flowery goodbye emails, very fast interview invitations, and more

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

1. Sending flowery goodbye emails to the whole company

I’m writing with a question about the etiquette around announcing your departure from a job. I’ve had a full-time office job for the last several years, since I got my degree in the field I’m working in now. Beyond that, my past work experience is mostly call centers and service jobs.

What I find weird is that, every time someone quits at my job, it’s an unwritten rule that they’ll send out a company-wide email announcing their departure, usually the morning of their last day. The emails are always rather fawning (I’m so sad to be leaving, you are all an incredible bunch of people, I’ve never worked with more talented coworkers, etc.) and include personal contact information for anyone who wants to keep in touch (which seems less weird). For context, the company has around 100 people and often feels like it never quite moved out of start-up mode or adapted as it grew. Is it weird to announce your departure to the whole company when there are more than a handful of people working there?

I recently quit, and I gave my formal notice, had the requisite meetings with my direct supervisor, HR and my manager, and told my team, which I’m inclined to say should be sufficient. I still sent out my company-wide goodbye the day before my last day to avoid ruffling feathers but kept it brief because I was annoyed with the poetic farewells.

This is often a thing at small companies! I like the ones that are like what you might have written in someone’s yearbook in high school — “Brian, I’ll never forget the crazy time we had in Boston! Anita, never stop jamming the copy machine!”

But yeah, you don’t normally see it once the company is larger. What frequently happens, though, is that there’s a transition period where the company is still doing stuff in the way that made sense when they were smaller but doesn’t fit as well now that they’re bigger. You see this play out in lots of areas, including with management systems and practices, where a system (or often a lack of a system) that made sense when you were 10 people doesn’t make sense now that you’ve got 80 people, but it hasn’t been changed yet.

2. Should I ask candidates to respond to interview questions in writing?

What do you think about written interview questions? There was a time when HR asked us (hiring managers) to document all questions and answers from all candidates. It was for equity reasons but it sometimes made interviews clunky. I got in the habit of sending candidates the interview questions and having them send back their written responses. Then in the interview we would discuss or clarify the responses they gave as well as answer questions they may have.

The latest iteration with HR is that they don’t need as much formal documentation, and this puts me in a position to reevaluate my process. Do you think it is too onerous to request candidates submit written responses to interview questions or would most appreciate the opportunity to think about and clearly articulate their attributes as it pertains to the job?

Unless writing is a key skill for the job, don’t do it. Candidates who are good writers will have a sizable advantage over those who aren’t, and there are a lot of people who are great at what they do but aren’t great writers. And even if writing happens to be a key skill that you want to screen for, writing out answers will take most people a ton of time. There are better, faster ways to test for writing ability if you want to.

A different option is to provide at least some of the questions ahead of time but not request written answers. That gives people the opportunity to think through their answers and come up with strong examples from their past to illustrate those answers rather than having to think of them on the spot, which can get you more useful answers and can help level the playing field for candidates who don’t do their best thinking off the cuff (unless strong off-the-cuff thinking is a skill you need in the position).

3. Am I being unreasonable about not returning to the office?

My office, like many others, has started a return to office program after two years of remote work. They’ve started easing people in, a “come in if you want” policy that has seen about 10% of my colleagues return to working in person. The mandate is now changing, though — moving from “come in if you want” to “you will be in the office as many days as you were prior to the pandemic.” For me, this means three days a week back in the office, no exceptions.

I don’t disagree with this policy in theory, though the “no exceptions” clause feels claustrophobic. The major issue, however, is twofold: I moved 50 miles away from the city during the pandemic, which would increase my commute by an hour and a half at least, and I have a child under the age of five who cannot be vaccinated because there is no vaccine available for her age group and I do not want to put her at any unnecessary risk. We still wear masks on the rare times we go out and try to eat outside and as far away from everyone else as possible. We felt so left behind and just barely hanging on. Having to commute two hours one way (likely car to bus to subway) would break me. I’ve managed to secure a limited exception because of the vaccination status of my child, but it’s a clock that’s counting down to a date I don’t know.

I’ve spoken to my manager, who has taken my concerns up the chain. The communication back from upper management has been repeating that there will be no exceptions and every employee is expected back in the office. I’ve tried to work out some remote work arrangements, but I am not eligible for permanent telework since I’m within a predetermined distance of the office (100 miles). I tried to negotiate down to one or two days in the office but was told that once my child is vaccinated, I’m expected back three days a week. I had a frank discussion with my manager where I all but said “this is not tenable long-term and I am rethinking my career options.” They got the message and have been on my side, but I don’t have high hopes.

I guess I say all of this to ask if I’m being unreasonable? I love my job and, more accurately, the amount of money it pays, but at the end of the day it’s just a job.

You’re not being unreasonable, but it also doesn’t sound like they’re going to budge. They’ve told you pretty clearly where they stand, they’ve heard where you stand, and they’re not willing to grant you an exception. Given that, if you want to stay remote, you should start looking at companies that will let you — this doesn’t sound like it will be one of them, unfortunately.

4. I apply for jobs and then get asked to interview that same day

I have been looking for work, mostly low entry-level stuff. Many times now when applying to jobs. I get some kind of reply within an hour or less after filling out an application online or sending my resume. Usually they want me to immediately interview. They are telling me to come in right now at that moment for an in-person interview and then get mad because I can’t or won’t drop everything to come to their interview. They are saying I’m the rude one. Should I start applying to jobs with the intention of having a completely open schedule? This behavior used to be a red flag. Is it still one?

Yes, still very much a red flag! Asking someone to come in right away for an in-person interview isn’t inherently rude, but it needs to be framed as “I realize this is very short notice and might not be possible” — and it’s ridiculous that they’re taken aback when you can’t do it.

There’s an extra layer of weirdness if multiple employers are telling you that you’re rude for not being available. Are you just politely saying you can’t meet at the time they’re proposing or are you responding in a way someone might reasonably find rude? It’s very baffling.

{ 557 comments… read them below }

  1. araminty*

    Big love to OP 3, we’re in the same boat with our little kid. The shifting timelines for when to expect a vaccine make planning ANYTHING impossible. You’re doing a great thing, keeping your little one safe. Well done.

    1. Super Duper*

      Same. It feels like parents of young kids have been completely abandoned by society and governmental institutions throughout this pandemic, and now we’re being forced into a premature “back to normal” despite our kids still not being vaccinated. LW is doing the right thing. It’s not ok that it has to be this hard and possibly at the expense of their job.

      (This is not to leave out other impacted groups of people, like immunocompromised people, the elderly, caregivers, etc. I have close family in these categories so I’m well aware.)

      1. Binky*

        Same here. It’s infuriating.

        The fact that my kid is currently home because there was an in-class exposure to Covid at her nursery school makes this even more salient.

      2. Minimal Pear*

        As someone at moderate risk of complications should I get COVID, I really feel for you guys. Solidarity.

      3. Temperance*

        Yep. Parent of a young baby with a spouse with an autoimmune disease here. We’re well aware of how much this society is willing to take from us without any basic courtesy.

      4. Bea*

        In the same boat over here! I am undergoing cancer treatment that leaves me both immunocompromised and fatigued (and still in pain from the mets). I am so sick of people telling me that it doesn’t matter because kids do ok with COVID. Great. Not all do, there’s still a chance of long COVID, there’s the risk to my own health, and it means I can’t have anybody in the house to help me with our two toddlers. Unfortunately I am still at the point in my treatment where I cannot care for them alone. With cases rising again, we are back to being isolated. It also drives me nuts when people still compare it to the flu. I vaccinate my kids against the flu but can’t vaccinate my kids against COVID yet. Big difference.

      5. MeepMeep02*

        Yup. My kid has a heart condition and my elderly father has an autoimmune disorder (and has had three heart attacks and a stroke). I don’t get why everyone is “going back to normal” now, despite the fact that the virus hasn’t changed, the pandemic hasn’t changed, and there is still no effective cure or prevention for Long COVID. My behavior is still the same as it was in 2020, and I can’t describe the anger I feel on behalf of people like the LW3, who are forced to risk their children’s health because the Powers That Be are acting like toddlers and engaging in magical thinking.

      6. Gumby*

        Do not even get me started on “sure Moderna might be ready but we’re going to wait for Pfizer”… gaaaahhh

      7. chewingle*

        Same. It’s like once the majority of people were given the “option” to vaccinate (whether or not they did it) the rest of us were told tough luck. But we’re still where we were, if not 2 years ago, then at least right when vaccines were rolled out — scared, unsure, and potentially putting ourselves and/or our loved ones at risk.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yeah, same here. I’m lucky that my work has been really relaxed about staying remote. I expect once my kid IS able to be fully vaccinated, I might start coming into the office a bit more often. But my commute is about an hour and a half each way, and that’s a MUCH bigger burden when the household includes a little one, so I expect it still won’t be all that often.

    3. Focus on the important stuff*

      I would focus your boss’s attention on the young unvaccinated child and less on your longer commute. In fact I would never mention that again.

      1. Hazel*

        I agree that not using the commute as a factor will probably yield better results, but do they really consider 100 miles close enough to commute?!?!?!

        1. SixTigers*

          It’s 50 miles one-way. And as someone whose outlying home has (over the years) become “within the DC commuting area,” it’s absolutely insane what is considered ‘within commuting distance’ these days.

      2. GammaGirl1908*

        Agree with this. LW gambled and lost on the move. The company is indeed being unreasonable about certain things, but … you knew where your office was when you chose your new home.

        1. Tattooedballerina*

          Totally! I wouldn’t want to commute that far, but unless the company promised a permanent change to remote work and then totally changed their stance…which it doesn’t sound like, then the LW should have known this day would come.

    4. iglwif*

      I hate OP3’s employer a lot and I hope OP3 finds an awesome new remote job!

      1. Summer*

        You hate OP3’s employer because they won’t let someone who chose to move 50 miles away to wfh permanently? She made her bed, now she has to lie in it. They don’t have to accommodate her poor decision making skills.

        1. ThisIshRightHere*

          This is where I land (though with kinder language :) I have an employee who moved an hour further away and has been trying every which way to make that my problem. “My car’s broken and I can’t get to work because taxis are too expensive,” etc. Our company policy simply doesn’t support that. A lot of colleagues also haven’t realized that the temporary WFH exception that was made during the pandemic was for the benefit of the business, not our personal convenience. As I’m not willing to entertain any more fruitless conversations about her requests for special treatment, she will probably have to end up looking for a job closer to where she lives or applying for something remote.

    5. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I would take the response from the company as, “well, this is the time to look for a new job” because they don’t seem likely to budge. You’ve made that clear so your manager should not be surprised.

  2. Ness*

    I’m sympathetic to LW3’s concerns about their kid, but moving 50 miles away is on them, and is a bit of a weird choice if you expect to need to go back to the office at some point.

    1. ApollosTorso*

      I think the 100 miles in office policy seems odd. A hundred miles or even 50 is a long commute. Plus with housing costs as it stands in many areas, we don’t know how much of this is on them.

      1. my 8th name*

        This is one case (the commuting component, specifically) where I’m not sure there is a “fair” answer. Because, yes, the person living 1.5hr away may have moved bc of COL. But if I give the long-commuters flexibility, but not the local people, I’m sort of penalizing someone for staying local and tolerating the higher COL. They’ll have higher rent and the less ideal work mode albeit a shorter commute.

        To be clear, I don’t think they should force anyone back if their job does not necessitate in-person work, but I don’t like the idea granting an exemption on commute alone.

        1. mreasy*

          This is what we’re dealing with at my company now. We’re in NYC and some folks from Jersey are expected to commute in because they used to, while a colleague who moved to Philly is considered fully remote, even though their commute via transit would be around the same time-wise. Meanwhile I’m in an outer borough and my commute is an hour, which is shorter than some of the farther flung folks! HR has just avoided dealing with any questions thus far – which is super annoying!

          1. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            The smart reply would be hybrid options and WFH based on their tasks plus a lot of flexibility on work hours.

            If your commute is long and the traffic is easier if you work from 7 to 3 and your hours don’t impact others, and if for someone else, traffic is easier when in town and to work from 10 to 6, then let them.

            I remember years ago, an old manager of mine lost one of her best coders because the employer would not consider 7 to 3 because of commute and traffic. “No exceptions!” Until she heard that a 6:30 to 2:30 exception had been granted to someone else. She saw red. (Not sure how that panned out.)

            1. Esmeralda*

              In my very first after-college job, I had a gigantic time suck of a commute if I went to work during typical hours (southern california, 15 miles home to work, no traffic = 20-25 minutes, traffic = 45 -90 minutes). After 6 months I was able to persuade them to shift my hours so I arrived later and left later. Turned out to be more convenient for my internal clients.

              But it took a loooong time to convince them that I wasn’t “cheating” by doing that.

              1. Coppertina*

                Good grief! Sorry they were so hard on you. I returned to my my current employer 6.5 years ago after 4 years at another company. Word was that parking at my train station had started filling up much earlier in the morning so I talked my new manager into a 7:30-4:30 schedule, even though I am NOT a morning person. I work in SF, and at the time, my manager and most folks I work with were in my office. Now I’m in a different role, managing a small team scattered across the other three mainland time zones, and working with a ton of business partners on the east coast. Needless to say, starting early has had a lot of unexpected benefits. I was even more flexible and typically logged on before 7 when we were full time WFH. We’ve RTO’d to a hybrid model of 3 days a week in the office. Those days I start at 7:30 and have taken a productivity hit as a result.

          2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            Interesting! I’m a DC worker and it’s just understood that we have people from VA, MD, WV, PA, DE, etc. Pre-COVID everyone was expected to come in 5 days a week unless otherwise agreed to (we had a few really southern VA guys who worked out a schedule to come up on Monday, stay at a long stay hotel or apartment T-Th and leave Thursday night). But no one in my office would have asked management to approve a move unless you were going to somewhere that would require plane flight to come into the office. But our office was very upfront throughout the whole process that we would be expected to come back into the office at some point. Some people did go live with family in FL and knew that when the recall happened they would have to come back to be in office in DC.

            In my office people would not at all feel sorry for someone that chose to live further away, it’s a somewhat amusing point of discussion when it snows in our area and no one shuts down.

            1. cardigarden*

              *DC wave*
              Yeah I’m in what the weather reports like to affectionately call “our far north and/or western suburbs”. When I mention where exactly I live, everyone goes “oh man that’s so far away, how do you do it?”, but we all understand that it was mine/my family’s choice to live where we could afford a house. It really sucks that my employer has no reason to be sympathetic to that, but that’s just how it is in my company.

          3. Hazel*

            When I moved to New Jersey, I discovered that my commute into Manhattan was half the time it used to take me to get there from Brooklyn. NJ Transit doesn’t run as frequently as the MTA, but still!

        2. pancakes*

          It would be fairer to grant exceptions based on whether people’s work can be done from home (if yes, let them) vs. how far they live from the office.

          1. somanyquestions*

            Agreed. If someone’s job can be done at home, let them. Rewarding people for moving further away is a really weird structure for deciding that.

          2. KRM*

            Exactly. Lots of people choose a lower COL, or bigger house, or school system, or yard, and accept that a longer commute is part of it, or that they have to find a different job. But your commute should not be a factor in if the company has you WFH or not. Feasibility of job for WFH should be the main factor.

            1. Anne Elliot*

              “Feasibility of the job for WFH should be the main factor.” I don’t disagree but even this analysis can be really problematic. In my organization there have been some strong disagreements between certain employees and their managers regarding whether the employees’ jobs can be effectively done at home, either generally (meaning: ever) or specifically (meaning, in light of the specific employee’s productivity, experience, and skill set). It quickly became obvious that it was far easier and had at least the _appearance_ of being fairer, to make everyone work the same schedules.

              We are presently three days in the office and two days WFH, for those who choose to WFH. That applies to everyone, and it’s a major concession in light of pre-pandemic rules, which were that no one could WFH under any circumstances ever

                1. evens*

                  Although you are totally right, there are always people whining because of appearances. See: about 3/4 of the letters to this site. It’s why we can’t have nice things.

            2. Working Mom Too*

              Also with working from home for 2 years and also having kids home full time for a lot of that because all childcare options disappeared, a lot of folks probably didn’t so much choose to “move further away” so muchs as “desperately find a place with enough rooms to make WFH possible under the circumstances. ”

              It’s been TWO YEARS. Toughing it out in cramped quarters for all this time would be horrible.

          3. Allonge*

            Fairer? Perhaps.

            But if you need to make this call for a larger number of people, a lot of companies will want an objective criterion to decide by instead of something like ‘well, Lucy has good IT skills but a bad connection where she lives and if she does not attend the teapot spout meetings live, our department will get all the bad spouts – can she do her job from home?’, times however many employees you have.

            1. pancakes*

              Why would those have to be the questions rather than, “Can Lucy’s job be done effectively from home?”

              1. Allonge*

                What is the answer to that if 70% of the job can be done effectively from home? But we are already creating a second class staff category who have to come in and we are concerned about it? How long should companies work with the ‘there is no broadband connection here’ type of issues if otherwise the office is usable?

                It’s not an easy question, and of course the specific person and their qualities and work circumstances will come up.

                1. pancakes*

                  If it’s 70%, that seems to me a good opportunity for the employer and employee to work out a hybrid schedule. If that doesn’t work for the employee, maybe that is a good opportunity for them to request (and be given priority, depending on seniority?) a transfer to another position that would work. None of this is easy, no, and won’t be for a while.

                  The lack of broadband in some areas is a headache in itself and a terrible contribution to inequality of opportunities, and I really hope the $100 million (I think?) infrastructure bill that passed last year will be helpful.

                2. Allonge*

                  “None of this is easy, no, and won’t be for a while.”

                  But that was my original point: in the meanwhile, a company that wants to give some leeway, will use a semi-arbitratry metric like distance from your work that can be easily used to put someone in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile.

                  Is it an optimal solution? **** no. But it’s easy to implement, and sometimes that’s what a company needs.

                3. Mannequin*

                  “Second class staff categories”

                  Wow…talk about hyperbole!

                  Some jobs require coverage or staff presence in an office. Other jobs do not require butts in seats to be done properly.

                  That differing jobs have different requirements does not make one of those jobs a “second class staff category”, FFS.

                4. pancakes*

                  Yes, agreed Mannequin.

                  Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t see a need to rely on semi-arbitrary metrics. If doing so seems easier but makes a mess in terms of fairness, that’s not ok.

          4. Crimson*

            Exactly. “How far away are you” is NOT the right metric to make this decision based on. My office tried to pull this nonsense and it was pandemonium. Employees who could get in to the office, but the commute took an hour, were rightfully very angry that people who did their exact job moved and were now allowed to work from home forever. I asked my manager “are you really telling me I need to come in 3x per week, but I wouldn’t have to if I moved across the state?” He said yes, and I told him to consider me to have moved across the state. I’m lucky to have enough power here to push back on the nonsense.

            It’s one thing to make exceptions for people because their skills make them valuable enough to keep remote in a job that’s ideally done in person. I’ve done hiring where I was willing to take a remote coworker if they were really exceptional. But trying to decide how big of an issue the commute would be and make choices based on that is just as stupid as changing salary based on things like “Bob has a baby on the way.”

            1. This is a name, I guess*

              It’s also kind of crappy because it’s kind of unfair to people like POC, religious minorities, queers, and people with disabilities, many of whom can’t or don’t want to move to more rural areas. My partner and I live in a major metro with rapidly rising housing costs and lots of people moved one hour away to the “country”, but the exurbs where a lot of coworkers are moving would be really shitty places to live as queer/trans people. Probably also not great for POC. Probably also not great for people who don’t drive and people who must use public transit. Plus, as many people have already mentioned, public transit commuters can spend as much time on the train commuting 15miles as someone who drives 60 miles. Why is mileage the standard and not time? Why are we prioritizing driving?

              Essentially, a policy based on distance is giving a (yet another) benefit to rural Americans and those who can live in rural area, while people who live in cities take the brunt of the policy.

              Not all people who live in cities do so for convenience for work! Many of us do it for community and access to institutions.

              1. evens*

                Honestly, you’re making a lot of assumptions. My cousin and his husband moved to a very small, rural town in a very red area of the country, and they love it and the people there love them. I’m talking about a town of less than 2000. I’m not saying that that’s always the case, but for you to lump “POC, religious minorities, queers, and people with disabilities” into one great monolith of people who are too…picked on to move to rural areas (or suburbs, even?), which you also make a monolith, is pretty prejudiced and missing nuance.

                Also, rural areas are poorer, in general, than metro areas. Maybe it’s good to increase the available jobs in poor areas?

                1. Boof*

                  Thank you; about the only thing that is actually generalizable to suburban and rural areas is reduced or lack of mass transit / likely need a car.

                2. Yeah, nah*

                  I mean, my queer black behind wouldn’t be caught dead in the suburbs of my town — they’re blindingly white, and I’m not particularly interested in starring in the sequel to Get Out.

                  We may not be a monolith, but let’s not act like there aren’t real values to metros that are more important to some of us.

                3. TyphoidMary*

                  “too…picked on?”

                  This is a really insulting way to describe a real risk for many, many people.

                  I’m glad your cousin and his husband feel safe.

          5. IT Manager*

            Yeah I really don’t get policies based on home location. Just offer someone the job, determine if it can be remote or not, and let them decide where to live based on where the job location is.

            I know this is more complicated by ppl moving without approval during Covid, and by employers requiring return-to-office without a legit reason. But the location-based exceptions are weird.

            If someone is making me come to the office just because I’m within 100 miles … I imagine I’d be moving 100 miles away shortly!

          6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            My old office had this debate because the jobs that could be done remotely (at least, according to pre-pandemic logic) were the high-paying technical jobs, and those that “had” to be done from the office were the low-paying admin/office/entry level jobs. The VP of our department spent literally months coming up with a plan that would allow people to WFH if able, or flex their time if not, in a way that eas exactly even across the board…the system was implemented in January 2020. In March 2020 everyone went home for 2 years!

            I was really annoyed at the time because I was in the group that could be done remotely, but I do see his line of thinking. It’s not very equitable if only some people get to have flexibility and others are bound to the 8-5 despite being excellent, responsible workers.

            1. This is a name, I guess*

              Except that most employers could offer flexibility to in-office workers in different ways. Outside a few very specific roles, most jobs that require in-office work have some portion of the job that could be done remotely. Perhaps 90% of these “office essential” staff could work at home 2 days per week. Or 1 day per week. Or they could have more flexible hours (4 10hr shifts). I think some of this is old fashioned rigidity and probably presenteeism and sexism and classism.

              Not everyone wants a 100% WFH job, but I would say most office employee want flexibility over their schedule. Employers could offer more flexibility.

            2. Mannequin*

              I really don’t see how it’s inequitable for different jobs with different duties/job requirements to have different levels of flexibility regarding work location or coverage.

              Some jobs require people to be physically present. Some jobs require a great deal of business travel. Some require days on site at an unpleasant location, some are hazardous.
              It’s not inequitable to have different requirements or standards for these jobs than it is for jobs that don’t require physical presence, travel, roughing it onsite, or putting oneself in danger.

              1. Boof*

                Yeah; is it inequitable that some jobs pay more money? Sure, i mean it’s not equal; but it’s still ok marxism doesn’t work very well no one would want to do hard jobs when easier ones pay the same. Same thing with needing to come in.

            3. Scriveaaa*

              I’m so curious about how you solved for some of those challenges since in my mind a lot of the admin/office/entry level jobs require being physically present there (front desk, filing, etc). Did you find ways to make work remote? Or offer alternate flexibility perks like shifting schedules?

        3. Liz*

          I agree. I have a long commute (55 miles/1 hour each way) and have for over a decade. I truly don’t mind it, and much prefer to live in my lower COLA burg than the big city, but also acknowledge that I shouldn’t get special treatment because of it — if roads are especially bad because of weather, or if I have a super late evening at work and don’t feel like turning around and driving back 10 hours later, I’ll use a PTO day.

