update: my whole office works from home except me — and I’m getting stuck with everyone’s admin work

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer whose whole office works from home except for her — and she was getting stuck with everyone’s admin work? Here’s the update.

I quit.

Not dramatically, not rip-the-bandaid-off or anything. I tried to fix it. I realized from reading the comments that a lot of the problem was self-imposed– my desire to keep the machine running at all costs meant I took on more than my fair share, but I truly loved my bosses and my company and even (most of) my coworkers, and wanted us all to succeed. But this mess was broken for real, the comments made that very clear. It was pretty painful to realize, actually. But I knew something had to give.

Buckle in….

So first things first, I told myself to knock it off. I was taking on too many of the company’s problems and not forcing them to find their own solutions. I had to draw harder lines, and resolved to do so.

Second, I started rephrasing the conversations to make it clear that this was their responsibility. I peppered all of my interactions with lots of “your work” and “my help” and tried to avoid any type of “happy to help” type positivity (e.g. if a coworker sent a request for something, I’d respond along the lines of “sure, I can meet your client for you”). Subtle, I know, but I knew this was going to be a long battle so I was laying the groundwork. At this point I thought I’d still be there.

Next, I talked to my boss. I would have liked to do this sooner but she only came in occasionally and it felt like an in-person type of meeting. I told her I wasn’t happy with my current job, and exactly why, and used a lot of the verbiage from the posting (thank you!). I had been forwarding her the truly absurd requests and questions I had been getting for months so this wasn’t new info to her, but I know she was hoping I would never push back this hard. She offered me a new position (I think it was “Operations Manager” or something) to recognize my increased contributions. No mention of a raise. And while it was very nice I don’t LIKE that work, so making it official was the exact opposite of what I wanted. When I declined, she said they would start looking for an admin to “take over your duties.” I reminded her they weren’t “my” duties, and never were. She agreed and apologized, but I didn’t hold my breath. I think the hardest thing for me, and the thing that the posting and the comments really cemented, was realizing my boss agreed with me but wouldn’t do anything to fix it. I know she appreciated me and didn’t want to lose me, but at that point (and all the previous points) it felt very much like lip-service and not much else. Of all the many, many fires to put out, my fire was not a priority and never would be.

After a few weeks I told my boss, by chat, I was going to start working one day a week from home. She asked that I make sure everyone knew which day it would be, which I agreed to without thinking, because this just reinforced to everyone I was SUPPOSED to be in the office handling their shit even though I wasn’t. I also didn’t anticipate (and should have) that people would just wait to ask me to do things till I was in the office again, so this step didn’t work out the way I hoped it would have.

BUT. Something I didn’t anticipate brought it all to a head. Someone asked me to mail something for them on a day I was home. I told them I wouldn’t be able to help, and his response … he said the documents were urgent and needed to go out that day, so I would have to go to the office and take care of it. Yeah. He said *I* would have to go to the office to handle his shit for him. I responded with something like (1) boss is cc’d on this email, and (2) while I’ve been willing to help you with your documents in the past, I am not in the office today, so you will need to handle your documents yourself as I am unable to help you. He didn’t respond. My boss messaged me that she liked my email, and we had a good laugh about it. But then I asked her how the admin search was going even though I knew they never even posted anything about an admin position. She admitted it hadn’t happened yet because it wasn’t a priority (it never was) but promised she would handle it. I think this was when she realized I was serious.

At our next weekly Zoom meeting boss announced the admin position and asked everyone to tell their friends, outlined exactly what the position would entail. I thought she would have phrased it as “taking over OP’s work” since that would have been the easiest way to describe it, but instead she framed it as other people’s assistant (e.g. “this way you won’t have to drive into the office to mail your things anymore.”) I was … impressed. The implication that people had OF COURSE been handling their own shit themselves shut down any sort of protest. On one hand it was absurd because boss 100% knew no one was handling their own admin work, but on the other hand I didn’t care. She basically gas-lit the entire team, and it sorta worked. Fair dos.

The admin job was posted very quickly after that but, shockingly, part-time minimum-wage work with no benefits while all alone in a building handling everyone else’s crap isn’t a dream job. Who knew? The talent pool was … non-existent. I think we had 2 applicants in total, the first of which was hired immediately but didn’t show up for her second day, the second one didn’t show up for the interview. If there were more applicants, I wasn’t aware of them. Coworkers continued to send me their requests on the down-low (eyeroll), but I was too tired to protest so I just did them.

So I can’t say they didn’t try, though it was pretty late in the game and they didn’t really try all that hard. But they tried.

I started browsing job-postings. I’m not sure why I waited so long though loyalty probably had a lot to do with it. But one day I was bored and browsed and applied for a job. And another, and another. And every job I applied for got me an interview. Or at least a request for an interview since I ghosted so many of them. The thought of leaving my company and my job and my boss, all of which I loved, was a LOT. Like, a lot a lot. But one of them was a “can’t miss” opportunity — sort of the Moby Dick of my industry — and I took it. Increased pay, decreased responsibility. Putting in my notice was hard, REALLY hard, but I’ve never regretted it.

So. Lessons learned. To managers: PLEASE pay attention to the division of responsibilities. To employees: (1) Do NOT make other people’s problems your problems. Learn how and when and where to draw the boundaries. And (2) sometimes the situation really is too far gone and the only way to fix it is with a hard re-set. Recognizing and accepting it is the hard part. As Kenny Rogers once said, “You got to know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

{ 141 comments… read them below }

  1. TimeTravlR*

    It’s a good lesson to learn early, not to take on other people’s problems like this. It took me far too long to learn it. Good for you, OP!

  2. StellaBella*

    A great update, and terrific framing of boundaries by the OP! Well done and so glad you are now working in a new place.

    1. Well...*

      I was really hoping to read about the chaos that ensued she OP left but this upstate was still p delicious

  3. Lady A*

    Great update! I would just love to know if your manager had anything to say to you after you turned in your notice!

    1. Field Loaf*

      I really want to know how that one coworker reacted when OP said no to sending their package when she was not in the office.

      1. Antilles*

        I’m interested too. If I had to guess, my vote would be “mostly surprise”.
        Like, he’d been so used to treating OP as the pseudo-admin that he’s unconsciously merged it into OP’s job. So when she says no, it’s baffling – like she’s actively refusing to do her job.

    2. Thunder Hammer*

      I quit from a similar position and my boss was just, “So you’re *really* leaving?!” Thought I wasn’t serious about looking for other work, which I’d told him 6 months before. And yes, I was that bad at my job hunt. :(

  4. Ney*

    Aaaaand, how did the boss and coworkers react? Fine, fine, it’s not relevant.

    Well done OP, you were really gracious but still knew when to leave. I wish you all the best.

