my boss says she has the right to come by my house unannounced

A reader writes:

My supervisor and I both work hybrid schedules and she lives in the same neighborhood as me. Recently we were on a work call and she said, “You know, I almost just popped by to talk about this in person with you at your house.” She went on to say it is her “right” to show up unannounced to meet about work inside my private residence anytime she wants. “We’re both working from home today and that’s what working from home can mean, I think.”

She hasn’t actually done it yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens sometime soon.

If she shows up, I don’t think I could stomach letting her in. I bought video doorbells so I will know who is at the door.

I reviewed our employer’s HR policy on remote work and it does not say anything about this one way or the other. I don’t think there is any policy my employer has that could offer me some protection but I assume I have a broader legal right to privacy in my own home. I live in the United States.

I really need to find a new job as this isn’t the only situation where she has shown disregard for boundaries and made me feel disrespected.

Your employer could legally require you to allow meetings in your home if they chose to, but it would be incredibly unusual — and it’s pretty unlikely to happen. My bigger concern is that if your manager does come by unexpectedly and you don’t answer, will she use that as a reason to cast doubt on whether you’re really working at home and thus tell you to work from the office more?

You could try heading this off entirely by saying, “I don’t know if you were serious the other day when you mentioned dropping by my house, but I’m not set up to have guests here. I also don’t answer the door when I’m working since it’s usually salespeople. But if you want to set up a meeting at a coffeeshop or something, let me know.”

If she pushes this bizarre idea of her “right” to stop by unannounced, feel free to use any white lie that makes your life easier — your spouse or roommate also works from home and doesn’t want guests there; you could get in trouble with your landlord, HOA, or homeowners insurance for conducting business out of your house (you’d have to be careful with the nuance of this since you’re currently working from there, but there could be a way to finesse it); or anything else that works.

And if she does show up unannounced, feel free to ignore the doorbell since you already told her you don’t answer the door while you’re working. If she calls and says she’s at your door, meet her outside (close the door behind you!) and say, “Like I said, I’m not set up to have guests inside right now” or “my spouse is on a work call and we can’t have visitors” or whatever else you’re comfortable with.

Also, her initial suggestion that she pop over since she lives nearby is a little oblivious but not an outrage on its own. But insisting that it’s her “right” to do it is so aggressively weird that I’m wondering what else is going on with your boss — that isn’t something you would hear from an otherwise decent manager.

{ 322 comments… read them below }

  1. ScruffyInternHerder*

    LW, I’m really glad you’re on the lookout for a new job.

    At best the boss is oblivious, and you’re correct to be concerned if this isn’t the first time she’s shown disrespect for boundaries.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      The second someone tells me they have a “right” to, to do something I get tensed up. Because it’s never stuff like “right to reproductive freedom” or “right to worship freely”, it’s “my desires and whims outweigh your comfort and needs at all times.”

      1. Czhorat*

        Yes. That strikes me as a very aggressive way of framing it.

        It’s also a big enough violation of boundaries – and weird enough – that I’d even side-eye a boss who said it more softly.

        “We could have meetings at your home”
        “Could we have meetings at your home?”
        “How would you feel about meetings in your home?”

        I’d also add that, at least in my place in my career, bosses don’t usually have zero-notice meetings. There might be a client meeting that hasn’t made it to your calendar yet. There might be a deliverable you’re working on, or someone else’s project you’re helping them with. If you are in the office and your boss wanders over to your desk, it’s easy enough to say “I’m swamped with this; can our chat wait another hour or two?” If they drive to your home that’s a very different dynamic.

      2. Artemesia*

        Any time someone uses the phrase ‘within my rights’. or ‘I have a perfect right to’ or similar they are about to announce something that might be legal but it absolutely outrageously inappropriate or abusive.

        I hope you are looking for a new position unless she is a relatively low placed in the organization and the organization above her is sane.

        1. Phoenix Wright*

          Yep! There’s an excellent XKCD comic that says something like “When the only thing stopping you from doing something bad is that it’s not illegal, you really have no justification for your actions”.

          Something being legal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Boundaries exist for a reason.

          1. Phoenix Wright*

            I totally borked the XKCD quote. Had to check the original comic, and here it is: “I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.”

        2. Princess Sparklepony*

          It’s like when people preface a comment with “I don’t mean to be rude….” that means they are going to say something incredibly rude. The “I have a right to do X” just means they want to do X no matter what anyone says.

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            Or they are just trying to weigh the rudeness against the importance of what they want to say. Because, yes, I will interrupt a conversation you are having to let you know you tucked your skirt into your tights. I will apologize for the rudeness, but I weighed the politeness of not interrupting your conversation with the reality that you are unware that the whole world can see you are wearing your Tuesday undies on a Friday and would probably like this information as soon as possible.

  2. HonorBox*

    Ick. LW, I’m sorry your boss doesn’t understand how things are supposed to work. I’m seconding Alison’s suggestion that your house isn’t set up for visitors, especially unannounced. You could have any number of reasons that a random pop-by doesn’t work. And it is definitely not your boss’s “right” to swing by unannounced and randomly.

    1. NaN*

      I just want to say… NO ONE has the right to come by my house unannounced. That’s just rude.

      1. Clisby*

        If you’re in the US, barring the existence of something like a restraining order, or possibly “No Trespassing” signs, people have every right to come by your house unannounced. Just like you have every right to refuse to talk to them.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Yeah – it might be the pinnacle of rudeness, but not illegal. Not sure why people have this idea that their property line is sacrosanct…

          1. NaN*

            Well, yeah, I didn’t mean in a legal sense. I meant in a “socially acceptable behavior” sense.

          2. Anne the Pug Lover*

            I agree with you so much. The attitude that No One has any right to come onto someone else’s property has recently led to people shooting at people who came onto their property. I’m thinking specifically of the young person who went to the wrong house and rang the wrong doorbell. The property owner shot them. WTH! The property owner claims they had that right and that they felt threatened. Also, there was the case of the car that turned around in a stranger’s driveway. The property owner shot at the car and KILLED one of the passengers. Again, WTH.

            You may not like it. But, other people can, and sometimes do, come onto private property. And, they have that right. Property owners/ renters/ residents need to learn how to deal with it in a reasonable manner because others definitely have that right.

            1. *kalypso*

              They have the right to take the most direct or the most expedient/safest (e.g. winding pavers through a rose garden may not be as direct as walking over the roses, but they’re meant to take the pavers because they’re there, to not walk through the ‘do not enter beware of dog’ fenced off portion etc.) way to the front door to perform the reason they’re there (to knock and sell stuff/hello my name is and i think you’ll like this book/here we are for tea party) and if not invited in, they’re meant to leave in the most direct manner possible; they don’t have the right to wander willy nilly around the house or linger beyond the minimum time reasonable to figure out they’re not coming in and leave. People reading the meter are meant to go straight to the meter, take their reading, and leave again by the most direct/safest route. People delivering the mail deliver the mail and leave, parcel person puts it in the designated safe spot/on the stoop/leaves a card, and leaves again. It’s not ‘nobody can come on the property’, yes, but the awareness that that doesn’t mean it’s not restricted is also rather lacking ime.

            2. Cochrane*

              If you’re going to ignore a homeowner that has signs proclaiming “no trespassing/no solicitors/private property/beware of dog” or the very clear “we don’t call 911, we call .357” don’t be surprised if you get a high velocity lead souvenir.

              To be 1000% clear, this is deranged behavior on the homeowners part, but you play stupid games and will win stupid prizes if you think you’re getting a warm welcome walking past those warning signs.

          3. Just another Federal Employee*

            I think the OP is talking about whether they have to let the manager inside the home, not about the property line.

            1. Clisby*

              The OP absolutely does not have to let the manager inside the house. Now, if there’s some sort of work policy that the OP has to let a manager in, then refusing could be a firing offense – but they don’t legally HAVE to let the manager in.

              I’m not speaking for anyone else, but I was responding to “I just want to say… NO ONE has the right to come by my house unannounced. That’s just rude.”

              I don’t care how rude you think it is – generally speaking, they DO have the right to come by your house unannounced, and knock on the door, and try to talk to you. Just like you have the right not to engage with them.

              1. NaN*

                Just be clear, by “come by my house” I fully meant “come by house and expect me to answer the door and let them in.” In my understanding of the colloquial phrase “to come by” a house, it is implied that “coming by” includes the social niceties of me opening the door and talking to the person. I’m not standing on my porch with a shotgun watching for people stepping on my property over here. I actually rent an apartment, so I don’t even have a “get off my lawn” attitude. I was only talking about what is polite and acceptable to me. As a disorganized introvert with anxiety, a messy home, and a fear of judgement from others, no one is getting past my door if they come by unannounced. I didn’t think that would be a controversial opinion.

                1. Despachito*

                  I hear you with the messy home.

                  And I understand it exactly as you said it – no one has the right to come to your house unnanounced and expect you to let them in. The boss is being awfully unreasonable.

                2. antiqueight*

                  Utterly off-topic (apologies Alison) but it’s so good to see someone else “a disorganized introvert with anxiety, a messy home, and a fear of judgement from others”

        2. Random Dice*

          Um, all those folks who keep getting murdered for turning around in a driveway or knocking on a door would argue that there are places in the US with legal protections for property.

      2. JSPA*

        Inside, no (without a warrant). On your doorstep, yes.

        An important distinction, especially given recent shootings of people who knocked or rang a doorbell.

  3. Clefairy*

    I’d worry that if OP used the white lie of flying under the radar of conducting business at home, that this might give their boss reason to say “Ok then you can’t work remotely, we don’t want your work interrupted if it comes to light”

    1. HonorBox*

      I think that may be true, but I’d put that in a “wait and see” category. Like if the boss tried to make that comment, LW could just say that if that comes up with landlord, they could reevaluate at that time.

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        I’m a landlord and my lease specifies that people cannot run a commercial operation out of my property. So no day cares, no meal prep/delivery, no K9 training or doggy day care, no music production studios (these are all businesses potential tenants have proposed!). WFH is fine, of course. Random people who are not on the lease are coming over regularly for a commercial purpose, as a customer or an employee, is a gigantic liability issue

        1. Antilles*

          I’m interested, where does that line get drawn?
          Does it count as “running a commercial operation” if the boss just stops by for a few minutes, once per week?
          Your examples seem to have more of a clear “outside” element to them (e.g., bringing in other people’s kids or dogs) that invites liability, rather than the boss just wanting to basically sit on the couch with a laptop and chit-chat (which is basically not much different from the “WFH is fine”).

          1. Spicy Tuna*

            My lease would be totally fine with the boss coming over once in a while. However, I was bringing that up as an example of a white lie that OP could use to dissuade the ding dong drop ins from the boss.

          2. Princess Sparklepony*

            Holding meetings can lead to problems. The HOAs and landlords don’t want you to have constant guests that take up parking spaces and could be a liability if they have an accident on property. They aren’t zoned for commercial purposes. But especially the parking space issue – that seems to make people go off the deep end.

            Working on the phone, printing documents out for your work (assuming you aren’t running a printing press), doing zoom calls, working on your laptop or phone – those are all permissible. It’s when you start having people over that it gets problematic. And there is likely someone in your building/neighborhood that will tattle on you if they see people coming and going.

        2. lilsheba*

          Frankly I don’t see where it would be a landlord’s business if someone you work with comes to the house as a visitor. You can’t police all visitors, that’s nuts. Off topic a bit but on the music production note, there is no reason someone couldn’t run that …you don’t need that much equipment these days since it’s all out of computers now, and if one used headphones who would even know? That is not even the same as running any kind of daycare for example. Hell I could run live sales and sell things on Instagram from my house and ship them out and the landlord can’t do anything about it (and people do this all the time).

