my boss and coworkers are constantly at my house

A reader writes:

I need your help in reclaiming my home. I am an employee at a small consulting company (my boss plus three employees). We all live in the same small town and I often see my boss and coworkers at social functions around town. We each work from our homes and there is no central office.

I live in a very convenient location right downtown, and this has led to my house being used as the central location for the business. For example, my home functions as a place for people to exchange work materials and a place to meet up and park vehicles before working out of town. If my boss wants to meet in person, he invites himself to my house. He does Zoom calls from my house because I have better internet than he does. He also makes me store large pieces of equipment (when I pushed back against this, he said it’s because I have a large house and garage while he lives in a small apartment). I had to train a new hire in my dining room (a five-day endeavor).

One of my colleagues (who I considered a friend before she was hired here) has started imposing even more by asking me to make her coffee, asking to borrow clothing from me, and storing personal belongings at my place when we go on work trips. She’s also using my bathroom twice a day, a few days a week (when we meet at my house to start at a day of work out of town, and when we get back after the workday to pick up her car). I am not a monster that will say no to her when nature calls (she arrives after a 45-minute drive from her house). This isn’t her fault — it’s my boss who has set up the situation that my home is the base for the staff members. But on other days when she works alone, she has asked if she could pop by throughout the day to use my washroom when she’s driving around. I said no to that and suggested she use local businesses (not great for her). I wish I were more welcoming, but it forces me to hide my medications and do a quick cleanup before she gets there, which I’d rather not do. Plus, when she’s in the house she asks if she can have a cup of coffee.

This all makes me feel self-conscious about my house, imposes on my privacy (and my spouse’s privacy), makes me feel taken advantage of, and even annoys my dogs.

I have dealt with some of this by occasionally saying no or coming up with excuses such as “my husband is napping so you can’t come over” or “I ran out of coffee filters so let’s meet at the cafe instead.” I also suggested that my boss rent a local coworking space but he said it was too expensive.

My boss and colleagues aren’t getting the hint that I want my house to be off-limits to them. Now I’m considering having a meeting with my boss to set some boundaries. Ideally I would not want anyone at my house anymore for any reason. I am happy to have my own home office where I complete my work, but I don’t want my boss or colleagues to be at my house anymore, period — not even for non-work reasons at this point. How do I graciously set this boundary without seeming rude or unwelcoming? This has been going on for about 1.5 years. I have started job hunting but in my small isolated town there are few opportunities.

Yeah, this is way too much! If it were just your coworker using your bathroom before heading out on a long drive together or someone occasionally picking up materials, I doubt it would bother you as much — but there are so many boundary violations happening that I can see why you want to put a stop to all of it.

It’s not reasonable for your boss to assume your house can function as a central office hub. It’s not reasonable for him to assume everyone can park their cars there, or you’ll store equipment there or hold a five-day training session there. It might be reasonable for him to ask once, politely — but if you said no or even sounded unenthusiastic, he needed to back off and pay for actual space, like most businesses do. (Speaking of paying, I assume you’re not getting compensated for any of these cost savings you’re providing.)

Your coworker is also crossing boundaries — borrowing clothes and asking to drop in to use your bathroom on days you’re not working together?! But I suspect that stuff is complicated by the fact that you were friends before you worked together. These are all things one might reasonably ask of a good friend, and she likely sees it through that lens instead of a coworker one.

As for how to handle it, you have two options: You can be very direct, or you can come up with an excuse.

The direct option would be saying something like this to your boss: “We’ve been using my house as a central hub, and I need to let you know I won’t be able to do that anymore after this month. (Give a time period so he has time to come up with another solution.) It’s not working for me and my husband to have people coming here so frequently during the day or storing company equipment in our space. Going forward, we’ll need to do meetings somewhere else — or virtually if that’s not possible — and I need you to move the XYZ so we can regain use of that space.”

If he pushes back and cites your large house, you can say, “We need that space for our own things and can no longer loan it to the company. I’m giving you a month’s notice so you have time to rent a storage space or find another solution.” If the date you give him approaches and there’s no indication of movement, at that point I’d just make up a conflict that he’s more likely to respect — like “We have furniture arriving on the 15th that will need to go in that room, so it must be gone before then. If I don’t hear a different plan from you by Friday, I’m going to need to have it shipped to you since it can’t stay here any longer.” It sucks to have to devise an excuse, but if he won’t respect the request without one, then it’s the most practical option to reclaim your home.

Speaking of which … it’s possible this will all go over better if you have a reason beyond just “this is my house and I want to reclaim it.” To be clear, “this is my house and I want to reclaim it” should be enough! But realistically, some people will push back less if you give them an excuse they understand. You have a really good one in the form of your husband (and I am a strong believer that being able to throw each other under the bus when needed — with each other’s permission — is one of the benefits of marriage). So maybe your husband objects to all the comings and goings and asked you to stop it, or maybe his job is cracking down on confidentiality and says he can’t have visitors in the house while he’s working, or maybe he’s now working the night shift and can’t have visitors at your house at all because he’s sleeping. If you didn’t have another person living there, you’d have to get more creative — maybe neighbors are complaining or your homeowners insurance threatened to cancel your policy if you’re found to be conducting business there or on and on.

Again, it’s ridiculous to have to use a cover story. It also might make your life easier if you do. Judge based on what you know about your boss and coworkers.

Speaking of coworkers, you’re going to need to do some boundary-setting there too. It’s pretty hard to deny someone the use of a toilet after a 45-minute drive, so if you really don’t want your coworker using your bathroom you’re better off meeting in a public place on the days you’re driving together. Beyond that, you can just say no when she calls from the road asking to use your bathroom (“sorry, not a good day for it” or “I’m swamped and can’t have visitors”) or asks for coffee (“I don’t have time today; we’ll have to catch up later”). But it might be easier to just have a forthright conversation about it, especially since you’re friends: “I’ve started to feel like my house belongs to the company and I’m going to be setting better boundaries, which means not letting anyone drop by to use the bathroom or grab coffee or do meetings here.”

One really important thing: You wrote that you don’t want to seem rude or unwelcoming. But it’s not rude to want your house to be your private territory, and it’s okay not to be welcoming when your company and colleagues are violating your (very sensible) boundaries. Of course you want to maintain warm relationships with people, but saying “my house can’t be our office” isn’t chilly and shouldn’t be relationship-killing; it’s a really normal and reasonable boundary to assert. There’s often a bit of awkwardness or unhappiness when someone asserts a boundary that they hadn’t been asserting previously — but reasonable people (even partway reasonable people!) will adjust pretty quickly. Make sure you’re really clear on that in your head, because the more your tone and attitude convey “of course you will understand and respect this very reasonable thing I am saying because I know you are a reasonable person,” the more likely they are to respond that way.

Read an update to this letter

{ 423 comments… read them below }

  1. 3DogNight*

    I’d be very cautious about accepting any monetary compensation for continuing this arrangement. That could lead to it getting worse. This sucks, and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with it!

    1. Naomi*

      I also wouldn’t suggest OP offer to continue the arrangement for payment–but for your own perspective, OP, the boss says it’s “too expensive” to rent a coworking space but is fine with asking YOU to provide an equivalent service for free. Essentially, he’s trying to pawn off a business expense on you.

      1. irene adler*

        I wonder if there are business permits or licenses one must procure if a business in essentially run out of one’s home. So who takes the hit if these are not in place?

        1. to varying degrees*

          If it is/does become a permitting and/or zoning issue it would go with the homeowner as that’s the location that would be in violation of what the location is allowed to do. At least where I’m at.

          1. Planner*

            I am a city planner in the US and the violation would be against the property owner. This business arrangement would either not be allowed or require city council approval everywhere I have worked. It is one disgruntled neighbor away from a compliance situation.

            If you want another option for an excuse you could call the city and say you are looking at moving to the city and operating a home based business with x employees not residing in the home working there and see if it would be allowed. That way you aren’t risking enforcement against you and can get an answer on whether it is allowed if you want an external reason that is entirely factual.

            1. Planner 2*

              Also a planner, have also dealt with neighbors making this complaint and our office was forced to crack down on the homeowner in question. It was unpleasant all around, highly recommended OP get ahead of it for this reason among others!

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                Out of curiosity if you were receiving a complaint about OP and OP told you (do you go and visit in person?) the course of events that’s in the letter here – would there be any sympathy or would it be a full “letter of the law” situation regardless?

                1. Lizzianna*

                  Another planner here who has dealt with businesses being run in areas where they’re not allowed and complaints by neighbors…

                  Typically in my jurisdiction, the homeowner gets a warning letter and a time frame (usually 30 days, but it’s negotiable) before any official action is taken. I’d have sympathy (I too have had boundary-stomping bosses), but that wouldn’t change the fact that businesses can’t be run out of homes without a permit if non-residents are working there.

                2. AlsoAPlanner*

                  Can I just say it brings me a strange joy to see how many city planners read this website?

            2. AlsoAPlanner*

              If you are in the US, you can also look at your local zoning codes (search for Your City + Zoning)- Find your house on the zoning map and confirm that you live in a residential zone (you almost certainly do). Then look in your city’s municipal ordinances for information on what’s allowed in residential districts. some helpful search terms include: “home occupations” and “accessory uses.” It will likely spell out quite clearly that the approach your boss is currently employing is illegal. You can print out the ordinance and use it as clear ammunition to get them to stop using your house in this way.

            3. Meep*

              My HOA also has a clause about not running businesses out of your home. If OP has an HOA, it might be a useful excuse.

              1. RVA Cat*

                The OP should also contact her insurance agent to see if this goes against her homeowner’s policy. Even if it doesn’t, the company equipment wouldn’t be covered under it.

                1. Never Boring*

                  And neither would an injury in the course of employment. A former boss of mine tried to pull a fast one that way once; home-based business, receptionist tripped on the rug and sprained her ankle, boss tried to claim it on her homeowner’s policy. Let’s just say there were lots of reasons I didn’t stick around for long at that job.

              2. BubbleTea*

                I’m in the UK and my property deeds have a restrictive covenant that prohibits commercial use of my home (or something to that effect – my solicitor said it doesn’t prevent me working from home or running my own business but I can’t have clients coming here or use it for shipping products). It would also invalidate my house insurance. (And my dog would bite my colleagues – maybe LW could use that as an excuse! One of the dogs has developed behavioural issues due to too much upheaval.)

            4. Hannah Lee*

              @Planner that’s a great suggestion, to call and ask.

              That way LW has the factual information from an external authority stating it’s not legal to continue. It seems highly likely that it’s something that won’t be allowed according to local zoning/ordinances.

              Two other routes are LW’s property/liability company and HOA if LW’s property falls under one. I have friends who had a neighbor who ran a landscaping business, with the crew members coming to his home every working day to carpool. That meant one small cul-de-sac with 8 homes typically had 8-10 random cars lining the street, sometimes blocking driveways, hydrants, curb cut outs, trash pick up etc – Monday – Saturday. One day my friend mentioned to the business owner that they had family coming to stay for a few days – including a couple of people with mobility issues – and asked the guy to tell his workers to not park in front of the guy’s house for a few days. The business owner responded by directing his workers to intentionally park in front of and across from the house (basically he was a jerk about it) and then ranting like a lunatic when my friend went out and asked the workers not to park there. Friend called the homeowner’s association president about it and the business owner very quickly got a fine and a write up from the HOA, and a clear notice that he was not, to operate a business out of his residence in any form, including using it as a workers’ carpool hub.

            5. Splendid Colors*

              I have a home-based business in a major US city, and it is a code violation to have ANY employees. Even if they don’t work AT the home–for example, if I had a service business where I dispatched people to client sites and they never came to my apartment.

              I don’t think I’d be off the hook if my boss owned the business and was just using my place to park cars for carpooling–that kind of “extra cars parked on your block” stuff is WHY it’s a code violation.

          2. Helewise*

            Yeah, this would violate local zoning in most municipalities around where I am. It wouldn’t everywhere, but having multiple employees in and out and storing their vehicles at a residence could earn a citation here. Which might be another avenue for the OP to explore!

          3. Reluctant Mezzo*

            Yes, you have to get a business permit to conduct that much business at the house where I live (and I am surprised the neighbors aren’t complaining, actually, since parking on that block has got to be a pain with so many cars around).

        2. Becky S*

          Does your homeowner’s insurance cover employees or equipment in case of a fire or if an employee has an accident?

          1. RandomNameAllocated*

            Or if there was a break in and the business items were stolen as well as the homeowner’s? I don’t think my insurance would cover it, and they would probably refuse to refund any of the property.

            1. 3DogNight*

              I think that OP should say her Homeowners insurance has done an audit and inspection, and that this stuff all needs to go, and we can no longer meet at my house. Be too paranoid about it, and stick to it.

              1. Storm in a teacup*

                This is a great suggestion.
                Also OP point out that with utility bill costs rising and its an even greater burden and imposition.
                Ask your boss about expensing some of these already incurred costs back too and work out what that looks like

          2. Elizabeth*

            This is a point the LW should be making. We had an employee who had equipment stolen from a rental car, that he didn’t use the corporate account for, and his personal insurance wouldn’t cover it because it was business equipment over the $2500 standard limit and the business insurance wouldn’t cover it because it was a “personal” vehicle that wasn’t on the corporate account.

            If you need someone to throw under the bus but don’t want it to be your husband, have it be your insurance agent. Same company also had a contracted employee get hurt and found out their insurance wouldn’t cover them because we didn’t have the right policy. What happens if the co-worker falls on your front porch and your insurance argues they aren’t responsible because you don’t have a business policy?

            1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

              Oh, something like that happened to an acquaintance of mine! She took a job working for a guy who was starting a business out of his home and got hurt slipping on some ice on the front steps. Because she had osteoporosis (due to long term steroid use for an autoimmune disorder), her shoulder was shattered, requiring surgery and I don’t know what all. And like you said, his insurance wouldn’t pay because he had a regular homeowner’s policy, rather than a business policy. It was a nightmare.

              LW, feel free to use this story in any way you think it might be helpful!i

          3. Pants*

            This is all OP needs to say. It’s official, most likely true, and shifts the blame off of them.

            I think I’d still include something like “it’s also unfair to me, as I now essentially live at the office. I need a separation and this is no longer tenable.”

            “I quit” would also be a good addition to the conversation.

          4. soontoberetired*

            I am sure their insurance company would be very unhappy about all of this. Personal home owners insurance isn’t going to cover business losses and I think the business insurance wouldn’t like this set up either!

          5. Florp*

            Came here to ask this! Home owners insurance will not cover business losses (injuries to coworkers or damage to work equipment) unless you have a home business rider, which of course costs extra. Your company’s workers comp or liability insurance likely doesn’t know your house is being used as a business locus and therefore wouldn’t cover it either.

            “I’m not covered for the business use of my house, so we can’t keep using it” is a perfectly good reason to meet elsewhere!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly. If the business cannot afford a storage space the solution is not “have my employee store everything!” That’s a much bigger problem and I think that even if everything else were hunky-dory the LW should consider looking around for other employment opportunities.

        1. Random Dice*

          Exactly. Any reasonable person would respond to a reasonable boundary with a cheerful “ok”.

          That’s not going to happen here. A boss who says it’s too expensive and then mooches on a subordinate instead is not reasonable.

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          The business can’t afford storage space? That’s not a business that’s thriving. And he lives in a much smaller home than OP, even though he’s the boss and presumably makes more than her? OK her large home may be because her husband is raking it in but still, I get the impression the boss is being stingy.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            If he lives in a luxury apartment at current rents in my neighborhood, he could easily pay more rent than my best friend pays for mortgage & taxes in the burbs from 10+ years ago.