  5. L-squared*

    This is the perfect example that no matter how much a company claims to care about you, they really only care about you as long as its convenient for them. Its why companies won’t give you a good raise if you ask for one, but will if you have a counter offer. its why they will low ball offers to new people. its why they’ll work you as hard as they can until you push back. They don’t care.

    I say this as someone who has a great manager, but I know that the amount she will advocate for me is only as much as is convenient for her.

    1. Anna*

      Exactly. Something similar happened to me when our admin left and we couldn’t find a new one. Suddenly I was expected to do all of the admin’s work and my own because they said I was the newest and needed to “do my time,” and framed me taking on all the admin work as “pitching in,” saying that I needed to get all of it done before they could give me any more stretch assignments. It took me awhile to figure out that there was always going to be a revolving door of admin work and they were perfectly happy if I filled my time that way.

  6. Keymaster of Gozer*

    This is a brilliant five star example of how you handled this professionally and perfectly. Your assertion of boundaries is just perfect and dare I say inspiring.

    1. allathian*

      Oh yes, I agree. What a lovely update. When I read the original post, all I could think was that it was time to quit.

  7. Gigi*

    Yep, I think you just taught a master class in how to handle this stuff. If the company has as much potential as you say they do, I hope they learn from this entirely self-inflicted wound.

  8. Amber Rose*

    Hooray! I mean, I know leaving a long term position you love is hard, but more money and less responsibility is a pretty sweet way to soften the blow.

  9. Risha*

    Good for you for quitting. Better late than never! And I completely understand your feeling of loyalty, but I hope you use this learning experience to never feel that way again. It’s one thing to give your all, do your job right, be a team player, go above and beyond. But it’s a whole other thing to be dumped on the way you were. The way I got over my feelings of loyalty/reluctance to quit a job was thinking about how they would fire/lay me off in a split second without any care if I needed the money or insurance. They aren’t loyal to workers.

    And sadly, managers (bad ones) all over will never look at division of tasks. These types of managers truly do not care if one person is overwhelmed, they just want to look good to their superiors. The only solution to these types of managers is to quit.

    Moving forward, I hope you feel confident and comfortable enough to push back on coworkers who try to take advantage or dump their tasks on you. If you give people an inch, they will take 10 miles and still complain about you. Work on setting strong boundaries at work. It’s difficult at first, but with time you’ll find it so easy to shut down these types of coworkers.

    1. Zorak*

      Yes, OP, don’t think of this as learning that loyalty is overrated, but instead as a wake-up call that the things you put up with and your reluctance to job search went beyond good loyalty into “needless self-sacrifice”.

      I feel like part of people’s reluctance to shake off these self-imposed emotional yokes is that you think the choice is between the virtue you’re trying to live out vs. becoming jaded. But really it’s often about realizing that being a doormat has nothing to do with the principles of loyalty/kindness/whatever that are important to you.

      And being a doormat isn’t good for anyone- most importantly for you, but also for the people unhealthily relying on you constantly taking Ls for them.

    2. St Paul Ite*

      If you give people an inch they will take 10 miles…

      It took me way to long to admit this in my own work life. Stong boundaries are the only way to go. It was extremely awkward for me at first but it got easier. As with much in life, we teach others how to treat us based on what we tolerate.

      All the best to you OP.

  10. Orishgal*

    OP i think it might be worth exploring why you “LOVED” a company, team etc who repeatedly showed you a lack of respect. I wonder does that play out anywhere else in your life?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I mean, I’ve had jobs where I loved the work and generally liked my coworkers, even though the bosses treated us all without respect. It’s not always that black and white.

      1. Be Gneiss*

        Or OP loved the actual job…just not the extra admin work that got dumped on top with no end in sight.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I took that to mean that they loved the role pre-admin dumping fiasco. Very often we put up with things after they’ve changed because we believe if we just keep making enough left turns we can go back to exactly where we were just a moment ago. It’s more often the case that the halcyon days were just fair weather ones, and the people you were getting along so splendidly with, were just simply fair weather friends. Unfortunately OP’s colleagues were always (secretly) selfish jackasses – it just wasn’t apparent until the choice on their scales was either”come into the office occasionally to do non remote tasks” or “get OP to indefinitely continue a temporary favour”. Lots of people in the comments implied OP should never have been temporarily helpful; but she trusted these people and why would she not? In reality, there’s a ton of workplaces (like mine) where the extra measures some of us went to, to help those sheltering did not lead to people taking the absolute piss.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Examples like this are why, while we struggle to fill in the reception role here, I’ve made it clear in *advance* that while I am willing to help at it in short stints and even train people who will be sitting in only for two weeks, I do not want to go back to that desk full time. I have a job.

    3. GythaOgden*

      I’m in that job right now, though. I’ve truly enjoyed my job and found most parts of it fulfilling. I like the people I work with and it’s possible to differentiate between a few nice-but-dim people who need a wake up call and others who are doing their best to sort things out.

      We’re also having our first Christmas office party (like supermarket finger food in the board room, nothing fancy) again. We’re starting to get noticed. I think there’s a systematic issue with WFH vs in-person that needs to be resolved, and I don’t personally think that it’s all the fault of management — many of the people need to be told to be more mindful and management shouldn’t have to force them to be more respectful; to me, that’s something people should do anyway — but I hope that some accommodations will be made so that WFH and in-person teams can collaborate better without WFHers treating in-person people quite badly.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        From your lips to management’s ears – and to stick in their brains. Work from home AND in office jobs can be great, but only if they work together – and work together does NOT translate to “Any in office people get thrown all the grunt work regardless of their intended role.”

        We’re losing most of one department to work from home access – they DID work from home for more severe waves but now are being told they can’t, so they’re leaving one by one to find places they can. There were DEFINITELY issues when they were WFH about access and staying in communication, and that’s now being used as a bludgeon to deny it to them. My opinion (as one of the people most directly affected by those issues), is that they were solvable without just losing the team, if management wanted to just be a bit more firm — but of course the upper levels making the decision aren’t asking.

        1. GythaOgden*

          IME the upper management are the ones who feel they can only come in once every other month, which is why they’re trying to dispense with our office switchboard and the techs who rely on it in-office are frustrated with them. It’s complicated because we run reception for three main local organisations, and yeah, at some point one of them had to step back from running a switchboard for the other two, but the decisions are being made by people who really don’t see and can’t comprehend the need for it, yet they still have massive interests in the number of people who think we’re the org’s head office because we were in the past and still phone in to us.

          Then they stand in reception and brag about how much money they’re saving WFH in front of both of us receptionists, who are being paid a fraction of what they are, who have been in every single working day since March 2020.

          I just have no more words for this ridiculousness and am going to bed before my words become any more salty.

  11. Observer*

    OP, you handled this REALLY well.

    And, I’m sooo glad that you moved on. Based on what you said, I don’t think that they really cared about getting someone in to do that work. And, I don’t think your boss was “gaslighting” the team. I think that she actually didn’t really think about how much of the work you were actually doing.