        4. Avril Ludgateau*

          But if I give the long-commuters flexibility, but not the local people, I’m sort of penalizing someone for staying local and tolerating the higher COL.

          To this, my answer would be: “then extend the same flexibility to the locals (duh?)”

          When you have the option to make things better for everyone or worse for everyone… Why ever err on the latter?

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            Because many jobs really do have coverage needs, or elements that must be done in-person, or other reasons why it’s less effective to have most people working mostly from home. If only 10% of people will come on site when given the option, but you need at least 50% of people on-site to operate at full capacity, you do need to make some kind of policy requiring on-site work. From there it’s just a question of how it’s distributed.

            1. Software Dev (she/her)*

              But if all of those people have the same job, you’re unfairly penalizing people who are closer to the office. If you have a job that has coverage elements that /must/ be in office, you shouldn’t allow people who aren’t able to come to the office to take the job.

        5. Aiani*

          I’m just now considering that one day my job might require me to come back full time and I will have to quit. I had a stroke a t the beginning of the year and I don’t drive anymore. Also going back full time would be far too exhausting and it’s only a small inconvenience for my job if I work from home. I think this is a reasonable accommodation and thankfully my boss agrees and he’s just glad I’m alive.

          ForOP #2, Alison’s suggestion is also more disability-friendly. I’m typing this response with one hand and it is taking forever with a lot ofmistakes. Thank goodness for auto corect.

        6. PlainJane*

          I don’t know. Maybe if enough people move, the companies will start to consider moving to cheaper COL areas. We can’t be crammed into the New York, Seattle, and San Francisco areas forever.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        100 miles is particularly odd in the context that 50 miles is a two-hour commute. Maybe the next 49 miles would all be empty freeway, but that’s still going to be a three-hour commute, which is astonishing.

        I WFH now but my previous fifteen-mile journey was 90 minutes each way. Setting the limit at 100 miles may as well be a thousand miles and therefore feels very like they want literally everyone in the office regardless, as LW is discovering.

        1. KateM*

          It’s two hour commute “car to bus to subway”. It could that it would be much less if it was car only and the PTB are calculating it from that perspective.

          1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

            Yeah, I’ll bet some of that time (maybe a good chunk) includes waiting for the bus and waiting for the subway. I’ve done commutes like that, and those wait times can really add up!

            1. KateM*

              Also, buses tend to use the same roads as cars but slower due to stops, unless they are express. Now trains are another thing – from where I live, commute by train to city centre takes about as much as by car (during rush hours train would win, outside rush hours car).

            2. RabbitRabbit*

              My old (15ish mile) commute was an hour door-to-door in the morning, but generally closer to an hour and a half in the evening. The longer evening delay was due to taking a shuttle bus from work, through near-rush-hour downtown traffic, to the train station. Then I’d have to wait for whenever the next train might be based on my arrival time. The morning trip didn’t have that problem, with lighter traffic for the shuttle bus.

            3. Esmeralda*

              Driving the whole way in a car = cost of wear and tear on vehicle, gas (an ever increasing expense), parking costs, in addition to the physical and mental toll it can take. Even if you’re not reading/working on the subway, you don’t have to be mentally alert and physically present the way you do when you drive.

              Possibly also add in the cost of a car, since driving 300 miles a week might push a beater over the edge, whereas short jaunts to the park-n-ride lets you keep your old car longer.

          2. The Original K.*

            Yeah, I had a 90-minute commute that was a bus and two trains. The actual distance was like 15 miles, and on the rare days I drove (I didn’t own a car but sometimes I borrowed one; the job was temporary so buying one didn’t make sense) the commute was like half an hour. I remember thinking I could have biked faster than taking public transportation, except there was a highway involved so biking was out. It was a reverse commute so public transportation options were less efficient.

          3. BongoFury*

            I assumed the car-bus-subway is because parking wherever the office is costs a fortune, and of course the employer doesn’t care about that so much.

          4. WantonSeedStitch*

            Yeah, I live in a major metropolitan area, and my office is in a different part of that metro area (opposite sides of the big city). My commute by car would be about half an hour, I think. But…I don’t drive. I walk about 25 minutes to the subway and take the subway in. Then when I get off the subway, getting to the office requires either another 20-25 minute walk, or a wait and a shuttle or bus ride. Depending on the timing of when I get to the other end of the subway trip, one might end up being faster than the other. If we were looking at distance as a factor for whether we could work remotely or not, I would probably be considered too close to qualify. But someone who lives farther away and drives in would probably have a shorter commute than I do. Fortunately, we go by whether your job can be done from home or not. Mine can.

        2. londonedit*

          I live 9 miles from our offices in central London but I allow an hour to get there – 20-minute walk to the station (I could get the bus but half the time you’re sitting in traffic in the morning), 25-minute tube journey, five-minute walk the other end, time built in for any tube delays and/or picking up a coffee on my way into the office. In contrast I have friends who live in the south-west of England and commute to and from Bristol, which is about 50 miles each way but also takes an hour to drive.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          The 100 mile rule is an excellent illustration of how hybrid can be the worst of both worlds. Go fully remote and the geographic possibilities open wide up, even if there are issues with state lines. But with hybrid, you still need to be close enough for the drive to be reasonable.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            The rise in hybrid jobs has also made job searching a new kind of weird. I limit my search to remote and get a list of “remote in Houston TX” and “remote in Washington State” instead of actual remote jobs that I can do from where I actually live.

            1. Methuselah*

              Yes. This is happening to me. None of the remote jobs I am qualified for are in my state, and I’m unable to move, and unable to work in person anymore. I need something WFH but with all the limits like the one you mentioned or “we will be coming back soon” or “hybrid WFH only” or “must travel for meetings” I’m getting concerned instead of work I’m going to have to just file for disability and live in poverty.

              1. pancakes*

                We urgently need more clarity and more reliable search functions for WFH positions. “We” as in everyone. No one honest benefits from obscuring this information.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  We posted jobs recently that will be permanently remote beginning in July, and the way our university website formats job postings, you the fact the the positions were remote was a small note at the bottom of the job description. No way to highlight that it was remote for those who wished to embrace or avoid that, just a footnote.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I agree, but the distance you can live from an office you only attend once a week could be further than the distance from an office you need to go to every day.

          3. This is a name, I guess*

            What hybrid work changes is the radius people are willing to commute, I think. I’ve seen hybrid jobs in Boston that I’ve considered applying for. I grew up in New England, and I don’t want to live in Boston. I would, however, live about 60mi outside of Boston because driving 60mi each way once per week is totally do-able. Doing it everyday is too much.

        4. Baby Yoda*

          The 100 mile rule probably was adopted from HUD– there’s a rule that if a buyer wants to keep a home with an FHA loan on it (and get another FHA loan) when relocating, the new job must be more than 100 miles away.

      3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, I’m reasonably sympathetic to employers who want people in the office and I think there can be very legitmate reasons for that, even in jobs that theoretically could be done remotely. But the 100 miles policy seems….very arbitrary? And makes me question their judgement a bit.

        Maybe there’s a legitmate reason for this I’m not seeing.

      4. anonymous73*

        50 miles may be a long commute, but it’s still a choice made by the employee. I live in MD and won’t even consider a job in certain areas of the state because of commute and traffic.

        1. Coppertina*

          Not necessarily. My large, well known, financial services employer used the pandemic WFH period as an opportunity to consolidate, by department, groups of employees that had been scattered across multiple offices within metro areas. Two of my team of four were reassigned to new, more distant offices. One of the two had enjoyed a 15-minute each way commute for 18 years and now faced triple that. Problem is: That’s not what she signed up for. Worse, our team largely works with partners in other groups, so this person got zero benefit from her new, 45-minute commute. I get it, because the nature (e.g., seat on a train vs. stop-and-go traffic) and length of my commute is an important consideration for me. It’s quite likely I’ll lose this employee over this ridiculously rigid policy.

      5. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Right? And of course if you live 50 miles away then your commute *is* 100 miles, so that should factor into the equation. But really the policy should be based on commute time. If you live in a rural area with no traffic, a 50-mile commute might take an hour but where I live near a major city in the northeastern US, 50 miles is at least 90 minutes and at rush hour could easily be over two hours. That’s untenable (I know, I did it for only seven months and it was awful). And even an hour one way is a long commute.

        Sorry, LW, but I think you’re likely going to have to move to a company with more flexible WFH policies. I agree with Alison that I don’t see them budging on this. It sucks that you’re company is like this, though.

        Oh, and Ness – I don’t think you can blame LW for moving 50 miles away during the pandemic. Perhaps LW moved to be closer to family and childcare, or to be someplace more affordable or with more outdoor activities that are safe for an unvaccinated child. So many people did and I don’t blame them in the least. This is 100% on the company for not realizing after two years of allowing their employees to WFH that the situation is working out just fine and butt-in-seats policies are going to lose them good employees. I would be willing to bet LW isn’t the only person at their company who feels this way.

        1. MeepMeep02*

          Yup. We did that – moved about 100 miles away because of the pandemic. We lived in an extremely high COL city. We lost our childcare when COVID started, and due to the fact that our kid is high-risk, we could not risk any sort of childcare at all. This meant that I could not work. The only way for both of us to be able to work was for my parents to move to our area and provide childcare during my work time. They could not afford to live in the high COL city where we lived.

          So, pretty much the only solution that enabled both of us to work was for us, and my parents, to move to a nearby city with a much lower COL, so that my parents could provide childcare while I worked. Thankfully, we are both self-employed and our WFH arrangement is permanent, so we could do that. But I would not call this an entirely voluntary move.

      6. Orange+You+Glad*

        Agreed. My company is just starting to look at return to office policies and they are setting a 60-mile radius to determine remote vs. hybrid. They are also giving managers wide discretion to determine who else should be remote and how often a hybrid person must be in the office. If I had an employee in LW3’s situation I think it would be a good case for keeping them remote and if that failed maybe just ask them to come in the office once a week or every other week.

      7. Momma Bear*

        Agreed on the 100 miles. My mother lives 100ish miles away in an entirely different state. That’s a very long commute.

        Also, not sure if it’s the same everywhere, but our transit system has cut bus routes, increased fares, shortened schedules and basically made itself horrible for daily commuting. What was feasible prior may not be so easy now.

    2. Mid*

      Honestly, why do they need to go back though? Especially since their employer’s previous stance was “come back if you want to” and then they changed it? So I don’t think their move is a weird choice at all. I don’t think anyone should be forced to go back to the office unless you can actually show it’s necessary for their job—and those positions have long since been made apparent.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        It sounds like when the LW employees were working from home because of COVID. Come back in if you want was the transition from that to them requiring people to return which they have implemented.

        The LW is not being unreasonable but the commute is untenable now presumably because they moved. She should acknowledge that part was her decision while also likely acknowledging she hoped that the company wouldn’t force her to return to regularly working in the office. It sounds like they’re not budging so unless she wants to move back close to the office, it’s time to job hunt.

      2. MK*

        That’s just not true. Many jobs can mostly be done from home, to a degree that was acceptable when there was no other choice, but it’s not the best option. I wish people would drop the “my job was done remotely in the pandemic, so that means it should be done remotely forever” line, unless they can back it up with actual data. It’s a weak argument when your employer knows that it didn’t work as well as you claim.

        Also, unless the previous stance was communicated as being permanent, it’s not a case of “changing”. We are in a pandemic and making decisions with the facts we had at every point; going from 100% remote to “come if you want” to hybrid is perfectly reasonable and very common.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Oh yes – and one thing which I think some of those who do/did work from home missed is the extra work that people still on site did to make it work.

            In the first lock down we had as any people working from home as possible (parts of our function were classed as essential so we were allowed to continue in person where needed, so we had a combination of people WFH, people working some hours from home, and staggering hours to maintain distance while physically in the building, as well as working with our staff to adjust duties so that no-one was forced to come in)
            It meant more work for those in the office to facilitate those who weren’t. For the pandemic emergency we made it work, and we’ve looked at what did work, and what things can be changed to work better, to facilitate home working, so we are able to offer hybrid working where appropriate, but for most of what we do, WFH was just good enough / better than nothing – it very definitely *wasn’t* anything like as effective as having people in person. We have some roles which can be done partially from home, there are some roles which can’t. We don’t have any which can currently be fone 100% remotely and that’s unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

            And dealing with third party companies where they were all WFH and in some cases still are, it’s very obvious that in a great many cases, it’s a lot less effective.

            I have a lot of sympathy for those who want to WFH or who have vulnerabilities or vulnerable family members which make returning more difficult or risky, but I think in many cases the argument that it was made to work during lockdown isn’t a strong argument for making it permanent, you need to look at the specifics of how effectively it actually worked or can be made to work, and what additional support or adjustment is needed to make it work effectively

            1. QuickerBooks*

              And dealing with third party companies where they were all WFH and in some cases still are, it’s very obvious that in a great many cases, it’s a lot less effective.

              I’ve been thinking for a while now that as we begin to accept pervasive WFH as a default position, in spite of reduced effectiveness in some cases, it won’t be long before a new generation of business start-ups spot the opportunity in the market. They will “discover” that working with collocated, onsite teams leads to lower cost/better product/better customer experience, etc. and their businesses will gain an advantage in the marketplace for it.

              Obviously this won’t be true in every single industry. But in some it will be.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Great, and I hope they’re still able to deliver a low cost product while paying their workers more to incentivize them to come in every day. I think businesses are realizing a lot of workers prefer a flexible arrangement and are willing to accept less pay to get it.

                1. QuickerBooks*

                  Yeah, I think that is true, and in a way, is self-correcting. Businesses either can find employees or they can’t. They either can deliver a product consumers want or they can’t. They either can function sustainably or they can’t. Employees either do like working for the company or they don’t. Either it will work or it won’t.

              2. Oakwood*

                I’m sure these will be the same people who discovered how the open office increased productivity.

                1. Ace in the Hole*

                  Which in some contexts, it does! I work in an open office and it’s much more efficient for us than individual offices would be. That’s partly due to the nature of our work, partly due to having a small office with only five people.

                  I think the biggest thing employers need to learn is that context matters. Open offices work great in some contexts, and are hellish in others. WFH is great in some contexts, and frustratingly inefficient in others. Etc.

              3. MeepMeep02*

                Great. Let them do it and pay their employees accordingly, and then pay the extra disability insurance for any Long COVID concerns (I wouldn’t come to any onsite location unless I were insured for this eventuality and I’m sure I’m not alone), the extra sick leave for caring for their COVID-afflicted little children who are too young to be vaccinated, and the extra sick leave associated with quarantines for the employees.

          2. Gnome*

            I was going to say something similar. I am essential and did WFH a lot, but there were things that HAD to be done at the office. The extra work if coordinating meetings when people just didn’t want to come in (not because of COVID or childcare, just “I want to WFH on Thursday this week”) added a couple hours to my workload each week. Multiple projects had to have deadlines extended because the back and forth that needed to happen got delayed repeatedly (had to be in person). Moreover, anything time sensitive fell in those who chose to come in, who were already covering extra.

            I say all that as a person who was only in about 15% of the time! I was pretty annoyed when the company rolled out a hybrid schedule that was implemented in a choose-your-own way because people refused to put work needs above anything else (oh, I can’t come to that client meeting because that’s my telework day). Note that parents of young kids and medically fragile people were NOT the ones doing this.

            1. Oakwood*

              Companies that choose to retain WFH for many employees will have to rearrange work responsibilities.

              They will probably also have to pay a premium to those that routinely go into the office.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is coming out in a lot of contexts now–if you made Thing be workable during the pandemic, why aren’t you happy to keep doing it this way? I suspect it contributes to the Great National Grumpiness that has been commented on a few times this past month.

            1. KRM*

              Being workable =/= let’s do it this way forever because it’s amazing!!!
              A friend of mine’s job was considering “WFH for everyone unless you are running an event on site” before the pandemic, because for that job it makes sense. Meetings were all online anyway due to the job having presence in several different timezones. So it made sense and still does. Not all jobs can do that! Sometimes the fact that you have made WFH useful for the job doesn’t mean that it can and should be permanent. Maybe more flexible, but there has to be compromise over what the employee wants vs what actually works for the business.

            2. SoloKid*

              It was workable for me to do bare bones software dev for my team during the pandemic.

              Being in person helps spur spontaneous discussion that puts final polishes on a tool my coworkers use when I can actually see them use it on the factory floor. (and is what makes my job enjoyable).

              That said I DO prefer going in 1-2 days a week instead of every day. The flexibility is key.

            3. Ace in the Hole*

              We made two-day workweeks for most staff workable during the pandemic to ensure redundancy of staff for critical operations in case we had to quarantine an entire work crew. To be clear, that was 2 days at work, 3 days on call at full pay – no one lost any wages.

              The consequence was shutting down absolutely all non-essential services, running with a skeleton crew, and working everyone to the bone every day they were on site. It was workable, but no one was happy.

              This is an extreme example of course, but there are many things that are workable for a while in an emergency that are not acceptable as a permanent state of affairs.

        1. GythaOgden*

          The people who never had a chance to work remotely thank you for this. We have kids too (not me, but my supervisor and quite a few of the cleaners, maintenance guys and outside tradespeople do) and we don’t get to escape a high COL area or a commute.

          About 70% of the workforce simply didn’t have the luxury, a sizeable number of people are required to work non-remote to keep that infrastructure managed, and WFH needs to be placed in its proper context before people start getting frustrated by being asked to start shouldering a burden that was on a sizeable part of the population to begin with.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            All of this is true, but if society moves to accept WFH more wholesale then I would have thought that COL differences would begin to smooth out – simply because the competition for prime real estate will diminish both in city centres and within easy commuting distance of those.

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Knowing a handful of people who work at (and some who have run) companies that function entirely remotely, I think we are further away from this reality than many people think.

            2. Allonge*

              COL might smooth out but not necessarily in the direction you want. So far we have seen a lot of places getting more an more expensive as the WFH-ers moved in, so at least the anecdata is concerning.

              1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

                Yes. And I think there are a lot more things impacting COL and housing prices than just where the workers are; we probably have more systemtic changes to make if we want to see this stuff become more reasonable. Remote work is not going to be a pancea for this.

              2. Humble Schoolmarm*

                I agree. My region has become popular with telecommuters who enjoy the space, (previously) low housing prices, good covid record and general quaintness (ugh). Unfortunately this has made housing prices skyrocket and all but the most affluent locals are getting priced out of the market. As an added complication, people like OP who expected permanent WHF are now an 18 hr drive or 2hr flight away from their home offices. It’s a concerning situation, so while I have a lot of sympathy for the op and would certainly feel the same way in their shoes, I can’t help thinking that this eventuality was something that was fairly expected and should have been factored in to the moving decision.

                1. londonedit*

                  This has been the case in the south-west of England for years (and I expect other desirable spots; I know about the Westcountry because I grew up there). People from London/the south-east buying up houses in desirable towns and villages to use as weekend/holiday homes, meaning exorbitant prices and absolutely no chance for people growing up in those areas to get themselves on the property ladder, and meaning less of a sense of community in those places because half the village is empty Monday-Friday. There’s also very little on the rental market as most rentals are AirBnB/holiday lets rather than long-term tenancies.

                2. justabot*

                  This has happened in my area too. The telecommuters from other area have descended on our coastal town, buying up properties in cash as soon as they hit the market, if not before, and housing prices are the highest they have ever been. The locals are getting priced out. It’s the hospitality and service workers who have hour+ commutes each way just to get to work for jobs that can’t be done from home.

              3. After 33 years ...*

                In my place, we saw this pre-2020, when an acceptable one-way commute went from 5 miles to 50 miles within a few years – small communities with only older houses suddenly became desirable, and house prices increased accordingly. We’re now seeing a relapse as gasoline prices increase sharply. WFH is less of a factor here.
                In our place, some tasks cannot be done as WFH. No matter how accommodating we want to be (and we tend to be accommodating), in some cases people simply will have to come in some days.

              4. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Yes, my team is going permanently remote starting in July this year, and I started looking at real estate in a rural area a couple counties over that has historically been much cheaper than here in the metro area. I was shocked to see that prices there have risen and now are largely comparable to what they are here. I think it’s partly because people are buying them as airbnbs and partly because remote workers can now afford to live in this scenic area.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  “because remote workers can now afford to live in this scenic area”

                  Not *afford*; I mean that they’re able to because they’re now remote.

            3. londonedit*

              There was a lot of talk two years ago about vast numbers of people abandoning London and moving away from the city because all of a sudden they were WFH and they couldn’t stand being in a small flat with no outdoor space. And now since the beginning of this year, searches on property sites for flats in London are up 98% on 2021 because more people are going back to the office, at least on a hybrid basis, and they’re realising that being in the middle of nowhere or living somewhere that might be cheaper on rent/mortgage but involves an hour on the train and a giant season ticket fare isn’t hugely sustainable. So London rents are going to skyrocket again (not that there ever was all that much of a drop; maybe this time two years ago when everyone was terrified you might have got a bargain on a flat, but not in the last year or so).

                1. Avril Ludgateau*

                  But so are real vacancies (beware of any reports claiming 2% vacancies – look up warehousing). We need to accept that NYC rents are a landlord problem.

                  NYC is very much having the “problem” of people simply refusing to return to the office (wherever they happen to live) to the point the mayor is threat-begging them to come in. Frankly, it’s very “on brand” and makes me so proud.

                2. Koalafied*

                  @Avril, my Google searches for “warehousing” “rent warehousing” and “reveal vacancy warehousing” are bringing up nothing but commercial warehouses for rent. Can you elaborate on what this term is referring to in your post?

                3. Avril Ludgateau*

                  @Koalafied the term “apartment warehousing” might come up with more specific responses, but I wonder if my google results are tied to my location, so try “new york apartment warehousing”, “manhattan apartment warehousing”, etc.

                  “Warehousing” refers to the act of taking occupiable units off the market, basically listing them as uninhabitable (e.g. “under renovation”, even when no renovations are being done) to avoid being penalized for high vacancies (which can apply to new developments that got tax subsidies and breaks) or being forced to lower rent (because empty units means there is more supply than demand, and gives tenants more bargaining power on rent). There are even claims of collusion between landlords that amounts to price fixing which is tangentially related to the accusations of warehousing.

              1. Bagpuss*

                Yes, and some people who moved out and found that they don’t like living outside a city – perhaps less of an issue when everything was closed so they couldn’t go to restaurants, theatres, clubs, exhibitions etc anyway, but hitting home as things reopen., so even without the costs of the commute they find it doesn’t suit them.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yep – having grown up in the country and with parents who still live there, it’s a hell of a culture shock when you realise you have to drive two miles to the next village for a pint of milk and that no one will deliver a takeaway to your front door. I can cope with their small village for a week or two over Christmas but that’s my limit!

          2. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            I fear a larger divide, socially and probably economically, between those who can permanently WFH and those in service industries who can’t. I also think there may be more class resentment since WFH is pretty much a privilege of the middle and upper income. And the more people who WFH might mean the jobs of office cleaners and support personnel will disappear.

              1. pancakes*

                No, not this crabs-in-a-bucket mindset, please. There is already a massive income inequality divide and there was well before the pandemic. If it is nonetheless new news to you, you need more context. This has been a trend over the last forty years at least and many, many, many smart people have better analysis on it than “people who can WFH are the real enemy,” and “service workers and white collar workers should not have solidarity.” It is of vital importance to understand class before trying to do class warfare and you’ve got it all wrong.

                1. Office Lobster DJ*

                  I think you’re glossing over some important context, pancakes. To get at the heart of the divide Snoozing mentions (“socially and probably economically”), you might want to check out some of the pieces and related comment sections on this very site. The divide and attendant resentment are not all about money and income inequality which, no doubt, existed long before the pandemic. It’s about things like who had the luxury of being afraid, whose safety was prioritized, who gets erased from the narrative, who got zero reward for risking their lives or taking on any of the additional burdens necessary just to keep the lights on.