        3. bacillus*

          as an aside thank you so much for not allowing a tenant to run a music studio out of their apartment. my landlord did not say no to the man living below me and now I’m listening to repetitive bass lines shake my apartment at all hours, keeping myself and my children awake…

          1. lilsheba*

            Then they aren’t running a music studio correctly. They would either be using headphones or would be cushioning the walls with soundproofing and acoustic materials.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m going to change my wording there — I do think there could be a way to finesse it, but she’d have to be careful about how she said it. (But for example, I can think of situations where you could plausibly say, “My landlord is fine with me working from home as long as I’m not having people come to the house.”)

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I was just going to write a comment to this effect. This is what I would say, and in at least one case in my history of renting, it would have had the benefit of being true.

      2. cloudy*

        This is how local leases/HOAs here frame it. The specific language is that any business activities “that increase foot traffic in the area” are not allowed. So…. working from home would be fine but holding meetings or engaging in activities that have people coming over all the time would not.

      3. Lulu*

        I worked briefly as an independent contractor, and so had to file business paperwork with my municipality. As part of that, I had to declare whether I would have signage, whether clients would be at my place of residence, etc. The fees for my business license were dependent on whether it was basically a WFH situation (just me in my house), or if it were a more traditional “place of business” with an increase of traffic to the neighborhood. I imagine this is the case in most places. If so, she cannot have business meetings in her home that aren’t online/virtual because that would turn it into a business instead of a home. (There might be some nuance where that’s only the case for an actual business, not an employee of a business, but shhhhhh)

        1. Anon for this one*

          I had a similar comment. I set up a business recently and did have to get permission from my residents committee. Basically its fine if its just me working at home, but if people were coming to my door it’s a different story, both in terms of foot traffic (consideration of the other people who live in the neighborhood) and insurance (public liability). I’m not in the US so the terms might be different, and I don’t think anyone would actually care about one person, but it is a nice way to flag that ‘nope its not normal or acceptable!’

      4. casey*

        I dunno. I live in NYC, and while the scenario in your script is possible, I would roll my eyes if someone pretended to have this degree of deference or concern for their landlord’s rules. Landlords here would never know if a single person was coming to an apartment building to conduct business. I think this is the sort of thing a pushy boss could be incredulous about and easily push back on, and could even cause distrust if an employee tried a lie so transparent.

        1. Antilles*

          I don’t live in NYC, but I still think this would be the likely result here in suburbia too. The Boss is going to roll their eyes and go c’mon that’s not going to happen, along with maybe something like “if anybody asks, we’ll just say I’m a friend coming over for coffee”.

        2. The Coolest Clown Around*

          While it’s true that a landlord probably wouldn’t know or care about a single visitor, and a pushy boss might be aware of that, it’s hard for a boss to leverage company policy to push for an employee to break the terms lease. It doesn’t even particularly matter if she knows it’s ridiculous – it undercuts her ability to insist and potentially gives the LW something to fall back on if the situation escalates.

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Will the company compensate me for any damages that arise from violating my lease? Will you put that in writing?

            1. Brain the Brian*

              Including, for instance, moving costs and a potential rent increase to live in a building where my landlord allows work visitors?

        3. Kevin Sours*

          I wonder if the boss would find it a lie so transparent if you asked the company to guarantee in writing that they’ll reimburse you for any an all costs that might arise should there be consequences for violating your lease.

        4. Daisy*

          I live in a flyover state, in a rural-ish area. My elderly neighbors absolutely track my visitors (someone was at your house in a yellow van!) and aren’t backwards letting me know. I own my home, live a pretty boring life, and prioritize being a decent neighbor so we are on OK terms. However, I’m very sure my home will never be burgled (or at least the offenders not caught red-handed), lol.
          I’m sure they wouldn’t be reticent about turning me into a landlord if they thought I was “breaking the rules.” Every neighborhood I have ever lived (small city, town, rural) has someone like this in the area.

        5. Fiorinda*

          People might roll their eyes at landlord rules, but what about insurance company rules? There have been cases here in Australia where families have found their home and contents insurance voided after a disaster because they ran a small business that brought customers/clients onto their property – even something as small as an honour stall for orchard produce at their front gate, IIRC. So I’m fine just running my little sole trader business out of my spare room, but if I say – correctly – that I can’t have clients come to my home for meetings, or one of my neighbours says that he can’t host co-working sessions on his work-from-home days, because it will void not only my own home insurance but that of my six neighbours (I live in a strata title group, where the body corporate manages home insurance) in the event of a disaster, even a pushy boss won’t roll their eyes.

        6. Princess Sparklepony*

          It’s just an excuse, it doesn’t matter if you believe it to be true or not or if the landlord cares at all. It’s that you can sell it to your nosy boss. That’s what matters.

      5. Kevin Sours*

        I had a lease that prohibited said that in so many words (I forget the exact wording but it prohibited business use with foot traffic or some such). If you have a lease or an HOA there is a pretty good chance they have similar language.

    3. Chrissssss*

      What I wonder is, what would happen if OP just insisted on OPs right to not to have the supervisor coming by, without giving a reason. I’m asking because not wanting to seems like reason enough for me.

      1. Scooter34*

        I think the problem is people claiming “rights” that aren’t really rights. There’s no right for a supervisor to come to the home of a remote worker, and there is no right for a remote worker to refuse a supervisor.

        “I’m not comfortable having work meetings at my home. Can we meet at a local coffeeshop?” Sometimes we need to channel Allison’s mantra of “OF COURSE I am being reasonable in this ask” to make it happen.

      2. mbs001*

        This situation is not about business with foot traffic. It’s about a boss wanting to stop by for some reason — whether it’s to check on the employee or to have an in person business meeting. If she is trying to check on the employee due to the fact that she doesn’t trust them, that’s one issue. As far as just stopping by unannounced, totally inappropriate in any setting. But as an employer, I would be very suspicious of someone who never wanted me to come to their house if that is where their work area is located. If she were in the office, the boss could pop into her office anytime too — even unannounced. Part of our remote work contract is that we have a dedicated and secured office space where we can conduct business and which is subject to inspection at any time.

        1. Hmmm*

          See, and I think that part of what companies give up when they have employees subsidizing office space by working from home (the employee pays rent/mortgage, the company doesn’t need to lease office space) is the right to pop by unannounced or inspect office space in person. My employer doesn’t own my office space, I do.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Yes exactly. An office in my home is not the same thing as an office in a building. All the liability falls on the worker, for one thing. So unless the office wants to pay your rent/mortgage, pay your insurance, pay your taxes, pay for all equipment down to pencils, pay for all upgrades, etc then they shouldn’t insist on coming by. I mean, if they trip and fall and break their foot or a window, it’s my insurance. That’s enough of a reason not to let strangers in my house. At an office, the business has all those costs and all those liabilities. So if the boss comes into a workers cube and trips and breaks something, the office pays.

            Way too many companies are trying to exert way too much conteol with the inspections and spyware. We really need a workers’ bill of rights with rights of remote workers outlined.

            Also, whether someone has a right to come by is actually a bit complicated. For one thing, the right to refuse entry is a thing. I don’t even have to let the cops in or my landlord in unless they follow rules. I definitely don’t have to let my boss in and they have no legal right to push it.

            Plus, if OP is in a state with Stand Your Ground that’s a really dangerous attitude for the boss to have. Even if OP wouldn’t ever act on it, someone else might. So the OP should mention it in a “Hey just so you know…” way.

            Of course yes they could fire you over it…and you’ll get unemployment and the business will get terrible press for it. So it’s unlikely.

        2. Just another Federal Employee*

          I think the boss still has the right to pop by via phone or Teams (or whatever online platform they use in lieu of meeting in person) at any time (and expect either an answer or a follow-up relatively soon if the employee is in the bathroom or on another call or something). But because the OP isn’t in the office, I don’t think the boss has the right to come to OP’s home they way they’d pop into the office. In an office, OP could pop over to the boss’s office too–I wonder what the boss would say if OP showed up at the door of the boss’s home!

        3. SofiaDeo*

          But an employer provided office is not the same as someone’s residence. And even at an employer office, an employer doesn’t have a “right” to go into my purse unless specific rules are stated up front. And no employer has the “right” to insist they come inside my home. The boss isn’t asking, they are saying they have a “right” to something personal! This is odd IMO. I wouldn’t bother making statements about HOA’s or landlords, I would just say something along the lines of ” I can’t have work meetings in my house.” And if someone were boorish enough to push back, I would just keep repeating “I just can’t.”

        4. Rainy*

          Subject to inspection at any time seems like it could cause some issues with a boss who’s nosy, intrusive, or even working out their own biases on an employee.

        5. casey*

          “But as an employer, I would be very suspicious of someone who never wanted me to come to their house if that is where their work area is located.”

          Did I read this correctly?

          1. umami*

            That gave me pause, too, because the work space isn’t exclusive to the rest of the personal residence. If I had an outer door that led to an office that kept it private from the rest of the house, that would be one thing, and I wouldn’t have an objection to hosting my boss for a meeting, but to claim an employer needs to have access to my office by coming through my private residence is … a bit too far. My private space should not be open to my employer’s scrutiny just because someone might find it ‘suspicious’ that I don’t want to let them into it.

          2. The Shenanigans*

            Right?! I’m taking that as a joke because I don’t wanna believe someone actually thinks that way!

        6. city deer*

          Your contract makes sense if your work is highly regulated in some way, but this is far from universal. I’m in an industry where remote work is very common (/widely preferred even before the pandemic) and most people, especially those of us who are younger/more junior, are working out of bedrooms or living rooms. In jobs like mine, I’ve never heard of any contractual requirement of “dedicated and secured office space” — considering the cost and availability of housing, companies would have a hard time hiring if they wanted to stipulate that WFH requires a separate home office! The only expectation is that we have somewhere decent to take video calls.

          Anyway, as others have pointed out, the boss can drop by the worker’s office because the office space is owned by the company and its sole purpose is to be a place of business operations. The same is not true of people’s homes. Even in cases like yours, “subject to inspection” is entirely distinct from “boss is entitled to come over and share the home workspace.”

        7. Elizabeth West*

          All aboard the Nope train to I-Don’t-Think-So-ville!

          All the employer needs to know is that I can do my work, which they can know by my output and level of engagement. And maybe that I have childcare if that’s required for a WFH scenario (I don’t have kids but it was a prerequisite for remote work at Exjob). My home, house or apartment, is MY space. They do not have any right to invade it or inspect it. It is private, and it is MINE. I would quit a job that demanded this pile of horse crap.

          Can they pop over to my desk/office anytime at the company worksite? Sure.

    4. Seahorse*

      Yes, I think the more reasons / excuses / white lies OP offers, the more likely this is to get tangled up.
      “I can’t accommodate a visit, but I’d be happy to meet at the office or [nearby neutral location].” Something like that is polite, neutral, and doesn’t offer any footholds for the boss to solve an alleged problem so they can come inside.

      Also, seconding the suggestion below to talk to HR or someone higher up if possible to get clarification on policies and expectations before the boss does anything unexpected.

    5. Kara*

      My HOA specifically allows working from home *if* the business doesn’t require additional people in the home. So I couldn’t run a client based business where the clients come to me or where I hosted business meetings.

      That could be the best option for OP – to say that their lease specifies an individual working from home is ok, but no additional clients/workers are allowed to work from the home. It can’t be an “officing” space.

      1. lilsheba*

        Off topic I know but yet another reason to NEVER own in an HOA. If I own my house I am going to do what *I* want.

        1. Clisby Williams*

          I wouldn’t want an HOA, either, but I absolutely cannot do whatever I want in my home. HOAs aren’t the only source of restrictions – zoning is separate from that. For example, I can’t rent out one of my bedrooms on AirBnB without following some pretty strict guidelines. I couldn’t start running a commercial bakery out of my kitchen.

