space heaters and thermostat wars, coworker’s sniffling is driving me mad, and more

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

1. Space heaters and thermostat wars

I am a manager and wonder if this problem should be dealt with or left alone. I have three staff members in the office, including myself. I keep the thermostat set at 74 degrees during the scorching summer months. The side of the office with all staff offices has reasonable ventilation, but the vents on the other side where the conference rooms are do not work as well, so that side gets warmer. I feel that the setting of 74 degrees is the best setting that makes the whole office comfortable at the same time, even though the conference rooms in the afternoon can get too warm. Some days 74 feels chilly to me at my desk, so I bring a cardigan or blazer to keep warm on those days. Another staff member gets hot flashes and keeps a fan on at her desk while wearing a sleeveless dress. However, the third employee freezes to death and keeps her space heater on all the time during the summer.

I am happy with everyone doing what they need to stay comfortable. However, the employee with the heater creates a warmer environment throughout the office, not just her space. I have explained to her that it is uncomfortably hot and she needs to close the doors to her space so we aren’t all getting warmer. Sometimes she does this and sometimes she doesn’t. I have also asked why she hasn’t brought a sweater or something to keep her warm, which she replied she is trying to look cute. She wears sleeveless dresses, which is appropriate summer attire, but all the while she is freezing and uncomfortable in a 74-degree office.

How much of this should I let go and write off as her just keeping herself comfortable, and how much of this is inconsiderate enough that I should address it more directly with her? And if I should address it, should I implement strict rules regarding space heaters? If I do that, must I also implement strict rules regarding desk fans when it gets to be winter?

Office temperature wars are notoriously unwinnable given the wide variability in what people find comfortable, but I lost all sympathy for your employee when she refused to bring a sweater or something with sleeves because she’s “trying to look cute.”

It’s completely reasonable to tell her that being allowed to use the space heater is dependent on her keeping her door shut, and if that continues not to happen, you’ll have to ban its use. Explain that you support her doing what she needs to do to be comfortable, but it can’t be at the expense of people who are already too hot. (The same would apply to fans in the winter if that comes up.)

You might also want to check with your facilities management about space heaters; it’s pretty common for them to be banned entirely because of safety concerns.

Read an update to this letter

2. Coworker’s allergies are driving me mad

I work in a cube farm, with the normal problems of being able to hear other people’s business at all times. One of the women seated near me has pretty bad allergies — she’s constantly sniffling and snorting and blowing her nose, and when I say “constantly,” I mean “rarely goes more than five minutes without making a kinda gross noise I can clearly hear.”

I ran into her in the restroom once, soon after she moved to her current desk, and said something like “Oh, that sounds like no fun, did you have a cold?” (I was not accusing her of coming into work sick; it’s common enough for post-nasal drip and whatnot to persist after you’re no longer contagious.) She said no, it’s allergies, it’s really terrible this time of year. I said something about how my mother recently had to go on allergy meds and I feel for both of them, and my coworker replied that she doesn’t take her meds at work because they make her drowsy.

And … okay, but the rest of us are having to listen to you snort all day. And our conversation about seasonal allergies happened in early February, i.e. nearly two seasons ago, so I’m starting to wonder what to do about this. I feel bad for her! She’s not doing it deliberately, obviously, and drowsiness is a very common side effect of allergy meds. But this is making for a notably unpleasant part of my everyday work environment and there’s a limit to how much I can wear headphones. Remote work isn’t a possibility (and I wouldn’t want to do it even if it were).

If it makes a difference, I have a few other coworkers who are also bothered, so it’s not just me personally having a sensitivity to this issue.

I get why it’s distracting and unpleasant to hear, but I would try to move away from the idea that she should be doing something differently. It’s understandable that she doesn’t want to take medicine that will make her exhausted at work. This sucks, but bodily noises are part of working around other people — you can’t really avoid it. (If it’s any consolation, which is probably isn’t, the situation is almost definitely worse for her.)

3. My coworker smells like weed

I work in a healthcare setting, and we hired a new front desk receptionist a few months ago. So far she’s friendly, good at her job, and I like her a lot! However, there are days (not every day) when she comes back from her lunch break and absolutely reeks of weed. I’m pro-legalization and of the belief that what you do off the clock is your own business, but my concern is that she’s in a front-facing job and patients approaching her desk to check in/out would smell her. There are also times where I can tell she’s stoned based on the way she behaves. As far as I can tell, she can still do her job, but if I’ve been able to notice then patients might have too.

I think I may be the first employee to become aware of this because my duties carry me back and forth to different areas of our clinic, so I stop by her desk several times a day. I don’t know whether or not upper management has smelled her yet. I have some perceived authority since I helped train her and my desk is in the management office, but on paper nothing I say has true weight behind it. I’m also pretty non-confrontational, and don’t want to seem like a busybody by tattling on anyone.

What’s the best course of action here? Is there a way to drop hints to her that she smells without causing embarrassment? Should I bring it to management, and if so, how?

If you don’t want to address it directly with her, you could just say, “Whoa, it smells like weed out here — do you smell that?” That doesn’t say that she smells like weed but she’s likely to get the message and, one hopes, take steps to avoid it happening in the future.

Alternately, though, you could just talk to her discreetly and say, “Hey, you’ve smelled like weed after lunch a few times, and if a patient ever notices it could be a big problem. I don’t want you to get in trouble and I figured you didn’t realize.”

Read an update to this letter.

4. Book recommendations for work

I’ve been involved in a few (not mandatory) book clubs at work, which got me wondering: What are some work-related books that are worth reading? So many seem to be written from positions of extreme privilege or with an attitude of “I did it so everyone else can too,” which is rarely the case.

Let’s throw this out to readers. People with suggestions, please include why you’re recommending the book you’re suggesting.

{ 921 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’ve removed a bunch of medical advice in the comments below and ask that people not offer it.

    1. We have no way of knowing what might be effective/ineffective/contraindicated for this particular person because of another drug or health condition.

    and

    2. The letter-writer should not be giving unsolicited medical advice to her coworker anyway (and reading it here may just make her more aggravated by reinforcing the idea that the coworker could be doing something differently but chooses not to).

  2. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Let’s put work-related book recommendations as replies here so they’re all clustered together. Remember to include why you’re recommending it.

    1. Jjbeans*

      Before recommending books it would also be great to know what the purpose of the book club is! Socializing via Literature or Workplace Improvement Masquerading as Leisure?

        1. Jay*

          I will preface this by saying two things: 1) My work life and career are NOT normal and never have been. I’ve spent my life doing deep field work of one type or another, with most of the last 20 years spent at sea. Anything that would be “work related” for me would be something like adventure fiction for most people. 2) I read for fun and I have always preferred to keep work and personal/fun separate.

          That said, a few of my favorite books do, in fact, touch fairly strongly on Company Life.

          -Eric by Terry Pratchett. It features an actual, literal, corporate takeover of Hell itself.
          -Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. You can think of it as a sort of “Anti-Atlas Shrugged”. After reading it, I’ve taken to responding to the “Who Is John Gault?” people with “Because I’m Not Reacher Guilt” and hope they are curious enough to learn something.
          -Making Money by Terry Pratchett. The sequel to Going Postal. This one deals mostly with the banking industry and inherited wealth.
          -How To Fight Presidents by Daniel O’Brian. Because President is very much a job. It’s a ridiculous book with a ridiculous premises that gives a surprising amount of insight into the working of the government and how various administrations viewed the actual job of running a country.
          -The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky. It’s a book about the latter days of Gloucester, Ma. and it’s fishing fleet.

          1. Mister_L*

            While I personally enjoyed all 3 books by Terry Pratchett you mentioned, I have to admit I’d consider them rather “work adjacent” then “work related”.

            If they are considered close enough, may I suggest the Bob Howard laundry files by Charles Stross? The protagonist is a low level government employee in an institution with low chances of career advancement or leaving and an constant reminder of “The Way Things Are Done”.

            The humor might not be suitable for everyone, though.

            1. kitryan*

              In the fictional/satirical workplace area, Bellwether by Connie Willis. It’s a comedy (with a romance element) about a scientist who analyzes trends while working at a scientific research company that embodies the worst of the (then) current workplace trends.

              1. Artemesia*

                Bellwether absolutely for anyone who has ever worked in Academia or beltway bandit shops– it skewers all the nonsense just perfectly.

              2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

                I was going to recommend this one! Also includes working with frustrating coworkers.

              3. Margaret Cavendish*

                Nth-ing Bellwether! Anyone who has worked in an office anywhere will recognize these people.

            2. College Career Counselor*

              I would recommend “Straight Man,” by Richard Russo, especially for those in the higher ed/academic environment. Perhaps “Wonder Boys,” by Michael Chabon as well.

              For non-fiction work-related, I’m a big fan of Bob Sutton’s “The No Asshole Rule” about the costs of having toxic people in your workplace and why they should not be tolerated. Excellent book!

              “Emotional Intelligence,” by Daniel Goleman, particularly sections on six leadership styles, when to use them and how they affect people.

              If I think of more, I’ll post them!

        2. Bryan Jonker*

          We’ve done a work book club (IT in Education), and had the following books:
          1. Deep Work, by Cal Newport
          2. Start Finishing, by Charlie Gilkey
          3. Algorithms of Oppression, by Safiya Noble (this was my choice, really good book on implicit bias and technology)
          4. Upstream: How to Solve Problems Before They Happen, by Dan Heath (not chosen by me, but another really good book on how to fix issues before they become issues)

          For us, it was less the book itself and more the conversation around the book.

        3. Darkangel*

          “Start with why” by Simon Sinek. It’a great book about how to communicate better and craft a message that will stick. It can be applied in many different fields.

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            I just finished “The Infinite Game” by him. I strongly recommend it, particularly if you are high enough on the food chain to think more strategically. He talks about switching mindset from competition / short-term thinking to more of a legacy mindset. This not only allows your company to stop some of the short-term nonsense that please Wall Street while irritating or harming employees, I think it creates a more compassionate company overall, which I think helps the greater good.

        4. Gretchen*

          The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, by Erin Meyer, is excellent if you work in an international company like I do. I spend most of my day in video calls with people from all over the world, and The Culture Map has helped me navigate that environment. Plus, it’s a fascinating read.

        5. Lacey Burrows*

          There are many jobs that this wouldn’t apply to, but I work in public education with many low-income families. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne is excellent for anyone working with a low-income population, especially those of us from middle-class backgrounds, which seems to apply to most of us who work in education.

          1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

            Yes! Excellent book/concepts. Exploring the different cultures of poverty, middle class, and wealth was super insightful for me.
            Also “Nickel and Dimed” for anyone working with clients in low income, hourly jobs.

            1. Guest*

              I would say Nickeled and Dimed for anyone working anywhere because all work relies on people with low income hourly jobs (eg the custodial staff cleaning the office after hours).

            2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

              Ooooh yes, Nickel and Dimed! Total classic. I’d also recommend Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich, too.

            3. higheredadmin*

              Another vote for Nickel and Dimed. I’ve never begrudged anyone a smoke break since I read that book (amongst other life lessons.)

            4. Vi*

              For a more contemporary one in a similar vein (Nickel and Dimed is awesome but from 2001), a more contemporary one is On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane, by Emily Guendelsberger (2019). She worked at an Amazon warehouse, a call center, and McDonald’s for the book.

              If you’re someone who has, for example, an exempt office job, it is a huge wake-up call on how a lot of our fellow Americans are obligated to work, and live. (It was troubling enough to me that I dramatically decreased my own purchases from Amazon afterwards.)

          2. Heck, Darn, and other salty expressions*

            We had a continuing ed training based on her work about how difficult it is to break out of generational poverty. Very eye opening!

        6. JustMe*

          Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss is one of the few work books that I have actually found to be helpful–Voss used to be a hostage negotiator and discusses how to apply certain negotiation tactics to the workplace. My particular line of work involves compliance and working with people, so frequently my colleagues and I have to get people to do things they don’t want to do and can’t compromise or find a middle ground because we have to follow federal laws. This book actually gave me a number of helpful tips to navigate those conversations in a productive way and I always recommend it.

          1. Busy Bee*

            My boss has recommended this book numerous times and now seeing it here, I should probably get on it. (We write contracts.)

        7. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          We read The Sum of Us (Heather McGhee) –it’s a great book about the cost of racism to everyone.

        8. C*

          The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker — it’s about a lot more than meetings, but the lessons apply. Really interesting insights to avoid the inevitable “why am I in this meeting” and “what was the point of that meeting” thoughts.

        9. Henry Division*

          As a person who works in an entirely remote office and uses Slack too much, I found Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke weirdly relatable. It’s a surreal satyrical Stanley Parable-esque novel written entirely in Slack messages about a co-worker who becomes trapped within Slack.

        10. Starting an agency...!*

          If fiction with a small amount of implied romance is allowed, I loved Calvin Kasulke’s Several People Are Typing. It’s a short novel told entirely in Slack messages, set at some kind of marketing/pr/tech agency.

          It does a good job of imparting the existential despair that sometimes comes with jobs like that while keeping it pretty light and funny and sarcastic, very identifiable for me. And it’s very short so perfect for a monthly club type arrangement with minimal commitment.

        11. Random Dice*

          I really love “Shopclass as Soulcraft”, a book that made this white-college grad-degree professional have so much deeper respect for the knowledge and skill that goes into blue collar work.

          It was written by a guy with a PhD who worked in a think tank, then became a mechanic, and found that hands-on work so much more mentally taxing. It drives respect for the skilled trades.

          He also talked about how the trades are much more recession-proof and outsourcing-proof than white collar jobs.

        12. Ed Muzio*

          I’m currently early-reviewing an amazing book, “Setting Boundaries That Stick” by Juliane Taylor Shore. It can be pre ordered and will be a game changer for a lot of office drama. I also recommend “Iterate: Run a Fast, Flexible, Focused Management Team” by Ed Muzio but I must admit some personal bias as I wrote that one. It’s an Amazon bestseller though so some others have agreed. Cheers!

    2. Heidi*

      My co-worker and I found out that we were both reading “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou at the same time, so we had sort of an unplanned book club. It’s not about work per se, but it made me think a lot about work culture and leadership.

      1. Advenella*

        I work in the industry that Ms. Holmes was trying to “disrupt”. I was so angry over how they handled QC failures that I may have been yelling in my car when listening to the audiobook.

        (I did. I absolutely did.)

        1. Spooncake*

          I work in the same industry and my reaction was very similar! Great book, made me furious, 10/10.

        2. Global Cat Herder*

          I may have actually ranted out loud about exactly which regs that was in violation of, only to yell about different regs a little bit later. Made me so angry.

          Recommended it to everyone, it’s a very good book.

          1. JustaTech*

            I read my boss’s copy and then we had a good “rant about” session in the lab. He knew one of the people involved, the one who suffered the most.

            When I watched the HBO special with my MIL and husband I kept stopping it to jump up and explain bits of the science to them so they would understand just *how* egregious the whole thing was.

        3. TeaCoziesRUs*

          The audiobook for that was pretty excellent. Good narrator and blood-boiling story = shorter than normal commute.

        4. MondayMonday*

          Also in the industry and my company book club is books like this and books about medical conditions.

          If you liked Bad Blood you may like Bottle of Lies. I am reading this now. It is about the generic drug boom and a company’s race to be the first for generics but cutting corners and fudging data along the way. Like Bad Blood, my jaw was on the floor after the first couple of pages.

        5. Another lab tech*

          Same here (to both–I work in the industry and yelled while listening to the audiobook in my car)? I read the Marie Claire article on her when she was first starting out, while I was in college (or maybe just after?), and even then I wondered how in the hell that was supposed to work.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        SUCH a good look at how company culture can lead to bad ideas not being squashed.

      3. Jackalope*

        In a similar vein, I’ve hear Billion Dollar Loser by Reeves Wiedeman recommended here; it’s about the WeWork company and ways it went wrong. I will caveat that I haven’t read it yet (just checked it out from the library this week and it’s up soon), but others on this comments area have praised it.

        1. Nea*

          I read Billion Dollar Loser and The Cult of We – the two books together give the best insight into what was happening with WeWork. Billion Dollar focuses on Adam and his family; Cult focuses on the office. Put them together and you have a complete picture.

        2. starsaphire*

          Yes, 100%! I have both Bad Blood and Billion Dollar Loser on my Kindle. This is great reading, book club or no, and I get chills from reading Bad Blood and thinking of all my friends who bullet-dodged that place.

          Not to mention, I love going, “Oh, I know that brunch place/coffee shop” every 15 pages or so. ;)

      4. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        This book gave me chills with the corporate governance run amok and how badly a charismatic boss can wield power.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is highly recommended by my coworker that runs a work book club. I haven’t gotten around to reading it, but it’s about how standard checklists can seriously improve work. One example is a specific checklist implemented for surgeons that cut down on a lot of mistakes and issues during surgery and is now standard in many places in the world. Checklists can save lives and also just make day-to-day work better.

      1. Bizhiki*

        I love that there is an entire book dedicated to checklists! I’ll have to *check* it out at the library.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        +1! I particularly loved how he admitted that he didn’t think the checklists would help HIM but used them to be a good example… and they made a difference.

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’m not a fan of management books at all, and I *loved* The Checklist Manifesto! It was so practical. I liked that he also pointed out that a good, usable checklist doesn’t outline every little step of the process and should really just be a prompt for a well-trained person to make sure they don’t miss something.

        One of my teams with elevated documentation requirements read it as a group book club when they were launching a standardization and improvement project with a new project management tool. They found it really helpful.

      4. Nea*

        I have read The Checklist Manifesto and it’s brilliant. An excellent book not just about processes, but about how you need to give people the power to enforce the processes so they will work. For instance, the nurses were given the power to make the surgeons follow the checklist, and only then the process worked.

      5. Autumn*

        I loved that book!

        I’m a nurse and my coworkers were upset with how many procedures needed to follow the checklist put into place by our employer. I left that book out, funny the bellyacheing stopped and the book resurfaced in my mailbox about a month later!

      6. IveGot99ProblemsAndYoure12thOnTheChecklist*

        Another vote for The Checklist Manifesto! One of my all time favorites, and the one book I actively provide to all of my teams

      7. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I just looked it up on Amazon and you can read it on Kindle for free if you have Amazon Prime! Just added it to mine

      8. Random Dice*

        It’s a field called human factors.

        My BFF has a PhD in it. He loves the example of how pilots for a certain plane used to tape a paper cup over one of the switches, since the engineers had inexplicably put the (something like) fuel eject switch right next to the intercom switch, and they looked/felt identical.

        His field does the last testing to make sure that things make sense the way humans actually use interfaces, rather than just the shortest distance to run wires.

      9. JustaTech*

        I love that book, and my microscopic claim to fame is that I shared an office with him for a month during a high school internship (and I helped research one of his articles for the New Yorker).
        (I am sure he doesn’t remember me, but that’s ok!)

    4. Zidy*

      #5 – Instead of business books or I-was-a-success-and-so-can-you! books, which as you mention are can be problematic, I’d probably look at books adjacent to whatever your industry/company/department is. If you have an interest in data and/or data analysis, I recommend Freakinomics and xkcd’s What If books – they’re great for looking at data a different way. Moneyball is also good at showcasing how data analysis changed an entire sport.

      See if there’s any history books that show what your industry was like in the past, even if it’s something tangentially related. If you work with computers or whatever, maybe find something showing how we went from steam to vacuum tubes to transistors to microprocessors might be interesting. If your group has an interest in more of the dark side, the Theranos book is great if you do anything with medicine, When Science Goes Wrong is chock full of cautionary tales of engineering and science failures, and there are numerous books about working conditions back in the 19th and 20th century that lead to serious changes in our society. And it’ll be a good discussion topic about how you can learn from the past and apply it today – double checking work, listening to people, speaking up when you notice things wrong, etc – even if it’s not entirely related to your industry.

      1. I can never decide on a lasting name*

        For some sectors, there are great books on how race, gender, culture impact work – for medicine: Black man in a white coat + The Spirit catches you and you fall down. Also, This is going to hurt might be great for discussion of work dilemmas.

        1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

          For anyone working with research, informed consent, human subjects, and/or IRB protocols, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was eye opening, and an insightful historical perspective per Zidy’s comment.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        Freakonomics is pretty terrible: for a book claiming to be about data, it’s not scientific at all. Mistakes correlation with causation and uses studies that have since been debunked. There’s more anecdotes than actually data in there.
        If Books Could Kill did an excellent podcast refuting most of its claims.

        1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

          I just love the overlap of readers of this site and podcasts in the Michael Hobbes extended universe. I also really love If Books Could Kill because they cover books I never had any intention of reading but come up in conversations all the time.

          1. Full Banana Ensemble*

            Hahaha, YES! As soon as I saw Freakonomics referenced, I thought, “Oh, someone has not listened to If Books Could Kill.”

        2. DataSci*

          This. Freakonomics is only good as a discussion of how to lie, or make mistakes, with statistics.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Speaking of lying with statistics, I enjoy _How to Lie with Statistics_. Definitely interested to hear if that book has flaws, though!

        3. TPS Reporter*

          my office just announce the new Book Club book is one recently “reviewed” on If Books Could Kill. I ALMOST sent a link to the podcast but refrained. I think I’ll sit this one out ;)

          1. nora*

            Recently I was speaking with a client and they recommended Atomic Habits…about 10 minutes after I had finished the If Books Could Kill episode. I smiled and said I had *just* listened to a podcast about that book, what a coincidence! I probably won’t read it but if it helped the client, good for him.

      3. RC*

        I do think the book version might be my favorite treatment of that whole saga (I’m not in the field, but in an adjacent-enough field that it was obvious it was bad and wrong even before the story broke).

      4. Govt Worker #1111*

        seconding that Freakonomics isn’t that great – the podcast If Books Could Kill did an episode about its faults that I recommend listening to

        1. Nea*

          I’ll argue that the podcast If Books Could Kill itself belongs on some work-related reading/listening list because they go through why the books or the methodology or the idea is fundamentally flawed.

          1. ursula*

            It may be a bit spicy for a lot of workplaces (openly political; full of cussing) but I agree that it’s a great skill-booster for learning how to spot bullshit in the wild.

      5. Fundraising somewhere else now*

        my department did a mandatory (but very light lift) book club on one of those “how to succeed in business” books. My boss had read it and loved it. like most of those books there were nuggets of usefulness, but it was also extremely dated and not always aligned with our work – we were a nonprofit fundraising department, and it was written by someone who had made his money in real estate, and written in the early 2010s, which prompted a lot of research on my part about what he did to stay rich in the Great Recession. but it did have one good use – one of this guy’s points was to realize/take action when your work is not supporting your actual goals – and that realization led me to find a new job! not sure that was what my boss intended when she recommended the book…

      6. Phlox*

        Expanding on the history books comment generally – lots of options in the broader history and context of your work. When I was in the local nonprofit world, it was local town history books, various social history books of specific topics. Our end goal was that everyone had a more detailed, complete sense of where our work stood in community and the current and past dynamics at play.

    5. Annie*

      I recomment Bare Knuckle People Management for tips on how to recognize the types of people you have on your team and how to best support them (or push them out as necessary) and How to Talk to Anyone, a general communication skills handbook with many tips applicable to a professional environment.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I’m finishing Verbal Judo by George Thompson and it’s another very good book about communicating effectively. (It can brush a bit uncomfortably close to manipulation, though.)

    6. Zoey*

      Unfinished Business by Anne Marie Slaughter. Much more balanced view than Lean In of balancing family and work life for both women and men and how far our system has to go towards equality.

    7. eye roll*

      Strictly speaking, not a work centered book. But I found Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez surprisingly relevant. It has a lot of moderately deep discussions about why people make terrible miscalculations or how small mistakes compound into preventable disasters or how people think they understand things they do not, and I have found it coloring my thoughts on workplace decision-making for years since I first read it.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Yes — and I do think this a business topic because we all have to deal with erroneous decisions, either on our parts or by someone else.

        So, along these lines, I also recommend Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Eliot Aronson. It’s funny, about errors, the scientific reasons behind thinking errors, and how to take responsibility for errors while doing better next time.

        1. Janeric*

          Oh this was my first thought too! It’s a very helpful book for navigating mistakes — both mine and other people’s.

      2. Stevesie*

        I LOVED Deep Survival! I read it back in my bookselling days and it was my employee recommendation for quite some time. And I found it super interesting as a non-thrill seeker. It’s much more about analyzing survival stories and how they relate to our lives rather than a how-to of survival strategies like someone might assume from the title. Great recommendation!

      3. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, I’d recommend Deep Survival too. Even though much of it isn’t about work situations, most of the stories in the book can be applied to a work environment.

      4. Janeric*

        I liked this book a lot and I think it would be particularly good for a field where procedure is important but most of the time being lax about procedure isn’t catastrophic — it’s great for getting a brain to understand the importance of avoiding the 1% odds of worst case scenario

      5. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I loved Deep Survival too but for a work bookclub you might need to include a content warning – IIRC it had a lot of stories about people out in the wilderness where really awful things happened and I don’t think everyone would be comfortable reading about that kind of thing. I don’t believe this is a “not everyone likes sandwiches” comment, I truly think recommending this book to others is a “know your audience” situation. I don’t remember the exact scenarios he discusses but I just skimmed the Amazon description of the book and it’s jogging my memory that he has a chapter on 9/11 which you definitely would want to warn people they were about to read about (I may have skipped that chapter myself because what happened that day was so horrible).

      6. Nina*

        I’m in a field which is not aircraft, but where Admiral Cloudberg’s (air disaster blogger) entire back catalog is surprisingly relevant. ‘Oh wait, putting this kind of switch right next to that kind of switch is how Air Andes 608 went down, let’s not’, or ‘is the checklist sufficiently clear on the difference between ox purge and ox line purge (two extremely different things that you do within three minutes of each other) or do we want to end up like Air Caledonia 879?’

    8. Luva*

      Company by Max Berry was a fun satire/parable of an evil corporation. Gave me a different perspective on work and made me appreciate my job more!

    9. Clover*

      The No-Asshole Rule, by Bob Sutton.

      It’s all about how harmful jerks are in the workplace, and about how too many offices keep them on because they have specialized skills or otherwise seem indispensable. He argues, persuasively, that the benefits of such a person’s work almost never balance out their effects on morale.

      1. cleo*

        That’s my recommendation too! Absolutely the most useful business psychology book I’ve read. And entertaining.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        YES on PopCo. It’s a novel by a brilliant, quirky, British woman which is super readable and well-plotted, then by the end you realise you have been taken on a WILD ride of thinking about work, capitalism, the environment and the meaning of life. Also it made me think about homeopathy in a whole new way, as a bonus (homeopathy haters will enjoy it, don’t worry)

      1. Cyborg Llama Horde*

        I’ll admit that I also discovered that via a coworker, but it was in the context of someone griping about excessive meetings.

      2. Nina*

        At a previous workplace, that section was printed and hung on the wall within about three days of Good Manager getting promoted away from us and Bad Manager hired in to replace her.

    10. fanciestcat*

      If it qualifies, there’s a whole genre of books about famous business failures that might be interesting in a what not to do type of way. Bad Blood is one, as suggested above. Recently I read Too Big To Fail, about the fall of Lehman Brothers (less an individual failure, and more the failure of a whole industry) and the Great Recession, and The Smartest Guys in the Room about Enron. It’s pretty interesting.

      1. Syzygy*

        Yes! I’d add The Cult of We, about WeWork, to that list, and When McKinsey Comes to Town

      2. Nea*

        I’ve been on a business failure book kick for a couple of years now. Let me also suggest:

        Dot.con by John Cassidy about the dot com implosion
        The Cult of We by Brown and Farrell about WeWork going off the rails
        Super Pumped: the Battle for Uber by Isaac
        The Revolution that Wasn’t by Jakab about the GameStop stock squeeze

    11. HelloFromLondon*

      The Squiggly Careers book and podcast is easy to read and dissect, and they always have really practical ideas for action around each topic. A lot of sections are aimed at individuals and thinking about your career rather than organisation focus (squiggly career being about how we no longer typically have a straightforward career ladder, rather some squiggly steps and changes along the way), but I think it would still be good. It’s more practical and real life perspectives than mind blowing insights.

    12. higheredrefugee*

      I’m listening to Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hildebrand and all I keep thinking is that is not a AAM approved and that hospitality is definitely warped. Perhaps even more so when there’s also a ghost….

      So that’s the beach read suggestion….

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        In the beach read section. I love Nora Roberts’ trilogies centered around work. The Inn Boonsboro, a trilogy restoring a hotel, and the Bride quartet, about 4 lifelong friends who run 4 different arms of a wedding / event planning group (photography, pastries / cake, flowers, event planning and coordination), the Key trilogy (3 women become friends and create a spa / gift shop / bookstore… which I want in my town!), and the Garden trilogy (set in a greenhouse with landscape management) are all enjoyable examples of women running businesses, creating businesses, and determining the course of their lives. It’s work fantasy, with more than a touch of supernatural shenanigans in every set except the Brides.

    13. Coverage Associate*

      I have Out of Office by Charlie Warzel set aside to try to explain to my sister about the lifestyle of salaried exempt professional work v hourly non exempt.

      A Civil Action was recommended to me before law school, I think to understand big civil litigation. It’s very interesting, even for non lawyers, but I don’t know how much it helped.

      1. *kalypso*

        Just checking – is that Out of Office by Charlie Warzel and Anne Helen Peterson, or is there a similarly titled edition with just the one author that speaks to exempt v non exempt rather than the larger issue of WFH and work in the current climate?

      2. Daisy-dog*

        Out of Office ended up in a very different place than I expected, but I enjoyed it. It’s also written by Anne Helen Peterson.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          She is FANTASTIC! I’m in her Substack and she is such a thought-provoking author!

    14. Coverage Associate*

      The Guy Fox how the world really works for kids are great! They explain white collar work accurately, introducing kids to jobs they may not otherwise aspire to. None of my elementary school classmates wanted to be an underwriter or investment banker.

      They are illustrated by children who go on field trips to the relevant workplaces, like courthouses and Lloyd’s offices.

      I wish they were easier to get in the US.

    15. Zulema K*

      Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel, and Peter C Brown.

      I work in education, but found it really applicable to anyone trying to learn a new skill. It gets into the scientific reasons why certain learning and study strategies work better than others. It’s also helpful for me as a manager in structuring my professional development sessions so that they’re more likely to stick.

      1. CV*

        Along the lines of making things stick: Atomic Habits by James Clear
        I’ve applied some of the principles of habit-stacking to my workflow, and to setting and (more importantly) implementing professional learning goals.

        1. misquoted*

          I really liked Atomic Habits. I’m a huge productivity tips nerd. I’m a fan of the Getting Things Done method by David Allen, and the Pomodoro Technique (not sure if there’s a book on that). For anyone struggling, I recommend How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis. Her ideas/mindset can apply to work as well as home.

    16. Coverage Associate*

      War In The Woods is something about firefighting and maybe law enforcement. My sister’s job overlaps those services, and she recommends it.

      1. Mmm.*

        I’m only just now finding out how hard allergies are to battle! I’ve always had them, but they’ve recently gotten worse, and it turns out I have at least one major allegen every season. It’s awful, and we’re trying to figure out what the heck is happening.