    I don’t think anything would have ever changed. Because even once you make it extremely, crystal clear that you were truly serious, your boss couldn’t muster the will or resources to actually tackle the problem appropriately. And although she didn’t “force” you to take on all of these jobs, at no point did she show that she had your back.

    Which is a long way of saying that you did the only reasonable thing.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And I bet that lack of understanding of just how much admin work you had taken on is also why the person hired to do the admin work left. I bet they watched how much there actually was in that one day of training and decided they weren’t going to be able to handle it all.

      1. Kate*

        You mean that the boss underestimated the amount of admin work when they made it as a part-time job?

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I’m thinking the boss was in general in aware of all the extra Admin Work being dumped on OP because remember Boss was also rarely in the office too. When you don’t fully know what the workload is it’s impossible to really write a job description.
          So I can totally see the boss thinking part time, light Admin work when what was really going on was need a full time, very experienced Office Manager or similar Admin employee, but because boss was never there they had no clue just how bad the workload had gotten.
          Been there, lived that, and it’s the reason I changed fields completely.

    2. GythaOgden*

      Boss can do anything she likes, but it takes the rest of the team to do what she needed them to do. From what’s been written on this forum over the last few years, people have rebelled against bosses trying to make things more equitable by asking people to go back, and people have quit or been advised to quit rather than be managed.

      So ultimately, blaming management inaction is unfair, because Fergusina from accounts wouldn’t bother going back, kick up a stink about being made to go and do her own document packaging, or leave comments on message boards about ‘the great resignation’ or whatever.

      The WFH people need to go back in or face consequences, and ultimately, that’s up to them to be managed rather than us to continue to care about a luxury most people don’t actually have.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, in office jobs that can’t be made 100% paperless, it’s not unreasonable to expect everyone to come into the office occasionally to deal with the tasks that can’t be done remotely, rather than dumping everything on the in-office employees. If there’s a good reason beyond simple preference for someone to WFH 100%, say as a disability accommodation, or because someone they live with is high-risk, then their job description needs to reflect that, so that they aren’t dumping a part of their job on an in-office employee.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I’ve lived with someone who is high risk before the pandemic and couldn’t get an accommodation to work from home because my job can’t be done from home. There are many, many people without the luxury of WFH (probably most of the population, including a friend of mine) who live with high-risk people, and I wish people would take us into account.

          Please remember being able to work from home AT ALL is a luxury and act accordingly. We just have to get on with things and while the sentiment is admirable, the reality is that we need to stop acting like WFH isn’t a huge privilege only available to a few people (20% of the population?) and start looking after the people who keep your infrastructure running. We’ve had zero voice in the conversation and — I’m sorry, I like and respect you, and find you have often a lot of good stuff to say — but your comments are a bit like ‘let them eat cake’ at this point. I’m disabled myself — physically — and I have zero choice as to whether I have to go out. Zero. Many disabled people, neurodivergent or physical, are underemployed, and that means that we’re more likely to be in situations where we can’t work from home.

          Sorry to let fly, but we’ve been in office every working day since March 2020, you don’t have a choice if you want your tech to work or your mail to be sorted and delivered (paperless offices are a myth) or your mobile phone to be set up and sent out, you need to own the fact that most people simply can’t work from home and get to grips with the situation as it is in reality, rather than in your own small bubble.

          1. Cate*

            That’s true, but it’s not the situation here and it doesn’t seem to be what Allathian is saying. OP should have had others pitching in. I also think blaming the bosses is fine, because if the person in accounts knew that the message from the top was that going in is part of their role and they need to post whatever, it would be done. They allowed the other people at the company to shirk responsibility.

  12. Smithy*

    Thank you for your update and I think that a strong part of this update is the reality that often “fixing” a problem – even one you did not create and even when there’s some willingness to fix it – often will take your time and energy.

    The OP was going to have to be part of training this admin position – which would likely be a rotating reality given the pay offered or if the decision was made to contract with a temp agency. And again, if you’re already at the end of your bandwidth – the reality of what it means to be part of the solution may not longer be where someone wants to invest their time and energy.

  13. Sunflower*

    I think a lot of people, especially those of a certain age (including me), have been brainwashed into being “loyal” to a company and feel guilty when leaving for greener pastures. Good job for breaking free.

    I’m really glad people entering the workforce nowadays are learning that while they need to do a good job, they don’t owe their lives to the company.

    1. bopper*

      not sure if it is “brain-washed loyalty” or that there is a hurdle to switching jobs…when the pain of staying > that hurdle people start looking.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        For me when I was first starting out it was a combination of “I need the money from this job to keep a roof over my head” and “It’s a lousy job market there aren’t a lot of opportunities” combined with people advising me having jobs in a “once you’re in, you’re in and you can spend a whole career there with good benefits and a pension” culture.

        Oh, and all those things were added layered on top of a formed-in-childhood case of “good girl-itis” where doing what I were told and being a helpful team player who didn’t assert her own needs and boundaries was often the safest (or only) path culturally and personally.

        It took a while to shake that off … I still remember the first time I switched jobs, multiple people (older siblings, folks who had been giving me advice) freaked out when I told them I’d asked for more after receiving an offer. In their minds that just wasn’t done … you had to go in, give it your all, be loyal and then you’d get what you deserved.

    2. londonedit*

      I agree, and I think also more generally people put a lot of stock in being a ‘good person’ who ‘doesn’t let people down’, and the idea of saying no in a time of crisis – whether it’s work or otherwise – goes against that. So their ‘I’m a good person, I don’t let people down, I pull my weight’ feelings kick in, and they say OK, sure, I can come to the office once a week while we’re in lockdown just to make sure we don’t miss anything major in the post or anything. Oh, and yes, I suppose if Sally can’t send that important document to the client from home, then sure, I can print it out for her and send it. Oh…and now Dave is asking me to send things for him, too…OK, well, just this once…what’s that? John wants me to meet his client for him? Bill’s asking me to come in on my working from home day to send a package for him? Er…

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I hate seeing this phrased as “brainwashing”. Changing jobs isn’t always a sure bet: The new job that looks like it’s going to be better could end up being Hellish in some other way that you didn’t expect and couldn’t know from the interview. At least with a current dysfunctional job, you know how to navigate all the broken stairs.

      1. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

        This was the inverse of the classic missing stair situation. Instead of management refusing to fix the one broken stair, in this case management was happy to let everyone step on the one stair that was still working, blissfully ignoring the likelihood that the good stair would eventually break.

    4. Artemesia*

      The only time ‘loyalty’ makes sense is when the company has actually shown it. My father worked his whole career for a ginormous company. And watched many outstanding peers laid off during downturns. But early on in his career he had a health problem that hospitalized him for six weeks and had him out of work for 3 mos. They paid his salary the whole time and didn’t pressure him to come back prematurely. As a result he was utterly loyal.