            But his BUSINESS should not be stingy with things like renting storage space. I rent storage for my business (because it’s home-based in a studio apartment, and some stuff like car parts doesn’t belong at home). Even in a major metro area with high land prices, I am paying only $129/mo for a storage unit comparable to a LARGE bedroom (10×15′). If the business can’t afford $100-150/mo for equipment storage, they’re in trouble. Or he’s just really stingy.

            (And this is a really nice storage facility. It isn’t just a row of garages with rain leaking under the door, it’s a 3-story metal/cinderblock warehouse facility where the 2nd floor isn’t “climate controlled” per se but the temperature stays reasonable in our climate. They have resident staff and I wish my apartment building could be as clean as the storage facility!)

    2. The Original K.*

      Yes – I think Boss would feel even more entitled to OP’s home (!) if he were paying.

    3. Antilles*

      Under no circumstances should OP consider accepting money for it would absolutely make it worse. Boss would definitely view it as “I’m paying for this space and as-needed access to it” and act accordingly. Of course I can ask to rearrange this room to better suit the office, we’re renting the space! Of course we need a spare key while you’re on vacation, we might need access to our equipment next week! Etc…

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Of course we can hold a three day training retreat in your backyard! Of course we can commandeer your kitchen for a cafeteria! Honestly, I’m having trouble coming up with scenarios somebody as boundary-stomping as this boss WOULDN’T decide was reasonable.

        1. Audogs*

          I’m still hung up on the shenanigans of the “friend”. As I was reading Alison’s advice per her I could easily envision “Friend” earnestly nodding in agreement while in no way thinking the new boundaries applied to her.

    4. Asenath*

      I agree. Do NOT accept money for this arrangement, or you’ll be stuck with it forever. And another issue – even many/most small rural towns have regulations about the use of private homes for business. Don’t fall foul of something like this.

      But honestly, LW is being completely reasonable. There is absolutely no reason to supply office space, storage space, office space (for exchanging office materials with co-workers) and training space for one’s employer. But since this employer is used to doing that, LW is probably going to have to go beyond hints to get the point across.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        We had a homeowner around the corner from me who operated a key making business out of his garage for a short time. He’d retired from his job and liked to keep busy, had whatever is needed in his workshop. On one hand, NBD. On the other hand, cars coming and going for 15-20 minutes at a time and the grinding noise of the key-making in a garage with the door open day after day after day really changed the nature of the residential (and zoned residential with little houses on < 1/4 acre lots) neighborhood he was living in. Also not in his favor was a neighbor 3 houses down on the same street had been arrested a few months before for running a small scale drug selling operation out of his home, so people were VERY attuned to high frequency, short stay random visitors and increased traffic on that little street and the authorities also were familiar with the neighborhood, the zoning, etc and were taking a zero tolerance approach to ANY commercial activity there, no matter how folksy.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable to mention the cost – and imply that there is an awful cheek in expecting it for free. Something like: “You may have wondered why I haven’t charged the company anything for this storage yet. The truth is, even with the back pay I’d be owed, I’m not interested in looking up how much the rate is. I just don’t want it here and I’ve been waiting for it to be moved so I can use the space as I want to.” Obligatory follow up questions about what you want the space for will ensue, (because boss is entitled) and should be responded to with: “Honestly, I really don’t want to go into it, because how I use my house away from work, should be private”.

    6. Pennyworth*

      I’d also be looking into legal implications – what happens if someone who is there for work is injured? What is the insurance cover?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! The company and the LW could be hanging in the wind for all sorts of liability with the current set up–if she has homeowner’s insurance, stuff like this might even void it. (I have no real idea if that’s plausible but it seems so.)

    7. Dancing Elaine*

      I would not take any money. I would be forthright and state unapologetically “my house can no longer be used for our office or meeting place.” I would then tell the boss to let me know what he comes up with.

      This is horrible, OP. Please update us.

  2. Kel*

    He does Zoom calls at your house because you have better internet!!!????!!!!??

    I would be unplugging my modem every time he comes over. Oh, weird seems like it’s down.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, that part’s particularly ridiculous. Pay for your own WiFi if you own the damn business!

      1. Mel*

        Some apartments just…have crappy internet. A friend of mine lived just off Hollywood Blvd in LA, and they only had one option for internet at the time. They paid for the best package but you couldn’t have phones on the wifi if you were streaming Netflix – it couldn’t handle both. This was in 2016.

        (Note – I am not excusing the boss, he should rent a space – but sometimes there just…isn’t better internet.)

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          yes! OP has a larger more central home than her own boss? Now, the good side is that they’re not expected to work at the boss’s home, but mostly bosses live in larger homes than their employees, because they earn more. So I get the impression he just doesn’t like paying for anything ever.
          I don’t like paying for stuff either, and make do with minimal equipment for my job, but that only affects me.

          1. George*

            Feels weird to say that. One’s income isn’t the only predictor of home size. I could afford a much larger home; but I don’t need it and don’t want the burden of maintaining it. So I don’t.

    2. Code Monkey, the SQL*

      SAME. That’s so beyond necessary. My fiber optic cable would start getting mysteriously damaged every time he made noise about dropping by.

      And using your house as a free storage unit is not acceptable either. You are well within your rights to say “I’m not comfortable being responsible for company property anymore.” What if you had a home emergency and work stuff was damaged?

      1. CJ*

        > And using your house as a free storage unit is not acceptable either. You are well within your rights to say “I’m not comfortable being responsible for company property anymore.” What if you had a home emergency and work stuff was damaged?

        I was wondering about the insurance implications, in terms of theft and damages.

        1. Ashley*

          I would push back from an insurance standpoint on the storage. Tell them something with your policy renewal you can’t store stuff there anymore.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        What if you were robbed? This boss seems like the type to make noises that the LW is suddenly responsible for damaged or stolen office stuff.

    3. Rapunzel Rider*


      Dude, you are the owner, maybe upgrade your own internet or, if the business does not have the money to do so, consider your local public library (who often also have meeting spaces available for free reservation/use at least in the US). I could see the argument that money to rent a dedicated office space is too much since they operate remotely, but quality internet is a relatively low cost. Maybe it is my peon interpretation, but that seems like pushing the cost of your business onto your employee unless you are paying her internet bill (which would still not give you the right to her space).

      1. NeedRain47*

        IDK where LW is based, but here, if you drive ten minutes out of town you will have zero good options for internet. People live out there and truly cannot get good service at their house regardless of cost. In this case tho I suspect you’re right ’cause the boss seems like he’s pushing ALL of the costs of running an actual office on the LW.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          I have a good friend in this situation. She lives in a rural area, and the distances between ranch houses are far enough the carriers are NOT interested in wiring out there, even though she’s only 10 minutes from town.

    4. Ex-prof*

      Agreed. Although given the boundary issues here, he’d certainly nose around till he found it was unplugged.

      Maybe hide the modem and say it’s been stolen.

    5. Random Bystander*

      Or just fix it so it doesn’t auto-connect, and change the password so that any previously stored passwords don’t work with the network. “Yeah, the network seems to be down. I’ve put in a call for service.”

        1. Zweisatz*

          I like this one. Won’t work as the only step but what if the internet is even worse at your place than at his home suddenly?

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            No, it’s really best to actually set the boundary. Start sneaking like this, and she has to remember everything she said, and there’s more steps to the plan. Set the boundary, and everything else falls into place.

        2. InTheTumbleWeeds*

          If the router will do it, you can also set up MAC filtering. Then it won’t matter that anyone has the password – it won’t connect regardless and you can play it off on the issue must be his laptop. Does take a bit to set up so your own devices connect, but it’s not bad.

          1. Happily Retired*

            Nice thought, but from the sound of it, the boss would then just commandeer her laptop…

    6. LW*

      Hey guys, this is the LW… I’m working today so really shouldn’t engage too much in comments, but I thought I’d let you know that when he comes over to Zoom with me, we use my laptop and we sit very close to each other at my dining table so we’re both in the same screen!!! It’s SO awkward, and so unprofessional considering that we’re on calls with government or other clients. My internet isn’t good enough to support video calls on 2 separate devices, hence both of us squeezing into one call. Luckily last month our town got an internet upgrade and as soon as that happened he was able to purchase faster internet, which he did. So that issue has now gone away. Thanks for all your comments!

      1. Mockingjay*

        Oh, this could be an even bigger ball of wax. As a contractor, there are restrictions and compliance guidelines for workspaces and telework, including data privacy, equipment usage, and storage, and IT requirements (see data privacy). If you are on a federal contract or subcontract, look at what the facilities requirements are.

        More justifications in case you need them. But truly, Boss needs to rent office or coworking space.

        (FWIW, I’m a Fed contractor with permanent telework and there is a laundry list of items I personally and my company as well have to comply with: separate workspace from home office (I have a separate desk with only work stuff on it), ability to hold private conversations (shut the door), only use approved company IT equipment (complies with gov security regs), must use VPN for secure connection, must come into office for meetings (private homes are NOT permitted for business use)…)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          If the boss has government contracts he should be able to find a small dedicated OFFICE space for this stuff. If the finances are that shaky the LW is only a finger in a very fragile dyke!

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I am registered as a government contractor and yikes on bikes, would this violate so so many requirements. (I just refiled SAM registration and you have to attest to all the security practices, drug-free workplaces, anti-discrimination, etc.)

      2. e271828*

        This business sounds super shaky if it’s relying this much on one employee’s goodwill and living space. If it’s a viable business, it can cover the expense of a small office or meeting space with the storage and communications infrastructure it needs.

        Do look for another job. It can be tough in some locations, I know. Good luck drawing the boundaries! Don’t negotiate.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          I think it’s more a case of the boss being stingy than not being able to afford storage.

    7. Wendy Darling*

      I am absolutely the passive-aggressive person who would just quietly configure my router to throttle the living hell out of my boss’s traffic. Oh yes the internet is really slow lately, how odd.

    8. Yeahbut dabbadoo*

      Some internet providers also charge a considerably higher rate for businesses than for residential use, so if that applies here, it would be more grounds for shutting things down. LW could say, my provider said that under the plan I have, I’m not allowed to let you Zoom from here ever again.

    9. Danish*

      Weh my internet is bad and I can’t afford office space is like… that’s not LW’s problem, man! Maybe he can’t afford a business.

    10. Lizzianna*

      I don’t know why my internet is slow today, boss. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the 5 movies my husband is streaming in the other room simultaneously.

  3. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

    I was cringing as soon as I started reading this letter and I second everything Alison said. Your generosity/hospitality has been so badly abused that I don’t think anyone would blame you for putting a stop to it all. I hope you’re able to do so with a minimum of fuss from the other parties involved.

      1. TomatoSoup*

        I would sooner give up WFH than have my house used this way more than a single emergency situation. I know OP doesn’t have that option here, but I really really love WFH.

    1. The Original K.*

      OP suggested the boss rent a coworking space but Boss said it was too expensive – but maybe he’ll see the light once OP’s home is off limits.

        1. Pants*

          Yeah, sounds like a “I have an idea for a business–let’s start it right now and worry about the details later” kind of person.

          1. ferrina*

            Or “these things have a way of working themselves out.”

            Through other people’s sacrifices.

            1. KHB*

              This brings back memories of when a key person on my team was taking a nine-month leave of absence, and I kept asking OldBoss what the plan was to cover for him for that time, and he kept saying “Oh, we’ll just muddle through.” (Translation: KHB does two people’s jobs for nine months, and everyone else remains blissfully oblivious.)

            2. whingedrinking*

              Reminds me of an AITA where an OP got upset because her sibling and sibling’s spouse, to whom she was already giving a lot of money on a regular basis, had decided to have another child (their fourth or fifth, I think). When the OP asked about their financial situation, the sibling got huffy and said, “God will provide, just like he has so far.”
              Various commentators pointed out that this was a missed opportunity to say, “I’m glad you think so highly of me, but I can’t go on ‘providing’ indefinitely.”

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Right? So, if, God forbid, the LW’s house burned down…what? The business folds? Exactly how did this guy get anything off the ground in the first place?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m sure it started as “we’re traveling together, so let’s meet at my house, of course you can use the bathroom before we leave” or “can you store this at your place since you’re central?” – things that are reasonable on their face and then slowly escalate.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I hope he hasn’t listed OPs address anywhere as an official correspondence address for the company!

  4. Toast*

    How did this all even start? I’ve only worked for big companies so this whole situation is so alien to me.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Right? I had to loan equipment to a coworker, she came to my door, I handed it off. She left. And we are work friends. We go out to lunch together. We live in the same town. She didn’t come in for coffee. She took the equipment and left.
      I offered to drive my boss home once when her car was in the shop. Dropped her off at the door, didn’t go in and have a meeting. And again, we have a good relationship.
      This is obnoxious.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This has gone beyond obnoxious into “giant dog licking your face aggressively 24-7.”

        (And I love dogs!)

    2. Anon for this*

      I had a coworker over to work about a year ago. The office was being renovated and neither of us liked being there due to noise. But it was also much better to work physically together than remotely due to the nature of the work, and public spaces aren’t viable due to confidentiality. That said, it was my suggestion, I said I’d be happy to go to their place if they preferred (I’m a bit out of the way) and it was a fixed duration.

      So I can see how it could happen slowly over time if there wasn’t a fixed thing it was for and there wasn’t a fixed office space to get back to.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Plus co-worker/peer deciding to work out of one person’s house for a fixed duration doesn’t involve the power dynamic of the boss just assuming he can continue to use an employee’s personal space.

      1. Toast*

        It’s just so hard to imagine but then again I am deliberately very private at work. I’m about to move 6 minutes away from the office and I’m going to tell no one because I don’t want to be the default person to go in when something is wrong overnight/on weekends.

        1. KHB*

          I’d guess that “let’s all park at OP’s house before our trip out of town” seemed benign enough at the start, and that once they saw where she lived, it spiraled out of control from there. It’s unfortunate that people feel they have to be on their guard with even such basic information as their address, but with boundary violators like this out there in the world, it may be the right idea.

        2. cncx*

          This happened at one of my old jobs frequently, if people lost their badges they would call the coworker who lived walking distance. Even on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings. A lot of times it would just be to use the office bathroom in town. It’s super annoying and one of my other coworkers did the same as you, when she moved down the street she told no one but ´ ayroll and hr, which were external lol

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I had a youth group offer to trade space for equipment use, but one of the restrictions I was unhappy about was that I would have to get an employee who lived nearby to unlock the facility for me. I couldn’t use it during open hours (because the youth would be using it and they can’t have random people around because of youth being present). The idea of having to inconvenience someone every time I wanted to use MY equipment seemed fraught with problems. I didn’t feel like they took my business seriously because it seems like they thought I just needed access a few hours a week.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        Yeah, this is what I’m thinking. OP is in a central location, so they use her place as a rally point for work trips. And then Boss leaves a few things overnight in her garage: “It’s just until morning!” And then they all step into her kitchen for a quick briefing before heading out–and Boss discovers she has better internet. Coworker asks to use the bathroom.

        And that’s how it all began.

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

        Yep. “Just this once” becomes a habit really fast when there aren’t any rules established up front and who would even think to establish a set of rules over each of these issues individually? No one says, “You only get 3 stop-bys per year Jane, and you’ve used 2.” I don’t remember the original place I saw/heard this, but always answer the door with your coat on, keys in your hand, and tell the unwanted guest you were just stepping out…

        Parking and using the location as an exchange point (out on the curb) becomes much more tricky because presumably they can use the city street as much as anyone else; the LW can let them know she isn’t going to look after their property, but can’t become one of those people who claim public spaces as their own. So pick which smaller battles are worth fighting — fine to park on a city street, no to coming inside…like meet them on the sidewalk and close the door behind you.