        2. Burger Bob*

          It’s worth noting that not all HOAs are created equal. My own HOA is very easy to live under. Low yearly fee that mostly pays for maintenance of a couple common areas and pretty reasonable rules that are honestly less strict than the city ordinances. Nobody seems especially pushy or crotchety about trying to catch neighbors breaking the rules. All the houses look different. It’s pretty chill.

          But also worth nothing that even easygoing HOAs can become horrible if the wrong people wind up on the board.

          It’s a balancing act.

          1. lilsheba*

            If yours is chill then you are lucky, and it’s literally one of the only ones that is.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m also worried about the fallback of “not set up for visitors,” because anybody who’s declared it her “right” to enter someone’s home may very well say “well, get set up!” or worse, “I’ll come by next week and we’ll rearrange your space to accommodate me.”

      1. Paulina*

        There may be some room there to use the company’s WFH rules, since these often have specifications about what a WFH space needs to consist of (eg. dedicated space, desk + chair for one individual).

      2. Chel*

        I have told people (not my boss because it never came up) that I don’t have people in my home. It doesn’t matter what I’m set up for, technically I am set up for visitors, my living room has a sofa and two chairs and my dining table has multiple chairs, but I don’t have people over. The only exception are my immediate family and my mom would rather we come to her. I’ve gotten a few odd looks but little pushback, probably because I just say it matter of factly.

        1. Shelley*

          If she lives in your neighborhood, why don’t you meet at her house? I like the idea of saying “I’m not set up for visitors but I’d be happy to pop over to your place since you live in the neighborhood”. Since she’s insisting she has the right to pop into your place. How could she possibly justify not being willing to have you at hers?

          1. Llama Outfits Sound Awesome*

            Yes, this. and if it was a genuine desire to meet in person, that would have been her suggestion in the first place.

    7. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I think there’s a distinction between quietly WFH and conducting business that involves customers coming and going and maybe crossing the neighbour’s lawn in the process, and big lorries bringing materials to your door, and a big blow-up advertising thingy on your lawn that scares all the dogs in the neighbourhood. Mostly when you’re not allowed to conduct business from your home it means that the neighbours mustn’t be importuned by your work.
      I live in a strictly residential street and nobody is allowed to turn their ground floor into a sales showroom or business premises of any kind, but I’m perfectly within my rights to perform my freelance work which only involves use of a laptop and internet.

  4. ShysterB*

    “I have a dog who is a submissive urinator — she’ll pee all over your feet.” (I could have said this about my dearly beloved late Labrador.)

    1. HotSauce*

      My cat is incredibly aggressive about getting pets from visitors. He will climb your body like it’s a tree so he can rub his face on yours.

      1. Not Mindy*

        As someone who has to warn people repeatedly about my dangerous cat, I could absolutely say this with a straight face.
        Though the less kind part of me would like to see this come to fruition. “Oh, I’m so sorry that Gucci acted lovey just to get close enough to maul you to pieces!”

      2. But Not the Hippopotamus*

        This would have me pushing past you to see that cat. Then again, I’m weird :)

    2. Anna K*

      I was just coming on here to suggest that if your boss knows you live alone, you could invent a problem animal!

    3. Jedi Sentinel Bird*

      I have the feeling the boss would response,”Oh, that’s okay. I love animals and don’t care if Fido marks my shoes. It’s the circle of life! Lovely weather we’re having by the way ,LW! Let’s discuss the salamander and llama teapots at your kitchen table. Love your ceramic cookie jar. Where did you get it? I heard it goes for like $390 at Nordstrom…… “

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Used to have a very anxious husky – she would “howl-talk” over every and any visitor. Great excuse to not have people in my house back in the day.

    5. Suz*

      OP can borrow my dog. She thinks her mission in life is to prevent anyone but me from entering my house.

    6. new post, new name*

      Pet excuses for the win! I have a stress barker. Literally anything (especially new people) will work him into a lather, which gets the other one worked up. Two 80-90lb beasts barking their heads off would solve the “I have a right to stop by” problem for me. Never mind that both pups are both actually giant blobs of love and snuggles. Also, if Mr. Barkypants gets really worked up, he might honor you with a stress poop too.

    7. GlitterIsEverything*

      I was specifically looking for a pet based comment!

      My dog is adorable with everyone in the house, but you get her near a stranger, and she’s totally unpredictable. Try to kennel her or put her in another room, and she’ll bark her fool head off. She’s only about 60# but she’s got a 100# bark, and she’ll do everything she can to try to get out of where she’s contained.

      Pet excuses for the win!

  5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I’d be tempted to go over to HER house very early in the morning and give her some paperwork. But I’m afraid that would most likely backfire.

    1. Great Midwesterner*

      This is the letter writer here. Yeah, I totally hear you, but with this specific boss, she is a workaholic and I am reasonably confident that if I were to appear at her house to discuss work – she would be excited about it. No matter what time of day it is. With a normal person I would agree with you.

    2. Bruce*

      I once worked for a company with a famously pushy CEO, one evening when we had a form that HAD to be signed I tracked him down in the locker room and had him sign the form as he was drying off from the shower. This is the same boss who bragged to a university alumni awards dinner that most of his senior staff worked so hard they were divorced, so he deserved it. Also note that he did not react negatively, instead he asked me about my bike commuting, he was very athletic and approved of such things. Still a famous jerk over all.

    3. Mf*

      This is basically what I’d do. “I can’t accommodate visitors but I can go to your house for meetings if you let me know when you want to schedule a time.”

  6. Venus*

    I have gone for walks with coworkers to discuss in person. This would be the only way that I would meet with someone at my home! Your supervisor is pretty clueless.

    1. All Het Up About It*

      Yeah. This was sort of my thought if I lived near a boss and we were bot WFH and wanted to brainstorm, riff on a problem doing so in person as a walk sounds like a good idea. But that’s more with a reasonable boss that you actually like a little bit.

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like OP is dealing with that…

  7. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    This is why I LOVE having my rescue dog as an excuse, and if you could either get one or dogsit one in these moments, it’s golden because I literally am able to say, “Sure, with about five minutes notice I can meet at the cafe on the corner with my laptop. We disconnected the doorbell and can’t allow visitors as it upsets our elderly dog too much. We feel we owe him a quiet life”.

      1. pally*

        “Well boss, you are welcome to come over! Know that this morning, Junior discovered his pet python is missing. Happens all the time since it’s gotten so big. I know he’ll turn up soon. He usually does when he gets hungry.”

        1. AnonInCanada*

          You’re lucky I wasn’t sipping my coffee when I read this, or else I would have two monitors full of spittle :=D

        2. MigraineMonth*

          My parents recently visited some friends who had a ball python. The python liked to hang out in the belt loops of pants while the pants were being worn.

      2. ferrina*


        With a boss this intrusive, I bet she’s see a dog as an invitation. Even if you clearly spell out that the dog doesn’t like people, she will decide that she gets to dictate what the dog does and doesn’t do (I know, this logic is extremely faulty. OP is clear that boss is not reasonable).

        Finding pets that people hate is a much better tactic. pally’s script is absolutely amazing.

        1. The Rafters*

          Boss will just insist that *all* animals just love her. I won’t have too many people over to my house b/c I do have an aggressive dog. I need to know them and trust them enough to not do something stupid, like open the bedroom door to let the dog out. I can see boss doing this. I can also see her stopping by b/c it’s her “right” and that the “right” will extend to unGodly hours of the day or night.

        1. metadata minion*

          Nah, you want them in a cage right on the middle of the table. Free-range they’re just going to find some cozy corner and the boss is never going to see them.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Love this. I also can’t have visitors because my rescue dog may actually be a tiny adorable imp from one of the lesser circles of Hell, and considers it her solemn duty to deafen visitors with her incessant yapping and debride their ankles for invading her turf.

      Also she spite pees.

      1. Captain Swan*

        Our first rescue dog, rest his soul, considered it his mission to protect the house occupants from any and all invaders. Invaders being any person who took one step over the threshold. His protection was highly aggressive too. He was fine with anyone outside the house so it was manageable but the OPs scenario would not fly with this dog.

      2. Suz*

        Same here. My rescue dog thinks her mission in life is to prevent anyone but me from entering my house.

    1. Janeric*

      Or coffee shop meetings.

      (But it’s a weird overstep and it’s a good idea to get out)

      1. Janeric*

        Honestly the passive approach is if she does show up text her that you need a minute to get your shoes on and then just treat it like you ARE having a walking/coffee shop meeting.

  8. Curious*

    I’m about actionable plans.

    LW, assuming your boss is not the top most layer of management, could you ask HR or someone appropriate up the chain of command about policies that may need to revisited in light your boss saying she could come by your home during your work for home time to discuss work?

    The policy could be (as a possible example) – if employees are working from home they are only to be contacted by phone, email, slack (?) for work matters.

    1. Mostly Managing*

      I think this is the best option.
      If there is anyone higher up, they need to be in the loop on this!!

    2. Geriatric Millennial*

      My remote work agreement has a section where I agree that someone from my employer may come to my home office *at a mutually agreed upon time* to inspect and make sure my workspace meets safety standards.

      It’s like how landlords are supposed to give you notice before they enter your space. I am ok with that clause because of the “mutually agreed upon time” part.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Also it is ONLY about inspection for safety. It’s not, hey we will have business meetings at your house.

      2. Lulu*

        That’s a liability thing for the company (most employers give up the right to inspect because it also puts them on the hook to actually make sure it’s safe instead of pushing that onto the employee), but I wonder if it’s a great angle for this LW anyway. The company’s liability might kick in if there are other employees congregating in another employee’s home for work purposes, even if they’ve generally pushed the safety responsibility onto the WFH employee for themselves.

        1. Umvue*

          Yes! I wanted to say this too. I’m a fully remote employee, and I’m actually expressly forbidden for having any other employee of my institution in my home for a work-related purpose. I too have assumed this is because it would affect their liability if, for instance, I was neglectful with snow shoveling and another employee fell on my stairs.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Agreed – if the boss trips on LW’s rug, is that a worker’s comp issue, or does she sue LW directly?

    3. Snow Globe*

      I suspect this is not addressed in policy now because no one involved in writing the policy considered that any manager might do something like this.

      1. Thurley*

        Yes, it’s one of those things that, while possible, is so outside both business and personal norms that no one would think to create a policy about it. Except in this case where it will be informally called the OP’s boss’ policy. But I hope HR could offer “clarification” if asked.

  9. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Your boss is so oblivious to boundaries that I don’t think even a white lie will work:

    My spouse is working from home too — oh we will just be quiet then.
    I’m not set up for visitors — oh I don’t mind how your house looks.

    The thing with boundary stompers is that any reason is just one more boundary to stomp.
    I wouldn’t even raise it again to clarify because in your boss’ mind that means you were thinking it was an okay thing to do in general but just not in certain circumstances. I would let sleeping dogs lie. Then if she IS that outrageous that she does drop by, you can not answer the door then act amazed she would do something so bizarre.

    Because no I don’t think your employer has the right to just drop by your house just because you are work from home.

    1. CravingLemonMeringuePie*

      THIS. I can also see boss likely volleying back, regardless of what OP gives as a reason.

      (With the exceptions of dogs peeing on feet & friendly tarantulas & maybe a feral pack of chihuahuas that your husband recently rescued.)

    2. ferrina*

      Exactly. The Boundary Stomper will not listen to reason.

      The trick is to give the reason that triggers them. If they recently had work done on their house and complained the whole time- suddenly you have a stream of contractors in and out. If you aren’t sure, ShysterB’s suggestion of adopting a tarantula (even an imaginary one) is great. The Boundary Stomper isn’t asking themself what is fair or reasonable- they are only think about themself and what they want.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      The thing with boundary stompers is that any reason is just one more boundary to stomp.

