update: my “hybrid” team is using me as their way to not go to the office at all

Remember the letter-writer whose “hybrid” team was using him as their way to not go to the office at all? Here’s the update.

Thank you for your input. The situation did have an interesting resolution: someone got fired over this but (maybe surprisingly) it wasn’t me.

My boss was the only other member of my team to show up the day after my angry message, having told the other team members to let her know what they wanted to have me do. Most of the tasks she asks me to do for her when I go to the office maybe take 10 – 15 minutes; hers are the most reasonable and I totally get why she doesn’t want to make a special trip to them. She discovered that she was incorrectly assuming that the tasks my teammates were requesting were the same. The fastest request from my teammates took about 45 minutes, making it click with her that I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that I was spending half the day doing other people’s work.

Like you, my boss didn’t like how I phrased the message, but she agreed that things had to change. She was also under the impression that I like going to the office. It was kind of nice during the first year of the pandemic when gas was cheap and the drive took under 20 minutes no matter what time of the day it was. However, now that I have to deal with normal traffic patterns, my preference would be to get in, do my office tasks, and leave before rush hour to finish the day at home.

My boss informed the team that we were expected to come into the office when it was needed to do any tasks that cannot be done from home. She suggested everyone model what I do, which let tasks without an urgent deadline “stack up” and/or go in when we do a particular presentation (which is made to people who work in the field without the ability to work from home, so I do it in the office to keep credibility and not look like I am rubbing in the privilege of being able to work from home).

This led to the discovery that one of my teammates moved about to a home that is about two hours away from the office. Naturally, he did not want to four hours of commuting every couple of weeks. This actually violates our Hybrid Work Arrangement which requires approval if someone relocates more than 60 miles from the office (while it doesn’t apply to my team, about 50% of the company does functions that require at least one person be on duty 24/7/365, so they decided to apply the rule to everyone to always assure that critical needs are met) and/or to another state (for tax compliance). Since there was no issue with working from a different state, my boss would have probably approved this had he asked before understanding how much was being requested out of teammates (or truly me). Unfortunately for my teammate, layoffs were happening and he found himself being the sacrificial lamb to the budgeting gods from my team.

{ 204 comments… read them below }

  1. Justin*

    That sounds like a lot of my coworkers at my last job who didn’t want to come back… which is fair except several of them had bought cheap, far houses and were mostly trying to hide it.

    1. higheredadmin*

      I think this is more common than we all realize, especially if the office is in an expensive metropolitan area. People frame it in a lot of ways, without admitted that they’ve moved an impossible distance away. (We’ve found people who have moved to different states as well.)

      1. Justin*

        And I mean, sure, go live where you want to but stop lying.

        (My last job was also public-affiliated so we had to live in/near the city, as well one should if caring for its citizens. Don’t get me started on public servants who see the city as a problem to solve…)

        1. Bringerofbrownies*

          There are tax implications for living in a different state that your payroll people will uncover pretty quickly. Not to mention costs of travel if that’s a part of your job. It’s kind of shocking how many people made such a huge change during the pandemic without thinking of long-term implications.

          1. TeapotNinja*

            More seriously there are tax implications you will uncover after a few years when the state you moved into and the state your work is in both are asking for more money, a lot more money.

          2. Ashley*

            Not just state but if you have to pay local taxes it matters. I don’t understand how people hide moves and how you are not updating your address when you move. Not all documents get emailed.

            1. Wenike*

              Not even documents get sent. I get mailings from work about benefits every year and sometimes they’ll randomly send out swag, like this last time was a really nice tumbler and a lightweight/small backpack that folds into a tiny wristlet pouch for storage.

            2. doreen*

              Sometimes it’s very easy . I had a state government job where most job titles required state residency. There were two people who I knew for a fact had moved to an adjacent state. This started before email and before hybrid so they stayed close enough to the State B border to commute to State A – but how they avoided getting caught was using a relative’s address in State A. ( I assume they had enough State B tax withheld at their spouse’s job.)

            3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              The one person we had try that move to a different location on the down-low was actually really open about the move at first. They told us their sibling had been in a very serious car accident, could they go temporarily full time remote in sibling’s location to help out? I’ll be back in two months when they aren’t in so many casts. Well, then a month in they contacted and asked for an extension because one break wasn’t healing and they were going to require surgery…..can I get an extra six weeks? And then after the six weeks were up they constantly called out sick at the last minute on office days, which got them another seven weeks…… Till the day HR contacted us for their new local mailing address to get the tax forms and withholding set up, because it hadn’t been done yet, and may have needed backdating and paycheck corrections. Come to find out – nope, employee had bought a house in other city and had no intention of moving back, they were thrilled with the full time remote set up they had going.

              Yes – they were fired within two weeks for failure to perform all job duties, because a full third of the job could only be done in the office. It wasn’t fair to continue having the rest of the team pick that up for them. (We were willing to pitch in when it was a family emergency with a defined end date – but not forever.)

          3. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I live close to the border of two states who have exceedingly different tax laws. Dealing with those who live in one state and work in another has been a hassle, though making the tax office quite a bit of money. This is often not appreciated by those who have to pay those fees…and who don’t listen to our recommendations on how to not get whacked to pieces *next* April.

          4. Also-ADHD*

            To be fair, a lot of companies declared work from anywhere and have taken it back for mandates of hybrid RTO (as a soft layoff in tech, it feels) too so they may have thought they would be remote continuously.

          5. LikesToSwear*

            And not just tax implications for the employee, but also for the employer! Remote non-sales employees establish a nexus, requiring all sorts of new tax/unemployment/workers’ comp/etc issues on a corporate level. There are some states that my employer flat out does not allow remote work from; it’s too expensive to have a nexus in those states.

        2. metadata minion*

          I absolutely believe in public servants needing to live in the district they serve, but then the city/state/etc. needs to actually pay them enough to live there. Our nearest big city public library system is constantly hiring because you really can’t live in the city on a librarian salary.

          1. Y'all come back now, ya hear?*

            Absolutely. I was a teacher who could not even begin to afford a condo or townhome, much less a single family home with a yard for my dog, in the county in which I taught! I commuted 35 miles each way for years before switching industries – where I now make enough money to live in that county!

