update: my new office has a no-humor policy

Remember the letter-writer who discovered her new office had a no-humor policy? Here’s the update.

I wrote in early last summer about working at a job with a no-joke policy. It’s been about 9 months, and I’m still working there. The no-humor rule is definitely still a thing, but I’ve learned to live with it.

I didn’t engage in the comments because I didn’t have time to read them all until a bit after my letter was published. I so appreciated you and the commenters for assuring me that I was not the crazy one! I thought on it, and ended up deciding that such a serious working environment was not a justifiable reason for me to leave this job; the perks were just too good! Maybe it would have been a dealbreaker for other people, which I totally respect, it just wasn’t enough to make me job search all over again. I forced myself to realize that being serious all day, despite being ridiculous, is a condition of my job and that I should either find the nearest exit or that I should do my best to fulfill this part of my job while I’m here. It worked! It doesn’t make me miserable anymore, mostly because I’m able to really focus on work while I’m here and I get to have friendly conversation again at 5:01pm every day.

I want to answer a few things that were raised in the comments. First is the other coworker who went to HR after hearing my one and only joke. Yeah, it felt really shitty to hear I’d been reported for something so minor, and I appreciated the commenters who brought that up too. I never figured out who it was (though I have a few ideas), and it honestly instilled in me a lesser sense of trust with everyone I work with so early in my tenure here, which sucks.

Second is where this policy originated. A few commenters said it sounds like something that originated from either a very serious prior harassment claim against an employee or a weirdly serious president who mandates this kind of behavior. I don’t think either of those are the case: there’s been nothing to indicate that the former ever occured, and our top bosses have shuffled around a bit since I’ve been here yet the no-joke thing has remained. Based on how I’ve seen this framed in my time here, I think Alison’s original guess was mostly correct. The “no joking at all” seems to be based on the idea that we won’t be taken seriously if we’re goofing off all the time, and that seems really entrenched in the culture here at this point. (Yes, of course, that ignores the tons of offices that have stellar performances while also also allowing their staff to make jokes!) It also seems to have snowballed over the years: while the rule was framed to me as “never makes jokes”, it manifests as more of a “be serious and lack personability all the time.” I really don’t know. I guess everyone who works here gravitates toward a serious working environment, or like me, ended up here on accident and is just putting on a decent poker face.

I am happy to report that there are some benefits though! Since we’re not expected to discuss/focus on anything but work, I don’t have to deal with any interpersonal issues or clingy oversharing colleagues. I don’t necessarily think I’m any more productive, but it’s nice that there are almost no office politics or clashing personalities- we don’t know enough about each other to play favorites! I think when I’m at my next job and inevitably have an overbearing or personally grating colleague, I’ll be aghast just because that element of coworking has been out of my day-to-day for a while at this point.

That being said, that obvious lack of rapport stings some days, and I don’t feel a sense of camaraderie with really anyone I work with. There are a few who seem like they might be fun in a social setting, but I’ll never know because we don’t socialize or even have casual conversations. I never realized how much the occasional office happy-hour or group lunch can bond people, and I’ll never take those for granted when I’m at a different workplace.

Overall, I don’t plan to stay here more than another year. It’s grown my technical and deliverable skills a ton, but the emotional labor involved in NOT ever being emotional is so draining. I find myself always volunteering for external meetings, professional development, and networking opportunities just to engage with other people in a professional setting and ensure my mindset around work stuff isn’t getting too warped. At these, I’ve gotten to chat with a few folks our firm has a working relationship with, and all have seemed surprised at how warm I am one-on-one! I’ve asked a bit about their impression of meeting with our staff, and all have said since our reputation in the industry and our caliber of work products are very good, they’ve assumed our office is kind of a business-first, work hard/play later space. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that we’re actually work hard/play never :).

Last, a few of my friends have been dying to see how my office handles personal occasions like birthdays and holidays, especially now that my first holiday season here is now past us. I can now report that for my birthday, I received a virtual gift card to a restaurant of my choice and an automated congratulatory email with no verbal acknowledgement from anyone. For the holidays, I was understandably very interested to see if this laughless desert has a holiday party- and they don’t! Everyone was allowed to select from a choice of four company-branded gifts to be mailed to their home along with another restaurant gift card, and there was again no acknowledgement in-person that it was the holiday season whatsoever (I didn’t expect to see decorations anyway).

In closing, I want to make it clear: yes it’s super weird that my office doesn’t permit its employees to make jokes! I think it’s weird, and just because I choose to still work here doesn’t mean I’m not constantly baffled at the lack of interpersonal relationships around me. That said, it’s shown me what I do/don’t value in a working environment while I’m still pretty early in my career, which is great! Plus, plenty of content for dinner parties for years to come. Thank you again Alison and all the commenters for reassuring me and helping me through such a confusing time.

{ 466 comments… read them below }

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*


      I am now, also, convinced that OP is in the Bad Place and this is all designed specifically for their torture…

      1. yala*

        All I can think of is Baman’s boss from the old Baman Piderman cartoons on youtube.


    2. Goldenrod*

      Wow, agreed. Everything about that is fascinating. I can definitely see the plus side – the “no holiday party” thing would make me very happy, since I always get roped into planning those, and I dislike that task. I also hate office birthday cards, so that part would be great for me.

      But I love how you put it – “the emotional labor of never being emotional.” That part would be rough!! I use humor as a coping mechanism to basically get through life….and honestly, being instructed NOT to joke around would make me want to do it constantly. Like trying not to laugh in church.

      You have a great attitude about it all, though! :)

      1. ExcelChic*

        My coping method is also humor. This kind of work environment would kill me slowly. I do technical training, and there’s nothing worse than have people just stare at me while I’m teaching. I’d find it so unnerving to not have a small bit of laughter or warm response from anyone.

        I’m glad OP can handle it, and I’m sure it works for some people. But I’d hate every moment of it.

        1. Laura*

          Less silly talk sounds nice, but I would go (probably literally) crazy in that environment. I already tend to second-guess myself and my words, tone, and voice, and considering “could this possibly be taken as relaxed, emotional, humourus, (hyperbolic, understated, sarcastic, …)” for every uttering would quickly become a very destructive 24/7 habit.

          OP, good for you that you’re tougher than I in that regard, but take care!

        2. Kay*

          The worst part would be never reading AAM during the work day… If I was able to to read the comment section and keep my job, all my coworkers would likely think I had some sort of issue that prevented me from drinking properly.

      2. I'm New in Town*

        I also use humor as a coping mechanism. The fact that the “no humor” is a POLICY is what I find difficult to comprehend. I could understand being in an environment where people are more serious and that’s the culture. But this is different and I don’t think I’d be able to do it.

        But kudos to OP for being about to make it work!

      3. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I’m imagining myself trying to abide by this policy and failing miserably. All it would take is chuckling once in a meeting. “What is it, Puttgrass?” “Nothing—sorry. I just thought of something funny. I’ll go ahead and put myself on a PIP. Oh, wait, that was another joke, wasn’t it? What’s that, 10 lashes, now? ARRGH!”

        I’d be fired by lunch.

        1. Overit*

          Me too. Or I woild quit by lunch.

          I just do not have the energy to poker face it all day. Or the ability, frankly.

      4. MigraineMonth*

        I couldn’t handle life without humor; I was cracking jokes while telling my manager that I might have ovarian cancer (though I’ve recently learned it’s very unlikely the tumor is malignant). Also, I’m on the ‘project that never ends’; I’m either going to laugh or scream on a weekly basis, and I know which I’d prefer.

        I understand having professional boundaries at work, but I can’t imagine spending all day working with people who I know almost nothing about.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Agreed! I would love for OP to continue to update us with observational accounts of how this no humor policy plays out in practice. It’s so interesting learning about the variety of ways that humans can operate. I feel like a sociologist, or an explorer stumbling upon a previously unknown world!

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      If I ever write a sci-fi novel, I hope the OP and Alison won’t mind that I borrow some themes from this.

          1. Drag0nfly*

            I thought of the Borg.

            If someone told me, “Our official policy is that We Are Not Amused,” the first thing out of my mouth would be to ask if they were supposed to be the Borg.

          2. NotAManager*

            Literally my main thought was, ‘In order to cope with this environment, I’d have to go to work pretending to be a Vulcan to make it through the day.’

          3. Reluctant Mezzo*

            No, Klingons laugh (it’s just Worf who doesn’t). Now, Klingons laugh at catching a severed head in their laps at a tournament, which for me would depend on whose head, but they do laugh!

      1. MBK*

        Scenario: A workplace where once per year on their hire anniversary, each employee gets to choose:

        1) Tell one joke. If it makes anyone senior to you so much as smirk, you get a raise and a promotion. If not, you’re fired.
        2) Decline to tell a joke. Stay in the same job with the same responsibilities for another year until you get to choose again.

        (Variation 1a: If you get the promotion, the higher-up who smirked first/biggest gets fired and you get their job.)

      2. Good Vibes Steve*

        I’m picturing an underground Fight-Club type organization, in which members secretly get together in the break room and whisper jokes to each other.
        “The first rule of Humor Club is we don’t joke about Humor Club”

        1. Camellia*

          “The first rule of Humor Club is we don’t joke about Humor Club”

          You win the interwebs for today!

    5. Erin*

      +1! I have been wondering how this all played out. Tbh, it sounds like the OP has a really healthy perspective on it. I would lol so bad if I was attending a dinner party, and someone could detail their experience with a humorless office! I mean, how does one get through a day sans memes in the group chat??

      I really love the updates from previously posted letters! Please keep ‘em coming!

  1. Silence please*

    Sounds like a work place that would appeal to many, me included. I’m sorry it’s not your thing.

    1. Spearmint*

      I don’t know. I am someone who prefers a relatively more serious work environment with less chit chat, and even I would feel stifled in such an extreme environment like the LW describes.

      1. Meep*

        This. I am frequently interrupted by people wanting to bounce ideas off of me and talk through every little thing they do. I could live without that. The occasional talk of anime after a long week on a Friday afternoon is cathartic.

        1. Eliza*

          Yeah, I prefer to stay focused on my work and keep my personal life private, but there’s a wide gulf between that and “no jokes or chitchat, at all, ever”.

      2. Clisby*

        Same. I’m fine with the minimal birthday/holiday stuff, and wouldn’t mind in the slightest if there was nothing in that vein. Same with office happy hours and group lunches (unless these are groups that have naturally gravitated to each other, as opposed to team lunches.) Ditch those.

        The complete lack of tolerance for any humor? No, that would bother me. Granted, it would not bother me nearly as much as a place that expected us to go out on team-building activities, or to talk about our mental states, or any of that nonsense.

        1. Miss Muffet*

          The fact that the first tattle-teller got *HR* involved right off the bat is really something. Surely just a peer or a manager could have said, hey that’s just not done here.

          1. All the words*

            Well hearing about how much difficulty they had in saying basically “adopt Vulcan-like demeanor at all times”, I can see why they had HR involved. This is extreme. It sounds soul crushing to me.

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              I like the idea of framing this job’s expectations as “adopt Vulcan-like demeanor at all times.” I can actually think of much worse things than pretending to be a Vulcan all day.

              Not saying I’d love this, mind you, just that I think I could make it work by thinking of it that way.

          2. Alpacas are not a Dairy Animal*

            I wonder if the thinking is that having that conversation would be too much like establishing a personal relationship/non-work-related fraternization if it wasn’t done through Proper Channels.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Yeah, with the further explanation OP has given, that seems like a reasonable possibility.

          3. Greg*

            In the tattler’s defense, if I started a new job and a colleague pulled me aside and said I was never allowed to tell a joke, there is zero chance I would believe them. So maybe the policy is so ridiculous that it requires HR to convince people of its authenticity.

      3. MusicWithRocksIn*

        I would find everyone trying so hard to be serious to be hilarious and might actually burst into laughter if I got an email about a holiday no one acknowledged -so I would be a terrible fit.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I have a bad feeling it would make me so antsy that it would trigger my inner natural clumsiness and I’d be performing inadvertent slapstick, quite possibly so often HR would think I was trying to get around the “no joking” thing.

          1. Darsynia*

            This is what I was thinking but verbally! I’m really ‘extra’ and I feel like people at this particular office wouldn’t take my natural reactions as genuine in an environment like this!