      VERY MUCH THIS!!!!!

      These people are simply relentless. Have a cat? Oh, I don’t mind a cat. Have a cat that pees all over every new person? Oh, he won’t pee on me. Have an HOA rule against WFH business meetings? Oh, they won’t know, I’ll only be there for a few minutes. Have a terribly contagious disease? Oh, I eat lots of vegetables, I’m sure I won’t catch it. House is on fire? Oh, we can just sit in the part that isn’t on fire.

      I think I need to go lie down.

      1. Calyx*

        This is a brilliant description of what boundary stompers are like. It should be preserved somewhere.

      2. Kevin Sours*

        It still gives you a line in the sand to defend. The cat isn’t a good one because it puts the onus on the boundary stomper to be deterred. But some of the others have ready replies that can be repeated Ad Naseum “My HOA are assholes I can’t risk it. Sorry”. “I agreed with my roommate that I wouldn’t have people over when they’re working and they aren’t reasonable about it”. Etc.

        Unless they are absolutely willing to make it a job condition you can just shrug your shoulders and say “out of my hands”. Repeat as needed.

    4. HotSauce*

      You are absolutely spot on with this. I would simply say, “I am not comfortable having coworkers in my home, I am happy to meet elsewhere.” And honestly that would be the truth, I really am NOT comfortable having coworkers in my home. I’m barely comfortable with my own family coming over unannounced.

      1. I Have RBF*

        My household actually has to have serious negotiations if we have anyone who is not a resident over, because some guests in the past have behaved badly, and even stolen stuff. I am not comfortable with any guests unannounced, and even former residents know to text ahead to see if we are up for visitors. Inspection or meetings? Absolutely not.

  10. Cambridge Comma*

    Is there a coffee shop or similar nearby that you could suggest as a meeting place? You shouldn’t have to, but it might be easier to separate the pushback on meeting in your home to the pushback on meeting in person.

    1. amoeba*

      Yeah, that would be the first thing I’d try. “Oh, sorry, I’m not really set up for having visitors at home, but if you’d like to meet in person, we could meet at café XY, they have great seating and nice coffee!”

  11. Baker's Dozen*

    In my housing co-op we have a policy that allows people to work or operate businesses from home, on the condition that it doesn’t mean clients/colleagues being present on site. It’s partly to do with parking, and partly to do with the feel of the neighbourhood. Perhaps OP could have similar.

  12. Claire*

    If I thought WFH meant the possibility that the manager would drop by unannounced, I would be slightly freaking out too! I am averse to any drop in guests normally, but the boss would be worse!

    1. Hannah Lee*

      Me too!

      I’m perfectly willing to be working as expected during work hours, and have whatever space might be seen in a video meeting be “professional” if I’ve got calls scheduled.

      But that does NOT mean I’m ready for prime time as far as in person visitors.

      Whether that means I’ve got art or/AND gardening projects in progress strewn across the living room and kitchen, or I’m half in my pajamas, or I’ve got an open box of thin mints and a jug of milk plopped down behind my monitor for non-stop snacking or I’m blasting my Hamilton, Moulin Rouge, Community soundtrack mix on full volume because it helps me focus …those aren’t things I want to be policing or second guessing just in case my manager is going to pop by. One of the benefits of working from home is getting to NOT have your overall environment need to live up to someone else’s arbitrary standards.

      1. Thurley*

        And right now I have the kitchen completely torn apart for a deep clean, that doesn’t mean I’m not working, but it does mean I’d prefer not to have anyone see it that way.

  13. Over It*

    Yikes, no. This may not be illegal, but it is messed up. I’d recommend talking to your boss first to make sure she wasn’t serious as Alison suggested, but if she seems like she could actually do this, I’d definitely check in with HR to see if this is in line with company policy, because as you said it’s not in the remote work policy that you reviewed. I’m sure HR would be *very* interested to know that your boss thinks it’s okay to conduct surprise home visits on her employees. I hope you get out of there really soon!

    1. Observer*

      Yeah, this is probably *legal* but still totally messed up.

      “It’s legal” is not quite the winning argument some people seem to think it is.

      1. Anonariffic*

        Yeah, there are many things which are legal/permitted for the simple reason that no one ever banned that specific action due to the enormous absence of common sense required to try it.

        It’s the difference between “Welcome to the company, here’s the breakroom, toaster and kettle are on the counter by the sink there and coffee supplies are in this cabinet” and “Welcome to the company, here’s the breakroom, please observe the sign on the wall explaining that the coffee machine is not to be used for homebrewing and proper toaster cleaning procedure is to shake the crumbs out over the trash can rather than attempting to wash it in the sink while still plugged in.”

        1. Paulina*

          Yes. Many of the rules at my workplace were put in place after someone found out what gets tried in that rule’s absence. Though some existing rules on WFH may include the need for a dedicated individual workspace (which would exclude the supervisor from also working in the same WFH space as OP) or may specify where the WFH may be done (which might mean that the supervisor would not be at an appropriate site for her own WFH if she was at OP’s home).

      2. RVA Cat*

        This. It’s legal in many states to smoke weed and be topless but I doubt HR would be cool with it.

    2. Mary*

      Our company strictly prohibited in person meetings in home office situations during covid, and I think it is still on our remote working policy.

      Basically if you want to meet a colleague F2F, that is what the office is for.

      Perhaps suggest this is added to your HR policy, suggest it is for H&S reasons. If your colleague tripped over your cat and gashed her head on your counter-top, would that be a work place accident if she insisted on a work meeting in your home…

    3. Over It*

      On the opposite end of the spectrum, my boss recently drove me home because we needed to visit somewhere not accessible by transit and I don’t have a car (common in my city). She offered to drop me off a block away from my home in case I didn’t want her to know what building I live in. I told her I don’t care if she knows as long as she doesn’t make any surprise visits, and because she is a rational person who respects boundaries, I trust that she won’t! But it was thoughtful of her to ask.

    4. She of Many Hats*

      Check with HR and Legal because conducting meetings and similar in-person business in a private residence may either be a personal injury liability or against corporate transparency rules.

      1. Ismonie*

        This is what I think. I actually don’t know if it is *legal* for a business to demand access to a residence aside perhaps for safety inspections if, as someone above noted, they choose to take on that responsibility. I say that as a lawyer. It may not be specifically outlawed, but that doesn’t mean they can make it a condition of employment.

  14. anononon*

    Surely you would need to have some kind of liability insurance if you were holding work meetings in your home? If your boss were to, say, trip over a loose computer cable or spill a hot drink on herself while in your home, she may wish to take legal action

    1. anon2*

      How would that be different from the insurance you do/should already have if a friend or relative has an accident at your house?

      1. mouse*

        I can’t comment on the US specifically but it’s fairly common for insurance to demark business and social – so a friend slipping and falling during a social visit might be covered but a co-worker injuring themselves whilst on the property for a business meeting wouldn’t be.

        1. doreen*

          That’s generally true in the US – but I don’t think it matters in this situation because the co-worker/boss would be covered by worker’s comp insurance. It matters more in other situations – clients/customers/vendors would never be covered by workers comp and you would need insurance that includes worker’s comp if you were running a business with employees out of your home ( or even if you directly employ one person , such as a nanny or a home attendant. )

      2. Coverage Associate*

        Your typical homeowners or renters’ insurance contains exclusions for claims arising out of business or commercial activities. Because the risks are different, insurers expect you to buy separate insurance for a private home versus business operations.

        A friend or family member, for example, is much less likely to sue you for punitive damages than a prospective client you just met. And while you hear about suits among family on similar facts, usually it’s the injured person’s own health or related insurance trying to get the homeowners insurance money, not someone out for real retribution or vindication.

        1. Kevin Sours*

          Or the injured party trying to get the insurance to pay. You can’t sue somebody else’s insurance carrier (there are a exceptions in a few jurisdictions). They don’t have any obligation to you for anything. Nor does the homeowner have any real claim absent actual damages (usually in the form of a court judgement). So the only real recourse is someone is injured and the insurance declines to settle is to sue the homeowner.

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        The fact that it occurs while you are having a work meeting comes into play. Some insurance policies may not care, some may require a rider.

        It’s the same way that driving for DoorDash suddenly makes a difference to your auto insurance company. A lot of insurance companies will recover a rider for this kind of use of your vehicle (since the use is no longer “personal” or “commuting to or from work”). If you have an accident while making a delivery and you don’t have the rider, your insurance company may choose not to pay out.

      4. Kara*

        In the US, most homeowners/renters policies have specific exclusions for “doing business”. So if you’re working from home and a client comes over and damages something or hurts themselves, it’s possible that your non-business insurance won’t cover it.
        When I ran a business out of my home (photographer), I had a separate insurance liability package. Now that I’m working out of my home as a data analyst, I don’t have that kind of liability coverage because I don’t have coworkers in my home, but I do have a separate policy for my office equipment that is specifically a business/work policy.

  15. Antilles*

    The vague last sentence of “this isn’t the only situation where she has shown disregard for boundaries” is speaking volumes here.

    1. Grith*

      Exactly. I know we don’t speculate here, but with that line, I bet this exact issue and the fact you know not to trust them to handle it rationally is the straw that broke the camels back more than something that would be game-breaking on its own.

  16. Keymaster of Gozer*

    ‘My cat hates strangers and will rage pee everywhere if they come into the house’

    (Actually true. He’s terrified of anyone that isn’t me or husband)

    (We don’t have visitors. Always meet up elsewhere. Kitty needs to feel safe at home)

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      And while it’s not illegal here either (UK) for your boss to just show up at your house whenever they like it is decidedly rude. The whole thing about her saying it’s her ‘right’ is alarming – not quite red flags but a ‘this person may attempt to breach other boundaries be careful’ warning.

      Additionally, just asked husband unit what he’d say if his boss tried that line about coming here and his response was ‘I’d show you the sign that said ‘never mind the dog – beware of the WIFE’

      Love that man :)

  17. learnedthehardway*

    This all seems strangely antagonistic of your manager, OP.

    I have exactly ONE client person who comes to my house – she’s a personal friend as well as a client, she doesn’t show up unannounced (in fact, she ASKS if she can come by a couple of DAYS ahead), and she’s totally open to meeting elsewhere if I tell her the house is a mess.

    Personally, I would say that I’m not comfortable mixing my work and home life any more than I do now, and that if your manager wants to meet, you’ll be happy to meet at a local cafe or coffee shop – or at HER house. I would tell her that if she is concerned about whether you are working or not (because that’s probably the elephant in the room), that you are available on whatever chat or video tech you use, or that she can call you. You can tell her that if you don’t pick up, you’re probably in the bathroom and will get back to her rapidly.

  18. Smithy*

    This is obviously a case of “know your home/neighborhood”- but if there’s any potential to bring up “spam” doorbell ringers in advance, I’d use that.

    I currently live in an apartment, where I’ll get buzzed but never respond unless I know I have visitors because I assume it’s someone just pressing buttons. However, if I’m at my mother’s home in a suburb….I’ll never answer the doorbell because unless it’s a known visitor, the chance of it being a door to door solicitor (be it religious, selling lawn mowing, etc etc) is high. The excuse of my mom’s home won’t work at my apartment or vice versa, but similar to why you wouldn’t answer a cold call from an unknown number – there’s likely a solid reason to give.

    I also used to have a boundary crossing boss who did live across the street from me for a while and just got very used to having conversations with her outside of my place. Being comfortable coming outside and closing the door, never letting her in, saying the place wasn’t ready for company, etc.