          2. Justin*

            I make a firm distinction between cost and people who dislike their city and citizens. You’re right about the first part, but sadly there’s too much of the latter.

          3. pope suburban*

            This is the problem with my public agency. You can make a bulls-eye with employees based on age. If they started 25 years ago, they have a house in town. 10-15, a house in one of the next towns over, not too far. Less than that, though, and we’re all renting pretty bad apartments an hour away. Wages were kept flat as costs soared, and now most of us spend our days creating a community that excludes us. It’s frustrating and demoralizing; people want their property values to always go up and they want to be entertained, but they have contempt for the people who make all that possible.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              They want the property values to go up, but raise the taxes one dollar…

              I do think that property taxes can turn into the rented mule of state and county revenues, but also that far too many property owners seem to want everything paid for by mysterious Others, or shrug off things like a local high school having to have science labs out on the bleachers of the football field because the equipment in the classroom was too dangerous to use by saying the kids should just go the next county over to go to school.

              1. pope suburban*

                Yeah, people want world-class amenities, but they want them for free, and it’s like…no, you have to pick. Either you go without but pay less, or you have the world at your fingertips and you pay what is, realistically, a little bit extra. It feels like people look at me as a genie- I pop out to do what you command, then blink out of existence until I’m needed again. I’m not looking to get rich or anything, but not living paycheck to paycheck in a modest apartment with no kids or treats for myself is…not commensurate with the value of my labor, to put it mildly. I’ve even given up on the idea of ever owning a home anywhere, I just want renting not to be so bloody difficult. Ask the public how they feel about that, however, and you’d think I threatened to break into their homes and kill them.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Hear hear.
                  While unemployed, I was told over and over “Go where the jobs are!” Beesh, for what money? Landlords don’t accept rent in cookies. I lucked out big time with my current situation but I still live an hour from the office.

              2. Pajamas on Bananas*

                I feel very seen right now. I’m also very tired of the anti-renter sentiment I hear so frequently from taxpayers. I do take it a bit personally. I have major regrets about not buying in 2019, because I could never afford it now.

                The reality of being a public servant is that your common council thinks raising the base pay to 32K was some grand thing. Meanwhile to qualify for a lease at the 40th percentile* you need to make over 46K. Another example from early in my own career would be making 17/hr, but needing 26/hr to qualify for a lease.

                *In the U. S. HUD measures fair market rent at the 40th percentile.

          4. BelleMorte*

            I totally agree, after I graduated, I applied for a job opening for a big high COL city, with a LCOL salary. It was advertised as permanently hybrid/remote, awesome.

            Upon the interview, I discovered (only because I asked) that their hybrid/remote was in fact 4 days in office minimum, the fifth could be remote only if there was a good reason, and no more than two remote days per month AND the candidate must move within the boundaries of the HCOL community (which is a small extremely wealthy district within a larger even more HCOL city, think Park West within Manhattan) . They didn’t disclose this willingly and I often wonder if the person who got the job realized that. The community they were in, had an average of 2 million dollars for a studio condo, renting was no better at 3k/studio. The salary was about 50k when the average salary for that role tends to be 70k.

            I absolutely did not take the job and withdrew my candidacy the second they mentioned it.

            1. Fishsticks*

              Companies claiming they have ‘hybrid’ options while bait-and-switching employees to force them to stay in office 24/7 is always infuriating. They know they can’t get good employees being honest, but rather than fix the problem, they just lie about it.

          5. H.C.*

            While that would be optimal, that’s not always feasible depending on the supply & demand of needed skills for said agency to function (especially for smaller municipalities.)

        3. Too Many Tabs Open*

          I would like city employees to live in the city rather than in the suburbs, but I also recognize that *I* couldn’t afford to live in my city if I hadn’t bought a house 30 years ago when there were affordable houses, and I’m pretty sure I make more than a lot of city employees.

          1. Siege*

            I see a difference between living in a suburb within the typical commute zone of the city one supports vs living half a large western state away. In my state, that would put you firmly into territory with different needs, services, expectations, and concerns, and a lot of your lens on the world could change as a result.

            1. HonorBox*

              I am not an employee of a local government, but have worked in that space. I was told at one point in that era of my career that it would be preferrable to live in the community I worked in, but there was understanding that other things were also in play (schools, spouse commute, etc.) so “within a quick drive” was the solution. While not overly specific, it communicated enough that people understood it.

            2. MM*

              The thing is that there are fiscal implications to this. Just to take an example I happen to know pretty well, in many cities the police force live in the suburbs, though they work in the city. This means that all the city’s budget that goes to police salaries and overtime is essentially being exported to different municipalities, which then get to tax it, see it flow into their businesses and amenities and school districts, etc. The city effectively subsidizes the suburbs in this instance. One might think that this balances out with commuters coming in to spend money or use amenities (or did, before so much work went remote). However, exactly because most US cities have worked hard since 1975 to attract visitors and commuters and structured a lot of choices around that, big chunks of the budget go to attractions and landmark developments, tax incentives to attract those things and/or employer campuses, more cops (who live in the suburbs) to keep these interests happy, etc. instead of going to infrastructures that will benefit the actual residents of the city. In theory these things should stimulate jobs and so on, but these projects almost never generate anything close to the revenue projected in the planning phase. There are, obviously, frequently racial and class dimensions to this pattern. So the subsidy to the suburbs via employee salaries is compounded by this outward orientation of the city budget in itself.

              Now, most municipal employees are not making police wages, so the impact per person/household is going to be less. And I certainly don’t blame any individual employee for going where their paycheck will allow them to live. This is a systemic issue. But while the distinction you’re making on distance matters, even employees’ living in the metro area vs. in the city itself also matters a lot.

              1. Learned Something New*

                MM, this is fascinating. Is there a pat name or term for this – the subsidization of suburbs via “exported” city salaries?

              2. doreen*

                One of the things that irks my about my state is that while nearly all municipal employees were required to live in the city until fairly recently , the state required that people in certain jobs ( cops, firefighters and teachers that I know of) had to be allowed to live outside the city. That doesn’t always sound so good when the lower paid municipal employees have to live in the city and hear teachers and cops earning 100K a year complain that they can’t afford to live in the city and that schools and police stations need parking lots in a city where almost no jobs provide parking because they have to drive in from the suburbs.