        2. Galadriel's Garden*

          The birthday thing reminded me of Dwight Schrute’s IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY. sign from The Office…it has that sort of vibe to it!

      4. Sharkie*

        I’m sorry but no. I always keep my coworkers at an arms length, but we are humans and sometimes they say or do things that are just funny in the moment. What OP describes is a complete lack of allowing people to have a personality! What they described is way too extreme.

        1. Drag0nfly*

          Same for me. I think I would actually get fired in this environment just because of my natural speaking style. People often crack up because of my tone, delivery, or just straight up the words themselves.

      5. The Original K.*

        Me too. I have made friends at work but don’t specifically go to work to make friends, but no humor ever? Getting literally written up for laughing? I couldn’t do it. It sounds like a very cold place.

      6. KoiFeeder*

        Yeah, this would be difficult for me, and I’ve had to tell people that I can emote to their specifications or do my work but not both. Even I’m willing to make a good copier joke on occasion.

      7. DCDM*

        Yes, there’s definitely a mental difference between “don’t” and “can’t”. A humorless office because people are naturally serious at work is one thing, but to have it policed is a very different vibe

      8. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Agreed. Having it be mandated and enforced with such a heavy hand is a metric ton of pressure that I really don’t need all day.

      9. Allegra*

        For me it’s the part the OP highlights about how tiring it is to self-censor all feelings (“the emotional labor of not being emotional”) that would completely do me in. If I can’t even make a light comment without getting reported to HR, I’d be second-guessing and policing literally everything I say or type. There’s a difference between preferring a serious professional environment without chitchat or forcing relationships and…reporting someone to HR for less than ten self-deprecating words.

        1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

          I’m late to comment so I’m not sure if anyone ever sees this, but whatever. I think you described exactly what would be my problem in this environment. Light comments are a big part of what we’ve learned about how to be friendly and nice to other people, and not doing it at all is such a big change to the usual way of communicating, that I don’t think I’d ever dare to open my mouth. I would be so scared that something I say would be counted as humor or otherwise too personal. I’m not a fan of workplaces where you’re expected to tell everyone everything about your personal life, but this one is just too much!

      10. Rose*

        Yeaaa, I’m all for less chit chat and more efficiency (so I can get home and chit chat and make jokes w my husband tbh) but any job that will BRING IN HR for a first time, five second, mildly humors remark is not going to appeal to “many” people, except for in the very broad sense that there are 7 billion people on this planet and you can find a few thousand people that are pro-anything.

    2. Kit*

      I think it could appeal to me but it’s absolutely not something that should be sprung on new hires. This should be mentioned in the interview stage.

      1. Cuddleshark*

        Yes, I went back and read the original, and it seems like if that’s their understood policy, it should be a written policy and told to prospective new hires ASAP as opposed to WAITING for them to make their first joke, clutching pearls, and only then telling them they must not ever do that again. What a strange way to handle an already-strange policy.

        1. Wolfie*

          +1 It’s SO weird to not explain this policy and then to react by involving HR. Suggests they’ve genuinely forgotten what normal humans at work are like. How does this not happen to EVERY new starter? Maybe it does. Maybe that’s their MO (in which case LW can stop worrying about it because being reported to HR is just protocol around here!).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          So agree. I would be out of there so fast. My ability to trust would be gone. “So let me get this straight. You don’t tell me there is a policy against jokes. When I violate a policy that I do not know about you drag in HR right away? In order for me to continue working here I need all such policies in writing so I can acquaint myself with these policies.”

          I almost fear that OP will be blindsided by more such policies for the rest of her stay. I have a very low tolerance for the “read my mind and guess what you have done wrong now policy”.

          In order to appear more professional they have made themselves look a lot less professional. I can picture after employees leave this place they keel over in horror when some one cracks a joke or even smiles in the new place.

      2. Amaranth*

        I’m trying to imagine what questions I’d ask if they stated in the interview that office celebrations and joking around aren’t allowed and if that would even give me an accurate picture. What do you think they could put in a job listing to weed out people who would run the other way after the first interview? I’m guessing ‘no sense of frivolity allowed’ wouldn’t fly.

      3. Anna*

        That’s what I was thinking, too! It is fine, but people should definitely be warned. I temped for a year in a “silent office space” and they were very, very clear at the interview/onboarding that it was an office where there could be no audible conversation since they knew that was very unusual and could be difficult for people. (It was a translation company so everyone’s job was focused on reading and writing, and they set us all up with messaging apps that we could use to chat. I got used to it and even kind of liked it, but the no joking would really bum me out.)

      4. Ally McBeal*

        Could not agree more. I tend toward humor maybe more often than I should, and knowing that a workplace has a no-humor-at-all policy would be an instant NO from me. Finding out after being hired sounds like a bait and switch. I once interviewed at Bridgewater Associates, infamous for its absolutely nutso founder and its paranoid culture (employees are encouraged to report each other for any little thing, including offhand comments), and even though I didn’t get a callback for round 2, I wouldn’t have chosen to move forward even if I had been offered a second round. I spend 9 hours a day at my job, I’m not capable of or willing to sacrifice my personality for that length of time.

        1. David*

          Y’know, I think I’ve known a few people who work at Bridgewater (or did at the time I knew them better – this is going years back), and from what I hear even their work environment doesn’t sound as clamped-down as what this letter writer describes.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            Yeah, I got the sense that humor WAS allowed at Bridgewater – I don’t remember how I got that sense but presumably the interview didn’t throw up any red flags about humor – but the “report each other” thing felt a little like the Red Scare to me. I was already skeptical about the company culture and was glad to know my suspicions were easily confirmed.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Well this is what happens in the absence of humor. All that is left is for people to just report each other. Actually, this environment sounds a bit frightening to me.

    3. WellRed*

      I just reread the original letter and couldn’t make it all the way through without screaming in horror and frustration. It’s like a bad sci-fi movie.

      1. __ID__*

        Me too. I’m off the chart extrovert who lives for work humor, including the occasional bad pun-fest. Of course that’s not for everybody.

        What concerns me is what if someone receives bad news at work, and runs out the door crying to the death bed of a relative? Because that happened to me. Not loudly blubbering, mind you, but anyone who saw me would’ve known I was upset. Does a human reaction like this elicit another meeting with HR? Can’t imagine it. Good luck, OP!

        1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

          Oh yeah I actually really want an answer to this question. Mirth, sure, who needs it (eye roll), but what about some massive, sad life event? Are you going to get reprimanded by HR for finding out that a loved one died while at work?

          1. jaykayjaykay*

            As someone who literally had that happen–the “finding out a loved one died while at work,” fortunately not the “reprimanded for emotions”–this office sounds like absolute hell, because I guarantee there would be at least an email about “better self regulation and control.” ick.

        2. quill*

          Yes, I begin to wonder if people are reprimanded for having a visible expression of mild frustration, confusion, or pain. It seems like it’s not a place that accepts that life happens.

    4. Language Lover*

      I think it’d appeal to me too but only after I feel a connection or “approved” by my bosses/colleagues. While not a perfect science, some of that is through chit chat.

      But after? I do feel like less for me is more. I kind of feel like this is the environment I have at work in the pandemic where I stick to my office more often than I used to when I’m not working from home.

    5. ElizabethJane*

      I cannot honestly think of a single person who actually wants to work at a workplace where offhand completely harmless jokes are reported to HR by people passing by.

      I can get the argument for a work-focused environment and in some regards that part is appealing. But really – you want to work somewhere where “Send a search party if I can’t figure out the copy machine!” is reportable to HR?

      1. MK*

        I am pretty sure I remember an OP who resented having to say “hi, how are you?” or “good morning” to their colleagues, because it felt inauthentic since they didn’t actually care. And a lot of people in the comments took their part.

        1. ElizabethJane*

          I can see an environment that doesn’t encourage small talk or joking but anything that has a nanny-state like behavior where you can be reported for being a human being is too much.

          Also I’d argue that anyone who resents basic human niceties should go live their edgelord life on the fringes of society and when things go wrong they don’t get to take advantage of being in a community.

          1. MK*

            My point is, people who appreciate this kind of environment exist. Probably more than we know, because many of them would realize saying “I find saying goodmorning to you a chore” isn’t socially acceptable and keep their attitude quiet.

            1. Heffalump*

              Unless you’re Tiger Mike, in which case you can send a memo saying, “… I don’t want to ruin [my throat] by saying hello to all of you sons-of-bitches.”

          1. Filosofickle*

            Alison posted a few times about feeling some commenters way way out of the norm and she didn’t want that kind of sentiment to be normalized or to take over the comments. That may have discouraged some of it.

        2. Nobby Nobbs*

          Wasn’t there one who asked for advice on a politeness culture clash in a workplace somewhere in the South or Midwest, and it came out in the comments that they just didn’t like saying “please” and “thank you?” I guess it takes all types.

        3. Your Local Password Resetter*

          But even they didn’t want to reprimand people over it, or turn that into company policy.

      2. Usagi*

        I’m with you. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m definitely a jokester, but even my most serious colleagues/friends/acquaintances likely wouldn’t want it to go that far.

      3. Coenobita*

        The reporting/HR involvement is where I draw the line, too! I’m sure there are plenty of people who would be cool with an all-business type of environment – it’s not for me, personally, but that’s fine.

        What’s NOT fine is the fact that someone anonymously reported OP’s first, completely innocuous joke to HR (resulting in a very serious, closed-door meeting) instead of anyone just telling her what the office expectations were!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          That’s where I fall.

          In all honesty, most of my jobs have been too boring, stressful, or dealing with potentially stressful topics for anyone without a sense of humor to survive. Or thrive.

          I can imagine the kinds of workplaces where what the LW describes could work. But I’ve never worked in those fields.

        2. EPLawyer*

          All business is one thing. No jokes ever, no chitchat, having it noticed by outside people you work with that you are actually friendly in person? No. That is taking it too far. They have warped the “all business” into “we are robots who do our jobs and nothing else.”

          Although its sounds like they are not expected to work overtime since the OP says she gets to joke around at 5;01. So there is something to be said for being able to leave RIGHT AT 5 EVERY DAY without it being a hassle. But not enough to make up for the rest. I agree with OP, the stress and strain of not being a normal human being all day every day gets to be a bit much. I wonder what the turnover is like?

      4. River Otter*

        Think of how often we tell letter writers that it is a kindness that a boss is correcting their behavior. You may disagree on the workplace’s culture, but having a sit down chat with somebody regarding what the culture is and how they should behave is an investment in their success in the role.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          There’s a sit down chat, and then there’s filing a report with HR. What *should* have happened is that OP’s boss took them aside and filled them in on the “no joke no matter how small is ever acceptable here.” That is not what happened here.

        2. Sweet Christmas!*

          A sit down chat with one’s boss on the first day of work outlining workplace expectations, or even a quick follow-up sync to be like “I’m sorry we forgot to communicate this to you, but we don’t joke around here”? Maybe.

          Calling me into a meeting with HR present on my first day because I made a joke, which is socially acceptable literally anywhere else in the world? No, that’s not a kindness. Context matters.

        3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          Context matters, formality matters, the degree of transgression matters.

          The congruity of the message, the messenger, and the medium all matter as well.

        4. Not So NewReader*

          Any time I have supervised people my goal was to tell them what was expected BEFORE they made the mistake. I guess this place doesn’t do that.

      5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I don’t know how people could manage coding SNAFUS, hardware mayhem, and they vast, rich, quirkiness of external stakeholders without humor. How do you not crack a joke about the programming language when you are vexed? My other reactions would be tears or yeeting my laptop into the sun. Or does everyone just go to the parking lot/outside at 5:01 pm and primordial scream?

        1. Koalafied*

          Agreed. The old chestnut about “sometimes you have to laugh because if you didn’t you’d cry” is practically the subtitle of my job.

      6. NotAnotherManager!*

        This. I’m an introvert, but a total inability to make jokes or be anything but Totally Serious would suck massively. My office can be very stressful and the ability to crack jokes or engage in some gallows humor with peers can lessen the tension. Humor can be a good ice breaker and help build relationships with workers.

        Being reported to HR for having a sense of humor is insane.

        1. Koalafied*

          Fellow introvert here, and same. I have a lower than average capacity for the duration of time I can spend on social interaction, I rarely attend happy hours or office parties, and a day without any “pop-by” office visits or unscheduled phone/video chats that could have been literally a single 3 sentence email sounds like a dream.