      A boss who goes the extra mile for you deserves loyalty — everyone else you owe your best work while employed but don’t give a thought to the organization when it is time to move on.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        I’d quibble that a boss who goes the extra mile for you deserves *consideration* but not exactly loyalty. Like, you think about how your decisions, career moves might impact them and their work and not be a jerk, but also still do what’s right for you and those who depend on you in your real life. And if you leave, keep your eyes out for potential opportunities for the good boss if you come across them.

        And as part of that, you should keep in mind that there are no guarantees a good boss will remain your boss, so you have to consider the overall culture of the organization you’re in.

    5. Zee*

      I feel guilty when I quit somewhere and I don’t think it’s about a feeling of loyalty at all. I feel guilty even when quitting a job that sucks, at an organization that’s awful, with a terrible boss. My boss at my last job looked devastated when I told her I was leaving… I didn’t even like her, and I still felt guilty. I think non-sociopathic humans just have a general dislike of upsetting people, even if the people in question kind of suck.

  14. Field Loaf*

    “And while it was very nice I don’t LIKE that work, so making it official was the exact opposite of what I wanted.”

    There’s a lesson learned for managers in that line, as well. Like OP, I will do my own admin-type work without (very much) complaining, but just bc I am good at it doesn’t mean I want to do everybody’s admin work, not even if my role is redefined. For some people, increased pay along with the new role will offset their dislike of whatever task, but for other people, like me, even offering a pay raise will not make increasing the level of work they hate as part of their official duties into a desirable outcome.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I used to be an admin who did work for several people at my company on top of my own work duties. I didn’t mind it too much (except for doing it for one person who was definitely my BEC) but now that I only do my own admin stuff, I can’t believe how much more enjoyable work is. Doing admin for other people is a LOT of work. I’m always amazed at the people who think that delegating stuff to someone else is easier than doing it themselves, because except for the easiest of tasks there will be a lot of back-and-forth between the two people to make sure it’s done right. Sure, it makes sense if that person is a dedicated admin who will repeatedly do the tasks or the tasks are really easy (like in this case, printing and mailing are simple but definitely do take up time), but to ask a colleague to do it for you? Grow up and learn how to address an envelope. But I’m especially side-eyeing this company (a TON) for not getting a stamps.com account or something and showing everyone how to use it themselves, and getting printers for a few WFH people who really need to print and mail things a lot. That would have been a whole lot easier than trying to find a new employee to do it for them and then they also wouldn’t have to find someone to replace OP. Not a smart move, OP’s company, not a smart move at all.

      1. dream weaver*

        “I’m always amazed at the people who think that delegating stuff to someone else is easier than doing it themselves, because except for the easiest of tasks there will be a lot of back-and-forth between the two people to make sure it’s done right. ”

        Even a dedicated admin! I am in an industry where personal (or even departmental, in some cases) admins are a thing of the past. Being mid career, I haven’t existed in a world where I’ve ever had an admin to do things for me. My boss this week asked what I thought about hiring a part time admin to help me out, and all I can think of is all the time I will spend hiring, onboarding, training, and delegating to this part time person (and who even wants a part time admin job??).

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          My boss at that job usually purchased his own plane tickets but there were a couple of times he wanted me to buy them for him and it was ridiculous how much back and forth we had to do. Seriously, unless you 100% know when the person wants to fly and how much they are willing to spend (he was also a cheapskate), it’s impossible to buy plane tickets for someone else.

          1. Artemesia*

            one of the only times someone else bought my tickets was for a trip to China where my husband was to accompany me. The person who managed tickets didn’t ask and didn’t know that my husband has a different last name — and didn’t even email to ask his ‘passport name’ for the tickets. The result was that although we didn’t have to pay for the wrong ticket, we could not get it renamed and so had to book a ticket on another flight — we re-united at Narita for the last leg. It was stupid (airlines are committed to being customer unfriendly) and reminded me why I do things like this myself. Only reason the ticket was booked for me was it was a group going and they handled the whole group.

          2. Cheesesteak+in+Paradise*

            Or be like that one letter that I think accidentally bought their boss tickets to Naples Florida instead of Naples Italy (or vice versa). Never get asked to buy tickets again!

      2. Random Bystander*

        Or there’s another system that we use at my work — it is limited (page count wise), although perhaps there are additional plans that allow more .. but you save your documents as a pdf (using another program to merge if you have two or more pieces so that it’s all one file), and it’s essentially printing, using the specified “printer” which actually sends it to the other company and *they* print and mail to the address specified (and if requested, can send certified).

        A lot of other systems are now allowing us to upload the larger docs (still have to change into pdf/merge into one file), so very little physical print/mail is actually required.

    2. Hannah Lee*

      It’s also good to remember that this often isn’t happening in a workplace or societal vacuum.

      As a woman in male dominated (tech, manufacturing) work environments, it’s very easy for others to slide admin-y work your way. “Just this once” or “it’s got to go our or we lose the contract” clerical, admin, or logistics stuff can get pinned to you and suddenly you find that you’re the go to for fixing the copier jams, or completing the fed ex AWBs or dealing with the HVAC person coming to sort out the airflow or ordering food for the office party … while the actual stuff in your job description, the stuff that could get you raises and promotions and new opportunities gets pushed to the bottom of your list or assigned to your co-workers because you’re too busy doing all the other stuff.

      I remember trying to push back on my VP when we moved to an open office plan and he wanted my workspace to be right next to his, the department admin to his right, me a business manager responsible for a team of 8 and multiple projects to his left. In his mind, I was a senior person people could check in with if he wasn’t around, like his second in command. In reality, just as I predicted, people started treating me as his “back up admin” … if Rose wasn’t at her desk, they’d ask me to do her job instead of waiting for her to come back or doing whatever themselves. I never saw anyone do that to my peer the male business manager who sat on the other side of Rose.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Nah. It’s not gendered at all. I’m in a female-heavy environment (public healthcare) and we get the same cluelessness and arrogance from senior management. One of the worst offenders was a woman. Both of the people whose managers have apologised to me about when they overstepped their authority over me regarding admin were women, as were their managers.

        This is not a gendered thing at all.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          I disagree with the “at all”, as it really really often is a factor – there’s enough anecdata about it to start approaching the level of actual data. That it is now ALSO happening to in-office vs wFH staff members doesn’t mean gender isn’t and never was a part of it.

          And it can indeed even happen when a senior manager is a woman (Just because she got away or all that admin work doesn’t mean he won’t see other women as default admin people if she doesn’t catch herself.)

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Similar to what Lenora Rose said, it’s not so much about the gender of the people foisting their work off on people. It’s the gender of the people who are expected to *do* the extra admin stuff.