        That said, I truly do empathize with the LW. I have a really bad gag reaction to anything that remotely makes me think of things that come out of your nose, and I grew up with a sibling who was allergic to everything so I heard constant sniffling and coughing. It really is infuriating!!

        So, both her unfortunate right to have the allergies and your right to be annoyed by them are valid (especially since specialist docs are crazy expensive!). But yeah, she’s doing the best she can with what she knows, and you’re not a place to give medical advice. Maybe have a nice selection of hot teas available for anyone to grab (throat coat and green are my favorites for allergy stuff) and invest in some food headphones. Peppermints can help clear sinuses too, so there’d be less sniffing if she likes them and they’re there for everyone.

        I also always kept a well-known stash of band aids, OTC meds for allergies and headaches, etc. at my desk for anyone to use. (Former teacher, always prepared!) Check to make sure it’s okay, but you could have your own little first aid station there for anyone, specially mentioning a non-drowsy med when you tell people what’s there. She can partake or not. I mean, she could even be allergic to allergy meds (a very real thing!).

    17. Lady Kelvin*

      I led a book club discussing Authentic Diversity by Michelle Silverthorn (heard about it from Alison, it was awesome!) We discussed what our organization was doing wrong, and how we might implement some of the suggestions from her book. We’re government so we’re a bit more limited in our reach, but we are implementing a three-tiered mentoring program that has grown out those discussions.

      Next we’re discussing Something Major: The New Playbook for Women at Work by Randi Braun. I haven’t read it yet by here’s the summary: n Braun’s book, women discover how to play the leadership game on their own terms and win when it comes to achieving their goals: whether it’s cracking the code on your self-doubt by ditching perfectionism, external validation, and the tyranny of your inner critic, or learning new tactics for owning your message (don’t miss 16 things she forbids you to say at work). Braun’s book provides a fresh take on one of the most tremendous challenges of our time: empowering women at work to chart their own course to the top — dialing up confidence and fulfillment, and dialing down burnout in the process. We’re actually including the author in the discussion this time, as she’s a friend of one of my colleagues.

    18. MendraMarie*

      The Phoenix Project (the novel) is an essential if you are in IT, software development, DevOps, etc. My husband gets something new and relevant every time he reads it, from when they were first trying out DevOps in their team to now when he’s in a more strategic management position.

      1. theletter*

        + 1 to the Phoenix Project! I think it’s applicable to many industries, now that tech is such an important part of all businesses, and there’s a lot of sage advice that come from the pre-computers era.

        Plus it’s very plot-driven, like the Hunger Games but for Corporate America.

    19. Mouse*

      A few from business school that have changed the way I think:
      The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – short, but incredibly insightful when it comes to causes of organizational failures
      Outliers – a really fascinating examination of factors that lead to success
      Nudge – the behavioral economics bible
      Critical Chain – to be honest, the writing of the book itself is (IMO) not great, but the project management lessons completely changed my approach to how I manage work

      1. Storm in a teacup*

        Agree Outliers is a great book!
        As someone who works in the industry, I found the Sackler book Empire of Pain fascinating and have ended up in discussions about it at work quite a bit.
        Our work book club was an Inclusion and Diversity ERG run one and a couple of the books we did: Guilty Feminist, Beekeeper of Aleppo.

        1. Most business books are bad*

          Someone mentioned If Books Could Kill in another thread because that podcast did a breakdown about why Freakonomics is bad, and they also did two episodes dedicated to Nudge and one dedicated to Outliers.

          Those books aren’t good. The data is mostly bad or they talk about anecdotes like they’re data.

          Outliers is especially egregious and uses stories that completely ignores the larger context of why some things happened.

            1. SpatulaCity*

              Maybe next week instead of asking for book recommendations we’re asked for podcast recommendations?

              (My local library hosts five book clubs (3 adult, 2 youth), and has a new podcast club. Every other month the Podcast Club has a librarian-curated list of 3-4 high-quality podcast episodes on a given topic to discuss, but you don’t have to listen to all of them to join.)

          1. Govt Worker #1111*

            seconding this comment and that Freakonomics, Nudge and Outliers should be read very critically, and that the If Books Could Kill podcast did great episodes on them

            1. NaN*

              I had never heard of this podcast, but now I am SO looking forward to the drive home. I’ve always had a problem with some of these books but haven’t ever been able to put words to why.

    20. some_coder*

      “The Deadline: A Novel About Project Management” (from Tom DeMarco)

      Its a book about Project Management (more from the practical side) and very easy to read because the content is put into a nicely written story. But its a more focused on Project Management for Softwaredevelopment. I can recommend it to people who have problems reading textbooks. I for example cannot read textbooks because I get bored very easily and i dont have the endurance to read such books (i only read books for entertainment and only if they entertain me). The german title would be “Der Termin. Ein Roman über Projektmanagement” and is very well translated.

    21. Scarlet2*

      Probably not a good pick for the office book club, but if anyone is interested in horror (in this case, weird/cosmic horror in the workplace), I highly recommend My Work Is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror by Thomas Ligotti.

      1. Nea*

        Horror Stor by Grady is also a workplace horror novel; in this case, “what happens if you build an Ikea on an extremely cursed piece of land and stay there overnight”?

        I haven’t read it (yet) but Several People are Typing by Kasulke is also a workplace horror novel. What happens if your consciousness gets sucked into the office Slack channel?

    22. Everdene*

      – Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff Allende. One of the most inspiring books I have ever read and completely changed my perception of pirates. They employed better work place practices and a more equal society way before anyone else.

      – Stong Female Lead by Arwa Mahdawi. Argues that what we need is more traditionally feminist characteristics in leadership and not just to value the traditional masculine markers of success and authority. Not just a book for women (in fact I think men should read it more).

      – What Would Ted Lasso Do? by Lucy Broadbent. Because we should all be more Ted! But it also gave me an accidental follow on reading list.

      – The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart. Why women leaders are taken less seriously and what you have to do to get by and why that needs to change.

      – Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell. Really charming book about Lee’s career and how he learned lessons which helped him be successful at a very high level. His ideas can be implemented though by managers at all levels.

    23. statscat*

      – “Disrupted – My Misadventure in the Start Up Bubble”, Daniel Lyons – interesting account of the author’s experience working at Hubspot.
      – “Then We Came to the End”, Joshua Ferris – fiction. I really enjoyed this story about an advertising company going through some tough times.

      1. Kristinyc*

        Ooooh, I was going to suggest Disrupted too! I worked at a techy startup around the same time period, and it…was similar. I also work in email marketing, so seeing that perspective of that company in particular was interesting.

      2. EtTuBananas*

        I came here to recommend Lyons’s follow up – “Lab Rats”! It’s less memoir and dives a lot more into the broader toxic workplace culture trends from Silicon Valley. Fascinating book!

      3. IveGot99ProblemsAndYoure12thOnTheChecklist*

        Then We Came to the End is AMAZING!!!

        Disturbingly accurate insights about office behaviors and the huge value assigned to seemingly petty actions. Vastly entertaining as well.

    24. DrSalty*

      The Making of a Manager is a good read for anyone new to management or considering moving into management. It’s written by a young(er) woman.

    25. abca*

      Whether this is work related depends a bit on your field, but if you’re in tech, healthcare or other fields: “Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men” by Caroline Criado Perez.
      If your book club happens to be mostly men: “Good Guys: How Men Can Be Better Allies for Women in the Workplace” by David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        Ha, I came to recommend this one and someone already has!

        From a racial perspective, I highly recommend “Biased” by Jennifer Eberhardt.

      2. Govt Worker #1111*

        I’ve had Invisible Women for a while, but have put off reading it because I feel like it might make me too mad/sad/depressed.

        1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

          I could only read it one chapter at a time since I needed a break from how angry it made me at the world.

      3. amoeba*

        Invisible Women is a good book on an important topic – unfortunately, the author is a bit of a terf and that also shows through. Which is a pity because I do think it’s really important! But not sure it would be ideal for a book club, especially if there’s potentially non-cis-people involved…

        1. DataSci*

          Thanks for the warning! As a (cis) woman in data I’d been considering that book. Guess I’ll skip it.

          1. Hedwig*

            Invisible Women was published in 2019 and it’s really sad to see ‘a bit of a terf’ so effective in stopping someone reading a good book on an important topic, ‘data bias in a world designed for men’. One example in the book is that crash test dummies are designed around a 50th percentile male, about 1.77 meters tall and weighing 76 kilograms. The fact that the safety equipment does not take into account that women are, on average, shorter and lighter contributes to the shocking statistic that when a woman is involved in a car crash, she is 47 percent more likely to be seriously injured than a man and 17 percent more likely to die! And all because we have failed to factor in gender differences when designing the safety equipment in cars. It’s terfy if you don’t care about preventing women dying or being seriously injured unnecessarily.

          2. Nina*

            Do actually grit your teeth and read it, the main way it’s terfy is that it tends to conflate sex with gender, which is such a common issue and under the circumstances kind of understandable – e.g. lap-sash seatbelts are made to work really really well at holding people with a specific pelvic configuration safely in place in a crash, and on people with a different specific pelvic configuration, they tend to ride up and dig into vital organs.

            The configuration that works well with seatbelts is one most trans women and cis men have, and the configuration that works less well is one most cis women and trans men have.

            The short way of saying this is ‘male pelvis’ and ‘female pelvis’, which I understand can be a problem, I do, but given how many examples like this she uses, it makes the book about 50% shorter and about 80% less confusing to read.

    26. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      High Conflict changed/saved my life as a new manager in an environment full of, well, high conflict (the author says high conflict is different from healthy conflict because the two sides don’t want to move through the conflict to a solution – they want to stay in the conflict righteousl-indignation-ing at each other forever. The Devil And Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz is my favourite campus novel for any other university people out there – it gets the politics just right without caricaturing anyone.

    27. clearlier*

      Turn the ship around by L David Marquet. It’s the story of how he turned around the performance levels of a nuclear submarine. It has tons of practical examples of how to empower people and get the best out of them.

      He has a follow up called Leadership is Language which attempts a theoretical assessment of what he did which is pretty helpful about explaining more modern work methodologies and why we have been moving away from the manager/worker model that obtained during the industrial age.

    28. Harper the Other One*

      If you’re in any form of retail/sales, “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” by Paco Underhill is a terrific read. It talks about shopping environments and marketing in a really unique way, and since I’ve read it I see the retail world through very different eyes.

      Excellent example from the book: next time you’re in a department store, look at the size width in baby clothes to see if you can fit a stroller through. If you can’t, that section is probably underperforming.

      1. DriverB*

        This book is on my shelf, along with another he wrote, “Call of the Mall”. The social anthropology of spaces and consumer behavior is so interesting to me!

    29. Back away banana breath what the hell did you just eat? A banana?*

      I recently read Hench, I think off a recommendation here, and I loved it. It’s ostensibly about a henchwoman becoming a villain but really more about work, the protagonist’s experience freelancing and subsequently working in a functioning office, health recoveries, and female friendships.

      Orbiting the Giant Hairball is a good autobiography on keeping the creative spirit alive in the workplace.

      I would gently push back against the genre of “Outsider (who is really a nationally published journalist or Ivy League Prof with Tenure) Makes Big Claims About How Things Secretly Actually Work Based on Preliminary or Nonrepeatable Research of Others”. I’m not going to say anything better on that than the “If Books Could Kill” podcast has.

        1. Back away banana breath what the hell did you just eat? A banana?*

          I forgot I was going to warn people that the protagonist’s real name is a red herring. I was waiting for something to happen with that for like half the book before that was apparent.

      1. Your genderqueer dad*

        +1 to Hench. Very easy to craft conversations about work when dealing with a fictional world, and as bonus, it’s a fun read. The climactic scene toward the end had me so wound up I couldn’t sit still!

      2. just a thought*

        seconding Orbiting the Giant Hairball!
        someone recommended it when I started working for the federal government and it was very helpful for dealing with bureaucracy

    30. English Rose*

      The Medici Effect by Frans Johansson is an excellent read covering thinking about innovation, and the intersection between different fields around breakthrough ideas. It has lots of stories and is written in a very accessible way.

    31. Sutemi*

      I just finished “Getting Along” by Amy Gallo which I thought was a practical guide for dealing with people at work.

    32. FashionablyEvil*

      I have a soft spot for a well-written management book (though there are many dreadful ones out there.) A few that I’ve really liked have been:

      Difficult Conversations by Stone, Patton, and Heen. Really helpful for, well, dealing with difficult conversations. I have also heard Crucial Conversations well-recommended but haven’t read that one.

      Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well*
      *even when it’s off-base, unfair, poorly delivered and, frankly, you’re not in the mood. By Stone and Heen. Also found this one super helpful (and it has my all time favorite subtitle.)

      Master the Matrix by Susan Finerty. I work in a highly matrixed organization so this one has been super helpful for me. I’ve gifted it to several staff members who want to know how they can succeed at our company.

      Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Not a business book, per se, but really informative about how people think.

    33. LaFramboise, academic librarian*

      SF commentary on corporatism v. flattened hierarchical societies in space, all told from the POV of a cyborg construct gone rogue: The Murderbot series by Martha Wells. The audio books narrated by Brian Free are fantastic. Spoiler alert- lots of swearing. New book out in November too!

      1. Dr. Vibrissae*

        Oooh, I didn’t know a new one was coming out, you made my day! (Not for work, but would second the recommendation for the Murderbot series)

      2. Zelda*

        Kevin Free, but yes, the delivery of the narration in the audiobooks accounts for approximately 48% of my deep, abiding passion for Murderbot. Absolutely top-drawer fantastic.

        1. Random Dice*

          Did you know that Kevin R. Free is a member of SAG-AFTRA?

          /I love him, it just cracks me up how he’s the only audiobook narrator who mentions that qual, which admittedly is a big deal

      3. Random Dice*

        Murderbot is just straight up feelgood.

        You think it’s going to be about murder but instead it’s about found family, self discovery, reluctant heroism, kindness, and defending the vulnerable.

        As a nice aside … tons of diversity – ethnic, gender (or lack thereof), orientation (same) – and strong female leaders, in a natural feeling no-big-whoop kind of way.

        Here’s a wonderful Murderbot video made by a fan, set to a song with lyrics that are so perfect it’s like they’re made just for Murderbot.

        https://youtu.be/yDMSHgQY5rM

        1. LaFramboise, academic librarian*

          I love that all of you feel the way I do! Thanks for amplifying the series and the audio books and this great vid!

    34. You Can't Pronounce It*

      The Leadership Secrets of Santa Clause

      I had a professor who required we all read a leadership book and report on it. He provided the books for us to choose from and this is the one I ended up with. I actually really enjoyed the book. It was an easy read, which was nice with all the other workload I had. It is the book that convinced me not all leadership books were equivalent to something you read to fall asleep.

    35. Hiring Mgr*

      This was a pretty entertaining/horrifying look at startup culture: Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, by Dan Lyons

      1. a raging ball of distinction*

        Having read both, I recommend “Uncanny Valley” by Anna Weiner instead. I worked at a Silicon Valley “unicorn” in the mid-2010s and found Weiner’s book to be much more accurate (and still jaundiced).

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I actually worked at HubSpot and found it accurate for that specific company at least. I’ve heard Uncanny Valley was really good also..

    36. HailRobonia*

      My go-to recommendation is anything by Will Cuppy, the American humorist/satarist who wrote from the 30s-50s. Example quote:

      “Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons.”

    37. nora*

      I’m in a DEI book club at work, and thankfully the participants actually seem invested in learning something from everything we read. It helps that the organizer tries to get the author to join us for our discussions (it’s worked surprisingly often!). The last book I read that was really impactful was No Pity: People With Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement by Joseph Shapiro. He wrote it almost 30 years ago but TBH very little has changed. Since we work for a public-facing government agency I really appreciated the insight into this large and growing group of people who are often ignored or minimized.

    38. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m reading Crucial Conversations, which is about improving communication with others. It’s mostly stuff I sort of knew, but have never seen put quite this clearly.

      I know it’s an oldie, but you can never go wrong with The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There’s some very 80s-feeling mumbo jumbo at the beginning, but once you get to the chapters on the actual habits, there’s a lot of good stuff.

    39. Another Lawyer*

      I read Working by Studs Terkel in college, and it has had a lasting impact as I’ve thought about my career, what I want to do, what makes me happy, etc. The author was an oral historian/journalist and interviewed a bunch of people from very diverse backgrounds back in the 70s about their jobs, what they do, how satisfied they are, and what meaning they derive from their work (or not).

    40. Allison H*

      The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business

      Great way of counteracting the privilege and thinking things in a different manner

    41. Lorax*

      This is a little more niche topically, but I really liked How Charts Lie: Getting Smarter About Visual Information by Alberto Cairo. Honestly, in today’s world, being able to correctly understand and interpret charts and graphs — and being able to tell when they’re useless, inaccurate, or intentionally crafted to deceive — is extremely valuable regardless of what field you’re in or what your position is.

      1. fine tipped pen aficionado*

        Oh thank you for this rec. I’m in several work book clubs and I am searching for some media literacy reads to help folk out and this sounds like it’s in the category. It’s been a gap for ages but with the dawn of the AI era I really think that’s a skill we need to invest in as people and professionals.

    42. Delta Delta*

      For fun, The Devil Wears Prada. It’s a light read, but it’s also a great example of the concept of a dream job, toxic management, figuring out how to get out of a toxic workplace, workplace peer pressure, and workplace relationships. Basically, it’s a “what not to do” and could help readers think about a) what not to do and b) how to deal with tough stuff. And it’s funny.

    43. MilitaryProf*

      My apologies for the long list that is about to follow, but this is an area where I’ve spent a lot of time reading (and teaching). In no particular order, here are some of the highlights that I’d highly recommend to anyone wanting to be more effective in the workplace, regardless of their role.
      Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. This work looks at a wide variety of professional environments, from mega corporations, to professional sports, to local schools, and tries to determine the underlying characteristics of what makes a group succeed or fail. It’s very readable, occasionally humorous, and a pretty fast read.

      Robert Sutton, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. If you only pick one from my list, and you have anything to do with hiring, this is the one I’d recommend. Sutton is a Stanford professor studying corporate culture–which means it’s backed up by a lot of research. But, it’s key finding? People who are jerks replicate themselves, and nobody’s skillset is so vital that mistreating others should be tolerated.

      Suzette Elgin, The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense. Elgin’s all-time classic on how to respond to verbal attacks (some of which you might not even recognize as attacks until after the fact), and also how to more effectively communicate with others. She’s made an entire academic career out of writing the Gentle Art series, many of which are specialized (so, for example, she wrote BusinessSpeak: Using the Gentle Art of Verbal Persuasion to Get What You Want at Work). I recommend starting with the original, though, and when you find it useful, you’ll want to look at more of her work.

      William R. Noonan, Discussing the Undiscussable: A Guide to Overcoming Defensive Routines in the Workplace. One of the topics frequently raised on AAM is how to have difficult conversations. For example, today’s letter about the receptionist who smells like weed–that’s not an easy discussion for many people. Noonan provides a lot of guidance on how to engage in those discussions and be effective doing it.

      Muriel Solomon, Working With Difficult People. Solomon comes from the communications field, and identifies 10 archetypes of negative workplace behavior, then provides strategies for dealing with each type of activity. It’s full of practical advice for how to respond to behaviors that the actor often doesn’t even realize are occurring.

      And, of course, I tell my students that they need to read AAM on a daily basis, not only for help and success in their own careers, but also to remind themselves that there are far worse situations out there, and what’s bothering them on any given day might not be so bad.

      1. Jackalope*

        I will say that The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense really didn’t work for me. I went into it with high expectations, but I found it was too specific. Instead of talking about ideas on how to come up with responses to verbal attacks, she picked a handful of specific phrases she claimed were common (some of which are, but at least one of which I’d never heard before) and gave specific responses to those phrases. Obviously other people have gotten more out of it than I have, but it seemed to me like you’d either have to memorize the specific turns of phrase she suggested or not get much out of it.

    44. Govt Worker #1111*

      Red River Rising by Ashley Shelby

      “April 19, 1997, in one of the most dramatic floods in U.S. history, more than 50,000 people abandoned their homes and businesses in Grand Forks, North Dakota.”

      From my point of view, its about multiple different govt agencies at many levels of jurisdictions coming together to respond to an environmental crisis. As a govt worker in the environmental field (in one of the states affected by this flood), I’ve always wanted to read this with coworkers.

    45. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I was in a work book club like this and the book we all enjoyed the most and got the most out of was The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney. Even if you’re not customer facing (nobody in my department was), there were so many great examples of looking for the question behind the question and leaning on people who know their role the best for the most effective solutions to problems that it got glowing reviews from everybody who read it.

      1. Nea*

        There’s also Pellman and Barron’s Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt’s Business Spotless which is in-depth interviews with the Disneyland janitors.

    46. Heffalump*

      I’ve been thinking of posting this for a long time, and here’s my chance. These two books cover roughly the same ground, but the authors’ slants are different enough that it’s worthwhile to read both: Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business by Pat Heim and Why Good Girls Don’t Get Ahead But Gutsy Girls Do by Kate White. I read library copies of these books years ago and don’t have them handy now, so this will fall short of New York Review of Books standards.

      Both authors argue that girls are conditioned to believe that if they do good work, are “good,” and follow the rules, success will follow. Their adult selves bring this mindset to the business world, and then success doesn’t necessarily follow. In the opening pages of her book Dr. Heim related how one of her clients, her voice “tight with anger,” said she couldn’t seem to move forward in spite of her good work.

      Dr. Heim goes on to argue that the business world works in much the same way as team sports, to which most boys get a lot of exposure. And if you’re female, no, playing occasionally in your brother’s softball game doesn’t count. She relates an incident at a workshop where a man said straight up that one thing his coaches had encouraged him and his teammates to do was cheat. One woman responded, “I’m really shocked. You’d better explain.” As an exercise Dr. Heim suggests thinking about how a given behavior would play in school vs. how it would play on the playing field. She dedicated the book to her husband, “my emissary from the other culture.”

      Ms. White related that when she was a girl, her parents made her and her siblings wear rubbers on rainy days. On the way to school her brother would wear the rubbers to a buddy’s house, where he’d leave the rubbers, and then he and his friend would walk to school together. He’d put the rubbers back on in the afternoon, and his parents were none the wiser. Ms. White had been raised to be “good,” and it never even occurred to her to do such a thing.

      Ms. White also related that when she was college age, she was chosen to be in a group photo for the cover of some publication. At the casting call (probably not the right word, but it’s what I can think of at 5 a.m.) she wore this bright yellow blouse that really drew attention to her. When the magazine came out, she looked at the cover and thought, “You little conniver.” The implication was that if she’d been less street smart, she would have expected to be chosen (or not) strictly on her looks.

      She also related an incident later in her career where she accomplished something by being gutsy rather than good, but for some time afterwards she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d gotten away with something.

      I related to Dr. Heim’s book in particular. Although I’m male, I never cared for sports, and I reached adulthood thinking that the work world was more or less a meritocracy. I could have benefited from reading this book earlier than I did.

    47. Long Time Reader*

      “Burnout” by Emily Nagoski & Amelia Nagoski is an excellent book about how stress affects women and how to move through the body’s stress cycle to recover from burnout and prevent it from happening again.

      It’s not a book, but I also recommend ProBookClub, an informational website about work-related book clubs. In particular, the Discussion Question Resources page (https://probookclub.com/discussion-question-resources/) is helpful for finding discussion questions for nonfiction books, and the site’s Twitter feed is full of links to lists of work-related books to read.

      1. Random Dice*

        Yegods yes on Burnout!!!!

        Also, very much not work related, but the Nagoski book on female pleasure was also amazing. Just sayin’.

    48. mreasy*

      Non-Violent Communication. Tends toward cheesy but it has radically improved my communication around conflict in the workplace. And Matt LeMay’s Agile for Everyone has been a great help with project & workflow management perspective though I’m not in dev nor in an Agile work environment.

      1. Oh Snap!*

        Radical Candor. it’s the only business book I didn’t think “this book should have been an article”. it’s about performance coaching and giving feedback.

        1. Velawciraptor*

          Ditto. It’s very readable, very practical, and really helps with developing productive communication strategies around giving feedback both up and down the hierarchy. Outstanding book.

        2. hayling*

          Adding my +1 to Radical Candor too! I learned so much from it, and we had a good book club discussion at work. I will note that it is written from the perspective of a manger, but the advice is totally appropriate for non-managers.

    49. Tex*

      “Good to Great” – It was about how to take teams from acceptable to superstar. Starting with getting the right people on the team, then using everyone’s strengths to formulate a strategy (vs traditional corporate tradition to set a plan and then throw people at it.)

    50. CZL*

      More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You . . . and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise by Cecilia Muñoz. This book resonated with my experiences in male-dominated spaces and encouraged me to focus more intentionally on being a better ally for the next generation competing for space at the table.

    51. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      4000 Weeks Time Management for Mortals really helped me as I am obsessed with ‘ productivity ‘ and really need to focus on what’s important instead.

      I didn’t finish Work Won’t Love you Back as it’s more a history than anything

      1. J!*

        I thought Work Won’t Love You Back was fantastic. There *is* a lot of history, but having a lens of actual stories made it easier for me to stick with than other workplace books. If you’re obsessed with productivity, I can see why you might not have enjoyed it, but as someone who typically reads a lot of fiction I found it much more digestible!

    52. Donkey Hotey*

      We’re set to start Flying Blind by Peter Robison. It’s about the corporate culture at Boeing that allowed the problems with the 737 to go unnoticed until it was too late.

    53. Owlet101*

      One of the books I remember really enjoying when I was in college was “Gung Ho! Turn On the People in Any Organization” by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. It was about how your style of management motivates others that you lead. How to boost their performance by being a good manager. It was required reading for my Business Management AS degree. It is written like a story from a real experience of how a new manager was able to turn an underperforming factory to one of the top performing plants in the company. It is a very easy read as well.

    54. Silver Robin*

      we work with lots of traumatized folks so our bookclub focuses on how to metabolize that stress.

      Everyone starts with Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Connie Burk and Laura van Dernoot Lipsky.

      After that, it is a bunch of other similar books. We are finishing up The Age of Overwhelm by the same author, kind of a sequel.

      I really like them, but I like them because they facilitate conversation and peer support. Nothing in the books is groundbreaking (to me!) but the writing style is great, there is liberal use of New Yorker cartoons, and Trauma Stewardship has some incredible interviews with folks in all sorts of professions throughout the book.

      1. Random Dice*

        Thanks!

        Everyone recommends The Body Keeps the Score, but as someone with PTSD, I found it hugely traumatic to hear all the history of how people with mental illness were mistreated. I skipped to the chapter on treatments for PTSD, and got great ideas including EMDR that worked for me.

        I’ll check out Trauma Stewardship!

    55. Sanity Lost*

      Management Secrets of Attila the Hun
      1) My dad recommended it and it has some interesting advice, especially for those of us who struggle with confrontation.
      2) The title gives me the giggles and seeing some of my coworker’s expressions when they see it on my desk…lots of amusement there.
      3) The irreverent and tongue-in-cheek prose makes it an enjoyable book in its own right.

      1. Random Dice*

        Thanks I’ll check it out!

        You might enjoy this video from my favorite food history YouTuber, recreating a meal Attila the Hun ate and talking about the broader historical context. I found it so interesting:

        https://youtu.be/YfKdaXTwB9A

    56. Nea*

      THE BEST BOOK ON MONEY AND BUSINESS EVER:
      A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith.

      It misses the Great Recession because it was published in ’94, but it patiently, methodically tracks the start, rise, and pitfalls of financial bubbles starting with tulips and ending with the smaller recessions of the early 90s. He painstakingly explains each step – why it happened, what will happen next, why and when this “brand new, can’t fail” idea is actually an old, old financial bubble. Once you know the pattern, you can see it playing out again and again in real time and keep yourself from being caught up investing in a euphoric bubble.

      Others I have enjoyed:

      Business success:
      – The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation by Jon Gertner because it personalizes the burst of innovation in the mid-late 20th century (also, I have personal ties to Bell Labs, obligatory disclaimer)

      Business failure. The “why” for all of these is “learn from this train wreck”
      – Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou
      – Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Issac
      – The Cult of We by Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell

      1. Heffalump*

        If you like The Idea Factory, you’d probably like Dealers of Lightning by Michael Hiltzik. It’s a history of Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, which gave us, among other things, the graphical user interface and the laser printer. One of my favorite nonfiction books.

    57. Eurydice*

      I highly recommend Drive by Daniel Pink, I used to gift it to ever person who came onto my team. It’s about what motivates people and while the book can be very businessy, the information is great and a good, easy read intro into an area of psychology that touches many important elements of work.

      I’ll also recommend The Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks. It’s a legendary book about project management that is surprisingly still super relevant after over 40 years.

    58. I am Emily's failing memory*

      Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

      To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

      Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson et al

      1. I am Emily's failing memory*

        The first one uses lots of examples from the work world, and shows how both the most and least successful people tend to be giving-oriented, and explains how to be the successful kind of giving person (leaning into your strengths, saying no strategically, leveraging your network).

        The second is all about how in the knowledge economy we’re all salespeople, in that we all – no matter our title – find ourselves needing to get buy-in from others, build consensus, persuade bosses, etc. Then shows you how what marketing science has learned about selling products can be applied to becoming a more persuasive person who makes better arguments.

        The last teaches you how to find common ground with people when there’s a conflict, so that you can approach from a unified position of finding a solution together, instead of one of you winning over the other.

    59. Kan*

      David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs – if you want to really cut those “from a priviledged perspective” books off at the knees. Described as “a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences.”

    60. cabbagepants*

      How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. Wait, before you get out your pitchforks, hear me out! It should be read as a classic in the self-improvement genre with a mind to critically examining how it has influenced management books and business in general. It also does have some timeless tidbits mixed in with things that seem silly these days.

    61. Sooda Nym*

      Organizational psychology and light business/leadership is one of my favorite genres. I’ve read and would recommend any of the following as being relatively “readable” and having topics worth discussing in a work book club:
      -The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
      -The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (The Advantage is better, but this is still good)
      -Good to Great and/or Built to Last by Jim Collins
      -The Living Company by Arie de Geus (academic/textbook style writing, not an easy read, but good basics)
      -The Captain Class by Sam Walker (good for sports fans – dissects leadership dynamics/characteristics of successful sports teams)
      -Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
      -Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (I like this better than Made to Stick by the same authors)
      -The Infinite Game (Simon Sinek)
      -Originals or Think Again by Adam Grant
      -Thanks for the Feedback by Sheila Heen and Doug Stone

      1. RedinSC*

        I liked Made to Stick and was coming here to recommend that, so I’m going to check out Switch, thanks!

    62. TootsNYC*

      I’m not a nonfiction book reader, but I really loved Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer.

      I quote from it often, even.
      It was an enjoyable read, and he talks about risk, failure, success, etc. His business was the restaurant business, but he really emphasizes the power of excellent and flexibility.