          2. AnotherOne*

            yeah, I got my home thru an affordable housing lottery that had all sorts of preferences (you lived in the neighborhood, you had a disability, etc.)

            One of them was that you worked for the city. It made perfect sense to me.

          3. Polly Gone*

            I work in the city that’s our state capital, and live in a close-by suburb. If I had bought a house in the same school district as my job, I’d have paid about 2x what my house was worth in the ‘burbs. Not at all possible. It’s a very desirable zip code for the elementary school, not as much for the middle and high schools. I just can’t see $600K-plus for a sixty-year-old two-bedroom brick house.

        4. Drago Cucina*

          And realize that “you” have to figure out how to return the work materials “you” borrowed.

          I would have to get books back from person A to give to person B. Well, person A had moved across the country and wanted me to figure it out. Sorry, you took this book that is several hundred dollars to a state where we didn’t have a local agency. You’re responsible to get it back to me.

          1. Worldwalker*

            The company I work for has people all over the country (and one — a line editor! — in Canada). FedEx likes us very much. (their flat rate is only slightly more than USPS, and they actually deliver the packages to the destination, and even mostly on time!) It’s kind of weird at times — we lend each other books by putting them in flat-rate boxes going to the other person that have some extra space! — but it works.

            An important part of this is that, one, there is not a lot of money in this industry; many people couldn’t afford to live near the actual company HQ. (it’s in a major city) And two, we’re publishing-adjacent, so much of what we do can be done via email. During the Covid lockdowns, a couple of people went in to the warehouse (at different times!) to get packages out to buyers, and everyone else, from the CEO to the accountants, worked from home. And there was much FedExing of physical things like manufacturers’ proofs. Still is, actually, given the decreasing number of people who can just drop it off at the office.

    2. JSPA*

      It boggles my mind a bit that 4 hours round trip commute, once every 2 weeks, wasn’t worth the price of keeping things humming along without stress… borrow a car if you don’t have one, get a babysitter or dog walker, and do that day, or at least half a day…no?

      1. lucanus cervus*

        Yeah, I’m a bit taken aback by this as well. I’ve had to go 2 hours each way on public transport before, 4 times a week – and that was actually terrible, and I lasted 9 months before packing it in. But once a fortnight? As the price of living where I wanted to and keeping my job? It really wouldn’t be the end of the world.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, I agree. Given the typical commutes in my area I’d consider anything above 90 minutes each way to be excessive as a daily commute, but two hours each way would absolutely be doable once every two weeks.

          I’m lucky in that I need to go to the office about once a week and my commute’s 45 minutes to an hour each way.

      2. Your local password resetter*

        Agreed, that averages out to a 12 minute commute for a full-time job, which is on the low end of commuting.

  2. Peanut Hamper*

    “the sacrificial lamb to the budgeting gods” had me rolling!

    This was as good an update as I was hoping to hear, and in some ways much better. I’m glad your boss listened to you and the situation worked out for the best.

  3. OMG, Bees!*

    Interesting development indeed and I am glad it seems to improved.

    I am curious how large the team is and how many of them had asked OP to do their tasks in the previous letter. Because I disagreed with Allison that OP should have sent a private reply to each and every person who asked; if that was say 10 people on a team under 20, that is a lot of time to reiterate “No” as had previously been said, while the singular group message was much quicker (albeit could have been phrased better, but sometimes “I am fed up with this and will not do your work” also sends a necessary and clear message). But if it had been 4 people on a team of 20, that would petty.

    1. Skytext*

      If you had read the original letter, you would have seen that it was every. single. person. on her team AND her boss. So not “4 out of 20”. The team already had 2 sick and 1 on vacation, so presumably it’s much larger than 4.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        They’re cancelling a meeting for 3 people being out though, so its probably not a huge team. Missing 3 out of 20 wouldn’t in my mind warrant cancelling a meeting. I feel like it would have to be less than 10. Also doesn’t take that long to copy/paste the same response to 10 or even 20 people.

        OP got a good outcome but they spent some amount of capital on the way due to the tone of their message.

        1. linger*

          OTOH it was that frustrated tone that forced OP’s manager to actually ask their coworkers the key question: What task(s) are you each asking OP to do in one day?
          Prior to this Manager had just assumed each task was trivial.

        2. GrooveBat*

          The advantage to notifying everyone at once is twofold: 1) It makes it clear that it is not a personal refusal to each co-worker; 2) It illustrates the volume of requests OP was receiving to everyone making those requests.

        3. mb*

          My concern was that the boss was thinking each employee’s requests were reasonable things that took only 10 to 15 minutes – but even that – just 4 people’s tasks at 15 minutes is an hour. Out of an 8 hour work day, that’s 12.5%. So even if the tasks were quick, which they were not, doing several people’s in office tasks every time you decide to go into the office is a huge ask and not appropriate. I think that’s the way OP should have phrased it to the boss – like, it’s okay to do the boss’s and maybe one other person’s quick tasks, but not everybody’s. And the coworkers weren’t asking for quick tasks either.

        4. Worldwalker*

          Well, it depends on who those people are. If the meeting is, for instance, for people to present their updates to, and discuss product schedules with, the head of the teapot division, and that division head is one of the people out sick, it wouldn’t make sense to hold the meeting anyway. If the person out sick is an entry-level teapot painter, not so much.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I don’t think it has to be much larger — I was assuming it is something like 4-5 people at any given time. She said the smallest task (other than the boss’s) was 45 minutes, so a handful of those equals a half day!

        Regardless, it’s not the number of people that matters as much as the amount of work / time it is shifting to OP.

      3. OMG, Bees!*

        I read the original, tho skimmed it again before I commented. Still don’t see a number for the size of the team, but the implication is more like I thought of 10+ out of 20 teammates. So I stand that the group reply was better than replying to 10+ different direct messages.

    2. A person*

      Yeah, I also disagreed on sending to individuals as that just ensures that this will keep flying under the radar of boss. The tone in the original “im not doing your tasks” couldve been better, but since every member of the team asked for tasks, it seems to me that a group message is appropriate for declining them all, especially since it sounds like this was a boundary that had already been established that now people are trying to be sneaky about. So no… if you’re gonna start that, you know you shouldn’t be asking so if you get exposed that’s on you.