    3. Thistle Pie*

      I’ve been in this situation working for a small start up – but the coworker actually requested we turn her house into a “satellite office” because it was beneficial to several of us – eliminating a long commute and offering her a lot of the flexibility we’ve now come to appreciate from working from home. The difference is that A) she requested it and B) we checked in with the coworker regularly to make sure it was still working for her and we weren’t imposing. I believe our employer also paid the difference between her regular internet package and the upgraded one so all 4 of us could work there at the same time.

    4. Asenath*

      Probably slowly, and supported by the fact that in such a small business there may not be company protocols about such things. “Let’s get together at OP’s place, it’s so central and large enough for all of us” . “OP, I’m stuck for a place to store this equipment. Mind if I put it in your garage for a while?” And then it happens again, next thing you know it’s a tradition, and it’s just so convenient and cheap for everyone. Everyone except OP, of course.

    5. Crencestre*

      Good point! I’m very, very leery of having anything to do with companies that only provide an online “e-dress” but don’t show a physical one. It always makes me wonder if their locations are actually boiler rooms….

      1. zaracat*

        The other thing about not having a listed physical location is that it is difficult to leave a Google review because these are Google map based. I’m sure at least one business I’ve dealt with did it specifically for that reason.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          I have a small business and am constantly fending off issues with Google Business Listings because I don’t have a retail shop. I sell wholesale and B2B, but filled out a Google Business Listing in some webinar. Even though I tried just putting “by appointment only” that meant I was still getting calls from people who wanted to buy craft supplies because the algorithm was displaying my company as a “craft store.” No, I MAKE and SELL crafts. I don’t sell craft supplies or host craft parties. Also, I get a zillion calls from telemarketers trying to help me “improve my Google Business Listing” because I don’t do what a brick & mortar business would do to optimize my listing.

    6. TomatoSoup*

      In drips and drabs that didn’t seem like a big deal on their own but all together created this avalanche of intrusion.

  5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    “It’s too expensive to rent a space.”
    Really? What was his plan when he started the business?
    Can you make me coffee? No. I can’t.
    This is such an insane overstep, you have to shut it down.
    I would hate to be in your shoes. I can honestly imagine moving house just to avoid the conversation!
    You can try a version of the LW who’s boss wanted her to “adopt her.” She said that her husband said no to joining them on date nights.
    You could say that your husband’s work situation changed and he needs home space to work as well. And to store his own things in the house. “Of course you don’t expect us to put our things in a storage unit to make room for office equipment.”

      1. Trina*

        I hope the Needy Boss OP is still doing well! Maybe her company kept up remote work and she’s never had to be stuck in an office with Wanda again :)

      2. Robin*

        Thank you for this. I had not gotten to this letter in the archives and this whole saga is incredible

  6. Not my real name*

    Sounds horrible, OP!

    I know bureaucracy works in different ways in different countries, but both my mortgage company and home insurers would want to know if my home was being used for work purposes for anything other than light office duties by me or my partner. They are certainly restrictions on the sorts of activities I can do without notifying them.

    Equally, the local authority might have an opinion as if my house was regularly being used for business, I would need planning permission for a change of use from residential.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Yeah, I was going to say – this sounds like an insurance nightmare and a zoning issue, both of which I would bring up ASAP.

      1. Artemesia*

        If someone were to be injured you might discover that homeowner insurance doesn’t cover a business operating from the home.

        I’d use both husband’s need to work from home etc and insurance and shut this right down. You could even let husband be the fall guy — he discovered the insurance issue and absolutely won’t allow this. ( I know, I know — partner’s don’t ‘allow’ but he can take one for the team.)

    2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yeah, I think the OP could use this as the ‘scapegoat’ pretty easily. “Wow, I could get in a lot of trouble and I’m not at all comfortable lying about it”.

    3. DancinProf*

      Local authorities were my first thought. I once worked for a startup that was using a colleague’s house as its base of operations. Neighbors got fed up with all the extra cars coming and going and parking, and started making noises about zoning violations.

    4. Hummer on the Hill*

      This is really a good point and gives the OP a non-spouse entity to throw under the bus. “My neighbors complained, and the HOA notified me that I needed to cease operating a business out of my house. They’ve notified my insurance company, which is threatening to cancel my home owners insurance. This needs to stop by month-end.”

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Yes, I like this. Blame the neighbors, blame the HOA. But if this is that small of a town, maybe that might become a problem if everyone knows everyone…

        1. Splendid Colors*

          Blame the insurance company, then, because they’re not going to gossip back to the boss that OP is just tired of having her home turned into the corporate HQ.

          Heck, OP can just say that at renewal time she read the terms and conditions and realized she was violating so many of them she wouldn’t be covered if there were a claim.

    5. LifeBeforeCorona*

      The insurance angle may be the best way along with saying the neighbours are complaining about traffic. This is the first time ever that an HOA might be useful.

    6. to varying degrees*

      Yeah I’m wondering about what liability this would expose the homeowner to, both what you’ve mentioned but also if someone is injured while working at the LW’s home. How/would work comp come into play?

    7. LCH*

      yes, in the US, difference in type of insurance/zoning would be a major excuse to use. not sure that’s where OP is or if it would apply to her country. but it’s a really great excuse if so.

      1. Joan*

        Absolutely true! I run a small business out of my home. No way would the selfish shenanigans by the boss be considered legal. IMO you need to/can shut this down TODAY. You have to. And as for giving your boss and the business enough time to come up with something: the boss is unscrupulously resourceful: he figured out how to use your house; he’ll figure out how to IMMEDIATELY start running his business from a legit (or not) business address.

    8. cottagechick73*

      I was also thinking about the zoning implications of a home occupation (your municipality may call it something else in their code). I would definitely use the excuse of your nameless neighbor(s) complaining about parking or threatening to notify your municipality of you operating a business out of your home to get all of the equipment and people out of your house. My community has rules around home occupations dealing with things like the traffic generated by the business, parking, percentage of area occupied by the business in relation to the square footage of the house, the exterior appearance of the business/home, type of business, etc… Use the scary terms like zoning clearance, fees, public hearings and monetary penalties to get the point across that this is not a joke.

      1. Helewise*

        I mentioned this elsewhere as well. This would definitely violate local zoning in our area, which would result in a citation and ultimately go to circuit court if its needed to reach compliance.

    9. WoodswomanWrites*

      I agree that this could be the most compelling argument. Good luck with your demanding boss and co-worker, OP!

  7. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

    Oh wow. This is like saying paying you your salary, or your hotel room while going on business travel is too expensive. Yes, those things cost money! That’s the nature of having a business. If you can’t afford to pay for it then you can’t afford your business.

    1. Moose*

      100%! What did the boss think would happen when he started the company? Did he have no plans for storage or where to conduct business? That is his mismanagement, not the employee’s job to fix with her private home.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        Even though coworking spaces can be pretty expensive, plain old storage units are NOT. Even nice indoor ones (unless they’re not a thing in that area). The price goes up if you want 24/7 access or climate control or whatever, but I’m paying $129/mo for 150 sqft in a nice new, clean complex with access from 6 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. with onsite security. They’re very business-friendly and will even help coordinate receiving palletized shipments for a reasonable fee. I use it for my craft show furniture, out of season merch, parts I’m trying to sell from my old company car, records, extra shipping supplies and materials, etc.

  8. Snarkus Aurelius*

    And if push comes up shove, feel free to add up all the expenses you’ve saved the company since the start of these shenanigans 1.5 years ago.

    You do understand that your boss enjoys this arrangement because he’s saving the company money off your back, yes? So what if getting an office is too expensive*? How is that your problem to solve?

    Plus what if something happens to your boss or coworkers while they’re working on your property? You realize it’ll be your homeowners insurance that might take the hit and not the company’s? That alone should be an excellent reason to stop this nonsense.

    *I read an article yesterday in NY Magazine about how commercial office space is taking a huge hit because of telework. Rent is going way down to the point some cities are considering turning office space into affordable housing because unoccupied space can lead to crime going up. Don’t know where the OP is, but tipping off the boss would be wise.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      > homeowners insurance that might take the hit

      I don’t know if it would work the same way where the OP is, but where I live this would either not be covered by the policy so they wouldn’t pay, or the insurance company might pay but then seek to recover costs from OP personally due to wording in the policy that no doubt excludes business use from the coverage. This is the reason insurances like employers liability and public liability are available (might be known as something different where OP is, but I’m confident they exist).

      1. Hannah Lee*

        Also LW should very quickly make sure they have some sort of homestead provision (or local equivalent) associated with the deed on their home. Because in a worst case scenario, it could go from a costly claim to LW and spouse losing their home.

    2. Pants*

      New York should turn office space into affordable housing but the landlords there only see dollar signs and the word “affordable” does not contribute to dollar signs. They’d rather leave it empty and hope for the high dollar renter (as the richy rich rich tend to flock there) to make up for the cost eaten, rather than be “sentenced” to being paid low rent for a long period of time.

  9. Rose*

    I’d almost go the excuse route first. “Do a major renovation” at your house even saying you won’t even be home and are staying at a friend’s/hotel. Then once everyone has had to adjust for a week or two (btw what do people do if you’re on vacation?) just keep telling them it’s a disaster and you just can’t meet there or let them in. Keep it going forever although it sounds like they are very pushy and annoying at which point – maybe have a meeting with your boss to say that the renovation made you and your husband realize how nice it was to have your house back as your house and not the company office and give him a couple solutions going forward (coworking space, long term parking ramp, friendly cafe).

    1. I should really pick a name*

      That sounds like pretty elaborate lie, and difficult to maintain, especially considering that the LW is friends with one of their coworkers.

      1. Rose*

        “My internet is down”
        “We’re painting”
        “We’re getting the carpets cleaned”
        “I have an organizer working in my house”
        “I have friends/family in town”
        “The water is out intermittently”

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            This is the right answer. Business locations with employees have different insurance requirements than small sole proprietorships. The LW’s home is not insured for use by the business. If something happens, they are on the hook for a lot of money, and the business doesn’t have to pay a dime. Business equipment stored there is probably not covered either.

        1. Gingerbread Homemaker*

          Every one of those situations is temporary; even if the boss couldn’t argue his way around every single one of them (and he could – that’s what exploiters do!), all he’d have to do is wait out the renovation, visit, etc. and the LW would be back to square one. Refusing to give an excuse when setting a limit is more difficult in the short run, but much better in the long run; you don’t have to keep coming up with excuses, dodges, evasions or reasons as the relentless exploiter finds a way to pick holes in each one.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            “My insurance company won’t allow it,” in addition to being probably true, isn’t temporary. Almost no insurance companies will allow it, which means he can’t even realistically suggest that OP switch to a different one.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              Same with zoning and home occupation restrictions. Even if nobody’s complained YET, that’s still a possibility if anything changes. Maybe someone is home in the daytime who used to work at their office (retired, home sick, WFH, whatever), and notices Too Many Cars in the daytime. Maybe someone tries to sell their home and the broker notices there’s no parking for potential buyers. Maybe someone buys a home and wants to park 6 cars and a boat trailer on the street but OP’s boss and coworkers are using the street parking. Maybe someone moves in who is just a busybody and likes reporting people even if they don’t need the parking spaces Boss and Coworkers are using.

    2. Purple Jello*

      The vacation question is a good point! Is there alternative provisions for when OP is on vacation? If so, it should be slightly easier to impose those boundaries.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      LW says they live in a small town. If it’s the kind of small town where everybody knows everything about everybody else, this excuse won’t fly. Coworkers are much more likely to be driving past LW’s house on their way to somewhere else and see that there doesn’t appear to be any work going on. I’d stick with things more along the lines of Alison’s suggestions; husband’s/dog’s health issues, husband’s job changes, stuff like that.

      1. BlueSwimmer*

        I was also here to suggest using the dogs as an excuse. It’s plausible but not something you have to make up an elaborate lie for.

        1. cncx*

          My cat hates people in his house. He doesn’t particularly like me in his house, to be honest. This level of visitors day in and day out would make him very anxious. So I think the dogs are thé best excuse too.

    4. Ashley*

      If you have two bathrooms you can do the toilet broke / waiting on the plumber excuse. You could also say you are going to paint so you are moving everything around to be ready and then just have a lot of project delays before it gets cancelled.
      A good excuse for the cars are you are having friends for dinner so you need the driveway.

    5. ThatGirl*

      No, elaborate lies are not the way to go. Too easy to get caught up trying to keep your story straight.

      1. Antilles*

        It also has the possibility that they basically just wait it out and expect things to go right back to the current status quo once your “home repair” is over.

      2. Rose*

        It’s not that elaborate to say you’re having plumber problems. And the beauty of it is if someone has the gall to confront you just say “yeah actually my husband is just tired of having work in the house and I was trying to be nice and make an excuse.”

        1. Some words*

          The lies just aren’t smart or necessary.

          I feel pretty safe assuming the home is classified as a residential property and the city has it coded for residential use only. Add to that the insurance liability issue and these are rock solid reasons to put a stop to the misuse of the house.

          So many people in the thread are working hard to come up with lies when the truth is a much stronger argument. It’s more than a little depressing, to be honest.

    6. sofar*

      I’m laughing because my husband and I did/are doing EXACTLY this. Not for coworkers, but because our central location made our house the “perfect” crash pad for a handful of friends after they’d had too much to drink in town or were working late in town and didn’t want to drive back to the far-flung suburb they’d moved to during the pandemic. It was also the ideal (too ideal) place for people to stay while visiting our city for vacation/weekend visits.

      We used our kitchen remodel as a cycle-breaking event and an excuse to say, “No more guests, period.”

      People below are commenting that this is too “elaborate” of a lie to maintain. But it’s been so easy, and we’ve been keeping up this ruse even now that the kitchen is done. We’ve even had some of our other friends stay with us (we invited them), while telling our moocher friends that they cannot stay there d/t the “ongoing remodel.” LW has a small group of coworkers, so this would be even easier.

      “Sorry, the remodel has turned our home into a portal to hell. We’re not having folks over for the foreseeable future.”

      We had ONE case of someone showing up at our door, and we just said, “Sorry no, we’re absolutely not having anyone in right now” while pointedly not inviting him in.

      We can’t help but notice that handful of moochers has since found other solutions to their problems and have stopped asking to stay with us. Funny, that.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        I can see this working with friends, but with a boss it might be harder.

        I think insurance and zoning are the best reasons because they are BUSINESS reasons, and true, and less likely to backfire if someone drives by because it’s a small town and notices no signs of construction or whatever.

        “Boss, we can’t do this on a permanent basis because it’s not legal and could blow up in our faces” is something that applies to the OP’s situation and not to mooching friends.

  10. PiperWhite*

    You need to look at your homeowners’ insurance. If someone gets injured at your house, will it be covered? Probably not!

    1. WFHdemon*

      Like if they get burned whilst making that coffee and have to get treatment. Their insurance is going to come after OP’s third-party coverage for the medical costs–which she doesn’t have. Everything always seems all right until it isn’t.

    2. old curmudgeon*

      Very true! And if equipment belonging to the business has an electrical short and catches fire, your homeowners’ insurance is unlikely to cover the damage to your home. Does the boss have business insurance for the equipment that is stored in your home? If he doesn’t, that is yet another abuse of your generosity – he’s assuming you’ll carry the risk for taking care of company property.

      1. Morticia(she/her)*

        When my old boss wanted to store equipment at my place, I didn’t even bother to check with my insurance, I just told him they wouldn’t allow it.

        Honestly, running his business from your home probably would give your insurance numerous issues.

  11. old curmudgeon*

    One other possibility is that your community’s zoning ordinances might be helpful as a reason to explain that this can’t continue.

    Your boss has in effect made your home into the headquarters location for his business, and some communities have pretty stringent ordinances about what type of activities can be conducted in a neighborhood that is zoned residential. If you are getting deliveries of large quantities of supplies or equipment in addition to being expected to host meetings and training sessions in your home, then your home could be considered to be functioning as a business, which (in some communities, at least) could potentially get you in hot water with the local zoning office.