  19. Risha*

    I don’t have any advice, I’m just honestly shocked (beyond shocked) that an employer can legally require you to have meetings inside your own home. How is this even possible? How can they require you to use your own private residence to host meetings? The things employers can get away with are unbelievable! That is something I would push back on so hard. I have an immunocompromised husband and even if I didn’t, I would absolutely refuse to host work meetings in my home.

    OP, I would definitely ignore the doorbell if she came by unannounced. And you are truly doing the right thing by looking for another job. Good luck in your search and I hope you find something quickly so you can get out of that job.

    1. WellRed*

      I think it’s more that it’s NOT illegal? Nothing is really illegal until somebody says “hey this is wrong. We need a law.” Splitting hairs I k it, but that’s what happens when common sense and decency go out the window,

    2. Snow Globe*

      Generally speaking, legislatures don’t create laws to ban something unless that something happens frequently enough to be considered a problem. Why would there be a law to address one manager’s weird entitlement?

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      To be clear, it’s that your employer can make you having meetings in your home a condition for continued employment – there is not a law that says an employer has any legal right to decide to visit your home.

      Not gonna lie, it sounds like this manager wants to set themselves up to be the victim in a murder mystery. Because of course they left my house fine officer… have you looked down in the holler? Maybe they weren’t expecting it to get so dark when the sun went down…

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Perfect answer, especially to a boss you have no interest in maintaining a relationship with going forward and you are certain you won’t receive a positive recommendation from anyway.

      I do not believe anyone is allowed to be in your home without your express permission except law enforcement with a search warrant (except in an emergency, maybe? IANAL). Rest assured that you have the backing and support of the commentariat here on AAM when you tell your boss “Absolutely not.”

    2. Nea*

      “HAHAHAHAHAHA! You’re such a kidder! Of course you don’t have a right to my house, you really had me going there for a minute.”

    3. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      That would have been my gut reaction, too! The nerve of anyone, especially my boss, saying they have “a right” to come in my house! No sir/ma’am, you absolutely do not.

  20. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Technically, I have the “right” to do whatever I want, like punching someone in the face or keying their car, but that doesn’t mean my choice isn’t consequence-free or will pan out the way I envision.

    Your boss *can* do whatever she wants, but what she doesn’t understand is that her actions won’t guarantee her intended result. Probably the opposite!

    Your boss sounds like those First or Second Amendment supporters who misunderstand the very words they cite.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Punching people and destroying property are already illegal, though. This isn’t illegal. Boundary-violating and bad management, for sure. In violation of some local HOA or co-op rules, perhaps. But not illegal.

      So the consequences are whatever LW can figure out, which may also backfire on them if the boss retaliates. Hence the careful wording and figuring out of a plan.

      1. Middle of HR*

        IDK man, unless my job gave me in writing the policythat I have to let my boss into my home, any attempt by said boss to show up uninvited would be trespassing in my mind.
        They can fire me sure, but they can’t come in.

    2. Observer*

      Technically, I have the “right” to do whatever I want, like punching someone in the face or keying their car,

      Well, no you don’t have that “right”, not morally nor legally.

      The OP’s manager probably DOES have the legal right to come over unannounced, and probably even to fire them if they don’t let her in. That doesn’t make is right or sensible. But it is different from your example.

  21. Student*

    While AAM’s take of “Your employer could legally require you to allow meetings in your home if they chose to” is true, I think it lacks some important nuance here. They can legally decide to fire you over not hosting them in your home, if they really want to dig in their heels. They can’t legally force their way into your private home, though. The distinction is important!

    You have leverage and power here, because hiring people is usually difficult and costly. Your boss doesn’t just get to trample all over you. You can and should push back. You can and should go over her head if she tries to actually make this happen.

    1. Yeah...*

      ” They can legally decide to fire you over not hosting them in your home, if they really want to dig in their heels.”

      If you’re in the US as the LW is, can you provide a citation be provided for this please?

      1. londonedit*

        I’m not in the US, but my understanding from reading AAM is that in most states you can technically be fired for just about anything, as long as it’s not discriminatory. Given that, I can absolutely see a situation where a boss would spin ‘doesn’t want to host meetings at their house’ as ‘isn’t invested enough in the team’ and there you go, out of the door.

      2. Emby*

        unless the reason you’re not letting them is due to a protected class, then they can fire you for any reason

      3. Happy meal with extra happy*

        There are no citations because it’s proving a negative – in almost every state, in most scenarios, the default is you can be fired for any reason. Employment laws, like discrimination laws, provide exceptions to this default.

      4. Ferret*

        That’s not how law works in the US. Something is legal until it is specifically made illegal, and as part as I know there are no laws that say your employer can’t make you hold meetings in your home. If you can find anything that says otherwise you are welcome to state it here

        1. Ismonie*

          That is not necessarily the case. Also, there are existing real property and privacy rights at stake. Also zoning and insurance regulations. This is not legally as cut and dried as everyone is making it out to be. Hiring someone doesn’t mean you get access to the real property they own/lease/inhabit.

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

        I don’t understand, why do you need a citation? Most states are at will, so they can use any or no reason to fire someone. There’s not going to be a specific law on the books that says exactly a company can legally fire you for not hosting a manager.

      6. doreen*

        I don’t know that everywhere works like this (although I suspect that most places do) but in the US, everything is permitted until it is prohibited. I can legally fire someone for any reason – unless there is a law prohibiting firing someone for that reason. I can legally walk up to your door and knock or ring the bell – unless there is a law that prevents me from doing so in that specific circumstance. I can fire someone for refusing to host work meetings at their home unless there is a specific law prohibiting it. And that would be something that could be cited – the existence of a law prohibiting firing someone for that reason.

  22. Quill*

    Honestly, I’m imagining that this boss coming into your home would be a give a mouse a cookie situation. Next it might be her “right” to borrow your pens, because you use them for work and therefore they are work property, or to take things from your fridge because they weren’t labeled as off limits.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I’m fostering kittens and they have diarrhea. No matter how often I clean, my home smells of poop these days :( I am not having any visitors until they are healthy!

      I wouldn’t use a complex lie to get out of this situation because it will only cause more problems, and I don’t think the OP owes any explanation to the supervisor.

  23. LinZella*

    My skin is crawling.
    This is disturbing on SO many levels – I can’t even count how many.

  24. Pups & Politics*

    Oh my G-d, just yesterday, my boss (yes, that one) called my home phone after I missed a call on my cell and I had no idea how she got it. Like, maybe off of her constituent databases or something? It was so weird.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      GenX here. If it’s a land-line, it’s in the phone book unless you set it up as an unlisted number.

      1. knitcrazybooknut*

        You can list it in a different name than the billing name. My husband and I listed our landline under both of our middle names for years. Anyone asking for Elizabeth Carlton was immediately bounced.

      2. Pups & Politics*

        It is a landline, but it’s listed under my parents’ name, not mine, and she wouldn’t have their name. Unless I put it on one of the documents I applied with (I don’t believe I did), her constituent data is probably the only other way she’d have gotten it.

    2. Ariaflame*

      I technically have a landline. All calls to it go to the answering machine. Nobody’s left a message in years. I suppose I could in theory just have a thing set up to go to my mobile but then I’d have to deal with all the crank/spam/phishing calls it deals with.

      1. AnonInCanada*

        I still have a landline, only because it’s cheaper to keep it (in a bundle with TV and internet) than to get rid of it. The only calls that ever go to it all get flagged by the cable co as “Likely Spam” and “Likely Fraud” on the caller ID. No one’s ever left a voicemail on it.

  25. Spicy Tuna*

    The “conducting business” excuse is a great one. The city where I live requires paperwork, fees and an inspection for home-based businesses.

    Thus far, they have not attempted to monetize / harass people working from home, but the bar as to what qualifies as a “home-based business” is pretty low. A woman I know publishes a blog from home – she has no employees, but the city still insisted that she register the business and they even came and inspected her condo building!!

    I was in a dispute with my neighbor and they reported my “home-based business” to the city – I am self-employed and do contract work from home, so the city backed off.

    If I were OP, I would be wary about having anyone over for a business reason

  26. Spicy Tuna*

    My city is really strict about “home-based businesses” – so far, they have left WFH folks alone, but anyone who runs a business out of their home, even if there are no employees, has to register with the city, pay fees, and be subject to a home inspection! Very invasive. I would be extremely wary about having anyone over for a business reason… OP could use this an excuse

    1. Shirley Keeldar*

      Home insurance has thoughts about this too. My insurance company was a little leery when I said I work for myself from home. (This was 20 years ago and it was less common). When I explained that I’m a freelance writer/editor working alone and just typing all day, they were okay with it, but I did have to give them written assurance that no clients or customers or employees would be coming by regularly.

      1. I Have RBF*

        … written assurance that no clients or customers or employees would be coming by regularly.

        This is a key. I’m pretty sure that, while I have a business based in my home, it’s okay because I don’t have customers or coworkers over. My insurance is not “business insurance” that allows for clients or coworkers.

  27. Sorry, still haven't picked a clever username*

    Wow, this is completely bananapants in my opinion. Is it just okay because they live close to each other? If this manager was managing someone remotely in another state, could she just fly over there and show up on their doorstep unannounced anytime she likes? I work remotely and on the extremely rare occasions when my boss needs to pick something up from me, she waits in her car out front and I run it out to her. We didn’t even discuss that she wouldn’t come into my house, it was just taken for granted by both of us, and I have an excellent relationship with my boss and really like her as a person, and I still would be shocked if she decided to knock on my door and expect an invitation in. It would be seen as staggeringly rude to do this to someone in the mores of my workplace and city (I work for a university in Austin, TX).

  28. Paul Pearson*

    Anyone can come round your house – but there’s no reason why you have to open the door to such rudeness!

  29. Sharon*

    I would tell her to let you know if she needs to meet in person so you can both decide where would be the best location to meet. Office? Coffee shop? Her house? There are lots of options that don’t involve your house. And if she does show up, walk out to talk to her on the doorstep – don’t let her in.

  30. Theresa*

    This is mad, but interesting because my company do have a policy on this. Explicitly you are not allowed to visit someone’s home for work purposes even if you are both WFH because it’s against our health and safety policy!

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      This is helpful – would you be able to post some of the excerpts for how it affects health and safety? Perhaps the LW could choose from those and say this is why they’re not comfortable with the boss coming over.

      1. She of Many Hats*

        I’m guessing due to the potential for getting injured or causing damage while in a private residence could fall onto to the employer.

        1. Theresa*

          Yeah I think that’s so – it’s never really been explained it just comes up in the policy. I’m in the UK though so that may make a difference.

  31. Patrick*

    Seems like it would be perfectly fair to say that you have a home office set-up for 1 person. You don’t have home meeting space set up, so there’s no room for a second person or for any sort of in-person meeting.

  32. House On The Rock*

    Can you simply say something like “we don’t have people over” and leave it at that. It’s close to “no is a complete sentence”, but you are at least offering some context/functional description of the situation. If she pushes about it being her “right”, you could offer to go to HR or her superior to “clarify” WFH requirements. I’m pretty sure no one except perhaps first responders have a “right” to enter your home if you don’t allow them to (I’m not a lawyer, this is more a deep gut feeling).

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Boss — oh I’m not people. This isn’t social, I need to talk to you about X related to work.

      This is a boundary stomper. ANY reason is just something to overcome to get what they want.

      1. Oh nope*

        I loathe both boundary stompers and bad managers with a passion, and unannounced visitors of any kind are a personal bugbear thanks to being the child of a pack rat father (who wasn’t quite a hoarder, but came close at times) and a neat freak mother.

        In response, I’d say something like, “I’m happy to meet with you in person. I can meet you at your home, or at [local cafe etc].” If she repeats she wants to meet at my house, I would say, “no, we do not have people over. What time do you want me to meet you at your place or the cafe?”