  4. Bringerofbrownies*

    I understand the desire to move and that the pandemic caused a bit of reshuffling as people reprioritized their lives. But I don’t really understand the surprise some people have that moving several hours away from their office might be a problem once the temporary pandemic-related work arrangements were lifted. Unless your company clearly communicated that 100% WFH was the new norm, you have to assume they’ll want you in the office at least part time, no?

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Wishful thinking. This WILL be the new normal, despite no one saying it. And they did keep it up. Until OP was all, I am not doing your jobs and mine. Then boss found out these were simple things like – run the TPS report that can only be accessed in the office.

      Although I am side-eying boss here. Boss should have been firmed with the team — and cut out her owns asks. All this would have been found out much sooner.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        The boss’s asks seem to be reasonable, though, at least according to the LW.

        And the coworkers texted the LW directly, not through the group chat, so it sounds like if this was their usual way to communicate these requests, they were very much trying to fly under the radar and get out of doing their work.

        1. Antilles*

          Also, the boss having her own asks comes across different because she *is* the manager, delegating tasks is directly part of her role, and she also presumably has enough other duties that she might need to pass off some stuff.

          1. Just Another Zebra*

            I agree. Spending an hour doing 5 quick tasks for my manager feels a whole lot different than doing 1 hour-long task for a peer. And then to have, say half a dozen coworkers all asking for hour-long tasks to be done… I’d lose it, too.

            1. mb*

              But even if it were 15 minutes of work per person, 4 or 5 people’s 15 minute jobs is over an hour of an 8 hour work day. That’s not cool. Doing the boss’ stuff is one thing, but a team of probably 5 to 10 people, all asking for 15 minutes worth of work is not okay either.

              1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                And that’s assuming that OP will do the tasks as quickly and as efficiently as the person whose actual job it is. OP might well spend a good few minutes just figuring out what the colleague means, feeling a bit lost and unsure because it’s not her job. I know I always disliked doing even relatively simple stuff, when it wasn’t my job. I always felt that there might be a better way to do it, but it’s not up to me to take initiatives to improve the workflow as I had been shown.

      2. ferrina*

        I agree that boss was remiss, but I think what the boss missed was asking “How much of your time do these tasks take? How often does this happen.”

        Most bosses don’t see exactly who does which task. If the direct reports aren’t saying “I did this and Pastor Patty Labelle did that”, the boss won’t know. Usually that’s fine- people find their own processes, support each other in ways that make sense for them, and set their own boundaries. Every so often stuff like this comes up. Ideally, OP would have alerted the boss to how much time this was taking on a regular basis, or boss would have asked detailed questions to check in (side note: I’ve had direct reports when I ask detailed questions like this. They don’t realize that I’m double checking to make sure no one is being take advantage of, and they think I’m micromanaging. This is one of the regular perils of being the manager.)

        1. SpaceySteph*

          Boss definitely dropped the ball the first several times OP complained about everyone piggy backing her trips to the office. Boss assumed they were easy tasks but never actually asked.

          1. Worldwalker*

            A depressingly long time ago (late 80s) I worked for a courier company. They got underbid for my route (and a lot of others, by a company lowballing their bids to squeeze out rivals) and I got laid off. The terminal manager from Harrisburg rode up with me so he could take the company vehicle back. Note that my partner and I had been complaining for months about how many additional stops they’d added to our route, to the point where it was literally impossible to complete it at the posted speed limit. When we got to the end of the route, the manager in question said, and I remember the exact quote, “Wow, it didn’t look that far on the map!” (of course, since I had a manager riding shotgun, I was careful not to exceed the speed limit and otherwise obey all traffic laws) And I’m like “Yeah, if you guys had two clues to rub together, maybe you wouldn’t have been pushed out of all of eastern PA.”

      3. Observer*

        This WILL be the new normal, despite no one saying it

        Full time wfh? No, because there are reasons for in office and hybrid jobs.

        Also, there is a difference between almost full time wfh and moving to a place that makes periodic visits impractical and / or moving to a different tax jurisdiction. The tax implications are real.

        1. Worldwalker*

          The tax implications are very real. I’m technically a contractor, not an employee, as are a number of my co-workers, because we’re scattered all over the country and it would require the (very small) company to have a business presence in a dozen+ states just because that’s where some of us live.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            DEFINITELY consult a lawyer. The company doesn’t get to declare you contractors because its too hard to get the taxation right.

          2. BoksBooks*

            That’s not how that works. You’re miscategorized as a method of tax evasion, they owe you back taxes for the self employment FICA you paid plus penalties. Contact the dept of labor and they will handle this. You can remain anonymous to your employer there are many ways the DOL catches this.

        2. GrooveBat*

          It will be the “new normal” until the next job market downturn, and then employers will once again be able to dictate the terms of employment.

        3. A person*

          I’m pretty sure they meant that as the wishful thinking. Not that the commenter was saying it will be the new normal.

          People did stuff like that to try to will “the new normal” into existence and it muchly backfired.

      4. Tiger Snake*

        Give it maybe 2 years for the major cyber security incidents with multi-million dollar consequences to start getting publicised before making that prediction.

        While there’s a few good eggs, most of the WFH solutions you’re seeing out there have just ‘okay’ houses built on sand foundations – the additional applications themselves may be okay (it’s a real mixed bag), but the integration into the environments wasn’t done well and weakened security measures that were previously in place. The WFH rush of covid means things were not done well or properly and risks got handwaved away because there was a government mandate.

        The moment the executives see the first attacks that make them realise “wait those concerns are real and they could happen to us”, we’re going to see some gut reactions from companies, looking at either shelling out really big dollars to rebuilt WFH from scratch, or try and turn off 90% of what made WFH work.

        I just hope it doesn’t include people’s home addresses and camera feed this time.