                2. pancakes*

                  You are speaking as if I haven’t been reading those comments alongside you. I have. I think it’s a big mistake and bad analysis to use the comments on this site as a proxy for “who gets erased from the narrative,” etc., because it’s not a microcosm of the world or scale model of it. People who don’t work at desk jobs, for a start, don’t tend to have a lot of time to comment online during the workday. And more importantly, 95% or so of those of us who have jobs that can be done from home are not the same people deciding who gets rewarded for being essential and who does not.

                3. Office Lobster DJ*

                  Ah, but I’ve been an on-site essential worker this whole time, so I speak from my own experience. I’m not taking the comment sections as a proxy for anything. Fwiw the comment sections do ring true to my own experience. It’s anecdata, of course, but please don’t wave away all of those comments as a sampling error.

                  In any case, I’m not interested in debating who here has the power to do what; I’m just saying that it’s facile to try to snarkily boil this down to mere discontent over income inequality.

                4. pancakes*

                  Not trying to be snarky! And not trying to boil this down, really. I’m pretty much always in favor of more nuance, and talking about income inequality and class resentment often requires a lot of it. I also don’t disagree that the comments on this site ring true for the people writing them, or that many will resonate with a larger sphere of people who don’t have the time or inclination to join in.

                  I think any discussion of whose safety gets prioritized in the work world, who gets to air their fears publicly, who gets rewarded fairly, etc., should include a look at where and how money flows, in addition to how people feel about it. Feelings on their own do not tell a complete story.

          3. Oakwood*

            The fact that a home inspector needs to be on site to do his job has no bearing on whether a web programmer needs to be in the office to do theirs?

            I have an in-law that reviews medical files to determine is the patient would be a candidate for medical trials. It’s completely computerized. She sits at a desk and works on a computer all day.

            The company also has an employee that maintains the servers on site. Troubleshoots hardware errors, replaces hardware, updates and reboots the system, and such. He has to be on site to perform his job.

            Should she go into the office everyday because the person maintaining the servers does? Of course not. The two jobs have no bearing on each other.

            Jobs are different. They always have been. I used to complain about the people that had cushy office jobs when I was pressing shirts all day for a living.

            BTW, my in-law’s WFH job started long before the pandemic. The only way they could find enough people with the skills for the job was to go national. They could have never staffed the positions from a single city.

            And, it saved the company money. My in-law actually took a step down in pay (from working full time as a nurse) because of the WFH aspect of the job.

            WFH will become just another job benefit (like medical) that companies will offer. Yea, not all companies or jobs will offer it, but some will.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              This point. My team has been entirely virtual since I started this job. Nearly everyone is work from home. Even I acknowledge we have lost something with virtual meeting especially for design. The funding for travel has been slashed and the requirement to justify travel was there before COVID. Occasional travel for meeting is basically no more so we aren’t haven’t any in person meetings. Technology is improving to make online meetings easier at least.

              But the business pro is that they can hire anyone, anywhere in the US (we do have some specialized hard to find skill sets) and we no longer have to pay for office space. That’s worth it even with the loss of efficiency with online design meeting and other in person collaboration lost.

        2. Virginia Plain*

          This exactly. Unless the LW’s company closed their office, sold off the building and made it clear to employees that they’d realised the job could be done fully remotely and nobody would ever have to come to the office again, then it’s only logical to assume at least some office attendance would one day return to be the norm. Why would you think lockdown would last forever? The LW has effectively created her own problem by moving too far from her place of work and now wants the company to solve that problem – and they can’t/won’t. If there hadn’t been a pandemic you wouldn’t move far away and subsequent expect full time wfh to be granted after presenting bosses with a fait accompli. She’s made a rod for her own back.
          Fwiw my company, in central London,!is back in the office three days a week too. If I told my boss I’d moved from Putney to Portsmouth during the pandemic and wanted to wfh full time as a result, I’d get the same answer as LW has.

          1. Saberise*

            Exactly. We were looking to move closer to my job pre-covid. After we all started working from home and they saw how well it worked they decided even after everything was more or less back to normal we would never return to the office full time. And said at most it would be 1 or 2 days a week. So we ended up looking further out and it ended up that I now have a 50 minute commute rather than a 40 minute commute. Which I hate and pray that I won’t have to do 5 days a week. But nonetheless I bought that house knowing that they could just as easily change their minds and make us go back 5 days a week. That is the gamble I am taking. So far we are still just at 1 day a week. Hopefully that continues to be the case.

        3. TechWorker*

          I would add to this that jobs that rely on very collaborative work have the additional complication that it might have worked ok remotely for a couple of years, where people already had really strong relationships. It’s been really hard for new graduates, but manageable for everyone else… & it would get worse over time.

          1. Gnome*

            Great point! I have had multiple new folks I’ve worked with and it has bet very challenging in some respects. I really went out of my way to get to know them too.

            1. After 33 years ...*

              +1 New people have had significant challenges in relationship-building in my spot, despite others’ best efforts.

            2. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

              Oh, IDK. When I was new I started onsite 4-5 days per week. It’s a huge nationwide company and it was still difficult! Only plus was that immediate HR or IT was right there in the building.

          2. HMS Cupcake*

            This! I’m currently hybrid right now and of course I enjoy my WFH days, but my team added 4-5 new staff since the beginning of the pandemic and it’s very clear that they haven’t really built the relationships within and across teams as would normally be the case. Most of our work can be done independently, which is why the pre-pandemic staff were able to transition to remote successfully. But if everyone were in the office, there’d still be discussions of cases and other contextual factors that would benefit new staff to know. This is the sort of thing that’s missing.

            As for LW3, I honestly have no sympathy for distance/commuting as a factor for remote/hybrid work. These are choices that you make, i.e. whether to move away from your job or accept a job far away, and you shouldn’t impose that as a reason you suddenly need accommodation.

          3. Another Tech Worker*

            +100 to this. I was previously at a remote-first company that tried to show that you can have just as good of company culture, collaboration, onboarding, and work relationships remotely. But it just wasn’t the same. I then joined a hybrid company and it’s been a night and day difference.

            1. Blue*

              Exactly this. While the option is nice for those who want it, I hope I never have to join a remote team. A bunch of Linkedin recruiters will send over job descriptions that emphasize that the job is REMOTE!!! and I am just not interested in the least. Hybrid schedules are by far the best for me.

          4. Momma Bear*

            I’ve worked FT remote, hybrid, and FT in the office. They all have their pros and cons. One big con for me is when too many people are not in one place (be it online with a chat function or in the office), information gets missed. Just today I found out that I was not privy to the progress of a project. I’m glad I had the sidebar with someone in the hall.

            There are a lot of factors in where to work and when to work. For it to “work”, everyone needs to be on the same page. Talk about random schedules makes me cringe. Everyone should have a time/days they are expected to be available and they should largely stick to that. Never knowing where someone is becomes a problem in its own right. My boss expects me to keep core hours, no matter where I work from.

        4. QuickerBooks*

          I’ve been low-key terrified to express this same opinion privately or publicly for months now. I work high up in a relatively small business. We went fully remote 2 years ago, and people loved it. We do knowledge based work, so the transition, while difficult, was possible.

          Two years later, the business is in shambles. Getting any little thing done seems like a huge struggle these days, and morale has now taken a huge hit. However, every time I nibble at the edges of “maybe we should start coming back to the office”, I am met with, “Why? I can do my job just as well at home!”

          Ok, but a team is more than just the sum of its individual parts. Just because you can do your job at home doesn’t mean the team functions just as well with everyone at home.

          1. DataSci*

            Then give some specifics. Where I work the upper management is all “You can’t build relationships over Zoom!” Which is true, but it’s a tiny fraction of my work. They also all have actual offices to go to at the office, rather than hot-desking at an open-plan office (And despite requesting one months ago, Facilities still hasn’t given me a locker, so I can’t keep so much as a coffee cup at the office.)

            So, for me, when I work from home, my day goes like this:

            * Make some coffee.
            * Go log in, at my desk where everything is set up and I have my external monitor.
            * Do my work, divided between individual knowledge work and meetings that almost always span multiple geographic locations.
            * Am able to jump on a quick call or be added to a meeting very easily.

            In the office, it goes like this:
            * Remember to bring in my travel coffee mug, because there’s no way for me to get more at the office.
            * Find an available desk, unpack my bag, curse for the fiftieth time about the external monitors being Windows-only (despite claiming otherwise) and the currently-still-virtual tech support not being useful for hardware issues.
            * Do my work, for every meeting needing to go find a room so I can zoom in (sometimes with 1-2 other team members in the same office) to talk to teams in other cities.
            * Need to go find a room again every time I need to hop on a call or join a meeting.

            The one advantage of being in-office – whiteboarding / brainstorming sessions with people in the same office – is, as far as I’m concerned, something that can easily be covered by going in once a week or so. If you have real problems that can only be addressed by requiring butts in chairs, then say that! Don’t say “maybe we should start coming back in”, say “I’ve noticed that the turnaround time on requests has gotten much longer, and being in-person should help with this.”

            As for morale, what makes you think it’s being remote that’s causing it? If that were the case, wouldn’t people jump at the chance to go back in?

            1. A Feast of Fools*

              My in-office actual work looks exactly the same as my WFH actual work: Sit in front of my three monitors, chat with co-workers in Teams, call co-workers over Teams, have the occasional video meeting over Teams.

              The difference is that when I go into the office, I have to wake up at 5:30 AM to be in my cube by 8:00 AM; I wear an uncomfortable N95 the entire time I’m inside the building; I eat lunch in my car; I have a dehydration headache by the end of the day because I can’t sip water through an N95 mask; and then I get to sit in my car for an hour to drive home.

              And, for the record, my department’s best year ever — across all metrics — was 2021, when everyone except the VP and two kiss-up managers was working from home the entire time.

              We’re supposed to be in the office 2 days a week now, but I’ve been showing up 1 day a week on most of the weeks (and not going in at all on the other weeks). And that’s primarily because I get half the things done on in-office days as I do when I WFH. I am not productive *at all* in the office. And neither are most of my colleagues.

        5. BethDH*

          And that while I can do my job just as well remotely, some of my colleagues can’t do their jobs as well when I am remote. Not because they’re picking up my slack but because it requires them to take extra steps, or because we can’t interleave short tasks as effectively.

        6. PB Bunny Watson*

          That was my thought. This was always temporary… unless the world actually ended. Am I surprised we didn’t spiral down into The Walking Dead-like apocalypse? Yes. But once it became clear we were eventually going to make it through this, it was pretty obvious that the world was going to go back to some semblance of normal. Which also means the work that couldn’t be done by people because we couldn’t be around each other was eventually going to need to be done again. I know this has been traumatizing (for all of us), but I’m still surprised by people who haven’t realized that.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            I think it would be easier if the back to normal acknowledged the situation has changed. We’ll now have outbreaks several times yearly and a few employees will be permanently disabled per year.

          2. Malarkey01*

            I think it’s a little more complicated. WFH was already trending, and changing norms around work (societal and generational) were already bubbling under the surface. The last two years showed what was possible and what wasn’t. It also caused a lot of current workers to reevaluate what was possible and best for them.
            There have been some systemic shifts. I think the pendulum is going to swing back some, BUT I disagree that it’s going to go all the way back.

          3. Mannequin*

            People are still in denial that the pandemic required us to create a new normal.

        7. Rocket*

          Right? My job could be done reasonably well from my home during the pandemic. But that also meant my boss had to come to my house three times a week. Is that a trade-off most people want in order to work from home?

      3. Snow Globe*

        I think the pandemic situation is kind of a red herring with respect to the commute. If there was no pandemic and an employee moved 50 miles away and then tried to tell the manager “I need to be full-time remote now because my commute is so long,” that’s pretty clear that the employee created the situation and it shouldn’t be the company’s problem.

        1. ecnaseener*

          That’s really not a fair comparison. The LW had been working remotely for 2 years, your made-up example is someone just randomly expecting to switch to remote work with no notice.

          1. pancakes*

            It doesn’t seem the LW received any notice that their workplace was making the transition to full time WFH on a permanent basis. They moved anyhow, as if that a certainty, but it wasn’t and isn’t.

            1. Fart Noise*

              But did LW verify w the office before they moved 50 miles away? Seems like something you’d want to investigate before moving out of the area.

          2. QuickerBooks*

            your made-up example is someone just randomly expecting to switch to remote work with no notice.

            But that’s precisely what happened. Ok, maybe not “randomly”. There was, after all, a pretty big impetus for all of this. But we have no evidence from LW that their employer led them to believe that WFH would be permanent. In other words, the company didn’t change the employment status, LW did. It was LW who decided at some point that WFH would be permanent, not the company as far as we know. The fact that LW changed their employment status in their own mind is simply not the company’s fault.

              1. somanyquestions*

                They were never permanent WFH, so it IS a switch. WFH 100% was always due to the pandemic, not a condition of their job.

            1. justabot*

              Yes. And in many cases, WFH worked at the time because of all the other closures in the world. If your client offices were closed or places you would normally visit for in-person functions were under tight bubble restrictions, then teams adapted and found workable solutions. But once different types of businesses were back to their norms, then those adapted solutions were no longer sufficient or effective.

              1. UKDancer*

                Yes this is what we’ve found. It was easy working from home when everyone else we worked with was at home and all the shops and facilities were shot, conferences and international meetings weren’t happening. Now the people we do business with are coming back it’s often better to meet in person. Trade fairs and conferences are resuming and they’re really useful and helpful for me to attend. So we’re definitely moving to the hybrid model which suits me quite well.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        My department worked from home for a full year and then partly from home for another six months, but now we’re largely out of work we can do from home–our bosses intentionally front-loaded everything we could do from home for as long as possible. But the bulk of the job still can’t be done from home so now we’re back. “Most jobs can be done from home” is a massive oversimplification–ours “could”, for awhile, but now largely can’t, so both situations have been true but under different conditions.

        If other people are doing can’t-be-done-from-home work that might otherwise fall to the LW then, yeah, they need to go back. That they moved isn’t their employer’s problem.

      5. Firm Believer*

        But we don’t know the company’s reason for believing in office time is valuable.

    3. Loulou*

      That was my take too, and I don’t really understand framing of the question. If commuting to the office 3x a week will be unacceptable to you even once your child is eligible, clearly you will have to come up with a plan for what happens after the kid gets vaxxed. Why does it matter if an advice columnist or any of us thinks the thing you want is reasonable? The more salient question seems to me “is what I want possible?” and the answer is probably “not at this job.” Without knowing more, none of us can say if OP will likely be successful in finding a permanent remote job, but it sounds like that’s what they want and they should focus on that!

      1. Willis*

        Agree with all of this. It sounds like the OP and the company know where they each stand on the issue and aren’t going to change, and that may be totally reasonable stances foe both of them. So, OP looks for new job and company looks for new employee. Not sure what other advice the OP could be hoping to get here, other than maybe some commiseration about return-to-office from the commentariat.

      2. Artemesia*

        This is the clue to start a vigorous job search for a WFH position. And you have a little running room. No idea what the OP does, but I know several people including my daughter who have recently gotten excellent 6 figure WFH positions.

      3. mreasy*

        That is what Alison said though – probably not at this job. No reason for OP not to try to get a permanent exception if their job can be done fully remotely (I know not all jobs can, but many can).

    4. EL*

      I tend to agree. Undertaking a move like that *before* confirming whether or not you will be able to continue remote work permanently is… not the choice I would make. My heart truly goes out to the LW and everyone else still dealing with the issue of unvaxed young kids, though.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not clear whether the OP’s employer okayed her move or not. Either way it’s a moot point since they’re not budging now, but it’s possible she was told it was fine. I’m getting a lot of letters from people who were told they could be permanently remote last year and are now being told they have to return.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        This is the kind of thing that should go on Glassdoor, frankly. A company that explicitly tells you that you can do X and then yanks it away without a good explanation for what changed is exactly the kind of thing other potential employees need to know about. Sadly, that doesn’t help the person who has to write the review because it happened to them.

        I agree that the real question isn’t necessarily “is this reasonable?” but “is this possible?” This isn’t like a Dear Abby question about whether something is reasonable for your sister to do, when you know your sister reads Abby regularly and would abide by her decision on a family matter. The company is sadly not going to change their decision based on an Alison Green ruling. The LW had better go job-hunting in the time she’s won on the basis of the vaccine unavailability.

        1. MK*

          Usually, when the OP was promised X and the company went back on it, they mention it in their letter. Also, what changed is the phase of the pandemic. This company sounds very willing to accommodate medical reasons for wfh. I don’t think it’s Glassdoor-worthy that they are unwilling to accommodate the OP’s move.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Letter writers actually don’t always mention it. I’ve sometimes written back to clarify when it’s not clear and discovered the person was told it was OK originally (often by a manager who didn’t realize they were going to be overruled by someone above them) but didn’t put that in their letter. People don’t always know what will be relevant to include.

            In this case it doesn’t really matter; the employer has made it clear they’re not budging and she needs to decide what to do from there. But I don’t want people to derail on this issue when it’s not clear what happened either way.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              It doesn’t matter, but it does, because it changes what I would say to the LW. If the employer said or strongly suggested that WFH would be a permanent option, I’d say these people can’t be trusted, and whatever arrangement you might manage to make with them is likely to disappear. So start looking for something else. If the employer never said or suggested that, and the LW just hoped or assumed WFH was going to be permanent, I’d say that was an unfortunate mistake on your part, and you should either start looking for something closer to home, or move another 50 miles away.

              (So I guess my advice doesn’t change much after all…)

        2. Allonge*

          Working conditions and rules on working or not in the office changing during a pandemic is… pretty much to be expected for me. I mean, Glassdoor if you want of course, but this is not an unreasonable situation from where I am sitting.

        3. QuickerBooks*

          A company that explicitly tells you that you can do X and then yanks it away without a good explanation for what changed is exactly the kind of thing other potential employees need to know about.

          In a lot of cases what “changed” is that the company was never actually designed to work remotely in the first place. They were doing so during a pandemic because they had no other choice. But that doesn’t mean the situation was ever optimal. What changed is that time ran out on working with a suboptimal structure.

          In my business, we have been getting along okay fully remote. But we’re finding that it is next-to-impossible to train new employees on our very complex systems and technical workflows with a fully remote staff. So up to now we’ve simply accepted an ever falling level of productivity. But that has to come to an end at some point, even though from the perspective of any particular individual employee “I was doing my job just fine at home.”

          1. Oakwood*

            There may be a time to bring employees into the office for training. But, does that mean all employees should be in the office 100% of the time?

            I’m seeing this mindset a lot (including where I work). We have a few functions that don’t work well with WFH, so the solution must be to eliminate WFH entirely.

            I don’t think that is practical. That’s trying to close the barn door after the (WFH) horse has left. Too many employees have gotten used to this as a benefit–and that’s what it is: a benefit. No different than health care or PTO. They’ll either leave or companies will find they must pay more for employees to come into the office should this new benefit be eliminated.

          2. DataSci*

            Is WFH as the default, with the understanding that some specific things (like training new employees, or being trained, or periodic brainstorming sessions) an acceptable compromise for you? Or since there are some tasks that can’t be done remotely does that mean that nobody can ever be remote, even if those tasks that can’t be done remotely make up 10% of most people’s duties?

        4. BongoFury*

          Glassdoor lets employers remove bad reviews if they pay enough, so don’t trust them to be 100% honest.

      2. Cinnamon isn't so bitter*

        My team is losing a contract employee who was HIRED AS REMOTE and after 6 months my company decided even contractors had to come back onsite.
        We’re on different continents too–the contractor will never be in the office with my team OR the third-continent project we support.
        Yes I’m writing my resume.

          1. Cinnamon isn't so bitter*

            Oh the contractors were told to start working at a company office on that continent–but like OP it was over an hour away. Add that the contractors work evening shifts to match up with their intercontinental project teams and that there have been safety issues for women using the public transit alone in their city.

      3. Purely Allegorical*

        This is exactly why anyone who negotiates a remote work position needs to get that in writing, signed by the company. Ideally that contract would also include options for what happens if the company changes its mind — company needs to provide a notice period of X, if the employee chooses not to accept the change to in-office work then the company needs to pay Y amount to the employee as a severance, etc.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Good luck with that if you live in the U.S. Employment contracts for most of us are simply not a thing.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            You can still negotiate when taking a job and ask for some things to be added in writing to the offer letter.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Sure, but that’s not a contract, and anything in the offer letter can be changed later.

              1. ND and awkward*

                Anything in an employment contract can be changed, too. Mine was recently changed to recognise my home as my official place of work alongside the office as a condition of moving to a hybrid work pattern.

    6. jm*

      yeah, i got stuck on that as well. did the employer ever indicate it would be possible to work from home permanently? because otherwise moving too far away for a reasonable commute does not make sense, assuming it was a voluntary move and there were no external forces in place.

    7. Not A Manager*

      This comment doesn’t acknowledge the difficulties many people faced during the pandemic. I’m not saying this is true of the LW, but if someone lived in, say, a two bedroom apartment with a partner and two children near to their work, and suddenly had to home-school the kids while working remotely out of a walk-in closet, it might have made a lot of sense to move further away from the city center.

      1. Loulou*

        Sure, there are obviously plenty of reasons someone would choose to move far away from their office. Nevertheless, having done that, OP now has to figure something out and they may not get to both keep their job and have zero commute indefinitely.

      2. MK*

        I don’t see how acknowledging these factors changes anything, frankly. Maybe the OP was forced into a move, but they still knew they were moving far away from their workplace. Most people who did so understand that they were either committing themselves to a long commute or a second move when the office reopened or a job search.

      3. Epsilon Delta*

        I mean, I can buy the argument that moving to a larger house in the suburbs is a reasonable reaction in that scenario, even if you expected the situation to be temporary. But now the temporary situation has ended so the reasonable reaction, by this standard, would be to move back to the city.

    8. John*

      After a certain point of working successfully from home, why would they assume the company would drag them back?

      1. Kiwiapple*

        Because everywhere I am aware of in the two countries I have lived in over the course of the pandemic (and these countries are literally across the world from each other, 1 of which has handled the pandemic “well”), are getting back to pre-covid. Whilst there are some levels of flexibility now available, it is expected to turn up at work in person at least between 1-3 times a week.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. In the UK, I’m a receptionist. I’ve been in most days (aside from the ankle injury that knocked me over for two months…due to stress!) since March 2020. It’s getting busier again — not back to normal, and I honestly don’t think it will go back to five days a week butts in chair etc — but it’s expected that people will put in an appearance.

          Given that WFH was a luxury compared to what most people who work non-office jobs had to do, and where we are in the pandemic, I think the people here frustrated about it need to, ahem, check their privilege — to use a HG Wells reference, the Eloi are upset while the morlocks…facepalm. WFH is in danger of becoming a class issue here, and this from people who are usually cognisant of bias and social inequality. When everyone was in the office before 2020, the burden was shared equally. After that, the divide has opened and for some reason, otherwise good people can’t bring themselves to recognise it and contribute to it deepening.

          So just think this through taking into account everyone who hasn’t been able to work from home, then decide whether or not it’s your /turn/ to contribute.

          1. BubbleTea*

            I don’t really see how it helps people who work in healthcare, shops, restaurants etc if I go into the office and do my entirely-phone-based job there instead of from my desk at home. I’m trying to think when the last time was that I did anything for work that required someone in the office to help me out – I think in the last six months I’ve received one letter by post, which my colleague scanned and uploaded for me, and sent one letter which he printed and posted for me.

            When I worked in the office, the same colleague would have scanned and uploaded the document, because that is his job, so the only thing he did extra was press print and put something in an envelope. Once, in six months.

            If there are genuinely reasons why a job requires some office presence then for sure, require that. I can’t understand the “it isn’t fair for you to get something I can’t have” mindset though. How does my commute improve anyone else’s situation?

