my new hire built a blanket nest in her office

A reader writes:

I have a new employee on my team. This is her first full-time office job, which is common for employees at my company. I’ve recently heard from other managers that she’s primarily working from a nest of blankets and pillows she built on her office floor. We are a very casual office and she’s getting her work done, but this is still weird. I’d like to address it with her before we move another new hire into her shared office area next month.

My first step is to stop by her office a couple of times to verify the hearsay, but overall how do I address this with her? We have a company policy handbook but it is pretty vague (to the point of tongue in cheek) about “professional” behavior.

I admit my first reaction was to laugh, and my second was to think about whether I would like to work from a blanket/pillow nest of my own.

But yeah, in most offices this is going to stand out as really odd — hence the comments you’re getting about it.

There is a larger philosophical question about why “odd” is bad, and whether it needs to be bad. If she’s comfortable working like that and she’s getting her work done well, should anyone care? Personally, if I were creating work norms from scratch on a new planet where they didn’t yet exist, I would be pro-pillow-fort. Why not? Some people work well from a desk, some work well from a couch, some apparently work well from a nest of blankets and pillows. It shouldn’t matter.

And yet, in the world we live in, not the hypothetical one I’m creating on a distant planet, it will matter. Something this far out of the norm — and so associated with “bed”— is going to read strangely in most offices and raise concerns. That goes doubly, if not triply, when the employee is very junior and hasn’t established a reputation for herself yet.

If she were more senior and known to be very good at what she did … well, it still wouldn’t fly in a lot of offices! But in others she could get away with it; it could be an idiosyncrasy people accepted because her work was great. But when you are entry-level, you don’t have nearly the same freedom to flout norms; instead, it’s likely to become the thing she’s known for — along with connotations like “immature” or “unprofessional” — and could end up holding her back significantly. I’m not defending that, but it’s the reality of it. It’s sort of like showing up to work in pajamas — it won’t affect the quality of your work, but in most offices it would impact the way people see you. (Caveat: different industries have different norms. This could go over far more easily in some parts of tech, for example, and apparently at NPR. But it sounds like your office isn’t one of those, since you’re getting the comments about it.)

When you have enough capital built up to push back on these norms, you can! But since she’s a junior employee at her first job, it’s more likely that it would take your capital, as her manager, to fight this battle on her behalf and I’m guessing it’s not something you want to spend your own capital on. If I’m wrong about that, by all means, spend capital on it. It helps nearly everyone if we revisit our definitions of “professional.” But otherwise, here we are.

So … start by asking her about it before you do anything else. Who knows, maybe there’s some reason for it that you’d want to know, like that something about her desk or chair is uncomfortable and she needs a more ergonomic set-up. But then it’s reasonable to explain that generally in your office people are expected to work at their desks and that, rightly or wrongly, working from a nest of blankets and pillows will read as not terribly office-appropriate, and risks becoming the thing she’s known for right as she’s trying to establish a professional reputation for herself … and that especially with a new hire about to move into the space with her, sadly the blanket/pillow nest must go.

RIP pillow fort.

{ 562 comments… read them below }

  1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    One day, she’s going to look back on her office nest with a potent mix of fondness and embarrassment. Also someone needs to snag RIP Pillow Fort as their new handle asap.

    1. to varying degrees*

      Yeah, I could see reading this years from now on AAM under a “what was I thinking” post. While I love the idea of a pillow/blanket fort in my office (one reason being that I’m always cold and currently have on a sweatshirt and space heater and live in the middle of Florida) the reality is this is not a good look for the employee, especially as a new and possibly younger staff member.

      1. Momma Bear*

        While I get the whole comfort thing, I’d work with her on a compromise. If her desk is not comfortable, I’d allow her to have a cozier chair (they make chair inserts that are basically sitting on a chair shaped pillow) or a standing desk or different lighting. Ask her what the draw is and work with her on something more appropriate for that office/sharing an office. Some of my coworkers like to be in the dark with a single desk lamp. Some like a lot of plants. Someone brought in a sofa and art. Whatever works…within reason. This is also not just about how she is perceived but how the professionalism of your whole department is perceived. Sometimes earning the paycheck means following unspoken rules of behavior.

        1. KK*

          The draw for me would be the isolation and coziness. Working from home has really shown me that I like being by myself curled up awkwardly on my couch with two blankets and a podcast going as background noise.

        2. Kiki is the Most*

          I was JUST going to suggest this. Hopefully a solution, within reason, can be had (especially if not a client-facing position). As a higher ed teacher, I had set up my classroom with a mix of the above options for students as they DO tend to produce better work when they are in their best work area–sofa, traditional desk, floor, standing desk, with/without headphones, etc. If the manager is monitoring work output, then there should be an easy option to accommodate her employee that is suitable for their office.

          1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*


            Ahem. I agree that your classroom sounds awesome.

          2. BethDH*

            I wish I’d had this as part of education. I worked just fine in “normal” setups but it wasn’t until recently (when I was working from a fairly new and fancy campus library with a lot of options for a few days) that I happened to experiment and realized just how much energy I was putting into coping with my normal desk setup. It was kind of like the first time I got glasses.

        3. PotsPansTeapots*

          I like this suggestion and I think it’s good training for an employee still learning office norms. It’s reinforcing that good managers do want to help you do your best work and while problems might not be addressed in your preferred way, they can still be addressed and mitigated.

        4. Snorah*

          This. Some offices have beanbag chairs – would that work?

          Since the pandemic, my back pain is going, since I can work lying down half the day.

        5. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yeah, I think we should all push for “odd” not being enough to make someone conform to whatever the current corporate standards are. And I’m fine with always being one to push for adapting the workplace to the needs of the worker rather than the other way round. There should be some thoughtful criteria, which can evolve. For an individual contributor I would say, the idea is to avoid an appearance of “bedroom” and/or concerns about hygiene. Something like an armchair, beanbag chair, standing desk, footrest, whatever works, should allow her to address her preferred coziness level for her work environment.

          1. BethDH*

            Also think about the comfort level of people who need to work with her. Not in a way that’s just indulging people who don’t like things that are different, but would I get inadvertently upskirted if I had to go by her desk? Is she reducing collaboration and adhoc communication because people don’t feel comfortable coming to her desk for stuff? That second part will depend on the setup and on her role, but might be particularly easy for her to not realize early in a career.

        6. Glitsy Gus*

          I agree with everyone else that this is a great idea. If a pillowy seat cushion and maybe keeping one, smaller blanket to wrap over her shoulders makes her feel comfortable enough to be happy and work well that could be a great compromise!

          Or, I know for me sometimes sitting on the floor really is the most comfortable place for a short time, especially with my back against the wall, maybe a floor pillow in the corner that doesn’t look like a “nest” could be an option. As long as that won’t be disruptive to her office mate, of course.

    2. RIP Pillow Fort*

      My office is 50 F almost all the time because it’s an old building and even set at 76 F- parts of the building just stay colder.

      I’d love a pillow fort but some things just aren’t meant to be in an office.

      1. Lauren*

        My new company gives out branded blankets for the office and at home. Once a vendor gave us all blankets and it was a sea of blankets in our office before management realized we needed more control over the temperature.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            At one lab job I had most of the people wore sweaters and jackets because the lab was kept at about 60 because the machines had to be able to cool rapidly, and they opened their over doors to do it. It made a difference in the time each test took – up to 30 minutes difference. With only 3 machines, and a production testing lab, that extra half hour was money.

      2. JustaTech*

        When we first moved into our building (in winter) it had been empty for several months and it was freezing all the time, to the point that my 2x boss (who had a cube and not an office because all offices were shared) would sit at his desk in a fleece beanie and wrapped in a blanket. One day a more senior person came by and asked who the homeless person was. “Your senior scientist.”
        Eventually the temperature thing got fixed, but it took a lot of asking and a few temperature charts we made ourselves with our personal laser thermometers. (As one does, if one is a scientist/engineer.)

        1. RIP Pillow Fort*

          We’re engineers/techs and we have made charts to map the cold spots in the building. It’s just a function of the climate control and a building so old it wasn’t really designed for modern needs. Certain labs have to maintain a constant temp for testing accuracy. As a result, other parts of the building are perpetually colder or hotter. It’s not something we can fix without replacing the building itself. (That may eventually happen but not soon)

          Heaters and gloves/blankets/coats are the norm. I stay in my heavy, outdoor coat sometimes at my desk. At home I will wrap myself in blankets so I understand how people would want to do that.

          1. Trixie Melodian*

            We had a similar scenario at our office with air conditioning that would suddenly and inexplicably start blasting arctic air for ten minutes, then stop.

            While I’m not a scientist or an engineer, I was proud to have discovered the solution – I went into the kitchen one day to look at the thermostat and realised that the toaster sat directly under the temperature sensor. So this valiant aircon was desperately trying to cool a room that would occasionally apparently soar to 70°C!

              1. Mongrel*

                This used to be a thing with the big CRT monitors. Set up a desk underneath the thermostat and have a 21″ monstrosity that vents directly up to it.

            1. Jo*

              I used to work in a building where the AC was controlled offsite by corporate and stupid warm. We begged them to turn on the AC earlier than they wanted, then begged them to make it cooler. We finally figured out we could trick the AC into coming on if we boiled a cup of water in the microwave and held it under each of the temperature sensors. Corporate finally figured out we were manipulating it somehow and told us to stop.

          2. Princesss Sparklepony*

            RIP Pillow Fort – I have decided that the cold spots in your building are actually ghosts. It’s much more fun that way.

            Give them names and personalities. Work up backstories and why they are now haunting the premises. Workplace accidents? Vampire attacks? Died at his desk trying to get the TPS report out? Embrace those cold spots – but don’t get involved in a entity takeover, you never want to be the host body.

      3. Birb*

        I’ve worked somewhere like this – they had very nice HEAVY fluffy blankets made for all of us that were “on brand” for our winter lines, but our offices were never visible to clients. We were so, SO grateful.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I like to hope by the time she reaches that point we’ll have evolved as a society and everyone will have a pillow fort in their office.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Completely agree. Everybody loves diversity until someone different comes along.

        1. Wisteria*

          People love diversity as long as they don’t have to rethink their own perceptions and beliefs or change how they do anything.

        2. Junior Assistant Peon*

          They love having the correct percentage of brown-skinned people, not diversity of personalities and ideas.

    4. Snarkus Aurelius*

      When I worked at a nonprofit, we had a college grad decorate her cubicle like a dorm room. I’m not kidding.

      She covered all of her cube walls with pastel tissue paper. Then she pinned pictures of her from her college days, literally top to bottom. An alcoholic drink made an appearance in EVERY picture. Half of the pictures featured scantily clad people at a pool or beach. A few pictures had her making out with her boyfriend on his lap. There must have been 30 pictures in this tiny space.

      It wasn’t necessarily wrong, but something felt…off about it. I’d like to think she would have the good grace to look back on it today (17 years later) and feel embarrassed but who knows.

      1. merula*

        I had a coworker who did this! We called it her Facebook Wall because it was about that era. Every photo featured her with her friends, in clubwear, drinks in hand.

        The problem was more that she was early 40s. She also dressed in clubwear to work, at a very staid financial services company.

      2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        I love covering the cube walls. They are so often beige or grey (or greige), and seeing color can make such a difference in one’s day.

        (Everything else you list here is a Great Big No, however.)

        1. Suz*

          Me too. Back when we still had assigned cubicles (as opposed to hot desking now) several people in my department covered their walls with fabric or wrapping paper.

          1. EmmaPoet*

            And it would be pictures of Bruiser in costumes, not Elle in scanties. Maybe Elle having tea with him.

            1. Princesss Sparklepony*

              Perfect! And a few shots of her consulting law books. With or without Bruiser.

      3. Environmental Compliance*

        I had a coworker at one point cover her cube walls in coloring book pages. We all assumed she had a young family member of some kind giving them to her. She actually colored them and put them up. It definitely came off a little strange.

        (She also was very strange in a multitude of other ways and only lasted a couple months.)

    5. yala*

      I feel this way about the ballpit we had at our old house. Granted, that was a surprise to me, but I also let my housemate keep it until we moved. Even though it was in *my* bathroom…. (just the sink area)

      1. Mac (I Wish All the Floors Were Lava)*

        I need more info on this. How big was this bathroom that having a ballpit in the sink area wasn’t a major problem? (I’m coming from the perspective of living in Philly rowhouses where the bathrooms are small enough that once my cat follows me in, it feels crowded.)

      1. Antares*

        The closest I ever got was when I was an intern in a building that I can best describe as “open courtyard-style.” All the sides were windows and the ceiling was entirely skylights. No blinds or shades whatsoever. The sunshine was so bad that everyone had a slew of cheap colorful umbrellas overhanging their cubicle walls to make it a sort of glare-free fort. It was actually very cheery!

    6. MicroManagered*

      She’s going to post it someday on one of those “What’s an embarrassing mistake you made when you were new to the workforce” threads.

      1. Princesss Sparklepony*

        Or she may post how her multimillion dollar office soft furniture empire started with her single pillow fort!

  2. Melanie Cavill*

    I’ll admit, when I saw Alison reference this on twitter, I assumed it was a WFH employee who was attending Zoom meetings from a pillow fort in their living room. This is… so much more than I imagined.

    1. JMR*

      Same!! Which would also be amazing, but the fact that she brought pillows and blankets to work to install her Nest of Comfort in her office is so next-level. I love her, poor thing.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Same and I was going to defend that employee to the death. I’m still pro pillow fort in this scenario but I do agree with Alison. So sad.

      1. D*

        I think I’d be pro pillow fort if it was really her own office but it sounds like another office mate is coming. While on principle I wouldn’t mind coworkers in pillow forts it would drive my absolutely nuts to have to work out of an office with a nest of pillows and blankets all over one side. I just can’t stand working on what my brain perceives as mess all around me!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Absolutely, that’s the biggest issue to me as well. Everyone deserves a comfortable office but you need to compromise towards the neutral if you share a space.

          1. JustaTech*

            Long ago I had a coworker who would occasionally nap under her desk in her shared office when she had really bad cramps (because she knew she would feel better after lying down for 20 minutes and the room that should have been set aside for that was being used as lab space).
            Normally both napping at work and making a nest would be not OK, but we were so crammed for space and she had a reputation as a *very* hard worker, so we all just politely ignored it.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              I had an employee with endometriosis who I would let lay down on my office floor if she needed to. Definitely not something that I would let any sleepy person do, but work spaces are not well designed for people who need legitimate rest at any given point.

            2. No Longer Looking*

              Heck, LAST WEEK I wanted to do the under-desk nap thing. I’ve never given in, but I do miss the wellness room at my last job that I’d end up using for a power nap every other month or so.

              1. MM*

                I did this a few times at an internship. (In my defense, I was 18, I didn’t have enough to do, and the AC was on way too high for me, so I was bored, cold, and lacking judgment.) There was an out-of-the-way office no one was using, so I snuck in there, sat down at the desk, put my head down and napped a few times.

                The last time, though, I had a sleep paralysis episode. (To oversimplify, basically this means that your mind is waking up but your body is still in “we’re asleep, no movement allowed” mode, so you’re trying to move but you can’t–very painful, in my experience.) I dreamed my boss had walked in and was standing right behind me, and I was desperately trying to sit up but I couldn’t! Of course when I finally woke up all the way, no one was there, but I decided to take it as a kind warning from the universe and never snuck off to nap again. Shudder.

            3. London Calling*

              Long ago I had a co-worker who played rugby at the weekends and would come in on Mondays nursing massive hangovers. He could often be found sleeping under a desk in one of the disused offices we had (we weren’t in the main building due to pressure on space).

            4. Sagegreen*

              I used to bring in a heating pad to keep on my stomach when I had my period. So glad I am done with that!

        2. Lauren*

          if it is clean and she understands the capital she may be giving up, what is the downside? She needs to never have clients in her office, but honestly, just move the stuff to a couch and it solves the issue. I think the floor part is most concerning for higher ups. She she does have a back issue, then they need to give her a better chair or this is the accommodation. HR can decide how many pillows and excess is too much with rules for not taking over too much space that her office mate may need.

          1. GreenDoor*

            “if it is clean and she understands the capital she may be giving up, what is the downside?” The operative part of the question is “the capital she may be giving up.” At work, it’s not just a matter of “I don’t care what people think of my weird pillow fort.” The capital and reputation of The Department is also at stake. In my office, we report to the very high ups and part of our work means reviewing, correcting, and insisting on high-level work from other departments. Our office has a culture of high expectations and standards – which would be shot to hell if word got around that some of us operated out of a pillow fort.

        3. lyonite*

          Also, how would this work if you needed to approach her to ask about something? It’s one thing to go up to someone’s desk with some papers and say, “hey, I have a question about these TPS reports, can you take a look?” But now you’re bending down, and she’s untucking herself from her blankets. . . There’s a lot of charm to this in theory, but in practice I just don’t think it’s going to work.

    3. sb51*

      Yeah my wfh office is kind of a floor blanket nest and I would actually love to have a similar setup in the actual office but I’ll stick with my weird ergo seating and normal desk.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Same here too!

      Which is a shame, because I feel that Alison’s answer might have been different.

    5. Tinkerbell*

      If I saw a company post a remote job and they included “can attend meetings via zoom from a pillow fort in your living room” as a benefit, I’d apply SO FAST!

    6. DD26*

      I bought myself a floor chair, and that and a foldable lap desk are my WFH ‘office’. Always have a lap blanket and in the winter a wearable blanket too.

      I’d never do any of that at the actual office, though.

      1. Dasein9*

        Carolina Morning has a “Zen Office” line. All handmade stuff, and responsibly sourced. Not cheap, though.

    7. squid*

      Wouldn’t be too far off of my WFH setup for Zoom calls if that were true. I have a 1 room tiny apartment so I don’t have a lot of wiggle room for backgrounds. Behind me is a sofa upon which not one but TWO 8ft-long homemade giant plush squids are sitting. Plus some rainbow streamers and a pride flag. I could have toned my living room down in the last 2 years but I’ve more or less decided the highly professional squids are part of the packaged deal of working with me.

      My at work office on the other hand is as bland as can be. I’ve never felt the need to bother decorating it at all. I do have a throw blanket though since the AC can be a little overenthusiastic in the summer, but the thought of hauling in a whole blanket nest is highly amusing to me. Or even hauling in a whole 8ft squid, now that’s a dream I’d like to consider.

      1. AsPerElaine*

        It sounds to me like you have enough squids that you could do one at home at one in the office…

    1. Lexie*

      My thought is that maybe other managers were told by their reports and either just passed in the informed or went for a stroll around the office to confirm the nest.