          I also probably crack more jokes than most people on my team, emphatically value having warm relationships with my coworkers, and participate in a lot of the “extracurricular” Slack channels to talk about music or gardening or share pet photos with my colleagues, which is more my speed since they’re mostly asynchronous conversations that move slowly enough I can drop in once or twice a day to chime in when it’s convenient for me.

          Socializing and blowing off steam aren’t a problem for me as long as I have an adequate amount of focused solo work time to balance it out.

    6. MK*

      Yes. AAM has had tons of letters over the years from people wanting to avoid holiday parties/birthday celebrations/retirement or leaving lunches/any kind of socializing at work, even some who would rather do without any kind of chat with colleagues. I am guessing there are people who would find this atmosphere relaxing, not stifling, and many who would think the pros outweigh the cons.

    7. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      At one point when I was working on the Hellmouth, Hell Boss (towards the end of her tenure) specifically ordered us to not speak at all unless it was 100% about work. Period. It was miserable for everyone (except, presumably, Hell Boss).

    8. Critical Rolls*

      I don’t know. It’s a lie that we should bring our “whole selves” to work, but even very business-focused, no chit-chat people probably want bring their human selves and not be expected to be robots. And the Orwellian level of scrutiny is definitely not healthy — Reported! to HR! for an offhand joke about the COPIER! And they SAT HER DOWN FOR A SERIOUS TALK (not that there’s any other kind there!)!

        1. Amaranth*

          Oh you with the evil user name, I failed at passing the cookie stand outside the bank yesterday and now you’ve reminded me of the contents of my freezer.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        Reported to HR by someone passing-by even. Like the person doing the reporting was not involved in the initial joke. That level is bananacrackers.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Sci-Fi fanfic: It was actually the copier that reported the LW because it felt it was a personal attack. Poorly performing employees get turned into Inhuman Resources a la some combination of Black Mirror and Laundry Files

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Yes! This is pretty much the opposite of the “bring your whole selves” approach! I’m not a fan of the “whole selves” idea either (work has no right to my personal life), but this is waaaay too far in the other direction. I’d like to bring at least part of myself to work, please!

        It makes me think of the M*A*S*H episode where Hawkeye goes 24 hours without making a joke, to win a bet. He turns into the most boring person imaginable, afraid even to use so much as a metaphor or witty turn of phrase for fear of being accused of joking. That would be me at this company.

    9. Despachito*

      I am actually working in a similar mode (jokes are not banned, and I occasionally even crack one, but I have been remote for almost 20 years and I do not even know how my coworkers look like, so when I do joke, I do it in writing.) No birthdays, parties whatsoever… but frankly, I do not miss it.

      My perk is that I am on my own, and if I get distracted it is not by other people but just myself. For me, it outweighs the lack of communication.

      So I think I might appreciate an atmosphere which is concentrated rather on work than on distractions. Of course what OP described is waayyy over the top – one thing is that things are naturally quieter, and a completely different one that humor is officially banned, and what I’d be royally pissed about would be the snitching coworker . I find this extremely stupid and mean (even if there IS such a policy, which I find weird, they should acknowledge it is not normal and warn the new person beforehand)

      1. sofar*

        Yeah, I’d trade the White Elephant parties and forced holiday merriment and weird balloons on desks for birthdays for a gift card in a HOT SECOND. I’d even be willing to sacrifice the ability to make jokes for that.

    10. Cuddleshark*

      The way the OP has phrased it above definitely make some aspects of it seem appealing (no having to get close to people, make chit-chat, or worry about holidays/birthdays), but on the other hand the absolute zero-tolerance policy (OP getting called into a “step into my office” meeting with their boss and HR after ONE lighthearted remark about the copier!!!) is what’s scary to me. Sometimes your personality just slips through and you can’t help it. Or at least I can’t. I’d probably accidentally make a joke or some off-hand remark once too often and get fired over it.

    11. Beth*

      As much as the idea of minimal workplace politics and avoiding inappropriate behavior is appealing, I don’t think many people would want to get there via this extreme of a policy! It sounds like this isn’t just a ban on jokes, but a strong discouragement of showing much warmth or personality at all.

    12. anonymous73*

      You say that, but might change your tune if you actually worked in an environment like this. Assuming you are not a robot, I can’t see how this would appeal to anyone.

    13. Nanani*

      There are aspects that would have appealed to me but this is extreme even for my “work first” mindset.
      There’s somethign out there for everyone, I guess.

    14. Trawna*

      I agree, Silence. While the “no humor” does sound a bit oppressive, I sure do like the outcomes. It sounds… professional.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        I don’t think humour precludes professionalism, and I don’t think you need this kind of environment to achieve these results. To me it veers way to the other end, conflating normal human emotion and interactions with being unprofessional, and as much as it’s extremely easy for me to get distracted by others, I would never want to work and spend so many hours in that environment.

      2. biobotb*

        See, I think reporting someone to HR for making a mild, non-racist, non-sexist etc. joke is the opposite of professional. Surely professionals could keep calm under those circumstances?

        1. Ally McBeal*

          THIS. Making a joke about someONE is tricky and I wouldn’t fault an organization for banning humor directed at a specific person or group of people. But making a joke about how complicated a copy machine is – that’s like commenting on the weather, everyone does it. The copy machine’s feelings can’t get hurt.

      3. Trawna*

        I said “outcomes”. No fuss acknowledgement of birthdays and holidays. No politics. Get the job done, and get paid well to do it. Bliss.

    15. Annie E. Mouse*

      I’m so torn on this really appealing to me and also being horrified by it. I’ve often said that one of my favorite parts about working from home is that I don’t have to engage in so much meaningless office chatter. It’s really nice to be able to make my coffee without walking into a recap of last night’s bachelorette or fantasy draft projections. But then while I was reading this, one of my teammates pinged me a light-hearted prank and I missed seeing him. Too bad we can’t institute a rule that this only applies to topics and coworkers that we don’t like.

      1. Eliza*

        I’ve found that working from home actually creates an ideal balance for me personally; there’s a reasonably active text chat channel that people use, but when and whether I engage is up to me. It’s still interaction, but with less pressure to be “on” at the right moments compared to face-to-face conversation.

    16. Excel-sior*

      I understand you might like a more serious/less personable work setting, but would you really want to work somewhere where you get called into HR for making one off hand joke about the printer, on the way to the printer?

    17. Quickbeam*

      Me too! I am newly retired and do not miss the constant barrage of birthday cards, boss day gift shakedown, football pools and “fun” events. I’d have loved it without the constant draining social expectations. So I guess there is something for everyone.

    18. alienor*

      It’s the part where any levity is actually punished that’s a step too for for me. I don’t like happy hours and I don’t want to play bean bag toss or giant Jenga at the office (activities I have been required to do in the past) but I also don’t want to be hauled in front of HR if I make a mild joke about the copier. There’s a looooooot of middle ground between those two extremes where my ideal office would land.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Can you imagine ending up with a verbal warning from HR for a joke about a copier? I’d probably end up on a PIP because I would have assumed HR was joking and made another copier joke

    19. tamarack and fireweed*

      You sound a little smug here, given that the workplace as described clearly breaches some basic ethical lines into deeply grey territory.

      And I’m saying this as someone who likes an environment that’s no chit-chat, all-business, and definitely no holiday parties.

    20. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      It’s one thing to have an office that’s naturally full of more serious people and to be freed of social pressure due to that dynamic. That lack of social pressure can be appealing to a lot of people.

      What the LW is describing isn’t exactly free from social pressure for anyone, though. It just shifts the mechanism of that pressure to tone policing through company policy.

    21. Jules the 3rd*

      Me too – I never do much socializing with coworkers, I’m too busy keeping up with my friends.

    22. Anon Supervisor*

      I dunno, knowing that I CAN”T make a joke at work would be weird and getting a talking to by HR for it is just bananas. But being in an environment where people aren’t joke-y and there’s not a lot of interpersonal interaction that occurred organically would be OK.

  2. Sara*

    I am just so amazed that this is just accepted so fully by this company. How bizzare! Good luck keeping your head down and getting what you need out of this place OP. It sounds so draining to be on guard all the time.

    1. The Dogman*

      Not accepted, wanted…

      This is a genius move from a “fire em all” type of managers standpoint.

      Virtually everyone will have a note on file to start the process of PIP then the door for almost and reason the corporation cares to create, and on top of that threat no one is friends so no one is talking about how the corporation is exploiting them.

      Evil genius, but genius really.

  3. Katie*

    Because I AM allowed to laugh and to have a sense of humor, I gotta tell you I chuckled at “laughless desert.” I hope you have lots of laughs in your non-work life, OP!

  4. F.M.*

    This would drive me mildly bonkers, but it’s still better than the forced smile-at-strangers of any retail place I’ve worked, so I think I would end up in the same place as the LW: cope with it while getting perks, experience, and a nice line on the resume, then look for a place more to my taste.

    Though from the number of commenters here who I suspect would love such a place, maybe they should start making that clear right in the job description, to attract employees who would enjoy it, rather than surprising new employees who would not.

    1. pope suburban*

      Yeah. I’m about at my limit of “staple on a happy face and act like a chirpy robot,” so this sounds very relaxing. Imagine being able to sit down and actually complete a project without half a dozen irritating interruptions that suck the energy right out of you. Sounds like heaven.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Nothing in the letter mentions lack of irritating interruptions, which can be work-related as much as any non-work related topic. Or a million other O_O. Bob complaining that Jane invoiced Guacamole, Frank listening to porn on his phone, Larry asking AGAIN where the TPS reports are saved, etc..

      2. Laura*

        I dislike co-workers or managers invading my time and space with parties, speeches, yelling into their phones, or unrequested chocolates on the desk… but I’d also dislike them invading my brain by policing my speech patterns, facial expressions or coping mechanisms.

        Heaven is being left alone to do my job.

    2. Sammy Keyes*

      This is exactly what I was thinking! I used to work in retail for Disney and my god, the amount of forced chipper-ness we were expected to have was…a lot. And I say this as someone who is pretty naturally chipper. Sometimes I dream of a job where I can just go there, do work, not speak to anyone, and go home. But like LW, I think I would also get tired of the lack of warmth.

    3. Anyfizz*

      Yeah, this seems pretty equivalent to a lot of hospitality/retail positions. I recall there was a paper by a Japanese researcher that coined a term for the fatigue caused by constant fake smiling. The emotional effort to not smile /laugh seems just about the same to me. (As in, yes, provided there were enough benefits I would do it, the same way as I would do forced cheerfulness).

  5. Elizabeth Bennett*

    Learning what one does and does not want/need in a working environment is gold in my book. Good luck for the future!

  6. All Het Up About It*

    Glad today was a WFH day, because I squealed loudly as I sat down with my lunch and saw this title!

    While the update might not have contained an elaborate description of past person who showed up at a meeting in a clown suit, hence the no humor rule, I’m still SO HAPPY! It’s a really fascinating update and I’m glad that OP is getting a lot out of the role and that the benefits are outweighing the bad right now. Then hopefully in a year or so you can be a good news Friday about your new role where you can actually joke about the copier.

  7. MechE*

    I’d rather suck a tailpipe than have to deal with this for more than a week. I can’t imagine spending 9 hours a day in such a joyless environment.

    1. Filmgal*

      Seriously. I operate 100% in sarcasm and working in this office would literally kill me. I would not even have lasted the first day, as being told not to laugh would have made me bust out immediately into the biggest gales of laughter.

      Good on ya, OP, for tolerating it. Not my kinda place but I guess it works for some.

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        Seriously! I am generally the Chandler Bing of any social situation. I’m here with your jokes and witty observations to get through the day… I don’t think I would survive in such an environment. While I could be fine with just keeping my head down and doing work without much socializing, the fact that you essentially aren’t meant to have a personality (outside of their guidelines) is rough.

        1. Filmgal*

          Yeah, honestly I can’t think of anything less conducive to a good working environment than being a jerk about people enjoying themselves.

        2. FreddledGruntbuggly*

          Can’t imagine getting through a day without sarcasm and puns, let alone not even gentle humor…. I’d explode from the pressure of internal buildup.