            1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

              Office cleaning people don’t have work if the office buildings are empty. Security staff don’t have nearly as much work if buildings are empty. People who fill vending machines don’t have work if office buildings are empty (my neighbor lost his job, in fact). It’s not just you and your personal helper who are affected.

              1. Ferret*

                Taxi drivers have less work if I decide to walk. Cattle farmers have less work if I decide to go vegetarian. Factory workers and miners and drivers and utility workers have less work if I cut back on gadgets.

                As someone who did have to work-in person while the majority were still at home it actually made my commute a lot nicer because the public transport was a lot more tolerable without the crowds….

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  Think of the poor petroleum industry workers, if we drive less! The humanity!

              2. GythaOgden*


                Also, buildings have to be maintained so they don’t end up derelict and dangerous. Servers have to be run from somewhere. There has to be places to fix and distribute WFH equipment. There have to be people out there fixing power lines, doing pest control, rubbish collection…we still have post coming in and going out, and I know the admins for one of the groups in our building ordered people to go in and collect their backlog.

                It’s time maybe to remember how WFH ended up possible in the first place, how it’s going to be sustained in the future, and people’s responsibilities towards those who have had two years of taking risks that others haven’t had to take and who side-eye the kind of arguments being made here.

                And we have five year old kids and 80 year old mothers too! If we want to get really ‘first world problem’ about this, so do mothers in Ukraine, Syria, Ethiopia etc where the issues are really ones of risk to life and limb on top of the pandemic running rampant.

                So please forgive me for being strident on this but a lot of the arguments being made here don’t take into account who is supporting the people who WFH and whether it’s now to time to shift some of that burden back.

                1. Colette*

                  Of course not everyone can work remotely! But some jobs can, without anyone in the office other than the jobs that have to be there anyway (e.g. IT support) and without adding work to the plate of those who have to be in. I’m not really on board with saying that people should go to the office so that there are jobs for office cleaners, vending machine company employees, and security staff.

                  If there’s a work reason (e.g. you frequently send and receive postal mail), you cover reception once a week, sure.

              3. Oakwood*

                Buggy whip makers won’t have customers if you buy an automobile.

                Your friend who filled vending machines lost his job. At the same time delivery businesses have expanded. Groceries, food, medicine are all now routinely delivered to homes. Heck, you can even purchase a car online and have it delivered to your home.

              4. somanyquestions*

                Are you seriously saying people should commute to an office when the only benefit is creating jobs for people to clean up after them while there? A whole lifestyle, just to create more jobs to support it?

              5. J*

                Which is probably a benefit because have you tried to find cleaning staff lately? That’s a pretty bleak role to hire for. My employer has tried to contract it out just to find a massive waitlist there too, also due to staffing. Even while doubling the salary, it’s just not feasible in many markets. We’re hearing overnight cleaners can’t access transit to get to our locations and they can’t live in high cost of living locations, like the cities where offices are. They still brought workers back but now receptionists and support staff have added cleaning duties.

            2. Emmy Noether*

              One could actually argue that wfh when one can helps those who cannot, because it cuts down on traffic and thus on commute times.

              There are valid arguments for requiring in-office. “I want you to suffer as I do” is not one of them.

              1. GythaOgden*

                It’s valid from the perspective of those who you rely on to provide the infrastructure for you to do so, though. Listening to those discussions might help you frame your thinking differently and show maybe some more respect towards people making that argument.

                1. Emmy Noether*

                  I really don’t see how I would be helping those providing the infrastructure by sitting on my butt in front of a computer in my office instead of at home though. When I am in the office, I am not doing anything that would help the receptionists, cleaning personnel, server maintenance people, etc. etc. either! I don’t have any work that needs to be done in-office, and I have never foisted off a task on someone in office. I take care of my own equipment and my own mail. Those collecting rubbish will not be collecting less if I’m in the office. The power lines and servers will have to be repaired no matter where I am. So HOW would people be helped, in concrete ways, by my presence in office?

                  As I said, there are valid reasons, and if it actually made those people’s lives easier/safer, that would be one, but it wouldn’t actually make their lives easier or safer, on the contrary!

                2. Colette*

                  I’ve been working from home for 2+ years. The only people physically in the office I’ve had to deal with have been IT support, when I went in to pick up a monitor and a docking station, and security, when I went in to clean out my desk. I presumably might have to go in to get a new laptop at some point, but that would be the same workload for IT as if I were in the office every day.

                  Yes, the cleaners have less to clean (mostly as far as emptying trash baskets and recycle bins), but … why should everyone have to go in to work to keep the cleaners employeed?

                  Obviously, if my job could not be done remotely (or if I needed regular support from someone in the office/someone in the office had to cover for me), that would be a different situation. But some jobs truly can be done remotely.

                3. somanyquestions*

                  OK, you’re saying “I want you to suffer as I do” is a valid argument. Are you joking? “It’s valid from the perspective” of those who think that?

                  That’s ridiculous, I’m sorry. And no, I can’t respect people who argue that, either. There are actual reasons some people need to come into the office and that absolutely is not one of them.

            3. MK*

              I don’t think GythaOgden is saying people shouldn’t advocate for wfh if they can and it makes sense for their position. But there is a vocal group with the attitude that being expected to come into an office is a huge imposition, and that’s not true.

              1. GythaOgden*

                Precisely — and the imposition simply falls elsewhere on other shoulders, and the resentment and divide gets worse rather than better.

                1. Emmy Noether*

                  If you could actually stay home if other people came in, that’s a different discussion! But usually imposition is not a zero sum game, and imposing more on others does not always make your burden less.

              2. MissElizaTudor*

                To be fair, having to work to live is a big imposition itself, so adding a commute for jobs that can be WFH really is adding an additional imposition on top of that.

                1. Allonge*

                  I guess you are at least part joking but the point is this is not universally true.

                  There are many people who prefer to have a physically separate workspace and home and are willing to commute for this, even if they had a choice to WFH.

              3. mreasy*

                If it’s truly unnecessary for your job and it’s being imposed arbitrarily, then it is a huge imposition, even if it was the norm only a couple of years ago.

                1. justabot*

                  Sometimes it’s not *just* if a particular job can be done from home, but a company philosophy that puts a priority on in-person work to collaborate and connect as part of a workplace culture. I have noticed more and more companies putting that as part of the actual job description. That while employees can work on occasion at a location of their choice, the priority is on in-person work as part of a workplace culture mission.

                  In that case, it’s not so much being imposed “arbitrarily” but as a deliberate decision for a workplace culture. If that doesn’t resonate with a potential employee, it probably would not be a good fit.

                  Of course, if it’s just to go into an empty office and sit in a conference room to get on a zoom call with other people on zoom calls, and not actually see or connect with anyone else on site, that’s stupid.

                2. A Feast of Fools*

                  justabot – Even on the days when I’m in the office and the people I need to meet with are also in the office, we still conduct our meetings over Teams from our individual desks. My work is facilitated by being able to share my screen while simultaneously having other data / documents open on my other monitors.

                  So far, my “benefit” to being back in the office was standing around with my team members after a recent town hall meeting (which we all attended from our individual desks) and making fun of the way our interim CEO pronounced our company’s name. How’s that for collaboration??

                  Being forced to go into the office for “company culture” reasons doesn’t apply to my job, my department, and most of the departments we work with.

                  The sheer wastefulness of being forced to come in is sad. Especially since one of the primary things my department does is find process inefficiencies and then make recommendations to improve them.

            4. Allonge*

              It does not help people in other industries, unless indirectly. But your company may well want to decide that it’s not ok to create two very differently privileged workforces within, one that works from home and another that cannot.

              1. Richard Hershberger*

                We already have differently privileged workforces. Otherwise everyone would earn the same wages. The office staff of a plumbing contractor would have to do their work in the field, or the plumbers would be expected to wear office attire. Different privileges are not the problem. Arbitrary “just because” rules, on the other hand…

                1. Allonge*

                  Sure, but adding another division to it is not helpful, right? Especially as it’s very likely to go along the previous separation lines – higher paid white-collar workers can stay home, lower paid physical workers go to the ‘office’.

                2. Avril Ludgateau*

                  Class divisions are not the fault of labor, and the idea that we should accept in-fighting among labor – and ALL of us who work for our money, regardless of wage, are united as labor – only benefits the owner class. The idea that any of us should sacrifice a benefit (and a societal and environmental benefit, too) because it’s impossible to distribute evenly is ludicrous, it is farcical. And it would not help those who can’t immediately benefit, so it’s wasteful, too. What next, we shouldn’t fight for PTO because low-wage earners typically get screwed out of it? No. That’s not how progress is made. It is very much how you keep the working masses in line – by distracting them with “look into your neighbor’s bowl and lament that he has more than you” rather than “look into your neighbor’s bowl, share his outrage that he doesn’t have enough, and fight for him to have more.”

                3. Mannequin*

                  “higher paid white-collar workers can stay home, lower paid physical workers go to the ‘office’.”

                  I have never been and will never be a highly paid white collar worker, and I still don’t see what is wrong with this. If the job can be done from home, why on earth should those people be needlessly forced into an office just because people exist who CAN’T do their job at home?

            5. BongoFury*

              This smacks of “If I can’t have it you can’t have it either.”
              IMO “won’t someone think of the vending machine workers and the office cleaners!” is code for “Won’t someone think of the real estate barons who lost a ton of money in office rent!”

            6. Ash*

              This is starting to sound like, “I paid off my student loans, so why should yours be forgiven?”

              1. Software Dev (she/her)*

                Yep, this. If we can make things better for one group of people, even if that is a more generally privileged group, we should do it, even if it does not make things better for another less privileged group.

                1. A Feast of Fools*

                  And if all the people who can work from home *do* work from home, think of what that would do for our environment.

                  My drive to and from the office is one hour each way of bumper-to-bumper exhaust fumes.

                  Also? Less disease vectors clustered together inside buildings, helping the viruses mutate.

          2. DarthVelma*

            Every single person who is being dragged back into the office is one more possible vector for spreading COVID or (all the little god forbid) mutating it into something not only more contagious (like every variant so far) but also more deadly.

            And all the people who work jobs that cannot be done from home – me being at home protects them.

              1. GythaOgden*

                This argument only makes sense if the person staying at home to work is otherwise engaging in silly behaviours that would mean they become an uncommonly large risk vector. Otherwise it seems unnecessarily self-justificatory and something I don’t buy, especially given that I’d imagine the majority of people in the general workforce have all been working out of the house since the end of the first lockdown, and WFH is open to a minority of people that tend to be in middle class jobs with better salaries/wages than those who work out of the home.

                It may be time for this argument to be turned on its head — that since you have got to shelter and protect yourself, you’re less likely to be infectious, and so coming in is not as risky as it was for us to be working outside during the height of the pandemic.

                1. pancakes*

                  “An uncommonly large risk vector”? No, take a step back and you will hopefully be able to see that you are tying yourself in odd knots to justify this view. A risk vector doesn’t have to be uncommonly large to carry risk.

                  I started working from home well before the pandemic. I’ve had Covid twice, likely because I live in NYC and just about everyone here has had it at some point, and possibly because I have to visit a busy cancer center every month for an injection, and even being double-masked and triple vaxxed, I come into contact with a lot of people there. Those of us who work from home aren’t full-on hermits. The fewer people out commuting daily, the fewer the risk vectors. If I’d been able to eliminate those monthly appointments, I’d have been able to reduce the risk vectors in my own life.

                2. Avril Ludgateau*

                  This argument only makes sense if the person staying at home to work is otherwise engaging in silly behaviours that would mean they become an uncommonly large risk vector.

                  Silly behaviors like commuting on public transport? Going to the grocery store? The gym? A restaurant? Having a child in daycare or school? What are these “silly behaviors” you scoff at and surely don’t engage in, yourself?

                  The more I read your comments in this thread, the clearer it becomes that your stance is purely one based on contempt for people who WFH because you couldn’t. You chose a job whose whole purpose is presence (reception); if you can judge people for their choices re: job, home, and commute, I hope you are comfortable with people extending the same judgment on you for choose an irremoteable job, then being mad at other people about it.

                3. metadata minion*

                  I’m *very* cautious about COVID since I have health issues that would mean it could get very bad if I were to catch it, and so in-office work is by far my highest chance for both catching and spreading COVID. I can only do about half my job from home and have discovered that I really don’t like working from home on anything other than an occasional basis, so I would really rather my coworkers who can work from home do so, and minimize the risk to those of us who do have to come in.

                4. HannahS*

                  Safety, including who gets to be safer–is often unfair, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Like you, I chose a career that cannot be done from home. I’m a frontline healthcare worker, and believe me, I feel the unfairness of knowing that other people are able to work from home and keep themselves safer. None of that has any meaningful bearing on whether or not remote workers should be forced to return to work.

                  Other people should not have to put themselves, their elderly, young, and immunocompromised families at risk to make things fair. Even if they make more money. Even if you and your family bore much more risk. “I had to suffer, so you also have to” does not make the world better.

                5. Lenora Rose*

                  I work in office, including some reception coverage and other tasks that can’t be done from home (and have done so through stretches where other people working form home meant I had to do a bit of extra printing of emailed documents that need physical signatures, and amending documents whose online signatures went wonky), and I think, like Avril Ludgateau, that your stance is less based on actual reasoning about the benefits (Which can be real and tangible) to in-office work, and more on being miffed about how some people benefitted from WFH while you didn’t.

                  I started a rant about how little it takes for even someone not engaging in anything seen as risky to end up exposed, or how one single social activity, even a cautious one, can turn into a burst of cases. But, it comes down to, yes, “Every person who isn’t in office is one less point of exposure.” is a very legitimate thing.

            1. A Beth*

              This is the perfect summary of the issue for me, spot on. Me going into the office does nothing for anyone, unless I have a specific task that needs to be done in person.

          3. mreasy*

            Yeah, I appreciate our office management staff immensely, but my going into the office doesn’t help them, or me, or my colleagues, AT ALL. We try to coordinate meetings but it often doesn’t work, so I end up on my computer & phone in my office doing the same work that I do at home, just with 2 hours of travel time surrounding it, and a lot more distractions. I’m incredibly thankful that I have the space and a job that allows me to wfh, but there’s not a “pitching in” angle at my company around coming into the office at all.

          4. Again With Feeling*

            WFH is absolutely a luxury, and the types of jobs that allow for it tend to be office jobs that pay a middle-class salary. But what is the burden you’re talking about, and how does everyone being in-office mean that burden is shared equally? I also don’t understand what contribution someone is making by going back into the office to do a job that can be done remotely. Some people have jobs that can be done remotely, and some don’t. Companies absolutely need to look at how they can make things more equitable for those who can’t work remotely, but forcing remote people back to the office doesn’t actually help the in-office people. This feels like another area where people should be looking at management to effect systemic change, rather than resenting their coworkers.

            1. Oakwood*

              My in-law took a pay CUT to take a WFH job. There’s your equity.

              The assumption that are or always will be making the same amount as office workers is not valid. When you factor in time, travel expenses, automotive costs, clothing, and paying for lunch (not to mention intangibles) you’ll find that plenty of people will be willing to forgo pay in favor of working from home.

              Also factor in that WFH employees cost the company less money. Office space is paid for by the square foot. Sure, a lot of companies have long term leases now, but those leases won’t last forever.

            2. Mannequin*

              People keep saying that office workers have “middle class salaries” and this is not true for many people who work in offices.

      2. my 8th name*

        If your company hadn’t promised permanent remote work or sold the office, I think it’s strange to just assume it would become permanent. Presumably they worked successfully from the office as well.

        To be clear, this isn’t advocating for in-person work! I just think the OA should’ve been gotten a firm (and preferably written) agreement on remote work before making the assumption.

      3. MK*

        Eh, because they they hired to work partly in the office and were never told this was a permanent change? Because they aren’t living under a rock and knew many employer required a return even before it was safe, so it was hardly a surprise that her own would want at least a hybrid model at some point? Because “successfully” meant different things at 2020 than it does now? I am willing to be sympathetic to the OP’s situation, but saying that it was reasonable to just assume your job became remote permanently is ridiculous.

      4. Asenath*

        The company may not have had the same opinion of the success of working from home, or may simply prefer to have its employees on site for some other reason, probably including getting away from emergency work arrangements and back to what the company thinks of as “normal” and “worked better”.

      5. Dust Bunny*

        Why would they assume the company wouldn’t?

        The pandemic isn’t going to last forever. Even my friends whose jobs are more or less permanently WFH now–and it’s not actually that many of them; most of the WFHers are partial WFH–are expected to come in periodically for specific things that don’t translate well to Zoom.

      6. Jennifer Strange*

        We actually don’t know how successful working from home was for the OP’s company. Obviously it didn’t run them into the ground, but it’s very possible that there were a lot of issues they had to navigate and found temporary (but not great) workarounds for the time being.

    9. BuildMeUp*

      It’s hard to tell from just the info in the letter. The company’s messaging might have changed over time – it’s possible that at some point they made it sound like WFH was the new norm. Or the OP could have believed she qualified for the exception based on distance from the office.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, not enough info in the letter to decide who is the more “reasonable” party here. But there is enough to determine that OP should probably start job searching.

      2. ecnaseener*

        I also think it’s very relevant that LW had been hybrid even before COVID. In their shoes I certainly wouldn’t be assuming the employer would require everyone to return to the exact number of in-person days they had pre-COVID with no willingness to reevaluate.

    10. KateM*

      50 miles away while depending on non-direct public transport. That’s indeed a choice.

      1. legalchef*

        This is where I fall. Alison’s answer missed an important thing: the LW is not being unreasonable, BUT neither is the company. Assuming that the company didn’t promise the LW that she could work from home permanently (and since we are supposed to take the LWs at their word, and it isn’t in the letter, I am assuming that didn’t happen), then I don’t think the LW really has legs to stand in here. It was her choice to move somewhere inconvenient, and sometimes as adults we make choices that are best for us, but have to deal with any collateral consequences.

        1. pancakes*

          I’ve known people who made that choice well before the pandemic. I live and rent in Manhattan, and I’ve worked with a number of people over the years who commute from places like NJ, CT, and even Pennsylvania because they want to use their NYC paycheck for home ownership, even if that means a 3 or 4 hour round trip daily. That wouldn’t be my choice, but it’s a choice people make. It doesn’t make much sense to me to make that choice and complain about the commute, though!

          1. legalchef*

            Yes that’s what I am saying. I moved from NYC to the burbs during the pandemic. My commute isn’t my favorite part of the day, but it was a choice I made knowing what the commute would be.

          2. UKDancer*

            Definitely. I have some colleagues who live very centrally (smaller pricier flats, short commute) and some who live further out (bigger places but a longer more expensive commute). It’s a choice and a trade off of that each of us has to make for our individual circumstances. I’ve one colleague who lives on the south coast and stays in a Premier Inn when he comes up to London 2-3 days per week. He says the numbers work better for him that way. It wouldn’t be my choice but he seems happy enough.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          I mostly agree with you, but taking the LW at their word means to assume what they *do* say *is* true. It’s not reasonable to stretch that to assume what they *don’t* say *isn’t* true. People leave out relevant facts all the time.

          1. legalchef*

            I guess my thinking is that ultimately we can only respond to what is in front of us. Obviously if the company had promised something, that would be an incredibly significant fact and would completely change the analysis (and therefore answers to the question as written are somewhat useless, at least to this LW).

    11. allathian*

      Yes, this is pretty much where I’m at as well. I think a lot of people have engaged in wishful thinking about the expectation of going back to the office…

    12. morrisu*

      Totally agree. I don’t have sympathy for anyone who moved during this time — which we all knew would not be permanent — and are now complaining that their commute will be too long. And using that as a reason their company should give them an exception. Hybrid work schedules with some days required in the office are normal and face time is important in most organizations.

    13. 90138104*

      Yeah, I have sympathy for LW3. But at the same time when they left the office 2 years did the employer say all positions would be remote effective immediately? I agree with other commenters that if jobs can be performed remotely, they should be allowed to. But on the other hand, I’ve observed people who physically come to the office taking on work tasks that do not result in higher performance evaluations or promotions as a result of being one of the few people who still go to the office. Honestly, the extra work without recognition is on leadership, not the employee. But it’s still frustrating.

    14. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m curious what the messaging has been from this company throughout the pandemic. It’s possible they got so on board with remote work for a while that OP genuinely thought it would be permanent. But there have been an awful lot of people we’ve seen here in the last couple of years along the lines of “my company told me I’d have to go back into the office but I called their bluff and moved and now I have to go back to the office, what do I do!??” and I admit I don’t have a ton of sympathy there. If moving is a priority then that is what it is, but you have to be prepared for the fact that it may eventually mean you need a new job!

      Can’t tell if this OP is in that situation though, especially since it sounds like their direct boss is on board so maybe they thought their boss would allow them to stay remote. At my company we are starting to move back into the office and most of my team has technically been assigned as “hybrid” employees, but a few of us have said we’d prefer to remain remote and my boss has told us that would be okay. I think they are kind of asking about having us reclassified but are mostly expecting it would be unofficial.

      1. pancakes*

        I think anything short of a written communication saying something along the lines of, “We are considering making this WFH policy permanent” or “We will be keeping this policy on a permanent basis” doesn’t rise to the level of implying permanency.

    15. BlueWolf*

      I moved during the pandemic (bought a house). I didn’t move 50 miles, but I did move to a different part of the suburbs that is somewhat less convenient to public transit. I could commute in if I had to, but it would involve driving through traffic and paying downtown prices for parking, or taking a longer commute by bus to metro. It was definitely a gamble, and lucky for me it paid off. My department really truly can work from home (literally all my work is done electronically), and they are letting us stay permanently remote.

    16. A Simple Narwhal*

      I think if we overlook the move part, this is an issue that a lot of people are running into – commutes that they used to willingly and happily do, they are no longer willing or happy to do now that they’ve seen that a) they are unnecessary and full time remote is a fully viable option for their job, and b) their lives are significantly improved when the commute is removed.

      My coworker is running into this now – she’s lived in the same place for a decade+ and didn’t move during the pandemic. She used to do the long-ish commute every day, but now that she’s had two years of successfully being fully remote and gained 2-3 hours back in her day, she understandably doesn’t want to give that up. And ignoring the commute part, her home setup is far superior to her work one – her own quiet space where she can focus for long stretches of time, vs an open office plan with loud neighbors and all the distractions that come with an office. So when one of our coworkers (with a different job and home life who hated being remote) tried to argue that “well you used to do it before”, that argument no longer holds water – the world is a different place now, and fully remote is a proven viable option for her job. You could just as easily argue that we constantly make do in a million ways, but once you experience a better option, why would you want to give that up?

      If we do factor in the new commute, you can probably argue that they made the best decision for their family with the information they had at the time. I know my company spent two years telling everyone how amazing being fully remote was, how awesome everyone worked with zero loss of productivity or profits, and that even if we could return to in-person, would we even want to? You could reasonably assume that things were different and more flexible now, and if they suddenly backtracked and said “lol jk, back to the way things were” it would be unexpected and upsetting. (Which is exactly what my office tried to do, but have since made changes due to the loud pushback).

      So to sum up my incredibly long ramblings – a lot of people have discovered remote work to vastly improve their lives in many ways, and it’s understandable that they’re resistant to giving that up.

      1. Loulou*

        Sure, it’s understandable, but ultimately people need to decide for themselves what is most important to them and what they’re willing to give up — just like before the pandemic. If you’re not willing to commute at all anymore, I don’t think it’s unfair or unreasonable that you might need to change jobs to make that happen.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I like how interpreting “Not willing to commute 2-3 hours a day” got transmuted into “not willing to commute at all”. I mean, my commute runs me an hour to an hour and a half a day (30-45 minutes a trip), and I have no issues, but I’d refuse to double that without some MASSIVE alternate perks and pay upgrades.

          1. Loulou*

            Nobody’s talking about doubling or changing a commute! The comment I’m replying to points out that some people no longer find the commute they used to make every day acceptable. If you’re not willing to make that commute anymore, it doesn’t matter if someone else considers it a long or short commute…you need to find a new job where you don’t need to make that commute.