        This manager needs to be reported to HR. They are not a good manager.

  33. Good Luck*

    This is quite odd. I am not one to run screaming to HR, but I would alert them to this. There could be some kind of liability on the company’s part. What if OP had a partner, roommate, contractor (plumber, electrician etc) or an adult aged child at home that over heard sensitive info?

    1. Becky*


      My roommate and I both work from home. She has her desk set up in the living room and works with private medical information. I work from my bedroom and work with clients who I am not allowed to disclose to outside parties that I work with. There is no way in all the circles of hell that I would allow my boss into my BEDROOM. And there is nowhere else in the apartment that we would not be overheard my roommate or overhear her work.

  34. Michelle Smith*

    I don’t like people in my home, to the point that I have gone unreasonably long without repairs at times because I hate it so much.

    I am so sorry. I am in a position where I can push back against things like that (because I can afford to be unemployed for several months and I have reason to believe I could be rehired at my old workplace that is fully in-person, worst case scenario). I don’t know if you are. But if you are, please refuse. I might not bring it up again if she doesn’t, but if she doesn’t, I’d say “Please do not come by my home. I don’t want to host my boss or coworkers in my personal space and would prefer to do work meetings virtually or at the office.” I would frame it as a request because of her position, but I’d act as if it is what it is – a hard boundary. I’d let her make the decision to fire me eventually, if she so chose, and apply for unemployment while I looked for something else. I think it would be exceptionally easy for me to explain to a future employer and any unemployment hearing officers that I was terminated for refusing to host my boss neighbor in my home during work from home days for meetings rather than from issues with the quality of my work.

  35. Thatoneoverthere*

    Can you blame it on a spouse, partner or roommate? My (fill in the blank) also works from home and works with sensitive info and cannot really by overheard by outsiders. It doesn’t need to be true, but may work.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      “Well, when are they going to be gone?” “Oh, they won’t mind.” “I’m not nosy.”

      The problem with perfectly good reasons is that they get brushed aside by the unreasonable.

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        That’s when you just keep being bland and persistent. “Yeah, I know, but it just won’t be possible, thanks for understanding”

  36. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    What would the legal liability be if supervisor insisted on coming to OP’s home and fell and broke her leg on the property? Would OP’s insurance be responsible? Could they refuse because of the business connection?

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      It very much depends on the insurance company and what is in their policy, but this is a distinct possibility. Anything that goes above ordinary use of your home exposes you to additional risk and the company may require a rider for it.

      Read your insurance policies, folks!

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Thanks for your answer. Do you know if some companies would require a rider for the actual homeowners who WFH or just those visiting in a business capacity?

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          It really does depend on the insurance company. This is where having an agent can be useful.

          But I always recommend fully reading your policy. Some people are surprised at what is in (or not in) there.

  37. ecnaseener*

    My employer’s WFH policy does include that your manager has the right to “inspect” your WFH space – maybe the manager has seen a policy like that from another company and incorrectly assumed LW’s company had it too? Otherwise I can’t imagine where she got that idea about having the right to do it.

    (I did ask my manager about that policy and she agreed it was super weird and must just be in there for extreme circumstances, and she has no intention of coming by to inspect anything…)

    1. ecnaseener*

      Actually, I just pulled it up to check the wording and it does state no meetings in your personal residence!

      So you have to let your manager in “with reasonable notice and at reasonable intervals” and it explicitly cannot be a business meeting.

      1. Ferret*

        I think those provisions are normally in there to allow for employers to validate that home working setups meet all safety and liability standards (eg you are not discussing confidential data on speaker while perched above a shark tank on a wobbly ladder and surrounded by screaming toddlers), but I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of them actually being used

        1. Tau*

          you are not discussing confidential data on speaker while perched above a shark tank on a wobbly ladder and surrounded by screaming toddlers

          Well, looks like I have to rework my home office setup. Where am I supposed to put the shark tank now…

    2. Angstrom*

      Our WFH agreements did include something about the employer being able to check the home office for ergonomics & safety. I don’t think they’ve ever done it. I assume it was a legal requirement for liability purposes.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Dang. Ours just asked for a photo showing desk setup & chair so they could reassure the insurance company you weren’t going to have some obviously preventable work-related injury.

  38. Zzzzzz*

    Why can’t one can’t simply say: I am not comfortable with that/this doesn’t work for me, but (with some advance notice), I’d be happy to reserve a room at the local library (if yours has; many do), or meet at a local cafe to review x, y, z.

    Why does one have to get in ANY BS excuse for this non-boundary boss to work her way into?

    1. NeedRain47*

      You definitely can. but
      1. people with terrible boundaries (or no boundaries) do not care about your boundaries, but sometimes will accept a made up “reason” where they will not accept a simple “no”..

      2. It’s okay to lie to people with a history of disrespecting your boundaries, they don’t deserve honesty more than you deserve self respect.

      Personally I go with honesty, b/c if you are that bad at boundaries I want to know. my next step is going to be getting the heck away.

    2. Observer*

      Alison works essentially on the premise “This is what should get results” rather than on the premise of “This is what is the right thing” when talking about *other people’s* behavior. Because the OP really cannot control their manager. So, they need a strategy that can keep Stomper at bay.

      1. Lana Kane*

        This is such an important thing to remember just in life in general. No amount of “shoulds” will compensate for people behaving according to what should/shouldn’t be happening.

    3. The Person from the Resume*

      Just meet in person in the office. They are both “hybrid” workers. Clearly face to face meetings are for in office days even if they have to be scheduled in advance and a person’s WFH day changed.

      Please note the boss talked about “popping” by and not scheduling anything in advance though.

  39. chocolate lover*

    I don’t let anyone in unannounced, and generally prefer very few people to spend time in my home. I certainly don’t think my boss has any “right” to take up space in my own home! I bet there are some companies that have such stipulations in their WFH agreements, but weather permitting, I’d just be like “we can sit outside”!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I don’t have ‘work naked’ days (because cold calls) but I do have ‘work in a penguin shirt with no pants’ days, which I think would have a similar effect.

  40. NeedRain47*

    When I officially started working from home I had to sign something saying that my employer could come inspect my “work area”, with nothing mentioned about the circumstances that would surround this. I signed it, but if anyone thought they were going to pop by my house unexpected, I’d literally quit on the spot.
    (I’m assuming it’s in case someone wants to file a workers comp claim saying they were injured on the job while working from home, not b/c anyone here thinks it’s their “right” like OP’s boss.)

  41. Aggretsuko*

    I would bet money that OP’s boss just bangs on the door and screams to be let in. :/

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

      Yeah wasn’t their a letter a few years ago that the manager was knocking on the employees door because they didn’t answer the phone or something?

  42. Clem Fandango*

    OP, I would go counterintuitive on this one. Let your boss come to your house for a meeting but make sure you source an army of creepy china dolls and line them up to stare at her as she is sharing spreadsheets. Clowns would work too, especially if you can get some of those velvet pictures of clowns crying.
    Then seat her on a spindly uncomfortable chair. And borrow my dog who is a legendary crotch invader and slobber monster.
    Job done.

    1. Festively Dressed Earl*

      My sentiments exactly. Enjoy my workspace that has exploded off the desk and onto surrounding furniture, my husband sprawled in his recliner wearing nothing but a bathrobe and fuzzy socks, my persistent bralessness, and the loveseat full of unfolded laundry. In fact, feel free to dust while you’re here.

  43. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Could you suggest meeting at her house instead?
    Or tell her that you almost popped by her house to discuss something, in the hope that this will clue her in to how wild this is? Though maybe she’s the type of person who wouldn’t mind…

  44. animaniactoo*

    I would push that if she wants to meet in person, you’re available to go to her house, even though you’re not set up for guests during your workday at your place.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      I would push that if the boss wants an in person meeting it should be done on a day that they are both in the office.

      If they have to meet face-to-face, it should be in the office and not at anyone’s house/home office.

  45. The Person from the Resume*

    LW, you hit the nail on the head here:

    I really need to find a new job as this isn’t the only situation where she has shown disregard for boundaries and made me feel disrespected.

    It’s not illegal and your “right to privacy” (which is not actually a Right in the US Bill of Rights) doesn’t come into play. Your boss can do a lot of things that are not illegal, but it are very unusual, outside of professional norms, and violation of boundaries. OTOH as you said she disregards boundaries already badly enough that you need to job search; here’s a sign you need do start that job search.

    You could bring it up to your grandboss or HR as something so outside of business norms that they may act and tell her not to, but you know if your company will do anything or if they let this boundary stomping manager continue to stomp all over normal boundaries.

    Know this is NOT normal and your feelings are normal. I live alone. My house is very often not fit for guests to visit because it gets cluttered to a level that I don’t want outsiders to see it. I would hate this too and definately try a “You can’t come in. I wasn’t expecting guests.” if someone tried this.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      A right to privacy may not be in the Bill of Rights, but the courts have had many rulings about privacy and individual expectations about it, but generally in a negative sense. For instance, if you are in a public space, you don’t really have a right to privacy, so if somebody takes a photograph and you end up in it, you can’t complain. But if they get right in your face and take a picture, that’s another matter.

    2. Ismonie*

      The right to privacy does exist in tort law, in many state constitutions, in many statutes, and yes, even in US constitutional law although that has to be caveated to hell and back in many cases now, and federal constitutional privacy isn’t really what we colloquially thing of as privacy.

      Real property rights also exist, so do zoning laws, and other reasons businesses can’t simply access real property by hiring an owner/occupant/lessee.

  46. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    For as appealing as WFH may sound, it sounds like a lot of trouble and would not provide enough of a trade-off to make the experience valuable. I know I am one of the few that doesn’t like the concept of WFH. I tried it, and I think my boss at the time ruined it for me, much like the boss in this letter is ruining it for LW.

    Old boss (now retired thank goodness) had incessant last minute projects and emergency phone calls at quitting time on Friday afternoons and more. These were intentional .. believe me. No one has as many control freak emergencies as he did.

  47. Friend of HR person*

    This is so weird it is beyond belief. I suspect that the boss thinks OP is not really working at home. Whether that is justified is not, I cannot say. But OP needs to figure out what is going on, and decide what to do.

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

      My fanfic theory is that OP has a better house and the boss is curious and wants to see it.

    2. Siege*

      I really need to find a new job as this isn’t the only situation where she has shown disregard for boundaries and made me feel disrespected.

      I mean … the LW says what’s going on. Her boss is a boundary stomper who manages via disrespect.

  48. CatCat*

    YIKES. This is bananas and she is on a power trip. Do you have the option to work from the office?

    Personally, I’d give up WFH before I’d let this boundary be crossed.

    And I’d be job searching rather than continuing to put up with a boss with a bizarre sense of entitlement to enter my home.

    I’ve gotcmy fingers crossed that you find a better job with a reasonable boss!

  49. That wasn't me. . .*

    Just say “No, we can’t do that. Do you want to get together at the office, or would you prefer to meet at YOUR house?”

  50. Observer*

    She went on to say it is her “right” to show up unannounced to meet about work inside my private residence anytime she wants. “We’re both working from home today and that’s what working from home can mean, I think.”

    This is sooooo weird. What on earth does she even mean? And why would she think that wfh “could” mean that you just get to pop into people’s homes?

    Please come up with an excuse that she can’t push back on. Like “my HOA rules don’t allow work meetings”. Because you wan an excuse that she has a hard time pushing away.

    But also, as others have said, please talk to HR. If they are competent they should be in your corner on this.

    Lastly, would you consider going full time in to the office, to keep her out of your home till you find a new job?

  51. Yes And*

    “’We’re both working from home today and that’s what working from home can mean, I think.’”