      2. Sweet Christmas!*

        Everyone on my team is a master of sarcasm (our team meetings are a true treasure) and I am trying and failing to imagine…not. OMG.

        I mean, power to the people who would be up for this, but I would be desperately searching for the exit after like 2 days.

      3. londonedit*

        Absolutely – the whole of Britain pretty much runs on sarcasm and dry humour. Weirdly I have actually worked somewhere like this place – it was less about joking in particular and more the fact that the boss would not allow any non-work/frivolous conversation ever because she was convinced everyone who worked for her was just looking for an excuse to slack off all the time. And it was utterly miserable. It was an open-plan office and everyone just had to sit there in silence unless they were asking a question about work. I’m not someone who wants to be best buddies with everyone at work, but I definitely thrive on feeling like I’m part of a team and part of that, to me, is all of the little chats you have and the joking about things that are going wrong and the commiserating and congratulating and getting to know just a bit about your colleagues’ lives so that you feel like you’re working with real people. Sitting there in silence and being loudly shushed if you dared to mention something outside of work topics was pretty soul-destroying (and unsurprisingly the boss was utterly awful in many other ways so it was a dreadful place to work all round).

    2. Happy*

      I can just imagine sitting at my desk day after day, and the steam building and building until…one day THAR SHE BLOWS!!! In a cascade of wild laughter and bad jokes.

    3. mcfizzle*

      Same! I’m well known for always having stupid corny jokes, and must be prepared for any and all meetings. It’s amazing how even one dumb joke (truly non-offensive and cute) relaxes everyone. I literally wouldn’t have *my* identity at this place.

      Granted, I was joking, but I did just tell a coworker “you shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!” She laughed and kept talking.

    4. iamcrazy4cats*

      I’m pretty sure I would have left after the meeting and never returned. The no joking rule is beyond the pale. No amount of perks or job development would trump being told that humor is outlawed. I just can’t imagine working like this. More power to the op!

    5. MHA*

      At my job, before every monthly meeting an email goes out listing the three people that are going to get “high-fives” that month, so that we can send in written kudos for those coworkers to be read aloud at the meeting. I find this awkward at best, and I’m such a work-focused introvert that when it was my turn to get “high-fives”, literally every single one of mine started with the phrase “MHA is very quiet, but–”

      And I totally agree with you! This no-humor(/no chit-chat/no humanity) policy shows such a profound distrust from management in their employees’ abilities to be professional and productive. What a nightmare!

  8. WellRed*

    OP when you get down about this, fantasize about laughing all the way out the door once you give notice.

  9. Aggretsuko*

    I’m amazed you’ve stuck it out this long, but I would have been fired on day 2 if it was me. It sounds SO HARD to be nothing but utterly serious ALL THE TIME.

    1. Grace Poole*

      Yeah, as a person who uses humor as a defense mechanism, I would be in trouble all the time.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Better than getting hired and realizing your company has this batcrap policy! I’d much rather be rejected without explanation, or even ghosted, than show up on my first day to be Soup Nazi’d out of telling jokes.

    2. blammobiddy*

      I don’t think I’d last a day. As much as I try to act like a Serious Professional at work, I have no idea how to communicate without any humor at all. This place sounds like a literal hell on earth to me! But I’m glad OP is making it work.

    3. Meow*

      Now that I think about it, I would never even get my foot in the door there because I have a habit of cracking bad jokes during interviews.

  10. KHB*

    Somehow, this turned out to be even weirder than I thought it would be. Thanks for the update, OP.

    I’d be worried, though, that by socially isolating coworkers from one another to such a degree, they’re also keeping you from talking about ways you might be getting collectively screwed over.

    1. Sweet Christmas!*

      This was my thought. I am 100% convinced that this has some kind of sinister backstory or motivation; it’s far too far out of the norm for it to be a thing that just evolved organically.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.
        What could have possibly gone wrong here that a company would think it was a good idea not to let any one crack a joke? (Answer: Managers who don’t know how to manage.)

        What kind of a company would put a rule in place, not tell a new employee, then call them on the carpet for breaking this rule they did not know about? (Back to a company that doesn’t know how to manage.)

        They all know they are too weird and the proof of that is they did not tell OP before or after hire. When OP finally cracked a joke the boss could not even sit down and tell her himself. I wonder what their turn-over rate is.

  11. CTT*

    LW, thank you for the update, and I’m glad you’re only planning on staying for another year. Being reported for making a very harmless joke still sits SO uncomfortably with me.

    1. Esmeralda*

      I agree. I wouldn’t like a dead serious workplace like that, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

      That reporting the joke to HR, though — and OP was new! The sort of place that polices you, rather than letting the new person know how the office operates, or even taking it to the boss.

      I wouldn’t trust anyone either, OP — and that’s a disadvantage to the employer.

  12. Mer*

    I know a lot of people fantasize about leaving their jobs by telling off their bosses and the coworkers they don’t like. I think you should leave this job by going down in a blaze of jokes.

    (But for real, I’m glad you’ve made it work. I definitely would not have been able to.)

    1. Llama face!*

      Right? A letter of resignation that is entirely puns from start to finish would just be so satisfying. *chef’s kiss*

      Obviously I am not really recommending this but it could be fun to think about/draft as a stress relief measure while working in this absurd psychology experiment of an office.

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        “Hey-hey-HEY! A teapot painter walked into a bar and said I QUIT! Ha-ha! Get it? I QUIT! Don’t forget to tip your waitress!”

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          What’s black and white and red all over? My resignation letter and your face while reading it!

  13. H.Regalis*

    I’m not the most social person, and after past bad experiences, I’m very guarded about what I share about my personal life with colleagues; that said, I love joking around and I would have a very hard time with this. Kudos to you for sticking it out. I hope the experience you gain there helps you escape the laughless desert!

  14. I should really pick a name*

    It’s incredibly weird to me, but I think it’s kind of nice that a place like that exists for people who want that kind of workplace. There can’t be a lot of offices like it.

    1. Double A*

      I think this would be fine IF they revealed it before they, you know, hired you.

      It’s like a dog or baby friendly office. You need to know about that before you join.

      1. PT*

        Someone might be allergic to baby dander, they should definitely know if there will be babies around.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I feel the same. Honestly, this sounds like it could be a good place for some people on the spectrum. Not that autistic folks have no sense of humor (my son is hilarious), but as Alison points out, humor at work can be fraught and requires a lot of “know your audience”. Having a “no joke” policy might actually be refreshing to someone who has a hard time knowing where to draw the line. Plus, the no office politics would be very beneficial for people who struggle with that aspect of the work world.

      1. Autieal*

        I’m autistic and I don’t think this workplace would be right for me. Perhaps it would work well for some folks, but I’d find it very difficult to not break their rules about joking sometimes. Most of my autistic friends agree that we like rules when they make sense, but if they don’t make sense we find them very frustrating.

        I find working from home helps a lot with how tiring social interactions are. Also using instant messaging helps since people don’t mind if you don’t reply immediately because you need a bit extra processing time (which is much harder when communicating verbally and you have only one chance to understand and have to reply straight away or come across as very slow). I need some way to let off a bit of steam, or check in after a stressful meeting, and being friendly and able to joke with colleagues is essential in my opinion.

  15. Government Drone*

    I worked out of a regional office for a state government agency – and observed this exact same type of mentality whenever I visited headquarters. The people in my satellite/regional office were great – we all got along really well – and our county offices were just as welcoming. But headquarters? No. Everybody seemed like they were miserable there. The staff responsible for training employees in the lab classrooms were very matter-of-factly people who where good presenters but did not seem to enjoy any sort of humor, at all.

  16. Jess*

    Once a managing partner at my last job who overheard my coworker tell someone with the desk next to her that she was filing for divorce soon but didn’t want to talk about it just then. The managing partner told my friend that she needed to keep things more professional and not talk about personal life at work.

    He’d probably love this kind of workplace, but my friend found not even being able to say the big things that would impact her mood/demeanor for days/weeks was stifling.

  17. Resident Catholicville, USA*

    Wow wow wow. I’m completely fascinated. Even in places where I’ve been massively unhappy and not gotten along with various coworkers, I’ve found things to day to day chat and joke about with them. I can’t imagine being serious 100% of the time- it’s not in my nature. But I’m happy for this update and that the LW has a good outlook on the situation. Finding out what you do and don’t want out of a job and a workplace culture is pretty critical and learning that early on is a boon.

  18. urguncle*

    Sitting here thinking about how difficult this would be, but I realized I have no need to do this because I would have been fired on day 3.

  19. Professor Walrus*

    This seems like the crux of why this policy is a bad idea: “The emotional labor involved in NOT ever being emotional is so draining.” What was presumably meant to eliminate distractions to make work easier, has the opposite effect by placing an emotional burden on people.

    1. Gerry Keay*

      Yeah, as someone with a limbic system that is clinically terrible at regulating itself, this would be a near-impossible situation for me. Pretending to not feel anything ever would almost certainly cause me really intense burnout!

    2. Esmeralda*

      On people like the OP, and me too.
      But there are other people who I am sure would find it a relief.

    3. Anononon*

      If I had to work in a place like think, I think I would be in serious tears every single day. Just the bizarreness and coldness would be completely overwhelming.

    4. Workerbee*

      This. Since OP has acknowledged it, I therefore advise running now to find whatever those perks are at an org that won’t have you absorbing such potentially long-lasting (read: damaging) effects.

  20. Momma Bear*

    I’m glad OP has figured out a way to deal with it but wow…I’m a reasonably serious/not hanging out with people for lunch kind of person and I’d feel really isolated in that kind of environment. I am appreciative of my more middle of the road office.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you put a finger on it for me. I often like to be on my own for breaks & lunches, but I am a human being who occasionally needs & enjoys the kinds of human social interactions & connections I have with some coworkers.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Right. I am not into the group celebrations, holiday events etc. But this place if over the top in my mind.

  21. Coffee, please*

    So interesting and different! Making jokes is how I communicate, so I’m not sure I would excel but I’m glad some folks do. Good on you for turning it around into a learning moment.

  22. Pool Lounger*

    It’s bizarre that they don’t tell people this policy during the interview stage. They myst eventually have to inform every employee, so why wait until they make joke?

    1. CTT*

      Yes! There are people commenting here that they would love to work somewhere like this, but how would they ever know if the company doesn’t mention it!

  23. MsM*

    Kudos to you for finding ways to survive until you can escape for saner pastures, OP, but…uh, is anyone else concerned this place is being run by AIs laying the groundwork for their future world takeover? Just me?

  24. Lulu*

    In Star Trek canon, Vulcans make 1st contact April 5, 2063. Maybe they’re already here on an undercover mission?

  25. Liz*

    For those who’ve read THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA, does this person work for the Department In Charge of Magical Youth? That’s what it sounds like to me, especially the part with choosing one of four branded gifts.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I read that for a Facebook book club, enjoyed it and you are so right. Thank you for reminding me of it.

    2. Anathema Device*

      Yes, exactly! OP is getting demerits for telling jokes and/or having a personality. I wonder if they also have a rule about personal effects on the desk like in the book?

  26. Honey honey bee*

    Glad the LW has a plan to find a place that works better for them. I can see how this could be an oasis for reserved or shy people who have experienced backlash in more “fun” workplaces, and the lack of drama sounds great, but they recognized it’s not great for them in the long term.

    It’s disappointing though that they seem to be mocking this company for doing the right thing of keeping religion out the workplace by not celebrating Christmas.

    1. KittyCardigans*

      I don’t understand how you’re getting “mocking” out of LW’s comments about what the company does for the holiday season. It seems like a matter-of-fact recounting to me, and she specifically says that she is reporting back on that subject because so many people in the comments were wondering how birthdays and holidays were handled.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The LW didn’t say Christmas– she said “holiday party” and “holiday season.” Even I, a Jewish person who dislikes the pervasive nature of Christmas, enjoy a good secular holiday party, especially at a company with the money to provide high-quality refreshments. Interesting that you would equate “holiday” with “Christmas” right away, no?

      1. no sleep for the wicked*

        I’m a pagan (for lack of a better term) and am heartily sick of the appropriation of non/pre-christian holidays, but like you I appreciate a good holiday party. What an odd take on the letter.

      2. PT*

        I worked somewhere that, one year, one manager in charge of our calendar decided all holidays might offend someone, so they canceled them.