    17. Firm Believer*

      Came here to say the same thing. That was a choice and shouldn’t require the employer to make accommodations if they were clear that there would be a level of in office work eventually.

    18. Lenora Rose*

      Maybe, but we don’t know the reasons they moved. It may not have been a choice. (It’s also “50 miles from the city”, not “50 miles from work”. Meaning the commute might be LONGER, not shorter.)

    19. sdog*

      Yep – the commute is really on OP, and I don’t think it’s fair to expect that her employer will ease on the in-office rules just because they chose to move out of the area. It doesn’t matter that 100 is an arbitrary number, or honestly, even that the area around work might have cost of living, etc. I am super sympathetic to all of these factors, but honestly, we all make these decisions. I live in a really high cost of living area and we’ve often considered moving away, but commute was definitely one of our factors (and actually, even with that, pre-pandemic, I had an hr. plus commute) in choosing to stay put. I’d be hecka resentful if that coworker that decided to move 2 hours away, knowing what the commute would be, suddenly got to WFH more because of that.

      I think the COVID concerns are absolutely valid, and not wanting to commute is reasonable too, but I can’t necessarily blame the employer for not wanting to budge on the latter.

    20. Ms.Vader*

      I also moved significantly farther from my office during the pandemic – as in March 2020 so at the beginning before we knew how long it would go on. But I made that choice. I didn’t however anticipate the traffic doubling and my commute tripling. I go in 2 days a week and I have worked out a deal to leave early to limit time in rush hour traffic. I work 3/4 of the time in the office and rest from home. Perhaps see if they would be willing to do that. But ultimately, you made the decision to move that far away and you need to determine how to make that work.

    21. Nanani*

      Assuming nobody moved during the pandemic on a whim, there was probably a very compelling reason for the move. Partner’s job, being closer to other family members for caregiving reasons, and CoL leap to mind.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        I don’t think anyone’s saying the OP moved just for funsies, but regardless of the reason unless their organization specified that WFH would continue on beyond the pandemic it really isn’t the organization’s problem that their commute is no longer because of it.

    22. GDUB*

      I agree. If I choose to move 50 miles away from my job, I’ve chosen the consequences of that move.

  3. ENFP in Texas*

    At my company (Fortune 50), people will send a “X is my last day, it’s been fun, I’ll miss you, here’s how to keep in touch” email to the teams they worked with or people they know (not the whole company), which is nice because often we have no clue when folks on other teams are leaving until we try to email them and get an error message back from Outlook…

    1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

      At the similarly situated tech company where I worked a while ago, there was an off-topic, voluntary signup email list for fun stuff. It had the odd goodbye letter when someone left, though it was a hangout of a lot of oldtimers who were working on their 10 and 20 year anniversaries. I sent my goodbye note there, since that was where I had the most connections.

      I amused myself by embedding my real email address in acrostic form (80 characters maximum per line, to be readable on ancient mail readers like were popular with the venerable sysadmins and kernel devs). I’m not sure if anyone actually decoded it. The message also had my more professionally focused personal email address, and I’m still in an IRC channel with some of the friends I made there.

    2. talos*

      At my Fortune 100 company, we don’t even get an error message back from Outlook! It just silently fails, and you have to notice that their email address has changed to “disabled-” and infer that they have left.

      1. BongoFury*

        Same! We were told the error message from Outlook was “too negative” so instead it just goes…nowhere?

        1. Katie*

          I realized recently that my company was not sending error messages either. I only realized this when someone complained to me because a now gone person on my team wasn’t responding to inquiries. Well he’s gone and his email doesn’t exist anymore in the system so that’s why he isn’t responding…

        2. Myrin*

          Contrary to the very positive feeling you get when you email someone three times and they never reply and you then go to hunt them down only for their office mate to tell you that they left two months ago, I assume?

          1. Super Duper*

            LOL. I wish someone would say this and see what the response is. So nonsensical! People leave jobs, that’s not some unexpected tragedy we need our employer to shelter us from.

        3. Observer*

          It sounds like a lot of incompetence!

          Our typical set up is auto-response + forwarding. It takes minutes to set up.

    3. TechWorker*

      Yep my company is huge and these emails are really common! I don’t think they go to the whole company, they’re probably department based but I can never tell because they’re normally bcc. I get them from people I’ve never heard of let alone met or worked with :p

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I also worked for a huge, global (US-based) company and it was common for people to send a farewell to at least some number of people, whether retiring or leaving for something else. Some of the messages were longer than others, or included specific call-outs like Alison described. There were even some that were generic to a larger group and then the person sent a separate email tailored to a closer group, usually with personal contact info or invite to a farewell lunch.

    4. Allonge*

      We are just below 500 people and do more or less the same thing (depends on the person leaving, really, both for the number of people they send it to and the tone).

      I don’t see the harm? I mean, OP is certainly entitled to not enjoy or use a specific tone, but reasonably you cannot say good-bye to everyone individually at a certain size; people get emotional at big changes and so on.

      1. LW1*

        LW1 here! At the company in my letter everyone is split between two cities and fairly siloed as teams so even pre-pandemic I rarely ever interacted with anyone beyond my immediate team. I of course sent out a more personalized announcement to the people I work with every day plus had individual convos, but it felt strange doing a mass email to all 100 people when truly I could name about 5 people who ever interacted with me beyond that. No harm of course! Just wondered about norms since I’m still newish to this kind of professional environment.

        1. Again With Feeling*

          I would also feel weird about that. But I felt weird about emailing my goodbye at a 50-person company where I did know everybody. It’s just a personality/office culture thing — I’m sure some people receiving those emails from coworkers they never even met are briefly annoyed, and some like it and find it to be an important part of the culture. Norms will vastly differ by company, so what’s encouraged or expected at once place could definitely be seen as inappropriate or awkward at another. You did the right thing, LW – you don’t have to send a flowery farewell missive, but a kind and professional goodbye email should keep everyone happy and let you leave with a good impression in their minds.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          I agree with Again With Feeling that it’s a personality and office culture thing. I worked for a large company (thousands of employees globally) in an office with about 200 people. The culture there was good-byes within the team/to people you worked closely with when people were leaving for another job. A few people who had worked there for a long time (15+ years) and were retiring sent good-bye emails out to all 200 people in our office but definitely not to all 10,000 or so global employees. When I left, I had individual conversations with most of my teammates and sent an email to my department but not to the whole office.

        3. Eclecticism is a Virtue*

          The part I find odd is emailing the entire company, no matter how large it is (that would make more sense if the company is, let’s say, under 50 employees). My company is global, US-based, and has around 3,000 employees. I work in a satellite office with around 100 employees. I get goodbye emails like what you described fairly often. Sometimes it’s the only way I know the person is leaving. At times, I get emails like that from people I don’t know but usually it is someone I at least have heard of. But then again, I’ve been at my company for over 10 years and due to my role, I work with people all over the world, so I know more people than most of my co-workers do. If I were to leave and send an email like that, I would handpick who to put on the email and it would definitely include my entire satellite office (which has its own distribution list) and probably two or three dozen from outside of my office. As to the content, I wouldn’t address specific people, but would do something like “It’s been quite a journey… I’ll miss working with you… Here is how you can keep in touch.” But again, that’s based on I’ve worked with some of these people for over a decade. For any individual messages, I would send those, well, individually.

          1. Rocket*

            It’s a lot easier to pick the all staff distribution list than to pick out the 56 individual people across multiple departments you would really want the goodbye message to go to.

        4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          I work for a 75ish person company. I have heard the names of all 75 at some point or another, even if some people have arrived and departed without me having ever met them in person, never mind worked with them. Most but not all people send out a GBF email, so you’re under no obligation to follow the pattern if you don’t want to. That said, who knows if someone you never met sends you a linkedin connection request and then a few years down the road refers you to your dream job at their new employer.

    5. GythaOgden*

      As a receptionist it’s even more frustrating to get calls for new starters who haven’t announced themselves to us or people who have left, to whom you put the call through only to get a message that they’ve left the organisation.

      Folks, please keep your receptionist in the loop with regular lists of people in your department. Particularly now fewer people are actually in the office, it’s important to be able to direct calls and other contact to the right person! (We try to get people to send us lists but it’s not always a priority for them…)

      1. Baby Yoda*

        Our HR department sends out emails announcing all onboarding and outboarding employees. So at least we know why our emails are not answered.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        And on this we are in wholehearted agreement. There is NEVER a reason the receptionist shouldn’t know.

        When I was doing full time reception and not occasional coverage, I had someone get snippy at me for asking if someone in their department was WFH or on leave. I finally said, “I’m not trying to pry into her personal life, I’m trying to find out what to say to people calling for them.” to get a straight answer. The person reacted like that had never occurred to them. (Fortunately, they seem nice enough in the long term.)

    6. Malarkey01*

      I work at a very large organization and while we don’t send it to thousands it’s very common to send it to your regional office of division (400+ people). Usually an antedate about how much they’ve learned or how great it’s been. Since people move around teams here it’s hard to limit to small groups.

      Every place I’ve worked out it’s been pretty normal when people are leaving on good terms. I don’t think it’s limited to small companies (but does scale a bit with huge places, it’s still a really wide net).

    7. doreen*

      I worked for a fairly large state agency ( over 30K employees). The only person who might send a goodbye email to the entire staff is the head of the agency. But there are lots of people who would send a goodbye email to more than 100 people – for example, when one of my peers retired, he sent an email to all 75 or so people who worked in our building plus another 30 or so people out of the building that he had a close working relationship with.

      1. Governmint Condition*

        I also work in a large state agency. About half of the people who leave send an e-mail to the whole local office, which is about 200-300 people. They’re usually very generic and short, a paragraph or two, without singling anybody out.

    8. Just Me*

      Ugh LW1 I hate this, too. Especially when it comes from an employee you didn’t know well who says something like, “I have had wonderful experiences with EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU” or when they were a terrible employee and you’re relieved they’re leaving.

    9. SJJ*

      Global company here…

      No “company wide” emails, but emails will go out to smaller mailing lists specific to that organization within the business (think teapot lid painter emailing the teapot painting organization).

      I think it’s more based on the size/scope of your employer.

    10. Aiani*

      I can only see myself sending an email to my department , not our huge, international company. But I would set an out of office message.

    11. MCMonkeyBean*

      Yes, those emails are fairly standard at my company as well. Not every person will send them though. I think it’s not unusual if someone does, and not unusual if someone doesn’t!

      My company is also very big, so I don’t think anyone sends them to the *entire* company. But some people might send them to like the whole finance department which is probably 70-100 people. When I left, I just sent one to my immediate team of like 10 people. I also wasn’t super flowery, but a general “I have enjoyed working with you and wish you all the best, here is my email if you need to contact me” is nice I think.

    12. PennylaneTX*

      Oooh, I have so many thoughts and experiences on this. My first company–100 or so people in my office of a national company, I sent the note to the whole office (and was told I made people cry, I’d been there for 5 years and it was a tight-knit company). Second job, roughly 100 people but very much divided into two divisions. I sent a general note to my division and then a more personalized, flowery email to my team specifically (again, made people cry)_

      Last company, approx. 30 people, a quasi-flowery note to the whole office. No tears, which I was disappointed in (ha!).

      I feel like people should erre on the side of Job #2, a more general FYI to the larger group and then a more personal, meaningful one, to teams you worked regularly with. But also, no need to do one at all! At my current job, no one has sent a note (I’m on a team of 16) because we usually have a HH or see the person before they leave.

  4. MishenNikara*

    #2: I do so horrible in interviews because I can’t immediately pop out strong answers to some things (some I don’t expect at all, some end up being my daily retail life and its hard to nail a good answer down) and would LOVE to have time to actually think them through. I like the idea of sending some questions ahead of time

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. There’s no way to interview (that I’m aware of) that doens’t in some advantage people who naturally find it easier to present themselves. But I think sending out questions beforehand is a pretty decent way of leveling the playing field a bit.

      Bonus: if the questions indicate that the job is wildly out-of-line with what a job seeker expected (which sometimes happens) they could bow out before the actual interview, saving everyone some time.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        And you can always ask some additional off-the-cuff questions if you want to get a sense of what they’re like without the pre-considered answers, but frankly even the act of having some questions prepped beforehand will likely set a lot of canidates at ease.

        1. LW#2*

          Letter writer here. We actually do look for people who can stand up and defend technical work they have done. Instead of evaluating this based on how they talk about themselves (interview questions) we ask them to present to a group technical work they’ve done in the past and then see how well they defend it from questions from the audience.

          1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

            It seems smart and kind to allow people some warning for the interview questions, and then keep the off-the-cuff questions for the technical skillset.

        1. Colette*

          Huh? In an interview, you need to hold a conversation. That’s not being extroverted.

          1. BongoFury*

            I would argue that an interview is much more of a presentation than a conversation. Every interview I’ve been in was 80% me talking and trying to sell myself. I wouldn’t normally answer “Tell me why you deserve this job over anyone else” in a conversation.
            I wouldn’t say it’s extrovert (I hate hate hate that term) but it is definitely favors the non-socially anxious people.

            1. Colette*

              If you’re able to, it might be better to approach interviews as a conversation. You should be trying to figure out whether you want to work there, not just selling yourself.

              1. Joielle*

                Yeah, I’ve done a lot better in interviews (and felt a lot less nervous) ever since I’ve started thinking this way. It’s a *business* conversation, not a social conversation, to be sure. But the mindset shift makes a big difference. You’re just talking to people who might be your coworkers/bosses one day and trying to decide (on both ends) if it would be a good fit.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                This is what I’ve been trying to do. It may seem like I’m asking a lot of questions at the outset, but I think that makes more sense than pussyfooting around in an initial interview and then only discovering massive deal breakers later on, like say, remote/hybrid vs. butt-in-seat.

                Company profiles on Glassdoor have a section where people can post questions they were asked when interviewing with the company. Most of them are pretty standard, but at least it gives you some idea.

          2. The Crowening*

            It’s not a regular conversation, though – it’s one in which you have to give good and accurate answers, in one take, on the fly. I’m a person who struggles to make small-talk conversation even in pleasant, low-stakes situations (wedding receptions, milling about before an all-hands meeting at work, etc.). Even “just a conversation” is hard AF for some of us. And for some reason, the older I get, the worse I am at it. I do well in interviews where the hiring panel is friendly and the Q&A is loosely structured. I absolutely bomb in interviews where answers have to be structured a certain way, because I get so hung up on trying to frame everything correctly that I struggle to think all the way through the actual answer. The mechanics of the verbal back-and-forth is more than my stressed-out brain can handle.

            1. Colette*

              Sure, it’s difficult for some, and stressful for many people. But that’s not about being extroverted.

          3. metadata minion*

            But there’s still definitely an expectation that you will be Excited! and Personable! and make some sort connection to these strangers you just met in a high-stress situation. If you’re the sort of person who gets to know people more slowly, and are applying for a job that doesn’t involve a lot of high-energy stranger interaction, having to cosplay a sales agent for your own skills is really annoying. I can do it, but the skills involved in interviewing “well” have basically zero connection to the skills involved in my actual job.

            1. Colette*

              I think there’s more of an expectation that you be engaged and interested than excited.

              1. UKDancer*

                Definitely when I’m interviewing. I don’t want people who act like they’re on amphetamines or over excited if that’s not their natural style. I do want you to sound like you’re interested in the job and what the company does and not sound like you’d rather be anywhere else. Not everyone is highly excitable but most people being interviewed can manage to sound interested and engaged.

    2. GythaOgden*

      Ditto. It would definitely level the playing field for me and make me more confident about showing who I am on paper rather than in the pressure cooker environment of an interview. It may be a legitimate choice to balance out those like me, my husband, my uncle etc who all have/had difficulty in face to face interview situations when we can function in a less intense office environment.

      1. BongoFury*

        It’s a great way to see who is better at communicating via writing (aka, email) vs someone who is better being gregarious in person (aka, hosting meetings).

        If the job were a technical writer or a sales person, it’s obvious which one is better suited and could help both parties.

    3. jsmthi*

      Sending interview questions in advance is an anti-discrimination stance taken by many companies attempting to become less ableist in their hiring. It allows people to answer in ways that properly demonstrate their capacities where having surprise questions thrown at them would not. This might include autistic people, those with auditory or speech impairment, high anxiety, etc. It also circumvents those who are nonverbal (either long- or short-term, e.g. laryngitis) having to ask for them so they can type out responses as a special accommodation. Bonus: it also evens up hiring on a cultural/economic basis as some applicants’ education will include being trained in what to expect in job interviews and what the ‘standard’ questions in an industry are, while others won’t.

      Prep time is good. Accepting typed responses as an alternative to speech is even more inclusive (writing as someone who was looking for a job while recovering from throat surgery). And if accuracy/style of writing isn’t necessary for the work, ignore that and just focus on content of answers, not semicolons etc.

      Yes obviously there are some jobs that actually do demand quick verbal answering our surprise questions! But it’s usually clear which these are and if not, make it clear and people who do not want to do that for a job will probably not apply.

      Does the job require more written communication or more spoken? What is the proportion of the work that requires instant responses versus ones with time to think? Design hiring process to include those aspects accordingly.

    4. PostalMixup*

      I’m currently on a hiring committee, and we sent a handful of interview questions in advance to all our candidates that we interviewed. I was worried it would make it hard to distinguish good candidates from candidates that just pulled something off the Internet, but what it actually did was highlight which candidates had taken the time to thoughtfully prepare for the interview! It was quite surprising how many didn’t have anything prepared for those questions.

    5. Procrastinator*

      I think a mix would be good. I’m bad at talking myself up on paper but better at presenting or answering directly work related questions in writing.

      Ask me to describe a work process or example out loud and you’ll get a lot of bonus, unfiltered cruft. Ask me to do it on paper and you’ll get a fairly concise answer. Ask me to tell you a time I did X on paper and I’ll second guess myself out of good answers. Out loud? I’ll just chug through them.

      I do think a mix wouldn’t be a terrible idea, though.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I’m a very good writer but my style tends to be a bit formal and aloof naturally. On the other hand, when in person I’m apparently very charming and charismatic yet I’m not quick-witted at all. A mix of writing and speaking would be ideal for someone like me who has strengths and weaknesses in both areas which would cancel each other out when having the possibility of presenting both.

        1. pancakes*

          I would probably do best with a mix too. I definitely think more clearly in print. There was a fun book review in the NYT years ago I always think of when this topic comes up. The author of the review was watching an old interview with Nabokov and thought he made a smart observation . . .

          “Not bad, I think, as I sit staring at the dark granular box on my YouTube screen. In fact, a damned good line to come up with off the cuff. But wait! What’s that Nabokov’s doing with his hands? He’s turning over index cards. He’s glancing at notes. He’s reading. Fluent in three languages, he relies on prefabricated responses to talk about his work. Am I disappointed? I am at first, but then I think: writers don’t have to be brilliant conversationalists; it’s not their job to be smart except, of course, when they write. Hazlitt, that most self-conscious of writers, remarked that he did not see why an author ‘is bound to talk, any more than he is bound to dance, or ride, or fence better than other people. Reading, study, silence, thought are a bad introduction to loquacity.’”

          (I will link separately).

    6. LW#2*

      Letter writer here, and that is the way I think about it. I try to write requisitions in such a way that all of the questions are to clarify experience mentioned as required or desired in the requisition. As a result, many of the questions can be answered from the person’s resume.

    7. Fart Noise*

      We started giving the questions in advance to compensate for Zoom interviews. Since it went so well we are keeping the policy in place for all interviews going forward.

    8. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I just had an interview yesterday where they sent the questions 24 hours in advance, and it was awesome. I’m generally very good in interviews but having the extra time to really think about my answers and recall specific examples from years ago was incredibly helpful instead of just saying “I know I’ve encountered that situation before but I can’t remember exactly”.

      Like another commenter mentioned, I have also pulled out of an interview upon receiving the questions in advance when it was very clear I didn’t have the experience they were looking for. I’m so grateful I could determine that ahead of time instead of wasting everyone’s time for what would have been a painful half hour!

  5. lyonite*

    OP1: At least at your company it’s only the goodbyes! I work for a company that’s at a similar transition point from small to large, and our tradition is that every time someone is hired, the hiring manager sends out an announcement introducing them (great!), and then everyone responds to welcome them. Which is perfectly nice and charming, but we’re approaching 200 people and have been hiring vigorously, and the emails can get seriously overwhelming.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Ha, missed this before my own comment – we do the welcome thing too, but fortunately without the reply-all nonsense!

    2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. Those emails can be helpful but they can also be a lot! Ideally HR could send a standarised one or something and then people could set filters accordingly.

      I think the best situation though is when individual departments take over those emails. I don’t need to know if someone has been hired for accounting who I’ll never interact with, but it’s good to know if the sales team has a new member!

      1. Anonym*

        Sounds like a line saying “to keep folks’ inboxes clear, please just reply to new hire :)” wouldn’t be a bad idea for these.

        1. Observer*

          A better idea is to just use the BCC line.

          It’s easier for the sender – one less thing to type in, and you simply CANNOT ignore it.

      2. Velocipastor*

        My suspicion is they DO know the difference but want everyone to witness how welcoming and kind they are

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      At my company, we get the “organizational announcements” as well, but the list is all bcc’d and you *can’t* reply all.

    4. Observer*

      the hiring manager sends out an announcement introducing them (great!), and then everyone responds to welcome them.

      Someone should suggest that the hiring manager use BCC for the entire staff. That insures that even people who hit “reply all” don’t wind up replying to the whole organization.

    5. Sad Desk Salad*

      We have the same issue! When I started we were at about 40 people, now we’re close to 100, and we’re hiring like mad. I’ll wake up to a hundred new emails, have a mini panic attack, and then realize about 80 were new-hire announcements and welcomes.

      It does get overwhelming, but it is VERY satisfying to clear those emails out as I sift through them. Plus the friendly nature of the emails gives me a nice, welcome serotonin boost early in the morning.

  6. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW4: Are you applying to MLM or direct marketing roles? These ‘companies’ are more likely to have baffling recruiting practices like demanding immediate interviews.

    1. bamcheeks*

      Yes, if you’re applying by to multiple roles which expect same-day interviews— have a closer look at what you’re applying to? It does sound a bit like the jobs you’re finding are on that borderline between “actual job” and “scam that depends on things moving so quickly you don’t have time to think properly”.

      If it’s a customer service position where they’re desperate short-staffed and need people yesterday, it’s reasonable for them to ASK if people can interview immediately— but not to get mad if you can’t come in the same day because if that’s not going to help them fill the position. Only people who are trying to pressure you into taking the job without asking the right questions would actually get angry.

      1. Aiani*

        I agree. The only time someone ever tried this on me it was clear she was “hiring” for some scammy MLM
        I hire for entry-level jobs and I do offer same-day interviews but never demand. That is a serious red flag to me that people would respond rudely when you aren’t immediately available. the normal, polite response is to schedule something which works for both parties.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      I could see retail/food service jobs doing this too. It’s usually pretty hard to tell if a place is actually understaffed or just posting “we’re hiring” signs around their stores to satisfy corporate or government overlords, but an immediate call-back might indicate that they really are desperate for help.

      1. Nea*

        It also implies that the person applying is equally desperate – assuming that someone can clear a same-day interview is assuming that person doesn’t have a current job.

        1. KRM*

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an employer to review applications, think “I have a free afternoon, let me see if anyone can come in for an interview, it would be a great help if we could have people starting in the next two weeks”. LW said these are entry level jobs, so there might be a lot of openings the company is trying to fill.
          Where they go wrong is them getting angry at LW/others for not being able to do so. It would be nice if the employer contacted them and if they heard “I’m so sorry I don’t have time today” they instead said “what times are good for you next week?” or something similar. The anger is misplaced. The hoping that maybe someone can come in for a quick interview for an entry level position is not.