        1. Ann*

          That could happen with WFH or office work though. A lot of companies really don’t have the best in-house security, and they’re sitting ducks.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            yes, at a software company, the boss was asking what security measures had been introduced, in order to answer a question in a call for tender. The devs thought long and hard and said “well we put up the no entry sign for the server room because the cleaner kept knocking the off button by mistake”.
            Funnily enough the company was hacked a few weeks later, and tons of data was wiped.

    2. Jane Bingley*

      I know a lot of people who have made a personal declaration that they’re never going back to the office and will quit rather than return if called back. I totally get it – I’m fortunate to work for a permanently remote organization! – but I think it’s easier said than done, and much scarier to stand by when the call actually comes and the job market looms. I could see how people might hope they’re never called back, or simply delay coming in as often as possible for as long as possible in hopes it will become a permanent arrangement, rather than having to actually go job hunting.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Well, it is a preference. I notice people online keep missing that because they always make WFH sound like the obviously superior solution. I WFH alot but an office is a God Send; for example, last week they started jack-hammering up concrete on my street, and I had a place to escape to that wasn’t a coffee shop where I’d be getting stink-eye after sitting there for more than an hour, or can’t go to the bathroom without worrying about my stuff getting stolen (which did happen before!).

        Also some people have sort of unbearable living situations and just really want a place to get out to, so they don’t go absolutely stir crazy like the cast of The Shining. Personally, I didn’t live in a nice place I would actually be able to WFH in until I was 35

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My job can’t be done from home so this is theoretical: I don’t make enough to rent a big enough place that a WFH setup doesn’t seriously cut into my living area, and I am not at all down with giving my employer free office space at my own expense.

          Do I wish I had a much shorter commute? Sure. Do I also love not having any of my job in my home? Definitely.

          1. Worldwalker*

            I like my 30-foot commute. I can live with having my kitchen table covered with 3D printers (with just enough room for the axolotl’s tank) and my desk covered with computer monitors, paper, and random 3D printed things. (there’s a little wizard staring at me right now!)

            But when my husband was also full-time WFH, it was not so easy. Two of us working in the same room, trying not to disturb each other, was complicated at the least.

        2. Orv*

          How much of a respite your office is also varies a lot. My office is in a building that has no air conditioning so on hot days coffee shops are sometimes preferable.

        3. Tau*

          I have ADHD and WFH is a bad setup for me; I typically work from the office at least four days a week, totally voluntarily. I am by far not the only person who comes in without needing to. I think this is one area where the overall skew of the AAM comments section can be misleading.

          Also, just the opportunity to have an escape – my office has air conditioning which is very unusual in private homes here, so on hot summer days it’s great. And there was that time I got evacuated from my home due to UXO disposal and am not sure how I would’ve managed to work if the office hadn’t been an option.

          1. Violet Fox*

            I’m in one of those places with the same sort of air conditioning situation, and it is such a relief to be able to cool off for at least some of the day when it’s hot out.

            I’m also very much the type of person that just can’t focus well at home, and do a lot better working from the office.

            As someone said below it gets to me as well when people present WFH as the obvious best option. It’s an option that some people like, and are *very* vocal about, to the level that it gets tiring.

          2. Fishsticks*

            I have shifted to primarily WFH after my workplace forced us to move to a new location. Previously, I had an ideal work setup – dedicated office space that was blocked visually AND audibly from the larger workspace. I shared it with another employee, but she is quiet and so I could focus really well.

            We were forced to move to a new location with one large open cubicle space where the cubicle walls don’t go above our chins even when we are seated at our desks. I can hear everything someone says all the way across the room. They have had workers in and out constantly because they apparently didn’t prepare for us. Vacuuming, drilling, construction/repair guys just chatting loudly. We aren’t even given dedicated space but have to ‘hotel’ and know that our preferred space might be gone with no notice or warning. There are offices but we aren’t allowed to claim any permanently, and if you close the door for privacy the office quickly becomes unbearably hot. There were crumbs on all the cubicle desks because they hadn’t been cleaned after the prior occupants moved out. It’s just hell on my sensory issues and the worst working environment for me.

            So I’m mostly at home now. I come in once or twice a week for face-to-face with my boss, but man, it has just been wretched. I know she would like me in more often but when I am there, I am the least productive I have ever been in this job. And I’m so much more productive at home! I miss my office so much. It was so nice to come in each day and have this quiet, productive space just for me.

        4. GrooveBat*

          I become irrationally irritated when everyone presents WFH as the “obviously superior solution.” It certainly isn’t for me, although I am stuck with it.

          1. Dilly*

            I hear ya. My company gave up its office lease in summer of 2021 (kinda sorta. The lease was a sublet and the primary lessee decided to consolidate 2 of their office locations in the same city and my company downsized to a smaller office suite in the same building that really only fits C-suite and finance). I hate working from home. I don’t like having my sanctuary invaded by work. And if the commute was the price I had to pay, so be it. I don’t think I’m particularly more or less productive than I was when working for the office. Well, actually I’m not as good at helping to train the junior staff while working from home. It’s not an official duty, more of “and other duties as assigned” and there is one task that I’m really good at and I used to be the go to for working with the new hires, but these junior staff are getting the short end of the stick on this.

            1. GrooveBat*

              We’ve been 90% WFH as long as I’ve worked at my company, but I ended up physically moving to a different state so I could work out of one of our few office locations. COVID shut that down and now I’m back in my home state…working remotely and hating every minute of it.

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Same – the department I’m in is hybrid because all our primary tasks can be done from home – but we are also the “oh crap, the workflow exploded and we’re got a bunch of sick employees, etc, add other reason here” backups for a different department. That departments workflow can’t be done remotely- so we do on rare occasions still have to go into an office. It’s work – and we do generally get at least 24 hours notice that we need to physically come in the next day.

          2. Polly Gone*

            Good to hear I’m not the only one to whom WFH is some sort of utopia. I was home from 3/2020 through 8/2021, and it got old real quick. AND I’m fortunate enough to have a designated home office rather than balancing a laptop on my knees while sitting on my bed.

          3. Bear Expert*

            I work well from home – both my role and me personally and my life.

            But I know that’s not true for everyone. I’ve had staff that I fought to be first back in office because WFH just didn’t work well for them. Some it was their home set up – shared apartments are not great for carving out a dedicated office space, and a dedicated office space is way more functional than not. Some it was just their personal workflows – they needed the physical separation.