    2. Triplestep*

      Because they work in different buildings/locations. Very common, and sometimes the sites are not separated by all that many miles. I worked in an office with people who had managers located one hour to the north and 40 minutes to the south.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Come to think of it, now that I permanently telework in Current Job, my team supervisor and my manager are both in other states, because my supervisor teleworks too. But we work so smoothly together we really don’t think about the distance.

    3. Office Rat*

      I wasn’t a manager, but I worked at a foreclosure mill, in the accounting department, and one gal put up a blanket on the edge of her desk in her cube, then filled it with pillows and blankets and would take phone calls from under there, and nap on breaks and lunches. Anytime she didn’t need her computer directly she worked from there. I wasn’t there long enough to do more than note how weird it was. Toxic place all around, really.

    4. PillowFortBoss*

      Hi, LW here — I’ve been out of the office on vacation and this is what I came back to!

      1. What's Up Dummy*

        Yes, actually! But it was my first time posting and I was too quick to hit return. I’m the dummy.

          1. PollyQ*

            Not always! I comment from a desktop/Firefox or an iPad/Safari, and “Enter” = line break for me.

  3. Miss Suzie*

    Back when everyone in my department got a standing desk I was asked if I wanted one, too. I replied that I did not want to stand while I worked but I would love a desk that allowed me to lie down. A pillow fort sounds perfect.

    BTW after about 2 weeks not one person used their standing desk again.

    1. Bogey*

      I love my standing desk, hated sitting. But I move around a lot to other parts of the office. Not something I would expect everyone to want.

      1. Dr. Vibrissae*

        I loved and dearly miss my standing desk from my last office. I wish I had negotiated to get one in my new position…

    2. Lenora Rose*

      I like the idea of a sit-to-stand desk where the whole desk can rise and return — one of the managers on our floor has one and actually uses it — but nobody anywhere wants a standing only desk, and most implementations are inadequate. Our reception has a keyboard tray that can be raised to standing but one monitor can only tilt and the other can’t tilt and while it can be raised a little, it’s not enough for standing, only for ergonomic adjustment. And sadly, the latter is much more common an attempt to make “standing” possible than the former, ime.

      1. Watry*

        We have this issue. The desk doesn’t rise quite high enough for comfortable standing, and the part of the desk that actually rises isn’t wide enough to hold the two widescreen monitors we need. But the desks were left behind by the previous tenants, so free is free I guess.

      2. ScruffyInternHerder*

        I have one of these and it makes my life a lot better. I prefer to stand and be mobile, and cannot for the life of me find a comfortable chair that fits the office standards. I only use it in “sit” form when I have to be on a meeting with video on.

      3. Artemesia*

        I know someone with a desk that moves up and down so she can stand for awhile and sit for awhile. She also has a bicycle seat thing so she can pedal when on boring zoom meetings and get a little exercise — it is designed as a desk chair with pedals and works with the adjustable stand up desk.

        Pillow fort worker might have prevailed if she had brought in a bean bag chair or something like that that looks like alternative seating rather than a child’s slumber party.

      4. Jules the First*

        I have a standing-only desk at home and it’s what I use all day when I wfh. My office desk is sit-only and by lunchtime I walk like a 90 year old. I am literally counting the days until our new office furniture which has sit/stand options.

      5. ThatGirl*

        We have those – they’re standard in my office – but I’ve only used it standing a few times and not for long. The floor is hard and it’s not that comfortable to me to stand for too long.

      6. Tau*

        Huh – I’ve only ever had smoothly converting sit-to-stand desks. Of course, I work in tech and we tend to get the cool gadgets. People do use the standing mode on occasion – I use it less than I should but am reminded when I see coworkers standing, lol.

        TBH, the biggest advantage for me has always been that sit-to-stand desks also allow for a lot of flexibility in height in the sitting part, meaning that 5’1″ me can actually sit in an ergonomically correct fashion without a footrest.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      My supervisor uses hers all the time (like, literally all the time unless she’s doing something that just cannot be done sitting). I like mine but can’t use it as much as I’d like because I need to be rifling through boxes at the same time.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      RecentTempJob had those adjustable stand/sit desks like big tables that go up and down. One person there would go back and forth between sitting and standing. My YouTuber artist friend also got one for her workroom and she loves it.

      I hope I find a job where all the tech and furniture is like that (and with coworkers that nice).

      1. JustaTech*

        All the desks on my floor are like that. Personally I usually prefer to sit while working, but if I’m doing something really boring but important (like a required training) I’ll move it up to stand so I can fidget extensively to stay focused.
        My across-the desk coworker moved hers up and down at least 2-3 times a day because she’s one of those people who really needs to be in motion, and is much happier and more comfortable standing at least half the day.

        It’s one of the only things I like about our new office layout/furniture.

    5. Panhandlerann*

      I am on a committee for a non-profit organization. Besides one staff member (who chairs the committee), the committee consists solely of volunteers. (I am a volunteer, as is the person I write about below.) We meet via zoom. I am uncertain how she stations her phone or laptop to make this work, but one of the committee members lies down for the meetings; the phone or laptop is above her, looking down on her. Her whole body doesn’t show, just from the chest up. Honestly, this “stance” reads (to me) as lazy and uninvolved; she seems almost to be asleep, though her eyes are indeed open and she does speak from time to time. Part of this is that she is a new committee member and fresh out of college whereas most others on the committee are decades (and decades) older than she is. And part of it is that she’s the type of person who almost parades her ignorance, as if she likes being known as a “ditz.” She also is struggling with her role: she’s on the finance subcommittee and obviously (you can tell from the way she gives reports) knows next to nothing about finance (which, in keeping with her “ditzy” persona, she doesn’t mind letting “hang out”). Perhaps there is a valid explanation for her position (back pain or something?), but as things stand, it doesn’t make a good impression–on me, anyway. Maybe if she seemed more competent, it wouldn’t matter.

      1. DontTellMyBoss*

        I definitely think this is BEC syndrome (b*tch eating crackers). If she were great at her job you would be thinking she must have an injury or an illness. You already clearly dislike her so this is just one more thing to dislike.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Nod. I took meetings in bed when I had COVID. Not to be mean I just didn’t have the energy to get up!

      2. Wisteria*

        “Honestly, this “stance” reads (to me) as lazy and uninvolved; ”

        You have choices about how to read her stance. Why not chose to read it as neutral? It’s really neither good nor bad. It’s just a stance, just like sitting is a stance and standing is a stance.

      3. jsmthi*

        May I use some of these comments (without identification) in an EDI training, which includes discussing unusual disability accommodations and how they may be perceived?

      4. WhatAmIDoing*

        She may be a clown, but she’d be a clown if she was bolt upright too.

        I have a disability that results in a lot of pain and fatigue. I have multiple stances for working, depending on what my body can handle and on my body’s need to be in several different ones through out the day – including one that is mostly reclined and hanging my camera and screens above me. Getting a flexible working environment so I can recline and work when I need to has been difficult and taken creativity, but it means I can work 8-12 hour days because I can swap around and rest my body rather than be in pain.

        Anyway, I urge you to deal with the deficiencies in your colleague’s work and out put and focus less on how they’re supporting their body. Sometimes bodies need to be in rest positions.

      5. Electric Sheep*

        I am reading and responding to this lying down as I have back and foot disabilities that mean I can only rest and be comfortable when lying. It would make a huge improvement to my quality of life if I could lie down more at work (eg on video calls) but because I know this will be the reaction I keep standing even though I might be in quite a bit of pain. It really sucks.

    6. kicking_k*

      I have never had a real standing desk but I fairly often co-opt the top of my filing cabinet as one. I work from a laptop all the time, and have joint issues that make sitting all day uncomfortable.

      1. ar*

        Is it warm enough in your employee’s office? My body doesn’t regulate temperature well, and I find many office buildings (winter or summer with AC on) to be distractingly cold even with many layers or a winter coat.

    7. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Same with my office. Well there are exactly 2 people, out of 200.
      If I may digress. I was out when the things were set up. For an entire week I thought that coworker across the hall was getting up to take a break at the exact time I was. Weird. Weeks 2-far too long, I wondered why she’d stand up every time I did because she didn’t actually leave her desk. Nice woman, just a weird quirk.
      I’m talking about myself. I’m nice but weird. I broke the story to her by telling her cube mate that I was surprised how often this coworker would stand when I did. By the time I got through the story we were laughing so hard that other people came over to see if someone was in medical distress.

    8. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Spouse spent four figures (out of pocket, not expensed) on a standing desk when it became clear his employer was moving to permanent WFH/hybrid. I think he has stood with it twice?

      He’s used the £10 under-desk foot hammock more than that.

    9. Beverly Crusher*

      Spouse bought a cheap ikea adjustable sit/stand desk at the beginning of the pandemic and has used both settings daily since then.

      1. Remote Fort*

        I got one of those used when I started my remote job 2 months ago. I love it. It stays mostly in standing mode w/ a bar height chair that I move in and out when I want to sit or stand/move around. I also put it on wheels for max moveability.

    10. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I, of the large breasts and interminable lower back pain, also support the lie down desk. Or at least a fainting couch in my office for relief. I know it’s unlikely and I can’t blame them for not doing it, but I hope this LW advocates for the pillow fort.

    11. Tricky*

      I faint if I stand more than 2-3 minutes, so I work from a zero-gravity workstation (go to ergoquest dot com for pictures). So, yes, I basically work lying down, lol. It’s a lifesaver, but hell on your body (you lose core strength quickly).

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Ooh, I would love a rocking chair. If it would let me get close enough to the desk and stay there when I wanted to.

    12. yala*

      I think one of my favorite things about the WFH times was that once I’d made my records on the computer, I could load them onto my iPad and then go lie down on the couch to proofread them. With the cats on my lap/snuggled against my side. It was pretty sweet.

    13. starfox*

      Ughhh I would love a standing desk! I wouldn’t use it all day or anything, so I’d need one of those fancy convertible ones.

    14. Cringing 24/7*

      I would do ANYTHING for a standing desk! No one at my office wants them (which I totally get, I know they’re a bit odd), but sitting all day destroys me mentally for some reason.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have joked that I was going to remove my desk entirely, bring in a 8 foot beanbag, and mount my monitors on arm mounts down closer to floor level so I can sprawl. (It’s still remarkably tempting, except that I am not yet confident that I could do so without my puppy trying to eat the beanbag. Or the monitors.)

    16. anti social socialite*

      I have a sit-stand desk bu unfortunately it makes a hideous sound like someone suffering from a street market bean burrito when I go to adjust it.

      It was fine when I was out in a nearly empty cube farm but now my department got its own little office and it’s very distracting.

    17. Not My Money*

      I had my desk put on risers and I don’t even have a chair besides my guest chair. Standing all day except for lunch works best for me.

  4. Jennie*

    This is so remniscent of the NCIS episodes where Eleanor Bishop joined Gibbs team. She was quirky and sat on the floor to do her work and Gibbs got her sitting in a chair at a desk. Some folks say they missed her quirkiness once she started following workplace norms.

    1. cubone*

      There was a LinkedIn post I saw going around a few months ago from a woman who shared a photo of herself sitting under her (standing) desk and (I think) a long comment about overstimulation, accommodations, and neurodiversity. I don’t know that I would have the guts to do it, but oh my GOD I want to sit under my desk or on the floor all the time and it would be amazing if the rest of the world wasn’t bothered by it.

      1. another Hero*

        I daydream about sitting under my desk all the time. enclosed space? less light? I would love it.

        1. Paris Geller*

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who has this urge! I would never do it for many reasons (the top being our floors are filthy–we have a janitorial contract organization-wide and this particular contracting service has been very lax about actually cleaning and following the checklist they’ve been given) but at least a couple times a week I daydream about taking my laptop and crawling under my desk to do my work.

      2. Pool Lounger*

        When I get really bad ibs pain the only thing that helps is lying flat on my back. My old job had 0 couches, so the only space I could do that was on the floor under my desk. Luckily no one cared if you sat in an office chair, stood up to work, sat on a yoga ball, on the floor… as long as you got work done, it didn’t matter.

        1. Science KK*

          I just got one of those yoga ball chairs from my boss. He brought them from home after using them twice and HATING them. Every time he sees me at my desk he tells me how much he hates it and I just laugh, because I’m obsessed. I don’t get the 3pm tired feeling anymore because I have to hold myself up, love it. More workplaces need to get on the flexible seating train, it makes a huge difference.

      3. Buffy will save us*

        I got my own office a few months back and have slowly turned it into a migraine-free haven with covers over the fluorescent lighting, colored lighting, blinds that are always closed, and a comfy blanket/shawl to cover myself when I can.

      4. Wisteria*

        Wow, yes, I wish I could do this, and I don’t care what the rest of the world thinks about it!

        Reasons I can’t: 1) Back pain. I can’t sit on the floor; 2) Walls. We have none between desks, so I would be staring at my coworkers legs. And groins.

      5. E. Chauvelin*

        I definitely get tempted to sit under my desk with my back to the file cabinet when it’s a rough/overstimulating day. So far I haven’t given into that urge but the temptation does get strong.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I tend to sit on the floor when I go to other people’s desk to work on something. (see nice but weird comment above).
      Awesome side effect, people think my boss is talking to herself.

      1. betsyohs*

        I want everyone to be able to sit on the floor to work a la Nutritious Movement I have worked from home at a floor desk since 2010, and my hips, back, shoulders, etc, etc are all SO much happier than when I sat at a traditional desk 8 hrs/day. My current office would probably allow it, but since I only go in a couple times a year, I haven’t pushed that envelope. Coworkers keep a thermarest under their desk and take a daily nap, though, so a floor desk would likely fly.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Agree with your intent. before we move another new hire into her shared office area next month.

      LW has got to get the employee to achieve something close to office norms before someone else starts sharing her office.

      This is an example of something that is usually fine when working from home (someone might have a problem with that look on a Zoom meeting), but is not okay in the office.

    2. tessa*

      If I see “Co-worker works from pillow fort in our shared office” I won’t be able to stop giggling!

  5. Saraquill*

    I’m curious about the practical concerns of the nest. Is it a tripping hazard, how fire retardant are the materials and how close are they to outlets and electronics, what’s storage like, etc.

      1. top five???*

        But ergonomics of sitting all day is also a problem (even if you get a very nice chair or a standing desk or whatever).

        1. top five???*

          Well, I really mean the ergonomics of remaining in one place and staring at a screen all day.

        2. Colette*

          Sitting all day is not a problem ergonomically (although it isn’t great for your health) as long as your chair, desk, keyboard, monitors, etc. are all set up properly.

          And they won’t be, if you’re sitting in a pillow fort.

          1. Squidlet*

            Expecting the cleaning service to deal with blankets and pillows is also a bit much, unless they are taken home and laundered every week

    1. Gnome*

      I worry about sanitation…. Blankets and pillows hold germs… And it would be horrible for any office mates with a dust mite allergy.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        I worked somewhere with a quiet room that had comfy furniture and they ended up with a bed bug problem because of people’s personal blankets.

      2. Cat Tree*

        An office floor is so much dirtier than the floor at home. I generally wouldn’t want anything except my shoes to touch it.

    2. Sabina*

      Also, is there janitorial service? Is the office floor ever vacuumed? Is food and drink being consumed within the fort? Are the fort “walls”, i.e. blankets ever laundered? So many questions.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Meanwhile I was hung up, not on the sanitation, but on the visual … like imagining if the blankets and pillows matched or were there a mismash, were there any patterns – stripes? starfish? flamingos or polar bears or other animals?
        Was it a juvenile aesthetic? Bed in a Bag with dinosaurs, unicorns or My Little Pony?
        Mod oversized flowers in bright colors, Marimekko type?
        Or more country/cabin with plaids, or knits, or quilts?
        Or was there more of a upscale hotel, spa vibe of tone on tone lux fabrics?

  6. WantonSeedStitch*

    One reason I can see this being a practical problem is that the blanket fort might actually present a hazard in the event of a fire. I knew someone who had a large beanbag in their cube for a while. They were tucked into an out-of-the-way spot on our floor, and didn’t really have any interaction with clients or higher-ups at their own desk, but they were asked to remove the beanbag for that reason. The floors needed to be kept clear.

    1. Triplestep*

      Yes, this is what I came here to say. I design offices. Commercial furnishings have fabrics that are fire-rated and cleanable. Blankets do not. There are reasons beyond look and perception that an employee might be asked to remove a nest.

      1. LizB*

        Do you think this would be an issue if it were one or two discrete blankets rather than a whole nest? My office has chronic can’t-quite-get-the-heating-right problems, so I have an Office Blanket that lives at my desk, and I’ll wrap it around my legs when I get too cold. (I also have an Office Sweater for the top half of my body.)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I don’t think they would care about one blanket, but some buildings might have issues with plug-in heated blankets, as older ones can (supposedly) cause fires if left on and unattended.

      2. paxfelis*

        Would a double papasan chair be acceptable from a fire code point of view? You could make a small nest, but it would be off the floor.

        1. Triplestep*

          The chair itself – plus the cushion – are flammable. If you fashion a cushion out of blankets, it’s flammable.

          When it comes to what is allowable in terms of non-comercial furnishings, you always get into questions like this which is why facilities makes these hard and fast rules around there being only commercial furnishings, and usually only from an approved vendor (which typically would have more to do with pricing.)

    2. Artemesia*

      I suspect this is more about making life easier for management and not having to make lots of decisions than any real hazard caused by the bean bag.

      1. Triplestep*

        It’s a combination of things, and hassle for management plays a role. But one of the reason Facilities Management is hassled is because there are insurance liabilities for allowing floors/aisles to be blocked, and furnishings to not meet a standard fire code.

        1. Lydia*

          This for sure. Most offices aren’t even allowed toasters or to make microwave popcorn because of fire hazards. They are strict for a reason.

    3. Student*

      My first impression was that it’s cute and sounds cozy – but my second impression was much more practical, and much more grumpy.

      I have never worked in an environment where this would be safe or reasonable to do as anything other than a one-day joke. Either the logistics get ridiculous, or the pillow palisade gets too-filthy-to-be-cozy very fast, especially in a shared office space. I assume this must be heavily computer-based work; I can’t imagine doing this if one had to do even moderate paper-pushing, review any physical product, or even write on a whiteboard often.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        One thing that would bug me if I had a co-worker that did this (and it’s a little, maybe petty thing) is that anytime I went into their office to talk to them, the dynamics, logistics would feel weird … like someone sitting upright in a chair seems ‘ready for business’ and talking to them while standing still gives the impression that we’re both engaged at the same level, and if I needed to I could also sit and we’d see eye to eye.
        But if they are on the floor? I’m looking down at a person who is at my feet (whether I’m standing or sitting on a chair) and if I want to be eye to eye, either I have to sit on the floor (which depending on what I’m wearing on my lower body, feet might not be best, and depending on what how my body is behaving that day, may not be possible, professional, especially not the ‘getting back up again’ part) or they have to get up from the ground in front of me. (which outside of a yoga class, the beach, etc, I don’t really observe from people I don’t live with.)

