watching movies at work, my company is ignoring inflation, and more

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

1. Is watching movies a reasonable accommodation?

I previously worked for a company that had an open office plan, with cubicles with low walls. One employee brought in an iPad and watched movies on it in his cubicle all day long. I asked him about it, and he said that his supervisor allowed him to do it because he “worked better that way.” He did use headphones, so sound was not an issue. And apparently he didn’t work better that way, because he was fired after a few months.

Was it reasonable for his supervisor to let him watch TV in his cubicle all day long? I don’t know if he had requested a medical accommodation, but it seemed pretty unprofessional to me. Is being able to watch TV at your desk a reasonable accommodation? They do not seem so to me, but maybe I am behind the times.

It’s hard to say because it depends on the job, the setting, and the person’s performance. If the employee worked in a area where it wasn’t inappropriate (i.e., not public-facing or where the screen would distract others), and the nature of the work allowed it (like something with periods of downtime or something repetitive where movies weren’t a distraction), and the person’s work was good enough that it was clear the movies weren’t impeding their performance, then sure, there are jobs where it wouldn’t be unreasonable. (Managers have to consider optics too, though; even if all those conditions were in place, there are offices where it just wouldn’t fly.)

It’s also true that some people work better with something in the background, and it’s possible that could be a legitimate medical accommodation. But it’s also possible that your coworker was fired for reasons that have nothing to do with distraction from the movies, who knows.

Basically, though, it’s incredibly fact-specific so it’s hard/impossible to say from here whether it was odd decision by his manager or not.

2. My company is ignoring inflation

Our annual raises/cost of living increases are happening now, and essentially, my company is ignoring the effects of inflation. Leading up to this time period, employees have brought this up at every opportunity — submitting questions in advance of and during relevant meetings, always asking the same thing: “How will Company be accounting for the massive rise of inflation when it comes to our cost of living increases this year?” Every single time, the company answer is the same watered down version of, “We have looked at the data and taken this into account, along with market rates and our own performance, when making all compensation decisions.” I am a manager and have already been privy to what employees will be getting this year, and it essentially boils down to approximately 1.5% increases for management and 2.5% increases for individual contributors.

My company is not struggling by any means. We employ over 7,000 people globally, are publicly traded and post a profit every quarter. We are a 2B company. And yet. The story always goes that there just isn’t enough money to recognize something like massive rising living costs.

I’m so curious to know how other peoples’ companies are treating inflation. Are they ignoring it? Addressing it? Giving big raises? Does it vary by industry? What is appropriate and expected here? Is it unreasonable to expect your employer to match inflation in your salary?

From what I am seeing and hearing, most companies are ignoring inflation when it comes to raises … I suspect calculating that even if they lose some people who jump ship for better pay elsewhere, they’ll still save money compared to giving large raises across the board (at the same time that they’re facing increased prices for the company’s own expenses too). But it means their employees are taking real pay cuts in terms of buying power.

3. Job offers when you’ve never met in-person

I have been on a couple interviews where the company is making hiring decisions based solely on phone or virtual interviews. The hiring managers never invited me to the office during the interview process. They were on-site roles. Both companies had small offices with fewer than 10 employees but I still assumed they would want to meet me in-person before extending an offer. I see this as a red flag so I declined. Is this indeed a red flag?

It’s less unusual than it used to be. So many companies have gotten used to doing remote interviews in the last two years that some of them have stuck with it even after returning to the office and even when candidates are local. They also might assume it’s more convenient for you to be able to interview virtually. I wouldn’t say it’s a red flag, but it’s okay to ask to meet in-person before accepting an offer. You could say, “Since I’d be working on-site, would it be possible for me to see the office and meet briefly in-person first?” If a company balks at that, that would concern me.

4. Should I announce my pregnancy on social media before my interview?

I am job searching, and I found a job that I really would like. It is in the field I want to work in, and I know most of the people with whom I would be working, and we get along well.

I am also seven weeks pregnant (woo hoo)! While normally I wouldn’t mind announcing my pregnancy publicly before an interview, I know most of the people on the hiring committee and I’m friends with some of them on Facebook. I also have a timeline of when I want to announce the pregnancy—my partner and I are going to a wedding, so we want to tell people a few weeks before that. The interview isn’t until after we were planning to announce the pregnancy.

Would you suggest that we tell our families and friends, but keep it off social media until after the interview? I don’t want to believe that the interviewers would judge me as a candidate based on my pregnancy, but I know sometimes biases exist that people don’t even realize they have. What should I do?

Yep, ideally you’d keep it off of social media until you have an offer (or are no longer in the running for the job). There’s just too much risk of pregnancy discrimination when you’re interviewing. Even if you figure these are good people who know and like you and wouldn’t discriminate against you, sometimes it can be unconscious. It’s actually a favor to them not to tell them ahead of time, since legally they can’t consider it in their decision-making — and this way if they don’t hire you, they won’t need to worry that you might think it was because of the pregnancy.

5. No bra at work — a success story

I’ve seen questions and discussion about it, so I thought your readers might be interested to know that I stopped wearing a bra at work about six months ago. I work in libraries, so (a) full of women and full of queer people and (b) neither very formal nor very casual: my system is a jeans-on-Fridays kind of workplace. (And for those who’ll inevitably wonder, I wear about a 38E or 40D–I definitely look different without a bra than with one.)

I started in the winter, when I was generally wearing multiple layers, often heavy and textured, like cabled sweaters. I figured I’d start wearing one again if and when my boss cared enough to mention it, but she hasn’t, so I haven’t. I have stuck to a two-layers-over-the-nipple policy, which is more about keeping things from moving too much than any other kind of modesty, but now my second layer is a crop top or, under tighter shirts/dresses, sometimes a bralette. No one has mentioned it — not my boss, not my colleagues, not random members of the public (most likely, let’s be honest). I can’t say it’d work everywhere, but where I am it truly appears that not a single person gives a fuck.

Good. I will say that it can be hard to know if people privately have Thoughts about it, but if said thoughts aren’t affecting you in any way, then go on being comfortable. (And I agree that the layers thick enough to keep things from moving around is the key — not that it should be, but that it is.) Good for you.

{ 483 comments… read them below }

  1. MistOrMister*

    OP2 – my company is also ignoring inflation and has for years. IF you get a raise it caps out at 2% for staff. I have no idea what management and professionals get as pay is not anywhere near transparent at my firm. They love to talk at us about how staff is so important, but our pay does not reflect that, at all.

      1. Sylvan*


        I thought our pay was great a few years ago. Unfortunately, it hasn’t changed and the cost of living in this city has increased dramatically.

    1. Kittencontractor*

      I don’t think I have ever gotten a cost of living adjustment, certainly not at the last job I had (who knows with this new one?).

      1. CoveredinBees*

        I worked at a place where that was the only kind of raise they gave unless you changed jobs.

    2. TechWorker*

      My company is in theory trying to do pay rises (and I think it’ll be on average more than 2.5% but perhaps not by much).

      But there’s been explicit questions about inflation and they say ‘we don’t pay for cost of living we pay for cost of labour’ (Eg – we’ll raise salaries if everyone else does and not before). It’s not a good look tbh.

    3. StellaBella*

      Ignoring here too. I am part of a global organization that has money for several new mid management roles since January, and promotions for higher ups, but 2x when asked in all hands’ meetings this was shuffled, ignored and the meetings closed. Inflation here means obvious things like petrol, electricity, meat, milk, etc are going way up but so are charges for healthcare and rents. We all work long hours, just now, for less pay than a year ago.

    4. Stinky kitty*

      Where I work, they’re doing 4% to 7% for everyone. Couldn’t say if that keeps up with inflation, but its better than nothing.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        I think my company targeted 6-7% which meant raises came in between 4-9%, with the higher raises for those on the lower side of each pay scale (which in this situation works well since they’d be hit hardest by inflation).

        We’re Fortune 100 and our raises are normally target 2-3%. They have not adjusted the pay scales yet for inflation probably because they’re very wide.

      2. ferrina*

        That’s fabulous! That’s really high COL in my experience (usually I’ve gotten 2-4%). My current company is completely ignoring inflation.

      3. Blossy*

        Our company found a really equitable solution. We all got our annual COLA raise (about 3%). We also got a one-time check in the amount of an additional 5%. The rationale was “Inflation is a real thing, and we want to acknowledge that. But we also don’t want to be locked into artificially inflated salaries once the economy has stabilized.”

      1. Xen*

        Also a public sector employee. I’m currently listening to an all-hands webinar that’s very excited about the potential to maybe get a 1% competency pay progression scheme, on top of our potential 1-2% cost of living increase. Very exciting times!

        (We have not had pay progression scheme – not competency-based, not seniority-based, nor anything else – since circa 2016. No matter how good, bad or indifferent you are in your job, no pay rises for you!)

      2. Caaan Do!*

        Yep! University admin here, at a place who is part of the UK university national pay spine (University & Colleges Employers Association). In August I’ll be getting a 3.8% COL raise, but that’s only because of several years of the unions pointing out over and over again that pay rises are not in line with market rates and UCEA are finally giving in. Usually it’s closer to 1%, which is instantly swallowed up with rises in things like council tax (yay austerity).

        1. bamcheeks*

          And I’ve literally in the last half hour had an email from my (ex) Unison branch saying they are turning down a 3% raise. Which seems like a big gamble, but since I’ve changed institutions and not yet updated my membership I didn’t get a vote.

      3. J*

        I listened to a speech about how we should be glad for 1% raises because county revenues were down. Then I pulled up the article published that morning that talked about how revenues were double digit increases for the fourth straight year. Their answer was that the county had decided revenues were down when they did the budget. So then I asked how we should have trust in our elected officials if they are so bad at projecting. The story ends with everyone in denial and me leaving for a 50% pay increase several years ago. My mom now works there and they still pull the same thing annually but she thinks she’s just one really good revenue year away from a pay jump.

      4. Talvi*

        Our (public sector) union is currently in bargaining. I think last time they negotiated something like 6% over 4 years – I’m hoping they’ll be able to get us more this go around.

    5. Liz*

      My company (a UK nonprofit) prides itself on paying National Living Wage. As this is tied to inflation, they had little choice but to raise pay in line with this as living costs increased – I expect under duress. They were all set to give us a 2% increase but then costs of living went silly and they changed their minds because they would lose that claim. We’re now all on £10 an hour minimum.

      They’re none too keen on paying anything OVER the living wage though – our department rep tried to propose a pay increase, as our roles are around 10% below market rate, and got knocked back because “we need to be able to bid for contracts against other charities” and apparently this can only be done by being cheaper. Sigh.

    6. Quinalla*

      My company pleasantly surprised me here. They gave a standard COL increase, they gave us merit based increases depending on performance and also a temporary % increase to account for what we all hope is temporary high inflation. If it goes down, they will back off the temporary increase (with plenty of notice), if not it will stay. They didn’t want to permanently increase in case inflation does go back down, but they wanted to help while it was high or if it stays high.

    7. Shiba Dad*

      I work for a Fortune 500 company. We received a 2% raise at the beginning of the year. My boss has worked for the company for 12 years. He told me when I was hired that raises are always 2%.

    8. Bread Addict*

      We got our yearly 3% we usually get and an extra 2% for inflation. Which was better than nothing and I hadnt expected the extra 2% so that to me was nice. Technically I think I got more than 5% though as they added the 3% to my salary and then gave the 2% on the new salary not the old. Inflation is way more than 2% but its something and I know a lot of people who didng get anything. Also UK based if that matters.

    9. londonedit*

      Where I work, company-wide annual pay rises have been around 2% for the last few years, but this year we got 5% as a nod to inflation and the cost of living crisis – it still doesn’t really help, as the cost of living has gone up by way more than 5% recently, but it’s better than nothing! However we don’t get individual pay rises in addition to that (or it’s quite rare to and would involve a lot of arguing/justification from the employee and their line manager to those higher up). The only way you can realistically get a pay rise over and above the general annual one is to be promoted – there wouldn’t ever really be a ‘Jane, you’ve done some excellent work this year so you’re getting a £1000 pay rise’ situation.

    10. Boof*

      I work for a fortune 50 company and we got our standard 2-4% raises in Marcb. When we asked about inflation multiple times during the review cycle were told that we pay for performance not cost of living. Besides everything they were reading is this inflation is temporary

    11. The Original K.*

      My employer is doing the same mealy-mouthed thing OP’s is in response to direct questions about compensation to counteract the effects of inflation and I am positive COL increases won’t be more than 2%. We’re already seeing people leave, which means those of us left are doing more work, and I think the departures are going to increase. Someone who just left told me she regrets not leaving sooner – people are nice, work is fine, but she lost thousands in spending power and comp staying put for as long as she did.

      My friend’s employer pleasantly surprised her with a 6% raise across the board, so there are a few orgs that are acknowledging it.

    12. ecnaseener*

      Not-for-profit hospital here, we got 3% COL this year (in January) when inflation was over 6%. And we don’t get merit raises.

    13. Alternative Person*

      My company is skirting the inflation issue whilst simultaneously digging a deep hole over pay/status/workload rules. Fun times.

    14. darlingpants*

      We got “market rate adjustments” on top of pretty generous performance raises. Overall I got a 12% salary boost, which was extremely unexpected.

      But: we are in biotech so salaries were going wild before inflation did, and there was a meaningful difference in salary between people who had started in January and November, and we’re desperately trying to retain the overworked people we currently employ as we try to expand the teams.

    15. Engineering Mom*

      This is interesting. My company (global manufacturer) does the first round of annual, cost-of-living raises for non-exempt (factory floor) workers in May, and then a second round for exempt (office and engineering) employees in July. Word is the non-exempt workers got a 7-8% pay increase. I imagine it would not go over well if they failed to give exempt employees a similar increase, we’ll see soon!

      I’ll also say that our pay is pretty low for industry standard, and promotions are extremely difficult to come by (I’ve apparently capped out at 8 years employment). So, this could be an attempt at looking like they’re doing the right thing, when they’re really just playing catchup.

    16. ThatGirl*

      My company talks a big game about appreciating employees, and we do get things like “incentive plan” bonuses and a smallish Christmas bonus, but when it came to annual merit increase I got … 2.5%. Which was a little disappointing. Oh well.

    17. Susie Q*

      I don’t know any company that addresses inflation in raises except the federal government who will give a COLA.

    18. DataGirl*

      I may be cynical, but I’m guessing that almost EVERY company is ignoring inflation when calculating raises, even if they call the COL raises.

    19. kzkz*

      I work in tech but for a university-based institution and our annual raise pool is usually around 3-3.5%. (Higher performers get more, lower performers get less, it all needs to average out per division.) This year it’s 6%. So, definitely better than it could be and it’s clearly being taken into consideration, though it’s still not enough to pace inflation this year. (And I know compared to other industries as reported here, it’s way above average.) We are all massively underpaid compared to industry and made the decision to work here anyway, so it’s hard to know how each individual perceives things– I think some people are frustrated it’s not higher and others are shrugging their shoulders.

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

      I think every place I’ve ever worked has called their raises “merit” raises, even though they have tended to just about match inflation.
      Thankfully, that’s still true this year, when I got a 7% raise!

    21. Just Another Cog*

      My last two employers (over 20 years combined) never gave COL raises – and most of the time, IF you got a review once in a blue moon, maybe a 2 or 3% raise. I once asked for a raise because it had been 4 years and manager was shocked that a woman would be so bold. I got 2% and she acted like she was being super generous.

    22. OtterB*

      US-based higher ed adjacent not-for-profit. Our annual raise pool is normally 3%. This year (raises effective January 1) it was 6% because of inflation. Small staff and hard to compare performance because we’re all doing different tasks, plus very collaborative, so we tend not to differentiate within the raise pool except in cases of changing duties or really knocking a project out of the park.

    23. kiki*

      Everyone at my small company got a 5% COL raise earlier this year. I felt really appreciative of that at the time. I still do, but the COL has risen so much since January alone!

      1. kiki*

        I also appreciate that my company stopped trying to get folks to come back to office once the price of gas started going nuts. It saves folks a lot of money to avoid commuting right now.

    24. Anon4This*

      When I got my raise pool for the year, it was the standard 3.5% that I get to distribute every year, which was disappointing give that my company does proactive market increases, annual reviews/increases, and extensive discrimination testing of comp. That 3.5% increase budget can be allocated across the staff any way I see fit, pending final HR approval post-discrimination testing, but that doesn’t touch inflation. I was allowed to flag “high priority retentions” to be considered for for more than my pool, and those were accepted pretty much without question, but I just felt like not providing a larger pool for inflation was short-sighted and out of synch with the way comp is traditionally handled.

    25. Sloanicota*

      I remember my boss once telling us that we were getting a COLA but it was low because inflation was low (this was a few years ago, obviously) and I remember thinking that was a bit weird – after all, my rent went up every year, and our health insurance almost always increased, so I was basically losing money by staying at the same amount year over year. Now that inflation *is* actually significantly up, we’re getting … the same COLA we always got. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad for even a modest adjustment, but funny how the numbers never quite add up.

    26. aunttora*

      I’ve been with my company for over ten years, and when I started it was a big increase from last job, when you factored in stock and bonus. Stock and bonus has gone down nearly every year since, and annual raise has never exceeded 2%, so take home has gone down, year over year, for about seven of those years. And that’s without any consideration of cost of living. This year it was, again, low bonus/stock, but the raise was 4% which was I believe the most it’s ever been. Of course after the compensation declines of the decade leading up to this year, it certainly doesn’t put me anywhere near where I was when I started in terms of “buying power”. Oh well! I’ve known this was the deal for years and have no one buy myself to blame for sticking around.

    27. SeluciaMD*

      This whole thread is making me feel extra grateful for our CFO. She brought it up with me and our ED in December or January and said “we need to figure out how to give everyone a minimum of a 10% increase next fiscal year because of inflation.” It’s been tough – we’re not a huge organization and we’re about 90% grant funded – but we all agreed it was the right thing to do and we made it happen. I’m so excited that we get to finally tell everyone tomorrow at our staff retreat that it’s a done deal and those raises – plus relevant merit increases – will go into effect July 1 (which is the start of our fiscal year). I feel really lucky to be a part of this organization.

      I’m sorry (though not entirely surprised) to learn that too many people are working for companies/orgs that think it’s OK to ask people to essentially the same work for less money because they aren’t accurately accounting for (or don’t care to account for) the actual change in cost of living now. That really sucks.

    28. Migraine Month*

      I work in government, and we got substantial raises across the board a year ago, then again six months later. (The original proposal was 3% each time, but our union argued that it would be more equitable to increase the dollars-per-hour; in the end, they gave us 3% or the dollars-per-hour increase, whichever was higher.) I’m sure those were specifically COL increases, though.

      Our director also announced that we were going to get a one-time $2000 bonus to offset inflation, but apparently failed to clear that with the board or the union, which led to a lot of yelling and finger-pointing when it wasn’t approved.

      1. H.C.*

        Also in government (local/municipal) level; our COLA raises are triggered once the localized cost of living metric is 5% above the last COLA.

        We also got a one-time bonus but that’s for being voluntold to function as disaster/essential workers (incl. deployment for out-of-class duties) throughout the pandemic.

    29. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Current place’s COLA increases have been going down for years.

      Sometime in 2015-16 we were told that there wouldn’t be any merit, performance-based increases anymore, because the company could not afford it, and that everyone would get 3% regardless of performance. We were upset. Now I don’t know anyone who’d received 3% in the past couple of years. Mine are somewhere around 2.25%. Luckily, I’m at the point both in my life and my career (high enough pay, no more dependents) that it is not a big deal to me. But I don’t know how other people manage to stay ahead of inflation with 2.25% raises.

      And, like others said, at least we are still getting something. I’ve talked to friends who hadn’t received a pay increase in years. I was at a job interview ten years ago where, when asked about performance reviews and annual pay increases, the corporate recruiter stared at me and said “we don’t really do that here. I guess if you are really good, you might… get a bonus?” in a confused tone like I was asking for something that isn’t normally provided to employees, like a company car.

    30. AMillionBooks*

      My company is still doing the “2% raise for a bad review, 3% for a stellar one” that they’ve always done…yet they seem confused about the attrition rate.