          Obviously, I don’t know your organization, so I have no idea what forces may or may not be in play there. The key question, generally, is whether people are asking women to provide admin support that they wouldn’t ask a man with a similar job title/level to do.

          1. GythaOgden*

            I guess. I don’t have much directly data on the other side of things, being a woman managed by other women, but there’s a team in house (IT repair) which is mostly men that also gets the short end of the stick as regards in-person v WFH, if that helps matters. One guy fell out with his female boss over her doing it to him, and the upshot of it was that she was told to cut it out and then left under a cloud. But a lot of the in-office IT guys are, we’ll, guys, and they still end up complaining that their bosses, male and female, are getting them to do more than their fair share.

            So actually, no, it’s not gendered, not IME. In IT it’s almost even reverse gendered — the women are more likely to have roles that allow WFH and men are more prominent on the front line services, doing the repairs, fielding visitors about smart cards etc.

            1. Kit*

              Well, yes, if the only people available to assign duties to are male, then they will be assigned to men. But Hannah Lee was describing a situation in which, given an option between a man and a woman, the administrative/’secretarial’ duties were assumed to be the sort of thing that a woman would handle, even though both Hannah and her male coworker were peers and each had their own job to do.

              The gendered assumptions that underlay this sort of behavior – that in the absence of a person whose job duties explicitly include them, administrative and organizational work should be assigned to the nearest woman – are very well-documented, even if you happen not to observe them in your specific workplace.

        3. Truth*

          Revising with an example. Two employees in the same role, one male and one female. Who gets asked to get coffee? Who gets asked to clean up? Who is asked to create the calendar invite? Women. POC. Nonbinary individuals. Always? No, obviously not. Often? Very. Infuriating, sole crushing, and a main reason people leave? Of course.

          Who is more likely to be able to assert they have too much work without being questioned? Men.

          And if it’s a matter of women treating other women unfairly, that happens all the time. This is about the recipient of the work.

          OP example is more complicated but it’s the same idea.

        4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          The gendered bit is where everyone goes to Hannah Lee rather than the guy whose office is on the other side of Rose’s. Fergus has important work to do!

    3. whingedrinking*

      This is (one) reason why teachers often hesitate to call out sick. Going to work with a cold sucks, but so too does having to put down in writing a detailed explanation of all the things you need to happen in your classroom that day, not to mention getting everything realigned once you get back.

    4. coffee*

      Yeah, the conversation can be summed up as:

      OP: “I really dislike doing this kind of work.”
      Boss: “I see. How about we change your role so you keep doing that kind of work permanently for no extra pay?”

      I mean really!

  15. Antilles*

    So I can’t say they didn’t try,
    I can say they didn’t try. And I will say that.

    Your company ignored your request for help for MONTHS until a particularly egregious response and your firm refusal made them finally decide to do something about it. They deserve zero credit here; they had no real intent to ever do something about it.

    Then when they were absolutely forced into it, they offered the most laughably zero-effort thing imaginable. Part-time, no benefits, minimum-wage? That’s the actual bare minimum they can legally offer. Of course you only had two applicants, because at the level, you’re not even competitive with the local grocery store or gas station; never mind other administrative positions.

    This isn’t actually “trying”, this is “pretending”.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I agree. They only “tried” when OP forced their hand and even then, I can’t call what they did “trying” at all.

      I desperately want to know, like other commenters here, what the company did and how they reacted when OP quit.

    2. Ama*

      Yeah the thing is, when I went to my current employer about my unsustainable workload — they did something about it. My boss took certain responsibilities over immediately so that I wouldn’t have to wait for new hires (or what ended up happening, which is that my team got restructured into a larger department where we could have some staff redundancies and also reduce everyone’s overall day-to-day responsibilities). I didn’t have to actually say “you need to fix this or I’m leaving” to my boss because she got it.

      I had a previous employer that did a lot of what OP’s employer did (promised help and then dragged their feet and also tried to get away with hiring a part time person when we really needed a full time one) and that’s why they are my previous employer — and had to hire three people to replace me. I remember my old boss telling me when I left “I’m trying to figure out why your position has become the dumping ground for every task” and it was all I could do to not scream “BECAUSE YOU WON’T LET ME TELL PEOPLE NO.”

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m imagining you just silently staring at Old Boss for an awkward amount of time.

    3. Observer*

      I can say they didn’t try. And I will say that.


      This isn’t actually “trying”, this is “pretending”.

      Really do sum it up.

    4. Lily*

      That’s some clear vision and clear speaking right there.
      Antilles, I want to be on your team during the coming zombie apocalypse.

  16. Person from the Resume*

    You know what’s going to happen is the company going to (try to) hire an “Operations Manager” that is not part time, not minimum wage, with benefits to take over the LW’s old job plus the admin work. And there’s nothing wrong with that because it should be clear from the jump that the admin work is part of the job.

    It sucks for the LW until the mismanagement led her to find a better, higher paying job where she’s not treated as the admin assistant. To be clear the non-confrontational manager was a problem.

    This is reminescent of something that has been happening in the military for years. Military members job duties are outsourced to contractors, but all those designated “additional duties” can’t be put on the contractors so it falls on the smaller and smaller pool of remaining active duty members to do all the additional duties required by the unit.

  17. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    I really appreciated the level of detail OP provided in the examples of verbiage – all those nuances are super important! I really admired the self-awareness.

    I’m so glad you have an amazing new position!

  18. Birdie*

    Congrats! The original letter really resonated with me; the nature of my job is having very busy periods and then lulls in between, and during the lull periods people sort of think of me as their admin who they can dump any unwanted duties onto: changing reservations, collecting or sending mail, meeting delivery people. Hell, one (able-bodied) colleague wants me to get things off an upstairs printer and walk them to him one flight down. We’re a small staff, and I’m happy to help out occasionally, but it’s been increasingly infringing on my actual work duties as people start thinking of me as the go-to for this kind of stuff. I’m currently deep in the interview process for a new position elsewhere that is specifically devoted to my actual area of expertise and, according to the employees I’ve talked to has a ton of backlog to work through, so I’m hoping to be following OP’s steps soon!

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Fingers crossed for you!

      This is something I find so frustrating. I like to be able to help my colleagues when I have downtime. But I also recognize the ways this can backfire on me. That kind of approach permeates my whole organization. Various teams refuse to help on stuff because they (very reasonably!) don’t want to end up stuck with whatever it is forever. And I get it, especially as someone in a part of the organization that has often been a dumping ground for stuff that other parts don’t want to do. But the result is that we collectively accomplish less than we could otherwise.

    2. Zee*

      I had a job like that. I didn’t love having other people’s work dumped on me, but during a lull period it wasn’t the worst thing ever… except then they’d continue to dump stuff on me when I was actually busy. And not take “no” for an answer. When they did finally accept that I wasn’t going to do it, they’d get pissy with me. And of course they never returned the favor when they were the ones in a lull period.