        Repeatedly interacting with someone who is positioning themselves outside of office norms, and causing me to have to consider any of that that would annoy me. Even it it shouldn’t in an ideal world.

  7. Never Had A Pillow Fort*

    I think I’d like to live on the AAM planet. I imagine that any bad bosses would be booted back to Earth for a timeout.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Working on the floor can be underrated. :)

      In my first job, there were some tasks that I had to do that were much easier to do sitting on my floor than at my desk (not enough space to spread the required materials out or put them in a place that made them easy to work with). I would at least close my door when I had to do it, but I did get weird looks sometimes until I explained WHY I was working in the floor. I developed a reputation of being faster at a few tasks (and time was money in that job), so people were more willing to accept it the quirk based on the results it got.

      No blankets or pillows were involved, though.

      1. kicking_k*

        I’ve often spread out papers to sort on a clean floor. If you have thirty simultaneous piles, a desk is not going to do it. But I am very choosy about where I will do this – it can’t be in anyone’s way!

    2. cityMouse*

      I work as a stagehand. A couple of weeks ago I spotted one of our new people, sitting on the floor, knees up, back against the stage wall. Are you ill? Did you fall? Are you injured? I asked. No, just tired, he said. I had to explain that we don’t sit on the stage floor, we literally stand by, or if tired, sit on a nearby road case, or if really tired, excuse yourself and go sit in a chair for 15 minutes. He was baffled by all this, and we had to explain that (a) its a hazard – you’re on the floor! you can get run over by a heavy case or cart because no one saw you, (b) it looks like you fell or injured yourself because we do not sit on the floor, because (c) there are chairs and break-rooms…. He was rather resentful. But he did get up.

      1. Properlike*

        Worked in production, and I was nearly yelled at for doing this. (The guy who schooled me was very kind and explained why it was a poor and — more importantly — unsafe idea.) Never did it again.

  8. What's Up Dummy*

    I’m sorry but this is so completely ridiculous. It’s unbelievable to me that someone is so oblivious to office culture and truly thinks sitting on the floor like a child, bundled up in blankets and pillows is appropriate in a professional setting. And not even an office setting. Do they sit like this at school? At restaurants? Do people truly think “I do it at home so I’ll do it anywhere”? Boggles the mind.

    1. Lenora Rose*

      Some school spaces do have the equivalent as a retreat location in the corner of the class. but none, as far as I know, have it as a primary workspace.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is one of the things that my spouse and I marveled at when our kids got to elementary school. They had rugs on the floor to create alternate workspaces and beanbag chairs and reading nooks – and the kids weren’t required to sit in their desks all day. As long as they got their work done, there was not active instruction going on, and they weren’t disruptive, classrooms are a lot more flexible these days. And this was public school, too, not small-class-size private school.

        1. Gnome*

          There’s actually a lot of very good reasoning behind this. For instance, in order to write legibly kids need to develop core strength as well as other muscles. Sitting and not changing positions doesn’t help them develop this, but moving and positioning the body in different ways does.

          That’s just one example, courtesy of my friend, the pediatric occupational therapist.

          1. ferrina*

            Yes! And it’s more conducive to the way children’s minds work. The different places in the classroom also have different implications (aka vibes) and this allows the child to stimulate or relax their mind more easily (especially since the little ones have SO. MUCH. ENERGY!!!)

          2. Pennyworth*

            Some kids have such poor core strength that when the sit on the floor they immediately find something to lean against.

      2. cubone*

        I was going to say, classroom layouts have changed DRASTICALLY from the time most commenters here were in grade schools. It’s not ubiquitous of course, but “retreat” areas, quiet spaces, mindfulness corners etc are much more common and a lot of classroom designs, especially for the very young, are completely doing away with traditional seating models.

        As ridiculous as some might find it, I really don’t think it’s that hard to err on the side of compassion and assume that this person doesn’t see anything wrong with this setup for a number of reasons. It’s genuinely not that wild to think some school settings/former workplaces even (thinking some startups for sure!) might’ve been fine with it.

        1. Sandy*

          Exactly this – my kids were in Montessori classrooms when they were younger, and now their school has a more project-based model. There were no desks in the Montessori rooms. A few tables, but nothing like classrooms from when I was in school. I can see how this would shape a different sensibility with regards to what’s appropriate in a professional environment.

    2. Hats Are Great*

      Neighbor, let me tell you the good news about “blanket scarves” and shawls …

      (The answer is, yes, when it’s chilly out, I absolutely wear a portable blanket everywhere I go and snuggle down in it. I just call it a pashmina.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Yep, wearable blakents and heavy wraps in various forms are quite common in my office! In fact I am nearly positive that depending on how elaborate the fort is, no one in my office would care. Especially if it looks passably professional on a zoom call and the employee is otherwise doing fine work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Target sold these little cheapo storage ottomans—they were square and you could take the top off and stick things inside. I got one for my cube at Exjob so I could put my feet up and keep a fleece blanket in it, because they didn’t crank the heater in winter so as not to roast people. And in the summer, they would set the AC on “Arctic Blast.”

          1. Pool Lounger*

            I had a yoga ball under my desk to use as a foot rest, and lots of big shawls and wraps—libraries and archives are so cold!

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        I have an actual blanket in my office at all times.

        We are not public facing and if they want work done, I’m going to have to be warm enough that my fingers can type.

        Full out fort on the floor is…a lot…but there’s something to be said for employees being comfortable at work over some pointless concept of professionalism for professionalisms sake.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Oh and a winery near me supplies blankets for comfort sitting outside when it gets chilly and I have absolutely grabbed a blanket out of my car when a restaurant has been freezing.

          My comfort matters – it’s not hurting anyone and I don’t care what people think.

          1. Colette*

            Would the restaurant mind if you took your blanket and ate on the floor because it was more comfortable?

            Of course they would, because that’s not how they’re set up to serve you food, and because you are a hazard.

            1. Fluffy Fish*

              I pretty clearly stated the blanket fort was a bit much and in no way advocated for sitting on the floor.

              My comments and most comments in this thread are related to the original comment stating its is just so ridiculous and just not a thing anywhere ever at all times.

              When the reality is a little more flexible than that.

    3. Blue*

      I’m assuming this person is a recent college grad, which means they spent about 2/3 of undergrad in COVID hell, probably didn’t get much career advising, might not have had the internship or summer office job experiences they would have had otherwise, were zooming in sweatpants, and just generally having an all around weird time of it. I hope managers will be mindful of the fact that their entry level folks may be starting a few steps behind in professional norms because of factors completely out of their control. I’m not saying a blanket fort is “reasonable” but I do think it is appropriate to extend grace to those whose “reasonableness meter” is totally out of wack.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes to all of this. Also, all of us are born “oblivious to office culture” and we have to learn it. For many people, that looks like:

        – hearing about/seeing office culture from parents with white collar jobs
        – working high school/summer jobs that establish some working norms, even if they aren’t specifically office work norms
        – office internships in college
        – being explicitly told by managers/coworkers during internships and first jobs that some things are not OK in an office environment

        Because of the pandemic, people entering the workforce are more likely to have seen their parents working from home (perhaps in pajamas/from a home-office pillow fort), less likely to work any kind of summer job or internship, and consequently managers and peers in the office will need to use more direct “this is not professional” conversations to bring them up to speed on office norms. Doesn’t mean they can’t learn, just means that their learning is going to look a little different than it did for previous generations of professional office workers.

        1. PotsPansTeapots*

          Yeah, I think the pandemic also had an ethos of, “Just get it done.” Students and remote workers alike worked wherever they could and did what they good to be comfortable.

          Tl;dr this employee probably thinks the blanket fort is an idiosyncracy, but who cares if their work’s good? And that’s a very reasonable assumption after the past 2.5 years. It’s not correct, but it’s reasonable.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            That’s been sort of a theme for a lot of things during the pandemic. Things were weird and difficult, people were struggling, so a lot of things that would normally be unacceptable were let slide. Now, in many areas, things are starting to move out of crisis mode into a more typical system, and the changes can come as a shock, particularly for children, people who are new to the work force, and people whose performance hadn’t been up to standard for non pandemic reasons. I suspect there will be some growing pains with remote work as standard expectations for things like childcare and a quiet place to take meetings are re-imposed.

      2. kiki*

        Yeah, I think recent grads have it especially tough because they may not have any of the usual references for in-office work that people typically had (if they had an internship it may have been remote, their schooling may have been remote, etc.). But I feel like even people who do have office experience and references for norms are coming back to the office more casual and maybe a little weirder than when they stopped going in March 2020. I know I’ve gotten really used to talking to myself while working. I think for the most part I’ve kept it at bay while in the office, but it takes more mental energy than before.

      3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Eh, I’m gonna disagree. They may not have seen it in real life, but there are plenty of pop-culture references to office decorum. And I think it’s pretty obvious what parts of, eg, The Office, Parks & Rec, Friends are farce and what parts are the baseline that the farce is contrasted with. People wear more-formal clothing, they sit at desks, they have meetings where they talk to each other. I think it would be really rare for a 22-ish-year-old to have *no* exposure over the last 10 years of their life to fictional depictions of office life.

        1. kiki*

          Some of the farcical parts of those shows are pretty obvious, but not all. And especially not all to everyone.
          I also think professionalism is something where we all have an idea of what being perfectly professional looks like and then also realize that’s not 100% sustainable every day, all the time. Knowing what rules can be broken and in what situations is something that’s learned over time with exposure. I bet the fort employee doesn’t think what they’re doing is actively super professional, they just think it’s an acceptable bending of the rules. The same way some people bend their office rules by wearing black jeans instead of black trousers, this employee is bending the norms to find a more comfortable work station. It’s up to managers to enforce when these policy bends have gone too far.

        2. Web Crawler*

          It’s only obvious which parts are farce in those TV shows if you already understand office norms. I was pretty surprised by my first office job after watching Parks and Rec, for lots of reasons. Like, the part where they do shenanigans and talk all day instead of work was obvious. But beyond that, they had more leeway with their responsibilities, more freedom of expression, and fewer consequences for being unprofessional. That’s the kind of thing where you don’t think “blanket forts at the office are normal”, but it does lead you to think “being abnormal at the office is fine, as long as I do my work”.

          1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            Your mileage may vary. I watched Mary Tyler Moore when I was a kid, before I ever visited an office, and I could tell what was normal and what was Ted Knight being a blowhard.

          2. Unaccountably*

            I’ve never seen Parks and Rec, but I know my former report was a fan. Now I wonder if that contributed to his odd conviction that people in workplaces are supposed to spend huge chunks of time socializing.

    4. Melanie Cavill*

      Eh, if she has her own office with a reasonable expectation of privacy, I can kind of see how it can snowball. Like, first she brings in a blanket to keep her warm at her desk. And then it’s all downhill from there. If she’s a new graduate, she probably did a lot of her schoolwork in the exact same fashion (especially in today’s climate of remote learning).

        1. Melanie Cavill*

          It isn’t yet. It will be. We can’t judge the subject of the letter by how they behave before they get an officemate.

          1. Melanie Cavill*

            To elaborate on my point, we can’t judge how they’ll behave once the office is shared by how they behave before the office is shared. We can only assume.

      1. kiki*

        Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. She probably didn’t start out with grand aspirations of blanket fortress. Just a lot of little actions because “it’s comfier and what’s the harm?” I feel like this happens a lot in work places. I know I inadvertently end up testing the boundaries of how casual we can be in the office. First it’s sneakers, then it’s stretch pants, and it keeps going.

    5. top five???*

      I find it strange that you find it so ridiculous. I understand that it’s Not Done because society is ridiculous, but it actually seems very sensible to try to be as comfortable as possible.

      1. Observer*

        I do think that WhatsUp is over-reacting. But I also think that what this person is doing is legitimately eyebrow raising. There are absolutely going to be things she’s not going to be able to do as well from her pillow fort as from a reasonable desk, so she can’t get rid of it. So pillow fort is taking up space – generally quite a bit. Which would not be that big of a deal if she had her own office with enough space for it. But the thing is that she’s in a 2 person space. That pillow fort is almost certainly going to be a problem for her office mate. Not in the sense of the new employee “approving” or not (that would not be their place) but in terms of taking up space and probably blocking things that the other person will need access to.

        1. Waiting on the bus*

          Eh, we don’t know yet if it actually is a proper pillow fort, though. LW has only heard about it but hasn’t seen it for herself. For all we know the employee might just be sitting on the floor because it’s easier on her back, has a blanket because the floor tends to be cold and a pillow to support her back when leaning against the walls or cabinets or what have you. That doesn’t seem like an outrageous setup to me.

          It might not be that much space and if the employee only works with a laptop anyway she also wouldn’t miss anything from her desk. (She might also work mostly from her desk and only sit on the ground sometimes).

          I seem to see this a lot more relaxed than most people, apparently. As long as it’s not a fire hazard, her work isn’t impacted and her soon-to-be office mate doesn’t mind I would just leave her to it. With a heads up how this looks to others and what that might mean for her reputation in the office, but otherwise I think I’d let her make the call. (Though also offer ergonomic options if her reasons for doing this are health related)

      2. What's Up Dummy*

        I find it ridiculous because my office is not my home, and I guess some of these new grads don’t realize the difference. I’m an older millennial and I never worked in an office prior to graduating college, but it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to sit on my office floor and wrap myself in blankets. To me, that’s a no-brainer. I guess I’m not giving this person enough grace because they’re new and probably young and inexperienced but yeah, I still think it’s ridiculous.

        1. Lui*

          I’m with you, What’s Up. This is very out-of-step with office norms, and it makes her look just plain…. infantile.

        2. nelliebelle1197*

          I think it is absurd. There is really no excuse for it other than entitlement. Bringing in ball chairs, wraps for warmth, etc are not in the same league at all.

      3. Eyeroll*

        Do you? Do you really find it “ridiculous” that society has rules and norms that allow us to signal in-group vs out-group behaviour to each other? You find it “ridiculous” that humans exhibit the same tendencies as every other animal that lives in groups?

        “I do exclusively what pleases me” doesn’t work when you live with others. Not all our actions are rooted in direct utility. Welcome to the complexity of maintaining social groups.

        1. Jules*

          I had no idea my choice of office seating was so important to the cohesion of my social group!

      4. Nonny Moose*

        For real, I mentioned it in a comment below but what is the real harm here? If she was covering up her head in meetings or refusing to do her work that’s one thing – but you’re willing to take a potential productivity drop by forcing her to work in a way that’s uncomfortable?

        If this office has literally no other problems – no overbearing managers, no sexual harassment, no inequities in pay or promotions – then maybe the way one employee is sitting while she gets her work done will be more critical.

      5. nodramalama*

        I mean maybe its because i work in a mostly open-plan office but I also find it deeply bizarre that someone would think this was acceptable in a work place.

    6. Elle*

      I’ve mentioned this before but with the pandemic it seems like some younger hires are oblivious to professional norms. Managers in my office have had to address issues we’ve never had to deal with before because these hires been working/studying from home for over a year. It stops as soon as you point it out.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        We do a norms-for-OUR-office presentation as part of orientation because we have so many fresh graduates and because all office norms are a little different. It’s well received and cuts down on things that would raise eyebrows from higher-ups or clients.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This is a fantastic idea. Every office has different policies and unwritten rules, and spaces always vary. I think this should be a thing everywhere!

      2. Meow*

        I wonder why the difference is so drastic? Did people just get so comfortable working/learning from home that they forgot they can’t treat public spaces like their living room? Young employees always have things to learn about office norms, but it’s usually things like the nuances of dress code, minding their manners, and not hitting Reply All on company wide emails. Not that they can’t turn their cube into a pillow fort. People want to blame the loss of internship opportunities, but even interns usually have that much common sense without having to be told.

        1. Allonge*

          I am not sure there is that drastic a difference. People here tend to seek any excuse / explanation for the weirdest behavior, chiefly out of kindness, but it does go in the extremes quite often.

          Or in other words, I agree – yes, people always had to learn about office norms, some more than others, but most people are capable of learning ‘sit at a desk’ even if they are from, shock and horror, a blue collar background. I find it pretty offensive actually that we say two years of pandemic led to this level of information gap in the new grads.

        2. Rara+Avis*

          We’ve seen it in movie theaters over the years — people are so used to watching in their own homes that norms regarding no feet on the seats, no talking, don’t distract people with your phone, need to be explicitly pointed out.

      3. PillowFortBoss*

        Yes, this is the weirdest of a bunch of small things that seem a little bit off in this group of new hires that finished college remotely, and may also be a generational thing? One of our new hire presentations is about when to use the phone and how to set up your voicemail.

    7. Quitting Quietly Since 1999*

      Agree. She knows that people sit at desks in an office setting. She needs to save her extra-ness for home. Laying around on the floor in a pillow fort is not “bringing her whole self to work.” Not appropriate in the office at all, especially when you’re going to be sharing space with someone else. I feel sorry for her officemate already. This is probably only the tip of the iceberg behavior.

    8. Relentlessly Socratic*

      Remember, this is her first job, and we’ve come out of 2+ years of people doing a lot of work or school-related things from home. I can see that someone honestly might not know how things worked in the “Before Time” particularly if they came from a background where they didn’t have “appropriate (whatever that means)” models to emulate.

    9. Ana Gram*

      Oh, I don’t know. It’s odd but ifs their first job out of college, I’d cut them some slack. I went to a college where doing that in a classroom wouldn’t have been completely fine and no one would bat an eye. I could see not realizing that college norms don’t translate to the workplace, especially in what sounds like a relatively casual environment.

      1. lime*

        Yup. In college, I didn’t wear shoes at all– including in class– for a full year and no one ever said a thing to me. And these were like, small 10-15 person seminars, so it was definitely noticeable. Other students came to class wrapped in blankets or would bring full meals to class and it was totally fine. College is a weird place and not everyone is good at reading social norms so they gotta figure it out as they leave the nest, as it were.

          1. RagingADHD*

            My husband has a brand-new coworker who goes barefoot all day at work. He’s seen her walk in from the parking lot- she *arrives* barefoot. They are polo-shirt-and-khakis level of formality, usually. So this is very much out of norms.

            The person currently in charge of HR stuff has been out sick for a couple of weeks, so my husband is waiting to see how long it gets overlooked.

            On a practical level, she must have Hobbit feet, because the summer asphalt? I can’t even imagine. Not to mention the sharps hazards you might encounter in any given parking lot.

          2. lime*

            Yup. It was a residential LAC in the middle of nowhere, and the grounds were kept incredibly clean so there were minimal hazards to encounter. I knew it was weird, just didn’t care because when was I ever going to be in a place where I could get away with that again, you know?