  2. Cats Are Really Fuzzy*

    Re OP2 im so stressed about inflation, I just don’t see how people will be able to survive if employers don’t keep up with cost of living adjustments

      1. bamcheeks*

        Not everyone can.

        That said, part of inflation is that is there is less stuff— both the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have had a really big impact on what’s actually available to buy, and people competing over it. Which probably isn’t something that can be solved by employers increasing wages TBH.

    1. Lacey*

      Yes. I love my job, but it never paid well in the first place and since the price of everything is skyrocketing, my tiny raise is super out of touch with what I’d make somewhere else.

      I don’t want to leave, because I love the culture, but if they keep ignoring inflation they’re going to force me to look elsewhere.

    2. KSharp*

      I used to think I made good money at my company but now several of my coworkers can’t afford to drive to work.
      We’re all stressed, the company only gives ANY raises at the end of the year.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I was just commiserating with my friend who is paying a fortune more for gas, and her company won’t let her go remote even just one day a week to recoup that cost – and the company is not offering any COLA for inflation. Her buying power is severely eroded at the same salary :( She’s job hunting but we’re not in one of the fields that is suddenly in-demand.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          And then, when her car finally collapses from the wear and tear, it would cost a fortune to replace because car prices are also way up!

          I hadn’t given this a lot of thought until a year ago, when I interviewed with a company whose work I respected and wanted to be a part of, and they said “oh by the way, you’ll have to back in office, five days a week” – then it suddenly dawned on me that going back to full-time in-office work would be equivalent to a substantial pay cut for me. And that was before the gas prices really started spiraling up.

    3. Brett*

      If you think it is bad to work for an employer who doesn’t keep up with cost of living adjustments….
      Old employer made their last cost of living adjustment in 1986. They purposely stop giving cost of living adjustments because their _retirees_ received an increase in benefits if they give cost of living adjustments instead of merit increases.

      Instead, we would get ridiculous “merit” increases where everyone received the exact same 1-2% increase regardless of their performance review. “You did great, top 1% in the organization with all 5s. Congratulations, here is your 1% raise.” “Well, we would put you on a performance plan if we still had those. You have several 1s, you really should improve. Congratulations, here is your 1% raise.”

      The reality was that they were purposely preventing retirees from getting any inflation adjustments ever to their benefits.

      1. Brett*

        (And, obviously, there is nothing a retiree can do about leaving for a better employer at that point.)

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I really pissed off the head of HR at my first job because I pointed out that the difference between my “top performer” raise and the raised provided a coworker who was the definition of “just enough not to get fired” came out to less than $0.50/hour. I got a lecture about being “ungrateful” and “unprofessional” for discussing salary with a peer. Then, one of my other stellar peers interviewed and got a good offer, so those of us they wanted to keep got an aggressive “market increase” of about 20%.

        I liked the work and my supervisors, but the head of HR had a stranglehold on everything and was the worst part of that job.

    4. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

      Do we really want our wages closely tied to inflation? There have been periods of deflation where prices go down. It does not happen often but it can happen. Would you be happy to hear that next year you are taking a paycut because prices dropped?

      1. Wintermute*

        No obviously wages should not be tied purely to inflation (though the minimum wage absolutely should be), but at the same time you ignore the fact it exists at your own peril. At the mid-high end the risk of employees moving elsewhere for better pay, and at the very low end there are a decent chunk of jobs in america today that are at risk of falling into the realm of having such low net compensation that it is literally not worth having the job. Most people won’t quit a job to do nothing, but they certainly aren’t going to be beating down your door to apply for any openings– and a LOT of businesses are finding that out right now, they can’t hire anyone, even in their traditional pools of “can’t afford to be picky” applicants they could always rely on.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        This same tired argument gets popped out every time inflation and COLA gets mentioned everywhere, MyDog. No one wants wages to be tied exclusively to inflation – what we want is to be paid a comfortable wage for the work we do, and that means our wages must include inflation and cost of living as a factor. When wages do not keep up with cost of living, that level of comfort is damaged, and it is damaged at a significantly faster pace than most people in management positions realize seem able to realize.

        1. SixTigers*

          Oh, sure. When your paycheck is $125,000, you unconsciously tend to think that everyone’s getting paid that (even though you know they’re not), and you don’t really see things from the point of view of someone who’s getting $68,500.

          A $1,000 raise is a lot bigger for the second person than it is for the first.

    5. I Hate It Here*

      My company doesn’t offer raises. Ever really. The people in the field are union so they get raises mandated by the unions we work with. But for the office? None. Mostly because it’s a “family” owned business. So they get a cut of the profits at the end of they year. Now I do get a year end bonus. It varies by year so it’s not something I can say work into a budget for myself.

      Basically if you don’t ask for one at my job you aren’t getting one. I know they know things are increasing in cost. They complain about it enough. Especially the stock market effecting their wealth. But it never translates into their employees needing more money. I’ve been here 20 years. I’ve gotten 2 raises. I now make double what I made when I started.

      I’m in my early 50’s now and when I first started I had small kids and no car and this place was literally 4 blocks from my house. They have helped me in other ways over the years but I only got health insurance 3 years ago when we hired a new controller to replace their uncle who was retiring. She demanded health insurance as part of her compensation.

      Should I have moved on years ago? Yes. But I didn’t for a multitude of reasons. And now at my age finding a new job won’t be easy. So I’m pretty much stuck. I’ve got to work on some language to ask for one this year. My lease is up in Dec. landlord has made it clear they’re selling, rents are crazy in my area…

  3. Liquidus*

    OP3: I’ve worked contract jobs where I only interviewed over the phone and only saw the company HQ twice: my first and last days. With one company, I never even visited their offices since even the corporate onboarding was all do ne at the client site (this was because the client was overseas).

      1. Medusa*

        Two of the last three jobs I was offered (all onsite) were offered without me having met them in person. I don’t see the issue at all, especially not when we’re still in a pandemic (even though people are pretending it’s over).

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yeah, this letter would make sense to me a few years ago, but I am so surprised someone would turn down two jobs over this when it must have become fairly commonplace over the last couple of years! I understand why someone would ask if they could meet in person and see the office before making a decision, but I really can’t understand someone being so shocked by this that they think there must be something wrong with the company at this current point.

        2. Sillysaurus*

          Yeah I work in healthcare and because of covid, we’re not allowed to have prospective employees on-site until they’ve been hired. Candidates seem fine with this. Often they want another phone call as they consider the offer to ask a few more questions and get to know us better, but that’s fine and they’ve all accepted offers so far.

    1. Hats Are Great*

      I’ve gotten my last TWO jobs (regular employee!) entirely via virtual interviews. One was during COVID, but the one before that was 7 years ago!

      It gives both employer and employee so much more flexibility in scheduling and is so much less expensive … I was relieved and grateful! I certainly wouldn’t consider it a red flag, especially in the COVID era.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree. I got my current job after just phone interviews (one was supposed to be a video interview, but my tech malfunctioned and it became phone). That wasn’t a red flag at all, it was an efficient hiring process. My boss would also be managing me remotely, so it was important that we could communicate virtually. This role was also flexible in location (I made it 90% remote, 10% in office).

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Same here. I was hired for my recent onsite temp job via the phone and email. The recruiter was in another state. I was already in their system since I’d talked to someone else about a different job a year or so ago, also via phone. The only in-person onboarding was done for the I-9, and someone at the client company verified me since I didn’t really have anyone else to ask.

      1. Burt Macklin, FBI*

        Same. I was hired last fall for a local job and everything was done virtually. Now that in-person interviews are possible again, there is an emphasis on making the process the same for all applicants so as not to unfairly advantage or disadvantage anyone (either everyone interviews in person or everyone interviews virtually). I’m on a search committee now, and some applicants are local and others are out of state. Having to travel so far to interview in-person for a somewhat entry-level position seems like an unnecessary hardship. So unless the only candidates we wish to interview are local, we’ll be holding virtual interviews.

    3. Garrett*

      Yeah, if the job is mostly on-site, I would want to visit before accepting it. I’d want to know if I’m in a cube, office, or open layout. What kind of neighborhood it is, etc. Because those things are an important part of the job too and may be the thing that sways me as I’m job hunting.

    4. Doctor What*

      I interviewed and got hired for a company over the phone…we don’t even do Zoom Meetings with the camera on! LOL

      I got hired in March of 2020 and I am still working for them! I’ve never been into the office and I’ve never met anyone in person. I love it, but I’m kind of a hermit!

  4. raincoaster*

    OP #1, that kid was totally lying when he said his boss okayed him watching movies all day. Mystery solved, do not emulate him.

    1. Healthcare Manager*

      Really can’t assume that.

      There are reported cases where a person with ADHD benefits from having movies – specially ones they know – on in the background. The idea is that rather than unfamiliar background noises which cause distraction, it’s sounds that are familiar/predictable and therefore don’t distract.

      There are times you need to take people at their word, even when you don’t understand, and this is one of them.

      1. JM in England*

        This reminds me of an autism/ADHD meme I saw recently: “It may not make sense to you, but it does to them and that is what matters!”

      2. Bluesboy*

        I know I benefit from watching TV shows sometimes during the work day, although I’ve never done it in the office, because as Alison says, optics.

        I work in finance, in a sales department. What this means is that there are times when I am in ‘numbers’ mode, analysing reports, creating spreadsheets etc, and I have to be precise and everything has to be perfect. But then there are also times when I have to be in ‘sales’ mode, where it’s a completely different mindset, about listening and responding, being flexible, trying to be charming and build a bond with the investor.

        I find it really hard to just immediately switch from one to the other – I can’t analyse a report, make two calls, go back to the reports, make three calls – that just leads to bad calls or mistakes in the reports. So I separate them – when I’m in the office I’ll nip out for a quick coffee, when I’m at home I’ll switch the TV on for 15 minutes. Obviously I organise my time so this happens once, at most twice a day, I don’t make one call and then watch TV for 15 minutes…

        This isn’t even in the background, it’s literally watch TV and don’t work unless my phone rings – but I produce better quality work and still get everything done.

        1. Julia*

          What you’re talking about is a completely different situation on a number of levels and therefore isn’t really relevant to this discussion. Watching TV at work in your cubicle while working just isn’t the same thing as taking a break between tasks when you’re working from home. I agree that the former could in theory still be an acceptable accommodation, though.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I (another ADHD person here) have discovered recently that I sometimes get way more work down while watching TV on my phone at my desk. It definitely depends on what assignments I’m currently working on as certainly part of my job requires more thinking than I could do with a show on but other parts just require a lot of repetition and updating files to get them ready for more complex work–and I noticed a significant increase in productivity in that kind of work when I had something playing on my phone.

            I wouldn’t be bold enough to ask or tell my boss about it though, but I have definitely added it to the list of reasons why I do better working from home vs in an office where I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that…

            1. DataGirl*

              I work much better with TV in the background (i.e. on my phone on my desk). When working from home it’s almost always on. I can’t ‘watch’ anything with a complicated plot that requires a lot of attention or subtitles that would require me to look at the screen so it’s usually re-runs of shows I’ve seen several times before. For whatever reason, it works better as background noise for me than music. I can’t do audiobooks at all when I work because those require too much attention and I end up focusing on the story more than my work.

              I do a lot of data analysis and reporting, in other words tasks that require focus to not make mistakes but are incredibly boring, so I think having the TV going keeps part of my brain awake/engaged while I focus on those repetitive tasks. I generally find I have to turn it off when writing or doing creative work.

              All of that said- I would prefer to be able to use TV as a concentration device in the office, but due to optics usually stick to music there.

              1. SeluciaMD*

                This is me 100%. There are so many tasks I do better with an old TV show I’ve seen a million times running in the background. But the more creative I need to be, the less that’s helpful. Doing data crunching = TV on. Writing a grant proposal = TV off. I wondered if that was true for other people so it’s cool to hear I’m not alone in this boat!

                All of that being said, I cannot imagine – even at my current job where I am in the top tier of leadership and have a ton of flexibility – watching more than a YouTube video at my desk. The optics would just make me too uncomfortable.

                1. Hazel*

                  I’m in the same boat. My housemate can’t understand why I need to watch Law & Order reruns while I’m doing the mundane, boring parts of my job. (But she and I have already established that our brains do not work the same way, so no surprise there!) And if I need to focus and I miss part of the show, well, I’ve seen it at least 3 times before.

                2. SixTigers*

                  When I was working though the math requirements for my degree, I had to have music playing in the background. NOT popular music, NOTHING with lyrics, but things like instrumental jazz, classical guitar and Baroque chamber music were perfect.

                  Both sides of your brain crave activity, and if you feed both sides at once, you can do a lot more work more effectively for a lot longer.

            2. ferrina*

              Yep. ADHD as well, and I watch TV in the background when I’m doing rote tasks. It helps me focus when I’m doing something boring, but it doesn’t help if I need to do something that I really need to think about.

              1. Mischa*

                I feel so seen in this comment thread–ADHD diagnosis at 25. I very rarely sit down to actually watch TV, but I often have familiar shows on in the background when I’m at home cleaning or doing extremely boring tasks. At work, I often listen to podcast episodes that I’ve listened to multiple times over. I don’t know why, but it just works.

                1. L*

                  I’m feeling the same, but haven’t been diagnosed with anything! I very frequently have reruns on in the background while I’m working. Or even while I’m gaming, because grinding is boring! I think the background noise stops my brain from drifting into daydreams, since it has a secondary thing to kinda-sorta focus on. I can tell you exactly which episode I’m watching and what happens, but still be primarily focusing on my work.

                2. DataGirl*

                  Same! I have TV on all the time but I rarely WATCH TV. Saturday nights is pretty much the only time I actually sit down to watch something that requires me to pay attention.

                3. Dahlia*

                  ADHD brains are understimulated. Adding a low-level stimulus gets you to the place neurotypical people are so you can focus.

                  Is the over-simplified explanation, at least.

            3. Quoth the Raven*

              ADHD, too, and unless I’m transcribing I usually work while using Youtube’s picture-in-picture function at a corner of my screen. It makes working a million times better for me. I’m not going to say that I don’t glance at the image ever so often, but I don’t think that’s really any different from the way I’d glance at someone passing by when I worked in an office.

      3. anontoday*

        Adhd here and this is how it works for me. Something familiar lets me concentrate on what I’m working on with 90% of my brain and gives the remaining 10% just enough to do that it bounces back to work or stays quiet (as opposed to, say, wondering what’s on AAM, or enlisting the rest of my brain into a tangential research spiral, or deciding today is the day we learn Swedish).

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          A little off-topic, but my son and I were just discussing this last night. He is 16, and pretty smart, but ADHD and diagnosed learning disabilities make some aspects of school a huge challenge for him. He’s taking an ACT prep class, and when he did the English practice test in the classroom, he was able to complete fewer than half the questions in the allotted time. When he did one at home, in study-mode with his headphones on playing music, he completed all the questions with 10 minutes to spare. He already gets extended time, but when school starts back up, we are going to ask if taking the ACT in a separate room with music in the background can be accommodated- I feel like headphones are a definite no-go, since there is opportunity to cheat, but we’ll see what they say about the music.

          1. BlueSwimmer*

            School testing coordinator here. ACT and College Board both require specific applications to their organizations for any testing accommodations, even if they are listed on an IEP or 504. I work mostly with College Board and their turn-around time for approval is often 8 weeks, so depending on when your son is planning to take ACTs, you may want to apply soon.

        2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I’ve always described it as I need to hit an attention threshold to be able to focus. If what I’m doing doesn’t fill my attention bucket, I just can’t. If that means I need music, an audiobook, or YouTube to top off the bucket while I’m crunching numbers, editing, researching, (or back in the day, doing homework), whatever, it can get me into my work flow.

        3. sb51*

          Yeah, I can’t do anything visual (like TV) but background music definitely is helpful in some scenarios. Learning to drive was stressful because my parents would insist that I had the radio off as a new driver, and I could tell I drove SO MUCH better with it keeping my mind from really wandering.

      4. Quoi*

        I have ADHD and familiar background noise is very helpful for me in keeping from being distracted – it’s even a large part of how I get to sleep each night! Audiobooks are a life and sanity saver for me.

        Video, actively playing on a different screen to the one I was (meant to be) focusing on would be too effective at grabbing my attention, but everyone’s brains are wired differently.

        1. DataGirl*

          I use audiobooks to go to sleep too. I can’t use them when working though, I find they grab too much of my focus. A re-run of a familiar TV show works much better for me.

      5. Art3mis*

        Yup, I was recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and never understood why having TV on in the background helped me focus, but it does. I WFH now and have my personal PC next to my work PC and have to have something on my personal PC to help me work. It just does. I need a momentary distraction now and then otherwise my brain will just wander off.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I think I recently figured out that for me it is largely due to the times when you have to *wait* for something. Even “short” waits are enough to break my focus. Like I work in accounting and we have software the pulls amounts from our ledger directly into Excel and another that pulls ledger reports on an internet browser, and sometimes it can take like 1-5 minutes for those reports to pull in.

          And in that wait time, sometimes I just get so bored so quickly that I have just already mentally moved away from doing that task and start fucking around with other shit while I’m waiting and then sometimes it’s even worse because I got distracted for long enough for the report to time out and I have to run it again. So I think the biggest thing for me is those little waiting moments where I’m likely to get bored and move on, if I’ve got the TV or something going on it prevents that boredom.

          It’s doubly effective if I am using my phone to watch the TV show, because then I can’t instinctively pick up my phone to start browsing Facebook or whatever while I’m waiting!

        2. kiki*

          The way I’ve thought about is that my brain is always seeking the perfect balance of engagement and fun. A lot of work is engaging, but there’s no fun. A sitcom in the background doesn’t actually engage me much, but it’s enough fun to keep me working on my work task.

      6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yep. The best data entry person I worked with had telenovelas streaming on her phone (with headphones) all day. I have absolutely no idea how she did it because my brain doesn’t work that way, but she did it

        1. LegalEagle*

          I had a coworker who would watch movies on her phone all day and she was also one of the best people in the office! She’d also been there the longest, and she took on the thorniest and most complicated cases that came through our door, and always resolved them to people’s satisfaction. We would rib her a little because she often wouldn’t hear us the first time we called her, but ultimately she was a great employee and was able to be one while watching movies. Meanwhile I had to play white noise in my headphones because I sat near the television that was playing the news all day and couldn’t focus enough to write a letter!

      7. Richard Hershberger*

        My wife, who is not on the spectrum and is a high school teacher, routinely grades with some show playing in the background, typically old TV shows that she knows well. It definitely is not that she is watching TV rather than working.

        1. Panhandlerann*

          I have always worked (when working at home) and studied with the TV on in the background. It works well for me, and I do better than in utter silence. I am not on the spectrum, nor do I have ADHD. (I’m kind of the opposite of ADHD, if that makes sense).

      8. kiki*

        I work from home, so the optics issue isn’t there, but having the TV while I work on helps curb my anxiety and procrastination. A lot of times, my anxious thoughts are more distraction than a TV. Having some sort of comfort TV on puts those loud anxious thoughts on back-burner so I can get other work done.

      9. TrixM*

        Just to buck the trend a bit and provide another datapoint – I have fairly serious ADHD, and I absolutely cannot work with moving images in my eyeline. I didn’t really watch much TV as a kid, didn’t have one at all for 20 years, so different strokes.

        But what others have said about familiar music holds true. As long as I don’t want to dance to it or listen to the lyrics. (I find ambient techno works well, since no lyrics, and it has some energy without being too energetic. Certain kinds of classical can work too.) I can’t listen to most podcasts while working either, since I’d pay attention to the content. Maybe very occasionally while doing some semi-automated familiar task, but most of my work entails problem-solving, which requires attention.

        However, see above re reading. I’ll sometimes pick up my phone every five minutes if I’m finding something tough or boring. It might be ok if I land on a moderately-interesting news article/blog I can polish off in a couple of minutes before picking up the task again, but too bad if there are interesting comments and I’m tempted to add my own…

        Anyway, this isn’t to contradict people for whom “background TV” is a thing; just that our various methods of increasing background stimulus to help focus aren’t all the same. (And can sometimes clash, to be honest – I’m so glad that the days of desk radios in the office blaring sports or rage-inducing talkback are over.)

