message when convenient for them and the other person will respond at some later point. In a functional office, there’s no expectation that people will respond to non-urgent messages as soon as they receive them, especially if they aren’t currently at work … and there’s no expectation that people will refrain from emailing if they know the recipient is not currently working. When you’re off for a holiday or on vacation or when it’s 9 pm or the weekend, it’s okay for people who are not off for a holiday or on vacation to send you emails, and to assume you will respond when you are back to work. The implied message is not “answer me now!” It’s “this awaits you when you resume your next work day.” Otherwise no one could email anyone who was out sick or on vacation, and they would need to do the extra work of tracking everyone’s individual schedule and holding all their messages until the person returned. That would be terribly inefficient and is not how work emails usually work.

If you have trouble resisting responding when you’re off, I’d recommend taking your work email off your phone, or at least turning off notifications for it — and if you do happen to look at it, know people are assuming you’ll reply when you’re once again working but not before. (Just as Sven told you!)

4. I dislike my mentor’s professional connections

A few years ago I moved from my home state to begin my career in higher ed after graduate school. The experience was atrocious. My coworkers’ behavior matched the maturity level of high schoolers at best: The gossiping was out of control from all levels … People skipped meetings if they didn’t feel like attending … My supervisor asked for feedback in meetings, then burst into tears before we (his supervisees) could even say anything … A coworker threw a tantrum in a meeting because of a new policy that prohibited sleeping with students of age. The policy was rescinded! … I could go on and on about that toxic environment. I distanced myself until I left only a few months later for a higher ed job back home. I was diplomatic in my exit interview and tried not to burn any bridges despite my quick departure.

Fast forward to now and we recently hired someone for a senior leadership role. I really enjoy him! He offered to serve as my mentor and I leapt at the chance. As I’ve gotten to know him, he mentioned that he’s close to the people from my previous institution. I don’t talk about my experience at the previous institution often. In fact, I don’t even put it on my resume. But he knows I worked with these toxic people.

He speaks of them fondly. I’m not sure if he ever worked with them directly, and I’m afraid to ask. I’m worried that he’ll start asking deeper questions about my previous coworkers. I don’t want to offend him. Or lie. When he brings them up, I lightly laugh it off and say that my previous job was a learning experience and then I quickly redirect the conversation.

Would it be a misstep to share my not-so-great experience with his professional connections? Should I question his own professional judgment? I’m desperate to leave higher ed and I don’t want to screw up this professional development opportunity.

I don’t think you need to say anything. He’s not asking about your experience working with them or seeking references for them; he’s just speaking of them fondly. It could indicate something about his own professional judgment, but it could also be that he only knew them socially and hasn’t worked directly with them (or that when he did work with them, he was shielded from their behavior by layers in between them so he didn’t see what you saw). Pay attention to what you see of his professional judgment now.

If he ever does ask you directly about your experience working with that team, you might as well stay diplomatic — you were only there for a few months, didn’t get to know people well, etc. — unless there’s a clear reason to be more candid, like if he’s considering hiring someone who you know to be a disaster or he suggests pairing you up with one of them for additional mentoring.

5. My job doesn’t want to pay for headphones I use in my work

I work a job that involves videography and social media management. As such, I frequently wear headphones and would argue that they are an essential part of the tech I need to perform my job.

The pair I currently use is one I got from our work IT department. They are pretty bad quality and this is the second pair I’ve gone through, as they only connect to my laptop via USB and the ports start to malfunction easily. It gets kind of frustrating when my audio keeps going in and out, not to mention I imagine it annoys my coworkers when they start hearing random sounds pop through.

I asked my boss if we could use work funds to get a decent pair of wireless headphones that might last longer than the IT ones. I’m not picky, but I hate to go through a pair every six months when a solid one-time purchase might last years. I didn’t think it would be an issue but she asked if I have a pair at home I could use, as that would be best.

I do have a wireless pair of headphones at home. But they are purely for working out, I keep them in my gym bag. And I really don’t want to worry about bringing them back and forth from work every day. I also feel like this is a fairly basic thing that work should pay for. I don’t need anything fancy, just something solid that will last more than six months. Is there a way to address this with my boss?

Because these are an integral part of your job (unlike headphones you were wearing just to listen to something to entertain yourself), your employer should pay for them. That doesn’t mean they will, but it’s a reasonable request.

Go back to your boss and say, “I tried to figure out if there’s something I have at home that would work, but there’s not. The ones I’d like to order are these, for $X. Can I submit that since they’re necessary for doing video work?”

{ 463 comments… read them below }

  1. Loulou*

    Assuming the choice of the name “Sven” was meant to indicate that this coworker is in Europe, does this mean OP #3 only sends emails to him and his team before 11 AM EST or whatever? That seems so impractical to me and I doubt they would want that!

    OP, forgive me if I’m overreaching, but this reaction seems so wildly out of proportion to the situation that I have to wonder if this is really about some other issue with your workplace? You asked “are we ever off the clock,” so do you find that colleagues have unreasonable expectations about that in other ways?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I work in a heavily international environment, on projects that simultaneously involve people from East Asia, Europe, Hawaii and eastern and western North America. There is literally no point in the day that is office hours for everyone, and everyone has different holidays and non-overlapping weekends.

      Email is an asynchronous form of communication. I get emails throughout the day and night. In most circumstances I check my email quickly when I get up, during the work day, and quickly when I get home from work, and have it off otherwise. On some occasions I check in at other times (usually when expecting time critical information), and very rarely we have special arrangements when we need to be on call during our nighttime to support work elsewhere.

      We do make note of major holidays, because we know there’s not going to be much activity from North America and Europe over Christmas, much of East Asia during the lunar new year, and Europe in August.

      1. Fried Eggs*

        I live and work in Europe, and half of my team is in the US. I’m American myself, and I’m still blindsided by US holidays every year. How is poor Sven supposed to know!?

        Sven is probably also used to non-American work boundaries and is wondering why you even have work email on your phone.

        1. An Affair Not Remembered*

          Right! I don’t expect anyone to respond out of hours but I also can’t remember when its Thanksgiving in Canada vs. US or that Singapore only take two days for Lunar New Year when Hong Kong takes three… my boyfriend’s lucky if I remember his birthday, I’m not going to remember the vacation dates of a colleague on the other side of the world!

        2. Anonys*

          Yes, this! Also, to OP’s question: “Do I need to turn on my out-of-office every night and weekends and holidays?” – OP seems to think they won’t be emailed with an ooo message – but it’s totally not against etiquette to do that, since the implication is still – you will deal with this when back in the office. Also I don’t think it’s neccessary to have ooo for every night and weekends but I do think it’s good practice to do it for federal holidays when you work with people in other countries. I do this as well (I am in Germany) and also block out holidays as out of office in my calendar in advance so people don’t schedule meetings for them. How is someone from Singapore (or even most other European countries) supposed to know that a (seemingly) random Monday each May or June is Whit Monday and a bank holiday here?

          Also, having started my job during Covid, I actually sometimes don’t even know if someone is located here or in another country. For example, a British colleague might actually be working on project in Dubai and people closely involved with the Dubai project might still work in Germany. It also seems implied in the letter that Sven send the email to many people, including US and non US colleagues. Is he supposed to send seperate emails? Is he supposed to calculate the ideal send time within normal working hours for all recipeints (including people who may be part time)?

          I feel like OP might be thinking: “This is a US company, so everyone should be aware of US time zones and public holidays”. I can’t imagine they research public holidays for all the countries the abroad collegues work in each time they send an email.

          1. Arrghhhhh*

            I turn mine on ever day but this is a recent thing due to me switching to a nonstandard work hours for my company. However, I previously had a coworker who was under the impression on that if you turned on your out of office, it meant that it would prevent people from emailing you and you would have zero messages. She was confused to come back from a vacation to an inbox full of messages.

          2. An Affair Not Remembered*

            The other thing I don’t understand from OP’s letter is why they said “I don’t send emails during non-business hours unless there is an urgent, time-sensitive need.” but they just did! They replied at 4am so if anything OP is the one setting a precedent that they can be contacted at any time… and if I was their team member, I would feel much more pressured to give a response while federal holiday if my manager was responding at 4am then just receiving I would to the original email…

          3. Evelyn*

            I don’t do an OOO for weekends but I do for holidays, especially since not every organization takes all the same holidays. If we’re closed, I want clients to know not to expect a response from me or anyone until the next day. If I’m on vacation over a period that includes a holiday, I’ll say “I’m on vacation X date through Z date, company is closed on Y date for holiday”

          4. LittleMarshmallow*

            Within one company at the site I work at we don’t even all observe same holidays. My tiny little site has 3 business units and 1 corporate function at it. 2 of the BUs take Presidents’ Day while the other one and the corp function take MLK day. So half the site is closed one day and half the site is closed the other. If we had to keep track of all that it would be crazy. It’s also an international company. My current boss is in Europe and has a whole different daily schedule cuz… ya know… timezones and almost none of our holidays overlap! Sometimes things get mixed up but we roll with it (it’s new to us so we are adjusting). But heavens, I would not be able to keep track of others working hours. If it’s my working hours I’m allowed to send emails. Depending on projects sometimes we work night shifts also… so LW is saying night crew can’t send emails to day crew? That sounds horribly inefficient.

          5. Kate*

            I’m still trying to train my bosses about using “out of the office” in their calendars for when they’re away, or for public holidays. I don’t expect people around the world to know all our holidays – and I know that Good Friday / Easter Monday throws some countries out, and Boxing Day gets a lot of “why do you get two days for Christmas”.

            My thing is with OOO messages too, is that usually you don’t get them until you’ve sent the email to begin with – like, I send an email, get an OOO and go “oh, I’ll get a response whenever they get back”. How are they supposed to know you’re offline, until they’ve sent the email that annoys you?

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          Yep. I’m in the U.K. and my team has a daily call with the corresponding team in our US office. When there’s a holiday coming up then someone will say “hey, US team, FYI we will be off tomorrow for the May bank holiday” or “UK team, we won’t be answering emails tomorrow because it’s Labour Day” or whatever, because even though it’s all on our shared calendars nobody remembers! Nobody on either team gets offended by receiving an email on a bank holiday or whatever because we… know that that’s not how international business works.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep – we have a couple of offices in different parts of the world and every now and then an email comes round saying one office or the other will be closed for a public holiday. I can’t keep track of it all myself, so it’s useful! I had no idea it was a holiday in the US yesterday, for example, until Alison mentioned being off.

            If I need to include someone from the US office on an email I’m sending on Thanksgiving, I certainly don’t expect a response and I’d assume I wouldn’t hear from anyone on the US side until Monday, but it gets that piece of work off my desk and other people can respond in the meantime. It’s the same when we have bank holidays – I always come back to a few emails, some of them from colleagues in the US etc but also some from authors who might have day jobs and use the evenings/weekends/holidays to email me. None of them expect a response from me at the weekend or on a public holiday, but the email’s there for me to deal with when I’m back at my desk. That’s how it works!

            1. WhatHoliday?*

              I am in the US and did not realize yesterday was a holiday. Thanks to commercial-free services, we are no longer inundated with “_____ Day SALE,” which was about the only way to know it was a “holiday” so obviously intended for buying furniture at a discount.

              It seems banks and maybe the postal service get President’s day, Columbus/Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Veteran’s Day, etc. off along with some other random ones. Most businesses seem to only observe New Year’s, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. With sporadic observance of MLK Jr Day, Good Friday, or Easter Monday.

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Yep, I work for a small company partnering with another small company in very mixed teams, and even though we’re all in the US, when we’re scheduling meetings on those more minor US holidays we need to have conversations about whether one or both companies have off!

              2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

                Then there are the regional holidays. I’m in Massachusetts, where Patriots Day is a state holiday in mid-April, commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord. I have family in Quebec, where Jean-Baptiste (the feast day of John the Baptist) is a legal holiday, June 24th. I’m sure there are others, in states or provinces I don’t spend time in.

                1. JayemGriffin*

                  I was a little baffled by all the fuss on a random Monday in March when I first moved to Chicago. Someone kindly explained to me that Casimir Pulaski Day was the Midwest version of Dyngus Day.

                  (both big holidays for the respective Polish communities of Chicago and Western New York)

                2. AnonInCanada*

                  Yesterday was not only Presidents’ Day in the U.S., but also a holiday in most Canadian provinces. They may call it different names (Family Day in B.C., Alberta, Sask., N.B. and Ontario, Heritage Day in Nova Scotia, Islander Day in P.E.I. and Louis Riel Day in Manitoba) but it’s a statutory holiday nonetheless.

                3. Ace in the Hole*

                  My area has local holiday traditions for 4/20 (we have a long history of marijuana cultivation) and the annual oyster festival. Neither day are legal holidays, but it’s very common for small businesses to have modified schedules so employees can participate in festivities.

              3. Falling Diphthong*

                Also in the US, and the only reason I know it was President’s Day Monday is it was cited in the Arlo and Janis comic.

              4. SportyYoda*

                THIS. My partner coincidentally had the day off yesterday, and I work in research, where we sometimes have to go in on holidays/weekends/evenings/4AM/all of the above. I didn’t realize there was a holiday until he mentioned going rock climbing and needing to leave early because the gym was holding a day camp (they’ll do something for most school holidays/breaks).
                Granted, that made conference organizers taking <24 hours to reply to an email I sent confirming that they got paperwork make more sense, since they were obviously taking the holiday and responding to me next business day.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            On previous letters where OP had checked their email only to be furious to discover that someone had sent them an email (for work, club activities, or whatever), people used international teams as an example of why this was odd. Here’s someone who is on an international team–and probably doesn’t email Sven only before 11 am, and email the Hong Kong office only in the middle of the night OP’s time–who thinks that way.

            OP, it’s asynchronous communication. People assume you will deal with the matter whenever you are next dealing with work stuff.

            1. Darsynia*

              Exactly–for context, a close friend lost her father in law recently. I didn’t want to text her in case she was in the middle of sober and somber meetings with family, so I sent her an email with my condolences and explained that I’d refrain from calling or sending messages out of respect for her time, but I was available to chat whenever.

              I did this on purpose by email because I knew and assumed she would know that it’s not as urgent as a text or a phone call. I would be MOST unhappy if the norm was to respond to emails ASAP. There are certainly times where I HOPE someone would respond quickly, but I would never send a message expecting that they would. Poor Sven!

      2. Cranky Lady*

        In a similarly international environment and here are a few thoughts given that we’ve had this debate recently in the office:
        1. If you use Outlook, set your working hours on your calendar. This may allow your colleagues to be warned if they are sending you an email outside of your business hours.
        2. Teach colleagues to use delayed send (send the email at 4pm in NYC but it gets delivered at 8am in London).
        3. Accept that group emails are probably going to someone during their work hours and it’s not fair to ask all emails to be split up to different audiences based on timezones.
        4. The OP only talks about email, but what about Teams/Slack chats? Those are often considered more synchronous. Follow Alison’s advice and turn off phone notifications and don’t check email/chat at 4am. (This is something I am working on so I know it’s hard.)

        1. Emmy Noether*

          From my use of those types of functions in Outlook, your first two points will not work as intended.
          1) Setting working hours in the calendar will do nothing except disply them in a different color. It certainly will not influence email at all.
          2) Be aware that delay send only works if Outlook is online at the time it is supposed to send. If you are not online at the time it is supposed to send, it will only send the next time you log in. So it actually won’t be delivered 8am London time, but 9am NY time, when you next turn on your PC again. (with the caveat that this is the way the function I am familiar with works. There may be a server based function where it will actually send even if your Outlook client is not connected).

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            Outlook now has an annoying thing where it will suggest a time during “most recipients’ working hours” and ask you if you want to do a schedule send.

            Yes, Outlook, you’ve noticed that I’m sending an email on a Saturday. That’s because it’s tax season. Congratulations.

            There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn this off…yet.

          2. Cranky Lady*

            You are right that there are some situations where this will not work but that depends on your organization’s configuration and systems.

        2. Colette*

          I really disagree with #2. The OP should not try to teach her colleagues to adjust to her preferences. There is nothing wrong with sending an email during your work hours, even if the recipient is not working. It’s on the recipient to ignore the email until they are working again.

          1. just another bureaucrat*

            The real thing is which hour is the acceptable hour for the email? The hour in which the receiver will be working? are you supposed to look up everyone’s calendar before you send an email? If you are sending to more than one person who trumps? Do you have to wait until everyone is working to have it send? sorry this descends into madness so quickly it’s impossible.

            100% agree with you, do not teach your coworkers how to do this because you don’t know how to turn your email off or not stop yourself from responding. This would be offloading your anxiety onto everyone else around you rather than taking simple steps of removing your email from your phone, turning off notifications, and just not responding.

            Sven’s just working and getting lambasted for responding to an email while he’s working.

          2. Lab Boss*

            Yup. I’ve been helping train a satellite office in the UK for about a year now. I regularly send them e-mails at 10 or 11 pm their time, and my inbox regularly has things that arrived at 4 in the morning, and the only annoying part about it is Outlook trying to clock-shame me by going “HEY YOU KNOW THIS IS GOING TO SHOW UP LATE RIGHT?”

          3. Dust Bunny*

            Yeah, if I need an answer quickly I won’t ask something by email because I assume that email = answer sometime, possibly much, later.

            (I do have work email on my phone but rarely use it. If there’s a catastrophe and my boss REALLY NEEDS to get ahold of me right now she’ll call.)

          4. Lady Danbury*

            Completely agree! I’ve worked in international environments for over a decade and it is completely normal to send an email when needed on the sender’s side, with the expectation that recipients would answer when they are able. If you’re sending emails to recipients in multiple time zones, it’s a HUGE waste of time and energy to remember who is in which zone, then schedule each one separately. That also assumes that they’re not temporarily working from another time zone. Depending on the timing, this could result in wasting an entire business day.

          5. Worker bee*

            I completely agree. My big boss (who lives in the same city as I do) often emails me well outside of business hours and he’s never expected an instant response. What he’s doing is working, finding an issue, and shooting off an email so he can forget about it.

            My entire company is located in the same time zone, but the help desk for the software we run is based (I think?) on EST and the vendors we use are scattered across the world. I never expect an immediate response to any email I send, regardless of the location of that person. I mean, I’ve send an email to a colleague sitting in the same building I am at 2 pm on a Tuesday and didn’t get a response until 7 am the next day. I personally have delayed responding to emails from people in my building because I’m busy with something else, need to do some research, or just need to think about it for a bit (I’ve got an email chilling in my inbox from today for that last reason).

        3. ThatGirl*

          I am of the strong opinion that with limited exceptions for specific jobs, people should not have work-related email/messaging on their personal phones. If there is a true emergency, someone can call or text. I maintain firm work-life balance boundaries and nobody has ever complained, nor has it damaged my career in the slightest.

          1. Loulou*

            This really works differently for different people! I also have strong work-life balance (and I’m in a union job where I really can’t work outside of my scheduled hours) and I have work email on my phone. There are plenty of reasons to do that other than working outside of work hours! I would actually find it more intrusive if coworkers could call or text me on my personal phone, which they can’t because they don’t have my number (obviously except for a few friends)

            1. ThatGirl*

              Well, thankfully my opinion is not something I can impose on anyone else. :) Thing is, my job is not one where I ever really need to be contacted outside of normal channels or working hours. My coworkers/manager have good texting boundaries and rarely text me anyway, so I can trust them with my number.

              But basically I don’t want work to intrude into my personal phone — if I ever got to the position where I needed to be on-call or regularly access work email on a phone, I would want my workplace to pay for a separate phone.