      1. Triplestep*

        If I had a direct report who was being productive while working from a blanket fort, I would still not be doing my job if I failed to point out that it might be seen as too casual a workstyle for an office environment, and therefore could be career-limiting. It can take a long time for a quickly-formed impression to lose it’s grip and early career employees don’t have any reason to know this. That’s why they optimally will be told by their managers, or others who do know.

    10. Triplestep*

      Just this morning I was talking to a family-member of my generation (age 50+) about our adult children and their workplace expectations. And we agreed that some of our ideas about professional behavior might be seen as “on their way out” but that doesn’t mean our children’s generation should leap right into doing what they please. New norms take time to be adopted.

    11. GammaGirl1908*

      Do people truly think “I do it at home so I’ll do it anywhere”?
      Evidently, yes. There are a lot of places where people seem to think that their usual behavior is perfectly acceptable here. My favorite example is gym locker rooms. Yes, it’s a space where it’s appropriate to be naked and perform your toilette, but the people who wander around naked in there for hours, sit on the benches naked, use the communal blow dryers for their *ahem* northern and southern hair, leave a cloud of baby powder caked on the shower walls, trim their toenails, chat loudly and nakedly on the phone about personal stuff for hours, and take up a whole huge counter for an elaborate hour of makeup every morning seem to have NO idea that this is not their home, where they can do as they see fit.

      This employee likely has interpreted having an office that is her personal space a little too loosely, and needs to be reined in a little.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        LW’s employee’s behavior is literally affecting no one in any way right now, so I don’t think those are exactly analogous.

      2. Lurker*

        Can confirm. Yesterday on the bus someone was brushing their long hair. Public transportation is not the place! I’ve also seen people clipping nails, squeezing their boyfriend’s pimples, putting on make-up on the bus or subway. (Make up doesn’t bother me as much, but I think it’s weird and not really something you should do on public transit.)

    12. lime*

      Given that a bunch of students are graduating from college having only attended classes via Zoom due to the pandemic… yes, I do think that they sit like this at school. My first thought was that this must be a recent pandemic grad who has never had a professional job before. Not that it makes it acceptable, but just a little bit easier to empathize with where they’re coming from.

    13. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      It seems to me that it’s a positive thing that the younger generation is opposed to meaningless performative BS. They’re underpaid and overworked, and also expected to be uncomfortable because that’s how everyone had to work back in the day, but back in the day people were paid a living wage and got to leave at 5. A lot of work norms are ableist and classist and I’m here for the rebellion.

      And as a ND person, I 100% get the appeal of a nest, or of feeling sheltered, for sensory and self regulation reasons.

      1. Observer*

        They’re underpaid and overworked, and also expected to be uncomfortable because that’s how everyone had to work back in the day, but back in the day people were paid a living wage and got to leave at 5. </I.

        Actually "back in the day" a lot of people did NOT get paid a living wage.

        And sitting at a desk is hardly a terribly uncomfortable thing for most people. True, some chairs are bad, so it's worthwhile for the OP to make sure that the employee has a good chair and that the desk is at the right height. But sitting at a desk and not spreading your personal stuff all over the floor is not "performative BS" nor is it especially uncomfortable.

        If the employee has specific issues, they need to have a conversation with their boss.

        1. jsmthi*

          “sitting at a desk is hardly a terribly uncomfortable thing for most people”
          True. But it is terribly uncomfortable for *some* people.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, but that has nothing to do with making people be uncomfortable IN GENERAL, which is what I was responding to.

            And, because it can be a problem for some people, the OP should definitely have a conversation with the employee. But the assumption that the expectation of sitting at a desk is just some casual disregard for the comfort of all workers just doesn’t fly.

    14. Paris Geller*

      As a public librarian, I can absolutely say that yes, people do make themselves very at-home in public places! I have definitely told a fair number of people that they can’t walk around barefoot, put their feet on the table, lay over four chairs to take a nap, etc. And it’s definitely not just young people who do it.

    15. lilsheba*

      why? I’m a huge fan of if I have to spend 8 hours plus somewhere I want it homey and comfortable. And who cares about “perception” ? We really need to get over that. Now while I personally wouldn’t do this it’s not for that reason, I’m just too disabled to sit on the floor and get back up again, I do better at an actual desk in a chair. But I don’t begrudge someone who wants to do it. How we sit, how we dress, how we decorate, none of it matters.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        In the business world, you can’t just say “who cares about perception?” if you want to stay in business. How other people perceive you initially is exactly how you get clients and how positively they perceive you and your work is how you retain clients.

        In my industry, the people who are bringing in the business and want to present our organization in a specific way care a great deal about perception. Our services are expensive, intended to solve complex problems, and tend to only be needed for finite period of time (so other business must be generated and much of it from referral or references). Having someone sitting on the floor in their blanket and pillows does not read as serious and well-prepared to a lot of people, including decision-makers and people paying the bills, and they are in our offices regularly. And, if something goes wrong, that poor perception amplifies the issue and makes people draw conclusions – fair or not – about what went wrong.

        It’d be great if perception didn’t matter and nothing but the quality and timeliness of the work mattered, but that’s not the world everyone lives in, and we do a disservice to people new to the workforce or an organization not to make them aware of how they are coming across in a professional environment. It can take a lot of time (if ever) to develop the reputation and political capital to just not care about what others think of you or your organization. Most of us have to live in reality where it does matter if the senior VP or decision-maker at a client is put off by someone blankie fort in the office.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I agree. I can wish all I want that appearances and other people’s perceptions didn’t matter, but that doesn’t change the fact that for most people in most jobs, perceptions do matter.

          That said, I’m hoping for a less rigid and less appearances-focused approach to work as those who went to college and started their careers during the pandemic advance in their careers to the point that they can actually make a difference.

    16. Person from the Resume*

      I agree.

      I would honestly forgive anyone who walked into the office, saw the blanket fort and said: “Good grief, new hire, what the $#$% are you doing? This is an office and not your bedroom.” The LW doesn’t need to tip toe around it. It’s weird and unprofessional. It’s weird and unprofessional people are contacting the new hire’s manager to tell her about how unprofessional she’s being.

      I don’t buy that the new hire thinks this is appropriately professional. No one is that clueless. As someone else mentioned movie and TV exists even if this new hire is the very first person in her family to work in an office.

    17. starfox*

      I’m torn between not understanding how someone doesn’t realize office norms and imagining how easily it might go from bringing a blanket and sitting on the floor to bundle up because it’s so dang cold (at least using my office as an example), and then bringing in a pillow, too?

      Idk, on the one hand, it seems like common sense not to do that… but on the other hand, if the office is as cold as mine, I can understand how it’s tempting!

  9. marvin*

    I have some logistical questions about how she manages to make this work and also why she decided to innovate this way in the first place. I’m also wondering whether this is the only sign of excessive whimsy. I think the best course of action is to promote her into an executive position and hope that she transforms the office into a magical land of chocolate rivers and tree forts.

    1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      The chocolate river didn’t work out so hot. However, edible paper? I’m here for it.

      Also, I’m very much Team Pillow Fort. I know what I’m negotiating for at my next job.

  10. RJ*

    At one of the companies I worked for, we designed an office space with a dedicated nap pod room. As I read this, all I could think about was how happy Pillow Fort employee would be working in one. RIP, Pillow Fort in office.

    1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

      Man, I wish my office has a nap break room! I have to find creative places to nap during lunch break (when I am jetlagged, didn’t sleep well, etc.).

  11. Hats Are Great*

    Could she put a papasan in her office, with a stylish throw pillow and a classy blanket that’s folded, draped stylishly, or tucked away when not in use?

    Do people think that would fly?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      In my experience, most offices are against people bringing in their own furniture so I do not think a papasan would fly. And if an office were generally OK with workers bringing in some personal furniture, it would heavily depend on how big the office is. Most offices I have seen would feel cramped with an extra piece of furniture of that size, though it would feel OK in others.

    2. Antilles*

      Having *a* pillow or *a* blanket in your office is pretty normal and wouldn’t raise eyebrows.

      The problems here are (a) the quantity and (b) the way she’s using it. Having one blanket in your office that you can toss over your legs when the AC is too high or having a single pillow in your office for butt/back support is completely different than building an entire nest.

    3. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Depends on the office. I have this funny low chair that folds into a chaise, I think. I’ve never unfolded it. I bought it and had it delivered to my office. It is low enough that I can work on the ground without being on the ground. I get why this worker is doing this and I think there are other solutions if the office allows it.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      This really, really depends on the office. I work in a fairly buttoned-up industry with clients coming into the building, and we also moved a few years ago to a more open/glass-y space with more rigid standards for decor and desk upkeep. A papasan would be a hard no, much less pillows and blankets. I’m sure other places it would be perfectly fine.

  12. RC+Rascal*

    I worked in a very professional offices (financial services) where an employee with back problems cleared off his credenza so he could lay on it when his back hurt. He would lay on his back, shirt, tie and all. It was odd.

    It was also not well received–the company suggestion box kept getting the feedback, “Tell Keith to stop laying on the credenza.”

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      As someone with back problems, I don’t blame him. He probably could get an ADA accommodation for it.

    2. Observer*

      Wow. People seem to have had way too much time on their hands. Yes, what he was doing was a bit weird, but why was anyone so invested?

      It sounds very different to what the OP is describing, especially the part that this person is in a shared space and using up a lot of extra space.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Agreed. I don’t get why it’s considered more normal for people to continually suggest that their co-worker should be in pain rather than do something that does not affect them in any way.

    3. WorkUntilDed*

      I worked with a guy who would frequently lay on the office floor moaning – back problems, kidney stones, whatever ailment of the week was. I am very empathetic with pain but it was so extra. Take short term disability already (we had great coverage, unlike many US workplaces)! I wonder if some of this has “come to work even if dying” has dropped off now that many people can work from home.

      1. kicking_k*

        I have had acute sciatica which could only be relieved by lying face down on a hard floor periodically (for 10 minutes a couple of times a day). It was excessively embarrassing, but it was that or be on sick leave for the 18 months it took to resolve. I was lucky to have partial access to a private office and had a sympathetic boss who had also had back trouble. We were also the only employees, so there was nobody else to be bothered.

      2. Esmeralda*

        Well, you know, that’s not always practical.

        I was out with back problems a couple years ago (hospitalized, then at home rehab/PT).

        Fortunately, I have built up a lot of PTO. And I could go on unpaid leave if necessary, but not for long (my husband is having his own health issues and spent a chunk of that year on leave).

        So, nice if you can do it. But not everyone can afford it.

        Plus, the disability may not be short term. I have a back brace I sometimes need to use, ice pads, and a floor. And I use them. My back is only going to get worse. I can’t not work. And maybe your moaning guy had the same issues.

        It’s not like sick or injured people are being sick or injured AT you.

      1. Squidlet*

        Or laying on the credenza *without* his shirt and tie… (“He would lay on his back, shirt, tie and all.”)

    4. Bagpuss*

      In my last couple of year s at school I had one teacher who used to lit flat on her back on the cupboards at the front of the callroom to give us lectures. I think she had back problems. She didn’t do it in classes with younger students so I think probablyit was a case of knowing we were old enough not to need watching at every momemnt. She was a very good teacher and as well as her subject taught us thigs such as effective note taking (she explained she would lecture and it would not be a dictation speed, so we needed to learn to be able to take notes rather than taking down the whole thing verbatim, but she she spend the first class of the year tesching us ways to do that!) and also taught some basic research skills. It all came in VERY useful when I arrived at university, and found very few of my contemporaries could take notes and many were struggling in lectures as a result!

      I have a long standing back and neck issue from an unjury, some years ago it was agravated when I was in a car accident, and for a while afterwards I needed to spend some time lying on the floor to manage the paid. I did a lot of dictation then and I could dictate from that position so just let people in the office know, and made sure I wasn’t behind the door . But I did have an office of my own and did also explain in advance what I was doing and why.

    5. Pool Lounger*

      I get this guy. I have ibs and when stomach pain hits bad the only thing that helps is lying flat on my back. Most offices don’t have couches. I just have to get on the floor for a bit. And I can’t even just go home, one because I can’t drive in that pain, two because it’s silly to miss hours of a work day if lying flat for 10min will solve the issue.

    6. Quitting Quietly Since 1999*

      We had a guy like that at a previous job. He had a serious back issue from a car accident and for years would occasionally have to lay flat on a hard surface, so he used his credenza. No one in our office cared because it was obvious he was in serious pain and if that helped him get through the day, so be it. He certainly wasn’t doing it to be extra.

    7. Squidlet*

      > the company suggestion box kept getting the feedback, “Tell Keith to stop laying on the credenza.”

      Not sure why, but this made me laugh out loud.

  13. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

    It sounds like she may be choosing to sit on the floor, and then using the blankets and pillows for comfort. (Which is far less exciting than the desert nomad blanket fort arrangement I was imagining from the teaser).

    Perhaps she needs a discussion of better ergonomics, or an alternative sitting situation. Chatting her up about how she got to this solution will presumably uncover the solution, which should definitely include a discussion of professional norms.

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      I think discussing ergonomics is key. Like you said, if her “fort” is based on finding her assigned chair/desk uncomfortable then that’s important. But if that’s not her reason and she’s relatively young (entry level), then she might be setting herself up for serious discomfort and potential long term issues by using her “fort” in a manner that is not a good ergonomic setup.

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      Right? I was expecting a delightfully intricate Community-worthy WFH blanket fort, which could be solved by just using a zoom background. The blanket fort itself is somewhat less exciting, but it’s location in a real life office makes the stakes a bit higher.

  14. EPLawyer*

    The other thing to consider is there will be an office mate. if you have your own office, you can spread out a bit, so a pillow fort MAY be workable. But in shared space, you need to be mindful about not taking up too much room. Of course the office mate may want to share said pillow fort and there might not be room for two. Leading to fights over whose turn it is use the pillow fort.

    You also have to mindful that your quirkiness doesn’t bother your office mate. In your own office, you might like to dance in your chair while working. the constant moving might distract your office mate from working. Same with a pillow fort. They might just be going “OMG is that pillow fort? And they are WORKING from it” too much to do their own work.

    1. BRR*

      This was one of my thoughts. I wouldn’t love working next to a pillow fort and I think it’s far enough outside of the norms that you do have to consider others. (Ideally everyone would have the ability to set up their own optimal workspace but unfortunately that’s rarely the case.)

      1. La Triviata*

        Speaking as an incurable klutz, there’s also the danger of an office mate tripping over the blankets. It’s easy (for me, at least) to get your foot caught in something and do a face plant.

  15. DrMrsC*

    Maybe a compromise between the more rigid feeling desk/chair and the pillow fort? If she’s getting work done from the fort that it sounds like she’s maybe working off from a laptop anyway. Perhaps an overstuffed chair with a lap blanket or a bean bag chair that has some structured shape would bring the employee closer to norms without mandating use of a desk and office style chair. The fact that the employee is going to be sharing the space soon seems like a gifted opportunity to address this from a professional norms/courtesy of shared space perspective.

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Agreed, it doesn’t have to be floor nest or office chair and desk, there is a happy medium there somewhere that would address comfort and safety issues.

  16. Elizabeth West*

    Well it’s clear to me that, if billionaires must exist, I need to become one and create a company where working from a blanket nest is not only allowed but encouraged.

    1. L*

      Work in tech! We have a nap room AND I regularly work from the couch or the floor at the office. The only comment I’ve gotten is Ops offering me a blanket in case I’m cold.

  17. Three Flowers*

    She needs one of those ergonomic shaped “beanbag” chairs Facebook keeps trying to get me to buy, with a throw, as a refuge from sitting behind the desk where she can still work.

    Or perhaps *I* just want one of those. Who can say.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      Three Flowers, buy the thing you want! Don’t hold yourself back from your beanbag dreams.

      1. Three Flowers*

        Alas, it will not fit in my at-work office, and I’m trying to find an affordable pull-out loveseat for my home office so I can have comfort AND a guest bed.

        I mean, I guess I could have a bean chair too…

    2. Prefer my pets*

      I want one of those! Why doesn’t my algorithm show me such marvelous things?! I must go scour the web now! (I have some chronic pain issues that make “normal” office or dining chairs agony after even just a couple minutes, and standing in one spot…as opposed to walking around…is even worse)

      1. Three Flowers*

        For what it’s worth, I got a surprisingly decent office chair from Swedish Flat-Pack Disneyland, and as long as I have a low footrest, I have zero pain while working now. I think it cost maybe $120. YMMV (my issue is/was sacro-iliac, but I agree standing in one place is hell, and actually a pillow fort on the floor would be too). I don’t know if IKEA has bean chairs, but I want to find out!

  18. L.H. Puttgrass*

    As is so often the case in life, Bull Durham has the answer.

    “Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy and you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press will think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you’re a slob.”

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      “Baby Princess Charlotte already speaking French and English at age 2.”
      “The Mexican kids are speaking Spanish instead of English on the playground and it’s annoying!”
      So until Wrangler Jan proves herself to be the wunderkind of the office, she has to leave the fort.
      Not saying there’s no compromise. Saying take it down a notch, from under my monkey snuggie blanket (not worn with arms in sleeves) next to my college pennant, movie poster and llama yoga calendar.

    2. Melanie Cavill*

      By the time I get to the end of this quote, my brain has forcibly excised the first two sentences. Can someone dumb it down for me?

      1. Juror No. 7*

        A translation: You can do weird things once you’re successful. If you do weird things before you’re successful, then you hurt your chances of becoming successful.

        1. Squidlet*

          Or, unusual behaviour for regular folks is considered “weird”, but if you’re rich it’s “eccentric” (that’s how eccentricity was explained to me as a kid).

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        It’s much better in its original format, being spoken by Kevin Costner to Tim Roth. To avoid the moderation queue, I won’t post a link, but an internet video search for “Bull Durham shower shoes” should get you there.

  19. Hiring Mgr*

    I thought this was going to be one of those “Is my employee secretly living at the office?” letters.

  20. Aggretsuko*

    Before I started working at my job, I’m told a longtime staff member (just another clerical worker, mind you) literally had a blanket/pillow setup under her desk and she’d go take a nap under it. I can’t EVEN imagine that they allowed it back in the day, because these days, hoooooo boy no.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      One of my employees has that! She closes her door when she uses it and only does it on her normal breaks, doesn’t bother me at all. It’s not a full fort but it’s definitely a nice little nap spot.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I have a health issue that, when it flares up, can only be resolved with a nap. I am not kidding! LOL It is pretty well controlled but one day it flared up at work. I keep a small pillow and blanket at work in case we have to shelter in place for an extended period, so I took said pillow and blanket and laid down on the floor in an empty office and took a nap. After letting my boss know, of course. 45 minutes or so later and I was right as rain and back to work.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I keep a small pillow and blanket at work in case we have to shelter in place for an extended period

        That’s a good idea, especially if you have a commute. You never know these days when the weather is going to do something wonky.