        2. Ally McBeal*

          I think that’s more of an inference than an implication – KRM puts it well in their comment, it could just be random availability.

      2. NotRealAnonForThis*

        From my own history as a retail store manager: I frequently offered on-sight interviews to obviously teenagers (when they attach a HS work permit to their application, I wasn’t guessing based on what they looked like) when I was an assistant manager in a retail setting. At that point in the non-internet world, it seemed to be more respectful of both their time, and sometimes whatever adult or friend they’d gotten a ride from. Why make them waste a second trip out to the mall in east-bum-freak-too?

        1. Ally McBeal*

          That’s exactly what I was thinking of – when I was a teenager I walked in to plenty of places (this was in the early 00s before internet applications became ubiquitous), filled out an application, and occasionally had to run out to the car to tell my mom they were going to do a quick intro interview so could she please wait another half hour. I was always thrilled when that happened even if I didn’t end up getting the job.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This happened to me from time to time when I filled out applications in person even for entry-level office jobs. I always went in dressed as though I expected to be interviewed that minute. Pre-internet, it was a possibility.

        3. wendelenn*

          I only WISH someone would do this for my teen. He has applied to multiple fast food and retail places which have had hiring banners up for months–yet he never hears a peep back from any of them.

    3. Nurse Perriwinkle*

      I’m an ICU nurse, and my hospital has recently moved to calling to schedule interviews the day the application is received, and barring any huge red flags, offering the job at the end of the interview.

      1. sofar*

        Wow, I’d believe it! My husband is also in a field with worker shortages right now. He currently has a job and is looking for a different one. He hasn’t gotten a same-day request quite yet, but he’s gotten a few 5 p.m. emails asking him to come in “tomorrow before 10 a.m.” with the hiring manager’s cellphone number, so he can quickly confirm.

        He’s had to say, “I unfortunately can’t get tomorrow off at my current job, can you do [another proposed day].” Some employers are desperate!

    4. ThatGirl*

      I see immediate interviews at entry-level service jobs all the time, but I wouldn’t expect it at a typical office job.

      My current job did call me VERY quickly — about an hour after I applied — but they certainly didn’t expect me to interview right away. They just wanted to schedule the phone interview with me asap.

      1. DEJ*

        And for entry-level jobs right now if you’re not calling back quickly the person is already gone by the time you get around to it.

    5. Ben Marcus Consulting*


      It’s not unusual for many different types of roles to have expedited interview requests. I’ve submitted a response for an RFB and had a call back in as little as 30 minutes.

      What is unusual is that the interviewer is agro when a same day is declined. Staff-strapped industries like food service, retail, and healthcare aren’t going to drive away potential applicants by being nasty (save for extremely small* and out of touch businesses).

      If LW is getting this response frequently, I feel it’s either because they’re applying to a role that is known for this, or they’re doing something to cause the reaction. I.e. are they giving exasperated replies about not being able to drop everything in a moment’s notice to fancy the employer’s whims?

      *I have nothing against small business, I specialize in showing small businesses how they can better compete with large organizations. In fact, I generally only work with large organizations when it’s to better support small business.

  7. Kiwiapple*

    LW3: not completely unreasonable bit you are being unrealistic. Your company has told you their expectations, you have told them yours and they don’t align. Therefore you likely either need a new job or to suck it up and continue with your current company.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Agree. Even if both sides have valid issues and reasonable complaints, the fact is that you’re not entitled to your ideal situation. “We expect some of our employees to be in person a certain number of days each week” is, as we’ve all discovered, not always necessary, but it’s also their prerogative to declare. You then can decide whether you want the job under those conditions.

  8. MissM*

    Flowery or not, if you work with multiple teams, it’s nice to hear people are leaving especially if they can say who is taking over X. I have people that I don’t work with often but need like once a year, and it’s really useful to know that they aren’t there anymore.
    Also I don’t think it’s really over the top to say you’ve enjoyed working with generic “people” but not to the extent Alison gives as examples

    1. LW1*

      Good point! Like I said, I sent my goodbyes anyway and kept it friendly but brief. Some of the letters I saw working there just felt overly emotional, poetic and long for a mass email, well beyond “I’m leaving, it was great working with you, we’ll always have the company picnic food fight.” And I’d often never met the person leaving since the company is pretty siloed and split between multiple locations.

    2. Katie*

      I like the goodbye messages too. I work with another large group whose leaders are bad about communicating staffing changes. Half the time I know of these changes is because of the goodbye emails.

    3. SoloKid*

      “especially if they can say who is taking over X”

      And if they don’t say…that lack of backup is likely one reason why they are leaving *ahem* lol

      1. Raboot*

        Not really? It’s not really their job to communicate those details. People’s managers do that in my experience.

  9. KateM*

    About OP#2, expanding on Alison’s advice: If a candidate, knowing that they are not great writers, would ask someone to look over what they wrote, would you consider it cheating? I mean authors have editors, too? Or maybe they told someone their answers and the other wrote it down, just like OP used to do?

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      My two cents: if someone had a friend or spouse check the answers for typos or just general tone, that would be fine.

      If they had someone in the industry (like a colleague or mentor) check the answers for accuracy or creativity or thoughtfulness, that would feel like cheating.

      This is very different from authors having editors because the point of an editor is to get a document publication-ready for a particular audience. The point of an interview is convey your suitableness to a particular role.

      1. Clearlier*

        Thinking about my industry I wouldn’t send out a technical test in advance but it seems to me that there might be some advantages to having a candidate think through their response to behavioural/situational questions might elicit more detail. Asking them questions about their response in an interview allows you to get into a bit more depth and if they have been coached on the answers it will usually become clar during the interview.

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        Agreed – I would compare it to practicing an interview with a friend for tone/rambling.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think it would be cheating any more than having someone help you with your resume is cheating. The exception is if the job requires writing skills and the answers are being used as a writing sample.

    3. BongoFury*

      I would argue it depends on the job.

      Are you applying for an position that requires you know how to communicate via writing in most circumstances? Like an editor/copywriter position? Because then, yes!

      But are you applying for an position where you do nothing but code software all day? Nah, not at all.

  10. AnotherLibrarian*

    I think Letter3 is a case where two parties simply aren’t aligned. The company has told the letterwriter what they require for the job. The letterwriter has concluded that’s not something they want to comply with. The company has said they won’t budge, so I would encourage the letterwriter to take them at their word and look for another job. Sometimes the needs of the employee and the needs of the employer aren’t going to align and that’s okay! It’s okay to leave a job if it no longer fits your needs, but it’s also okay for a company to feel that 100% remote isn’t something they want to support for some or all jobs. I would feel that way about many of the positions I supervise.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I agree.

      I’ve worked 100 WFH as a freelancer in the past, and I’d still be doing that if going to the office occasionally (once a week or less) felt too onerous. That said, I’m really glad that I don’t have a definite number of days when I have to be in the office. Some positions require more time at the office than others, and some of my coworkers have been going to the office throughout the pandemic because their job requires it. But for those positions that could be done fully remotely, it’s been left pretty much up to each individual employee to decide how often they’ll go to the office. The only guideline we’ve had is that they don’t want any of us to isolate ourselves by WFH 100%, although if someone has a medical reason not to come into the office because they’re high risk, or they share a household with someone who’s high risk, they’re allowed to WFH permanently.

    2. Allonge*

      Exactly. It’s as if the company moved away the same distance – OP would have to make the call if commuting is possible or not. This happens a lot, regardless of the pandemic.

    3. The Original K.*

      Yep- my philosophy about work is that people work at a place for as long as their needs and wants match. Sometimes that’s a day, sometimes it’s an entire career. It seems like time is up for OP3.

    4. Colette*

      Yeah, I agree. IME, there’s a big difference between being remote when everyone is remote versus being the only person who is remote. There are good reasons why a company might want to have everyone in the office. I understand staying remote works better for the OP, but it sounds like the company has been pretty clear that they want her in the office.

  11. learnedthehardway*

    OP#4 – the expectation that you would be immediately available for in-person interviews on the same day you applied is ridiculous and is definitely an indication that the company is unreasonable in its expectations. Definitely a red flag. Expecting you to be available for a phone screen with a day or two of notice is not too much to ask, but the expectation that you will drop everything in your life so you can attend an in-person interview immediately – and then getting snippy with you when you point out that you have work or school or family or other obligations – THAT is really over-the-top.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      There have been times I would be happy to interview with a couple hours’ notice…. but it’s not the way to bet.

  12. Violas are blue*

    I was more efficient and got more work done working from home… for the majority of my job. However, my mentoring and on the job training of less experienced employees was much less efficient, because it seems it was easy for them to to ask a quick question if they only had to walk across the aisle or run into me at the coffee station/in a conference room, but not so easy to IM or email me that same quick question when we weren’t in the same place.

    1. Allonge*

      Yes! Being efficient in one’s particular job and being efficient as an organisation are really different things and the latter may be difficult to judge from an individual contributor’s view. Not to mention that efficiency is not the only thing that matters.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Agreed. I also found that a lot of short-term projects and admin stuff was easier and more efficient from home….but a lot of the longer-term development projects were stalled and didn’t progress in the same way.

        And if a company isn’t really active in cultivating a particular remote culture, I think there can be a lot of issues with culture shifts.

        That’s not to say remote work is bad, but it’s definitely more complex than just: “I focus better at home and everything I do can be done electronically”.

        1. Violas are blue*

          Yes! I DO focus better at home and everything I do CAN be done electronically. I LOVED working from home… but was it the best set up for the company for everyone to be remote 100%. I would say definitely not.

    2. allathian*

      Yes, many people have found this to be true. I’m glad that I don’t have to go into the office, especially during our busy periods, because I can focus better on my job at home and I’ve never been so productive if you simply look at my to-do list. But work is much more than that, and I’ve certainly found that sharing ideas and gathering informal information is much easier in person. I’m not saying it’s impossible to do remotely, but it does require effort, whereas at the office it happens almost automatically. Or at least it does in a functional office where people respect each other as people and each other’s professionalism, and where you aren’t stressed out by dysfunctional relationships with your coworkers or manager.

      1. justabot*

        That’s my experience as well. It’s so much easier to crank out work and tasks at hime without interruptions or distractions. But there’s something about being in person (if others are there as well), where I get so much intel, informal conversations, an off-hand comment from someone in other department that sparks an idea or highlights a need, face time with decision makers that I don’t typically have day to day contact with – the whole relationship building aspect of a job. I enjoy a hybrid schedule right now and there are different likes and dislikes I have about both.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I like going in, but it’s really nice to have the hybrid option when the weather is bad or I’m feeling sniffly (especially now!) or I have a maintenance person coming. At a new job, I want to be in the office as much as I can in the beginning, mostly to get to know the space, the coworkers, and the area around the office.

          If I’ve been out of work for a while, I get tired of being home all the time. I like having somewhere to go.

          1. justabot*

            Yep! I hated my last job and thought I would LOVE working from home. I had just started a new role two months before the pandemic changed the world. Our business was mostly shut down and suddenly I was home full time and it was very isolating and hard. I got into such a rut.

            Now I have a hybrid schedule and I truly find it the best of both worlds. I go in 3 days a week and work remotely two days, or more if my schedule allows or yes, for things like you mentioned. But there actually is something nice about having somewhere to get up and go, particularly if you enjoy your coworkers, have a reason to get dressed, interact with people, or run out for coffee, and other days it is nice to stay cozy at home in pajamas! It does help to meet coworkers in person and build those relationships, which is what makes things so much easier on the days when working remotely. There’s already a trust and rapport which can be harder to build completely online.

            I hope a good job works out for you. For me it was the quality of life issues and liking the people, more than the actual position. I do like the job, but all those intangibles are what I like the most. Even thought my last job looked ideal on paper and sounded so cool and impressive, I was totally miserable and burnt out!

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes. I am in the same position. There are many things I can do more effectively from home and can get through my to-do list much faster. On the other hand some things work less efficiently if I’m at home and certainly it makes it harder to train and induct new people and also to build connections and share information. So while I may be personally most effective at home, it doesn’t mean the organisation will find it best for me to be there.

        I’m really happy we’re returning to a hybrid way of working with some time in the office and some time at home so I can get the best of both.

    3. KateM*

      Interesting. I feel the opposite as a mentee – I feel much better about putting a quick question in IM thinking my mentor will read and answer when he chooses, than I’d feel about actually going to physically pulling him out of whatever he’s doing. It was the same when we had some courses – we could ask non-important questions in chat and the lecturer would read and answer when she was ready for it, or possibly we even got answers from other participants so she didn’t have to answer at all, and all this without disturbing the flow of the lecture.
      But teaching little kids is much much better in person. Could be because it’s easier when it’s a lecture or 1-to-1 than when it’s a bunch of students each with their own worksheet; could be because it’s easier when students are adults/just better with computers than when they are kids; or could be it’s easier on me when I’m a student than when I’m a teacher.

      1. Snow Globe*

        When you are both in the same office, there are usually many opportunities for a quick question/chat as you are both getting coffee/waiting for an elevator/waiting in a conference room for a meeting to start, etc. It doesn’t have to be pulling them away from something. Those things happen organically and can lead to a much more nuanced discussion than would be had sending a question over IM.

        1. KateM*

          In the office I used to work, it never happened like that – actually I took to going out to eat with colleagues (instead of bringing by own food) solely because that was the only time of day when such interaction did happen. (How long do you tget coffee, anyway?)

        2. Software Dev (she/her)*

          Eh I disagree about nuance.

          With an IM I can type out and rephrase my thoughts, include examples and whoever is replying can type out a long example or ask me to try something to get more info etc. Talking can lead to quicker exchange of ideas but with less nuance, imo.

    4. EvilQueenRegina*

      Yes, I definitely found that WFH made it more difficult to train on the job when new employees joined the team. Trying to respond with IMs/emails/screencaps was definitely not as easy, and if someone missed explaining one step in a process while training in office someone else might be there to hear and pick that up, while remotely it could go a while without anyone picking that up.

      1. BethDH*

        That picking up little stuff before it becomes big stuff is one I’ve noticed that took a long time to emerge as a pattern. I’m not sure quite what the biggest reason is. Training like you mention is probably one. More opportunities for casual peer review too. I suspect also that lots of people find it less formal somehow to mention a potential issue in person than to “put it on the record” in an email or even chat.

    5. kiki*

      Yes, I’m a huge advocate for working from home and flexibility, but I am seeing adverse affects in my industry in terms of onboarding, mentorship, and training of junior employees. I can see it right now with job postings– everyone wants a senior engineer but at some point if only senior engineers are being hired, there will come a time when there no more senior engineers because the industry hasn’t been helping folks move up the ranks. It takes a lot of effort to properly onboard and mentor junior employees, and doubly so in the office where you can’t easily see them spinning their wheels or pop over after a casual conversation. I don’t think the answer is to force everyone back to the office, but I do think more effort needs to be made somehow

  13. Susan Calvin*

    FWIW, LW1, in my eyes a 100-person company is still small enough that an all-staff goodbye email isn’t too weird – when I left my last job at a huge multi-national, my (hand curated) list of goodbye recipients was probably in the low 100s, since I’ve been there for 6 years and through multiple re-orgs (hence, worked with many different people).

    Conversely, my new employer is at ~150 people, and the HR system sends an all-staff introduction email whenever someone new starts, and I think that’s nice, especially with most people probably not meeting in person anytime soon.

  14. GythaOgden*

    While it would be great for many people to be able to continue to work from home, please remember in these situations that a lot of people don’t have that option. A lot of us who have worked from the office keeping it open for things like IT maintenance (and thus been in a bit of an absurd situation…I remarked yesterday that reception with my talkative colleague has been like Waiting For Godot!) have kids who may not be vaccine-ready or whatever. But we’ve made do at risk to our health and our wellbeing (and from my perspective it took me a long time to swallow the various inequities of the situation, including sitting in a mask for five to seven hours a day, which was uncomfortable and, because I’m autistic, not fun from a sensory point of view) and I think now it’s fair to say that those who did have the luxury of shelter are asked to share some of that risk.

    So remember that even if you may feel that employers simply want to flex here, there are people for whom work from home was never a possibility, and it feels better for us that some people for some days a week to /share/ some of that experience of having to cope during a pandemic now that things are easier and many more people are vaccinated.

    I know we’re not totally out of the woods yet, but from my view on reception of an empty building for the last two years, at various times wondering whether I’d still have a job at all given the conversations going on directly in front of me from WFH people who’d swung by to pick stuff up…yeah, the burden of making sure people can work from home does fall on shoulders who don’t have that luxury. I don’t blame people for still being concerned, especially around sceptics, but to be frank, the other side of the coin isn’t well-represented here and, particularly because you made an unfortunate assumption and moved, that does mean you will have to shoulder the burden (we’ve been paying to commute for two years) a bit or look for another job.

    I say this not to be unkind or to be self-righteous, and there were times over the past couple of years where I couldn’t talk about this, much less write, for fear of being seen as hysterical. I’m also aware that I stayed in a job which was a 90 minute commute away because it gave me other benefits and I love my colleagues who who working from the office beside me. If I cut out my public transport commute I’d probably not end up just paying it out in bills, but I don’t have to run a car with the costs you incur regardless of whether you drive it or not. Not everyone who still works outside the house has this issue as extremely as I do, and I’m looking for a job closer to home as a result of everything being much easier to manage if I only had to take buses rather than trains as well.

    But while a few months ago it might have been more reasonable to ask people to stay at home, the reality is that many people are coming back in at least a few days a week. I have been able to see drama between managers and their reports — where the manager knows their report has to come in and so asks them to pick up something for them. The report has to expose themselves while the manager gets to keep safe in their home. That ended badly for the manager because her report complained about the unfairness she was imposing on him, and I wasn’t surprised to see her quit. (I was surprised that it was managers in the US who were driving the return to offices; here, the more senior the staff, the less I see of them, which rankles for a lot of people.)

    While hybrid looks like it’s here to stay, I think I’ve heard from discussion in our office that it’s great to be in personal contact with colleagues. That smoothes out some issues with collaborative work and builds team cohesion, particularly since in the last two years there is bound to have been some turnover and people in your sphere you’ve never met in person. It will depend on industry, but while I sympathise with your story here, there are other perspectives and as time goes on, it’s possibly even a duty for those who couldn’t shelter but still had the same responsibilities towards family to see that others are prepared to relieve them of part of the burden. That perspective gets lost here because this website has a predominantly office based clientele, but it needs to be heard to give people a fuller picture of how the other two thirds live.

    It will depend on a lot of factors but the move sounds like it was done on the basis of a lot of assumptions about the future of work that may not have been realistic. Personally, even after all the stress, I’ve realised that as a natural hermit, if I didn’t have to leave the house every day I’d just never do so. So I actually enjoy working out of the house. But don’t discount the people who were keeping let’s say 30% of the workforce able to work from home by being out and about even during the worst of it.

    A few days in the office perhaps isn’t too much to ask from this perspective.

    1. disagree*

      The OP has a child who can’t be vaccinated. It sounds like you are saying that even if their job can be done from home, they should still need to go in just because other people’s jobs require them to be there–“it feels better for us that some people for some days a week to /share/ some of that experience.” That is not a good reason for someone to put their child at risk.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          How does more people being at risk “shoulder” the risk for others in this case? It doesn’t lessen the risk for people who can’t WFH; it just puts more people at risk. It’s not equivalent to helping carry a couch.

          It might make people feel things are more fair, and inequality is bad in and of itself, but I don’t think those concerns override the risk to more people.

          1. Avril Ludgateau*

            If anything, it puts more people at risk, and increases each individual’s risk in the process (more people = more disease vectors, more pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases = more exposure for everybody).

      1. londonedit*

        We’re still voluntary in terms of going back to work, and masks haven’t been required in the office since it reopened properly a couple of months ago. I’m still mainly WFH and I still wear a mask if I’m on public transport or in a shop, but I feel like literally everyone in this country (including me) had Covid in February/March this year (we had an absolutely massive spike in infections – most of which were thankfully very mild) so now there’s definitely a ‘meh, if I get it again, I get it again’ sort of vibe. Add to that the fact that as we’re heading through the spring case numbers are dropping like a stone and people just aren’t that bothered anymore. I know that Covid vaccines are available for over-5s and I’ve heard about friends taking their children to be vaccinated but no one’s really talking about that in a big way and I think someone would seem out of touch if they didn’t want to come back to the office simply because their otherwise healthy 4-year-old can’t have a Covid jab. The perception here is that children aren’t really affected (beyond spreading it to their teachers and parents!)

        1. GythaOgden*

          I think it would have been a reasonable concern if it was like swine flu which really hit children hard (the UK death toll was 200, mostly children and health workers exposed to large doses, which seems microscopic in the wake of Covid). But yeah, kids are more likely to spread it than be the victims of it — cause for caution, certainly, but this is becoming much less of an issue as the pandemic becomes endemic and infections drop.

          Admittedly, the take-up of the vaccine in the UK might be one reason we’re doing better than they are in some parts of the US. Context is key to understanding which anxieties are real and present, and which may be solved from approaching the issue from a different perspective. It’s something that took me 35+ years, increasing doses of medication (the last increase from 100mg to 150mg of Sertraline made a huge difference), multiple rounds of CBT and a few self-help audiobooks to learn for myself as a person with GAD, so I completely understand! It just feels a bit hollow sometimes.

          1. triss merigold*

            Infections are not dropping. The pandemic is not becoming endemic. Vaccines are actually becoming less effective as variants become more contagious. And children are getting permanent damage from covid just like adults are.

          2. Juniper breeze Bath and Body works*

            Ah. You work in healthcare administration. That explains the utter lack of regard for people’s safety and lives, and the absolute indifference to human decency.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          A lot of people have already had covid more than once. The vaccines aren’t perfect, and it now looks as though the antibodies people get from having been sick covid are less effective than vaccine-based immunity.

          There’s a weird pressure to say “kids aren’t at much risk” because they’re less likely to die than adults, and ignore the fact that some children are dying, and more are getting seriously ill. Yes, if you and your child both catch covid, you’re more likely to die than they are, but that doesn’t mean children aren’t at risk. Yes, an asthmatic child is more likely to die of covid than a child without asthma–that shouldn’t mean we don’t care about dead children who weren’t “otherwise healthy.”

      2. triss merigold*

        and beyond that, I’ve been vaccinated and so is everyone in my house, and I absolutely would not take a job that required me to go into the office right now. I think that maybe no one is actually looking at the numbers, because the pandemic isn’t remotely close to over just because people are tired of it. Lots of people are still getting maimed by covid. And now everyone’s dropping mask mandates. Omicron 2.0 is the most contagious version yet. Companies who want people to come back aren’t facing reality. They’re just working on vibes.

    2. BRR*

      There are multiple reasons employees might need to go into the office but “since some employees can’t work from home you can’t work from either” isn’t one of them. I don’t know why you’d want others to “share some of the risk.”

      1. Raboot*

        Yeah that’s… Not how covid risk works. It’s increasing risk. Do they think covid is a creature walking around who will be like, ah I can skip person A actually because now person B ia here.

    3. Avril Ludgateau*

      I think now it’s fair to say that those who did have the luxury of shelter are asked to share some of that risk.

      Why? Other than that some people (debatably) unavoidably had to put themselves at risk, which isn’t really an argument so much as a crab bucket mentality. “It was bad for me, so it should be bad for everybody” vs. “it was bad for me, and I want to make it better however I can.”

      1. Antilles*

        Especially since in the case of a pandemic, “sharing the risk” isn’t actually helping your health.

        If we were talking about lifting a heavy object, then it’d make sense to want people around to split the task – the extra hands and muscles make the task safer and reduce the chance of you getting injured.

        But that’s not the case with a communicable virus. Your odds of getting Covid are not lowered because a bunch of people are also in the office; if anything, your odds of getting Covid are actually increased because of everybody else’s presence.