      When i finished it, I wanted to quit my day job and go work for Danny Meyer.
      And I hear the “are you still working on that?” question from waiters differently. (the phrase is forbidden in his restaurants)

      The other one I liked was also restaurant related, interestingly. It’s more a productivity book.
      Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind by Dan Charnas

      (I thought I’d seen it as being published under an alternate title, but i can’t find that now)

      From GoodReads: “Culled from dozens of interviews with culinary professionals and executives, including world-renowned chefs like Thomas Keller and Alfred Portale, this essential guide offers a simple system to focus your actions and accomplish your work. Charnas spells out the 10 major principles of mise-en-place for chefs and non chefs (1) planning is prime; (2) arranging spaces and perfecting movements; (3) cleaning as you go; (4) making first moves; (5) finishing actions; (6) slowing down to speed up; (7) call and callback; (8) open ears and eyes; (9) inspect and correct; (10) total utilization.
      “This journey into the world of chefs and cooks shows you how each principle works in the kitchen, office, home, and virtually any other setting.”

      It has charts and exercises after each chapter that can help you implement these principles in a very practical way.
      Plus, it was fun to read.

    63. ferrina*

      – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. My introverted boss swears by this. It’s a nice study of what introverts are and where their strengths tend to lie- really empowering if you’re an introvert who is being told to be extroverted.

      -You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. Two sisters exchange stories of casual racism in the workplace. It’s very funny (Amber Ruffin is a comedian who writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers and has her own streaming show) and it is deeply current. Their stories range from the clearly terrible to more subtle things that well-intentioned people do (sometimes by accident). Recommended for white people who think racism is over (spoiler alert: it’s not)

      1. Random Dice*

        I’ve meant to get Amber Ruffin’s book for awhile, and this prompted me to do it.

        Whoo the things people DO say to Lacey!!!

    64. ticktick*

      The Design of Everyday Things, by Don Norman – it’s a great analysis of why many different groups need to work together to come up with something that’s actually functional and efficient.

    65. sb51*

      For the software engineers and adjacent folks: Software Engineering at Google—it’s available for free (I’ll reply with a comment with a link) and it’s excellent. It’s about process, including management of projects and people, not nuts and bolts of coding, so anyone who wants to learn about how big software works might have fun with it too.

      I will say it’s definitely giving an idealized version of what Google is really like, based on the Googlers and ex-Googlers I know, but as an aspirational target (including for Google itself) it is solid advice.

    66. Kate*

      Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It’s been years since I’ve read it, but it still immediately jumped into my mind because of its unusual narrative style.

    67. girlie_pop*

      A few work-related books I recommend are:

      1. Helping People Change, by Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten. I was assigned to read this since I have started coaching/managing people more, and it’s an interesting book about that topic, but also helped me learn a lot about how to make effective changes in my own life!

      2. I don’t think this is specifically written to be for professionals/about work, but Can’t Even: How Millenials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen is such a killer book about overworking and burnout and I think it’s valuable for people of all ages. But, of course, if you have weird age dynamics on your team or people who are of the “Millenials all just want participation trophies” variety, this might not be good.

      3. 7 Habits of Highly Productive People by Stephen R. Covey. I know this book is kind of divisive, BUT, I personally took a lot from it that has helped me at work. I also think there is a lot of good stuff in it about building trusting relationships with people that could help a lot of people.

      1. a clockwork lemon*

        7 Habits be really good but I think it’s important for people coming in to know that Covey was a deeply religious man and that a lot of his work was heavily informed by Mormon doctrine, values, and teachings. It’s been years since I read it, but I remember the book making direct reference to prayer as one of the habits, and at least some discussion on spiritual productivity.

    68. JenLP*

      Will people be paid to read the book? Will the book be provided or since it’s voluntary will they need to provide their own?

      I ask all of this to lead to my suggestion to use articles, TedTalks, white papers, and other short-form content to frame the conversations. It allows people to do the reading/watching quickly and allows for deeper conversations about the content and how to apply it to the job. Plus, most of these are free so no additional costs to anyone.

      In terms of books I’d recommend, they are learning industry books, but Innovative Performance Support is great for how to integrate supports into a job flow. Interact and Engage is fantastic if you have to lead a lot of virtual meetings or webinars! Just used it this morning for activities so totally on my list!

    69. a raging ball of distinction*

      Made To Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It’s all about sharing and explaining ideas in ways that “outsiders” will understand. A colleague I respect refers back to some of the ideas in this all the time.

      Depending on your office culture or book club goals – Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab. It’s very dense, I think of it as more of an encyclopedia of boundaries. The chapters are short and there is a LOT of food for discussion in here. Real Self-Care by Pooja Lakshmin could work for the same reason. It’s all about recognizing the things that are important to YOU and planning your time around them. Neither of these are work-specific but both could be helpful in thinking about how to orient your day.

      Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris. A novel about a failing company told from the second person plural. An unusual look at the shapes of coworker camaraderie.

    70. Unicorn's Ukulele*

      This is a non-recommendation, but these seem to be common books to read for work, so I just want to say why I think they’re not good.
      – The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – My one office gifted this book to all of us and it’s awful. It was written in the 1950s and hasn’t been updated since. Women can do menial jobs or be wives, but that’s it. Also, at the end, the author kind of implies that Hitler was right so hard pass on this book.
      – Remarkable! by Dr. Randy Ross and David Salyers – this book is pretty ageist, classist and women tend to be portrayed as whiners and not people of authority or success.

      1. JennX*

        I also have a non-recommended classic!

        When 2 other new hires and I joined a newly restructured department, our boss assigned “Who Moved My Cheese?” to help everyone adjust as a new team. At the time, I hated the book for using metaphors and mice, like we were kindergarteners, to teach us to embrace change. I naively thought she was attempting to encourage her new department to stop grumbling and come together. With much hindsight, I now see (intended or not) that she needed to make it clear that it was her maze and her cheese. She did nothing else to lead us or bring the team together. Her original staff was territorial and stayed loyal to her, the staff reassigned to her in the shake-up continued to resent having to report to her, and we new hires were pretty much left to fend for ourselves.

    71. a raging ball of distinction*

      Also! Love + Work by Marcus Buckingham. Career-oriented with a focus on finding and talking about what you’re best at. I participated in a work book club for this and it was great. The facilitator also highly recommended Buckingham’s Nine Lies About Work.

      Deep Work by Cal Newport, about the right times to do which kinds of work.

    72. a raging ball of distinction*

      A couple of books I love for understanding what motivates you personally and how you can harness it:

      The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

      The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    73. LuckyClover*

      I’m a bit of a hater of the self-help genre, but we did a book club on Design for Belonging by Susie Wise. It was an easy read and contained lots of images as well as content on straightforward actions groups can take to help others feel more welcome. It also sparked some really nice conversations about moments in our org that make people feel welcome and moments that they did not.

    74. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      My library had a voluntary book club that discussed The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude by Pm. M. Forni. Our library director picked it after hearing the author speak and thought it would be useful in dealing with rude patrons. It has chapters specifically about rudeness at work.

    75. Random Dice*

      My husband was incredibly inspired by the book “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink. It helped him sort through what he could change instead of feeling helplessly buffeted by the actions and decisions of others. He changed jobs and really dialed into the parts of his field that made him stoked, and there was this overall increase in positivity and satisfaction. (And pay!)

      I’ll say that for me personally, all the Navy Seals combat stories were way too much for my own PTSD, and I noped out almost immediately. So YMMV.

    76. Yes And*

      I recommend “The Management Myth” by Matthew Stewart. I read it as a kind of deprogramming after completing my MBA, and it does a great job of entertainingly deconstructing our assumptions about what good business management means. It’s specifically hard on management consulting, but applicable to almost any corporatized industry.

    77. AccidentalAccademic*

      I would recommend just about anything by Michael Bungay Stanier. I immediately purchased The Coaching Habit after attending a session he led at a conference, which still wins for best, most useful, and most energizing conference session I ever attended. I’ve since read The Advice Trap, How to Begin, and just started reading his new book How to Work with (Almost) Anyone. What I have loved about all his books is how he provides deceptively simple and easily actionable frameworks. They’re written in a way that they become a kind of really great workshop in a book.

      1. spcepickle*

        I second the Coaching Habit! I found it very useful as a new / overwhelmed manager.

    78. Recovering Excel Expert*

      The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.
      Because it convinced me that we (my organization) need to go through the basics each time. Yes, it feels silly some days, but it also catches problems early.

      Ropes to Skip and Ropes to Know read this when I got my MBA (please don’t judge me!). One of the best books on management I’ve read in a while.

      Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. Pointed out that there are ALWAYS bottlenecks.

    79. jaime*

      For anyone who deals with multi-cultural customer bases/clients/etc – especially in a health care setting – I definitely recommend “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman. A really good look at how people whose cultures differ from traditional Western practices and values need much better service and understanding from the people who serve them. We read it as part of a book club at work and it was fascinating.

    80. Lauren*

      My all-time favorite work-related book is Design for How People Learn. It’s nominally an instructional design book, but the concepts are useful and apply across fields (eg, how to run an effective meeting, how to train new employees, how to get people interested and invested in new projects). It’s written in a really accessible way, which makes it a great book club pick. It’s not explicitly geared toward neurodivergence, but as someone with ADHD I felt it didn’t have the same attitude of “it’s so easy, you’re just doing it wrong” that I get from most “work” books. https://bookshop.org/p/books/design-for-how-people-learn-julie-dirksen/9002928?gclid=CjwKCAjw-vmkBhBMEiwAlrMeF8U34r_M3QEtv7WGumXcUCH2igFFzqghUuSNNM3nY7PhfNb4lmHx2BoC1XQQAvD_BwE

    81. EtTuBananas*

      Books that I think could be really fascinating and applicable to LOTS of offices:

      “Cultish: the Language of Fanaticism” by Amanda Montell – Montell explores the way language creates social groups, and how language can be weaponized in that setting. Her theses are specifically about “cults” (or just really strong groups like crossfit) but she points out a lot of fascinating communication tools and tactics I’ve never considered.

      “Think Again” by Adam Grant – Written in response to the absolute breakdown of discourse during the pandemic, it provides tools to have productive conversations in disagreement AND have a more flexible mindset. Grant is like Malcolm Gladwell if Malcolm Gladwell wrote more than just snappy anecdotes and actually did research.

      “Brotopia: Breaking up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley” by Emily Chang – Though her observations and critiques are lobbed directly at the tech industry, many of her observations about workplaces becoming boys’ clubs are (in my experience) applicable to many industries. Similar to “Lab Rats” by Dan Lyons and “Uncanny Valley” by Anna Wiener.

    82. Brit Lit/Accounting Major*

      The Mayor of Casterbridge, by Thomas Hardy

      Yes, it’s fiction, and being by Hardy, it’s not exactly an uplifting read. However, the title character is a business owner and exhibits a lot of founder’s syndrome – bullheaded, dictatorial, the business and he are one in the same, etc. His successor is much more the manager type. The transition is fascinating.

    83. Busy-reading-everyone-recs*

      1. Machiavelli for Women: Defend Your Worth, Grow Your Ambition, and Win the Workplace

      Adding this title with a caveat – don’t expect a feminist manifesto, or how to change the workplace to be more inclusive. It’s more of a “guide to getting what you need in a hostile environment” based on 16th century philosophies. It doesn’t address the roots of systemic oppression, but it also doesn’t say to “act like a man” or “lean in.”

      2. Feminism for the 99 Percent: A Manifesto

      This is a feminist manifesto, and heavily anti capitalist. You don’t have to be anti capitalist to see the value in the points made about unpaid labor traditionally performed by women though.

      3. Obvious Adams: The Story of a Successful Businessman

      This is a favorite quick re-read for when projects hit very complicated walls. Sometimes, we all need a reminder that everything can be made simple again, and there might just be an obvious solution.

    84. Daisy*

      Our work book club has read “Think Like a Breadwinner” (geared towards women and identifying ways we can advocate more effectively for ourselves about money) and “The Burnout Fix”(strategies for work/life balance).

    85. Traffic Nerd*

      I’m part of a faculty cohort this summer that’s reading Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky. I went in highly skeptical but wound up really enjoying it as a refreshing take on the productivity genre. It’s not about cramming more into your day and getting more done, but making sure you do the things that actually matter. We’re discussing in the context of trying to make time for research work, especially over the summer when most of us are off contract and the work is really amorphous and often without deadlines, and I’m finding it very helpful. The authors also take a framework of offering a selection of tips and encouraging the reader to try a few and reflect on what works and doesn’t rather than presenting a one-size-fits-all answer. Some days my highlight isn’t even work related, which is also a refreshing approach, especially to this first-time mom!

    86. Anonny*

      It’s not exactly work-related, but it’s about communication, and I think would be useful and is really engaging is Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch.

      Things like the wildly different meanings younger vs older people give to … (ellipsis).

    87. Taketombo*

      I have to recommend “Don’t make me think!”

      It’s a short book that’s sort of the go-to for web design, but is really applicable to anytime someone else is interacting with something you made (a website, an app, a report, etc.) … the further you are from your user/audience expectations the harder it’s going to be for them to buy your thing/use your app/understand your report.

      My department – since we do a lot of reporting too other departments – is thinking of doing this as a training/book club next month.

    88. And that was when. . .*

      The Compelling Communicator by Tim Pollard. In theory, this is a book for sales, but I use it in IT. It gives practical tools / advice on how to deliver a message and explains how communication goes wrong in so many ways. It’s part of the “recommended reading library” I keep at my desk for my team and the first book I recommend to new hires.

      Love this thread. I’m going to be adding some new titles to my desk library.

    89. Ace Of Dragons*

      Workplace Neurodiversity Rising by Lyric Rivera. It deals with neurodivergence and neurodiversity in the workplace, as well as ways to accommodate people with varying needs. The author is actually Autistic/ADHD, and brings that perspective to the subject, which is both rare and refreshing to see!

    90. Lizzianna*

      I haven’t read them all, but if you google NWCG (National Wildfire Coordinating Group) Professional Reading Program, they put out 3-4 book recommendations each year for leaders in the wildland fire community to read. Some of it is fire-specific, but a lot are about leadership more generally, including a nice mix of TedTalk-style books, history/biography, and even a smattering of fiction.

      Personally, I liked “Endurance” (about Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica) and “Team of Rivals” (about Lincoln’s leadership style).

    91. Jane.*

      Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman could be a good one to discuss. He argues that you can’t “manage” time, so we stop trying to do everything and be more realistic with our expectations.

    92. EngineerMom*

      Space heaters are not a very efficient way to stay warm, and there is a very real fire danger associated with their use.

      I’d recommend the “freezing” employee instead use a heating pad on her chair, and just bring a jacket/cardigan/sweater to wear in the office.

      In addition, getting up frequently to move setting should help her stay warmer, especially if some of those breaks involve stepping outside into the heat.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Yeah, I think of 74° as more “we set the AC at this to save electricity, and we’re all a bit warmer than we’d prefer” rather than “too cold”, but I guess everyone’s preferred temps are a little different. I wonder if the setting of 74° is actually producing a temperature of 74° in the spaces most used, of if that’s the temp in the conference room area while the main area is quite a bit colder. (This makes no difference at all to the advice given, since presumably measuring the actual temperature would not make the cold person feel any warmer or the warm person feel any colder.)

      Is it possible to let the person who is too cold in her office work from the conference room instead some or all of the time since that’s the warmer space?

      1. A person*

        One of my coworkers was complaining he was cold the other day when he was the only one sitting in that section of the office. It was set at 74. I put it up to 75 for him. It doesn’t affect me cuz I sit in a different spot, but he was comfier.

        I’m sure they turned it back to 74 later when others were around. I keep my area at 72 (I don’t have many office mates so no one cares… occasionally the guys will complain because my thermostat sets the bathroom temps… but they let me set it where I want and I try not to be unreasonable about it). I keep my home at 68 in the summer…

        None of that helps LW though. My advice there is basically same as AAM. Put limits on space heater use and check to make sure they’re allowed at all (and that the specific one she has has tip over shut off on it for safety if they are allowed) as they are a significant fire hazard. I also agree that you need to insist that she dress appropriately for the office temperature as 74 is by no means an unreasonable temperature in the summer in a building. You can “look cute” with a cardi or a shawl or something too.

        I don’t think you’d need to set the same rules on fans. They tend to not be as intrusive as a space heater for their ability to affect surrounding temps as long as they are small desk fans and not like big box fans and they definitely don’t carry the same fire risk!

        1. Sopranohannah*

          On topic of the size of fans, what size space heater does the worker have that causes it to change the temp in the whole office. My WFH office is in my basement and gets a quite chilly at times. I keep a tiny space heater to knock the chill off and not make the rest of the house miserable by turning up the thermostat. It hardly affects my whole office., let alone the whole house.

          Even if the office lets you keep a space heater, I think LW would be perfectly in their rights to limit the size of the heater.

            1. Giant Kittie*

              Not if it’s an oil filled radiator space heater. They pack quite a punch, heat wise, while posing very little fire risk.

          1. ferrina*

            It also depends on the size/layout of the office. My house has a room where if you leave the door open, it’s heat will spill into the joining rooms, which are the central rooms that tend to spill temperatures into the rest of the house. You have to keep that door closed, especially in summer/winter because that room has terrible insulation and can’t regulate itself. Meanwhile one of the bedrooms tends to operate completely separately and is moderate temperature year round.

          2. Observer*

            On topic of the size of fans, what size space heater does the worker have that causes it to change the temp in the whole office

            It’s not just the size of the heater, it’s the configuration of the office and where the heater is. Although I bet that her heater is way over-sized or she wouldn’t need – or even *want* the door open when she has the heater going.

            Also, in this case, keep in mind that the office is pretty warm to start with. Going from 70 –> 72 is not a big deal, but going from 74 –>76 is going to be felt much more.

        2. T*

          “There are only so many layers I can appropriately remove when it’s too hot but you can add layers when you are too cold.” is my go to line in a hot office. Additional layers must be on before a space heater is used and the door shut.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Yes! I had to spell this out for my partner, but it was normal because in his home country nobody has heating, only air-conditioning. I told him we should only turn the thermostat up if we had at least three layers of clothing including a thick sweater.

              1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

                Undershirt, long-sleeve shirt, warm sweater. (I know Rebel said “thick sweater” but warm is the more important bit.) I wear this a lot of the time.

          2. Hello*

            It’s not the case here, but there’s also only so many layers that someone can put on before their posture suffers and back problems start developing. The coworker needs to be wearing cardigans and tights in this case. But I usually hear of temperature wars with the 60s.

            But we need to acknowledge that there still are societal expectations for women to look cute and those clothes are thin and/or not great at retaining heat.

            I live in a state that runs hotter year round (and that’s part of the appeal for me!). Winter isn’t as bad as summer because the heater is on in the grocery store etc. But summer is miserable because public spaces are too cold. Maybe if the temperature wasn’t 64-68, people wouldn’t be so miserable outside and wanting the AC so much. And we might be more comfortable with sweating.

            1. TootsNYC*

              yes! i have worked in places that were so cold, people were literally wearing their down jackets from winter, and they were still too cold to think clearly. And as ClaireW points out, their hands got stiff and since they worked on the keyboard all day, it was really uncomfortable.

              Even wearing fingerless gloves didn’t help.

              I don’t think 74 degrees is hot at all. Not cold–I think 68 degrees is too cold!, but also not terribly hot.

              1. BubbleTea*

                It definitely depends where you are and what you’re used to. My heating is set to come on and warm the house up if it drops below 17°c which is just under 63°f. I would be passing out at 23.5°c/74°f.

              2. Ace in the Hole*

                It really depends what you’re used to. In my region, an average summer day the temperature peaks at 64F/17C. I guarantee you most people here do not run their heaters all summer long! In fact it’s 56 right now and lots of people are outside in t-shirts.

                On the other hand we start complaining about the heat at 70 degrees. By 75 most people are fanning themselves and sweating like crazy, because it’s probably the hottest day we’ve had all year.

            2. ferrina*

              There’s a difference between a cardigan and a heavy coat. This person isn’t even putting on a cardigan. I get the societal pressures, but a cardigan/business jacket is pretty standard office wear. I kept a pashmina shawl at the office for years and got compliments every time I wore it.
              (If this person was hotdesking and didn’t have a place to keep a cardigan/jacket/shawl, I’d have more sympathy, but she has her own office where she keeps a space heater. She has space for a cute warming clothing item)

            3. Observer*

              But we need to acknowledge that there still are societal expectations for women to look cute and those clothes are thin and/or not great at retaining heat.

              Except that the OP makes it clear that in this office, at least, it’s ok for people to dress for a bit of coolness. There are a lot of ways she could threat that needle. The obvious starting would be the suggested cardigans and vests which can be taken off when she leaves the office.

          3. ClaireW*

            This makes sense but please remember that for some of us, we lose actual dexterity in our hands if we’re cold. I really struggle to type comfortably without pain if my hands feel cold and unfortunately my barrier for that is where other folks can still find it comfortable. It’s one of the best parts of remote work for me, not being restricted in temperature by people around me to the point I’m shivering.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              Yes, my fingers literally hurt if I have to type (so, work), and the temperature is around 68.

            2. MassMatt*

              OK, but at 74 degrees? And the person complaining about the cold is wearing sleeveless blouses?

              I’ve worked with someone like this, and also people who wear heavy coats in a 70-something degree office. We are in New England, how do you function going outside 5-7 months out of the year?

              1. Dahlia*

                I don’t think most people type outside a lot, but as someone who gets pain from cold, and also lives somewhere where it’s -30C for a solid 4 months a year… I don’t function well outside. I’m in pain a lot. It sucks.

            3. Kara*

              Obviously you’ve found a better solution in remote work, but if you ever do again find yourself having to do dexterious work in cooler weather, are Hot Hands hand warmers an option? Or battery-powered heated glove liners?

              1. Random Dice*

                My husband has battery heated socks, and battery heated gloves. For him, though, the battery heated socks warm him up enough all over not to need the gloves.

                I’ve read that in Iceland flats and houses have heated floors because it impacts perceived heat so strongly.

        3. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes, I vehemently disagree that the same rule should apply to fans in the winter–fans do *not* actually make the room colder they way that heaters make it hotter, they just move the air around! Honestly I run so hot that I would probably be using a desk fan even in an office set to 74 sometimes.

          Banning space heaters is SUPER common and normal and often recommended by the fire department. Banning desk fans would be wildly overstepping.

          1. Nonprofit Slave*

            Space heaters are very dangerous in an office. About 5 years ago I was on the executive team of a nonprofit, and we had a fire from a space heater over a holiday. Not only did it pretty much gut the whole 9-story building, it caused unbelievable legal issues for my org. Eventually it was discovered the heater was faulty and had exploded. It was turned off but plugged in. I won’t use them at all now. When I left, they were still fighting Amazon and the Chinese manufacturer of the space heater.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              My office only allows like 3 certain space heaters (particular brand/model). You still have to furnish your own but you may only buy ones on the approved list. And yes they should be not just off but unplugged when not directly attended.

            2. AnneC*

              Facilities manager here; can confirm. Space heaters are the absolute bane of the office, and are a lot more dangerous than they seem at first glance. They pull a lot of power for their size, and need to be plugged directly into a wall outlet (no power strips or extension cords). I once discovered someone had plugged a space heater into TWO daisy-chained extension cords, and one of the extension cords was partially melted. They’re lucky they didn’t burn the building down. I don’t allow them for anyone in a cubicle, and people in offices need their setup inspected and approved. It’s absolutely no joke.

              1. Nina*

                I used to work at a NASA base where the rule about power cords was ‘anyone, at any time, may and should unplug any daisy-chained extension cords or power strips they see, so if you don’t want your critical work turned off and ruined by a passing intern, don’t daisy-chain’.

        4. Well...*

          I am starting to get really uncomfortable with how much people are quoting “look cute,” especially as the original LW did NOT put those words in quotes and could have been paraphrasing what her employee said. There are comments here saying those words are unprofessional (they aren’t, and that’s sexist) and we don’t even know that anyone said those exact words.

          I am unhappy with how this discourse has evolved.

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

            Even if the employee did not say specifically “look cute” they are putting their appearance over comfort and the comfort of others. And it sounds like she is refusing to add layers. She can look professional and “cute” with layers.

            1. Well...*

              Yup, absolutely it’s not okay to prioritize your appearance over comfort. I’m not happy with how much people are honing in on the words/directing their critique towards the word “cute” though, when it’s not clear from the letter that the employee even used that word.

              1. Mr. Shark*

                It seems pretty clear, the LW says, “which she replied she is trying to look cute.” Regardless, the intent is obviously that the person does not want to put on layers because of her looks, which is not a good reason for not trying to stay warm and causing problems for the rest of the office.

                1. ADidgeridooForYou*

                  Yeah, I don’t think people are objecting to the word cute, just that the coworker kind of blew off LW’s concerns because she’s more focused on her personal appearance.

          2. Observer*

            I am starting to get really uncomfortable with how much people are quoting “look cute,” especially as the original LW did NOT put those words in quotes and could have been paraphrasing what her employee said.

            What difference does it make? This employee is dressing this way because she wants to look a certain way, and it makes no difference if the look is “cute”, “pretty”, or any other description.

            So far, reading up till here, I have not seen anyone comment on the choice of the word, but on the idea that her looks (cute or not) take precedence over anyone’s comfort.

          3. Student*

            The employee is deciding that her particular, non-work-required fashion decisions are more important than her ability to work comfortably and the ability of co-workers to work comfortably.

            Her decision is inherently unprofessional. We’re not quibbling with her choice of a “cute” aesthetic. We’re quibbling with elevating any specific aesthetic above basic work needs of herself and others near her – that’s the unprofessional choice she’s made. It’d be true no matter what aesthetic she was going for: goth, grandmotherly, floral, 1920s flapper, hipster, punk rock, suit-and-tie, etc.

          4. ADidgeridooForYou*

            I don’t think it’s sexist to be annoyed when someone is prioritizing their looks over the comfort of the group. If I were on a hike with someone and they wore a cute pair of flats to make a nice outfit but they needed to stop every few feet and slowed the group down, I’d be miffed. Plus, it’s very possible to look put together and professional with layers

        5. StressedButOkay*

          Checking to make sure they’re allowed is a must. Our offices turned a blind eye to them for years (the offices were freezing for most people) until – we managed to trip all of the breakers because of the number of them. Completely blacked out our offices and the building management was Not Happy.

          Next day, upper management had to send a notice saying that they had to ban space heaters.

          Not saying that one will trip breakers but many consider them hazards and that’s a liability you don’t want your work to take on.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Back before our department was sent to work from home the facilities department was in charge of space heaters. The only allowed ones that they provided, and they were strong enough to heat two cubes at a time (so managers would shuffle to put together folks that wanted a heater so they could share). And they were really serious about only heaters we provide. Getting caught once was a warning that came with a referral to facilities to apply for one of their heaters. Second time was a formal write up for a facility safety violation. The only policy about fans prior to Covid was a size limit. Post Covid till we were sent home they were banned entirely due to a possible Covid transmission risk. Honestly being WFH the biggest perk for me is not dealing with all the office temperature wars.

            Oh, and yeah if not in use a space heater really should be unplugged for maximum safety.

        6. jojo*

          Ask her who she trying to look cute for. And tell her the office is dating site. And tell her the fire inspector says her space heater needs to go.

      2. Marzipan*

        Yeah, I wonder whether any rearranging could be done to give the cold employee a space that others may find uncomfortably hot but might work for her? Environmentally speaking I’m not in love with a situation that’s using energy to artificially cool the space (a bit) and using *more* to heat it back up again.

        Also, surely this employee has clothes she considers ‘cute’ for winter as well as summer?

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          I would push back on her about clothing before rearranging spaces etc. “Wanting to look cute” isn’t a legit reason not to wear an additional sweater or whatever. Most workplaces wouldn’t tolerate a space heater either, mainly for safety reasons but also like the commenter above says – air con and the heater “fighting” each other resulting in increased energy consumption. Does the company have an environmental policy or something like that to have recourse to?

          1. Well...*

            She might not want to disclose why she’s so cold. I have a medical condition that my doctors told me makes me feel more cold than other people. I sometimes cover in casual conversation as being about having brought the wrong clothes or whatever.

            Also, when your body struggles to generate heat, a sweater really isn’t enough, especially if you’re sitting still at your desk all day. You either need an outdoor jacket (that can be uncomfortable to work in) or actual heat.

            1. TechWorker*

              Whilst all of that is true, if you run cold it still makes no sense to wear sleeveless dresses all the time. It’s totally reasonable to ask her to *try* wearing a jumper first.

              1. SuperAdmin*

                As a fellow cold person I cannot tell you how miserable it is when it is finally summer and hot outside to still dress like it’s winter for work. I went in in a midi dress and sandals with a cardigan last week and my fingernails were blue in the office aircon – but outside it was warm enough I took my cardigan off the moment I stepped outdoors. OP’s cold person is an idiot for not at least bringing a cardigan or blazer, but I do get where she’s coming from. I’m now back in long trousers and closed-toe shoes and blazers – feel like I may as well not have a summer wardrobe.

                1. Turanga Leela*

                  For whatever it’s worth, this happens to non-cold people too. It helps me to think of “summer clothes” as totally distinct from “work clothes.” An office is a temperature-controlled environment, so it runs in a very narrow temperature range all year. Summer dresses with bare legs are going to be too cold in the summer; big fluffy sweaters are probably going to be too warm in the winter. (Although if you run very cold, maybe that’s not true for you. It is for me!) My work wardrobe is very similar year-round, just with more scarves and boots in winter.

                2. Other Alice*

                  I get it because I am also extremely cold, for reference I keep the AC at home at 25C which Google tells me it’s warmer than 74F. But that is no reason to use a space heater and make everyone else in the office more uncomfortable.

                3. Well...*

                  Yes, this is another issue. Like for me to “dress for AC” I have to wear heavy fabrics, thick tights if I want to wear a dress, extra layers like camis, etc, heavy socks, closed-toed shoes.

                  I can’t just throw on a sweater over summer clothes and be comfortable in the low 70s if I’m sitting still all day at work.

                4. ceiswyn*

                  Yes, it’s absolutely horrible to be slightly chilly in winter clothes all year round. It feels like never experiencing summer – the times I worked in offices that were very cold all year round, it had a real effect on my mental health.

                  It’s even worse if you commute by foot or by public transport, because you either overheat horribly on the commute or have to carry in an entire winter outfit to put on when you get to work…

                5. ceiswyn*

                  …I once worked somewhere where I had to wear thermal leggings and vest under a thick wool dress, with wrist warmers, and chain-drink tea just to keep my fingers from going white and numb – in July while it was 28C outdoors.

                  I left that job for lots of reasons, but the office temperature was definitely one of them.

                6. MPerera*

                  The temperature in my workplace can get down to 19 C (66 Fahrenheit) in summer, at which point I’m freezing. We have no control over it. So even in summer, I wear thermal leggings under my pants, and thick socks. I also bring both a cardigan and a warm jacket to work. I don’t have a summer wardrobe for work because there’s no point.

                  Also, I work in the blood bank of a trauma hospital. So occasionally there’s a code, and everyone swings into high gear. At that point it can get stressful enough that I have to take off something. It’s become a workplace joke that you can tell how bad the code is by how many layers come off, and the evening I was down to my leggings was the worst one yet.