        I was planning to make a go-bag for work to keep in my office or cube (there’s one in my car, but in some situations I might not be able to drive home or even get to it) and a blanket and pillow would be great additions. I even have a little TV pillow I could stuff in a file drawer.

        1. TimeTravlR*

          I keep a change of clothes and comfy shorts and t-shirt for sleeping, plus basic hygiene stuff. I also make sure I have some extra meds in my purse at all times. I haven’t needed it yet, but don’t want to be stuck in DC without it!
          I also keep a case of water under my desk. I use it throughout the year, but always make sure there are at least 6 at all times.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            If I end up working in Boston, this will definitely be a thing that I do, because flooding. I had the same thought about working in downtown St. Louis. The Mississippi is right there and with climate change, all the people saying “OH IT’LL NEVER BREACH” may find themselves eating their words.

    3. LawLady*

      When I was at a law firm, I kept a yoga mat, pillow, and blanket under my desk to sleep on. I had an office door that closed, and regularly worked 60-90 hours in a week. Sometimes when it’s midnight and you’ve been at the office for 15 hours, it makes sense to get a couple of hours of sleep.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        When I was a paralegal, we knew exactly who had the most comfortable couches and who would not care if you crashed out on it for a few hours mid-all-nighter.

    1. Random Internet Stranger*

      Same. There are some incredulous people up thread, but truly some of us just do not care. This sounds awesome to me.

  21. Anti-pillow Fort*

    I am all for being comfortable while working and when I am WFH I often will stay in pyjamas all day if I don’t need my camera on that day.

    There are 2 issues with the in-office comfort:

    1. Sharing the space with others. Especially considering a new hire is going to be moving into the same space, it just really does not seem fair to them and distracting to have a floor fort set up. It’s the same as if your office mate covered every surface in their books, pictures etc. Commandeering a shared space with your belongings is generally considered a faux pas, especially when it errs on the side of ‘odd’.
    2. Visibility. I personally don’t care if someone is attending meetings in bed or wherever else they want if it helps them focus. However, I would probably recommend they not alert others to this fact by keeping their camera off because it WILL read to some as unprofessional, especially considering they are junior and a new employee It just reads as out of touch with norms which may make people cast judgement on other areas of their work like decision making ability, critical thinking, presentation skills which could have larger impacts for their future opportunities.

  22. Katie*

    Could there be a compromise of a nice bean bag (or something slightly fancier looking)? I am hesitant for even that because 1)optics 2)space for the new person.

  23. CPegasus*

    I’m so curious about the structure of this nest LOL Because like a few people have said, I think there’s a big difference between “sitting on the floor with a pillow behind your back and under your bum” and “blanket swirled around your entire lower half” and I’d love to know which this is.

    Very curious if this occurred because the office chair wasn’t comfortable, and hoping the employee can get a setup that still works for her. I wish I still knew so little as to not care what people thought and to just be comfy.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Blanket swirled around your lower half wouldn’t necessarily even bother me, I’m imagining an elaborate set up with pillow walls fully curtained off by blankets.

      If ever a letter needed pictures…

    2. CLC*

      I have the same exact thought but the use of the word “nest” makes me think it’s more of a messy bed like situation. I would be totally finally with someone sitting on the floor on a neatly arranged throw blanket with a small pillow behind them, but if they are bringing in stuff off their actual bed making a messy looking space I would not be ok with that.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      I was imagining totally wrapped up in a huge pile of blankets and pillows to the point that you could hardly see the person, but…in reality, it’s probably more like your options. The idea of somebody hiding under a huge pile of pillows and cushions and blankets amuses me though.

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m wondering how any of her colleagues get her attention if she’s totally covered in blankets – which presumably block out a fair amount of sound and could block it totally if she’s wearing headphones as well. What on earth would the etiquette for that situation be? And how would she get out of the office safely in the event of a fire alarm or an actual fire?

      I’m all for people being as comfortable as possible at work, but there are definitely a few logistical difficulties with this approach.

  24. CLC*

    The thing I see as problematic about this is that it may very well make other employees uncomfortable. As someone very sensitive to their environment, I cannot stand to be in any room other than a bedroom with blankets, bed pillows, or lots of soft surfaces. It feels hot, dirty, messy, and like illness to me. I would not be able to work if I could see the nest or wasn’t able to forget about it. That said as someone sensitive to their environment I also understand needing to work in a comfortable position that allows my brain to flow. If it’s a nice, clean throw blanket and a throw pillow or ergonomic support pillow neatly arranged in the corner of the room I’d have much less issue with it as it just suggests she is more comfortable sitting on the floor. If it’s a bunch of “blankies” and bed blankets and bed pillows creating a messy looking space that would be less ok in my mind.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      If it’s someone’s private office I really don’t see this as an issue. I have a cushy chair with a blanket draped over it in my office, people sit there when they visit me it’s quite soft. I also have a cloth tapestry on my wall and various scarves and sweaters around. All neat, but perhaps overly cozy by some standards. It’s my office. If people don’t want to meet with me in here I’d go somewhere else.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        If a second person is joining that does change things of course but only for people actively in that office

    2. Unaccountably*

      It sounds like you’re saying that you wouldn’t be able to work if someone else in your company had a blanket fort in their office and you knew it was there. That’s a pretty extreme reaction, and if I were your supervisor I wouldn’t see Blanket Fort Employee as the one who needs coaching.

  25. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    My supervisor at my first job regularly wore a snuggie (we were a causal office working night/weekends in a cold building). However, I do not think even she would have approved of me having a pillow fort!

  26. Katting Around*

    Had a young coworker (first office job and her mom was the boss boss) who said I’m sleepy and proceeded to crawl under her desk and take an hr or so nap.

    1. Fm*

      This should be acceptable everywhere!!!! I can’t do good work when I’m sleepy. Give me an hour and I’m back.

  27. A Pound of Obscure*

    I’m the safety coordinator for my small government agency and we all are subject to the safety standards and policies of the larger government entity. This is a safety hazard, which is a good enough reason to eliminate it. Not only from an ergonomic perspective (which is the main cause of workplace repetitive-use injuries and work comp claims), but also from a pure safety perspective. Trip hazard. Fire hazard, if there are cords nearby. Pest hazard, if the employee is eating snacks and soon they have both a nest of blankets and a nest of crumbs, visited by a nest of hungry mice). The cleaning staff would be displeased as well, having to carefully vacuum around such a hazard. No, no, no.

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, my first thought was that our Facilities and HR departments would not be at all happy about this. Pre-Covid all new starters had a health & safety chat with Facilities to make sure they had an ergonomic workstation and any extras they might need (different chair, back support, wrist rest, different mouse, etc) and we had the whole spiel on the proper height for one’s screen and chair and everything. Employers have a responsibility to make sure employees have proper workstations and aren’t putting themselves at risk of pain or injury with a substandard setup. When we switched to WFH in 2020 we had to fill in a report on our workspace and tick a box to say that we understood that we should be using a proper chair and screen and doing everything ergonomically, and we could ask for any extra equipment like a monitor or an office chair if we needed them. I can just picture Facilities’ heads spinning if they found out someone was sitting on the floor in a nest of blankets and cushions. I mean, do what you like at home, but in the office your employer has a duty of care and I can’t see it being allowed as a regular setup.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, exactly. When someone is doing something out of the norm, it often creates hazardous or unsanitary conditions.

      I worked in a large building and can list out dozens of personal modifications that might seem small, but each of them caused power issues, burns, mold growth, excessive dust (so much dust from unwashed blankets) and, very often, rodent and pest infestations. Even if everyone was OK with the nest (and they clearly aren’t OK with it), the people who clean the offices are going to complain eventually.

    3. Allonge*

      Yes! Our cleaning crew and then the safety officer would have some thoughts on this. For better or worse, office furniture tends to be standard for several valid reasons.

    4. JHS*

      The health and safety aspect of this was my first thought too. Depending on where she is, she might personally be in violation of health and safety legislation. We have a requirement in our legislation that an employee must follow health and safety guidelines and can’t intentionally introduce hazards/do anything dangerous. From a musculoskeletal view alone, sitting on the floor isn’t ergonomically safe for most, and if she needs other accommodations she needs to ask for them, not build a blanket fort (and that’s just before we extend the health and safety requirements beyond the individual). Short term comfort does not equal long term musculoskeletal health…

      Even working from home, I’d be side-eyeing a blanket fort. My employer’s starting to extend the in office ergonomic requirements to remote working set ups, now that people can come back into the office full time if needed (they were very flexible during the lockdowns and did their best to support the employees without penalising anyone for not having a dedicated/appropriate office space). And having a proper office chair and desk for home now and feeling the difference from before, they are absolutely right (to be clear, if a regular office chair didn’t suit me they wouldn’t push it, they are very accommodating). At the start of the pandemic I had to perch on an armchair and it was hell on me physically. For most people, the recommendations in the legislation really does work…

  28. thelettermegan*

    It might be worth investing or investigating ergonomic resources. As a short person, I find standard desks to be very uncomfortable, and the standard foot rests are never high enough to fix the issue. I usually have to borrow a poof or stool from the lobby to get into a comfortable position.

    1. DontTellMyBoss*

      Agreed. I need a foot rest as well if I stand any chance of putting my chair at a height that works for my monitor.

  29. CTA*

    Perhaps the employee used to intern at a place that had pillow forts? I remember going on field trips to big and mid-sized tech companies and their culture would include perks like a nap/decompression room. Maybe the employee thinks pillow forts are part of every work culture?

  30. Calamity Janine*

    sometimes on here the bad behavior is so bad that i can’t help but be a little bit impressed by it. of course this isn’t office-appropriate. of course this isn’t up to professional standards. but the absolute madlass went and did it anyway and that’s audacity that is so extreme it becomes commendable.

    shine on you dubiously-employed diamond, and godspeed to you, avatar of whimsicle fuquerie that you are… we salute thee, and long may thine memory rest in glory of thy hallowed halls, because RIP pillow fort.

    (seriously though, i imagine that in a casual workplace, there’s actually a lot of room here to compromise. a pillow fort is sort of a slapdash solution by design. addressing the actual concerns – “i’m just way more comfortable in this sort of position than a desk”, “i honestly work better when cocooned up like this”, “the air conditioning in here goes super ham and a half and blankets are what makes it comfortable”, “the overhead lighting really bothers me”, a combination of all of the above and more – all present ways you can, well, tart this idea up a bit and put it in a suit and tie. well, okay, maybe not suit and tie. business casual polo and khaki slacks, perhaps. a bit of creative brainstorming and perhaps a modest budget to hit up ikea, and the same utility could be brought about with a Business Appropriate Level Of Quirky in a manner that makes the employee delighted with her now pinterest-worthy space, and is much easier to share with an officemate as well.)

    (and hey, the plans to share the office imminently give you an easy way to address it, LW, without having to be ‘the bad guy’. it’s your convenient excuse to bring up the idea and say that you’d like to move towards more professional norms, since that’s what the new hire is likely going to be used to – plus it’s just plain harder to share a pillow fort. so it’s a good opportunity to give a little office makeover.)

    1. LimeRoos*

      your second paragraph is beautiful.

      This reminds me of Anchorman when Baxter eats the whole wheel of cheese and poops in the fridge – “Heck, I’m not even mad; that’s amazing.”

  31. asedfas*

    Some people are really shocked over this one, but most new hires in their first office jobs will have gone through almost all of college (if they went), internships, part-time work, high school (if they’re straight from HS), etc. during the pandemic, which means seriously relaxed workplace norms because we were focused on survival. I only had a handful of internship experiences and a few months in the office before the pandemic but I can imagine without those months, I’d be totally lost as to how seriously we take things like “dress codes” or “sitting at our desks” too.

    As an aside, I get migraines and I’d love to have (a) an office with a door, and (b) a blanket nest to work from. I work better from my bed at home than my desk in our open office space, and I’m sure I’d work better from blankets on the floor of my own office too… but I wouldn’t act on it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Apparently my office had a dress code pre-pandemic! It would be generous to say we have one now. I’m certainly not enforcing one.

      I think it’s a reality that new people entering the workforce right now are going to have skewed norms, and frankly I’d like to meet them halfway on that. It’s a great opportunity to examine if we’re doing things because they serve a purpose or if we’re just doing them because that’s how it’s been done, and if there’s a better way.

      I know there are real and valid reasons not to allow full blanket forts, but I think there’s room to be more flexible than we used to.

      1. asedfas*

        Completely, completely agree. When I was hired (just as my office was returning full time) I was told that there was a ‘business formal’ dress code. That may have been true pre-pandemic but it’s definitely something resembling business casual now – on Casual Fridays, which officially just means ‘jeans and sneakers, if they’re clean’, a few younger coworkers who had never been in a pre-pandemic office come in shorts and graphic tees. I do admire the bravery, but my gut reaction (“what on earth is he wearing? in an office?”) makes me feel like a real curmudgeon.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I’m sure you’re not! That’s a big switch from business formal and when things are outside are expectations it can be jarring.

          I’ve found it helpful to examine the “why” of things. Most of the people in my office have a sweater or a blazer on hand they can throw on if a client comes in. That might not work if they’re wearing shorts, so I might talk to them about making sure they have a fully internal schedule before making that choice. Otherwise I’ll mind my own wardrobe. But the feeling isn’t bad at all – just what you do with it.

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I totally agree and I think disrupting norms is a good thing! Norms that exist just because they exist self-perpetuate, and sometimes at the expense of people who do not have a middle or more class background or who are disabled. If people really mean that diversity is a good thing, they can’t then insist that everyone act the same or have the same ideas.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          You’ve framed this as a diversity issue in a couple places and I’d just like to encourage you to be careful when using that word. DEI efforts are experiencing a great push now and they’re addressing systemic issues that impact protected classes. Not that a pillow fort couldn’t be very helpful to people with certain disabilities or executive difficulties, but there’s not evidence that’s what’s happening here and as someone with disabilities I’d be wary of conflating the “inclusive to protected classes” argument with the “disrupt the old guard and their aesthetic preferences” argument.

        2. Observer*

          This is not a diversity issue. It really, really is not.

          There are some things where I can see that people of some backgrounds would not have any way to know what the norms are (eg many dress codes), and other that actively discriminate against some people (classic example is codes around hair style). But Not spreading yourself and your pillow fort all over a shared office is NOT one of those things.

          1. Jules*

            Hello! I’d like to introduce you to the concept of neurodiversity. It makes sitting in an office chair a living hell for lots of us. I can absolutely see a pillow fort being a coping mechanism for someone who’s ND or has sensory processing issues.*

            *I’m not diagnosing this stranger over the internet. Neither I nor any other commenter here is her medical provider.

            1. Observer*

              I’m aware of neurodiversity, thank you very much. And that’s not Just Your Everyday Crone was talking about. They specifically talk about stuff like white collar vs blue collar background, etc. and how some people just don’t have the background to understand this stuff.

              If this young woman needs an accommodation for an issue that makes it hard for her to sit, she needs to talk to her manager. And I see no reason to believe that multiple people are describing a single pillow or pillow and single blanket as “a nest of blankets and pillows she built on her office floor.” Which makes me extremely skeptical that that’s the issue at hand.

    2. Hi! Hello! Good morning!*

      , but most new hires in their first office jobs will have gone through almost all of college (if they went), internships, part-time work, high school

      No, the restrictions put in place over the pandemic did not last 4+ years. And a lot of places eased restrictions after the 1 year. But even so, that’s still no excuse – never talk to anyone? see a movie or TV show that had a traditional office?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I cannot get behind this mindset that we are supposed to be well conditioned office workers by the time we get our first jobs. That’s creepy, in fact. Offices in TV shows show a variety of setups, quirkiness is often encouraged, and most people know that TV is not real life. Not everyone has white collar workers in their life or exposure to those norms. We have Google and Apple all over the place talking about sleep cubes and ping pong tables. Messages are mixed at best, and we say over and over on this blog that so many things vary by office culture. Can we just be willing to teach people instead of expecting the average 22 year old college grad to be some corporate drone the second they get their diplomas?

      2. asedfas*

        I’m sure it varies by industry & geography, but the majority of people I know in my current city have been working fully from home since March 2020. That’s not four years, but it does mean that people entering the workforce now would’ve gone through the bulk of the upperclass years (the times when you’re more focused on learning workplace norms or getting formal intern/office work experience) in a virtual or hybrid environment, plus reading about relaxing norms on places like… this blog, from their career centers, friends, etc. Even mid-career professionals experienced a sort of regression in professional norms during the pandemic, I don’t think it’s unreasonable that a 22-23 year old would be confused if those norms were not made clear to them in the first place, and are changing rapidly anyway.

        As has been pointed out, people are (and should be!) well aware that TV is not real life and shouldn’t mimic the office behavior they see on television – besides, people also know that if you work at like, Google, you’re not going to act or dress the same way they do in The Office. And, a 22 year old is probably as likely to see a TikTok of a fellow 22 year old working at a tech company hanging out on a bean bag chair as they are to watch a rerun of a workplace sitcom.

  32. Why are you sitting on the Floor?*

    I know we are not supposed to diagnose anyone here, but this is just my own experience. When I was in law school, I could only work from my living room floor. My actual job involved making deliveries, so that is not at issue. I could work (at a job on my feet); I just could not think out complex problems and write about them unless I was seated on the floor with my books and papers around me in semi-circle. I worked in fast food and retail since I was 14, so coddled child wasn’t the issue either. But I had to work on the floor; I could not write my papers otherwise. Not in the library, not at a desk in my home. I also had to write my papers out longhand, and pay someone to type them, as even though I could physically type, I could not compose on the typewriter. (This was before the days of computer word processing.) It simply was impossible; not a preference. Believe me, I tried everything, especially in order to avid having to pay for the typing, as I was broke. Many years later, I was diagnosed with a variety of neurodivergences, and this was given as a textbook example of one of them. It may not be professional, but if she has a diagnosis, she actually may qualify for accommodation in some way that is not entirely a pillow fort, but allows her to do her work the way her brain needs to do it. She might consider getting tested.

  33. cubone*

    Alison, I really admire the way you seem to self-reflect and critically analyze workplace norms. It seems like something that’s more been at the forefront of your writing the last few years (not to say you weren’t thinking critically before, but I find it more noticeable in recent posts vs archives). There’s such a valuable reflection on what we consider “professional” and why, and how power dynamics play into expectations. I like how you balance acknowledging the systemic issues while still being thoughtful in your advice about the impact of ignoring those standards, valid or not.

    I’m really grateful that you include those reflections in your advice.