    It could be worth a quick review of your community’s zoning ordinances just to see if there’s anything there you could cite, in addition to all the excellent explanations that Alison has suggested, in your explanation for why they need to GTF out of your home.

    Good luck, and please update us on how this shakes out!

    1. Ann Cognito*

      Yup. I’m a consultant, and have to have a business license to operate a business in my city, but my HOA doesn’t even know (or care), because I never meet with clients here. If I did, neighbors/the HOA would definitely have something to say about the extra cars/people coming and going, in addition to there being issues with home insurance (I remember some questions about the type of business/if customers or clients would be on-site).

  12. Hills to Die on*

    Why do I feel like this will stop briefly and then they will try to start inching back in into OP’s house? Just as a one-time thing of course for today.
    “I promised by husband that there would be no more work conducted in my home – Sorry.”
    Unplug the modem, don’t answer calls from them if you aren’t working that day, use up all of your garage space (empty cardboard boxes? Whatever it takes!) and stand your ground.

    Be warm and ‘welcoming’ in other ways. Bring them coffee and/or bagels to X location when you meet. Offer to drive to someone’s home to pick up X thing. Make it comfortable for them. Not that you should have to – but it will soften the blow until they get used to not treating your home like public property.

    1. Smithy*

      The job I left from the smallest nonprofit where I worked was the one where I could have written one of the 100’s of “how do I quit” letters that AAM gets all the time. No amount of hearing “you are allowed to quit and set boundaries” was going to be enough to give me the moxy to hold that boundary and actually leave.

      So I do recommend finding some kind of talisman that makes it more helpful. Whether that’s the husband, husband’s job, insurance, HOA, zoning laws, relative just passed away and now you’re storing their estate until probate finishes – WHATEVER. And it helps if its something that feels authentic to the OP and their relationships with their friends and coworkers, even if the issue is a bit silly. If the husband works night but doesn’t really care – however he genuinely does work nights, then it’s not a lie saying he needs to get quality sleep before his shift. Because to Hills point, given the flexible nature of this company – I can easily see a push to try and return to more and more of the previous arrangement.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        I really appreciate your talisman idea – so many times, people can completely agree with the advice given but not have the moxie to implement and enforce it.

        1. Smithy*

          Yeah – and for many of us this type of situation would be the proverbial house of bees and red flags – but it doesn’t sound 100% that way for the OP. Just a situation that was ok occasionally and has morphed into too many situations, so one hard boundary is likely better than a dozen individual boundaries.

          So having that one thing you can repeat that makes you feel “extra” reasonable – worth its weight in gold. When I quit, it was me saying “I’m leaving this job to return to the US because my dad is sick”. Now….any job I had in any state in the US would make me closer to my dad, and his health was bad, so I would get to see him more often….. Was this a statement that made me feel like my most girlboss? No, but it was something I could stick to when I got the endless “but why?????” It was a statement I could repeat (along with other normal professional statements about just leaving a job) and feel more justified.

          It also prevented me from saying anything unprofessional, badly lying, getting angry, etc. I always think of these as excuse/lies. They reflect our real life and aren’t untrue – but don’t necessarily have to hold philosophical or core truths. Their benefit is they help preserve relationships we otherwise do value and help us feel stronger when we don’t feel like we’re being listened to.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        This is a great situation for the classic “appeal to external authority”

        It’s not that *LW* is setting a new no-business stuff at my house boundary, it’s LW’s “insurance company/zoning board/neighborhood association/mortgage company” saying that it has to stop.

        No can do boss – my insurance company says so.

    2. Storm in a teacup*

      I don’t think OP needs to be spending any more time and money on being ‘warm and welcoming’ than they are.
      Being warm in manner and kind is sufficient. Don’t do the bagel thing or take on any more emotional, financial or time labour!

    3. SofiaDeo*

      No way would I spend money bringing bagels/coffee, nor recommend it. These problems started because of someone else’s thoughtless “self comfort” at the expense of OP. One can be warm and welcoming in speech/manner. There’s no need to spend time or gas/other money. And quite often, ripping off the band aid is easier. People who push against boundaries often test them, to allow any flex is potentially going back down that slope again!

    4. Ellis Bell*

      I think being warm in other ways would really help you feel emboldened to just say no, and give fewer excuses about why your house isn’t actually free office space. “I can’t have work meetings or parking at my house going forward. I thought today we could meet at the supermarket car park. I know this is a change in plans, so I’ll bring the coffee”.

  13. KHB*

    Piggybacking on this with a related question: Is there a similar script or strategy that people have used for setting boundaries when it comes to just their own personal work space?

    I’m one of those weirdos who really doesn’t like working from home. I have a job that “can” be done from anywhere with an internet connection, and I made it work during lockdown because I had to, but I find that I do so much better when I’m able to work in a room that’s reserved for my work and only my work, and I don’t have space for that in my home. I guess that most people are happy to welcome their workspaces into their homes – but I’m not.

    I’m one of the only people at my employer who feels this way, and now that they’re making serious noises about downsizing our office space, I don’t feel like I’m being heard, and I’m not confident that their plans for our future office space will include a dedicated office for me. Everyone else is happy that they get to work (mostly) from home forever – but I feel like I’m being deprived of a resource that I need to do my job. Would it be reasonable to say, “If you’re going to take away my office, I need for you to pay for me to have a private office in a coworking space?” Has anyone had success in that kind of negotiation?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think it’s worth asking in a casual manner (not a intense, or negotiation manner). “Hey Boss, I know they’re closing the Location Office. Do you know if there’s any plans for people who do want to work in person to have a new location or funds for coworking spaces?” Open the conversation. There may be some people who cannot work from home due to job tasks and you may be able to downsize to where ever they end up. If you know there’s a coworking space near you that you’d like, bring that info in too- how much would it cost company to rent a desk for you there. You’re likely not the only one, I know some people with clueless spouses who prefer in person over being interupted 6,000 times a day. Other people with a tiny apartment and a nanny who needs the space to care for the kids so they prefer work in person too. There’s also some job tasks that just cannot be done WFH.

    2. stacers*

      Do you have a library system (public or, I imagine, university/college) that has study rooms? My mid-size city’s (awesome) public library system has started marketing its study/meeting rooms (at all the branches) to WFH people who ‘want a change of scenery.’ You can reserve them online in advance. I have … four? six? … library branches within 15 minutes of my house, so I could vary the location to ensure availability.

      Even if it’s just 4-6 hours a day, leaving a couple of hours at home to answer emails or some specific administrative task, it would give you a place to go at specific times every day.

      If you don’t have to do a lot of meetings, just need space to spread out, you wouldn’t even have to reserve rooms, just spread out at a table.

      1. KHB*

        I mean, there are lots of things that I could do – including working from home. It’s not literally impossible for me to make space in my home to work, just like it’s not literally impossible for OP to make space in her home to store office equipment and all the other ridiculous crap that they’re having her do.

        But like OP, I’m bristling at how something that should be the employer’s responsibility – providing workspaces – is being foisted onto me against my will, and without giving me anything at all in return. So I’m hoping to be able to push back as much as I can in the moment, rather than staying silent, rationalizing it as “not that bad,” and waiting for whatever the next boundary encroachment may be.

        1. Low Sparrow*

          You’re taking this way too personally. Businesses change in ways that employees don’t like constantly. Your employer is, in fact, “providing a workspace” by giving you access to everything you need to do your job remotely; it’s just not the kind of workspace you would prefer.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              It’s really, really not. Having your own private office is not something most people can expect at work. If that’s a priority for you, you can say so and you can be willing to move jobs over it. But if they decide they want to have a more open office or do hotelling or have only remote employees or something else, then that is a business decision they can make and you just have to decide whether you still want to work for them or not.

              Personally I have left a company when there was talk of changing to an open office space, and my current company has switched to hotelling which I would definitely leave over if they make me come in but so far I’m working from home which is an acceptable solution for me. You can decide what you would or would not accept in a job, but you really can’t insist on them providing a specific kind of workspace that is your personal preference, unless you are some kind of superstar that they would do a lot to keep around.

              1. Working Hypothesis*

                My father left a company years ago, when they shut down their office and sent everybody to work from home. It’s completely reasonable if that’s not the way you want to work, and you have the skills to get another job. I think he would have laughed at them if they’d tried to downsize and take away his private office in the process… he was an attorney and company VP, regional counsel for a huge global corporation’s most legally active region, and no, he wasn’t going to hotdesk, or whatever they’re calling it these days when they don’t give each and every employee the space to do their damn job.

                So no, you can’t simply tell them that they need to do something your way, but it’s absolutely within reason to tell them that you’re not going to work for a company which *doesn’t* do it that way, given that there are plenty of companies which do. Pushing back is fine, you just need to know how far you’re willing to go. My dad didn’t even try to push; just accepted another offer and gave notice. But it’s also all right to ask for concessions if you think they’re likely to want to keep you, and you would stay if they did give you those concessions.

                I’m not really disagreeing with you, just musing over the whole subject. It *is* the employer’s responsibility to provide a workspace that the specific workers they hire can deal with, or else they should be hiring people who can. If they’ve hired someone already and decide to change their terms, well, that’s fine, but it comes with the risk that they’ll lose the employee… because *that* employee sees the previous configuration as part of the conditions which caused them to say yes to the job in the first place. Somebody else might not. But they should expect it, at least from a few of their people… few major changes come with no consequences.

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      My company closed one of our regional offices in a large city during the pandemic–it did NOT go well. It quickly became clear that they had made the decision from the perspective of people who had large houses in the suburbs and had really failed to consider that many of the staff had intentionally chosen places downtown with a smaller footprint, more access to public transit, etc. BECAUSE they had access to an office. We now have a co-working space near our old office location that gets regular use.

      In this case, there was a group of employees who pushed back together, so if you can find other people in the same boat, that may help. But otherwise/if you don’t have the capital to push back, you may need to move on.

    4. filer of data (hopeful ex librarian)*

      could you explain that you just don’t have the physical space/setup options to be able to effectively work from home? (maybe there’s no room for a desk or setup or something like that.) ask if there’s a telework option they can get for you? also explain that you feel like you’re more productive when you’re working from the office?

      i don’t know how true any of these things are for you, but i hope this helps a little!

    5. RagingADHD*

      You don’t need a script. Your wording is perfectly clear. You should use it.

      But there isn’t anything to negotiate and you have no leverage other than leaving. If the business decides to downsize to save money, they are unlikely to take your personal preference into consideration, or believe that the cost of replacing you outweighs the savings from the change.

      If you don’t want to WFH and the business goes remote, brush up your resume.

    6. ferrina*

      Is this issue that they won’t include any space for you, or that it won’t include a dedicated space for you?

      If the latter, you might be able to point out to your boss and/or the admin who organizes the space (there’s usually someone who runs these things) that you are here every day, and it would be great to have a place for your coffee cup/etc. The admins I work with have secret ways where they were able to set that up for me. They might be willing to quietly grandfather you in so you don’t need to hotdesk. It may not be an “office” per se, but even a dedicated open office space is better than the hotdesk.

      If it’s that there is no space, I agree with DisneyChannelThis and filer of data- say that you don’t have the space to work from home and ask your boss to help you come up with a solution.

      1. KHB*

        “Is this issue that they won’t include any space for you, or that it won’t include a dedicated space for you?”

        Either, or maybe both. I’m not sure, because upper management is being frustratingly evasive in the face of questions about just what the plan is. The slogan they keep chanting is that the office of the future will be a place to collaborate, not a place to sit by yourself with the door closed, so our future space will be structured with that in mind – never mind that 95% of my job involves sitting by myself with the door closed, and I can’t imagine anything that would change that.

        Plans for that “future space” are still up in the air (as far as I know – it could be that they have a plan but they’re keeping it secret). But meanwhile, they’ve announced that our (mostly empty) current space will be closed one day a week “to save money,” and “employees will work from home on those days.” So it really does seem like they’re absolving themselves of their responsibility to provide us with space to do our jobs.

    7. chocolate lover*

      oh, it’s so nice to hear from someone else who prefers working at the office and not from home! I feel like such an anomaly to most of my colleagues (some of whom have blatantly said they don’t understand why I’d want to come into the office, even after I listed a whole variety of reasons.)

      We moved to a hybrid/hoteling model, where you were supposed to be in two days a week (which most people don’t bother doing it, they just hide it from the powers that be), which started with being assigned to a designated office on your two days, and then became you just take an office that’s open. As someone with depression and anxiety, the set up was a chaotic nightmare that added so much stress for me. I ended up formally filing for ADA accommodations that include a)being in the office more days and b)being in the same designated office. It was not my first choice to file ADA, but it became pretty clear to me that no one was going to support me otherwise. I don’t know if that’s an option that would apply to you.

      1. KHB*

        I’m so glad you found a solution that worked out for you! I would not have guessed that this could be handled as an ADA accommodation, but it makes sense.

        I haven’t had to fend off any direct hostility from coworkers, but there’s been a lot of snide-sounding talk from the higher-ups about how “we all like working from home now.” And in a way, that almost feels worse, because they’re not just saying I’m a freak – they’re saying I don’t exist.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          I can see why that would really get to you. Myself, I always kind of enjoyed being the one who waves a hand saying, “Exception here!” in a cheerful way, when somebody does the whole “Everybody likes what my friends and I like!” thing. It can be fun to watch them try to backpedal when confronted directly, face to face, with the reality they’re saying doesn’t exist.

    8. LadyVet*

      I was one of the last people to leave my former office when everything shut down, since I live in an itty bitty studio. When I signed the lease I was fine with the small space, since I didn’t spend a lot of time at home. I didn’t even have a dedicated place to eat, really.

      I am THRILLED that the job I’ll be starting after my onboarding paperwork is processed is on-site. Even though I bought a desk and a kitchen island so I’d have more than two inches of counter space, I don’t have a proper office chair, and the loveseat I bought is too low and the arms aren’t comfortable to lean upon. After I start getting a regular paycheck again, I’m going to get a new one that will be more comfortable for watching TV (well, my computer monitor) when I get home.

      Also, I’m trying to manage expectation, but I have a few friends I who I think I’ll get to start seeing more often if I’m already out and about, instead of having to make plans days or weeks ahead that can be disrupted day of by PMS or bad colds or whatever else can come up.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      You are not a weirdo. I really, really need the split between work and home to be very definite. I do not want customers calling me and haranguing about the pronunciation of “Nonna’s pasta” in my personal space.

  14. WFHdemon*

    OP needs to check her homeowners’ insurance. I had the devil of a time getting homeowners’ insurance for my personal belongings because I work from home and (critical) there are occasional people coming and going. My “occasional” is maybe one person in a couple of months. This kind of setup is almost certainly against the terms of OP’s domestic and building insurance. OP should also consider what happens if one of her colleagues has an accident whilst using her property.

  15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I don’t know what to say. This sounds like my version of absolute hell.

    “This all makes me feel self-conscious about my house, imposes on my privacy (and my spouse’s privacy), makes me feel taken advantage of, and even annoys my dogs.”

    OP, you’re going to need bigger dogs. And I’m tempted to serve your “friend” who uses you as her personal assistant, a cup of coffee with a nice slice of double chocolate pie.

    Also, what if, heaven forbid, your garage gets flooded or your house broken into, and something happens to those large pieces of equipment you’re being forced to store? will you be held responsible for any damage to it??!

    Ugh. This is gross. They’re all gross.

    1. Janeric*

      Depending on how small the town is, “a series of break-ins in the area” might be a good excuse combined with “my insurance would not cover any of the business’s supplies stored in my home”.