    Man, that “I think” is doing so much work it should be drawing its own salary.

    Is there a wedge in that “I think” to drive in some sense? To explain to her that no, that is not what working from home generally means?

  52. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I’m curious as to why you state that an employer can require to be let into our personal property for a work meeting? I feel that we are not required to let anyone into our personal property as they company does not own my house. Meet by zoom or phone? Yes. Be required to let them into my house. Absolutely not.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      It’s not that the employee is required to let them in, it’s that if the employee doesn’t, the company can legally fire them.

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      My guess is it’s not ‘illegal’ because the employer has a ‘right’ and maybe even an obligation to have oversight over their work, especially if there are additional HIPAA/compliance laws. If the employee’s work is conducted at home, an employer may need to perform a check to ensure that the employee is properly securing the information/complying with laws.

      However, it’s certainly not a common practice/expectation for an employer to visit just to conduct a meeting and LW is right to push back here. Most employers don’t need to monitor someone’s home activity/set up in person. And most HR teams wouldn’t share an address with that employee’s manager for confidentiality reasons.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        If this is the case this is something that can be assessed on camera. I can carry the camera around the room and you can see the office space I am working in if needed. If I lived in another state this is how they would check, they would not drive to my house.

      2. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        No. This is entirely incorrect.

        It is not illegal because there is no law saying it is. It really is that simple. The company/boss can force you to comply, or lose your employment. I feel like a lot of folks heard Alison’s “it’s legal” to mean “The company has a legal right, enshrined in a law somewhere, to do this thing”

        I’m very sure that’s not how it was meant. The old phrase “There’s no law against it” is a literal defense of one’s action, because the core concept of (most) legal systems is that laws constrain the rights of individuals and corporations – if there is no law saying “you may not do this thing” than you may, in point of fact, do that thing, which is what I believe Alison meant.

        The employer has no legal right to enter the home. If the employee said “no,” the only recourse the employer would have is firing or other discipline at work – they couldn’t go to the local sheriff’s office and have the LW be forced to let them in for an inspection, because the employer has no rights to the property (well, okay… there’s a probably plenty of sheriff’s offices where a large enough bribe would mean they could, but… that’s explicit illegality). If the employee said no, and the employer tried to force entry, under the Castle doctrines of many US states, the employee would actually be justified in using force to prevent the employer gaining access – it would depend on the locality and whether the governing doctrine can be used to prevent trespass or not (some specifically can, others require more egregious crimes be under commission). Even in states where they do not have the ability to use force for mere trespass, the employeE would have cause for legal action, and could have the manager removed by law enforcement with a phone call (dependent upon response times, etc).

        But all of that comes at the cost of losing your job, because “I called the police on my boss” is not a protected status in the US, even if you had every legal right to do so. And “my boss did this criminal thing to me and/or my property and I got fired for reporting it to authorities” is sadly a common event – whistleblower protections in the US aren’t great, and typically only cover regulated industries and/or being ordered to commit actual illegal actions as the part of your work. If you have the right to occupy a property, you typically have the right to allow others access for a limited time – which means your boss ordering you to let them in is no longer committing trespass if you say “yes boss”

        Now, there’s a novel legal question about whether you could argue that control over your employment qualifies as coercion, on the boss’ part. Under that theory, you could probably report them for extortion (having obtained a benefit by means of a threat). But to my research, there’s no case law on point about that – which means you would need either a) a DA who really cared about the common man; b) a significant sum of money to contribute to a DA’s re-election campaign; or c) a lot of press attention; to actually test that theory… and then to get a judge who would actually agree with the theory (unlikely with trespass, since the benefit gained from the extortion is likely to be considered minimal to nonexistant)

  53. Lana Kane*

    Some years ago, pre-COVID, I had a WFH job. We were reorged into a new department, and for a while we were the only WFH staff there. The leadership decided to do unannounced visits to people’s houses to evaulate their WFH setup for privacy compliance (we’re in healthcare). The first person who received the visit didn’t answer because she was working. This became a whole thing where the managers at her house contacted a coworker to tell her to answer the door. My teammate proceeded to alert the whole team to expect unannounced drive bys.

    When people complained, the argument was that “it’s the same as if I were stopping by your desk”. We looked in the WFh policies and in fact our employer had approved such scenarios. It’s not allowed anymore, but I hadn’t heard of anyone actually doing it. It was a bad dept anyway and I started job searching soon after.

    Just saying, be prepared for the “it’s no different than me stopping by your desk” argument.

  54. PivotPivot*

    Another neutral spot is a local library. My library has rooms that can be reserved for meetups like this.

  55. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    “Oh, I couldn’t possibly put you to the trouble. Let ME come to YOU.”

    Or, more realistically, “I don’t always hear the doorbell, because I’m so focused on my work — it’s much more efficient to contact me by phone or instant messaging.”

  56. librarianmom*

    First don’t give a reason, just state that you would prefer to meet at a local coffee shop, instead. Repeat this neutral statement as often as necessary (If asked why, just say again “I just prefer to meet there.”) No other excuse is necessary. Second, you can turn the situation back on to your boss by questioning why they would want to meet in person when email or phone would be more efficient. Let them try to explain their thinking. Thirdly, if they show up at your door, don’t let them in. Conduct the conversation on your doorstep and if it seems to be a lengthy one suggest meeting at that coffee shop.
    All this takes nerve, but your boss is pretty nervy, too.

  57. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    LW, this is a hill I would be more than happy to be martyred on, for context.

    I would read up on your state’s/locality’s trespassing laws (e.g. if posting is required, I’d post). Then, my response to my supervisor would be a complete-sentence “no,” flanked by stone walls of Silence. As Mary states above,

    Basically if you want to meet a colleague F2F, that is what the office is for

    and any face-to-face meeting can be arranged in said office (e.g. “I can stop by at 9 am.” “It takes me ~90 minutes to commute to the office, so I can’t get there to meet you until 9:45 am”). I wouldn’t hesitate to CC everyone from HR to the grand-boss to Legal in my response. If she does show up at my door, I would keep it locked and ignore her attempts to goad me into opening it; if she tries to force entry, I’d call Law Enforcement.

    You’re already making the best move by interviewing out.

    This is a hill I’d be more than happy to be martyred on. My home is no more my employer’s satellite than their office is my alternate abode.

    1. Ariaflame*

      Occasionally there are upsides to living in a Strata (small gated community I guess though not sure if it’s quite the same thing … usually units with a common shared garden area) is that chances are they won’t be able to get to my front door and oh dear the buzzers are so hard to read and sometimes don’t work and when I’m working I set my mobile to focus because after all anyone at work can contact me via email or Teams.

      1. Remote work, remote minds*

        Gated communities are great! No salesmen, randos, unwanted guests, etc.

    2. Remote work, remote minds*

      Basically if you want to meet a colleague F2F, that is what the office is for

      Yes, exactly. This is also a very good reason to require more in-office work.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        That does beg the question why in person meetings need to happen instead of written instructions that provide a traceable paper trail. Does someone need plausible deniability?

        1. Remote work, remote minds*

          Because face-to-face interactions convey a lot more than you get if you only use writing — body language, voice inflections, and so on. They also foster the development of personal relationships.

          They can also be a lot more efficient. How many times have e-mail conversations led to misunderstandings, derailments, wasted time tracing the history of conversations, etc.?

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Because written interactions convey a lot more accurately than you get if you only use face-to-face — you don’t have ambiguity of body language, voice inflections, and so on. They also foster the development of accountability and documentation.

            They can also be a lot more efficient. How many times have verbal conversations led to misunderstandings, derailments, wasted time unable to trace the history of the conversations, etc.?

    3. doreen*

      I’m not going to say people shouldn’t check up on trespassing laws – but people shouldn’t be surprised if there is no way to keep the boss for knocking on the door or ringing the bell, at least not without explicitly communicating to the boss that she is not to be on your property. I can’t have someone arrested for simply walking through my front yard , walking up my front steps and ringing my bell. Maybe I can if I have already personally told them to stay off my property but aside from that, I would have to enclose my front yard. If I rent an apartment or don’t have a front yard , they may not even be on the property I control until they cross the threshold. Which is not to say that anyone should let the boss in, just that trespassing laws may not be helpful.

  58. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

    I mean, sure, she has the legal right to go anywhere she likes, including to the *outside* of your front door, but that doesn’t obligate you to open that door. In a workplace, she would have the legal and moral right to come into your cube. But she doesn’t have a legal or moral right to come into your living space.

    You say she’s your supervisor, which to me indicates that you have the same manager. Can you bring this up to your manager?

  59. Remote work, remote minds*

    If she proposes meeting in your home, simply counter and suggest meeting at hers instead, since it’s nearby. Problem solved.

  60. wtaf machine*

    I would also say something about my pets “I have a dog with anxiety and unexpected visitors make him really anxious and he will bark nonstop. Could we meet elsewhere?”

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      No questions that can have the answer “no”. Nothing that requires agreement. Just the push-back, as so: “We need to meet elsewhere” rather than “could we meet elsewhere?”.

  61. Contracts Killer*

    I’d question the liability HARD before allowing this. If the boss asks again, I would explain that my homeowner’s insurance does not cover business-related accidents. I’d ask boss if the company’s insurance covers in-home accidents. If OP’s boss is injured in OP’s house, what would happen? Would it be covered under workman’s comp? Could OP’s boss (or the company) sue OP?

  62. Orora*

    This is an…interesting….take by your boss.

    My boss lives within 5 minutes of me and has since she started working here. We’ve seen each other unshowered at Target on a Sunday morning. The only time she’s been to my house is to drop off a holiday present during the pandemic.

    In summer, I often work from my back deck (one of the perks of remote work!) but I don’t answer the door unless I’m expecting a package. Everyone I know personally and professionally is on the same page — no “pop ins”.

    My boss and I had my performance review at a local diner over breakfast. Worked well for both of us. Offer to answer a text anytime and meet them in public if they must see you in person, but your boss never needs access to your home.

  63. neighbors deserve privacy*

    My neighbor parks their car in the alley by my house (around the corner from theirs a bit) to keep their intrusive co-worker who lives in the neighborhood from coming over. There is no garage or other option to hide their car on their property.

    Your home is your home, just because you WFH does not give your boss the right to come into your home.

    A block away is a teacher, now vice principal at my child’s school. I have been to their yard ONCE and only once. They were having a yard sale with toys at the curb my kid could not pass up. We are friendly on school property, but if I see them in the neighborhood, I just smile and wave. They have a right to a private life, even on school days.

    Even if I had a question for them, I can send an email and wait.

  64. Morning Coffee*

    Get clarification from HR ASAP. It’s not complaining about anything, just asking for clear rules

  65. Love this group*

    Our company policy does state management does have the ability to inspect homes if you are remote. I believe at one time (like 10-15 years ago) they did just that. I will say though there would be no way our HR would allow a stone to just pop-in nor would I want to! I’m glad we don’t do that anymore and would truly hate it if I had to “inspect” anyone’s working conditions.

  66. Koala Tea*

    The supervisor says it’s her “right” to stop by but LW says the Employee handbook doesn’t specify. Worth asking the supervisor to point out where are the requirements for in-home drop ins per the company documentation?

  67. Oxford Comma*

    You know, before Covid, working remotely meant that you were working remotely. It might be from your house. It might also be from a public library or a coffee shop or any place with a wi-fi connection. I think WFH became the lexicon because during the height of the epidemic, there really was no other place to work from.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      And I hit submit before I finished making my point. Anyhow, I wonder if that might a way of pushing back.

  68. Ex-prof*

    When a boss starts talking about her “right” to treat an employee this way or that way… that’s not good.

  69. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    Damn, even vampires know they have to ask for permission to enter your house!