    4. Lenora Rose*

      There are a lot of good reasons for staff to be plausibly returning to the office part time, to do with anything from mail that needs to be picked up to getting larger scale projects moving to knowing where the company is at. And some of them have to do with WORK that has fallen disproportionally on the people doing in-office.

      I really don’t see “Share this experience of having to do a 90 minute commute AND take care of your loved ones” as being close to one of them. The ONLY way that makes sense is if someone else coming into the office means you get a day at home to catch up, and don’t have to make the commute for once (and even there, only if you and they would genuinely be doing the same work, not just because your personal life issues match). Just having the same struggles and risks might seem to make sense from an empathy perspective, but unless there’s a work reason, or a way it will lead to work RELIEF for you, you can ask people to empathize while letting them WFH.

      (And see the cases where “hybrid work” has resulted in one person from a team being in at a time, meaning no benefit – and the solution to that is not necessarily to say “all office all the time”.)

  15. bamcheeks*

    LW, you need to re-frame this. Whether or not you are “unreasonable” isn’t the question— there isn’t a court you can go to who will rule that you are being reasonable and the company is unreasonable and therefore your company has to meet your expectations— or vice versa. There isn’t an objective test here. Your company has made their expectations clear and you know what you are and aren’t willing to do. If they don’t match up, it’s time to look for a new job. That might be a pain but it’s not the end of the world!

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think this is good advice for so many of the questions we see here. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how “right” you are; this is the situation you’re in and you need to focus on realisitic next steps.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I found it really useful when my idea of what our strategic direction should be started to wildly diverge from our organisation’s and my manager’s. I mean, on one level I still think I’m right— but at a certain point it’s completely irrelevant whether I’m right or they’re right, that’s what the organisation’s going to do, my options are to get with the programme or find somewhere more congenial. Noone’s going to deus ex machina and anoint me Queen of Strategy.

  16. Yellow*

    LW3 I recommend you start job hunting. For fully remote positions if you are not willing to attend an office, or for positions a short commute from your new home to handle that side of things.

    It’s interesting that there are often letters from people struggling to find work that requires a move / has long commutes. OTOH it really should be up to an individual to decide if they will commute or move for a job. OTOH I get being wary that people will not actually be able to handle the commute and ask for accommodations.

    LW your commute into the office is a personal issue that you need to solve. You need to find a different job, or move. Neither of those is easy or simple. But it is your responsibility to fix, not your employer’s.

  17. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW3, I would start job-searching. While I agree that the “no exceptions” is a bit much, I can also see why your employer is doing this. You have made you requirements clear to your employer and vice versa. They do not align, so it may be time to move on from this job – which sucks, but it doesn’t seem like they’ll budge at this point unless your manager can make a really good case as to why you should get an exception to a no exceptions rule (which I agree is a bit much and 100 miles seems like a larger radius, but I don’t know what traffic is like in your area. Considering you mention switching from car to public transport I’m imagining “not great”.)

    1. J.B.*

      I agree. In the meantime OP may be able to flex hours to travel at less busy times. My office is back in hybrid but most of the time there’s one or two people on the hall and showing up for a few hours has not been an issue. My kids are vaccinated but have lots of medical appointments so logging back in when home has been fine.

  18. A.N. O'Nyme*

    LW4, that sounds…Really, really weird. It’s setting off scam warnings in my head, and it’s odd that it happened more than once. Assuming you are looking these companies up beforehand, you may just have some really bad luck in your job search. If you are not looking companies you apply to up beforehand…You need to start doing that – which isn’t going to filter these kinds of things out entirely because stuff can always fly under the radar, of course.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Googling companies beforehand may help limit the amount of MLMs OP accidentally applies to (which I certainly did when I was looking for entry-level work, since they will sometimes word their “positions” as though it is a real job) and I think MLM-type orgs are less regulated and therefore more prone to the getting mad bit.

      I’m thinking of that company that sells knives, for example, which sometimes will have outposts that are basically just hiring machines; they post a ton of job listings and are always running interviews.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think it’s also a deliberate tactic. They want to put pressure on you to make a decision quickly without thinking it through, and they don’t care if you drop out a couple of weeks later as long as you’ve spent the money. Even something like a call centre or a restaurant with super high turnover would generally want people to work for a couple of months or so, in which case “I can’t do today but the day after tomorrow would be fine” sounds pretty reasonable.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yep, Cutco/Vector Marketing is the exact one I just commented about! The called me for an interview within minutes of my submitting my application.

        I’m sure sometimes you really happen to submit just as a person is combing through the applicants and the timing just works out that way. But if OP is encountering this a lot I definitely would take a step back and consider what you are filtering for in your application process because that is very unusual I think!

        1. JustaTech*

          That said, during “peak” shipping season at Amazon you’ll get a time for your “interview” (drug test and paperwork) within seconds of submitting your application online.
          So it’s not only scams, but it does tend to be employers who aren’t picky.

    2. Liz*

      Seconding this. You can filter out the major scammy ones and well known MLMs with a quick Google. The trickier ones are sales companies that have legitimate contracts with well known corporations but employ shady practices not dissimilar to MLMs.

      I had the dubious pleasure of interviewing with one of these once, only because they advertised the post as “customer service manager” and used the name of the contractor – a well known national phone and broadband provider – in association with their obscure marketing company. I knew nothing about sales, nor did I understand anything about these kinds of scheme, so I went to the interview. It was… an experience.

      I’m not sure if there is a reliable way to screen this second type other than perhaps looking out for “too good to be true” advert wording, such as offering management roles with no experience necessary or promising massive promotions within an extremely short timescale.

  19. SavedFromLorna*

    Regarding #1- My company is very large and people do this. I think it’s nice, but what isn’t nice is when people hit “reply all” to respond to them! :D

    1. ND and awkward*

      My workplace of ~100 people has HR make Yammer announcements both for people joining and leaving, which sends an email to everyone (that no one can reply-all to!). I like it as a set-up, the subject can either comment on the HR announcement or ignore it, people can express their well-wishes, and I only get the one notification when four people start at the same time.

  20. John*

    Sadly, companies go back on remote work all the time. One regime says yes and the next says no. Not a great way to manage a workforce, but there you have it.

    1. The Original K.*

      A new hire at a previous employer lived 60 miles away. She was told she could work remotely (this was pre-pandemic). Upon hire, her boss reneged. She quit. She should have, in my opinion.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      There’s nothing to indicate that the company went back on remote work though? It sounds like they allowed it due to the pandemic, but now are returning to the way they previously did things. That’s not to say the OP can’t be annoyed by that, but I don’t think this is a case of the company promising something and then yanking it away.

  21. Panda (she/her)*

    OP1 – my 300 person company STILL sends out company wide emails for new hires and departures, even for coop students. I do find it annoying, and as we have gotten larger, I think it also creates a sense of more turnover than there maybe is – I would say it’s pretty normal to have several people leave per month in a company this size, which means several times a month people are being reminded that others are leaving. I think this can be helpful in reminding people that they can leave if they get a better offer (it has certainly done this for me, as someone who historically has a lot of misplaced loyalty for my employer) but I think it can also damage morale to see so many people leaving.

  22. AmandatheAdmin*

    This is going to sound terrible, but I’m completely UNsympathetic to LW3. I too moved so that I was 58 miles away from my workforce site, but I also was aware that remote work and telework would not remain forever. I’ve done the commute (5 hours total a day) and while it stinks, I buck up and know that I picked this. It doesn’t matter if HR’s policy is arbetrary, you chose to move and now you need to figure out how to handle it like the thousands of other Americans who are also attempting to figure out the transition to our new normal.

    If that means getting a new job, do that. If it means moving closer, do that. But please don’t come here looking for sympathy and a pat on the head for how un-resonable your leadership and HR are being. **Eye-roll** Honestly, nothing in your letter even suggests you should recieve an exemption if one were available.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      Glad it’s working out for you, but surely you understand most people don’t love a five hour commute.

      I agree that LW3 doesn’t seem to have many options at this point and should probably look for something else if the employer won’t budge, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to advocate for what you want before jumping ship.

    2. Avril Ludgateau*

      I’ve done the commute (5 hours total a day) and while it stinks, I buck up and know that I picked this.

      Imagine giving up 20% of your day (never mind waking hours) that you’ll never get back, to make some point about picking yourself up by your boot straps, instead of using it to re-evaluate your employer’s priority in your life.

      1. Oakwood*

        That’s 1,300 hours a year travelling. Divide that by 40, and it’s the same as working 32 extra work weeks a year.

        Even a mere 1 hour round-trip commute equates to 6.5 extra 40 hour work weeks a year.

        That’s the reason there is so much pushback against returning to the office. People realize how much time they have picked up.

        Not to mention money they are saving. Let’s say LW is driving 100 miles round trip and her car gets 33 mpg (which is pretty good). With gas at $4 a gallon she is spending $12 a day just on gas. $60 a week. $3,000 a year. That’s not an insignificant amount.

        Plus, she’s putting $25,000 miles a year on her car. At this rate, how many years till she has to replace it? What the cost of a new car now? Even the budget ones have gone through the roof lately.

      2. SoloKid*

        Some people put those hours into listening to podcasts or other relaxing things (if they take public transit that lets them access wifi for example).

        I know plenty of people that say “I wish I had time to read a book for 2 hours a day!”

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Sure. For a 90 minutes daily (or less) commute this is nice. For 5 hours? Forced? Daily?

      3. ijustworkhere*

        One of my friends moved 3 hours away and commuted every week for several years for the two days she was required to be in the office. She knew it before she moved and she decided it was worth it to live where she wanted to live. Since covid they’ve agreed she can be 100% remote permanently which is great.

        Would I do that? HECK NO. But I am not her, and she gets to decide what her priorities are. (she often stayed overnight in the area, but a few times she drove back and forth–I don’t know how but she did).

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      The unvaccinatable child doesn’t suggest they should receive an exemption? Okay, really hope you’re not making these types of decisions at your workplace…

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        But they knew they had a child who couldn’t be vaccinated when they moved. It’s not the employer that put the LW in this situation.

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Right; so the unvaccinated child and not the distance is what they should focus on, and be granted an exception for, because that’s the unchanging variable. Fifty miles away or two, the child is still vulnerable to an infection picked up at the office.

          1. Lunch Ghost*

            She currently has an exemption because of the child. She wants an exemption to having to go back once the child is vaccinated.

          2. Hlao-roo*

            LW3 does currently have an exemption based on their child’s vaccination status. It’s unclear to me (and may be unclear to the letter writer) if the ability to work from home full time will stay until the child is vaccinated, or only until higher ups put more pressure on the LW’s manager to bring everyone back into the office.

            1. Observer*

              The OP actually says that they have been told that once the child is vaccinated, they are going to have to come back to the office.

          3. KRM*

            But the distance is the immovable sticking point, because at some point the child will be vaccinated. And LW will still have chosen to live 50 miles away.
            The bottom line is that, no matter any current mitigating factors, the LW chose to move 50 miles away. They do not seem to have gotten a “you can work remotely as long as you want” promise from anyone. And now the company is saying “we will function better when you all are coming into the office X days a week” and the LW is crying “but my commute is so unreasonable, I can’t do this!!”. Okay, but you made a choice. And your company is making their choice. You either 1-suck it up buttercup and do the commute, or 2-you get a new job, whether it be fully remote somewhere, or just closer to your new home. There is now a mismatch on their priority vs the companies priorities, and it’s not the company being inherently wrong. They just no longer align, and since the LW is one person, the choice to stay or go falls on them.

          4. Rusty Shackelford*

            Exactly. They need (and currently have) an exemption for the unvaccinated child. But they also want an exemption for the distance after the child is able to be vaccinated.

            1. AnonymousReader*

              This! It’s the placing blame on the employer rather than taking personal responsibility that made me less sympathetic to the LW. I agree with her desire to work remote, I just don’t agree with her approach. Employer has been consistent on their messaging, if you chose not to listen to them, that’s on you.

        2. Another ADDer*

          *But they knew they had a child who couldn’t be vaccinated when they moved* No they didn’t. If they moved during the pandemic, they most likely moved before it was possible for ANYONE to be vaccinated. They had no way of knowing if or when vaccines would be available, let alone available to which age groups. They definitely had no way of knowing that there would still be no vaccine for children under 5 when their employer demanded their return to the office.

      2. Observer*

        The unvaccinatable child doesn’t suggest they should receive an exemption?

        Yes, it does – and the office is apparently actually taking it into account. The OP says that so far, they have been given an exception due to the status of their child. But they want a permanent exception even once there is a vaccination specifically due to the commute. I’m just not that sympathetic to that.

        I don’t think that the OP is a terrible person, but I also don’t think they are being reasonable.

    4. Cj*

      5 hours a day is a commute that I what do, but I agree that was your choice, and the OP’s choice, to move. If the commute doesn’t work for her, then she needs to look for a new job.

      I’ve lived about 40 miles from most of my jobs, but it’s rural on light traffic highways, so it only take about 45 minutes and I can handle that. Driving in city traffic drive me crazy.

    5. Wendy*

      There is no way I would take a job that has a commute of 5 hours total a day, especially since I depend on public transportation

    6. Raboot*

      OP has a family, it is very understandable to have moved when everyone had to work remotely. Places with room for kid and working spaces aren’t cheap. And it’s often easier to buy than rent in certain areas and housing sizes. It doesn’t mean anyone is wrong, but I don’t see why sympathy can’t be managed for a situation difficult for everyone involved.

    7. MeepMeep02*

      So the unvaccinated child should just get sick because her health is less important than the boss’s desire to see LW3’s face in the office?

      1. Don't Forget To Mute The Zoom*

        Their office has said they will need to return after the child is vaccinated.

  23. Wordle fan*

    My organization also has a history of flowery farewells which made it very amusing when a known curmudgeon retired after 40 years with a short email reading, “Well, it could have been worse.” Never change, B!

    1. LW1*

      I was so tempted to just send out “So long and thanks for all the fish” and be done with it but I wanted people to still like me haha

  24. Old Admin*

    OP#4 : the expectation that you would be immediately available for in-person interviews on the same day you applied tells me the “employer” is filtering for unemployed, preferably desperate people.
    It doesn’t have to be an MLM scam – it’s a useful way to find cheap labor, not pay benefits, get warm bodies in seats.

  25. DJ Abbott*

    #4, I get the impression companies are scrambling to hire entry level positions.
    I have 25 years of office experience and during my pandemic unemployment I did a temporary data entry job. Ever since then I’ve been getting random messages from recruiters offering data entry jobs. Another one just yesterday. They clearly didn’t read my résumé or they would know I’m way overqualified.
    So I think they might be rushing you because they’re in a hurry to fill the position. That doesn’t excuse the rudeness and expecting you to drop everything – though I’m sure people who are desperate enough for a job are willing to do that. They’re filtering for people who are desperate and willing to work for an inconsiderate employer. That’s something to think about before considering them.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Maybe this is karma for them being so damn picky before the pandemic.

  26. L-squared*

    #3 If this is too much for you, by all means look for a new job. However, I get where the company is coming from. You chose to move during the pandemic, even though you knew that eventually there was a chance going back to the office would happen. And just because you have a kid, I don’t think that is really fair to others. I’m at a company who has mandated going back in a few times a week. I also have no kids. I’m not unsympathetic, but its also a situation where if I had to go, but my coworker didn’t because she had a young kid at home, I’d be pissed off. This is definitely more of a question of whether the company SHOULD be requiring anyone to go back. But since some are, I don’t think they should be picking and choosing who has to and who has the choice.

    1. Chickaletta*

      I agree, why move that far away without knowing yet if remote work was going to be permanent? It’s like booking an expensive vacation before getting PTO approved in that OP was gambling that the company would approve their plans after they couldn’t be undone.

      1. Dahlia*

        Needing work space instead of working in a closet, needing family-based childcare, having to do caregiving for other family members?

  27. Lizzie Bennet*

    LW 4: Could these be scams? Scammers tend to need stuff from you immediately with no time to waste, whether that’s money or gift cards or an interview.

  28. anonymous73*

    #1 – I find this practice unnecessary regardless of the size of the company. I’ve never sent one. I say my goodbyes to the people that matter in person and there’s no need to send an email to a larger group of people who aren’t going to be affected by or care about my leaving. Quite frankly when I get them, I roll my eyes and immediately send the email to my deleted folder.
    #3 – I don’t think you’re being unreasonable about protecting your child, but I do think you’re being a bit unreasonable about your commute. Unless they gave you reason to believe that permanent remote work was possible, you chose to move so it’s not on the company that it takes you 2 hours to get there. I get it – I’ve had a long commute in my past and currently work for a company where it would take me 2 hours to commute one way (in DC/NOVA traffic) and it would not be sustainable. But when I was contacted for the position, I was told that at most I would only need to come in 1 to 2 days a month. So I’m prepared to start looking if that ever changes.

    1. Rebecca1*

      Every now and again, I like to tell the story of the time my supervisor left for another job in another city and nobody told me (we worked at different sites). I finally found out a couple of weeks later that my emails to her had been disappearing into a black hole, and the person who told me about it said “we assumed she was going to send a good-bye email.”

  29. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1 – I currently work at a multinational and people still send farewell emails when they’re leaving, but generally only to the site they’re based at. Occasionally we get people higher up sending emails to everyone because they’re not aware of how big some of the distro lists are, and then a ton of people clicking on ‘reply all’ to say goodbye, which is always ‘fun’.

    LW3 – You say your limited exemption is “a clock that’s counting down to a date I don’t know”. The company has stated that once your child is vaccinated, you’re expected back three days a week. So once your child is legally old enough to be vaccinated (5 years old, I’m assuming), HR and upper management are going to start pressuring you to come back three days a week, no matter whether that suits you and your child or not. You have until your child’s fifth birthday to find a permanently remote position. I hope that birthday’s at least a few months away. Good luck.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Could be less if vaccines for under 5s get approved this June.

      1. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

        Not in the US so I didn’t realise they were looking at approving vaccines for under 5s but yes, if they do get approved then finding a remote job becomes even more urgent.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      That’s a very helpful way of framing the time crunch – hope the OP notices your posting.

  30. Heidi*

    I wonder what the LW1 thinks would happen if they didn’t send the mass email. It’s not like they could fire you. Or would there have been some sort of weird backlash in some other way?

    1. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

      They were probably concerned about leaving on a bad or even just weird note. If the company culture is ‘send out an all staff email when you leave’ then when someone leaves without doing that people would notice. That noticing could be something as simple as “What? LW3 left? Why didn’t they say something? Did they hate it here? Were they fired?” to something larger like taking it as a snub or insult to the company/employees (less likely but could happen) and having that reflect on how they talk about LW3 to other people.

      1. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

        *LW1, LW1. I don’t know why I wrote 3 when you even have 1 in your comment.

    2. Nanani*

      I also wonder that, and wonder if there are people who left without the email but LW just.. doesn’t know because the company is large enough now that you don’t notice when someone you’ve never interacted with is gone.

  31. Falling Diphthong*

    #4, since it’s entry level roles, I’ll toss out two possibilities:
    • Due to the Great Resignation they’re having trouble filling those roles, and they’re at the anger stage rather than bargaining. Possibly they hang out in the same local business Facebook groups re-enforcing each other and occasionally generating the sort of inspirational signs about how you’ll get Sundays off and be grateful for it that go on to be mocked on the internet.

    • Bullying is their management style and they are pre-selecting for workers on whom that’s effective.

  32. Emily*

    Having a 100-mile radius for permanent telework is very foolish, because you’re incentivizing people to just move further away. Either you are comfortable with having a remote workforce or you’re not, or you’re basing that specifically on the person or the needs or the specific job, but a job doesn’t become fine to do remotely because of where the person lives.

  33. Avril Ludgateau*

    #2 (puts on my contrarian hat) all formats favor some population over another. While written answers advantage people with better writing skills, in the same regard, traditional interviews favor people with charisma, public speaking, no issues re: social or performance anxiety… But we never ask “are these skills necessary for the job,” we just take it as inevitable because it’s how it has always been done.

    In so far as written resumes and cover letters are the norm, I don’t understand why interview responses somehow are supposed to buck that trend.

    1. RagingADHD*

      It’s also an unpaid, labor intensive writing assignment. Unless writing skills are so crucial to the job that they need to pre-screen for quality as a qualification, it is a burdensome ask at such an early stage of the process.

      1. LW#2*

        LW#2 here, This is exactly why I’ve been reevaluating this process. I’m concerned the interview process is too burdensome as it is and don’t want to be more burdensome on the applicants time. I will say, once we bring in an applicant for an on-site interview we are in the final stages of making a decision. We are mostly looking for red flags or evaluating previously identified potential red flags. I considering in the future giving the questions to the candidates and letting them decide whether or not to submit written answers or to simply discuss there answers verbally during the interview. I worry that process would only differ in appearance, but in reality be the exact same burden.

    2. Nanani*

      Unless they’re sitting in the room with the interviewer while writing the answers down, a written interview also increases the probability that someone else wrote it for them or they copied and pasted stuff from google.
      Unclear how LWs previous job handled that.

      1. LW#2*

        LW#2 here. The jobs I hire typically require a PhD or equivalent experience. It is not stuff you can just Google and copy/paste. Most of the questions are “describe your experience….” We are just trying to better understand their background. They could lie on that, but we have them make a technical presentation on something they have done in the past and grill them on that work. If they are faking experience it usually shows up there.

  34. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I work at a very large employer (about 75,000 employees) where each department kind of operates like it’s own separate company. It’s normal for someone departing to send that kind of email not company-wide, but to a smaller group of people you were cool with (by bcc’ing them so they don’t see who did and didn’t receive it). You’d usually say it’s been great working with you, stay in touch, and give like, your cell number, gmail, and maybe your linkedin.

    1. LW1*

      Awesome, thanks! I did essentially that in my letter. Letting individual people know didn’t seem odd at all, but I suppose in a smaller company it’s more expedient to just send a mass email versus bccing anyone who might need to be looped in, even if 75% of people don’t need that information.

  35. Workfromhome*

    #1 Its funny it seems to be extremes when it comes to goodbye mails. They are either long and overly effusive or like my last rather dysfunctional employer banned/non existant. People who worked at the company for more than a decade would just be gone. No announcement, no emails, no notification to clients nothing. I used to joke that the only way to tell if someone had left was if their email bounced back. Even then they didn’t disconnect my voice mail for 2 years. I had people coming up to me at events years later asking why I hadn’t returned their calls :-)

  36. Contracts Killer*

    LW #3, I feel your pain. My office required us to come back in person before my child could be vaccinated, despite my supervisor doing all she could to prevent it and the majority of our office, including much of our leadership, agreeing that we were more productive from home. Fortunately, I’m LW #1 in this post: https://www.askamanager.org/2022/01/its-your-friday-good-news-85.html. There are jobs out there that will be flexible and will be happy you found them. Happy hunting!

    1. Mannequin*

      I really hope your ex-job ended up hemorrhaging employees after that terrible maneuver.

  37. Oakwood*

    Re: returning to office

    “I had a frank discussion with my manager where I all but said “this is not tenable long-term and I am rethinking my career options.””

    You’re not the only one they are hearing this from, believe me.

    Working from home has become an expected benefit in the minds of many over the last two years. If the company announced they were ending health insurance coverage for all its employees, do you think there would be pushback? Do you think there would be an exodus of employees? Your employer is forgetting that they living in a competitive world also means they have to compete for employees.

    I work in IT. An industry where poaching employees from other companies is routine practice. I’ve noticed lately that many of the recruitment emails I receive are emphasizing that the position is PERMANENTLY remote. One LinkedIn message said: the position is located in Sunnyvale, CA or 100% remote, your choice!

    I don’t know what your company does, but if they’ve been mostly remote for the last two years, they can be mostly remote in the future–and so can others in their industry. They will have to deal with the fact that not offering remote work puts them at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.

    1. RagingADHD*

      But health insurance was a benefit / compensation that was part of LWs original terms. Full remote was not. Apples to oranges.

