how widespread is remote work, boss is upset that my employee didn’t say good morning, and more

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

1. How widespread is remote work, really?

I work in higher ed, and sometimes I feel like I’m living a completely different work reality than everyone around me. We have had a flex work policy in place since the early pandemic, and I’ve been allowed to carve out one WFH day per week (but many colleagues are two, three, or four days at home). However, our leadership recently announced an expectation of four days in-office, with an eventual full, five-day-per-week return in January 2024.

I get that a lot of what we do is on-ground support of students, faculty, researchers, etc., and some folks have never been able to take advantage of a remote work schedule. I also do believe that a lot of critical collaboration takes place in person, even though I suspect that the management/productivity issues they cite existed long before Covid and will exist long after. But there are a lot of us who really, really appreciate a day or two at home. Additionally, lots of positions since 2020 were hired with the expectation of hybrid or flex work, and that’s now changing for them. People are mad, and those with options are quitting over this.

With the exception of critical on-ground positions, everyone else in my life — from high-level federal government positions to attorneys to job-alikes at other universities — have exponentially more flexibility than I do. It seems like 95% of the readers who write in to AAM are fully or partially remote. I sometimes feel like I’m living in an alternate universe from everyone I know. Is my leadership just completely out of touch? Is this fine? If it’s this important to me, should I look for a new job even though I love my work, my colleagues, and my students? Is my perception accurate that nearly every org that can is remaining flex/remote? Or am I looking for something that isn’t as universal as it seems?

No, lots of people are mostly or entirely on-site! It’s definitely not the case that 95% of letters here are from people who are fully or partially remote. And a lot of companies are backpedaling on remote arrangements that they made during the pandemic — in some cases to the point of requiring people to come in even if they had previously approved them to move far away. Not all employers, of course; a lot of companies have found that remote works really well for them, or that they need to offer it to be competitive. Some version of remote work is clearly here to stay for a lot of people — but there’s a ton of variety out there. Here is some reporting for you from the New York Times and CNBC.

If remote work is important to you, you’ve got to weigh that against how much you like everything else about your job (as well as how easy it is to find in your particular field since, from what I can see, higher education has had a pretty strong push to bring people back).

2. My boss is upset that my employee didn’t say good morning to him

My boss approached me and said he had a problem with my employee not saying good morning to him this past week. I thought this was petty and wanted to get another opinion.

I’d want to know more about the context. If your boss said hello and the employee ignored him … well, my first thought wouldn’t be intentional rudeness, but rather that the employee didn’t hear him or was absorbed in something else. Is there a reason your boss is assuming rudeness (like a pattern of other rude behavior)? If so, yeah, that’s something you need to talk to your employee about. But otherwise … some times people are distracted and it’s not a big deal. Does your boss have a pattern of taking stuff like this personally?

If your boss is bothered that your employee didn’t say anything first … your boss is being weird and petty. Lots of people are just in their own heads in the morning (or throughout the day, for that matter) and may not even realize someone is expecting an acknowledgement. Or they assume the other person is concentrating on work and doesn’t want their focus broken (often because that’s how they would feel if the roles were reversed). If that’s what’s going on and your boss isn’t one to listen to reason, your best bet is to diplomatically explain to your employee that it’s something your boss expects. That doesn’t mean it’s reasonable, but it’s a kindness to let them know if there’s an easy way to avoid pissing off their boss’s boss.

3. How to explain why I’m leaving my horrible state

I work for a public institution of higher education in a very red state, and our governor is staging a multi-part hostile takeover and reorganization of the state university system. I’ve never liked living here, I came here for the job, and now the job is going down the tubes. Obviously I am applying for other employment.

How explicit can I be when potential employers ask me why I want to leave my current job? Presumably I can’t say, “The governor is a nasty hypocritical megalomaniac and I need to get out of here,” but could I say, “I’m uncomfortable continuing to live in this state and do this job” or should I really offer some soft-pedal alternative like “I’m looking forward to being closer to friends and family”? On the one hand, I don’t want to make assumptions about anyone’s politics being the same as mine; on the other hand, chances are that most people who look at my resumé will know immediately why I want to leave, and I don’t want to come across as disingenuous or dishonest.

More than they care about why you’re leaving your old state, employers really want to know why you’re interested in moving to the new one. Focus on that! “I’m planning a move to New Haven to be closer to family” is enough on its own, without adding “and also I need to escape this hellhole.” People may draw their own conclusions about what additional reasons you may have, but it’s not going to seem dishonest not to provide a full accounting of what went into your decision.

What they really care about with relocating candidates is whether you’re going to be happy in their area and stick around, or whether you’re going to hate it after a few months and want to move back. So if you can demonstrate that you know and love their area, or have family there, or some other factor that makes your move seem like a safe bet for them, you should have this covered.

4. Should I warn a new hire that her dating profile mentions weed?

I work in a public sector that drug tests. It’s very clear that drug use is grounds for termination, and previous drug use is part of the background check. I haven’t met our newest hire, but a friend saw her on a dating app and sent me a screen shot — she has where she works listed and that she smokes weed. I don’t think she’s currently smoking weed because there was a drug screening when she was hired, but it’s not a good look to have it posted where anyone could see and report it to our boss. Personally, I don’t think smoking in off hours affects job performance and we live somewhere it’s legal, but I don’t want her to get in trouble or derail her career before it starts. Should I say something to her, or pretend I never saw it and hope she figures it out? Something else?

I’d leave it alone since this is someone you don’t know. As much as she might appreciate the warning, “my friend saw you on a dating app and sent me this screenshot” is a lot of involvement when you’re strangers. (Also, someone whose new job drug-tests them upon hire should be able to figure this out on her own, and I’m not super optimistic about her judgment if she hasn’t.)

5. Graciously responding to a rejection over the phone

I’ve read your articles about how it’s better to reject candidates by email rather than by phone, and I think they’re pretty spot-on. Like many of your readers, I don’t like this particular practice. I would rather just read an email and then grieve the rejection privately, instead of enduring the dread and humiliation of multiple “we’re going with other candidates” phone calls!

Unfortunately, I work for an employer that rejects candidates by phone. I know this because I have been on the receiving end of these calls after applying for some internal positions. It’s disappointing, but I respect their right to select whatever candidate best fits their needs.

As an entry-level employee who’s been at this company for only a year, I don’t feel I have the standing to push back against the practice of phone rejections. (But if you think I do, let me know!) And I’m not expecting my employer to change its ways anytime soon. But I’m not ready to give up on internal positions or leave the company, either. So what I want to know is, what is the best way to graciously accept a rejection over the phone, when you’re placed in a position to do so on the spot? Part of me doesn’t even want to pick up the phone next time, but I’m wondering if there’s a better response.

Since you know they do this, you have the advantage of being able to be prepared and not taken quite as off-guard as you would be otherwise. That means you can have your response prepared in advance and just say it like a script: “I’m disappointed, but thank you for letting me know. Is there any feedback you can share about how I could be a stronger candidate next time?”

{ 598 comments… read them below }

  1. Happy meal with extra happy*

    I think I’m pretty lucky in that my company initially required a 3-day return to office post-COVID, but after seeing that most people weren’t doing that many days, shifted to 2 a week (which I think is reasonable).

    1. Butts in seats a bit not for me…*

      That’s a reasonable response. I loved three WFH days but we are on 2 now with 3 in office. That’s our company policy but it’s really dependent on manager. My manager (Director level) would love only 2 days in the office, but his boss (VP) has a very “butts in seat” mentality. Obviously we are in CA and my VP is in Florida working from home while he is making these comments. But I have a ton flexibility in spite of that and basically do what I want within those confines (might me being in the office from 10-3 one day and I have a pretty easy commute) so I don’t fuss too much. But I definitely liked my 2 days in the office better.

      1. LIZZIE*

        This is exactly how my job is! We are “expected” to be in 3 days, 2 WFH. I much prefer it the other way around, but I also have a lot of flexibility, if I take a day off, I only come in 2, and some days I need to cover online hearings and procedures, and take notes, which I really can’t do in the office. So on those days I stay home. I used to try and go in another day to make up for it, but as every manager seems to have their own rules, and some poeple ONLY come in one or two days a week, I’ve stopped doing that. I just try and go in 3 as many weeks as I can, so when I do need to be home, I have that flexiblity.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          One way I take notes while online is to resize the window and bring up a blank Word doc (also resized). Since I type way faster than I write by hand, and I can read it, plus I can run the dictate function if I need to, I find taking notes that way easier than writing by hand any day. I used to take minutes that way for in-person meetings and for those on Zoom.

      2. DataSci*

        Our “butts in seats” execs have dedicated offices with doors that close – including offices reserved in satellite offices they rarely visit – and are asking the rest of us who hot desk and can’t keep as much as a phone charger on our desks to schlep in three days a week to sit on Zoom with people from the other offices. Maybe if they spent a week playing “find an available conference room to “jump on a quick call ” they’d reconsider either butts in seats or hotdesking.

    2. Artemesia*

      Many college administrative staff really can’t do their work remotely because it involves working with students, faculty etc in support roles. Imagine the frustration of someone with registration issues or harassment issues etc not being able to find anyone to help them? Some jobs work well at home and some of those are probably college staff, but lots don’t. A faculty member can write holed up in their den and their productivity is measured by publication, but staff generally need to be available.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        For faculty, they’re already used to doing a lot of their research for publication on the weekends/holidays/evenings. During the standard work day, there’s teaching, meeting with students from classes and supervision of interns, grad students and postdocs, and colloquia, all of which are generally done in person, not to mention all the scheduled administrative meetings.

        1. H2*

          Yeah, that previous comment is kind of funny to me because I think that the opposite is true. Faculty really have to be around during the day, available in person, but a lot of staff could probably work from home at least some days a week. I think that it is probably true that, say, someone in the registrars office could work from home one or two days a week generally. If I were in charge of that, though, I think that logistics could be tricky because academia just doesn’t follow a regular schedule. The registrar’s office is slow sometimes and absolutely slammed other times, so it would be tricky to say that someone could work from home on Mondays or whatever. I also do think that there would potentially be some pushback from other faculty and staff who do have to be there all the time. I realize that that’s not logical, but resentment doesn’t always follow logical guidelines (if the registrar started taking calls from her treadmill people would probably lose their minds, haha).

          More to the point for the letter writer, I think that this kind of depends on where you live, and who your friends are. I don’t know a lot of people who have office kind of jobs where they WFH. Almost everyone I know is back fully in person and has been for a very long time. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, sales, retail, etc are in person overwhelmingly, but I bet if you live in a city it might seem like everyone has more flexibility than you. I think that the culture in higher ed is more like a service provider than like an accounting firm, no matter what the actual role is.

      2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        and to add to this, most universities can’t rationalize charging students exorbitant fees if they are going to be getting the same educational experience as an online university. Without in-person education and experience, quite a few students flounder. I do think remote education should be available to both students and teachers where possible but I would be mad if I moved to attend university and had to do everything in my dorm room on a computer.

        1. Tuckerman*

          Unfortunately, many still do charge the same price (particularly for online graduate programs). In-person is important for some things, but not so much for the logistical student support.
          I work remotely 3x per week in a student facing role and offer in-person availability for appointments but most prefer virtual, even if they’re on campus when I am. Gone are the days of waiting in line at the registrar’s office, financial aid, or advising office to fix an issue. I respond to student emails within hours, if not minutes, and they often don’t even need an appointment for us to address their issue. Even developmental conversations are often more effective over the phone (sometimes students open up more when not face to face) and students who work full time/have kids appreciate the flexibility to meet remotely before/after work or on their lunch break.

          1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

            I’m halfway through an in-person graduate degree and have literally never met anyone in any admin stuff in person except when I bumped into one at an industry conference. I’ve met with my thesis advisor in person exactly once. None of this has bothered me or given me a lower level of service.

            In fact, it is incredibly helpful because I’m a commuter student and most of the classes in my department get scheduled for late afternoon/evening. It would be super inconvenient to schedule and have to drive to/from campus to do things that can be done over email or zoom.

            1. ADidgeridooForYou*

              Maybe it depends on the type of degree. I was going to go to grad school for international studies (with the goal of eventually joining the Foreign Service), and in my experience those types of classes are much more beneficial when we’re all in a room together and are able to have more fluid discussions, especially since they’re so conversation-heavy. Plus, as someone with ADHD, classrooms offer fewer distractions for me (if I’m by myself at home on my computer, I’m way more prone to zoning out and browsing other sites).

              1. ADidgeridooForYou*

                Oh, never mind – just noticed you were talking about the staff, not the professors. Sorry, ignore what I said!

                1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

                  No worries. I’ve had a mix of in-person and hybrid classes. The lab work would obviously need to be in person, but one professor just read off their powerpoint for 90 minutes. It was helpful to be able to socialize with classmates since most people in my program are commuters.

          2. H2*

            This is interesting to me because I work at a university with a lot of first-generation and lower-income students, and our general take is that often students are severely hampered by requiring remote meetings (or classes, etc). Often students don’t have stable internet at home, or don’t want to show their living situations. I guess it depends on the situation, since phone calls are often easier (although IME students would rather exhaust every option before making a phone call).

            I guess it seems like staff working on campus can still take remote meetings and phone calls while in the office, while also being available for in person meetings. ::shrug::

            1. Piscera*

              Interesting point about students who don’t want to show their living situations. What if they’re using older laptops that can run Zoom, but can’t handle virtual backgrounds?

              That was why I got a newer laptop a year ago.

          3. ADidgeridooForYou*

            That’s ultimately why I decided not to go to grad school. It was about halfway through the pandemic, and I just couldn’t justify spending close to $70k for 2 years where I’d never actually meet any of my classmates or professors and would be spending 5 hours a day in online classes.

          4. Emma Peel*

            I work in student affairs for an all-online higher ed institution and I haven’t had a single instance in more than a year that an in-person interaction would have been more beneficial than the online. The students at online institutions are there by choice and for a reason: that they need or want to be virtual. Of course students (and faculty/staff) who don’t choose online aren’t necessarily happy with it if it doesn’t fit their expectations. But not everyone has the same expectations.

            When it comes to quality, I’m willing to put our academics up against any in-person. Again, that’s because our students choose this type of delivery, whether because of schedule or preference or price or whatever else. I moved to my current position from 20 years in a traditional in-person school precisely because of what OP mentioned: I wanted to be WFH, but I didn’t think it existed in a non-profit, socially conscious way. I was wrong.

            OP, I encourage you to check out job openings at the big, reputable online institutions–look for non-profit in their descriptions and search reviews. Contrary to what I heard for years at my former school, not all online universities are predators, and my current institution treats me a heckuva lot better than my old one did. When I switched, I got WFH and a 20% pay raise for basically the same job duties. I’m truly living my dream job right now: fully WFH with unlimited flexibility for family needs, making more money than I ever thought I would, in the field that I love, with supportive management and upward mobility, helping underrepresented students get a quality education. It sounds like I’m blowing sunshine, but it’s out there and I hope that you find it, too, if it’s what works best for you.

      3. MK*

        I think it’s telling that the OP lists several reasons why being in the office is beneficial and even necessary for her type of work, and her only reason for wfh is that they’d like a day at home. That’s…just not a good enough reason.

        1. sookie st james*

          OP1 says that a lot of what they do requires in person work, but it’s very clear that at least some of their work can be done from home – and even more so for some of their colleagues, who are WFH multiple days per week compared with OP’s 1 day per week.

          Unless WFH is impossible for their role (which it evidently isn’t) then personally I think “wanting to” actually is a good enough reason, if it helps boost morale and mental health – plus for many people, remote/hybrid schedules do improve productivity). Not to mention the people who were hired for remote/hybrid roles who are now having the rug pulled out from under them. I only apply to fully remote work, for a variety of reasons, and if my workplace did this I would leave over it. People who don’t like WFH wouldn’t understand it, but it’s a deal breaker for me.

          So in answer to your question, OP1, “If it’s this important to me, should I look for a new job even though I love my work, my colleagues, and my students?” if you want to, sure. You get to decide how important this is to you and weigh it against the pros and cons of your current job – just how you might weigh vacation days, flex hours, management styles, etc.

          1. doreen*

            ” Wanting to ” is absolutely a good enough reason for deciding it’s important enough to look for a new job. But that alone isn’t enough to decide that management is out of touch , especially when the OP says that “a lot of what we do is on-ground support of students, faculty, researchers, etc.” How much exactly is a lot and does part of it involve staff being in the office to assist others on the spot? How much did hte job change while it was remote or hybrid? There were lots of jobs that went remote during the pandemic that really weren’t suited for it – sometimes the job drastically changed temporarily – I know someone who interviewed and fingerprinted candidates for government jobs. When his agency went to WFH, he was suddenly doing contact tracing but eventually they had to return to their actual in-person work.

          2. MK*

            What doreen said. It’s certainly a good enough reason for the worker to try and find hybrid or remote work, but it’s not a good enough reason for the organization to provide it, when it’s going to affect the quality of their services. And the standard shouldn’t be “if wfh isn’t impossible”, but more “if wfh doesn’t lower the quality of our service”. The OP doesn’t actually say that wfh is possible for their role, in fact she is saying that it is impossible for a large part of it. Say you are in charge of accomodation services for a university and 40% of your work can be done from home; that doesn’t actually mean you can wfh two days a week, because that would mean you aren’t available to students almost half the time.

            1. Jackalope*

              Given that a number of people earlier in this thread have stated that they are university students who have appreciated the flexibility of being able to contact university employees (I use that as a general term) online and by phone, I would disagree that it makes the employee “unavailable to students” for the work from home days. There may be reasons that it wouldn’t work, but to use your example, someone in charge of accommodations could use the WFH days to have electronic office hours; given the variety of students who need accommodations, there’s a good chance that some students will find that to be more helpful rather than less. And maybe not; but if it’s been working so far, throwing it out for “collaboration” is not a great argument.

              1. H2*

                But you can be available online and by phone while in the office. In the office: available by all means; at home: available by some means.

                1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

                  This assumes that physical presence = availability when there are a panoply of meetings and tasks that make one unavailable regardless of where they are located physically.

                2. SensibleStaffer*

                  What I think is often overlooked in these conversations, is that the job for most staff is not to wait at the ready for someone to come and give them a problem to solve immediately. There are certainly sections of the college that do that sort of thing, and those sections will always need to have adequate in-person staffing, but for many positions there are a list of tasks that need to be accomplished that have nothing to do with being available to students or faculty at a moment’s notice.

                  When I work from the office, everything I do gets done slower because I am constantly interrupted by phone calls, conversation happening around me, and people dropping in to say hello/ask a non-urgent question. It is very rare that there is an urgent matter that I need an in-person intervention for.

                  Having some time each week where I can work from home means I schedule appointments as needed, answer questions by email, and also have a digital phone number where I can be reached. If something serious is happening, I will find out about it instantly and be ready to intervene. However, it also means I can accomplish the very important and needed tasks that I am expected to accomplish faster and more thoroughly than when I am interrupted by people all day long.

                  All offices should be accessible to students, but that doesn’t mean there can be no flexibility for staff. Just as students manage when they can only contact their professors by email (since part-time faculty are only available when they teach and during a designated office hour) and full-time faculty only come to campus when they have a reason to, so they can manage if on Wednesdays they have to reach their advisor by email, Zoom, or phone only.

          3. Caknucklehead*

            Agree with Doreen. One of the biggest challenges as a manager and someone who has one WFH day but would prefer two, is that “critical mass” genuinely is a thing. Some people do way better at home and can be effectively managed in terms of output/results, while others are the exact same in terms of productivity in the office rather than remotely and it is impossible to make that work for everyone (doesn’t mean we can’t try, just pointing out it is tricky).

            But the critical mass problem is the idea that coming into the office to spend all day on zoom is not workable and some jobs need a group of people to generate ideas, work collaboratively and importantly train new team members. I manage staff at a head office and in satellite cities and it is obviously possible to do so but man oh man on-boarding in the head office compared to an entry level person elsewhere is massively different. Working alongside peers who can explain specialist knowledge better than I can or demonstrate a specific task is faster, more effective and generally better for the employee. That said the job can also be done remotely by more expert ram members! It is not easy, is what I’m getting at.

        2. bamcheeks*

          I work for a university (managing a front-line team) and whilst an awful lot of delivery is face to face there still significant benefits to working from home. From an institutional point of view, the amount of office space we heat and light has dropped massively. From a personal point of view, I get far more concentrated work completed on my days at home than I do on days when I’m on campus.

          Certainly in the UK sector, universities have adopted different approaches. A colleague at another local university in the same role was back in four or five days a week from September 2020. Another colleague was working from home until spring 2022. I was back in two days a week from September 2021, except Jan-Feb 2022 when we had another lockdown, and the team I manage is in three days a week. It’s by no means standardised across the sector.

        3. Pogo*

          That’s totally a good reason to me. When it’s already really hard to get good candidates for roles, why not make their life easier? They can alter their schedule to do all the work that requires no face to face at home. It’s also really important to remember that WFH and work flexibility is a DEI thing. Women and POC directly benefit from flexibility, so in a school or other more “socially conscious” industry, it’s worth noting.

          1. MK*

            The OP doesn’t say her organization has trouble attracting candidates. And the arrangement you propose means they won’t be available to the population they serve for X days a week, even assuming that they can in fact designate specific days to do anything that doesn’t require face to face work, which may not even be possible.

            1. H2*

              Your last point is the one that I think is key. In higher ed, schedules and workloads vary a lot throughout the year. In October and June, financial aid (or whatever) may be able to work remotely all the time, but in August, and , they might need to be there in person every day. And there may be a week in October where they have to handle panicked students with registration holds, so everyone may have to be there. I think it would be tough to say that any individual could WFH every Tuesday, since some times of the year that’s not practical.

            2. Jackalope*

              So not being available to the populations they serve, and not being available to the populations they serve *in-person* are two different things. It’s possible that some people may truly not be able to work from home, but it’s also possible to be available by phone, email, and Zoom. To use the example given by H2, even if there’s a financial aid crunch at certain times of the year, people who want to work from home can take turns answering the phones for students who don’t want to or can’t come into the office in person. Or they can work from home processing financial aid forms that have been turned in so that fewer students are in a financial aid crisis. And so on. They may not be able to do those things, but assuming that at home =|= available to students is not longer an automatic assumption.

          2. Markell*

            Curious why you say that POC directly benefit from flexibility. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I just don’t know why!

            1. what the nope*

              One reason I’ve read is that it means fewer microaggressions throughout the day.

            2. Mr. Shark*

              Yeah, I didn’t understand the comment about POC either.

              As for women, is Pogo stating that because they are parents or something else?

        4. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          That’s coming from a very pro-employer perspective. She says some jobs are necessary to be in person, and I don’t think those are the ones she’s talking about–she’s talking about the ones where people are currently WFH 1-3 days a week and the only effect is on “collaboration,” which is pretty weak sauce. I’m sure many employers would like to do away with leave, also, but that doesn’t make it frivolous.

          1. MK*

            Actually, it’s not coming from a “pro-employer” perspective, it’s coming from a service-receiver perspective of someone who has had to make do with subpar services due to wfh, while people in those roles try to sell they idea that wfh works perfectly. I get that some employers are against wfh for no valid reason, but the reality is that the person working from home isn’t always ideally placed to judge whether it is effective, especially when many really do want to beleive it does.

            Also, I don’t see where the OP makes the distinction that she is only talking about specific roles. In fact, she says “a lot of what we do is on-ground support of students, faculty, researchers”.

            1. MissElizaTudor*

              But this LW isn’t talking about service providers being WFH all the time. They’re talking about continuing to have some WFH days a week.

              People working from home may not be ideally placed to tell if WFH is effective, but this person is certainly better placed than commenters here to tell if their WFH is effective.

              If a lot of what they do is that kind of support, that still doesn’t mean having a WFH day is bad or that just wanting one isn’t a good reason to have one. Service receivers’ satisfaction is important, but so is the satisfaction of service providers. When those are in conflict, it make sense to compromise, not go entirely in one direction.

              1. Mr. Shark*

                I think the question is whether “on the ground support” can be scheduled or are there just walk-ins. I’m not in Education, but it would seem to me that a lot of academia issues would probably be walk-in rather than all scheduled meetings or zoom calls, which is why it is on the ground support.

            2. Wilbur*

              “You aren’t the best person to judge how your job can be done” is such a wild take when you’re talking about professional staff.

              1. DisgruntledPelican*

                Is it? People often are not good judges of their own performance, especially when it comes to perks they don’t want to give up.

                1. Alice*

                  If only there were someone whose job it is to monitor staff performance and tell staff whether they are meeting performance goals or not…. We should invent that type of job ;)
                  I mean, I am sorry that MK had to make do with bad service due to WFH. And when MK said, “the reality is that the person working from home isn’t always ideally placed to judge whether it is effective, especially when many really do want to believe it does,” sure, I buy that.
                  But when I as an individual contributor ask my manager, “What should I be accomplishing on site that I have not been accomplishing when I was 5-days-WFH?” I would like to get an answer. And “Your work is fine, but this is the requirement coming from [a VIP], and it’s more flexible than the requirement in other departments, so be grateful,” is not a great answer.

            3. KTC*

              The general bent of this comment section is normally extremely pro-WFH so this pushback to your comment doesn’t surprise me, but I agree with you. Not every role is well suited for WFH, no matter how much people want it to be. The idea that collaboration is easier, more fluid and more organic in person is not “weaksauce” either. I’m all for flexibility but WFH for every role in every circumstance is not ever going to be the way.

      4. Anon for this*

        I work in higher ed and it’s not like students had an easy time before Covid finding someone for the issues you mention. If anything, I think it was worse. Moreover, most of them are unwilling to go in person somewhere to report issues. I work at a large university and if you tell a student they have to go all the way to another building or another campus, it’s not going to work. They will refuse. You can staff a phone or an email or a chat service from anywhere and that’s what they want.

        Depending on who supervises you here, some staff with similar positions are allowed at least 1-2 days remote and their productivity is equal to or higher than those who are forced to be in the office 5 days a week.

      5. zuzu*

        I’m in an academic library, and we’re 4 days in office, 1 day at home. I usually don’t wfh because I hate it (which I discovered in the early days of the pandemic, when I was full-time wfh and it wrecked my sleep and work schedule because the only things tethering me to a schedule were Reference shifts, meetings and classes; otherwise, I was working all hours of the night and sleeping in the daytime).

        The library I’m currently at shut down completely during the pandemic for about a year and is still catching up on materials processing from that. The student services had always had a big remote/chat component, so it’s largely recovered. The library I was working for during 2020 stayed open with minimal staffing and went to fully remote services to students. The materials processing was getting done, but the student services really suffered, because face-to-face service had been such a big component of the experience there. Several classes of students had no relationship with the librarians, and reference questions dropped off precipitously. It took a long time to recover.

        1. pandop*

          This is why one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for remote work. I too work in an academic library, but the needs of the sub-teams in just my area vary wildly in terms of ‘this is better done in the office’ v ‘can do this from home’ – not to mention with the changes that have come as a result both of Covid, and some other changes that were in the works anwhere, we can’t mandate more than a couple of days in office, or we will run out of space now!

          I am currently on campus full time as the project I am on needs me to be here, but after that I don’t think I will be in more than one or two days a week. We are looking at it from a work-need proces (not just a bums in seats mentality), so as long as there are a couple of people in the office to do the things that need to be done there, then enough.

      6. Alice*

        I mean, “staff generally need to be available” and “staff generally need to be available in person” are two different things. I’m staff at a university. The online meetings + trainings I did with library users last week:
        – postdoc who lives abroad
        – staffer who lives in the university’s metro area but works part time from home
        – postdoc who lives in a city two states over
        – group of 14 people, both faculty and staff, some of whom were abroad, some on campus in different buildings (across at least three “campuses” that are 10-30 minutes apart by car), and some WFH
        – prof emeritus who no longer has a campus office

        I am super accessible to library users, and I comply strictly with our on-site requirements, but that just means that I did two of those Zoom sessions with library users from the office, instead of from my home office.
        And btw, I offered in-person office hours last week, but no one came. The previous week, when I offered online office hours, 5 students came. (TBF this dropoff could be due to the end of the semester approaching, not the modality.)

      7. ErinWV*

        Yes and no. I’m academic staff at a university, a job I’ve held in some capacity or another for 20 years. I used to be run off my feet helping students who came in with questions, needing forms, etc. That declined and declined, and then the pandemic literally killed it. Students NEVER come in the office anymore. Anything they need to ask, they email. Anything they need to submit, it can be done via email or an online signing/approval service.

        I do work largely from the office because it helps to be in the same space with the administrators that I support (some of them are terrible about responding to emails or chat queries, but if you hang in their office door for 5 secs you get the answer you need) and also I just have more room in my office than at home. But students, at least at my institution, are not making use of us in person anymore.