        We had regular work scheduled for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, because “people might not be American or they might not like America, and wouldn’t want the day off.” We had a regular schedule for Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend, because “people might not be American or they might not have families and not want the day off.”

        What happened was, the staff were pissed to the point of wanting to quit because they had to come in on holidays, and of course, we had no customers because most people do want a day off even if it’s not one they’re particularly attached to. Everyone makes plans over long weekends, whether they care about why the holiday exists or not.

        Then we had some programs that were class series (say, 10 llama riding classes, for 10 consecutive Saturdays or Mondays or whatever) and people stopped signing up for them because “Oh there’s class scheduled on Holiday? I won’t be able to make it, I’ll sign up next session,” and our enrollment tanked.

      3. AnotherLibrarian*

        As a fellow Jew, I love a good holiday party. Best ones I ever had were at a distinctly Christian workplace (private college) where we had the most brutal game of White Elephant you ever saw, plus wonderful food and amazing holiday cakes and cookies. I looked forward to it every year and distinctly miss it.

    3. WellRed*

      Well, someone actually reported OP to HR for cracking an innocuous joke. That seems a bit dramatic.
      Also, not sure what you are seeing in the letter about mocking the company?

    4. Lunch Ghost*

      If anything I think they’re mocking the idea of giving a holiday gift without any acknowlegement that it’s a holiday gift. “Please select a gift which will be sent to your home. For no reason. Definitely not that some cultures exchange gifts at this time of year.”

      1. LilyP*

        It also seems to be missing what these sorts of gifts are typically actually about, which is building engagement, comraderie, and good feeling. Often what’s way more valuable and meaningful than the cash/gift is the recognition or congratulations for hard work that comes with it, like a handwritten note from your manager and knowing they care enough about you to remember your birthday and spend their time on recognizing it. It’s so weirdly perfunctory and sort of clueless to try to replace that with an auto-generated email.

  27. Batgirl*

    Birthdays and occasions actually seem well handled in comparison with a lot of places and they have such a good reputation as a business. Yet they go without something as fundamental as oxygen. My mind is totally blown, more so than if it was top to bottom dysfunction.

  28. Cobol*

    Maybe they are fine losing 95% of hires to find the 5% who want to work in this environment for life worth it. I think Letter Writer has the absolute perfect outlook in this.

  29. LawBee*

    “ I received a virtual gift card to a restaurant of my choice and an automated congratulatory email”

    oh my goodness you work for robots. This is AMAZING.

      1. Goldenrod*

        “I wonder if the card just said, “It is your birthday. See attached.””

        :D Like when Dwight from The Office put up that big banner that read, in plain black-and-white all-caps letters: IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY.

  30. EBStarr*

    I love how this update about the no-humor workplace is itself hilarious. You’re a really good writer, OP! I laughed out loud multiple times, especially at “laughless desert.”

  31. wow*

    OP, I’m both glad you’re making it work and glad you’re not planning on staying super long. Taking advantage of every networking and professional development opportunity that comes your way is really smart of you and should put you in a good position when you’re ready to start looking for something new.

  32. RB*

    I would NOT fit in there, and working somewhere where you’re constantly straining to fit in is very draining. To me, the only hopeful part of your update was, “it’s shown me what I do/don’t value in a working environment while I’m still pretty early in my career.” If I understand the timeline correctly, you have still been there less than a year. I think this atmosphere will continue to wear on you over time and you might prefer to get out sooner rather than later.

  33. The OG Sleepless*

    Oh, OP, thank you so much for the update! I’ve been dying to hear how things turned out for you. I’m glad you’ve managed to turn this situation into a positive. It would make me absolutely miserable. My job has moments of terrible sadness and stress, and the only way we cope is with humor and cameraderie, but I’m glad it works for some people.

  34. Alex*

    As someone who uses jokes and humor as a coping mechanism, I’m not sure I’d be able to make it through a week without breaking the rules–even if I meant to behave!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Nopeity nope nope. Sarcasm and finding (dark) humor in tough situations are my secret superpowers. This place would be my kryptonite

    2. quill*

      I have too many abilities to mix up words and / or accidentally make puns. I give it two days before I would be out on my ear.

  35. Cordelia*

    This sounds like more than just no jokes, tbh. It’s more like “no interaction that is not explicitly business related, but no jokes or lighthearted asides within those business interactions.” This is a level of control over individual behavior that seems really unhealthy. As much as it would be great to not have weird work politics or interpersonal conflict, this sounds like living in some degree of apprehension about human conversation resulting in a potential job loss (if people are getting written up). The lack of autonomy to communicate seems like massive boundary overstepping on behalf of the office culture, but I guess there’s a lid for every pot. It’s very hard for me to imagine wanting my boss to penalize me and others for attempting to create a modicum of human connection, but some of y’all seen really into the idea, so I have learned something today.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Yes, I was thinking the same about this being way beyond “no jokes”. The culture manifests as quite authoritarian… only serious business interactions are acceptable. Very interesting. I could definitely do it, and it would actually be a relief in some ways. Would I voluntarily choose this culture? Hmm. Maybe, if the overall calculus was good. I have to wonder if the OP was at least given clues about this in the interview process, as it seems they ambushed her with this unusual culture requirement. It would be smart for this company to make the unusual culture at least clear in the interview process. I can certainly see why they wouldn’t put it in writing (via policy) – imagine if that policy were leaked to the public.

      1. PT*

        It sounds abusive. Exacting this level of control over people’s emotions and communication is abusive.

        1. SJ*

          Yeah. It’s hard because the OP sounds in really good spirits about things, but that doesn’t really change how fundamentally wrong this is. I’m happy for the OP that they’re surviving this situation, but I still don’t like that it’s happening at all.

    2. NeutralJanet*

      I thought that was strange as well, but then I thought about it a little further and I’m not sure that you could have a 100% humor-free environment unless you also had a “speak only when necessary” environment. I’m autistic, and my thought patterns are a little unusual to allistic people, so I sometimes phrase things in such a way that people think I’m joking even when I’m not. If I were in this environment, I might get written up for being unintentionally quirky in a way that other people thought was meant to be humorous, so it would probably be safer for me to speak as little as possible and include as little extraneous information as possible.

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        This is a good point. As much as people have suggested that this could be a good environment for neurodivergent folks, I’m beginning to wonder if that makes sense. It sounds like the cost of being misconstrued could be a lot higher in this setting than at most other workplaces, and I don’t see how that doesn’t have chilling effects.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        You are making me think. So this is a no joking environment. If I laugh at someone’s accidental joke do I get a scolding from HR, too?

      3. Deborah*

        On the other hand, if you try really hard to NEVER TALK TO ANYONE EVER you’d probably do fine. That’s how I’d wind up dealing with a workplace like this!!!

    3. Sweet Christmas!*

      Also – as a social psychologist – on average I don’t see how it would make people better or more productive. In fact, research shows that people’s non-work-related interpersonal interactions actually enhances people’s ability to work together and collaborate on projects where needed. If this is a place where all the work is solo, then fine, but how are you supposed to trust or build rapport and socially lubricated ways of working with your colleagues if you aren’t allowed to interact with them as humans? I’m not saying everyone should be a joke machine, but a single joke being an HR-reportable offense to me speaks to a level of behavioral control and stiltedness that would inhibit working as a team.

      I also heartily disagree that this means there is no work politics or interpersonal conflict. It simply means no one is talking about them or addressing them, which is also unhealthy. Humor also helps humans diffuse stressful or threatening situations.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, I was just thinking this. Humor is such a critical coping mechanism, I can’t imagine a healthy workplace where it is not allowed.

      2. turquoisecow*

        Also, how do you network? Build connections? Gain a reference for your next job? Do they literally just confirm dates of employment? If someone says “how was it working with Jane, what’s she like?” do you have anything to say? Do you even remember her without a personality?

        I also would bet there are office politics, it’s just a lot more subtle.

        1. not a doctor*

          In the original letter, she specified that it wasn’t accounting or any other traditionally conservative field.

      1. Frank Doyle*

        The OP said in the original letter “I do not work in law, banking, accounting, or any other industry where there is a stereotype of overly serious work environments.”

    1. Antilles*

      I am also super-curious because like…how does this work with clients and outside companies?
      Because I’ve done a LOT of multi-company meetings, on all sides of the fence, and pretty much every single one has included a little bit of chit-chat either before things kick off or when we’re all picking up our stuff to leave.
      And if a potential client makes a copier joke and you’re all sitting there stone-faced, I’d be pretty confident that potential client feels uncomfortable and probably ends up leaving with a “you know, I just didn’t get a trustworthy feeling” kind of way that drives them to pick your competitors.

  36. GoryDetails*

    Thanks so much for the update! I think I could tolerate a workplace like this – for a while anyway – though I have enjoyed some amount of joking/casual-nonwork-chat/peering-over-the-cube-wall-to-say-happy-birthday in previous jobs. I’d probably treat the whole thing as a roleplaying exercise, channeling my best “stonefaced Victorian-era household servant” demeanor, or maybe “Men in Black” (“We at the FBI do not have a sense of humor we’re aware of”. [Extra points for throwing some creepy-Mrs.-Danvers vibes if a co-worker was being particularly unhelpful!]

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      There’s a question, if you were able to keep a completely serious demeanour while making frequent, slightly menacing comments about a former client known as “The First Ms DeWinter”, would anyone comment?

  37. 2 Cents*

    OP, you are stronger than me. It could be my immaturity talking, but I’m not sure I’d be able to not make absurd comments in a totally serious voice and be like, “No, that wasn’t a joke” just to see what would happen. Of course, it doesn’t sound like you talk to people at all, so maybe that wouldn’t work…

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I think the mental effort required to never laugh at work would just grate on me after a while. I had to consciously use a lot of American words and expressions in order to be understood when I was working in the US (I’m from the UK and a native English speaker) and some days my mental gears would just grind more slowly as a result.

      I’m so glad we got this update. It just proves there is the ideal workplace for everyone is out there somewhere!

    2. biobotb*

      I imagine there may be a couple of people who are satirizing this environment by going full robot.

  38. Llama face!*

    I am really curious how it would work if someone with an extremely dry sense of humour started working there. You know, the type where you are never quite sure if they are joking or not and they don’t give it away by tone or laughing. It would be fascinating as a social experiment to be a fly on the wall if that happened.

    1. MsM*

      Make it two employees who slowly manage to build a relationship while trying to figure out if the other person is messing with them and/or trying to get them to break, and we’ve got ourselves a rom-com.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        OP: I’ll bring you your print job, but it’ll be after I figure out how to make double-sided, bound copies. I’ll be back in a few years.
        Coworker: Ah, you must not have been told about our policy. We do not joke in this office — no jokes, no matter how small or innocuous.
        OP: I was not joking. It’s well known that copiers are difficult, especially when you do not know how to use them. I anticipate this taking me 1.5 – 2 years.
        CW: [stares]
        OP: [stares]
        [music swells in the background]

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Great point. I have fought with a few copiers myself and, yeah, I will be back in a couple years. It can be quite a rabbit hole, to get a copy out of the machine. I can see me saying that remark and actually meaning it.

  39. The OG Sleepless*

    I meant to add above, I’m a little concerned that the OP’s sense of normal is getting skewed. Somebody REPORTED them to HR, and they’re mostly just wondering who it is, instead of recognizing what absolutely batshit behavior that is.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I think that is not fair. She has decided that a couple of years is worth it to her, despite the oddness. And yeah, I’d wonder who reported me too.

    2. Reba*

      I mean, she wrote to an advice columnist about it so I think she is aware that it’s out of the bounds of reasonable. I think OP’s attitude reframing of “I am choosing to live with how weird this is” doesn’t mean it’s acceptance of these norms, just awareness of the trade offs and decision to tolerate a lot of the weirdness.

    3. Sylvia*

      I feel that it’s bizarre someone reported it to HR too. But at the same time, if I were in their shoes I might do the same. I would worry that the new employee wouldn’t believe me or think I was joking, so it’s better to hear it from HR. The boss and HR need to do a better job of explaining their strange policy upfront so that there’s no embarrassing situations.

  40. Albeira Dawn*

    In college there was a steady information mill about local companies in our field. Company A was tiny and weirdly formal, but paid well and had lots of opportunities to work on industry-defining projects. Company B was huge and lower-level employees might work 65 hours a week, but the benefits were amazing and you could transfer to a vacation destination if there was an office there.