            I think people who demand that work doesn’t count unless it’s butts in seats are just as deluded as people who think WFH is the best for everyone.

            People have different needs. I think we will get the best productivity from people who are in an environment that supports their needs best. So it seems obvious to me that we should be putting in the work to make roles successful in, and communication between, multiple environments.

        5. Violet Fox*

          Some people also just don’t have the space to have a home office, without doing one of those unwise moves or want to reorder their home around work.

          For some people having that hard work/home life separation is important including not having work encroach on their home lives.

          For some people, being around other people and working with people face to face is important.

          For some people it is easier to concentrate on work without all of the distractions of home.

          A lot of jobs just cannot be done at home as well.

          And for some of us it is all of the above.

        6. Csethiro Ceredin*

          I agree – I do have the space at home but I really don’t want the spare bedroom to feel like my office. My preference is to keep work and home separate!

          And during COVID video meetings I was very aware of the managers in the government department I deal with all having nice workspaces and the more entry level folks all working on their kitchen table or in the bedroom.

          It depends on your commute, your home space, your work space, and various other factors.

      2. HA2*

        Well, I personally have moved away and bought a house elsewhere. I literally could not come back to the office because I live half a country away from my current employer (and most others in the field).

        My team is fully remote, and many of us are in that same situation, living half a country (or more) away from the office.

        Feels as permanent as it can be. Yes, I would of course quit rather than have to come in, because, well, any job at any salary that’s remote is better than having to sell my house and move halfway across the country.

    3. Good Enough For Government Work*

      I did this – moved somewhere that was a reasonable distance from the office if I drove, but since I can’t drive, the commute was two busses each way and was pretty dire.

      And when our 100% wfh period ended, I… sucked it up, having known damn well that this could happen and decided it was worth it.

    4. kiki*

      While there are some people who are fully surprised that it created an issue at all and I don’t really get where there heads were at, I know a fair amount of people who wanted to move while they could and figured that once it created an issue, they’d look for something new. I think some of them ended up finding that it took years longer than they thought for a real issue to arise. So they’re not really surprised that they need a new job, but they were caught off-guard that the issue presented itself so long after they had made the decision to move.

    5. Emilia Bedelia*

      There was quite a lot of overblown discourse in 2021ish along the lines of “Is remote work only the new normal??” “75% of tech CEOs think return to office will never happen” “Office jobs are totally over, declares 1 freelance contributor for Slate!” that really lulled people into thinking things were going to stay remote. A lot of people also like to think, “I’m exactly as productive at home as I am in the office, of course my boss will let me WFH permanently” without thinking of the actual logistics.

      I think a lot of people were legitimately surprised at the fact that many offices went back to roughly normal. Should they have been? Probably not. But the media discussion of permanent remote work as almost a certainty for many people didn’t really help.

      1. Kaiko*

        I also think a lot of companies quietly did keep remote work on the table. My husband and sister both negotiated WFH arrangements during the return-to-office period that meant they were 90% remote, with a few days in the office each month. Neither lives in the city where their office is located.

        1. LJ*

          This. And of course no company would definitively promise anything early on (remember how we were supposed to be back in the office in 2 weeks, then…), so people made choices that worked for their lives, and even for the OP’s coworker, it’s been 2-3 years at this point… one might decide that even if you have to quit at some future date, it’s still worth it.

      2. 1LFTW*

        In my area, the overblown discourse was driven by tech companies claiming they’d never ever require workers to return to the office, EVER! They waxed self-congratulatory about how they had spent decades honing the technology that made remote work possible, and all the local (and global!) problems this would solve, etc, so why wouldn’t their employees be able WFH forever?

        Many of those same companies have reversed course over the past year or so, and of course many of those same companies have been hit with layoffs. Since I’m not in tech myself I don’t know how much WFH was a deciding factor in who was laid off, but I have my suspicions.

      3. Peter*

        Good post. I do think a lot of people knew their own situation pretty accurately and felt they had built up enough capital could safely WFH many miles away from their current workplace without many issues. But even then, some of them seemed naive about how easy it would be to replicate that relationship if/when they had to find another job. Or even if they would be taken seriously applying for jobs in that labour market from so far away.

    6. Earlk*

      So many people have done it where I work. I understand why, London is very expensive, but now we’re expected to be hybrid working they’re pushing back and making it look like we might all be expected to go in full time which is the worst.

    7. Ann*

      It may not be a problem. A few people at my company have done it for years. The first time someone moved away and still kept working here was around 2008, way before remote work was popular. And we’ve had small offices that are hours from our HQ even longer than that.
      But. Of course all of this was cleared with the boss first. Quietly moving hours away and hoping no one ever finds out is crazy, and can cause tax issues too.

    8. bmorepm*

      I agree with this comment, but there are a number of employers who did say exactly that-staff at my office got permanent remote work agreements and everything, and are now being told we will be going back in.

  5. Michelle Smith*

    This raises an interesting question for me. I’m hoping to move sometime in the next couple of years. I currently live in the NYC Metro Area and my employer is in the city. I wonder if I wanted to move out of New York and into New Jersey (right across the river, no farther from my office than I currently live honestly), would I need to work in the office full-time to avoid tax issues? I need to look into this.

    1. saskia*

      Living in NJ and working in NYC is extremely common and has been since well before the pandemic. If you’re working for an NY company, they will almost certainly have employees who live in Hoboken/Jersey City/etc. and can give you whatever tax guidance you need.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        However it is worth noting that the telework aspect of this is relatively new even though commuting is not. NJ suspended some taxation rules for telework due to covid but have since lifted the suspension, so there are tax implications for working from home in NJ for a company in NYC.

      2. There's Alway the Reverse to Consider*

        Or they have a tax reciprocity arrangement like Illinois has with Wisconsin and Indiana.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          Yes, this. NY-NJ and NY-CT and (I think? not sure) NY-PA have tax reciprocity arrangements. No problem tax-wise to live in NJ w/a NY job.

          1. Jamie Starr*

            No problem tax-wise to live in NJ w/a NY job.

            That’s not necessarily true. It may not be a problem as far as the employee’s income tax is concerned. But there may be other business tax implications for the company. Maybe the company isn’t registered to do business in the state where the employee is living/working.