  34. CTT*

    I’m preemptively cringing at how awkwardly I would handle coming in to talk to a colleague and finding them sitting on the floor – like, do I stay standing and tower over them, or do I crouch on the floor so we’re sort of at eye level, am I wearing something that accommodates crouching…

    1. ItIsWhatItIs*

      That’s the part that also gets me the most! Coming in and being like “oh hey betty” as she sits and looks up at you from her nest of a blankets on the floor

      1. Observer*

        Still very weird. And I would not be ABLE to crouch down – my back would object on a good day, and I would fall flat on a not-so good day.

      2. ItIsWhatItIs*

        Talking to anyone sitting on the floor in a professional setting feels weird, seated or not. Definitely has “adult talking to a kid vibes” to me.

  35. stelmselms*

    I think new grads don’t always know about how the working world works. I’ve heard of new employees who were just, gone, for spring break because that’s what they were used to without thinking they had to clear it with their boss. We had a college intern at a non-profit I worked with who would consistently sprawl out on the floor of our main lobby area to do her work. We worked out of an old house and the carpet was definitely not new, so, ew. I let her know she needed to sit at a desk as we would have donors drop by unannounced.

  36. nightengale*

    I so get this. I’m a pediatrician and I have hip pain that is worse when I sit upright in a chair for more than about 20 minutes. In the exam room I usually sit in a chair because that is what is expected of me, although I will get down on the floor to play with younger children. When doing paperwork, I will sit on the floor sometimes. I have a trapezoidal pillow that I put up against my desk. I don’t keep a blanket in my office but do often throw an extra sweater over my lap when I do this because my office is always cold.

    I am reminded of a professional conference I went to during my training, along with a lot of my department. It was in Arizona and for weeks beforehand everyone kept talking about how hot it would be in Phoenix in September. I kept saying I expected to be cold and of course everyone just laughed. We get there, and sure it was 100 degrees outside but most of the time we were in a conference hotel where it was more like 60 degrees. I don’t tolerate cold, but I wasn’t the only one saying it was cold.

    At the first break in the meeting, one of the senior doctors in our department went back up to her hotel room and got the blanket off her bed, came back to the conference and wrapped herself up in it. All I could think of was that she already had a job and the respect of people in that room, where I might some day need a job from someone at that conference and couldn’t get away with appearing more than mildly eccentric.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      The writing panel room at the convention I attended in June was like this. And I forgot my jacket. By the second day, I couldn’t stand it anymore so I took the contoured tablecloth off my table and wore it for the remaining panels.

      If I were a presenter and one of my conference attendees did this, I would have asked the venue to turn the AC down a little bit, at least in that room.

  37. Naomi*

    See, this is another perk of WFH: no one would know or care if I made a pillow fort. I work lying down all the time. Maybe if I leave my current job I should apply to NPR.

  38. RIP_Pillowfort*

    Hmm…I have a diagnosis that requires me to work from a reclining position a lot. I spend about 50% reclining and 50% at my desk, but I wfh, so basically it just amounts to me turning my camera off when i’m reclining and not required to have it on. My dx is called POTS and is actually somewhat common in young women. She might be dealing with it, knowingly or not so I wanted to mention that. If a medical accommodation can be made, I’d say make it for her! Let her know that’s an option if she’s struggling because a pillowfort seems…. reasonable in the span of ‘reasonable accommodations’ =)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Oh huh I have POTS and no one has recommended that for me. I kind of do it anyway (move around to different seats, sit weird in my desk chair) but that’s good to know.

    2. Important Moi*

      Go to the employee and ask the employee if they have a medical condition? That is inappropriately intrusive.

      1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        Telling someone that they can have an accommodation for a medical condition is not asking them if they have a medical condition.

      2. Bagpuss*

        No, but you can say that if she finds the usual set up uncomfortable to let her boss know so they can work with her to find something which is suitable and comfortable for her and also office -appropriate.

        You shouldn’t ask about medical information but you can also say that while you are not asking her about her health, if she needs further accommodations for mefdical reasons there is a process for requesting them – ideally details of any procedure for that are readily available so it need not be more thana quick ‘of course, I’m sure it was explained as part of your induction but in case you missed it, if youwanted to request any accommodations for medical reason or due to any disability, the process for manking that type of request is in the employee handbook ‘

      3. RIP_Pillowfort*

        Lol no don’t ask directly! When discussing the pillowfort with the employee, say that if there is a medical reason for the pillowfort it’s an entirely different matter and a reasonable accommodation can be made.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      I agree…let her know that if it is a physical discomfort issue, there is a process to come up with accommodations that balance “professional appearance/office safety” and her needs.

      I have some chronic pain issues that make “normal” chairs agony after even just a couple minutes, and standing in one spot…as opposed to walking around…is even worse. Combined with being short enough that my feet don’t touch the ground if I sit with my back against a chair, I simply cannot sit in most conference room chairs, desk chairs, home dining chairs, etc. I haven’t been able to for most of my life.

      The “fort” part could be as simple as the glare from the lights give her headaches or trigger migraines and the pillows on the floor is simply to make herself comfortable while shielding the lights with the blankets above.

    4. Observer*

      If a medical accommodation can be made, I’d say make it for her! Let her know that’s an option if she’s struggling because a pillowfort seems…. reasonable in the span of ‘reasonable accommodations’ =)

      The OP should most definitely NOT start down the road of medical accommodations unless the employee *tells* them that she has a medical problem. I agree with Alison that they should talk to this young woman and find out what’s going on. If it’s just a matter of better ergonomics needed at the desk, they should take care of that. And if she does need a medical accommodation and gives the OP enough information to work with, the OP should *definitely* do what they can (and in fact may be legally required to).

      But for the OP to make assumptions and try to provide accommodations on their own is really asking for trouble.

      1. RIP_Pillowfort*

        Lol, see comment thread above, when you read that and my response it becomes clear we are actually in agreement. OP should first talk to employee just in general + then say, in the event it is a medical issue a reasonable accommodation should be made. Pause. Otherwise RIP pillowfort!

    5. misspiggy*

      That’s what I came here to say! Possibly with a side order of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Pillow nest home office here, which is a major reason why I have to work freelance from home. I used to faint at my desk in the days when I could tolerate a desk, and that was only with a kneeler chair.

      I’m good at my job and much in demand, and it makes me sad that I can’t be part of an organisation any more. If it’s not going to affect anyone’s health or safety, workplaces should do more to accommodate diversify.

      1. littlehope (formerly Blue, there were two of us)*

        Yeah, if it was more socially acceptable to work from whatever position let you function, I might actually be able to work more than a few hours a week for minimum wage in the only WFH position I’ve been able to find. I can’t currently, not because I’m incapable of any kind of work but because my various disabilities make me *unemployable*, which is not the same thing. I have POTS, EDS, ADHD and I’m autistic, and those things all put together just mean I can’t function in a workplace. I cannot travel to a workplace, sit or stand upright for 8 or 9 hours, cope with all the sensory stuff of a workplace, muster the energy to mask and manage my pain, (because it’s also unprofessional and socially unacceptable to be visibly unwell or in pain) *and* be functional enough to actually work. But I could *do the work*, if I was allowed to adapt my environment or do what I need to to cope with it. If I was allowed to wear earplugs, or manage the lighting levels, or use a beanbag chair or lie flat, or stim as I needed to, etc.

        I don’t see any particular reason to think that’s what’s happening here, so this is more of a side conversation than a direct response to the letter. (Although it’s perfectly possible, because there are a lot of disabled people bopping around out there who either don’t make it public or don’t know it themselves). But it is relevant, because there’s a curb cut effect thing in play here – lots of people who aren’t capital-D Disabled would still be better off and more productive if workplace environments could be more flexible, and if you didn’t need to be officially and publically rubber stamped in order to be allowed some flexibility.

        But, you know, we don’t live in that world, and Alison’s right that in the world we do live in, this will affect people’s opinions of her and she needs to be aware of that.

  39. Just Kidding Today*

    I am sort of hoping the employee’s answer will be that she’s pregnant and “nesting”, and therefore, would like an accommodation ;-)

  40. Mike*

    “If she were more senior and known to be very good at what she did … well, it still wouldn’t fly in a lot of offices! But in others she could get away with it; it could be an idiosyncrasy people accepted because her work was great.”

    Yep, and the higher you are in your field, the more likely your idiosyncrasies will be tolerated. You wouldn’t believe what people put up with from Daniel Day-Lewis.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Since I am bad with names, instead of Day-Lewis , I immediately had a mental image of a picture I once saw of *Damien* Lewis doing something on a laptop while in full costume as Henry VIII, and imagined some high-performing executive shoing up at the office dressed that way and requiring eveyone to treat them with the deference due to a medival monarch, and getting away withit due to their stellar perfomrance in the office!

  41. Val*

    My immediate thought was maybe she has a mental health condition, possibly an anxiety disorder, and she needs this as a medical accommodation.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Blanket fort isn’t going to get a pass as a medical accommodation, but you could be right that she’s self soothing and there might be a compromise that could be reached.

    2. Observer*

      This is actually a perfect example of one of the reasons the OP needs to talk to this employee. I’m sure that you are not the only person who is going to jump form “person doing this odd thing” to “Aha! mental health issue! Handle with care!” Yes, you are suggesting an accommodation, but it’s a huge leap. It would be very bad for her if other people started making this kind of assumption about her (or almost any other assumption that’s come up here.) Yes, even if the people who are making this assumption themselves don’t stigmatize people with mental health challenges.

      The OP needs to have a conversation with some grace for the employee and no assumptions.

  42. Let me librarian that for you*

    It would be encouraged at NPR because blanket forts are great for sound dampening – key for an audio recording org!

  43. Aunt Bee’s Pickles*

    I’ll go against the grain and say you should probably seriously consider letting this person go. Anyone this oblivious to office norms is bound to have questionable judgment in general. I understand that she’s young and inexperienced, but had she never actually stepped foot in an office before taking this job? I would bet you could take a random group of middle schoolers and they could tell you this isn’t professional.

    1. londonedit*

      If she makes a huge fuss about it, or she carries on doing it after she’s been told not to, then sure, the OP should have a serious think about whether she’s right for the job. But in the first instance OP definitely just needs to ask her about it rather than taking the nuclear option. A gentle ‘Hey, I noticed you’ve been working on the floor with a lot of blankets and cushions – I understand that you want to be comfortable, but that’s not something we do here and in a lot of office environments, including this one, it’ll make people seriously question your professionalism. If there are any extra bits of equipment you need to be comfortable, like a back support or an ergonomic mouse, let me know, but I’m afraid you’ll have to start using your chair and desk while you’re at work’ has to be the first step.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “had she never actually stepped foot in an office before taking this job?”

      Possibly? This is pretty harsh and classist. Why on earth would you let someone go without giving them a chance to rectify the behavior?

      If your gut instinct is to question someone’s judgment or personal character over something, take a step back and think for a second. Where do we learn office norms? From our parents? Not everyone has parents that work white collar jobs. From school? Not if you just graduated during a pandemic? From TV? Where quirkiness is often a bonus to a character?

      My boss had this same reaction to someone who asked about pet insurance when negotiating their hiring agreement. Almost passed on the candidate. And then the next three people we hired asked for it as well. Sometimes norms are outdated, sometimes people need to be educated. But I also guarantee if you took a group of middle schoolers through here, her’s is the office they’d want to work out of. Don’t be so judgey.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Given the chaos of the last two.five years, yes, it is entirely possible that she legitimately does not know.

    4. El l*

      No. Let they who have never violated an apparently obvious professional norm early in their careers cast the first stone.

      Rather, the best response is a simple conversation and treating it as a teachable moment. “This was fine in school, it’s even fine when you’re working remotely and you’re not seeing anyone on the phone. BUT we live in a world where – if you continue this in the office – it will absolutely become part of your workplace persona, and I don’t think you’ll like where that will lead you. Part of learning to be a professional is learning the ways to keep your personality yet maintain enough comfort with other people to get things done.”

    5. Calamity Janine*

      eh, i think that stopping to ask reasons why is an important first step here.

      there are some reasons driving this that could be legitimate medical needs. a blanket fort seems like a slapdash solution of “i guess i’ll just handle this myself” in many respects. if the employee is doing this because she’s got aching joints, her desk is not ergonomic for her stature, the office is cold enough to set off her reynaud’s, or so on, and her work is otherwise excellent, do you really want to risk firing somebody for the grave sin of uh… having a medical condition that can be easily accommodated?

      i realize this may read as a lot of slack given, but with the knowledge this is the employee’s first office job, well… a lot of people with medical issues are given the advice to not dare make a fuss and figure out your own solutions, because as soon as you raise it with someone in charge you become An Issue That Must Be Solved (usually by firing you). and, to be blunt, a lot of workplaces absolutely hold this as the party line. there are legal protections, sure. but fighting for them is costly. it’s not something everyone can afford to do. and it’s not even a guaranteed win that solves the immediate problem – at best, you’re still out of a job, you just get some money to offset that some months (if not years) later (after your lawyer takes their cut). meanwhile the company fighting you on it will often very intentionally, and very deliberately, put you through hellish humiliations. from going to see their specialists (instead of your own) who are incentivized to misdiagnose you, to having your social media scrutinized (because clearly if you are able to push yourself to go to your sister-in-law’s bridal shower, it means you’re lying about needing accommodations at work, since there’s a picture right here of you braving an uncomfortable chair at this mexican restaurant for an hour so therefore you don’t need an ergonomic chair to sit in for your entire workday), to being outright under surveillance by private investigators (who will let you know you’re being watched for the sheer intimidation factor). and a misdiagnosis has potential to ripple through to all the rest of your healthcare – being labeled a ‘drug-seeker’ who uses their medications ‘recreationally’ means that suddenly, access to medications you really need are in jeopardy.

      yes, these are the nightmare scenarios, and they shouldn’t happen. yet… they do. a lot.

      and that’s even for one set of medical conditions – those that are, y’know, treatable. what if it’s something like a sensory processing disorder, or being on the autism spectrum? we’ve very much had letters before of people being forced to disclose such conditions, and then immediately being treated differently because of it – to their detriment. and then when you take into account how AFAB people diagnosed with these things are often called liars or unduly pressured to “stop being difficult”… well, there’s reasons why Alison’s usual advice is to not volunteer such information to your boss.

      if this is the only thing the employee is doing wrong, which could be explained by true medical need, and her work is otherwise of high quality… and the workplace is already mentioned as being quite casual (meaning there’s plenty of evidence for her to have concluded that it’s not a three-piece-suit-and-tie extra-formal affair around those parts)…

      i would consider the manager who jumps straight to firing here to be the one in possession of questionable judgement, tbh. (after all, just imagine the liability headaches if the answer really *is* “i’ve got medical reasons for acting this way, why didn’t you let me explain that and try to find a better solution before just firing me?”…)

    6. Elizabeth West*

      That seems like an extreme reaction when the LW hasn’t even talked to her about it yet.

    7. Nope_nope*

      Holy cow, Batman, *firing* this person for building a blanket fort?

      So 1) People should not be surprised by their firing, especially for a non-ethical issue like workplace setup (in contrast w/ something like fraud). If **if** this is firing worthy, then she at least deserves a heads-up and a chance to course correct. And

      2) We can argue back-and-forth about the merits of following workplace norms and the way norms can both help us get work done and also police who’s in-group –– and who’s out. There’s no easy answer. But given the complexity of norms and their use as a policing device, saying, oh, we should fire somebody because they broke the norm is Not Great. In other areas (fashion, hair, etc) firing people for violating norms can be actually discriminatory.

    8. Observer*

      Anyone this oblivious to office norms is bound to have questionable judgment in general.

      I would put it differently. Anyone who jumps to such fundamental and sweeping conclusions with minor justification is not just “bound to have questionable judgemet” – they HAVE questionable judgement!

      What kind of judgement calls are you expecting a new hire in their first job, immediately post school to make, anyway? Where to go for lunch? What font to use? Hopefully, it’s a bit more substantive than that, but if you need someone with a high level of nuanced and experienced judgement, don’t hire a newbie!

      but had she never actually stepped foot in an office before taking this job?

      What planet do you live on? Even kids whose parents are in white collar jobs don’t necessarily spend time or even “set foot” in regular offices. Why would they? That’s actually one of the reasons for initiative like “take your child to work day”. And if a kid’s parent does NOT work in an office, where are they supposed to find an office to visit.

      I would bet you could take a random group of middle schoolers and they could tell you this isn’t professional.

      I take it you don’t know too many middle schoolers. A lot of them would NOT know that. And most of those who do know would not see why that’s a problem.

      1. Allonge*

        Even kids whose parents are in white collar jobs don’t necessarily spend time or even “set foot” in regular offices….

        Would it not be nice if we had some kind of technology that allows people to view places from a distance, for example by transmitting an image of such?

  44. Petty Betty*

    Much as I love the idea of a pillow fort or a bedding nest at the office, my biggest concerns weren’t “professional appearance/norms”. It was safety hazards. What if a fire broke out and she got tangled up in her office bedding and fell? Or was otherwise delayed during evacuation and didn’t make it out, or had to have a professional come in to search for her? What if the bedding gets dirty and she is nose-blind to it? How often will it (or does it) all get cleaned? How does she keep it clean on a daily basis (especially during cold/flu season, not to mention other illnesses)?

    I have a seriously bad spine. Sitting all day isn’t helpful. Paradoxically, standing exacerbates my condition (I can’t win, I really can’t). Most companies won’t shell out the money for ergonomic seating for me (one job outright said my chair had to match all other chairs in the admin building regardless of my “needs”, which caused two damaged discs before the CEO finally intervened and allowed me to bring in the chair I’d bought myself – and yes, I did last longer than the petty tyrant who made that “rule” and nobody is sure of WHY he made that rule).

    1. Another Academic Librarian too*

      yes. When I got my new position they sent me for an ergonomic evaluation. I just cannot get comfortable in a ANY chair/desk situation.
      Finally one day I was in so much pain, whining about there not being ONE comfortable place in the whole building to sit, a colleague came by my office and said “get your coat, we are going to IKEA to buy a couch”
      And we did.

  45. Just Another Zebra*

    Considering this is her first office job, I’m willing to cut her SOME slack… but I think this is a bit over the top. Most people are very aware that working in an office means working at a desk, not a blanket fort. OP should, as she says, confirm that it is an actual fort of bedding and not, say, a single blanket draped over her lap. And then ask her what’s up. Maybe she genuinely thought it would be OK to do. Maybe she has some sort of back or hip problem and sitting that way is more comfortable for her. Maybe there’s a glare from her window and she can’t see her computer screen well. Once OP figures out what the motivation is, she can address it appropriately.

    But, as Alison said, RIP Blanket Fort.

  46. booksbooksbooks*

    I used to work with a guy who had a blanket fort in the office! He was senior tech worker but not a manager. His entire desk and chair were inside the fort. It was tent-like.

    Pros: Everyone who worked with him treated “blanket door closed” = “do not disturb”
    Cons: Anyone who casually walked by wanted to gawk at the blanket fort. Occasionally a stranger would enter unannounced.