        1. wordswords*

          Yeah, 100% agreed. I do a lot of listening to online noise generators (the kind with mixes of nature sounds) or the right kind of wordless music while I work, partly for background noise and partly to block out other, more distracting background noise. And I have certain sites I glance at in moments of lull time or when I need to let something percolate in my brain (and have to be a bit careful to not let that break stretch…) But moving images in my eyeline are extremely hard for me to filter out. Vocal music and podcasts are great (and in fact pretty essential) if I’m doing something like data entry that doesn’t require a lot of creative brain, but most of my work is creative and word-heavy, and I absolutely can’t listen to them for it.

          (The issue with moving images in my eyeline is fun when it also includes things like people leg-jiggling or pen-tapping or whatever. Competing needs! It’s great! There have definitely been times I’ve had to carefully arrange myself to have a computer screen or stack of books or something strategically blocking my sightline of something or somebody.)

          Obviously, this is not at all to contradict people who do work best with TV or podcasts or whatever in the background! Just to chime in to agree with you that, as so often, what’s helpful vs distracting really depends on the person.

        2. Bob-White of the Glen*

          ADD here. I can’t watch a TV show/movie – like you movement might distract me, but I do listen to them to concentrate better. Has to be something I know by heart so no temptation to get up to go look at the screen, and very shortly it becomes background noise and I do better.

          I cannot listen to music with words because I start singing and that takes me away from my work. But classical, etc. is fine. I just prefer the TV on.

        3. JustaTech*

          Yeah, long time ADHD here and I can’t do any kind of talking and work, not TV, not podcasts, (coworkers are easier to think around). If I’m just doing numbers work I can listen to music with words, but if I’m writing it’s got to be instrumental.

          Now, I listen to podcasts all the time when I’m running or driving, and I watch a lot of TV/YouTube while I cook or do laundry or sew or knit, and it keeps me entertained and on-track.

          But for me, if it’s got words, that’s where my focus is (because of course TV is supposed to be interesting and attention pulling; they work really hard to get and keep your attention, it’s the job of TV makers!).

      10. Prof. Kat*

        I don’t have ADHD*, but I work best when I have sitcoms on in the background. I discovered this during my freshman year of college, when my roommate was really into Friends and owned all the seasons on DVD. I was SO productive when she was watching it. There’s something about the rhythm of the jokes, and the fact that I can look up every 10 minutes or so, chuckle at a joke, and go back to my work, that really makes me able to be productive for long stretches. I later wrote my entire dissertation with Parks & Rec playing on an iPad next to me.

        *I strongly suspect I may have mild ADHD, but I’ve developed coping mechanisms and organization systems that work great for me, so it’s not interfering with my life in a way that would cause me to seek out a diagnosis and treatment.

        1. L*

          The Big Bang Theory is one of my go-tos for background noise. It’s long, so I don’t need to actively change settings very often. And the structure is repetitive enough that I can completely ignore it for 10+ minutes and not be the distracting kind of lost when I notice it again. Plus none of the characters have a voice that grates on me, which can be the case occasionally when I switch to House.

        2. Melissa*

          I’m the same way. I listen to old episodes of Mystery Science Theater at work. Occasionally, you’ll hear me giggle out loud, when they come to a favorite part.

          It has to be something I’ve seen enough times to know what is happening without the screen on.

      11. quill*

        Same deal as people who cant’ concentrate if they can hear anyone talking but can listen to music, or can’t listen to music that has words but find a podcast not-distracting, or… lots of things, really. (The optics of the music or podcast are probably better at work than the movie, but that’s not what OP wrote in about.)

      12. Gracely*

        I used to tutor a kid with severe ADHD, and he focused so much better with Metallica playing in the background than he did without. The attention threshold is definitely A Thing.

        And while I haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, I have some very rote work that I do which is much, much easier to do while listening to something familiar on headphones. Usually music, but all this discussion of TV/movies has me thinking I ought to try putting the Netflix app on my phone.

      13. Jack Russell Terrier*

        As a historian, I do a lot of research. This involves a lot of scrolling through microfilm – newspapers and other sources. So much microfilm!! Scrolling doesn’t take up my full brain and I listen to audiobooks at the same time. I don’t do this in other situations such as looking through a collection of papers at an archive.

      14. LavaLamp(she/her)*

        I always have Youtube playing (work from home) and it’s for my ADHD. It’s soothing to me to listen to something I know like old episodes of Forensic Files or a video game I’ve played a million times (people record them playing the game through and upload them). My boss at a prior job who was a child mental health clinician actually suggested it to me. When I’m in an office, I have headphones with podcasts, books and music.

      15. Moonhopping*

        Another ADHD adult here. My productivity sky rocketed when I worked from home due to Covid. I hate music, it’s just noise to me. So unlike many other I was not able to listen to it. I was able to “watch” something on my phone I’d seen before and it kept me from getting distracted and made it easier for me to direct my focus. Back in the office I stoped watching and my productivity dropped. On the days in the office. I had Netflix on my phone and an ear bud in I was able to put preform my peers at a rate of 1.75 files worked to their 1. I also found if I get pulled from a task to help a coworker having the show on helped me redirect my ficus back to the original task. Optics aside productivity and output need to be looked at to see if it’s a problem or not.

        1. Moonhopping*

          I should add books on tape, even those I’ve read before were to engaging for me.

      16. morethanbeingtired*

        But I don’t see the need to have an accommodation for this because it’s permissible to wear headphones at most office jobs and if you have the movie playing on your phone, no one will know you’re listening to a movie and not music. In offices I worked in, people listened to music, news radio, podcasts, books on tape, etc. What stands out to me here is a large screen set up for the movie itself. That’s far more than just background noise. That’s a screen propped up on a desk showing movies, which is not necessary if a person is only listening to the movie and not watching it. If you’re focused on work on your computer screen, it doesn’t seem necessary to have a screen up with the movie.

      17. raincoaster*

        I have ADHD and am watching YouTube at the moment, but this person didn’t mention it. When I hear hoofbeats, I think horses, not zebras. And tv or no, they weren’t able to or willing to perform the tasks at the level required. Could it be because they were watching movies all day instead of working?

      18. starfox*

        Yes, I have ADHD and, depending on the work, it can be integral to my focus to have something going on in the background. For me, it’s usually podcasts or an audiobook because I’d find movies TOO distracting.

        If my work is really involved and engaging, I can’t do the podcast thing. But if it’s boring and repetitive, the only way I can get through it is to give my brain something else to focus on, or else I’ll be just sitting there… staring into space.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I think it’s more likely that (ex-)Coworker said to Boss, “It really helps me focus if I can have some type of stimuli, which a lot of research shows is great for people with attention issues. I’ll make sure it doesn’t bother anyone else. Is that OK with you?” (Paraphrasing, but you get the gist.) Boss was like, “Sure, fine, whatever.”

      The problem was then that Coworker was not particularly great at his job, stimuli notwithstanding.

      Also, side note: as others will say, I’m sure, having the TV on is not the problem. Not getting the work done was the problem. There are plenty of jobs where there is a TV on in the background or foreground as a matter of course (journalism, restaurants, hotels, child care, retail, reception / concierge, banks?), or jobs where having a video stimulus wouldn’t be a big deal or even would be a help (I don’t, like, sew or knit for a living, but if I did, I’m sure I would do it watching movies), and wouldn’t have anything to do with the level of professionalism. There are plenty of jobs where indeed it is unprofessional to have a movie on, because it means you’re likely paying attention to the movie and not your work, but there are plenty of jobs where it’s no biggie. It’s not automatically unprofessional to have a TV on. It’s unprofessional not to be appropriately professional at your job.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Wait, TV on as a matter of course in childcare?! I have never seen that (most daycare centers I’ve seen don’t even have a TV, at least in the group rooms) and would NOT use a childcare that did that.

        I also avoid restaurants or bars with TVs on as much as possible, because I have a lot of difficulty having a conversation with a TV on in sightline/hearing distance.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Friday afternoon movies were a daycare treat for my then-toddler, and some staff cleaned rooms during that time.

          1. Jora Malli*

            Former daycare teacher, can confirm. We were required to sanitize all the toys every Friday, but we were not allowed to work beyond our scheduled hours so the cleaning had to happen while the kids were in the room. And since they had nothing else to do because their toys were being cleaned, we would put on a video for them. But that was the only time during the week when movies were playing.

        2. Lightning*

          Ha, that jumped out at me too. There isn’t even a TV in the building at my kids’ daycare.

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely – I know lots of Communications Directors/teams will have a tv with the news on all day in an office where in just about any other team it might be viewed as unprofessional or odd.

        That being said, I also think that larger culture of multitasking/working better with headphones is also a rather large switch from work norms/optics 15-20 years ago as well. Having headphones on in an office to listen to music or podcasts – provided there aren’t specific work needs – is a norm now for many jobs that is relatively new. And so with that, additional further accommodations or professional understanding comes along with it.

        Over the last 5 or so years, most offices where I’ve worked have been pretty understanding of staff watching/listening to the World Cup/Euros provided it’s not overly disruptive to their work deadlines. In one office, it was decided that so many people streaming from their laptops was a bigger issue so they set up a few large conference rooms that had the games on with subtle volume and spaces for people to work. While that kind of offering is not a more general accommodation to watch tv while working, I do think it’s part of a larger trend in workplaces not seeing watching or listening to tv as automatically preventing working.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I had a temp job about thirty years ago processing accounts payable paperwork. It was a pleasant surprise to find that they were OK with my wearing headphones while performing mind-numbing tasks. Walkmen were available, but in my case I had a radio tuned to NPR.

          1. ggg*

            I did data entry as a temp job. There was a TV playing soaps all day, though unfortunately not my preferred soaps. It kind of amplified the mind-numbing nature of the work.

      3. Richard Hershberger*

        A century ago, workers in Cuban cigar factories would hire a person to read books out loud. I gather that at least some of the time these were treated as education courses, and sometime the owners cracked down when the education strayed into Marxist theory.

    3. Beth*

      I wouldn’t assume this. Yes, it’s unusual optics wise for someone to be watching TV in an office, but that doesn’t mean no boss would allow it. In plenty of offices, it’s fully normal for people to work while consuming media–it’s just usually music or a podcast, which don’t have the optics issue. I could see a more open minded manager deciding that video really isn’t that different. I could also see plenty of managers not caring what people do at their desk as long as they’re getting good results.

      A manager who cares a lot about optics, or who takes a butts-in-seats “I know you’re working because I see you doing it” approach to management, or who is kind of old fashioned about what is and isn’t appropriate in the office, probably wouldn’t allow this. But that’s not all managers. OP1 would be better served to take this as a reminder that there are all sorts of working styles out there and it’s always a good idea to ask what your supervisor wants instead of assuming.

      1. JM60*

        it’s fully normal for people to work while consuming media–it’s just usually music or a podcast

        Agreed. I watch (or mostly listen to) hours of YouTube videos during the typical workday while doing my tech-industry job from home. I’m not watching it like I would at the theater, where I’m immersing myself in the movie. The visual element is present, but a bit on the side, and I can easily switch my gaze to and from the visual without breaking my train of thought on the task I’m working on.

        This reminds me of what I heard Mentour (airline pilot on YouTube) once said about his opinion of reading for entertainment while on duty in the cockpit. His thoughts was that a book is not okay because it’s more immersive, but a newspaper is okay because it’s typically easy to maintain general awareness to switch your attention when reading a short article.

        1. Meow*

          I was thinking exactly this. Even in an office, it’s perfectly normal for someone to play a youtube video in the background on their computer with headphones, but bring in an iPad with a movie and suddenly everyone loses their minds. I do think the difference is that actually watching a movie requires multiple senses and is immersive, but of course people who watch TV or movies while they work are rarely actually paying that close attention. Unfortunately, to people who don’t understand the concept, it looks like goofing off.

          1. morethanbeingtired*

            I think the difference is whether you are watching the movie/show or just listening to it. I don’t see the need for the separate screen playing the movie set up on the desk as the second screen is what gives the optics of being distracted. It’s not like you can truly look at both screens at once. I work remote and sometimes like TV on in the background for noise but I don’t need the screen. In an office I could just play it on my phone, keep my phone in my pocket, stick in my earbuds, and no one would even know it was a movie I was listening to and not music.

      2. doreen*

        There’s also the possibility that the person isn’t really “watching” movies. Years ago, I had a radio at my desk that included a TV band and could listen to the audio of TV program just like I listened to the radio. No reason I couldn’t do something similar now and listen to a movie playing on my phone.

        1. raincoaster*

          Sure but the thing that jumps out at me is that he was watching the videos while NOT getting his work done.

          I’m a journalist, there are always screens and music and things on in my office, but I’m working, not taking 90 minutes to catch up on My 600 Pound Life.

      3. Hats Are Great*

        I worked as a news reporter for several years and TVs were ALWAYS on in the newsroom, plus a police scanner.

        It took me years after that to be able to concentrate WITHOUT a TV on in the background! The silence had become really distracting. I don’t have ADHD; it was just that I got used to concentrating in noisy settings!

    4. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you can assume that.

      It’s certainly *possible*, but it is equally possible that his supervisor had approved it – some people do find having music or another ‘distraction’ on in the background helps them focus, so it may have been permittedeither as an accommodation or just becuase the superviser accepted that it might be appropriate for theat individual.

      Equally, it’s possible that they were fired for perfomance issues and that they had been distracted by the videos or watching them instead of working, rathre than to help them focus. It’s also possible they were fired for unrelated reasons, or that the videos helped but not enough.

      I think that if it was affecting LW#1- e.g. if he were watching without headphones, or the office sert up meant that LW was distracted by the videos, or if he was watching stuff which wasn’t appropriate in a workplace, then it would be fine for her to raise it with a manager , but I wouldn’t make the assumption either that he was lying about it having been approved or that it had a negative effect on his work.

    5. SandrineSmiles (France, At Work)*

      ADHD person here. For me, what works is music. Or a Hannah Gadsby special.
      Except right now some higher up, having seen me on my phone, decided to berate me (and I was working when she saw me on my phone) and it’s now to the point where if they offer me a full time job after my current contract I’ll just run the other way (I’m not a baby, if I go to work I’ll work, my phone is here to help xD) .

      1. Meow*

        Yeah, unless I have a job that is constantly working, like when I worked on a busy help desk, I would refuse any job that said no music. Not a lot of people understand how literally painful lack of stimuli is to the ADHD brain.

    6. Bread Addict*

      This largely varies by industry. I work in television (network side not production) and it is very much the norm to have movies, youtube, tv shows, etc. That we are not working on as part of our screens. We usually have 2 big screens for work and our smaller laptop screens for media. I know someone who used to watch wrestling on theirs. As long as you get your work done nobody cares. And I have worked for 3 of the biggest networks over my career. All of them had it like this.

      It definitely helps me to have some sort of screen content on. Its a distraction background noise. I cant listen to podcasts something about the talking voices that dont have heads means I struggle to concentrate on what they are saying. But if I put on a film especially one I know I can tune right out. Same with youtube even though I dont rewatch content.

    7. Daisy Jones*

      I am a manager of a team of 15. To me a movie or TV show is no different than someone listening to a podcast, audiobook or even music. I allow any and all of the above with one headphone in and the other out since we do take a lot of phone calls / have face to face conversations. About a third of my team watches something on their phone or iPad every day. I’ll even ask what the movie of the day is in casual conversation.

      Me personally, that does not work. My brain can’t have anything on in the background that would distract me, but I do recognize that there are people who work differently than how I do.

    8. Anblick*

      Ehh I work at a large healthcare company and my department doesn’t care at all if we have music/podcasts/tv/movies going as long as you get your work done. I myself have a much harder time focusing on somewhat repetitive tasks without background noise.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Yep there was a team of technicians at my old job whose job it was to wrangle a very old software system doing tons of repetitive tasks over and over. I thought it was odd at first that they universally had TV shows playing at the same time, but their work was consistently great. I’ve had stints of having to do something similar and a podcast in the background made me much more productive because I could stand to do the work continuously for hours.

    9. Antilles*

      This varies by the industry and by the company/manager. I work in highway engineering and nobody would blink an eye at this; it would just fall under the general guise of “we hired a competent professional adult and we’re going to assume you can manage your work time appropriately.”
      Frankly, you’d be more likely to get a “please stop watching movies at work” complaint from IT (due to streaming-induced network lag) than your manager.

    10. ADHDattorney*

      I have ADHD and at some jobs, where I am working alone in a cubicle or office, I have had bosses okay having movies, TV shows, audio books, and podcasts. As long as they weren’t distracting and as long as they didn’t affect my work productivity, it was fine. It actually helped me a lot to have a boss approve this (it lowered my need for medications and made me more productive in those jobs). It wouldn’t work in every job or all the time at a given job, like right now I could not do it with my current job, things move at a fast pace and change too much, but in previous iterations (as a document review attorney and when I was reviewing medical records for disability cases at my two previous jobs) it really helps. Everyone is different, and you have to be good about choosing things that aren’t going to be distractions.

    11. Student*

      There are lots of research studies that have looked at the impact of background noise, especially music, on learning.

      Every single one that I’ve read says that they’ve concluded music is usually a negative impact on learning; at best, it’s a neutral impact on some people. Despite the very common claim that it “helps”, it doesn’t help in controlled studies. It distracts you. I’ll post a link to one of these studies that’s relatively recent and publicly viewable in a reply.

      That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to music or other media at work. But I’d encourage everyone to be honest about why they do this. It’s enjoyable. It makes you feel better. There’s nothing wrong with that! I eat chocolate at work because it’s enjoyable and it makes me feel better. I talk to my co-workers about hobbies and movies because it’s enjoyable and makes me feel better. It’s fine to be a human at work! But I don’t try to tell myself or my boss that eating chocolate helps me do better work.

      1. Bob-White of the Glen*

        And this study was done on the ADHD/ADD brain? Because a lot of people here are disagreeing with that, and we’ve had decades to make our conditions manageable.

        1. anontoday*

          Yes, my PhD would like a word with the study authors (I could not have finished it without ambient techno). I was undiagnosed at that point so I struggled until I stumbled across a few crucial coping mechanisms, like music for the creative work, or TV or podcasts for the rote work.

        2. BubbleTea*

          I can’t see any mention of ADHD, but they do explain who they studied. 81 college students, 81% female. They excluded five people for doing too poorly on the tests because “we assume that they were not engaged enough in the learning process”.

          I am unconvinced about the rigour of this study.

    12. Student*

      A research paper that discusses the impact of background music on learning. I’ve looked at several studies about the impact of background noise on learning and work. All the ones I’ve read (caveat: not an exhaustive survey, by any means) come to about the same conclusion as these folks: music often distracts from learning, and sometimes has a neutral impact. It doesn’t actually help you do work tasks.

      And I think that should be okay. It’s something you do because you enjoy it. But please be honest with yourself about why you’re doing it.

      1. kestrelwing*

        Hmmm, this research is interesting, but it’s a bit difficult to apply it to real-life applications as discussed in the comments here. Keep in mind that a lot of the folks talking about finding music/TV/stimulus helpful are self-identifying as having ADHD or some other neurodivergence. Studies on the general effects of background noise on learning and working tend to screen out participants that could introduce an uncontrolled variable, usually meaning that unless a study is intentionally done on a large and diverse population set (not very common considering budgets and statistical muddiness of trying to define “diverse”) the findings can be useful in making decisions about general populations similar to the studied group, but shouldn’t be generalized to humanity as a whole.

        I understand that what you’re trying to get at here is suggesting that people simply talk about this as an enjoyable activity in the hopes of normalizing that as something you can prioritize at work, but I think your directive that people “be honest” with themselves is a bit premature. Different people have different lived experiences, and the jury’s not out on how this sort of background noise affects a variety of populations. For people looking for accommodations of disability especially, it’s best practice to encourage and trust individuals to assess their own needs and accommodations, and let experience then demonstrate efficacy in the workplace/learning context.