                7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                  Then your office should not be cooled as much! it’s a crazy waste of energy.

                8. TechWorker*

                  Yea I get that – I am also a cold person tho my office is now a bit warmer than it used to be. I used to keep a second huge jumper at my desk. It is hard to argue that your colleague already in a super thin t-shirt & shorts at the next desk should be wearing less though :p

                9. ceiswyn*

                  I think that, as with most things, the problem here is that we’re attempting to apply a single, consistent system to everyone despite pretty much every area of life showing that this is a bad plan that doesn’t work.

                  Why do we keep employing ever more sophisticated technologies and settings to make an entire office, or even building, a single temperature, when that will definitely make the extremophiles unhappy? Why don’t we instead look into systems and methods that create hot and cold spots, and let employees sit in the temperature where they’re comfortable?

                10. ADidgeridooForYou*

                  I think this is just an unfortunate part of being in an office, though, no matter how hot/cold you run. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum (always overheated), and for me, it’s miserable to be dressing for winter but be sweating through my clothes. When I was in an office, it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a tank top on, even if it was 30 degrees outside. Unfortunately, unless something truly egregious is happening (like they’re setting the thermostat to an insane temperature), I think we chronically hot or cold people just have to recognize that as long as everyone else is relatively comfortable, it’s an us problem.

            2. GythaOgden*

              Yeah, no. I do sympathise with her — I run hot. My colleague feels the cold to an extraordinary extent and won’t let me run a fan in summer (and we don’t have AC in our building here in the UK). My hair is quite thick and heavy enough not to stay up, so I get eczema on the back of my neck during the summer from the sweat that collects there. It is highly uncomfortable.

              I did ask my GP whether there was anything I could do about it (because it could well be linked to my dyspraxia and autism, which manifest themselves more in neurophysical issues now that I’m on anti-anxiety pills for the mental situation), and she said no, I just had to wear less clothing.

              This is, presumably, an adult woman who can be expected to make reasonable adjustments to her clothing that can help her cope with an environment that she finds too cold, not a helpless child. Pushing this narrative doesn’t help anyone: it infantilises people with chronic conditions who have the presence of mind to adjust their habits to fit the situation, and teaches others that their issues and struggles aren’t as important as a single person, when that single person isn’t being mindful of their comfort and issues.

              For me I have started using neck gaiters as hairbands so I can keep my hair somewhat off the back of my neck, wear as short sleeves as I can and loose clothing that cools me off in the summer. Neck fans are a godsend! If you’re the one who can make easy fixes to their own situation — and this is as easy a fix as it gets — then she can make the change.

              And please stop with the ableism. This is the second day in a row someone has wrung their hands and said there’s nothing someone with chronic conditions can do for themselves and isn’t it awful that her colleagues won’t just put up with it, and it’s getting annoying. As above, I’ve made those adjustments to my own clothing for kind of the opposite reason, and for most working adults they’re not outside the boundaries of what should be expected in a communal environment.

              1. Buffy*

                I hope this isn’t unwelcome medical advice but just in case this could be helpful for you, I discovered that some anti-anxiety/antidepressants can cause excessive sweating. I thought there wasn’t anything I could do about this but my psych prescribed me terazosin to counteract it and it’s a HUGE help. I’m a sweaty lady in general so I definitely still get (very) sweaty but I’m not literally dripping in mild weather anymore.

                1. Ann O'nymous*

                  Yup! Disabled people are competent adults who are able to make adjustments to their clothing to compensate appropriately for the office temperature. If that is NOT possible then it needs to be brought up for accommodation.

                  I have severe endometriosis and I just started medication that should put me into chemical menopause; so I can expect hot flashes – I have already planned for layers that I can put on or take off while my body does weird things with thermal regulation.

                2. Quill*

                  Had those, had a heatwave last summer, am now on different meds because I do not live in an area with moderate temperatures.

              2. lucanus cervus*

                I’m with you here – I get cholinergic urticaria, I’ll break out in hives if it gets hot enough. I am absolutely doing everything I can to avoid this already and I don’t expect the temperate to be as low as I would personally prefer it, because for most people that’s too cold. But hell if I’m going to suffer any more than I actually need to just because someone doesn’t feel cute in a cardigan. I’m still struggling over here in much LESS clothing than I feel comfortable in.

            3. ferrina*

              Optics matter. From the outside, no one can tell if you have a medical condition or are making entitled demands. It’s up to you whether or not you want to disclose, but if you aren’t disclosing, you aren’t just entitled to do what you want (especially when it’s impacting other people!).

              Right now it sounds like the employee isn’t making any effort to solve the situation. Her space heater is impacting the temperature for the rest of the office on a regular basis. It’s extremely reasonable for LW to tell her to try alternatives that won’t impact the rest of the office. Even assuming that she already knows that the alternatives won’t work for her (and we have no evidence that she’s actually tried to put on a cute sweater), just showing others that she’s trying will build goodwill. It’s the same conversation with or without a diagnosis- she’s entering into conversation with her employer about how they can accommodate her needs. The employer can accommodate a small space heater that doesn’t impact the rest of the office; the employer can’t accommodate changing the temperature in the rest of the office (even accidentally by leaving the door open).

            4. Observer*

              She might not want to disclose why she’s so cold. I

              It doesn’t matter why she is cold. And it doesn’t sound like anyone has asked her that.

              What matters is her *behavior* in response to the problem. And her behavior is absolutely inappropriate. She’s refusing to take reasonable measures to deal with the issue. And that would be the case even if the underlying problem is a medical issue.

            5. Giant Kittie*

              I didn’t get diagnosed as ND until I was almost 50, so I didn’t even KNOW it was a medical condition causing my extreme sensitivity to cold for most of my life.

              1. Bit o' Brit*

                Wait, my body being useless at regulating temperature could be a ND thing??? Good grief, the revelations just never end (diagnosed 2 years ago, am currently 31).

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Yes I’m utterly shocked at the waste of energy.
          Here in France the government has decreed that ministries and government buildings should not be cooled down beyond 25°C, which is a pleasant temperature, most people will be comfortable in just light clothing, but men wearing suits probably would prefer it colder than that. So then they also decreed that men can wear shorts, so long as they reach the knee.

          1. Ghostlight*

            Unless my calculations are off, 25 C is 77 F which is quite warm for a minimum building temperature.

            I run cold and I’m pretty would be uncomfortable in an office at that temperature without a ton of air movement from a fan, and even then that sounds pretty warm to me. And I’m the person in the US who brings a sweater to go anywhere in the summer because indoors is always freezing which is it’s own stupid problem…

            1. I am Emily's failing memory*

              It can make a difference what the outdoor temp is, because you notice the change most of all. I keep my house at 75-77F and when I walk in from a brisk 40 degree winter outside, 75 is so TOASTY I immediately remove my extra layers, even though I might eventually have to put a light cardigan back on once I’ve acclimated.

              But when I walk in from a humid 88-feels-like-101 summer day with the sun beating down, 77 and no direct sun exposure is downright REFRESHING.

              1. My Useless 2 Cents*

                Yeah, I love my office air conditioning during the day but not so much when I go home (no air conditioning) and it seems so *hot* even with a fan moving the air around.

            2. BubbleTea*

              I don’t think it’s a minimum temperature as in “it must be at least this warm” but more “if it’s no hotter than this, don’t put the air conditioning on”.

          2. amoeba*

            Yeah, from a European point of view, I was honestly shocked by the idea of the double energy expenditure. I’d be at a loss for words if a colleague told me she preferred wasting energy to “not looking cute”.

            Would get it if she was lobbying for less AC – but cooling and heating at the same time? Wtf.

            1. DataSci*

              This American is shocked by that too. And by the number of people who set AC to Arctic Blast in summer.

              1. ADidgeridooForYou*

                I mean, where I live, it’s 107 Fahrenheit this weekend. Summers are routinely above 100. Even if I set my thermostat to 75, the outside heat creeps in and gets it up to the 80’s. And I’m on a medication that raises my body temp and makes me sweat constantly. Just because you’re comfortable in a certain temperature, doesn’t mean other people are. I do my best to be eco-friendly in other aspects of life (biking instead of driving, making sure to turn lights off, etc.) but I’m not going to be miserable in my home for 1/3 of the year.

                1. jojo*

                  I have gel ice packs. They came with a strap on pocket. I wear them at work when it is too hot

      3. DJ Abbott*

        Re letting the person who is cold work in the conference room – I don’t think she should be coddled for refusing to wear a sweater. Offices are cold. Most people need sweaters, at least some of the time. She needs to just deal.
        Interesting on the temperatures! For me, 68 is winter wear at home-sweatpants and fleece sweater. I’m always the person in the office with a sweater. At home I keep my air conditioner on 76 and sometimes that’s a little cold.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yep, best thing about working from home is total dominion over the thermostat. Below 75F and sitting still, my fingers go numb – as in they literally lose feeling and I can hardly type without frequent typos because I can’t actually feel the keys with my fingertips. Gloves don’t help, arthritic wrist braces don’t help, but at least it’s “only” my fingers that go numb & the temp has to get much lower (like before 70) before it starts causing backache from all my muscles involuntarily tensing up. I know I’m an outlier, and I’ve quietly suffered many cold offices in my time, but at home thankfully none of my pets complain about the 77 degree setting.

          (Now, as soon as I start moving around doing stuff that gets my blood flowing, I like it cooler. 70F is perfect for housework like vacuuming or projects like repainting. It’s the sitting-still-at-a-desk of it that causes all the blood vessels in my extremities to feel like they’re receding back and no longer delivering any blood to my fingers or toes!)

          1. Mf*

            Same. I keep the air set at 78 F during the summer. If it’s 74 or cooler, I have to put in a sweatshirt and pants—and that’s not practical workwear when it’s 90 degrees outside. So while the LW can and should tell the other woman to put on a sweater, that’s probably not a real solution here.

        2. ferrina*

          Switching to a non-intrusive spot where you can work better isn’t “coddling”. If this is something the business can easily accommodate (i.e., the conference rooms aren’t being used a lot, won’t throw off other’s work), then this is just investing in an employee’s productivity. If this is a hardship to the business, then yes, I totally agree that the employee needs to engage in conversation to find an accommodation that doesn’t put undue hardship on the business (including creating an uncomfortable temperature for colleagues)

          fyi, “coddling” is often a euphemism for “we don’t want to be even mildly inconvenienced by someone else’s needs. See: kids with learning disabilities who are being “coddled” with IEPs. People who are neurodiverse who work best with certain strategies/processes that neurotypical people don’t need. Rigidly demanding that everyone function as though they have the same needs lest you “coddle” someone is just being rigid. We’re naturally going to be more sympathetic to people whose needs reflect our own, because we have the first hand experience of what that need feels like. That doesn’t mean that needs that don’t match our own are inherently bad or “lazy” (I’m ADHD- ask me how many times I’ve been called “lazy” because of brain chemistry I can’t change). Providing a light concession isn’t creating entitlement; it’s being realistic that different people have different needs and can’t all fit in the same box. That’s a good thing- if we all did the same thing and followed the same rules, progress would never happen. Obviously we shouldn’t be saying “yes” to every request or demand, but it’s worth reflecting “why am I saying no?”

          1. DJ Abbott*

            When most, if not all, offices, have people who prefer a range of temperatures, and there’s one employee who refuses to wear a sweater and wastes energy trying to heat up her office instead, I maintain that if she was supported in refusing to wear a sweater, that would be coddling. She’s not disabled, she just runs cold. I do too, and I always wear a sweater and whatever layers are necessary, because I know my colleagues like it cooler. She needs to be more considerate of energy use and the people around her.
            I’m not going to get into proper words to use for disabilities, that’s not what this thread and comments are about. Policing words that are being used properly is not cool.

            1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

              No, an easy solution that works for everyone is not “coddling” just because one person involved is not in the middle of the bell curve. She should wear a sweater before using a space heater, but switching to a space where she can be comfortable as-is with a minimum of bother for anyone is not only not coddling, it is the better solution because the total happiness of the office goes up. (Also, everyone says “put on a sweater” as if that is some magical cure to being cold, and it isn’t. Sweaters don’t cover hands or faces.)

              1. Lenora Rose*

                Not going to get into the coddling discussion, but to address a side point; I do find personally that surprisingly small changes to my wardrobe can make a big difference to my comfort, because of circulation. In my case, that means socks are often better than sweaters (even light ankle socks) for warming me up, and sewing gloves (Fingerless, with seams outside as they do very light compression and are intended to encourage circulation) are usually better than sweaters, but a sweater will help even if it’s my legs that are cool, as long as I put it on as a preventative, before they’re already cold. (And yes, cool and cold are subjective, but I can generally tell if I’m in the “I need to warm up a bit first” stage vs the “Put this on because I know I’ll be frozen in a minute.”)

              2. DJ Abbott*

                I think I just feel like if she has one unreasonable request/expectation she’ll have more, and it’s not a good habit to start giving in to them. I suppose you could try allowing her that and see what happens.
                I’m sorry the word coddling has been used against neurodivergent people. It seems like everything these days is being used to hurt someone. :(

            2. ferrina*

              What’s wrong with letting her work in a different space if that’s something that isn’t inconvenient? If it’s inconvenient or not doable, totally agree! next step is to put on a sweater, not space heater. I’ve got several other comments on this page supporting Team Sweater (including another comment that addresses the disabled assumption- tldr; doesn’t matter if she’s disabled, the process is the same). But if she’s a decent performer and letting her switch spaces is a simple solution, why not? (again, assuming it doesn’t provide additional complications- if it’s tough on the business, then no). It’s good for other employees to see the managers collaborating with employees to make strong solutions- it builds faith and morale, not “coddling”. Entitled people are going to be entitled regardless of accommodations. But when a doable solution is disallowed (again, assuming it’s easily doable) because “coddling”, others will see this attitude toward “coddling” and think “What’s going to happen when I ask for something?”

              I am going to call out the word “coddling”. Call me whatever names you want, that is a word that has been weaponized to marginalize, particularly ND folks. Especially ND kids- “coddling” is often used as an excuse not to provide accommodations. Just because a word is being used “properly”, i.e., in a way consistent with the dictionary, doesn’t mean it’s not an unkind or problematic word.

          2. jojo*

            No concessions are needed. This female has her own office. Tell her to shut the d*** door. She is over heating the rest of the employees. Tell the other employees to close her door if she is heating them out.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      But see, this is the exact thing. There’s absolutely no one universal truth with temperature. We keep our home thermostat at 77 or 78 in the summer. When it’s 90 or more outside, 77 feels plenty cool enough for me. I’d be pretty chilly at 74 and might need a cardigan sometimes.

      1. Dog momma*

        Cali, agree, we are in the South, and Dog poppa is on blood thinners. AC is set at 79°,78° if its really hot out. We use fans to keep air flow moving. I get colder now occasionally since I’ve finished chemo ( side effect lol) but layer appropriately at those times. Denim shirt or sweater always in the car esp if going to the grocery store where its FRIGID towards the back. This employee needs a sweater or something.. she can look just as cute without making the rest of the office suffer. BTW, I’ve worked in many offices, 1where I wore my down coat and many layers all day to keep warm in winter; and NEVER in any of those was able to have q space heater st fire laws.. huge hazard..& yes the fire department did random checks.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        My body acclimates to the heat in the summer. As a result, I can get badly chilled at 68F in the summer, even though that would be a comfortable temperature for me in the winter. Before I was able to work remotely, I used to keep a heavy sweater and a fleece blanket at work during the hottest parts of the summer.

        1. Modesty Poncho*

          I’m exactly the opposite lol… in the summer I need to turn it farther down for the contrast, while in the winter I can let it warm up higher. Just like how I take cold showers in summer and hot ones in winter. But I’m generally always warm. I didn’t turn the heat on in my apartment last year until sometime in January because before then, everyone else’s heat being on made it hot enough I still slept with the window open.

    3. LikesToSwear*

      Same!!! And I’m extremely heat intolerant, so while a fan would be on my desk and in use, it probably wouldn’t help enough, and I’d be pushing to have the thermostat set at a lower temperature. Anyone who is cold can always put more clothing on; I can only take so much off.

      1. Well...*

        I find this attitude pretty irritating though, because there is a lot you can do to combat heat. You can drink cold water, you can wear sandals without socks, light & breezy clothing, put your hair up, etc. People say they can’t take more layers off, but then I don’t see them actually wearing light fabrics in the first place. That’s the same to me as someone whose coat isn’t warm enough, like putting it on doesn’t fix the problem without any forethought to what temperature you will have to endure.

        People who don’t live in warm climates often are totally ignorant about how to combat heat, and then they complain that it’s impossible. I’ve spent comfortable summers in Madrid without AC, I lived for years in central California, it’s definitely possible. I live in a cold country now, and the way people lose their minds over the heat if the high goes about 20C is wild.

          1. Well...*

            I find the argument of “I can’t take more layers off” irritating, because it ignores whole countries worth of knowledge of how to survive and be comfortable in warm weather. I don’t think that makes me a jerk.

            1. Well...*

              Also my examples are for surviving weather that’s in to 100-110F range. Nobody’s comfortable temperature is in that range, yet people find strategies to deal with it.

                1. Well...*

                  Yes, but if people live relatively productive and happy lives in countries that regularly get >105F without AC, then I do not buy that someone can’t survive >74F because they “can’t take off more layers.” There are many strategies to combat the heat, and strategies that make triple digits survivable can be adjusted to make moderate temperatures comfortable.

                  Similarly, putting on a sweater or using hand warmers are mild versions of strategies used to combat extreme cold. We adapt those strategies into our lives all the time without fuss.

                2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Yes, but if people live relatively productive and happy lives in countries that regularly get >105F without AC, then I do not buy that someone can’t survive >74F because they “can’t take off more layers.”

                  Making a statement like that without taking humidity and air movement into account is irresponsible. 100F in New Mexico is nowhere near as bad as 90F around the Laurentian Great Lakes.

                  Plus, those who are being baked alive usually can’t just say “I’m invoking the Spaniards’ heat mitigation strategy and taking a 3 hour siesta. I’ll be back in a few hours after the midday head has subsided.”

                3. Well...*

                  @Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*, I lived in an urban area of Spain for a few years, three-hour siestas are not at all common nowadays. Also there’s Italy, Greece, France, Portugal, etc. as places that don’t use air conditioning in many workplaces and manage without siestas. Finally, I’m talking about adjusting to air conditioned temperatures IN THE 70’S! If the AC is on at all, you don’t need to factor in humidity? And even if you did, the point is that there are many strategies to survive the heat (either humid high 80s or dry 105+) that you can adapt to normal workplace temperatures and accommodate your coworkers.

                4. Observer*

                  @well, siestas are no longer common because they now use air conditioning in the summer!

                  The bottom line is that you either shut things down or you cool artificially if you want work to continue.

                5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  I simply meant a siesta as an example of a heat-mitigation strategy that someone being baked alive in an office can’t unilaterally implement, despite other cultures having used it.

                  A different example: spicy food is also known to help people cool off (the spicy substances evaporate, pulling heat from the individual in the process). They also can cause gassiness… I’m sure Alison doesn’t need more letters saying “it’s 80 degrees in the office and we can’t breath for the flatulence. Can I demand to work remotely?”

                  But reality is I misjudged this one; my attempted contribution to the conversation didn’t add anything useful to it.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                Endure a Midwestern summer with our lovely humidity (& right now, smoke from wildfires), then see what it can be like. (We also have really cold winters, because our weather is an equal opportunity PITA.)

                I run hot & don’t have AC at home, but a lot of modern buildings are built with the idea that they will use artificial climate control. If I can’t open a window for some fresh air, then I would like to be comfortable. (And I do dress very lightly when it’s hot out.) In my younger, thinner days, I had very low blood pressure & a tendency to faint when it was too hot.

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                Literally this is the temperature range where they put out warnings about death.

                1. RussianInTexas*

                  Yes, for the last two weeks we’ve been under the heat index of 110+, with “Outdoor Danger” warning, as in do not go outdoor.

              3. metadata minion*

                Traditional ways of surviving at those temperatures often involve designing buildings that maximize air circulation and otherwise keep things cooler. Typical Western industrial architecture either assumes central AC/heat, or assumes you’re not going to be at temperatures to need them and whoops, sorry about that whole climate change thing. There are also traditions like napping through the hottest parts of the afternoon and working at dawn and dusk; London office workers in a heat wave are unlikely to be able to just go take a siesta for half their workday.

              4. Observer*

                Also my examples are for surviving weather that’s in to 100-110F range. Nobody’s comfortable temperature is in that range, yet people find strategies to deal with it.

                Which is not useful, because there is a difference between survival and actually getting work done.

                It’s not for nothing that mid-day siestas exist. That’s not because people (or cultures) are lazy. It’s because working in temperatures that are too high can be counter-productive, and even dangerous.

                And when you are also dealing with the needs and even requirements of a typical modern workplace, those limits are even higher. So, yes, there are more options for dealing with cold (up to a point) than with heat if you actually want to get work done.

            2. Ex-Teacher*

              Those whole countries either have air conditioning, or have manner of dress that allows them to be comfortable.

              In the US, the least amount of clothing that I (male) can wear in most offices is pants and a short-sleeved shirt. I typically wear that (even in winter) and if it’s still too hot for me, I have no other choice. I can’t take off any more clothes to cool down, and I can’t practically wear anything smaller or lighter (like a dress/skirt).

              I’m doing everything I can to be comfortable in my workplace without impacting others or losing my job, so “I can’t take off any more layers” is all I have to say, and I won’t feel badly about that.

              1. Well...*

                Sorry, no, AC is not a guarantee (it’s like 50/50) in the workplaces in much of southern Europe, and they dress pretty similarly to the US.

                1. I am Emily's failing memory*

                  Yep. AC, and ice makers/complimentary ice for beverages were also pretty hit or miss around the world when I was taking trips a decade ago, not sure if there’s been any change since then. Places that catered to tourists were more likely to have both. But traveling the world taught me that nobody, but nobody, has embraced refrigeration technology quite so much as the USA.

            3. Yorick*

              I also find it irritating because at some point you can’t comfortably add more layers indoors. The person from the letter probably can! But that’s not universally true.

          2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            I get hot flushes but I deal with it: I keep a jug of water with a sprig of garden mint in the fridge, and always have a fresh glass on my desk. I work at home so I can also take a shower whenever and I get dressed without drying myself off. At the office I would simply take a cold wet flannel and wipe my skin, and I would wet my T-shirt (OK this is not for people working with the public). My friend sits with her feet in a basin of cold water. I don’t have AC at home, so I keep the curtains drawn when the sun is shining through the window, and I keep the windows open to ensure there’s a bit of a draught. In extreme heat, I’ll wet a cloth and throw it over the fan, and treat myself to ice cream. (And when the cat started wanting some, I froze some leftover cream in an icecube tray for her). So there are still plenty of things you can do apart from taking clothes off.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              These are all good tips for home, but they sort of confirm that there are limits to how much you can cool off in a hot office. My office is pretty casual, but not feet-in-a-bowl-of-water casual.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                I suppose it depends on the workplace and whether you have customers coming in. I was known as the one who wore slippers at work in the winter so…

        1. Stripes*

          Whenever the temperature is above 72, indoors or out, I *wish* I was wearing shorts and sandals. But neither of those are considered appropriate attire at my workplace.

        2. Charming Charlie*

          You seem weirdly defensive about the heat lol? For people without special conditions (i.e. most people) it is definitely more difficult to find ways to cool down than to heat up.

          1. Well...*

            Yes, I do care a lot about this. There’s a sexist slant to it in that women’s professional wear is often less heat-retaining than men’s, and there have been studies that show women’s cognitive performance doesn’t peak at the same temperature as men (women peak at a higher temperature). Personally having moved around Europe, I do think there’s a discrimination element to refusing to learn how to adjust to warm temperatures.

            I know everyone’s different and people suffer on both ends. It’s also real for human biology that “too hot” is measured in individual degrees, whereas “to cold” can be measured in decades of degrees (once you get to the extremes). But the “I can’t take off more layers” argument when discussing temperature ranges that are within reasonable human tolerance but differ by personal preference is IMO not reasonable and shows a lack of effort to adjust to warmer temperatures.

            1. Myrin*

              I mean, I don’t necessarily disagree, but I do think this discussion is getting way too heated (pun obviously intended) and full of people who can either never get warm or never get cold projecting their own situations when a) we don’t know that the employee in #1 wouldn’t actually feel just fine if she wore a cardigan/shawl/light jacket and b) it sounds like the “employee closes door to her space” solution would actually solve the whole situation satisfactorily but she’s not consistently implementing that.
              IMO this is actually more of a problem with someone who sounds like she’s stubborn/unwilling to try anything and/or unreasonable and the temperature thing is just an expression of that (maybe the only one, maybe not).

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                not to mention that she wants to “look cute” which is not appropriate for the office. I’d have confiscated her heater at that point!

                1. amoeba*

                  Well, I’d say it’s certainly not a very professional response to a request at work! “Sorry, cannot do that, boss, would make me look less cute” – I have a great boss but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t accept that as an excuse!

              2. Momma Bear*

                I agree. At a prior job, they inspected everyone’s heaters. They needed to be a certain wattage, have safety measures, etc. I think that determining what is “safe” and reasonable in this office is appropriate. If my company told me that my heater was causing problems in the rest of the office, I’d have to give up my heater. I think that no one temp is going to make everyone happy, but people should be encouraged to mitigate to their needs as long as they don’t negatively impact others. She could, for example, use a heated chair cover instead of the heater, which would keep the heat localized to herself. She can not want to wear a sweater but then her options include closing the door and not making problems for others. She has a choice, even if she doesn’t like it.

            2. Walking hot water bottle*

              “Women’s professional wear is often less heat retaining than men’s” well, to give your own advice back to you: then buy properly adjusted clothing.

              I don’t wear particularly expensive items and I once had a male coworker comment on how my blazer was warmer than his jacket. Surprised I got it back tbh.

              1. Well...*

                I mean, yes, this is the point I’m making. All of us should make some effort to try an accommodate other people’s preferences. My whole point is that people who get too hot don’t get to just shut down the conversation with “but you can’t take layers off!” if they haven’t tried a few other solutions.

                1. doreen*

                  No, they shouldn’t be able to shut it down if they haven’t tried anything else at all – but I spent ten years working in a place where there was a basic dress code that everyone had to follow, a more specific dress code for certain other jobs and practicalities about how to dress for certain jobs. And due to those factors, there was a group of people (including women) who had to wear a jacket ( possibly could get away with a sweater) and closed shoes and pants. And there was a another group who wanted to wear light sleeveless summer dresses and sandals complaining about being too cold who wanted keep the temp around 80 . And this doesn’t even account for people having hot flashes or personal comfort levels – I won’t literally die in 105 heat but I will not be anything close to comfortable in a New York summer without AC. I don’t expect the thermostat to be set at my personal preference (which is about 65) – but I’m not quite sure why some people should be dripping with seat so others can wear sleeveless dresses. It’s not as though there aren’t people who complain about cold without solutions other than turning up the heat.

                2. WellRed*

                  But the coworker in the letter (you DO remember the letter right?) has a few options she’s not doing first. I’m not sure why what people do in hot countries has to do with this?

                3. Ex-Teacher*

                  > people who get too hot don’t get to just shut down the conversation with “but you can’t take layers off!” if they haven’t tried a few other solutions.

                  Why are you assuming that people in this situation *haven’t* tried other solutions?

                  I am someone who essentially wears as light and little clothing as I can professionally wear, and I’m still usually too warm. I can’t take anything else off without getting fired, so irritating or not it’s a relevant argument and to dismiss it is selfish.

                4. Well...*

                  @Ex-Teacher, what have you tried other than modifying your clothing? You could do some research into strategies to keep cool, but I’ll list a few for you here: drinking iced water throughout the day to lower your body temp, splashing water on the back of your neck after you use the restroom, putting lotion on your hands in front of a fan (evaporation sucks away heat), eating cold foods like salads, gazpacho, etc. around meal times, using ice packs if you’re desperate (lord knows I’ve used heat packs at work).

                5. Colette*

                  @Well… Yes, people should make an effort to cool off. But you’re putting a lot of responsibility on people to do things that may not be appropriate at work. Some jobs have expectations for dress; many don’t have ready sources for ice; some don’t allow fans. (By the same token, people who are too cold could drink hot tea, take some time to walk around the floor, and use a heat pack to warm up.)

                  And North American workplaces often don’t have windows that open, and are arranged around getting things done rather that coping with heat – so while other places that are typically hot might shut down during the hottest hours, we don’t.

                  It’s also important to remember that, while many people in an office spend time sitting, others in the office (e.g. cleaning staff) have to be able to move, and they don’t have their own temperature bubble to keep them safe.

                6. Well...*

                  @Colette literally every cold person I’ve ever met has implemented those strategies (constantly drinking tea, warming pads, handwarmers, etc.) I’m not saying chronically cold people shouldn’t have to try anything, or that all chronically hot people haven’t tried everything — I’m just saying that the argument of “you can’t take off more layers so we win” alone does not hold much water, and I’m irritated about how little it’s questioned.

                7. amoeba*

                  @Well… totally OT, but pretty sure drinking iced water is actually not the recommended way to go? At least hereabouts you always get the tip to avoid that as it makes the body expend energy to heat it up…

                8. Permanent job blues*

                  @amoeba, I mean to help you adjust to temperatures that are within the normal, healthy, safe range but maybe a little warmer compared to your personal preference. I’d say ice water is fine if you’re in the high 70s F and too hot.

                9. Observer*

                  My whole point is that people who get too hot don’t get to just shut down the conversation with “but you can’t take layers off!” if they haven’t tried a few other solutions.

                  Except that’s not what is being said. None of the example you bring are relevant because they all require things that are not in the control of the individuals. In terms of individual choices in the typical US office space, there is absolutely no doubt that there are a lot more choices to warm up than cool down.

                  I can’t change the windows, the insulation, the air flow or any of the other things in my building that affect the overall temperature in either direction. I also cannot sit with my feet in a tub of cold water (in my office, it would be a bigger safety hazard than a UL listed heater) or an ice bag on my head. But I CAN wear warmer clothes and put on a sweater, vest, jacket and / or leggings.

                10. Ex-Teacher*

                  @well…

                  Yeah, I have tried many of those things, and still I’m often too warm. and you do realize that most of your suggestions are very temporary (lotion/water evaporation isn’t going to do much unless I’m drenched, and would only last for minutes), could actually cause harm (like extended use of ice packs) with limited effectiveness, or just common sense (I have a 30 oz/900ml mug on my desk, full of ice water, and I often drink 3+ of those daily, and still I’m uncomfortably warm)

                  Dismissing the practical solutions and telling everyone else that they need to modify their diet (never mind that I’m eating refrigerator cold pizza for lunch as we speak, and often eat a cold salad for lunch) or behave in odd ways (therefore harming your professional/personal reputation), just so that you don’t have to put on pants and a sweater is rather selfish and short-sighted.