    So an important variable is whether the blanket fort is in a central location with lots of foot traffic or in a corner.

    1. Bagpuss*

      A forum I vist has a thread which is just links to (and comments about) weird things spotted on listings for houses which are on the market. I recall one (early lockdown) where someone had erected a little garden gazebo type tent inside one room in their house. It had a desk and chair inside.

      Whether they just liked to keep their WFH space physically sealed off, or whether they had to have some in prson meetings so it was intended as a covid precaution was not clear… It was a huge house so looked as though there would have been ample space to turn one (or more than one) room into a home office

    2. Elizabeth West*

      There were posts online a few years ago with wacky cubicle decorations (a few, like wrapping paper, were pranks). Some of the more memorable ones included:

      –A huge cardboard castle
      –Nap space under the desk with a mattress and pillow
      –“Paneling” on the walls and “wood” flooring like a study, with an ornate desk and a fancy rug
      –A full-on TARDIS you could go into and shut the door

  47. Be Gneiss*

    I’m definitely curious how much it’s actually a blanket fort and how much it’s a cushion on the floor and a blanket which someone has dubbed a nest. I don’t work well from electronic documents if I’m reading/comparing/making notes/cross-checking…anything that involves taking in information and retaining it, I just need paper (sorry trees!). If I need to read through regulations, I’ve been known to take a stack of paper, find a quiet corner in a warehouse, and sit on a stack of cardboard where I can spread things out in front of me.
    If she’s otherwise doing good work, the shared space issue is a great opportunity to ask why she’s doing this, and if there are reasons other than she’s just one of those people who feel they need to aggressively assert their quirkiness on their coworkers, maybe there are ways to give a little on the issue while still creating an appropriate shared space for the new employee.

  48. Spicy Tuna*

    I started a new job (definitely not my first; I was in my 30’s) and brought a plant into my office. Apparently, this was a HUGE no-no. HR got involved. We’ll leave it at that!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Whaaaat?! Why on earth would they not want plants? Unless there was a gnat problem at one point, but that’s easy to fix.

    2. Spicy Tuna*

      Apparently, there had been an issue with bugs. It must have been really entrenched and difficult to remedy given the reaction to my plant!

    3. Bartleby the Blogger*

      Or having someone call HR on your first day of work because you made a joke by the copier!

  49. Important Moi*

    LW is her supervisor. Wouldn’t she know if that was the case? Are medical accommodations given such that an employee’s immediate supervisor isn’t informed?

  50. Fm*

    I feel like my opinions are getting more radical (didn’t know that was possible) because I find myself thinking screw it, work in a blanket fort. I’ve noticed the more I don’t apologize for/justify the things I need or choose to do to make my working environment more comfortable, the more nobody cares. Or, at least, I don’t care if they care.

    The points Alison makes all make sense to me. I guess I just would be fine with being known as the pillow fort guy. They’ll notice how kickass my work is soon enough.

    Of course, I am a grad student right now so it’s nice bc I have more leeway than when I had a job. But I do have a blanket and pillow in a drawer in my desk and I regularly either nap under my desk or study on the floor! AND I LOVE IT.

  51. blink14*

    I had the whole ergonomics set up when I worked in the office. Since working from home, I’ve found that no matter how ergonomic my office set ups were, certain neck issues I have are just exacerbated by sitting up straight all day.

    So what do I do at home? Recline. And I wish this became a thing with office appropriate reclining chairs! I recline while doing solo work, and I sit up straight if I’m on a meeting. Reclining is always seen as lazy, but it truly does make a difference for some people who have back or neck issues.

  52. Velomont*

    Removed because it’s derailing (you might not have intended the dog whistle but it’s there).

    1. Anti-pillow fort*

      It’s not really about experienced office workers “forgetting” social norms, it’s about people entering the ‘corporate’ workforce for the first time who may have no frame of reference on what is considered appropriate.

      If you had attended college completely virtually, didn’t have parents with white collar jobs you might have no experience telling you “maybe I shouldn’t wear my basketball shorts to work”, “maybe laying on the floor at work might make me look immature”.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, and there are some offices where there were a small number of people working in the office for various reasons but clients / customers were not coming in, so even for people who have some work experience they may have done in in a much more informal environment

  53. Still in my desk chair*

    The first thing I thought of when I read this was the Seinfeld episode where George spent a lot of his work day curled up under his desk, sleeping.

  54. Flying Fish*

    One end of our office is always cold. Working while wrapped in blankets when not public facing is considered pretty normal.

    (Medical office with a treatment room located at a hospital, so we have a blanket warmer on site and laundry is done by the hospital. Employees don’t bring their own blankets).

    1. LawLady*

      Yeah, my last office was freezing, so I almost always worked wrapped up in a plug in heated blanket.

    2. nightengale*

      memories of working overnights in the ICU wrapped in blankets from the warmer. . . not in front of patients but an awful lot of working in the ICU is actually in front of a computer.

  55. Person*

    I don’t really agree with Alison on this one. Maybe it’s because I work in tech and we’re known for being a little more weird/lax, and although I can’t say that I’d be the person that’d bring in a bunch of pillows and make a nest of blankets/pillows on the floor, but assuming it’s just some blankets and pillows with her sitting on the floor and working, I’m not sure I’d want to work in an office that prevented people from doing this just because others find it odd. Now if the problem is that she made a whole fort, or if is really messy, or if it took up so much room that it prevented people from being able to come into her office and ask her questions, that’d be different. So I think my question would be, other than others finding it odd, what’s the effect that it’s having? and if the effect is just that it’s odd, what effect does people finding it odd have? and then depending on the answers, I’d go from there.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think that’s in line with what Alison is saying. This is a new person trying to build their reputation and others are commenting on this, so it could have a negative impact. Also they are going to have to share that space soon. Sometimes early career has to be about learning the rules until you have the capital to break them.

      As others pointed out there could also be real issues, like fire code.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. The effect is on her reputation.

        There’s a difference between choosing quirky actions and being oblivious to norms. And when someone is new, it’s often impossible to tell which it is. If I’m aware of norms but I’m choosing to do something different, then it becomes about my reasoning- was it sound reasoning and was the trade-off worth it? But if I don’t even realize that I’m flouting norms, that can become problematic. Am I flouting hierarchy? Working processes? Policies that have a very, very good reason for being in place?

        I’ve experienced both- I’ve chosen to be quirky (sending haikus in all-staff emails- there was a perfectly good reason for it, and it worked really well) and I’ve been oblivious to norms (flouting hierarchies- there was some nasty political fallout from that, and that project got defunded). Inexperience can mean that someone just isn’t aware of things like reputation repercussions or political fallout, and they usually want to know so they can make an informed decision. There are also some mental health conditions that can make it harder to recognize societal norms- I have one of those conditions, and I’ve had to find strategies for myself. In that case, I tend to ask for what I need (usually without disclosing my condition) and it’s useful to know when I’m off the mark so I can adjust my strategy.

        Not saying norms are inherently good- they should be challenged! But it’s also important to understand why they’re in place. Sometimes (not always) there’s a very good reason.

  56. Lindy's Homemade*

    I feel like the answer missed a pretty big thing in the question:
    “I’d like to address it with her before we move another new hire into her shared office area next month.”

    If Pillow Person were the only occupant in her office, and it was a super casual tech-bro-y place, then maaaaybe you could make the argument that the pillow fort is a non-issue. But the new office roommate shouldn’t have to decide “um, do I ask my cubicle mate to NOT have a pillow fort” during their first week, FFS.

  57. Imaginary Number*

    Doesn’t quite raise to the pillow fort level, but there was a guy I worked with on my team who would sit cross-legged in office chairs. Nobody ever really batted an eye (except for people who knew him well making fun of it in a friendly way) because he was phenomenal at his job. But I feel like a brand new, inexperienced hire would be judged more harshly.

    I agree with the point that odd is not necessarily bad if it’s not affecting anyone else.

    But there’s definitely a perception problem. And the perception that comes with this, especially if the person is young and new, is that this is more of the affectation of someone trying to play the character of the “quirky genius in the pillow fort” rather than someone who just legitimately works better that way.

        1. where's my nest?*

          Me too. The most uncomfortable position for me is sitting in a chair the “proper” way.

    1. ferrina*

      Nah, there’s definitely a difference between absent-mindedly sitting in a weird way and deliberately building a blanket fort. Speaking as someone who regularly does both.

    2. Underrated Pear*

      Someone touched on this above – but I’ve always sat weirdly in chairs because my legs aren’t long enough to reach the ground. Some chairs do adjust to go down pretty far, but then I’m typing with the desk up at my armpits. Taller people (like my husband, before I pointed this out to him) have no idea how uncomfortable it is to sit for like 80% of your waking hours (this includes couches, dining chairs, toilets…) with your feet dangling or straining to reach the ground on tiptoe. They make office foot rests, but those only help a bit. A few years ago I had the bright idea to put a medium-sized box under my desk, which finally let me sit “normally” throughout the day. It doesn’t look great, and my chair doesn’t push in all the way, but… oh well. But yeah, even with this solution, I’m still in the habit of shifting all around and arranging my legs every which way.

  58. Pied Piper*

    Any Dear Prudence peeps here? Towel nest anyone? Over at Prudie, the commentariat all know towel nest. I have a feeling (I hope?) that RIP pillow fort does the same here.

    1. Velomont*

      Was this the guy who wrote in because his wife would be in the bathroom for an hour or two with the water running, in her towel nestÉ

  59. OwlEditor*

    I have found myself spending more time working from my couch lately (still WFH) and as I write, I am actually surrounded by pillows AND a have a blanket over my knees. But no one can see it even on a video call. While I love the idea, it does strike me as unprofessional. It’s not something I would do at work.
    When I worked in the office, I got this heated blanket and a duvet cover, but I realized how unprofessional it looked (the cover was huge and it looked like a parachute when I moved and I was right by the department head’s office), so I switched back to a regular blanket. And a heat pack under the blanket. We could wear slippers on our floor, but I always made sure they were plain and simple. So I think the new employee could work in the professional boundaries.

  60. Alex*

    I think it is worth examining exactly what is wrong with the setup before addressing it with her. Is it a safety issue? (tripping, fire hazard). Is it that it is messy? (like…an unmade bed on the floor) Or is it just “not done.” I think the conversation will go better if you have in your mind exactly why this is not OK. It will help you articulate it beyond a “don’t do this because I said so” and also help guide alternate solutions.

  61. Lyon*

    If this employee does her best work from a blanket fort and her manager is not at the same site anyway, could this position not be made remote?

  62. KatEnigma*

    I wonder if it has something to do with the AC vents. I once snuck in a step ladder on a weekend to tape up some cardboard to divert the air from directly blowing on me.

    Anyway, obviously it can’t stay. It likely would take up too much in a shared office, as well as being unprofessional. The young woman needs coaching.

  63. Twisted Lion*

    My work’s carpet is too disgusting to sit on otherwise Id be excited to move cubicles to one with a pillow fort LOL.

  64. Russell T*

    As an admin, I would have totally walked into this person’s office and fallen over them! Or worse, kicked them in the head

    1. urguncle*

      Maybe you should consider looking where you’re walking. Do you also have problems tripping over knee-high wastepaper baskets, step-stools or people who are below your eye level? Why are you fantasizing about walking into someone’s office and kicking them in the head?

    2. Ace in the Hole*

      What an odd thing to say. Are you assuming they set up their blanket spot in the middle of a pathway right around a blind corner?

  65. Jo*

    I agree with Alison across the board on this one. I am also forever grateful for my permanent WFH job. Nobody can see my Comfy (a wearable blanket) and sleeping bag combo. Prior to my ancient beagle passing, she would sleep inside of the sleeping bag, all the way at the bottom on a foam pillow. I could keep my house at 60 degrees all winter. Nobody to complain. I hope I never go back to an office.

  66. idwtpaun*

    A perk of working from home that sadly doesn’t translate to the office.

    If I spend time thinking about it, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that we have certain behavioural norm boundaries between “home” and “public”. Sure, they are malleable and change with the time and place. But it still helps to “tighten up” to a reasonable extent in public, it’s what ultimately allows us to work in enforced proximity without upsetting each other.

    Side note: as someone who was born in a culture where “pajamas” means garments made strictly for sleeping and being roughly equivalent to underwear, I still have not gotten used to this North American idea of going places “in your PJs.” Having lived here most of my life, I know that what people really mean isn’t pajamas, but actual clothes they use to sleep in, but it still jars me a little.

  67. Sylvia*

    I guess I have my own version of a pillow fort at work–a faux fur mat and a soft weighted blanket. I keep them put away most of the time, but if my back hurts or I’m feeling stressed, I lock my office door and make myself a nest under the desk, where I relax or meditate for 15 minutes.
    It would feel weird working from my nest, though.

  68. k bee*

    Reading this from my floor desk with a blanket wrapped around me… I honestly do my best work from the floor and WFH has been such a great opportunity to set up my office in the way that works best for me. Sorry, newbie! You’ll get to recognize your floor desk dreams one day!

  69. The Nest*

    Is this person me?? A couple years into my first job I moved into a 2-person office that had some extra space in the corner by my desk, so I ordered a bunch of giant pillows and constructed what everyone called The Nest. Me and my officemate would sometimes sit there to work, and we even had people come to our office to sit in The Nest for a bit if it was free. My manager and his manager were both big fans of The Nest. It didn’t seem to impact my office impression too badly, as I got promotions during the next few years that I worked there, and left on good terms. At least currently, I don’t cringe looking back on it, but feel rather fondly about it! :) (I concede that it’s possible future me will feel differently.) However, I do work in tech, so as Alison mentioned that could make a big difference.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I think the difference was you were a couple of years into your job, so your coworkers and boss got a chance to know you and your work quality. That, and tech probably does make a big difference.

  70. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    Before deciding what to do about the pillow nest (which honestly sounds terrific!), why not see it for yourself? One person’s “nest” is another’s neatly folded and stacked blankets and pillows to be used as needed.

    Having once worked in an agency in which the (outstandingly competent) CEO felt that 70 degrees was boiling hot and who thus kept the office temperature cold enough for it to have doubled as a meat locker, I can attest that a pile of blankets would have made my job far more comfortable. If that’s how this employee feels about the temperature in HER office, I can certainly sympathize with her!

    But I repeat, LW – go to the office and see it for yourself. Don’t make assumptions and plans based on office gossip – that never works out well!

  71. Not that other person you didn't like*

    I think we all wish we lived in a world where only the quality of the work mattered, but as Alison pointed out, we don’t. I have a perfectly professional legal name, but grew up with a nickname that is maybe less professional (imagine Brunilda and Bunny). And in my first semi-professional job, while I was still in college, I made a minor error and my boss said,
    “Customer said ‘there was an issue with this BUNNY person'”

    I never used my nickname in a work context ever again.

    Note, my nickname is now the name of a very highly regarded athlete, so it might be just fine now, but it wasn’t then.

  72. Spinner of Flax*

    Before deciding what to do about the pillow nest (which honestly sounds terrific!), why not see it for yourself? One person’s “nest” is another’s neatly folded and stacked blankets and pillows to be used as needed.

    Having once worked in an agency in which the (outstandingly competent) CEO felt that 70 degrees was boiling hot and who thus kept the office temperature cold enough for it to have doubled as a meat locker, I can attest that a pile of blankets would have made my job far more comfortable. If that’s how this employee feels about the temperature in HER office, I can certainly sympathize with her!

    But I repeat, LW – go to the office and see it for yourself. Don’t make assumptions and plans based on office gossip – that never works out well!

    1. nelliebelle1197*

      That is absolutely true – what we are imagining here may be very different from reality – the woman may have a back issue and needs to switch seating positions frequently.

  73. Professional Staff*

    I’ve been working from the office 3-5 days a week for the last three weeks after a summer of mostly working from home. My back is KILLING me. I vote the ‘sit up straight at a desk in an upright chair’ standard be the next pre-pandemic office norm to go the way of pants with hard waistbands.

    1. Observer*

      The fact that you apparently have a bad chair is not a good reason to get rid of a norm that is actually quite functional for a lot of situations.

      If your back is hurting, look into a different chair, and making sure you have an appropriate desk set up.

      1. Another Academic Librarian too*

        There will NEVER be a comfortable chair for me. Never. Forty years of working, forty years of trying. My office has a standing desk and a two seater couch. Most of my work is done from couch feet up on a repurposed card catalogue with a laptop.

      2. Prefer my pets*

        Or we could, you know, take the slim positive of the pandemic up-ending norms to take a hard look at what was established as “professional norms” back when nearly every white-collar worker was a cis het neurotypical white male with no physical or mental disabilities. Those that weren’t didn’t dare complain that their legs were numb from sitting “in what has worked for decades” or anything else that would give the established “normal” male management an excuse to say their demographic didn’t belong and fire them.

        Everything from office temperatures to attire to furniture was set as “normal” with that in mind.

        Hopefully we’re reaching the point of recognizing someone can do good work even if they have sensory issues that prevent them from wearing certain clothing, or are too short to sit comfortably in 99.9% of chairs, or get migraines from overhead lights, or need to drop of kids so can’t start work until 830 instead of 8, and on and on and on.

        Sure, maybe the subject of the letter is just a clueless kid with no underlying issues…but maybe thinking about the actual impacts and potential underlying issues will help someone else who has been trying to power through for years and suffering.

  74. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I work for a large, well-known tech company that has built-in upholstered nooks with pillows throughout the buildings that you can sit cross-legged, lean, or lay down inside to work in. They’re intended for solo concentration work bec. not everyone can focus sitting at a “normal” desk (esp. in an open office). I can imagine a pillow fort as a diy version of this.

  75. anone*

    I write this comment from my nest of pillows and blankets on my bed where I am genuinely at my most productive (I get up and stretch regularly to avoid back issues, but trust me I have tried other set-ups and aside from occasionally shifting to another equally weird location for some variety, bed-nest is where it’s at), reflecting on reasons why I am so glad I found a career path where I don’t have to work in an office.

    (And, yes, I have exactly the astrological sign you might assume for a bed-nester.)

  76. NOLAgirl*

    I want to live in a world where pillow and blanket forts in offices are the norm.

    ……….I could make one in my home office though. :D :D :D :D

  77. Generic Name*

    I agree that sadly, you’ll need to tell your employee that she can’t have a blanket fort in her office. I’d ask if she needs a better/different chair or maybe a standing desk in order to work comfortably. I can’t tell if the “blanket fort” is just a pile of blankets she sits on while working, or if there is an overhead component that helps her block out sensory stimuli/distractions. If she needs the muffling effect of something over her head to concentrate, you could suggest she wear a hoodie or a scarf while working alone in her office (assuming that doesn’t run afoul of your dress code). While a hoodie isn’t exactly the epitome of professionalism, I have seen some made out of sweater material. My son is neurodivergent, and for years he wore a hoodie/hat/sunglasses combo to help modulate sensory stimuli. If she is doing the blanket fort for sensory reasons, surely there are solutions you both could come up with to honor her need while also being compatible with an office environment.