      2. Nynaeve*

        There is a difference between learning, which is what was being measured in the study, and the kinds of productivity people are describing being assisted by some background noise in these comments. I cannot do the mundane tasks my job requires without some sort of background noise, and the low did of cubicle life doesn’t help either. I need something that is “there” but also fades into the background. Podcasts, non-fiction audio books, and wordless music are my go-tos. But, when I am doing a few thousand points of data entry in a day, I’m not expected to remember any of them. If I need to read something for comprehension, or be creative, or write something, straight white noise or white noise with nature sounds is my go-to.

        Your point and study are taken, but misplaced. Pretty much everyone is describing something similar, that there are times when the TV, or a podcast help them focus and there are other times when they need classical music, or white noise. The study doesn’t cover productivity and work outcomes, it measured learning.

      3. Katy*

        As someone with ADHD, I’m a bit different from a lot of the ADHD folks in these comments, in that I literally cannot do any kind of complex or creative work with music on. I can’t think or talk or have a coherent conversation with music or TV on, because I absolutely will focus on it and not the thing I’m supposed to be doing. But I also need treats to motivate me to start work, so sometimes I will set music breaks or movie breaks. I went through a phase of renting a bad Bruce Willis movie every time I had an essay to write, and I would toggle back and forth between the essay and the movie. Did it distract me? Absolutely! Would I have started writing the essay without it? Eventually, but much, much later. So even just doing something distracting because you enjoy it can be a good reason in itself, if it motivates you to sit down and start the dang task already.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        There is a difference between “having it on for background noise” and “watch[ing] movies on it in his cubicle all day long”.

    13. NotAnotherManager!*

      Why do you assume he’s lying? My general philosophy with my team is that, if they are doing their work and doing it well (and not disturbing their coworkers), I could not care less if they have music/movies/podcasts on in the background. There are some restrictions based on where people are seated and perception issues, but I work in a really buttoned-up industry and would be fine with this.

      My spouse and younger child have ADHD and function much better with a movie or music in the background. My spouse works from home and always has a movie that he’s seen a million times on in the background for focus. He’s consistently the most productive person on his team.

    14. Unkempt Flatware*

      Just jumping on to agree that many many many people watch movies and shows and youtube videos. I’d get nothing done if I weren’t “watching” TV all day. Nothing. I even have a movie on when on road trips. Do I ever actually watch the movie? Nope. But I need it to stay focused. Emulate this “kid” all you want, AAM reader. Just get your work done too.

    15. JB*

      I like to listen to audio dramas or audiobooks (getting a narrative without the distraction of looking at another screen), but will put it on pause if I need to focus on something specific, someone needs to talk to me or it’s just inappropriate, and always listen through earphones.

  5. Invisible fish*

    OP3: Not going to an interview physically = not needing to put on real pants or wear a real shirt for any longer than the interview lasts. This is not a red flag- it’s a shiny red bow plopped on top of a gift from the universe! ;) (Although if you feel going in personally is best for you, I certainly hope you’re able to do that!)

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I personally think it’s worth putting on clothing and going to the work site to check out the physical environment I’d be spending 40 hours a week in for the next few years. There are lots of things that you can see in a visit that could affect whether you take the job. Is it open office, private office or cubicles? Do they have ample meeting space? Is it noisy? Do they have piped in music while you work? Are the bathrooms gross? Is there a break room and does it have a microwave and fridge? Is there a women’s washroom on every floor, or am I going to have to go upstairs every time I need to pee?

      1. Gnome*

        Yes. Also, you won’t have a chance to know about the office thermostat war or whatever if you don’t go in. The individuals you met may have been perfectly fine, but what about folks on other teams in the same space, etc?

      2. anonymous73*

        Do you always get a tour of the place when you go into an office for an interview? I’ve always been shuttled from the lobby to a conference room and back. I may get a glance at some of the office surroundings but that’s it. You can ask those types of questions if they concern you.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Same. Shoot 1/2 the time the interview would be on a different floor than the office since folks took whatever conference room they could book.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Hell I’ve never had a tour of an office after being hired, let alone an interview. They showed me where stuff was when I needed to know.

      3. Hi, hello, good morning*

        Yes! Getting the general vibe of the office and the other employees is very important for an onsite role.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        If I were interviewing remotely, I’d ask as many questions as possible if I couldn’t visit the site before onboarding, probably at the second interview. I definitely would want to know if they’re hotdesking a hybrid job because I don’t want to do that. I want my own space.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      I can see some cases in which it COULD be a red flag. I was originally thinking “no big deal; I’ve gotten jobs without being interviewed in person,” then I realised that while for most of them, it was truly no big deal, there was one where it WAS a red flag. I’m a teacher, so I’m talking a school with massive discipline issues where walking through the school for an interview, you would have heard classes shouting and so on. But there were other red flags in that interview, particularly how anxious the principal seemed to get me on board. Had I been more experienced – it was my first job out of college – I would have known something was up. I’m guessing the LW has a bit more experience than I had and would have noticed if there were other red flags. Plus, this happened long before covid when simply ringing somebody up for what SHOULD be a very contested job (other principals have told me they got 100 applications for short term SUBBING jobs in my subject) and offering them the job out of the blue would be very uncommon. I think covid and the improved technology in the last 20 years has made it less likely to be something to worry about.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I think what’s odd about this letter is going right to “red flag, turn down employment offer” with no stop at “mildly unexpected occurrence, ask if we can do this thing.”

      It can be as simple as “the last three hires were for remote positions, and then Ben who lives with the servers, and it didn’t occur to us to switch things up for a full-time in-person hire because we’re busy and default to the familiar system in place.”

      1. Antilles*

        Especially since it seems like it could be easily solved with a simple request of “can we meet in your office for the next one?” or “I’m going to be in the neighborhood on Friday, would you mind if I swung by your office for a few minutes and said hi in person?”.
        Just seems like there could have easily been an intermediate step in there.

        1. JustaTech*

          Right. I guess if there had been a lot of other yellow-to-orange flags about financial stability or something that was making the LW question if they were interviewing at a real company and not just a front (there was a big thing in the UK last year of a bunch of people who worked for a company that never really existed), then I could see being concerned about not seeing the location, but as you said, it’s easily solved by just asking to come in.

    4. allathian*

      Yeah, I’d definitely want to visit the office, even if I’d end up WFH most of the time, and in the OP’s case it was an in-person job.

      It wouldn’t apply in this case, but a friend of mine got a new job in March, and although her position was hybrid, they were also interviewing people who would be permanently remote if they got the job. They had video interviews for everyone to ensure a more level playing field, so that the remote people wouldn’t be at a disadvantage compared to those who would’ve been interviewed in person. They hired two people, my friend and someone who never comes to the office.

    5. birder in the backyard*

      I was hired without a physical site visit for my current position even though I live a mile or so away. They were interviewing candidates who could not make a site visit and were concerned about equitable assessments. That said, I wish I had done a physical visit prior to accepting the position. I love my job but I sat about 2.5 feet from my co-worker at an open front desk–I was expecting a cube of my own at least with reception duties when needed. Classic rock was playing regularly. I found it very difficult to concentrate on my work and eventually was able to secure an office after two years. But because I started at the front desk, I still have colleagues who side-eye me for having an office with a window now because they view my role differently than I do. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made securing an office or cube of my own contingent upon accepting the role because it is just really hard to do creative work in such a noisy environment.

      1. Clisby*

        I can understand wanting to have the interviews on an even playing field, but seems to me when it got to the point of making an offer, it would be entirely reasonable to ask to visit the office before making a decision – especially if it was for an onsite position.

    6. MsClaw*

      My company does this all the time. Certainly it can be good to have in-person interviews. But yeah, thanks to COVID we just got used to it. If you *want* to see the place where you’ll be working or meet face-to-face then by all means, ask! But especially right now it’s not unusual.

    7. Res Admin*

      From the other side: When we came back to the office after nearly a year of quarantine, there were a lot of positions shifting and peoples making changes–which for us meant that we lost pretty much our entire staff within a few short months. All told, we hired 10 people, including a new Dept Director and HR person (we only have one in department). All of this was done via Zoom due to restrictions still in place at our workplace. Most of them did not even meet our Chair in person for several months after they had been hired. (I will also note, our main HR office was shocked at how quickly we filled positions).

      Out of 10, we had 9 amazing hires that are thriving and integrating well. They are growing into a solid team who are exceeding all expectations. And none of them have complained about the accommodations, kitchen, restrooms, etc. ;p

  6. Beth*

    OP2: I’ve noticed such a huge generation gap between people my parents’ age (who mostly think staying with one company for many years is normal and ideal) and people my age (where the common wisdom is that you need to run a job hunt every couple years if you want decent pay). I can’t help but think that companies’ refusal to keep up with inflation, much less offer genuine merit increases for salary, must have a role to play in that. This year is particularly bad, but it feels like we never have years where wage growth genuinely keeps up with inflation!

    1. CoveredinBees*

      It used to be that salaries kept better pace with cost of living and there were rewards (like a pension!) for sticking around. My grandfather worked for one company his entire life after getting his degree and has lived comfortably off a pension and social security since then. He cannot get his head around the fact that this doesn’t exist more and many companies view employees as costs to be minimized, rather than assets. There is no reason to “keep your head down and just work” because companies offer little in return.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I think I startled some of my parents’ generation during a holiday jam-session in 2020. A teasing comment about how by the time I was 40, I had worked at more companies than my parents had in their lifetime of work. Combined.

        “What do you mean you don’t have a pension?”
        “What do you mean your company didn’t “do” raises? No cost of living adjustments?”
        “Yeah guys, if I want a raise I have to find a new job with a new employer…otherwise I’d be making what I did as an intern straight out of college over 20 years ago” (dead silence, faces staring at me via Zoom)
        “Well, crap. No wonder!”

        1. kiki*

          I feel like there is a lot of confusion from older folks who have retired or are on the tail end of their careers– they don’t fully understand how much the work world has changed. I feel like some of them see the changes in working behavior and attribute it to younger generations having less commitment, focusing more on happiness, or even being a bit spoiled. But no, if a company offered me a pension I would likely stay there a good long while.

  7. Heidi*

    I think I might be missing something with regards to Letter 4. Why is it important that the pregnancy announcement happen before the wedding? I’m having difficulty seeing that there are any real cons to delaying the announcement until after the wedding and the interview. But in any case, congratulations to the OP!

    1. LadyAmalthea*

      From personal experience at 13 weeks, it may be that morning sickness and exhaustion are setting in and it will make wedding attendance easier if no one has to wonder what’s wrong when she won’t be drinking, may not be able to eat, and might have to sneak out for a nap.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      Possibly because people don’t like others announcing pregnancies or engagements at their wedding, and it can easily happen by accident if you aren’t drinking or look pregnant.
      It’s not something I agree with personally but some people are very intense about their weddings.

      1. MK*

        I understand not wanting someone to give a speech announcing whatever at their wedding, as it distracts from the focus on the couple. But it’s pretty odd to object to guests talking to eachother about what is happening in their lives.

        1. Emmy Noether*

          I completely agree, but there are indeed people who will throw a fit about others “distracting” from their wedding, even unintentionally. Intense if an euphemistic way of putting it.

        2. BethDH*

          It can also just be uncomfortable for OP. often people won’t ask you because they know better, but you can tell they’re thinking about it and waiting for you to bring it up, and it can easily dominate the conversation even when you’d rather talk about other things.
          No couple who’s wedding I’ve attended would be bothered if info like this came out at their wedding — it’s actually pretty common for it to happen so I know — but I would avoid it for my own comfort so I get why OP feels conflicted.

    3. Pop*

      OP may be physically showing by then, she will most likely be avoiding alcohol (which, whether we like it or not, is noticeable in many families, especially at a wedding), or she may want to say something far enough in advance not to bring too much attention to her on the wedding day (like not wanting to announce it that day).

      1. Omskivar*

        Even in families where alcohol consumption is fairly casual, people can notice. My husband and I went to his cousin’s wedding the week after we learned I was pregnant, and my sister-in-law immediately noticed I wasn’t drinking and kept saying things like “Wouldn’t you like some wine? Is there a reason you’re not drinking?” * Contrast to my cousin’s wedding the week before, where literally no one even glanced at my glass or inquired about the alcohol content of my drinks.

        * I know she sounds obnoxious, but my SIL is really a sweet person. This was part of a long-standing, lighthearted teasing that we both took part in. If I’d told her to stop she would have.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          Same. I would intentionally ask for a slice of lime and stir stick in my seltzer, which I would sip, so it looked like a gin and tonic.

        2. Jay*

          I’m a doc. My parents came to town over my birthday one year and took us out to dinner with my BFF and her husband. She didn’t order a beer, which was unusual, and I didn’t say anything. At the end of the meal she also didn’t order coffee, at which point I said “is there something you’d like to share with us?” She ALWAYS drank coffee. She was indeed pregnant, about eight weeks along, and didn’t want to detract from my birthday by making an announcement.

          To be clear, there is nothing wrong with drinking coffee while pregnant but the smell made her sick.

    4. Lord Bravery*

      People will see her showing, presumably, so it might be awkward and focus-stealing not to have already announced.

    5. Bread Addict*

      Some brides get super intense about “my day” and dont want others stealing the spotlight from them in any way. Seriously if you google “entitled brides” there are horror stories of brides mad at pregnant friends, friends with cancer, all kinds of stuff. And of course all the crazy families on both sides.

      The op likely will either be showing or may just want to be able to discuss the pregnancy with people. Sometimes you see old friends or other people at weddings that you dont see as often because life or they live far away and travelled for it. It could be nice for the op to talk to people openly then. And they are trying to be considerate/save themself some stress by announcing it beforehand so hopefully the couple wont be upset. They shouldnt have to but it is kind of part of wedding ettiquette along with not wearing a red dress or white at a wedding. Never upstage the bride. Never propose at a wedding. Dont make big announcements on someone elses wedding day. Some brides wouldnt care. But some would so best to play it safe.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The flip side of this is the person who thinks “I have some news, and look, my nearest and dearest are gathered together, the ideal venue for announcing it” with no pause to consider whether “Shine that spotlight back on ME where it belongs” is maybe a long-standing habit of theirs. (And it can be a dynamic they’re unaware of, while also being the only unaware person in a group of 50.)

    6. Purple Cat*

      It felt to me like they wanted their family/friends to know since they were going to be seeing them anyway – but didn’t want the news to come out AT the wedding and take away from the bridge/groom.

    7. A nice fish*

      For me personally, whatever thoughts I’d had about when to tell people went out the window because from 7 weeks on I was *so* sick, constantly, that I had not other option than to let everyone I was with know! And I’d absolutely tell people in advance for this sort of thing, so they didn’t wonder why I looked like death at an event I wanted to be enjoying!

    8. Melissa*

      I’d be most worried doing it this way that people would still be posting about it on OP’s social media, which as Alison pointed out, could affect the hiring process.

  8. Quietone*

    #2: My company is doing some mid year proactive salary increases to meet market rates for our lowest level salaried people

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes – we did one round of rises in the autumn last year and then did the usual pay review in April – we did 5% across the board in April – I can’t remember the exact figures in the autumn but the two together meant it was at or above the inflation rate.
      Some people got larger amounts as we did also look at merit raises to some staff.

    2. Bongofury*

      My company announced they’d be “reviewing the salary market” and making salary increases this summer. Two months later they announced we’re in line with what the market is and no salary increases would happen.
      They are absolutely not. Within a few weeks of that announcement we had 40 people resign (including me).

      It’s possible we were in the right salary market last year, but no one is now. No company can keep up with the inflation that’s going on. So announcing they’re right where they should be was such a tone deaf and stupid move, everyone is running for the hills.

    3. Meg*

      Yes, my company increased our expected average increase from 3% to 4.25%. This rolled out in February so inflation has since worsened but it was good they clearly considered it. They have a very rigid raise structure (I’m also privy to some info due to my position) so it’s easy to determine when this is considered, plus they did intentionally phrase it as 3% + 1.25%.

      I’ll say my company uses this average across the board (some obviously flex up or down based on performance) and they have 150K employees. So maybe they’d have saved money by not adding anything and just replacing searchers? But maybe pressure is higher at a larger company too.

  9. John*

    OP2: Cost of labor doesn’t always track with the cost of living, and so we need to think more about what we’re worth in the market, versus what is happening to the cost of goods.

    That said, the Fed reserve shows wages are up 6%, so companies that are lagging will need to catch up.

    1. C*

      When inflation is closer to 8% though, this is still basically a pay-cut for many many people. Especially those of us who were already underpaid for the value we bring to a company, our geographical location, or both.

      It’s better than nothing, but doesn’t feel great when you know those in the C-suite are getting bonuses in the millions every year and profits are breaking records

  10. E. Smith*

    re: pregnancy
    I got a phone interview on a friday for the ultimate, utterly perfect job. More $, closet to family, exactly what I want to do. She asked: when can you start? Me: I’m flexible, when are you looking at? Her: could you start Monday?
    … I looked at my “I’m a week overdue” pregnancy belly.
    I felt like I *had* to tell her. It was possible I could have given birth on my first day OTJ. No airline in the country would’ve let me fly to facility.
    I told her I was willing to stay in 8 weeks.
    Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

        1. MK*

          No, but, come on, when you are a week overdue, you know you won’t be able to be at work for the next month minimum. That’s pretty inflexible.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            True but I definitely wouldn’t have expected someone to say “Monday” on a Friday Interview #1. Would’ve made more sense to say “any time after July X” than “flexible” but, the whole thing seems like a weird interaction to me.

      1. Beth*

        This seems harsh. I feel like most people don’t mean “next business day” when they say their start time is flexible–that doesn’t even leave room for a notice period!

        1. Sasha*

          Different definitions of flexible – candidate meant “I’m in no rush, eight weeks or even longer, whenever you get the paperwork done”, they meant “do you have other commitments, and if not can you start tomorrow?”

          Neither is “wrong”, just totally opposite interpretations of flexible.

          1. Boof*

            I work for a fortune 50 company and we got our standard 2-4% raises in Marcb. When we asked about inflation multiple times during the review cycle were told that we pay for performance not cost of living. Besides everything they were reading is this inflation is temporary

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

          especially when it sounds like there would be travel involved “No airline in the country would’ve let me fly to facility.”

          Did they honestly expect someone to pack up and move in under a week?

      2. Gothic Bee*

        I mean, “I’m flexible” in response to “when can you start” just means “I don’t have an exact time frame to give you”, it’s a way of deferring because you want to know what the employer’s timeline is before you give them a date.

        Plus if this was a phone interview, I would think it’s still relatively early in the hiring process, so I’d expect them to have a date a month or two down the line, not literally the next Monday.

    1. Quinalla*

      I would recommend not saying your are flexible if you can’t start in 2 weeks. If I tell an employer I am flexible, then I assume they will at minimum ask me to start in 2 weeks and sooner if they can make it work with paperwork, etc. on their end. Would have been better to say you can start in 8 weeks without mentioning the pregnancy. Then could have had a discussion if they really need someone to start sooner.

      I’m sorry you didn’t get the job :(

      1. iliketoknit*

        Not sure why “I can’t start for 8 weeks” should be any different from “I can’t start for 8 weeks because I’m pregnant.” I get that it doesn’t allow for pregnancy discrimination, but if the employer is going to discriminate, that’s probably worth knowing from the start. Discussion if they really need someone to start sooner isn’t going to make much difference to the OP”s situation where they can’t start sooner.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          I’d be amazed if someone who recently gave birth was up for starting a new job in 8 weeks. Not that I’ve had kids, but that seems really pushing it.

  11. CC34*

    My company gave me a 1.3% raise this year. They are pretending inflation doesn’t exist too.

  12. Jubilee*

    Op4: you can still tell friends and family, just maybe more one on one rather than a blanket post on social media. And caveat that you don’t yet want it shared on FB etc.

    1. Lurker*

      I specifically told my immediate family I didn’t want my wedding mentioned on social media or shared with certain extended family members until closer to the day. They did it anyway. They will not be hearing about a pregnancy til I’m 100% ready to tell the whole world.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Yup. We ended up telling my ILs that I was pregnant with our first before I wanted to because my spouse wanted to tell his parents in person and we don’t see them very often because of distance – we asked them to keep it under their hats until we got out of the first trimester, and… my MIL did not. I know she was just really excited and told freaking everyone. There’s a reason no one but my spouse heard that I was pregnant with the second one until the halfway mark – I think work knew before our families. (My entire team at the time was men, and they were so relived when I finally announced it because I think they all suspected but were too polite/well-versed in HR best practices to ask.) We called everyone the day we had the anatomy scan and knew the baby’s sex.