  19. MK*

    I think your last phrase is something a lot of people should learn and keep in mind. The reality is that once a situation becomes the status quo, it’s incredibly difficult to change. The only times I have seen it work is is you have a hardass dictator of a boss who handles it like “This is how it’s going to be going forward, effective immediately, no exceptions for any reason, anyone who disobeys will be disciplined fast and hard”.

    1. londonedit*

      Definitely. Once you become known as ‘the person who always does X’ it can be incredibly difficult to extricate yourself from it without clear direction from someone higher up. Early on in my career I was promoted from a general office admin job into a specifically editorial job, and was asked to carry on helping to cover reception over lunch until they hired a replacement for me. You can see where this is going – long after they’d actually hired someone it ended up being ‘oh, londonedit will cover reception’ and ‘oh, if londonedit is on reception at lunchtime just ask her to send that out, she knows how to do it’. It took quite a lot of guts for me to say to my new boss that I didn’t want to keep getting roped into doing bits of my old job, because when you’re junior you do think well, it’s part and parcel of everything to be the one getting stuck with the bits and pieces the senior people don’t have time for, but once I did she absolutely put a stop to it because she wanted me to concentrate on learning how to do my new job.

    2. Jackalope*

      I’ve also seen it done effectively by giving everyone a specific start date that is, say, 2 weeks into the future, giving everyone the chance to ask questions and raise issues during that time, and then proceeding with the new plan. In this situation I would also, for example, have had the o/o spend a couple of weeks right up front NOT going into the office at all so everyone could get used to doing things without her.

  20. Warrior+Princess+Xena*

    “Part-time, minimum wage work with no benefits”

    Do these people not understand the value that really good office admins or operations managers bring to an office? Our firm has at least three admins just for our office, not counting any of the EAs who work with the partners OR the dedicated word processing group and they are 100% the people who keep things flowing in the office smoothly.

    With this company, if they were getting more value out of OP staying as the admin, that’s another way of saying “this admin work is bringing us more value than the skilled work OP was doing at the same salary”. They should be paying on OP’s level at the VERY LEAST.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      No, they don’t. After all, this employee was handling it all on top of her regular work, so how much trouble could it be?

    2. Ama*

      They really don’t, speaking as someone who started her career in those type of roles (and got out of it in no small part because I was tired of being overworked and undervalued).

      These days I do what I can to speak up to senior management about how much admin a certain project or process requires especially when the volume changes but it is really really hard to get someone who doesn’t have to do the day to day admin on a process to understand exactly how much work and high-level problem solving it often requires.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Bet they were really underestimating how much admin work there was to be done, and hoping to get a “mom looking to transition back into the working world who doesn’t really need the money” as it was bluntly put at a former job. No, this job didn’t get any of their first picks either – because they all removed themself from the process as soon as they found out the pay (which wasn’t in the posting).

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      No, they don’t, because a lot of the work great admins do is invisible. They’re preventing problems before they happen, solving problems right away, and generally keeping everything running smoothly. And nobody else has to pay attention to any of it, so they don’t.

      I’m not an admin, but my job has a fair bit of coordinating / ensuring that things get done on time. I’ve realized recently that my current Director has no idea just how complicated and frustrating one piece of my coordinating is. And how much some of the areas I have to coordinate with make things harder on me for no reason. A big part of this is probably that he hasn’t been CC’d on the various e-mails (and follow-ups) requesting information or been invited to the meetings that leave me wanting to pull my hair out. (Including Directors in those e-mails or meetings would be seen as an extremely aggressive move). His response is to tell us that this process is always stressful.

    5. Zap R.*

      Office admins are chronically undervalued.

      My company is really, really big on peer nominations. If a colleague goes out of their way for you or does something particularly impressive, you can nominate them for several awards and those awards come with pretty impressive prizes.

      Anyway, turns out that if you’re the person responsible for doing the stuff everyone takes for granted, you don’t get nominated for anything. I’m the first person people see when they walk in, the last person they see when they leave, and the go-to person for everything from office supplies to mailing help to first aid, but all of that work is just seen as meeting expectations.

  21. DisneyChannelThis*

    Really glad you were able to get out! it’s hard realizing that a company you care a lot about doesnt care about you back. I hope your new job has lots of WFH days and amazing admins!

  22. Chicago Anon*

    There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.

    And now you are. Congratulations!

  23. Lizzo*

    I think this quitting update is way better than a “spell it out in cod and drop a match on the kerosene-drenched bridge on the way out” quitting update. (Okay, maybe I like them both equally.)

    You handled yourself professionally. You drew the boundaries and (mostly) enforced them. You tried to use the “correct” channels to get this resolved. And you seem to have emerged with your sense of self intact, recognizing that it’s a “them” problem and not a “you” problem. All of this bodes very well for your future career, LW. Well done, and best of luck!

  24. Meep*

    Good for you!

    I was in a similar situation. (Albit different because we didn’t have an admin because my boss hated other women.) My boss got fired, and we now have an admin assistant/office manager. It is vital! Shame they couldn’t get you one, but I am proud of you for getting what you need.

    1. Zap R.*

      The issue is that sometimes admins and office managers become a dumping ground for tasks people don’t feel like doing. Technically my job involves “other duties as required,” but that doesn’t make it right or fair for someone to say “I actually don’t want to come in today. Can you onboard my new hire?”

  25. RJ*

    OP, I started off in admin support and I know the daily grind of just completing your regularly assigned tasks. Having others given to you because everyone is WFH but you, with no concession given to your time AND the strain this puts on you tells me all I need to know about your former company. Good on you for setting your boundaries, exiting and finding a better job. Bad on them for not stepping up and actually doing something OR paying for the admin services they obviously need.

  26. Orange juice*

    Kudos to the OP for handling this so professionally!
    I’m sorry that your former company didn’t handle it differently.
    I’m glad to hear that you got a better job and wish you the best.

  27. Panda (she/her)*

    Way to go OP! I left an organization for similar reasons (workload issues I raised that got lip service but never fixed), and I had been loyal to them for so long that the decision to leave was SO HARD. I’m glad you’re in a better place now (I am too).

  28. Sara without an H*

    OP, you handled this perfectly. Your experience illustrates, once again, the downside of letting personal loyalty interfere with one’s own interests.

    Congratulations on your new position! And let’s hope your old management learns something from the experience.

  29. HearTwoFour*

    Why ghost any of the interviews? You mentioned it so flippantly in your narrative but it’s nothing to brag about.

    1. GiantPanda*

      I read that as ghosting interview requests. As in not answering the email to schedule an interview.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        That’s also how I read it. It’s entirely possible OP just got more requests than they could handle at once and picked the “best” ones from the stack.