            3. BookMom*

              Lack of effort? What?! When I’m wearing a sleeveless moisture wicking dress and running a fan and drinking ice water all day and still sweating away miserably? My office actually has the summer thermostat set about 10F cooler than my home because I’m trying to save on the electric bill. At home I can go barefoot and wear shorts and keep a cold wet towel on my neck, none of which can I do in the office. Being a person who runs hot and also is in menopausal hot flashes, trust me when I say it’s not a character flaw or laziness, anymore than my cubicle neighbor who is wrapped in a shawl and drinking hot tea in July is lazy for not magically willing her body to change.

              I try not to get in arguments with strangers on the internet, but truly the judgment here is wildly unfounded.

            4. Smithy*

              Regardless of opinion, in wide parts of the US, air conditioning is the norm as a temperature regulator in ways that are not the same in Europe. Large parts of the US get hotter and more humid than large parts of Europe, both at present and historically, so that combined with different historical and current relationships to environmental regulations – in the US there is a different cultural relationship to air conditioning. One where it is expected to be present in a wide variety of workplaces, particularly in the summer – and while adjustments and compromises can be found – it will still place a norm of a desire to use air conditioning.

              This is no different than Americans going to Europe in the summer and having that “ah yes, much less air conditioning over here….” moment. Even during periods of heat waves when the weather would be the kind when we’d typically encounter air conditioning in the US. Different regions with different relationships to air conditioning for a basket of different reasons.

              I often tell my European friends really interested in visiting parts of the US like New Orleans or Austin that they’d really hate visiting in the summer. Not because they’ve never been anywhere hot before or can’t “handle the heat” but because of my assumptions of them hating the contrast of the heat to the usage of air conditioning in lots of spaces.

            5. ADidgeridooForYou*

              FWIW, I’m a woman who’s constantly overheated. I get kind of annoyed at the whole trope of “all women are always cold” (not saying you’re doing that – just that it’s a common stereotype). I do my best to cope with the heat (I live in a place where it routinely gets above 100 in the summer, after all), but I think you’re oversimiplifying things when it comes to heat tolerance.

              Also, as far as Europe goes (which, btw, is a huge place with tons of climates that probably shouldn’t be boiled down to a single entity), lots of parts have actually experienced above average heat spikes in recent years. The UK had a heat wave last year and people were miserable. There were actually states of emergency in some areas. So I wouldn’t necessarily use a continent as your argument for why people should be okay with being overheated.

            6. Charlotte Lucas*

              I’m a woman, & if it gets too warm, my cognitive functions focus mainly how to cool off or make somebody pay for my extreme discomfort. (This isn’t about hot flashes, but how I have always been. I inherited it from my grandmother.)

              Please don’t presume that all women require the same thing to be comfortable.

            7. Anna*

              To be clear, if the situation was “many people in the office are cold, but The One guy who insists on wearing a full suit feels fine,” I would give you a different answer. The answer to temperature problems shouldn’t be a generic “warm people win cause layers.” And I would look closer at the sexism angle if we were looking at workplaces where there was a clear gender discrepancy in who was reporting something was too cold.

              But based on what LW is saying, the office is currently at a point where most people are comfortable, and a comparable number are too hot as compared to too cold. This is about the best you can do in an office with a sufficiently high number of people, because lowering the temperature enough that no people are too hot or raising it enough so that no people are too cold is pretty much *guaranteed* to start running into issues with people on the other end of the spectrum, often to the point of making it difficult for them to work and flaring up medical conditions.

              Like, honestly? As a woman who gets nausea/vertigo/migraines at things in the 74+ range because it’s so hot, the attitude of “temperature problems are just *personal preferences*” kind of pisses me off, too. You are going to get people in physical pain and with medical flare ups at the higher end of “temperature ranges that are within reasonable human tolerance” the exact same way you do with the lower end of those temperatures. And you don’t know what they are or are not already trying.

              1. Anna*

                (Also the fact that a lot of the commenters telling you “yes, that level of heat will cause physical pain and/or decreased cognitive function for me” are women should maaaaaaaybe be some evidence that more is going on here than sexism when talking about temperature. There is a certain amount of irony in talking about how you care about this issue because sexism, while simultaneously implying people with conditions like hot flashes just have “preferences” and show “lack of effort,” because clearly these are “temperatures in reasonable human tolerances,” after all.

                Like, I agree, and I think most people here here agree, that “you can wear more layers, I can’t take any off” doesn’t apply when people are in multi-layered snowsuits level of cold. But in the context of sleeveless dresses, when her coworker with hotflashes is already trying other methods of keeping cool, it’s totally reasonable.)

                1. Anna*

                  Okay, calming down slightly, am wondering if I’m reading things that aren’t there a bit, but like.

                  Listen: I agree that “add on more layers” does not work infinitely (and a lot of people here have confirmed they don’t think this works infinitely). If we were talking about a context where someone was in wearing-multiple-jackets and/or can’t work with their hands level, then ya, that needs a conversation beyond “just turn the temp down more because I can’t take off more layers.”

                  Sometimes it’s a harder conversation than you might expect, because, yes, some people have conditions that make it near impossible to work at higher temperatures. The whole “but entire countries do this” is irrelevant because, a. those countries do indeed have some people struggling with heat in the workplace, in the same way we have some people struggle with the cold in countries with air conditioning, and b. what climate you grew up in and live in can dramatically influence how you experience temperature. People likely already are trying to cool themselves down.

                  But. The thing that gets my goat is that putting on one (1) jacket or wearing pants, when previously wearing summer clothes, is pretty uncontroversially easier and more long-lasting than, say, repurchasing one’s business casual wardrobe in different fabrics, or risking getting fired by violating the dress code, or constantly drenching oneself with water. And especially when you start talking about heat-triggered medical issues, it is emotionally exhausting to listen to people talk about how no, they don’t want to wear a jacket because it doesn’t fit with the aesthetic of their outfit. Or it makes them sad to not wear summer clothes. And because of that of course they can’t lower the heat, you’ll just have to put up being in constant physical pain because it’s such an undue hardship to ask people to not wear clothing so cold they can’t tolerate it without raising the thermostat.

                  The desire to wear fun summer clothes does not trump coworkers’ desire to not have migraines, or more uncomfortable hotflashes, or nausea and vomiting, or temperature-induced hives, or even just to not be constantly lethargic and sweating. *That* is when it’s relevant to mention that someone can’t take layers off when someone else can put layers on.

                  Like honestly, “oh that’s sad that you’re getting a migraine due to me wanting the heater so high, but I need it that high cause it doesn’t feel like summer unless I’m wearing a dress. Have you tried just keeping a wet towel on your head all day?” would be a ridiculous dynamic, because the level of effort and consequences is so asymmetric.

                  I’m starting to wonder if there’s been a miscommunication here on this thread (because I was genuinely hearing the latter scenario, e.g., “it’s wrong to tell people [currently wearing basically no layers] it’s worth putting on a layer because you’re too hot, don’t you know you’re just imagining all your pain because people in warmer environments are fine, why don’t you just do these things that are largely impractical instead of expecting your coworkers to make slight changes in apparel.” Especially because the original post was about someone justifying using a heater that raised the temperature of her coworkers’ space because she wanted to wear sleeveless blouses.

                  And now that I’m calming down I’m wondering if you meant something closer to “more layers does not work with people who are extremely cold + already wearing many layers, and it’s worth sharing some of that pain instead of putting the burden entirely on them,” and like, that, I agree with. Temperature is a really common competing needs issue, it sucks, and it’s hard to resolve.)

                  Tl;dr: “not all people who are cold can just add another layer on top of the several they’re already wearing; at some point it doesn’t help, and if someone is still in painfully hot territory that needs to become a more in-depth discussion of possible accommodations and techniques of heat management instead of just lowering the temperature” = I strongly agree
                  “It’s sexist to ask people to wear *some* layers if they’re raising the heat to a point it’s causing serious discomfort to other employees / people should have to do [insert largely impractical or professionally/financially unviable task] before asking if it’s possible for someone not to wear summer clothes if that’s what’s motivating the heat discrepancy / don’t you know all medical conditions and difficulties with heat tolerance would be fixed if people just Learned To Cope With Heat / wanting to look cute is an acceptable reason to raise the temperature so high you’re triggering physical conditions in coworkers” = will make me extremely pissed

                  Are people. Actually disagreeing on any of these, or have we gone into a weird loop of mental filtering on the internet.

        3. *kalypso*

          It’s possible sure, but you do acclimate to a particular temperature range over time and it’s perfectly reasonable for someone for whom 20C is at the higher edge of the yearly range, if not an outlier, to be less comfortable at that temperature than someone for whom it’s the daily average for 90% of the year.

          If you live somewhere where winter and summer are sufficiently different you can even find yourself feeling cold at 20C in February and hot at 18C in September, because you’ve been used to 40C in January and 10C in August. It can take time for one’s body to adjust (and artificial temperature control can be a hindrance!) and also for one’s brain to adjust to the mental idea of ’20C means this’.

          And that’s if it’s actually likely to be cool overnight, warm up to 20C when the sun comes out, and cool down after sunset. If you have sunset and sunrise, even. It’s so variable that you can’t really generalise or say people don’t know – they do, contextually.

          And that’s also before the whole concepts of building standards, cultural expectations and available clothing come into play – buildings in Canada tend to be required to be far better insulated than ones in Australia; you can’t necessarily buy light linen everything in Sweden but in India you can easily acquire entire outfits in single-layer cotton.

        4. Inkhorn*

          Speaking as someone who has spent the last 20 years living in a humid subtropical climate – you can pry my AC from my comfortably cool dead hands.

          36°C+ heat sans AC might be endurable if you have the privilege to live in a thermally efficient building designed to cope with it, but it’s hell if all you can afford is a crappy uninsulated brick box where the temperature stays at or above 30°C for days and nights on end. Been there, done that, and you bet I had AC on my list of non-negotiables when I was apartment shopping.

          (The indoor temperature record in that brick box was 34°C. For hours on end, on consecutive days, while I was trying to WFH in a covid shutdown. I felt sick as a dog the whole time despite sitting in front of a fan, draping myself in wet tea towels, drinking litres of cold water, and wearing far less clothing than would be acceptable in an office. Nothing about it was comfortable.)

        5. Spearmint*

          Us men don’t really have those options. I have to wear pants with heavy fabric and close toed shoes even in the summer.

          1. Hello*

            Sounds like something to change societally as it’s not the 19th century. Men’s dress shouldn’t be a hold over from that time.

        6. RussianInTexas*

          Until last Monday when we did the air ducts work, my home office would get to 79-80 in the afternoon. Perfectly fine downstairs, because that is where the thermostat is, but hot upstairs. I wear a thin cotton tank dress, no socks or shoes, just undergarments and a thin sleeveless dress. I have TWO fans pointing at me, desk level and floor level. It is MISERABLE. Yes, even with fans, cold water, the absolute minimum of clothing. It’s miserable to the point of heaving a daily headache. The constant blowing of fans is miserable too, on my eyes, my ears, my skin.
          I’ve been living in the very hot climate for 23 years now. I know how to combat heat. A huge part of the US in fact lives in the very hot climates, we are aware. It’s just hot.

        7. Hello*

          Here, here! The whole can’t take layers off, but you should be expected to add on layers needs to die.

          Some people who say that also have heavy doses of perfume/cologne. Wonder if part of it is related to perception of body odors. Instead of being okay with normal bodily functions, people over compensate and try to pump the ac as a shortcut. It’s going to get worse as climate temperatures rise.

          1. Jennifer Strange*

            The whole can’t take layers off, but you should be expected to add on layers needs to die.

            Why? It’s true. I get that for some folks even putting on layers doesn’t fix the issue, but when (as is the case in the letter) the person won’t even TRY it, that’s an issue.

          2. Anna*

            I honestly do not get the level of ad hominem / “there must be some other secret reason people don’t want to be hot” attitude here. Like seriously, why is it so hard to *believe* people when they tell you something is causing them physical pain? There are multiple health conditions that lead to heat intolerance, not to mention that if you grew up in a generally cold climate, yes, temperatures that feel normal to others can feel like sitting in a furnace.

            Look, I agree that “you can just wear more layers” is an inappropriate response to someone who is already wearing a lot of layers. But if someone tried to tell me to put up with vomiting and migraines because they’d rather wear a sleeveless sundress than *any* layers, at all, I’d be extremely pissed.

      2. ceiswyn*

        You can’t just keep putting more clothing on, though. After you’ve put on a sweater, cardigan, leggings and wrist warmers you’re basically at max; bulky coats aren’t designed for sitting in, and it’s hard to work at a computer while wearing gloves. And that’s completely aside from how unprofessional it looks.

        IME, people who say ‘you can always put more clothing on’ have never actually experienced being too cold in an office, and have entirely erroneous expectations about how much discomfort is involved and how much it takes to fix it.

        As someone who’s tried both extremes (losing a lot of weight will do that to you) they both suck about equally, and are equally difficult to fix.

        1. cabbagepants*

          Fabric choice makes a huge difference. Silk and wool are much warmer, for example, than those layers in standard-issue polyester. Even in a formal business environment, you can usually buy wool clothing if you’re too cold.

          For being cold I’ve also found that eating something high in fat makes an enormous difference, but I concede that that could just be my body.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Similarly, cotton and linen are great in hot weather for keeping cool.
            Polyester is basically plastic in fabric form, and is bad at keeping you warm or cool, as well as making you feel sticky and sweaty because the sweat doesn’t wick away as with natural fabrics. The only upside to polyester is that it’s easy to wash, but even that is bad because tiny particles come away in the wash, and over time those particles have formed the sludge islands in the ocean that prevent fish from getting enough oxygen.

          2. ceiswyn*

            I find it interesting that you make the assumption that this is a brand new piece of information and that nobody who’s cold can possibly be doing this already.

            1. cabbagepants*

              ? I’m not?

              Some people know how to dress warmly and some people don’t. I’m from a cold part of the world. I’ve had many colleagues move here from hot parts of the planet and complain how miserably cold they were the winter while also going out wearing shorts and a light jacket.

              Some people have tried everything and some people have tried very little. The LW’s colleague doesn’t appear to have some hormonal disorder keeping her cold but instead is choosing to dress lightly. My comment is for people like her who could use some strategies to stay warmer without dressing heavily.

              1. ceiswyn*

                That’s fair, but you were responding to my comment, and I grew up in Scotland :)

                It is possible for someone to layer up as described, even in wool and cashmere, and still be cold in office temperatures that others find comfortable. In that context, the default tendency to advice people to ‘just wear more layers’ and ‘wear wool’ and consider the problem solved is… more than a little frustrating.

                1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                  If you’re from Scotland you’ll know the expression about there being no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!

        2. Corrigan*

          This, yes. I don’t mind dressing for AC, but when it’s 95 degrees outside and I’m inside wearing pants, a blouse, a cardigan and a hoodie and I’m still cold, it’s too cold.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            The AC should be kept at a temperature that means you can wear the same clothes indoors as out, just taking the edge off the heat so that you don’t get drowsy. Cooling down any more than that is criminal, and also it’s very confusing for our bodies to go from one extreme to the other just by going through a door.
            In India, lots of buildings had lattice work on walls that let air through. It was very hot, and there was no AC, but I didn’t suffer nearly as much from the heat as when I was in Egypt, with AC on full blast everywhere.

            1. DJ Abbott*

              You are preaching to the choir here! The stores are full of cute summer clothes, and I don’t buy them because everywhere I might wear them is freezing. It’s been this way all my life here in America. I grew up in a place with very hot summers and there was a 40° difference between outside and inside temperature everywhere I went. It was miserable.

            2. Spearmint*

              That’s great in theory, but norms of professional dress in the US (especially for men) don’t allow this. I actually keep the temperature higher at home to save energy, but I can wear breathable athletic shirts, shorts, and be barefoot. At the office I have to wear pants and close toed shoes with socks. Also, maybe I haven’t looked in the right places, but I haven’t found affordable professional menswear made out of linen or pure cotton, the more breathable fabrics. It’s mostly polyester.

              1. ceiswyn*

                I do find it exceedingly ironic that the standards of professional attire for men and women usually involve warmer clothes for the sex that tends to run warmer to start with.

            3. Mill Miker*

              This sounds good in theory, until you’re commuting to work in “exposed skin gets frostbite in 10 minutes” weather.

        3. No Tribble At All*

          Plus, if you’re just sitting at a desk all day, you’re not really generating any body heat. It’s not like going for a walk outside in the winter. It’s more like sitting waiting for the bus for two hours in the winter.

          From someone who worked in an office so cold people would wear parkas inside.

        4. Totally Minnie*

          At my last job, I had to bring in a microwaveable heating pad to hold in my lap because it was so cold, and if I added any more layers I was going to be unable to move.

        5. ChillyMillie*

          I work from home, but try and keep our bills in check. In the winter I run the heat around 20 – 22, and still end up wearing 2 layers of pants (thermals + trousers) and 3 or 4 layers of tops (thermals, t-shirt, sweatshirt, hoodie) and a blanket and fingerless gloves and a hot water bottle wrist wrest… and my fingers are still too cold to type some days.

          “You can always put on more clothes” … well, how many more layers is acceptable?

          In my case it’s not other folks’ fault but being cold isn’t always solvable by more layers.

          (With that being said, I’d still rather be cold than hot and hate hot, stuffy weather).

          1. Hello*

            And there is a point where those layers affect your posture. In my twenties, I use to have back problems from wearing two wool pea coats, a wool sweater, undershirt, and cowl/scarf from October-March. My back rounded and sitting or moving was not comfortable and made it worse.

            Glad I moved, but now have people with a weird obsession with the AC being thirty degrees less than it is outside. At least it’s when I’m going to a public place for a bit rather than all day.

        6. Jackalope*

          Yea, this is one of my biggest issues with this. Let’s acknowledge that at some point in time adding OR removing clothes won’t work. Just like you can’t run around with no clothes on at work, you also can’t work bundled up in a parka, heavy gloves, and blankets. I too (as a person who tends to run cold) get super tired of having this debate with people who say that, “Well, you can always put on more clothing if you’re cold,” like it’s a mic drop moment and then refuse to listen to those of us who say that that’s not always possible. The coworker in this letter should try wearing more clothing (sweater, shawl, whatever) instead of using her space heater, I agree on that. But as ceiswyn says here, people who blithely dismiss those of us who get too cold with a suggestion to wear more clothes often don’t know what it’s really like having to go into work/school/etc. day after day freezing all the time even while wearing super warm clothing.

          1. Just Another Fed*

            The people most likely to tell me “You can always put more layers on, I can’t take more layers off!” are also the people most likely to make loud comments about the layers I have put on (“Wow, you’re really bundled up for the North Pole, huh?” “You’re inside, you can take your hat off now.” “Come on, take your coat off, settle down and stay a while.”)

            Yes, this coworker should try wearing a cardigan. But also, people who are cold-tolerant could learn to mock people who wear cardigans a little less, because speaking as someone who’s always cold–it happens a lot.

            1. Jam*

              Yes, I get “you *Can’t* be cold” said very disdainfully, a lot. Note I don’t ask anyone to change anything, they just walk right up and proclaim it

          2. Giant Kittie*

            My husband loves the cold and always said this to me while I was bundled up under multiple warm blankets in the winter and still lay awake all night because my feet felt like painful, numb blocks of ice. Then when I did fall asleep, I’d end up with night sweats so bad that I’d wake up completely soaked in sweat, with saturated sheets, which makes getting up into a cold room into literal torture.

            I now sleep with 2 sheets layered, no blanket, and a space heater when it’s cold and it’s perfect.

        7. Giant Kittie*

          I can be layered up til I can barely move like that little kid in A Christmas Story and still be miserably cold. It absolutely sucks when people blow it off with “put on more clothes, LOL!”

          After hitting menopause, I’m now also extremely sensitive to heat (while still getting cold extremely easily) and after experiencing both extremes, I STILL say it’s easier to cool off than get warm. Besides, while too hot might be sweaty and miserable, too cold is actually PAINFUL. Misery > Pain.

      1. londonedit*

        I’d be falling asleep at my desk if the office temperature was 23C. Too warm! Where I’m from ‘room temperature’ is considered to be around 18-20C – offices would probably err on the warmer side of that but anything above 20 would definitely feel too warm for me to work in. I once had a flatmate who insisted on keeping the thermostat at 25C and then wandering around in strappy tops in the middle of December – cost a fortune! Put a jumper on if you’re cold!

        1. Building Automation Guy*

          In the US, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) recommends office temperatures between 68° and 76°F, or 20° to 24.4°C.

          1. DataSci*

            That’s a very reasonable range – now if people would only set the thermostat at 68 in winter and 74 in summer instead of the other way around!

        2. lucanus cervus*

          Ack, my father in law is like this too. Cranks the heating way up and ambles about in short sleeves and bare feet all winter. That’s up to him in his own home (the energy usage makes me twitch on an environmental level but I realise it’s a drop in the ocean), and I don’t think everyone has to keep their space as cold as I like mine, but using seasonal clothing to meet each other halfway is definitely appropriate for a shared space. I would love to wear sweaters all year round, but I don’t!

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            It is a drop in the ocean, but there are millions of people like your father, meaning that all those drops form an ocean.
            Be prepared folks in the northern hemisphere, this will be the hottest summer of your life so far. It will also be the coolest summer of the rest of your life unless we seriously start to think about producing less CO2.

              1. lucanus cervus*

                And would add that I don’t keep my space cold with AC, I’m in the UK and don’t have it – I just crack windows open all winter and live behind closed curtains in summer.

            1. Zarniwoop*

              Even if we totally stop producing CO2 tomorrow it will still be the coolest summer of the rest of your life. We’d have to actively suck CO2 out of the air to reverse the warming effect.

        3. TechWorker*

          Heated to 23 feels way warmer than cooled to 23, at least with some systems. I don’t know why! But they’re not the same (if you had aircon set to 18 it feels like a fridge :p)

        4. amoeba*

          Well, we’re talking about summer, though, aren’t we? For a hot summer day, I’d say cooling down to 23 is more than enough. Hell, 25 is fine, you’re probably dressed for the weather, anyway, and a huge contrast between heat outside and AC inside also isn’t great! But mostly – don’t waste energy!

          (For the same reason, keep it as cold as possible while still comfortable in appropriate clothing in the winter..)

      2. Roeslein*

        People are complaining 23°C is too warm? I’m in Europe and have spent the vast majority of my career in offices without AC, even when it’s 35°C for weeks on end (which is more and more often these days). You just adapt, dress appropriately, use a fan, etc? Using AC is bad enough but AC + a space heater at the same is unspeakably shocking to me in terms of energy consumption and I can’t believe a company tolerates this.

        1. londonedit*

          Ah, yeah, see in the UK room temperature without air con is rarely above 23C anyway! Unless we get a heatwave like last year’s, but that’s usually a week or so, no more.

        2. Tau*

          The AC + space heater also made my jaw drop. I’ve been lucky enough to work in an office with AC recently but it’s absolutely not standard (also Europe, I suspect the same or a neighbouring country judging by your username). I try to appreciate not having to work in the actual temperatures no matter how I’m forced to dress as a result of the AC, will at most complain about the waste of energy involved in setting it super low. A space heater? Are we just flushing electricity down the toilet now?!

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            yes and we’re shitting in water during droughts. The human race is doomed, we don’t deserve to survive. But we’ll be taking all other forms of life down with us too. Whatever creatures evolve after the meltdown will be scratching their heads at the fact that we knew about global heating in the 1970s and did nothing to stop it, and then continued to bicker over AC and heaters as the temperatures rose steadily to the point that people are dying of the heat.

          2. amoeba*

            Haha, yeah. I love how all the Europeans on this thread have the same reaction as me. I’m sure last winter has made us even more sensitive to this than before! I mean, intellectually, I know the energy crisis wasn’t a thing in the US, but still a bit crazy to read…

            1. Tau*

              Yeah, last winter I quit putting the temperature to “low side of comfortable” (21C) and started putting it to “OK if I bundle up, drink lots of tea, use a hot water bottle at night and wear slippers this should be doable” (19C, or 18C after I discovered the joy of a bulky alpaca sweater in multi-stranded knitting. seriously, past me, stop wearing cotton and expecting to be warm in winter.) I feel conflicted about the AC at work because of the energy I know it’s using and would be much happier if it were cooling just enough to make things liveable than attempting to reach some weird Optimum Office Temperature that means it’s too cold for shorts inside even if it’s 35C outside. The AC + space heater combo is just… I don’t even know where to start.

        3. Analyst*

          I’ve lived in Europe and unfortunately, some of us just don’t or can’t adapt- I used to be the cold person bundled up, but some chronic illnesses and age now means I’m the opposite. Working in Europe was awful for this. I was looked at oddly for bringing a fan in, and even that was barely tolerable. When I say can’t adapt- I mean I get physically sick, dizzy, weak, fatigued- I have to go lie down and stop working.

          Of course everyone who has more extreme temperature opinions isn’t this physically effected, but it’s still a significant number. Just…stop the cubicle farms and give people some individual control over their spaces.

          You’ll also be horrified to hear about my grad school offices being heated to over 80 degrees in winter, such that everyone had to open windows. With snow on the ground. Facilities could do nothing. They were legally required to provide heat and so couldn’t turn it off either.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            Was it steam heat? Steam heat can be hard to regulate. It’s great for being consistent and low maintenance, but many people who live in apartments with steam heat have to keep the windows open in winter.

            1. Quill*

              Every place I have personally experienced with radiator / steam heat has basically no control on the actual degree of heat: it’s either on or off.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                And for some reason in older buildings, if there are thermostats, they aren’t in every apartment.

                On the other hand, the top of a radiator is a great place to let bread dough rise.

        4. Spearmint*

          I don’t know how it is in Europe, but in most offices in the US (men, at least) are still expected to wear heavy pants (dress pants or slacks) and close toed shoes at offices, even in the summer. I’d be ok with 74F if I could wear shorts and a breathable t-shirt.

          1. amoeba*

            Have been working in a lab for the past decade, so closed-toe shoes and long trousers all the way – it’s still absolutely possible to survive in hot weather! (Choosing the right materials – lose linen rather that jeans, fabric shoes rather than leather, etc.)

            1. Quill*

              Working in temperature controlled rooms there’s also the strategy of go to the incubator room, cool off in the walk in fridge, repeat… Good for excercise, if not the actual work.

          2. Roeslein*

            That’s just not true. Linen has been mentioned as has tropical wool. There is a long history of people dressing professionally in warm weather in various cultures, and pretending this is not possible is pretty ethnocentric.

    4. eye roll*

      I’d freeze at 74. I keep my house at 80 in the summer, including when I’m working and in nice clothes on camera.

    5. Well...*

      Hi, I have a thyroid disorder, and my happy temperatures are far above average. It really sucks and I know that in order for me to be comfortable, most other people are uncomfortable. I’d be happy to keep my door closed with my space heater on in peace though.

      Also, frankly, when your body struggles to generate heat and you’re sitting still to work, sweaters do not help. You need actual heat.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        I have hypothyroidism and even with it being properly managed, I feel you. I’m sitting here at 18°C (64.4 °F) and I feel quite cold, not just chilly. Furthermore, my hands, feet, and nose are perpetually cold, and during the winter and under air conditioner vents they literally ache or go numb with how cold they get. Air conditioners also tend to have a way of making me feel cold in a way that is extra miserable, too.

        It’s like you say: a sweater or a jacket or a blanket or gloves just don’t help much and I need actual heat, though granted I would close the door, too.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Mid-60s is a legitimately cold indoor temperature in the US. I’d be happy at that temperature, but only because I like to bundle up.

          I do think air conditioners are colder than cold weather, and conversely heaters are hotter than hot weather. Right now, my office is air conditioned to around 75 (23.9), and I’m pretty comfortable. In the winter, the thermostats were heating the office to 75, and I was dying. I was wearing lightweight clothes (top/leggings/flats), I had the windows wide open, and I still felt like I was running a fever. I’m very grateful that my colleagues agreed to lower the heat. (We agreed on 72, or 22.2, which was still cold for a lot of people.)

          1. cabbagepants*

            The air coming out of an air conditioner is often at 100% relative humidity (cold air holds less water than warm air) and thus packs an extra chill.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        Yup! I freeze at work all the time regardless of what I wear but Facilities doesn’t allow space heaters — I finally brought in a heated blanket and it works really well for me most of the time. The beauty of it is that I can just sit on it if I’m slightly chilly or wrap it around my legs when I’m really cold, and it doesn’t impact anyone else.

        1. I Herd the Cats*

          I was going to recommend a heated blanket! I had a work colleague who used one, it sort of fitted over her (snaps or something if she used them). Another colleague had a heating pad made for chairs (so it was on the seat and up the back) and she said it was a lifesaver. Also space heaters were strictly banned in that office buildings, but those were apparently fine.

      3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        How about asking for a laptop powered by walking on a treadmill? That way you’re moving, which will keep you warm, as well as producing electricity to power the laptop.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I’m sure some people would like that, but disabilities exist and not everyone who gets cold at work would be able to walk on a treadmill while they work.

        2. Well...*

          Is this a joke? There’s no way I could get my work done like that. I can’t stand up 8hrs a day all day without serious pain, I have to focus a lot on my work to get anything done, walking on a treadmill is the one activity I could see sucking all the joy out of whatever it is I’m doing, and also holy moly what a wildly intrusive modification I would have to make for other people’s comfort.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            It’s not a joke, it’s a suggestion. Treadmill-powered laptops are a thing, so some people must be able to use them. I would use one if I needed it.
            Not all suggestions work for everyone, not everyone can eat sandwiches, and I’m sorry to hear of the pain you are in, but there’s no need to call it a joke and “wildly intrusive”

        3. ceiswyn*

          I suspect that I would not be able to type with the same speed or accuracy while my body was bobbing up and down, and as for carefully drawing precise diagrams…

          1. RussianInTexas*

            I would straight up get motion sickness. I cannot move and type/read at all. Not even with something like under the desk elliptical or riding in a car. Train or plane are the only ones.

      4. Observer*

        I’d be happy to keep my door closed with my space heater on in peace though.

        That’s what really tips it over for me, to be honest. It’s bad enough that she won’t try to dress more warmly. But to not shut the door? That’s just inexcusable.

    6. Boolie*

      Right! I like it at least 10 degrees cooler (about five degrees Celsius cooler). My money is they’re in the south, since it seems everyone prefers it that high.

    7. Invisible fish*

      Blazing hot?? We keep the AC at 78 in my house!! I can’t imagine the electric bill at 74 degrees!!

      I am now going to sound like all the old people I know: “If you think you’re hot inside, go outside. When you come back in, it’ll feel great.” That’s not exactly how my super country family says it, but this isn’t the place for geographically specific profanity! ;)

      1. DataSci*

        Same! I’ve never understood why some people set their thermostat colder in summer than in winter. Someone upthread mentioned 68 in summer and wow.

        1. Retired Accountant*

          People who keep their thermostat cooler in the summer probably keep it cooler in the winter too. My wintertime thermostat setting is 62, and I’m trying out 70 for this summer.