            1. MaryB*

              I don’t think there are any non-startup companies in NYC that aren’t prepared for NJ business tax implications. As long as people keep their address updated, it should not be a problem.

              1. Jamie Starr*

                You would be incorrect then. There are nonprofits in NYC that specifically do not want to create a business nexus in NJ or other (nearby) states.

              2. doreen*

                Actually, NY and NJ don’t have reciprocity arrangements – you don’t end up paying taxes to both states on the same income but you do have taxes withheld for both states and file tax returns for both states

                Living in NJ and working in NY is not a problem, since that is very common in NYC – what may cause a problem is living in NJ and working from home for a company with no nexus in NJ. It won’t directly be a problem for the employee- but the problems for the business may cause them to not allow that employees to work from home Lots of NYC non-startup companies aren’t prepared for NJ business tax implications. Maybe not any huge companies – but the local bank with seven branches in NY and none outside doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of letting back office people remotely work from other states.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      A lot of times it ends up you owe two states taxes on the income which results in a bit of a loss for you. Also some cities have city specific taxes on income designed for this type of scenario where you may work there but not live there (Philadelphia Wage Tax comes to mind).

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        You should never owe tax on the same income to two states in the US. If you pay tax on income where you earned it, you would take a tax credit in your home state.

    3. what was my name again*

      Unless the company itself has some rule about where you reside, the issue is less WFH vs in-office, it’s about lying on the paperwork. (NYC and NJ especially, I’d be shocked to hear of a NY business having an issue!)

      And really, if you find out someone moved 3 hours away and has been keeping it secret, you can’t help but wonder- what else aren’t they telling?

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Check with HR. But given the realities of working in NYC while living elsewhere they are most likely set up for this. Most border cities are. DC if you get a job, they are all set for any of the 3 jurisdictions.

      The problem that is developing is that people who work in say Raleigh/Durham have people who know live in Roanoke, VA. When they never had anyone living there before and an are not set up taxwise to deal with that.

    5. Sneaky Squirrel*

      I would imagine your company is dealing with this enough where your situation is a non-issue, but your payroll team would know best. Some states have tax agreements with other neighboring states to handle situations where people frequently commute between the two for work so that if you live in one state and work in another, you only have to file one tax return for the state you live in. I would imagine given how frequent it is, NJ and NY have some form of reciprocity agreement and would be surprised if your company didn’t permit that move.

    6. UrbanGardener*

      As someone who has always lived in NJ and worked in NYC for over 20 years, I don’t even think it’s a company based thing, it’s just state-based tax thing. You do have to file both NY state and NJ state tax forms, but you get credit for NJ taxes for the tax you pay to NY, so for example, since I live in NJ but don’t work here, I wind up getting a refund for a few hundred from NY and owing NJ like $25 (I’m single with no kids and own a small cheap condo so I don’t get a huge refund anywhere!).

    7. Jamie Starr*

      It’s not only about tax implications for the employee. Having employees living in a different state could create a business nexus for the company (depending on what type of work the employee does) which could open up other requirements that may be burdensome for a smaller company. For example, I know if a New York based nonprofit has a business nexus in a different state, it means they’re required to file taxes in that other state.

      1. MaryB*

        This is true in general, but a huge number of people in NJ work for NY companies. There are reciprocal agreements in place. It’s extremely unlikely that a business headquartered in NYC has never had an NJ employee before.

        1. Jamie Starr*

          You’re missing my point. Yes, a NYC company may have employees who live in NJ, but they work in NYC. The difference for the company starts when the employees no longer work in NYC, but in NJ (or PA or CT). Depending on the type of work being done it may create a business nexus in those states, meaning the NYC company now has to file tax returns for those other states, perhaps buy workers’ comp policies in those states, follow labor laws specific only to those states, etc. That may not be a big deal for larger companies, but for small businesses and small nonprofits especially, that additional paperwork creates an administrative burden and translates to real extra expenses. It’s not always/only about how the employee is affected.

          1. LikesToSwear*

            This exactly. Plus corporate taxes within the state. It can get very expensive to have a nexus in certain states. So expensive, that there are states that my employer will not allow remote work from. I’m sure many companies that are aware of the issues have similar rules in place.

      2. BoksBooks*

        You’re thinking of sales tax, this is not true for income tax. Sometimes there are more filing requirements.

      3. BethDH*

        Yes, I work for a large but single location org that is so close to another state that I can walk there and back during lunch. Lots of employees live there.
        You cannot work from home if you live there, because we don’t have nexus there. You can live there, you can work from there a few days a year for things like snow days, but you can’t work hybrid or remote from there. We were all in person before Covid so it wasn’t an issue; during Covid those rules were suspended; now they’re back in place. The org is figuring out whether they want to have nexus there (probably yes, but they’re slow on decisions) so in the meantime it’s not a (legal) option.

    8. Kevin Sours*

      It’s weird. When I was living in Maryland and working in Virginia I didn’t have to pay Virginia income tax. But it appears that’s due to an agreement between the two States. It would not surprise if NY/NJ was the same way.

      1. Dilly*

        MD, DC, and VA have tax reciprocity. When you were first hired you probably filled out a tax form that declared you live in MD and therefore were exempt from VA taxes. I live in MD, was physically working out of an office in DC for a company that was based in VA (there were a team of us assigned to work out of another company’s office as we were their subcontractor on a federal contract).

    9. Ally McBeal*

      Nope! NYC, NJ and CT have a reciprocal tax agreement so the tens of thousands of people who commute into the city from NJ/CT don’t have to deal with the headache. You’ll need to tell HR so they can adjust the state you’re paying taxes to and have your end-of-year docs sent to the right address, but it’s not a big deal at all.

      1. doreen*

        NYC might have one with NJ – but NYS doesn’t. If you commute from NJ to NY you have to file both tax returns. You won’t end up paying taxes to both states on the same income because you will first file your non-resident return and then the state you live in will give you a credit based on taxes paid to the other state – but you do still have the headache of filing both.