    2. Stephen!*

      The answer is in the update: “Or at least a request for an interview since I ghosted so many of them. The thought of leaving my company and my job and my boss, all of which I loved, was a LOT. Like, a lot a lot. ”

      It’s not a brag. It can be hard to do something that you’re not really sure you want.

  30. ariel*

    I understand that not all updates warrant a full on “it’s a journey” post but I love a long-form update. Congrats on your new job and appropriate level of responsibility, OP!

  31. Orange You Glad*

    I think it’s telling that when a coworker tried to make OP go to the office to do his work the boss just “had a good laugh” about it. I’m glad the boss backed up OP that it wasn’t their job but as a manager, that would have triggered me to have a serious conversation with that employee about why he was expecting OP to do his work.
    Managers can be good people while still being crappy managers. I think that was the case here and I’m glad OP is in a better situation now.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      That bugged me to, but it’s possible that manager did have a conversation with the other employee about doing his own work and not leaving things to the last minute that the manager didn’t see/hear about.

      Not overly hopeful given what and how they handled the whole admin job posting though.

      1. Observer*

        but it’s possible that manager did have a conversation with the other employee about doing his own work and not leaving things to the last minute that the manager didn’t see/hear about.

        It doesn’t really matter. In the moment, OP’s boss should have spoken up and said that this was an absolutely inappropriate demand.

    2. cncx*

      Yup, I got dumped on a lot for mail and scanning and door opening during the pandemic and the one time I got a truly beyond the pale request (collate a binder for a legal filing that had to be done a certain way and taken to the post office to get a special stamp with about 90 minutes notice…I work in IT but they knew I was a paralegal in a past life) the guy was falling over himself apologizing for asking me, the ceo personally told me thank you, I got lunch paid etc… the requestor and their boss needed to be way more apologetic than they were and especially after the push back. Like email from boss to employee with op on cc about how we know this isn’t op’s job etc.

  32. Liz Lemon*

    I really feel for you OP! I also have this “happy to help” instinct, and I feel it can be such a mixed bag. I feel that it sometimes can really help you build a reputation, especially when you’re in an entry level job that others in the office don’t value much or consider skilled. When you’re competent and “happy to help” you can start to build a reputation. In my current job, it got me a promotion after a year and some change, and I generally feel like being generally helpful has made me a highly valued employee. But at another past job, I got told I couldn’t under any circumstances get out of front desk coverage (not at all what I was hired for). Like you I had to leave in order to get out of it. Of course, they acted like they had no idea why I was leaving.

  33. GythaOgden*

    Sympathies, OP. This is happening to us fully in-person employees as well. It’s putting a lot of strain on the system and it’s the flip side of the WFH coin. I get your choice was to be in the office, but ours isn’t a choice, and people still ask us as facilities workers to do their organisation’s admin on top of what we do in Facilities. We had someone on the other side of the country who needed us to send a package for her demanding we get her a packing box to send it in…when we (a) aren’t paid by her org to do that and (b) we’re not given any such supplies by our management because we’re not responsible for it.

    It’s turned a really good job into a living nightmare. The office is still needed — where else are IT going to issue, dispatch and repair kit from? — and some teams have come back in house to better deliver some services that could go remote during the pandemic. But with people now thinking they can live in Cornwall or Nottinghamshire — 200 miles in opposite directions from our office in Berkshire — and still work with their teams and be in touch, the real strain on the system is starting to show.

    I have a meeting with my regional manager next week to sort out some of the issues they can address alongside my own desire to move on. But it’s becoming a case of absentee landlords putting pressure on us (who are much less well-paid than we are, and still have to expend energy and money coming in and out of work.

    I’m so glad you quit because the sooner people stop abusing in-person workers (particularly those who can’t actually work from home), the sooner things will get ironed out. We’ve heard a lot from WFH people over the past three years, but not much from in-person people — and we actually underpin your ability to work from home by having to be in a centralised hub sorting out your equipment.

    I think a lot of privilege has to be checked here, and really, no-one who reads AAM regularly should be doing this or making assumptions that they’re the ones at the bottom of the heap or hard done by by management…because you’re the ones with more power and voice in this situation.

  34. Truth*

    OP did a great job! Some phrases I’ve used that have been effective. Note that it’s crucial to build up a good body of work first or these will not be taken well.

    1) I’ve pitched in with this in the past, but don’t view it as a part of my job description and it’s preventing me from focusing on X and Y. If I take this on, I cannot also do Z which is clearly part of my job description. Could you assign elsewhere?
    2) I’m happy to help, and will complete (X in very specific detail of what you are going to do including an end date). I’m wondering the plan to get this assigned permanently for the future? I know we’re in a pintch but this isn’t a part of my job tasks and I can’t do this consistently. We need full time coverage.
    3) If you get an ask after you’ve said no. Before I switch up my schedule for this, could you let me know about the plan I referenced in this email (attach)? I’m a ~insert role here~ and not admin staff. After that I’m often willing to take it one more time but that’s the absolute last time. After that I switch to I can’t help language.

    Easier said than done but I’m not above looping DEI offices in. Document every single thing. This often has gendered and racialized implications.

  35. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    I know this will be an unpopular opinion among this crowd, but I think this really highlights the problem with employees refusing to go back to the office. SOMEONE has to handle the mail, SOMEONE has to be onsite for vendors and clients, and unless the company was very thoughtful and intentional in creating a remote-first environment, that someone is almost certainly to end up being a lower paid, early career, woman. This OP mentioned she wasn’t particularly new to the office or early in her career but typically those type of office maintenance tasks are given to young, eager women who are socialized not to push back.

    I’m sure OP’s coworkers were congratulating themselves on how wonderfully the transition to remote went for them and declaring that no one should ever have to go back to an office again, but clearly, the only reason they were able to stay home is because someone else took on that labor!

    1. Zap R.*

      I’ve been reamed out for mentioning this before but you’re absolutely right. WFH/hybrid work is a wonderful benefit but there has to be a way to implement it that doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.

      In my office, hybrid work has created a two-tier system where there are employees who receive perks and employees who take on extra responsibilities to implement those perks. (For example, the free food that companies are using to entice people back to the office? Someone has to order said food, receive the delivery, set everything up, and clean afterwards.)

    2. GythaOgden*

      100% agree. Thanks for saying it. I’ve been saying it for a while, but people have had their heads in the sand over it, and we in-person workers get short shrift in the media and on forums like this one. Even the outlets that would usually be pro-worker tend to amplify the pro-WFH stuff rather than speaking up for us and asking WFH employees to take their own privilege into account. (Just like we 9-5, Mon to Fri workers need to remember those who work nights and weekends to keep essential services going.)

    3. coffee*

      I get what you’re saying, but it’s not like a business only has two choices – in office vs. WFH by repressing people. And there are lower paid, early career women who are working from home, so that’s another artificial binary.