  78. Adultier Adult*

    I am sorry, but I am a high school teacher & even my most naive of students know they cannot make a blanket nest and work. We do have comfy seating at times, spread out in the hallway for projects, etc. But they know lying down, wrapping up on a cocoon, etc. are not school appropriate- It sure isn’t office appropriate.

    At home? I too am a jammies woman- professor & teacher or not, but I doubt this woman thinks this is actually professional behavior.

    1. L*

      Eh, it’s fine in some jobs! See the tech people upthread. This is fine and acceptable in some offices!

      I regularly work from a couch or occasionally the floor. It’s fine. I get my work done.

    2. allathian*

      Also depends on the school. In my son’s elementary school class they had nooks and couches, bean bags on the floor, even a yoga mat or two, for the kids to use while learning. My son tells me that he mostly sat at his triangular desk that could be arranged into hexagons for group work, although he’d sometimes lie down on a yoga mat.

      Now that he’s in middle school/junior high, he tells me that he misses lying on his stomach on the floor. At home, even though he has a desk, he usually does his homework lying on the floor. If he’s at the desk, he usually sits on his yoga ball. Good for him, he’s getting a bit of a core workout at the same time. Because of this habit, his posture is better than that of most of his classmates.

      At my office, we have adjustable sitting/standing desks, and there are yoga balls in the breakroom to sit on if you want.

  79. Frideag Dachaigh*

    As a… Sort of NPR employee (the public media universe is far more complex and nebulous than it seems on the surface), 10/10 reccomend and can confirm, I have definitely seen some pretty fabulous and extremely comfy desk setups around my office.
    I was also the intern in my various pre-NPR job days that was always working on the floor in some questionable setups so my standards and norms knowledge is a bit skewed.

  80. Elsewhere1010*

    All those years working in offices and I never once built a blanket nest, and that makes me sad.

  81. LawLady*

    I bet a modified nest could be made to work. When I worked at a law firm that was always kept freezing, I worked wrapped in a plug in heated blanket. And sometimes had another blanket around my shoulders.

    I’m a highly credentialed securities lawyer, and no one ever mentioned it.

  82. Elsewhere1010*

    All those years working in offices I never once built a blanket nest, and that makes me sad.

  83. Celeste*

    What does it matter if she is getting her work done and done well? Sure, maybe ask what’s up with her chosen seating arrangement (could be a pain management thing after all or just actually more comfortable), but otherwise as long as it doesn’t impact her work then it should be left alone.

    1. Colette*

      Because if she – or someone else – is injured because of the fort, that’s a work problem.

      Because if the cleaners can’t clean, that’s a work problem.

      Maybe the only problem is that she will forever be remembered as “the person who worked from a pillow fort” and will lose opportunities because of that – but maybe there are ways it affects others that she’s not thinking of.

  84. NeedRain47*

    I worked in an office where people wore sweatpants to work. Even the sweatpants people would have commented on this b/c people love to comment on things that are not affecting them in the slightest. Definitely make sure it’s not awkward or space-hogging for the people who share, but otherwise, this is exactly the kind of thing we need to not freak out over in order to make work a more pleasant place.

  85. Delta Delta*

    Step 1: See the fortress of feathers for yourself. It could be a full-on citadel of floof or it could be a couple large cushions leaned against a wall with a blanket to sit on, or anything in between.

    Step 2: Assess the professionalism of said pillow fort, and address with the employee appropriately. That might be to say, “gee Jane, it would sure be nice to chill out in a pile o pillows all day, but in the grownup-land hellscape we know of as ‘work’ we have to sit in this nice Herman Miller chair and make spreadsheets” or whatever is applicable. It may also be handy to know if she has an accommodation of some sort for this rig.

    Step 3: If this is going to be a shared office, really sort out whether any amount of Pillow Forting is appropriate at all. Suppose Wakeen gets hired and is placed in the shared office. How, if at all, will Jane’s bedding impact his work and use of the workspace? If she gets to have a pillow fort, does he get to have a hammock? Would this work?

  86. Gatomon*

    I did have a blanket and pillow fort going a few times while WFH during the early pandemic. It got me through those really bad days those first few weeks and during that first winter.

    Having just had a cry (my mom died recently), I think I will try it again after lunch. But I’m WFH… if I was in the office I’d just take the afternoon off. My industry is too stodgy and our office floor hosts mice way too often to consider this in my cube.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      How does she sound exhausting? She hasn’t been given any feedback there’s nothing in the letter to suggest she’s being difficult, or hostile, or resistant at all.

      1. fgwoffice*

        Maybe they meant “the letter writer” instead of “she”. The comment makes a lot more sense that way.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Given their user name, and that they speak of ‘reality’, I suspect not. Eldritch’s take seems much more likely.

  87. Macaroni Penguin*

    Oh wow, a blanket nest sounds fantastic. I dunno, can the OP advocate for a culture change so that pillow forts are workplace appropriate? I dream of a world where blanket nests are acceptable.
    Since we don’t live in an Ideal World, the OP will likely have to follow Alison’s recommendations.

  88. Thagomizer*

    HAHAHA. This could totally have been me, luckily I got some guidance about office norms.

    Until about a month ago my official “home office” was a pile of pillows on the floor. I’ve been using it the entire pandemic. I’ve also made a blanket fort at the office, but that was a practical joke on a Friday when they took away our desks due to overcrowding. At a previous job I was well known for sitting on the floor when we had meetings in our “living room” style conference room with rugs, couches, etc. Honestly, I just kind of hate chairs. Always have.

    Now that I’m a manager and a leader I try to limit my in-office idiosyncrasies to some desk toys and a kneeling chair. But I want to be the well respected corporate leader who’s approach to “office” is a couple comfy couches and a beanbag. I’ve worked with a well respected leader who replaced their desk with a recliner and a reading lamp. And that was in a very dense open floor plan office.

  89. fhqwhgads*

    My knee jerk reaction is two things:
    1) Is she using a laptop? Or only doing non-computer-based work in the fort? Because I’d be somewhat concerned about her either overheating company electronics and/or trip hazards from cords.
    2) If she’s alone in there now but it’s intended to be a shared office and another person is going to be hired and put in there soon (the letter sounds like this is imminent?), the pillow fort may be taking up space that isn’t really hers to take. From a logistical standpoint of the shared space, she might already be too spread for it to be practical long term.

  90. fgwoffice*

    This reminds me of when it was considered weird and discomforting for women to wear pants instead of dresses. Having something be different does not automatically make it harmful.

    As some of the examples prove (NPR, tech), this kind of thing can be done without causing any harm, so there is no issue.

  91. Delphine*

    I think the “new grad” excuse/explanation has to have some limits. My instinct is to be generous and compassionate, but sometimes I just want to know what’s going on in people’s heads. Professional norms are not *so unusual* that adults should need to be told not to make pillow forts in their offices, and yet…

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      I actually agree with this. Working an in-person office job typically means sitting at a desk, not cuddled into a pile of bed linens on the floor.

  92. Nancy*

    LW: you need to tell her it is not acceptable because the office will be a shared space, not her own private space. If coworker needs some kind of accommodation, such as a different chair, help her figure out what she needs. She probably figured since the space was private (and maybe has a door that closes?), she could set it up without anyone noticing or being bothered by it. It is possible to know something is not standard for a work environment and do it anyway because you think it is easy to have it go unnoticed.

  93. Dasein9*

    As someone who’s had a back surgery and may have another soon, I’m glad the question of accommodation was suggested. If the employee is trying to make the floor comfortable because it’s easier to sit on a hard surface or against the wall, then letting her know accommodations are available may be very important indeed.

  94. Pro Pillow Fort*

    Nevermind talking to the employee about the pillow fort. Let’s all build pillow forts in solidarity instead.

  95. MicroManagered*

    This one time, before Covid, we had a disgruntled employee who was flushing large objects down the toilet to deliberately clog it and it ended up flooding the whole floor.

    It came in under the walls of people’s offices, soaked the carpet and the ceiling below that floor. The facilities team got those big snail-lookin’ dryers that you see at the grocery store when it’s wet outside. But as far as I know, they never changed or even shampooed the carpet.

    Just somethin’ to think about if you are writing out a pros/cons list for office pillow forts

  96. Nonny Moose*

    I actually think this is a good chance for this manager to push back on some workplace norms. If the new hire truly isn’t bothering anyone and getting her work done, maybe it’s time for leadership to sit down and determine why this is so upsetting to them. People used to dress in full suits to go to the airport – times change and we should look to see where we can change with them (or at least allow for different ways of doing things).

    1. Nonny Moose*

      ETA: Oof, given this comment section you’ve all convinced me to never leave tech. As many complaints as I hear about how uncomfortable and burnout inducing the office can be we’d generally be in favor of having coworkers who are happy, comfortable, and productive. With no evidence in the letter that it’s even truly a “nest” or in any way causing safety/workplace issues (like it intrudes on another co-workers space)…you’re kind of just targeting someone for being noticeably different. If her quality of work ends up suffering because she can’t work in the way she needs to be most productive is that preferable?

      1. MM*

        It’s going to be intruding on another coworker’s space, that’s why LW wants to talk to her before the new coworker moves in. I’m with you in spirit, though!

    2. Rosie*

      Yeah I think it’s interesting that the assumption is the LW wouldn’t want to spend their capital advocating for their employee being able to work in the most productive manner for them since it’s not disruptive. It would have been nice to see that presented as a viable option instead of just an aside because pushing against standards of professionalism is a good thing.

    3. Nancy*

      The office is going to be shared with another person, so LW needs to see what is actually going in and make sure it won’t interfere with the other person’s space. That’s why it matters.

  97. Mehitabel*

    When I work at home, I almost always sit on my bed. Laptop on lap, room to spread stuff out if needed, and (most importantly) room for the cats to hang with me without planting themselves between me and my screen. If it’s cold (it gets pretty cold here) I can cover my feet and legs up with blankets, and no one in my Zoom meetings is ever any the wiser.

    But I would never *dream* of doing anything like that in an office environment.

  98. Victoria*

    Once, about a week before we were due to move offices, my coworker and I built a blanket fort for a colleague who worked surrounded by trolleys and boxes of books, so already partly “walled off”. We attached string to the ceiling and hung up blankets for the walls, and we added fairy lights. He loved it and happily worked in there for the rest of the week; I think he was sorry we couldn’t take it with us! Our manager just found it funny, as we knew she would, and of course it had to come down at the end of the week.

  99. Raida*

    I think the most important thing here is…. IS IT a pillow fort?

    Or is that the name it’d been dubbed, and it’s actually a lap blanket and a normal bed pillow to rest her arms/feet/back/neck on?

    Certainly it could be a ‘pillow fort’ but I can’t imagine that really holding up at a desk, getting in and out of the chair. So I imagine that in a practical sense that you could get a couple of cushions and a blanket, be snuggled into the chair?

    LW definitely just go by and see it for yourself, this could be a case of getting a new chair or just a couple of cushions that scream ‘ergonomics’ instead of ‘bedroom’

  100. Operation EYE EYE EYE*

    Anyone who says they wouldn’t want to work in a pillow fort is either a liar, has a bad back, or no sense of fun. I think this new hire is just not afraid to live everyone’s dream lol.

  101. MM*

    My elementary school was a bit “alt,” so while there were some tables and chairs in the classrooms we mostly hung out on the floor, all the way up through 6th grade. (Carpet, mats and pillows available, it made sense for the learning style.) Adjusting when I started a more ~normal school at 12 was a bit of a trip. I love hanging out on the floor to this day, and I guess because of that experience it seems very normal to me for someone to be able to work from the floor, or to want to. (I spent most of 2020 working on my fire escape, and my designated Work Corner for when I visit my parents is a cushion on the ground.) I have great sympathy for Blanket Nester, but I sadly agree with Alison.

    I hope the office blanket nest revolution comes soon for everyone!

  102. Heffalump*

    If she could give hard data showing that she’s more productive in a blanket fort, would that change any minds?

  103. autistic engineer*

    i want to preface this by saying – yes, i agree this is behavior outside of the norm. and, yes, for a variety of issues that other commenters have mentioned, it is something that needs to be addressed.

    however, there’s also a lot of folks really grievously mocking the pillow nest. probably because they don’t understand it. regardless of whether or not this is applicable to the person in the letter, this is a working situation that may be very comfortable for a lot of autistic/neurodiverse people, as well as not understanding the social norms of _not_ doing that in a shared office space. i know that a lot of folks had the reaction of reading this post and thinking it was utterly ridiculous and didn’t make sense, but i read it and instantly compared it to my own experiences and sensory problems. so, just know – there are perfectly valid reasons why someone would prefer this working setup. not to say that it’s something that is okay in a shared office space!

    i’m an autistic adult myself. i love pillow nests. granted, i work from home so it isn’t an issue and have learned the social rules dictating these things, so i also arrange my camera so it looks like i’m working on a desk to not make anyone else uncomfortable.

    and please don’t see this as me, idk, “being too woke” and picking at other comments! i can understand why folks without an autistic brain would think this was odd. i’m not dying on the hill of “don’t mock pillow nests”, just pointing out that the behavior that is being made fun of is something widely shared by autistic folks. this isn’t meant to be aggressive, just to share another perspective. :)

    you can’t always tell if someone is autistic. no one knows that i am unless i tell them. (and just to be clear – venn diagram here. just because this is very much an autistic trait, doesn’t mean that the person mentioned in the letter is or that i’m implying that at all!)

    1. moh*

      Yes, I’m shocked and disappointed that this isn’t being questioned first and foremost as an accessibility accommodation. I guess the coworker is young and female so she’s seen as mockable… but I have a good friend who broke her tailbone and has huge problems with sitting in chairs for long times now, and almost all of my female coworkers use blankets under their desks because it’s so cold.

      Before schooling this woman in office norms that are increasingly found to be outdated, has anyone ever mentioned to her that disability accommodations are available (I presume they are, OP?) and explaining what they are and how to apply if needed?

  104. slowingaging*

    I do IT and trust me office floors are filthy and have vermin. Also blanket fort, where are the cables and how do you keep it safe? In all the cultures I have visited that used mats on the floor, you must take off your shoes to enter the room. I would not ever go barefoot in the office. If you WFH, absolutely. But in a office with other people, I wouldn’t do it.

  105. Heffalump*

    Not exactly the same issue, but similar principle. Ca. 1975 I was working as a typesetter at a major insurance company. This was in the advertising department with creative people, so it was less buttoned-down than the company as a whole. I had my own office, not because I was so high on the food chain, but because the typesetting machine was a bit noisy.

    A couple of months into the job I found some kind of whimsical post card with a graphic and the words “Get off my back” and taped it to the door of my office. Within 30 minutes my boss said it would have to go. I asked who said it had to go—not in a hostile or confrontational manner, just asking.

    He said, “Someone who matters.” He was nice about it, and I don’t think I did myself any long-term damage.

  106. Ettikit*

    I wonder if she is trying to address a medical issue! I would at least approach the conversation assuming that that might be the case.

    I do sometimes remember working while sitting on the floor under my desk occasionally at an job. The office was very casual, I never got any hassle for it, and I wasn’t brand new, so I guess it was okay, if not advisable. At my current job I’d feel extraordinary awkward doing that!

  107. works with realtors*

    Reading all these comments of too cold offices makes me jealous! Our building is too tightly sealed so no air is leaking outside, leaving the office at like 80 degrees in the open spaces and up to 90 if we are locked in a room for a meeting. It’s muggy and full of CO2, so everyone has headaches and is groggy. It would be funny except they installed thermostats that taunt us – sure, turn the air down to 60, but it’ll never turn on

  108. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    Blankets and pillows belong in beds, so it could possibly spawn rumours of duck club activity.
    I would not enjoy having to go to an office with that sort of setup, even if just to ask whether the TPS report has been filed.

    That said, in my previous office job, I was known as the one who wore slippers. I had a pair at work, that stayed there, that I slipped into on arrival. Thing was, I wore cycling shoes (that kind of lock onto the pedal easily) on my way, and they were not comfy for walking in.

    I did have plenty of capital, as the most productive person in my role, and there was no way up for me unless I changed jobs, and there wasn’t a single job in the firm that I wanted except my own, and I would not have been upset had they fired me (I celebrated when they made me redundant). We never had clients coming to the office, so nobody cared.

  109. Grace*

    I have been teaching all day… delivering university lectures online… from a blanket nest. Carefully positioned camera, keep the blankets below armpit level, been doing this since 2020 and nobody has ever found out. Not that my students would care!

    I love my blanket nest.

  110. Kellsbells*

    I’m all for comfort but it reminds me of a company in our town that had something similar happen a few years ago. An employee was bringing in blankets to the workspace and then the company was in the local news because they had to get rid of bed bugs. Yes, the bed bugs were brought in from this one employee. It was a huge mess costing the company a lot of money. I believe that employee was fired.

  111. A_Jess*

    Kinda wish they could give her a comfortable chair or couch to work in.
    Seems she works best away from her desk.

  112. Keep the Fort*

    There are so many unanswered questions: What is the temperature of the office? Is the employee haptic (whether because of autism or for some other reason)? Will customers every see her office?

    If the employee has a documented disability (including low blood pressure in a cold office, autism, ADHD, anxiety, or something else), removing the blanket fort could be an ADA violation. If I were the employee, I’d engage preemptively engage HR and get a physician’s signature on something. If I were the manager, I’d look at productivity: if the employee is as productive, or more productive, than expected, particularly relative to other employees, maybe the problem is that the office isn’t accessible for everyone else. Maybe the company is the problem.

    If you’re going to be “weird,” be “weird,” and then make it very expensive for the company to force you to be otherwise.

  113. Errata*

    I got a fresh-out-of-college officemate in my last months at my previous job who might have related… but in his case he was actively looking for a mattress setup for midday naps in the corner! It was an extremely casual office, and it’s not impossible he could’ve gotten away with it, but blatantly. I think I had him talked down to the plausible deniability of a beanbag by the time I left. I hope.

  114. Dee*

    The benefit of being the boss is you do have the capital to validate behavior, like working from a pillow fort, for your junior resources.

    I don’t put too many restrictions on my team, so long as communication is solid and respectful, and the work is high quality and gets done. I might tell a more junior resource that it’s fine with me, but when they move on to their next role they should be aware of the overall culture and choose accordingly.

    As a disabled human in the workplace I took a long time building up clout in order to ask for what I needed, and should have had from the start. I don’t know if there’s a point to tamping down self-soothing choices for people just because they’re young.

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