    2. Here we go again*

      Pets, get a pet. Or at least put out beware of dog signs and a big bowl. Print a photo a Rottweiler and frame it. Cats would keep me away. I’m allergic. Snakes if anyone has a phobia.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Had a pet Ball Python and they will take any opportunity to escape. And people do freak out and won’t want to be there 100%.
        Just set up the cage and tell people the snake escapes and you don’t know where s/he is but it will turn up when it gets hungry enough. You don’t even need to put an actual snake in your home.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Pro tip from my Dad who used to sell insurance: Never put up “beware of dog” signs. They signal that you know your dog is dangerous and admit liability if something happens. Put up “Dogs on premises” signs. We have those on both our gates- both a Rottie and a GSD live here, making us targets for lawsuits.

          1. HoundMom*

            This may vary by state. The cops in my town recommend the Beware of Dog sign as in our state it protects the homeowner and dog when people come onto your property uninvited. They also recommend No Soliciting signs.

            In our state, if a dog bites twice, even if it was protecting you and the property, it will be euthanized unless you had a Beware of Dog sign.

            The cops also recommended calling them (on the non-emergency line) whenever a sales person came up to the door. They could be arrested for violating the signs if I was willing to press charges (I called twice but did not press charges, though one was fined for not getting the required permits to sell door to door).

            The lawyer across the street (who does personal injury) also stated that this was the right thing to do (and he has one up for his ten pound ball of fur).

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Oh my bad. I thought that that OP’s house being commandeered for meetings, overtaken by work equipment, and used as the work coffee-break room/office bathroom was a harsh and terrible thing, but you’re right, my comment is much, much worse in so many ways.

        1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

          Maybe they mean the comments about the friend. As Alison said, the friend is probably viewing this through a friend lens, not a coworker lens. A friend asking to pop in and use your loo, borrow a blouse or catch up over a coffee when they’re round isn’t treating you like an assistant, necessarily. That could be what’s going on, but it doesn’t like like the LW sees it that way either.

          The problem is the boss here.

          1. Blue Balloon*

            I think this was in response to the comment implying OP should serve the friend some pie made of poop, no? Which… ew.

            1. Blue Balloon*

              Per the comment below, apparently it’s a movie reference…? It did sound pretty harsh and terrible without that context.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                That’s right, it’s from the movie Help. Which is exactly how this former friend (whom OP does not even refer to as their friend) is treating OP; like the help.

                I haven’t even ever had an actual friend friend barge in uninvited and tell me to make them coffee while I’m working. Like what the heck.

    3. Splendid Colors*

      I think pretty much all areas of the US are having extreme weather that could lead to flooding, trees falling on houses, snowpocalypses, power outages, evacuations, etc. that lead to damage and insurance claims. This is no time to be doing things behind your insurance company’s back.

  16. Purple Jello*

    So many boundaries blasted through!

    He wants to save money? Office/storage are part of the cost of doing business. If the company equipment is damaged in a flood or other natural disaster, whose insurance would cover it? Extra cars parked on your property for business trips? – are the neighbors annoyed with this, or is it inconvenient for you?

  17. DisneyChannelThis*

    I disagree a bit. I feel like saying something is changing because your husband wants it changed makes it seem like you personally are fine with it just husband isn’t and opens up a lot of room for people to pressure you to change his mind. I think that presenting yourselves as a divided unit is bad.

    Instead, blame New Years. “We’re Marie Kondo-ing our lifestyle, we need the business to stop doing anything at our place so we have space for other stuff”. “We read a cool guide about living longer by reducing stress by having work and home be separated better, so we need the business to stop doing anything at our place”.

    I think too, there’s an angle you’re not considering, which is what happens if you want to quit or what if you got hit by a bus. They’d have to find a new place to store this crap and have their meetings then. If you’re trying to quit it’s extra awkward to have all this physical stuff to sort out. Go ahead and sort it now.

    For the friend using you as a public toilet near downtown, I’d start just ignoring the call/text. “Oh sorry friend, didn’t see your text anyway about XYZ” when you go to text about something else. If it’s before/after a work drive I think you should plan to have bathroom guest ready though.

    1. Moose*

      I don’t think they need to present as having a divided front to use the husband as a helpful excuse. “My husband also works from home and we can no longer have people coming and going/need privacy for his work” is completely reasonable, and the LW can say they agree and totally support their husband on this–it is hard to argue with other people’s professional needs. If the boss hasn’t taken the hint or responded well to pushbacks before, presenting it as a lifestyle change or a need for more space probably won’t work (“but you have so much space” has already been used to dismiss LW).

    2. ferrina*

      Eh, I think the spouse thing is fine. I’m with Alison that using a partner as an excuse can be a really useful tactical move, especially if the partner agrees and don’t need a relationship with those people. And anyone that would say “just pressure you spouse to say that they don’t have needs!” is a problem in more ways than one.

      Love your idea on not responding to the texts! Definitely worth a try. If the coworker drops by anyways, just say “oh, sorry, now is not a good time.” That’s an answer. Maybe your dog peed all over the floor. Maybe you have adult content everywhere. Maybe you were playing with your action figures in the middle of the floor. Doesn’t matter, none of coworkers business. “So sorry, not a good time. I have to run- sorry!”

    3. Happy*

      You don’t need to seem like a divided front to blame your spouse. If someone asks you to try to change your spouse’s mind, just say, “Oh, no! I love my spouse too much to do that!”

    4. Ellis Bell*

      It’s not presenting a divided unit to say you care about your spouse though! “Oh my bad, I should have checked with Hubs about all the parking and storage etc. If you remember I wasn’t sure it was a good idea and turns out it really threatens his job, which we can’t afford.” I honestly can’t imagine someone responding to that with “Oh but surely you care more about your job/colleague than your life partner! Pressure him!” But if they did, I would just say “No, I wanted to help even though it was inconvenient to me too, but it’s not working and it’s not fair to my household. We decided together that we can’t afford the time/money/job hassle/stress to the dogs. I’ve been really thoughtless to him by allowing all this to happen”. Some people do actually find it easier to stick up for a loved ones over themselves.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I’m generally a big fan of using little white lies to explain changes in boundaries but honestly this has gotten so egregious I think I would not even bother with anything because the basic truth is so clearly on OP’s side to anyone who isn’t the most ridiculous human. I’d just stick with “I was happy to help out in a pinch in the past but things have gotten really out of control and I can no longer let the business use my house in any way.”

      But that will only work if you are willing to keep *very* firm. If he says your house is bigger then his, well yes because you and your husband chose this space FOR YOUR FAMILY. You did not move into this house only to give up the space you are paying for to a company you don’t even own. Yes, paying for a coworking space is expensive. Yes, paying to store things he can’t fit in his own apartment would cost money. Those are the costs of doing business and it is wildly unreasonable on its for him to pass those costs onto an employee.

  18. MsSolo UK*

    I love how your boss clearly has no concept of you ever getting another job and this lovely perk he’s arranged for himself (free high speed internet, free storage, free coffee!) could just… go away. Maybe you could go into commercial office rental?

    1. MsSolo UK*

      More realistically, in addition to issues with your own house insurance (which almost certainly doesn’t cover this kind of usage) I would be shocked if the business insurance does either. If you got burgled and the company equipment was stolen? Highly doubt that would be covered.

  19. Lost academic*

    I would start randomly working from other locations so that the house is unavailable. Lock it up, no access available. I like the internet outage idea too.

    But yes, this discussion needs to happen. There’s too much wrong with this from every angle.

    1. Gal Friday*

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I WFH mostly and some days I just need to get out so I work from one of the local libraries or coffee shops. Slightly inconvenient for you for a while, but you can break your coworkers habit of coming to your house for everything. Need a central meeting space? Check you library’s meeting room availability! In my town reserving a meeting room at the library is free for the first two hours and very reasonable if you want to book a whole day.

  20. Michelle Smith*

    OP I have no advice. Just solidarity. The situation you describe is one of my worst nightmares. I hate, hate, hate, HATE, HAAAAATE people in my private space. I literally don’t have strong enough words to describe how much this would be a problem for me. I just want to reiterate to you that you are not crazy for wanting to set this boundary and I am so, so sorry that you’re dealing with this. HUGE virtual hugs to you for all the stress you’re under.

  21. Uncle Boner*

    I’m surprised I’m not reading a lot of suggestions to start job shopping. There are one of two issues here:
    1) the business isn’t making enough money to be a REAL business (and instead needs to rely on the charity of employees to survive), OR
    2) the boss is a cheap bastard.

    Either way, OP is likely to face a severe financial problem down the road staying with this hack.

    1. LCH*

      good point. this business doesn’t sound like it will survive for long if it has such bad cash flow.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Probably because the OP says they have started looking, but that they’re in an isolated area without a lot of opportunities in their field.

    3. Asenath*

      Small isolated town. There probably aren’t a lot of other job options. On the other hand, I bet there are insurance issues, and almost certainly municipal regulations about running a business out of a home.

    4. Pants*

      My first thought was #1. This is not a business endeavour that can possibly maintain profit, if it’s even profitable currently.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OP said they are already looking, but it might take a while as the job market in their location is scarce. Believe me, this was the first thing I looked for in OP’s letter.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah. It’s not surprising more people didn’t suggest LW begin doing a thing the letter says they already started doing.

    6. MCMonkeyBean*

      This is true as well. Is boss just a cheapskate, or will the business genuinely fall apart if it suddenly loses access to the free workspace/storage/internet/etc that they are taking from OP? Definitely stop letting them use those things, but also be prepared to job search if necessary.

  22. djc*

    This situation would have me job-searching. But even that sounds difficult if you have your boss and co-workers in you personal space all day. Best of luck, OP.

  23. Not Australian*

    I think in the circumstances I’d be “expecting family members to visit from out of town” or something: you suddenly need your space back and probably have to reorganise all your furniture to accommodate guests. Either that or you have some massive systems failure – your plumbing fails, you get cockroaches, or mould, or fleas, or anything disgusting you can think of.

    OTOH the insurance thing is probably your best bet. “You realise your stuff/car isn’t covered under our insurance, right?”

    I mean, heaven forbid something should accidentally happen to it…

    1. Janeric*


      “Someone brought bedbugs into our home. Of course we aren’t casting aspersions but we can’t allow anyone from a potentially infested home to visit and face all that stress and expense again. You understand.”

      I would pee in the grossest gas station bathroom a thousand times before knowingly lingering in a home with bedbugs.

  24. SpEd Teacher*

    My coworkers just asked if I were ok because my face was so horrified at this story. If anything, I think Allison is underreacting. OP needs to shut this right down and they really examine why she even let it get this bad in the first place. All meetups are in public forever. And I’d start looking for a new job if this one is apparently so poor they can’t afford an office or appropriate wifi connections.

    1. Empress Ki*

      Totally underreacting !
      No it’s not reasonable to ask, even once, politely, if you can use your employee’s home to store stuff and park your car. Especially with the power imbalance between boss and employee.
      For me, he deserves a nomination among the worst bosses of the year.

  25. Ellen Ripley*

    I just want to reiterate to LW: this is not normal, at all, and this lack of boundaries between work and personal space is likely not good for you and your family. It’s not only okay to shut it down, but imperative that you do so as soon as you can. Hoping it will be an easy journey to get all of *somebody else’s business* back out of your home where it belongs.

  26. SleeplessKJ*

    I’d check to see what the local laws are about running a business out of a home – you can also say your neighbors have complained / reported you.

  27. HufferWare*

    I want to chime in with my support for you, this is all WAAAAY to much, particularly since there seems to never have been a mention of compensation. Storing business materials/equipment alone is a huge liability for your home insurance should anything happen, so that’s one “excuse” right there. You are not being unreasonable or rude to not want your home to be used as a rest stop or conference center. All of this would drive me nuts!

  28. Lisa Simpson*

    I’d suggest that, rather than go into the conversation open ended (My house can’t be home base any more, you need to figure this out), have a few alternative options priced out and ready to go, to be deployed if the conversation goes that way. Price out some self-storage spaces, some coworking spaces if your town has them, some office rental spaces, maybe even run your boss’s address through a few ISP websites to see what it would cost for him to upgrade.

    This isn’t and should not be your job. But it will be a lot easier to answer a panicked “What but what are we going to do??? We need your house!” response to your statement with an action plan, and it makes it more likely your request will be successful.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I might say to mention the things, but not have their prices ready to go–unless office finances is part of OP’s regular job. Although it sounds like it wouldn’t be, the business is small enough that the owner handles all that himself. Regardless, I think being able to say the things exist is sufficient, but don’t cost them out.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think he’s researched those already though and knows how much they cost, as OP says he’s remarked before that they were too expensive. This would probably just get a response like “why did you waste time researching this when I already said it wasn’t an option?”

  29. She of Many Hats*

    Some very legit reasons to reset the boundaries.
    1) As others have said – home insurance liability. LW may even be in violation of her policy by doing this level of business in her home. Then there’s the general added legal liability of acting as a business when her home is not one.

    2)City zoning laws – if this is operating as business she may be liable for violating those.

    3) Tax liability – if the home is designated a business, she may be liable for related taxes.

    1. DomaneSL5*

      Your first three are really good, and should put a stop to this crazy. I would add the following too.

      4. Business License. If there are different muicipalities or counties involved, this could get sticky depending on local laws.

      1. Splendid Colors*

        I have forgotten in my previous comments that my city’s home business ordinances are only for businesses OWNED BY the homeowner. Not for employees of the owner who lives at a different address. (and as a reminder, the homeowner/lessee can’t have any employees). Anything else is a big zoning violation, and I don’t think there are any remedies for this (or if they are, they’re way more expensive than just renting a darned office).

        It’s also possible the boss thinks office and storage space are “too expensive” because he’s only looking at the ideal spaces in the ideal locations. I am paying 40% of my previous storage rent because I moved to one that’s 3 miles further and doesn’t have drive-through loading, and the closing time is a bit earlier (7:45 vs. 9:30). It’s also cleaner and they manage to screen out people living in their storage units with means other than “nobody is allowed to do eBay sales etc. from their units.”

    2. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      Shocking and embarrassing really that the boss doesn’t know (or care about) this type of basic 101 stuff.

      Makes me concerned about what other legal landmines the boss has left lying about for them all to wander into.

  30. Rain's Small Hands*

    Before my husband started working from home (five years ago, long before most knowledge workers did), my mother would stop by frequently to “help out” (clean, walk the dog, etc. which honestly, was great and we both miss). But when he started being on client calls on the time we had to keep the barky boy quiet – and he goes nuts when Grandma comes to the door. She completely understood and now doesn’t drop by – when she does she calls first to make sure my husband isn’t on a client call. We also don’t run the vaccuum during the work day.

    So if husband is working from home, that makes a very nice excuse – “my husband’s company insists that we limit ‘visitors’ in our house during work hours” Which, honestly, if husband’s company has a work from home policy, limiting people who are in and out of a home is reasonable (sometimes the washer repair guy comes – but if its people coming all the time, that isn’t conducive to him working). If husband isn’t working from home, then “this is impacting my husband’s privacy and therefore putting undue strain on my marriage, it cannot continue. It is his house as well as mine and he has a right to his space.”

    As an aside, even my husband’s crap taking up more than its amount of space in my house drives my crazy – because there is a limited amount of space even in our large house – and I end up “decluttering” my stuff and then he fills it with more of his. If it were his bosses stuff taking up room in our house, that would end FAST.

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      A friend has a husband with a hoarding problem. She wanted to declutter some closets but was afraid of them getting filled right up again. SOoooo, she emptied out storage boxes and then returned them to the closets – empty. So those closets count as “full” to her husband’s eyes, and she knows that the space is still there if she needs it.

  31. John*

    Use insurance combined with the fact that your spouse has had it with the arrangement, “so therefore, you will understand why we will have to modify this arrangement by month end.” And be prepared to sit in silence while boss man solves it. Do not jump in when he muses aloud at his limited options! Be his audience while he works it out. All you should do it repeat as necessary.