    3. 653-CXK*

      At ExJob, WFH was controlled by the managers according to work standards. If you had no disciplinary or production/quality problems, you gave up your desk and reserved a hoteling seat for three days at the office, and then were allowed to work from home two days per week.

      The exceptions: (1) You had to be present for all-staff meetings. Whenever the announcement of an all-staff meeting went up, all the prime hoteling spots were snatched up 10 seconds after it was announced; however, as there were hoteling spots in both our buildings, you could work anywhere there was a connection. (2) If you were stellar in your work, management allowed you to work from home all week. If you failed to meet standards, your WFH privileges were curtailed or revoked.

      At CurrentJob, so long as my boss knows I’m available on Teams and I’m doing my work, WFH is not a problem.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Number one was interesting to me. It’s extremely field dependent. Even *before* Covid, I was determined to find a remote or partially remote job, because I felt like everybody and their mother had one except for me, and it just wasn’t a “thing” in my field for no particular reason except a certain stuffy traditionalism. This comes from small reference pools; I know a lot of white collar knowledge workers and relatively few doctors, teachers, firemen/women, or hospitality workers. It’s nowhere near 95% of jobs that have partial work from home. I’d guess more like 50%, but highly concentrated in certain fields that we hear about a lot.

      1. doreen*

        There’s another factor at work , too, I think. When people are looking around , they tend to see people similar to themselves. I was in a conversation many years ago with someone who swore that of course most people could be forced to work overtime with no extra pay if their work wasn’t done – because he wasn’t accounting for the many people he saw every day whose work was never done ( when is a bus driver’s work done ?) and who were paid by the hour. Not to pick on you but while your friends and relatives may mostly be white collar knowledge workers, there’s a decent chance that most of the people you see when you leave your home cannot work remotely – pre-pandemic, I would go to my office and encounter a total 75 people over the course of a week who didn’t need to work in the office more than one or two days a week. (although they were not WFH the other days). Seems like everyone except me had at least some days out of the office – but I probably passed at least 40 bus drivers on my way to and from work every day. Add in the traffic agents and the workers filling potholes and the construction workers putting up new buildings and the people working in the stores/restaurants/libraries/medical offices that I stopped at before and after work, and I would be surprised if even 25% of the people I saw while they were working could ever WFH.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes before the pandemic we did have a lot of wfh simply because a) there wasn’t enough space for everyone in the office b) if everyone is at different places at different times why not home?

        the pandemic has cut out a lot of time wasting nonsense like babysitting at the office to our eternal gratitude. although I might go to some unnecessary all staffs just so my boss doesn’t feel bad that none of her team shows up to these

      3. ferrina*

        Agree that it’s very field-dependent. My field (consulting) is hit and miss right now. My company is office-optional, so we have a lot of hybrid and remote workers. You can truly work from anywhere in the U.S. (as long as you have good internet) It’s a great draw for recruitment and retention.

    5. lilsheba*

      I am extremely lucky that my company started out fully remote and seems to be staying that way. We are all over the place and very few people even live near an office location. Works gets done great, any collaboration that needs to be done is done over teams, it so doesn’t need to be done in person. I can finish out my life here happy.

    6. bishbah*

      Mine has slowly ramped up to three days in-office, with a hot-desking setup now versus the assigned desks we had prior to shutdown. But they’re about to go back to two days, because they discovered that after three years of WFH, the headcount has nearly doubled (we’ve been growing) and too many people are coming in all at once. Remote work has allowed them to kick the can down the road on an office expansion!

      1. I have RBF*

        This is actually the greatest benefit to a lot of companies that have gone to primarily remote work – they don’t have to build out more office space as they grow! A company that had a 20 people in an open plan office with desks crammed nearly on top of each other can grow to 100 people without any extra real estate and office infra spending. The employees are happier, and the bottom line is better.

        Yes, some people love in office with open plan because they get to see and interact with everybody. To me that’s a nightmare.

        My division has people in at least three different time zones, most remote, but sometimes going in to a data center to lay hand on machines. Then we have others who are full time laboratory people, in multiple regions. We even have operations in Australia, on site, supported by people who are remote in the US. It depends on the needs of their specific job – our management doesn’t have any “one size fits all” type mandates, the business is too diversified for that. The focus is on getting the work done, not necessarily where it is done.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That’s a good part of the reason my team on a university campus was allowed to go fully remote: Our college is growing so much with new faculty, staff, and administrators that the office space is at a premium. People in more student- or faculty-facing roles are made to work on campus (with some allowed 1 – 2 WFH days per week), but my team’s work was all via email, anyway, even before the covid quarantine. Departments send us requests via email and we process them in the university’s procurement system, and now that we’re remote, there are five extra offices on our floor to accommodate the growth.

    7. Inkognyto*

      my company had 3-4 days WFH (optional) before Covid for most jobs in IT. After your first 90 days. As of Dec 2020 – it’s perm for 95% of all positions, we can go in if we want but it’s ‘shared’ desk space that you use for the day.

      I believe the main reasons were a few as it was in place before I was hired:
      1) Space – We’re a healthcare org (now 6 hospital), that is growing. They had a hard time finding space for me and had to ask another person if they would share their office with me, that wasn’t in my dept. They have hired at least another 40+ employee’s in IT since and there’s no way they would fit on the 2 floors, and there’s no more space in that building. Meaning it would be a lot of extra $ to now find space for over 300+ in the city.
      2) retention – the company strives to try and keep people happy and working there – the way you do that is giving options
      3) they saw no decrease in productivity –

  2. nodramalama*

    #4 it seems really inappropriate to me for someone to send LW something they saw from a dating app that will then be used to bring to their attention at work! There probably aren’t actually any actual privacy issues, but for me the content of someones dating profile is pretty squarely not work’s business, and LW should act like they havent seen it.

    1. Nina*

      Ehhhhh I dunno. A former workplace had the policy ‘if you have I work at X Corp in your bio on a social channel, we will pay attention to what you post on that channel’. They didn’t look at channels where you didn’t claim affiliation with them, and if you didn’t want your socials (real socials, not faux-work socials like LinkedOut) to be looked at, leaving ‘I work at X Corp’ out of your bio is like, really easy.

      1. Jessica*

        I think that’s a kinda reasonable policy, and if the workplace had such a policy, I’d be sure to bring it to the attention of new hires. Nonetheless, I would be upset, creeped out, and hate it if I found out that anybody at work was looking at my dating profile for any reason. Yeah, I know sometimes coworkers are also looking for love, and you might notice each other on a dating site, but i feel like the decent thing to do is disregard, don’t gossip, and never speak of it.

        1. nodramalama*

          Yeah i agree. When I see someone from work on an app i kind of just act like i didn’t see it. I kind of thought we all inherently agreed that unless you’re genuinely interested in the person, that’s what you do

        2. L-squared*

          You’d be upset and creeped out that another person on the same app as you saw what you publicly posted on an app that anyone can download and make a profile on? That seems a bit much. If its enough info about you to be creeped out that they know it, maybe you are sharing too much. But there is no reason to be upset.

          Now, if they were sharing the site with others, sure, that may be an issue. But just knowing they saw you shouldn’t be enough to creep you out.

        3. Sloanicota*

          Yeah there’s sort of an unofficial rule of dating apps that if you see someone you know on there, and you aren’t in a dating context, you STFU and erase it from your brain, just as you hope people do for you, since you’re on the site for the same reason. I would be creeped out if someone from work screen-shot it and showed it to my boss for any reason.

        4. learnedthehardway*

          I think that’s a good approach – ie. the OP telling the new hire that the company pays attention to people’s social media, and that if they have anything on there that might cause concerns – eg. drug use, etc. – that it would be a good idea to remove it.

          They don’t have to say they know. Just point out that it would be noticed, if it were on there.

        1. Allonge*

          I probably would not either, in general.

          But if someone mentions where they work on a dating site (I honestly have no clue how often this is done) I would expect similar rules to apply – they are claiming a connection with the org is the important part, not the specific channel. Same thing would apply if someone has a personal website and lists where they work.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            That’s yet another strike against the employee’s judgement – most people would *not* list where they work on a dating app. Or at least anyone with common sense who might be worried about safety wouldn’t. Back when I was younger and using dating apps, I never told anyone where I worked until I’d gotten to know them a lot better than I could in just a few dates.

            1. paranoid android*

              I absolutely do not list my job on any dating profile for both safety and privacy reasons. I don’t even list the field I work in because a 5 second google search of “llama farmers” would bring up the only llama farm in the tristate area.

              But if a coworker did find me on a dating site, they’d be pretty bored. I’m a square ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯ (perhaps why I’m still single lol)

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Last time I tried the apps, one of them pulled my work information from my FB profile and I couldn’t get it off my dating profile until I changed my FB one. And that’s the story of how I became “CEO at Cats and Rats, LLC”.

        2. L-squared*

          I mean, its not a traditional social media site. But the same logic applies. You are putting a connection to your job out there for anyone to see.

          1. Observer*

            Exactly. It’s not social media per se, but it IS a public site. The fact that some people pay to be there doesn’t really change that.

          2. raktajino*

            That’s the explicit prohibition my work makes: Don’t explicitly connect yourself to the company publicly except in these particular scenarios, and don’t say anything that could be construed as speaking on behalf of the company unless we ask you to. The exact type of site doesn’t matter.

        3. Bee*

          A BIG part of the difference for me is that dating apps are not searchable or accessible to anyone who doesn’t have an account. If there’s any chance someone can find the profile by Googling your name, you probably do need to either make it work-friendly or harder to find. But dating apps are (by design!) not possible to search like that. Honestly I think it’s a bad idea to put your workplace on your dating profile, but I also think it’s a wildly invasive overreach to send someone’s profile to their boss (!!!!!!!).

      2. serenity*

        Yes. Where I worked, the company had very specific expectations for social media usage if their name was used (as in the bio, for instance) very similar to what you describe. I agree that the best thing is to not mention the company name in any social media accounts.

      3. ecnaseener*

        That’s a good line to draw for publicly-viewable social media. For a dating app, where you presumably can only find someone’s profile by getting them as a suggested match, I think treat that as private.

        1. No Longer Working*

          You don’t have to match with someone to see their profile, you can browse.

          1. Jackalope*

            Depends on the app. Some are super open and you can see anyone; others limit who you can see pretty severely and have certain hoops to jump through before seeing someone’s full profile, for example. Some apps also give only some people the ability to start conversations. At least one of them you can theoretically find others but in practice if the two of you are incompatible per whatever method they use to calculate things you won’t be able to find them.

          2. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

            Depends on the app. Some will only show you people they think are matches, even if the level of compatibility is questionable.

            1. Observer*

              That doesn’t really matter. It’s a public space where your control of who sees your profile is limited.

              I’m not saying that people should share what they see. But treating it like it’s actually private information is not reality based. And for the person who is posting that information expecting others to honor this non-existent privacy is foolish, at best.

      4. Molly Millions*

        The LW says it’s the public sector employer, so (depending on how specific she was) I think the implications might be different.

        “Government of Narnia” could mean you work for any one of dozens of huge departments (not to mention hundreds of elected officials’ offices) that employ thousands of people scattered across multiple cities. It’s not the same as listing a single private business.

        1. Allonge*

          On the other hand, public employers tend to be careful about their employees representing them in inappropriate ways, so it’s a bad call to name them on your dating profile.

    2. Please Do Not Do This*

      OP #4: I personally would rather be fired than know that strangers 2 degrees away from me are circulating my dating (and sexual! and reproductive!) profile to people I work with. At most, I think you could mention to them generically that your organization does not mess around and any suggestion of drug use anywhere is fireable.

      I really cannot emphasize enough how upset I would be to find that SCREENSHOTS have been sent around.

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        It’s been a while since I used a dating app/site, but why would your reproductive profile be on a dating app?

        1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

          It is a pretty common question to ask if people have or want kids, which is what I assume this is in reference to.

        2. Hlao-roo*

          Please Do Not Do This may be referring to how some people have a version of “have kids/want to have kids/never want to have kids” on their profile. Important information for potential future partners to be able to screen with, but an employer who saw screenshots of a profile could easily (illegally) start to judge “Sally says she wants kids, so she’s probably going to be pregnant in the next few years and I don’t want to hire someone who will just go out on maternity leave.”

    3. Allonge*

      Hm. I get being upset about a dating profile shared with a random work colleague, but then the solution is not to list where you (general you) work in the dating profile. (I assume that that was the reason the screenshot was sent to OP in the first place).

      And it’s a reminder that everything you put online has a chance to be shared by random people. I don’t like it but it absolutely influences how much I put out there, especially with my name and face, as that is really the only part I control.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s fascinating to me how we’ve tried to adapt the different aspects of ourselves that we once showed in different contexts to online media, and how poorly that seems to work. In the sense of posting in a publicly visible place tied to your real identity (your blog, an Insta, Twitter, your dating profile) information that you technically don’t want to be visible to some people.

      Whether you should pretend to not have seen the post, or point it out the way you might a torn seam, seems to be a quandary we haven’t solved.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I actually wrote an article about this ten years ago and I don’t think we’re any closer to figuring it out. There’s a ton of information you don’t want to share when jobseeking– ethnicity, sexuality, political stance, family status — that might well be available online or part of your public digital identity. It’s totally changed the nature of privacy and disclosure, and I don’t think anyone’s really got to grips with it yet.

        1. I have RBF*

          I have been in online communities for nearly 30 years. I usually don’t mention my employer directly.

          The way I handle it is two-fold:
          1) I use a long standing pseudonym in most of my online presence. I’ve used that pseudonym longer than companies like Google and Facebook have existed. That pseudonym is old enough to drink.
          2) Anywhere where I (have to) use my wallet name I refer to my workplace as “$job”, my boss as “$boss”, etc., and mention even that only rarely. The sole exception is my job history on LinkedIn, and even then I wish I could limit how many years it shows to other people.

    5. Raw Flour*

      Back when I was on the apps, I came across a dating profile from a colleague that had misogynistic and racist material. I told his manager. I don’t regret this. Who the hell wants to work with a bigot? (For the record, dude was not fired over this. He quit long after this incident.)

      1. Rachel*

        This may sound like splitting hairs. But this was your co-worker.

        This situation is a degree removed. The LW’s friend saw the dating profile and that makes difference, I think.

        Also, this isn’t racist or misogynistic, it might even be legal where they live, just not permitted by the company.

        1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

          The OP mentioned that it is legal where they live. If they’re at a federal agency, it is currently a problem but I’ve heard indirectly that even the feds are reconsidering their stance on weed (or prior weed convictions) for many roles.

          1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            As an example, the US Census does not drug test its employees.

          2. I have RBF*

            I hope so.

            I am a medical marijuana user, in a state that it is legal, and I lost a federal related job because they wanted a “public trust clearance” and were hard nosed on weed. I had to chose between my job and my health. My health won.

            I don’t get high. Weed puts me to sleep. It works really well for that. It also knocks down migraines, and lets me sleep it off. So for me, it sucks as a recreational drug, but is a life changing medication for a couple of conditions.

            1. Random Dice*

              Marijuana is really good for stretching deeply, without rebound tightness the next several days.

          3. pope suburban*

            My thought here is that her profile says that because she does partake when she is able, and/or because she wants to indicate that this is not a deal breaker in a potential match. If the agency drug tests and she’s still eligible to work there, well, it sure seems like she’s put that particular recreational activity on hold for work (Yes, I am aware that people cheat on drug tests, but it’s harder to do than one might think, and plenty of people would happily stop partaking for the right job). It’s pretty likely that she knows the policy and has quit for the time being, as many people do. I don’t see any need to read into it, especially not when there’s testing in place that will show whether or not she’s compliant. All the rest seems like a bit of overreach to me.

    6. L-squared*

      I mean, as someone who has a few dating profiles, I don’t agree.

      Its one of those things that, when you go on those apps, you put yourself out there. And sometimes, that means people will see stuff about you. Sometimes, that may be a coworker or future coworker. That is the risk you are taking.

      That said, I would be curious how the friend knew who it was though. Most dating app profiles just have a first name. MAYBE they have a first name and last initial. But a random person knowing that Jane S. is a new hire at this company, who the OP hasn’t even met yet seems… questionable.

      1. L-squared*

        Disregard my last sentence. In reading and responding to other people, I’ve completely figured out how and why this could happen, and I actually think its a bit less odd than I originally believed.

    7. hbc*

      Yeah, I’d find it really strange that my new not-yet-met colleague has a friend who knew enough about me to spot me on a dating site *and* cared enough to pass on said info. To the point that I’d get serious stalker vibes. I’m positive I’ve never passed on full name of any coworker to anyone outside work unless/until we’ve been hanging out for a while, so this scenario is completely bonkers to me.

      OP, there’s a very tiny chance that she’ll be all “oh, thanks, appreciate it” and a near certainty that she’ll be more like “Your ‘friend’ is the one looking me up on dating sites, sure.”

      1. L-squared*

        So above you I questioned it too, but I can easily see it going down like this.

        Friend matches with someone on dating app. Upon further looking at their profile, they see she works at the same place as their friend. They ask “Hey, do you know Ashley K? We matched online!”. OP says “hmmm, I’m not familiar with an Ashley K, what does she look like”. Friend sends the screen shot. Based on whether or not they cropped it, the part about weed is visible.

        To me that is a totally non creepy and plausible way for this to go down.

        1. ephemerides*

          Alternatively, the friend could have known about the workplace’s strict policy and sent it to OP for that reason.

        2. Always a Corncob*

          Yeah, I assume the friend recognized the name of the company, not that she recognized the new hire. Another good reason not to put your workplace in your dating profile!

        3. rayray*

          I’ve not used dating apps for a year or two – do people actually list their workplace on their profile? I feel like this would be way out of my personal comfort zone so I find it really really odd.

          1. L-squared*

            It is an option lol. Most people will be vague and put something like “teacher” or “banking”. But depending on the size of the town, that can say a lot. If you are in a small town and have “Government at Pawnee” as someone alluded to upthread, well, that may limit it to like 50 or so people.

  3. Teapot Unionist*

    in terms of remote work, my office is currently fighting over it. we have always had a good remote work policy, but now post-pandemic, they are trying to force people back into headquarters even though our bargained contract allows us to choose our work location without getting permission from our manager. and, I am about to relocate from a trending red state to a blue state, and state politics were definitely part of it, but I agree with Allison. focus on why you love the new place, not why you need out of the old place. I focused on family needs, increased salary and getting closer to my parents.

    1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      You can also state the positive aspect that your moving towards that is the opposite of the negative aspect you’re moving away from–instead of “my state is turning into a fascist dictatorship,” it’s “I’m looking for a place that respects the importance of independent thought/intellectual freedom.”

      1. Daisy*

        “I’m looking forward to the wonderful cultural opportunities in your city/region.” would be a pretty big tell from someone moving from a red state to a blue IMO.

  4. margaret*

    I’m in higher ed and aggressively applied to jobs in our IT division because almost the entire division is remote (thanks to excellent leadership at the top of the division combined with the nature of our work). I’d been dealing with being treated poorly at my previous division because I had an ADA accommodation for remote work they didn’t like or respect (everyone else was on a 60/40 favoring in-office work).
    I’ve thankfully now made the switch over to IT and hoooooo boy is the culture so much better on top of the remote work being a given. I could not be happier. OP in #1 might try to find out if there are other areas in their university that are more openly allowing remote work where they could find a job.

    1. Butterfly Counter*


      Interestingly, the IT department going remote is a bit of an issue at my university because of some of the hardware problems we are often seeing. Plus, some of the older faculty having issues with just navigating the physical computers. And when you have a 60+ year-old tenured faculty who can’t get his computer to work and has to wait over an hour for tech help in his office, the whole hallway hears about it!

      For staff in my department, they’ve been on a hybrid schedule since we started returning to campus. But it’s breeding its own kind of issues. Staff A is mad she can never find Staff B for help because Staff B negotiated a different schedule. Therefore, Staff A thinks she’s doing all of the work those days and times Staff B is WFH. Combine that with Staff C, who has a completely different schedule to A or B, accusations of favoritism vs. years experience on the job: it’s looking like they may revoke WFH just to stop the in-fighting.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        Your description of the interpersonal politics of university staff members is giving me PTSD! I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else.

      2. margaret*

        Ah, interesting. I should clarify that individual academic departments at my institution often have their own IT support helping faculty with desktop support, whereas I work in an extremely large division that does things like product development, business analysis, project management, etc., alongside the institutional cybersecurity and infrastructure stuff. I said our division is mostly remote because some people who need to monitor equipment have to be on campus sometimes. But the rest of us are not… And I don’t ever work with faculty anymore. :)

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

      Yes. I’m not sure if office space (and parking) is as much an issue at other universities as it has perpetually been at mine, but when remote work became a thing in 2020, the university took the opportunity to kicked several non-academic departments off campus permanently — even if they wanted to come back, they have no space anymore. Academic departments have largely all returned to office 4 days a week. This is becoming an ongoing rift with staff in academic departments, but keep in mind that most of the fully remote positions are specialized work: some of IT (like database and enterprise applications), accounting, development/fundraising, alumni relations, legal, some HR positions (like benefits administration). Staff from the academic side aren’t going to find transferring over easy.

  5. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

    I’ve been fully remote for more than a decade and my company is an outlier in our industry. Most of our family and friends are required to be on site in person part or full-time, and many more are being pushed back on site in the next year, to their great disappointment. I know fully remote wasn’t loved by everyone under the circumstances of the pandemic but I do think it’s a shame that more employers won’t embrace more flexibility across the board.

    1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

      I had coworkers that were fully remote 20 years ago. We did engineering design, data and technical analysis work as the bulk of it. However, we did go to client sites periodically to perform work, or meet with clients, or occasionally have a few days of internal meetings at the same locations. Even though I went into the office most of the time, when really hunkering down to meet a deadline, I would work a few weeks at home, and collaborate online or on phone calls.

      I spent a large chunk of my career after that supporting a physical site, but during COVID and even after enjoyed working remote 3 days a week. I was more productive than ever because I could support site operations the days I was in, but then have good zero distraction days to get into data analysis and other heavy lifting work.

      I am back to a fully remote role where I am still doing engineering and data analysis, collaborating with team members in all time zones, and periodically traveling a few times a year for an all hands meeting, or for deployment to a client site (<20% travel). For me, it is the perfect balance for both my personal and work life.

  6. Goldie*

    I must be an odd ball because nearly everyone I know works in-person. We have an optional WTH day and most people don’t use it.

    I just hired 5 people into remote roles (we don’t have office space for them) and 2 want to work in the office.

    1. Sherm*

      Even in 2020 actually, most people did not work remotely (but that includes all the jobs that are impossible to be done at home).

      1. Allonge*

        Indeed. I think part of it is that remote work, for obvious reasons, has been heavily featured in the news / work advice discourse, as well as the practical daily business decisions for the last years.

        I am in a similar bubble as OP1 and it has been really difficult to, once in a while, get the managers in our org to talk about all the people whose work is majority in person (at least 20% of our staff), and not the ‘back to the office’ crowd.

        1. Sloanicota*

          It’s also like, all the people who tweet a lot on twitter, and probably have more time to comment on workplace blogs that post during the workday … a vocal minority!

          1. Maglev No Longer to Crazytown*

            It isn’t that we aren’t actually working too! When I was in the office, there were more natural distractions to give your brain a needed break (coworker dropping by, etc). The human brain is NOT designed for 8 plus hours unbroken concentration. It helps to get up, stretch legs, and do a quick check of a fine site such as this before hitting it again.

            1. Sloanicota*

              True, but I’m guessing the jobs that truly *demand* in-person work (grocery store clerk, teacher, ER doctor) are not even sitting at a computer most of the time, and may not even be on their phones.

            2. Allonge*

              Nobody is arguing this is not fine, it’s more that people who are not at a desk on a computer do not get the same opportunity to be part of the online discussion and this influences – a lot – the tone and topics.

              Just as, for example, people who do not speak (read and write) English will not contribute to the AAM forums. It’s not anyone’s fault, it just works out this way.

        2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Also, many if not most news/”news” articles are written by freelance journalists, who…work from home and always have. The population of people writing articles for mass consumption tend to fall on one side of this spectrum and they’re extrapolating their experience to the general population, which isn’t accurate.

      2. AlsoADHD*

        I was teaching them and we shut down. I actually couldn’t get used to 5 days in person forever again and no flexibility (teaching is one of the least flexible professional jobs—most vacations decided for you, no ability to soft lunch or pop out for an errand usually etc). Most of my friends were fully remote for years and years even after schools went back (we stayed remote until vaccines basically in secondary) and though I can get an ADA for remote work, it’s not reasonable to accommodate in education. I changed careers to a fully remote company and new field (though I had some similar experience before teaching) mostly for remote and flexible work. There’s plenty in my new field and almost everyone I know in that field has the option to work partially or fully remote. I do think a lot is field dependent— there are some jobs that went remote for safety (like my teaching job where our union backed WFH until vaccines) that were “possible” but not ideal but there are other jobs like my current field (I design and develop training for corporate now) where there’s no real benefit to being in person and the push back is stronger against cutting WFH.

    2. Looper*

      Yeah, I think people forget about everyone who doesn’t work in an office lol I have a lot of friends who work in health care, service industry, and entertainment so very few of us work from home.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, I work an office job adjacent to construction and like grocery, health care, etc. the only thing that changed for them was wearing masks every day (or not sometimes – construction unfortunately has a lot of folks who were anti-mask). Most of the news coverage was about the office worker pandemic life, but there were many other takes and even office workers had very different experiences. Some with kids were struggling to get everything done, some that lived alone were bored and depressed, etc. And still the news is mostly focused on office worked WFH or not now, the news does tend to focus on the office class of worker.

        I am full time WFH and my company allows everyone except for 4 key people that need to be on site most of the time to WFH full time, hybrid how they like or in office full time. We are very much the exception and it is a perk that helps us attract and retain folks (not everyone, but a lot of folks do like the flexibility). I know one other firm in our industry doing the same, the rest are either hybrid set schedule or back in office full time – mostly the latter as most leadership is very butts-in-seat. As far as friends/family, most with office jobs are hybrid and have either settled on 3 days in office or are still pushing towards back full time.

    3. should decide on a name*

      I’d love to know what industry and roles you and these other people work in. The only people I know who want to work in the office even 1 or 2 days a week either live alone and are using the office as social interaction, or they do not have an appropriate office space at home or have construction noise next door. Everyone else, from Boomers through to Gen Z, wants to WFH either all or the vast majority of the time forever more.

      1. Allonge*

        Obviously I don’t know the direct answer – in any case it’s about two people! – but maybe it’s not so much ‘want’ on a personal level but ‘recognise it brings advantages’ on a professional one and has some personal benefits too?

        Especially as a newcomer, very often the office environment allows you to learn things in a different way – with less investment even – than the online one. Often you get more work info if you are in the office in any case. As you mention, some people don’t have a good work setup at home or just simply want the job to handle the logistics of the work enviroment. I doubt that a lot of people are Jay!Commute! as such but for some, that’s the only time they have for themselves. Similarly, some need the separation between work and home for all kinds of reasons, e.g. because otherwise they are always expected to be ‘available’ in both fields.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’ve definitely found that new people want to be in the office more, so they can get a feel for the culture. In my company there’s a certain overlap between new people and early career people who (being in London) often have suboptimal housing arrangements (mostly house or flat shares) so find working from home harder.

          But we also have a fair few people who like the separation between work and home. Also as electricity bills in the UK have gone up a lot and faster than public transport costs, people find it’s cheaper to be in the office. So a lot more people are preferring to be in and not have to heat their homes as much especially during the winter.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, when I was in my 20s, wfh would not have worked well for me – I was living in a group house with a lot of roommates who were coming and going all day, and we wouldn’t have had good enough internet for more than 2 people to be on zoom at the same time. It only became really appealing after I bought my house.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          I disagree that working from the office helps as a newcomer. This is really dependent on everyone agreeing on that and being in the office too. I started a new job in July 2022 and went in every day in person for the first two months. I met one of the receptionists and a couple of operations folks and that’s it. None of my team came in except for one person on my very first day to make sure I could find my desk. My boss doesn’t even work in the same city, so I never see her and no one from my team wants to work from the office. I not only didn’t collaborate with anyone, but I literally didn’t meet anyone to develop a working relationship or anything like that. My mentor is on the opposite coast. I stopped going in when I realized it was a waste of my time.

          1. Myrin*

            I feel like that’s kind of par for the course, though, isn’t it? I don’t think the people on here saying that being in the office often (!) helps newcomers are referring to situations where you’re sitting in a literal empty office every day.