              1. Loulou*

                It’s great if it works for you, but being contacted outside of normal channels/working hours isn’t the only or even main reason people might have work email on their phone! For me it’s convenient for two reasons: 1. When I’m in a meeting I will often need to refer to something I got in an email and can just pull it up or 2. If I’m away from my desk doing other work or talking to someone, I can quickly pull up my calendar.

                Americans may indeed have poor work-life balance, but using email on a convenient portable device doesn’t really seem like a strong example to me. I don’t read work emails outside of work but I have my phone with me all day long!

            2. The Other Dawn*

              I agree. I have pretty good work/life balance and boundaries, and I have work email on my phone. It doesn’t mean I’m checking and responding to emails 24/7, nor does it mean I expect others to do the same if I happen to email at an odd hour. I have all email notifications turned off on my phone, so if an email comes from the boss at 10 pm, I don’t even know. (Why people don’t just simply turn off these notifications completely, or silence the phone at night is beyond me…) And my boss doesn’t expect a response. She’s emailing at 10 pm because it’s convenient for her. And I’m not affronted by the fact that an email came in at her convenience. An email is not the equivalent of the boss banging on your front door when you’re in bed.

              1. ThatGirl*

                An email is not the equivalent of the boss banging on your front door when you’re in bed.

                No; I didn’t intend to imply it was. Just stating my opinion, which thankfully, does not require anyone else to follow along.

                I just think Americans tend to have poor work-life boundaries, and I don’t want my workplace at all involved with my personal phone. YMMV, as always.

                1. Observer*

                  I just think Americans tend to have poor work-life boundaries, and I don’t want my workplace at all involved with my personal phone.

                  Those are two different issues. And email on a phone (personal or not) doesn’t have to equate to poor boundaries.

            3. alienor*

              I always found it really helpful when I had a week with a lot of personal appointments–I could dip out to the doctor or dentist or whatever without causing a disruption (or the perception that I was “never around”) because people could still reach me easily. I really miss that in my current job, where I’m not allowed to have work email or messaging on my phone.

            4. A Feast of Fools*

              The companies I have worked for have specific software you have to install on the phone to be able to access company information, like email. One function of the software is the ability to wipe all data from the phone any time the phone is connected to the internet or to a cellular network.

              So I bought myself a cheapo phone that I use strictly for work email and Teams. Oh, and the weather. There’s no possibility the company could access any personal info and they’re free to a remote factory reset whenever they feel like.

              The companies, included the current one I work for, would have paid for the phone but I find it easier to just keep one instead of trading it out every time I change jobs.

              As for why I even bother with a work phone. . . sometimes I have a doctor’s appointment or am in a training or whatever and need to keep tabs on a project or be semi-available for questions. But I turn it to Silent Mode as soon as 5:30 PM hits.

          2. Two Dog Night*

            Eh, I have email on my phone so I can check it if I need to, but I have notifications turned off. I’d much rather do that than have co-workers texting my personal phone–that would freak me out. Different people have different ways of doing things–blanket statements usually aren’t helpful.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Do you really *need* to check your work email on your phone, though, most of the time?
              I think managers should have personal phone numbers but I’m really talking about true emergencies and one-off sorts of things (like, hey, I won’t be in today because I’m sick/there’s a blizzard); I can totally respect not wanting your coworkers to text you.

              1. Two Dog Night*

                I started to type a long reply, but… what Miss Muffet said. :-) No, I don’t check email on my phone often, but sometimes it’s convenient. I have very, very flexible hours, and this is one of the trade-offs.

              2. Selina Luna*

                I have email on my phone because I don’t want STUDENTS texting or calling me, but I’ve written into my syllabus that I don’t check it outside of the school day, and I abide by that.

              3. Bee*

                Most of the time? No. But I do sometimes want to have access during business hours when I’m not at my computer – when I’m at a conference, or doing focused work at a coffee shop, or if something goes horribly wrong with the subway and I’m running an hour late for work, etc. It’s easier to have it on my phone all the time with notifications turned off than it is to add & remove it every time I want it. It’s very opt-in, for me – I feel no pressure to look at it during my off hours, but I can check in when I need to.

            2. Miss Muffet*

              Same – And because my calendar is fully in our outlook app (and not in the native app) I have it on my phone so I can have a look at what’s ahead in the morning before I sit at my desk and get logged into the VPN. Sometimes I take a quick scan of my emails to see if there’s anything I need to catch before I log in too – like a last-minute early invite since we work across multiple international timezones too. No notifications, so I’m not tempted to check just to get rid of the red dot (or the stress of seeing it at all) but it’s there as an option and is nice when I want to spend 1 min checking on something and not the 5 mins minimum I’d have to spend to get fully logged into my laptop.
              And we have teams so most of my work “texts” come in that way and it’s easy to turn off for vacations or have behind my DND on my phone – with the occasional text coming from coworkers in urgent situations (rare). But I will admit that this is largely a culture thing – we all sorta have these same boundaries with each other on our team.

              1. Observer*

                And because my calendar is fully in our outlook app (and not in the native app) I have it on my phone so I can have a look at what’s ahead in the morning before I sit at my desk and get logged into the VPN.

                Also, I sometimes need to see what’s on my schedule when I’m not in the office. This really makes life easier for me.

              2. Le Sigh*

                This is me. It’s not that I need to be wired to my email 24/7 and on alert. But my phone is what’s with me most of the time and it’s much more convenient for me to use that instead of logging into my laptop. Pre-COVID, I traveled for work periodically and needed to be able to check email and slack during business hours, while hopping from meeting to meeting. Or maybe I’m in a work meeting w/o my laptop and need to quickly pull something up. Sometimes I’m getting ready in the morning and need to remember when my first meeting starts that day, or I’m trying to book travel plans in the evening and need to see what days I can take. It takes 2 seconds to see this on my phone, where as booting up the laptop is a much bigger hassle and can even suck me back into work.

                You do have to be careful to not to get in the habit of constantly checking, but that’s why I turn off all of my email notifications — audio, visual, all of it — and set up Slack to only notify me during core hours.

          3. LittleMarshmallow*

            I have the worst boundaries about work life balance and work way more than I should but I still refuse to add email to my phone also. It’s literally never been an issue in the 15 years I’ve been with my company. I also don’t consider it my problem if someone has chosen to have their email on their phone and is mad that they see email alerts off hours. I interact with wayyy too many people that may or may not have phone email to keep track of who has alerts on but doesn’t want them to go off and who doesn’t care. If you don’t like it, turn off alerts when you’re not at work.

            That said… if I like you and I see you responding to emails when I know you’re not supposed to be working, I’ll send a friendly chastising text or Snapchat to them to tell them to “stop working!”. If I don’t like you… we’ll you’re on your own and you do you.

        4. Heather*

          With all due respect, this all seems like a lot more effort than just “turn off notifications and accept that there will be emails there when you log on in the morning”.

        5. Observer*

          2. Teach colleagues to use delayed send (send the email at 4pm in NYC but it gets delivered at 8am in London).

          Sorry, that’s way too much work. Especially if you are sending an email to multiple people.

          3. Accept that group emails are probably going to someone during their work hours and it’s not fair to ask all emails to be split up to different audiences based on timezones.

          Very much this! Totally agree.

      3. PostalMixup*

        I work closely with a branch of the company in Israel. Not only is there a trans-Atlantic time change, their work week is Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday off! If I email something Thursday afternoon, I won’t have a response until Sunday, and I won’t see it until Monday. This is understood, and it’s fine.

      4. US Expat Temporarily Not in Asia*

        He thanked me and assured me that he was not expecting a response that day from anyone in the U.S. SO WHY DID YOU SEND THE EMAIL?!?!?

        Your colleague SENT THE EMAIL because it was working hours where he was.

        I work in a heavily international environment, on projects that simultaneously involve people from East Asia, Europe, Hawaii and eastern and western North America. There is literally no point in the day that is office hours for everyone, and everyone has different holidays and non-overlapping weekends.

        AcademiaNut is absolutely correct. This is part of working in an international environment.

      5. GS*

        Once a team rescheduled a meeting due to Veteran’s Day…and put it on Thanksgiving. I was cracking up when I emailed back and was like this day is worse for the US! I work in a totally international environment and nothing makes me happier to wake up and check my email and see that EMEA and APAC colleagues have gotten back to me on whatever I’ve asked.

    2. PB Bunny Watson*

      I agree. That attitude is so irritating since my reason for emailing is to make sure I’ve passed it on to the next person without having to wait until “an appropriate time” and risk forgetting to send it.

      Though I’ve been the recipient of someone complaining that they have to “drop everything” to answer an email I sent in the middle of the work day. I explained that an email will rarely be urgent. If it’s urgent, I will call. They still chastised me and insisted I should learn that that’s not how they see it. I was so relieved when that person finally left, and I was able to hire a better assistant. Now I have a statement at the bottom of my email that explicitly states the email can wait until your normal working hours—since that was complicated during the quarantine period in 2020.

      1. Double A*

        How on earth were they expecting you to send non-urgent requests and information? Fax? Carrier pigeon?

          1. Selina Luna*

            I know you’re joking, but I immediately thought to myself that a singing telegram would, if anything, seem MORE urgent than an email.

        1. Stopgap*

          And when, if not in the middle of the work day? Surely they wouldn’t prefer emails in off hours? Is PB Bunny Watson meant to save all emails til the start of the next day?

      2. Polly Hedron*

        They still chastised me and insisted I should learn that that’s not how they see it. I was so relieved when that person finally left, and I was able to hire a better assistant.

        Why did you have to wait until that person chose to leave? An assistant who chastises you should be on a PIP.

        1. PB Bunny Watson*

          Working for a government agency. I was new, and they had apparently gotten into an “issue” with the person I was replacing before I came into the picture. The solution, at the time, was to move them to a new department, but still have them be my position’s assistant. So I had no control over anything with that person. Thankfully, when they finally left (because they were delightful, of course), I was able to convince the powers that be to move the position back to my department. Either way, the replacement was wonderful–eager to learn, smart, capable.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I’ve been guilty of forgetting UK holidays, aside from 4th July I’m afraid I have no idea about USA ones. I’ve got an email in my inbox sent from Australia that got to me at 00:40 yesterday morning to say nothing of the automated ‘hey the backups ran fine’ emails I get from the servers at oh dark hundred hours.

      When you’re not at work treat emails like the ones from the servers: ignore them till you get back.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        And considering the change for the Platinum Jubilee this year, that’s just going to make forgetting/confusing UK holidays easier! *looks at calendar to double check what they are this year*

        I’d know 4th July, Thanksgiving at a push (US but not Canadian), but beyond that I very often don’t know it’s a US holiday until I come here and see Alison mention it and a rerun of an old post from ages ago. If this company has employees in lots of countries, well…that’s lots of combinations of public holidays, and realistically people aren’t going to remember, or know about in the first place, lots of them. Also if the employees are in lots of different time zones, Sven would have had difficulty, if it was possible at all, to find a time zone when everyone would be awake.

        OP, can you honestly say you’ve never emailed someone like Sven in a different time zone at a time when he’s not going to be working? It happens all the time that people email others at times when they’re not going to see it immediately. I’m in the UK, one of my friends is in Pennsylvania and admits he sometimes forgets I’m five hours ahead, and sometimes I’ll find he’s messaged me when it’s the middle of my night and I’m in bed. Then I’ll reply when I get the message, but then it’s daft o’clock his time so I don’t expect an answer straight away and it can be a few hours before we connect again, but we just accept that’s going to happen and got used to it. Sven sounds like he’s doing exactly that. Honestly, OP, don’t feel you have to reply to such an email immediately, Sven had no expectation of that.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > If this company has employees in lots of countries, well…that’s lots of combinations of public holidays, and realistically people aren’t going to remember, or know about in the first place, lots of them.

          Outlook (and there’s probably similar for other systems) has the option to add public holidays for whatever country(ies) you select on to your calendar. In the past when I’ve worked with global teams more than I do now I made sure to stay aware of the public holidays for those countries and I don’t think that’s unreasonable (obviously it isn’t reasonable to memorise all of them!)

          There have been times I’ve had to answer emails etc on a (UK) public holiday for global teams abroad as it was blocking something that fell on a normal workday for them, I think that’s par for the course with working globally.

          1. BethDH*

            In the US at least, you also have the problem that not everyone takes every holiday off from work. I’ve never heard of anyone taking off Arbor Day; taking Good Friday off is both religious and regional; even for Presidents’ Day this week my spouse had it off, but the kids’ school was open and my work was open, though lots of people took it off. Unless the company itself puts out the calendar, it won’t help you much to use a holiday calendar.

            1. Kippy*

              Yeah, I’m in New Orleans so I didn’t get Presidents Day off yesterday but I’ll have next Tuesday off for Mardi Gras.

            2. Loulou*

              Right, I had the holiday off yesterday but apparently some of my colleagues at other libraries didn’t, since they emailed me. I’ll just reply today, no big deal! The reverse happens when they take a longer winter break.

            3. The Prettiest Curse*

              Yeah, when we were in the US, my husband didn’t get Presidents’ Day or Indigenous Peoples’ Day off, but I did. And I got Cesar Chavez Day off because it was a California state holiday and we got those, but he worked for a national company so didn’t get California-only holidays.

            4. GS*

              100% – my company doesn’t even hard code them anymore – you get the amount of holidays for your country deposited in your PTO bank and you need to put them in.

        2. Mangled metaphor*

          I’m in the UK and the Jubilee thing has escaped me too! Until and unless I got a specific email from my company’s HR (who do our internal comms) I’d probably still be logging on on 2nd & 3rd June, trying to run the month end figures….

          (I work in Finance, I’ll probably *still* have to log on to run the month end figures)

    4. TechWorker*

      To be totally honest I wouldn’t be surprised if ‘I don’t send email out of business hours unless urgent’ means ‘I don’t send emails out of *US* business hours’ and the LW is conveniently forgetting some of their coworkers have very different hours.

      1. Forrest*

        The absence of “I never send emails during European bank holidays, Gulf weekends* or Australian nights” seemed kind of telling!

      2. Sylvan*

        I’d be surprised if they remembered that the US includes multiple time zones and a Hawaiian’s work hours aren’t the same as a Maine resident’s.

      3. LittleMarshmallow*

        It’s, unfortunately, a very US way of looking at the world (I’m from the US and still think this). I work for an international company and have definitely noticed that the nonUS people are more commonly asked to take calls at inconvenient times than their US counterparts. Americans are really terrible at thinking of others or even being equitable about things like who has to rearrange home things to make this conference call with the other side of the world.

        1. Tali*

          Yes, I (not US) always include my counterpart’s time zone when requesting a meeting and they rarely return the favor :(

    5. Snuck*

      I’m barely tracking my own states public holidays, and national ones for my own country…. Then there’s interstate holidays, local regional holidays, show days blah blah… before we even leave MY country, which is not the US of A.

      No one is tracking your calendar like you do. If you want to block large chunks of time off do so. Block out holidays even if they seem obvious to you, even if they are national or major international religious holidays such as Eid or Christmas. Block out hours you are not wanting to work. Then make your calendar available for people to see.

      And know that email is rarely urgent, in an inter-time-zone world it’s a way to communicate with each other around the clocks, as no one is staying up until 4am just to move a meeting with you verbally.

      This needs a change in assumptions and professional attitude on the OPs part, it’s a minimum requirement I’d say for working in a role that has international contact that you understand the rest of the world isn’t on your own clock!

    6. Bagpuss*

      I agree with Alison and the other commenters that this is a weird thing to get annoyed about – and that it is unrealistic to expect other people to track your working hours and the public holidays in a different country.

      It would be totally reasonable for you to :
      – put something in the signature line of your e-mail to set out your normal working hours (e.g. “my normal working hours are 9 a.m. to 530 p.m., EST ” )
      – turn on your OOO for weekends and other non-working days
      – turn off notifications on your phone / take your work e-mail off your phone so that you are not checking it when you are not working.

      If you work in a job where there are genuinely situations where it might be necessary to contact you in your off time (which normally, i would only expect to happen if you were pretty senior or if your job requires you to be on call) then have a separate process for that.

      If you are expected to be on call then then it’s reasonable to have your phone turned on, but presumably that’s part of your job and during specific times.

      It it pretty normal to send e-mails and then expect to get a response when the recipient is available.

      (Also, as someone in Europe, I only know yesterday was a holiday because I saw Alison’s post saying so. I don’t know what holiday it is, any more than I would expect an American to know which dates our bank holidays fall on. Heck, *I* don’t always remember which days our holidays fall on!

      1. Hmmmm*

        This is pretty much perfect.

        When I worked with quote a few of our global teams, I also included my working hours in Indian Standard and GMT just so they didn’t have to look it up.

        And upcoming holidays below that.

        1. Leaping*

          I suggest UTC+x then you don’t run into confusion that someone thinks GMT is the time in London and forgets that for part of the year it’s BST.

      2. Miss Muffet*

        OOO for weekends seems kinda unnecessary for me – for the most part, weekends are the same everywhere – but I think it’s totally reasonable to put an OOO for a holiday or any other M-F that you aren’t working, for whatever reason. Especially in an international company where bank holidays are going to differ. The US people should have an OOO for theirs too – the UK people aren’t going to necc remember the 4th of July or Memorial Day is a holiday for us and they’d probably appreciate getting the message that you’re out and will respond the next day you’re in. It’s not like, rocket science at all here, people.

        1. Observer*

          Well, I can’t speak to the rest of the world, but there are a number of countries in the Middle East where the weekend is Friday – Sat. And even in some of those countries that have shifted to Sat – Sun, Friday is only half a day.

          So, it you are dealing with truly global companies, you can’t even make that assumption.

      3. quill*

        Yesterday was only technically a holiday anyhow. Most people I know don’t get time off for it: just banks and school districts where the holiday is at a convenient point in the school year.

        (Does it hurt that people might be less inclined to celebrate it after *waves hands at the latter half of the 20teens through today*? Probably not.)

    7. tg*

      If you are e-mailing international colleagues and indicating working times then you should indicate your hours in UTC, that being the international time standard. When someone mentions EST I always have to imagine a map of the US and go, which side is east and which is west. I know them, but not off the top of my head.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        I’m so bad at time… and timezones… and generally easily confused. I was relieved when I realized my boss in Europe thinks in military time because it’s way easier for me to think about the 7 hour time dif that way. 10 years of working at a 24/7 plant got military time nice and ingrained in me so adding 7 to say 11 and it being 18… well I know what time that is! Yay! But 7+11=6 is confusing is it morning? Is it night? I have no idea… I’m dumb about the dumbest things.

    8. JM60*

      My initial impression is that the OP is so annoyed they never realized that responding to email outside of his hours was never expected, so they kept getting fed up with (what they thought) were demands on their time at unreasonable hours.

    9. Ms_Meercat*

      I want to add here to the part that your reaction seems a bit out of proportion to me also. It struck me that you wrote “thanking me for my reply and doubling down on the request to the rest of the group, asking for their availability.” – “doubling down” is a wording that implies a bit of aggression on Sven’s part, and I’m not sure his request qualifies as that? In my mind it’s perfectly normal to write “thanks Sansa for sending through your availability, can everybody else please do the same so we can get this rescheduled”, and does not actually constitute doubling down on anything.
      OP, I would suggest to reflect on what is at the bottom of your annoyance here; maybe see if there are other instances where you feel people are out of place with their communication, and try to see if that particular person is out of sync with the norms, or if it may be you having different expectations than everyone else?