        1. KateM*

          I have a family member with whom my attitude is “she is the one to tell things that I want all my relatives to know without having to tell everyone myself”.

    2. HBJ*

      This. I don’t post a lot on social media, so my pregnancies generally aren’t social media-official until half way through or so. But all of my family, all my close friends, any acquaintances I happen to see as well as all the family friends from when I was a kid or anyone else it happens to spread through the grapevine of family and friends to know long before that. Goodness, you could send out an email blast, I know lots of people who’ve done that. The only people who find out through social media for me are old coworkers and old friends I’m only in touch with via social media anymore. And they can wait until half way through or whatever to find out.

    3. Stitch*

      I told my close friends and family and people I worked with knew (because I was showing) but we didn’t put it on social media until post 20 weeks. It’s absolutely possible. My spouse was finishing up his PhD and asked we wait until his thesis was done to put it on social media.

    4. Sasha*

      Also totally depends on how you use social media – I told everyone in real life, and was waddling around six months pregnant, before I put anything on social media. And even then it was a picture of me looking very pregnant whilst doing something else, not a big “hey everyone I’m pregnant” notification.

    5. Anon for This.*

      Don’t share if you don’t want it on social media. I’ve seen too many stories of the family attention hog putting other people’s news on FB etc.

      1. Lightning*

        I mean, that might be true for some people, but I would caveat that quite a bit, as opposedto stating that as an absolute. None of my family or close friends are big social media people and they definitely wouldn’t post about somebody else’s pregnancy.

        (YMMV for sure though. I didn’t post anything about my second pregnancy on social media at all. Just a picture of the baby a week after he was already born. So that’s the level of social media engagement I’m coming to this topic with.)

    6. kristinyc*

      We didn’t say anything on social media until our son was born (but people knew – I spoke at two conferences when I was visibly pregnant). My son was due March 29 and I had this silly dream of not saying ANYTHING on Facebook until April fool’s day, and then just saying I had a baby, and then never mentioning him again on Facebook so people I’m not close with would never really be sure it happened.

      Ended up having him 10 days early and announcing shortly after we got home from the hospital. Now I’ve been completely off Facebook for almost two years. I want my son to have some level of agency over how much of his life is online. If I post pics on instagram, they never show his face.

      1. Flossie Bobbsey*

        I love this idea of leaving people wondering if it was an April Fool’s joke! Totally something I would do if the dates aligned – and I wish I’d thought of it with my late March baby. During my first pregnancy I’d show up to planned outings pregnant and that’s how most people outside my true inner circle found out. My second pregnancy was during COVID so even a close friend who’s bad at keeping up with WhatsApp wasn’t QUITE sure whether I’d had a baby when I next saw her.

    7. turquoisecow*

      I didn’t post about being pregnant until June, and the baby was due (and came) in September. I didn’t want a lot of public attention for it and I wanted to make sure that close friends/family/my job heard it from me personally and not via a friend of a friend who saw it on fb.

      My mother-in-law sent an email announcing my pregnancy to her husband’s family, which pissed me off because I wanted to be the one to tell them. It was during the pandemic so I probably wasn’t going to be able to see them in person for awhile, but we were doing zoom things periodically.

  13. Annony-mouse*

    My company gave out two small bonuses to address inflation but is skirting around repeated questions about salary increases. Their answer so far is that they expect the high inflation rate to be temporary, so they are taking only temporary measures to address it (the bonuses) and not raising pay. Though they don’t expect deflation either…. In just the past month, 2 senior managers and a third of a technical department have given notice, so there’s that.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      Yes, that is what I have been hearing as well. Companies don’t want to be tied to the higher salaries if there is a recession around the corner.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Personally, bonuses kind of suck and don’t really increase my pay all that much (due to taxes). Mileage varies obviously. But when I lose half the dollar amount to taxes, its not all that much of an increase.

      I’d rather have a raise. I know they’re treated differently on the books and for tax purposes, but still.

      1. Bongofury*

        I agree! I’m even salty that all your vacation pay when you do resign is paid out as a bonus, so my 3 weeks of banked vacation pay is really like 1.5 weeks at best. Bonuses are great when they take taxes into account, but they never do.

      2. BubbleTea*

        Is this really the case? I thought it all came out in the wash at the end. Certainly here in the UK, your tax rate is your tax rate no matter whether your income was salary, bonus, paid leave or a cash gift from your boss on your birthday (though that last one would rely on honest reporting on a self assessment tax return and wouldn’t go through payroll deductions).

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          Oversimplified, but this is sort of how it works in the US:

          * Amount on paycheck is multiplied by the number of pay periods in a year. Taxes you pay are based on your total earnings during the year. Taxes the company with-holds are based on an assumed total of (paycheck times number of pay periods).
          * Bonuses are treated like paychecks. The taxes you pay are still based on the total amount of money you earn in the year, but taxes with-held by the company are based on “bonus amount times number of pay periods = amount that would theoretically be with-held if that were your actual salary”.

          So, yes, your annual taxes owed don’t really change (or not much) BUT what you see in terms of an actual check or direct deposit for a bonus will still have a big bite taken out.

  14. Allonge*

    LW1 – in some circumstances it could be a reasonable accommodation, but that does not necessarily mean it always works well enough to address any and all performance issues. As far as I understand, accommodations are supposed to give people a chance to perform well, not an assurance that they will.

    1. Jean*

      Same! I’m a busty person as well and I’ve switched over exclusively to wire-free bralettes at the office. I can’t believe I suffered with those evil wires for as long as I did.

      1. mairona*

        I did the same over the lockdown/wfh stretch – I tried going braless but I just can’t with the underboob sweat! So I found some cheap bralettes that have just enough support to combat the sweat issue, but is still comfortable enough that I don’t feel compressed or like the girls are “on display”. It’s freeing to not be poked in the ribs if I turn or stretch wrong. I’ve almost exclusively switched to these, though I still have some more fitted shirts that look a bit frumpy or just plain weird without a regular bra. I just don’t wear those shirts as often now lol

        1. A.N. O'Nyme*

          I’m genuinely mystified by the amount of people who seem to get stabbed by their own bras though…I have legitimately never had that happen.

          But hey, with so many options out there, I don’t blame you for just forgoing the wired kind altogether.

          1. SnootyGirl*

            Right? I’m sorry that so many women are uncomfortable with their bras – mine are very comfortable and I prefer not swinging to and fro, plus I don’t get the sweatiness underneath my breasts. I read somewhere once that the majority of women are wearing the wrong size bra (I get fitted every time I buy a new bra) and I wonder if this is one of the reasons why so many women are wearing uncomfortable bras.
            But for those who are more comfortable without a bra – good for you and good for those workplaces who allow it (which all should!).

            1. Maggie Perhaps*

              I used to be uncomfortable with my bras, and spent most of the pandemic wearing wire free bralettes. I even tossed out all of my old bras. But, to treat myself I went and got a bra fitting done at a place with really good reviews. I’d been wearing the wrong size bra, probably several inches too small (I’d also lost a good portion of weight and inches during the pandemic) back before I tossed them all. I got fitted for new ones and they honestly fit better than anything I’ve ever worn. So incredibly comfortable. A good fitting bra is a wonderful thing for those who want to wear a bra.

          2. Very Social*

            Same! Well, I’ve had it happen, but only when the bra was literally falling apart and the wire was poking out. Now I buy new bras before that happens.

            But I’m glad there are so many options available that most people can find a level of support that works for them!

        2. Meganly*

          Antiperspirant in the underboob is definitely a requirement if you’re going braless!

      2. Sloanicota*

        I feel like this could be a whole other thread (maybe on the weekend post) but I am interested to hear this – I’d always been told that busty folks needed their bras for support and that it hurt them not to wear one, which had just trickled down to convention for flat-as-a-pancake folks like me who don’t actually need support (although I do need coverage for headlights, which is what the scarf/cardigan/thicker or looser outer shirt is about).

        1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          As a bustier person, it can be painful to have the wrong kind of bra. At my place in the spectrum, high activity is bad without support, and badly structured support can cause strain, but mostly they just need to be moderately contained in a way that doesn’t cause me to have bad posture. Resting or low activity is not uncomfortable with no bra.

          I’ve switched over exclusively to “yoga bras” for years now. There is a “showing” issue sometimes, but I just can’t be bothered to care anymore. Sometimes when I’m having sensory issues or I need to get new ones, I just do a cami.

        2. theothersteffi*

          I can`t speak for everyone, but I´m very gifted in the bust department and unfortunately they are no match for earth´s gravity. In short, huge and droopy. I can´t imagine not wearing at least a bralette. The dreaded underboob sweat, the flopping back and forth, up and down – that´s painful for me.
          But! I´ve ditched wired bras ages ago and never looked back. Typically, I buy more rigid bras for work and softer bralettes for home, but it is usually the first thing I put on in the morning and the lsat thing I take off at night.
          With all that being said, there would be hell to pay if a coworker voiced an opinion about my choice of undergarment or lack theroff.

        3. CPegasus*

          As a fat teen I was also told this and my mom bought me nothing but underwire bras. I hated them and immediately pulled them off the second I got home. It wasn’t until college that it occurred to me I could wear sport bras like my smaller friends and I’ve never looked back. I wear a bra so a) I have some coverage in the front and b) I have fabric preventing my skin from touching itself/absorbing sweat. A $10 sport bra does that just as well as a $70 wired molded bra except without making me uncomfortable!

        4. Meganly*

          I think it really depends on the person. I’m a 40H and have no back pain even though I don’t wear bras.

        5. Gothic Bee*

          I think there are a lot more contributing variables than size that can make a difference in whether going completely braless is comfortable or not. Like my boobs are on the smaller side and I hate going without a bra and absolutely need some level of support, though I’ve managed to find bralettes with padding that work well enough for me. Whereas I know women way bigger than me who love going without a bra and find it comfortable.

        6. anon for this*

          I wear a DD and I find most bras uncomfortable in one way or other, and I feel most comfortable without a bra. I don’t admittedly engage in particularly vigorous exercise on a regular basis, but I feel like I just don’t experience much bounce or whatever. Or if I do, it doesn’t bother me? IDK, I feel like a lot of this bra comfort stuff is highly individual.

        7. Melissa*

          I swore off the underwire bras during Covid, because I finally found a sports bra that fit and let good..and I am NOT going back.

          The only person who noticed at work just asked where I found them, because she’s the same body type.

    2. Elizabeth Bennett*

      I have a coworker whom I noticed doesn’t wear a bra, but it isn’t as though she’s wearing low-cut white t-shirts either, so I don’t care. Now she works permanently from home, so it’s a none issue.

    3. jane's nemesis*

      Same! I’m not sure I could do this (out of pure self-consciousness), but I’m so glad it’s possible for some!
      One of my favorite things about my full-time WFH job is not having to put on a wired bra anymore. I just wear a soft bralette for comfort and only have to wear those evil wired bras for the 3-4 visits a year to the home office. (Where they are more torturous than ever because I’m not used to them!)

      1. lw5*

        work was the last place for me, so I was already very used to not wearing a bra at all, but it was definitely an adjustment at first tbh

    4. Natasha*

      For some of us who are non gender conforming, it’s been a great two years to wear one while working, but not at the office :) I have a friend who works in HR nearly have a heart attack when I asked about how complex office bra-wearing rules would be. Then I bought her a drink and we laughed for quite awhile.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    2. I happen to be fortunate that inflation linked rises are a legal requirement where I live, so the employer has to pay the increase.

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      That is a model I wish more places adopted. It takes the argument out of the matter

    2. Beany*

      How quickly does that kick in? The big surge in inflation only really started a couple of months ago (OK, perhaps 4). Does the law state that wage raises adjust within a month, six months, a full year?

    3. BEanon*

      Same here – in Belgium. I think it’s pretty rare elsewhere! Right-wing politicians constantly try to cancel it, but they’re having trouble mustering any popular support, for obvious reasons

  16. Bethany*

    OP4 can you still make a social media announcement but limit it to selected friends only?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Or even hide it specifically from the people on the hiring committee. You can make a post visible to your whole friends list except selected people.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      This tell-some-but-secret-from-others stuff can rapidly fail–Cordelia didn’t realize that the announcement was only to a few and assumes she can refer to it in front of Grace, who’s on the hiring committee and had no idea.

      This only works if the groups have no overlap, like you tell your work but not spouse’s work. Or if you only tell a couple of people, and those people know who’s in and who’s out and when that designation will change.

  17. HereKittyKitty*

    OP2 I almost wonder if you work at my company because it sounds so similar. Yeah they’re basically ignoring it while pretending they aren’t. It’s a question asked a ton, and last town hall they invited a HR person to give a canned response about math and data mumbo jumbo. The raises I’ve heard about have been wildly up and down. Some people got 3% and some people got 8% and some got 10%. We’ve hemorrhaged people the past year but they don’t seem to care. We’re a fortune 200, billion something dollar company, and a 3% raise is criminal.

    1. Shiba Dad*

      If everyone gets an actual COL raise, the shareholders won’t get as high of a dividend. Wall Street would likely punish your employer for taking care of labor first, so stock price would drop. That would also hurt shareholders. It’s more than likely that your employer cares more about its shareholders than it does its workforce.

      1. justanobody*

        Just about every company with shareholders cares more about them than their employees. This is the problem!

      2. Oakwood*

        They’re trying to distribute the cost of inflation between stockholders, customers, and employees.

        Raising pay to keep up with inflation means either stockholders make less money or they have to raise prices to customers (which could damage the company if customers flee to lower priced competitors).

        They are gambling that employees will accept inflation eating into their buying power or that they will be able to continue operations with fewer employees should employees start leaving over pay.

        BTW, layoffs are one way companies handle rising costs due to inflation. If inflation continues at the current pace I expect to soon see companies laying people off in an attempt to tighten costs.

        It’s a job seeker’s market now, but if widespread layoffs start occuring it will turn into an employer’s market. Meaning, if you are thinking of switching jobs to attain more pay, now is the time to do it. Not six months from now.

      3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        This is short-sighted, though, because people are going to buy less, which is going to pitch us into a recession that is likely to hurt the shareholders much more than COL raises would. Obviously, though, any one company is not likely to make a difference so you get the effect that no one is doing it because no one is doing it.

  18. Rara Avis*

    I’m in education, so we signed contracts in February for August 2022-July 2023 that had a COL increase but not really accounting for the crazy inflation that picked up as the spring went on. We got unexpected (and unprecedented) bonuses in June — not a lot, maybe a week of pay — but it helped.

    1. BethDH*

      I don’t have a contract in the usual sense, but we got something similar. In our case it was a mid-year COL adjustment of 3% that happened in January, and they’re discussing both an additional COL increase and a top-up bonus (flat rate for all employees, so the percentage is higher for those who make less) at our usual increase time in July.
      Even if inflation is temporary, we have additional costs now, and lots of people don’t have the savings to ride it out, so I think a bonus makes sense even where companies shy away from permanent increases.

  19. Becky*

    It is hard to tell if your coworker actually was allowed to do this or was trying to cover. But I would only talk to the boss if coworker’s work output is impacting you/the team negatively.

    But, I did have a job once where I was allowed to watch movies/shows. Though it was a very different situation than what you describe.

    I was doing tech support and the company decided to start offering support 24/7. I took the graveyard shift which at first was only “we need a warm body to answer the phone in case someone calls.” Of course, the 24/7 support being new, calls were sparse. My boss said I could do whatever just as long as I stayed awake and was available to answer

    Later, I was given more tasks–writing up training and support materials and training the off-shore team that would eventually take over the night shift support etc. But even then it was not a full 8 hours’ worth of work, so I still had time to kill every shift, so I would fill it with, movies, books, studying and such. I don’t remember now how long I worked that shift, but it wasn’t too bad!

    1. Bongofury*

      That sounds like an ideal job!
      I get the impression the LW isn’t a fan of the tv watching. I do wish coworkers learned to mind their own business. Unless it directly impacted the LW’s job (it might have, who knows!) I don’t see how it matters to them?

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, I worked a graveyard job at a hospital, where I watched tv for the first hour, then made sure the back-up tapes were changed every 10 to 30 minutes, watching tv in the meantime. In the last 2 hours, I took the reports that had printed and distributed them, so I quit watching tv after 4 am. I got tired of tv and would read books too.

  20. Yellow*

    OP1 having stuff on in the background is normal in my industry. I spent years with movies playing while I worked as they blocked out a lot of background noise. Now I mostly just play music with overly expensive headphones instead. More recently a colleague almost always has something playing when I stop by his desk (not movies but video content).

    Personally, my biggest problems have been older staff who were used to playing music in their private offices without headphones. The younger ones typically wear headphones even in private offices, so as long as there’s no highly graphic imagery on the screen (or strobe lighting effects etc), there’s no reasonable cause to object. (not with our job role, not the case for all job roles)

    Not everything has to be a disability accommodation. It could be that your colleague went to their manager and said – hey, would you mind if I used movies through headphones to help block out the noise in the office? I find it works better for me than music. Mariah is on the phone a lot and I find I’m constantly getting distracted by it.

    It might be that the movies did help – but not enough to overcome performance issues. Or it helped a lot and their performance was fine – and they were fired for completely unrelated reasons. A colleague of mine was once fired for stealing a carton of milk. Their job performance was irrelevant to the firing.

    1. TechWorker*

      Yea I found Alison’s answer interesting (that it’s probably only acceptable if the task is repetitive or you have a lot of down time). I don’t tend to work with video on now cos optics (but I do have podcasts on); but I did my entire maths degree with tv on in the background and that worked out for me. The work was neither repetitive or had downtime; but it genuinely helps me focus.

      1. Allonge*

        That is not what Alison said though. She said one of the conditions would be ‘if the nature of the work allowed it’ and as examples, used repetitive tasks and frequent downtime where this could be the case.

        This does not mean that nobody can ever do anything that are not repetitive tasks with the tv on.

        1. Allonge*

          Sorry, was interrupted (by work, how rude :) )

          My actually point is that I would guess that you did not write your maths thesis in an office environment / cubicle, on a payroll, while doing also other work-related tasks? So even if having the tv on helped you, it’s a fairly different situation and I would not draw any conclusions from Alison’s categories for your next thesis or similar work you do at home or in a research setup.

    2. monanon*

      Over several years I “watched” every episode of Stargate and other shows while marking the multiple-choice portions of student exams. These days I mainly use podcasts, which my school allows because I am much more productive when awake.

      1. Aww, coffee, no*

        Prepping the data for our annual budget to get it into a suitable upload format is dull, long and repetitive. I used to stay late in the office to do it and play The West Wing. Like you, I was much more productive when awake!
        (Staying late let me play videos without disturbing others, doing it in the office meant I had two monitors, a keyboard, etc, and my manager was happy for me to then take shorter days later in the month.)

    3. Bluesboy*

      Your choice of name for the colleague on the phone left me wildly confused for a moment.

      ” I find it works better for me than music. Mariah is on the phone a lot”

      I was imagining someone using their phone to listen to Mariah Carey, and then complaining that Mariah Carey was on their phone too much, so I was like “listen to something else then, it isn’t rocket science!” :)

      Need more coffee…

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Or it could be that the employee thought it would help, asked his manager who knew of people it really did help and said “sure,” but the employee wasn’t very good at judging what worked best for him and it was actually distracting him. I mean, it’s also possible that it did help and the performance issues were completely unrelated, but it’s also not unusual for people to be convinced something they want to do is beneficial to them. Of course, I am used to working with teenagers, where you have to be very careful about distinguishing between those who need say fidget toys to concentrate and those who just think fidget toys look cool to play with and try to convince you, and sometimes themselves, they need them. Adults should be better at judging their own needs, but there are those who aren’t.

    5. Lacey*

      Yeah, I don’t generally play movies, but I’m often listening to a podcast, audiobook, or music while I work.

      It helps me focus, especially if I’m doing something tedious and my mind is going to wander a bit.