          2. Riot Grrrl*

            I didn’t think it was possible to mischaracterize that argument in this way. No one is saying that there’s something about the physical architecture of an office that somehow confers work benefits (unless you literally have physical barriers at home that make work difficult). People are talking about the benefits of being in an office when there are other people present. Apparently this needs to be stated explicitly.

          3. TechWorker*

            This is… literally the point? It is harder for new people to ramp up either remotely or in an empty office where everyone else is remote. This is a key reason for more senior people to be in the office at least some of the time!
            (Count me in the category of would not want to wfh full time, I would hate it. I have a nice house, I just find the office better for my mental health and levels of work stress. I work 2 days remote at the moment which is enough to get benefits of having time to do things like laundry/cook but even on those days I’m trying to go in in afternoons more. I have a very short commute which I’m aware impacts this!)

        3. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I think this is accurate. I hear the separation point a lot when people express a preference, and have gotten a lot of buzz about learning and collaboration being easier now that we are mostly in person.

        4. Goldie*

          These two people are implementing human services projects. They work with external stakeholders primarily. They both have jobs that would work very well remotely and there is no advantage to being in person, since their rest of their teams work remotely. That is why I wrongly assumed I would find people who would want to work from home.

          Both are at pretty high levels and both don’t have good office spaces in their homes/apts. We do live in a high cost of living area.

          I also do not like to work from home and one of the reasons is that I don’t have an office space. The rest of my family gets home between 2-5 and its almost impossible to get anything done once they all start showing up. Finally, I find myself to be distracted by laundry and other home responsibilities when I WFH.

        5. WAHIsntNew*

          if people who are onsite have advantages over those who are remote, that’s an issue with how your office is organized and how it works. Many companies have been doing hybrid or remote work for decades with no inherent advantage to those who are in the office at any given time (or to those people who choose to work 100% in the office, usually a fairly small subset of employees). The main difference I saw (prepandemic) was a shift to having set in office and at home/can be at home days (standard in the 90s and early 2000s, starting to fade out a bit in the mid-late 2000s, unusual by the time the 2010s hit). This was true for technical staff across a wide variety of industries and of varying sizes with the exception of most (not all) manufacturing companies.

      2. CTT*

        I know it’s out of step for the commenting base of this site, but there are people who like seeing their colleagues and feel like they benefit from in-person collaboration (and not just lonely people in studio apartments, unless all my married coworkers with big houses are hiding something)

        1. CTT*

          (Pressed enter before I finished!) Obviously I can’t speak for everyone, but in my industry (law), while there are a good number of people who work from home, there are also a lot I know who go into the office too. The collaboration can be really important and doing it in-person can speed things up. For example, yesterday two colleagues and I grabbed a conference to prepare for a call, had the call, and then had a quick next steps recap afterwards, and it was so much smoother than jumping from one Teams meeting to another.

          Also, I think there’s an undercounting of how many jobs involve STUFF. Like, I try to have a paperless practice, but I cannot change the US banking industry and county-specific recording policies. I deal with a lot of paper and would rather have the big scanner/printer and FedEx supplies at the office and not have to deal with keeping up with it at home. I know a bunch of people who either literally can’t take their work home or would prefer not to.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            That’s great if everyone else has the same idea and perspective. But a lot of offices don’t and there’s no point in being the only person going in if your goal is collaboration. I go into the office and have to Zoom to talk to anyone anyway because it’s nothing but empty cubes and offices as far as the eye can see.

            1. CTT*

              Agreed, we should be welcoming multiple perspectives on this and allowing flexibility! I’m saying this in the context of a response to someone stating that no one they no wants to work from home and offering another perspective. My office doesn’t have a strict in-office mandate (other than a twice a month in-office day), but people are coming in voluntarily.

              1. Sloanicota*

                Yeah it’s not always just about collaboration. Sometimes the workspace is better set up for what you’re trying to do because there’s equipment, secure internet, whatever.

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Yup. My current job can easily be done from home, but my previous job there were real uses for being able to run things in a physical computer lab and watch what was going on directly – not through remoting software unless I also had about five computers at home to remote in with so I could watch multiple things at once. If I’d still been there when covid started, the lock-down would have been a professional pain, and I’d have been glad to get back again.

                2. Too Many Tabs Open*

                  Yes. I love having days where I can work at home, but even during lockdown when we were fully remote, I went into the office a couple times a month for tasks that needed the much higher internet speed than my home service supplies.

          2. DisgruntledPelican*

            omg yes to the stuff!!! I worked in office full time until the pandemic and then was full time remote for almost a year and a half. Now I’m back to at least three days a week in the office. The day I finally got all of the work shit that had accumulated in my small apartment over that first year and half back to the office (which, for someone who doesn’t drive took quite some time), I cried. Suddenly I could breathe in my house again.

        2. eisa*

          Count me as one of these people.
          Recently, I was forced to WFH for two weeks due to circumstances outside my control, and hoo boy, was I glad to be able to work at the office again.

          FWIW, I’m in IT, my job and my colleagues’ jobs can fully be done from home (well, except for the hardware guys..) The company allows 60 % WFH.

          Most of us like to take WHF now and then when it is convenient or necessary due to private stuff, but there are a few people whom nothing short of a Covid quarantine can keep away from the office ;-)

          I am not thrilled about the mindset “You prefer in-person to WFH ? You must live in a shitty home or be a sad lonely person without friends or family.”
          My home is fine (not great for WFH, but good enough), I do not live alone, I have friends. Some of them are even at work (crazy, right?)
          Okay, they are “work friends”, not quite of the same status, but still, I like to see them.

          1. Looper*

            I second your stance on this! If I were to go back to office work, I’d prefer to work in-office the majority of the time. I don’t want to associate my home space with work, I like to get out of my house frequently, I prefer the clear division of work and non-work time, and like to see the people I work with. I fully support WFH and giving employees what they need to succeed. But wow, people really can’t seem to accept that not everyone wants to work remotely!

            1. Sloanicota*

              If I hadn’t gotten a pandemic dog, I think 2 days a week in office would be the ideal, but only if at least some of my coworkers were there those days, and the hours were a bit soft (which in my workplace they always are – fine to come a bit late and stay late or leave early etc, since most of us check email in the evenings too). With the dog though it’s better for me to be fully remote.

            2. I have RBF*

              IMO, I can accept that some folks don’t want to work remotely. What I can’t accept is people deciding that I shouldn’t work remotely.

              I don’t look down on folks who like going in to the office. I can even understand that some jobs work better that way, and other jobs actually require in-office full time. When I was doing chem lab work, I would have looked at you like you sprouted bug eyes and antennae suddenly if you suggested that I WFH. Fume hoods and analytic instruments are not very portable.

              But when people imply that WFH in my current job is an unearned privilege, I get a bit irked. I worked hard to get to where I am.

              1. Allonge*

                So – I have seen this ‘don’t you imply it’s a privilege!’ attitude here and I am always a bit puzzled. Privilege is not a dirty word.

                WFH – to me – is a privilege because it is desirable for many but only achievable by some. That does not mean that if you have a job that allows WFH you got it (the job) without any effort, that it’s unearned!

                1. margaret*

                  As others upthread have made clear, they don’t see WFH as beneficial, meaning it’s not an inherent privilege for anyone. It’s a different modality of working that works better for some and not for others.

                2. Allonge*

                  And some people don’t see being white as beneficial or having a degree as beneficial. People who won the lottery find it a curse. Having these things are still, by and large, likely to give you an advantage.

                  Also: people who don’t want to work from home all the time still in most cases appreciate the flexibility / ability to do so. I think it’s difficult to argue that the option itself is not a privilege.

          2. umami*

            One of the biggest issues I had with WFH was the constant lawn care happening in my neighborhood! I swear there was a crew out every day at someone’s house, and so many of my meetings were interrupted by weed trimming and leaf-blowing. It was incredibly annoying. I had no idea my next door neighbor was so devoted to his yard.

          3. Prospect Gone Bad*

            It’s so nice to have a place to escape to. Sometimes it just gets boring here. Other time, there is construction noise or drilling or leaf blowers constantly, so I escape to the office.

            1. I have RBF*

              Heh. I have neighbors with leaf blowers and an active train line running behind my house. I just mute my Zoom when those are going on. Otherwise, I’m used to them as background noise. Actual conversations are much more distracting to me.

        3. AcademiaNut*

          I do a job that involves sitting in front of a computer most of the time, plus international collaborations (my Zoom usage didn’t actually increase during the pandemic), and my preferred setup is one flexible day a week at home, the rest in the office.

          I found that work from home was okay for task based work, but for the more creative stuff, in person chats and casual conversations with people I don’t directly work with make a big difference. We had a relatively short work from home period, and most of my colleagues were glad to transition back to being in the office most of the time.

        4. alienor*

          I wouldn’t mind collaborating in person with my two or three closest colleagues. I like them, and we work well together. If we could meet up, talk through things, and then go home when we were done, that would be perfect.

          The problem is, once you’re in the office you’re trapped there for the whole day, subject to the scrutiny of “optics” and the whims of any old person who feels like coming up and interrupting. If I’m at home and need to get something finished, I can set Teams to Do Not Disturb and decline any random meeting requests that come my way, but when I worked in an office, if I declined someone’s meeting I knew they could see me at my desk (open office, glass walls) and judge whether I was really busy or not. That’s the struggle.

          1. I have RBF*

            That’s what I hated about being in-office in an open plan – people would decide for me whether I was “really” busy or not.

            When I had an office I could close my door for heads-down work, but that job moved us all to an open plan that just plain sucked. Then they did layoffs for Covid.

            My current job I was hired fully remote. There isn’t even an office in my area.

            There were places that I applied to work remotely that said “Oh, no, you’re local, you would have to come in to the office three days a week.” I noped out of that, since one of my housemates is immune compromised, and all five of us are over 60.

        5. Piscera*

          And some things aren’t as easily figured out remotely, versus in-person.

          At a past employer there’s one senior professional, Lee, who ticks off every junior professional who ever works with them. Lee always shuffles work onto other people, and is allowed to get away with it.

          I wonder if the young professionals coming onboard during and post-pandemic lockdown, have figured Lee out yet.

          1. I have RBF*


            We have a guy like that, even though we are remote. It’s real easy to see that he’s not as organized as we would like, is hard to get hold of, and does things half-assed. Even though we are all remote, it’s really, really obvious that something doesn’t add up.

      3. Myrin*

        I’m not Goldie but I’m one of these people who would hate to work even one regular day at home and I’m glad my job really isn’t made for it – I’m an archivist and work in the city hall (so, local government) where, well, the city’s archives are located. Seeing how I spend a considerable amound of time in the archives themselves, it would be very hard for me to work from home. I could probably arrange it so that all of my computer-/writing-heavy tasks could be done on one specific day but honestly, that would require much more planning than I’m willing to do when I can instead just do it whenever because I’m in my office all the time anyway.
        Additionally, it’s just about “the stuff”, as another comment calls it, for me – I regularly work with historical books, big data sets that are located on external harddrives, specialised computer programmes, paper files, and more. And sure, the digital stuff could be put on a company laptop but it’s so intervowen with the actual physical things I need that that alone would really only help me regarding a fraction of the things I’m working on.

        Interestingly, my coworkers in the finance, construction, and administration departments aren’t tethered to their physical workstations nearly as much as I am and yet of the 74 or so people working here, I know of only one who permanently works from home three days a week and there’s one woman who I know exists from the nameplate by her door but who I don’t think I’ve ever seen IRL so possibly she’s also remote but everyone else I see basically every day.
        There is a general flexibility – a few months ago, a coworker who was feeling under the weather and took half a WFH day where she answered emails and phone calls from her sofa, and just last month my best buddy at work WFH an entire day because his mum was sick and he looked after her – but the general preference is definitely in-office.

        I honestly can’t tell you why that is.
        For me, apart from the practical reasons I already mentioned, I like the clear, “visual” separation between work and home, I like the routine going in to work brings me, I like interacting with my coworkers, and I know that I wouldn’t be able to concentrate half as much if I worked from home.

        For my coworkers, it’s probably the camaraderie (I’m actually one of the few who has an office of her own and generally, office mates seem to be getting along really well here) and ease of use/having everything together in one place from the get-go, having to personally deal with the population, and just a general feeling of “this is my workplace where I come to work” (that last part is something I’ve heard several people say).
        Add to that that I’m not in the US and that pre-pandemic, WFH was basically unheard of here so it doesn’t really have a cultural “anchor” in any way and, well, that’s the list of contributing factors you get.

      4. ursula*

        It’s a small, anecdotal data point, but my friends with young kids are pretty desperate for some quiet, productive time in an adults-only environment. They missed the office terribly. It’s not my situation, but I definitely get it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          I don’t have kids but I hear this one from the office parents a lot too

        2. Miscellaneous*

          This is interesting because all my coworkers with kids (and me, I have one) love WFH because cutting out the commute gives them more time with their kids. Everyone is in a dual income house with full time childcare though.

        3. Goldie*

          I actually think some of my aversion to WFH is that it was so difficult trying to work and keep my kids engaged with zoom school that I have bad associations with working from home. I have had hybrid jobs before and frequently work at night or on the weekends. But remembering those tough months is traumatizing for me.

      5. metadata minion*

        I’m an academic library cataloger, and aside from the fact that a lot of my job physically can’t be done from home, I like the structure and separation of working in the office. It’s nice to have the option to occasionally work from home, but I actively prefer in-person work. I like having other people around even if we aren’t directly interacting, and I particularly appreciate being able to see people in other departments.

      6. Hlao-roo*

        Not Goldie, but most of my friends and family (as well as myself) are working on site most days. Industry and roles:

        Engineer in a manufacturing environment–worked from home for most of 2020 and 2021, now working mostly on site (with occasional WFH day, ~1/month). Lives alone, works in office both for social and job-related reasons.

        Software engineer–worked from home for most of 2020, now working mostly on site with occasional WFH day. Lives with partner, in office by preference.

        Physical therapist–worked on site during pandemic, still working on site today.

        Office worker for state government–worked from home during 2020, government-mandated return to office in 2021. Has flexibility to occasionally work from home.

        Just a sampling to show that in jobs that run the spectrum from “must work on site” to “good candidate for hybrid job” to “good candidate for fully remote job,” most of the people I know are on site for reasons that include: job can’t be done remotely, employer has mandated return-to-office, and employee can choose and prefers to work on site. (I do also know a few people who have continued working mostly remote, but not as many as people who work mostly on site.)

      7. Flowers*

        Or maybe people don’t tell you they prefer to work in office considering how you’re kinda judgemental about it.

        Seriously people would only want to work in office because they’re sad lonely people in small spaces? Yikes.

      8. umami*

        I prefer working in the office because there is a much clearer line between work and home life. The little bit of time we had WFH in 2020, it seemed that the days never ended. Once we were back to a more normal schedule, my evenings and weekends freed back up. Plus, it was difficult to get work done being home with the dogs lol.

      9. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Millenial here, with mostly a sub gen X office – everyone in my office pushed to come back in person at least some of the time…except one of the boomers. The workforce voted on 3 days in office 2 WFH, a lot of people come in five days. Major east coast city, the office isn’t necessarily quieter than people’s homes and almost no one lives alone.

      10. Observer*

        The only people I know who want to work in the office even 1 or 2 days a week either live alone and are using the office as social interaction, or they do not have an appropriate office space at home or have construction noise next door.

        This sounds as though those people are extreme outliers. But they are not.

        But also, I and many other people I know don’t want to WFH full time. I have a very good set up and no noise to speak of. But I still find full time WFH isolating.

      11. Andrew*

        I *really* don’t love the implication in this comment that everyone who prefers to work from the office is using it as some kind of subpar crutch, either social (because they live alone and are “using” the office as social interaction) or physical (because they have a bad home space).

        I work for a company that has a 100% flexible policy, but has offices, and where there is no apparent penalty for being remote — i.e. I’ve seen individuals being promoted that never come into the office. My role (analytics/data analysis) is also one that can be done 100% remotely, and I handle very few physical items — i.e. no mail sorting, confidential documents, lab samples, etc. I sit in front of a computer all day.

        The two main reasons I like working from the office:

        – Mental separation between home and office. This is probably the biggest one. I LOVE the feeling of coming home and being like “now I’m home, I will not think about work until I am at the office tomorrow again.” It may be unintuitive but this is particularly true on days when I work late — I’d prefer to be in a work environment, rather than at home

        – Better concentration and productivity. Yes, I’m 100% on board that it’s unfair to across-the-board accuse individuals of being less productive at home with no evidence. However, I know that **I** personally am less productive at home, so when I’m in the office . (I am in fact writing this at home, which is not a coincidence!)

        I also have a nice office (well stocked with snacks, nice lighting, etc.) but I realize that’s not going to be true for everyone.

        In general, I’m pretty resentful of the opinion that is often expressed by people who love full-time WFH that people who prefer to work from the office are extreme outliers or are only forced into doing so by their circumstances. Why is it so hard to believe that some of us actually have this preference, not because we’re sad lonely people living in shitty apartments, but because we know we work better in a dedicated office?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          “physical (because they have a bad home space)”

          This one also really stands out to me because “we will provide space to do your job” is such a standard thing in the majority of jobs? Like it’s great if you have a home office but that’s a personal expense. So many people spent COVID at their kitchen tables or trying to share space with their spouses because “I need to do my job here” is not the thing a majority of people think about when considering living space. Some people, sure, and most people in some fields, but it’s never been a norm or expectation before now.

        2. Esmae*

          I LOVE the feeling of coming home and being like “now I’m home, I will not think about work until I am at the office tomorrow again.”

          Yes! My current job can’t be done remotely, but even if it could, I like my work space and my home space to be separate. I like not thinking about work at all when I’m not in my work space. Working from home on a regular basis wouldn’t work for me at all, and it’s not because I’m lonely or relying on my coworkers for human interaction.

      12. Decidedly Me*

        This isn’t true at all – there are people from all sorts of situations that have preferences for in office work.

        My partner works 3 days/week in office by choice – he’s a software engineer with a home office, lives with me, and has an active social life outside of our relationship. Most of his coworkers work a similar 3/2 split and include other software engineers, artists, designers, and more. Most of the roles at the company could be full remote and the company isn’t requiring people in office.

        My company is full remote and we’ve had multiple people leave specifically because they wanted in office work. One was in sales, married, and very social. Another was in marketing, married, and had a home office. Not sure about the other factors for these two specifically.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          My partner is too is a software engineer and has a mandatory 2/3 hybrid, with 2 days in the office. He loves it. He likes face to face collaboration, seeing colleagues, hell, even going out to lunch with coworkers. Sometimes he has more office days if there are some workshops, interviews, or some other stuff.
          He has a dedicated work space at home, it’s nice and quiet, he is not an anti-social loner, we don’t have kids as distraction. He just likes having those 2 days in the office.
          I am full WFH and I love it. I also love when he has office days, lol, even though we work on different floors of the house.

      13. spiriferida*

        I have a very nice house, very nice housemates, a very decent space to set up for work. I deeply dislike my commuting process, and the time it steals from my day. If I chose to, I could probably transition to the kind of role that could be done almost entirely remotely.

        I work in a college setting, personally, and have purposefully gotten a career in jobs that require me to be in physical places, working with Stuff, as other commenters have put it. (and a side note, but I think the commenters on this site tend to underestimate just how many jobs out there work with Stuff or need to be physically in person.)

        I’d still go in to work even if my job didn’t require it from me, because know myself and I know the absolute spiral I would fall down if I didn’t have to regularly get dressed and leave my house. Routine and external motivation are huge drivers of self-care for me, and WFH would tank my ability to do that. I do need and appreciate some flexibility, but I don’t need to work from home to be given that.

      14. SchuylerSeestra*

        Not the OP, but as a recruiter I’ve come across this in Sales Recruitment. My company is remote but does have two offices. A lot of sales candidates were very excited at the prospect of being able to work hybrid. A few mentioned they were specifically looking for companies with physical offices.

        Sales is inherently people person role. Not necessarily just for extroverts, but a lot of reps really thrive in a space where they can collaborate with colleagues in person.

        I’m fully remote and do not work in city where out headquarters are located. I have visited a few times and I do miss occasional in person work. YMMV

    4. allathian*

      Yeah, I work for the government in Finland and my agency has been really good about WFH.

      I quite enjoy going to the office about once a week, as we’ve been asked (but not mandated) to do. It’s definitely easier to onboard new employees. Our team’s increased from about 12 people to 20+ during the pandemic, and a few have retired or left for other opportunities as well, so only about a handful of my team’s old employees who’ve been here for longer than 3 years. Currently we’re hiring, before the summer we should be onboarding 3 new employees… That’s going to be easier now that we’re hybrid rather than 100% remote.

      I also quite enjoy the spontaneous networking with coworkers that I don’t work with regularly and don’t see in Teams meetings. I’m also lucky in that my manager sees the value in socializing for its own sake and for community building, so she doesn’t mind if we take longer coffee breaks during the day. When I WFH, I typically drink coffee at my desk while working (or reading AAM) and only take my unpaid mandatory lunch break during the day.

    5. Lisa*

      I work in the legal system, and we have been fully in-person since Spring 2021. There’s not a lot we can do via Zoom (jury trials!).

      1. Avery*

        Must depend on the local area and/or the type of law. Out here we’ve still got Zoom court most of the time, but then my field of law doesn’t have jury trials, it’s mostly just hearings with the judge and opposing counsel.

    6. Eldritch Office Worker*

      This aligns with my experience as well. My BIL is the only one I know who works from home full time (and it drives him nuts, to be honest).

      1. RussianInTexas*

        My entire department of 3 is fully WFH, but most of my company isn’t.
        Most of my friends, all white collar office people, went fully back in person in 2021.

  7. G. Wright*

    As a hiring manager I would absolutely want to know if my state’s political climate was losing me employees. That’s how political pressure builds.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      That’s how we got our current office boss, he was also fleeing from academia in Florida. We totally understood.

    2. Cj*

      but they aren’t asking about telling their current employer (such as in an exit interview), they are asking about what to say to potential employers in other states.

      1. combobulate*

        I encouraged our blue state workplace leadership to highlight abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control regulations, etc. in recruiting and would be glad to know we’re offering safety to a potential hire. I would be reassured that they are going to stay here and not go back to an oppressive state.

    3. Fierce Jindo*

      Universities in Florida are well aware of the situation and its ramifications for hiring and retention.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’m sure the Gov is also very pleased about it as he has no commitment to higher education or knowledge in general and can have these people replaced with graduates of religious diploma mills. Win-win.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Higher education works against the goals of the religious right, as they want people who follow blindly without thinking.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        It’s kind of like when high-level people in the Trump administration relocated a bunch of positions for people working in the Department of the Interior or parks service or environmental protection or forestry to places that were super inconvenient or expensive or whatever … the attrition as experienced dedicated employees “Noped out” and resigned was a feature, not a bug.

        1. I have RBF*

          IMO, in five years no one will want to hire anyone with a Florida public university degree, except for maybe other red-state religious employers.

      3. tamarack, rack rack*

        I just saw a strongly DEI-focussed faculty job opening in Florida in my general field flutter across my jobs mailing list subscriptions and just shook my head.

    4. tamarack, rack rack*

      Yes, for the old and any new potential employers, that’s a message to be telegraphed loud and clear (this sort of thing *does* work in getting ideologically mealy-mouthed, but business-minded powerful people to back off, at least sometimes).

      But I think the OP is talking about new employers in other states. I’d say something like “I’m looking forward to working in a state where higher education has public support”, “where the governor’s office/legislature understands the mission of public higher education” or something similar – if that’s what the state is.

      1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        Yes, I like this! Having worked in higher education, I think this would go over well.

  8. DietCokeDinosaur*

    Just want to remind commenters, especially during Teacher Appreciation Week, that frontline staff including us teachers do not have the option to work remote. For OP 1 I think having the luxury of even one day WFH is an exception to the rule for education, even in higher ed.

    1. KateM*

      My husband has been years in higher education and his work has always been “in person for lectures, work from wherever you want the rest of time”. For example this semester it means Monday and Tuesday at work, Wednesday and Thursday half-days, Friday WFH. During exam time, again, he is required to appear for exams and paper defending but where he works the rest of time (for example grades exams and reads the papers) is his own business. That’s the reason why, when pandemic started, we already had our home office! And why some 15 years ago I worked 20 hours a week with my husband 40 hours a week and still had one parent at home all the time.

      1. KateM*

        Also, from my time as schoolteacher, it was really common (except for those not in elementary education who teach all subjects) to have their lessons on four days and leave one day for WFH, and if working part-time, then lessons on as few weekdays as made sense (because these teachers obviously need those days to work other jobs in other schools). My ten lessons were put on three days without me even asking.

        1. KatCardigans*

          As a counterpoint, I have been working in high school education for ten years and I have never heard of this type of arrangement. We are here all week.

        2. kt*

          If you don’t mind me asking, what country is this in? It’s entirely different from where I am in the US — the schedule is the same every day in elementary, middle, and high school, so there is no possibility of doing what you describe! I know some schools some places have variable schedules….

          1. KateM*

            I’m in Europe. Every day the same schedule? How many subjects do you have? My just-started-school kid has nine subjects – that would make for long school days! As it is, they only have 4-5 lessons each day. Or maybe you don’t have all subjects each month or something like that? We have all subjects (meant for that level) all school year long, just some subjects are five lessons a week and others are maybe only one. And that’s the same for elementary, middle, and high school. In higher education there are semesters, but there, too, is no such thing as all lectures being on all weekdays.

            1. Cyndi*

              It really depends on the school! Some US high schools do fewer, longer class periods in a day, and each subject is for only half the year. My own school day was 8-3:30pm and divided into ten 45-minute increments: 40 minute class periods (8 subjects, lunch, and an extracurricular) plus 5 minutes in between to change rooms.

            2. doreen*

              It’s not always the same schedule every day in the US but it usually doesn’t lend itself to four days a week – at my daughter’s high school they took (I think) 8 classes with 7 periods a day. One class was dropped each day Day A was periods 1-7 , Day B was periods 2-8, Day C was periods 3-8 and then first period. My son’s was a little different – there were a couple of classes where for example gym and another class shared a period. He’d have gym third period every day except Wed when he had health. But other kids in that gym class had health on different days so that the gym teacher had a third period class every day and so did the health teacher.

              Even in schedules I ‘ve seen where there are 4-5 classes per day , the students and teachers would be at school every day. They might have periods 1-4 Mon Wed Fri and 5-8 Tues and Thurs

            3. Modesty Poncho*

              In high school I’d have 8 subjects and do them all every day, yeah. Four in the morning, four in the afternoon. It was a big deal when my high school switched to a rotating schedule so we only had six subjects a day and the periods were longer. But that was still rolling so that you had each class 3-4 days a week, and I don’t think the teachers had few enough classes that they could arrange them all on the same schedule.

            4. Dell*

              Every school is different, but yes, often you switch at least some subjects each term. In middle school I had 7 classes a day and they switched halfway through the year. In high school I had 5 classes a day and the year was divided into thirds.

      2. Clisby*

        Yeah, I was a little surprised at the idea that faculty couldn’t do a lot of their work from home. I only audit college classes now, but I can’t recall any faculty member who was constantly available in-person to students. A professor who teaches 3 classes and schedules 10-12 hours of in-person office hours every week does not need to be on-campus full time.

        1. Grace*

          There’s a lot of work that faculty do beyond teaching and office hours that often does have to be done on campus–committee meetings, promotion and tenure reviews, research/lab work, some smaller school have faculty advisors, etc., etc. I’m not saying they can’t do some WFH, but people would be surprised all the non-teaching things that are required of a faculty position. On my campus, teaching is just 1/3 of the load professors have, and we’re not an r-1 or even r-2 level campus.

          1. Fierce Jindo*

            At my R1, most of that stuff has been moved online since the pandemic. You can be on campus just to teach now, for the most part. (But most of us come in more often because we like seeing each other.)

          2. KateM*

            Depends on the kind of research, I think. My husband’s research group meets once a week for everyone to show off their new results, but mostly everyone tries to prove something new on their own.

    2. Non profit pro*

      Sure, but higher Ed, and all education really, is much more than the frontline teaching staff. The folks doing data entry for the registrar’s office and running mail campaigns for fundraising or who handle purchasing and invoices, none of them should be required to work in person when their positions don’t really call for it.

    3. Bettyboop*

      totally!! I’m a learning support assistant and remote work is a fantasy for me!!

    4. Well...*

      My experience in academia has always been there WFH is perfectly fine. The only thing you have to show up for is meetings and teaching a few hours a week, and since the pandemic, hybrid meetings are the norm (though I’ve always had remote collaborators).