      Other than that, I agree with all the other commenters that it’s not possible to keep track of everyone’s holidays and weekends. I’m European and have worked with teams on all continents, and that’s what Emails are typically for. The exception I can think of would be that within a small, close-knit team, you probably know when Emails typically “should” be sent, and could suggest some mindfulness around Email sending time and using delayed send – but more with regards to the overall culture (aka you’ll register if someone always sends late at night their time, and if more people do that, it can create a culture of late-working expectation); but if an American colleague sends me something at 10pm my time? I know it’s still within their normal working hours…

      1. Elsajeni*

        I do think it’s a little weird to send that “Thanks OP, everyone else please let me know your availability” in quick succession with the original email, especially when you know that it’s non-work hours for several people on the email — thanking the one person for their quick reply is fine, but repeating the original ask does come across as a nudge for the other folks to hurry up and respond, and makes the assurance that “of course I’m not expecting out-of-hours responses” ring a little hollow. Overall the OP is overreacting, but I don’t think they’re wrong to perceive that as a little pushy.

        1. Loulou*

          It doesn’t seem pushy to me and we also don’t know what Sven said. He may have said something like “thanks OP for the response. Once I have availability from the rest of the team I’ll send a new meeting invite.” He probably sees it as more courteous to reply to OP than wait for their whole team’s response to reply.

        2. Amaranth*

          I noticed that LW specified that the second time, they responded ONLY to Sven, so I assumed they did a ‘reply all’ to the first email, and then Sven continued the pattern without thinking about it. Annoying, but apparently the Last Straw for LW’s email pressures.

        3. Mangled metaphor*

          Since OP responded, it’s possible Sven didn’t realise that it was outside working hours, or on a holiday and thought a gentle nudge was acceptable – it certainly wouldn’t be seen as pushy if it were during “normal” working hours. He only said he wasn’t expecting a response after OP’s second email pointing out it was a holiday. Nothing else about the interactions as presented suggest he knows a) what OPs local time is or b) that it’s a federal holiday (which apparently doesn’t automatically mean time off work?)
          I can totally interpret this as OP setting the precedent that “now” is the time when people will be reading and responding to the initial request, even if “now” turns out to be 2am.

          I did a quick check – 2am in New York is 7am in Manchester. Sven isn’t a common Manchester name, so let’s add an hour to put it on mainland Europe time, and it’s not beyond the possibility of being in “normal” working hours. (I know it’s not specified that OP is in New York, but it accounts for the smallest time zone gap).

        4. Ms_Meercat*

          In my opinion, this is probably quite a nuanced interpretation here and depends on the dynamics of the email chain /wording actually plays out – I would say it’s probably so nuanced, that when you throw in cultural difference (eg if Sven is actually Northern European), that nuance goes already out the window. Working in an international environment does mean to account for that, and not necessarily hold up Northern American communication norms (which I find quite delicate and complex, having lived there and worked for a US employer) as the standard in my opinion.

          Add to that that I have a lot of colleagues who are not … let’s say the best in reading comprehension / following instructions; forgetting to answer on something or only doing half of it is just something that happens often in group emails at my place of work. I would totally reiterate a paraphrased / shorter version of my original request in my last email reply to make sure it’s on top of the email chain because if it’s 1 or 2 emails down people will forget.

    10. Asenath*

      I don’t work internationally, but for a long time I used to get emails at all hours because many of the people I worked with had shift work, and I didn’t. It took me a while to realize that they did not intend me to answer immediately. I stopped answering work messages when I wasn’t working, and no one blinked an eye. I was the one who had the mistaken expectations that emails arriving in the middle of the night would be answered ASAP. I can only assume the same thing would happen with co-workers in a different time zone, and certainly with those in countries with different public holidays! Next time Sven emails, answer him when you begin work. And if it bothers you to see the notifications (it did me initially) figure out some way to shut them off, or even remove your work email from your personal device.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Our town has a local holiday – only for our town, not the adjacent suburbs, and only if the weather is good – if not, it gets delayed until the next day.

            1. Em*

              I miss that town so much. I love my current home a lot, but the irises in spring after that long winter were something else.

        1. Asenath*

          I know exactly which city you live in – we might be neighbours! Our own special holiday involving boats on the pond in good weather!

    11. RetailEscapee*

      I completely agree. Unless a boss is emailing at all hours and creating a culture that implies everyone needs to be responsive at those times this is making a mountain out of a VALLEY.
      I personally like to do some catch up work when my partner is teaching evening classes, or on the weekends so I can take longer lunches and tend to some personal things during the week. I cue those emails up to send during business hours solely to keep expectations of my availability within the 8-5 framework. But I doubt my west coast colleagues see items from me at 5am and shake their fists at the sky because they aren’t unreasonable people looking for things to be annoyed about.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Yeah, I don’t quite understand the level of concern the LW has – why are they even checking their email? If you don’t want to respond to emails sent on off hours or holidays … don’t look at it! Don’t put work email on your personal phone, don’t log in on nights or weekends or holidays, and even if you do … the presence of an email does not require you to reply to it immediately.

    13. middle name danger*

      My company has offices in the US and UK, and we frequently do business with Taiwan and Japan. If I stopped myself from emailing people when they are not working, things would get dropped. I’d have to keep a list as I worked through my own email about who to email about what when they’re available! And things would be delayed.

      Example: Theodore emails me at the end of his UK workday which is 11am my time. I wait to respond until he’s back in, at 9am the next day my time. He then only has two hours to address the issue. He needs to reach out to Alvin to get information before he can answer me, but Alvin is in Japan and it’s 11pm there so he waits until the NEXT day at 8am UK, at the end of Alvin’s workday. We’ve gone three days and my email still isn’t answered.

      Or, Theodore emails me at the end of his workday, I respond in the middle of mine, he reaches out to Alvin when in his morning, Alvin responds before leaving, I have an answer when I come in the next day.

    14. Nanani*

      How much are we betting Op3 is in America and hasn’t clocked that the rest of the world has different holidays, as well as different time zones and work cultures and languages?
      The rest of the world: It’s NOT america in a silly costume!

      1. Nancy*

        The US has different time zones, state/regional holidays, and work cultures too, and email has been around for decades, so LW should not be surprised at this. I work with doctors that send emails at all hours because that is when they have free time to do so.

          1. londonedit*

            Yeah, I mean for some reason England’s bank holidays (which is where I live) are pretty well imprinted on my mind – with the exception of this year where there’s some fiddling about with the Jubilee, I find it fairly easy to remember that there are holidays on the first and last Mondays of May and the last Monday in August, and I find it fairly easy to remember that if Christmas and/or Boxing Day are at the weekend, the next Monday/Tuesday will be a holiday. But I know so many people who’ll say ‘Hey! Did you know it’s a bank holiday on Monday???’ or who don’t even think to look up when Easter is (we always have Good Friday and Easter Monday as public holidays). People can’t even keep track of the holidays in their own country, let alone thinking about whether it might be a holiday somewhere else (I had no idea it was a holiday in some parts of the US yesterday, for example).

            1. quill*

              Yeah, the only reason I could track holidays when I did international documents was google / a heads up from my colleagues like “Nobody in central america will be available during (dates) because it’s holy week” or “Reminder to get anything you need from taiwan this week because next week is new year and half of everyone will be taking the week after that too.”

            2. Anne Kaffeekanne*

              Right? I’m in Germany and grew up in one of the states with the least public holidays and even after 10 years in a catholic state I am STILL surprised by the additional holidays. If I can’t keep track of the differences between states in the country I live in, I definitely can’t remember the ones in countries I just work with.

    15. Observer*

      OP, forgive me if I’m overreaching, but this reaction seems so wildly out of proportion to the situation that I have to wonder if this is really about some other issue with your workplace? You asked “are we ever off the clock,” so do you find that colleagues have unreasonable expectations about that in other ways?

      I was wondering the same thing.

    16. Underrated Pear*

      Right. OP, you realize that if any sort of back-and-forth were to happen over email, and you expect that back-and-forth to happen during *your* working hours, that necessarily means that it will likely be happening outside of your colleagues’ working hours on the other side of the world, right? By expecting all emails to be sent during your work hours, you’re implicitly asking international colleagues to either (1) work outside of their normal hours, or (2) set aside a specific hour at the start or end of each day where they can remember to send you all the messages that pertain to you, which is an incredible inconvenience and a lot of mental labor. Not to mention keeping track of your country’s holidays(?!).

      I’m seriously baffled by this letter, both for OP’s seeming disregard for their colleagues’ own needs and also for the misconception about how people use email.

      1. skunklet*

        Same. My previous company, I had a project where I dealt w one party in Asia/Australia/NZ, we were East Coast, another party in France, and a final party in Cyprus. FUN! It would literally take DAYS for the full cycle of email to get handled due to time zones.

        I currently work with folks all around the world, sites in various countries and engineers in who knows where (frequently in an airport). Emails get answered when we’re working, it’s not really complicated.

        If it’s urgent, send me a MS Teams message, or text me (esp if we’re closed for snow).

    17. Software Engineer*

      By the European name I’m going to guess that it may not even have occurred to him that you’d think you have to respond immediately and that you’d be chucking your work email in the middle of the night

      I spent a few years working in Europe recently and they’re way better about boundaries with work than we Americans are! And I found that since I work for an American company my email overnight was insane, that’s where I would get most of my emails, and I had to just turn off any form of notification from my work email or chat, even the little red number showing the count. It used to be that if alte in the evening my phone was going ‘buzz buzz buzz buzz’ it meant something big was on fire and I could ping the person oncall and say hey you can put me in for oncall substitute during the day tomorrow so you can take the morning off, or whatever. But when I was in Europe buzz buzz buzz all evening was normal because that’s when the Americans are working and sending meeting invites and answering the question I sent yesterday and sending out announcements and whatever

      Just turn the notifications off on your phone or remove email entirely, it’s a relief tbh

    18. A Feast of Fools*

      I’m not dog-piling on OP (I promise!), just sharing my current work experience:

      We have locations all over the globe and a permanent team member in India. Our corporate offices, where I am, are in the U.S.’s Central time zone.

      I have been paired with my India co-worker on several projects and I *love* it. I do a bunch of work during Central U.S. business hours, then flip it to him in an email right before I log off (when it’s 4:30 AM in Chennai).

      When I log back in the next morning, he has done a bunch of work during his core business hours, and has flipped everything back to me in an email (when it’s 6:00 AM my time).

      Neither one of us would *ever* expect the other to reply to a middle-of-the-night-for-us email. The asynchronous nature of email allows us to be more productive than if we were in the same time zone or working the same hours.

      And, heck, I’ll get email from one of factories on the East Coast, which is an hour ahead of me, that they’ve sent at 6:30 AM their time (because they work different shift than we do), and the few times I’ve been up early for my own reasons and replied immediately, they’ve been startled.

      Some of them have been miffed, actually, because they were expecting to press “Send” and then get on with their morning, but now they [feel they] have to deal with the information in my reply.

    19. Librarian1*

      Yes, I’m very, very confused by this reaction. I don’t often interact with people in drastically different time zones, but when I do I don’t pay attention to when they send their emails.

  2. Mid*

    Companies get stingy about the silliest things sometimes. Even a mid-high end pair of headphones is only like $200, which isn’t a huge expense in the scheme of business expenses for most places. (I know my office uses easily $200 of paper every week, and we have less than 10 people here.)

    1. John Smith*

      Sometimes it goes to the point of ridiculousness. A small non-perishable consumable we frequently buy costs £3.00 but can be bought for £1.20 each if ordered in bulk. Guess what our manager doesn’t do because “I’m not forking out £1200 for 1000 of those”? Yep. He spends £3000 for 1000 of them instead. He’s been shown the workings out and the savings that could be made. It’s well within budgetary constraints. I think some people just spend money because they can. Or are incredibly idiotic.

      And then there’s supply contracts which makes this more than silly. We’re not supposed to place orders under £100 to try and reduce costs, so anytime a small order is made, unnecessary add-ons are included resulting in us stockpiling office paraphernalia that never gets used. And then were forced to buy from particular suppliers whose prices are at least 30% higher than can be found easily elsewhere. All this, apparently to save money. And public money at that.

      1. Anone*

        If you weren’t using the pound symbol I’d have assumed you were at my old workplace in the States, working for a state government agency. We were required to order office supplies from a particular contracted vendor – even when we could go online to a retail chain’s website and find the same item for half the cost. Our contracted vendor had a huge markup that just cost taxpayers major money.

        1. metadata minion*

          Yep. My sister works in California and a while back to save transportation costs, she could only go to conferences in-state. California is a *very large state*. Nevada is closer to her than most of California.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > forced to buy from particular suppliers whose prices are at least 30% higher than can be found easily elsewhere. All this, apparently to save money.

        I had a similar situation (in a private company, not government though) with hotel and hire car bookings. Even though in some cases it was possible to find a significantly cheaper hotel – we had a corporate contract with Hotel Chain X and all hotel stays had to be made at a Chain X property where at all possible. I thought this was foolish but when I asked I was told that although a particular hotel (etc) may be cheaper on that particular occasion, what I didn’t see was the significant discounts we got elsewhere by putting all the corporate business through Hotel Chain X.

        1. Snow Globe*

          Yes, this is true. Same with office supplies – pens may be cheaper if you buy from a retail store, but because of the contract, the company may be saving a lot more money on printer ink and paper.

          1. No longer working*

            And there can be a further discount if the company pays in 30 days, for example. There could also be a tiered discount, eg if the company spends a certain amount in a particular time period. It all adds up and goes on behind the scenes.

        2. TeaCoziesRUs*

          Ehh, some of it can depend on other factors. For instance, I’m a longtime Hilton member. Between my spouse’s business travel and my own wanderings, we reach Diamond nearly every year. Part of the reason is that I know nearly exactly what I’m getting for breakfast when I stay at Hampton Inn (waaafffflllleeeesssss) or Embassy Suites (omelet with everything and extra cheese). Part of it is that I can use those points for a few nights at the Waldorf in NYC or the Conrad in Trafalgar Square or the Hilton in the beach in Brighton for free. (All of which I’ve done.) The other part is I know what standard to expect as far as cleanliness, safety, etc., which I don’t know for a cheaper property.

          When I was military we used to have squabbles between the Marriott devotees and the Hilton fanatics. :) It usually came down to who in the crew could sweet talk the swankiest place into free breakfast and free wifi or free parking. Good times, good times.

          I have no idea what corporate perks exist in hotel chains, but I hope your loyalty pays off for your company. It might even be an interesting conversation to have with your travel booker or event coordinator. I know the military has kept smaller city airfields near bases viable, through both constant servicemember travel purchased full-price for flexibility and through sharing runways with civilian airports. This also leads the military to renting out whole planes when we don’t have enough troop transports, etc. I don’t know what perks the government gets, but I do know the travel companies tend to treat us well.

      3. Snuck*

        John Smith talk to your procurement contract manager.

        There should be some form of consolidation of monthly spend across multiple departments that removes the $100 condition, it’s ridiculous. Then each department orders what they need, and the company has an agreed minimum purchase arrangement that if met increases a discount percentage, or removes delivery fees or whatever other perk they want for ‘meeting purchase target’.

        1. John Smith*

          Thus has all been sanctioned by regional government (in which someone, I suspect, is making a killing for themselves or one of their mates). Believe me, I wouldn’t be listened to!

      4. LPUK*

        I worked for a private company with a separate procurement dept . we were only allowed to use official suppliers with contracts signed by Procurement and the prices were always higher than retail ( as individuals, we could go to the same hotel as a private customers and get a cheaper price). As managers responsible for our own cost centres we pushed back heavily only to find out that the companies were paying a separate ‘overrider’ which went directly to the Priocur emend dept, and which they were targeted on, so that we, the internal dept, were paying for another department’s budget targets

    2. The Dogman*

      Agreed, but for truly perfect audio quality that company should not buy cordless.

      If it is as important as LW says then cordless ones would be unacceptable, the sound quality is lower, there can be bit loss (impossible with a cord connected pair) and they need charging or replacement batteries.

      A good set of high quality Sony or similar ones will be under £200, so something like that would be fine.

        1. Observer*

          Sony makes good gear. But Bluetooth simply doesn’t have the proper Codecs to get really good sound. You need to talk to your IT department about the USB port issue.

    3. LPUK*

      I think if OP3 starts doing his work without earphones so the audio is audible to others in the close vicinity, then his colleagues will make the argument for work headphones for him!!

      1. BayCay*

        haha the thing is, I really like my coworkers. I would never make them listen to the sounds of endless tiktok.

        1. Worker bee*

          If I was your coworker and had to listen to tiktok against my will, I’d be throwing a tiktok worthy fit to everyone in charge.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Prepandemic, my normally excellent company moved about 15 of us into temp spaces while the new facility was being renovated (the old building was stuffed to the seams). The day of the move, we were informed that due to the “short” duration of our stay, our desk phones with headsets would not be moved and we would all have to use our personal cells. (Yeah, we were livid and protested to no avail.)

      Those of us in the cube farm had to put our phones on speaker for calls, since we needed both hands to take notes, pull up specs, follow the PowerPoint – usual business. So I (and others) requested an inexpensive headset/mic for my phone, as I don’t have my own. It was denied on the grounds that “we do not purchase peripheral equipment for personnel phones.”

      Yep, we ALL kept our phones on speaker for entire 7 months, until the office was closed due to COVID restrictions.

      It was a really weird hill for my company to die on, especially when they spent over a million in renovations.

      1. the cat's ass*

        My job REQUIRES the use of multiple different phone apps that are used daily … on my personal phone. Do they reimburse me for that? They do not, and i’ve refused to put any other work-related apps on my phone until that changes. Penny wise and pound foolish.

        1. Mockingjay*

          A year into the pandemic, they switched to O365 and now we have those annoying text authentications on our phones. I just love being in the middle of WORK and having my screen freeze until Microsoft “validates” my existence…

        2. BayCay*

          I would definitely ask for reimbursement if any of the apps were paid. But the apps I use are all free so I don’t feel I have much leeway there. I will say though that I’ve learned you don’t get what you don’t ask for! During the pandemic, I had crappy internet that often conked out and so my work paid for better internet to keep up with me. But I had lots of colleagues who were in a similar boat but they didn’t ask, so the company wasn’t going to just offer it up.

    5. BayCay*

      OP here! Yes, the pair I’m looking at/want is about $150. I know that might seem like a lot of money but in the grand scheme of things, that’s chump change compared to what our dept. spends on other things. I don’t know, this might sound petty, but part of me thinks maybe my boss is just feeling lazy and doesn’t want to do the paperwork..? Because I doubt the money is actually the problem. But I’ll follow up with what Alison said and see what happens. “\__(:/)__/“

      1. Mid*

        I have three pairs of headphones floating around my apartment that all cost that much or more, it’s truly not a ridiculous request or an outrageous price. I hope your manager sees some sense.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        If you’re in California by any chance, this is a business expense and they can’t foist it off on you.

    6. ariel*

      Nothing worse than feeling nickel and dimed by your employer for work equipment – hope they pony up, LW5!

  3. Lioness*


    They’re in different countries with different time zone and different holidays, when exactly did you expect them to email you?

    They have their own working hours and own time to be checking email, and it’s not the same as texting you or calling in which there would be a coordination of communication. Just set the nighttime do not disturb and have it set to turn off in the morning, so that you’re seeing it on your schedule.

    1. Scarlet2*

      Yeah, I really don’t see the problem here either. I too work at a company that has offices in different time zones, as well as clients from all over the world, so it’s quite normal to receive emails in the middle of the night or during the weekend, etc. People just send their emails when they’re at work, and even if it’s labelled as “urgent”, people expect a reply whenever you’re back at work, not immediately.

      I’m not even sure what the LW expects, really. Should people who work overseas have detailed schedules of time zones and US bank holidays? And does LW time their emails so their overseas colleagues don’t receive them in the middle of the night? Sounds like it would be ridiculously complicated when the only thing you need is to turn down notifications (or not having your access to your work email on your phone, which is my case).