      Do companies need to be thoughtful and intentional in how they handle change? Yes. But the answer to the problem of “some companies are dysfunctional and the burden falls harder on the less privileged” isn’t “well, everyone back to the office”.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I agree with you on this one. That said, it’s also unfair if employees who WFH most of the time but whose job descriptions include tasks that can’t be done remotely simply dump those tasks on in-person employees
        to avoid coming in at all.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yeah. What’s happening here is that people who moved 200 miles away and have duties that include coordination of things like dispatching important packages need to be more cognisant that some tasks need someone on the ground to manage that task.

          It’s not as simple a division between what can be done at home and what can’t; what we’re finding is that people need a stronger connection to the office in general because they rely on our services and need to know what we can do and what we can’t do, and what we need in terms of supplies (which is borked — most people now come to reception to scrounge supplies, and I’ve held the line that since we’re not paid by their org and since we don’t need much since we don’t do regular mailings of our own stuff, they need to source their own, leading to a bit of argy-bargy that could be resolved overnight //if someone just bothered coming into the office//.

          In practice, there’s no neat division into home/office. It’s not just about the division of actual labour, but making sure the office can provide the services it needs to provide and making sure we in-person personnel have the ability to do our jobs properly. If it were purely knowing what was needed, then there wouldn’t be a problem — but there is a HUGE problem.

      2. Allonge*

        No, but the answer to ‘if you WFH there is ~20% of your job that needs to be done by someone else in the office’ can be ‘you can only WFH 3 days per week’.

        1. GythaOgden*

          Yup. At least then people will actually still know what goes on and be able to do their jobs properly. We’re straining at the seams because managers are trying to manage from 200 miles away and it’s a logistical nightmare. They forget that their job isn’t just to push a button and make it happen, but to know what resources we need to be able to do our jobs and to be able to give them to us.

          Hybrid working might be the future, but the sooner people realise they can’t do their jobs from 200 miles away, and that they’re not the ones who can actually be sure of that, the better. It’s making so many inequalities so much worse but we just have no power to speak out.

  36. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    OP, I’m especially proud of you for pushing back on your boss in the moment to remind her that these were not – and never had been – formally your job duties.

  37. Zap R.*

    Hey, OP. Same boat here. I really, really needed to see this post today. Best of luck in your new gig and thank you for reassuring me that I’m not nuts.

  38. Quickbeam*

    Thanks for a great update. I’ve worked 2 places that grew like crazy while eliminating all but one admin staff. So you end up with 50-60 people all funneling tasks through one key soul. It’s insane and that person gets offloaded everything. I can’t understand why anyone thinks this is a good idea.

  39. 90s Disney Fan*

    Totally read that “A LOT. Like a lot, a lot” in Lindsay Lohan’s Parent Trap voice.

    “She loves this thing a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. She’s like slept with that thing her entire life, and she could never be like in a foreign country without him.”

  40. Confused*

    I am confused. Would it have been wrong to send an email to all reminding them that it was only supposed to be for two weeks and they would no longer be doing it? Basically, you are all on your own again? I see boundaries were set eventually but did they ever tell people to do their own admin work?

  41. Josephine*

    Good for you! Would LOVE to know what your boss’s reaction was and if people had to come in and do their own shit!

  42. cncx*

    Tangential but had a friend who worked in a medical/insurance adjacent field with a butt ton of mail and their admin got Covid early in the pandemic, couldn’t come back for health reasons (bad case of Covid pre vaccine availability) and was not able to be replaced (because no one was taking jobs to come in at that time and also, it’s complicated enough of a job that you have to know the office and industry).

    the management did something cool knowing that they had to absorb this role internally including sweetening the pot for people who hate admin. They gave everyone a rota of two days a month always the same day, where their only tasks that day are print and scan mail, receive fedex, open for technicians, etc. No other deadlines or meetings and no one could ask them anything else. People who needed to send fedex were allowed to come in to print and collate but were not allowed to ask the person on duty anything more than handing the closed envelope to the fedex person (barring emergencies). Per diem with gas and lunch. My friend lucked out and got fridays, he says it’s like working part time.

    Most importantly, staff who had to be in regardless (facilities, IT infra, the person in legal who did filing) were not part of the rota (barring emergencies). This meant the people who were in anyway only got asked stuff when like, a whole department had Covid, which helped keep goodwill. It also meant that the people who had to be in could do their jobs. There were several floors to the building so it worked out to like a person per floor.

    My long rambling point is there are ways to manage in office availability that don’t screw over people who have to come in like OP’s company did.

  43. That One Person*

    I feel you OP, it can be hard to leave a job you (mostly) enjoy. Like many others I’m left wondering how they’ve dealt with your exit since they no longer have someone daily at the office to do their grunt work. My case is similar in that my role is a one person role so…I mean if anything happened to me in general that was kind of it anyways, and there’d never be a great time to quit unless I had a month or more of notice without a holiday in the way. Boss was already aware of this pitfall and he admitted that he knew it was more a matter of time for me to move on rather than a case of “if.” Makes me wonder if your boss had any similar expectations or that knowledge in the back of their head.

  44. ThisIshRightHere*

    I’m wondering if the coworkers truly understood that the work they were asking of her wasn’t her responsibility? I experienced something like that very recently. I’m new in my job and had been told that a certain process involved asking X person to do Y thing. When I flagged for my boss that X had been slow to respond and it was holding up the process, she informed me (for the first time ever) that Y is not actually X’s job; just a favor he’s been doing for us. I’m sorry, WHAT?! I apologized to X immediately and learned to do the task myself, but wow. What a setup for us both?

  45. Here for the Insurance*

    “There is nothing so permanent as a temporary solution.”

    Someone on this site once posted this and it hit me so hard that I wrote it on my office whiteboard. I’m sorry this was your firsthand experience, OP.

  46. Here for the cookies*

    I feel you, OP. I somehow turned into to default person to handle admin tasks that we didn’t have a person for or if someone just didn’t want to do them. It started off small, but somehow I ended up spending about a third to half of my work week doing stuff that wasn’t my job.

    For me, things finally came to a head this past summer. Right on the heels of me getting a promotion, another person quit and we had a new receptionist start. So, somehow I was doing a time sensitive job, admin work for a manager, most of the tasks from the person who just quit, and covering the receptionist’s hour long lunch.

    I started tracking everything and realized I was spending about 2 hours a day doing my actual job and, since it was a new position, most of that time was spent getting familiar with my new duties. My previous duties basically fell by the wayside and weren’t getting done.

    We hired someone for the most recently vacated position and, around that time, I told HR that I will no longer be the default phone coverage person and I’m splitting the time sensitive job with the Office Manager.

    The manager assistant duties have been a bit trickier, but I recently told him that I’ll continue to do it for now, but only if he gives it to me on the spreadsheet I created for this purpose and emailed to him more than a year ago. He didn’t seem happy, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go.

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