      I, personally, lose all productivity and spiral into depression if I WFH too much, but the freedom to work how I want is one of the perks of staying in academia, when industry pays way more.

      1. amoeba*

        Might also depend on your group though? In science, if you’re a PI, it’s certainly fine to take an occasional WFD day but if you’re supervising people who are working for you in the lab 60 h a week, it would be quite out of touch to not be there and available for them most of the time.

        1. Well...*

          Yes, but again, that’s based on the needs of the work, not top-down policy. And I am a scientist, but I’m a theorist, so no lab needed.

      2. Grace*

        Unfortunately, some campuses are becoming extremely anti-WFH, particularly for staff positions (even ones that could easily be done from home).

        1. I have RBF*

          Yeah, as I’ve heard my former university employer is like that, with employees pushing back on it because of the open plan mess that they shoved us all into pre-pandemic. The non-student facing workforce got two days WFH pre-pandemic, I’m not sure about now.

    5. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

      So, if you can’t have it no else should or should be grateful for any scraps thrown their way? I’m trying to understand the point of this post.

      1. DietCokeDinosaur*

        I know this comment section can sometimes be derailed (like 59 comments about soda yesterday) but my comment was answering the LW’s questions at the end of their letter. Specifically mentioning higher education and my anecdotal experience that many institutions still remain firmly on site and WFH is not as universal as it seems online.

    6. stunning and brave*

      Yes, there are many jobs that cannot work remote. ER doctors, receptionists, cleaning crews…what is the point of this comment?

      1. DietCokeDinosaur*

        The LW cited their industry as higher education, therefore I was specifically speaking towards WFH policies in education. Hopefully the LW also sees that other commenters here also say on-site is common at their institutions. The point of not only my comment but all comments is to add support and additional advice to the LW.

        1. Nonnonymous*

          I’d say that higher education (at least US) is so substantially different than K-12 education that mentioning one in the context of the other isn’t particularly useful, though. It’s like apples and tomatoes — both fall under “fruit,” but are completely different.

    7. JB*

      Counterpoint – I work in higher ed administration and my department has been great about advocating for us to have WFH flexibility. 2 days out, 3 days in during the academic year, and 3 days out, 2 days in during the summer. Other departments who have the ability to be flexible, have not been. In my opinion, WFH flexibility is such a low-stakes benefit that higher ed needs to offer whenever possible if higher salaries are off the table, since it seems that many institutions are hemorrhaging talented staff as it is.

  9. nnn*

    One thing #4 could do on a broader level is talk to new hires about general best practices for online presence in a public sector job that’s stricter about drug use (and probably other things) than the laws applying to the general population.

    For example, “It’s best not to identify yourself as a public employee online, because there are always people out there looking to gotcha public employees.” Nothing specific to this employee’s dating profile, just general guidance that you’d give to someone who may not have been subject to these kinds of rules before.

    1. sookie st james*

      This is a good point – I don’t know if OP4 is in a position to implement this is their company, but in general I baulk at the idea of potentially disciplining an employee over behaviour that they haven’t been explicitly told is frowned upon.

      Some of us may think it’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t include mentions of drug use and your employer in the same breath online, or think that the new hire really should put two and two together after the drug testing, but professional norms aren’t always clear to people.

      A LOT of people think of their social media/dating profile world as totally separate from their professional one and not even consider that their profile could be screenshot and sent to their bosses or coworkers. Plus, let’s remember they’re in a place where weed is legal, so I think we have to give them even more benefit of the doubt that they haven’t considered this is something they could get in trouble for. They’re not mentioning illegal activity, so regardless of your feelings about drugs, it’s not so different from including your love of drinking wine in your profile.

      A policy about appropriate social media use and identifying yourself as a member of the company (which also outlines repercussions for violations) should be established and shared explicitly before we can hold people to expectations that are, at this point, only implied.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      This is reasonable, but at the same time, this new employee apparently knew enough about the drug testing having just gone through it to both update her dating profile with the new job and NOT remove the weed stuff. It’d be one thing if the profile were spotted by someone who knew her and it DIDN’T list the new employer – then it might be a sitch of “well she hasn’t touched that profile in a while”, but she went through the whole process AND updated her profile with the new employer. So she doesn’t seem great at putting two and two together. Or she doesn’t care.

  10. Aggretsuko*

    #1: My office has actually KEPT hybrid. They insist on my area of the office being so, I think everyone else is allowed to work from home all or almost all of the time except for the occasional in-person staff meeting. But yes, hybrid and WFH is definitely dying out with mandatory returns to the office :( The last job I applied for made it sound like a big treat that I could work one day from home…after six months…using my own personal computer in an industry with a lot of security that should not be doing that. Ridiculous. I fear if I even could get another job, WFH will never be an option again.

    2. I have been written up for not saying “Good morning.” I despise “Good morning” because I am one of the few night owls, I am NOT HAVING A GOOD MORNING even if you wish it to me, and I’d rather just wave or say hi to people and not be brimming with fake perkiness. They spelled out wanting “GOOD MORNING,” too. God. It’s too much.

    1. eisa*

      When a family member emerges from the bedroom bleary-eyed at 11:30 a.m., we say “good midnight!” (declining the word “good” so it aligns with “morning” .. different language)

      1. Silver Robin*

        hahaha that is cute I never thought about doing wordplay with declensions like that!

    2. Moo*

      I like to go with “morning!” because people hear “good morning” but I’m just saying “it is morning”

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        I sign off my emails with “Regards,” similarly not indicating what kind of regards they are.

        1. Miette*

          LOL I use “Best,” but they don’t know if i mean “Best wishes” or “Best stay out of my way”

          1. ferrina*

            I also like best! I could mean “best wishes” or I could mean “I’m the best”.

    3. Antiqueight*

      I regularly just say “Morning” and let people assume the good which, as another night owl, is very much not there…I may mutter it in such a way they would struggle to be sure I hadn’t actually SAID the good.

    4. Need Coffee*

      But that phrase means “I am wishing a good morning to you, ” not “I’m having a good morning.” Having said that…THEY WROTE YOU UP? That just sucks.

      1. Gandalf*

        Or do you mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?

      2. DataSci*

        It’s a meaningless greeting, like “How are you?”. Or it means “This is the first time we have interacted today, and it is morning for at least one of us”. I’ve learned not to overthink it.

      3. Aggretsuko*

        They write me up for EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN. Last week I got written up for closing the blinds. I do not touch the blinds, but them being horizontal now counts as “closed” if it’s me.

        1. I have RBF*

          You need to find a new gig that isn’t full of bees, IMO. Hope things work out better for you soon.

    5. eisa*

      In Garfield’s words “What can be good about a morning that starts with getting up ??”

    6. As If*

      I was once given a talking-to by my boss for not saying good morning when I arrived at the office. It was sort of a railroad-style layout, and my space was all the way at the back, so I walked down a hallway lined with offices on one side (the other side was a conference room).

      Apparently the people in these offices felt slighted that I (an intern! I was not an important figure there) wasn’t saying good morning to them, to the point that someone complained to my boss about it. I’m not a morning person, and didn’t want to interrupt people who were quietly working. And I thought it would be weird and annoying for everyone to have to hear me saying “good morning! good morning!” as I passed each office.

      I did start giving greetings and I didn’t hear anything else about it for the rest of my internship. I still think it was silly and my boss should have shut down the complaints, though.

    7. slashgirl*

      They wrote you up? That’s dumb, I’m sorry but it is.

      They’d be writing me up a lot as I will say “Morning” to folks but never good morning. Because if it WERE a good morning, I would still be home in bed, not at work.

      I used to have a key chain that said, “Not a morning person doesn’t even BEGIN to cover it.”

    8. I have RBF*

      I got fired from one temp job because I did not religiously say “Good morning” to my office mates. Even if they weren’t there yet. Even if I hadn’t had coffee yet.

      I am also a night owl, and am absolutely NOT perky in the morning, but they thought I should be. I was glad to be away from that nightmare.

  11. Fierce Jindo*

    I’m in higher ed and I have a slightly different take on #2. Everyone understands that people in Florida are trying to go elsewhere now and everyone is highly sympathetic to the reasons why—no matter how they vote or what their politics are in general. We’re also used to being in a national market where people go to the one place they get an offer even if they have no ties there, just like LW #2 apparently did when moving to their current job. So it’s actually extremely fine to say, “Higher ed is changing in my state in ways that make me worry the university won’t be a stable place for good jobs” or whatever, and no one would expect you to have a “better” answer than that.

    One dynamic you may wish to watch out for, though, is that some people will want to spend your whole interview talking about this. It’s not a bad thing to talk about, but make sure it doesn’t so dominate your meetings that you don’t get to share your work, etc. In your shoes I’d spend some time thinking about things to say in “what is it like there now? What will happen next?” conversations (which many will want to have) that give them a clear picture of what kind of colleague YOU are.

    1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      I also wouldn’t bat an eye if someone said something like “I moved to X for this job, but found the culture of the city/state wasn’t a great fit for my family. What I’m really excited about NEW CITY is Y”

    2. Well...*

      This is freaking me out. I recently got hired in a red state that’s pulling this stuff. I’m getting nervous about what I’m walking into.

      Some reasons I’ve talked myself into going (not that faculty jobs grow on trees and I had tons of options) are that it’s going to be on the front lines for DEI, where really important work needs to be done. I also think it’s and interesting challenge to have to change up my organizing strategies to be more guerrilla. And I’m getting a bit burned out by the cynical participation in DEI as it’s become more mainstream…people dgaf, they just want the gold star on their CV. Plus I have the privilege of being in a field that can throw its weight around, so I doubt they’ll come for me first.

      But maybe this is too naive…

      1. eisa*

        Very interesting take. I think it’s great of you to go join the resistance, so to speak, and that you want to do your work where it is hard and much needed instead of where .. like you said.
        All the best for your guerilla activities :-)

      2. metadata minion*

        Honestly, if you’re up for that sort of challenge, it’s work that desperately needs doing.

      3. deesse877*

        I respect your commitment, but this sounds like you’re attempting to create an individual solution to an institutional problem. Those don’t work, in my experience.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I don’t think it’s exactly that, because Well… is talking about holding a position with a lot of power. “Individual solution rather than institutional” is usually for when you don’t have power within/over the institution– the extent to which you as a consumer can change the market, for example. Whereas thinking about how you push for and achieve change within an institution is being part of the institutional change.

        2. Well...*

          What do you mean? I’m not out here trying to give students strategies to self-care their way through being discriminated against. I’m interested in changing up my organizing tactics so they aren’t using buzzwords that have been reappropriated by authorities/not leave a paper trail/out of the reach of government monitoring. I may have to say goodbye to department EDI committees and go back to having the informal organizing groups I used during my PhD, when my department didn’t know or care about EDI. Those groups were pretty productive.

          Solutions to institutional problems definitely do not need to mirror the institutions themselves.

    3. Blackcat*

      Yeah, no one is judging people for trying to leave states that are dismantling tenure. None. Even folks in different roles are leaving because of the overall hostile attitude towards higher ed in those states.

      If anything, other institutions that will continue to have tenure, be in places than trans people can go to the bathroom unthreatened, etc, are viewing this as an opportunity for their institutions. I am personally pushing one of the higher ups at my institution to move up timelines for replacing people who plan to retire to take advantage of how many people want to relocate.

      Applicants from Florida, Texas, Tennessee, etc are viewed as more likely to accept an offer. If anything, it’s to their advantage.

      1. Blackcat*

        Also I say this as someone at a *non-US* university. A VP referred to it as “business opportunity for universities worldwide.”

        I find to gross to talk about the dismantling of higher ed where 50+ million people live as “a business opportunity” but that’s where we are.

        1. KatieP*

          I work in higher ed in Texas. We’ve lost faculty candidates – very good ones that my institution wanted very badly – over this nonsense. It’s gross and sad, and also probably accurate, to label it an opportunity for universities outside Texas and Florida.

    4. amoeba*

      Yup for the national market. Honestly, if you’re applying for any kind of research/tenure position, I’d actually avoid focusing too much (or at all) on why that particular area would appeal to you outside of work. People expect mobility, at the very least nationwide (here in Europe definitely international as well). So I’ve always avoided stating family reasons or something else about the area, as it feels to me like “oh well, guess she doesn’t really want the position but only a way to move to x area!”

      1. Consuela*

        Yes, this! Might help to think of the rhetorical/social difference between reasons you’re moving away *from* a place and reasons you’re moving *to* a place. I can see mentioning the awful state by way of explaining to the hiring committee why you’re leaving your current job job — esp if you like the job, it’s a good job, it’s a hard-to-get job (like tenure-track professor), part of the national market, etc. At the same time, I think your case for hiring you into the new job should pivot hard away from geography/location (ie no “moving closer to friends and family”) and instead focus on reasons they should give me the job (I’m qualified and kick ass) rather than reasons I want the job (to escape hell). Any comment about the future location would be deployed solely to reassure the hiring committee that the location won’t keep you from accepting the job (and *not* mentioned as a reason for moving). There’s a little paradox: location is the catalyst, but it shouldn’t be the goal. The narrative I’d use is, The awfulness of current state drove me to look when I wouldn’t have otherwise, and wow, I found you — I’m so glad I was looking.

        1. Blackcat*

          I actually think the first bit of that last sentence only needs to be addressed if it’s directly asked.
          I was recently on a search panel/committee. 2 years into a tenure track job in FL or TX? Also female? Yeah, we know why you’re on the market. Focusing on fit is always important, regardless of why you are looking. We could pretty easily tell the difference between “I started looking because my state is blowing up tenure and I got to GTFO, but now I’m looking I think I could be really happy at your institution” and “I started looking because my state is blowing up tenure and I got to GTFO, so I’m literally applying to every available job in my field in more liberal places.” The first type of applicants had tailored, focused cover letters, research statements connecting to what we do, etc. And they had generally spoken to people in our department in advance of applying. The second type focused on how awesome *they* were, and much less (if anything at all) about us. The second type did not get interviews.

          1. Smithy*

            I’m not in academia at all, but at the very beginning of COVID, I was part of an interview process that was first put on pause and then resumed.

            Technically, I’m not sure there was an official need for another interview but more so to touch base and see if candidates were still open, share that the process was resuming, etc. Well, if there had ever been an indication that I was not mentally/emotionally ready for a new job – the general “how are you” questions….mine resulted in about a 45 minute conversation. When the conversation finally shifted into the rest of the interview, it was a shock to me that there would be real questions and how much I’d talked about myself and COVID.

            I understand why it happened, and genuinely would not have been ready for a new job at that moment. But I just share this as an example of a genuinely empathetic and interested hiring manager where I ended up diverted from talking about myself the professional candidate.

        2. Lils*

          I work in higher ed, I used this phrasing to escape from Texas last year and it worked for me. After I arrived and made friends, I talked with colleagues about the conditions on the ground in Texas so everyone will stay aware of what’s going on. Everyone needs to be aware of what’s happening (and how to help, if possible) but it doesn’t really need to be an interview or cover letter topic. Best of luck, OP3.

    5. Robecita*

      I’m in higher ed and I agree that we all recognize why someone would want to get out of certain states, even regardless of their personal politics (funding cuts, erosion of tenure if applicable, instability, etc) so I think it wouldn’t be a problem to mention. I’d try to mention it in a positive way though, as in “I am excited about working somewhere that is committed to academic freedom/funding programs in the humanities/etc” so the conversation stays on the potential job opportunity. As someone in a region of the US often regarded as less desirable (rural Appalachia-adjacent mid- South) some words on why the location would be somewhere a candidate might be interested in staying rather than a slightly less distasteful stopping point on the road to the next job can’t hurt. So, closer to family/friends, excited for opportunity to live in a small town or enjoy outdoor recreation, etc.

    6. Linda*

      I recently left a difficult, deep red state (not Texas or Florida, but another one that you see on the CV and have no doubts about why the candidate is on the market). Everywhere I interviewed only wanted to know why I was interested in working for them and what my career goals were. It was almost disappointing how uninterested they were in my dissatisfaction with the situation I was leaving.

      1. Riot Grrrl*

        Right. Sounds like they were doing their job. Hiring managers are not there to be anyone’s career counselor or personal therapist. They want to know what you can do for them as a business, not what your personal traumas are. And that’s not just about politics. That also applies to your former boss’s shenanigans or the fact that your old location has crappy weather. None of that is relevant to them.

        (BTW, I don’t mean you specifically, Linda. Just saying “you” in general.)

        1. Fierce Jindo*

          I’m guessing you’re not in higher ed. No, I don’t want to know about people’s “personal traumas,” but neither is it true that what’s happening to universities in red states, or how employees are experiencing that, isn’t relevant to me. People often want to talk about this because it is a tremendous shift happening in our industry that is, in fact, incredibly relevant to all of us. And yes, it can detract from other goals of an interview (because the main goal is to get a good hire even though an additional, genuine, legitimate goal is the exchange of information about the field and its different departments that happens on both sides on interviews) and candidates do need to watch out for that for their own sakes.

          1. Blackcat*

            Yes, exactly.
            People are looking at what is happening in parts of the US and in the UK as a part of a broader assault on academia that is global. What’s going on in the UK is perhaps less dramatic, but it’s part of the same pattern of devaluing and destabilizing higher educational systems.

            People are legitimately worried that more places are going to suffer the same fate as the globally ranked universities of Turkey under Erdogan. That’s bad! For everyone! Even people who are “unaffected” may see their work suffer as they lose the ability to collaborate in the same way.

    7. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

      This is an excellent point. I have a few friends who are academics and they moved to where the jobs are. None of them had any connections to the area and might not have even visited there before applying. All the more so if you work in a field that is not widely taught. Maybe 50 US universities offer *any* coursework in it at all, let alone degrees. Within those schools, most have a very specific sub-field focus with not a load of crossover with other sub-fields. The only reason you really need to apply for an academic opening is that it matches your background.


      I agree – one sentence about why you are leaving is plenty. We are all used to seeing this – a decade or so ago it was one of the midwestern states that was financially imploding and we all took it for granted we’d see lots of resumes from there. Now it’s the political situation in FL (and for faculty I assume it’s about to be TX as well). In my state we are also seeing lots of K-12 teachers wanting to switch into higher ed right now. It’s more important to articulate why you want to come to our university in particular and what transferable skills you bring (if from K-12) or what excites you about the exact job you are applying for.

  12. Blue collar blues*

    There’s a real bias towards people who work in white collar jobs in the online “career advice space”. This leads to things like working from home and the ethics of working two jobs at once to be frequent discussions even though they’re unrelatable to most working people. I relate to feeling slightly left out of these conversations, because no one ever asks a blue collar worker what their opinion is. There isn’t a forum I’m aware of that discuses the issues tradespeople face. I hang out here because I think the managerial advice is incredibly helpful, and we all have bad coworkers, but it absolutely can start to feel like my working experience is the exception and not the global norm.

    I haven’t figured out why this is, maybe because blue collar workers can’t surf the web at work? Or it’s a natural bias of writers to write about their own work cultures as if they’re similar to the majority of people. But they aren’t, because they aren’t doing manual labor…. They’re writing.

    And that means that the “culture makers” as it were, the people who wrote op-eds and advice columns on work culture are always going to have a fundamental disconnect from blue collar work. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with white collar work (far from it) it just feels a little isolating to read the upteenth article about how everyone has downtime at work where there isn’t anything to do, when that’s not the case for the people who are making a country run. I don’t know I just think it’s a little silly to pretend that the whole world is panicking about AI, but completely ignore the real issues I’m facing (ie if I throw my back out I’m homeless, the gender gaps in blue collar work, the all too common flagrant disregard for OSHA, and the states refusals to enforce it). I’m risking a heck of a lot more than someone in accounting (not that there’s anything wrong with accounting), and I’m making half their salary. But when push comes to shove, you’d notice if me and my coworkers just didn’t come to work one day. And if all the CPAs in a firm walked, the world would keep on spinning.

    I don’t really have a solution to this, I guess I just wanted to tell letter writer one that no, she’s not alone, and that yes, most people still have to go to work in a physical location, it’s an inherent bias of people who write work columns that’s making you think otherwise. (This isn’t a dog at Alison by the way, I think she’s great and her advice is solid.)

    1. Jessica*

      This is indeed a great comment. I think there’s sort of a natural bias in this space toward people who spend their workday in front of a computer, but I would personally LOVE to see more AAM content that was not white-collar-office-based. And I suspect Alison would answer more blue-collar letters if there were more.

    2. Double A*

      An access to a computer during work hours and the downtime to read and post will definitely skew the comments and letters. A Blue Collar AAM would have to run on a different schedule, like allowing work talk on weekends, since a lot of people can’t post during the work day/week, or having some posts go up towards the end of the day if people wanted to comment after regular 9-5 hours.

      Advice columns in general tend to attract certain demographics, though (of which I tick basically every box, so no shade there). And the chattering classes by their nature will have desk jobs and the time, education, and interest in, well… chattering.

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Oh, this is totally true. White collar people can sneak looking at the Internet all day vs. “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” bullshit.

      Sounds like it might be a good idea to have a blue collar job advice column from someone….

    4. ProductionFTW*

      If anyone has a bias against a perceived intellectual differential between blue collar and white collar, I think Blue Collar Blues just put it to rest. Your writing is excellent.

      1. Robin*

        I agree this is a great comment but did you have to phrase it in such a condescending way? Wow.

      2. Nope.*

        That’s a pretty backhanded compliment. You couldn’t just say it was written well? Absolutely no one here was questioning the intellect of blue collar workers.

      3. LilPinkSock*

        Eek. This reminds me of when a former boss told me I was “remarkably well-spoken for a Hispano-Latino girl”.

      4. I should really pick a name*

        I think I get what you’re trying to say, but do you see how your comment comes across as patronizing?

        It’s doubling down on the idea that writing skill is representative of intellect when part of the problem with the bias you’re describing is that skills like writing are valued, why many of the skills associated with blue collar work are not.

    5. Walter Neff*

      Thank you for posting this thoughtful comment. As a lifelong member of the blue collar sector I feel put off sometimes by the perceived entitlement of many of the people who constantly complain here about having to go back to work at the office, even for only 1-2 days per week. I wonder how did these people manage to function at their jobs before WFH became the norm during the pandemic? Didn’t they just go to work like regular folks every day back then or were they always so resistant to going in to the office? I’ve never experienced such problems personally since being an “essential worker” I had no choice or options other than to risk my life and go to work every day during Covid or lose my livelihood. It seems like some people just got used to WFH and figured they’d never have to work on site again, which seems pretty unrealistic in the cases where WFH was never promised or offered as a permanent benefit but only in response to the pandemic shutdowns with the understanding that employees would eventually be expected to return to in person work. And I honestly don’t get why someone would actually move far away or to another state without firm, permanent confirmation that they were never going to have to come back to work at their location. It seems unreasonable to make a move like that and then get pissed off at your employer for having the nerve to expect their employees to come back and resume business as usual. Most of the entitled, privileged complainers here definitely wouldn’t last a week in my field.

      1. anna*

        Some people got approval from their companies to move away, were told they had permanent remote, and then were told to come back in anyway. That’s not entitled, that’s believing what you were told.

      2. WS*

        I don’t know, I work in healthcare so obviously no WFH, but I have worked in back office parts of healthcare and it is frustrating to be told “you have to come and sit at your desk and do your work there for no particular reason”. It’s very different to jobs where obviously you have to go to your workplace. Why should someone spend two hours a day commuting to sit at a computer, if that’s their actual job?

        1. amoeba*

          Yup. I think the problem is employers enforcing rules for no reason and no actual benefit. Even though I’ve had 100% in person jobs (lab…) for most of my career, this is certainly something that would always have annoyed me. If it’s not work from home for you, it might be something else. Not offering any flexibility just because… you don’t want to just isn’t great.

          (And even though nowadays I can, I still don’t like to WFH regularly! But it would still annoy me if my employer decided to take away all flexibility, even though it probably wouldn’t make a great difference in my schedule.)

        2. RabbitRabbit*

          This right here. I used to work with patients, then switched to a desk job in the regulatory/ethics end of things at an academic hospital.

          I commuted over 2 hours a day because I had to. My department went from near-hostile towards the very idea that anyone could WFH (and very begrudgingly granting a day here and there if you had an emergency), to realizing in 2019 that we were already outgrowing our newly-remodeled space with few other options available. Then COVID hit. A couple years ago I had to go in and clean out my desk to accommodate in-person workers who needed desks. A little over a year ago they stopped giving us ‘maybe next calendar/fiscal year we’ll re-evaluate bringing back the full-time WFH people’ to ‘you can WFH indefinitely, you’re doing great at it.’

          I have to go in several times a year for very short periods, basically to update my work laptop and a few other issues. We have some amazing meeting rooms but basically no one is traveling across the building to hold meetings any longer (except for more confidential issues) because of the convenience of Webex/Zoom/Teams, so everyone who is working in-person there has their meetings from their cubes.

          I really like my colleagues but I don’t think their lives would be improved by adding me back into their working space to park my rear in a seat (I had a window desk with a glorious view) for the entire day.

        3. ferrina*

          Exactly. Some jobs require a location by dint of the work, and others don’t. If you don’t have to do your job from a particular place, it’s frustrating to be told you need to spend X time moving to a different spot just to do the thing you could have done from the first spot.

          I’d argue that societally, having the option of remote/hybrid work when feasible can make everyone’s lives easier. Remote/hybrid workers have a degree of flexibility that they can/should use to ease the burden on other professions when they can. I’m WFH, and when my kid gets sick at school, I can usually pick them up within 5 minutes (instead of 45 minutes if I worked in my company’s nearest office). I’m very flexible about when repair professionals come to my house (can’t make it today because an earlier customer ran super late? No problem, tomorrow works fine). My hours are flexible, so if my appointment time starts a little late, no worries- I can easily make up that work time. Plus remote folks are not part of the commute, so the roads are a little clearer.

        4. Tracy Flick*

          Exactly. I think a big part of the problem is the idea of “remote” vs. “in-office” roles rather than “remote” vs. “in-office” tasks.

          I think the burden should be on the employer to justify an in-office requirement, simply because in-office requires the employee to commute to the office, and because employers (seem to) want to hold on to the status quo norm of expecting employees to commute on their own time and at their own expense. I think a lot of employers AND employees would calculate these costs and benefits differently if employers had to pay for commuting.

          But like most jobs can be divided up into “tasks that can easily be accomplished from home,” e.g. “writing a report,” and “tasks that must be accomplished in the office,” e.g. “signing for an equipment delivery.”

          There’s a big mushy middle of convenience, infrastructure investment, value-adds in other areas like inclusion, etc. (I would argue that a lot of these concerns cut both ways. Some students might want to come into an office for a quiet chat, but other students might really prefer anonymous online forms. Some coworkers might love the energy of in-person collaboration, but other coworkers might hate having to step into the mosh pit of sexist microaggressions instead of using async channels where nobody can cut them off mid-sentence.)

          But there’s no reason to define an employee who updates spreadsheets sometimes and meets with walk-in customers other times as an employee whose role is in-office. That’s an employee whose responsibilities include SOME tasks that must be completed in the office. It’s fair and commonsensical to be flexible.

      3. should decide on a name*

        I wonder how did these people manage to function at their jobs before WFH became the norm during the pandemic? Didn’t they just go to work like regular folks every day back then or were they always so resistant to going in to the office?

        I wasn’t able to function. I was essentially a job robot with no quality of life and extremely poor physical and mental health. I was always angry about the insistence on in-office work, as I knew perfectly well that it could be done remotely, and that I worked better remotely, while also still having enough energy to have an actual life outside work.

        1. Heather*

          I’m not trying to be that guy, but nurses are one of the largest job groups in the US, and essentially none of us work from home. It was so irritating during the pandemic to read all the stuff about how isolated and bored people were when they were moved to remote. Millions of us (not just nurses and doctors but millions of other people too) don’t work from home and never will.

        2. green beetle*

          Seconding this. I was unable to work for two years when I first developed my disability. A decade later, I’m dealing with a flare-up as bad as the initial onset and I’ve been able to keep working (well enough to get promoted!) thanks to WFH. I highly sympathize with the blue collar comments, but it’s not like everyone was fine before.

      4. Testerbert*

        From my experience: in the before-times, we all went into the office, accepting the commute and all the baggage of being in the office as par for the course. WFH/remote working was only available for those who were very important, had a very compelling need/reason, or some incident meant we couldn’t safely go to the office. The general messaging handed down from above was that we *HAD* to be in the office to be productive, and setting everyone up for WFH was too expensive/difficult.