          1. RussianInTexas*

            My summer is 74 during the day, 72 at night, and 68 during the winter, but unless it goes below 55 or so outside during the winter, I don’t turn it on.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I normally would too but my family lives in the desert and they keep their house in the mid-seventies. It’s definitely warmer than what I’m used to, but to them it feels great because it’s 120 outside. I couldn’t imagine the heating bill trying keep the air in the house down below that. So if OP lives in a very hot climate, then this might be the normal.

    8. KristineK*

      74 would be too warm for me, too.

      I would recommend a heated seat cushion – I got one for my office chair, and it’s amazing how much it helped. It only warms me, not the area in my office, and I can keep it on as long as I like!

    9. KathyG*

      For the people with cold feet, it is possible to buy heated foot rests. They don’t get all that warm, just enough to take the chill off, so I doubt they’d be much of a fire hazard.

      1. Alice*

        I bought an electric foot warmer this winter and it’s lovely! It makes a huge difference to have warm feet.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Seconding this. Mine has a built-in timer, so it should be even less of a fire & safety concern.

        It boggles my mind that people wear sandals that are the next thing to barefoot, and walk around on concrete office floors where the cool air pools.

    10. TooTiredToThink*

      When I worked in a cubicle – the air blowing on me was so cold, it would cause my nose to run. I asked maintenance to turn off my vent and I was suddenly much more happy. I’m wondering why the person whose too cold hasn’t just turned off their vent?

    11. ecnaseener*

      To add another perspective to this, I have Reynaud’s and 73-74 is really the lowest it can be if I’m going to be typing all day without my fingers going numb. I have heated fingerless gloves, but they’re thick and clumsy, so it’s clumsy typing one way or the other at lower temperatures.

    12. Student*

      From the description given of how people are reacting to the temperature, the thermostat is probably not calibrated correctly. The office air balance (flow of air) may also be off.

      I’d encourage LW#1 to talk to the facilities people about it, or to get an infrared thermometer to investigate a bit herself to make a case to facilities/management for a fix. As long as you’re looking at normal household temperatures, and not industrial applications, infrared thermometers only cost ~$15-$25. Take the temperature of large neutral items, like desks or walls, in a couple of places to get a sense of the room’s temperature. Letting a glass of water sit for about an hour and taking the temperature of that is also a good way to get a reasonable temperature measurement of a room.

      If your thermostat is mis-calibrated, that’s probably really easy for facilities to fix. If the air balance is off, they may be willing to change some air baffle settings ad hoc, or they may not be able to do that due to bigger-picture concerns with building air flow. It depends on how big the building is and how the system is designed. Your freezing-to-death employee in particular may be getting more than her fair share of the AC blast, so adjusting a baffle near her or installing an air deflector may make a huge difference. These can be really, really cheap – think angled piece of plastic to shoot the air off to the side instead of directly on employee #3.

      1. Silver Robin*

        I was wondering if anyone was going to mention facilities solutions. Air flow definitely makes a difference and the letter itself mentions uneven temperature spreads. Would be curious to see if the results if OP is able to do what you suggested

      2. Architect*

        There may be limits to what facilities can do (even if often they are not actually running the system the way it was designed).
        The best (read: most expensive) HVAC designs would have each office or major space on their own thermostat, so they heat/cool independently of each other.
        Most spaces compromise by saying “all offices on the North side on one thermostat, the open office on the West on one thermostat, and the conference room on it’s own thermostat”
        But a really cheap solution is to just put all or most of the space on a single thermostat, often located in the conference room (because that’s where it’s going to get hottest) and let the temps there drive the entire rest of the office. Many of the thermostats you see, even if they seem to be adjustable, are often just dummies in read-only mode – Facilities has to adjust the temps. So the end users have very little control, because Property Management has to agree to the change, if it even makes it to them.

        Office HVAC is really tricky, and even though the solutions are getting better, they are so complex that facilities people often have trouble operating them to proper effect

      3. My Useless 2 Cents*

        While you are at it have facilities check and possibly close the vents in cold coworkers office.

        1. Observer*

          That’s an excellent idea. Especially since if there is a vent in there, it’s one thing that facilities can almost certainly do.

    13. Totally Minnie*

      I’m really surprised that the first comment is about how hot 74 degrees is, because my first thought was that 74 degrees is really cold!

      This is why the office temperature wars will never end.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, that’s too warm for most people. I also lost sympathy when I hit “trying to be cute.” There are a ton of cute cardigans out there — wear one. :P

      Every office I’ve ever been in says no to space heaters because they’re a major fire hazard. I imagine Facilities or the property management company would have something to say about it.

    15. frostipaws*

      Put all the hot-natured folks on one side of the building and the cold-natured folks on the other. Problem solved!

    16. RussianInTexas*

      74 is what my house A/C set at and it’s perfectly comfortable most of the time.

    17. on the couch, with the cat*

      for me, 74 is so cold that my hands don’t work properly, and wearing a sweater does not help with that. when I have to work for longer than a few minutes in spaces that are at 74 or lower, I have been known to wear “fingerless” gloves in addition to a sweater. (and I mean, a sweater, like a winterweight cardigan, not a cute little summer sweater.)

      I used to have a small office with a window AC, and kept it at 76 most of the time, 75 if it was really, really hot and the sun was in the west (the office faced west; as the sun got lower in the sky, the office would get hotter).

    18. Melody Powers*

      74 is hot to me when that’s the temperature outside, but I find I need to set the AC to a higher temperature than I’d normally want because it feels colder than when it’s naturally that temperature. I sometimes wonder if the way the AC senses the temperature is off too, since it always feels colder than I’d expect.

    19. Hmmm*

      eh, I disagree. I keep my home at 75. it feels warm when I’m moving around, but I have to put on sweater in the evening when I’m sitting still. the forced air can make for a chilly environment, even when the actual number is pretty high. for an office with people all sitting at desks, this might be a good temperature.

    20. Environmental Compliance*

      The thermostat war in my old office was between a person who wanted it at 62F and the other wanted it at 78F.

      I just wanted it to be a consistent temperature.

      But there are absolutely people who would be shivering at 74F. *shrug*

    21. Moonstone*

      @NumberBlocks – that was my first thought too! 74 degrees is WAY too hot for me and I would be sweating and miserable. I’m a woman and just run hot. If the thermostat says 68 or higher I can feel it and I’m uncomfortable; if it says 70+ I’m miserable and the AC needs to be on.

      I’m remote now but, when I was in an office, this was a problem every summer as I just run a lot hotter than other people so I would have to have a fan running pretty much all year and I’m in New England. If I worked with the woman who needs to run a space heater but won’t wear a sweater because she wants to “look cute” I would be extremely annoyed.

    22. Toasty*

      I half-jokingly felt like crying when I saw 74°, haha! I run abnormally warm/am pretty heat-intolerant due to some medical reasons, but anything above 68° and I am quite literally sweating (63°-65° is my ideal comfort range). I realize that’s gonna be *too* cold for most other people, however, so I try to make do with fans/short sleeves/mourning being unable to wear any of my cute cardigans ever.

      74° *and* a space heater warming up the whole space sounds like it’d be miserable for me, though. My desk fan can only do so much to begin with, I’m pretty sure it’d stop being effective at all at that point lol.

    23. Once too Often*

      There is a lot of discussion about the “look cute” colleague prioritizing looks over temperature-appropriate clothing. I’d like to remind folks that many office temperatures are standardized for the comfort of men wearing business dress, and thus prioritizing looks over temperature-appropriate clothing. We’ve gotten better about this but, in my experience, not by much.

      We can talk about ways to manage/negotiate temperatures & space heaters & fans & so on without being derogatory about individuals.

      1. Anna*

        Honestly, and I say this as a woman: I find this a disingenuous comparison.

        For one thing, the problem people have isn’t with the colleague prioritizing looks over temperature appropriate clothing (if she decided for herself it was worth being chilly if she got to wear the outfit she wanted, people would care a lot less). The problem is she’s making an active decision to cause her *coworkers* physical discomfort, instead of looking into the many available accommodations that don’t do that, some as easy as just closing the door. I find this closer to “coworker says my perfume gives them migraines, but I want to keep it on cause it makes me feel nice.” People are not wrong to call that out.

        In terms of temperatures being standardized for men in business dress: I mean, yes, companies where there’s a clear gender bias in who is reporting they’re too cold should change the temperature, especially if the distribution is “guys in business dress feel comfy and neutral” and not “guys in business dress feel wildly overheated.” That is. . . not what’s happening in this letter, where someone is describing most people being comfortable and a comparable number reporting too hot as compared to too cold, with the person reporting being too hot also being a woman.

        Not to mention, men deciding not to wear sandals and shorts cause they’ll get fired is a different decision than not wanting to put something over or under a sleeveless dress because they don’t like the way it looks as much. I personally think it’s ridiculous that some companies consider shorts / open-toed shoes / etc. to be unprofessional, but that’s still an issue that needs to be dealt with at the level of clothing policy and not individual clothing choices.

        If a guy was in an environment where he very much had the option to wear cooler clothes without professional consequences, where most people were neutral with the temperature + a few on both the “too hot” and “too cold” side, and decided to use a giant fan that dropped the temperatures of his surrounding coworkers, I would give the *exact* same response I’m giving to “too cute” coworker right now. Because that would actually be a comparable situation.

  3. many bells down*

    I have chronic allergies and I dread what people must think about my perennial sniffle. I take as much daily medication as I can and still be functional but it’s never enough. I probably need surgery.

      1. many bells down*

        Well it’s likely that I have some structural issues in my nose and sinuses that make things worse. I definitely have a deviated septum which means half the time I barely have one functional nostril. So it won’t necessarily cure the allergies, but it might help the constant sniffing and post-nasal drip.

      2. A person*

        They basically rotorooter your sinuses to reduce swelling. It helps a lot but can come back over time if the root cause allergies aren’t addressed.

        Not a doctor… but had the surgery about 6 years ago. I’m still pretty sniffly but I can actually breath because the airways aren’t just consistently cut off. It doesn’t fix drip though.

        I’m surprised people don’t try other allergy meds before just giving up (I mean I suppose maybe they did…). I don’t take Benedryl for allergies because I’d never function but I don’t find Zyrtec terribly drowsy inducing and it help more than nothing. There are so many OTC options. You should of course consult a dr for help but if that’s your hurdle… it’s not like allergy meds besides benedryl aren’t available.

        Granted, this all comes from a chronic sniffler because if it’s bad none of the allergy drugs except Benedryl helps completely… and even then.

        1. AndieRZ*

          When you have chronic sinus with allergies there’s no OTC medication that fully works.
          I was doing twice a days sinus rinse, Flonase, Zyrtec in the morning, Allegra at night and I was still congested 24/7. It got so bad that I would develop sinus infections, only with antibiotics and steroids I would start feeling somewhat better.
          Sinus surgery is only to help improve the congestion and the other symptoms, but still requires you to do daily routines such as nasal rinses and allergy medication. The specialist would normally disclose this before the surgery, I know because I had my surgery a week ago.

    1. Jill Swinburne*

      Quite right. I’d be reporting it if my coworker kept coming back from lunch reeking of whisky and was obviously impaired, too, especially in a medical setting. Legal or not.

      1. Phryne*

        Yeah, I see weed the same way as alcohol. I’m totally fine with it being legal, but there is a time and place for everything and your lunch break at work is not it.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This in a nutshell.

          She works in a healthcare setting and is obviously stoned. This is not acceptable. This goes to her judgment. When handling sensitive healthcare information, you need people with good judgment. This receptionist doesn’t have it.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            If I came up to reception in a medical clinic and the person at the desk was clearly stoned, I would walk right out. There’s no way I’m giving my medical info to somebody who can’t be sober while doing the job he/she’s paid for.

      2. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, coming to work impaired is bad. You can be pro-legalization and still have reasonable expectations about using it. She shouldn’t be high at work, and if she drives to and from work, she shouldn’t be doing *that* high either.

      3. Aelfwynn*

        This was my thought — how is this different than coming back to work smelling of booze and being noticeably drunk? You can’t be inebriated on the job.

      4. lilsheba*

        Damn, that takes a special kind of stupid to come back from lunch smelling like weed. And someone who does that does NOT have a good work ethic.

      5. Observer*

        I’d be reporting it if my coworker kept coming back from lunch reeking of whisky and was obviously impaired, too, especially in a medical setting. Legal or not

        Exactly. The issue isn’t weed. The issue is that she’s coming in clearly “under the influence.” Frankly it wouldn’t even make a difference if it were legitimate medication.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        Agreed. High isn’t harmless in a work setting, plus working with impaired coworkers is both infuriating and signals that it’s okay to get ripped on company time.

    2. TheLog*

      Oh heck yes!
      There is a noticeable vibe, at least where I live and work, that being stoned is more acceptable than being influenced by alcohol. And if you have a problem with it you are immediately labeled a narc.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I really hate that attitude. I’m okay with legal weed (tax it, regulate it, research it, grow industrial hemp) even though I think it smells and tastes like a skunk’s armpit, and it’s pretty ubiquitous here too. The two main scents at the train station are pee and weed. >_<

        But it makes no difference whether you're high or drunk. You're still impaired. That is not okay at work regardless. And if you're driving while stoned, then f*ck you.

      2. Boof*

        I get that they have different effects (i think driving drunk, for example, people underestimate their impairments/ take risks/ higher speeds/ more accidents) while marijuana tends to make people “overly cautious “ / very aware of their impairment so do things like drive way under the speed limit. Theoretically less risky? Probably. Still driving erratically and potentially causing accidents + delays because of that? Definitely

        1. Woof*

          This isn’t true. Recent studies actually seem to suggest that in general people (especially habitual users) tend to underestimate their level of cognitive impair when under the influence of marijuana. More concerningly, in some cases the effects on cognitive function can linger long after the initial high. Of course this isn’t the case for all users (some people don’t seem to experience function loss at all!) and one of the factors that makes marijuana research and legislation so tricky is the level of variation in how it affects users. It doesn’t help matters that a lot of the products on the market today have a much higher potency which renders a lot of the pre-existing research obsolete.

    3. Art Soplo*

      Being to allergic to weed smoke is as much an allergy as being allergic to cigarette smoke or having one’s migraines triggered by cigarette smoke. This has nothing to do with pro-legalization whatever–it’s a serious health issue for the patients and a liability issue all around.

    4. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, “someone is clearly stoned at work, what’s a polite way to drop a hint” is blowing my mind.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Yeah, better than reporting it out loud to the entire waiting room with a “Whoa, it smells like weed out here,” as suggested.

      1. anonymous sufferer*

        I’m allergic to weed and even the smell makes me sick. I would be reporting it as a patient, and it can be causing additional harm.

    6. She of Many Hats*

      And there may be federal healthcare regulations regarding using federally restricted drugs. Even in states where weed usage is legalized, federal laws governing some industries take precedence if you work in any role in that industry.

    7. Saberise*

      Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the answer. It’s OP’s professional responsibility to let someone know. That reception has access to PHI, is likely scheduling appointments, fielding calls from patients, etc. I work in the health care field and you would get fired in a heartbeat if you were stoned at work. I don’t think being passive aggressive is going to do a thing if the co-worker thinks it’s okay to do this. And honestly if they find out later that OP knew about it and said nothing they will likely be giving her side glances as well.

    8. Erie*

      Alison called this one really wrong, which is unusual for her; she usually handles questions about office weed use really well. It’s not okay that this employee seems impaired at work. LW needs to talk to them and/or report it.

  4. Electric sheep*

    I wonder if the fact that it’s weed is confusing matters somewhat – if you had a coworker who came back from lunch and seemed drunk, you’d presumably we worried it was affecting their performance and would mention it to their boss. So you could do the same where you think they are high.

    Otherwise a comment about the smell would hopefully cue them to change their habits if they don’t seem impaired from smoking but there is still a smell – if they smoke a lot they may no longer be able to smell it themselves.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Agreed, try the “hey, is it me or do you think it smells like weed in here?!” – but be prepared for the possibility that you have a coworker who seems stoned and you can smell a mixture of weed and air freshener/perfume/febreeze…

      1. SaeniaKite*

        That mixture is my nemesis. I get scent triggered migraines and weed is bad but as long as it’s not a long exposure it usually just gives me a mild headache for 15 minutes or so. Weed plus something they think covers it up? I’m out for the rest of the day.

    2. C@t L@dy*

      100%. Legalization is a red herring here. It is a substance that can cause mental impairment being used and still impacting the person while at work (and in a medical office!) Just like alcohol, this is something a manager should know about and that could be prohibited.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      I mean usage at work hours, especially in this person’s particular job, likely isn’t covered by medical and neither is being obviously stoned. But I’ve worked with mostly remote tech folks/ engineers who used medical marijuana presumably during work hours, especially crunches since they’re working so much, because it’s better pain or PTSD management than harder hitting prescriptions, so I think maybe the fact that marijuana isn’t just recreational but medical makes this person pause? There’s not really a medicinal use for alcohol in 2023.

  5. Julie*

    I have chronic sinus issues, and there is literally nothing I can do at times to stop sniffling. Eve had surgery and that didn’t work. I don’t like sniffling all the time and I’m sure your coworker doesn’t either, so please cut her some slack.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah my partner, who has been suffering since late winter, is more allergic to all the medicines than they are to the pollen, so OP’s ‘just take a pill’, and ‘its been too long to be genuine allergies’ attitude is pretty naive. OP might write to local urban planners and tell them to knock off the modern obsession of over planting male trees, or do more for climate change if they really think someone ought to do something. It won’t work immediately on their coworker, but it might make OP feel better.

      1. UKDancer*

        Agredd. I don’t do well with anti histamines due to the side effects and I’ve tried moa types.. Most hay-fever days I’d rather live with the hay-fever. I only take then if I know I’ll need to be around pollen a lot. or when I’m visiting a friend with fluffy pets

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          After 30+ years of taking OTC meds for year around allergies, every brand out there now causes side effects that make me only take them when the allergy symptoms are REALLY bad. It’s just better for me to deal with the allergy symptoms than the medicine side effects.

          Also, non-drowsy meds have always caused me to get sleepy but meds known to make people sleepy (like Benadryl) make me very wired. Took me well into my 20’s to figure that one out.

      2. alienor*

        This has honestly been the worst allergy season I can remember in 30 years. Longer, more intense, and the regular meds I take barely made a dent. I feel for OP’s coworker!

      3. Aquamarine*

        Yeah, “I know someone who took a pill and got better, so that must be true of everyone” is an annoying stance to take with respect to any condition.

    2. Morning reader*

      Anybody else remember when we were told the office had to be chilly for the computers? 1980s, I think? That seemed to be the reason for air conditioning set cold, windows that don’t open, etc. Is this still true, do the computers prefer the chill, does it matter and did it ever matter?
      What will it be like when our robot overlords weigh in on the temperature issue? Will the humans take priority or will we just have to put on a sweater?

      1. curly sue*

        Computers definitely prefer the chill. They can generate a huge amount of heat on their own and adding more heat to the environment raises the potential for literal meltdowns of components.

        Signed, the person whose spouse had to make a mad run to the computer store yesterday for a replacement hard drive after his *literally caught on fire* (shower of sparks, flames, etc). Based on where the fire started – a controller on the drive – the diagnosis was that overheating melted something slightly, which allowed a spark to arc.

        (Thank Gd, all his work was backed up. Run your offsite backups daily, folks. Saving backups to the same system does you zero good when things literally halt, melt, and catch fire.)

      2. Magpie*

        Back in the day, computers produced a lot of heat and had their own fans to keep from overheating. Computers these days are made completely differently and no longer produce that kind of heat. They can feel warm from time to time but there’s not the same danger of overheating like back in the day.

      3. Student*

        Computers still need to be cooled, more so now than ever. However, cooling tech has improved so that for most personal computers (laptops and desktops), your room temperature within a “reasonable” range will not matter any more. People with specialized needs for high performance laptops or desktops have a lot of options for fancier cooling solutions than “turn the office temperature down”.

        If you try to use your technology in very high temperatures, like ~100F or ~110F, you will have a bad time.

        Server farms – rooms of industrial-grade computers that do things like host cloud services or host company-wide data, or process at very high performance levels – need to be kept cool. I think the ideal server room temperature guidance is still around ~65 F (but it’s been a while since I personally checked). They tend to have dedicated, redundant cooling designed into the server room.

      4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        If you look in the guarantee for almost any electronic device, it’s guaranteed to work between -40°C and 40°C so it’s not like it can get that much warmer before the machines all start freaking out.

      5. Lucy P*

        Computers in our office still don’t seem to like to extreme temperatures, but they particularly dislike extreme cold. Our heating system is set to 60 degrees (F) during winter nights and weekends when no one is in the office. The ones that are located closer to outside walls are more sluggish to boot in winter months.

      6. goddessoftransitory*

        Windows not opening can also be a safety feature, especially in tall buildings.

      7. Stuff*

        It depends. I live in a non-air conditioned apartment built using heat trapping architecture in one of the hot parts of California, because American construction habits are dumb like that, and my high end desktop is fine. Probably because it’s liquid cooled and has multiple fans. My phone, however, overheats all the time. The worst was traveling in Egypt during the Summer, my phone started shutting itself down due to the heat during a 115 degree heat wave in the desert, and the phone is consistently hot to the touch even back home if it’s Summer.

    3. Snow Globe*

      I have “seasonal” allergies – however, I’m allergic to so many different types of plants that my seasonal allergies are active February – December. Yay, January!

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I wonder if a white noise machine would at least help mask the noise if nothing else can be done.

      2. NerdyPrettyThings*

        Same here, plus I also have indoor allergies that are active year round. I might say to a coworker, “Yeah, it’s that time of year,” but that doesn’t mean I’m symptom-free the rest of the year. It just means I don’t have debilitating symptoms. I will still have a runny nose if there’s any mildew, dust, or dander, even in the dead of winter.

      3. Turquoisecow*

        Yeah I sniffle and sneeze all spring and summer and then in the fal there’s ragweed and in the winter good old dust! So it’s nonstop.

      4. Totally Minnie*

        Yeah, I live in a warm climate, so it’s *always* blooming season for something, and that something is almost certainly going to irritate my nasal passages.

    4. mb*

      As a person with sometimes terrible allergies, I sympathize with OP’s coworker. I can assure the OP that their coworker is far more miserable than they are listening to the sniffles. They are probably allergic to more than just pollen, but also probably dust, mold, mildew, etc which can cause you to suffer year round. Some years, my allergies are completely unmanageable, other years I barely feel them. I have the added bonus of having a sneeze so loud you can hear me a mile away – this is not something I can control, and I don’t enjoy it. I’d prefer to have a quieter more “feminine” sneeze, but alas, I do not.

      1. DorothysShoes*

        I have chronic post-nasal drip, which causes a persistent cough, so I sympathize. Fortunately, I’m able to manage it pretty well most of the time. Meanwhile, we have someone on our floor who snorts incredibly loudly every few seconds. I guess my sympathy has its limits. Sniffling is one thing; snorting as heroically loudly as she does is another.

        The sound is inescapable in our open workspace and is beyond distracting. It isn’t blocked by earphones (I’ve tried). This woman also eats super crunchy foods daily (she’ll apologize to the room beforehand, and then chow down). All of us who work in our space know that loud/gross sounds are bothersome, but this person doesn’t care. However, none of us has said anything to her, because we don’t know what to say.

        Ultimately, the open floor plan is to blame.

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          As much as I relate and sympathize with LW’s coworker, I will admit to getting really annoyed with coworkers colds from time to time. Open floor plans are definitely a large part of the problem.

    5. CityMouse*

      My Dad had to have a significant life saving surgery where they went through his sinus. He’s always been a loud sneezer and sniffles because of it. Please be kind to people, you don’t know what they’ve been through.

    6. Turquoisecow*

      Yeah I was that coworker when I worked in an office full time. If I wasn’t sniffling I was sneezing. Yes I know it’s annoying to listen to but believe me it’s not fun to experience either! And if I took allergy meds I would not be functioning at 100% so my performance would suffer.

      Thankfully I’m on meds that work a lot better now but trust me when I say that I wasn’t constantly sneezing to annoy my coworkers and if I could have stopped I would have.

    7. ferrina*

      My allergy sniffling is also unstoppable. Meds just mean I’m not sneezing every five minutes, but I’m still blowing my nose all the time. I feel so bad for anyone that needs to be around me in allergy season.

      My Solution- telework. It’s made everyone happier*.
      *usual caveats around telework- my job can be done anywhere (and is actually easier in a private setting), I have a good working space at home, I enjoy teleworking, my organization is set up to embrace telework

    8. LCH*

      I cannot handle listening to people sniffle (use a tissue!) but also have perennial allergies. I use a daily pill, net pot, and need to look into shots. I used to use a spray that dried things up but that only works for so long.
      But I definitely try to not just keep sniffling without handling it (with a damn tissue!) but I do wonder if I’m making some other noises I don’t know about :( Any way, even doing everything one can, noses will still drip.

      1. DataSci*

        My kid does allergy shots and they have been amazing. Before he started, in pollen season he was taking 3 different allergy meds daily (Zyrtec, Flonase, and prescription eyedrops) and still had puffy eyes and sneezed all the time. Now with just the Flonase he’s fine.

      2. Dahlia*

        Sometimes there’s just nothing to use a tissue FOR though honestly.

        Also over-blowing your nose can cause bleeding. It’s one of the things my ENT asked me about first when I was talking about nose bleeds.

    9. Lucy P*

      Most people in my office are sniffling, sneezing, or clearing their throat year round. Some sneeze really loud. It’s disruptive at times, sure, but OP’s comment makes me think of a grade school bully I dealt with.
      I had bad allergies as a child and early teen, in the days when you only had benadryl and maybe sudafed. I often had a tissue in my hand. I had people that didn’t want to sit by me because of it. Once someone said, “Gee, you’ve had that same cold for over 5 years now.” I get that kids can be cruel, but expected more from an adult.

    10. Momma Bear*

      I was sincerely allergic to one office – every time the HVAC kicked on, it would set me off. It was miserable.

      I don’t know if it would help but maybe ask for an office air filter, which might improve the air quality for everyone.

    11. MigraineMonth*

      I took some “non-drowsy” meds to help my sniffles before work *once*. I fell asleep: on the bus to work, at my desk (three times), in a small meeting, and on the bus home again.

      If I regularly took those meds, I would lose my job.

      1. Dahlia*

        I started taking allergy meds in high school that were “non-drowsy” and my math grade dropped 10% because that’s when they kicked in and I kept dozing off in class. Decided to stop because falling asleep in class every single day was not great.

        When I eventually needed an allergy med again as an adult, it took about 3 weeks to adjust to one so it stopped making me drowsy. If I switch meds, it starts again. I sometimes have to take a Benadryl if I’m feeling really crappy and that means I’m just done functioning for the day.

    12. Kaboobie*

      I’m in the same boat after having surgery two years ago. I even gained a useless “superpower”. When I do a saline rinse, it’s easy for liquid to get retained in my cheek sinuses. No matter how diligent I am, there will come a time later that day (sometimes hours later) when I tilt my head a certain way and water comes pouring out of my nose. I store water like a camel!

  6. Wait, what?!?*

    I’m not anti-weed by any stretch, and I live in a legal state, but I don’t understand why anyone would think it was okay to have a colleague be stoned *at work.* If it were just an occasional smell maybe I’d feel differently, but OP says that her coworker has on occasion been visibly stoned after returning from lunch. If a colleague came back reeking of alcohol and was obviously intoxicated, I think most people would alert their supervisors. Why is weed any different?

    And this is a healthcare office! Even though the receptionist isn’t clinical staff, she deals with confidential patient information. What if a patient notices and reports this to the appropriate regulatory body? OP’s bosses would not be happy to learn that it had happened before and nobody had said anything.

    1. Weed Allergy*

      I have an allergy to weed that is triggered by the smell of it. I have had to cancel class on a day when a student decided to come in reeking of it. If I walked into a practice and it smelled like weed, I would walk right back out again and find every appropriate body I could to report it to. I don’t see why I should be forced to suffer the side effects of someone’s personal life in a professional setting any more than I should be required to ride a municipal bus driven by someone who is drunk. I also do not see why I should entrust someone with such terrible judgement they can’t even work out how to get high at work without making it everybody’s problem with my personal medical information.

      As for deciding not to report it … I find that a really good rule of thumb is “there is never only one cockroach in a kitchen.” If you see one problem, there are more, and operating on the assumption that there ARE more I just don’t see yet has been very helpful. A stoned coworker is a pretty big cockroach, and it would tell me that this office is a place to actively avoid.

      1. anonymous sufferer*

        Thank you for sharing, I do too, and people think I’m making it up. Yeah, like it’s fun to be sick…

        1. Giant Kittie*

          I’m highly allergic to cigarette smoke, and feel your pain. A lot of smokers think it’s just something I’m making ip as a way to judge them for their habit.

      2. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

        I have the same allergy– even just being around someone who smoked recently can cause nausea, and if I can’t get to fresh air quickly, it escalates to vomiting. I would be livid if I couldn’t even get past the receptionist to access healthcare. I think LW3 needs to frame it to the coworker in this way, that it is a much more common allergy than most people realize, and that it is not ok for people to come seeking healthcare and end up sicker than they started.

      3. GlitterIsEverything*

        Another allergy here. I used to be patient facing and couldn’t be in a room with the smell for more than about 90 seconds without reacting.

        If I had a coworker who smelled of it on the regular, I’d definitely be talking to my bosses about it. The “oh ho ho how did you find out wink wink” conversations are tiresome enough that I’d much rather turn the conversation over to a supervisor.

        Also, many health care offices are fragrance free, specifically because of patient allergies. The discussion could be based on that, if her office has that policy.

    2. nodramalama*

      I’m not saying I agree with this, but many people have prescriptions for THC/CPD/weed in general. I suspect thats one of the differences- nobody is prescribed alcohol. I honestly don’t know it works with jobs if you have a legitimate prescription.

      1. Pippa K*

        Sure, but people can also have prescriptions for, say, opioids and it still probably wouldn’t be appropriate to work at reception while visibly high (or to work at all if you were impaired in a way that affected the work).

        1. La Revacholiere*

          It’s not appropriate but it happens with upsetting frequency. In previous academic settings and jobs I’ve been pressured to come in too soon after surgeries. (“They gave you painkillers, right? That’s what they’re for!”) The result was that I would go about my day far higher than anyone should be in public.

        2. *kalypso*

          And for those of us who have to take opioids to function it doesn’t look like ‘visibly high’, it’s just passing as ‘normal’.

          1. Pippa K*

            Yeah, I’ve had pain meds that made me loopy and pain meds that made me functional, so I think the issue isn’t just “is this substance legal/could she have a prescription” but “is she impaired.”

      2. bamcheeks*

        Does anyone have a prescription for weed that you smoke? I thought in prescriptions it was usually oil or whatever that wouldn’t mean you smell of it?

        1. Broadway Duchess*

          I know people say this about forms of cannabis other than the kind for smoking, but I can smell it even if it’s oil. But given that OP says coworker “reeks” of it, it’s probably a joint. This should be reported, but I’d give coworker a heads up.

        2. Dahlia*

          Medicinal marijuana can be smoked, yeah. One of my friends has one. Her cousin has a license to grow it, even.

        3. lockhart*

          I have a prescription for cannabis. I buy flower and use it in a dry-herb vaporizer to get the effects. It’s not nearly as smelly as smoking it.