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I’m baffled by LW’s annoyance and expectations. “Don’t ever send me an email unless you’re 100% sure I’m sitting at my desk at that moment” is already an unrealistic office expectation, and then “… even though I’m well aware that you’re in a different time zone and country” adds a layer that takes this to a new dimension.

        I have to wonder if LW has … ever … noticed? that they get emails all the time, and whenever they respond to them is just fine? Or has LW been tap-dancing as fast as they can to answer emails at all hours for several years, and to only send emails to colleagues in Germany during German work hours, and the frustration hasn’t boiled over until right now?

        Adding my voice to the chorus. People do not have to hold their emails until your work day starts. An email that comes in from a sane person not during your work hours is absolutely being sent with the expectation that you’ll get to it when next you log on, not that you have to leap up out of a sound sleep and answer immediately. If anyone has behaved as if you need to answer a 2 AM email immediately, they are the ones with the unrealistic expectations. A normal person is just sending the email when it’s convenient for them in order to get the task off their plate. Remembering other people’s schedules around the world is more of a chore than just sending the email and expecting that they’ll get an answer in a few hours. If it’s urgent that you answer now, the person likely will communicate in a way other than email.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I wasn’t aware yesterday was a public holiday in America until somebody else at work mentioned it. I had to email a person in New York, and I assume they will read and handle the message when they are back.

          A former colleague, who was an Assistant to a division head once told me the story of trying to arrange a meeting for her boss and his teams in America, Europe and Asia.

          She ended up arranging 3 separate meetings.

          1. Mockingdragon*

            I wasn’t aware yesterday was a public holiday in America until I went to the post office… in my American town… and wondered why it was so deserted ^^; In my defense I work for myself so I’m the one in charge of my holidays. I had known on Sunday that my friends had the next day off, but after working all morning I’d completely forgotten.

          2. Anon all day*

            Even then, not every business is closed for that day. We’re still open, but almost all of the outside people we deal with are off. Am I just not supposed to email them/do anything that day?

          3. Ex-Dog Coor*

            I kept offering to schedule meetings with my clients this past Monday… I totally forgot it was a holiday and my company didn’t have it off! If we US citizens don’t even remember the various MINOR holidays we may or may not get off, why would an international coworker?!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think you nailed it when you said LW’s frustration finally bubbled over.

          I read this letter and thought, “OP, how long have you been answering emails right when they come in?”

          I work a part time job. While I can access email from home, most of the time I do not. I put my days/hours of availability in the signature block. I have a long signature block that people complain about here. Oh well, the alternative is to let everyone guess when they will hear from me next. If I were dealing with international emails, I would put a time zone in the signature block.

          Take Alison’s advice to heart. Email means it can wait until work hours.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, since WFH we’ve all had our working hours in our email signatures/on our Outlook calendars, and no one is expected to respond outside of those hours. Some people with uncommon working patterns will have an OOO saying ‘Thank you for your email. Please note my working hours are 7.30am-3pm, Monday-Wednesday’ but not everyone does that. If you don’t get a response, it’s on you to check the person’s working hours and maybe email a colleague if you realise the person you originally tried isn’t at their desk – but if that person is in the USA or Australia then you’re going to have to wait until their working hours actually start before you get a response.

  4. Person from the Resume*

    LW#3, I think that when there’s a holiday not everyone celebrates, you should probably put an OOO on. President’s day is not a hugely celebrated holiday in the US anyway, but you shouldn’t force people to remember your holidays and vacations when they don’t celebrate the same ones.

    I don’t think you should have to put an OOO at the end of everyday, but you should expect to come in every morning to new emails that arrived after you left work the previous day, before you started work that morning, and overnight when you couldn’t be expected to be working.

    Sven was working. He shouldn’t hold off emailing people until the American office (in which time zone) arrives for work.

    Why are you even checking work email when you’re off? You seen very annoyed by a choice you made. The meeting was two weeks out; your response could certainly wait until you were back at work.

    1. Fikly*

      Indeed, this is the definition of creating your own problem, and then being upset by it. It’s not like Sven was in any way demanding or expecting a quick response. Sven was simply emailing because Sven was working.

      If you are emailing 15 people in multiple time zones, should you only email them when you have checked that all of them are actively working, and no one has taken a PTO day? I boggle at the very idea.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I wonder if the OP of this letter may be getting norms around IMs and emails mixed up? In general, people expect responses to Teams or Slack messages a lot faster than emails. I expect to get an email response in 1-2 working days if it’s non-urgent, but expect a response within a couple of hours if it’s an IM.

        1. Green great dragon*

          Though even with an IM, if I’m not working, I’m not going to see it, and it’s never been a problem to pick it up when I next log in.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          With IMs, I can see if someone is not in – in which case, I’ll preface it with “when you can…” or similar. If they show as green, generally expect an answer reasonably soon.

          Emails? I’ll follow up if I don’t hear in a couple of days? It’s not meant to be an instant response.

        3. Susan Ivanova*

          There was a team in Asia who simply did not get how IM should work. US West Coast people would come into a “Hello” that was sent half an hour after we’d left. If they’d just asked the question they’d have gotten the answer their next working day, instead there’d be a multi-day process of “Hi. Did you have a question?”, the question, and the answer getting to them two days after the “Hello”.

        4. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

          I do get a little annoyed when people IM me when I’m clearly not in – like, there’s a daily schedule for the unit they can check, AND you can see my OOO message in Teams, and I get IMs that say “are you working?” No, and the nature of my role is that I have 3 teammates who can also do whatever task you wanted me to do. Check to see which of them are working and message them!

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I would be really annoyed at getting repeated OOO notifications from colleagues telling me, in essence, that time zones are a thing.

      1. Double A*

        Very true; although I would appreciate an OOO notice for a holiday, since those vary so much place to place.

        1. londonedit*

          I don’t tend to put my OOO on for standard UK bank holidays (maybe I should) but sometimes there are odd things like our office being closed between Christmas and New Year – I usually take the full two weeks over Christmas, so my OOO will say ‘Thank you for your email; I am now on leave for the Christmas break and will return on January 2nd. Please also note that the Teapot Books offices are closed from midday on December 24th until January 2nd.’ Just so people understand that they won’t get a response from anyone during that time – in the past I’ve come back after Christmas to angry emails from people who’ve emailed me on the 22nd and then tried someone else on the 27th and gone all IS EVERYONE IGNORING ME WHY IS NO ONE RESPONDING IS THERE NO ONE AT WORK THERE.

          1. Anon all day*

            Yup, before every holiday where my company is closed, they send out specific OOO messages we’re to use because they have escalation contacts as we deal with potentially extremely urgent/time sensitive matters.

        2. Loulou*

          Even then, if it’s just one day, I’m not sure there’s a need for an OOO unless OP’s company is one where the expectation is that everyone replies to emails immediately on working days.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*


        I do not expect an answer from an email immediately. Generally a day or two will be fine.

        If it’s urgent, I’ll mark it as such and in those cases, will care about when recipient is in the office. Which *I* will check.

        1. just another bureaucrat*

          Right, I had something I needed yesterday, a holiday. So I checked. I knew one person was in and once I saw which person it was I sent it to them to get it. Because I needed it urgently. But for the other 300 emails I sent yesterday I 100% did not check and 100% did not expect a response. Because that’s how email works.

      3. Sylvan*

        Haha, yeah. I’d rather just assume that coworkers will get to things when they can and they’re not ignoring me.

    3. Viette*

      Yes! Sven was working! Does OP expect Sven to get up in the middle of Sven’s night to send emails to them? Does OP check *Sven’s* time zones and all the national holidays where Sven lives? They certainly fail to mention it if they do!

      The bubbling anger in the OP’s letter — that all-caps sentence especially — is really not the normal amount of feeling to have about off-hours emails. It makes me wonder what’s going on under the surface there that, to OP, every email from some distant time zone feels like a burden and a summons and an entitled demand.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Right? Does LW expect Sven to send an email at Sven’s 1 AM so LW receives it at LW’s 10 am? And then stay up until Sven’s 3 AM to send an email to LW’s colleague in San Diego?

        1. Loulou*

          This comment made my head hurt trying to figure out what time zones this comment would work with! More evidence that people should just not sweat it.

    4. Cheap Ass Rolex*

      Yes, rushing to answer an email immediately after you receive it just because you’ve noticed it is fundamentally misusing this basic communication tool. Don’t check your email, or if you do notice it, just don’t respond to it! It’s that simple.

  5. Person from the Resume*

    LW#5 Your IT office has provided your last two sets of headphones so work is paying for them. Can’t you ask the IT office for better quality ones since you use them regularly and are going through the cheap ones?

    IDK I work for a bureaucracy. IT always provides IT equipment. Individual offices can’t go around the bureaucracy and buy their own. People can’t buy whatever they want and plug it in without IT ensuring it’s compatible with business systems. So from my experience you or your boss needs to make the case to IT, the office who provides equipment, for better quality equipment.

    OTOH the answer to your boos’s question is and should be “no, I don’t have any headphones I can bring in from home.”

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      Yes, I had the same thought. They also may not be okay with wireless headphones for a number of reasons. Depending on where the LW works, they may also be required to buy from certain merchants. I know if you are a state agency, you have to justify when you buy something from a non-contracted vendor. And usually the justification is price. That’s not necessarily something a boss can unilaterally decide, depending on where you are in the chain.

      1. Lab Boss*

        You can sometimes thread that needle by making your case to IT and asking if they can recommend anything comparable to what you want, from an approved vendor. IT is a department full of mysterious wizardry and they can often find workarounds you’d never dream of.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Yeah that’s our policy here. One cannot bring in own kit (we’ll make an exception for charging your own devices off a USB port though because I am not dealing with the myriad cables of that). Different hardware also often means different software/drivers and all software has to be installed by us.

      We’re still quite approachable to alternatives in IT though! Worth seeing if you can speak to IT, their manager (hi! I don’t bite) or even an IT/business liaison if they have one.

      1. Felicia*

        all software has to be installed by us

        I’m in IT, and this is what I’m used to! I’ve always had to fight to get admin access on my machine. But at my newish company, everyone has admin access. We must have (I hope we have!) really excellent security measures.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I’ve worked IT for a company that gave everyone admin rights to their PC/laptop. Never again.

          1. quill*


            Don’t envy you, given what went on when I worked at a five person startup and accidentally became IT because I knew how to run a virus scan.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Yeah that’s our policy here. One cannot bring in own kit (we’ll make an exception for charging your own devices off a USB port though because I am not dealing with the myriad cables of that). Different hardware also often means different software/drivers and all software has to be installed by us.

        That’s interesting. I use a trackball instead of mice to try to minimize my RSI risk (and, after almost 30 years of using one, mice just feel… weird). Everywhere I’ve worked (USA) has said the same thing; if I don’t want to use their mouse, I should just buy a trackball and use it at my desk. I always stuck to cheap ones (e.g. Logitech’s Trackman Marble) and tried to find an open-box because I never fully trusted it would still be there the next day. One of my peers does the same sing with an ergonomic keyboard.

        I’ve never tried one that requires drivers, though; just plug ‘n’ pray devices. Are headphones that different than HIDs?

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Like all hardware: depends on the device! I mean my home keyboard has a whole suite of software for it (Razor Blackwidow).

        2. Observer*

          Everywhere I’ve worked (USA) has said the same thing; if I don’t want to use their mouse, I should just buy a trackball and use it at my desk

          Why? If you were working for you, we’d get you the trackball.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Why? If you were working for you, we’d get you the trackball.

            Mine is not to reason why; mine is just to do and die.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                It wasn’t the only bee at any of the places. They were 10+ years ago, and if I had to put a real reason behind the lack of explanation, I’d guess it was a combination of not being a priority and being a bit of a hassle to acquire and catalog one.

                As a silver lining, though, I did prefer being able to get a trackball I liked (even if it wasn’t top-of-the-line) instead of being stuck with a $5 special mouse.

    3. BayCay*

      Op here! Yeah, unfortunately, the crap-phones are the only ones our IT has “in stock.” I work for an academic institution, if that helps paint the picture. That said, we’ve ordered a lot of solid equipment off Amazon and other vendors so as long as my boss and her boss approve it, I have the ability to choose my own equipment.

    4. kittymommy*

      Same, and in government. I remember when I wanted to get a heated keyboard (the existence of which I learned about here!), I still had to get authorization from people above IT and it was so much cheaper than most of the ergonomic keyboards that have already been approved! I also was sworn to secrecy that I got it (that didn’t last long as it looks like it was dropped out of 1984) so maybe your boss and/or IT’s boss can figure something out for you?

    5. Worker bee*

      LW $5, I didn’t have a headphone situation, but when I took over my current position, the previous person had a a wireless ergonomic keyboard and mouse. I had no preference, so that’s what I used. However, I got used to it, so when they keyboard started to go out, I did a bit of research and emailed IT, asking for a new keyboard, giving two options.

      IT couldn’t approve it, as it was a “specialty” request, so I had to run it past the Office Manager. It was something like $60, so it was approved easily, but some of my coworkers made comments about me wanting a “weird” keyboard. “Weird” being something other than the $19 wired ones the rest of the office has.

      If I had asked my boss, he would have been very confused as to why I wanted a “fancy” keyboard, but I never asked him because my request was because my hardware was failing and that’s an IT issue.

      That said, I recently was denied access to opening PDF’s. I spoke to IT, who couldn’t figure out the issue, but was able to do a temp fix. A couple of days later, it happened again and wanted payment, so I asked my boss (who is also an owner) about it. He asked me if I really needed it and I just said I used the program multiple times a day, wouldn’t be able to do part of my job without it, and said nothing more as I looked at him. It took him about 15 seconds to go get his credit card and take care of things.

      What I’d suggest is just saying that you are not able to do your best work with the equipment you’ve been given, then give them a couple of options that would work. I’d also mention that you are going through these every six months and that you’re likely annoying your coworkers.

      1. Worker bee*

        Sorry, don’t think we can edit here, but LW #5, I’d make sure your boss knows you’re asking for wireless headphones and not wireless earbuds. There might be some confusion there, depending on how tech savvy your boss is.

  6. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    LW3 – I used to work for a company that had offices all around the world. People email you when it’s convenient for them and then you respond when it’s convenient for you. It was never a big deal, especially since sometimes working hours never overlapped (Eastern US never overlaps with Australia for instance).

    That being said, I used to put an auto reply on when there were US holidays to remind international coworkers not to expect a response within the normal timeframe (and they’d do the same if there was a holiday in their country).

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Agreed. OOO makes sense on a holiday or unusual day off. That says, “hey, we’re not working at a time / day you normally could expect us to be working.” But nothing in this letter says Sven is expecting LW to be working at 2 AM LW’s time.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Normal timeframe” is exactly it. I work in a client-facing role and I set an expectation that I’ll respond within one business day. So if that won’t happen, or I’m truly unavailable on a “normal” business day, I set my OOO. Presidents’ Day? OOO. Intermittently unavailable when my grandfather died? OOO. Saturday? No OOO.

      LW #3, it’s email: no one expects you to respond while you’re supposed to be asleep or driving or on a date or getting your teeth cleaned. Set your Do Not Disturb.

  7. nnn*

    #5: If you haven’t done so already, see if you can find actual data on the reliability and life expectancy of different types of headphones (sometimes Consumer Reports has this) and see if you can put together a Sam Vimes boots kind of case for a better pair. (e.g. “Historically, we’ve been spending $x every six months on replacing these headphones. Consumer Reports indicates that Better Brand lasts and average of 3 years, and only costs $2x, for a savings of $4x over this three-year period.”)

    1. Bilateralrope*

      A good plan. Especially if the numbers work out in favor of the cheap headphones.

      Or if the cheap headphones aren’t lasting as long for the LW as they should, suggesting problems elsewhere.

      1. quill*

        No, it’s the boot index argued backwards: the company can afford the Good Boots, but they’re only looking at their budget for the next year / howevermany months.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Additionally, and I forgot this in my comment below, better quality can also mean fewer calls to IT/boss of ‘my kit isn’t working again!’

      Less bother to management/IT helpdesk? As a manager oh yes please.

    3. Forrest*

      OP, if this doesn’t work, then go with meticulous compliance. Order the new headphones the first time you notice a drop in quality or a disturbance on the line– don’t struggle on for a few weeks until they’re almost unusable. See if you can get the replacement time down to 3-4 months and then have another go at getting the better quality ones.

    4. Observer*

      see if you can find actual data on the reliability and life expectancy of different types of headphones (sometimes Consumer Reports has this

      I haven’t looked at their computer related stuff in a while. But the last time I checked, their stuff was useless – they did not understand what they needed to be looking for and how to test for the important stuff.

      But I agree with the rest. Do this directly with IT, not your boss.

  8. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – A lot of people manage their many responsibilities by having work/life flexibility, rather than by adhering to strict office hours. For a lot of people, that means emailing at non-work hours. It’s up to individuals to decide what works for them. If responding on a weekend doesn’t work for you, and you only want to respond during 9-5 office hours, then you do you. But unless someone is giving you grief for not responding to them at non-office-hour times, then there’s no reason to get bent out of shape about them sending emails out whenever they feel like it.

    I had someone this past month lay into me about sending out emails late at night. I wanted to tell them that they were welcome to not read them until a time more convenient for them, but that I would reserve the right to get my work done when it is convenient for me.

    1. Double A*

      I rarely send emails after hours, but when I do I schedule them to go out the next morning. I don’t really want my coworkers to see me sending emails at weird hours; I just feel uncomfortable about it. Scheduling lets them think I’m just super on it first thing in the morning.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        Not all of us have those options in our email, though. And I wish people would be less judgmental about it. Some of us also email things as they come up because of medical issues like brain fog. Even leaving it as a draft in my email is dodgy because I can’t guarantee I’ll remember it’s there in 8 hours.

        1. Double A*

          Yeah, but I do think it’s important to know what kind of expectations you’re creating or feeding into if you’re sending emails at all hours of your day. It’s not that people are judging you, it’s that often they’re seeing what you’re doing and thinking they need to do it too. This is especially true if you’re a manager.

          We have two email systems, one you can schedule, one you can’t. I don’t even check messages from the latter system after hours, because I don’t want to set the expectation that I will respond after hours, period. And since I can’t schedule, I don’t want to risk writing and forgetting a draft, so I just don’t check.

          I don’t really have the type of job where inspiration will strike and just need to get a communication out there right this instant, though.

          1. Scarlet2*

            It’s not necessarily about inspiration though. In my case, it’s just plain “if I don’t send it now, I’ll forget”.
            As far as expectations are concerned, if the working environment is healthy and doesn’t put people under unnecessary pressure, I don’t think emailing times are a big deal. I honestly don’t pay attention to the time an email was sent unless it’s relevant.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah – if I have a list of things to sort out this morning, and one of those is to email a colleague in the US, I’ll send the email. I just won’t expect a response until this afternoon. No big deal.

          2. Spencer Hastings*

            “It’s not that people are judging you, it’s that often they’re seeing what you’re doing and thinking they need to do it too. This is especially true if you’re a manager.”

            In my experience, it’s the opposite — if managers are sending emails at odd hours, I think “well, that’s why they get paid the big bucks.” I’d be more concerned if a peer were clearly working more hours than me. (As opposed to just working different hours.)

          3. Observer*

            it’s that often they’re seeing what you’re doing and thinking they need to do it too. This is especially true if you’re a manager.

            The ONLY time this MAY have some validity is if you area manager and sending stuff to people you manage. Otherwise, unless someone is seeing this from a LOT of others in the organization, it’s just not sensible (nor reasonable) to expect people to schedule their emails around how it might look to you. (I’m using “you” in the generic sense.”)

            People have different schedules and different workflows. And that means that they might send email at times that are odd to you. Functional adults should be able to deal with that. This goes several times over when you are dealing with different time zones and holiday schedules.