        Then the Great Whoopsie happens. Offices are closed, and WFH is widely mandated. Suddenly, companies which claimed it was impossible to operate in such a manner were able to spin up WFH solutions (with some teething problems linked to supply shortages of course) to keep going. Productivity didn’t fall off a cliff, with many businesses reporting higher performance and happier workers. For that workforce, they gained back all the commuting and prep time they’d been spending, plus all the financial costs involved to boot. They also enjoyed much greater flexibility in their work/life balance than they ever had before, all the while seeing that they were just as (if not more) productive as they had been in the office. After having tasted such a ‘good’ experience, they don’t want to go back to the old ways, especially if the rationale for the return is a flawed one. The scales have fallen from their eyes, and they cannot go back to seeing things the way that they used to.

        1. Lucky Meas*

          This. Companies asked in-person workers to sacrifice their health and lives for the company. They asked WFH workers to give up their personal space, demanded we ignore the global pandemic and political strife and be grateful we have a job, gotta keep those numbers up unless you wanna get laid off!

          Workers realized they could do the same work at home and be happier about it. Why would they want to go back in full time if they don’t want to, when there is nothing in it for the worker?

          It is frustrating to see people who can’t or choose not to WFH claim workers are entitled or privileged for pushing back against companies this way. If we want to discuss the treatment of essential workers, how blue collar workers are looked down on and not supported–yes absolutely. But it’s possible to be pro worker meaning we fight for better conditions for blue AND white collar workers. Not all white collar workers are lazy billionaires!

      5. allathian*

        I’m not complaining. I’m gen-X and for about half of my 30+ years in the workforce I’ve worked in person, either at the office or in customer service (retail, food service, call centers), sometimes working more than one job to make ends meet. And no, after 20 years in office jobs, I wouldn’t want to go back to a job that involved serving the public. The vast majority of the customers I encountered were nice or at least neutral, but the horrible ones stay with you.

        The readership of this blog skews white collar, it’s just the way it is.

        People are allowed their own preferences, and just because someone else has it even worse doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to want to change your own circumstances.

        A lot of employees found that they enjoyed WFH and were productive in their jobs. Granted, remote employees require slightly different management skills than those who work in the same office with their manager, but the Covid shutdowns showed that lots of people work very well from home, and many such employees really resent returning to the office because they can’t see any other reason to do so except a butts in seats attitude from management.

        1. allathian*

          Oof, sorry, I’ve worked fully in person until ten years ago, when I got my first laptop and the ability to WFH occasionally. I very rarely took advantage of that until March 2020, when we were all sent home to work. I didn’t have a good home office then, so I mostly worked remotely when my son was a convalescent who couldn’t be sent to school yet, but who didn’t need constant care either.

          I’m quite happy with how things are, and given the technological advances that helped people to WFH effectively, I wouldn’t want to go back to mostly in person and occasional remote work.

        2. Fives*

          I started working retail 30 years ago, where I worked at different stores for about 10 years. I started working on-site in an office 20 years ago. Unlike all of my coworkers, I was also on-site through the first two years of the pandemic and didn’t get to WFH until last summer when I got Covid and could work but was probably contagious. Since then, I’ve been able to have a hybrid schedule, which really works for me. I enjoy working at home (it’s been great for my mental health, which took a nosedive), and I enjoy being in office 2 days per week.

      6. Irish Teacher*

        I think working from home during the pandemic did change the situation for some roles. Before that, work from home may either not have been feasible or people may not have realised that it was feasible, but if a company was mostly work-from-home for 2 years and productivity remained the same or went up, at least after the initial couple of months while the company invested in technology and so on to make it actually work, then it might well seem a bit…like just making rules for the sake of it if the company declares “right, we made a huge profit while you were working from home and actually invested a certain amount of money to ensure we had the tools to do it which we now have available to us, and a lot of people have said they would prefer to continue working from home, but we’re insisting you come back to the office just because ‘we miss you’/for social reasons/work-life balance.”

        I think it’s less about people just getting used to work from home and more about some people working in industries where once they started working from home, they saw that it had benefits both for the company and for employees and therefore figured it made sense to continue. Of course, there are also probably some people who just thought it had benefits for them and didn’t see the bigger picture, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable that people’s opinion might adapt after they had experienced work from home.

        I’m sure most people are able to function in the office, but if they are more productive at home and/or find it allows them to maintain a better work/life balance, then I can see why they would be resistant to going back “just because.” (I am not saying everybody is more productive at home or that everybody has better work/life balance from home. Both of these things are both person and industry specific, but I would imagine most of those who are complaining about return to work at least believe they fall into these categories.)

        I guess I don’t see work from home as a “benefit” exactly. I see it as a different way to work which has pluses and minuses for the employee (no commute so more time at home, depending on the role, there may be opportunities to work the hours that suit you rather than the traditional 9-5, helpful for parents of older children who are too old for childcare but young to be left alone, greater freedom over where one lives, less distractions, some people work better when they have more control over their environment, could benefit people with sensory issues, etc, but also less change to socialise, possible pressure to work longer hours when not having a clear time to leave the office, possible pressure to work when sick, some people might find it hard to organise their time, harder to collaborate with colleagues, etc) and for companies (possibly less costs as a smaller office can be used, meaning less expenses, ability to hire from a wider area, less difficulty hiring if the company is in an expensive area or one which people often don’t want to live in, being cynical, possible people might take less sick days or need time off for life issues but possibly harder to evaluate work, less collaboration, might be harder to on-board new staff when they can’t learn as easily from colleagues, etc).

        I don’t think it’s entitled or privileged to have a preference one way or the other. Now, I agree there are people who have unrealistic expectations and yeah, stuff like moving to a different state without checking that it would be feasible long-term is definitely unwise, but there are valid reasons for wanting to retain work from home and I think it depends on the situation whether it is the employee or the company being unreasonable in these circumstances.

      7. b-reezy*

        “I wonder how did these people manage to function at their jobs before WFH became the norm during the pandemic? Didn’t they just go to work like regular folks every day back then or were they always so resistant to going in to the office?”

        I’m an essential worker who’s worked from home full time since 2019 (different job back then, same company). When I did work in the office, as someone who’s extremely introverted and neurodivergent, I was miserable, exhausted, couldn’t wait to leave every single day. I didn’t then and do not now work with anyone physically located in my city, so me going into the office is 1000% pointless, even for all of the crowing our management is doing about “culture” and “collaboration.” Working from home is so much better for my mental health because I’m not surrounded by strangers, I don’t have to mask, and I’m in a comfortable environment that I can control. I was told I would be WFH permanently and then upper management (in another state) got beat down by the city because no butts in seats = no city taxes/no money being spent, so now they’re walking back and saying we’re required in office twice a week, no exceptions. Except that they closed the office I used to work out of, and even if it was still open, I’d go sit alone all day in a room and do my job the exact same way I do it now–conference calls and emails–and I would be miserable. They have no response when I say, “Okay, you closed X office, where do I go?” except “No exceptions. Talk to your manager.”

      8. umami*

        I tend to agree. Just because an individual believes they can do their job successfully from home doesn’t mean that employees across the company are successfully doing their jobs from home. There does seem to be a lot of whining about why someone should HAVE to go back to work if they’re doing a good job remotely, but it’s a decision a business is making, and business decisions aren’t usually be made to favor individuals. It’s a weird mindset to me to think otherwise. It’s not ‘for no particular reason’ to want consistency in treatment of work groups.

        1. Observer*

          It’s not ‘for no particular reason’ to want consistency in treatment of work groups.

          Sometime it is. And often there are reasons but they are bad reasons. And sometimes even when there are good reasons there are even better reasons to still not be “consistent”. Like, see yesterday’s letter about not paying the lab techs for their weekend work on the marketing table because corporate decided that it would not be “fair” to treat them differently than the (exempt) office manager and doctor.

          1. umami*

            Pay standards are a completely different discussion and governed by laws. Consistency in treatment is just ‘one’ particular reason, not the prevailing reason by any means, but not agreeing with a reason does not mean it is a bad reason. We had faculty who wanted to continue teaching online after COVID because it worked for them, but we were losing student enrollments because THEY wanted access to more face to face classes.

            1. Observer*

              Sure, sometimes the reasons are good. I did not say or imply otherwise. But the simple fact is that there are some not great reasons why organizations want consistency. And some of the are actually illegal.

              Pay standards are a completely different discussion and governed by laws.

              Yes, I know they are governed by laws. Which was my point. Consistency is not the be all and end all for decision making. Sometimes laws are involved. And not only in regards to pay standards.

              1. umami*

                I am not aware of any laws governing WFH but would be interested in hearing more about them if you have insight.

                1. Observer*

                  The laws are not around EFH, but the concept of flexibility. And if you are not aware of this then that’s a major problem.

      9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Eh there’s a reason I don’t do your job? Yes 12 hours is too much work for me and I do prefer to be able to relax to do my little paperwork. ( my bf is a machinist and apparently he doesn’t a worksona at all!) It’s loud and distracting in the office! I have my own desk at home!

      10. Anon for this*

        Before Covid, I was in my office 5 days a week. I functioned but I didn’t excel. I struggled with all the myriad distractions when I had projects that needed concentration. People walking by my office decided that since I was there, I could handle all their problems whether or not it was something I dealt with. The constant chit chat was a problem especially when it was someone who ranked above me with power who wanted to chat.

        During Covid, as awful as it all was, lo and behold I was excelling. I knocked out all kinds of projects. I had chit chat on various communication platforms, but it was easier to walk away from it. My production metrics went up. Way up.

        After Covid, I excel when I am remote. I barely function when I am in the office. I spent most of the past two weeks in the office and got very little done.

      11. Observer*

        As a lifelong member of the blue collar sector I feel put off sometimes by the perceived entitlement of many of the people who constantly complain here about having to go back to work at the office, even for only 1-2 days per week

        I hear you, but I really don’t agree. I have a lot of teachers in the family, so I get what you are saying. But all of us would be rolling our eyes if someone insisted that all the non-teacher have to come into the workplace because the teachers can’t teach from home.

        Having said that, I do agree that some of the complaining is a bit hard to listen to. And it is CERTAINLY an issue to complain about this to someone who genuinely has no option but to come into the workplace.

        I wonder how did these people manage to function at their jobs before WFH became the norm during the pandemic? Didn’t they just go to work like regular folks every day back then or were they always so resistant to going in to the office?

        That sounds like the arguments I’ve heard people make against getting staff more access to phones, fax machines, email, etc. How did people used to manage is not really relevant. If something has shifted, you need to look at that and make decisions based on the current context. That’s not an argument for or against WFH, just an argument for evaluating the idea based on the current situation, including the information we have amassed over the last 3 years.

        I’m also taken aback and your use of “regular folks”. People who WFH are no more or less “regular” than anyone else. People who have to work on site work in jobs (and get salaries) that range from the common to very nice (How common is the job of archivist, for example) and that range from unskilled and manual to very highly skilled.

        Lastly, for a lot of people that used to work int he office and don’t want to go back, there are two potential issues. One is that they have learned that WFH makes them happier, healthier and / or more productive. Also, many people made some big decisions based on the premise of WFH, such as which job they accepted or a change in housing / location (like moving to a location where commuting is not realistic.) In those cases, in office might not have been a big issue to start with, but the change presents a problem.

        And, yes, in most cases where people made these moves, they WERE told that it would be acceptable in the long term.

        1. JGDN*

          Yes! I was in person at the start of the pandemic and realized how much better WFH was for me, so I looked for positions that had that. My old job dealt with physical materials so I couldn’t ever WFH, while my new one doesn’t require that.

          I’m still a “regular” person and don’t make a ton more money than I did on site, but my health & anxiety are so much better now. I would not go back if they demanded it- I’d look for another position. But it doesn’t work for every job or person, and making people work on site “just because” isn’t good for morale either.

        2. I have RBF*

          And, yes, in most cases where people made these moves, they WERE told that it would be acceptable in the long term.

          This. People moved house based on assurances from their employer that remote work was here to stay, then a year later those employers pulled the rug out from under their remote workers and demanded that they return to an office that they now did not live anywhere near!

          It’s like if you signed up to work in an office in City A, and suddenly they decided that you must work out of the office in City B two hundred miles away. Sure, some companies have always done this (IBM used to stand for “I’ve Been Moved”) but they would help pay the relocation costs. Now they just say “Too bad, so sad, move at your own expense or you’ll be fired.” F that noise.

      12. Daisy-dog*

        I didn’t know how much my life would improve with WFH until I started it. It was night and day the improvements to my health & wellbeing. My complaints about in-office days are about doing solo work & seeing no one, the lack of windows, and worse equipment than what I have at home.

        There are some differences with blue collar work that would make it more appealing than in-office white collar work to me. The schedules set to 6-2:30 or 7-3:30 would help so much with avoiding traffic. It’s more physical work, etc. But I would probably not be hired into anything blue collar without having to sacrifice my current salary and weekends which I value too highly right now.

      13. Tirv*

        My thoughts exactly! I see a lot of “ How can I be expected to go back to the office? It’s just not possible -it’s too far away , or I have children, or I hate it, or it’s not fair” yet we all did so up till 2 years ago. WFH is a bonus if it’s offered but it’s not a given.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          Three years ago, the world was different in significant ways.

          Too far away = maybe the employee moved further away on a promise of permanent remote work, maybe the traffic is worse now, gas prices are definitely higher now, maybe they’re worried about the cost of buying a new/used car after prices escalated, maybe their public transit authority changed the routes that used to be convenient. Also, concern for climate change (and therefore long commutes) has increased dramatically.

          I have children = maybe their childcare location only works when they’re WFH and they can’t switch to something near the office on short notice because of long waiting lists, maybe their children do extracurricular activities that need a parent available to pick them up etc., maybe they realized how much more time they have to be parents when they’re not commuting, maybe they have children who need lots of doctor visits and it’s doable when they don’t have to add commute time to the schedule

          I hate it = many people are expected to tolerate constant microaggressions, interruptions, sensory issues, and other aspects of the work environment that are harmful to them

          It’s not fair = if an employer is breaking a specific agreement that employees could be permanently remote, and they’re reneging on that agreement, this is more serious than Susie getting more sprinkles on her donut. Also, if the decision to make people go back to the office is based arbitrarily on some bosses wanting to manage butts in seats and others being comfortable managing remote workers, that demonstrates some bosses lacking skills or distrusting their workers.

      14. I have RBF*

        I wonder how did these people manage to function at their jobs before WFH became the norm during the pandemic?

        Often quite poorly. My performance literally varied on whether I had an office, a cube, a desk in an open plan or “benching”. OTOH, I’ve been able to WFH at least one day a week for almost 8 years now. This has saved my sanity as so many IT companies went to open plan on the mistaken idea that it would “enhance collaboration” (it didn’t, it just made me despise my coworkers.)

        When I worked in labs, WFH was a fantasy. Same with field work.

        But I earned my soft, cushy, remote IT job. It’s not “entitled” or “privileged” to not want to be constantly be reinfected with covid if your job can be done remotely.

        My previous career was either laboratory or field work, all on site. I did fine until I had a health change that meant I couldn’t do that any more. It took me three years to change careers, and a lot of hard work learning a new field.

        Again, to emphasize: It’s NOT “entitled” or “privileged” to work remotely in a job that can be done remotely. I resent the living hell out of the idea that it supposedly is. IOTW, if you wanted to work remotely, you could do what I did: Retrain for a job that can work remotely, not whine that remote workers are “entitled” or “privileged”.


      15. Avery*

        Some of us actually were WFH before the pandemic. It normalized WFH a lot, sure, but WFH positions existed before then. I worked multiple remote positions myself prior to the pandemic.

      16. Wilbur*

        Walter, let’s reframe the whole discussion. instead of remote work, let’s pretend it’s adjusting your hours so rather than working 7-3, you can work 6-2, 8-4, etc. Ask if a sudden, leadership decides they like seeing full desks when they come in at 730, and revoke that flexibility. Should the workers suck it up because they dealt with it before? No, because it’s arbitrary and but respectful of the workers. That bit of flexibility with time or remote work can make a huge difference. It’s allowed a few family members the chance to work remote a few days and see family across the country. It’s allowed me to see a lot of my kids early milestones, even if it’s meant working some late hours or waking up a few hours early to make it happen.

        On your last note, I wouldn’t last a week as a minor league baseball player or any number of jobs. You wouldn’t last a week in mine either. But I definitely would never disrespect anyone for the work they do, because that would only make me less of a person.

    6. Well...*

      Thanks for a great comment. You give the best example of this bias: how much online content seems to be freaking out about AI just as it is replacing online content generation. Spot on.

      1. sookie st james*

        I agree with the general premise that the people who are most likely to be affected by this are the ones with a lot of power to control the cultural/online conversations (e.g. journalists) and that might be misrepresenting the impact, but I’m surprised it’s being framed in the first comment as not a ‘real issue’.

        I’m one of those WFH writer types so I’m biased, but there was similar panic around the industrial revolution, when it was blue collar workers being ‘replaced by robots’, and when web 2.0 threatened (and successfully killed off a lot of) print journalism and other forms of media output.

        It would be nice to see more nuance in the conversation as the job losses caused by stuff like this is very much a class problem (the average journalist, say, is much closer to the average trade worker than they are to the billionaires who will profit off hacking up creative industries with AI) and I think it’s important to see this in the context of a long history of technological advancements being made at the expense of workers and industries, rather than as white collar workers making a big deal about something that’s inconsequential.

        To be clear, I’d definitely appreciate seeing more discussion of issues that are more relevant to blue-collar workers! (Especially as a former hospitality worker for many years). I’m just feeling a little defensive at the idea that job losses in my industry wouldn’t be devastating to people’s livelihoods.

        1. Well...*

          I think there are some valid concerns with AI that intersect with class. As with most shiny new technologies, however, I find the focus on the technology itself as either a cure-all or a world-ender unproductive and distracting. The same underlying worker’s issues remain, and there’s long history and wealth of expertise in organizing work to address those issues, as well as new strategies to cope with the current flavor. This work isn’t being featured nearly as heavily as the “godfathers” or “leaders” who are suddenly having very banal realizations about the impact of their technology and society at large.

          That narrative isn’t helping workers and it is attractive to a certain class of people.

          1. Lana Kane*

            This work isn’t being featured nearly as heavily as the “godfathers” or “leaders” who are suddenly having very banal realizations about the impact of their technology and society at large. — Well said, this articulates some hazy thoughts that have been floating around my brain lately.

        2. Spearmint*

          Yeah, I feel like there has been a ton of discourse about robots and AI replacing blue collar workers for years. See all the articles about self-driving trucks replacing truckers (by the numbers one of the most common blue collar jobs), as well as factory automation.

        3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

          As with industrialization, the great increase in worker productivity brought about by technology is promoted as making all of our jobs easier. Productivity gains mean we all produce more with less work. This is great news for everyone, right? After all, if you currently produce 2 items for sale per day, producing 20 per day means you’ll either earn 10x more or you’ll only work an hour a day. Hooray for the coming workers’ paradise! In reality, productivity gains mean we all work the same to produce more but we get paid less for it. The difference goes only to corporate profits which go only to shareholders.

          Before AI, a copywriter may be expected to come up with a 1000 word article in a day and be paid for a day’s work. With AI, they’ll be expected to finish it in an hour and be paid for an hour’s work.

          Go back 30 years and replace “AI” and “copywriter” with “CNC” and “machinist”.

    7. Dew you recall?*

      This is such an important perspective and the writer is correct, it often gets lost in the largely white collar commentariat of AAM and similar online spaces.

      I’m reminded of the time early in the pandemic when Alison posted an open thread for frontline workers/onsite workers to post/vent about issues impacting them (and this thread came after some frontline workers noted, as Blue Collar Blues does here, that AAM had been largely dealing with the challenges of working from home during the pandemic, forgetting that many people were dealing with the pandemic, school closures, etc while ALSO having to be onsite). Despite Alison giving a space to discuss the challenges of onsite work the very first comments were from people asking us all to remember, essentially, “that WFH is challenging too and we need to remember the sacrifices WFHers are making to keep onsite workers safe.” I believe in the end Alison had to heavily moderate that thread to be sure it stayed focused on non-WFH issues.

      This commentariat screws to a certain demographic of worker and it is important to always keep that in mind when trying to draw generalizations based on some of the responses to questions. But I agree, Alison’s advice can often be applied universally, regardless of a someone’s specific job.

    8. I should really pick a name*

      I think it’s pretty straightforward:
      1. Commenting commonly happens during the workday, so that biases commenters toward white collar.
      2. I assume Alison would print more blue collar letters if she received them. Not sure why more aren’t sent in though.

      1. CTT*

        For number 2, I imagine it’s a bit of a vicious cycle – not many people with blue-collar jobs write in, so Allison doesn’t post them, and people with blue-collar jobs might see the published letters and think “this place probably isn’t really for workers like me,” and don’t write in, and so on…

        Also in 2020/2021 when there were posts meant to highlight the issues people had working in person in 2021, Allison had to heavily moderate it because so many WFH people were taking over the comments. That had to turn some people off.

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I also think it’s possible that because work from home is relatively new for most people, it might lead to more questions to advice columns, as people are still adapting to it, whereas at least people have experience of dealing with the issues that arise in person. (And yeah, I know there are some roles that have involved work from home for a long time, but at least over here, there has been a huge increase in how common it is.)

      Not to ignore any of your points which I definitely think are factors too.

    10. Colette*

      I think not being able to be online during “business hours” is a big part of it. But also, IME, many people in blue collar work (electricians, contractors, plumbers, etc.) prefer phone calls to email – probably because phone calls are easier to take on the job, and they’re more comfortable with them because they use them more.

      1. LilPinkSock*

        My fiance is a blue-collar worker–I promise you, he’s perfectly comfortable with using email.

        1. Colette*

          I’m sure he is. But in general, I find I send an email and get a response that says “call me”.

          1. NeutralJanet*

            I’m going to say that’s because synchronous conversation is generally more useful and efficient when you’re trying to hire a plumber or a contractor or an electrician, not because they…what, aren’t good at reading or computers?

            1. blue rose*

              *Colette already gave some speculative reasons, and it wasn’t “[they] aren’t good at reading or computers,” it was “phone calls are easier to take on the job” and also comfort level related to frequency of use.

    11. Dana Lynne*

      Thank you so much for this!

      Most of my immediate family works in construction. You are absolutely right that the media generally ignores blue collar workers of all kinds. And while this is a great advice column you are also right that the commenters by definition have the types of jobs that allow them to read the internet at work and take time to comment! My husband can barely take a phone call at work, let alone have time to surf. His lunch break is 20 minutes in the truck.

    12. Generic Name*

      Yeah, my husband is a carpenter, and he went to work on job sites every single day during the pandemic. Thank goodness there was an exemption to the stay-at-home order in my state so construction work could continue.

      I think another reason blue collar workers don’t post here, at least as far as guys like my husband goes, is that as soon as he doesn’t like working for a company, he moves on. He doesn’t have a resume, he shows up at a job site and asks if they are hiring carpenters, works a day, and gets hired. He doesn’t need resume or interviewing advice. Issues with his boss? Apparently sometimes there’s a yelling match, but things get resolved. Note, my husband isn’t a job hopper and has worked for the same company for over 5 years at this point.

      1. umami*

        Yeah, my husband is a home-health nurse, so … no work from home for him. What would people who needed service at their own home have done if he and people like him weren’t willing to go and provide care? It meant way more PPE for me as well, since I was going to my workplace but didn’t want to expose him/his ill patients needlessly. I went to work for months with an N95 mask and face shield to respect his need to be overly cautious (and I’ll add that living with a healthcare worker meant we were never at risk of running out of hand sanitizer or toilet paper because he always buys both in bulk).

    13. Dell*

      I absolutely hear you. During the pandemic I was working in an on-site job in agricultural manufacturing. I felt like I was living on another planet listening to all the media folks saying “everyone” was working from home. On top of the stress of the pandemic and all the changes to our workplace, I felt like the entire world thought we on-site workers were invisible. It was so isolating and frankly, infuriating.

      Now I work in a remote role directly supporting agricultural manufacturing plants, and if I were told to come to the office more than one day a week I would transfer as fast as I possibly could. Why? Because A, I have my own farm at home and I work more hours at this salaried WFH job than I did at the on-site hourly job. I don’t have the time to farm, commute, and work this much.

      B, there is very little point to me being in the office. I support manufacturing plants all over the country, none of whom are even in the same state as me. While I enjoy a little cross-department connection, one day a week is plenty. I will still spend 90% of my day working with the plant staff that aren’t in my state.

      C, I took this job with the explicit understanding that I would work from home the vast majority of the time and have continued to perform at a high level back when I was entirely WFH. My current schedule where I come in when it makes sense to me, about once a week, is working great from an actual performance standpoint.

    14. Warrior Princess Xena*

      One other potential reason for the bias is probably because Allison offers a lot of management focused advice, both in managing up and down, and management is frequently more of an admin or office position even in a blue collar field.

    15. Potsdam*

      This blog is not a great source of advice for a wide range of industries (academia, retail, food service, and even segments of fields like law and healthcare). Sure, advice like “communicate directly when things are bothering you” is generally applicable and actionable, but advice here for labor that isn’t in or adjacent to 9-5 office-based jobs often misses significant industry-specific norms. I hope that instead of trying to shoehorn in more letters from these fields, the site will recognize and acknowledge this focus.

    16. Misery Chick*

      The thing that’s been getting to me more and more is those taking the way WFH often helps chronically ill and disabled people and using that to deny that there are class issues at play in the types of jobs that can be done from home too. I’m chronically ill and disabled and I also have always had what are considered low-skilled (and lower paying) jobs that I need to be in person to do. I’m getting very tired of the “how dare you call me privileged” attitude I’ve seen when people try to discuss this.

  13. Lyngend Canada.*

    Employers playing bait and switch with job descriptions is the worst. I’m not leaving my current role due to amazing pay/benefits +low stress. But I was hired with 1 day out of 5 in office, the rest supposed to be remote work. And now they’re all “we aren’t hiring anyone else, plus you are going to be manning the front desk” with 3 people instead of the 8 they originally hired. And no more evening shifts. And I took this job expecting I’d be able to work like 2-10 shifts and be able have an easier time making appointments without missing work.
    Luckily I’m part of the union (thus the great pay and benefits). Because I can go to them and have my concerns about ability to y’know call in sick. Or taking my holidays.

    1. should decide on a name*

      Hear, hear! I always wonder what the motivation for this behaviour by employers is. It never ends well, and this has happened to me several times, despite all attempts to mitigate against this problem.

      1. I have RBF*

        IMO, it’s a power flex. A lot of upper management is being pressure by cities to bring people back to the office to provides customers for businesses, to hell with what the people actually want. Then upper management feels more powerful by being able to command that people show up in purpose, then they mask it with BS about “collaboration” (you can’t really collaborate in an open plan with everyone in headphones or shushing people.)

        I’m all for in-person where it makes sense, and remote where it makes sense. One size fits all actually fits very few, IME. I used to work in a primarily in-person field, labs, but now I’m in a primarily remote area of IT.

        Companies who lie or change the rules all the time suck, IMO.

  14. ES*

    LW5… How many internal positions have you applied for in the year you’ve been in your job? I realize your company/industry may differ, but in the sectors and firms I’ve worked, multiple applications for internal positions within the first year of employment would be a red flag that the employee may not be the right fit for her role or may not understand norms around promotions/hiring. (One place I worked explicitly stated in the employee manual that employees were not eligible to apply internally until a year after hire and the completion of a performance review cycle, unless management waived the requirement for business necessity.)

    1. Pierrot*

      Yes, this was my reaction. At most places, it’s best to wait a couple of years before you try to transfer to a different department.

    2. FashionablyEvil*

      Yeah, this jumped out at me too (although I still think the phone calls are a bad idea. My company does them and they suck.)

      1. Emily*

        #2 – this can also be about where the boss and your employee are each from. My boss is from Iowa, and will get really passive-aggressive about the way she says hi or good morning to us if she feels we’ve been rude. I am from New York, as was my former direct report. We had a lot of conversations about her midwestern attitudes meaning we needed to change what was normal for us (not making a special point to greet the people we see literally every day if it didn’t happen naturally).
        I still absolutely hate the expectation. Like, aren’t we past the damn small talk??

      2. fhqwhgads*

        I couldn’t tell – and possibly LW doesn’t know either – if the rejection was a phone call because they’re an internal candidate vs that being the norm all around. I still don’t think phone call rejections are ever a good idea, but that letter has a lot of context dependent stuff that makes me wanna go in about five different directions of “if” in a way I normally wouldn’t with letters.

  15. fueled by coffee*

    #4. I’d leave it alone. It’s not great judgment that she has the company name on her app profile, but I would be super creeped out if a brand new coworker had a friend sending them screenshots of my dating app profile.