          There ARE people who are fully capable of functioning at top level while high. You’d never know that I was high most of the time, unless I was really TRYING to get high.

          I don’t use it while I’m working, but I could, depending on the type of flower. Balanced CBD/THC flower doesn’t get you “high” the way high-potency recreational flower does, it’s more like taking a Xanax, smoothing out anxiety with the bonus of helping with pain.

        4. Nina*

          I’m in New Zealand so we’re in a very weird legal gray area (just barely failed to get it made fully legal recreationally, it’s legal with a prescription and you can get a prescription easily, it’s not funded like most prescriptions so it’s very expensive) and yes, actual marijuana recognizable plant parts that you smoke are something you can have prescribed here, along with tinctures, oils, vape cartridges, everything but edibles.

      3. DataSci*

        Most people with prescriptions use in some fashion other than smoking. And whether a prescription was involved really only matters if it was otherwise illegal – I don’t want someone coming in to work falling asleep because they took Benadryl for allergies, either.

        1. mb*

          Tell that to the person who wants their allergic co-worker drugged up, just so they don’t have to hear their coworker sniffling.

          1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

            Ah, but there are non-drowsy allergy meds. Benadryl isn’t the only option.

            1. Observer*

              Apparently they don’t work for that OP’s coworker – they say that the CW said the meds make her drowsy. And the OP “gets it” but still wants to know if they can “do anything”.

            2. Dahlia*

              “Non-drowsy” meds can still make some of us drowsy.

              Or “drowsy”, aka “I can barely stay awake and would not be safe to drive”.

      4. cabbagepants*

        My grandmother has a doctor’s note to drink alcohol as needed for relaxation!

        (Context: She’s 102 years old and lives in a nursing home where alcohol is controlled by the nurses since it can interfere with medication. I know this is an absolute fringe case that doesn’t apply to the LW but I wanted to share.)

      5. cabbagepants*

        My grandmother has a doctor’s note to drink alcohol as needed for relaxation! It’s a fringe case that doesn’t apply to LW — my grandma lives in a nursing home — but I wanted to share!

      6. AngryOctopus*

        Okay great, but then maybe get some edibles or something that WON’T produce a noticeable reek in the workplace. I’m all for legalization, but I also HATE the smell of the smoke, as do many people. It’s not workplace appropriate. If the coworker is managing anxiety or other conditions, she needs to find a non-reeking way, and I’m betting the staff at her shop can help.

        1. anonymous sufferer*

          Right? Also, do you need to get fully “high” for it to work medically? That seems off. I want to believe people, but its common to fake a medical need as an excuse, so hard to know for sure.

          There are teens in my life who have gotten a medical card to get easier access to weed before they are old enough to buy legally, ugh.

          1. Giant Kittie*

            I’m someone who uses for medical purposes, I had no interest in smoking weed to “get high” (I have multiple friends who are “stoners” and could have toked up at any time had I wanted to- I didn’t) before I started using it for chronic pain & other issues, and didn’t even LIKE the feeling of being high until I had been using it for some time.

            Yes, a therapeutic dose of THC is going to make the person some level of “high”. It doesn’t scale the same way as alcohol where one drink may make someone relaxed or mellow but multiple drinks make them drunk or obliterated. It’s more like a range from a little high -> a lot high, and for someone who uses it regularly, “a lot high” isn’t going to look the same as someone with less experience who gets “a lot high”. My own husband generally can’t even tell when I’ve smoked.

            It’s improved the quality of my life in so many measurable ways -more than pharmaceutical treatments for chronic pain EVER did- that I can’t imagine living without it, and it’s not because I simply want to “get high”.

        2. WillowSunstar*

          Also for context, most workplaces have banned regular cigarettes, and I’ve heard many healthcare offices actually check employees for regular cigarette smell. So if that isn’t allowed, I can’t think weed would be allowed.

      7. Observer*

        but many people have prescriptions for THC/CPD/weed in general.

        Which is utterly irrelevant. Medicinal drops are not going to make smell. And it doesn’t matter WHY she’s taking the stuff if she’s stoned at work. Even “mildly”. There is a reason why you can’t take benadryl if you are handling heavy machinery. Even though that’s legal and available OTC at every pharmacy and lots of groceries.

      8. Dahlia*

        Fascinating thing, actually, you can be prescribed alcohol! When people are getting sober, sometimes they go through programs where they go to a pharmacy at a certain time of day and get a shot of alcohol. It’s a controlled withdrawal that’s safer for some people.

      9. Boof*

        Honestly being obviously high would be a negative side effect if it was being used medically – the point is to be normal/function better not impaired.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      100% agreed. Not sure how anybody could be on board with a medical clinic receptionist reporting to her desk smelling like weed, never mind actually stoned.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      A lot of medical offices say you can’t smoke cigarettes within X amount of time working with patients, so you don’t aggravate anyone’s breathing problems. I don’t see why weed would be any different.

      Also, there’s no way in hell it’s appropriate to be stoned at work. If the receptionist was having a three-margarita-lunch and was visibly drunk, you’d report her, right?!

    5. mb*

      I’d say the visibly stoned part is not okay – a lot of people use weed to deal with anxiety – so perhaps the times they seem visibly stoned is when they smoked a little too much weed. The receptionist could use a vape pen for the weed instead of smoking it – she wouldn’t smell, and it’s possible it would be easier to control the amount of weed she consumes so that she’s not getting visibly stoned.

    6. HoHumDrum*

      I wonder if she’s recently moved to this job from one where it’s not uncommon to have a stoned coworker from time to time- food service, retail, etc. Perhaps she was a front desk worker at a place where people don’t complain about that, and it hasn’t occurred to her how a medical establishment is different.

      But regardless, whether it’s a smart idea or not, there are certain industries where someone smoking on the clock is not a huge shocker. Hell, when I worked in restaurants someone *selling* weed on the clock wasn’t a huge shocker either.

      (for the record I am anti getting high at work, though mostly because I think that’s a real waste of a good high)

    7. Momma Bear*

      While it’s possible it’s prescribed, I think the greater likelyhood is that it’s not and it’s coworker’s vice of choice during a smoke break. I wonder if OP’s office has any cigarette smokers and if so, what happens if they come back from a break smelling strongly? Maybe that’s the angle to take. What is expected of them should be expected of her as well.

      Being intoxicated at work is probably listed in the HR handbook. OP could consult that as well.

    8. The Vomiting Tchornobog*

      I’m stoned at work all the time, but I’m a WFH copywriter. Some jobs it’s OK. Anything in a healthcare setting is most assuredly not OK.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      And believe me, they’ll notice. I’ve found a lot of habitual users think that “nobody can tell,” usually because they’re so used to being high they think of it as normal. But anybody talking to them for more than thirty seconds? Will know.

      1. HoHumDrum*

        I dunno, I think this line of thinking is subject to a lot of confirmation bias, in that if someone is high and you can’t tell…you can’t tell. Sometimes my husband gets high in our small shared apartment and I can’t tell, he doesn’t seem high in behavior or speech, and I don’t smell anything. I’ve definitely known many successfully covert smokers.

    10. Giant Kittie*

      IMO there’s a big difference between someone being drunk at work and being stoned at work. While neither one is OK, the way alcohol affects a person’s behavior & impairs their judgment is *much* different, and far more hazardous, than being stoned.

  7. Wonderwoofer*

    Oh man, I have had post-nasal drip for about a decade, and all my primary doctor ever did was tell me to take over-the-counter saline nasal sprays twice a day, which did exactly zip. I didn’t even understand that my VERY CONCERNING, sudden-onset coughing meant I should at least try blowing my nose to help it. My coworkers used to come running to check on me, then became habituated to it, to the point where if I started coughing in front of a client, they would tell them I was totally fine, even though I looked like I was choking to death. It got so bad I would sometimes pee a bit too. Finally this year I had a really bad cold, and couldn’t stop coughing at all and had to go to an urgent care clinic. While there, the doctor prescribed me something for my cough, and took a second to look up my nose. Literally just turned up my nose a bit to take a peek in, said I have a deviated septum, had post-nasal drip from it, snored for sure and was on the road to sleep apnea, but I’d have to talk to my doctor for a better exam about that. He prescribed me a nasal spray to reduce inflammation, and within days my cough disappeared. Even after stopping the cough suppressant. I can say 100% that the allergy sufferer feels terrible about how disruptive they are, but may not even know what options are out there.

    1. MCS*

      And it’s worse because seeming allergy symptoms can actually be a symptom of indigestion, but a lot of primary care doctors just aren’t educated. From what I understand, i’s very hard to resolve this type of nagging issue unless you have an unusually engaged and up-to-date medical team.

      1. b-reezy*

        MCS – yes! I went and saw an allergist for an unrelated issue, but we were going over my meds and he saw that I take omeprazole and we got into a discussion about that. It doesn’t help my post nasal drip completely, but I also have allergies and sinus issues, so it’s a whole thing.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      I had terrible post nasal drip for years and saw an ENT for so long and he would give me stuff for sinus infections and eventually we even did a surgery to open up the passages a bit more so stuff could come out more easily and after like three years of this he finally says “well you’re probably just allergic to your cat.”

      He was right, that did turn out to be the case. But he was also ridiculous because I asked if I should see an allergist and he said “no, what’s he going to do other than tell you to get rid of your cat?” But I ignored him and saw an allergist and it was genuinely life changing. After the test that unfortunately confirmed I am allergic to cats, I started getting monthly shots for a few years and he prescribed me a couple of allergy pills and a nasal spray–all of my prescriptions are also available over the counter but my generic prescriptions are WAY cheaper.

      Anyway, ever since then I’ve been recommending to everyone that they should go to an allergist and actually get tested if they regularly have vague “allergies” without actually knowing for sure what they are allergic too. The test was one of the worst things I have ever sat through (literally just being stabbed in the back like 40 times lol) but it was SO worth it.

  8. Bizhiki*

    OP3 – I mention this on the very off chance that it might apply; if your coworker is Indigenous please be very sure that she isn’t just smudging over her lunch break. Sometimes people who aren’t familiar with it can assume the scent is weed and it can be an exceptionally painful assumption when someone insists that weed is the only possibility.

    I know you know your coworker and workplace best, so this is just something to mentally check off the list of possibilities rather than a suggestion that it’s the most likely possibility. It might be highly (lol) unlikely, but with the outsize risk of harm if it is what’s happening, I just wanted to mention it.

    1. The Lunchtime Smudger*

      Man, I’ve read some comment fan fiction here but the idea that she’s not only Indigenous, but she goes and does smudging several times a week during her lunch break is…*chef’s kiss*

      1. Roland*

        Kinda rude! They are not claiming this is likely. They are not mad at OP for failing to see some obvious truth. They did not ask OP to give any more info or demand and explanations from them. They were very clear that this is just one technical possibility for OP to consider.

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          The comment was appropriate for a suggestion that was off the chain and goes directly counter to what the LW actually wrote.

        2. Aquatic*

          Not rude at all. The othering and fetishizing of an indigenous person is where we have rudeness. The “let’s just violate the rule about making fanfic out of the letters” is rude.

      2. connie*

        Yep. There’s sometimes a fine line between treating people of other cultures respectfully and making them out to be exotic and rare specimens. People here often fall on the wrong side of that line.

      3. Bizhiki*

        I didn’t realize that sharing a possibility relating to my own personal experience in the workplace and suggesting, not demanding just suggesting, that the letter writer take all of 10 seconds to consider if it might also be applicable to their situation fell into the realm of fan fiction. How lovely for you that this seems utterly impossible and not at all worth even the tiniest reflection.

        1. Walking hot water bottle*

          Unless there is something I’m missing about smudging, that usually doesn’t make people stoned.

        2. cabbagepants*

          So in your personal experience someone smelled like weed and was acting high, but actually it was non-weed ceremonial smudge?

    2. LilPinkSock*

      One of my coworkers has occasionally smudged during the lunch hour. It does not smell like weed, and she is not visibly stoned. It’s very different to what the LW is telling us.

    3. TD, PU!*

      Thank you for mentioning this, @Bizhiki. As someone who both smoke cleanses/smudges with different herbs and also smokes kinnikinnik*, I have also had people confuse the smells, esp. mugwort, with cannabis – even people who regularly toke have gotten them confused. Lots of people seem to think the only possible smoke smells are tobacco products, white sage, incense, or cannabis, and make assumptions based on their limited experience. I’m sorry you experienced that, and grateful you mentioned it – as you said, even if it’s not the case here, the risk of harm makes is worth mentioning, and hopefully your comment will help someone else not make the same mistakes. I’m also sorry people are piling on so disrespectfully. Your comment is useful.
      (*Native American and First Nations herbal smoking blends. Some are medicinal, social, ceremonial, etc. There’s lots of kinds, and different names.)

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      But if smudge smells like weed, she needs to not do it on lunch anyway, or take way better steps to leave the smell outside! Skunk is just an awful thing to smell, whether it’s genuine skunk, marijuana skunk, or some sort of traditional smudge skunk.

  9. Cambridge Comma*

    It seems immoral from a climate change perspective to run a space heater and air conditioning at the same time. I couldn’t personally let her continue to do it even if she were more reasonable, but given that she refuses to dress more warmly, I don’t think finding any further solutions need concern OP.

    1. Well...*

      By that logic, why are we air conditioning at all, hmm? Is it do that people can be… comfortable?

      1. TechWorker*

        It’s… not the same logic?
        Air conditioning is definitely bad for the environment but if you’re also heating the space then it’s clearly more wasteful due to the cancellation going on.

        1. Building Automation Guy*

          FYI – A VAV (Variable Air Volume) HVAC system is designed to do precisely what you describe. A central unit serves several rooms and supplies 55°F air. Each room has its own thermostat and controller that regulates air flow and controls heat.

          Unfortunately OP does not have one of these systems. Trying to control the temperature of several offices and a conference room with one thermostat doesn’t work well.

      2. Awkwardness*

        The point would be to achieve a result without or less energy consumption.
        Feeling too hot > get rid of the sweater/cardigan (instead of lowering the AC).
        Feeling too cold > get a sweater/cardigan (instead of turning on a heater)

        I have no sympathy for the collegue. It is a waste of energy and unnecessary cost for the employer.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, heating a cooled space is so wasteful. The ac system at my office will immediately turn on the heat if you turn the temp up same for the ac. Turn temp down, ac kicks in. It’s very obnoxious because if I’m cold in the summer, I’d rather not have the ac running for a few mins, and the reverse in winter. There is no way to just be on one system or the other and let the building heat or cool naturally, depending on the season.

      1. MugShot Coffee*

        I totally agree with Cambridge Comma, it’s totally ridiculous, even bananapants, to all use of a heater when the air con is on.
        The person needs to wear extra layers like the rest of us do. there is no rain why she had to look cute (ugh!) while working!

        1. Nina*

          While yes, she needs to wear more layers, I’m someone who gets cold easily, I work in an office full of people who overheat easily, and I can be wearing two sweaters, a beanie, fingerless gloves, and a lap rug and still be too cold to type. My job is typing.

          I’m in an open office so this doesn’t work for me, but if I had a closable door, I don’t care what temperature the AC is trying to make the room, I’m trying to make it a temperature I can work at. Is it bananapants to use the heater while the air con is on? sure, and I let facilities management know I want the AC vents in my office closed off. Is it more bananapants to be too freezing to do my job that pays my rent when an easy solution is readily available? Yes.

    3. Not like a regular teacher*

      I thought this as well. SO wasteful. Put a sweater on, employee who wants to look cute!!!

    4. Emily*

      I agree that running the ac + a space heater is a much bigger waste of energy than just running the ac. But I wonder why “waste of energy” is only brought up when it comes to people wanting to be warm, and not when the ac is set to very low temperatures.

      1. Giant Kittie*

        As someone who has always gotten cold very easily, I’ve noticed a widespread belief that people who get cold easily are somehow “weak”, and I believe this is the mindset behind this.

        1. I AM a Lawyer*

          From a liability perspective, most employers aren’t going to make this distinction.

      2. Boof*

        Presumably because warming up can usually be accomplished with more clothing; too hot usually assumes min acceptable clothing already

        1. Emily*

          I think it’s already been pointed out multiple times in the comments that that’s not necessarily true.

        2. Nina*

          Ya tell that to the primary turner-down of the AC in my office. She’s currently wearing a thermal top, a sweater, a fleece vest, and just walked past me in my two sweaters and beanie to turn the thermostat down to 16 °C. I begin to function at 18.

  10. John Smith*

    re LW1, I don’t know if this is feasible for your workplace, but I have a small portable dessicant dehumidifier which has a brilliant side effect of making a single room comfortably toasty without affecting other areas.

    re. #3 and weed. The slightest whiff of weed makes me physically sick and gives me headaches and the smell can linger for a long time. I’m sure I’m not the only one affected by it, so maybe using this reaction would be justifiable to insist your colleague makes whatever changes are necessary. Whilst I am against the use of weed as a recreational drug, I understand in some places it is legal or at least tolerated, but it doesn’t mean others should be subjected to its effects. There’s been previous advice on banning scents of various descriptions in the workplace (perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants, room freshners etc) and I don’t see why this should be any different. By all means your colleague can smoke weed to her hearts content, but it doesn’t entitle her to smell of it in the office.

    1. AGD*

      This is where I land too. I totally understand that existing drug policies are ineffective, bogus, and usually racist. But I live in a place where weed is basically legal, and I’m having way more asthma attacks as the result of it.

    2. Dr. Cat*

      Some easy practical advice on a similar note to your comment to LW1: If your AC has the option to set the fan to “On” rather than “Auto”, that can help keep the temperature more even throughout a space by keeping air moving around even when the AC isn’t actively cooling it. This helped me a lot when I had thermostat issues with roommates in an unevenly heated/cooled house.

  11. stratospherica*

    OP2: I have someone who sits in the same vague area as me whose throat-clearing used to drive me mad, particularly as we sat near each other for a good while. It’s a sound that definitely travels and on a bad day he’ll be doing it every minute or two.

    What worked for me is that I got on good terms with him! I was running an event where our Talent Acquisition staff can get their photo taken for LinkedIn, and he was one of the sign-ups. I did my job of hyping him up, helping him with posing and basically making him feel comfortable, and it turns out he’s a nice guy with a good sense of humour. After that, the noises just didn’t bother me as much. It’s like the opposite of Bitch Eating Crackers… Darling Chewing With Their Mouth Open…?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Oh, I like this approach. It is definitely easier to tolerate things from people we are on friendly terms with.

      This is the kind of suggestion that actually helps make the world a better place.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        yes!!!! I love it and it could probably be applied to all sorts of minor irritants at work.

    2. DiamondDogs*

      Just heads up, we had this issue in our office and it was due to that person taking high blood pressure medication – a common side effect.

    3. AGD*

      I have a coworker who has vocal tics including a loud cough, and I’m so glad I never said ANYTHING to anyone at work about it, because it turns out he’s lovely and hilarious and was super relieved that at least some of the people in the office took it in stride and acted like it was a total nonissue.

  12. Advenella*

    LW3: this may not apply, and I’m not sure of your office’s size or policy, but I work for a large healthcare organization and THC use is strictly prohibited due to its being illegal at the federal level. The risk of losing CMS accreditation or any associated federal funding is far too risky. Your office may be significantly smaller and not subject to these same rules, but it’s something to consider.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Seriously.

      Also, real talk, remind me never to book an afternoon appointment at this particular clinic. Who knows what task this employee might bungle because they’re at their workstation stoned.

    2. Dog momma*

      Advenella, correct,retired RN here, I can’t imagine someone in health care at work, impaired by weed or anything else. I know it happens, but its not someone I’d want taking care of me, or having access to my health care information. If something untoward happened affecting me, they’d be hearing from my lawyer.

    3. Corrigan*

      Is this why I just had to do a drug test for a (very much not healthcare role) new job at a healthcare org?

      1. ecnaseener*

        Could be, but I don’t think that’s required by the federal law or anything. (Non-patient-facing job at a large hospital here, I was never drug tested.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know if it is either, but I applied for a lot of healthcare jobs when I was looking, and the applications all said they do test for drugs and also that the facilities and grounds are non-smoking. I assume that includes weed as well as tobacco.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yup. We’ve had smoke-free properties, even outside in the grounds in our NHS division since 2015 for patients and staff. (It’s been illegal indoors around people working since 2007.)

            Interestingly, the people protesting the absolute ban were not smokers themselves but caregivers in our mental health unit, because a higher proportion of people with acute mental issues smoke and they were concerned about withdrawal contributing to their distress, and that distress can, at a certain point, lead to patients attacking their nurses. (The sad thing about mental inpatient care is if you think you should be there, you’re probably able not to be. I know a few people who have had to take admin jobs after such injuries and it’s a real problem with no real answer.)

            But I assume that got resolved by greater assistance with smoking cessation programmes and so on, so everyone won out. I have a certain amount of sympathy for people who have been through enough that smoking is the least of their problems and or one of their few pleasures in life. But, yeah, given that it’s been illegal in any workplace since 2007, it’s not something that needs to happen right here.

  13. Lil Bean*

    As someone who still makes lots of nose and throat sounds even when I’m loaded with antihistamines: oof. If it makes you feel better (or worse), it’s possible your coworker would still sound gross even she took those antihistamines every day. Some of us are just cursed.

    1. Master Procrastinator*

      Yeah, there’s no way of knowing (or of reasonably trying to find out) what the sniffling colleague has or hasn’t tried for her allergies. So it’s best to assume that it’s not going to change any time soon. I have ADHD related auditory processing issues that make it difficult to hear and focus in noisy environments, and also involve zoning in on distracting sounds to the point of it being unbearable (as in misophonia). Fortunately, there are now a ton of earplugs out there that take the edge off distracting and stress inducing sounds without compromising my ability to hear altogether. Flare Audio and Loop have some good options, for example. They’re not particularly cheap, but definitely worth it! Good luck finding a solution, OP.

      1. Virginia*

        I have moderately bad misophonia, so I definitely empathize on the issue of Bothersome Sounds. Loop earplugs help me a lot – the base version dampens enough noise around me to quiet my botheration without blocking out conversations. Adding memory foam tips and extra sound-dampening doodads makes them robust enough for a concert/movie.

        (They will send you ONE MILLION emails every time they release a new color)

        Hope you find something that works for you!

      2. methionine*

        Do you know of any earplugs that actually mask sounds like sniffling and coughing? I’ve also got misophonia, to the point that I often have to leave the room where someone is sniffing, and I’ve had some success with noise cancelling headphones, but everything seems designed to dull loud sounds rather than deal with smaller, persistent noises.

    2. Beth*

      My seasonal allergies overlap — weeds, grass, trees, more weeds — with the result that I have severe allergies year-round. I take all the meds I can handle while still remaining functional.

      I did have one boss who told me that it “disturbed” him when he was on the phone in his office and hear me blowing my nose. He basically told me to stop having allergy symptoms. So I had to take wayyy more breaks away from my desk to spare him the trauma of hearing me have allergies. (Closing his office door when he was on the phone was, apparently, not an option.)

      Odds are good that the co-worker is doing everything she can.

  14. Always Science-ing*

    OP #1: I used to work beside a window in a freezing cold office, I was gifted one of those massaging, heated seats for my car and ended up using it in my office (it had a plug adapter). It worked great! Much better than a space heater, and didn’t affect my coworker on the other side of the room who was a naturally warmer person. I also had a colleague who used an electric blanket on their lap.

    Also 74F/23.3C is warm! Warmer than the baseline recommended office temperature in the health and safety guidelines for my country.

    1. SweetFancyPancakes*

      I was going to recommend the electric blanket thing, too, or a heating pad. That’s what I used when I was in a very old building with very faulty environmental controls (and some coworkers who were perfectly comfortable while I was freezing). They worked great and won’t heat up the area around you.

  15. Charming Charlie*

    These “my coworker’s gross noises” posts are getting a little repetitive. People, the answer is “too bad, you have to deal with it.” Idk, I get that some posts are more situational but I’m rolling my eyes at these ones.

    1. Luna*

      I know I had a flair up of “OmG, can’t you blow your dang nose already?” when I was just a regular person in public, and two people in my vicinity started sniffling. But I kept my mouth shut because it’s not my business. And I’m sure I’ve sniffled before and annoyed another person.

      The only time to do something, though, is if the person sniffling looks miserable like they are sick and clearly don’t have any hankies. Then I’d give them one, cause with my own nose issues, I usually keep a pack on me.

      1. Charming Charlie*

        Yep, there ya go. Put a period and move on.

        Surely there are more interesting and unique letters in the queue itching for answers.

    2. Random Bystander*

      Yes, thank you! It hasn’t been an issue since going remote, but when we were in the office, the person at the desk office was *CONSTANTLY* asking me if I was sick when all it was was allergies (I am allergic to enough airborne stuffs between pollens and mold that I am symptomatic about 11.5 months out of the year). It would drive me absolutely nuts. I get it .. I’m sneezing .. .but she had been working at the desk next to me for *years* and still “oh, you’re sneezing. are you sick?”

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I often get the sense that a large proportion of people who write into the site aren’t regular readers of the site, otherwise they’d probably already know the answer to a lot of their questions. That’s not specific to this site; I definitely get that sense from other advice columns as well.

      1. Charming Charlie*

        True, but it’s more of why Alison is entertaining these as opposed to others.

        And folks can Google askamanager sniffles. This website is like 15 years old for Pete’s sake!

        There should be a “noises” category/tag at the bottom of the site, lol.

  16. Green great dragon*

    You’ve probably done this, but do check for A/C vents pointing at you co-workers desk. 74 in a draught can feel a lot colder than 74 without one. Though I am also in the ‘just wear a cardigan in the office’ camp. It’s easy enough to keep one in the office, and she can take it off when she’s going to see someone if she wants.

    1. M*

      Sure but if your hands get cold… what now? Fingerless gloves i guess? What if your feet get cold… wear boots all summer?

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        Again, this coworker is wearing sleeveless dresses even though she’s freezing because she is prioritizing being cute over being warm. That’s a choice, but that is not a choice other people need to conform to.

        I mean, you can choose to freeze or you can choose to do something to warm yourself up. I have a sweater, wrap, and fingerless gloves at my desk for summer use. I commute by transit, so have to dress for summer outdoors and have other options for freezing AC drafts indoors. In fact, I have a “commuting outfit” to sweat in, I then change into long sleeves and pants, and then I have my backups if I’m still cold.

      2. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I know these things may not work in all offices, but I don’t feel like the things you’re suggesting are wildly unreasonable. I have fingerless gloves at my office for when things get way too cold, and slippers that look like shoes that are lined with fluffy stuff that keeps my feet warm. I may not wear these things to meetings, but at my desk it’s fine. Then again, I’m also fond of sleeveless dresses, but I keep a sweater at my desk, so I’m already coming at this at a different angle than the person in the letter.

      3. Observer*

        Sure but if your hands get cold… what now? Fingerless gloves i guess? What if your feet get cold… wear boots all summer

        This is beyond “not everyone can eat sandwiches” territory. She won’t even try a cardigan!

        If she tries some reasonable stuff and that doesn’t work, sure. Let her have a heater or pad for her chair or whatever. If someone has a medical condition, definitely accommodate. But that’s a very different discussion.

      4. Green great dragon*

        Warming your body and arms will keep your hands warmer. Though I do in fact keep a pair of fingerless gloves in the office for the days when the heating’s insufficient or the A/C’s overenthusiastic so I’m not sure what’s so unreasonable about it?

        If she puts on a cardigan and shoes and she’s still cold then I’d be more sympathetic, but that’s not what’s happening.

    2. Berkeleyfarm*

      One of the office stories I like to tell about thermostat wars is from my last job. Someone with a very different metabolism ended up sitting near to the perpetually cold accounting ladies. There was a lot of back and forth about the control that was nearest. One day we came in and the thermostat had been completed disassembled and wires cut.

      I worked for a bunch of MechEs so a lot of people could have done it. (It took me a while to work it out.)

      The small company ended up spending a lot of money (six figures for a smallish building) to fix the system. In the process we had found that a lot of people had stuffed cardboard in various vents.

      (I’m always “layers” … I work in IT and have had to deal with computer equipment/power connections completely fried by space heaters. Or I might be in my nicely frosty data room. At least at this job we had an electrician on staff who was happy to lecture the heater users, and ended up rewiring their area to add another circuit.)

    1. Nope.*

      Letter 1 touches on a reason why I’m NOT fan of WFH, lol. At home, I have to pay for the a/c! I actually take less time off and go home for lunch less during the summer because of how much I don’t want to deal with the heat or pay to stay comfortable, lol.

    2. M*

      The constant mucus noises especially, ugh. I get that coworker has it worse, but it’s such a gross noise and the fact that it *never stops* makes it unbearable. WFH for life.

  17. UKgreen*

    I’m really not sure that ‘wanting to look cute’ would fly with your facilities department if that space heater starts a fire…

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      Our facilities staff would be…. very much not entertained. I would be 95% sure that they would in fact be incredibly annoyed. As would the safety team if they got dragged in. I’m pretty sure we would have the same response as we did when a normally office-only staff member needed to walk to a place out on the plant and threw a fit we didn’t allow her to just waltz out without boots/actual pants because “vibes”.

  18. Paul Pearson*

    I have two colleagues
    Sarah could be launched into the sun and she’d still put a cardigan on. If she decided to do a summer hike across the sahara desert, it would require her big coat and thermal underwear
    Then we have Rachel. Rachel would do a polar expedition in shorts. Rachel would complain about the heat to a penguin in antarctica. She would march to the south pole but only if she could bring a fan with her

    I’m not convinced they’re not elemental based super heroes. Or maybe aliens

    The thermostat wars are real and never ending. May gods have mercy on those of us caught in the middle

    1. GythaOgden*

      I seriously believe I’m the walking embodiment of climate change. It’s probably not coincidental that the last forty years, while I’ve walked on this earth, has been the very period when things have accelerated. I have been to Moscow at New Year and they had their mildest winter since the Tsar was in power. While I lived there, I entered Poland one year by coach in a blizzard straight out of Narnia, and by teatime I was back at my flat and a rainstorm had washed all trace of the snow away. The day I left Latvia in 2020, when I’d hoped for a winter getaway (just before lockdown hit), it started snowing, but everyone in the shops had been like, funny weather we’re having this year.

      I could skinny dip in the Arctic and /melt/ the South Pole.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I do think this might be one of the advantages of living in a temperate place where aircon is pretty unusual and most people don’t understand how to set it. In most offices I’ve worked in, room temperature is kind of considered as immutable as weather: you might moan about it being a bit hot or a bit cold and every so often someone will suggest telling Estates that it’s REALLY too hot or too cold, but it’s really unusual for people to have strong feelings about specific numbers. We mostly work on the assumption that the temperature is whatever the temperature is and you adjust to it rather than the other way around.

      1. londonedit*

        That’s been my experience, too. When the boiler in our office broke in February and we all had to put our coats on, people complained and Facilities sent us all home, which is fair enough. And when it was really, really hot last year (35-40C for a week or so) we were told we didn’t have to come to the office if we didn’t want to (we don’t have air con, just fans). But those extremes are extremes – for about 50 weeks of the year room temperature is pretty even and in the winter the heating’s set to about 20C and people dress accordingly.