    6. BethDH*

      I don’t have ADHD (afaik) but I find that a certain degree of background noise helps me a lot. It’s actually not what other people say about focus. For me it actually limits my focus, but if I don’t have background noise to clue me in to the passing of time I get so focused on one thing that I spend too long on it, even when the task doesn’t warrant it.
      Voices are best for this; music definitely increases the level of zoning out so it’s not just having noise.
      I’m one of the few people here I think who prefers a cubicle setup for this reason, as long as I don’t have my back to the direction of approach.

      1. anonymous73*

        I think the bottom line is that everyone is different. I don’t have ADHD, but lived alone from age 22 until I got married 20 years later. I’ve always been a big tv watcher and my tv was on all the time as background noise. At work I was always listening to music, and when I used to WFH and had no office, the tv was on in the LR. When it’s too quiet my brain opens its cabinet of random thoughts. So a lot of times I need background noise to concentrate on a task. The main issue with OP’s letter is that the one watching tv was also not getting their work done, not that he had movies playing at his desk.

        1. kiki*

          I loved your wording:

          “When it’s too quiet my brain opens its cabinet of random thoughts.”

          That’s a really beautiful way to put it. I experience something similar and unfortunately the cabinet is full of negative or self-defeating thoughts, so putting on some light tv to keep the cabinet closed really helps.

    7. drpuma*

      I work in the headquarters of an enormous cable/internet/media conglomerate. Some folks have TVs in their cubes (with, presumably, free cable). I was really taken aback at first but by now I’ve seen enough of them to know it’s normal for us. Nobody has sound on which I’m sure helps with disruption to neighbors. I don’t think I would have believed it before I started but there are companies/industries where this is a norm.

  21. Sleepy cat*

    #3 It’s a shame you turned those jobs down because this is really normal now.

    1. PostalMixup*

      Yeah, my company is still doing entirely virtual interviews, even for on-site positions. My company is also very responsive to changing COVID situations. For example, we just re-instituted our on-site mask mandate. Personnel density limits are tied to local transmission and hospitalization rates. It would be really unfair to interview one candidate in-person and then have to conduct the remainder of the interviews virtually just because we hit a threshold that triggered more safeguards.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I was trying to think the last time I hired someone after an in-person interview – even before the pandemic, I think I was hiring off of calls around 20% of the time? Now it’s 100%.

    1. Madame Arcati*

      Well me too I’d be terribly uncomfortable braless but if LW feels loads better without then more power to her elbow!

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      Isn’t it great to be able to wear whatever undergarments are most comfortable for your body?

    3. si*

      I love mine too, but literally no one is trying to take our bras, so…good for the LW and good for us?

    4. A.N. O'Nyme*

      While I agree…The LW is not being all “BURN THE TITTY PRISONS” so I don’t quite see where this comment is coming from?

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Honestly, this is off-topic. One woman being successful in not wearing a bra to work is not your employer is on the cusp of forbidding bras.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*


    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m in this boat, too, but my ability to continue wearing a bra to work isn’t newsworthy – OP#5 being able to dump theirs without repercussions is. Celebrate other people being able to do what’s most comfortable for *them*, especially when it defies outdated social conventions.

    7. L'étrangere*

      You have to wonder though how LW5 defines a bra. Because I don’t know of any place that would mandate a specific architecture ?minimal level of wiring? and distinguish between such a bra and a bralette

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        For someone of OPs bra size the different between a bra and bralette would be very distinctive, both in presentation and experience while wearing.

      2. Girasol*

        Perhaps the difference between bra and bralette is padding. Most standard bras are padded, whether A cup or triple D, with just enough material to disguise a nipple. Bralettes and sport bras tend to be single layer.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The support of the underwire or structure-to-mimic-underwire-support is also a key difference you won’t find in bralettes

    8. Doctor What*

      I was the same way, because I am, what you might call, “large chested,” but with the pandemic and working from home, I’ve ripped away the under-wire and set them free [well, kinda].

      I wear like a sports bra…so they are managed, but I am also comfortable. Best thing EVER!

  22. Madame Arcati*

    #2 since you ask I shall answer, but with the caveat that I am in U.K. govt so the concept of payrises as the result of a request (backed up with reasons) or on an individual basis, well it’s just not a thing. A pay rise happens as a result of agreement by a literal government committee, and when they happen, they happen to all people at that grade. I’m my agency we also have a single specialist rate that is added to certain roles if strict professional accreditation is achieved.
    I did all the maths on this a couple of years back for some reason. Let’s look at ten years of data, and these are figures as at end of the financial year; percentage rise in gross annual salary:
    2011 0% on previous year
    2012 zip zilch diddly again
    2013-2016 just over 0.8% each year
    2017 and 2018 1%
    2019 – I got promoted and also accredited for the specialist rate so boom year for me with 10% and change.
    2020 – 4% (maybe they are playing catch up after all this time.

    So whilst I don’t want to be that annoying “huh you think you’ve got it bad” idiot; if you are truly asking, do other people not get payrises in line with inflation then my answer is yes; loads of public sector workers. I dare say it’s the same in the US; for example I understand teaching pay is poor there.
    All this aside though, if your company is not up to speed with the rest of the private sector then I guess people will leave.

  23. Turingtested*

    LW #1: At my office there’s a job that involves incredibly tedious copy/paste work from internal documents into our ERP system. One of the people who did this liked to have TV or movies on. It drove everyone crazy but her work was excellent, she didn’t do this when tasks were more demanding, it helped her get through this extremely boring thing.

    I think unless it’s offensive (nudity or audible coarse language) this is the kind of thing you should ignore. Frankly it’s on the watcher’s manager to come by frequently enough to know their employee is watching TV.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #1– There is a big difference between “my boss said I can” and a “reasonable accommodation.” One is, “sure, if that helps” and the other is a documented formality.

    Basically, this letter strikes me as a little… overly serious about it, maybe? It sounds like there’s an expectation that everything must be exactly just so, and that’s not going to fly at all workplaces.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Agreed, I’m not sure why LW jumped to asking whether it’s a reasonable medical accommodation when the coworker didn’t say anything of the kind. Of course it’s possible it was an accommodation and he just didn’t feel the need to disclose a disability to LW, but seems more likely he was telling the truth about having gotten “normal” permission.

      I’m guessing LW is thinking of this as *actively* watching TV all day rather than having it on in the background, and that’s why it seems egregious enough to need something formal in place? Idk.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, I guess maybe somewhere someone has this as a formal accommodation but it seems way more likely this was just a case of “the boss said once that he didn’t care if I do this” rather than “I have a formally documented accommodation that says I can watch TV whenever I want.”

      And in general, I think it’s ideal for bosses to not really care what you do at your desk as long as 1) it’s not disrupting others and 2) the work is getting done. Seems like maybe this guy ultimately ran into an issue on number 2 though.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Strongly agreed. Sometimes I watch twitch streams if I’m in the office alone. If I’m not I always have an earbud in. I always need some kind of outside stimulus to concentrate, but the earbud is more discreet and I know something visual might bother my coworkers (from an optics standpoint even if it’s not directly distracting them).

        I always want to give people freedom to work how they’re comfortable as long as the work is getting done.

  25. Bexy Bexerson*

    OP3: The very large company I work for was doing all interviews by phone only, no video, even before the pandemic. It’s a way to decrease the chance of bias in hiring.

    1. Formerly Ella Vader*

      My screen is dirty. so I thought this was hooking two threads together, with “a way to decrease the chance of bras in hiring”.

  26. NoviceManagerGuy*

    This is part of why significant inflation is bad – many employers can’t afford to give raises to keep up. The cost of all their inputs is rising, and they will lose customers by raising prices.

    1. cappucino girl*

      oh this is such BS. corporations are making record profits. there are smaller businesses that may not be able to afford to give raises, but if you can’t pay your workers a living wage, you don’t deserve workers.

  27. vegan velociraptor*

    I still don’t really understand the necessity to stop breasts moving around at work (apart from comfort!)–they’re a part of the body that naturally moves.

    1. ecnaseener*

      In a perfect world, nobody would face any consequences for existing in their natural bodies at work, but we very much don’t live in that world.

      1. vegan velociraptor*

        I think Alison’s remark about it being key to stop things from moving around didn’t come across to me like “this would be prudent” but “this is necessary to maintain professionalism”–perhaps I misread that!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, that’s what I meant as well. There are consequences for having what’s considered an unprofessional appearance.

          1. vegan velociraptor*

            I guess the point I’m making is that there is a difference between saying “this is unprofessional” and “this is sometimes considered (erroneously) to be unprofessional”. I think that having breasts that visibly move is not unprofessional, although some people may regard it as unprofessional. However, it may be imprudent.

      2. vegan velociraptor*

        I’m also thinking here about previous threads on this topic where a great deal of commenters have spoken about it being inappropriate to have breasts that move naturally at work; again, that’s a different line of thought from it being pragmatically a better idea to keep them immobile.

    2. Really Anon*

      You sweet summer child…they are a HIGHLY SEXUALIZED part of the body. No amount of idealism is going to change that in US society. For that matter, women’s bodies just naturally move, hence the huge market for Spanx and “foundation” torture devices. No jiggling allowed! That’s loosened up a bit, I’m not comfortable without a bra but won’t be caught dead in any girdle like thing, can barely tolerate control top panty hose.

      Good for OP that there has been no repercussions from her not wearing a bra in her workplace, but I daresay that if she was in upper management, this would not fly. Or if she was in a courtroom. Or maybe even in a classroom.

      I will never understand breast augmentation, I find my large breasts to be a sweaty nuisance. Supportive bras are a must when I go out, but at home? NEVER. It’s either supportive or comfortable, but not both. And always expensive.

      1. vegan velociraptor*

        Sure, they’re highly sexualised, but they don’t go away by wearing a bra. If anything, a lot of bras tend to make breasts more acceptably shapely, give them uplift, etc.–they don’t especially desexualise the breast. We don’t consider it unprofessional not to wear a binder or heavy-duty sports bra at work. It doesn’t seem to be more sexual to have the breasts in motion than still.

        And, as I said in my above comment, this is often not treated as a pragmatic requirement (it might be wise for your workplace standing to minimise movement) but as something that is intrinsically more appropriate than having movement.

        I am also an adult who has a professional job; I’m not actually naive.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I think this is kind of the massive hypocrisy of standard Western businesswear for women– it’s all about hitting the perfect note of Conventional Acceptable Unthreateningly Sexual Femininity, and you’re punished for deviating either way from that. And the more corporate the environment, the narrower the line is and the harder it is to toe it if your own personal body doesn’t fit into the appropriately sized, shaped and coloured mould.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            This right here. To me, bras are more about making boobs look pretty and perky rather than desexualizing them, especially once you get past a certain age or if you have a certain amount of sag, but odds are there is a little from column A and a little from column B in this little sexist world of ours.

      2. Workerbee*

        Eesh, that starts off a little condescending. And per your second sentence: Think of how many things we do now that people thought would never change in our society. Women voting, working outside the home, wearing trousers…

        Anecdotally, I stopped wearing a bra anywhere at least five years ago. In upper management, no less. It can be quite doable. Had I known this was a blog for No Bra success stories… :)

        1. Just another queer reader*

          Please write in and share your story! I’d love to hear more No Bra Success Stories!

          1. Girasol*

            I wore stretch sport bras for years. (No itchy lace, no straps falling down my sleeves, no pokey clasps and wires, no viking maiden’s battle cups!) No one ever commented. Of course, I always wondered if anyone had written in to Alison to say, “My subordinate/coworker’s nipples show and frankly, I am appalled! What can I do??” and never got an answer.

      3. Julia*

        I think you’ll find you have mixed or negative results with “you sweet summer child” on the internet, because to many people it reads as condescending.

        Personally, I don’t think it’s that odd the people don’t want to see the intimate parts of other people’s bodies moving around and be reminded that they’re a thing. As a related example, I don’t want to see my female colleagues adjusting their bras for the same reason I don’t want to see my male colleagues adjusting their junk.

        However, I am also a large-breasted woman who is not really a fan of bras and would prefer not to wear one. So I dunno.

        1. vegan velociraptor*

          For me, the idea that it would be odd or unpleasant to be reminded that a coworker has breasts is really odd! For my coworkers that have breasts, I can see that they do, they have a different shape from people without breasts, I just…don’t think about it? I don’t think I’d think about it more if their breasts moved around a bit, and if I did, I can’t imagine being disturbed or troubled.

          I think what I find objectionable here is the idea that simply visibly having breasts (not having them uncovered or revealed) is seen as unprofessional or overly intimate.

          1. Julia*

            I think there’s a bit of goalpost-moving here, though. Being “reminded that a coworker has breasts” is not what I’m talking about, and I also don’t think anyone in this discussion is saying that “simply visibly having breasts (not having them uncovered or revealed) is seen as unprofessional or overly intimate.” Those are mischaracterizations.

            I think that workplace rules like “we should not be able to see the outline of your nipples through your shirt” or “your breasts shouldn’t be moving around independent of your body” are just ordinary dress code rules. Dress code rules are kind of arbitrary by nature – why are shorts not OK but dresses and skirts that cover basically the same amount of skin are? There’s not a lot of reason in it, but it doesn’t bother me that much. There’s lots of workplace norm stuff that’s a bit arbitrary.

            1. vegan velociraptor*

              In your comment: “…I don’t think it’s odd that people don’t want to see the intimate parts of other people’s bodies moving around and be reminded that they exist.”

              This is where I got the idea that being reminded that a coworker has breasts is partly what you’re objecting to/see as unprofessional.

              1. Julia*

                Ah, I see what you mean. I think we’re talking about two slightly different things there. When I say “be reminded that they exist”, I’m talking about having my attention drawn to parts of a coworker’s body. Obviously I know that my coworkers have breasts, but most of the intent behind professional clothing is attiring yourself in such a way that body parts don’t come to people’s attention. (I’m not talking about sexual attention, to be clear – just attention in the same way I’d notice it if a coworker were wearing inappropriate shoes for the office.)

        2. Critical Rolls*

          It’s very problematic to consider breasts “intimate” to the point where being reminded of their existence makes one uncomfortable. Breasts aren’t genitalia. It’s unreasonable to expect them to be hidden (impossible in most cases) and also unreasonable to expect them to be immobilized (issues ranging from uncomfortable to expensive to, again, impossible). If the existence of someone’s body in its natural state, with a normal level of coverage from clothes, makes me uncomfortable, that’s a me problem.

          1. Julia*

            I certainly think of my breasts as an intimate part of my body and strive to cover them and ensure they are not distractingly apparent in any way. My breasts are very different from, e.g., my arms or my neck. You may feel differently about yours, but I don’t think my opinion is unusual.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              Per my previous email, “to the point where being reminded of their existence makes one uncomfortable.” It is unusual to consider the normal movement of breasts under clothes an unprofessional reminder of “intimate” body parts, instead of just the unalterable reality that people have boobs, boob shapes are visible under clothes, and boobs move. This is basically considering the existence of boobs, especially large boobs, fundamentally unprofessional. I shouldn’t have to explain why that’s a problem.

      4. Susie Q*

        I am very similar.”No amount of idealism is going to change that in US society”

        Not just US society.

      5. iliketoknit*

        I’m in a courtroom a lot. You could totally get away with not wearing a bra, especially depending what kinds of blazers/jackets you wear. If your clothing isn’t body conscious, you can get away with a lot. In fact, I knew an interpreter who was in court all the time who I don’t think wore a bra – not because you could see the shape of her breasts/see them moving, but just the general shape compared to standard bras. It was fine. (My impression was that she wore relatively close-fitting tank tops under button down shirts.) I don’t see why this would remotely be an issue in a classroom. Can’t speak to upper management – it would depend a lot on the culture/expectations.

        I think there are plenty of ways to go braless that still appropriately mask the shape/movement of your breasts. I personally buy into contemporary beauty standards enough that I tend to find the non-bra look unflattering. And it could be that the perceived unflattering-ness of the look will get held against someone, in certain contexts. But it wouldn’t be because the look is sexualized so much as that it’s often (according to those standards) seen as frumpy.

    3. LinkedInLearning*

      Jesus tap dancing Ikarus, why is everyone on this site always obsessed with boobs. Is it a workplace advice site for professionals or 4Chan for 12-year old boys?

      1. bamcheeks*

        When you’re on an internet site with a majority of female commentators (or people who’ve been assumed female / socialised as female), they come up a lot because we’ve all grown up in a culture which has obsessed about our breasts since we were about 9 or 10 years old.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s like asking why this site talks about sexism. We live in a society that makes it an issue in some significant ways; it’s going to come up when we discuss life at work.

        1. newer balance*

          I say this with all due respect: as a cis woman who has facilitated ERGs and other professional groups for women throughout my career, I have never encountered a group of people who talk about their breasts as much as the commenters here. Including a body positivity discussion group I facilitated, specifically about normalizing talking about our bodies. It’s obviously your blog and the commenters are free to talk about whatever you want. I’m an infrequent reader and commenter so my perspective may be of limited interest/value here, which is fine. But it’s notable how often and, like, insistently it comes up here, even as someone who is not a religious reader of the site. It honestly reads less as a discussion of sexism in the workplace and more as a fixation at times.

          1. ang*

            in my view that’s because it’s a personal topic and those are easier to discuss with anonymity. it’s also probably been more on minds lately because so many of women enjoyed not wearing bras during the lockdown (which has been reported on in mainstream media). i don’t know, it doesn’t strike me as especially surprising.

          2. Elsajeni*

            I… genuinely don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment thread about boobs on this site that wasn’t pretty closely related to one of the letters — either a letter directly about breasts or bra-wearing or someone staring at someone’s breasts, or a broader but clearly related topic like dress codes being applied unequally. “You people are always talking about your breasts — every time someone else brings up the topic of breasts, you respond by talking about them!” strikes me as an unreasonable criticism.

      3. Girasol*

        Perhaps not so much obsessed with boobs as with bras, and the traditional workplace requirement that all women must wear the uncomfortable kind. After all, we weren’t weirdly obsessed with legs twenty years ago when the discussion was dress codes requiring panty hose and high heels (may they rest in peace.)

      4. Delphine*

        Please don’t compare women discussing workplace attire and their own bodies/comfort to boys/men objectifying women and girls.

    4. Purple Cat*

      I get what you’re saying, not sure why there’s so much pushback.
      It’s the difference in Alison’s response to #4 – where she acknowledges that pregnancy discrimination is a “thing” even though it shouldn’t be and so act accordingly. Vs. #5 where she states “layers thick enough to keep things from moving around is the key” without the disclaimer that it’s dumb and shouldn’t be that way. Alison’s response is agreeing that breasts SHOULD NOT MOVE at work.

    5. lw5*

      I do sufficiently physical work (involving twisting, moving up and down, etc) sufficiently often that some days it’s more comfortable. But yes, mostly I do it to avoid commentary from any of the people who have noticed and maybe been skeptical but not yet felt the need to bring it up. With different norms I’d feel comfortable with no bra and nothing else at work–that’s how I dress in the entire rest of my life–but living with these ones by putting on a crop top that literally just hangs open at the bottom is a compromise I don’t particularly mind.

    6. Raboot*

      You don’t understand the necessity except for the reason that you state? Comfort is a GREAT reason tbh so I don’t get what’s baffling.

      1. vegan velociraptor*

        Comfort is a great reason! I’m talking about attitudes like Julia’s above–that there’s something uncomfortable or problematic about seeing coworkers’ breasts moving and being reminded that their breasts exist.

  28. Elle by the sea*

    Not having an in-person interview isn’t a red flag at all. Most of the companies I have interviewed with made decisions based on virtual interviews. But at the same time, my example might not be typical: every time I changed a job, I moved to a different country.

  29. TvWatcher*

    Whenever I’m working on spreadsheets or PowerPoints (or anything that takes time due to the process and doesn’t require full mental focus), I rewatch those cheesy crime tv shows. It’s like music. I’ve seen all the episodes so many times that it doesn’t take my attention away from work, but it provides enough external stimulation that I actually end up focusing on work for much longer. I don’t think it is much different than music or podcasts.