    Also, people often lie on dating apps based on things they think will get them more swipes. I wouldn’t read too much into this, she might just be trying not to come off as a teetotaler if, say, she wouldn’t mind a *partner* who smoked. Obviously she may very well truthfully be saying she smokes weed, but if her drug test came up clean you quite literally have evidence that she at least hadn’t smoked in the month before the test. As it stands, this is a social media policy violation, not a failed drug test.

    1. LTR FTW*

      Totally. You can pass a test for weed quite easily if you *just haven’t smoked weed lately* — and in a legal state that’s the most an employer can ask for. Some people totally love weed but just don’t partake — for various reasons (breastfeeding, employment, rules against it in their lease, etc.) and if it’s legal there’s seriously no issue with publicly saying yeah I’m cool with weed. It’s just an issue if they show evidence of having used it while under the employment of a company with a policy against it.

  16. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    #2: I once had an experience at work where someone walking toward me in the hallway said hi as we passed, and I didn’t return the greeting.

    I didn’t return the greeting because I didn’t know the person and thought she was greeting someone walking behind me (there was’t anyone behind me, but I didn’t know that). Also, I have Asperger’s Syndrome so that makes social interactions with people I do know problematic, let alone with people I don’t know.

    Well, this person took offense big time. She didn’t say anything at the time, and she wasn’t a boss or superior, but in future interactions with her she was very rude and disrespectful to me. As much as my Asperger’s has messed me up throughout my life, this woman’s conduct toward me wasn’t exactly doing anything to help present herself as someone I should want to be friends with.

    1. GythaOgden*

      I’m autistic too — but it’s possible to learn to greet people once or twice a day just to soften it all up. It’s not a bad thing to make life a little bit easier or more pleasant for other people, particularly when you need other people’s understanding from time to time!

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      There’s a great meme on the inverse of this where someone was waved at on the street, waved back, realized the guy was actually waving at someone else, pretended to be hailing a taxi, took it to the airport, and is now starting a new life in Poland.

      Sometimes we don’t return a greeting because we don’t want to have to start a new life in Poland if you’re waving at/talking to the person behind us.

      1. BreakingDishes*

        This made my day. Thank you.
        However it is sometimes serendipitous how a life can change over what seems like a small incident.

    3. metadata minion*

      Ugh, I’m sorry that happened! This is such an iron-clad example of the autistic person not being the one with shaky social skills in that situation. Does it hurt a little if I say hi to someone and they don’t say hi back? Sure! Partly because I have social anxiety and it feeds the little voice that says everyone secretly hates me. But I also recognize that other people are distracted sometimes or think I’m waving to someone else, and that I have both ignored other humans and greeted furniture by accident.

    4. eisa*

      If someone deliberately does not return your greeting in a situation where a) you know each other, b) you don’t know each other as such but are in a context that defines a sort of relationship between you, e.g., you live in the same apartment building or work at the same company … well, that’s a pretty big snub.

      In old times, it was called “giving the cut direct” and taken very seriously:

      “There is something that you can do when you can no longer bear to be in someone’s presence. It is only to be used in the most dire of etiquette circumstances because it is a very cruel thing to do someone who doesn’t deserve it. You can cut someone (not with a knife!). Basically you completely ignore them to their face. If you look straight at someone, especially at their greeting, and do not acknowledge them in any way, then you are cutting them.”

      So yeah, you burned a bridge with your colleague, who probably wasn’t aware that you are not neurotypical.

      (Note the word “deliberately” in my first sentence : if you do not response to someone’s greeting because you are focused on something else – like in the hallway, staring into your phone while walking – the other person, if reasonable, is not going to take offense.)

    5. CheeryO*

      As someone with similar issues, I would recommend trying to retrain your brain to give an automatic smile and wave or quick hello to people that you pass at work, even if you don’t know them. You really don’t want to be known as the grump who doesn’t say hello to people (which is unfair, but that’s definitely how some people see it).

      1. amoeba*

        Yeah, a smile can do a lot, I think! Most (reasonable) people won’t be offended if you don’t actually say “hello” out loud as long as you smile at them, and on the other hand, if you don’t know them, the worst you’ve done is smiled at a stranger.

        (Which I always do out of reflex, apparently. At least on our large, shared campus. Have been greeted by quite a few people I’m actually sure I’ve never met because they took my smile as a greeting. Oh well.)

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      There’s a person at my work that stutters a lot. I always greet them with a “Hi!” but don’t expect a response as I know it takes them a lot of effort to speak. I’m also a fast walker so I’m usually zipping past them and I’m pretty sure the person at least nods to acknowledge me, but if they didn’t nod or say hi back, it wouldn’t deter me from saying hi in the future. But regardless, I’m also an introvert and understand some people tend to be either quiet in their greeting or don’t feel comfortable greeting people they don’t know well. I was that person when I was younger and have become much more comfortable over the years. But I do know people at work that are strong introverts and they often look down when they pass those they don’t know and so I don’t say anything as I understand they’re uncomfortable being social. I personally don’t find it worth getting upset about just because someone doesn’t say hi back! Why let it ruin your day over something as little as a “Hi!”

    7. learnedthehardway*

      This illustrates the point that one shouldn’t ASSUME they know what another person is thinking/feeling. Had the person you didn’t say hello to had a bit of common sense or a bit less ego, they would have figured either you hadn’t heard them, didn’t realize she was talking to you, were preoccupied, or any number of things, rather than that you were deliberately ignoring her.

  17. Aphrodite*

    I work in higher ed in the support administrative end. I have been working from home two days a week officially (and one more unofficially) but was told today that the VP of our division wants to bring everyone back four days a week. It’s looking like Fridays will be remote for almost everyone when that happens. I felt deeply disappointed, even a bit angry, at reading this but I realized it’s not just fine but something that will help me move into retirement faster. I’ll have to get used to the 5:30 am alarm again–it’s been just over three years–but I’m ready to do it. Whatever it takes.

    1. Aphrodite*


      Whatever it takes because the benefits are to die for, the job security is strong, I am getting some more money, and it structures part of my week. All good things.

      1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

        Repeated infections by a novel corona virus isn’t really a good thing, which forced indoor office work is leading to for many people. Especially with no masking or testing or indoor air cleaning mesures. People who think it’s just like getting a cold over and over are in for a rude awakening.

        1. I have RBF*

          Yeah, having repeated bouts of Covid will be a rude awakening for a lot of people as they end up with Long Covid. I’m older, and I really can’t afford to bring Covid home repeatedly. My immune compromised housemate had to leave her customer facing job because of Covid, even with masking.

          Forcing in-person work in poorly ventilated spaces solely for the power of being able to command people’s presence should be actionable in court, but we don’t have that.

        2. Katara's side braids*

          Yeah, I’m pretty much the last person masking at my employer (a literal doctor’s office!!) after we got rid of mandatory masking last week. Even leaving aside the risk of long covid for healthy and vaccinated people, our chronically ill and immunocompromised patients now have to choose between going untreated or being exposed to an illness that could severely harm or even kill them. Even if providers mask by request, I don’t think our ventilation is advanced enough to remove the airborne particles left by previous patients/providers.

          I genuinely hope we’re wrong and that no one gets that “rude awakening,” but by the time we have answers/treatments for long term effects it may be too late for a lot of people.

  18. Jessica*

    LW1, I’m academic department staff in public higher ed, and what I see right now in department-level staff roles is a lot of hybrid work. Many departments at my U have established some sort of rotation for coverage, where most of the employees are probably WFH 2-3 days (depending on the staff size and how many people they think they need in office at a time). Some other jobs (e.g. some IT, central office processing clerks) are fully remote (and the U is definitely working it to save money/space), and I’m sure some (e.g. buildings & grounds) are fully in-person.
    Our central HR did a thing of reviewing all possible roles and decreeing whether each one could be in person, remote, hybrid, or more than one of those possibilities. So now it’s defined for each job title how remote you can be, and then within that spectrum what actually is happening depends on you and your manager and the specific department you work in.
    Also, we are struggling to attract and retain talent right now. (Not Florida; we’re a purple state.) So trying to go ironclad in-person on people would be a very foolish idea.

  19. Katie*

    Mentioning a friend saw her on a dating app is weird. Let her be in charge of her own life.

    1. Rachel*

      I agree.

      The way to make sure your employee doesn’t use drugs is to drug test them. Which the employee passed.

      There is nothing to see here.

    2. Looper*

      Yeah, I’m giving this “friend” major side eye. Mind your own business and keep swiping, dude.

  20. Aphrodite*

    OP #5, when I was job hunting I used to let my answering machine (yes, it’s been a while) pick up all calls. If it was someone I knew personally I’d answer the call as soon as they started speaking. But otherwise it gave me time to listen to the message and call them back. I’d often call within ten minutes, claiming I just got in. But by that time had gotten past the surprise and was ready to hear the rejection or the acceptance and was thus able to talk calmly and with forethought.

  21. Grace Kelly*

    #2: I’m don’t agree with Allison’s advice here. If someone doesn’t want to say ‘good morning’ to every person they see, they shouldn’t be forced to? Now this employee has to go out of their way to ensure they say it to their boss’ boss? No – this is a petty complaint. I once had an employee complain about the same thing to me that so-and-so didn’t say ‘hi’ to them today. And my response was “and what would you like me to do about it?” Managers aren’t responsible for managing their employees’ expectations of other people’s behaviours in the workplace. If the OP’s boss wanted a morning greeting, then why didn’t they say ‘good morning’ to the employee first?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Of course it’s incredibly petty, as I wrote in the post! But if the boss is unreasonable, it’s a favor to the employee to let her know about an easy way to avoid setting him off.

      1. Boolie*

        I don’t understand why the boss can’t say it to the employee themself. Yeah it’s OPs job to manage their work but I find it ironic that they want direct acknowledgment from that person without…directly acknowledging it with that person. If I was the employee I’d be kind of resentful of that. It reeks of power insecurity to me.

        1. FashionablyEvil*

          I mean, even so, if you can take literally one second to say good morning to someone to prevent them from thinking you rude and potentially having an adverse impact on your career, why wouldn’t you do it? Is it petty? Without question. Is saying good morning the most pragmatic choice. Yes.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            100% this.

            I have had a similar situation where I had to tell someone to be sure to be at her desk by 9, because my boss cared about that. I didn’t care if she was there by 9:15, but I heard about it from my boss. Could I have pushed back with my boss? Probably. Was it worth spending any capital on? Not at all.

          2. DataSci*

            Sure, but the employee in question didn’t know that LW’s boss thought it was such a big deal! Now that they do, obviously the performative greeting is appropriate.

      2. Victoria Everglot*

        Alison, one thing I always appreciate is the fact that you give advice based in the real world (where people are petty and unreasonable sometimes) rather than the should-be world where being technically in the right automatically solves all problems.

    2. Allonge*

      Eh, you are right that it’s petty – but if there is an easy solution to avoid the petty, it’s usually worth it to do it when it’s one’s grandboss. Workplace politics being what they are, it’s probably the best for OP to encourage their employee to be aware of this.

    3. AlsoADHD*

      I think Alison is just saying the employee should know about the petty nonsense thing. I agree. I’d want to know if someone were annoyed at me for something stupid like that. I may or may not change my behavior (or my job frankly, if that person is representing tut culture of the place) but I’d deserve to know.

    4. Ellis Bell*

      Where does the ‘force’ come in? It’s just information. “Grand boss gets weird if people don’t explicitly say good morning to him. I have made the point that you probably didn’t hear him or may have just nodded subtly, but that’s just how he is. I have your back on this, but I thought you would want to know how to get round him.”

    5. umami*

      It’s not being forced to, it’s passing on information to modify one small thing that could potentially have a high impact on how the employee is perceived. I had a conversation with a direct report after my boss mentioned that he doesn’t seem to dress the part consistently. We don’t have a dress code, but my boss’ preference is for senior leadership to dress a bit more formally, especially for events (dress shirt and slacks vs. polo shirts., not necessarily a tie). I told him I would talk to the employee, and I framed it to him as “We don’t have a dress code, but I also don’t want you to be disadvantaged when I know grand boss has this preference.’ I never mentioned that the boss has bene specifically talking about this employee. The next event we had, he was wearing a shirt and tie, and my boss was impressed.

    6. eisa*

      – – If the OP’s boss wanted a morning greeting, then why didn’t they say ‘good morning’ to the employee first?

      Based on the sparse information in the published letter (“My boss approached me and said he had a problem with my employee not saying good morning to him this past week.”), we have absolutely no idea whether or not the boss said ‘good morning’ to the employee first or not.

    7. eisa*

      – – Managers aren’t responsible for managing their employees’ expectations of other people’s behaviours in the workplace.

      Pushing back on this rather absolute-sounding statement.
      I think Alison would agree that managers are responsible to assess whether said expectations are reasonable, and if so and they are not met, to do something about it.
      In your example your reaction was fine (could have been worded more diplomatically, though), but would you say the same if Jane mentioned her expectation not to be screamed at, not to have to stumble in on two colleagues heavily at it, .. (insert all kind of ‘special’ types of behaviour in the workplace, this site has examples enough)

    8. Observer*

      No – this is a petty complaint

      So? Do you want to be right or do you want to be effective?

      In this case, the OP has a responsibility to let their employee know about this. Then the employee can make their own decision about whether this is their hill to die on. Maybe this is a line they refuse to cross. Maybe it’s just the last item in a list of ridiculous demands. Or maybe it’s one stupid quirk in an otherwise excellent job, and it’s worth their while to cater to this boss.

      Whatever they decide, it needs to be THEIR decision. It would be unconscionable for the OP to not let them know.

      1. John Smith*

        And where grand boss has another petty requirement that you comply with, then another and another, you can realise that it’s time to look elsewhere for another job. How many petty things do you have to put up with that were meant to make your job easier but mount up to make it harder?

        I’m actually in a row with my boss at the moment because he’s requiring me – and only me – to come to his office each morning to say good morning to him. Other staff don’t do this (most actively avoid him), yet he seemingly has no problem with this.

        1. Observer*

          And where grand boss has another petty requirement that you comply with, then another and another, you can realise that it’s time to look elsewhere for another job.

          Absolutely. Each person draws their line where it makes sense for them. But it’s important for people to have the information so they can make informed decisions.

      2. Allonge*

        I totally agree.

        To be honest I never thought that saying good morning can be such a major hardship. Is it not part of common politeness? And even if not, is it really so difficult to do that it’s worth risking a relationship with one’s grandboss?

  22. Emmy Noether*

    #1 I actually know of some emoloyers that have gone backwards on WFH policies compared to before the pandemic. Before, it was allowed “with permission” and therefore mostly at the discretion of the supervisor. A lot of them handled it fairly flexibly.
    Then they went 100% WFH during the pandemic, and then instituted return to office policies where they felt they had to make new, precise rules about what was required. Mostly things like 7 days in office over two work weeks, or everyone in on wednesdays and thursdays… which leads to those who made full use of the flexibility before (because their family lives esewhere for example) to not be able to do that anymore.

    Now, probably those rules are a good thing for fairness over departments (supervisors may grant very different things otherwis), but it feels like a loss to a lot of people.

  23. Pip*

    LW2 – If your boss was saying “good morning” to the person every morning and she ignored him every time, that might be a bit annoying but not really worth mentioning, unless he wants to ask her directly if anything’s up. But to go to you about it just makes it look like your boss has way too much free time if he’s this upset about such a small thing. You’re right – he’s petty.

  24. JM60*

    #1 I think it greatly depends on the field and the type of work involved. In my field (tech), hybrid and/or remote work is the norm. In plenty of other fields, being in-person 5 days a week is the norm. Some jobs are better suited for remote work, and some cultures are more likely to embrace it than others.

    I’m glad my employer has been without a HQ office since mid-pandemic. It’s been great for me, and probably saved my employer lots of money.

  25. Misty*

    A friend saw her on a dating app and sent a screen shot???


    How would this friend even know this person was your new coworker????


    1. Allonge*

      As per the letter, the new coworker has “where she works listed” in the dating profile.

      1. Mostly Harmless*

        Yup, and from there it’s probably:

        Friend: *looking around on dating app, notices workplace + smoking weed*

        Friend: *Sends screenshot* “Uhm LW aren’t y’all required to be drug-free?”

        Not necessarily anything nefarious or creepy going on.

        1. Rachel*

          It’s not necessarily nefarious or creepy, but it’s also not the LW’s concern.

        2. Be Gneiss*

          Or even
          Friend: *sends screenshot* “Hey, do you know this woman? She says she works at XCorp.”
          …and it’s just information on the profile that was in the screenshot.

          1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

            I could imagine someone happening across this and sending it to a friend at the agency, not to rat out the weed smoker, but to get information. As in, “I’ve long wanted to work at your agency but haven’t applied because of the anti-drug policy. Does this person’s profile mean the policy has changed or is no longer enforced?”

            To be clear, it’s still a jerk move because if the answer is “No” then they’ve just put a stranger’s job at risk for no good reason.

        3. New Jack Karyn*

          I don’t think I’d call it creepy, per se. But I think OP’s friend needs to stay in their lane. If their purpose was to bring the cannabis use to OP’s attention, that was a jerk move.

          1. Allonge*

            Or, just maybe, OP’s friend knows OP (because they are friends!), and knows OP’s instinct would be to kindly clue this person in that it’s a pretty bad idea to mention weed in the dating profile while spelling out where they work.

            Which is what OP is proposing in their letter!

  26. OneAngryAvocado*

    #1 I work in higher ed as well and we’re really pushing to keep as much remote working as we can as long as the office is always staffed, on the basis that most students (who are more tech savvy than we are!) really don’t need us there in person that much. However all the pushback seems to be from academics who want us present so we can help them use the copier or book rooms, which isn’t really what we’re there for…

    1. umami*

      A good chunk of our student population has unreliable Internet access and lack technology resources, so for us it is a practical solution to have staff available in person. When we asked students about their access to technology, we learned that it isn’t so much that they aren’t tech savvy and don’t have access to a computer, but they don’t have a computer for every person in the household and have to share with parents and siblings. It is myopic to assume that having access to a computer is the same as having your own computer.

      1. Bread Crimes*

        Yup. I taught online during the early parts of the pandemic, and when we moved back to in-person classes, I put all the quizzes and tests online, as well as homework submission, a lot of practice worksheets, etc. That way it didn’t take up class time, students could do them in a more convenient timeframe for themselves, a lot of stuff could be automatically marked, great!

        …except it turned out that some students had such poor internet access from home, they had to make extra trips to campus outside of their usual class schedule, on multiple buses, just to take the tests. Others only had access by phone, which was a big problem when typing extensively–or in my case, typing in Latin, which phone tried to autocorrect!–or trying to look at long passages then scroll down to type in their responses. And many of them told me privately or out loud in class that they were desperately grateful all the same for having classes in person again, because it had been so hard to focus, study, get feedback, or just convince themselves to show up to class when it was all online.

        And I myself found that it was much, much easier to deal with a lot of bureaucratic things if I could show up in person and point to things and ask questions with no glitching or delay or weird lighting in a video call–much less phone call or text alone–when a lot of staff returned to campus.

        I’m glad we have a lot of flexibility as instructors. I’m glad that our department staff has a hybrid work schedule. But it’s definitely had at least as many downsides for students and people seeking services as it has advantages, in my anecdotal experience, as it did benefits. What I hope is that we’ll find ways to keep the benefits of both approaches.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      I can say that our front counter traffic has gone WAY DOWN since returning to an open office. Like 1-2 people per hour. We were allowed to cut our open office hours down to 4 a day, at least.

  27. Irish Teacher.*

    LW1, I just googled and apparently in Ireland, just under a quarter are working from home (well, the article is from late 2022, but I doubt it’s changed much) and Ireland has introduced legal protections for remote working.

    LW3, I know America is a lot different from Ireland here, as we don’t have different states (well, unless you consider Northern Ireland, but that’s a whole different ballgame), but could you mention why you liked the state you are moving to. I guess you’d want to avoid being too political, but something like it offers you a greater variety of opportunities or you feel it is a safer place for families or you are excited to live in an area with greater diversity or something like that? Whatever fits the situation.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Just to add the latest numbers from the US are 12% remote and 28% hybrid.

  28. musical chairs*

    LW2, can I offer a different perspective? I come from a family that is not from the US originally, but we live here now. In our culture of origin, it is understood to be extremely disrespectful to not greet those present upon entering or leaving an upon entering a space or in passing, especially showing deference in this regard to people who are more senior to you. Intention isn’t a mitigating factor.

    That said, I understand that I work in a diverse workplace, and that other folks may not have grown up with those norms. My internal bristling to others not saying hello or goodbye may stem from my background, but I know enough to not hold others to a standard that did not all agree upon in the workplace. I could, however, easily make the argument that since it’s such a low cost/simple thing to remember to do, that others could be mindful of my cultural background as well. It could go both ways.

    I would not understand this mention from your boss to you as a manager/their employee to be petty or weird in that specific context. It may be something they understand to be a sign of disrespect to them beyond that which is typically considered disrespectful in other cultures. Just something to think about!

    1. allathian*

      Yes, there’s a wide variation between cultures in this regard. In my workplace, the bare minimum is to acknowledge the greeting of someone who greets you. When I first started working for my current employer 16 years ago, my then-coworker and supposed mentor who was very much not a morning person would literally growl at you if you dared to greet her before noon.

      The acknowledgement doesn’t even have to be verbal, if you’re on the phone, or talking to someone else in person, a wave or nod is fine. There are no expectations about the relative positions on the org chart, either, so a manager who said that they felt insulted by a subordinate not greeting them first would probably be an object of gentle ridicule (behind their back).

      It would also be considered odd to wait until a conversation has ended before leaving, so if there’s an ongoing conversation in your vicinity, you can leave without saying goodbye, if doing otherwise would mean interrupting the conversation. A wave in the general direction of those who’re talking is sufficient, and they may or may not respond in kind.

      1. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

        Read any comment section on etiquette and it seems there’s almost as much variation *within* a culture as there is between cultures.


      Yes, when I first started working in the American South, an older person of a different culture than I am from criticized me for not “speaking first,” which I learned was an expectation of me as a younger person – it just wasn’t a thing in the culture I grew up in. I could have lived without it becoming a major point of criticism to my boss, but the lesson I learned was valuable anyway!

  29. Healthcare Manager*

    Working remote is important to me but also relevant as majority of the people I do video calls with are on different sites. Sitting in an office to do these calls makes no sense.

    I go in once a week/fortnight.

    It also seems to be very dependent on how a city experienced lockdown as well.

    1. Sad Desk Salad*

      Exactly the same here. Why spend the time, gas money, and environmental impact to go into an empty office to have the same calls I can have from the privacy of my own home office? I go in on the rare occasion that we’re having an event, or if my power/internet is out. We moved offices in 2021, and I think I’ve been there 4-5 times. Everything still gets done and everything is totally secure.

      1. Katara's side braids*

        Exactly! When done right, it improves conditions for in-office staff too. I have to be in-person, but when more people were remote, my commute was better (less traffic), I had more privacy to do my sensitive work (I’m a social worker in an office with poor soundproofing), fewer distractions in general, AND I was always able to find a good parking spot. Not so anymore.

  30. should decide on a name*

    LW1, remote work remains very much widespread. It is also under-reported, and varies by industry and role.

    A lot of employers end up learning the hard way that insisting on in-office work all or most of the time is a really good way to inspire high turnover.

    When I was hired to work entirely remotely, it was because the rest of my team worked on the other side of the country, and the nearest office was 2-and-a-half hours away from my house. I had no choice but to resign when a new manager insisted that we all suddenly had to attend our nearest office 5 days a week (as I’d have to commute 5 hours a day, 5 days a week to go into an empty office)…and the rest of the team quit, too. It’s been a year and they have not been able to replace us, so several critical projects are now in limbo.

    1. allathian*

      Sounds like they need to replace the manager if they want those projects done….

    2. Justin D*

      I think many employers like to say that everyone is back in the office but almost everyone I know works from home as much as possible, and companies are closing/selling offices left and right in my city. Downtown is empty most of the time too.

  31. Jenga*

    #5 I wouldn’t assume all candidates get a phone rejection at your company. It may just be the hiring manager knew you so felt you deserved more than an email.

    1. Her name was Joanne*

      That’s what I was thinking. An internal candidate might get a more personal rejection so they aren’t as hurt. I once had a young woman who reported to me apply for an internal promotion out of my department. She was strongly encouraged to apply by the hiring manager, and I fully supported her advancement. They went with an external candidate and sent my employee a form letter to her home with her name misspelled. She was an excellent worker, and she found something else outside of my company very shortly thereafter.

      1. Extroverted Bean Counter*

        Same thought here. Internal candidate procedure is often very different than external candidates! I’ve moved roles a couple times at my company which has included applying for and getting turned down a couple times as well. I am colleagues with the folk I interviewed with, and I was going to need to continue to work with them after the rejection. Getting an impersonal “sorry, not this time” would have been offputting.

        Personal connections deserve personal responses. I can’t imagine sending someone a “You were great but we’re going with Susan from Widgets instead” email and then four hours later also sending a “hey Bob! Following up on the TPS report – any estimate as to when you’ll have that to me?” as if nothing happened.

  32. Kate*

    I think there is a real disconnect between the PERCEPTIONS of WFH vs hybrid vs full-time in-person.

    I work in government, and the biggest argument for bringing non-in-person-essential staff back into the office is perception — the private sector is back at work in-person, therefore we need to be too!

    …except I am not sure that’s true.

    I recently completed a year-long professional development program that was 95% private sector, and not just start ups: telecoms, banks, etc. basically the companies (my) government sees itself as a comparator with, and they were ALL hybrid, with the exception of three that were full-time WFH.

    They could figure out why “the government” seems to want everyone to go back to full-time in-person!


    1. Random Dice*

      I get a weekly report from my private sector company about how many people come into the office, and have for years. It’s really not true, in person attendance has plummeted compared to the before times.

  33. LB33*

    I’ve never had a job that drug tests, so maybe it doesn’t work like this, but if she’s already been hired, doesn’t that mean she’s already passed the test? So maybe nothing to worry about?

    1. A Girl Named Fred*

      Depends on the field and the job – my current workplace requires random drug testing for some of the roles because they’re federally required to, but others don’t have to test at all.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      The LW says drug use is grounds for termination, so if they find out she’s continuing to smoke weed even after passing an employment test they can still fire her. I wouldn’t be surprised if a place that strict also has random testing.

      1. LB33*

        That makes sense – I would think though that this would be spelled out to the employees either during the interview process or at least after they’ve been hired. So I figured she must be aware of the policy, and wasn’t sure what the LW would warn them about.

      2. Esmae*

        Some places that don’t have random testing will still test employees if they feel they have cause to, i.e. if they suspect the employee is breaking the drug policy. Posting about smoking weed on the internet might count as cause.

  34. I should really pick a name*

    If it’s this important to me, should I look for a new job even though I love my work, my colleagues, and my students?

    That’s a question that only you can answer.
    If you don’t have a sense of how common remote work is in your area, starting to job search is probably the best way to find out.

  35. Justin*

    My company was so zoom heavy even before covid (because of national offices) they just said we could do what we want, we just had to officially choose if we wanted to keep our desks in our local offices. I go in twice a week so I can keep mine (and I have a short commute and get bored at home). We are encouraged but not forced to come in for large events and we do travel occasionally. But we are talking about a couple days a month at most depending on the role.

    We were rated #2 nonprofit recently and our flexibility (and pay) cited as a major reason why people are happy.

  36. Nonprofit321*

    LW3: I think it’s a big assumption that people will immediately know why you’re leaving a given state based on your resume. It’s a huge assumption that people from other states will even know what’s going on in your state, let alone that they’ll connect those dots. When skimming your resume they’re more likely to be looking at your job experience, titles, qualifications, credentials rather than seeing what state you’re in and jumping to conclusions about your political motivations for leaving. Especially in a field like higher ed where people move around a lot.

    Lastly, if I was hiring and a candidate mentioned partisan political reasons for leaving their current job, depending on what the reasons are or how they framed it, I’d be concerned about their judgment in sharing that with a stranger whose political views they don’t know, and with their ability to keep their political beliefs separate from the workplace. I’d say tread very carefully in sharing your political opinions in a job interview at all. Way too much risk for it to backfire when it’s easy to just come up with some other reason for looking for new employment.

    1. Blackcat*

      I do think it’s common knowledge many states are going to remove tenure. Academia (at least in science, where I am), is extremely international. I am not in the US, and I can’t think of a single colleague who doesn’t have at least one close US collaborator/partner. Most of us work with at least one person impacted by this recent stuff. The office is often busy at weird hours here that are working hours in the US. Also, Texas and Florida are huge in population. Combined they’re more populous than most European countries. For me personally, I have am working on a project where 4 people in the 10 person team are at public universities in Florida. I am well aware of what’s happening in red states in the US. Awareness may vary a fair bit, but academia is very internationally integrated in a way other industries just aren’t.