    I am desperate to know what the outside perception of this company is.

    1. Retail Not Retail*

      Right? The people saying the OP is warmer one-on-one – what’s YOUR reputation like after working there if the company’s policy/attitude is well known?

  41. autumnal*

    “No jokes” is one thing. “Display no personality, ever” is full-on control. Let’s just employ robots and call it a day. I’m picturing this workplace and it’s acres of cubicles and a decor in hardly-varying shades of grey – the cubes, the carpets, the walls, the people. Even the whiteboard. Which would make it a greyboard. Oops, I’m fired! How sad that “work first” means forgoing your humanity.

    1. Filosofickle*

      While it wasn’t quite as extreme as the OP’s situation, I did a stint at a no-personality gray office and it SUCKED. I called it Zombie Cubeland. No one spoke above a hushed tone and only when necessary. They moved efficiently and silently with their heads down. Their processes were off the charts complicated. The boss was a tyrant and they avoided drawing attention or speaking up lest they end up in the line of fire. Even their clothes were unremarkable and neutral. It was the most depressed place and team I’ve ever seen. There was some bonding and human-ing in the in-between moments but not much. The kicker: This was a design department.

  42. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Now I want to know if OP’s workplace has weird rules about humor-adjacent words.

    Do they have to say “The spellchecker is doing something odd” instead of “The spellchecker is doing something funny”?

    Or “This so-called expert report we bought is a mess” instead of “… is a joke”?

    1. no sleep for the wicked*

      I wonder if their spellchecker preemptively substitutes other words for ‘joke’ ‘humor’ ‘funny’ etc.

      1. Nanani*

        But Vulcan Human Relations would have a very different job description, that probably does make sure the Human knows how to adhere to proper Vulcan office behaviour

        1. Metadata minion*

          Yeah, Vulcans would give you an explicit, no-nonsense employee handbook outlining the bounds of acceptable social communication.

    1. T'Pringles*

      Probably not. Vulcans are tolerant of others’ differences and the need for some people to express themselves through humor. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, after all. LLAP :)

  43. no sleep for the wicked*

    The only places I’ve worked that actively discouraged basic employee chit chat were on the sweatshop spectrum, and the owners also thought they were really nice compassionate bosses who just happened to prefer their human robots stay silent so they could bank that fraction of a penny difference in assembly speed.

    1. autumnal*

      I was picturing the same thing – those industrial revolution photos of men, women, and children standing in factories with tattered clothing and expressions of misery. The has blown way past “no jokes” and is fully in “no humanity” territory. A sad way to spend one third (at least) of your waking hours.

  44. CatCat*

    It is Just. So. Weird.

    I really don’t know what to make of the robotic automated emails for birthdays and holidays.

  45. Paris Geller*

    I have been eagerly hoping for an update to this one! And it’s still just as strange as the first letter.
    I’m glad you’re making it work OP! I have to say, I think most people would classify me more as a serious person than a fun one and I feel like even I’d be miserable there.

  46. Holy Carp*

    Happy to read this update, but the scenario still smacks of something from Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone. Still waiting for the ultimate reveal.

  47. dresscode*

    Wow. what an update. The no parties, no gifts, no gabbing is so interesting to me. It feels very robotic. Like, if we weren’t humans, how we’d preform work functions. Picking out your own Christmas gift is so funny to me!

    1. BusyBee*

      I usually lurk, but no one has asked my burning question… does this place have a breakroom? What is it like? Are condiments and seasonings allowed? Are there beverages other than water (which is necessary for human hydration)? I’ve seen comments about being fired by the time you finish your coffee- but coffee is a stimulant that frequently seen as a pleasurable experience and is entirely unnecessary.
      …I would also be fired quickly.

  48. Kiitemso*

    Thank you for the update! This place is fascinating. I hope some aspiring writer ends up there some day (maybe this is you, OP?) and ends up writing a fictionalized account of it. Or a dystopian novel. Or something to that effect. I imagine one of those offices from music videos where everybody wears black, the desks are all identical, no personal touches, and the wallpapers are a grey-green color. And the photocopier is always working, but nobody knows why.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      One place I interviewed the people didn’t seem to have anything personal on their desks, and the company was extremely process driven, they even measured morale. Being an aerospace company, they are doing the right things, but by the end of the interview both the company and I realized I wasn’t a good fit.

  49. Selina Luna*

    I am imagining the accounting firm from The Producers-all the accountants sit at their adding machines and sing “unhappy, unhappy” all day.
    On the one hand, there is much about such an environment that I might find welcome. I doubt there’s pressure to eat lunch together every day, for example, or to have potlucks. On the other hand, I feel like it would be somewhat like hanging out with Ben Stein’s voice all day.

    1. Aggresuko*

      Hahahahaha, I think of that too. I was in a show of that at one point and I wished I could have been singing that song, because it is my song.

  50. Nom*

    I would not survive there. The “joke” from the first letter about the copier doesn’t even count as a joke to me… it’s just so natural to me to talk like that. I’d be reported to HR multiple times a day.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Well, I bet people don’t want to talk to each other for fear that their words would be misconstrued and they would get reported.

    2. Batgirl*

      No it wasn’t a joke, it was barely a pleasantry. OP is funny though, so perhaps they saw it coming.

    3. PeanutButter*

      As someone who was “that weird kid” growing up and eventually learned to cover for my social awkwardness with humor (and only now in my 30s have I been diagnosed with ADHD which explains soooo much about my social difficulties) it would be awful. Literally the only way I have to relate to people without them thinking I’m a strange alien being taken away? NOPENOPENOPE

  51. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I’m glad there are agreeable benefits, worker number 43217, please return to your docking station and resume productive protocols …sorry, sorry, I’m joking… gah!

    I could never work in a place with such a stifling environment even with great benefits; I’d get fired before I finished my first cup of coffee. My group, we literally start the day with a good meme or dad joke before disappearing into our work, and I’m one who hates office parties, birthdays, and team building — but mostly because they often end up being performative happiness with superficial relationships and I hate playing along with that.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Yeah, it sounds like your first sentence! Why don’t the coworkers ever feel that way?

  52. Chilipepper Attitude*

    OP, one of the things Alison suggested was asking a coworker after you were more settled in the role and office. Has this ever come up with coworkers? What did they say? Do you have an sense of what others think of this policy?

  53. Purple Cat*

    I gave a little squeal when I saw the title.
    It’s just so fascinating to me. I have no doubt my personal productivity would go through the roof in such an environment, but it’s also just so soulless. Especially because the “no-humor” is really “no personal interaction whatsoever”.

    Glad the OP is at least learning a lot.

  54. River Otter*

    What an unusual workplace. I think I might actually like it there because I have such a history of my humor falling flat and just generally not fitting in. I think it would be kind of a relief to be able to stop trying. Anyhoo, this stood out for me:

    “it honestly instilled in me a lesser sense of trust with everyone I work with so early in my tenure here”

    I advised that you look at this differently. You were not reprimanded for making jokes at all, and you were explicitly told that you were not being reprimanded. You were given important information about how you are being perceived within their environment. That is a good thing! Whether you were being told that humor is not appreciated or that you apologize too often or that you should stop using comic sans in your emails, being informed of a perception problem that can seriously impact your ability to work with others and build influence is a good thing, even when you are not expecting it and it stings to hear at the time. The alternative is that people silently judge you and you find yourself unable to be effective at your job. So rather than thinking of your coworkers as running to the boss to tell on you, try thinking of your coworkers is looking out for your best interests, And try thinking of your boss and HR as being invested enough in your success to course correct when you need it.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I mean, the coworker who reported OP could have just said “hey, so you know, we do not joke here.” How many times do we say here to use your words before involving HR?

      1. Pikachu*

        I think the problem might be that if a new coworker told me we had a no-joking policy, I’d literally think it was another joke. Who wouldn’t? I’d ruin my entire reputation on the first day making more jokes.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Valid, but still doesn’t rise to the level of reporting it to HR. The coworker could have gone to OP’s boss, “hey, Jane made a joke about the printer — can you please tell her about the policy if you haven’t already done so?”

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            I agree that reporting it to HR on her first day for an innocent offense is OVERKILL.

            It’s not as if she was drunk and hit the CEO’s brand new car.

      2. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        In a typical workplace, yes. But if there’s a policy against joking, I don’t see how that could easily go in hand with people feeling confident enough in their autonomy or conflict resolution skills to have that conversation with a colleague.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I feel like this is the perfect illustration of how damaging this environment is, though. The only options are “tattle immediately” or “judge silently forever”? The correct approach would’ve been to casually give LW a heads-up and it’s weird that Coworker didn’t do that. You can still have warm human interactions without humor!

      1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

        What I think River Otter isn’t quite getting is that being stuck with “tattle immediately” or “judge silently forever” are partly a consequence of at least one of the parties involved not having the inter- or intrapersonal skills needed to resolve conflict or adjust their own behaviours. That’s not something that you’d expect to be a factor in dealing with someone who just got hired.

    3. urguncle*

      Being told by HR that I’m not being reprimanded when HR and my boss are there feels like, pardon the language but, a joke.

    4. Antilles*

      Then why did HR need to be part of the meeting? Heck, why did it need to be an actual meeting at all? If it was really just providing a polite heads-up, the boss could have just pulled OP to the side informally and let them know that.
      Just looking at your other examples is pretty illustrative. If you were using the wrong font, would you expect HR to get involved with that? Because I *have* had to address someone using the wrong font and it literally was me stopping by his cube as I walked past with a “hey, got a sec? I was reviewing your report and it seems like you’re not using the current template; corporate wants us to use Times for everything, can you revise this report and then stick with Times going forwards? No big deal, just wanted to let you know”. Bam, problem solved – no HR, no formal sit-down, probably took longer to type that paragraph than it did for the entire interaction start-to-finish.

        1. Batgirl*

          But it also explains the successful implementation of the policy. I have a frontline job where we use very black humour to cope. If “no joking” became a new policy, it wouldn’t stick because we’d be so bad at it. The only way to get something this human and reflexive banned is to take a hard line on it.

    5. Gumby*

      So rather than thinking of your coworkers as running to the boss to tell on you, try thinking of your coworkers is looking out for your best interests, And try thinking of your boss and HR as being invested enough in your success to course correct when you need it.

      No. Reframing it that way might make you feel better if you could convince yourself it was even half-way plausible but it is not. Someone looking out for my best interests does not go involve the authorities for this – they raise it themselves without involving people who have sway over my job. And while I believe HR when they say they were not writing up the LW it is a complete lie that they were not being reprimanded. There is no other way to take “you displayed a teensy bit of humor and that is not okay here” coming from your boss and HR that is not a reprimand no matter what you call it. Coming from a peer? It may be a a helpful heads up. Coming from a closed door meeting with your boss and the head of HR? Where it is framed as “it concerns me that you were caught making a joke by two of your co-workers”? It’s a reprimand no matter what they say.

  55. Raven*

    Well, heck. I’m very surprised that you’re still there, but I appreciate the fuller sense of what this office looks like. I’m glad you’re making the most of it until you can find a more amenable workplace!

  56. Heidi*

    Did the email say, “It is your birthday.” ?

    It sounds like someone set the tone for this policy early on, and it became a self-perpetuating thing with the people who like this policy staying and anyone else leaving.

    1. not a doctor*

      Now I’m imagining that one year they did try to have a party, but all they could manage were half-deflated gray balloons and a misspelled cake.

      1. Pikachu*

        The balloons matching the carpet sounds like the exact kind of design strategy I would expect from a place like this.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I imagine it just said “Subject: Birthday”, the recipient presumably knows it is their birthday, why waste everyone’s time with unnecessary words?

  57. KellifromCanada*

    I would find this atmosphere completely demoralizing. We spend a good part of our lives with our coworkers.
    Not being able to build any kind of work friendship sounds awful. And the whole police state of having anonymous coworkers rat you out to HR for telling a very mild joke! How exhausting, having to second guess every word that comes out of your mouth eight hours a day.

  58. Meep*

    Thank you for the update, LW! Your letter was on my mind occasionally since it was posted. I am glad to hear you are making it work for you for now.