    I imagine LW will have difficulty with this as they allowed it to happen in the first place. This is going to be a growth opportunity, LW, and you are sure to feel discomfort because this goes against your nature, but this is a skill you need to develop for sanity’s sake.

    1. Zweisatz*

      Agreed. And if he goes into “but what will we do?? Can’t you just [put up with it]/Can’t we just [go on like this forever]?” your best friend is “Unfortunately that won’t be possible.”, said in a neutral or sympathetic tone.

      1. happy new year*

        Also, just to note: “what will we do” is called Forced Teaming. He is forcing you into solving the problem by making it your problem you need to solve in order to have your boundary enforced.

        It’s not your problem to solve. It’s his. That’s why he’s the boss.

  32. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    I agree setting a deadline to end it is the way to go, but I would caution against making up a conflict/excuse. I would just stick with some version of “Because it’s my house, not the central office.” Any pushback about “it’s expensive” or “inconvenient” should be met with some version of “not my problem”. Otherwise, you are trying to get agreement about the situation, which will probably never happen.

    1. Rachel*

      Totally agree. This is like initiating a breakup. Both sides do not need to consent. One side informs the other, ideally with as much kindness and as much clarity as possible and the other side processes it.

      1. Rachel*

        Also, on that processing note – there is no reason you need to sit there with your boss while he works out his feelings about this in real time and pressures you to go back on it. It’s good to have an exit strategy.
        Often in situations like this, I will deliberately deliver the message X amount of time before an immovable conflict, so I can absolutely end the conversation and feel validated in doing so. “I’ll leave you to process this, remember the deadline is X. I have a client call now/a doctor’s appointment/have to pick up the kids/have to pick up someone else’s kids/*harmless white lie*”.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        There’s a difference here, though: OP would like to maintain a cordial working relationship with her boss and coworkers. “No is a complete sentence,” sounds good in theory, but it’s not actually helpful here. She would like to keep her job, without a whole lot of resentment, if at all possible.

        1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

          A notice period with an end date is very cordial. I doubt she would lose her job over this. Right now, all the resentment is on her end and her coworkers are (or are pretending to be) oblivious.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            I’m responding more to Rachel’s likening this situation to a breakup. No, ending this set-up doesn’t need her boss’s consent, exactly, but OP does need to maintain a decent working relationship with him (unlike a breakup). She might not lose her job over this directly, but how she handles it can alter the relationship in ways not favorable to her.

            Using the fig leaf of insurance, or zoning laws, or husband is sick of this, circumvents the “Why are you only raising this now?!” or “You never objected before!” conversations. Making someone else the bad guy means that OP isn’t the bad guy. Her saying, “Your business costs are not my problem,” may be correct, but it would be impolitic.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I think that quotation is more for OPs internal resolve as to the reasonableness of ending this encroachment – not to be actually used verbatim with the boss. When OP objected on the storage space initially that should have been the end of it! There’s no way he should have pushed and said her space was bigger as though she were a co owner with the same responsibility. Whether OP says: “Oops my insurance/husband says no”, or whether they say: “I have to say no because I’m actually job hunting as a way out of this madness” is down to their comfort level, but it does have to involve final say words like “no” and “sadly, can’t possibly” rather than “could we?”.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Not offering fake excuses is 100% not the same thing as “no is a complete sentence.” I hate how overused “no is a complete sentence” has become, but that is not what people are arguing here.

          Offering things like a kitchen renovation or a husband conflict will only open the door for the boss to try to think of some kind of work around for what is being presented as a simple road block. There is no workaround to “I am uncomfortable with what the situation has turned into and you need to find a different solution for storing XYZ and my house will no longer be available for meetups.”

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            “There is no workaround to “I am uncomfortable with what the situation has turned into and you need to find a different solution for storing XYZ and my house will no longer be available for meetups.”

            But then you get arguments like, “Why is this coming up now? You never said anything before!” or “I don’t understand why we can’t XYZ like we’ve been doing, what’s the big problem?” If all OP says is, “I’m not comfortable with this,” that gets its own kinds of pushback. Insurance, zoning, husband, whichever: using some kind of reason/explanation/excuse will help preserve the working relationship.

            OP can combine the two approaches. Saying something like, “(Husband) and I have been talking, and we’re going to be drawing stronger lines between work and home. So, the team can’t meet here at the house anymore, and we’ll need to move out the stuff in the garage by the end of the month.” That takes more ownership than I was previously suggesting, but also frames it as a decision made by two people, not just OP alone.

    2. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      The issue with making up an excuse is that it implies that “If not for this (person/issue/rule/etc.) I’d be ok with it”. The other person might think it’s a problem to be solved, like “oh, I checked with our business insurance company and they’ll cover the stuff even if it’s at your house”.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, exactly this–OP’s boss is getting such a ridiculously great deal out of this situation that it would seem much easier to them to try to resolve whatever OP presents as an issue than to actually pay for space for the business. I don’t think anything short of OP saying they themselves cannot put up with this anymore would be a clear enough boundary.

  33. Andy*

    One more idea regarding the friend, on top of all the great comments here – you could frame it to her as “listen, I’m setting a hard boundary so that boss stops using my place, so I can’t have you drop by, since I want to be consistent “. That could make it easier to explain.

  34. Rachel*

    I understand how, especially if you are new to the workplace or in an insular community, these sort of norm violations don’t ring as many alarm bells. My first job out of college, my boss said he was traveling to my hometown and asked to stay with my parents to save the cost of a hotel. They were nice about it, but looking back on it I can’t believe he had the nerve to ask and that I accepted. It is beyond not normal, and you should absolutely put your foot down ASAP.

    I wouldn’t even give an excuse — I KNOW how hard it is to assert boundaries, break up, etc., but it will make you a much stronger person to say “I need to assert boundaries here” and you’ll be able to more easily do it elsewhere in your life. I expect, in the kindest possible way, that you have other boundaries in your life that are being transgressed as well because this is so wildly invasive and over the top that you may need to do some recentering as to what is normal in general (NOT THIS!). Please discuss this with a professional if you have the means to do so, or with a trusted person not connected to the situation if not, and think about what it means that things got this bad, and if it’s a pattern.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Wow! Your boss asking to and then staying with your parents to save money is shocking.

      This letter is not nearly as shocking. I can totally see how what happened to the LW was a slippery slope. We’ll meet at my house; of course, you can use my restroom before we begin our carpooled drive; yes, you can have a cup of coffee; even getting one piece of equipment delivered to the LW’s home. But the slippery slope has become an avalanche burying the LW. Individually the first one or two incidents are not outrageous, and probably would have been fine if the boss and coworkers hadn’t kept asking for more.

    2. LilPinkSock*

      Ew! I had a crappy boss who tried to force me to let her use my family’s timeshare option for a conference (I was going to the same conference and I’d gotten CFO permission to use it myself, so she had to stay in the very nice conference hotel when I couldn’t/wouldn’t change the reservation to her–got a write-up for that)…but that’s entirely new levels of presumptuous!

    1. Moose*

      I don’t think this is fair. The boss should know better than to put this on his employee and ask in the first place–he should know to have plans for where to put equipment and conduct business or be willing to put up his own space if he wants it done that badly. Not use an employee’s private residence.

      The LW notes they’ve pushed back on things and have gotten lame excuses in response. I am also sympathetic toward someone being hesitant to say no to their manager thinking it’s a one-time favor, then having things snowball when the boss keeps assuming it’s fine and won’t take no for an answer.

    2. Happy*

      Acquiescing to a series of favor requests from their boss and coworkers is not the same as setting up this system.

    3. Empress Ki*

      That would be true if there was no power imbalance between an employee and her boss, but that’s not the case.
      And not everyone is comfortable asserting boundaries. It’s specially harder for women as many have been educated to be ‘nice’ and say yes.

  35. Moose*

    Trying to imagine my boss showing up at MY HOUSE to take a Zoom call when he has his own, albeit smaller, space…
    And if he doesn’t have room elsewhere to store equipment or conduct meetings, what did he think would happen when he started the company?! He had no plans on where he’d conduct business??
    Very early contender for worst boss of the year, IMO.

    1. Random Bystander*

      “Very early contender for worst boss of the year” … does this set a record for the earliest appearance of a potential nominee?

  36. OrigCassandra*

    These people’s behavior is putting you and your family at greater COVID risk, OP. It’s quite possible your coworkers and boss don’t care, BUT it is your HOME and that entitles you to e.g. insist on mask-wearing whenever they are there.

    That might do the trick. And make you safer.

    1. HNY*

      This is the answer, this is the way. No way I would have these folks in and out my home without paid-for air cleaners installed, and required masking.

    2. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      This is a great suggestion!

      “My partner is immuno compromised and we have to be very careful who we let in. It puts their life at risk. Sorry.”

      Imagine what kind of boss would have the nerve to dismiss that. Probably some but surely most wouldn’t.

  37. HugeTractsofLand*

    This is a really tough situation, OP, I’m sorry your boundaries have been steamrolled! Because you’re close to these people, would it help to use the framing “put yourself in my shoes…”? “Imagine you have company coming over every day” or “imagine family dropping by unannounced” or “imagine if Boss used your bathroom every day”. Your co-workers SHOULD have imagined this already, but because they’re not imposed on in the same way it apparently hasn’t clicked.

    I think using your dogs as an excuse is even better than using your husband, because dogs can’t be reasoned with. Say your dogs have been exhibiting stress and starting to chew on clothes/furniture, so there can’t be people coming over anymore. Good luck!

    1. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

      This may be the first ever AAM letter where nudity is a legitimate solution ;)

      Or leave massive dildos lying around, start collecting erotic art, take up bagpipes (sorry anyone who likes bagpipes) and practice regularly throughout the day.

      Don’t do these, it’s a bad idea. Or maybe do them? No, definitely don’t do them.

    2. Empress Ki*

      Not sure it’s legal to get naked in front of people without their consent. Otherwise I’d like the idea.

      1. Crencestre*

        Trouble is, the corporate moochers might like the idea too and then the LW would have an even more difficult time getting rid of them! (I was going to say that the LW would have an even HARDER time getting rid of them, but this is AAM, not AITA-Reddit and propriety must be maintained…;)

  38. Michelle*

    I would burn down my own home before I let it be taken over by entitled, pushy ingrates like this.

    This is not a suggestion for a course of action, only a measure of my total horror, and my strongest support for you to say or do whatever you need to to make it stop.

    Please let us know how this turns out because I am absolutely going to be haunted by this post in my nightmares.

  39. KatEnigma*

    You don’t even have to pretend about the insurance thing. Every single time we move and get new insurance, I have to swear at least 3 times that no business is being conducted on the premises that involves other people (new since 2020 and all the WFH)

    This is your out, LW. But in the future, you really need to set and enforce boundaries.

    1. KatEnigma*

      * meant that the “involves other people” specifically is new. They are allowing for WFH that doesn’t up the liability any.

  40. Ari*

    Boundaries? We don’t need no stinking boundaries!

    Seriously though. I’m not sure how there aren’t tax/insurance/zoning issues with this whole setup. In effect, your home has become a business office. I would check the local laws/regulations first because that’s an easier conversation (e.g., “I’ve discovered that my insurance won’t cover accidents that happen while people are working here”… or whatever you can come up with). They might push back but if you have legal statutes to reference, then you’re on firm ground.

    If you make excuses, then you’ll have to continually come up with new ones based on how you’ve described your boss and co-workers. I’m not sure that’s the best long-term method. I would also be tempted to suggest that others take turns hosting. “Since you enjoy the time together, let’s meet at your house next week.”

  41. anne of mean gables*

    Just the idea of having to keep my bathroom and kitchen company-ready at all times is giving me hives. I’m not advocating living in filth as a way of life, but with two dogs and a toddler, it happens. My boss and coworker invited themselves over for lunch once, two years ago, and I still cringe at how uncomfortable I was the entire time. The situation OP is describing truly sounds like hell.

    1. BlueSwimmer*

      I love your user name!

      I also have a less-than-perfect house but was raised by a very house-proud mother so I hate having people drop by unless I have at least a week to get ready. Weirdly, I don’t judge other people’s messy houses, I just project how I think other people are judging mine.

      In terms of boundary setting, I learned with my boundary-violating in laws to just keep saying “I’m sorry but that won’t work for us.” No excuses, no discussion, just keep repeating “That won’t work for us anymore.”

  42. Notaname*

    I don´t know how it works anywhere else, but my insurance would be canceled if it were found that I was conducting someone else´s business at my home, hosting employees there, and/or storing business equipment.

    Not only that, but if a disaster occurred (flood, fire, etc.,) any claim I made for my own things, up to and including the house itself, would be denied because I hadn´t disclosed the true use of the property.

    So there´s a lot more going on here, potentially, than abuse by a whole bunch of entitled scroungers. Which is frankly plenty bad enough on its own.

    1. Splendid Colors*

      There is so much extreme weather causing problems that lead to insurance claims, it is incredibly imprudent not to take disasters into account these days. Floods, snowpocalypse, trees falling, mudslides, rockslides, wildfires… yeah, not a good time to be cavalier about insurance.

  43. Person from the Resume*

    Wow! Your boss asking to and then staying with your parents to save money is shocking.

    This letter is not nearly as shocking. I can totally see how what happened to the LW was a slippery slope. We’ll meet at my house; of course, you can use my restroom before we begin our carpooled drive; yes, you can have a cup of coffee; even getting one piece of equipment delivered to the LW’s home. But the slippery slope has become an avalanche burying the LW. Individually the first one or two incidents are not outrageous, and probably would have been fine if the boss and coworkers hadn’t kept asking for more.

  44. DyneinWalking*

    OP, you’ve gotten a lot of good advice here – I hope you manage to shut this nonsense down.

    Since your boss has given money-saving reasons to using your home, let me point out this: A business needs to make enough money to cover its own expenses. If it can’t do that, it doesn’t deserve to survive. Granted, it usually takes a while for a business to make money, so at the beginning of a business there are usually sacrifices – by the people who own the business and are hoping to make extra profit once the business is up and running. Are you a co-owner? Will you receive large amounts of money when the business has become more profitable? No? Then you aren’t on the list of people to make sacrifices for the business.

  45. Pugetkayak*

    I know we read a lot of bizarre stuff on here, but seriously this ranks really high for me on the ridiculous list.

    I’m kind of speechless at the audacity. Sorry I dont really have anything else to say except I want to say “WHAT ON EARTH?!”

  46. Keymaster of Gozer*

    It’s hard to do the ‘look, I may have been ok with this in the past but I’m not now’ talk. It does help to repeat to yourself that changing your mind about something is perfectly acceptable and not weird at all.

    “Boss, just to let you know that as of (date that you set) we can’t use my house as an office anymore”

    If they ask for reasons just be to the point and say “it’s not going to work anymore”. I’ve found that with spectacular boundary pushing the more reasons you give the more they’ll push back with ‘solutions’ that are more trampling.

    Like you do with cats. If you don’t want them to scale the bookcase and knock everything flying then explaining your reasons isn’t going to work. You say No and make it really hard for them to get up there.

    Yes people will likely do the ‘but you said it was ok before’ and ‘don’t you like me anymore’ but in my experience they get over the hurt feelings in about the same time a bookcase destroying cat does.

    1. Don’t put metal in the Science Oven*

      This. Your boss wants your (free to him) space so bad he will push back hard on any and every reason or excuse you give (maybe other than the insurance – but be prepared for him to offer to pay premiums or sign some waiver or something). He may threaten or follow thru with firing you if you can’t provide this for him. Best to have about 3 versions of, “This won’t work for me. This just isn’t possible any further. I’ll be removing the equipment & locking the doors as of date.” This will probably be hard.