      For many, it’s not “political” per se, it’s that the fundamental conditions of the job are changing via removing or highly curtailing tenure (particularly for new, not yet tenured faculty). People looking to leave have a range of politics, so far as I can tell. Liberal folks may be more vocal about trying to leave, but a lot of more moderate or even conservative people would much rather be at a university with tenure protections. I don’t think, at least in science, that people will make assumptions about politics. They’ll just assume people want better working conditions.

      1. OP3*

        Yes, for me this is less about politics and more about working conditions/the quality of the product we offer. They’re firing good people for disingenuous reasons; hiring unqualified friends and relatives; slowing or stopping normal bureaucratic functions due to pointless micromanaging; and diverting money into personal projects that are unlikely to succeed. Many current faculty, staff, and students are leaving. Something may be left once the dust settles, but it will be a fundamentally different job than I was hired to do. These are not fundamentally political reasons for me to leave, but if I blame the governor for them in an interview, I may certainly be perceived as “bringing politics into it.” That is part of the awkwardness here.

      2. amoeba*

        Yeah, academia is small and that’s a big deal. If I’ve heard of it (and I left academia for industry several years ago, and have never worked or lived in the US), I’m pretty sure that people on actual hiring committees in the US will know what’s going on.

    2. KatieP*

      I agree that a new institution probably won’t make assumptions about why LW3 wants to leave their current state. The faculty in other institutions outside TX and FL are probably very aware of what’s happening to their colleagues. As Blackcat said, there is so much collaboration, particularly in STEM, betweeen institutions, across all borders, and the faculty in the states that are considering ending tenure are (rightfully) enraged and extremely vocal to everyone who will listen.
      I can’t speak to other red states, but the Texas bill was amended yesterday, and our public universities can keep tenure. They changed it to codify some stuff that was already standard practice, anyway. I think they just needed to explain to a certain political segment that tenure wasn’t a, “you can keep this job for life no matter what you do,” that people think it is. There’s no guarantee that they won’t come back and try this stunt again in 2 years, though.
      The other Texas bill that our faculty were (again, rightfully) upset about was the one that would ban CRT and DEI efforts. That bill has also been modified, as well. Again, 2 years from now, they may try to ban both of them again.

    3. Emily*

      Speaking as a graduate of New College of Florida, people in other states have absolutely heard about what’s going on with the school/the governor/the state in general. I’ve had multiple friends and friendly acquaintances bring it up with me. I imagine that most academics are either already aware of the issues that LW3 is facing, or if they are not aware, will connect the dots pretty quickly when they look into LW3’s background.

      1. Blackcat*

        The New College situation is what has my friends at other Florida public universities so freaked out. When they told me about it, I couldn’t believe it at first. Then I read about it and IT’S SO BAD. All of this stuff is not just talk–they’re trialing this political take over on a smaller school. Probably other undergraduate-focused unis are next. Folks at the big research unis (at least in science) don’t think they are at imminent threat in the same way, but they very much see it as “They are coming for New College faculty. They will come for me eventually.”

        It’s so sad.

    4. RightSaidDread*

      LW3, You have my empathy, I’m trying to get the heck out of Florida too.

    5. Fierce Jindo*

      Commenters who aren’t in higher ed are pretty clearly out of their lane on this one!

  37. Rachel*

    #4: does the profile say “i smoke weed” or “weed friendly?”

    The difference here is saying you do something or you are fine with other people doing it around you.

    Even if it says she smokes weed, this is not your problem to solve.

    1. meow*

      It seems more that the main issue is that she also has the company listed on her profile

  38. House On The Rock*

    I work in a support (think IT) role at an academic medical center and have been almost entirely remote since the start of the pandemic. I switched jobs about a year ago and the new group has had a few in person meetings, but with the understanding some people won’t come on site and that’s fine.

    That being said, there was a bit of a scare last year when a new Executive started making noise about more “face to face interaction” being a good thing and “thinking about how to come back to the office”. They got a ton of immediate and very strong resistance from all levels and that was, thankfully, walked back.

    I was honestly really proud of everyone from individual contributors to other higher ups for making very clear that we had the expectation of fully remote work and this person was flying in the face of that. It helped, I think, that our University has made remote work a point of pride, especially around reducing our carbon footprint.

    And I took some delight in seeing New Executive realizing that our culture definitely is not differential when people feel their core way of working and living is being threatened!

    1. House On The Rock*

      *deferential…I’ll leave the differentials to the mathematics department.

    2. Sad Desk Salad*

      My eyebrows went up when our CEO started talking about how good it will be to see each other face to face again in 2021…but he lives in a different state than our HQ, so I figured the risk was low. I’ve seen him about once yearly since then, and many times via video call.

  39. CountryLass*

    #2, I’ve literally just discovered that my boss has been in the office for the past… 3 hours. She is normally in before me, and I didn’t notice her come in to the office! I only spotted her when her appointment arrived and I went to her part of the office to ask if anyone knew if she was on her way. Found her sitting at her desk! If it’s a one off, it happens, if you are in the middle of something you don’t always notice or acknowledge someone.

  40. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4. Anything you put out on the internet and any social media is PUBLIC and it could be FOREVER. While smoking weed and using recreational cannabis is now legal in many areas, it has not yet reached the social acceptance of, say, a beer or a cocktail.

    Also remember that potential employers will see your CV and application, likely go to Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/whatever the hell is the platform du jour, and check you out.
    So if you didn’t get a call back from XYZ Corporation, they may have seen a Facebook post – and if you said “Oh man I didn’t come down off that high… I must have smoked some really good s**t”, that may have torpedoed your chances before they began.

    1. Rachel*

      (1) a dating app is not the same as social media.

      (2) the boss, hiring committee, or HR did not find this information. It was a screenshot from a friend of the LW.

      This specific LW ought to do absolutely nothing whatsoever with this information.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        A dating app is the same as social media in that it’s public and findable, and searchable depending on the app. Also she mentions her employer which many companies will consider as her representing the company on social media, regardless of the nuance between types of social media.

        1. Rachel*

          I think it’s great advice to the candidate to take the workplace off the app.

          I just think we are only supposed to address the person who wrote in, and I’m surprised at the number of people who are blustery about how bad this dating app profile is.

          The candidate passed the drug test and zero people asked the LW their advice on hiring, I cannot think of a reason this is at all their business.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            But I think the question OP is asking is “do I have a responsibility to do something with this information I’ve been handed”. And the interpretation can be anywhere on the spectrum of “this is none of your business, keep your head down” to “that person is about to walk in front of a bus, if you don’t pull them back you’re being negligent”.

            It sounds like this friend put OP in a weird position, and the stance that no one has to give their opinion, or a warning to someone who might be hurt, unless they’re directly asked is not the universal ethical interpretation.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              In this example though i don’t see what there is to warn the new employee about – Since they’ve already been hired, wouldn’t they know that they are being/will be tested? If it’s that important to the job, surely the new hires are told about the policies.

          2. Pip*

            YES, good grief, no one needs to put their workplace on their dating profile, no matter what else the profile says. You never know what folks are looking at your profile. Get to know someone a bit before letting them know where you work.
            And no, the LW does not need to do a single thing about the weed reference in this situation. The candidate is a grown-up and can handle this themselves. They know the consequences of a positive drug test.

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*


        1 – a dating app IS a form of social media. It’s open to the world.

        2- Yes, LW should do nothing about what he/she stumbled into. HOWEVER, boss/HR might. And the point of my previous post is that the boss or hiring committee, or HR might have found it and trashed his/her application.

      3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        And addendum – if LW works for a drug-free company – LW should re-write the text in his/her dating app.

        1. Rachel*

          This is great advice for the boss or hiring manager to google or social media search candidates BEFORE making an offer.

          It is great advice for people on dating apps to be cautious with their profile, especially when linking their job.

          But this SPECIFIC LW isn’t the poster and isn’t hiring, the advice TO THIS LW is do nothing.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            I got a little confused here – yes, succesful applicant should change his/her dating app stuff. Not the LW. LW should do nothing on this.

            Actually many bosses or hiring managers do a Google or social media search during the initial , pre-contact screening.

  41. Ellen*

    LW3, good luck! I am spending the day packing up my home in a very red area to move back home to a large city where I have family and a new job. The job here just wasn’t worth the isolation and heartache of being surrounded primarily by people with an utterly different worldview. Although I feel a little uncomfortable with the fig leaf of “moving to be closer to family,” I also don’t know how to talk to people who cling to certain views in the face of overwhelming evidence such as recordings, sworn testimony, and warnings from the highest levels of their own party. So fig leaf it is. I did explain to my new employer that we had moved to this area “strictly for work,” in hopes of communicating that I am not typical of people around here in my political views.

  42. Colette*

    #1 – I think there’s a gap between perception and reality.

    A lot of people worked from home in 2020/2021/2022. And then companies started requiring them to go back to the office.

    Sometimes there was a legitimate business reason (e.g. they could only do 50% of the job from home, or client-facing roles that had been online were moving back in person).

    Sometimes it was caused by real estate (i.e. “we’re stuck in a 20 year lease and we’re not using the office”).

    Sometimes it was caused by pettiness (e.g. complaints of “I can’t work from home, how come they can?”).

    Sometimes it was caused by economic concerns (e.g. “if no one goes back to the office, downtown businesses will suffer”).

    So companies starting requiring people to go back to the office, and some people listened and went back. Others said “Nope, not doing it”.

    Canada just had a public service strike, and one of the issues was being mandated back to the office; the end result was that each situation (for that union) has to be considered individually.

    I think that overall there is a discrepancy between what companies say (“you must be in the office X days a week”) and what actually happens; workers with power will make their own choices, and it’ll be a while before we really know what the future of work looks like.

  43. Big Yikes*

    #2 – It does sound like he’s just being petty, but might be something to keep an eye on, depending on the context. I had a boss (not my day-to-day supervisor, but a co-founder of the very small company) who started over-analyzing every interaction we had, and it slowly escalated to a point that I would consider highly manipulative and probably abusive. NOT saying this is what’s going on here, just something to be aware of as a possibility. I would have really appreciated someone looking out and going to bat for me when the situation called for it.

  44. Jigglypuff*

    LW #2, I had a library director put in my annual review that I had to start greeting her first when she walked into our work area rather than simply responding to her greeting. I was baffled by this nonsense, especially since my review was the first time I’d heard this, and I talked to my union rep. The rep’s advice was to get a job literally anywhere else.

    Unless your staff member is generally rude, this is just unhinged manager behavior and is a big red flag.

    (I did consider but did not verbalize that if my director had worn a bell, like my cat does, I’d know she was coming and could prepare myself to greet her.)

    1. Generic Name*

      Give her tictacs so you can hear her coming based on the rattling in her pocket.

  45. umami*

    Also in higher ed, and we (leadership) have been 100% back since June 2020, and faculty finally 100% back since Fall 2022. We are a very heavy workforce campus, and most instruction and services are needed in-person for our student population. My job can technically be mostly done from home, but there is a matter of solidarity with those who have no choice but be in-person due to the nature of their work. I think it helped that I never got accustomed to working from home, so it was easy to get back to the norm of being in the office. Personally, I wouldn’t advocate for a system that allows flexibility for some when it’s not possible for others.

    1. Katara's side braids*

      I’ve never really understood the “solidarity” point. As someone who has to work in person, I would much prefer that people who can feasibly work remotely be given the option. Since more people have come back in person, I’ve felt much more distracted and have definitely been getting less done. Also, parking is a lot harder to find.

      On a larger scale, my commute got much worse as employers in my area started bringing people back. I don’t have comparison data, but more people working remotely likely would have made it easier to find a therapist who could work around my “traditional” full time work hours, since more people could have used the flexibility of WFH to schedule during the day. That probably also goes for other kinds of medical care and services like home maintenance. In general, I would be much more confused than grateful if someone who could feasibly WFH told me they were coming in for “solidarity” (or “consistency across work groups” as you mentioned in another comment).

      1. umami*

        I do miss how little traffic there was in the beginning! The solidarity point was more a personal one from my position as a senior leadership member; I did not think it was appropriate to have staff come to the office and stay home just because my job could be done from home. I don’t expect other employee groups or peers to feel pressured to come to work for solidarity, but consistency in treatment was definitely what our employees were most interested in – staff felt we didn’t care as much about their needs and concerns when they had to come in and faculty could continue operating in an online environment. And that was a valid concern, especially when students said they preferred to come to campus both for services and for classes. So the consistency actually supported an operational need as well, it wasn’t the exclusive reason. I do think there is value from a morale standpoint to try to be consistent in treatment of employee groups.

      2. AnonORama*

        Yeah, we got the “solidarity” argument too and I didn’t get it — I would’ve gone for “safety.” Specifically, our work team (office workers) had to come back at least 2 days a week starting in May 2020, because our organization has an affiliated retail arm where the workers were considered essential. Leadership decided it would be unfair for the retail team to have to work in-person when the office team was working from home. I wouldn’t have decided it that way (and the retail folks also thought it was stupid to bring in extra people to potentially catch and spread a brand-new disease). Thankfully we never had a major outbreak, but it was a weird call IMO.

    2. Observer*

      Personally, I wouldn’t advocate for a system that allows flexibility for some when it’s not possible for others.

      I honestly hope that you are never in a decision making position. Because this is a HORRIBLE way to manage.

      It’s also often illegal and costly. There are many situations where the law *requires* flexibility that is not available to others. In some cases giving people flexibility that’s only available in some roles, means that you get to keep your payroll costs down. And in some cases, giving people that kind of flexibility is really the only *practical* way to make sure that you have coverage when you really (especially at odd times), without need to significantly over-staff.

      1. umami*

        Years ago, a wise mentor shared with me that the biggest legal issues you will ever face is by being flexible vs. being consistent. You can defend consistency; it is much harder to defend flexibility when your motives can be called into question. I have been involved in enough investigations in my career (not against me, but as the neutral person collecting information from both sides) to learn that he was 100% right.

        1. Observer*

          You can defend consistency; it is much harder to defend flexibility when your motives can be called into question.

          Sometimes. And sometimes even when your consistency is not questioned, you will still lose.

          1. umami*

            Heh, you sure use *sometimes* a lot. *Sometimes* and *in some cases* aren’t useful in *most* situations.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Sure, and in *most* situations not allowing one employee flexibility because another employee can’t have it is how you lose good employees. Jobs come with pros and cons, that’s just the way life works.

      2. I have RBF*


        I would not want to work for a company that decided for “fairness” everyone must come in to an office because some people’s jobs couldn’t be done remotely. It would be like making an entire office of computer programmers have to come in to an open plan just because the receptionist, warehouse and data center people had to be on site. Wasteful, IMO.

        It’s not “fairness” to require in-person work from people who would actually do better remotely. It’s a weird power move that is decidedly hostile to remote workers.

        Honestly? Me working remote means there are more close parking spaces at the office.

  46. alienor*

    #1: I’m a field employee, but for the majority of people at my current company, the expectation is 2x a week in office, and there have been threats of increasing that if there’s not enough compliance. My previous company had an office, but the leadership was much more interested in expanding their remote footprint – when I left, they were actively recruiting all over the US – so it varies. (For what it’s worth, that company was also smaller and not long out of its startup stage, which I think contributed to a more flexible mindset.)

    I will say that I never really believed the 2020/2021-era press about the pandemic creating a permanent shift in the way people work. I always suspected that most companies would force people back into the office again as soon as they possibly could, because the corporate world as a whole hates change and hates losing their perceived control over employees. I’m not surprised that it’s happening, and I wish it weren’t, but I’m surprised that people are surprised.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      It really depends on the type of work you’re doing, and how successful work from home has been as well. My company did okay WFH, but productivity and quality of output is measurably higher in a hybrid setting, as well as employee satisfaction (the employees were the ones who decided to come back/voted on the type of hybrid scenario which is three days in office a week. Many people are coming in five days a week even though they don’t have to).

      I think the “work from home becoming permanent” buzz had a lot to do with the shift in power to the employees, and the fact that so much work can be done remotely. Unfortunately that shift wasn’t permanent, but I bet the power struggle keeps going for a bit and we wind up in a position where there’s a lot more flexibility. It just really hasn’t played out yet.

  47. Angelinha*

    My company has a “hybrid work” policy that has really strict requirements about in-office days on paper. In practice no one is enforcing it, so most people aren’t following it and are staying remote. I was sure they’d crack down at some point, but so far, nothing.

  48. TotesMaGoats*

    OP#1-Also higher ed here. We stayed away longer than most of our system institutions and are still very hybrid from a work and class perspective. My advising team works 2 days in the office each week, I’m here 3. It works well for our students. There are some offices where I think more in person is needed and some less. My frustration is that people keep saying collaboration and work in person is better but yet all my meetings are still via teams/zoom and I don’t feel like the work culture is all that different. And if other industries can be remote and collaborative or adjust to being remote then why can’t higher ed?
    I also think that faculty are getting much more freedom than staff to be remote. Not think, I know. At least at my institution and other local ones, staff (as usual) bear the brunt.

    1. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      The “collaboration” argument is just an excuse for middle managers to justify their meaningless existence and get back to pretending to manage people who are in the office. Otherwise most of them cannot justify why they’re kept on board.

      1. I have RBF*

        Agreed. It was BS when they forced us into an open plan noise pit, it’s BS when they try to justify dragging people back to said open plan noise pit.

    2. Grace*

      Definitely the case on my campus that staff bear the brunt. Staff all had to be back in the office in at least a hybrid modality July 2020, and all hybrid was gone July 2021. Never mind people hadn’t even finished getting their covid boosters b/c the state hadn’t made them available at large until late May 2021.

      Faculty, though? We *still* have faculty who are primarily WFH. Not all of them, because most of our students do prefer in-person classes, but there are a handful of faculty who set foot on campus maybe once a month. I don’t begrudge anyone the ability to WFH, but it is pretty cutting to know my job (which is computer based and requires zero student interaction) won’t even let me have one day of WFH, while someone who is supposed to at least have weekly in-office hours gets to skip coming in at all.

    3. Elsajeni*

      My institution has rolled out some WFH or hybrid options for staff now, but at first they did pretty stringently require that everyone come back to the office 100% of the time. During that period, someone from HR attended a staff council meeting, got bombarded with questions about WFH, and rather snippily told us “the policy that no one can work from home is applied equally across the board, to faculty as well as staff!”
      1) lol
      2) can I attend the meeting where you tell the faculty that, please

  49. I Don't Go Here*

    LW #2 – I’m hard of hearing (deaf in one ear) and I’d advise people against assuming rudeness when some one doesn’t respond to you. I often don’t hear people who I’m not in direct conversation with and people assume the worst.

  50. Milfred*

    My company has recently been forcing people back into the office on a hybrid schedule. What I’ve noticed:

    1. Some people (high demand job, hard to replace) are ignoring the mandate.
    2. Many are arriving late or leaving early (2:00 early) to “avoid traffic”.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I of course don’t miss the height of the pandemic, but the traffic was a lot better…

  51. kiki*

    How widespread is remote work, really?
    I forget where I read this, I think it was from 2021, but there was an article asking folks for an estimate of what percentage of the workforce started working from home during the pandemic and then compared it to the real number. A lot of the guesses from white collar workers were 70-80% but the actual number was something like 20-30%. It’s really easy to live in a privileged bubble where most of your friends and family are working from home and forget that most people never really got the opportunity to stay home at all.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      and forget that most people never really got the opportunity to stay home at all.

      This is the part that I really see overlooked a lot of the time in these conversations. Some jobs were temporarily remote and it was really difficult (teachers, for instance). Some jobs work from home was great! But so many people – even when it was dangerous – never got to work from home in the first place. And it’s easy to say “well this conversation isn’t about them”, but it’s frustrating when people talking about commuting into a job like it’s an unreasonable or cruel ask and some people had to do that and face the public during a pandemic with often limited PPE and they were largely overlooked.

      Which isn’t to say you can’t have preferences, advocate for what’s best for your company, whatever else. But I think people can be a little tone deaf sometimes and there could be some more sensitivity on the topic.

      1. umami*

        True. And it’s the attitude that people are going back to work ‘for no particular reason’ that I find irksome. Just because you don’t know or don’t agree with the reason doesn’t mean there is ‘no reason’. Pushing back can be reasonable, but if you have asked and been answered, at some point you have to accept the situation for what it is or find something more suitable for your needs. But assuming managers only care about butts in seats or other arbitrary measures is a bit frustrating when you take the time to articulate the organization’s position and people just don’t like it.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah as HR this is one of the parts of being on the company’s side is pretty frustrating. I can articulate the company’s stance (whether it’s my personal stance or not, that’s my job), explain the reasoning, and offer to work with people if they have concerns – and get told I’m lying or covering up corruption or doing something illegal because they don’t like it. Nine times out of ten I know I’m going to get shot as the messenger and I’m prepared and okay being the repository for big reactions, but every tenth time it does really feel like “cmon dude. you didn’t hear a word I just said.”

          1. umami*

            I’m glad you point out the ‘whether it’s my personal stance or not’ bit, because 100% yes. We all provided feedback on WFH when the system was determining whether we should develop a policy around it, and ultimately they went with no policy, we would go back to our normal functioning. So that’s that, from a leadership standpoint. Because I am sharing and enforcing the rules doesn’t mean it’s what my preference is, but to assume I don’t get it or understand why people want an exception or I’m out of touch or ‘whatever’ is just not true. If you want to advocate for changing the policy, go for it, but I already tried that. Now my job is to support and apply the rules consistently.

      2. I have RBF*

        True. My immune compromised housemate had to leave her customer facing job because of Covid, but no one talks about those people either.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      A lot of the guesses from white collar workers were 70-80% but the actual number was something like 20-30%.

      That’s interesting; my guess was about 20% maximum, guessing no more than 33% of work is “white collar” office work, and about half of the situations I’ve seen are employers wanting full or majority RTO.

      My employer seems to have realized that it can be used as a benefit (cf. dental, vision, etc) to offset that we’re not the strongest on base pay. We’ll see how well that strategy works in the long run; in the short run, it has helped increase our candidate pool.

      1. kiki*

        If I recall the survey was specifically asking about folks who started working from home during the pandemic, even if they had since returned. So people were also including in their mental calculus some non white-collar office workers who did remote work at the beginning of the pandemic, like teachers, even it was clear it wouldn’t feasibly become permanent.

    3. Hillary*

      According to the 2023 census pulse survey, it’s 20.3% nationwide in the US. I’ll put a link in reply, the article I’m citing is called “Working from Home is Working” and it’s published by Minnesota DEED. In Minnesota the work from home roles that were gained were all managerial and urban, those that were lost were farmers and at-home-daycare, mostly rural.

      My current company is 100% wfh, all two of us (start up), but my last employer was a large global manufacturer. WFH was only physically possible for 10% of roles, and there were measurable productivity drops for a lot of those. Many folks perceived their individual productivity as higher but underestimated the loss in team productivity (ie time waiting for someone to answer a message so they could finish a quote). My team had always been high travel, work from anywhere and we still struggled to adjust. Even as highly experienced self-managing experts it was so much easier when we went back to the office and could just turn around to ask a question.

  52. RagingADHD*

    I was working remotely from before Covid, and I can’t wait to get back into an office and see humans. The bleedthru of work and personal life has overall been a net negative to both.

    Unfortunately, one of the downsides of job searching right now is that so many of the more desirable companies around here want to offer *some* WFH flexibility (which is great), but they list the position as “remote” when they really mean hybrid or flexible.

    So I have to include “remote” in my search parameters just to get any decent hits.

    And then my search feed is overwhelmed with results from all over the country, from other companies who are doing the same thing. They say “remote” when they mean “remote 1x per week.” Which obviously isn’t going to work if I’m 3,000 miles away.

    Folks need to get their terminology straight, or the algorithms need to get better filters. Or preferably both.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      This reminds me of job hunting for “assistant” jobs. I get literally everything and anything that doesn’t apply to my line of work.
      Also, these days “remote” seems to be a whopping lie.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, “hybrid” is not “remote”. I would apply for a remote job at a company in some place like Georgia, when I’m in California, then they’d come back with “oh, we’re actually four days in the office, can you make that work?” No, liar, I can’t and won’t even try.

        At this point the lying is worse than the on-site requirements.

        I really don’t care what your company thinks is best, but don’t lie to prospective employees letting them think that your job is what it is not. There is no way in hell I’m going to get so enamored with your red-state company that I would pull up roots and move there just because you bait and switch on me.

      2. RagingADHD*

        I just saw one for a PA/EA for a family office that included duties like coordinating maintenance & landscaping done at the family estate, and holding house keys.

        Supposedly fully remote, nationwide.

        Dude. What good is it doing you to pull candidates nationwide, if you want them to let the cable guy into your house?

  53. too many dogs*

    To LW #2: I get numerous complaints from customers about one of my employees. The complaint is that the customer greets the employee, but the employee does not return the greeting. The customer complains that the employee is “being rude.” Over and over I have to explain that this hard working employee is almost totally deaf, and that, despite wearing hearing aides, will not hear the customer if their back is turned, or if they are not looking directly at the person speaking. Could your employee have a hearing loss?

    1. too many dogs*

      I hit “submit” before adding that if you didn’t know that my employee has this severe hearing loss, you wouldn’t by speaking with them. That adds to the customer’s feeling that they were just being ignored. It’s very unfair to the employee.

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

        That’s tough. I’ve heard of people who work in retail who have similar experiences. Would it help your employee if they wore a button on their uniform that says hard of hearing or something? Only if they felt comfortable doing so.

        1. too many dogs*

          That is a great suggestion, but I fear that the employee would feel singled out, rather than realizing I was just trying to protect them. The sad thing is that this employee is very open about this when speaking with customers, apologizing for asking them to speak clearly, or sometimes more slowly, so that they can serve them. I am at a loss to understand why a customer would call back later, to complain.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I live in an area with a significant Deaf population, and one of the coffee shops here posts a sign at the register that says something like, “The people who work here are Hearing, Hard of Hearing, and Deaf. Please be sure to speak slowly and clearly so we can provide the best experience.” That’s not it verbatim, but it’s along those lines. The first time I saw the sign it just made me more aware, and I was able to pretty quickly figure out that the woman making my drink is Deaf– so now we don’t expect her to understand us unless we establish eye contact and we’re sure to sign our thanks when she’s working. It struck me as a great way not to single out this barista and to make coffee ordering better in general.

  54. just another queer reader*

    #4: I think that some dating apps keep showing your profile years after you’ve deleted the app. It happened to me once where a friend saw my profile on an app that I hadn’t had on my phone in years.

    So, there’s a possibility that this is old, irrelevant information.

    Anyway, just another reason to leave it be.

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

      But the OP says that it shows where she works. I’m assuming that the OP means that this is the current place of work and not an old place. Because if it was an old job there wouldn’t be as much of an issue.

  55. KB*

    LW 4, good luck! If you’re living in the state I think you’re living in, my brother and sister-in-law left for much the same reason. I hope you find a new job you like and can get out quickly!

  56. Little Beans*

    I work in higher ed and I directly support students and faculty who are primarily in person. My experience is that people are just refusing to work the in-person hours required, when there isn’t an actual work need to be present. My department initially told everyone they had to return 3 days per week and nobody did it – most people came back 1 or 2 days per week, some people wrote down an in person schedule but actually only show up on days when they have to for events. I spent a bunch of days coming to campus to sit alone in an office on zoom meetings and then realized that the leadership is clearly not willing to fire or penalize anyone over this (my immediate boss totally sympathizes with the reasons staff want to work from home). They eventually backed off and now just say that you have to get your schedule approved by your supervisor.

    1. I have RBF*

      IMO, leaving it up to the direct managers, who know their team best, is a good way to handle it, provided that said managers are not arbitrary or rigid.

  57. BatManDan*

    #3 – here’s a great example of how people really want to feel like they are normal. “chances are that most people who look at my resumé will know immediately why I want to leave…”
    Regardless of anyone else’s political views, they most likely won’t assume that you do or do not share theirs. I think it’s highly unlikely that “Most people” will “know immediately.” And, really, in the context of this letter, this whole sentence is entirely unnecessary. But people REALLY want to feel their modes of operating in the world are “normal.” It’s am in interesting phenomenon.

    1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

      That isn’t what is happening here. There are multiple threads in the comments from people in academia who agree with OP’s assessment. Even someone from a university outside the US mentioned how the political handling of universities in places like FL are seen as a hiring opportunity by their employer.