  70. Cherries Jubilee*

    If she does show up to prove that you’re working, you can come to the door and acknowledge that you’re there without letting her in. She has a right to show up but you have the right to decide who comes into your house or not. If she makes a trip in vain, that’s entirely her own misfortune.

  71. Anonanon9*

    OP, I don’t know your housing set up, of course, so this concern may not apply, but given that your boss does not respect boundaries, if she shows up unannounced and you ignore her knock/doorbell, is she someone who is likely to go around the outside of your house, peering into windows? I wouldn’t put that past someone who doesn’t respect boundaries and thinks it’s their right to just show up.

  72. Knope Knope Knope*

    Any chance you could use HIPAA compliance as an excise and/or make it really uncomfortable? Like my husband works in healthcare and reviews patient charts that he’s required to have a private work station to view. So if my boss popped over unwelcome, I might exaggerate a little and say something like “due to HIPAA compliance, I have to work from the bedroom on days my husband takes patient calls, but since all our dirty laundry (re: undies) is laid out on the bed, let’s sit outside for this meeting. And whoops I don’t get wifi and can’t look at any relevant meeting info until you leave and I can get back to my work station”

  73. Copyright Economist*

    The only exception that comes to mind to the general idea that you do not have to let someone in to work at your house is if your work in company-owned housing.

  74. Coin Purse*

    Before the pandemic, my company had very rigid rules for the small number of people allowed to WFH. They also fired people who they found mowing their lawn or doing infant care on company time. This would occur with unscheduled manager visits since they considered the home office part of the greater corporate setting.

    This would generally only happen when people weren’t answering their phone or emails during regular work hours.

  75. Lobsterman*

    OP, you know the answer here – either the boss is more valuable to the org or you are, and if she is, the org will back her. I don’t think there’s a way out of this other than either getting her fired / reassigned or getting a new job.

  76. Essess*

    I would address this by pointing out to her that a major reason for working remotely is to minimize exposure to germs from others and by her showing up at your house she is violating this. If you live with anyone else, I’d also use that as a reason that you minimize family exposure to others and that you cannot let her in for the sake of your family’s health. Your company does not have the right to order you about who comes into your own private property. If she insists on showing up, the meeting will need to take place outside your home (in the yard, driveway, doorstep, etc…). That should make it uncomfortable enough to keep her from staying.

  77. RevHelga*

    I’ve used the reasoning of liability insurance, as I’m allowed to work from home but someone else joining me could open me up to concerns, and my current homeowners insurance (or renters insurance) isn’t nuanced enough for me to allow coworkers in my home for work purposes. That way you can still work from home, but block others.

    Now I’m not in insurance. This is just what my own insurance company emphasized to me, especially because I own dogs. One of said dogs is a retired military working dog who is great but is over people/strangers and likes his space. So it’s great for being an introvert who just wants to be left alone.

  78. DannyG*

    Just reviewed my work from home agreement: to summarize my employer reserves the right to inspect my work space at any time, with or without advance notice, either by management or an approved third party. Ditto for IT to inspect equipment. In practice just some photos of the office setup to show compliance with HIPAA and equipment requirements (surge protection, fire extinguisher, etc.) of course I’m 400 miles from the home office, so I’m not exactly expecting a visit in the near future. I have posted some photos to teams when I did some upgrades/redecoration with my medical/pharmaceutical antiques, so that might keep the powers that be at bay.

  79. Ambivalent Octopus*

    My very large global employer had a WFH policy that required home inspections prior to WHF, alonf with unannounced visits, but my role is financial related so we needed to abide by customer privacy protocols. When I started WFH in 2017 I never received a visit at any time. Then Covid hit and my location is pretty much WFH for everyone from now on. But this was part of the agreement for those who wanted to WFH. This should be part of policy if allowed.

  80. But Not the Hippopotamus*

    I would probably not invent a spouse/pet, but I would cut any doorbell and play music loudly near the door. Then when you “don’t hear” the boss come by it’s because you obviously were playing music loudly (it helps you focus and discourages solicitors from bothering you while you work). If anyone asks, why yes, the music was playing in your home office far away from the door.

  81. Zarniwoop*

    My home is a shrine to Baphomet that only initiates may enter.

    If you come by, bring a live goat.

  82. DJ*

    Only mention coffee shop if it’s not a financial issue to purchase a coffee (remember to keep the receipt to claim on tax) or are confident she won’t order a whole lot of food then want to “split the bill”! Otherwise suggest library as they may have free meeting rooms.

  83. Oh heck no!*

    I thought my manager was being intrusive when he asked that we don’t use backgrounds when WFH because he needs to be sure that we are set up correctly & not sitting slouched on a sofa “for WHS”. I suspect he was actually trying to catch out anyone who claimed to be WFH but was actually working from a resort or beach or somewhere else (why this is an issue as long as they are meeting KPIs I do not know). If he actually showed up at my home I am really not sure what I would do.

  84. A person*

    As someone who doesn’t even like having friends or family in my house I would find this incredibly off-putting. Not all of us have the mental stability to keep a home in order enough for drop in visitors and that, I feel, isn’t my employers business. I get that with WFH we are opening up to the possibility, but good heavens. I hate working from home (also due to mental health).

    Side note: if it hasn’t been mentioned, one way to potentially word it is “my HOA/insurance prohibits seeing clients or conducting on-site consultations for business purposes in my home”. That way it’s more specifically that you can work from home but you can’t have people coming into your home for business. I think that’s actually the way my HOA bylaws are worded (or something to that effect).

  85. Uhhhh*

    the right to come by thing is pretty weird. personally I’m not a fan of uninvited guests anyway, even if they are my friends, and I always call before I pop in. even if it’s just “hey I’m about a mile from your house, mind if I drop by for a visit?” In addition to what others have mentioned, might I suggest a dog? that way you can say “the dog doesn’t do well with visitors”. I’m fortunate in that I live where my dog can stay outside full time (he loves it and wouldn’t come inside if told to btw) and even though he has never shown any sign of aggression to any person and thinks everyone he sees is there to pet him, most folks aren’t willing to take a chance on whether the muscular +100# dog coming towards their vehicle is friendly or not.

  86. *kalypso*

    >you could get in trouble with your landlord, HOA, or homeowners insurance for conducting business out of your house (you’d have to be careful with the nuance of this since you’re currently working from there, but there could be a way to finesse it)

    This depends on the policy/contract – a lot of them do allow people who live there to work from home if they’re employed by someone else and just working from home, up to having a dedicated home office area for resident/s to work in, but the issues kick in when other people come in because that becomes general liability (or public liability, depending on the exact context) and that’s not included in a residential rental contract or home and contents insurance without either a business add on or a separate business insurance policy. Freelancing and being self-employed are different because for those you/your business own your own tools and stock and infrastructure, none of which are insured on a home policy, home policies don’t have revenue insurance or fraud protection or liability insurance or professional indemnity schemes built in, but working from home as an employee it’s assumed that your employer have any of those relevant policies for you.

    But as soon as people come into your home to do business stuff, that’s it, the home policy does not cover that. If they were visiting you at home off hours as a friend, that’s a reasonable thing within the bounds of a policy, but they’re not conducting business and the most that’s going to happen is they trip over a coffee table or spill coffee – they’re not going to drill through their hand or accidentally amputate a finger on a bandsaw, they’re not going to make a few trades that lose you $10b, they’re not going to steal proprietary information or get into your work account and advise your clients to ignore the part where they’re bleeding from their eyes because that only happens in movies or whatever worst case scenario happens in your professional nightmares and thus, professional or business insurance exists for.

  87. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Yeah, I have some questions about your boss’s boundaries… or lack of them. Hope you find a better job soon! In the meantime, do not let her across the threshold if she does turn up and use any white lie necessary.

  88. city deer*

    Your boss has the freedom to come to your door, and maybe the standing to legally fire you if you don’t obey her whims, but she does not have a positive legal right to compel you to let her into your home. You can fully just. not do that.

    It’s actually unhinged that people are telling you to make up an immunocompromised roommate (that she might already know doesn’t exist), or adopt a new pet (that you may not want or be able to care for), just to have a “polite” excuse to put her off (which might not even work). You know that your boss is wildly unreasonable, and you’re planning on leaving…so it’s okay to skip the passive manoeuvres and react straightforwardly. If she says anything like that again, I’d even try reacting as if it were a joke. “Hah, that’s a good one. Of course ‘working from home’ doesn’t mean that *you* can work from *my* home! Let’s meet at the [office/local library/coffee shop/etc]. See you there at 10?” I’d also escalate to HR if she gets any pushier about it, but hopefully you can make your exit to a better job before it comes to that. Best of luck!

  89. umami*

    Wow. I would have a big problem with someone suggesting it’s OK to have in-person meetings at my home. Just because someone has a suitable space for doing work doesn’t mean they have a suitable space for hosting a meeting, and with their boss no less! I can’t imagine putting an employee in that kind of position.

  90. Whaaaat*

    OP, speak to HR and/or your union, or upper management. They need to be aware of this. This is not normal or acceptable, and people like your supervisor should not have such roles. “No” is a complete sentence, and state you’ll meet her at a cafe or her own place, maybe framing it as “you’re so busy! I’ll come to you”.

    My home is my personal space and I do not really want anyone in it outside of my household (and very close family members and friends), especially not my manager, employers, colleagues or direct reports. I would never show up at someone’s home unannounced, unless it was a genuine emergency.

    I’ve worked in government roles that have required serious security clearances and so forth, and the two employers who’ve wanted to check out my WFH space have accepted photos or diagrams of my workspace over in-person inspections.

    As for legality, trespass, privacy, etc vary between jurisdictions, but even landlords have to give tenants notice. Her believing she has a right to your private property is alarming.

  91. Ismonie*

    I’m going to make this a freestanding comment, because it seems not to be making it as a reply.

    As a lawyer, I question Alison’s statement that an employer can demand access to a residence that an employee owns/occupies/leases. With the caveat that perhaps some kind of safety inspection be performed, as mentioned above. I would never advise an employer who was my client that they could do this. Should an employee come to me and say that their employer was demanding this, I would undertake comprehensive research, not just of employment law, but health and safety, zoning, property rights, privacy, insurance liability, and yes, the dreaded workers’ comp. Which might require me to consult with a specialist because it is its own specialized morass. Even if the employer didn’t care about the employee’s legal rights, the liability they would be taking on in terms of insurance and possibly having to pay for injuries outside of the worker’s comp. system would probably shut that down.

    In response to common misconceptions on this thread, just because there isn’t a specific law against something (and you don’t know until you look) doesn’t mean either that: 1) it’s automatically legal; or 2) that there isn’t some broader legal principle under which it is 100% illegal.

  92. Amber*

    Oh I would call HR right then.

    “Oh btw I was curious about what you said, so I asked HR and they actually said you aren’t allowed to just show up and conduct business out of your subordinates homes whenever you like. Just letting you know, so you don’t get into a situation with someone who would have been less understanding than me.”

  93. Dainerra*

    “HR person, boss said that since we live in the same neighborhood that we should just pop by each other’s houses to handle work matters in person. I just want something in writing to verify that if one of us was to get hurt at someone else’s home, that workers comp would cover any liability. my insurance company is asking for written confirmation.”

    and 9 out of 10 cases, that’s usually going to be more than enough for the company to put their foot down and say whoa, let’s think about this first

  94. Helen M.*

    Questioner should read their lease carefully. My lease specifically prohibits business from home where I meet people in my home. I don’t recall the exact wording rn, but it’s clearly intended for like preventing home day care or massage stuff, but would still cover the boss coming by.

  95. Easy*

    This one is easy: if she shows up unannounced, simply tell her you wear noise cancelling headphones during the day to focus on your work.

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