      We’d all really like an update.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      This. “I can’t continue to use my house as the business office any more” repeated as needed. Nothing to justify, when (I say “when” because people like this will ruthlessly try to push back and change your mind) “but why?” and “you can’t!” and “oh no, but we like this/need this/what will we do” start erupting, just keep repeating. When they tell everyone they know in this small town, and some of these other folk get involved (I have lived in Very Small Towns) you must just stay firm, and keep repeating the sentence (or whatever sentence you have chosen to use). Do not allow yourself to get sucked into discussion. “I just can’t” is enough.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I think this is a good way to go, because the OP said this started small. Having a conversation where you say for the record that it’s a huge inconvenience, and you can’t allow any more of the small favours which led to this situation happening, removes the deniability of the hardship on OP and their privacy. It’s hard to imagine that the boss and colleague don’t see the huge inconvenience, but possibly they don’t.

  47. Here we go again*

    If you have a kid you could get them a drum set and have them practice during these visits.

  48. ferrina*

    Get a cat or a dog.

    This arrangement is ridiculous, and it might be easiest if you had a ready-made excuse for your No. You shouldn’t need one- it’s eminently reasonable to want your house to be your own- but it might be easier on both you and your coworkers to be able to point to a reason. And for some people (myself included), it’s easier to protect our dependents needs/boundaries than our own. And you need to cut these work visitations off ASAP.

    So get a rescue pet. Rescue Pet needs space and bonding time, and also doesn’t like a lot of traffic. Absolutely no coworker drop-bys because Pet. No training at your house because Pet. Coworker wants to use the bathroom? So sorry, Pet. Your Pet is officially a Special Needs Pet and needs low stress (bonus points if you can adopt a senior pet or a pet with special medical needs- they have trouble finding good homes). Anyone that argues with Rescue Pet’s needs is officially a glassbowl.

    1. ferrina*

      Just noticed OP already has dogs. They can point to this- “The vet said my dogs are getting exposed to too much stress with too many people in the house. For the health of our pets, we’ve decided to make our house a no-coworker zone. Happy to meet you all somewhere else!”
      Send this proactively as an announcement. Anyone objects? “I’m going to listen to my vets on this one. They’re really great, and they know my dogs extremely well.”

      1. chocolate lover*

        My husband has a large parrot. She wanders around the house and bites people. That tends to drive people away pretty quickly.

  49. Owls Lang Syne*

    If your boss tries to “solve” any of the reasons you provide for stopping this arrangement, be sure to just keep the conversation going with essentially, “regardless, we will need to stop using my house for the business, so how do you want to proceed?” Not allowing yourself to be diverted is an important skill.

    This will be excellent practice for how to decline something someone asks for in a positive, breezy manner, which can help you avoid future situations like this- though I doubt you’ll run into any future workplaces as happy to mooch as this one!

  50. Veryanon*

    I’d imagine that LW is skating right on the edge of violating the applicable zoning laws in their area, as well as insurance issues (if someone gets injured on their property, cars or items get damaged), and possibly HOA issues as well, if that applies. For all of those reasons, they need to just tell the boss that they can no longer function as the de facto headquarters, and that boss will need to make other arrangements. If the boss offers to pay or otherwise argues, the LW just needs to be firm and reiterate that they can’t continue with this arrangement. I hope this doesn’t jeopardize the LW’s employment.

  51. RagingADHD*

    I mean this in all warmth and kindness, but the best script or excuse or strategy in the world is not going to hold up if you are unwilling or unable to say,

    “Look, this is inappropriate and unsustainable, and it has to stop. It’s over. NO.”

    No matter how squirrelly or passive-voice you start this conversation, there are only 2 endpoints: either you knuckle under and they go right back to what they’re doing, or you simply refuse to allow it, and deal with the fallout.

    You might as well skip the first half of the pointless drama, and just start with a firm, polite statement that your home is off limits, effective immediately. You’ll have more energy to deal with the fallout. If you mess around with fake arguments, you’ll just wear yourself out and make it that more likely that you’ll fold.

    They are going to call you rude. They are going to call you unwelcoming. You are going to second guess yourself and feel guilty. Expect it. Don’t worry about trying to avoid it, because you can’t. You have to be prepared to accept the pushback if you want this to end.

    Good luck!

  52. dollars to doughnuts*

    Bet OP’s boss doesn’t actually know how expensive coworking space is, they just know it’s an expense the business doesn’t have to take on because they’re bumming space and wifi from you. It sounds a little worrying that this boss is operating on such a shoestring.

  53. Wallflower*

    1. Price the offsite office space; tell boss the cost of using your home is 125% of whatever that cost is. Until he gets out of your house, also do the following:

    2. Unplug internet when he comes over. Always.

    3. Be out of coffee, clean mugs.

    4. Be very low on toilet tissue and don’t bother cleaning up other than putting away your meds.

    5. No to clothes lending. Just no.

    6. Sneeze, cough, sniffle.

  54. Pants*

    How do I graciously set this boundary without seeming rude or unwelcoming?

    I’m a woman and this resonates so much with me. It’s such a huge double-standard. Men don’t need to worry about seeming rude/unwelcoming, but if women don’t automatically sugar everything they do as if asking for a favour, we’re called all sorts of things.

    1. cncx*

      Yeah, I had a friend come over unannounced during Covid, pre vaccine, after he had taken an airplane.

      He asked to come over, I said no because I wasn’t having people inside because I am in a risk group, and specifically said my apartment and bathroom weren’t guest ready even if I were and I had a work call all morning but we could have coffee in the yard after work.

      He showed up at ten am while I was on a call, claiming a bathroom emergency, the proceeded to stay and complain about how dirty my bathroom was. I opened the patio door wide open, went back to my work call in the yard because I’m in a risk group.

      He barged into my house, disrespected my home office hours, disregarded my personal Covid precautions, complained about something I had already warned him about re cleanliness but guess who is the bad guy according to him? Me. For daring to tell him no, then sitting in the yard making him feel germy and bad and not cleaning up for a chat and a visit. While I was on the clock and busy.

      He isn’t a friend any more.

      1. Pants*

        While not the same situation, I cut off a friend who showed up after several, rather uh… spirited statements that she should not and I that I would be incredibly angry and hurt if she did. She did. A little drunk too. I’m not friends with her anymore but it took me another one or two similar acts to finally cut her off. For years, she’d tell mutual friends/acquaintances that she either didn’t know why or that it was because I hated her husband. After they divorced, he and I ran into each other and he asked me about it. I told him that I’d rather have stayed friends with him and not her. So we did.

        I now look back at it and wish I’d just not answered the door. That’s my policy now. If I’m not expecting anyone, I do not answer the door. I don’t care if they can see me through the front window (which happens), I’m not answering. Join me, cncx. It’s quite satisfying to hear someone knocking and just not answer.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        He isn’t a friend any more.

        Yah think?

        He barged into my house, disrespected my home office hours, disregarded my personal Covid precautions, complained about something I had already warned him about re cleanliness…

        [ring, ring] “Hello, police? I have a trespasser who won’t leave. I allowed him in to use my bathroom but he won’t leave my house. Yes, he is violating my safety and is interrupting my work.”

        1. Splendid Colors*

          Then wait 4-6 hours for the police while Trespasser breathes germs all over. No, thanks.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Sometimes you just have to decide what matters more: do you want your space back, or do you want to conform to social pressure? You can’t have both.

      Really, you could insert all kinds of issues in place of privacy at home. The equation is the same.

  55. ThisIshRightHere*

    I am SO triggered. I went through this all throughout college and had forgotten about it until now. In undergrad, I was the only person in my sorority to have their own apartment and all the members considered it chapter property. They even referred to it (when, say, inviting people I’d never met over to my home) as “The Omicron House.” I got into a bad spat with a sister who insisted that she had every right to invite as many strangers to my private event as she wanted because she’d contributed to the snacks that had been purchased, but on the other hand found it ridiculous that I mentioned any lack of contribution to the rent, electricity and whatnot that were making said party possible. All that said, we were 19 years old. I’m not sure what could be OP’s employer’s excuse.

  56. E*

    This is literally my nightmare so I really want an update on how this goes down. All else fails LW I’d start looking for a new job.

  57. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    Whatever you do, DO NOT have this conversation *at your house!* The house is unavailable, full stop, and this conversation takes place at a coffee shop. Or in the boss’s small apartment. Which is now the central office until he rents a real one.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      That would really set a good tone: “I need to meet with you this morning to discuss something” “Great, see you at your house”. “No, the house isn’t available. We can meet (literally anywhere else) though”. Then when OP says the house is off the moocher market, the employer can’t claim that meeting elsewhere is impossible.

  58. Sparkles McFadden*

    Yes, I was coming here to say this. Coming up with a “real and acceptable” reason for keeping everyone out of your home is not possible for people like this. They will just come up with all sorts of reasons why the LW’s reasons aren’t valid.

    The homeowner’s insurance reason is based in reality so it’s fine to say that. That will need to be backed up with Owls Lang Syne’s suggested “regardless, we will need to stop using my house for business…”

  59. Health Insurance Nerd*

    LW, you should definitely go the route of throwing your spouse under the bus. Folks have a lot of good points about homeowners insurance, zoning, and city ordinances, but all that is really getting too far into the weeds and could prompt your boss and/or coworkers to try to “solve” those issues. For your own sake, just keep it simple.

    1. LW*

      This is a good idea, but complicated because my spouse works for a company that sub-contracts to my company. He is happy to be thrown under the bus for me when it’s supportive for me and there are no consequences for him, but in this case as it would have professional repercussions for him. I’m pretty sure that at our next meeting (NOT at my house) I will let him know that my house is no longer available. No excuses, just that it’s no longer available because it’s making me uncomfortable. And I’ll bring ideas on how to transition away from it, like meeting at his apartment or coffee shops and parking vehicles in public places like the library parking lot.

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        Uggghhhh, what a mess! I dunno, maybe you just need to move. Your town is way too small. (I’m kidding. Well, kind of). I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this ridiculous situation, please, please, please send an update when you have one.

        1. LW*

          Hahaha yes it’s def a small town! For me, career is low on my list of life’s priorities and I’m way more focused on things like friends, family, health and lifestyle which this town provides in spades! I love the community, the wilderness, my property, etc. and recognize that taking a hit career-wise is worth it for me. Small towns mean that everyone knows everything but it also means I have a huge community who supports me through hard times. Love/hate I guess!

          1. Pants*

            Don’t discount looking for fully remote jobs. I’m in a giant city (Houston) and somehow scored a fully remote position that I simply love. My company’s HQ is in Austin and moving there would tank me financially. I feel lucky that I found a position like this, for sure. I have been seeing it more and more in my circle though. If your job is applicable to large corporations that aren’t known for being terrible or forcing their workers into an office come-what-may (coughGoldmanSachscough), put in a resume. The worst they can say is no.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      But this is a small town, and spouse will get dragged into it, so I disagree. In a large city, yes. One can do white lies and such, but not in a small town. Just saying “can’t run the business out of my place anymore, sorry” is enough and will minimize all the extra drama when local people start taking sides. Because they will. But it’s OK to offend all the entitled folk who will side with boss. And really, it will finally permeate how ridiculous the complaint of “OP won’t let me run my business from their house anymore” is. And OP, when boss threatens to affect your pay/hours (I would be surprised if they didn’t) repeat it right back so they may see how illegal it is it: “Wait, you are saying my pay will be cut because I can no longer let you illegally run your business from my house?” Because as others have noted, it likely is totally illegal for someone to run a business from a place other than that stated on the business license/tax documents.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        And OP, it may be helpful to point this “my house is not the registered place of business” aspect when stating your place is no longer available. A one of, occasional, temporary use is one thing. But you have realized your house is now morphed into the de facto office, and it has to stop.

  60. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

    Three days into 2023 and we’ve already got a solid Worst Boss of the Year nominee. YIKES.

  61. I should really pick a name*

    There are a lot of suggestions involving complicated lies. I really don’t recommend this. Your boss is already going to be unhappy with you because you aren’t making your space available. Getting caught in a lie will only make it worse.

    Alison’s script keeps it simple, which is the best approach.
    The hardest part is that you need to stick to what you say. No one gets to decide who comes into your house other than you and your spouse. They can come up with all the reasons that they want, they can’t do anything if you don’t let them. You have to be okay with saying no if they try to push against your boundaries.

    “Using my place as a base of operations isn’t working as a long term solution, so we’ll have to find an alternative as of X date”. The reason is that it isn’t working for you and your family. You can keep repeating that if they push back. Getting into more detail than that risks inviting problem solving.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        It never crossed my mind to doubt the dozens of comments that brought up insurance, since my own and my friends’ experience with home insurance has been that they’re willing to drop you like a hot potato the moment they spot something that even looks like potential problems for them. And having your house serve as de-facto coworking space/office storage poses a ton of potential problems. Totally not a lie.

  62. Meep*

    I am the OP whose company wanted me to be a free chauffeur service for interns they were paying an extra $3/hour for transportation. All I can say is I am grateful it was never the bad, but fudging hell. I hope you get your home back!

  63. grumpy old lady*

    I’m asking for a show of hands for who want an update on this one – by the end of January. And we want a happy update.

    I think the zoning and insurance issues are your ace cards to play and hope that works. Do you have an HOA?

    I would suggest practicing with your husband for what you are going to say to the boss. Be firm! unyielding! steadfast in your refusal to be a free business center!

    1. LW*

      I will provide an update. I’m not in an HOA but the points about insurance are very valid and I could bring this up.

      1. Release the hounds!*

        It’s not only the zoning but it’s in your mortgage if you have one and it could be in your renter’s agreement if you are a tenant. Good luck establishing those boundaries!

  64. Yikes*

    Working for a 300k+ person company has its downsides, but man, small companies can be so dysfunctional!!

  65. Fluffy Fish*

    This is an insurance issue waiting to happen.

    Home insurance isn’t designed to cover a business operating out of your house.

    I’d invoke my insurance company said this needs to stop now or I’m at risk of being cancelled. They don’t need to know you haven’t actually talked to your insurance company.

  66. Rainbow*

    This has been going on for 1.5 years?! I would have literally gone insane approximately 1.5 years ago.

  67. A. Tiskit & A. Taskit LLC*

    Excellent advice on setting time limits for reclaiming your home; by all means set and enforce a date by which the company equipment must be out of your house and by which meeting space, coffee and internet are no longer provided by you. But don’t try to think up an iron-clad, irrefutable, unquestionable excuse for setting this perfectly normal limit. Because, to shameless moochers, there is NO excuse that they can’t argue around!

    You’re getting furniture delivered, the walls painted, the kitchen and bathroom renovated? Fine – just tell me the delivery, painting and renovation schedule and we’ll work around those. Your husband objects to your home (AND his!) being used as our headquarters? Fine – I’ll just talk to him myself. Your terminally ill mother is moving in and will need round-the-clock home health aide care? Fine – we’ll just use all the OTHER rooms in your house as our de facto company headquarters. See what I mean, LW?

    To a moocher, excuses and reasons (however sound and valid) are wedges that they can use to pry open your refusal, expose its “weakness” and bully their way through the door (in this case, literally!) This situation is outrageous enough. Don’t give your boss another club with which to batter you into submission!

    1. it's me*

      Yeah, I think Captain Awkward might say there’s no way you can make the boss et al. see you as gracious, not rude, and welcoming, because if they’re doing this in the first place they’re not going to be reasonable. And as CA might also say, “They made it weird. Return weird to sender.”

  68. AnonInCanada*

    Sounds like your employer is using you to obtain free internet, free storage and office space. And your coworker’s a piece of work as well. I would definitely be putting my foot down on all of this. No amount of money would make me tolerate the situation they’re entitling themselves to. Tell your cheap-ass boss to rent his own office + storage space and pay for his own internet! And tell coworker your coffeemaker is “on the fritz.” Permanently. Maybe put a coin slot on the bathroom door as well if she wants to rather use your commode over the one at the coffee shop. $10/flush should make her think twice.