            1. tessa*

              Yep, what Observer says.

              I’m fortunate in that my boss lets us know that while she might send us emails outside of working hours, she doesn’t expect us to respond until we’re at work.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I do think it depends a bit on you role – f you are more senior ten it can appear that because you are sending e-mails out of working hours there is an expectation that others will check them. It’s much less of an issue if you are not in a senior or management role.

          (If you are, would e-mailing it to yourself with a reminder to send in the morning work for you?)

          1. Allonge*

            For your last suggestion – yes, as a manager I try to flag these to send in the morning or when I know I will be online, I schedule delivery.

            But: all this starts with: when I remember. Because I don’t draft / answer emails at 11pm for funsies, that is when I have time on a lot of days, and I am tired and I forget it sometimes. And I really appreciate everyone on my team who believes me when I say I don’t expect answers when I send the email, no matter when I do send the email.

            1. PB Bunny Watson*

              You are not alone, Allonge. If I try to wait to send the email at an “appropriate” time, it will take days to get it done. That’s with saving it as a draft or emailing it to myself, etc. And, to be honest, emailing it to myself seems like a lot of extra work for no compelling reason. Not to mention the times I’ve done that only to have the email buried by several emails and get lost in the chaos. I also work for a government entity, so I have to save all these types of emails a certain length of time to comply with records retention policies. It’s just easier for me to send it when I send it and let people deal with their own issues. I mean…if I’m putting a note at the bottom that literally says “please do not feel compelled to reply to this email until your normal working hours” AND if I’m fostering a culture of appropriate boundaries, then what more can be asked of me? Especially since this is my accommodation for my own medical issues like brain fog and forgetfulness.

          2. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

            I also get annoyed with a coworker who responds to customer emails at like 10:30pm because it creates unrealistic expectations for other people in customer-facing roles. But also he’s my BEC coworker so I’m annoyed by everything he does. And not really relevant to OP’s situation.

            1. Observer*

              That’s one of the few situations where there is some sense in looking at how to schedule responses.

      2. Bumblebeee*

        If you don’t want to receive emails at night the onus is on you to turn notifications off during those hours!

      3. KateM*

        If you send to someone in a different time zone during normal working hours of your own time zone, though? Do you schedule these to go out when it’s next morning for your coworker, and what do you do if you send to multiple coworkers and these are not in the same time zone?

      4. Observer*

        rarely send emails after hours, but when I do I schedule them to go out the next morning. I don’t really want my coworkers to see me sending emails at weird hours;

        That’s fine, but an unrealistic expectation to lay on others. That’s true in general even with coworkers in the same time zone. Totally unreasonable for people in other time zones.

    2. Flower necklace*

      Agreed. I work at a high school. Our contract hours end at 2:20 p.m. Sometimes I can respond to emails during the day, sometimes I can’t. I completely respect teachers who manage to get all their work done during contract hours, but I often do a few hours of work at night and sometimes write emails then. People should do what’s right for them.

    3. anonymous73*

      Since the start of the pandemic, “work hours” is no longer set in stone (even if you all work in the same time zone). Yes for certain roles you need to be available at specific times, but for a lot of us you can get some or all of your work done at odd times of the day when you have time. IME email is generally not urgent and does not need a reply as soon as it’s seen. For me personally, I can’t stand notifications on my phone. So whenever I’ve had my work email on my phone, I turn off the notifications when I’m not working.

    4. Little Miss Sunshine*

      If you are using something like Outlook, there is a delay send option so that the emails are queued up for a time closer to “standard” working hours. If I am doing my night owl thing, I often use this feature so that people don’t expect me to work midnight hours all the time, and it pops up in their “today” emails rather than “yesterday” when they are starting their day.

  9. Not A Manager*

    LW3, I’m sure that you’re not aware of every holiday celebrated by your international colleagues – nor should you be. It would be extremely inefficient for everyone to have to keep a million local calendars in their head, let alone being aware of religious variations. Just respond to your emails during your own working hours, and expect that your colleagues will do the same.

  10. Scarlet2*

    LW1, you seem to feel like you need iron-clad “reasons” to turn down a job. You don’t. You say you’re “making excuses”, but you really don’t need to justify yourself. That job sounds like it has all cons and no pros, so it’s not right for you, period. Just because someone asks you something doesn’t mean you have to say yes or that you need “good reasons” to say no.

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      Amen! The only thing I’d caution LW#1 about is complaining about the current job to the neighbor. That’s a good way to start that conversation up again.

    2. Zweisatz*

      Absolutely. And in that vain, LW, I would caution you against feeling like you need to “make up” for the former tenant of your house.
      Plainly spoken, this person has nothing to do with you and it’s on your neighbors to welcome a new tenant with a clean slate, not on you to “correct” any preconceptions they have based on a person you don’t know (and by the by, therefore cannot say if they were truly as horrible as anybody says).

      Basically I’m saying it’s not clear if this community is still on the side of “close-nit” or already into “up in each other’s business” territory. So be sure to maintain good boundaries and not pick up people’s weirdness just because they put it down for you.

      1. BRR*

        I’m wondering if the LW thinks they need a good reason to turn down the job because they feel they need to take the job as a gesture of good will to the neighbor. I don’t believe the lw even mentions one reason in favor of taking the job. Taking the job will not ease the neighbor relations (my apologies if I played letter writer fan fiction and am 100% wrong).

        And as you say, the lw doesn’t need to make up for the last tenant. Nobody in their right mind thinks “apt 2b is a nightmare. There are new people in there now but it’s the apartment, not the people.” If anything, the bar should be pretty low for you to be good neighbors. The husband sounds like a bad neighbor and that’s one reason to not take the job (because even though you wouldn’t be working with him, you want to limit your connections to him).

        1. EPLawyer*

          That is it. OP you are trying way too hard to fit into this neighborhood. Up to and including considering taking a job you would hate.

          You already have the perfect reason to not take the job if you want a “good” reason — you already have a job. No thanks, already got a job don’t want to add on to it, thanks, is all you need to say. If the neighbor keeps it up, shorten to no thanks.

          On a non work related note, it sounds like you and your BF are miserable in your new home. You can hear far too much of the neighbors, you’ve already been complained about to management, etc. I don’t know how long your lease is, but you might want to consider moving when you can. yes moving is a pain, but so not as much as living in a place that makes you miserable. You will eventually dread coming home.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      No is a complete answer. Look at it this way. Do you really want your neighbour knocking on your door and since you have the day off can you come to work for a few hours? Or does she have an emergency and need someone ASAP to open up for her? No, thanks!

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        Yes! That was one of my favorite pearls of wisdom I got from a mentor. Another was… “If the answer isn’t 100% yes, then the answer is no.” Which may not always be correct… but I think works for situations like these where you are acting more out of some sense of obligation as opposed to any personal desire.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      OP, it’s not an “excuse” if this job clashes with the hours of your main job. It’s necessary for good health that you get proper rest and eat good meals. This job will throw off your schedule for your main job, therefore it’s a no-go.

      You can still maintain a cordial relationship with your neighbor. It should not be the end of the world if you say no.

      Over the longer haul, I don’t think working for her is going to help you establish yourself as a resident in your complex. Try very hard not to merge these two separate things together. I am kind of sensing that you think you should take the job in the name of getting along. I do not think this job will help you get along better.

      1. Scarlet2*

        And since it looks like everyone is up in their neighbour’s business, throwing a work relationship in the mix really has a high potential for drama…

    5. nerak*

      Exactly. You already have a job, and maybe neighbor doesn’t realize that since it’s at night? But regardless, saying something like “oh, I have a job” is totally reasonable. These people sound like a nightmare (sorry, she sounds just as bad as the husband) and you have zero obligation to her.

    6. Sylvan*

      Right? Absolutely no part of that letter suggested that the OP wanted the job or it would benefit them. Don’t take the job! You don’t even have to consider it.

      1. Anon all day*

        It’s a weird flip of the letters that come in saying that, “my boss won’t let me quit/isn’t accepting my resignation”.

    7. Wintermute*

      Yup! Job interviewing is like dating in a lot of ways, you don’t need an ironclad “good enough” reason. “I am just not feeling it,” is a perfectly valid reason, “I have some concerns / see some yellow flags” is a good enough reason, “I think I could do better,” is probably not something you should TELL them but also a perfectly valid reason!

    8. Artemesia*

      Just as you don’t have to date someone or continue to date someone you don’t want to date, you don’t ever need to take a job because it is offered. Some people are so browbeaten as kids to be ageeable that they get themselves into these situations.

      Of course she should not take this job with the neighbor — even if it were a good job the living situation makes it a no go unless she moves.

  11. Storm in a teacup*

    LW3 I work within a company where the headquarters are west coast US and I’m based in Europe. I am not going to be sending them messages at 1am because it’s when they’re at work or dialling into town halls at that time. I’ll just catch up with a video recording in my working hours. I also don’t expect them to message me only in my working hours or remember my country’s public holidays – that’s what ‘out of office’ functionality is for and truly the world does not revolve around the USA for you to expect an international colleague to remember your bank holidays!
    Honestly you’ve focussed on a non-problem here and turned a piece of flat ground into a mountain so what is this really about?
    Do you find you’re getting too many emails etc overnight and it’s overwhelming? Maybe block out the first 30-60 minutes of your day to deal with them if you know first thing you’re going to get emails from international colleagues.
    Is there another reason that is causing you stress and is it something that can be addressed?
    Have you previously only worked jobs with colleagues in the same state / office? Adjusting to a role with international colleagues can take some working out so maybe speak to a couple of coworkers to see how they manage it.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Your last point is very salient. I’ve never left the British isles in my life and it was only a year ago that I had to arrange a conference call across a wide time difference (UK/Australia/Malaysia). That was….enlightening.

      Truthfully? I’d never really thought about time zones before.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Yeah moving from an NHS role where meetings were based around people’s shifts to one working with international colleagues meant learning to work differently and I wonder if she just needs to readjust how she works. Although the biggest change was, when you are frontline healthcare your meetings are often way more efficient as you’ve got wards or clinics to man. Rarely did meetings go beyond an hour and now I can spend all day meetings that could have been an email!
        LW3 attitude is not going to help progression – it feels very ‘cheap ass rolls’ but it may be burnout so I don’t want to be too harsh to the OP

      2. Baroness Schraeder*

        I am currently trying to arrange a conference call between our collaborators in Australia, Japan, New York, Saudi Arabia and the Cook Islands. Oddly enough it’s not going so well.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think your point about the world not revolving around the USA is really salient, and it’s how the OP risks coming across with this mindset even if they do not mean to. I once dealt with some people who got annoyed by my use of a British English term, and felt I should use American English as much as possible. It never occurred to them that there were times I also didn’t understand a term they used and I would simply google it. I never said anything, but it was eye rolly. Perhaps the OP has memorized this other country’s holidays and time differences and is being very careful about not interrupting people who have email alerts on 24/7 and simply wants the same consideration. However that’s such an outlier of a method, that people are going to assume they’re centralising American hours over the idea she’s using email like it’s a phone call.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Our default word setting is American English even in the separate UK office and even when you change it to British it still autocorrects to the American spelling. It’s annoying and eye-rollery too
        I don’t want to spell organisation with a z

        1. Akcipitrokulo*


          Language can be used as a power play – for example “correcting” US to UK, or UK to US spellings, can border on an almost colonial feeling.

          It isn’t at the level of, for example, punishing Scottish children for saying “aye”, but it’s not a good look!

          1. Margaretmary*

            I’m Irish and this whole thing matters enough to me that, when posting online, I will use the Irish term and put the British or American one in brackets afterwards rather than just using the British or American term, as a compromise between being understood and not just defaulting to the terms used in larger countries.

            It also mildly annoys me when the international media refers to our Taoiseach as the Irish Prime Minister or even worse, the PM. Yeah, the terms are analagous, but…if they can use the word Chancellor for the German equivalent, I don’t see why they can’t use the correct term here. And our media uses the term “Chancellor of the Exchequer” when referring to the UK’s equivalent of a “Finance Minister”. It’s not a massive deal, but it does come off a little like “oh, why bother learning the correct terms for Ireland. It’s too small a country to bother about anyway.” And OK, I don’t expect anybody to know the correct terms for everywhere in the world, but I would expect our nearest neighbours to at least know what the head of our government is called.

            1. Loulou*

              But Chancellor is an English word, not a German one! Are you saying you want international media to use a nearer English translation to “Taoiseach” rather than “PM”?

              1. Forrest*

                But Taoiseach is the word used in English. The vast majority of Irish people speak English the vast majority of the time, and when they talk about the Taoiseach they say Taoiseach. It’s obviously an Irish word, but it’s the correct title in English. Calling them the Prime Minister is like reporting on Scotland and translating “loch” into “lake” or something.

                I think the point about Chancellor is that that English speaking people can cope with different words for similar offices– you don’t take Kanzler and translate it to Prime Minister because that’s what you have in the UK.

                1. Loulou*

                  Right, but we’re talking about international English-language media. I really can’t think of a contemporary example of media using words in a non-English language for a head of state’s title. President, chancellor, supreme leader, sure, and I doubt most anglophone news readers would recognize whatever the Farsi is for “supreme leader”. If I were reading the English Die Welt etc. and saw the Taoiseach referred to by that name and other heads of state referred to in English translation I’d wonder why Ireland alone had that distinction. My guess is style guides don’t permit it for exactly that reason.

                2. Forrest*

                  But the difference is that Farsi speakers speak Farsi. Irish people overwhelmingly speak English, and the name for the leader of the Irish government in English is Taoiseach.

                  The Irish President is a good counter-example — he’s the President in English, and An Uchtarán in Irish. But the Taoiseach is the Taoiseach in both languages, and it’s pretty disrespectful to “translate” that.

                3. Loulou*

                  Nobody’s disputing that Irish people speak English! The point is that we’re discussing media for a global anglophone audience, not an exclusively Irish one. I doubt we’re going to agree on this one, but I really do not think the convention of using “prime minister” in this setting is disrespectful to the Irish language or people, it’s consistent with how heads of state are generally referred to in global media.

            2. Batgirl*

              I’m English and always notice, and am irked by the Taoiseach thing. It’s lazy not to use the proper title.

          2. RagingADHD*


            A strange word to describe the choice between World Coloniser A and World Colonizer B.

            Fortunately, “irony” is spelled the same both ways.

        2. LooLoo*

          If you write anything that is shared externally, there may be good reason to use one style over the other. I write reports for both US and UK donors and when I write for the UK donors, I use UK English. I don’t like adding a ‘u’ to words that don’t need it, but I do it anyway because that what the reader will expect.

          1. Batgirl*

            Absolutely, and I actually like using American terms and spellings in certain contexts because it just widens my own skillset. This however was just some back and forth that happened to be in writing. It wasn’t public, or something you’d need a style guide for. The vast majority of my experience with other groups of Americans had been “you use your words, we’ll use ours and we will look it up or ask about anything we don’t know”, so this group was not typically representative. The really irritating thing was that the comment that kicked them off was addressed to me from another Brit and instead of looking up literally one word they threw a tantrum about not being able to follow along.

          2. Storm in a teacup*

            Oh I totally agree and if writing say a report for the global team then of course I don’t bother with changing to British English. But for internal, in country work which is the vast majority of what I do? I feel like I’m making spelling mistakes and it really bugs me – I feel like a teacher is coming along with their red pen to correct me!

          3. quill*

            I am forever taking the U out of specifications from UK. Unsure why nobody can accept that both “color: blue” and “colour: blue” are the same statement, but the fewer things that lab auditors notice, the fewer “It’s fine, actually” questions we have to answer.

        3. londonedit*

          I work for a British publishing company, and our house style is therefore British English. I work with a few American authors, and some of them have thrown incredibly unreasonable tantrums – there’s no other word for it – when I’ve explained that no, we won’t be using US English for their book. Our books are published primarily in the UK and distributed around the world, we have a house style for a reason, and we’re not going to chop and change based on where the author happens to be located.

          1. sunglass*

            I’ve had American authors do this as well, and it’s baffling every time. What on earth did they expect?

            1. LooLoo*

              I have to constantly remind my coworkers in both the US and the UK that we have to write our reports in the style that the reader will expect regardless of who the writer is. I have one British coworker who refuses to comply because UK English is the only correct version of English according to her.

                1. quill*

                  And that’s only in writing! Wait until you have to have someone say Glacier as “glay-sure” and “glass-ee-air.”

                  (Or a childhood favorite, an-KYLE-o-saurus. Hey Kyle, your dinosaur is here!)

            2. rubble*

              maybe different editions for different markets? like, I know they edited the harry potter books to make some of the language more clear to american kids. but I doubt that’s common, especially nowadays.

              although, to be honest, I probably would be a bit annoyed if I had to go through and americanise my spelling, especially if I had written a book set in australia – for me as a writer it’s a tool to remind readers where something is set. I use american spellings (if I know them) when writing about americans. but I’d never throw a tantrum over it……

              1. londonedit*

                Some publishers may print different editions in different markets, but the way we do it is that all the books are produced and printed in the UK and distributed globally. So there’s only one edition.

                Authors don’t have to Anglicise their own spellings – we do that as part of the copy-editing process. And we’re non-fiction, so the most important thing to us is that all of the books across our list are standardised and conform to the same style. It’s like a part of a publisher’s branding. Plus it makes it easier to make sure editorial standards are upheld if everything’s adhering to the same house style. And we’d never go through an American author’s book and change all the references to UK-centric things or to UK language (spellings aside). However we do make sure the things they’re talking about aren’t overly US-centric, and we make sure there’s a global spread of case studies etc. There’s no point in us publishing a book that British readers would struggle to understand and engage with, so we make sure if US terms are used, they’re ones that translate elsewhere.

                1. quill*

                  They don’t want someone to simply edit spelling? There are bigger hills to die on as an author, but if you’re nonfiction, I presume that has something to do with it.

          2. Bagpuss*

            Londonedit – out of interest, is this fiction or non fiction? And is it only spelling or do you change terminology as well?

            I’m curious as I find it really jarring (For instance, reading a book written by an American Writer and set in America, where you suddenly start coming across English terms, and vice versa – it’s worse when it’s American terms in a book set in England that the other way round , because it’s more obvious to me s an English person, but I do find it quite jarring even the other way round)

            Spelling I think is different and it’s completely reasonable to have a house style and to cater to where the book is published / sold

            1. londonedit*

              Non-fiction, and it’s mainly spelling/grammar conventions. Oxford commas, -ise/-ize, single/double quotes, punctuation inside/outside quote marks, etc. We also try to make our books as inclusive for a global audience as possible, so if a US author is using examples that readers elsewhere wouldn’t understand (or that make the book feel too US-centric) then we’ll add in some UK examples as well – British readers are our primary audience, and they’re going to be turned off by a book that’s full of references to the US education system or assumes knowledge of baseball scoring or whatever. So we’ll make things more general if we can, just saying ‘high school’ instead of ‘sophomore year’, or we’ll stick in a reference to Ronaldo among a list of American sports stars.

              I’ve never worked in fiction but I can’t imagine the same would be true there – if it’s a book by an American writer with an American setting then it would be weird for characters to suddenly start referring to ‘the boot of the car’ or whatever. But every publisher has a house style, and for UK publishers that’ll be based on UK conventions and rules.

              1. Lore*

                Our general rule is to Americanize spelling and punctuation but only to change words if they’re likely to cause confusion in context—like “jumpers,” which means something different, but equally context appropriate, in American v British English.

                Don’t get me started on the book where one of my American authors had an earlier pub date in the UK so they were trying to convince us to use the manuscript that the UK publisher had edited into British, and have our copy editor edit it back into American.