  30. Mic drop mama*

    For OP4 everything about this question made me nervous for her!
    1. Is this new job going to give you any mat leave? They won’t be legally required to if you’re already pregnant (FML kicks in after 1 year, and some companies have the same requirements for their policies)
    2. Announcing at 7 weeks? Of course I hope everything goes splendidly for you. But lots of women (10-20%) miscarry, especially in the first trimester. Not to dampen your joy – but many people choose to wait to tell a wide group of people until after 12 or 20 weeks.
    3. There were other comments about how you may be showing by the wedding. If it’s your first and the wedding is in the first or second trimester…prob not. It depends on your build, of course, but first pregnancies show slower than future ones and not until 16-20 weeks. I never needed to buy maternity clothes at all – a belly band when i wore pants, but most of my shirts fit through the third trimester.
    4. I’m rooting for you! My workplace acted like my pregnancy was something i inflicted on them. Quitting that job spectacularly is my proudest moment…..So i hope new job is super supportive :)

    1. WellRed*

      I encourage you to share either here or Friday, your spectacular quitting story.

    2. Purple Cat*

      #1 is absolutely a valid point. LW needs to be aware of maternity leave policies that they might not be eligible for.

      I have to push back strongly on #2. As a society, we still expect women to keep quiet about miscarriages and that is why so many women feel alone and feel shame/broken when it happens to them (speaking as someone with multiple miscarriages). “Insisting” (and yes I know that’s stronger than what you said) that people don’t share the news until later in the pregnancy is shrouded in insisting that we don’t hear about the bad news too. Timing of announcements should be highly personal and not follow the whims of societal norms.

      1. Mic drop mama*

        Gosh wasn’t at all suggesting we shroud it in secrecy. Just that my potential employer and every person i know on social media isn’t who I’d want to grieve with me. That’s not related to staying hush hush about a miscarriage – but I’d sure want time to grieve before sharing that story, and i wouldn’t want to be doing so while also explaining to everyone I know that I’m no longer pregnant.

        A lot of women don’t realize how common miscarriage is – we’re in agreement there – which is why I’m cautioning that they may want to consider that in their timing. That’s all.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, there is a huge difference between “keeping it a secret” and just… not wanting to have to announce it publicly and deal with people’s comments while you are grieving! I think that is a very common and understandable feeling! (Combined with I imagine a lot of people feeling a sort of superstitious desire to not “jinx” it.)

          1. Purple Cat*

            I encourage everyone (women especially) to reflect on WHY there is an expectation to grieve alone (or only with a very small number of people) when there is a miscarriage. THAT’s the notion that I’m pushing back on. We don’t expect people to keep it to a small group when a spouse dies, or a child has cancer, for example. The only other instance I can think off the top of my head where we expect people to keep things quiet is when there is substance abuse issues. And of course that also comes with a lot of unfair baggage and shame.

            1. Critical Rolls*

              We often *can’t* limit knowledge of those events to a close circle. There are probably plenty of people who would like to limit the group they have to deal with around grief in those areas, too, but don’t get the choice.

              I’m all for people feeling free to be open about miscarriage. But please do NOT *demand* that people be open about it. Let people grieve the way they want, and believe them when they say they *want* to keep it relatively private. That’s a very understandable impulse without any shame being attached.

              1. MCMonkeyBean*

                Yes, exactly! Healthy discussion of miscarriages and how common they are is a great thing and it’s good that it is becoming more common. But absolutely do not request that people feel like they should get into that literally *while* they are dealing with their immediate grief over it. They don’t owe that to anyone. If someone *prefers* to grieve that way and finds comfort in discussing it everywhere any anywhere online then certainly they should be able to do so! But most people I know prefer to keep all kinds of significant grief fairly private, drawing strength from the people actually close to them and not from Facebook friends…

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              If my spouse died I absolutely would not want people I barely know on Facebook talking to me about it at all. When my brother died, I told my bosses only so that they would know why I was not exactly at my best but I asked them not to tell other people in the office because I didn’t want the empty condolence cards people usually send around. It has absolutely nothing to do with shame and everything to do with the fact that every random condolence from a person I am barely acquainted with sent my way is a huge emotional toll that I do not need to deal with. Why on earth would I want to deal with a bunch of near-strangers on the internet when dealing with any kind of grief??

      2. Risha*

        First, I’m so sorry for your losses :(
        I also think it’s for if the woman does miscarry but she already told everyone early on, then people would be asking how she’s feeling, etc. Then she would have to explain to all these people that she miscarried, keep talking about it to people who are interested in her pregnancy. That actually happened to one of my friends. She told everyone as soon as she found out then miscarried about 3 weeks later. Of course she was being asked how’s the baby, how are you feeling and she had to relive her miscarriage each time she had to tell someone that info. But I also agree with what you’re saying as well.

        1. So Many Pets*

          This was me with my first pregnancy. I was so excited that I told my whole family, all my friends, everyone at work when I was 8 weeks pregnant. I miscarried and spent the next several weeks having to tell people because I didn’t see everyone at the same time (this was before SM). I can’t describe how much it sucked to have to repeat over and over to different people that I was no longer pregnant. I’ve had two kids (and one more miscarriage) since and didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant until about 16 weeks.

      3. Chickena*

        I 100% believe that women shouldn’t feel obligated to keep pregnancies private during the first tri, and there should be no shame in sharing news of a miscarriage.

        That said, I told a few people I was pregnant very early, including one co-worker, and miscarried soon after. I am very glad that I told my friends about the pregnancy & then the miscarriage, but I regret telling the coworker – I just didn’t want to think about it at work, but since I had told her about the pregnancy, I felt obligated to share about the miscarriage.

        So, if I’m talking to a friend about whether they want to tell someone about a pregnancy early, my advice is always to think about whether you’d want to share sad/painful news with that person – if yes, go ahead! If no, maybe wait.

    3. Colette*

      Re: #3 – I had a coworker who was visibly pregnant with her first child long before 12 weeks. Everyone’s body is different.

  31. I should really pick a name*

    LW3, why do you see this as a red flag?
    It can be helpful to state why, because what seems obvious to the LW often isn’t obvious to the readers.

  32. Purple Cat*

    OP3 – I don’t think this is a red flag. As Alison said, with the pandemic, most managers are cognizant that people don’t WANT to go into offices and be exposed to more people than necessary. Most importantly, did you ASK to go into the office? If that’s a deal-breaker for you (and it would be for me too for an in-person role) then you need to be up front about it.

  33. WellRed*

    I got 4% in March but 0% the year before, which I pointed out when they told me.

  34. QuickerBooks*

    #2 Perspective from a small business owner (~10 employees + 20 contractors)

    Inflation is terrifying, and personally I don’t know what we’re going to do if this keeps up much longer. I have traditionally given employees an annual Cost of Living Adjustment based on the annualized inflation rate in my jurisdiction at the time of the raise. In January this year that meant 6.8% across the board.

    I have paid for that with a small rise in prices. The problem is that we are in an industry in which end prices are expected to go down every year, not up. People expect to pay less and less for this service over time. That means that even though business is growing in dollar terms (we have had our largest gross revenue ever), the profit margin is tighter than ever. It’s an unsustainable situation that must eventually end in going out of business and jobs shifting to another country.

    In short, it doesn’t look great for anyone from where I’m sitting.

    1. BethDH*

      This is helpful, and I think a lot of people on here do know that it’s a different situation for, say, non-profits or non-publicly-traded small businesses. I know someone who runs a four-person cleaning business — there’s no way they can keep up with inflation and they feel lousy.
      I’d love to see some creative thinking here for other things employers can do. I don’t have great ideas but that might be things like:
      Extra flexibility for people who may be working a second job to make ends meet or who are trying to flex schedules so they don’t pay for as much childcare. Ensuring that they make it easy for staff who are bringing lunches or switching to public transportation to do so. Bonuses if they can swing that better than a raise.

      1. irene adler*

        Consider reducing the work week to reduce the number of commute trips employees must make. Factor in work from home days or a 4-day work week.

  35. L-squared*

    #1. First question, why do you care? I don’t mean this to be rude. But if he had headphones and was in a cubicle, so it didn’t affect you, why do you care what kind of accommodations he got to do his job? Is it because you want to be able to do that and wanted to ask? Or is it because you somehow found it unfair?

    Also, frankly I don’t really see the difference between a movie they know and listen to as background noise and a podcast. I’ve listened to podcasts, and you can get just as distracted by that, or an audioboook, as you can with a movie. But people will want to try to make differences.

    If he got fired for poor performance, it is what it is, but it probably has nothign to do with the movie. On top of that, in the age of people working from home more and more, I find it hard to begrudge someone in the office doing that, when you can probably guess that many WFH people are doing it pretty regulalry.

  36. CatLady*

    OP3 – I’m curious what you believe you will get out of an on-site interview vs camera virtual? Most of my career were onsite interviews (8 companies, I dunno how many meetings) but for my current job it was virtual, no camera (6 years ago – I was laid off and visiting my folks in another state). I was blown away they hired me “sight unseen” but now I wonder why I thought it was a big deal. You might see the building but I almost never got a tour – straight into a conference room and straight out. You can see your potential co-workers physically and they can see you but is it that critical? I’m genuinely curious here (no sarcasm, I promise) – what do you think you’d get out of an in-person that you don’t virtual?

    1. Purple Cat*

      I think it’s not necessarily that there is benefit to the interview being on site, it’s the benefit of actually being able to see the physical working environment before you start. I’ve tended to work for manufacturing companies – there is a world of difference in the “quality” and “aesthetics” of the office areas. Most people want to know if they’re working in a bright sun-lit office with a lot of windows vs a dark grey cubicle world. You can also “see” for yourself the office environment and how casual it is (or not), is your department segregated from the rest of the company, do people seem tense and angry or is there a lightness…. Lots of information can be gleaned from seeing the site – especially when one is working on-site.

      1. Clisby*

        Agreed. If I’m going to work onsite, then asking to see the workplace is at the same level of reasonableness as saying I’d like to see the benefits package.

        1. CatLady*

          Hmm – in my world a cube farm is a cube farm. :-) So happy to be working remotely for the past 5 years.

          1. Clisby*

            How would you know it’s a cube farm? Maybe it’s private offices. Maybe it’s the hellscape of an open office plan. Is there an onsite cafeteria? If so, what’s it like? Is the office well-lit, or not? Do there seem to be enough rest rooms? Vending machines? I mean, the place you spend 40 or more hours a week in matters.

            I agree that working from home (for me at least) was absolutely the best, and I did that for 17-18 years before retiring (pre-pandemic). But I still remember my delight when I was hired for an entry-level computer programmer job and realized I got a private office. With a door that closed!

  37. calvin blick*

    OP3 – I started my current job recently, and I never interviewed anyone in person. It’s a remote role so it might be a little different, but there are definitely companies out there hiring 100% virtually.

  38. Russell T*

    LW# 3: I accepted a job offer earlier this year without an in-person meeting and it turned out to be a huge mistake. There were other red flags in the two Zoom interviews – a vagueness in the definition of the role and a near complete lack of humor in the three interviewers. But I took the offer anyway. 90% of the staff was working remotely, so I’m not sure what I would have gleaned from an in-person meeting but it may have made clearer why the role & organization was a poor fit for me and vice versa. As it turned out, the entire experience was a waste of time.

  39. bamcheeks*

    I’m really glad that it’s working out for you and you feel more comfortable, LW5, but it would not occur to me to classsify a bralette as Not A Bra.

    I say that as a 40-something post-breastfeeding DD-E cup– so I’m not unfamiliar with the concept of “needs support”! I am disappointed anew with the world if simply wearing an unwired/soft bra or croptop instead of a wired/padded bra counts as something to be celebrated.

    Not having a go at you, LW, just feeling bad for you that this was something you had to worry about!)

    1. vegan velociraptor*

      This stood out to me, as well! I count bralettes in the general category of bras.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Many items described as bralettes have similarly adjustable strasps and the same types of hook/clasp assembly as bras. It’s always confusing to me how manufacturers classify a bralette vs a bra. Some of them seem to use underwiring as the main criteria for defining a bra. But some bralettes have side boning, which can be just as uncomfortable as a underwire if badly designed. And bralette sizing can also vary a lot between manufacturers.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Ugh, yes. I just bought some bralettes that had side boning that I had to rip out. They were literally digging bloody holes into my sides!

      2. londonedit*

        Yes – to me, ‘no bra’ would mean literally wearing nothing enclosing your breasts, not ‘wearing a bralette’. I definitely count bralettes as bras – they might not be underwired and hugely supportive, but they still offer some support and coverage. I stopped wearing a ‘proper’ bra in 2020 but I now have a lovely collection of Lindex lace bralettes which have a nice bit of coverage and are more than adequate to support my (UK size 32D) boobs. I’d still call that ‘wearing a bra’ because I’m not just letting it all hang out under my clothes.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          If bralettes aren’t bras then I have never worn a bra to work. I only do underwire if I somehow end up in something strapless that has a high risk of overflow

    2. Coenobita*

      Same!! I’m so glad for OP5 that they figured out a way that worked for them but also surprised/amused by the implication that I (a daily wireless bra/bralette wearer) personally “haven’t worn a bra” for literally years. That never would’ve occurred to me!

    3. iliketoknit*

      TBF, the LW said “crop top or sometimes a bralette.” I get it’s not the same as completely free-boobing, but it’s way more comfortable than a lot of the boned, underwired armor out there.

      I think perhaps the distinction here is that the LW is writing in to say “I put comfortable modesty over uncomfortable upholding of traditional ideals of feminine shapeliness,” as opposed to “I stopped worrying about whether anyone could see my boobs at all.” Both are kind of “stopped wearing a bra” but mean different things.

      1. lw5*

        “I let my tits be their regular shape and usually don’t wear garments that shape or confine them, but I have tried to do so in the way that draws little attention so no one will try to get me to go back to the shaping and confining, and also keeps them a little less annoying when I do work with a lot of bending and twisting” is probably the way I’d put it haha

    4. lw5*

      I do generally count bralettes as a bra (though tbc mine are ones that just pull over the head, some of which I’ve worn as a top in public), but I also don’t generally wear them, maybe once a week or something if I’m wearing a fitted dress. the crop tops don’t close at the bottom or anything, literally just a shirt. I don’t blame you; I also felt weird putting bralette in the email like that was somehow progress when for smaller people they’re pretty interchangeable! but most days it’s really just shirts.

      1. PB Bunny Watson*

        So happy for you, LW5! I’m hoping I get brave enough to do this at some point. The fact that PATRONS haven’t mentioned it makes me think that maybe we put too much on it ourselves. I know I prefer to go braless when I’m off, but I still hear the voice of a friend’s roommate who said some nasty things to me way back in college. It’s hard to admit, but I think her attitude of disgust has way more to do with my self-consciousness than anything else.

        1. lw5*

          hahaha literally I figured it was reasonably likely my colleagues would consider it not their business, my boss wouldn’t care, and anyone above my boss would be too uncomfortable to comment, but I 1000% expected to hear something from a random member of the public by now. but no, they just chug right along complimenting my hair and shoes lol. personally when people are gross about it in my non-work life, it doesn’t bug me much, partly because I know where they got that pressure and that they’re also putting it on themselves worse (it’s usually women) and partly because my very juvenile brain is like “haha you do not have the power to make me.” I was fully ready to shut it down with patrons, but it has never come up.

      2. more anonymous than usual for this one...*

        A bralette for me (also very busty and with breasts that have been…. the opposite of perky since literally the day I grew them) is just a completely different animal than wearing a full wired bra. A bralette (at least the kind I have) doesn’t lift, it doesn’t separate, it doesn’t compress – all it really does is provide a layer of fabric between my belly skin and my underboob (I can’t stand the feeling non-bra feeling there if I’m doing anything other than laying in bed). So yeah, I’d consider going out in public in just one of these flimsy cloth things to be bra-less, for me personally.

  40. anonymous73*

    #1 – as long as the employee is using headphones AND his work productivity isn’t affected, I see no issue with allowing someone to have movies playing in the background. To me it’s no different than listening to a podcast or music while working. Before I had an office at home and had to work from the LR, I always had the tv on in the background.
    #2 – in 25+ years I have never received a COL raise, and my annual raises have never been more than 3%.
    #3 – I prefer remote interviews. It allows me to only be unavailable during the time period of the interview, instead of accounting for travel back and forth. And I have never met my current boss or team members in person. If you had no other concerns and rejected the job offer simply because you hadn’t met them in person, you may have missed out on a great opportunity.

  41. Spearmint*

    OP2 – That employers don’t factor in inflation bothers me a lot too. Back in November I got a 7% raise that came with a promotion and increased responsibility, which my employer made a big deal out of. But with inflation, my real income is the same as it was a year ago. So I don’t really feel rewarded for my performance.

  42. CheesePlease*

    OP#2 – I work in a construction / fabrication related field. Our industry has been hard-hit by supply chain issues (insane lead times and shipping delays) and inflation for the cost of raw goods etc. So I don’t expect us to have enough profit to adjust all salaries for an inflated COL increase.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Similar field….but our profit margin is remaining fairly static because we’re adjusting pricing of new product as deemed necessary. Hopefully someone in the operations department is addressing this at your place of employment. I know that the cost increases I’ve seen in one particular area are 30% (not material, overall. Material is up significantly more than that, but labor costs are static during a contract period) and that FAR exceeds even our greatest hopes for the profit line item.

      1. CheesePlease*

        I would hope operations is considering it. A lot of our contracts are long term (think 2-5 yrs) with a fixed budget at the onset. I am not privy to the bidding or budgeting process, but it’s not like we can simply increasing our price and if we were selling consumer goods

  43. Sad Desk Salad*

    I can sympathize with the guy in #1 (to a point; it sounds like he was a low performer and I have no way of knowing if the TV was a distraction that led to such poor performance); I work better with either complete silence or some light noise. I used to listen to a science podcast in Italian just to drown out regular office noise but since I don’t actually know Italian, the speakers don’t distract me. The same goes for instrumental music, sitcoms I’ve seen a dozen times but don’t pay real attention to, or songs in a language I don’t understand. I would never, say, watch King of the Hill or Friends in an office setting, but it does help when I’m alone at home.

    #2 I agree with Allison; I’d guess most companies are willfully ignoring inflation. I was surprised this year when I received a 4.5% increase (we usually cap out at 3.5 and that’s for higher performers)–I am a solid performer but did not bring my best in 2021, so it wasn’t merit-based. I read somewhere the very good point that if you’re not receiving COLAs at the same rate of inflation, you’re taking a pay cut to stay in your job. It just drives home the point that you practically have to switch companies to get a decent raise, and like Allison says, companies are probably factoring that in when they calculate increases.

    #5 good for you! I don’t wear one at home but, prior to the pandemic, wouldn’t have considered not wearing one at work. And you obviously have made it work for you as you mention you were not the kind of body style who would typically go without. That’s impressive and I hope it’s a trend. There’s nothing at all wrong with wearing a bra if you feel more comfortable that way, but if you don’t, and you’re otherwise dressed appropriately, it’s no one else’s business what your undergarments look like.

  44. Radish Queen*

    OP5 – bravo! being comfortable is most important. I’m an average-chested woman but some days despite 3 (thin) layers (bralette, tank top, blouse) – the nipples still poke through. I figure if people have an issue, they are too uncomfortable to say anything. It really shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that humans have nipples. I hope people continue to not care about your choice of clothes.

    1. Aww, coffee, no*

      Sometimes nipples just want to do their thing, in my experience. Theoretically I could stop them announcing to the whole world that today their thing is ‘perky’, but only by wearing one of the padded t-shirt bras, and I’ve never found one of them that fits me well enough to make it worth the trade-off of fit and comfort vs the occasional ‘perky’ day.

    2. lw5*

      “if people have an issue, they are too uncomfortable to say anything” is exactly what I’ve banked on lol. and yeah, bodies are sometimes just gonna body

    3. TrixM*

      As someone that has pretty prominent nipples on medium boobs, sure, sometimes it happens, but I wear those silicone nipple shields sometimes if I’m not wearing many layers.
      Not because I think that nipples are anything to be ashamed of – I really don’t care with other people – but because some people can’t help looking, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I work with 95% men, and some just can’t help themselves, even though it’s not salacious (not that I’ve encountered professionally). So I’d rather just circumvent the issue (I’m also pretty body conscious in some ways).
      Bonus: I’ve found the nipple shields are pretty good for preventing chafing when running.
      But I totally agree it’s about your body, and if you’re appropriately attired for the job in general and you feel comfortable, it’s what works for you.