  69. Nysee*

    If I hear one more person say “…but I don’t want to be rude..” as others literally walk all over them, I will scream!!!

    Setting boundaries is NOT rude!!

    No one has the right to your house on a daily basis, workspace or not. Listen to the great advice from planners and insurance people; you are setting yourself up for a huge liability.

    Ok, rant over :)

    1. LW*

      I totally see your point. I do want to add that this is just 1 issue of many with this boss. In the past 1.5 years I’ve set other boundaries. These include: Getting paid on time. Not lending him money. Not letting him text me all hours of the day/night/weekend . Requiring him to pay for equipment I use for work. It’s a situation of picking my battles, and this battle was lower priority than things like getting paid. I agree that I should not have let this happen or go on for 1.5 years, and I’ll be putting a stop to it soon! And yes, the job hunt is going full blast.

      1. OrigCassandra*

        LW, I truly do not mean to be rude, but: why are you still working for this absolute waste of space?! Beyond his basic horribleness, a lot of the boundaries you’ve had to set point to a business that could fold at any moment.

        1. LW*

          I ask myself the same thing, trust me! There are a few reasons. First, I am job hunting but I live in a small isolated town with few other options and I’m not willing to move for a job. Second, this job pays very well and it’s unlikely I’ll find anything with remotely the same pay where I live. Third and most important is that I’m battling a medical condition that requires a ton of flexibility which my boss always allows. He says that flexibility is a big value for the company and he follows through on this. I get stressed out thinking about starting a new job knowing I’d have to take many sick days/weeks off right off the hop. That said, I am still applying for jobs and if I secure an offer I will evaluate things then.

          1. straws*

            Best of luck with your search! I was in a similar position and spent years at a company with various issues (it did not pay very well, but it was less intrusive than yours) because of the amazing flexibility. Between kids’ schedules, handling a medical issue, and working around restrictions from said medical issue, I thought I’d never find another job that would work with me. Well, I was out on leave, dreading returning, and decided to poke around. I got an offer a week after returning from leave, and my new job is even MORE flexible and pays almost twice as much. There are definitely jobs that care enough to work with you! I’ll also say to look at remote jobs for sure. There isn’t much near me to pick from, but my new job is with a company that’s fully remote, so location didn’t matter in the end.

          2. Pants*

            I totally understand the medical flexibility thing. Don’t let that stop you though. Once an offer has come through, that’s when you mention that you’re currently working out health issues, have several appointments planned and some that are standing, and that you’d like assurance this will be alright.

            I understand not wanting to move for a job. However, the job also opens you to all sorts of other things. Better housing, social life, amenities, restaurants (I’m a food-motivated goblin), etc. So moving for a job isn’t really just for a job–it’s for a better life in general.*

            * The health thing would be more than enough for me to nix the idea of moving while going through it.

            You’ve got a whole-ass, international cheering section for you!!!

          3. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

            LW, you probably do know this, but are you 100% certain that you wouldn’t get paid comparably elsewhere? And that the flexibility your boss offers is truly exceptional? You’re probably not but it’s worth checking you’re not just hearing that from your boss and colleagues, right?

      2. Pants*

        Not lending him money?! Somehow, I feel like this directly ties into getting paid on time.

        Friend, it’s only a matter of time before the paychecks start (continue?) bouncing. I imagine he’ll blag it off to get a few weeks/months of work for free out of y’all by passing it off on bank issues, etc. Then he’ll fold. This is not a stable work situation.

        Is there a reason you haven’t considered moving? Other than it being hideously expensive and the economy being crap right now, anyway. I think I just answered my own question.

      3. allathian*

        Getting paid on time is a big deal. Also please check the zoning laws in your area. The penalties for running a business in a residential area can be considerable, never mind additional insurance costs.

        Good luck!

        I’m also hoping for an update in a few months, where you give two weeks’ notice to your boss and coworkers and tell them that from X date you won’t be able to accommodate them working at your house anymore because you have a new job.

  70. Dances with Flax*

    Just how solvent IS this “business” if the company can’t afford even a basic workspace, internet access and phone lines? LW, start thinking seriously about polishing up your resume and keeping an eye out for potential jobs with organizations that don’t set up shop in an employee’s home. Because it sounds as if this one is running on empty!

  71. Cthulhu's Librarian*

    Right, so… LW, let’s talk for a moment about what the legal rights of ownership are; fundamentally, they consist of the right to possess your property, the right to use your property, and the right to destroy your property.

    If your boss and coworkers are prohibiting you from the second by imposing, they’re infringing on your ability to call it your house. If they are infringing on the first right, by storing things in various locations, they’re infringing on the ability to call it your house. They’d also probably complain about you doing things involving the last right (like disabling the internet), because that would interfere with their use of your property.

    You need to insist on them getting out of your house, and you don’t need to provide a reason beyond “it is mine.”

    And you probably should also find a new job, well away from these (ab?)users.

  72. TeapotNinja*

    Tell them your home insurance doesn’t allow your home to be used as a place of business and that if anything happens while outsiders are working in there, you could be liable for a very large sum of money, and you can’t risk that exposure.

  73. Chirpy*

    I agree with telling the boss it’s a zoning/ insurance issue, but I just want to add that the LW should be prepared to stand firm that her house is no longer available if the boss offers to pay her insurance or get the house re-zoned as a “fix”.

    1. Don’t put metal in the Science Oven*

      Yes. This boss wants to keep your free space. For him, the answer has to be “yes.” He’ll refute or try to fix any “no” answer. He may be (or act) shocked at a “no.” He may be mad or mean or whatever it takes to get a “yes.” That will probably be his sole motivation in this discussion.

  74. Olivia*

    The absolute gall of the boss to say that he’s not renting a coworking space because it’s too expensive. When obviously he is totally using the employee’s house as a free coworking space! And he comes over there to use the internet?? Just absolutely no.

    The boss is being incredibly rude and is completely ignoring the power dynamics, because it’s convenient for him to do so. He needs to stop being a cheapskate and frankly, an ass.

  75. Higher Ed*

    Our organization had to tell employees to stop having their Amazon packages sent to the office since it was placing additional work on the warehouse employees (everything must be sent through the warehouse, not to induvial offices). This is the same logic, in reverse with the bonus of some serious boundary crossing. I hope the OP has success in pushing back on this.

  76. Colorado*

    I would be completely fine with saying, “this is not working out for my dogs”. Best of luck OP!

  77. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    Certain it’s been requested a ton already–but I def want an update on this one!!

  78. Wilbur*

    The next time your boss parks his car by your house, just start loading office equipment in it.

  79. Inkognyto*

    Equipment stored on your property means your house insurance may have to cover it. If it’s damaged or stolen.

    This alone is enough to tell your Boss it cannot be stored there.

  80. Ellen N.*

    Your homeowner insurance almost certainly doesn’t provide coverage for business activities. If one of your coworkers gets injured or property belonging to your employer and/or coworkers gets damaged there would be no coverage.

    If I were you I would immediately call a complete halt to these activities due to lack of insurance.

  81. The Omega Variant*

    Alison wrote: “I am a strong believer that being able to throw each other under the bus when needed — with each other’s permission — is one of the benefits of marriage”

    This makes me wonder if Alison is married, because I am and this tactic has a very low success rate and contributes to marital friction …

    1. I should really pick a name*

      It’s fine if it’s done with the spouse’s permission.
      I’ve been happily thrown under the bus.

    2. ABCYaBYE*

      I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus when necessary. But it is a heck of a lot easier when it is one-off situations. It is significantly easier to throw the spouse under the bus when you don’t have to keep up a lie. The sleep schedule change or something like that forces the ruse to be kept up long term.

      1. Happy*

        Calling it a “problem” with your marriage was a bit harsh – if that’s not something that works for you, that’s okay. I just wanted to point out that it works to great effect for other people.

        My apologies for my poor word choice.

    3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Yes, she’s married. She had a boyfriend for years and now she has an ex-boyfriend (who has morphed into a husband).

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Oops, meant to say: it works when it’s agreed-upon. (It’s like a parent telling their kid that they can tell another kid “my parent won’t let me” when that’s easier than just saying no.) But when it’s a surprise to the bus-thrown spouse, that’s not okay.

    4. tinybutfierce*

      I think the key thing is “with each other’s permission”, but it sounds like you and Alison just have different relationships.

    5. New Jack Karyn*

      Nah, this is easy stuff. “Hey, the office is doing a happy hour tonight, but I don’t want to go. Okay if I say you’re sick and want me to come right home?”

      It’s all in the tone, and specific wording. What doesn’t sound good is if it comes across as “Partner never wants me to have any fun,” or “Partner is a controlling nutjob.”

  82. Danish*

    The audacity of these people is really astounding. I have to believe it’s like the give-a-mouse-a-cookie scenario where one ask was reasonable so every successive ask feels (to the asker) like it’s reasonable, and then you have a coworker calling on her errands to use your house as a public bathroom. What?

    Best of luck LW and getting them to understand that this is your HOME.

  83. ABCYaBYE*

    I definitely second (third, fourth…) the insurance audit solution. It probably isn’t a stretch to think that your homeowner’s policy doesn’t sufficiently cover this type of activity. If you’re working from home, that’s different. But if others are, that’s different coverage. We had a delivery driver once hit our car (it was parked) and we got absolutely screwed because they didn’t have sufficient coverage for the use of their vehicle as a delivery vehicle. Make sure you’re not putting yourself in a bad spot. But also, you “just met with your agent to go over coverages and they reminded you that of course things like doing food delivery with your vehicles, having employees in your home, or running your home as a rental property, as examples, could cause the company to cancel your policy if you’re found to be in violation.”

  84. Jess*

    I’m so eager to see if we get an update for this one! I can see exactly how it happened – that insidious creep of one little favour after another, coupled with the natural inclination to want to be helpful. I also bet that the coworkers aren’t thinking about the cumulative impact – they’re thinking “I’m popping in to use the toilet or grab coffee, that’s not much of an imposition”, not really realising how it adds up when it’s several people. (Manager excepted – it sounds like he’s REALLY pushing it, and is quite happy to do so when it’s saving him money and needing to come up with a solution.)

  85. DJ*

    Could meetings be rotated at all (or most given one lives 45 mins drive away) places? And each employee store their work things at their own place?
    Boss needs to rent a small storage space for work things rather than at your place. It can be as simple as a storage unit if they really can’t afford a small office space. Although an office space would be better.

    1. Pennyworth*

      It’s not up to LW to sort out her boss’s mess. I think there are so many boundary violations that I would take the nuclear option with an email to boss and co-workers along the lines of “My home is no longer available as a de-facto office for the business, effective immediately.” Don’t allow any discussion, time extensions, just cut it off. If they call round to collect stuff, hand it to them at the door. I would not be nice, I would not be welcoming.

  86. Cranjis McBasketball*

    Exactly how did they get by before you started working there? What if you were sick or on vacation? What is god forbid you get COVID and have to quarantine (meaning no one can come over)? Your company better figure out answers to these questions and start doing them now.

  87. Yellow*

    This is insane. If you need another excuse to get out of it, blame your dogs. “One had a bad encounter at a dog park and is not doing well with non-family members being in the house.”

  88. Rosa Rosa Rosa Diaz Diaz Diaz*

    Wow, I don’t want to sound melodramatic but this is like the start of a dystopian horror story. It makes me feel so panicked and claustrophobic and angry all at once.

    If your boss can’t afford the basics of running a business, like premises and internet that the business requires, sorry dude but you can’t afford to run your business.

    I hate when people feel entitled to just have a business. If you can’t actually sustain it then nope you don’t have a business, you have a bunch of people doing you favours. You’re a charity case, calling yourself a business owner.

    Sorry I know that’s a bit brutal but phew this made me so furious.

  89. goddessoftransitory*

    WT actual F???

    What really got to me was her boss going “but you’ve got that big house and poor little me only has an apartment!”

    So what? It doesn’t matter if the LW lives in the actual governor’s mansion–that space does not belong to the company in any way, shape or form… and neither does she, for that matter. It’s not up for sale, lease or rent. It’s got nothing to do with being a “good” employee. It. is. her. HOME.

    I’m going to read the rest of the comments but I absolutely could not keep this in. Oh my GOD.

  90. Spicy Tuna*

    There could also be liability issues with people working in your home. And someone upthread mentioned business licenses…. my city requires a business license for that kind of use of a private home. It’s completely ridiculous and even applies to someone that say, freelances and has no employees but is working for themselves using their own home. I know this because a neighbor that is an a**hole called code on me and I had to get a business license for the consulting work I do.

  91. Sopranohannah*

    The only thing I’d change about Alison’s advice is the timeline. A month is a long enough time for your boss to wheedle you down. I’d just pack up the business items one weekend and hand boss a box as he tries to walk through the door with a “spouse says we have to get all of this out of here now and we have to stop using this as a meeting place. I’m sure you understand. I’ll get a box while you carry that one down” and then shut the door on him. It might seem cruel to put him out like this on short notice, but he was going to put off everything until the last of the deadline anyway. You’re just ripping the bandage off.

  92. Birdie*

    The obvious, argument proof excuse is burnout. You need your home to be a sanctuary, not a workplace.

  93. Sally Forth*

    My husband was CEO of a start-up & our dining room table was often used for meetings between him and his VP. I worked remotely from a home office which was also on the main floor of our large house. My work required a high level of concentration and I had perfected a work schedule of 45 minutes on and 15 minutes off every hour. Having people around was quite distracting.

    At first, a meeting or two, okay. People using the bathroom, maybe in a pinch. It soon became people using our fridge for lunch storage, people smoking on our driveway (and not picking up butts), and asking me not to run the washer and dryer when they were meeting. My work productivity plummeted. These requests were coming from outsiders WHO HAD OTHER OFFICES. I repeatedly told them to address their concerns with my husband. Finally, he had to just shut down anyone coming into the house.

  94. Summer*

    Please LW, assert those boundaries and take your home back because this situation is absurd! I would be livid if my home became the base of operations for my work and it would drive me up a wall to have my boss and coworkers constantly coming and going.

    If your boss’s internet is bad, then he can pay for an upgrade. If he needs to store equipment, then that is why self-storage places exist. If your coworker wants coffee, she can buy one or make one in her own home. Just think of all of the money these people are leeching off of you in terms of increased electric, water, and food bills.

    Absolutely set firm boundaries, stick to them, and be sure to update us on this as I really want to know how this goes!

  95. Princess Sparklepony*

    Reading this I started thinking that this is the business/office version of Give a Mouse a Cookie…. It starts off with something small like letting someone use your bathroom and then they move in a foosball table “for everyone to enjoy.” As Barney Fife would say – You need to nip it in the bud. Nip. It. In. The. Bud.

    Good luck.

  96. Pibble*

    This is an excellent time of year to have a new year’s resolution about separating work and home for the sake of your health. You and your spouse could even have a joint resolution.

  97. Elfrida*

    OP, this is a ridiculous situation your boss has forced upon you. I actually said “Oh HELL no!” while reading. Please end it- and send in an update, I’m sure we all want to know what happens! Good luck.

  98. ComputerD00d*

    Oh man, this one would *kill* me. My house is my refuge. I don’t even like working from home– I’d rather keep my place an oasis separate from all of that. OP, you have my sympathy!

  99. All Het Up About It*

    So excited that 2023 is starting the WTF letters off early!

    Nothing else to add that hasn’t been covered because:
    – absolutely the OP is not rude or unwelcoming to want their house to be private/not used as a FREE business office;
    – and indeed this arrangement is almost for certain in violation of some city/county ordinance, deed restrictions, HOA or insurance policy.

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