  59. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    How interesting.
    I still wonder where this all came from originally? Especially if it’s so entrenched in the culture you got reported before someone even telling you about how serious the “rules” about humor were.

    There could be worse things I suppose. There is something to be said for a “business first” mindset, although this office example seems unduly rigid about it. I personally don’t think I could stick it out for very long as I tend to have a sarcastic humor and would find that pill a bit hard to swallow. But I guess if your can keep your focus on work and don’t mind not socializing, there are many people who would love this setting.

  60. autumnal*

    Reading through the comments I had a revelation…the Borg have landed and the assimilation has begun.

  61. Scott*

    I would 100% hang a “Life Laugh Love” sign in my cubicle and not acknowledge it, and I am normally against “words” as a decorative path to go down.

  62. anonymous73*

    I’m someone who is shy and quiet around new people, avoids gossip, and hates forced fun at work. That being said, this environment sounds like a nightmare. There’s a whole spectrum in between a super social, lots of celebrations party type work place and this robot environment where you’re only allowed to do your work and talk about work. You can ban things like office celebrations, and crack down on people who socialize too much, but it doesn’t need to be so extreme.

    OP I’m glad you’re putting a positive spin on this and making it work for now, but please don’t get stuck there for longer than your intended time frame because this type of place will eventually suck all of the fun out of you and wear on your mental health.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I think you put a finger on it for me. I often like to be on my own for breaks & lunches, but I am a human being who occasionally needs & enjoys the kinds of human social interactions & connections I have with some coworkers.

  63. sofar*

    LW, I hope you make SO MANY JOKES during your exit interview, whenever you do decide to move on.

    Kidding aside, this company really does need to set this policy out in writing. I find it hilarious that they have a no-joke policy, presumably to accommodate those who don’t really get sarcasm (maybe non-neurotypical folks?), but then don’t follow it through with the ultimate accomodation for non-neurotypical workers — documenting that policy clearly and in writing.

  64. Pikachu*

    I’m curious how this plays out in client-facing interactions. What happens if a customer cracks a joke about the dog eating the powerpoint? I can’t imagine hiring a firm and being excited to work with them if they never brought any personality to the table.

    1. Lana Kane*

      Based on what clients have told the OP, my guess is that their non-serious comments got the blank-face treatment, so they’ve learned to keep it to business. I like to imagine that in the client office a bunch of jokes are made when they set a meeting with this company. “Jane, get all your jokes out of your system now!”

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      “I acknowledge your joke, client number 81406. You have made a witty remark.”

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Omg it’s a whole office of Neutral Janets from The Good Place! “Your humorous quip has been noted. End of conversation”

        1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

          YES!!! At first I thought of the GP friends trying to hide emotion while appealing to Shawn, but then I realized this was 100% an office full of Neutral Janets! :D

  65. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Are they Vulcans?

    I’m quiet and not neurotypical. But I still like to be able to talk about stuff like the funny things my cats do, or hear about others’ pets or hobbies.

  66. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    I’m thinking the shy guy from the other post today wants to know if your company has any openings.

  67. Combinatorialist*

    Another issue with all of this “you are a worker bee not a human being” is that this type of office doesn’t seem like it would be willing to accept any drop in performance that happens because someone has issues in their real life. And that really is a business loss — in many cases, it is better to cut someone a little slack (for a short-ish while) and retain them than it is to constantly lose any sort of longevity in your staff because someone has a problem.

  68. kanzeon88*

    Gosh I have so many questions, but two of them are:
    1. What happens when an outside vendor/client/whatever makes a joke? Awkward silence? A wan smile followed by pointed redirection? I can’t imagine how this wouldn’t negatively impact relationships.
    2. If you’re there long enough, do you learn the secret coded signs of the folks who like jokes, so you can safely reveal yourselves to each other in 1:1 conversations?

  69. Milksnake*

    It would definitely be an irreconcilable difference for me, they should clarify their bizarre office culture before they bring people on board… some personality types just wouldn’t survive in that environment.

    I wouldn’t say I’m a class-clown or disruptive but I’ve had multiple colleagues tell me that they know when I’m out of the office because they don’t hear anyone laughing. I honestly think my inter-personal skills are one of my strongest qualities in a professional sense and I work in a similar field to OP.

  70. slacker*

    I feel like I’d be too tempted to make jokes CONSTANTLY there – but very sly, dry jokes that you have to be a sly, dry person to notice. To anyone else they’d sound incredibly earnest. But in my heart, I would KNOW.

  71. Dark Macadamia*

    I want to know what makes some of these people seem like they’d be fun outside the office (I don’t doubt they are, but like… what gives you that impression?) “Roberta’s mouth quivered slightly when someone farted, I bet she’s a riot at parties!” “I once glimpsed a newspaper open to the comics page on Jose’s desk, he must be hilarious!”

  72. quill*

    Fellow Magnus Archives fans, we had The Stranger acting up yesterday. Do the rest of you think that this is the work of The Lonely?

    OP: this place is quite strange but good on you for getting exactly what you need out of it and being able to wash your hands of this bizarre place.

    1. Littorally*

      Oh yeah, for sure. Big Lukas Family vibes all over the place. OP, any chance you work on a container ship with rusted-through empty containers on deck?

    2. Lentils*

      OP, be sure to remember your connections to family and/or friends outside this job! That way the Lonely can’t get you!

      (I’m sort of kidding, but for real, this sounds so draining. I hope OP has strong personal relationships and friendships to lean on.)

  73. Esmae*

    I could honestly see this environment working for some people, but I don’t know how the company is going to find those people if it doesn’t tell anyone until after they’re hired. Mention it in the interview! Put it in the job ad!

  74. Salad Daisy*

    I was once reported to HR for making a joke to one of my team members who was my peer. He wanted me to do something for him, that was actually his job, because he did not feel like doing it. Whined and whined until I finally capitulated, because the customer was waiting for it, but I said that line from the Godfather when Don Corleone is telling the undertaker that someday he may ask for a favor in return. Got turned in to HR for “disrespecting” my coworker.

      1. Salad Daisy*

        It was my coworker whom I had joked at. He told HR that I had disrespected him by reciting that line from the Godfather movie.

        For those who are not Godfather fans, here is the quote:
        “Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

        So basically what I was saying was that I would do this favor for him but someday I might expect him to do a favor for me. But said it in what I thought was a humorous way and in no way disrespectful.

  75. Sweet Christmas!*

    I agree that this is fascinating, but OP, I am really annoyed on your behalf that your company didn’t communicate this during the interview phase. This is something I’d want to know, because this would make me decline an offer if I had competing offers.

  76. IndoorKitty*

    “but it’s nice that there are almost no office politics or clashing personalities”

    I found that OP comment fascinating. Eliminating all emotions from the workplace eliminated clashing personalities! I wonder if it’s just a case where, if you’re inclined to go on a slow burn before boiling over because someone repeatedly microwaves fish in the office kitchen, or listens to music so loudly on their headphones you can still hear it, or has some other annoying habit, you aren’t likely to work there? Or, if you’re the person with the microwavable fish, you don’t work there?


    1. TPS reporter*

      I feel like you could still have those clashes even if conversations were entirely work focused. Everyone has a different work style and different opinions about how to do things. I disagree with people all of the time at work who I know nothing about and have never said anything personal but maybe a Happy Holidays in an email. I also work with hundreds of people so that could be a byproduct of a large company. If anything I’m more loathe to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone I’m actually friends with at work.

      1. PeanutButter*

        I’ve definitely had co-workers who would have loathed over clashes in work styles if they hadn’t been people I could joke with! It’s harder to hold onto annoyance over minor things when you have that time they made the boss laugh so hard she snorted in a meeting in your memories.

  77. Angela Zeigler*

    If there’s anything I’ve learned since Covid began, is that there’s a difference between what you think want and what your mental health actually needs. I can’t help but wonder how this kind of extreme workplace might have a lot of hidden, gradual negative effects on emotional health or wellbeing. There’s only so much you can do to keep work from changing you as a person overall. Our brains are just susceptible to things like when it’s over the course of several hours a day for months on end.

    As an introvert, I can see the appeal of not dealing with empty smalltalk and going through motions which can distract from getting work done. But at the same time, I have to think how much worse it might be without those small humanizing times of conversation and jokes. How it might be easier to work through work issues because I know the other people I’m working with are humans and not just fellow work-bots. Very Orwellian for sure!

    1. PT*

      Years ago I had a lifeguard job where they had the lifeguards sit on an elevated stand for a long shift. So you worked alone, you were too high up for any of the swimmers to talk to unless they needed something from you, and you didn’t get to talk to your boss or anyone else in the building because the lifeguard stand wasn’t near any of the pool’s doors.

      It was VERY isolating. You’d only get to talk to someone in the 5 minutes you were doing shift change. It was terrible, and you ended up with no connection to your workplace whatsoever. You didn’t know your coworkers or your boss or any of the regular swimmers. You all just passed like ships in the night.

  78. awesome3*

    I’ve asked a bit about their impression of meeting with our staff, and all have said since our reputation in the industry and our caliber of work products are very good, they’ve assumed our office is kind of a business-first, work hard/play later space. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that we’re actually work hard/play never :).

    If you did tell them, I feel like there’s a chance they’d recognize your workplace from this letter! Thanks for the update, I’ve been wondering about how you’re doing.

  79. Kate in Colorado*

    You have an amazing attitude about this! I really admire the way you assessed the expectations and determined you’d go with it to get what you need before seeing out a different cultural fit, and seriously, kudos to you. Also, your writing is excellent, and I completely enjoyed reading it! Thanks for such an interesting/entertaining/baffling update!

  80. TPS reporter*

    I am convinced this is the plot of the new dystopian show Severance on Apple TV. I love Adam Scott but I’d much rather work with him in Pawnee City Hall.

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      If you notice balls bouncing in unison, run! And don’t recite the times tables, whatever you do.

  81. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    Kudos to OP for making the best of a very odd situation. Humor is basically how I get through the day, so I think they would just straight-up fire me after a day or two.

  82. Forrest Rhodes*

    Haven’t yet read all the comments here or on the original letter, so someone may already have asked, but:
    What happens if somebody laughs or chuckles out loud? While on the phone with a client, say, or at something business-related that they’re reading? Are the chucklers disciplined, scolded, written up?
    It sounds like these employers don’t want human employees, they want droids.

  83. new*

    I would almost give my left arm to know what company this is. Forty-two years in the professional workforce and I have never encountered an office culture such as this. Yes, “humor” can be weaponized and hostile, but all manner of light banter prohibited? I would find this environment stultifying and I am definitely a heads-down, focused worker. Seems like it may even be detrimental to the mental health of those who work there after a while. It doesn’t appear to be an industry where dark humor is used to cope, thank goodness.

    OP, you’re a better person than me. I couldn’t work in this not just humorless, but cold and unfriendly environment. And it was really crappy of you to be reported when you were unaware of this absurd no jokes policy. When people have no connection, it’s easy to rat them out. Best of luck in your future endeavors!

  84. DannyG*

    Never worked in an office setting, acute care for 40 years. Dark / gallows humor is standard. Think M*A*S*H. It’s the only way to keep sane in this environment. I couldn’t imagine not having that pressure relief among the staff.

  85. Goldenrod*

    “inadvertent slapstick” ahahahha, yes, I think I would do this too!

    They would be showing me the door on Day One.

  86. new*

    Oh, this company should definitely disclose this aspect of its culture during the interview process and allow those who could not stand it to self-select out. I also wonder if this is a privately owned or publicly held organization.

  87. Relax Relate Release*

    This sounds like Camazotz from Wrinkle in Time (book not movie). I’m picturing suited , hatted, expressionless people who are physically punished with pain for any inkling of humanity or individuality. Sounds awful and I don’t think I could endure it.

    1. whistle*

      That’s what I was thinking. Usually, the interviewer jokes a bit too. I’d love to know if any joking happened during OP’s interview!

    2. The Rafters*

      When hiring for a particular position, they happened to hold the interview in a private office in our larger office. I couldn’t hear what was being said, but when I heard loud laughter break out, I turned to my coworker and said, “pay attention to who comes out of the door, because that’s going to be our new hire.”

  88. Ruby July*

    I am not into Christmas and birthdays done corporately, so that would be a relief, but the rest sounds so very weird. There would a strong temptation to turn in notice in the form of a letter written entirely in jokes.