        1. Paul Pearson*

          We’re in the UK and we never used to but two years ago there was the Heat Wave of Doom and people literally had heat stroke. We threatened to cook and eat senior management and they caved and got aircon

          1. bamcheeks*

            I think where we do have it, people tend not to change the temp or have strong feelings or conflicts about what it Should Be on? Not least beciae most of us don’t understand the controls. If there’s a broad agreement that it’s too hot Tor too cold someone will go and poke it and look back for approval an evryone will shrug and go, “I don’t know, maybe that’s better??” I’ve neve come across temperature conflict.

      2. Phryne*

        Thirding this. Everyone has their own comfort levels, but in general als long as it stays between let’s say 18-25C (64-77F), regulating body heat is considered a personal problem, not your employers.
        I the past I have worked in spaces that approached 40C in a heatwave, and if you are wondering if that is legal: probably not but when it is that hot, health & safety inspection are busy checking on people doing heavy physical labour not dying, so if you sit still in an office you can just try and deal with it.

      3. UKDancer*

        Same. we have air con at work, no idea what it’s set on. last winter our floor was v cold so we got the facilities team to check and they adjusted it.

        I don’t have air conditioning at home but set the heating to come on at about 17 degrees. if I’m cold I wear a sweater. Anything above about 21 and I put the desk fan on.

      1. Phony Genius*

        This is the point in the comments where we pause for a musical number: a duet by Sarah and Rachel similar to the Snow Miser/Heat Miser song from “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”

    3. Paris Geller*

      The thermostat wars are the only thing my husband and I ever really disagree on (though of course, it’s just our apartment and not a workplace with multiple people, which makes it slightly easier to deal with). I am a Rachel. He is a Sarah. We often joke that I’m only comfortable is the temperature inside resembles a penguin habitat.

    4. AGD*

      This made me laugh! I’m very much a Sarah for medical reasons. Excellent heat tolerance, no ability to handle the cold. Disregarding humidity, my ideal range is between 80 and…95 or 100, I guess – maybe higher if it’s really dry. I know I don’t want my colleagues to overheat, but only when they’re at risk of hyperthermia will I be comfortable. Moving into an apartment with big windows and no A/C helped me a good deal because my previous place stayed around 70-75 and I froze, even in June. Maybe I should move to Arizona.

  19. Madame Arcati*

    If we should not be giving out armchair medical advice for the coworker with sniffles (and I agree we should not) then i’d venture to suggest that neither should we be speculating about possible medical conditions leading to other coworker being chilly. The advice is the same anyway – a solution needs to be found that is not to the detriment of others and the current one (a space heater) is not a suitable solution.

    1. Anna*

      Strongly agreed, especially because we know one of her coworkers *is* having hot flashes. Temperature is a really common competing / conflicting needs issue: they need to look into ways that aren’t causing discomfort to other coworkers first. And at least attempting to wear something on top of or underneath the sundress (not the “adding infinite layers” like some people have been straw-manning) is the bare minimum of that.

      She very likely is legitimately cold, it could potentially be because of a medical reason, and that still doesn’t make it okay to choose a method that’s to the active detriment of her coworkers when there are untried accommodations that *don’t* do that that are readily accessible.

  20. Ivana Tinkle*

    I had a colleague who was the exact opposite of space heater girl in letter 1. He wore a long sleeved shirt with a thick wool sweater every day, but then had a huge desk fan going all the time. He sat behind me and the cold air blasting from the fan gave me serious neck pain to the point I had some time off sick with it & had to have physio! Eventually enough people complained & he was given various solutions to choose from – he packed up his fan & flounced off in a strop & WFH forever!

    1. Roy G. Biv*

      “Flounced off in a strop” is my new favorite phrase! The visual comes right along with it!

  21. Invisible fish*

    I’m a teacher in a building with an aged, weak, temperamental AC that takes forever to kick in. I’m stuck in a room with 30 fifteen year olds for 7+ hours a day. All that body heat… no real air blowing from the vents … No windows to open if the day is actually cool … can’t leave my door open to let in a breeze from the strangely frigid hall because doors must always be shut as part of safety protocols …

    What I wouldn’t do for a room at 74 degrees Fahrenheit!!!!

    1. not bitter just sour*

      But you can just wear cooler clothes, don’t you know that people in Calcutta manage just fine!!

      1. RussianInTexas*

        And have you tried to chug ice cold water non stop and keep a wet blanket on your neck because people in Madrid do this apparently?

        1. Invisible fish*

          Since I can only use the restroom when the kids are at lunch, I can’t chug the ice cold water, so I have to pour it over myself non stop!! ;)

  22. bamcheeks*

    Gosh the letters are a bit of an intense sensory experience today. Temperature! Noise! Smells!

  23. Weckar*

    No Sympathy for #1. You are spending electricity, as a company to cool the place down; and more to heat it back up? That’s the worst example of intentional wastage I’ve ever heard.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I don’t think your comment is fair to a letter writer who is asking how to make sure they’re not wasting electricity by running a/c and a space heater at the same time.

  24. Aaron*

    My boss, a man of size who is slowly losing, got annoyed at the typically hurtful and judgemental “fitness initiative” coming down from up high. He suggested our office read The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson. Great book about the realities of food addiction. It definitely made people who would otherwise be complete toxic-positive jerks about weight and fitness quiet down some.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      … but now they think people are all food addicts? Man people need to be able to live their lives without negative labels

  25. Glomarization, Esq.*

    A medical clinic cannot have front desk employees working while stoned. (Dispensary jokes aside, I’m not actually sure what kind of office setting would be a reasonable setting to have front desk employees working while stoned, but what do I know, I’m just an internet lawyer.) This isn’t a close question. For patient confidentiality reasons, for customer service reasons, for likely state and federal regulatory reasons, this person’s conduct has to be addressed.

    1. Melissa*

      Right! That’s a way bigger problem than the smell. Alcohol is also legal but you can’t show up to work buzzed.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Honestly, I thought an employee at a dispensary I was at recently seemed pretty high, and I thought *that* was inappropriate! I don’t want my bartender to be drunk, either.

    3. alex (they/them)*

      as someone who works in the cannabis industry, people still should not be getting high at work. it’s a liability issue.

  26. Mellie Bellie*

    I’m all about some edibles and have no problem at all with weed. On my personal time, not at work. It’s no more appropriate to get high on your lunch break than it is to get drunk.

    Also, add me to the chorus of folks who would be horrified if I walked into a medical setting and the front desk person reeked of weed and was visibly stoned.

    As for what to do – maybe try telling her directly she smells like weed the next time you notice it and if she doesn’t take the point, or if you see her visibly stoned at work again, smelly or not, report her to your/her supervisor.

    1. Luna*

      I absolutely agree with this. If you want to smoke weed, drink excessive alcohol, or, heck, take IV drugs in your spare time, go for it. As long as your actions don’t affect other people. And if you are doing in on your lunch break, it’s just… unprofessional to come back smelling like that.

      When I took my cosmetician training, we had cigarette smokers in class. Our teachers all said that it’s fine if you smoke outside during the breaks, but that the smell will stick to you, so they all had to wash their hands after breaks. Nobody wants smoke-stinking hands in their face. Some even popped a bonbon or something, to mask or lower the smell of smoke from their breath. And I will say, I wouldn’t want someone that just smoked weed working on my facial or, even worse, doing a pedicure while potentially affected. That’s like asking for a lawsuit.

  27. Rosacolleti*

    #1. Depending where this is, there may well be requirements for electrical items to be tagged & tested if used in a commercial premises.

    #2. If it’s as bad as the OP states, it would definitely affect their work so it could well be a performance issue. If they’ve exaggerated, maybe the manager needs to speak to them about etiquette regarding the snorting. It’s unprofessional. We’ve had to speak to a staff member about bad BO and burping loudly.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Bad BO and burping loudly are something that you have control over, though. You have no control over allergies and their symptoms. You are making a false equivalence here.

      As an allergy sufferer, believe me when I say I wish I could do something to make the watery, burning eyes and the constant sniffle go away. I take allergy medication which keeps things in check (i.e., I am not spending 90% of my day in the bathroom blowing my nose) but I still have the symptoms.

      1. Vegas*

        I…don’t know if I agree? People who struggle with loud burping from aerophagia or whatever can keep their mouth closed, but it’s not always possible to totally muffle the sound, and it is not something they can control.

        I get that allergy sufferers can’t turn off the allergies, but they can absolutely choose to quietly dab their nose with a tissue instead of audibly breathing the snot back in (sniffling). I have zero issue hearing people blowing snot OUT of their nose, which they NEED to do, but when I hear them sucking it back INTO their nose to avoid blowing their nose, it’s extremely frustrating because I know it will just keep getting worse until they finally blow their nose and reset the cycle.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Except it’s not a cycle that resets. This is not like having a cold. Like I said elsewhere, it’s like a tap that is set to a slow trickle. This is not ordinary mucus that we are dealing with.

          People who do not suffer from allergies really have no idea what it is like to deal with this issue. Blow our nose all day? Sure, then the person next to us complains that we are blowing our nose all day. (I literally could blow my nose once a minute and still have to deal with fluid dripping out of my nose.) It really is a lose-lose situation either way.

          1. Vegas*

            I guess I just don’t get it. I’m a lifelong allergy sufferer and I dab my nose with a tissue when it runs nonstop, I never sniffle because the noise annoys people so much. Sometimes I have a tissue pressed to my nose all day, but like, that’s okay? It’s absorbing the snot and prevents sniffling. That’s how I choose to handle my situation.

            If you have an allergy condition where you can’t breathe quietly, that’s not your fault and understandable, but you need to demand the EXACT same understanding for people who can’t control their loud burping or their BO, there is zero difference.

            1. ceiswyn*

              I used to suffer with allergies, and if I had tried ‘dabbing’ my nose with tissue when it ran nonstop I wouldn’t have had time to do anything else with my hands. Not to mention the sheer discomfort of having all my nasal passages full of fluid because I hadn’t been able to sniff to clear them.

              Had someone genuinely suffered from my sniffling then I hope I would have tried to find some accommodation, but I’ve never really been willing to suffer physical discomfort (and a raw nose that hurts to be touuched) just to avoid annoyance.

              1. MHA*

                Yup! Depending on how bad my allergies are on a given day, dabbing instead of sniffing would just mean I had to work one-handed all day, which obviously isn’t practical– and for my body, dabbing also tends to make the drainage worse, since it actively draws down alllllllll the drainage vs being able to kinda-sorta keep things at bay with sniffling.

                And even aside from that, if it’s the kind of drainage that I can sniff-sniff-sniff away, letting it actually progress to the point of being dabbed away is so physically uncomfortable that it’s honestly unbearable… and liable to make me sneeze. It’s unfortunate and I hate it too, but sniffling is the best way to handle my allergies for my body!

                (And just for perspective, if we’re talking ‘comfort with how other people handle their allergies’– personally, I would much rather hear someone sniffle all day than watch them clutch snotty tissues all day, but as long as they’re sanitizing it’s not my business how someone manages their allergies!)

          2. Quite anon*

            At the risk of sounding gross, sniffling actually helps me blow my nose. allergy mucus is so thin and watery for me that blowing my nose doesn’t do much, but if I spend ten or so minutes sniffling first there will finally be enough of it that blowing my nose helps.

          3. Dahlia*

            If I blew my nose every two minutes all day long, I think my ENT would actually murder me. Hello, nosebleed city.

      2. mb*

        Well said. As a chronic allergy sufferer – which includes dust as well as seasonable allergies – I am potentially suffering year round. I am now on Singulair for my asthma and it’s also reducing my allergy symptoms by a lot, but I still sometimes can’t see because my eyes are burning and they’re so itchy I want to claw my own eyes out. Plus the sniffling. I’m annoying myself, never mind anyone else, and on top of that I feel like garbage. The amount of money spent on various allergy treatments is ridiculous – most brands no longer work for me when I’m suffering and the one that does, doesn’t come in a non-drowsy formula. This person needs to have more sympathy for their coworker and keep their annoyance to themself.

    2. CheckYourAssumptions*

      There are plenty of medical conditions and medications that cause body odor. There are probably some that cause uncontrollable burping although I am not personally familiar with any.

    3. Breathing is hard*

      Please don’t try to frame a chronic medical condition as an etiquette issue. It’s not.

      My body is not very good at breathing. I’ve tried literally everything to make it get better, but nothing has been a 100% fix. I’ve tried every brand of over the counter allergy medicine. I’ve tried most types of prescription allergy and asthma medicine. I’ve tried every brand of nasal spray. I’ve had surgery. I have humidifiers all over my house and a mini one on my desk at work.

      It’s been an intensely frustrating, painful, and expensive process, and I’ve arrived at the point where this is as good as it’s ever going to get. I know it’s not pleasant for my coworkers to have to listen to me struggling to breathe. But you know what? It’s also not pleasant for me to have to struggle this way, and then to be accused of a breach of etiquette over it would be extremely offensive.

    4. Observer*

      If they’ve exaggerated, maybe the manager needs to speak to them about etiquette regarding the snorting. It’s unprofessional.

      Having allergies is unprofessional? I don’t even know where to start with that…

  28. Luna*

    I agree with LW3 that what you do off the clock is your business. But I will say that if you are going back to work, then you really should refrain from smelling like an (illegal) substance.

    Aside from it smelling badly, this is a healthcare position *and* a customer-facing one. What if a patient has an allergy or intolerance to the smell? And, frankly, I will say it doesn’t look good if someone working in healthcare smells like weed while on the clock. That includes the receptionist. I wouldn’t want someone dealing with my health or my paperwork to be potentially not all there due to whatever they may take. (ranging from weed to alcohol, to allergy meds, or even a headache that is so severe it’s causing ‘brain fog’)

  29. Spicy Tuna*

    I am a #1 and #2 combo plate! I’ve lived my entire adult life in South Florida after growing up in a more temperate climate where AC was not that ubiquitous. I will never adjust to AC!

    I am thankfully WFH now but every office I’ve worked in has been refrigerated to somewhere between 68 – 72*F. At my last job, only a handful of people in a 300+ person office were ever comfortable – it beggars belief that in the 21st century, we cannot figure out HVAC!

    I commuted via bus, so dressing was always a challenge – walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus would result in getting sweaty. Then boarding the rolling meat locker while drenched in sweat was just miserable. Then getting hot again walking to the office. Then getting chilled by sitting under freezing air all day. Just absolutely miserable .

    I agree with the posters that state the cold is hard to ameliorate by putting on layers. I would wear pants and a tank top for the commute, then have a cardigan for the bus and the office. At the office, I kept a Slanket but my hands would be essentially useless from the cold and my nose would CONSTANTLY run! CONSTANTLY! I would go through a box of tissues a week! Between the constant nose blowing and the Slanket, I did not present a particularly professional image!

    Now I WFH and my husband keeps the air at 72*F! I am comfortable at 78*F. The only time I get to wear shorts and a t-shirt is when I am running outside. And I still go through a box of tissues a week.

    1. MsSolo (UK)*

      I was confused by the rolling meat locker moment because I’ve never considered that busses might be colder than outside! no aircon on busses in the UK, so it’s always outside temp +5C and 100% humidity.

    2. SarahKay*

      I think it’s not that we can’t figure out HVAC, but that the temperatures tend to be set with male comfort in mind, rather than female.
      I understand that on average men are comfortable seated when the thermostat is at 72 F / 22.2 C, while women tend to be comfy at 77 F / 25 C. Add in individual preferences and it’s just an office argument waiting to happen….

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I mean, I recently worked in a brand-new, eco-certified building, and it still had wild swings in temperature depending on where you were sitting. That seems like something they should be able to to figure out.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          The eco-certification tends to lend itself to worse climate control– every building at my job with a LEED cert is drafty in the winter and hot in the summer. For example, one of the cert criteria is that if a space is unoccupied the HVAC should adjust appropriately, which means if you enter a meeting room that was just empty, its probably stuffy and needs time to cool down, and it has to simultaneously combat the addition of several warm bodies to the space.

          Also the recommended commercial space thermostat setting is 78degF in summer and 68degF in winter, which is definitely outside most people’s preferred temperature.

      2. bamcheeks*

        I think this varies WILDLY by location a d what you’re used to. Both of those are way higher than anyone would consider normal room temperature in the UK. I actively like temperatures like that if I’m sitting still but consider myself a weird outlier and I’m basically most comfortable on the days most of the country is complaining that it’s way too hot.

        1. Anna*

          It very much varies wildly by location (and by genetics) – every woman I showed this to who grew up in the geographic area I did doubled-over laughing at the idea they’d be more productive in the high 70s. You’d be more likely to get a fist-fight than increased productivity.

          In all seriousness: I grew up in an area where “will kill you if you’re outside too long” cold temperatures were a routine hazard / have had literal frostbite before. And it completely skews my body’s understanding of what is and is not cold. Even now that I’ve lived in warmer areas most of my adult life, what feels hot to me is going to be very different than, say, if someone’s body developed in a climate baseline of like, California. I will start getting physical health problems above the low 70s, and honestly the way people frame *temperatures necessary for me not to get sick* as “sexist” is frustrating.

          What temperatures are comfortable for women have an immense amount of variability. And there’s also a number of studies that suggest women are also more likely to express discomfort due to being *too hot* (i.e., the total range of tolerance is also lower than the average man, and physical symptoms of being on either extreme are more pronounced).

          Tl;dr: yes, most workplaces should be calibrating the temperatures based on the comfort of the employees they have rather than generic averages cause there’s just too much variability in human perception of temperature for an average to be useful. And if a workplace has a gender skew of who is reporting being too cold, it definitely has a problem. But seriously, trying to uncritically apply things like “most women are comfy at 77” (ftr: average comfy temperature is not the same as most women being okay with that temperature, anyways), will end up putting a lot of women in physical pain. Calibrating for “male comfort” or “female comfort” are *both* going to be wildly inaccurate, just believe people when they tell you what temperatures are and are not within tolerable comfort.

      3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        And our culture is such that men generally wear more & bulkier clothing, too.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband used to set the AC to like 68 after I went to bed, then left it when he went off to work and I was WFH. That was actually my impetus to get a smart thermostat – I could schedule it a little lower at night, normal during the day, and I told him if he ever touched it again I was putting a passcode on it :-P

      Now we both WFH and his home office is in the basement, which is several degrees cooler than the rest of the house, plus he has fans. So it works out.

    4. Vegas*

      I very much agree that cold really cannot be ameliorated by putting on layers, at least past a certain point. And I’m actually someone who usually runs really HOT. I get cranky and can’t focus when I’m warm, and I’ve managed a lot of temperature wars as an office manager, but I have personally never found it difficult to deal with a space that was too warm – I had a personal fan and would rest a large ice pack on my lap or shoulders and that worked great.

      The bigger problem was when I worked in a physical therapy office that cooled to 62F, but I think it got colder than that. I wore a heavy wool sweater on 100 degree days, I wouldn’t run the air conditioning in my car at all on the 30 minute commute home, and by the time I arrived home my entire body was still numb. People would tell me to put on more layers – they didn’t understand that layers can only hold in the heat that your body is producing. They cannot warm you up if your body is numb and not producing any warmth.

      As a manager now, though, I would not allow space heaters. They are a fire hazard, and it’s simple enough to ban them for that reason. If OP’s coworker isn’t wearing a sweater, then they’re not actually suffering like I was in the 62F office.

    5. madge*

      YES! This is me, too. All of the sweaters in the world do not make a difference to my numb hands/feet (I keep fuzzy-lined shoes/boots at work, and have tried gloves), and the sniffling. MY GOD, THE SNIFFLING. And eye-watering and coughing. F’ing miserable. “Put on a sweater” comments make me rage.

  30. SpatulaCity*

    re #3
    first full time job out of college, my husband got pulled aside by his boss. the “I don’t care what you do in your own time, but you can’t come to work smelling like weed” speech. (appropriate for a new college grad.)
    Hubby was confused, as he didn’t partake, nor knew anyone who did (so it wasn’t secondhand smoke on his clothes). after discussing it with his boss, they both came to realize the smell problem. hubby would bring a banana into work for breakfast, that he’d eat at his desk before starting work. then his boss would arrive to work later, and mistook the banana smell for weed.

    1. SpatulaCity*

      besides the banana, hubby also would bring in a frozen cinnamon raisin bagel, and place it on his CRT monitor to defrost for a later second breakfast. but the smell according to his boss wasn’t the bagel.

    2. Scented Eraser*

      Yes, I have noticed people’s breath after eating banana smells like weed, though the banana itself does not.

    3. Observer*

      That’s an interesting thought. But did your husband’s boss also accuse him of being stoned?

      1. SpatulaCity*

        this was 25+ years ago. hubby doesn’t remember being accused of being stoned, but since he’s not a morning person was likely groggy so maybe?

        the main thing he recalls is that he was eating a lot of bananas for breakfast and the peels were piling up in his trashcan over the week. organic decay of the bananas was the only smell that he and his boss could come up with as the possible “weed” smell.

    4. No smoke here*

      When I was in college, I was accused of smoking weed-I’m an asthmatic who’s never smoked anything and doesn’t even sit near campfires (bc of my asthma) and will leave places where people are smoking cigarettes.

      The reasoning they were convinced? My eyes were often red and watering (allergies) and I acted “stoned” (I was relaxed when dealing with difficult people at an event). Apparently, only stoned people can remain calm and agreeable in stressful situations. They also heard about my love of classic rock and jazz music-and this further convinced them I was a stoner. Nothing I, nor any of my co-workers at the event, said could convince this person otherwise. They refused to work with me on these grounds the remainder of the time I lived in that town. It was gossip for years within that work community and I had people ask occasionally about it. It was WEIRD. People make off base assumptions all the time because they *think* they know or are an expert.

  31. Safely Retired*

    Regarding #2, and the sniffling… Perhaps if they got a box of tissues and BLEW THEIR NOSE it would help a bit. Sniffing keeps it inside your head, only to have to sniff it again, and again. Get it out by blowing your nose and yes, m0re is likely to come along, but perhaps not immediately. It is also possible that they don’t understand how to blow their nose effectively. The key is to squeeze the nose just a bit, so that the air can’t go around the phlegm. Not a short hard blow, but a bit more protracted.

    1. Unfettered scientist*

      Yes! So many ineffective nose blowers! I’d recommend one side then the other

    2. Heather*

      So what are you suggesting exactly, that the LW teach their coworker how to blow their nose?

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      Well, we’ve spotted the person who has never suffered from allergies.

      I blow my nose all day long (thank you, WFH!) and I still have the sniffles.

      This is not this works. This is not how any of this works.

    4. Jennifer Strange*

      For some of us blowing our nose actually makes it worse. It just gets even more congested, depending on where the drip is.

    5. AngryOctopus*

      You know, this advice probably helps when you have the end of a cold and you’re trying to clear out your sinuses. But it’s not even a tiny bit helpful if you have allergies. Not the same at all.

    6. alienor*

      Blowing your nose might help with stuffiness from a cold, especially towards the end of the illness. Allergies are a whole different story–your nose just keeps streaming endlessly for as long as the allergen is present, so you can fill up an entire tissue and have to blow again almost immediately. Plus blowing often seems to make the sniffling worse, maybe because it clears space for more allergen to get in.

    7. mb*

      As a chronic allergy sufferer – I do blow my nose, and know how to do it properly – doesn’t stop the sniffling as I’d have to be blowing my nose every 2 minutes and then my nose would be raw, regardless of how soft the tissues I’m using are.

    8. kiki*

      I get that there are cases where somebody is just avoiding blowing their nose or whatever, but for a lot of folks with allergies, the flow of mucus is pretty continuous. So the options are sniffle (which is generally quieter) or blow your nose every 2 minutes (generally louder). I honestly don’t think that the latter option is preferable

    9. home*

      Cool, we met the one person on Earth who not only never had allergies but has also never actually met a real person with allergies before. That’s so great for you, you must be the coolest person to ever enter a room.

      Honestly, LW should try this terrible advice only if they’re curious about how their state’s unemployment system works.

    10. Oxford Comma*

      I am going to guess you have never suffered from allergies.

      We’re not talking about a 3-day cold here. I took meds for two solid months this spring and it still doesn’t make them go away. I blow my nose all day long and it doesn’t stop. I suspect that’s just as disturbing to my coworkers as the sniffling would be.

  32. Safely Retired*

    For #4, I recommend an old classic. Up the Organization by Robert Townsend. I read this when I was in college, before my career started. I can honestly say it gave me an understanding of how to approach work that I probably never would have achieved otherwise. With the insights it gave I was able to understand what was happening around me, and to avoid participating in most of the nonsense that can sometimes dominate an office. It worked for me. Used copies are easily available.

  33. Unfettered scientist*

    The only advice I’d have for snifflers is actually *blow* your nose. Don’t just sniffle every ten seconds without clearing your nose. I’m sympathetic to the letter writer because that’s such an annoying sound and when you’re sniffling it’s hard to realize how often you do it. At least if you really get a tissue and blow, maybe it can be once every few minutes instead of seconds.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      As I said above, for some of us blowing our nose just makes it worse (or is even ineffective).

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Do you really think that grown-ass adults who have life-long allergies do not know how to blow their noses?

      It’s clear that you have never had allergies and don’t know how terrible it can be to suffer from them. You can blow your nose and within a minute, your nose is running again. It’s like a tap that is just barely on, trickling into the drain all day. Blowing your nose is not going to clear it out and keep it cleared for any significant length of time. I could literally blow my nose once a minute and still be dealing with this. All that would happen is that someone would end up writing a letter to AAM complaining that “the person in the cubicle next to mine blows their nose all day long”.

  34. CityMouse*

    I’m pto legalization but if the receptionist at a medical practice was visibly high, I’d be finding new doctor. Medical practices often see people on some of the worst days of their life. Making mistakes with scheduling can harm people. None of this is acceptable to be high for.

  35. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    LW1: there are plenty of cute cardigans/sweaters (or even hoodies if your dress code allows) so she has no excuse. The space heater could also be a hazard as Alison and other commenters have suggested, make sure it falls within the rules.

  36. Mockingjay*

    Regarding #1, the long-term solution is to see what Facilities can do. For instance, if the conference room has windows, can light-blocking shades or film be installed to better regulate the temperature? Or a programmable smart thermostat – keeps building temperatures middling in the morning while the outdoor temp is relatively cool, then turns up the AC in the afternoon. As shown by the one employee, a small office with an industrial air vent can get very cold when the AC is cranking. Facilities can install an adapter to restrict airflow without completely blocking it (cross-ventilation in an office building is a mysterious, delicate balance). It’s not going to be a quick fix; rather a series of actions to figure out what works.

  37. DearlyBetrothed*

    Letter write number 2 – I totally understand where you’re coming from but expecting someone to be uncomfortable and sleepy all day, which could affect their work is not really a viable option.

    Instead of trying to control her, why not attempt to control your own space?

    Noise cancelling headphones, radio on very low, a babbling brook playing on your phone or something to help.

    I also deal with a person I sit beside who is a chronic WHISTLER. high pitched whistling all day long… every single day. It makes me NUTS. I’ll often take a walk or put my headphones in.

    1. Another Sinus Sufferer*

      “ Instead of trying to control her, why not attempt to control your own space?”

      I second this. I see reviews giving nose-blowing advice, but from what they wrote, OP 2 seems to find that distracting as well. However, there are noise cancelling earplugs out there like Loop and stuff that are not uncomfortable to wear.

      As a person who also has post-nasal drip their whole life (AND antihistamine every single day does nothing), like AskAManager said, I can attest that the situation is 100% worse for her. Because not only does it impact her at work (like it does you), it affects her in sleep, on her weekends during social activity, and probably almost every moment of her life.

      If you truly feel bad for her, please, don’t say anything, don’t poke fun at it — make no mention of it (I used to resort to retreating to the stairwells to blow my nose, as even the constant, unavoidable “is that allergy” questions in the restroom made me feel self-conscious).

      1. Badger*

        I was coming here to recommend Loop earplugs! I have misophonia and they’re a lifesaver.

  38. Ready to Retire*

    #1 – Do check where the vents are located in your worker’s office. Last summer, I was moved into a different office (one where everyone always complained it was too cold) and I was always freezing. I would wear two sweaters over my summer shirt, one lightweight with a heavy one overtop, and still be shaking. I figured out fairly quickly that my desk was directly under a vent so cold air was constantly blowing directly on me. We rearranged my office so my desk was away from the vent, and it definitely helped. Now most days I just have to use one sweater, which is the norm in our office. Our boss controls the thermostat and he is always warm, so he keeps it set at 67 degrees. Everyone else freezes, but he’s happy.

    I should have posted this in the petty revenge thread, but I’ll share it here. A former coworker fought constantly with the boss over how cold the office was. When he quit, he came back the night of his last day (he had a co-conspirator who let him in… no one has ever admitted to being that person, but it could have been pretty much any of us). He installed one of those locking boxes over the thermostat, set it at 72, then locked it. Left a note taped to it saying he was dropping the key in the mail, and it should be there in a few days, but his goodbye gift to his former colleagues was a few days of decent temperature in the office. Boss actually ended up laughing about it after his initial ranting. And we did have a few pleasant days for once.

  39. i drink too much coffee*

    LW1, suggest they use a heated blanket! I’m the person who is always cold in my office and my heated blanket on my lap does wonders.

    1. RetailEscapee*

      I came to suggest similar to this. I had a surgery which has had the effect of always being FREEZING and I used to sit on a heating pad at work! I was cozy and no one else suffered.
      Now I WFH and control my climate as I please lol

  40. Kacey*

    For LW #3: my husband used to smoke and didn’t want his coworkers to know. He kept a waterproof jacket in his car that he would zip up all the way and put the hood snugly over his hair. After these breaks he would of course remove the jacket, thoroughly wash his hands, and brush his teeth or use mouthwash. No one ever seemed to figure it out, and I didn’t know he smoked weed for MONTHS when we began dating. I only learned when he fessed up in the name of transparency in our relationship. If you happen to have a friendly enough relationship with her, you are welcome to tell her this tale and suggest she try the same.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Hold up– you think the smell is the biggest problem here? Smoking weed during a work break is so not ok. In a customer-facing healthcare-based role, no less.

      1. mb*

        It could be a small amount of weed to control anxiety – not enough to affect her ability to work, just enough to keep her functioning. The LW could be thinking she’s visibly stoned when she’s not just because she smells weed.
        If the receptionist used a vape pen instead – there wouldn’t be a smell – and possibly the lw wouldn’t think she was stoned.

        1. Luna*

          I disagree on there being ‘no smell’ from a vape pen. Those things stink just as much as other types of smoking do. It’s a different kind of stink, but it’s still very noticeable, and can trigger a person’s intolerance or allergy just as much as a cigarette, cigar, or weed.

        2. Aelfwynn*

          There’s no way of knowing how much weed it was, and I think we’d be hard-pressed to give a definition of how much is “too much”. I’m not sure that being allowed to smoke weed would be a “reasonable accommodation” for anxiety under the ADA, particularly given the setting. I think we can take the LW’s word that she was visibly im