              2. Sylvan*

                Wild. Just curious, have any of them been published or reviewed by American newspapers or sites? I’m wondering how they cope with Associated Press style.

          3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Ahh the fun I had last month with a supplier who was insistent that I ‘learnt maths’ at school was totally incorrect everywhere and that I needed to edit my emails post haste.

            (Heck no. I work IT. As long as I’m getting server IP addresses correct I generally don’t care about spelling)

        4. Karia*

          It’s beyond frustrating. I’ve tried all sorts of hacks and tricks, because (especially in PowerPoint) it just straight up ignores me setting it to British English.

        5. Guin*

          LOL. I don’t want to spell Humor with an extra U, but I certainly wouldn’t care if someone else does. I might be a bit confused if someone mentions ordering crisps with their sandwich instead of potato chips, though.

          1. londonedit*

            From my editorial point of view, if we were talking about one of the books I work on then in that case we would spell ‘humour’ with a u, but we’d use ‘potato chips’ rather than ‘crisps’ because UK readers can understand ‘potato chips’ more easily than the other way round (but we wouldn’t use ‘chips’ on its own because that word has two different meanings depending on whether you’re in the UK or US).

    3. Chevron*

      I think this is a very kind point. I work with an international team and am very used to emails at all hours, and the thought that I should not email US colleagues during US holidays really got my back up initially.

      But this reminds me that when I started working with international colleagues, after spending the first half of my career working in a company that only operated in one city, I found the barrage of emails at all times, logging on in the morning to an already full inbox of requests etc, completely overwhelming. It’s just such a different way of operating than when you get in at 9am and things are pretty much where you left them the night before. I’m so used to it now that it feels totally normal but it did take a big adjustment and for a while I felt like I was constantly behind and playing catch up, it felt like a big loss of control of my workload and requires different management strategies.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        That’s quite an interesting insight for me, actually. I’ve always worked either in industries where a huge amount of business goes on outside of “normal” business hours (hospitality, festivals, tourism) or in very international offices across time zones, usually a combination of both. It’s always been my baseline expectation that the first hour or so of my day will be spent triaging whatever came in overnight, whether that’s event enquiries from people who’ve been brainstorming their birthday party over dinner, emails from performers or colleagues in other countries, updates from food suppliers who start the day at 4am, whatever. The concept of coming in to the same number of emails as when I left is completely alien to me.

        In terms of managing that kind of inbox, IMO the #1 priority for OP should be figuring out if they actually need to have these notifications on. I generally didn’t in most of those roles except during crunch times, eg immediately before or during a big event because it’s just not sustainable. I’d be interested to know how you adjusted!

    4. Texan In Exile*

      “Maybe block out the first 30-60 minutes of your day to deal with them if you know first thing you’re going to get emails from international colleagues.

      In an old job, almost everyone I worked with was in either Europe (~six hours difference) or Eastern Time (one hour difference). I am in Central Time.

      I was in the office by 7:00 a.m. so I could have more potential meeting times. I had my meetings in the morning and did solo work in the afternoon, with the rare meeting with Australia or China at 7 p.m. my time.

      Nobody was expected to answer emails outside of their own working hours.

  12. MissM*

    LW#1, I wouldn’t worry so much about feeling accepted at your complex that you feel pressured into taking a bad job, because when it crashes and burns, you’re going to feel more uncomfortable around your neighbors if the wife is the leader of that clique. Just let it all naturally flow – time helps strangers become neighbors and then friends

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      I’ve re-read it more than once, and is anyone else getting that this was a blind offer by the neighbor, not a job solicited by LW#1?

  13. my 8th name*

    #3. Idk where Sven is based or what the time difference is, but I am going to assume that it would be widely inefficient if your company only sent emails during the hours in which all of its staff in all of its locations were simultaneously working.

    You can’t really be mad for someone working when they’re at work, even if others are off.

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      I am forever fascinated by every letter that comes to AAM complaining about how other people aren’t hyper-aware of the LW’s schedule and what can they do about it. I can barely remember my own schedule! I can’t imagine the minefield I’d have to navigate in these places!

    2. Wings*

      This so much.

      There are two things that the LW can do to manage the expectations in a global team: a) set up their working hours on their calendar so that their colleagues can easily see them without a ton of time zone arithmetic and b) use an OOO message when they are away for any reason on a day they would normally work (for most people Mon-Fri).

      I’m in Europe and with colleagues in the US or Japan we usually only manage to exchange one pair of e-mails a day but we each write those during our own business hours. And it’s entirely unreasonable to expect that people would remember the more obscure bank holidays in other countries. I wouldn’t remember my own if I didn’t have them in my calendar. Just use an OOO and reply when you are back at the office.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I have a chart on the wall of my office that has columns for each time zone I work with (two if there’s daylight savings) and standard office hours marked. Its really useful for being able to quickly scan what time it is for everyone when scheduling meetings, or wondering when I’ll get a response.

      2. AdequateArchaeologist*

        I’m in the US and I used to work with an office from Australia. I would get so excited when we managed to have an email conversation at the beginning of the day and again at the end of the day instead of waiting a full business day for one thread. It’s the little things.

    3. LizB*

      I’m imagining all employees of LW3’s company setting alarms for the one hour window where everyone in the company is definitely working, then sitting down and furiously writing and responding to an avalanche of emails all hour. Their poor servers.

  14. Bilateralrope*

    LW 5: I’d suggest getting IT to have a look at your laptop. The problem might be that you’ve got a faulty USB port. Which means that wireless headphones are unlikely to be any better if they are also USB.

    If the headphones you’re thinking of aren’t USB, you’ve got to check if they are compatible with your work. For example, Bluetooth might be disabled for security reasons.

    1. Reba*

      Agreed. Also wanted to add that when I’ve tried using wireless headphones for video editing there has been a noticeable delay. Definitely problematic when trying to sync sound and picture!

  15. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    OP5: I work in IT and all computer purchases have to come through us. We also have a staggering amount of beaurucracy here, approved suppliers, tight budgets etc.

    It’s easier to get non standard hardware if you’ve us on your side and I’m wondering if this will be the case for you.

    If someone contacted me, with a case of how much we’d spent on cheap kit that’s not really good enough quality over a year versus how long a decent piece of kit of standard X would last and be fit for purpose – and then asked us if it’s possible to get something resembling the better quality kit from our suppliers as a one off…yeah I’d do a bit of research because that’s a smart plan. I’d probably see what our standard suppliers have in better ranges.

    (Generally I prefer buying more expensive once than ongoing cheaper monthly costs)

    With IT saying ‘yeah, that’s a good idea we can handle that kit’ it might convince your boss??

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      This! The smartest thing in the world is to be kind to everyone, but especially IT, Maintenance, and Administrative Assistants. People have no clue how much easier it is to get stuff done if you can develop any kind of relationship with those groups. Being willing to learn (from IT) how to troubleshoot a lot of stuff and then being specific about what I have and have not tried when a problem arises has made my life so much better and more efficient. I have literally had talks like you described with IT about things like changing from a regular surge protector to one with a battery backup (maybe not the right term), and it’s been life-changing. Y’all are the unsung heroes and often have a better idea of what can and cannot be done.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        Also, quite often better quality kit means fewer support calls being logged! Which, although that’s what we do for a living, we do appreciate.

        (I’ve got to go fix someone’s machine who’s kid has knocked onto the floor for the third time running. I’m thinking of ordering something to chain it to the desk. The computer, not the kid! I don’t mind spending extra money to prevent future breakdowns)

        1. PB Bunny Watson*

          Not so fast… let’s explore this chaining the kid idea….
          I’m obviously kidding. Before anyone calls CPS.

  16. Justdoyou*

    OP #2 Do what makes you feel comfortable. I have had a couple of interviews during this pandemic and each company has handled it differently. I chose to wear my mask for each interview and it was not a problem. My last interview was this past January and you would have thought the pandemic was completely over. Not a mask in sight and the hiring manager and her manager both greeted me with handshakes and I put my elbow forward and we elbow bumped.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      Yeah, regardless of what others are doing I’m still wearing a mask in public/meetings/interviews (have had alll my jabs!). At this point I’m not concerned with anyone who gets offended about that.

    2. Safetykats*

      The premise that it’s okay not to wear masks because you’re on the other side of the room from the interviewer might have been acceptable 18 months ago, but we now know the main method of transmission is aerosol, not droplets. So the idea that it’s okay to sit in a room with someone (or multiple someones) for an hour with no masks is erroneous – unless the room has really, really good ventilation. And since most office operate on about 85% recirculated air, it’s not just the people in the room with you that you need to be concerned about.

      So really, wearing the mask is the best decision. What the interviewer is comfortable doing doesn’t, or shouldn’t really play into your decision. Whether or not there is still a mask mandate also doesn’t need to be part of your decision. Make your decision based on your own comfort level.

      (And not to sound like my mom, but in the back of my head I can hear her voice asking whether I would jump off a cliff just because the interviewer did? Peer pressure, even if subtle, is a usually not a good reason for any decision.)

  17. EventPlannerGal*

    OP3: So I assume that you never send emails to any of your international colleagues without checking if it’s St Andrews Day or Bastille Day or Greek Independence Day, right? And when emailing any colleagues in the Middle East then you do double-check whether they take their weekends on a Friday/Saturday or Saturday/Sunday, right? And you pretty much never email anyone in, say, Indonesia or Australia during your normal business hours because that would be the middle of the night for them, right? You definitely do all that? Because if you’re going to get this mad about one (1) email on a federal holiday then you should be doing that.

    Like, sorry if this is snippy but not everybody remembers every possible holiday that any other nation could possibly be taking, although if you’re American then frankly you have a much better chance of non-Americans knowing about Thanksgiving and the 4th of July than we have of you knowing our random national holidays. If it upsets you this much then turn your email notifications off on Memorial Day or whatever, but getting all “Will we ever be off the clock again????” is very silly.

    1. PB Bunny Watson*

      And some are not even national. In Louisiana, many areas will be closed next Monday for Lundi Gras (because of parades), and many more will be closed in honor of Mardi Gras. In exchange, we often give up a holiday like President’s Day. And I remember when Juneteenth was only a holiday in Texas. I’m sure there are many more I have no clue across the country… so even working with other Americans would be difficult if you’re not all in the same area.

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        A few years ago in my pre-pandemic life we went to NO for Mardi Gras. We planned to go sightseeing on the Monday and were puzzled and kinda sad most things were closed. So we had to drown our sorrows in the bars…

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      I love the juxtaposition of the subject matter and your username :)

      I just got reminded that even within the UK we have different holidays – Scotland and England are often not the same.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Yes, absolutely – some companies here take St Andrews Day, although mine doesn’t, and I believe the spring bank holidays are different? But it just really isn’t a big deal.

        1. Imaginary Friend*

          My wife once worked in a place that gave her Easter Monday off. We’re in the US. Getting Easter *Friday* off would be weird enough in a secular workplace; getting the Monday after Easter off was downright bizarre. But the company owners were European (Danish maybe?) and it was standard where they had come from, so my wife had a paid 4-day weekend.

  18. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW3 could consider putting their working hours in their email signature, eg “My office hours are M-F 8a-5p EST (UTC -5) and I will not routinely check email outside these hours.”

    I work with associates all over the world and have noticed that some will forewarn of major holidays in their signatures, eg “25 March to 4 April are Spaghettiland public holidays for Spaghetti Harvest. Please send instructions in good time.” This is in addition to OoO messages during the closure. LW could consider similar if major holidays are coming up.

    But mostly, as everyone else has said, LW could benefit from resetting their expectations in line with common norms.

    1. Batgirl*

      This misunderstanding of intention has made me wonder about the origins of traditional closers for letter writing, do we say “respectfully” because someone felt disrespected, or “sincerely” in case the letter felt feigned or prescribed? Perhaps we should sign off emails with “Patiently yours and with respect for your schedule, time zone and national holidays”.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        “I’m so sorry to have troubled you with my inconvenient and, possibly, poorly timed digital missive. A thousand apologies. I only hope that you can one day find it in your heart to forgive my trespassing on your time. If you deign to respond, I will be eternally in your debt. Yours, X.”

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        If this is not a real thing, General von Klinkerhoffen has officially broken my pasta-loving heart.

  19. UpsideDown*

    LW3 baffles me! I have worked across international programs (at the moment the main program I work on across covers about 25 countries between Bangladesh and Kiribati). Being in Australia there is never really any overlap with USA timezones during the work day and I have occasionally had to take calls at weird hours of night to accommodate US partners,
    sometimes with very little consideration of this from the US side . I also work with colleagues in countries with diverse religions, cultures (for example, in some of the countries I cover a two or three hour lunch break is the norm) and holidays. Even in Australia colleagues in different states are in different timezones. And many of those colleagues across all of the countries I work with have been balancing home schooling and other care duties due to COVID, or trying to work from home in countries with poor internet infrastructure, so may not be working standard hours or may have connectivity issues during the hours when internet traffic in their country is heaviest.

    The answer to this is simple… turn off notifications for work emails. Schedule some time at the start of your day to address emails received overnight. And have some empathy for your global colleagues just trying to do their work rather than expecting them to centre you and your needs and your timezone. Also, treating every email as if it is urgent cannot be a super productive or healthy way to work so probably time to reassess that too.

    1. Corporate Lawyer*

      +1 to this whole comment, but especially the last paragraph. It appears that somewhere along the way OP internalized the idea that email requires an immediate response. Maybe they had a boss or family member or friend who got upset when OP didn’t respond to emails right away. But that’s not how the vast majority of people use email and, in particular, it doesn’t sound like how OP’s current workplace uses email.

      OP, I predict that if you stop viewing email as something that you have to reply to right away, you will find it SO FREEING and a boost to your productivity. Please consider the advice to turn off your phone notifications (or at least set them to Do Not Disturb during your non-work hours) and set aside time during your workday to deal with any emails that came in during your non-work hours.

  20. Akcipitrokulo*

    I wonder if LW3 has been getting unreasonable pressure from managers to answer emails immediately?

  21. UKgreen*

    OP#2 please consider your contingency plan – such as taking a clear mask to your panel interview or asking to sit further away – if you’re unwilling to remove your mask. One of the panel may be deaf, hard of hearing or have communication difficulties that means they need to see you lips move.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        They work better than nothing at all, though.

        Also, are you muddling up visors with well-fitted masks that have non-fogging clear plastic panels? Agreed the visors aren’t much use, but still better than nothing. The masks with windows are hard to come by but better than visors.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think you’re thinking of face shields, which are a barrier to protect the entire face from direct sprays, such as in laboratory, surgical, and dentistry settings. There are surgical masks where the (horizontal) center section is clear plastic, those should be roughly as effective as surgical masks (which aren’t great, but are a lot better than nothing).

        I worked in a lab handling blood samples, so we did have to know about these concerns.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Hopefully that would be communicated as part of the interview planning if that were the case – it’s not reasonable to just assume people will be okay unmasking indoors without advance notice.

      (And hopefully they would ensure good ventilation. Sitting further apart in an unventilated space for an hour-long interview isn’t going to make a difference.)

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, agreed.

        It’s reasonable to remain masked. If there’s a reason she needs to accommodate someone, they can ask her to do so, but planning to ask to sit further away is likely to end badly for her.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      With respect, if someone on the interview panel needs to see my lips move I’d expect them to tell me that in plenty of time for me to acquire a clear mask before arriving.

      If I arrive to a meeting and someone tells me I have to take my mask off I’ll probably ask if this could be a Zoom call instead.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, it’s really out of line to ask a candidate to remove their mask in an interview without letting them know in advance that that would be required.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        Exactly, if someone needs to see the candidate’s face clearly, the panel should be scheduled on Zoom. If removing the mask is an absolute expectation for something in person, that should be stated beforehand so the candidate can decline if necessary.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          I require certain accommodations for my disabilities before I go to any office (disabled parking, no stairs etc) so I always, always make sure they’re aware of that before I rock up :)

      3. Antilles*

        It really depends on how it’s asked. Obviously, you shouldn’t be actively pushing someone to remove their mask.
        But if you’re just suggesting it as an option? That seems perfectly fine to me – there are plenty of people who are wearing a mask solely out of courtesy to others and would be glad to take you right up on that offer.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Can o my speak of my own thoughts but if I showed up for a meeting/interview and was told I could remove my mask I’d still keep it on. I wouldn’t be offended by the suggestion but I would look a bit closer into how seriously that company took Covid in general.

          (If keeping it on when others have taken theirs off causes uncomfortableness/inconvenience/offence to others…well I don’t care)

        2. ecnaseener*

          But the point being discussed here is that LW might show up and be told “one of the interview panel needs to read your lips, so you’ll need to take your mask off.” That would not be okay.

          1. Observer*

            No, it would not be ok. But really, how likely is that? I think that this is definitely veering into fan-fic territory.

            1. ecnaseener*

              We’re literally responding to UKgreen telling LW to either bring a clear mask or be prepared to unmask in case someone needs to read their lips with no notice. If you don’t think it’s a thread worth discussing, don’t…?

              1. Observer*

                My point is that original suggestion (that the OP “needs” to be prepared to deal with a lip reading coworker) and the whole ensuing discussion is a stretch. Which, if people enjoy it, that’s fine. But it’s worth recognizing that it really isn’t a useful piece of advice for the OP and very much a side issue.

    3. Snaffanie*

      Anecdotal information here. I am HoH and wear double hearing aids. I discussed this in advance of a masked in-person interview. The panel was able and willing to repeat questions if I misheard, and actually provided a list of their questions in advance. It was awesome. If someone on the panel was Deaf or HoH, transparent recognition and accommodation, while also preserving safety, is possible.l

  22. NYWeasel*

    OP#4: I worked for terrible bosses in an environment that was worse than high school bc it affected our paychecks. This was the job where we had 50% turnover within the first year, where I was told “life’s not fair” when I tried to raise concerns about being paid less than my male counterparts, and where, when I finally moved on after two years, they first tried to punish me on the job, then tried to block me from leaving. (I was moving to another department). I have nothing good to say about my managers.

    The people who were hired on after me and my immediate colleagues think these managers were the best managers they ever had. By the time they joined the team, most of the friction was gone because those of us that had enough experience to call out when things were bad had left. The new people came in never challenged the leadership, so in turn the leadership wasn’t threatened by them and treated them decently. They enjoyed a much happier and supportive environment.

    I don’t hold anything against the people who admire and respect the managers I despised, as they had no reason to based on their experiences. In this case, I’d cautiously give this person the benefit of the doubt. If he hasn’t witnessed the poor behaviors of your former coworkers, then it doesn’t reflect badly on him that he still talks fondly of them. If you see him leaning in to any of the poor behaviors you’ve experienced in the past, then you know to distance yourself.

  23. Asenath*

    About the job with the neighbour – this sounds like a job with so many possible downsides, there’s really no reason for you to seriously consider it! You don’t really want or need it, you suspect that having your boss right next door, and in a household that might cause problems at home since you’re hearing all her husband’s personal ideas and trivial complaints, and most of all, it’s in the day when your other job is at night! Plus travel time across town! When are you going to sleep? I’d make some polite excuse, but really just not consider it at all.

  24. La Donna*

    #3 – people will still email you with your out of office on. Follow Allison’s advice, no need to respond when you’re off work!

  25. DrWho*

    LW1: it seems to me that you don’t have any doubts that you don’t want the job, but are worried that your neighbor would take the rejection personally.
    I think if you explain that you won’t take the job because the hours don’t work for you and in the end you don’t really need it, it should be fine. And if you are worried about her reaction you might add that under other circumstances you would be very happy to work with her as a supervisor (true or not…). I can’t imagine a reasonable person being upset at this.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yes, with the hours thing you have a perfectly legitimate, impersonal reason to turn it down. It feels fraught to you because you know there are also other reasons that might hurt her feelings, but she’s not going to have any reason to guess that if you treat the whole “that’s the middle of my ‘night’ so I’ll be asleep thing” as the ironclad reason it is.