  89. El l*

    This reminds me a bit of the hedge fund Bridgewater, which has “radical transparency” at its core. Notably, you are not allowed to make comments behind anyone’s back. Strictly enforced, including up to being fired.

    But if you’re going to remove one of the essential coping mechanisms of office life, you’d better have a good justification for denying that part of your humanity. At least Bridgewater had one – the founder instilled it as a means of encouraging debate over strategy. He wanted to force people to say, no matter what the power imbalance, “I think this is a bad idea, don’t do it, here’s why.”

    Perhaps there’s a similar competitive logic here for why management is so strict about it. But I don’t see it.

  90. Jessica Jones*

    It sounds like you work in a place of pod people. You could even crack that joke during the exit interview. Hahaha ;)

    No but in all seriousness, I would be a little careful to not pick up any habits that can transfer to your new job. I hate a huge micromanager and have to tell myself constantly what is and isn’t normal to try and not pick up any bad behaviors. I’m not sure what would be bad but just be conscious of the idea and I think it could help.

  91. JSPA*

    There are ways and times I would appreciate the silence and focus, and might willingly out in.

    There’s no universe where I’d appreciate having this requirement sprung on me, or having a coworker, without a word, go behind my back to HR.

    And there’s the question of layers of crazy. Will LW be disciplined for hearing a new hire laugh, and failing to report it? Will they use AI to search for media mentions of the serious company, and discipline for anonymous posts? Will they hear reports that LW has a visible personality at conferences and off-site client meetings, and deem that a firing offense? I’d be paranoid well before a year was up.

  92. CrazyLadyNextDoor*

    I’m visualizing the opening scenes from the Tom Hanks movie “Joe Versus the Volcano”. Everything is in shades of gray, no one is happy to be there, and they all just bide their time until the whistle blows.

    I can see staying long enough to get something from the experience, but have an exit strategy ready.

  93. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW, when you first wrote to Alison about this and tentatively asked if this company’s policy was normal, the first words of her reply were: “Noooo, this is not normal!” And it really isn’t, you know.

    Alison has also repeatedly warned people that a serious danger of staying in a toxic, abnormal, negative work environment is that very soon you start to see toxicity, abnormality and negativity as the norm. This, in turn warps your own sense of what a healthy workplace should be and you start to gaslight yourself (“This is totally normal, just fine and if I ever have any problem with it, then the problem is ME, not the job!”)

    LW, you’ve already described an environment in which you don’t trust your colleagues (which of them reported you for making a routine, mild joke?), don’t have any relaxed, friendly banter with them and in which your company’s administration does all they can to foster an atmosphere in which you’re all worker bees – not individual human beings. Please don’t downplay the possibility that staying for very long in this job can leave you emotionally numb and beaten down. Because it could!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am sure there is a study somewhere that shows what the lack of humor and jokes does to a part or parts of the brain. The word atrophy strikes me. OP if you find your well-being tanking, then just get out. Don’t keep pushing the envelope for any reason.

  94. VanLH*

    I am glad you are learning skills and I am glad that you haven’t, yet, let this strange policy warp your personality. But please get out of their when you can as I believe it will warp your personality.

  95. Cynthia R.*

    I agree with Allison’s response and would add that the red flag isn’t just the odd policy, but also the overkill in how they approached OP about it. OP made one joke and they brought in HR? If your boss can’t approach you about this directly and less formally, what other things are going to get overblown around there? It sounds like the OP feels that everything else is good so far, but how much of that has to do with them being happy with their work. What happens when reasonable issues arise? Is HR going to get pulled in every time? Yikes!

  96. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

    I would not last long at your workplace. Not being best buds with your coworkers is one thing, but I gotta have some sort of rapport with my team, and I personally don’t know how to build a rapport without humor.

      1. Van Wilder*

        Same and same.

        But the lack of acknowledgement that the holidays existed is so bizarre. I like to imagine that some of them were wearing holiday undergarments as their own form of rebellion.

  97. Macapito*

    I would love a workplace with reduced expectations for social chitchat and certainly less people meandering about trying to work-avoid, but I would literally need to either suppress or change my entire personality to avoid being taken to HR at this particular Borg-like workplace. My only concern about LW’s update is the emphasis on how new they are to working; that seems to me a pivotal time to rationalize, absorb, and normalize dysfunction. I hope that’s not the case here and that it truly works for LW.

  98. Elena*

    Yeah… while odd, i don’t think i would absolutely hate a “no jokes” policy. I can be friendly and social while only being sincere/ factual. But “no friendliness at all”? That’s much worse i don’t think id abide by that

  99. Whimsical Gadfly*

    (I missed the first part and haven’t read all the comments) You know, many would think this would drive me crazy, especially people who know me, but this kind of appeals as an idea (managed differently.) I am so tired of humor as a defense on my own part. I am so very sick of weaponized humor on the part of others. And I especially am just done with dumba$$ humor that seems to have no point other than to make as large a mess as possible.

    A break could be nice.

  100. Delphine*

    I’m incredibly private in the workplace, but I still want to connect with my coworkers on a human level. I congratulate the LW on adapting to the environment, but I also think the broader message here is/should be that this is not a healthy workplace culture. I’m lucky enough to work with extremely professional people with strong work ethics and we still show our personalities!

  101. V2*

    Since I’m physically incapable of responding to “Surely you can’t be serious” with anything except “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” I don’t think this would work for me.

  102. Bread based HR nightmare*

    I was hoping that OP would walk in on a colleague putting on their human skin over their cyborg body.
    But seriously, I worked somewhere like this and it was peaceful for the first week or so and then utterly depressing. Feeling as though you’re just a number and not worthy of getting to know, even on a superficial level, sucked. It also made it impossible to know how best to communicate with people as I had no sense of who they were to go off.
    I worked in the HR team, was made redundant after 8 months (which was a massive shock and very upsetting), was then told they were keeping me on for another 4 months, and during that time not one person in my office spoke to me other than a hello or goodbye. No ‘are you going ok?’ from the person who laid me off who literally sat opposite me. Nothing. They were stunned when I got a new job and resigned. HR said, ‘Oh, we had decided to keep you on and we’re going to tell you next week’….yeah, no thanks.

  103. Texas*

    The fact that the no-humor policy isn’t written down and was never explained to OP until she “broke” the rule makes me think that the people at the office know how bonkers this is but continue to enforce it (while still super beating around the bush in the HR reprimand meeting) because it is What Is Done.

  104. Lynn Marie*

    No parties, no taking collections, no adults dressing up for Halloween and trying to talk me into it too, no “bonding”, no having to laugh at lame jokes, no signing cards, no listening to endless discussions about weekends, golf, football etc etc: just work. Sounds like workplace heaven to me!

  105. That One Person*

    I imagine that, at the very least, nobody pulls that, “You should smile!” junk if they’re busy being super serious. In fact sounds like the kind of place you’d be reported for smiling so maybe not the complete positive. Glad you’re able to make things better via external work avenues though! Sounds like you stand out (in a positive way) thanks to the strange policy of the company.

  106. Deborah*

    I think the main thing for me (sorry I haven’t read through the other comments yet) is that NO ONE EVER TOLD HER this was the policy during her onboarding. Ideally it should have been shared during the interview process too!

  107. Bethie*

    I didnt see the original letter but read it now. Wow. 50% of me liking a job is the people. But that’s me. In my office sarcasm is our love language and thats why I have been here 6 years and turned down other jobs. I love the humor, and cussing, and laughter we have everyday.

  108. Van Wilder*

    Fascinating and thorough update. This sounds terrible to me but I totally get why you chose to stay, and even see the upside.

    I just still can’t get over how the meeting with HR went down. If they have this bizarre policy, why wouldn’t they be super clear about it when you start, and even in the interviews? Anyway…

    Please update us again when you move on. And maybe form a support group for former employees trying to transition back to the world of humans.

  109. Checkert*

    I just keep picturing the banner from The Office: It is your birthday. With a plain white sheet cake and brown, silver, and black balloons that are only partially inflated that match the carpet.

  110. Don*

    Aside from this place’s existence being so fascinating this has caused me some interesting introspection. I find the idea of working someplace like this to be simultaneously horrifying and very appealing. Because I am somewhat of a smart-ass (and this would get a “somewhat?” and raised eyebrow from my family members) but also tend towards wanting my place of work to be the place I go to do my job and hopefully not think about for one nanosecond when I am not there.

    I’d like to think I’m a pretty affable guy but I don’t ever feel a -need- for lasting or deep relationships in my workplace and there’s a lot of ancillary stuff and celebrations in most offices that I’d be delighted to never experience again.

  111. Veryanon*

    I guess they are super productive, but it all sounds very joyless and robotic. I would not last there.

  112. Tirving*

    I would not be able to work at this company. It appears they see their employees as automated robots with no individual personalities.

  113. Mad Harry Crewe*

    WILD! Thank you so much for the update. It sounds like you have good humor (ha) about such a weird working environment.

  114. DTIBA*

    Letter writer, you said you didn’t intend to stay there longer than a year. You would be doing a WHOLE lot of good by, upon your resignation, telling your boss that their no-humor policy is bizarre, extremely off-putting, and completely abnormal.

  115. Hello Dolly*

    Dear LW,
    I too am fascinated by the culture at your workplace. It appears your employer’s formally enshrined ‘No Humour’ policy has in fact, morphed into a ‘No Interpersonal Communication’ practice. The negative effect this has on team cohesion and the opportunities for you and your team members to work with more collegiality is concerning. From a professional development point of view, it is hard to understand how the discouragement of healthy and respectful relationships could be seen as a good thing. At my workplace, the ability to get on with others is seen as the most valuable skill an employee can have.

    Given I suffer from a permanent state of foot-in-mouth disease, I suspect your workplace might be just what I need, but even I wouldn’t mind a the occasional exchange of pleasantries to release me from the ‘great silence’ every now and then.

    Your attitude is spot-on and I hope whatever the future holds for you, it’s not as extreme as what you are experiencing now.

  116. WillBensonCare*

    I agree with previous comments that the issue seems to less be the policy then the implementation. Some people might appreciate this environment, but it would need to be explicitly laid out in interviews and as a policy upon hiring. Having such an unusual policy and then immediately calling in HR when it is unknowingly violated sounds horrific.
    I also think I’m a bit against the crowd here in thinking the birthday and holiday policy sounds great. I love parties, but work birthday and holiday things always feel uncomfortable to me. I’d love a gift card and no awkward card signing etc.
    I’m also a Jew who does not appreciate so called secular holiday parties. I enjoyed them when I was younger, but as the culture has shifted in US and in my area I feel more uncomfortable with the pretending Christmas is secular or for everyone or that it’s trappings are. I’d even like the place that didn’t close for Thanksgiving. I’ve often said I’d rather work Thanksgiving and have Passover off, and I would love a woke place that just gave a larger day off pool and was open for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    I think more managers could consider how assuming the ubiquity of their preference for days off affects minority groups.

  117. Very Social*

    Wow, OP, good for you for making the best of it! And I greatly appreciate that you have stayed on long enough to give us all an update on how this policy actually works :)

  118. Lorraine*

    “I never realized how much the occasional office happy-hour or group lunch can bond people”
    *cries in pandemic/companies pushing remote work*

  119. No Sale Wholesale*

    Kudos to LW for being willing to ride it out a bit.

    In general, I LOATH socializing with coworkers, empty gesture birthday cards, etc. My affect is generally low, and coworkers who don’t know me well, find me really cold. But I have a smart mouth and lack subtlety.

    I have learned to let it be known in interviews about the sass and sarcasm, and gauge the job fit based on how that goes. It is an integral part of who I am as a person. I understand that who I am as a person is not always a good fit for a certain team, job, organization.

    I took a new position 5 months ago, and I am convinced my wit is what got me the job. My boss is a very low key guy, with a sassy streak and I am so thankful I was open about who I was, so I didn’t hinder my working relationships later.

  120. Eve*

    That actually sounds like a profoundly ableist policy, as a number of conditions – both mental and physical – affect emotional regulation in ways that would be non-compatible with it.

  121. TinfoilAllergy*

    I still think this whole thing, including these letters, is some sort of plot, perhaps by an artificial intelligence, to slowly change office culture. Whether to a positive or negative end I do not know, but to an end of some sort.

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