  45. Judge Judy and Executioner*

    I once worked at a job that launched a media streaming service, and I was paid to watch movies and listen to audiobooks in addition to my day job anytime I had bandwidth. Unfortunately I had to test, and do things like “watch for 5 minutes, pause, scrub forward, scrub backwards, etc”. This is also where I learned that listening to romance scenes in audiobooks at work makes me very uncomfortable.

  46. Elizabeth West*

    #2–Because God forbid the employees who actually do all the work should get paid a half-cent more when shareholders are starving. /s

    1. Let's Bagel (OP2)*

      This is my favorite comment and I’m going to steal it to use at work from now on. “But come on guys, we can’t expect more money–the shareholders are starving!”

  47. ThatGirl*

    For LW#3, I interviewed and started my job entirely virtually, but that was in December of ’20/January of ’21, so COVID rates were high and vaccines were just barely starting to be available. I did come see the office in person as soon as it was relatively safe to do so.

    On the other hand, my husband just accepted an offer for a job that will be entirely in-person, but the interviews were all phone/virtual – he only saw the office/campus after he accepted, when he asked if anyone had time to give him a quick tour. I find that interesting, actually, because the other job he was up for had an afternoon of in-person panel interviews.

  48. Let's Bagel (OP2)*

    Thanks for all of your thoughtful responses re: the inflation question. I’m seeing a lot of people comment that their companies are claiming that they’re not addressing inflation because it’s temporary. I left that detail out, but mine is saying the same. The thing is, even if that’s true–the prices don’t go down again! Right? I’m no economist (totally different field!) but my understanding of temporary inflation is simply that the constant rising of pricing is what’s temporary. The higher prices stay that way, permanently. So how does that negate needing a higher salary? Would love to hear anyone’s informed perspective on this part!

    1. Purple Cat*

      It depends on which costs you’re talking about. Housing bubbles can burst and then house prices drop. Gas will absolutely (I hope!) come back down to lower levels. but some companies will absolutely keep their prices as high as they can for as long as they can.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep – here in the UK there’s already a kerfuffle because the government reduced fuel duty by 5p a litre in the April budget, but petrol prices have continued to break records and in real terms absolutely no one is seeing a difference. The fuel companies claim they have reduced prices to include the 5p drop in duty but I heard on the news yesterday that the government are ramping up plans to name and shame petrol stations where the reduction hasn’t been passed on. Prices are so insane that I think we’d struggle to notice a 5p difference anyway, but there are definitely companies that haven’t passed the cut in duty on to their customers!

    2. ThatGirl*

      Eh, it depends. Prices can and do go down. They might not always stay down, but they’re not always constantly rising, either. Gas prices, for instance, are very high right now. But they can and almost certainly will go down, if only from these recent peaks.

    3. Marilyn Monroe dress*

      Either way, we’ve been underpaid for years. CEOS are now making 350x the median worker at their company. In the 50s/60s/70s it was 50x. Meanwhile they tell us we can’t budget when. It’s so patently evil.

  49. Sleepless KJ*

    My small law firm seems to be an outlier – they give us COL raises every January (for me it amounts to an increase of about $2k a year) and they just surprised all of us with another increase of slightly more, two weeks ago. I’m super appreciative but I’m appalled to see that so few companies are doing that.

  50. Brandine*

    OP1 – I think the answer has a lot to do with how you define “watching”, and the nature of the content.

    As I write this I have the PlutoTV MST3K channel on, as I do most of every day. I don’t “watch”, per se, I just listen to the soundtrack; it’s stuff I’ve already seen for the most part, so I’m not obligated to pay close attention (podcasts would not work, since I don’t really absorb anything I’m hearing); Joel/Mike and the bots are near to my heart so it’s like being around friends; I’m in open plan, and it drowns out the noise of the other significantly dumber conversations taking place all around me. If I have to really really focus I turn it off but otherwise it’s on pretty much all day. My work does not suffer.

    However, one of the episodes the MST3K channel shows is “Overdrawn at the Memory Bank”, where a guy in a dystopian future gets in trouble for watching “Casablanca” at his desk. He is not multitasking, he’s just straight up watching “Casablanca”. That, I think, would be a problem.

    1. Jack Bruce*

      Watch out, or you’ll be subject to a compulsory rehab doppel! Maybe as an anteater… lol
      (MST3K fan reporting for duty)

  51. Not your typical admin*

    Regarding OP 2: At least in my company, inflation is affecting the company as well, which has made them hesitate on some raises. I work for a real estate development company, and while real estate prices have risen, so have costs of supplies. On top of that, with some supplies on back order, we’re not able to move properties as quickly as we were before. Things are still profitable, but it feels like there’s a lot of instability. Management has been very open, and has shared with us what their plans are if/when we go into a recession.

  52. Bookworm*

    #1: I’ve worked in jobs where it wasn’t unusual to have TVs set to news channels because the nature of work did need to follow any breaking news. Sometimes it wasn’t such a big deal but I did have one boss that insisted on having the TVs on (my particular team hated it for the distraction factor). Which isn’t *quite* on question but there’s possibility that he did have a legitimate reason to watch movies at the office.

    #3: I personally see this as a red flag but I’ve been offered jobs via the phone for onsite positions before the pandemic. I don’t think it’s necessarily totally unheard of but I personally do understand where you’re coming from.

  53. Eldritch Office Worker*

    #2. Huh. I interviewed for my current job without seeing the place, and so have the vast majority of the hires I’ve made…it never even struck me as odd. I started during the pandemic and it’s just carried through.

    I’ve had more candidates asking for clarity about whether all interviews will be virtual at the beginning of the process in the last month or so, but it’s been pretty exclusively while expressing either indifference (just want to prepare) or preference for virtual. Now I’m worried it’s been off putting to others and I never considered it. Ahh an existential crisis to start the day…

  54. ILoveLlamas*

    OP#3 – I am 4 months into a new in-person job where I did all the interviews via Zoom and phone (I interviewed with 4 people). On the final call, my soon-to-be boss basically wanted to have a wrap up call so we could discuss any outstanding questions we had. He had a few and I had a few. I opened the conversation by noting that my questions might seem mundane, but since I hadn’t seen the office…. Then I asked about if I would have a cube or office, office dress and all those other random questions that prevent future surprises. He was perfectly happy to answer all my questions. It was a great wrap-up call.

  55. Rocket Woman*

    OP #2: My company has basically said that historically our raises were larger than inflation, so this year the fact that they are smaller evens out. However, we have grown by 2000+ employees in the last 3-4 years so many people haven’t been around long enough for those old raises to help them. We do get merit raises every year, typically 2-5%. My company used to be very competitive in pay but not we are behind our other industry partners and we live in an area that is growing rapidly and getting really expensive. Rent renewal rates are averaging 20% higher, gas is nearly $5 a gallon, food has skyrocketed, and the average house cost for a single family home is now over $600k (and thats not even for a nice home). It’s stressful and demoralizing.

  56. Re'lar Fela*

    Re: #2/Inflation–

    My job (non-profit) announced yesterday that staff across the board (including hourly staff who work outside of the office in community settings) would be getting 4% raises effective immediately. The CEO expressed regret that the raises couldn’t be higher and indicated that leadership is looking at other opportunities to assist employees financially (one specific area that has been previously mentioned is reducing insurance premiums for employees covering dependents/spouses).

  57. River Otter*

    I am an engineer. One of my colleagues at my last job *always* had anime streaming on one of his monitors while he worked. I don’t know if it was a formal accommodation or not. He sat just a few desks down from our boss, so bossman had to be aware. No idea what his performance was like, but he outlasted me!

    I occasionally go light-support, not completely braless bc that is not comfortable for me. I drape a modesty scarf across my chest to mask any movement.

  58. ahhh*

    Alison – for OP1 – I’m curious, in a setting where music is allowed in an office or cubical, no accomodation reasons… what is your opinion as far as having a movie for background noise. Is it appropriate?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think the main concern is that it’s visual stimulus, and therefore more distracting from work. Which may or may not be true, but I’d be inclined to have a conversation about it if someone asked. Whether or not it’s distracting to others (what device are you watching on, is it out of eyesight from other cubicles/offices, are you still easy to interrupt if needing to be interruptable is part of your job) would also be a big factor.

      1. ahhh*

        I find when working from home I can put on law and order in the background it’s fine. But in the office there is so much else going on – office playing music, side conversations, etc that having a movie going doesn’t work for me. A bit weird.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yep I agree – the combination of stimuli can make a huge difference.

          1. ahhh*

            In addition, I love detective / action/ mystery type shows. It doesn’t matter if it’s prime time, netflix, britbox, amazon, hulu but I always fear something PG rated but inappropriate might come up on the screen – a murder scene, someone using foul language in a scene, etc. I agree with Alison’s response below about using headphones, but you never know. Overall though I find movies / video to be too distracting in the office. At home I can monitor my situation a bit more.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As long as you use headphones so others aren’t bothered, I think it’s fine if music is fine. I’d say to just be realistic about your own abilities to focus. (I know lots of people do better with background stuff that wouldn’t work for me personally though; my husband, who has ADHD, likes background for everything and I am like… how? But it works for him.)

  59. WantonSeedStitch*

    My employer isn’t taking inflation into account in our merit increases this year. They’re about the same as they usually are, around 3% (plus or minus a bit depending on your performance). But we also had an across-the-board increase of about the same amount a few months back due to our good financial situation, so things are a bit more in line with inflation anyway.

  60. OyHiOh*

    RE #3 – add me to the list of people who interviews via video/phone for an in person role. Man, summer of 2020 was weird!

    It was fine. I showed up for my first day sight unseen, met 3 brand new colleagues who were onboarding the same day and who had also interviewed virtual, and got to work.

  61. Flossie Bobbsey*

    #4, you don’t really need to post pregnancy news on social media at all if the important people in your life already know. I especially wouldn’t do so while job searching, with some personal connections also being professional connections. Take my comment with a grain of salt, though, because I’m someone who didn’t announce either of my pregnancies on social media in any fashion (though my reasons were that it can be incredibly hard for anyone going through infertility to see such posts; that a pregnancy can go wrong at any stage; and that most acquaintances really don’t need to be in the know about such things) – I was in the camp that acquaintances and outer-circle friends can know the news once there’s an actual healthy baby.

  62. Quoi*

    (Unrelated rant I should save for the open thread but it’s annoying me now: when placing job ads for hybrid working, Why Oh Why don’t employers spell out what their hybrid working expectations are?! A 3-days a week in the office hybrid pattern is very different to a 3 days a month hybrid pattern, and will help target your ad to those who can actually provide what you want!)

  63. ophelia*

    Hi OP4 – I’d just like to second Allison’s advice – I actually JUST went through a hiring process where the candidate informed us after she accepted that she’ll be on maternity leave this fall. That’s totally fine, and she was far and away our top candidate, but I’m personally glad I didn’t know, because I wouldn’t want to have it be part of any unconscious decision-making on my part.

    Also, just a reminder from an elder millennial that you can tell close friends and family without putting anything on social media, so maybe there’s a nice way to split the difference and also get around your concerns about the wedding.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. We had this happen with a candidate not too long ago and it messed up our staffing for 6-9 months, but we have been adamant that that’s fine, we’ve dealt, and if anyone who’s annoyed finds themselves in the same position we’d figure it out in the same way. But if we’d known ahead of time I absolutely know it would have influenced the process (both unconsciously and perhaps consciously based on some of the initial reactions).

  64. lilsheba*

    #1 — It’s not weird at all to have something going on in the background. I work from home, and my work involves a lot of data entry type computer work, or researching addresses and such and I always have something going. It might be a familiar movie, or a familiar tv show, or a podcast, an audio book, or music depending on my mood. My work gets done and it’s a win win.

    #5 — good for you! Bras are evil, and need to be destroyed. I haven’t worn one in years, and that includes at work or running errands. Don’t like it don’t look. My comfort is what matters to me.

    1. Aww, coffee, no*

      Hey, let’s not destroy all bras. I entirely sympathise with people who feel they ought to wear them, even though they hate them, but honestly I am so much more comfortable wearing a bra than not. My bras are definitely a force for good ;-)

      1. lilsheba*

        that is beyond my comprehension. NONE of the ones I’ve tried over the years were ever comfortable.

        1. Lime green Pacer*

          They can be hard to find. I was quite annoyed when my regular store changed the line of bras that they carried to something that was no longer a good fit. However, I was quite surprised to find a good fit in a lingerie store (I had had zero luck there before), and picked up a LOT of bras because I didn’t want to go on another hunt for a while.

  65. Nancy*

    OP1: either the boss allowed it or he hid it from the boss. Either way, not your problem.
    OP2: I have never in my decades of working ever got an inflation adjustment. I don’t think that is unusual for many fields.
    OP3: ask to set up a time to tour the office space.
    OP4: email the announcement to people you want to know, or post on facebook and exclude the people you don’t want to see it from the post. You have options.
    OP5: I like bras, but, like most people, don’t care what others wear or don’t wear.

  66. Ray Gillette*

    Movies at work: A few years back, my team was delivered a TV. We did not ask for the TV and had no idea what we were supposed to do with it, so it sat in its box for months. The executive who ordered the TV started making passive-aggressive remarks about when we were going to set it up, so we eventually did so. Because we had no work-related use for the TV, we used it to play movies with the volume set to low as enjoyable background noise. Nobody was actually watching the movies so it wasn’t a distraction from work. That’s not to say that the coworker in the letter wasn’t watching movies instead of working, but like Alison said the situation is too specific to render a verdict.

    1. Danish*

      At my prior job, we came in one monday to find a huge monitor had been installed at the front of every row, so we could all collectively see How Many Customers were waiting and… I don’t know, care more? We all had that info available on our own screens, but I’m not a manager so what do I know.

      for many reasons, those TVs were not turned on once for business reasons in the two years I remained in that job after installation. Eventually we started to stream the penguin cam from the local zoo on ours, which was quite nice!

  67. Esmeralda*

    I work in a so-called right to work state, for the state.

    Cost of living increases? Bahahahahahaha!

  68. Sunflower*

    I work better while listening to talk radio, music, or podcasts. But TV/Movie will distract me because I’ll always be looking at the screen instead of my work.

  69. HannahS*

    OP 4, I told people about my pregnancy in stages. First my husband, then my parents and best friend (all via phone), then my extended family and in-laws, then gradually with other friends as I saw them. I announced on social media after the baby was born. Maybe that’s a way to split the difference? Tell the people important to you privately and ask them not to share it, while not telling your wider community until later.

  70. Observer*

    #3 – I am glad that you asked Alison your question. Because, to me the real red flag is that you declined 2 offers over this.

    Yes, I would have expected that they would have invited you for an interview in person. But unless you are going to be working closely and in person with the people who are interviewing you, it’s not that big of a deal that you can really assume that the place is simply dysfunctional. And if seeing the place and people in person has value to you, it really is OK to ask about an in person interview. How they respond could be quite informative.

    Responding to this so strongly sounds to me like a rather unhelpfully rigid view of the “The Way Things Should Be Done.” On the other hand, taking an opportunity to reach out and get a reality check was a really good idea. Hopefully, it will help you calibrate your perspective so that you have a better handle on what are real red flags and what are things that are perhaps not the way you would have done it, but not that big of a deal.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I also have to wonder if OP ever brought it up – it doesn’t sound like it. So you’re declining offers over mismatched styles that you didn’t try to consolidate.

  71. merida*

    Re: OP #2 – unfortunately, some companies ignored inflation before 2020 as well. At a former job, all employees were all told we’d get an annual raise of 2-3% because that’s what inflation was at the time. My boss had a congratulatory meeting with me to tell me what my raise and she was all smiles when she told me the amount (I’d done a quick calculation – it was 1.2%). I had mistakenly thought that the annual raises were based on performance, but she assured me that was not the case and that everyone got the same raise. I mentioned that I had been concerned only because mine was lower than the 2-3% we’d been told about, and she still assured me that is what I got. I told her my raise only came out to 1.2% and she said “well, close enough, that rounds to 2%.” No, no it does not.

    I’m curious to see how my new company treats annual raises.

  72. Sylvia*

    OP 5 – I’m happy to hear it was a non-issue at your workplace. Nobody should have to wear a bra if they don’t want to!

    This year I had a rotator cuff injury in my shoulder and not only was it painful, but i couldn’t raise my arm up very far. I struggled to put on bras, tried new ones that clasped in the front, but had difficulty with everything. I finally said the hell with it and went braless for a while (nobody said anything). The whole experience made me realize how difficult it is for someone with a disability or an injury to conform to this ridiculous cultural standard.

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

    My org has never tied raises to COL or inflation…well, sort of…my last “raise” was because the minimum wage in my state went up, and as a salary exempt employee, the minimum exempt is determined by formula: two times the state minimum wage for 40hr/week. Once upon a time, I made well over the minimum but that has slowly eroded away.

  74. Betty (the other betty)*

    #1: For certain kinds of work, having certain tv shows on makes me way more productive. Familiar, amusing shows occupy the part of my brain that otherwise gets distracted. For some reason, podcasts or audiobooks and sometimes even music require too much attention.

    I know at least one other person who is the same way, so while I wouldn’t consider “movies at work” as a reasonable accommodation, it could be a productivity tool for some people. I’m fortunate to be self-employed so I do what works for me.

  75. Workfromhome*

    #2 with some few exceptions her is what will happen with regards to inflation: Companies will continue with their curent policies (be it below inflation increases like 2% or none at all). They will increase prices to customers to offset inflation. If people dont like the response they can leave. Its cheaper to hire new employees or suffer the loss of productivity than see large increases in labour costs.

  76. JelloStapler*

    OP2- my organization has ignored it for years and now we are WAY behind. I feel like I am paying THEM to work, especially since my commute stinks.

  77. RB*

    #5: Yes, layers are the key, with my first layer always being one of those stretchy camisoles that has a high percent of spandex, at least 10%, and some of them have over 30%. However, in the summer those can be a little hot, depending on what I wear over them, so I have a few sports bras that work well under regular office clothing, for those warmer days.

  78. Delphine*

    My company didn’t have a great 2021 so our raises were about 1-2%. Definitely did not cover inflation.

  79. Evvie*

    I only wear a bra on special occasions where I am wearing a dress or similar requiring it. I’ve been doing this for about 5 years, including as a teacher.

    My basic thought was “I dare you to say something about my underwear choice.” Like the LW, I always did two layers. Plus, I only have an A cup, so it’s really not that different from a guy.

    I don’t wear one because it’s hard for me to breathe with them, even when properly fitted. (This is true for anything that constricts my ribcage, like slightly tight clothing with no give.) Other people’s comfort with my body doesn’t outweigh my ability to take a deep breath!

  80. Mrs whosit*

    High School teacher here, and I can recall whispered conversations between students of mine when I dared to have visible nipples momentarily. (Covered, obviously, just evident.) No way would I go braless in a high school classroom.

  81. Mrs whosit*

    Ugh, sorry – meant to be a reply to iliketoknit in a conversation far above!

  82. cappucino girl*

    I’m going to switch companies every 2-3 years until I’m able to be part of a union or work for a company that offers COL raises. Salaries are disgustingly low unless you’re a CEO.

  83. RB*

    Gov’t employee in a union here. We get a COLA — it’s written into the contract — but I think it’s capped at 2.5%, so it won’t keep up with the CPI increase this year.

  84. ndawn90*

    I haven’t worn a bra to work in years. Like LW5, I’m a busty gal (34E last I checked) and I also employ the double layer method. I work in healthcare, so I’m wearing scrubs, and I generally just wear a lightly compressive undershirt under my scrub top. I’ve never had an issue. That being said, I do have pretty flat nipples, they really only get pokey when I’m cold or excited, so that might be a big factor.

    Either way, I’m so glad that we’re having a conversation about not wearing bras in a professional setting. I have some sensory issues with certain types of clothing, and bras are one of them, so wearing them drives me up the wall.

    LW5 – I feel ya, I’m with ya, and I sincerely hope it keeps working out for you!

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