  26. Squidlet*

    I couldn’t help noticing that OP3 didn’t mention anything about not emailing international colleagues during *their* off time.

    So to reduce email-induced friction, I’ve drafted a “staff email etiquette handbook”:

    – When emailing a colleague in a different country or time zone, please first check which time zone they are in, and ensure you send it to arrive during their office hours
    – Adjusting for daylight savings time is mandatory; definition of DST can be found in the appendix
    – Do not send emails to your colleagues in China or Italy during their 2 hour lunch break (note that these are at 2 different times, due to time zone differences)
    – Make sure you send emails on days which are actual working days in that country
    – Don’t forget that Monday is not a work day in Saudi Arabia; refer to the appendix for a complete list of countries and working days
    – When sending an email to a group of colleagues across multiple time zones, send them individually so that each person receives theirs during their own office hours
    – And finally, when sending emails at 3am your time, do not forget to clock in and out

    Okay, it’s silly. But expecting people to not email you when you’re not working kinda defies the point of email, right?

    1. NotRealAnonForThis*

      – Never send an email during tea-time? (When a family member was briefly in the UK, she learned that you simply do not schedule meetings during tea. Would this apply to emails too?)

      I’m giggling over the above list btw. Its a great example :)

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        Loving this list. I also imagined the LW receiving a physical letter through the mail and lamenting how it’s arrival time was inconvenient and thoughtless.

      2. Heather*

        Genuinely curious, since there is a sizable UK crowd here: is tea-time really a thing, still? I’ve heard of tea breaks, but I thought that was more of a water cooler type thing. Is there really a predictable tea time in modern office settings? Maybe there’s regional variations.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          I work in the US, but at my previous job we had 3pm tea time every day (it was a non-profit and our area of work was UK-adjacent). It was nice!

        2. Calpurrnia*

          There must be at least some regional variation. My husband lived in Scotland for 8 years before moving to the US, and says “tea” refers to *any* meal in the evening, at what we’d call dinnertime or suppertime in the US (it’s not like, fancy teacups and cucumber sandwiches like us Americans imagine it is). But given that, it’d be quite strange to have work meetings scheduled at dinnertime commonly enough to specifically call it out as “not done”.

          1. Storm in a teacup*

            Tea can mean a cup of tea or cream tea or high tea (afternoon tea). In northern England it also means dinner.
            When I worked in South Africa we had to stop for mandatory tea breaks – 20-30 mins morning and afternoon with rooiboos tea and sandwiches! It was a thing.
            Mostly here in the UK tea means tea break. Although in my old work you tended to schedule meetings during tea so as to take advantage of getting a free cuppa during the meeting – which was of course a working meeting that needed tea provided and biscuits (aka cookies in American parlance and not scones as you call biscuits).

            1. Lemons*

              High tea and afternoon tea are different. The former was a working class main meal, the latter a more delicate affair to tide the upper classes over until their comparatively late dinner.
              The original distinctions no longer really apply, obviously, but the difference remains, although the terms have been confused somewhat with the conflation of ‘high’ with ‘fancy’ instead of ‘main’.
              I love an afternoon tea but unless a venue promising ‘high tea’ is actually doing a more substantial meal, I’ll be a bit suss of them.
              In general: tea is a drink, a pastime, a meal, a time of day, emergency protocol, and a state of mind.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Please note our offices in (x) have core hours of 10-12am and 2-4pm, and therefore emails to this office should be restricted to these times. If you have to email outwith these times, please arrange in advance.

  27. After 33 years ...*

    LW #3: I fondly recall the follow-up e-mail from a person in a very different time zone, after I did not immediately respond to the first:
    “You didn’t answer my e-mail an hour ago! Are you sick? Are you dead?”
    – not being sarcastic, just in a different cultural mind-set.
    When you have students in 14 different time zones, it will always be a holiday/late night/inconvenient for somebody. Keeping that in mind can help reduce stress. Some people (students especially) do expect an instant reply the first time, but gentle responses usually cure the problem.

    1. Siege*

      I had a student in the same timezone who started emailing me at 1 AM once, and kept right on going with increasing franticness until I responded around 10 AM the next morning. In fact, I had to send two responses, since she was still emailing me as I was writing the reply email, and the first said “stop emailing me so I can finish the answer I am drafting to your question.” It was just one reason I am someday going to write my autobiography of my time in teaching, and it will be titled “50 Shades of Unreasonable”.

  28. I'm just here for the cats*

    #5 can you do a cost analysis. Find out how much the IT ones cost and the ones you would like cost. Then explain it’s going to cost x to replace the IT ones every 6 months for 3 years compared to the Y amount for the better ones.

    I would do your research and make sure that the new set is going to last. I found that just because a headset is more expensive doesn’t mean that they will last longer or good quality.

  29. ecnaseener*

    LW3: You certainly don’t need to set an OOO message for nights and weekends, but you can if it would give you some peace of mind (and if you can set it up once to run automatically). “I check hours between 9-5 EST / 14:00-22:00 UTC, Monday-Friday.”

    1. Leaping*

      Please don’t have a permanent OOO or trivial things like turning it on overnight, they dilute the message and make it difficult to figure out who’s actually out of the office when you expect them to be in.

      1. ecnaseener*

        It will annoy people, but in my mind it’s not so egregious as to not be an option in LW’s case.

        1. Leaping*

          It won’t prevent people emailing. And will just make people miss when LW is actually out because if they always have it up, nobody is going to read why.

          1. ecnaseener*

            Oh, I know it won’t prevent people emailing! But it will give LW peace of mind that nobody will be expecting them to answer.

            1. ArtK*

              Except that 99.999% of the folks out there *aren’t* expecting the OP to answer immediately. That expectation is entirely in her head. Why should her colleagues suffer endless notifications to assuage something that is an issue only in her own mind?

              1. ATX*

                Frankly this is OP’s issue and they need to find a way to get past this. People email at all hours, holidays, whatever, there is literally no need for a silly OOO when you’re “off the clock.”

        2. ArtK*

          For me, it is extremely egregious. My inbox is flooded already with dozens of kinds of automatic notifications and, of course, regular e-mail. If I got an OOO from someone because it was after 5PM their time, I’d probably end up sending all of their e-mails into a folder and deal with them much later.

          An OOO won’t help the OP, either. They’ll still get the e-mails and I doubt very much people will change their habits because of the notifications. They’ll just ignore the notifications and probably think that the OP is being extremely silly.

          1. SimplytheBest*

            Agreed, I would hate to work with a person like this. This would absolutely color my view of them.

  30. new worker bee*

    LW2, the same thing happened to me when I interviewed for my job last year. I went into a small room with my now-boss and two now-coworkers for a panel interview, and boss immediately said, “we’re six feet apart, so we can take our masks off. :D” (Number one, NO, that’s not how that works! Number two, we were hardly six feet apart.) I just said, “I’d prefer to keep mine on,” and did so. I felt like, “well this was for nothing, they’re going to feel offended/uncomfortable and I’ll never get the job now, I’m sure all the other candidates will take their masks off,” but (obviously, given the start of my comment) I did get the job.

    (Why did I still want the job if they were acting unsafely themselves? Better to deal with a few coworkers not masking properly than a few hundred customers a day not masking properly.)

    Also, I feel like the key is not to try and give reasons for keeping the mask on, because that will probably make them feel defensive about it. Just say, “no thanks, I’d rather leave it on” like you’re saying “no thanks” to a cup of coffee or something else you were offered as hospitality. And change the subject if you can.

  31. Biscotti*

    #5 I know this is the unpopular opinion but buy your own headphones. It sounds like they are not going to upgrade you at work. Keep the receipt and take them home with you every night because they are yours, but if they make your job easier and better quality buy the headphones. My theory behind this is that if your work is better and faster then it opens you up to taking on different things and all of this gets you noticed more and more experience and helps you move to the next level. So pay for now what will help you later even if you shouldn’t have to.

    Disclaimer I wish OP’s work would pay for the headphones, I just don’t think they will.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t know if that cost-benefit analysis tracks. OP should drop a few hundred dollars on headphones that will save them, what, a couple minutes a day of wiggling the cord? That’s probably not enough to make a difference in what they get to take on. It’s not going to lead to a raise, in all likelihood.

      1. Biscotti*

        If its just a cord wiggle your right, I was going with since the OP said the work ones were bad quality where the audio goes out and they get frustrated I was thinking it was more than wiggling the cord.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I read it as the audio cuts out (and they have to wiggle it to get sound back) but not that the actual sound quality was bad.

    2. BayCay*

      Op here. I unfortunately am on a really tight budget and do not have the funds to drop a few hundred of my own bucks on work equipment. If the answer is no, I’d have to stay with the company crap-phones.

      1. Observer*

        I agree. There is no reason for you to pay for this. If IT and your boss won’t budge, just keep using the IT issues ones and getting new ones as they go bad.

    3. Observer*

      Disclaimer I wish OP’s work would pay for the headphones, I just don’t think they will.

      You actually don’t have anywhere enough information to say that. The OP hasn’t talked to IT about it yet. Even their boss hasn’t actually said no yet, but step #1 is IT.

      As has been noted, the laptop almost certainly needs to be checked because a USB connection should not start cutting out after 6 months.

  32. Falling Diphthong*

    “Dear OP,
    I wanted to send you an email with a quick check re the meeting in 2 weeks, but realized I wasn’t sure of the traditions surrounding the great celebration of President’s Day–my American colleague tells me that’s when linens go on sale, and I’m not sure what that means for coordinating the Pfefferneusse Account. So please tell me a time this week that would be convenient for me to shoot you a quick email re the timing of this meeting, and I’ll email you then.
    Thanks, Sven”

    OP, do you see how this is inefficient? And do you yourself only email Sven after checking the Swedish public holidays and the time in Stockholm?

    1. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      lmaooooooo ah yes, that age old tradition! I actually was under the impression that president’s day was last week and that was why my trash was picked up a day late. But then it turned out yesterday was President’s Day, so last week’s late trash day is still a mystery.

      My team’s work needs coverage 7 days a week, while some other teams we work with have regular Monday-Friday schedules. I set an OOO for my days off even if they fall on a weekend because a lot of our work does require a same-day response, so I direct them to the shared email account that’s monitored 7 days a week. But if I am working on a Saturday and there’s something a Monday-Friday colleague needs to address, I’m going to send the email even though I know he’s unlikely to look at it until Monday. I will 100% forget if I don’t send the email at the time I think of it.

  33. Sarah Leigh*

    OP1: please do not take the job if you don’t want it. And it sounds like you don’t. You do not need to come up with a list of reasons or justifications. A simple, firm no is all you need to give your neighbor. Also, it sounds like you are living in a rooming house type situation? I actually lived in one for a number of years. It was super affordable, and affordability is hard to find here in New England! It was one large room with a kitchen, a bed, a TV, a desk, a closet, and a chair! I had to share a bathroom with 2 neighbors who also lived on my floor.

    When I first moved in, I did everything I could to try to be “the nice guy” and make a good impression on everyone. Especially since the landlord made it a point to tell me that they had had problems with alcoholics and drug users in the past and they were trying to make sure that I was not like that. So, I tried to be the nice guy and be a friend to everyone. It ended up leading to me being taken advantage of because I was one of very few tenants who had their own vehicle. My neighbor started asking me for rides once in a while and then she started asking me for rides very frequently. And then at one point she even asked to start using my car. I kept coming up with friendly excuses to give her because I did not want to hurt her feelings or sour our relationship. Like you, I lived in a very close proximity to my neighbors and you could pretty much hear everything going on in all the units. I eventually had to put my foot down and it soured the relationship.

    She ended up moving out a few months later, moving in with some guy that she met. She was someone who seemed down on her luck, but didn’t seem to want to do much to improve her situation. Instead, she preferred relying on the rest of us who lived in the building. Your situation rings alarm bells for me because I’ve sort of been through what you’re going through. Please do not give them an inch because they will take a mile. Keep the relationship strictly neighborly from a distance, and do not do not get overly personally involved with these people. There’s a good chance it will make things go downhill, further down the road! Especially since the husband seems to be a loose cannon. Good luck!

  34. Workerbee*

    Reading #1 makes me feel cold rage at whoever or whatever is still perpetuating “Don’t look out for yourself” and its related ilk to make folks like OP, after writing a long list of reasons why “No!” is the answer (and where even just one item on that list would warrant the same “No!”), STILL is unsure of their own instincts + blaring reasons.

    1. Daisy Gamgee*

      I was just trying to figure out how to write this comment, and I heartily agree with every word. LW#1, you’re not “making excuses”, you’re quite sensibly listing reasons why this job, and this entanglement with your neighbor, won’t work for you. Just because someone offers you something doesn’t oblige you to accept it.

  35. LilPinkSock*

    OP #3: The simplest solution here is probably to just not check emails when you’re not working. Disable notifications on your mobile devices so you’re not getting pop-ups at all hours, etc. If you’ve got an international team, asynchronous communications are just part of life! I found it helpful to remind my overseas colleagues when I was about to be ooo for a US holiday. It cut down a little on my inbox, but was mostly helpful as a reminder that response times would be even longer.

    I wonder if Sven ever receives emails during his holidays and off-hours?

  36. BA*

    OP3 I’ve read some of the comments thus far and want to say this… It isn’t just a “you” problem. It is an “us” problem. Because we can check messages at any time, any place, we do. We shouldn’t feel like we have to. But it is there and so many workplaces have conditioned their workforce to believe that everything is time sensitive and mission critical. So you’re certainly not the only one who is struggling with this. Taking the international factors out, it is possible that someone sends you an email at 10pm when you’re brushing your teeth and putting on jammies. You don’t need to feel compelled to answer. Hell, you don’t even need to feel compelled to read it. So don’t. If someone needed your immediate response, they’ll find another way to reach you.

    The issue isn’t the different time zones, different hours, and holidays. The issue isn’t that people are sending emails at times you’re not working. The issue is that we (not just you) are allowing email to control how we live our lives. I would strongly advise you to just turn off notifications on your phone. If you aren’t hearing a ding every time a message comes through, you will feel less compelled to check it. And if you must have it on your phone, then force yourself to not check your email. Start to change the habit and treat it like you’re quitting smoking, or forming a gym routine. It will be as tough as those things because the reward of the endorphin rush we get from notifications is significant. But if you can break the habit, it will matter significantly less to you that emails are coming in at all times of the day.

    1. Underrated Pear*

      Yes, and I’d like to add to this with some gentle (and unsolicited, I know) advice: not only do most of us not have to check our work email every minute of every day, for the most part we don’t even need to reply immediately even DURING our working hours, and doing so really wrecks productivity and time management. Of course I can’t speak for every job or office culture, but if you are someone who feels the need to reply to every email immediately, see if you can try to change this habit (unless your job is really, truly so time-sensitive that doing so would cause big emergencies). I don’t mean leaving people hanging for days, but see if you can resist the urge to reply to every non-urgent email immediately, instead setting aside a designated 30-60 minutes *a few times per day* to deal with emails. Otherwise you’ll never get focused work done.

  37. ash*

    Um, you were the one who checked your email at 4:00 in the morning on a holiday weekend.

    Put up an out of office message and stop checking your email in the middle of the night. Problem solved.

      1. Siege*

        I have a whole work phone with email on it. It stays in the kitchen (where I work) and I don’t check it outside of work hours. (Though I do sometimes check email on it if I’m running a work errand.)

  38. ash*

    Do people really get notifications on their phones every time they get an email? I get 50-100 emails a day from work. It would be dinging nonstop, mostly with stuff I don’t need to know about urgently!

    1. Bilateralrope*

      Every smartphone I’ve owned has notified me of every email by default. So I revoked the email apps permission to make notifications so I don’t know if there are new email until I choose to check.

      Also the do not disturb setting silences everything except an incoming call during my expected sleeping time.

      1. londonedit*

        I have my personal email on my phone, but I disabled push notifications so my phone doesn’t check for email unless I open the email app. There’s no way I’d have my work email account on my phone, but thankfully I don’t have a job that requires me to be available outside of my working hours.

      2. rubble*

        I haven’t got any email apps installed on my phone for exactly that reason. I use the mobile browser version instead. no notifications by default!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I sure as heck don’t. I don’t get work email on my phone and don’t want to. I set up my phone not to alert me in any way of personal email messages. That would be extremely distracting.

    3. anonymous73*

      I keep my phone on silent so it would be less annoying, and I also turn off the notifications for my work email when I’m not on the clock. I don’t get as many emails as you, but I’m always tempted to check something when I see it. I don’t expect people to adhere to MY schedule and only send things when I’m working.

    4. Nanani*

      Suggestions for those who do:
      -Do not disturb app so nothing gets through after bed time without you remembering to turn your phone off
      -Filters/tags/labels on incoming mail so only certain rare and important things get through
      -Keep your phone on silent so you don’t notice notifs anwyay

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        I love the Do Not Disturb feature. You can also set it for certain people to get through (if you have to worry about a person being able to contact you like a relative or friend) or for people to get through if they call twice in quick succession. I’ve let the important people in my life know about this setting in case they have an emergency–since I’m usually very responsive to text. It’s made a huge difference in my quality of rest.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I won’t install Outlook on my work computer, let alone my phone, due to the volume of emails that are sent to my inbox. Maybe 5% of them are actually useful.

    6. ArtK*

      Yup. This is one of the two reasons I don’t have work e-mail on my cell phone; yes I could partially manage the notifications, but that’s just additional annoyance. The other is that if I sign up for the corporate e-mail, that gives them the right and ability to wipe my phone remotely, if *they* think it’s been compromised. I don’t want some IT person accidentally clicking the wrong entry in the database and wiping my phone when it should have been someone else’s.

    7. Alexis Rosay*

      I only check work email on my work computer. If I’m traveling for work, I may enable it on my phone just for the trip and then remove it later. I just don’t see the need to get work updates on my phone.

      In fact, I used to get work email on my phone but that actually lead to me missing more things. I would think “oh I’ll respond to this on my computer later” and then forget. Not to mention I had a harder time actually focusing at work because I was exhausted and burned out.

    8. just another bureaucrat*

      I worked with someone who did this, I did eventually talk her down off the every single email and every single chat message ledge but it took while. And I know she gets hundreds.

  39. nOOO*

    Don’t set your out-of-office autoresponse for overnights and weekends. Don’t spam people with “I’m not here right now!” when they’re just sending normal email according to normal processes. What benefit could that possibly serve at all, much less to outweigh the annoyance of spamming?

    No one reasonable expects email monitoring 24/7, and you should never cater to unreasonable people. Save OOO for lengthy or unexpected absences.

  40. anonymous73*

    #3 I send emails when I’m working and when I think about the task I need to get done, regardless of the recipient’s schedule. IME email is generally understood to be less urgent than say an IM or a phone call. I’ve emailed people knowing they’re on vacation and had them respond. If you can’t resist the urge to check and respond to emails when you’re off, that’s a YOU problem, not a Sven problem, ESPECIALLY if you’re working with people in many different time zones.
    #5 I’ve found that if you need a piece of equipment for your job, that job will generally supply cheap versions of that equipment. You can ask for the more expensive headphones, but be prepared to be told no. I’ve sometimes bought my own stuff based on personal preference.

  41. Dr. Rebecca*

    LW4, nooooo, do not. Academia is its own little incestuous world, and people have long memories. Don’t burn the cultural capital you’re building in this position to tell him something he probably already knows and truly doesn’t care to hear. Just do your job well, and get out of higher ed as soon as possible.