    2. Apple green tea*

      I don’t know anyone in academia who isn’t living under a rock on Saturn who wouldn’t know why someone is higher ed is leaving a red state. I have friends at a university in *Australia* who when they hear about someone trying to quit their higher ed job their precise first response is “let me guess .. they currently work at a uni in Texas.”

    3. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      I think it just needs to be more specific. It should perhaps read “chances are that most people who look at my resume *and are currently hiring for faculty positions in the US* …will know immediately why I want to leave…”

      If a university administrator or department head at a US university somehow isn’t aware of the current controversies in states like Texas and Florida, and how these issues are driving people in academia to leave those states, then that administrator or department head is incompetent. They absolutely should be expected to know about major changes causing a mass exodus of faculty from a few states especially if their job includes recruiting and hiring faculty.

      It’d be kind of like a military contractor not knowing about the Ukraine war. Like, this is an important development that is effecting your entire industry right now and literally everyone in the industry is talking about it. How could one not be aware of it and be competent?

    4. Fierce Jindo*

      Your first sentence wins the “most ironic comment” award today, I think.

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

    Related to the WFH letter. You would think that changing someone’s job description from WFH to in-person when they were hired for remote work, would violate something.

    I know my university we sign contracts that give specifics for the duties of the job, hours, etc. I know the OP is in a different situation but if their coworkers have it in their job description and/or contracts that they are WFH they could push back.

    As for the LW themselves, I can understand your frustration. During the pandemic I was forced to come in everyday even though my coworkers were all taking turns coming in. I think it helps to frame it that your job is not the same as others and so you can’t compare it.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Contracts are uncommon in the US and job descriptions are allowed to change. I hear the frustration, I do, and the situations do sometimes feel like a bait-and-switch (and are, at crappy places), but it doesn’t violate anything.

    2. Same*

      You would think that changing someone’s job description from WFH to in-person when they were hired for remote work, would violate something.

      I’m not in the US, but yes, a change to an essential condition of employment like workplace location often falls squarely into a contractual breach, and/or a violation of employment law, depending on jurisdiction. My previous employer tried to do this, and it did not end well for them.

  59. Observer*

    #4- Weed smoking new colleague

    someone whose new job drug-tests them upon hire should be able to figure this out on her own, and I’m not super optimistic about her judgment if she hasn’t

    I love how diplomatic Allison is! This person has either no judgement or is frighteningly clueless about the basics of privacy.

    If it’s a matter of judgement, then she’ll either learn quickly or flame out in some fashion anyway. If it’s about privacy, I hope she gets fired pretty quickly. Because this in generally also the kind of person who is not careful about the privacy of their students.

    To be clear: This has nothing to do with weed, and everything to do with basic failure to understand how this information could travel.

  60. El l*

    OP1, the current general state of play is…there isn’t one. It is now completely a strategic choice each organization makes. Even within that the nuances often get down to the level of job roles etc. Also be advised that even before Covid there was often a pendulum dynamic about remote work – individual employers changing their mind every 3-10 years.

    So maybe another employer will offer remote work, maybe they won’t. All you can do is discuss in detail before you come onboard.

    OP3: “I’m looking for a better lifestyle – and I think your area and [organization] can provide that.” Then expand on that for 30 seconds.

  61. rayray*

    #2, the boss might be extra sensitive. It’s very likely the employee didn’t hear/see your boss, or maybe they were distracted or busy. I once got scolded for not saying Goodbye to someone as they left our office. I was genuinely just very busy and trying to focus on my work, I had no idea I hurt her feelings or offended her.

  62. zolk*

    Higher ed here! We are hybrid (2 days remote, 3 in office) and people are MAD about it. Everyone I’ve spoken to across different positions (non-management roles) agrees that some roles can be remote or mostly remote and some can’t. For instance, student-facing roles or roles delivering supports to classrooms or facilities obviously need to be in-person most or all of the time. But roles where you are student facing _remote_ classes (which we have!) or non-student facing roles where someone sits in an office all day and needs quiet (finance, marketing, etc) should be able to be remote.

    The messaging from management is that this wouldn’t be “equal”, but we all understand that different roles require different work and different environments. Some people like being in – good for them! I hate it and get less work done because my office becomes a revolving door of gossip when I’m trying to code something and need quiet/no distractions.

    We’re making this a big sticking point in our union bargaining and if you have a union, you should talk to them about this. If you’re not unionized, now is a great time to start unionizing your staff.

  63. blink14*

    #1 – I’m also in higher ed and my university does not have a university wide policy on schedules, rather it’s based by department and then by job. Just prior to Covid starting, the university started hiring nationwide for some specific remote only positions (we also have multiple satellite campuses). So the infrastructure was already being put in place to have people work remotely at a wider scale and from any state. This allows departments to hire outside of the metro area that the main campus is at, looking for the best candidates vs being limited by location.

    For the most part, the pros outweigh the cons here. My job went remote at the start of Covid and in 2021, I was offered the chance to remain remote. We now have 2 other remote employees in our department (all of us are now out of state from the main campus). Those who are on a hybrid schedule in our department are required to be in once a week, on the same day. Some come in more frequently, others work from a smaller campus nearby a few days a week as well.

    I’d say about 60% of colleagues I work directly with (outside of my dept) are on a variety of hybrid schedules, 30% are remote, and the remaining 10% are required to be in person 5 days a week. We all support faculty to in some way, so I’m not sure about student related services, but I know it’s fairly rare now to be in a position within the organization that requires 5 days on campus. That typically pertains to high leadership roles and positions where in person is the only way a job can get done (maintenance, labs, food service, transportation, etc).

  64. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

    I’m in the middle of reading a book that came out well before the pandemic but definitely reads differently now (Quiet by Susan Cain). The part I’m reading about is the general assumption that in-person collaboration/brainstorming strongly favors certain personalities and does not necessarily produce better results. She mentions some studies where it made things *worse*. Still, it is taken as a given that in-person collaborations are always better so employees must come to the office. For OP, that might be the case, but it isn’t as necessary as people assume.

    This definitely made total sense to me but that is probably influenced by my work history and being an introvert. Nearly all the work I’ve done in an office involved creating and analyzing large documents and financial data. Collaboration needed to happen on documents. When I worked in an office where the CEO really pushed hard for in-person collaborations and brainstorms, it was harder to do my work. I eventually negotiated for 1 WFH day per week and got more done on that day than 2 days in the office.

    1. Sciencer*

      In my experience it depends a lot on the type of work being collaborated on. When I’m co-writing something (anything from a marketing email to an academic paper), I have no interest in doing that in the same physical space as my coauthors. It works much, much better to work remotely, even if we are in the document at the same time, because we don’t have that unspoken pressure to talk to each other. The worst co-writing experiences I’ve had involved coauthors literally peering over my shoulder as I wrote, but even sitting at separate tables with separate laptops in the same room brings a level of distraction that I could do without when writing.

      By contrast, I’ve had numerous instances of flying through curriculum development when working in person with a colleague or small team, as we can quickly brainstorm ideas and troubleshoot details on the fly rather than building out a lesson plan or assignment then going through rounds of revision over multiple sittings of remote collaboration. We *have* done this kind of collaboration over Zoom as well, both during the pandemic when we were briefly all working remotely, and since when one or more folks has a wonky schedule or a cold, but it is immeasurably slower and more painful. Between lag and poor connections, and I think more fundamentally the lesser focus we each have on the task when we’re in separate spaces with other distractions around us, we just don’t get as much work done in the same amount of time (and we’re often grumpy by the end of it).

      1. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

        Yeah, collaboration over zoom can get tricky. Where I live, it is really common for people to talk over the end of other people’s sentences. In person, it annoys me but I know it is simply how they communicate. Online, it means that parts of the conversation will get cut off.

  65. Jen*

    I am sorry if this was already asked, but I tried to browse the comments and didn’t see it…. I am just wondering if these rejection calls are only going to internal candidates or if they are happening with all candidates? If it is just internal candidates, then that makes sense to me that the company might want those rejections to feel more personal or give them more attention and allow for questions and feedback. But definitely if they are rejecting every external candidate that way, I agree that it would be potentially awkward for the candidate and an e-mail would be perfectly fine. Maybe they just have a really old school HR department who does things the way the always have an that includes lots of phone calls where an e-mail would be best.

    1. Gato Blanco*

      I was wondering the same. The org I currently work for does phone calls for internal candidate rejections and, unfortunately, usually ghosts everyone else. Weird that they’ve settled on two extremes that basically no one likes rather than emails for everyone.

    2. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I work for an org that does calls for internal rejections because they think “we owe it to the internal people”– and let me tell you how much it sucks more than an email. I’m an easy crier and trying to hold it together on a call after feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut isn’t easy, especially when it’s via Teams with cameras on.

      I was recently the hiring manager (I wrote in but can’t find the link to my letter) and had to do calls. I would have MUCH preferred to send email with an offered to do a 15 minute feedback meting a day later which is what Alison suggested. Absolutely nothing good came from those calls. I talked and the candidates said very little. A dialogue where they’d had time to think about questons for me would have been better for hem.

  66. Jumping Jacks*

    Seconding what Musical Chairs said.
    In some cultures, it is considered polite to greet people when you come to the office.

    Some people say that if they clock in, they don’t have to greet anyone.
    But saying “good morning” is more than just proving you showed up for work. It’s part of having a positive work place. (You’re not just a faceless cog in the wheel.)

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Yeah, I think this is another area where people are conflating the company and the people working for the company. The company needs the timeclock, but the PEOPLE need human interaction.

  67. DataSci*

    I have to say that the situation in #2 (the “good morning” one) is the sort of thing that drives my non-neurotypical friends crazy! If they don’t correctly perform all social niceties despite never having been asked to do so, they’ll get in professional trouble?

    That boss needs to let it go. If the employee is otherwise rude or non-communicative, focus on that. Not whether someone who may have been heads down on a problem said “good morning”.

  68. CTA*

    For LW #2

    There definitely needs to be more context.

    I’ve had people approach me from behind, ask me a question, and then later on call me rude because I didn’t answer. Well, I didn’t know I was the one they were directing their question to. I was occupied doing other things and there were other people in the room. I didn’t know they were speaking to me because they didn’t address me by name or get my attention otherwise. They just walked up behind me and asked a question. Yes, I was pretty shocked to be called rude. I brushed it off because it’s not logical for me to be called that when I didn’t even know someone was trying to engage with me.

  69. Capt. Liam Shaw*

    I had a coworker once get upset when I didn’t say good evening to her when I was leaving. It was not intentional, I was just getting packed up quickly because I had somewhere to be. People can be weird sometimes.

  70. Dr. AK*

    LW3–I’m assuming that you are a professor (and I have guesses to which state you live in). Having sat on hiring committees for professors, I would recommend that you focus on what attracts you to the department. Some people look down on candidates who cite only family/personal reasons for wanting to live in that area. It’s weird, but professors are a weird bunch–you are supposed to show devotion to the job as your primary motivation. I don’t agree with this, but it is the old school mentality.

    1. Sciencer*

      Agreed. On the one hand, sure, everyone you’re interviewing with probably sees your CV and says “ah, Florida, of course” – but when it comes to deciding among candidates, they’re going to focus on all the usual stuff and you definitely don’t want their primary memory/thought of your candidacy being “wants to escape from Florida.” Focusing on what you can bring to the dept/university and how you envision your career unfolding there will be much more valuable.

  71. JustMe*

    LW 3 – I work in higher ed. EVERYONE knows about what’s happening in Florida/Texas (and some of the other red states in the south) and we are all talking about the impact that it has on employee hiring and retention (not to mention academic freedom, good God) and universities up North are poaching talented people right and left. This is probably one of the few times where I think you CAN actually say, “I am concerned about my career prospects in xyz state” and then focus the interview back on why you want to move to that particular state and what interests you about the job you are applying for.

    1. JustMe*

      To add to this: I have colleagues at universities outside the US that I speak to consistently and they ALSO know about what’s happening in some of these Southern States. Within the higher ed space, this is akin to the Elon Musk Twitter takeover–no one is going to question why you’re leaving.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      I think the issue is less “is your reason for wanting out valid” and more is “anywhere but here” clouding your judgement when determining if the new position is a good fit. Focusing on what you are moving towards and letting what you are moving away from remain subtext will assuage concern about whether you are using this position as a stepping stone to get away from a bad situation and will be moving on as soon as you can find the place you really want to be.

  72. Chilipepper Attitude*

    #1 I’m also in higher ed. we have been 100% in person since fall 2021. So it is not only your institution

    #3 I think I’m in your state. Just wanted to say good luck getting out!

  73. Student*

    OP #2: Obviously, I don’t know anything about your boss or employee. I wanted to share personal experience with this in case it might be applicable.

    I’m hard-of-hearing. It’s a lot more common than many people realize. Hearing aides are really expensive (though the move to OTC hearing aides will hopefully improve this) and there’s lots of stigma & shame around it. So, a lot of people with this condition don’t get screened or treated for it. It’s also really hard to tell when you have mild hearing loss, so it’s possible to have this problem without knowing it, too.

    Sometimes I offend people by not returning polite exchanges like this. It’s not intentional; I can’t tell it happened! It’s especially an issue if the people talking to me are behind me or not looking at me, or I’m not looking at them. I didn’t even realize how much I relied on subconscious lip-reading until COVID masking hit.

    Also, keep in mind that this kind of problem could potentially be in play for either party – the employee, the boss, or even both.

    If you talk to your employee and your boss, and there’s a serious disconnect in their accounts of what happened, please consider whether this might be a potential factor.

  74. My Useless 2 Cents*

    OP1, I’m with you! I feel like I’ve had a completely different COVID experience than most out there.

    Although my job could 100% be done remote, my company owner finagled a loophole to be declared essential and the office never closed. Luckily its a smaller company and we don’t have general public drop-in’s at the office. Also, I live in a rural small town that wasn’t hit very hard. But my life continued on pretty much the same as the last few years as the years before.

    It really sucked because I was just starting to look for remote work (small town, not a lot of options) right as the pandemic hit. I put all that on the back burner for a couple years. Just started to look again and there is all this talk about companies forcing employees back to the office.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I also feel I’ve had a very different covid experience. I worked for a city library in 2020, we were back at work in May 2020 without patrons coming in. We were back to patrons coming in by September 2020. I’m at a new job now that is also 100% in the office. So I had about 6 weeks of quarentine. I’m pretty sure the grocery stores near me did not close at all.

  75. Abogado Avocado*

    I’ve been a lawyer for more than three decades and in my current government job, I’m able to work from home whenever I want. I’m in the office, however, 90 percent of the time because the work I do is collaborative and, as I learned during COVID, it’s a lot easier to collaborate in person than on a Zoom or a phone call.

    Nonetheless, there’s a lot of discussion in the legal profession about how well new attorneys (known as “baby lawyers”) are served by WFH. Many law firms, nonprofits and government orgs allow WFH for baby lawyers, but experienced lawyers worry that opportunities for informal training and advancement are being lost. As a young lawyer in a large law firm, I loved being able to quickly get advice from experienced lawyers simply by walking into their offices and asking them about issues in the cases I was handling. And I learned lots from the war stories my more experienced colleagues told. Being in the office also was a way to get involved in juicy cases merely because I was there. (It can be hard, especially for women, to be remembered for good assignments when you’re billing from another location.)

    At the same time, it’s possible that WFH will allow more women who decide to have children to stay in the legal profession. Yes, yes, partners should share the childcare load more fully, there should be more affordable childcare, etc., but the fact is that childcare responsibilities still fall disproportionately on women. So if WFH means that more women stay in the legal profession and on the path to partnership and/or leadership, I’m good with that, too.

    1. Same*

      This only works if the senior lawyers have the time and ability to mentor, and are in the same physical place at the same time as the juniors.

      Mentoring can be done online and remotely. The senior lawyer I learned the most from worked 4000km away in a different state. We never met in person until after we’d both moved to other organisations. They are still a mentor to me today.

      Employers need to offer a flexibility first option wherever possible. And law is definitely one of those industries that needs the diversity of thought and perspective that the candidates who often need to WFH bring, including neurodivergent people, women, people with carer’s responsibilities, people with disabilities, and POC.

  76. anon, anon*

    LW #3, when my future employer asked me, in joking tones, “Why are you leaving Florida to move to Alaska?” I replied, also in joking tones, “Because it was as far away as I could get.”

    But I don’t necessarily recommend this to others.

  77. Introvert girl*

    1. I’m one of those people that was hired remotely (office is a 3,5 hour drive from my home) and am now being forced back in the office on my own costs. I’m leaving the job over it as it will be a too big financial drain. I think the company did this on purpose, hiring people for lower wages as they could work from anywhere in my country (Europe) and are now forcing everyone back for a couple of days a month, knowing full well no one would have agreed to those wages if we knew we had to be driving to the office. Also, no raises, not even 1% fir the first 1,5 year. So yeah, 1/3 if my team will definitely leave over the summer.

  78. Prospect Gone Bad*

    As per #1, the internet makes WFH seem more popular than it is. Many sites attract a certain type of person. I don’t see advice for my industry here, but on other sites I see loads of horrible advice and extremely high salaries for my industry. I would take what I see online with a huge grain of salt. In fact, I’ve even doubted many salaries I’ve seen online. So many people online claim to do little work for $150K a year while WFH but I’m hard pressed to find anyone IRL actually doing this, or getting paid what people online say.

    Online: “I am 26 and got an offer for $200K for software engineer, how do I negotiate a living wage and make sure my two other jobs are OK with it?”

    Read life: 40 year old with 15 years experience works 50 hours a week to make $150K

  79. One HR Opinion*

    #1 – We are a mix. The vast majority of our staff have to work in person 100% of the time. The other group can choose to be 100% remote, hybrid or FT in office. I’d say roughly 25% choose 100% remote. My husband is 100% remote, but he’s the only one in my circle who is. So, I’d think that at least part of what we are seeing is “the squeaky wheel effect.”

  80. Cruciatus*

    Regarding remote work–I work in an academic library. Each department on campus can make the rules up for their own employees (including no one being able to work remotely). The school down the hall lets their staff WFH 1 time a week. The registrar’s office 2 times a week. My coworker and I (staff, not librarians) can WFH 2 times a month (the librarians can whenever they want to, but they don’t do it too often). My coworker actually could WFH more often because her stuff is more budget related while my stuff requires actually working with books (ILLs, shipping, etc.). Because of this I’m pretty sure that’s why we’re limited to only 2 times a month. And being remote only came up due to the pandemic. Our Libraries dean has told supervisors to be flexible when they can.

  81. L. Bennett*

    #2 Definitely needs more context. The answer is different for a variety of different scenarios including whether the boss greeted the employee first (rather than just expected a ‘good morning’ from the employee), whether the employee heard the boss (if the boss did greet them first), and whether it’s a pattern or a singular event.

    For example, if the boss walked by the employee’s desk every day for the past week and said “Good morning, Fitzwilliam!” and Fitzwilliam just cold-glared at the boss as they walked past… Fitzwilliam needs to be talked to about general politeness.

    If the boss walked past the employee’s desk and the employee had headphones in/was otherwise engaged in work/etc. etc. etc., but the boss expected them to hop to attention as soon as they approached, then the boss is being a jackass by making this a big deal.

    1. Frog&Toad*

      I have airpods and am frequently surprised by people in my own home if I’m wearing them and focusing on work at the same time! They block out everything.

  82. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    #5 – I, too, work for an org that does phone, usually via Teams and sometimes with cameras (terrible, because I am an easy crier), rejections. I have a file on my computer titled “rejection notes” for the specific reason you’re asking about. Many of the lines are adapted from AAM responses. Here are a few:

    Thank you again for the opportunity. I enjoyed meeting you and getting to learn about the department. Keep me in mind if opportunities open up in the future.

    I really appreciate the time you and the team spent talking with me. Even though this position wasn’t the right fit, I’m still interested in eventually moving into a position with [insert department here], and I would be grateful for your feedback about how I can better position myself to do that.

    I really value critical feedback, and I would be hugely grateful to hear your candid thoughts on ways I could position myself better for a role in [insert department/position here]. Please do not feel obligated to answer this question, but I’m open to any information that will help me move forward in my career.

    Are there any gaps in experience or weaknesses I could tackle, or any way I might be tripping myself up without realizing it? –OR– Is there anything in the way that I interview that you think might be holding me back? Please understand that I’m not in any way taking issue with your decision, but rather asking for guidance. I appreciate any advice you could share with me.

    While it disappoints me to see this opportunity go, I want to thank you for getting back to me. I also want to thank you for taking the time to meet with me. It was such a pleasure to meet you and learn about [insert department/position here].

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      I follow up the longer ones with a suggestion to set up a future meeting to discuss if they are willing.

      I’ve gotten a mentorship out of one such rejection, and the opportunity to job shadow and eventually contribute to a cross-departmental project out of another.

  83. Nicki Name*

    #1, even in my industry where practically everything can be done remotely (software), there are still lots of companies including industry giants insisting on hybrid or 100% in-person work. Lately the trend is companies that previously allowed partial or fully remote schedules deciding that they want people in the office more. So even here, there’s plenty of not-from-home work going on.

  84. spaceelf*

    I used to work for an employer – who would reject applicants via….wait for it….postcard.

    You’d get that postcard in the mail like 6 months after the decision, because HR would mass mail a shit ton of postcards like once a quarter. LOL.

    1. Observer*

      I’m not sure which is worse – mailing rejections *one a quarter* or doing it via post card.

      Was this an anomaly or just the tip of the iceberg?

  85. The Shenanigans*

    To the person leaving a red state: I agree with the advice to focus on why you want to get where you are going. Even if you are just accepting the first job you can get to get out of Red State Hell you can Google the area and find SOMETHING appealing.

    You can also use this to your advantage in sussing out culture. After all, anyone sane will hear where you are coming from, get a knowing look/sympathetic look, and go “Ah.”. If they don’t, then do some serious probing into the culture there because chances are high that it may be an out-of-the-frying pan into the fire situation.

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

  86. *kalypso*

    LW4 – you’re stressing over something that’s entirely legal where you live and that you don’t think is relevant to the work.

    Again – entirely legal, irrelevant to the work.

    Not your circus.

    1. Observer*

      I agree that it’s not their circus.

      But I think it’s worth thinking about the person’s judgement. It’s like tagging your Mormon employer in a post about your wine tasting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a wine tasking, but it’s still a really bad idea. In this case, the teacher knows that this school has fairly draconian policies about weed. This is just a good way to get fired.

  87. Same*

    Re #1, I was involved in a big government project on remote and flexible work recently. Here were a few points that may be of interest.

    More people work from home than is reported by the pro-boss, pro-employer, pro-commercial property landlord media outlets.

    WFH has been a lifeline for people who have no choice but to WFH, and allows many to enjoy both a decent income and a decent quality of life for the first time.

    A majority of people are more productive if they WFH at least part of the time. Literally everyone is more productive if they have at least some control over their workplace location and work times. Commutes longer than 15-20 minutes each way make people stressed, sick, and less productive.

    Return to office mandates are about control, management feeling threatened, and commercial property landlords being greedy.

    Regaridng people who can work remotely all or part of the time, or is a minority of people who want to work in the office full time. It is a fairly even split between people who want to WFH full time, and people who want to work on a hybrid basis, with a majority of those with a preference for hybrid work wanting to work in office between once a fortnight, and twice a week.

  88. Sciencer*

    LW#1, for what it’s worth as an anecdotal add, my small STEM university has been pretty stingy with the remote work options post-COVID (and to some extend during COVID as well). As a prof, I can usually work my schedule to have 1 day a week that I can *try* to work remotely, but often I end up needing to go to campus for part of that day anyway. It is harder for staff because they tend to just not have as much autonomy and flexibility as academic faculty. Hard to tell from your letter which camp you fall into. But even our IT team is getting pressure to return in person, and leadership sent out an IT overhaul plan for the coming year that includes having at least one person on-site every day.

    To be fair, I’ve been on the receiving end of the frustration with staff who are frequently remote, including events management folks who are only on campus two hours a day, a few days a week, for a role that includes being able to walk through spaces with me to plan events… that’s pretty problematic. It would be nice if every person’s job could be looked at individually to determine how remote it can be, but from an administrative standpoint the attitude seems to be leaning more toward “let’s just do away with this remote work business and go back to normal.”

  89. Chris too*

    It sure did feel that 95% of the commenters on here were WFH during the scary times in 2020, though. It was really a different experience to go in to work with a mask stuck on your face all day and hope you didn’t catch a disease that might kill you. Those of us who couldn’t isolate probably got a skewed impression of how many people were at home, and how many people are still at home now that it’s a convenience rather than a public health directive.

    I don’t know how the heck health care workers managed. They were truly heroic. Those of us not in health care but doing something that was in-person might have been somewhat traumatized too.

    At one point Alison did a post that was for those of us who had worked in-person and that was – so appreciated I can barely put it into words. You couldn’t talk with your co-workers about it at the time because you were trying to hold it together and do your job, but it was just cathartic seeing everybody commenting together.

  90. Blah Blah*

    For the person looking to move to another state when you’re asked why you’re looking to leave Florida, you can just say “Well, it’s … Florida” and then you’ll both laugh and laugh. Then you can say “Seriously though, I have a lot of family in this area and I’d like to be closer to them, plus I’ve always aligned with your message of blah blah.”

  91. Dawn*

    LW4: Is it possible that your new employee is assuming that the drug test doesn’t include marijuana, since you say it’s legal where you are? The same way that we don’t include alcohol or nicotine or tylenol?

    I know marijuana is still in a weird legal place in the U.S. but it also might not be unreasonable to assume that a company wouldn’t be testing for something that’s been legalized where you are.

    1. I have RBF*

      My company does drug tests, but does not screen for marijuana on applicants from states where it is legal. I live in California.

  92. jane*

    #4, a lot of comments have reiterated this isn’t your issue. Additionally, though… you haven’t even met her!!!! Consider the tone you’d want to set in a first interaction with a new coworker and whether “nice to meet you, I have some critiques of your dating profile” fits that (it doesn’t).

  93. SB*

    LW4…when I was a hiring manager it was company policy that I do social media searches of candidates in addition to the legally mandated police record check (I recruited nurses). I hated doing it because what you do in your free time is not my F-ing business, so I turned it into a pleasurable enterprise for myself by searching for them & scrolling through pics of their pets, kids, holidays, meals, etc…I would compile a dossier of my favourite pics & submit them with the other paperwork to the facility manager for approval. She approved of my method of quietly protesting the ridiculous policy.

    Honestly, I have no idea what I would have to find in order to make me not want to interview someone…maybe a page dedicated to Hitler being right? Evidence of past drug use does not equate to current drug use & if the police record check comes up clean then who am I to judge?????

  94. merida*

    #2 – I do wonder what the context was. I had a colleague who was once very offended because he said “good morning” and someone else responded ONLY with “morning” and not “good morning” which I guess is not acceptable.

  95. DJ*

    I’m surprised that unis/education aren’t jumping more on the video conference classes band wagon. It can be difficult for students juggling work especially mature aged who can’t afford to give up day jobs to study to get to campuses so evening/weekend/recorded classes viewed on line would really help. Thus would mean more students, more equitable access to vocational/academic education. Then staff could also do a hybrid working arrangement.
    At my workplace we have a hybrid working arrangement going into the office 1-2 days pw and WFH 3-4 days pw. They did amalgamate all our offices, which were scattered over the major city, to one location that was meant to be in the centre of our major city. But for many meant zig zagging across to the site on several buses and trains given much of our public transport still goes into the CBD and back out again. WFH also meant that regional, rural and remote employees could take up opportunities without having to relocate to an expensive city. And vulnerable workers such as those with disability, sole parents without backup could keep their jobs.
    I’d push back as a group as 1 day pw is hardly an inconvenience for your employer.

  96. DJ*

    LW#3 if you have a particular state you wish to move to you can indicate that. If it’s several states that meet your requirements tailor your reasons for your move to the location of the role you’re applying for. i.e. job A I have family/friends in the area, job B it’s got a great arts scene which I’m really into. I don’t have that here.
    I’ve recently moved a couple of hours away from where I used to live and get asked why (not that it’s an issue at work). I advise felt drawn to area, feel pretty area but also transport wise it’s one lengthy train trip when I do go into the office whilst where I used to live my commute was 3 forms of transport.

  97. JustGettingToldIsTheWin*

    Most companies don’t bother notifying people they don’t want to hire, so I’d be happy to get any closure if I were one of your applicants. I have gotten rejection calls (both scheduled and unscheduled), rejection emails, and (very rarely) rejection letters via snail mail. Everyone should have a standard script to use, whether verbally or in response to an email. Mine includes thanking them for letting me know, it was a pleasure, keep me in mind for the future.

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