      I don’t doubt they are hearing some complaints and threats to leave, but if LW is the last holdout it doesn’t appear to be widespread in their company or industry.

      1. Oakwood*

        WFH wasn’t a benefit when the LW first took the job, but it’s becoming an expected benefit in many companies. Company health insurance wasn’t always a benefit either.

        Is she the last holdout? She has no way of knowing how many of her coworkers are looking for other jobs. It would be interesting to see the attrition rate at her company over the near future.

        Companies that can will start offering permanent WFH as a benefit to attract employees. It’s not a question of if it will happen, it’s already happening. Companies like LW’s will then have to make a decision: offer WFH or be at a disadvantage attracting and retaining employees.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I imagine that many industries are changing/will change their expectations. None of that is going to help LW change the company’s policy now. The large-scale change of norms doesn’t mean that remote work (not part of LW’s original terms) is the same as their previously-agreed benefits package.

          Yes, there was also a time period when some companies offered health insurance and others didn’t. That didn’t mean that every employee at every company was instantly entitled to or guaranteed health insurance. The LW has to deal with a real situation on the ground, not a hypothetical future one.

    2. Rocket*

      Working from home wasn’t a “benefit.” It was a forced state of existence due to a global pandemic. That doesn’t change just because OP enjoyed that state of existence.

  38. ByeByeBye*

    OP1 – I just put in notice in a very large company, and I am in a large department within that company. I decided to just send one email to people I actually work with in my department, and then another to the people I work with in my internal client. I hated the idea of emailing a bunch of people I’ve never even met.

  39. MCMonkeyBean*

    For OP 4, I’m curious what these ads you are applying to are! One time when I was in college I responded to a job posting and someone *immediately* called me and asked me to come interview. I thought that was so odd that I ended up deciding not to pursue it–and it turned out that was a good decision because I now know the company (vector marketing) is an MLM that is known for particularly preying on high school and college kids.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Yeah, the apparent aggressiveness and manupulation of calling them rude for not being instantly available made me wonder the same thing. Boiler room outfits and MLMs will “neg”
      candidates because they are actively looking for people who can be manipulated.

  40. MT*

    Ha – number 1 happens in my company of 500+ people spread across 4 international offices. It might be different though, I work in a somewhat niche creative industry and the work environment can be like hanging out with friends.

  41. Yoga Sloth*

    #2 – I think sending the general topic of the questions beforehand is a good idea. This may be because I’m in IT and I was hiring technical professionals, but I found if I gave too much detail up front, then they would just google answers, and it was obvious they were lying. If you can frame the questions in such a way so that there is less chance of them plagiarizing the answer, I think it would help people prepare who aren’t quite as practiced at interviewing.

    Side story: I interviewed someone once over Teams for a mid-level database admin position – his resume said he had about 7 years of experience, so there were certain things I expected him to know. He was actually googling the answers to my questions DURING the interview – you could see him look off to the side and type, and then he’d read off the screen. It was so awkward. The worst part is that he picked the most generic wikipedia article about databases (probably the first thing that popped up) and just kept reading that, over and over. So I would ask a question like, “Tell me about a time you had to interact with a difficult customer. How did you handle that?” and he’d give me the wikipedia definition of database systems. /facepalm

    1. ArtK*

      Someone up-thread said that they wouldn’t send technical questions, only behavioral type questions. “Tell me about a time when…” I agree that sending tech questions or problems in advance runs the risk of cheating. That said, on a recent tech interview with a coding exercise they did give me a general idea of what the problem would be, but without enough detail to find an existing example. I appreciated that because I was able to think about the problem and come up with some ideas for solutions but still had to address the specific form of the problem in the coding session.

      1. Yoga Sloth*

        I think that’s a good idea for technical questions. I have done that in the past where I said something like “There will be a short SQL writing test, should take about 5 minutes to complete.” Just enough to prep them but not enough to give it away.

  42. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    I think for Letter #2 the bigger issue is HR asking you to write down the answers “for equity reasons”. I can see having a preselected list of questions and having it approved by HR. But why on earth would they want you to write down the answers. Alot of interview questions can have long answers (tell me a time when, what would you do with X, etc). I could see writing a few notes, but not summarizing the entire answer. I also want to know what they did with these notes? Like did someone from HR review interview papers or what?

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      There are otherways to make sure that interviews are equitable besides writing down interviewee’s answers

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      The only reason I can think of is that someone who didn’t get the job would come back and say “you didn’t hire me because I’m X” and the employer can say “actually we didn’t hire you because of your answers to questions 3 and 7.”

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Or, okay, you could provide the answers to people who never saw the candidates and ask them to rate them. I don’t like that idea, though.

        1. LW#2*

          LW#2 here. Yes, I mentioned they are getting away from this. I assume this was done to justify hiring decisions in the event there is a lawsuit. See the hiring manager rated your answer to #3 lower than the hiree’s answer. Particularly since their was a potential lawsuit on the line I wanted to make sure people couldn’t say, “that isn’t what I said!”

  43. LKW*

    I work for a large (actually massive) company. Even when we were half the size we are now – massive. Years ago a woman I worked with, and really thought of the company as her family, was forced to resign. Instead of quietly writing to her closest colleagues, she wrote a flowery, glorious missive sent to one regional department – about 11,000 people (again – massive).

    In this very long email she thanked all the people that had helped her career, noted all the things that she had learned and taken away and that she’ll miss the company greatly. The last paragraph was essentially a love letter to the Partner that she had been sleeping with (and was also forced to resign). I had a blast spilling the tea to all the partners who received the email and had no idea what was going on.

    And I explained to my more junior colleagues that when given the opportunity to walk away from a scandal gracefully – TAKE IT.

    1. Raboot*

      Wild that such a large company had uncontrolled mailing lists of that size! You’d think they’d have already had incidents reminding them to lock down any list over X people. But I guess someone always has to be first.

      1. LKW*

        The mailing list was not 11,000 people – she deliberately chose to send it to everyone in our particular division. She had to select several groups.She sent it over the weekend so I saw it first thing Monday morning. I didn’t see any reply alls – so they must have caught it and prevented that before people reacted.

  44. Cat Lover*

    #3: Need more information:

    Did your company ok your move? And did your company give you any reason for you to believe that remote work was permanent?

    Regardless, this isn’t a “who’s right” situation. Your life does not align with what they are asking. That is true whether you think its unreasonable or not.

  45. Bookworm*

    OP1: Relatable. I’ve made a few job switches in the past 2 years and at my first one I didn’t bother with an all-org email because a ton of people I had worked left so I just sent a private Slack to co-workers that were still there. But I kinda hated writing up a goodbye email for a place where I hadn’t been with for very long and tried to keep it simple. Useful for Linkedin connections but not much else.

    OP3: I’m so sorry. I’m not in the same boat but am sending you lots of sympathy and good thoughts. It’s disappointing to see organizations continue to be this inflexible about it (Job I was in at this time last year was all ready to drag us into the office once we got our shots and as Delta wasn’t really a thing just yet) and I do hope it does work out for you, either they do grant you an exception if only for your commute issues and/or you find a more accommodating job. Good luck!!!!

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      It’s disappointing to see organizations continue to be this inflexible about it

      The problem here is we don’t know that the OP’s organization is being inflexible or if there’s a good reason for wanting folks back in the office.

  46. Rosacolleti*

    #1 I would find it weird to email to a small ‘handful’ group. Wouldn’t they already know as they’d be involved in replacement/handover And hopefully a decent send-off?

    #3 What were you thinking to move away from your job without consequences? Find something locally or stop complaining

    1. I should really pick a name*

      #1 It not so much a notification as a friendly goodbye. The ‘handful group’ could be the 20 people in your department as opposed to the 180 other people in the company who don’t know who you are.

  47. RagingADHD*

    LW2, you put the burden of your documentation onto the candidates and turned it into an unpaid pre-interview work sample. That’s not what you were thinking, but it’s what happened. If there is no compelling business reason to make candidates jump through that hoop, please stop.

    LW3, you moved away and yet stayed in the commuting zone. I don’t know if you were gambling on the company changing policy, if you thought you could handle the commute but now realize you can’t, or what. If the company never promised to make you permanently remote, you (in effect) already decided that this job was not your top priority in making that choice.

    That’s fine! No reason why it should be your top priority! But if your life choices and your job requirements are in conflict, something has to give way.

    The other end of your decision is coming due, so it’s time to start job hunting for a better fit.

  48. PB Bunny Watson*

    Re: Letter #1…
    I actually like those emails. To me, they make even more sense in a slightly larger office where maybe everyone has heard it through the grapevine… but maybe not. When it’s 20 people, you can say your goodbyes privately, but when it’s 100… an email saying goodbye just seems nice (because there is always that one person we didn’t think to tell… or that one person who actually liked you as a person more than you realized). I don’t think people HAVE to do it if they don’t want to… I just don’t understand why people get so annoyed by emails. If people don’t like it, it’s literally a click to get rid of it.

  49. oranges*

    LW2 (and the world!): Please don’t have applicants write responses for non-writing positions.

    The amount of time, effort, and stress I would put into this would not at all be proportional to the value it’s bringing to you. You’re basically just doing it to protect yourself from potential lawsuits. I’d pour over every word, have a million drafts, and rope a half dozen people in my life into proofread it. You can tell people they’re not necessarily being graded on the writing itself, but I wouldn’t believe you and assume you’re a walking AP style guide.

    Send everyone the questions, take detailed notes, and stick to talking only.

  50. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    I wonder if OP #4 same-say job interview was actually a multilevel marketing scam like CutCo. I have heard that they do this tactic.

  51. Fake Eleanor*

    My company is about 150-ish people now, and has grown from about 60 when I was hired.
    We’ve never been big on email, but about a year ago we created a specific “goodbyes” channel in Slack, which we use a lot. (When we were smaller, people leaving posted in a more general “announcements” channel.)
    It’s a nice way to let people opt in or out of seeing those messages, and to give people a space to let the company as a whole know however they want.
    People vary a lot tonally — a lot of people are sad to be leaving coworkers they liked, or even the company as a whole, even if it’s a good move for them, and a lot of people like the chance to respond or just get a heads-up, especially if they don’t work closely now but have worked together before.

  52. Temperance*

    Because many people WANT to live in or near cities for the cultural and entertainment value, ease of public transport, etc.?

  53. ZK*

    I recently had the same thing happen, OP#5. It honestly amazes me that there are still managers out there who believe that the potential employee’s time isn’t as valuable as theirs, especially considering how many businesses are struggling to find and keep people right now.

    I put in my app, got a call less than an hour later with the manager asking me to come in, right now! I was still in my boggy house clothes, no shower, nothing. I said that wasn’t possible so after a lot of huffing and puffing she finally agreed to the next day. And then the next day got annoyed that I wasn’t available (my availability was clearly stated up front) when she wanted me to be and would only be able to give me very part time work, like one day a week. Ma’am, you’re mad at me, and yet you wasted all of our time by even calling me when you already had my availability in front of you. Four hours of work each week wasn’t worth even getting dressed for, haha. I only wanted part time, but that was ridiculous. And having recently met with some friends who work there, I think I dodged a bullet.

  54. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

    LW3 – I really feel for you. I work for a state government agency, and last night, just before the Friday of our state’s state employee appreciation week, the chief of staff informed us of a new telework policy (we just had a new one put in place in April), that they said would be consistent with prepandemic telework policies. Except, it is NOT consistent with the prepandemic policies. When I started there 7.5 years ago, the policy was that we could telework two days a week with just out manager’s approval. My coworker who has been here 15 years said that was the policy when he began too. It remained the same until the pandemic.

    Now, if I want to telework one day a week, I have to have the head of my agency approve it, and if I want two days then the cabinet secretary (who likely has no idea what we do, I do not even know their name) has to approve it. Three or more days has to be approved by the chief of staff. In support of this policy, they linked an abstract from a 2007 study saying people work better when they interact. It is obviously a dated study that was not performed at a time when we were using the current technological advancements, and it is irrelevant because being in the office is not the same as interacting. In fact, when I worked exclusively from home for an entirely remote company for two years, it was the most interactive job I ever had. I interacted with people all day every day by phone, skype, videoconferencing (and this was in 2011-2013). I actually burned out from all the interaction. Whereas the very solo nature of my current work means that when I am in the office, I frequently go the whole day without ever speaking or interacting with anyone. So no, where my work is located is not the deciding factor on whether or how I interact.

    And the best part of all this nonsense is that it is just a political stunt to play to the COVID denier base and has nothing to do with us at all. As an employee of my state, I just have to say, thanks a lot for the “appreciation,” Mr. Governor!

  55. This Is Not An MLM*

    Hi OP letter #4 here. They are local businesses and low level big name companies retail and food positions. A few were retirement homes and assisted living places. They are not MLMs.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Totally normal for those industries to request a same-day interview for entry level, but not to get mad that you aren’t available.

      It’s really strange that they’re getting mad and accusing you of being rude. How are you communicating that you can’t come in right away?

        1. JKateM*

          I hire for nonskilled entry level positions and I absolutely offer same day interviews when possible. But I don’t demand them much less get upset if someone isn’t available. I would rather have someone later than never if they’re a good candidate.

    2. LilPinkSock*

      The quick turnaround is pretty typical for that kind of role. It’s happened to me many times–sometimes I could swing it, sometimes not. To me, that’s not the problem. It’s the part where someone’s getting mad at you about it that’s unhelpful and unprofessional! I hear a lot of manager-types complaining that “no one wants to work”…but here they have someone who wants to work and they’re apparently losing their s on you! Blah.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      Yeah, jobs like that tend to have turnover issues, and they generally are under pressure to fill vacancies quickly. It’s not unreasonable for them to *ask* for an interview on short notice, but rudeness is always a red strobe.

      I’ve had to hire under that kind of pressure before. I don’t see any real benefit toward my goal of building an effective team if I add a layer of hostility to the existing low wages and demanding working conditions. Even in a tighter labor market, the people who could help improve the team would not come aboard if I treated them like dirt before the interview.

      Just because an industry – or a firm – is dysfunctional doesn’t mean every manager has to compete to be the most dysfunctional manager around. Even if you are desperate, you get to judge for yourself whether this is an organization – or a leader- you want to work for.

  56. I Need a 9 Hour Nap*

    Lw1. I worked for a 60,000+ company and the goodbye email was expected…because otherwise no one would know you left until their email bounced back.

    I kept it short and sweet “thank you for the experiences and the learning opportunities. I wish you all well. Here’s my LinkedIn if you want to connect.”

    I sent it to the 300 people I was working with and cc’d our HR person.

    I then got about 30 panicked calls and e-mails from people who weren’t told I’d put in my notice three weeks prior.

  57. Becca Rosselin-Metadi*

    The goodbyes at my formerly small company were exactly like what you write in someone’s yearbook-the comparison is good one.

  58. El l*

    As someone who just had to give a goodbye email – small company, job of 12 1/2 years – I relate and think that what is annoying you is that they’re saying trite, boring, possibly fake things.

    Things like “I’m so sad to be leaving, you are all an incredible bunch of people, I’ve never worked with more talented coworkers, etc” are sentiments that are easy to imitate. We’ve heard them all before, often word for word, so how meaningful can they be. Plus, they trip everyone’s BS detectors, for reasons familiar to anyone who’s ever been dumped via a “You’re so wonderful” talk: If I’m so awesome, why are you leaving?

    I don’t have a formula to avoid fake emotional stuff, but – when I had to say goodbye, I focused on two facts: First, I had the luxury of having done work I was proud of, in service of a company that genuinely evolved during my time, and second I had longevity with an operations group that was often ignored. So I (a) went out of my way to give the ops guys props, (b) said I was proud of what we’d all done together, and (c) said that I had optimism for the group for the future. Crucially, I meant all of this.

    1. El l*

      In case you’re wondering “Why write anything?”

      Some of it was for practical reasons (Small company means generally a bigger void when departing, I was going into consulting and wanted to keep a good relationship)

      …And some was a genuine emotional need to look to legacy. I mean, what did I actually accomplish in 25,000+ hours at a desk?

  59. James Gregory*

    LW3, you are being completely unreasonable. You chase to move away from your place of work. How is that your employer’s fault?

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Some people at my agency did this, when they learned that the new post-pandemic policy would let us telework up to three days a week and they would only have to commute two days. And that new policy went into effect in April, and we all got new telework agreements. And then at around 7 p.m. last night, we got an email from the governor’s chief of staff telling us suddenly that we are losing that policy almost immediately and going to a telework policy that is way more restrictive than the policy we had for a good decade prior to the pandemic.

      I realize this isn’t OP3’s situation, but I know of at least two coworkers who moved farther away last month on the understanding that they would only need to come in two days a week, and at least one new hire who came on board in early April and took the job in part because she only had to come into the office two days a week (she lives far enough away that she probably would not have applied for the job if she had realized she might have to come in 4 to 5 days a week). So, for some people, the choice to move away was based on what we had been told, and our new policy is a bait and switch for them!

  60. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

    Me too! I think part of what may have happened is that the employer has now had an opportunity to evaluate how well WFH worked for it and maybe the answer is, not so great. When I and my coworkers were first told to work from home, we asked for how long. We were told, “We don’t know.” I am still working from home and there are things I miss about the office. On the whole I like WFH, but honestly, every situation is different. And let’s face it, in a two-year period a lot can change. The only constant is change.

    1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      I like a hybrid, where I can work from home about half the time and in the office the other half. There are things that are easier to do in my home office, like reading very involved cases that require my uninterrupted focus, and things that are easier to do in the office.

      That said, I used to work for an entirely remote company, as in there was no “office” for any of us. And honestly, the nature of the work was highly interactive. I talked to people and interacted with people all day through skype, webcast, phone calls, etc. And in my current job, even when I was in office 5 days a week, it was not uncommon for me to have zero interactions with anyone at all, just due to the nature of the work. So I find it kind of funny that our governor and chief of staff are pushing their new policy to get us back in the building because then we can interact and work as a team, because the nature of the work just isn’t interactive (and I think is why I actually do like to be in the office at least half the time … because it is so solitary a job that a change of scenery is really useful sometimes)!

  61. AnonymousReader*

    LW3 – While I agree with the contents of the letter (anyone that can be remote, should be given the option to be remote), the letter comes across a little head-in-the sand. Your employer was very transparent from the beginning, the “come in if you want” was a very obvious way to transition you back in (sorry you didn’t get the hint). Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you 100% you should be allowed to work from home, but it looks like you were hearing what you wanted to hear rather than what was really being said and now you’re trying to look for excuses to not be back in the office. I think you know deep down that you have two options, commute to the office or look for a job closer to home / allows remote work. It’s not what you want to hear but I hope this helps you plan your next steps.

  62. Esmeralda*

    OP 1. I work at a very large R1 state university, and some people do send these to mailing lists w lots of folks on them, or to the whole division. I’m an “email needs to be to the point and be sent for a damm good reason” kind of person. But these never bother me. They’re…human, ya know? An opportunity for people to have feelings about leaving and to express them. They almost never strike me as fawning — I can see how they might come off that way, because the language is so different from the usual. But I like to think they’re sincere. For sure when I finally leave here, I will have sincere feelings…I personally will not send such an email to everyone and his dog, but I’m super private. I’ll share those feels w a smaller group.

    I encourage you to think about “I’m leaving” emails like this more charitably…

  63. Mia*

    LW #2: I understand how you feel. I’m immune compromised, so I rarely go out and when I do it’s masked. My brother has a 3 year old who can’t be vaccinated either. I finally got to see them after two years because we isolate the same way. I also feel left behind. My heart goes out to you. You’re not alone.

  64. LizardOfOdds*

    I feel like LW3 is getting beat up in the comments because their situation is complex. If they had left the move completely out of the scenario and the issue was only about keeping their unvaccinated child safe until they are allowed to be vaccinated, would the responses be this negative? I would hope not.

    I also live quite a distance away from work, and I recognize that’s my choice and will eventually have to deal with the consequences of that choice. But I also have a child under 5, and vaccination delays are not our choice, nor are those delays in our control. While the rest of the world is “moving on,” parents of very young children don’t have that same option, and it’s like the whole world is ignoring us. Many of us have been holding our breath through delay after delay for over a year. Forcing employees back to the office when they don’t even have an option to keep their little kids safe is unreasonable.

    1. Delphine*

      But it sounds like LW3’s company has allowed her to continue WFH until her child is vaccinated.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      If they had left the move completely out of the scenario and the issue was only about keeping their unvaccinated child safe until they are allowed to be vaccinated, would the responses be this negative? I would hope not.

      Well yes, if they had asked a different question the response would have been different.

  65. moonstone*

    #1: In bigger companies, it’s normal to send a goodbye email to your team (that you presumably worked with) but not the whole company.

    In my last job at a big company, it was common for departing employees to send a goodbye email to their team plus other team members they worked closely with.

  66. Delphine*

    I’ve heard of and know so many folks who moved during lockdown without running it by their company first. They took a gamble–some of them going so far as to buy homes in their new cities–that their companies would buckle under pressure and allow permanent WFH. Now some of them are trying to sell their homes a year after they moved in.

  67. Delphine*

    LW1, are we so far into this hole that we can’t even allow for the possibility that our coworkers are being sincere in their goodbye emails? Now telling folks you enjoyed working with them and will miss them is “fawning” and “poetic”?

  68. JKateM*

    I hire for entry level/non-skilled work and I try to get to candidates ASAP but I completely understand they may not be available same day (!!) for an interview unless they just want to get started that quickly. In this job market we have to go on the applicants timeline as much as possible. Respond as quickly as you can but understand they have a lot of options out there and may take their time getting back to you or not be available right away. It’s okay, if they are a great candidate you don’t want to lose them because you were pushy and rude. It’s better to have their skills later than never!

  69. Wenike*

    For LW1, my company (60,000 employees) obviously does not do an all company goodbye email but the expectation is that the manager lets the team know and the person leaving also reaches out to those they’ve worked closely with on other teams. Especially as those other teams may not be aware of who is moving around outside of their own group. Generally, that will also include an invite to an after work party either on that person’s last day or within a week afterwards at a local restaurant/bar to hang out and celebrate them getting a new job/reminisce about this job that they’re leaving. Its also really good to gossip about the new company or why that person was leaving in the first place (regarding management or workload or something).

  70. DataQueen*

    Our company has gone through three rounds of “you all need to come back” “oh wait, no one wants to, okay we’ll wait” “okay how about 2 days” “oh weird, everyone is coming in like 1 day but not two, i guess that’s cool.” A lot of people resigned right after the first announcement. As frustrating as it is, I feel bad for the folks that quit right away without waiting it out to see what the results were. I don’t think our company is being ill-intentioned with this at all, they’re just figuring it out along with everyone else. So wait it out just to see! You can still leave if it really does play out that way.

  71. Jessica Fletcher*

    My company has lost top talent over its refusal to budge on forcing people back to the office. My department hasn’t been forced back (yet), but I’m hoping to apply to a different team that has already secured permanent remote status. They do literally the same work we do, so there’s no legit reason for us to be there if they don’t have to be.

  72. raida7*

    4. I apply for jobs and then get asked to interview that same day

    There’s a good chance that the companies responding to you aren’t the ones you’d be working at, but rather employment agencies. They generally want people in as fast as possible, tested and on the books and ready to go quickly for lower-skill jobs that need filling at short notice.

    For them, being able to call someone and say “there’s two week’s work in City starting tomorrow doing filing, are you available?” is very normal.
    But the people contacting you are behaving as though you, applying for a specific role, are simply unemployed and *should* be very very responsive to them wanting to meet you.
    The people contacting you are simply rude and in the wrong headspace where they’re assuming an application means they can make demands, sorry you’re having to deal with that.

  73. Savvy*

    Re: #2, candidates who are good speakers currently have a significant advantage over candidates who aren’t even though most jobs are not ones that require the employee to have good interview skills. Why not give the advantage to people who are better at writing than talking?

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