    1. LW4*

      “Own little incestuous world” This made me cackle because it’s so true! I’m eager to say goodbye to higher ed for good.

      Thanks for the advice!

  42. Carlie*

    I actually often hate it when I email people late at night or on other off times and they respond quickly! I’m doing it then because I finally have time, and I’m anxious to get it all crossed off of my list and be clear for the next work . It’s incredibly dispiriting to get to the end of a long list of emails, think I’m done and then reset the screen back to my inbox to find… a bunch of new emails.

    1. ash*

      I hear you, but I bet they are thinking the same thing! As soon as I send my later in the evening emails I turn off the computer!

      1. Carlie*

        True! I suppose it’s the work equivalent of “You hang up first.” “No, you hang up first.” “You’re still here!” “You too.”

    2. LizABit*

      Eh, maybe that’s when the recipient also has time to respond or they’re checking off their list, too? Anyway, this seems easily fixable if your email program (such as Outlook) allows for scheduling emails.

  43. Missouri Girl in LA*

    LW3-Even in the United States, not all Federal holidays are treated the same way. The public agency I work for does not recognize President’s Day but because I work with Federal agencies, I understand they do. In fact, I had a meeting change because of the President’s Day holiday and that’s ok. And, to top it off, I’m in South Louisiana where we get Mardi Gras as a holiday (along with Mississippi and Alabama-I believe) and Good Friday is a holiday, too. When I lived in Texas, Good Friday wasn’t a holiday. It can vary from state to state or region to region.

  44. Just Me*

    OP1/LW1 Do not under any circumstances work with your next door neighbor. My fiancee’s dad made his next door neighbor his business partner about 15 years ago and it was a total disaster–she’s manipulative, petty, tells doctor clients vaccines are a hoax, etc. This has carried over into their relationship as neighbors (she will send surveyors over to his house from time to time to reevaluate the property line) and now that he’s retired, she controls the business and how he receives payouts. And he can never escape it because she lives next door. Run!

  45. anonymous73*

    #1 – you haven’t given any reasons to accept the job. Say you appreciate her thinking of you but no. You don’t need to give her specific reasons, just provide a generic “it’s not a good fit”. And stop walking on eggshells with your neighbor. As long as you’re polite and follow any rules of the complex, you don’t need to be close to your neighbors if you don’t want to. It sounds like “close knit” is really “all up in your business”. And if they don’t like you, that’s okay. I have lived in about a dozen different places (apartments, condos, townhouses, single family) and have never had more than a polite “hello in passing” type of relationship with any of my neighbors. Sometimes you find someone you click with if you have things in common, but there’s not a written rule that says you have to be friends with your neighbors no matter how physically close your doors happen to be.

  46. Fully Licensed Llama Groomer*

    #4 – I wonder if your mentor is also being careful in what they say before they know where you stand? I once interviewed a person who came from a company that I knew was a hot mess. When I asked why she was looking to transition to our company, her very careful and delicate wording of the situation was so well put that I knew I was correct in my thoughts about her company. I ended up hiring her and we worked together very well.

  47. Salad Daisy*

    While WFH my cat chewed through the cord on my expensive headset. No problem, IT just gave me another one. Also gave me a new keyboard when I spilled soda on the old one.

    BTW I am more careful now!

    A craftsperson is only as good as their tools. This is the cost of doing business for a company.

  48. Not Elizabeth*

    Re #3 — I seem to recall reading (years ago, when email was still a fairly new thing) that people in the US tended to think of email as a substitute for a phone call, so they expected instantaneous responses, whereas people in Europe thought of email as a substitute for a letter, so they didn’t. If that’s the case, I would say the Europeans have the better approach, and we’d all do well to adopt it.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Maybe that was true when email was new, but I don’t think it’s true now. We have the “urgent” flag to indicate that we do need a response ASAP, because that’s otherwise not the default assumption.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        Possibly depends on the person and the place. I see it the European way. If I need something now, I’ll call or IM. But I’ve run across quite a few people who feel like an email means they have to drop everything and answer that very instant. And not because of memory issues… they just feel this invisible pressure… like the sender is staring at their screen, willing a reply to arrive at any second. Funny thing is they have all been different ages and tech-skill levels…. so I have no idea what the common factor is.

        1. Forrest*

          God, the JOY of an email is, “hooray, that’s off my desk, now I don’t have to think about it until someone gets back to me”. The disappointment when they get back to me immediately and I have to think about it again!

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I really don’t think that’s an accurate generalization.
      There are people who expect instant responses, but it is by no means a universal expectation.

  49. Bucky Barnes*

    “(b) a place that penalizes a candidate for leaving a mask on in a large group is giving you valuable information about how they navigate serious crises like pandemics, something that will be highly relevant to you if you end up working there.”

    Alison, I can’t tell you enough how much I appreciate it when you reiterate that interviews go both ways. I haven’t had to interview in several years but this is so valuable. Thanks for this.

  50. Antilles*

    I live in a state where most people don’t wear masks, there hasn’t ever been a governmental mask mandate, you rarely see people wearing them even in public places, etc. We put on masks when visitors come to the office, but just like that company, we basically leave it up to the visitor to take the lead on whether we remove our masks or not.
    And even with that context, nobody holds it against anyone who does keep their mask on – even though it means we’re wearing masks when we otherwise wouldn’t be, most people just shrug it off as your choice.
    So I really think you’re totally fine wearing a mask if that’s what makes you feel comfortable. Even if the company doesn’t normally wear masks and people don’t like wearing them, reasonable people aren’t going to downgrade your candidacy because of it.

  51. RSJN*

    LW 1, you don’t have to take this job offer from your neighbor. Just say you’re not interested. If she continues to ask, either ignore her, or change the subject. Or even be firm and tell her you said you’re not interested. I know it’s difficult to do at first, but she’s overstepping by offering you a job that you never indicated you wanted. Her husband already started nit picking with you so think about if you want to be so intertwined with her-she will probably be talking about your work performance with him.

    Also, please allow me to caution you against being too close to your neighbors in general. Treat neighbors like coworkers, they’re not your friends. Don’t worry about walking on eggshells or fitting in with their close knit community. You can just give them the “what’s up” head nod and that’s it. Let them all gossip about how rude you and your boyfriend are. Neighbors with poor boundaries are the worst because they live there with you and you can’t get away until you move. So don’t start that with them, trust me on this.

    1. RSJN*

      I also wanted to add that unless the job is under the table, she will have access to your personal info as well, such as date of birth, social security #, boyfriend’s info (if he’s your emergency contact), etc etc. Don’t let neighbors know so much personal info about you.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        Oooh, very good points.

        And I’m with you on the neighbor point. Some kind of alarm company knocked on my door…
        “Hi, I was just over at Mrs. Doubtfire’s home… you know Mrs. Doubtfire, yes?”
        Nope, can’t say that I do.
        “Your neighbor… right there…”
        Oh, is that her name?
        “Yes… well, surely you know Mr. Belvedere across the street?”
        *shakes head*
        “Oh… well are you interested in blah blah.”
        I’m sorry, no.
        “And I suppose you don’t have any neighbors you can recommend?”
        I have no idea who anybody is.
        “New to the neighborhood, huh?”
        Nope, been here for years. Have a good day!

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think that asking is overstepping by any means.

      I want to push back against this a bit:

      Also, please allow me to caution you against being too close to your neighbors in general. Treat neighbors like coworkers, they’re not your friends.

      Neighbour relationship depend entirely on the people involved. They can be friends, strangers, acquaintances, pretty much anything.

      1. Despachito*

        You are both right.

        I think the point is that no one should think there is an OBLIGATION for your neighbors to be your friends solely due to the physical proximity. Friendship CAN develop according to people involved, but absolutely does not HAVE TO.

        (I prefer the casual “hello” relationship because I dread boundary overstepping, and I reckon that it must be much more difficult to curb an overstepper who is also your neighbor. I am possibly missing on some great potential friendship; I have friends with good neighbors who are worth their weight in gold, but I have also friends with very unsavoury ones. Be what it may, I prefer the more distant approach.)

  52. The Wizard Rincewind*

    My general rule is if it’s a reasonable expense and you use it for work, at least ask. The worst they can do (99% of the time) is decline. I needed a printer once work-from-home kicked off and started off asking my boss if the company would consider subsidizing the expense (I didn’t need anything fancy, so I didn’t mind paying out part of the price if necessary). I fretted about asking and seeming “needy” but my boss agreed instantly! So go forth, and good luck.

  53. Database Developer Dude*

    Hired by a neighbor in an ORDINARY apartment building is problematic to begin with, but the description of this apartment building seems absolutely abysmal, with the racist husband being the cherry on top. I speak, to some degree, four foreign languages, and there is not enough profanity in my vocabulary to properly express how much the OP should NOT take this job.

    The OP wanting to know about mask etiquette is asking the wrong question. If I’m not comfortable removing my mask in an indoor situation, I will not do so. If someone else objects to me wearing a mask, I’m going to get into some good trouble. I will not remove it, and I will be vocal about it if pushed. At that point, it’s probably a safe bet that I don’t want to work there anyway.

    As an employee, you don’t need to be purchasing things for the workplace out of your own pocket. If work won’t buy it for you, escalate.

  54. Generic Name*

    No. 3: I’ve noticed when I have an outsized reaction to a situation it usually means I didn’t set a boundary when I should have. Boundaries are about you and your responses to people/situations. So it’s not a reasonable boundary to demand that other people only email you during your working hours. You cannot control other people. But you do control you. So a great boundary to have is “I do not look at or respond to emails outside of working hours, especially in the middle of the night”. I suggest either turning off notifications or removing your work email from your phone entirely. If you are receiving work-related messages on a work-issued device, keep it in another room when you sleep/turn it off outside of your working hours.

  55. Nancy*

    LW1: just say thank you but you are not interested. You clearly son’t want the job so there is no need to consider it.

    Lw2: if there is no requirement then wear a mask or don’t, depending on what you prefer.

  56. hamburke*

    I was arranging a new workflow with a client that would involve commenting on a shared Google sheet. Client was concerned that I would be bothered on my day off (Tuesdays) by email alerts and then very surprised that I had turned that feature off years ago. Different people work differently but I would be very bothered and distracted by email alerts! I even have my phone go into dnd for everything at 9pm.

  57. Alexis Rosay*

    LW4, I worked with someone I suspect of being a real-life sociopath. They were the worst coworker I’ve ever had. However, they were incredibly charming and for YEARS after they were finally fired I had to hear both clients and more distant colleagues reminisce about how great this person was. I just had to grit my teeth and remind myself that they unless they worked closely with this person they had no chance of seeing the “real them”. You should do the same; you’ll only make yourself look bad by badmouthing your former coworkers, however justified (and it sounds very justified—I’m aghast that someone would protest not being able to sleep with students, that’s outrageous).

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I’ve worked with people who are on the surface very charming and affable. They’re attractive and charismatic even. But having worked closely with them, I know they are problematic for various reasons. Sexual harassment, questionable ethics, mediocre at best at their jobs, etc. Some people seem to be snowed by their charm that they either don’t see or they ignore their unsavory qualities. It’s honestly a bit weird to me. So I’m always cautious whenever I talk about having worked with these guys. I always sound upbeat when I say, “yeah, I worked with Sal when he was at Company”, but I never say anything beyond that.

  58. StoneColdJaneAusten*

    LW3- I took on a bunch of new job duties the week before Christmas and thus worked Christmas Eve when folks in my company didn’t have to. (I know, I know “take your PTO” but this felt different because of the new job) I felt extremely weird e-mailing people in my company to ask questions, pass on completed tasks or do anything else that made it clear that I was working. I kept thinking “sure, it’s a asynchronous in theory, but my work e-mail comes to my phone, doesn’t most people’s?”

    I hope I didn’t cheese anybody off the way this letter writer got cheesed off. At least it was only one day.

  59. mimifrog*

    I work in the UK for an American firm that has offices in Asia and Australia. I get emails around the clock. It would drive the OP batty.

    I did once have someone on the West Coast send me an email around 11pm GMT. Two hours later when I hadn’t responded they sent another to a manager in the US complaining that I refused to answer their super important email.

  60. Miss Muffet*

    Working with your neighbor ….
    I worked for my next door neighbor for a couple of years, but they weren’t a total nightmare like all the reasons you are listing. That being said, if someone is considering do this under more “normal” circumstances, here’s what I learned from it.
    It was not always easy. We made it work, but it took some time for us to finagle the boundaries. No home-talk at work (ie, can your child babysit ours on Friday?) and no work-talk over the fence at home (because I want to leave it there). That took a couple of months. Also, it got a bit tricky when one of the people I managed thought that I had gotten the job because I was the neighbor (I hadn’t, it was competitive) and that caused a bit of friction. So just some things to consider if this is ever something people are looking at doing.

  61. SaffyTaffy*

    OP1, you seem like a lovely person under a bit of stress right now. If your current job suits you, be proud of that and hold onto that good feeling. If your current job isn’t perfect, but an offered job sounds way worse, honor yourself by saying “no thank you” guiltlessly. You are allowed to turn down job offers.

  62. ___JustNo___*

    OP4, you have my sympathy. I’ve spent 30+ years volunteering in roles that intersect with Higher Ed people at universities. (Think student group mentor / advisor.) There seems to be an unusually high number of folks in this field who will lie to, steal from and try to sleep with the students. Then there are stellar, big-hearted people who put in long hours, really care about the students and can guide them in the way that 18-22 year olds will understand. I hate to say it – but IMHO, this field seems to have people at both extremes and not a lot of people in the middle. My guess is that your mentor only sees one side of your cretin-ish ex-colleagues; they may be good at putting on an act. I would advise caution – continue to say only good things about your former role because this field seems to be a very small world. If pressed, you might say that it was not the best fit for you. Good luck!

  63. Observer*

    #5 – I haven’t read the comments yet, so I could be repeating.

    Talk to IT about your headphones situation. Wired headphones generally work BETTER than wireless, so that’s the fist thing you should be figuring out. If that can’t be fixed, or the headphones are just bad anyway, ask them for another pair of headphones. Point out that the last two pairs went bad quickly so you would like to get X set which are a bit more expensive but should last longer. And if they say “No. This is our standard” consider going up the chain. If that’s not an option or it doesn’t work, take the headphones and keep on having IT replace them. And when you talk to your boss tell her that you don’t have something you can use. Don’t get into explanations with her. You just don’t have the available equipment.

  64. Snaffanie*

    #2 as the US increasingly moves to an individual vs public approach to COVID, you will have to make and respect this decision for yourself. I’m setting myself up as a permanent masker, will schedule meetings I have control over on video conference, won’t take shared lunches, etc. I don’t expect others will necessarily do the same, but I’ll respect them/their choices just as I expect the same for me/mine. I’m highly cautious and risk averse. I don’t expect everyone to be, but I do expect that if I’m not actively trampling on another, my preferences and tolerance will also be accommodated and respected.

  65. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    #1: It sounds like the job is in the food/hospitality industry? If so, she’s probably desperate for workers. Maybe it’ll help to remember she’s not trying to recruit YOU, she’s trying to recruit ANYONE who might possibly be willing to work there.

    I agree with Alison, for the sake of your mental health and the stability of your living arrangement, do NOT take this job.

  66. essie*

    #3 – I echo Alison’s sentiments exactly. OP, I’ve experienced this from the other side and it’s equally annoying – ie, my boss goes on 2 week vacations frequently and gets annoyed if anyone emails her while she’s gone. Evenn if I start the email with “a question for when you’re back,” she seems to think it’s disrespectful that I add more to her plate while she’s gone. (Well, sorry to break it to you – but having emails happens whenever anyone goes on vacation.) It takes so much extra time for me to track everyone’s schedule and make lists for all the emails I need to send once Sally is back from vacation and once Billy is back from his dentist appointment, or once Suzie comes in to the office late after taking care of her sick kid. Tracking my colleague’s schedules and sending emails only during their work hours would be a full time job in and of itself! As someone who regularly gets emails from clients and coworkers alike in different time zones and countries, I am personally not offended if I get an email when I’m off the clock. They know I’ll get to it once my business day starts, vice versa. It all works out!

  67. Mar*

    If LW3 has an iPhone, I’d encourage them to check out the “Focuses” feature. I have a “Work” focuses that cuts out notifications from non-work-related apps during work hours and a “Personal” focus that mutes notifications from Outlook and Teams during my personal time. It can be scheduled and also manually turned on and off. It even helps me remember to clock out on time, as I’ll get a notification when the focuses change. It’s been helpful for me to avoid answering/thinking about work issues when I’m not actually at work.

    I’m sure there is a version of this for Android as well.

  68. Observer*

    #2- I think you’re over thinking and catastrophising a bit here. So far the employer seems to have behaved reasonably around masking. So it seems unlikely that they would get unreasonable about this in the next interview. Having said that, I would do whatever seems the most reasonable to you (depending on the size of the room, number of people, ventilation, whatever). And unless you are desperate for THIS job or ANY job, keep Alison’s advice in mind. Interviewing is a two way street. If they do respond unreasonably to your decision either way, that gives you important information about these folks.

  69. monogodo*

    #1: I once had a manager move in to the same apartment complex that I lived in. She was the Assistant Store Manager when she moved in, but within a few months got promoted to Store Manager. While she was the ASM, I got promoted to Shift Leader. I was taking college classes in the morning, and worked second shift (4p-Midnight). She lived in a different building in the complex, but we had to use the same exit. One morning, on my way to class, I saw her coming from her unit on her way to work. She signaled to me to pull up alongside her car, and proceeded to give me a list of things to do when I got in to work that afternoon.

    Don’t take the job.

  70. CW*

    #1 – Neighbors – this just reminds me of a time when my parents were looking to move. One potential house was for sale on the other side of town. But when my mother asked my father if he wanted that house? He immediately replied “no” without hesitation. The reason? Because that house was right across the street from his boss’s house. No thank you.

  71. Bluephone*

    LW1: girl, no to all of that. You already have a night job, you don’t want to do this job, the $ isn’t great, the commute sucks, and you don’t like the work/field. Even if none of that were true, working for your neighbor when you’re already so enmeshed in each other’s lives, would be dicey.
    You’re not being melodramatic or whatever. You’re very much allowed to say no this job and in face you should. Don’t even go into 5000 reasons why it’s a bad idea. Just politely decline and thank them for thinking of you.

  72. DiplomaJill*

    #5 I was also nickel and dimed over headphones — I had worn out my personal ones and was asking for them to replace them since we’re an open office and it’s so hard to concentrate without them. My boss had to ask for permission. When he came back to me with approval I suggested just ordering the same pair I had worn out —— it turn d out they were $20. All that over twenty bucks :eye roll:

  73. raida7*

    3. Why do coworkers email me when they know I’m not working?

    Mate, they don’t know or care about American holidays – they’ll probably know 4th of July, but that doesn’t mean they’ll remember it or know the timezone that matches up with that date. Unless your company has a policy where emails are *not* to be sent to recipients who are marked as ‘away’ due to holidays/weekends, they did nothing wrong.
    Weekend – their day could start hours ahead or behind yours – have ya ever tried to call an Aussie on a Friday? It’s Saturday morning here already, how important is your bloody call?

    How about you go ahead and learn the local and national holidays for all locations in your company and get a world clock widget showing each date/time as well, and then, once you are a shining example of ‘thinking of others’, you can suggest that nobody emails on holidays – and be told that everyone should not work on holidays, and set Out Of Office auto-replies.

    Turn off phone notifications for emails on weekends and holidays, set Out Of Office auto replies for holidays.

  74. Always Happy*

    I work for a company that has 39 offices in 23 countries, not everyone is on the same timeline or schedule, and I agree with Allison, you need to unplug from your work email!

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