    10. Just Syin’*

      You need to read your employee handbook. Some NYC employees MUST live in New York State (though no necessarily the city). My spouse, who is an ADA in the Bronx, is required to do so. They know of colleagues who tried to secretly move to NJ and were fired when they were found out. This was laid out to them very clearly when they were hired.

      1. Just Syin’*

        Sorry, i misread your post. I though you said you worked FOR the city, but you said IN the city. You’re probably fine then. But city employees, beware.

  6. DD*

    Although it took way longer than it should for your boss to take the additional work seriously it’s good to see in the end she stepped up and straightened things out once she saw how much time you were spending on your coworkers duties.

    Out of curiosity did your coworkers show any gratitude to you for saving them the drive into work? I’m not saying this is adequate compensation but were they at least taking you to lunch when they were in the office or sending you some GrubHub lunch when you were helping them out?

    1. ferrina*

      Or at bare minimum, prioritizing your requests and helping you with work as frequently as they were asking for help

  7. Bookworm*

    Oof. While I am somewhat sympathetic for the teammate who was laid off, obviously this was not working for you (and as you said, this violated an agreement). I am glad that it all seems to have worked out and that you were validated. Thank you so much for the update, OP!!

  8. Bruce*

    I moved to a different state during Covid, but asked and got permission. I turned down a promotion to a much more stressful job as part of this move. When everyone was WFH except the crew that came into the lab it was OK, but as the office re-opened we worked out a new role for me that is more focused on working with overseas teams, and the guy I’d hired as a possible future replacement for me stepped up to take over the local management job. Win-Win! I feel really lucky how this has worked out, but it started with being clear about what I wanted…

    1. Observer*

      This. I think that it’s smart for companies to give as much flexibility as they can. But the fact that you were open and above board about it really makes a difference (assuming a reasonable company, of course.)

      1. Bruce*

        There were some complications, my wife still has a house in the old state where her adult kids live, but I had to change my tax residency to the new state… and the company reduced my pay based on regional pay scales (ouch!). But it was worth it, and they’ve done well by me since. So I’m not complaining!

  9. Sneaky Squirrel*

    “Like you, my boss didn’t like how I phrased the message, but she agreed that things had to change. She was also under the impression that I like going to the office. ”

    Just a public service announcement to all bosses that just because someone goes into an office, it doesn’t mean they “like” doing it and you shouldn’t assume so. And you should also assume that in any case, they don’t want to be doing yours or anyone else’s work.

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      The last sentence. Even if someone does like going into the office, which OP originally said they did, doesn’t mean they like doing other’s people’s work. A quick, oh hey, I have to mail a physical letter can you just print it and put the envelope in the outcoming mail, is one thing. But apparently these were things actually assisgned to other team members as tasks.

      1. goducks*

        Even the print and post example is too much if it is frequent or not reciprocal. Most people don’t mind doing small favors for coworkers, but not all the time, and not if the coworker isn’t doing similar favors in return.

        Doing tasks for the boss may be annoying, but it’s the boss’ prerogative to delegate any tasks she sees fit, so that falls in a different bucket for me.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep. I love going into the office – especially when no one else is in, it’s a great place to concentrate. On MY work.

      1. Random Biter*

        So much this!! I’d go in on Saturdays or holidays sometimes to get 10 times the work done.

        1. Bruce*

          My former boss and another senior guy both went into the office all through the shutdowns so they could be away from home to concentrate :-)

      2. Allonge*


        It’s a bit weird but I love going to the office for precisely the opposite – because people find me easier there and a large part of my job is answering questions. I understand the feeling of getting more done when separated from others though! But for a lot of jobs that’s not a thing, or not long-term anyway.

        But all that is my job. I did go to the office a lot during lockdown as I lived the closest and also lived alone, and I did a lot of stuff for others then. But now it’s just not feasible – I have my own job, it’s more than enough.

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, when the pandemic first hit I offered to go in and take care of the mail (something that was decidedly NOT my job) and water the plants (which also wasn’t my job but I didn’t mind doing it), mostly to be a nice person and also because I lived closer to the office than almost anyone else. Eventually when the pandemic stretched on and on I simply took all the office plants home with me, but I also put my foot down about getting the mail. I actually hated the job; it was not only boring, but it was also more complicated than I expected it would be (esp for a very small company; most of the mail was the owner’s personal financial stuff, so it needed to be dealt with correctly and discreetly). It also took far longer than I expected it would take (because: complicated) and what I thought would be a 20 minute trip to the office often lasted much longer because I often had questions about what to do with things that I needed to wait for an answer.

      I was so relieved when they decided the usual mail person could do it once a week instead of having the two of us come in once a week each.

      1. Quill*

        First year of the pandemic it seemed like ALL I did at work was mail. Legal documents have to be hardcopy, after all.

    4. Sara without an H*

      PSA #2 to all managers: Just because you don’t like the way an employee has phrased a message doesn’t mean that the message itself is invalid. While I agree with Alison (and, apparently, the Letter Writer herself) that the LW could have handled it better, the issue was significant. I’m glad her boss paid attention and took the necessary action.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        ^^ This. I worked for someone who pushed back on EVERYTHING with “well you didn’t tell me during the dark of the moon on a Tuesday when Mercury was in retrograde while holding a chicken, so therefore I will ignore what you said.” You could have told this boss the building was on fire and she would have started complaining about how you told her before getting out.

        1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

          “during the dark of the moon on a Tuesday when Mercury was in retrograde while holding a chicken”

          Just here to show love, and wow, we worked for the same person, eh?

    5. Someone Online*

      I mean, as a supervisor if an employee tells me they like to work in the office and keep coming into the office I am not going to keep asking if they like that arrangement. I assume they’ll tell me if they want to move to hybrid or work from home (as those are options).

      I don’t expect someone to other people’s work though.

      1. Emily*

        You’re missing the major part though that OP *did* bring the problem up to her manager (please go read the original letter if you haven’t already).

        OP, it sounds like things worked out for the best. I’m not at all surprised you did not get fired (I thought it was very odd that a few of the commenters on your first post were saying you might). I am glad your boss *finally* realized what was going on, and hopefully she will be more aware in the future.

  10. take away*

    Remind me the next time I’m job searching to avoid places that won’t let me live where ever I choose…

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      The issue wasn’t so much that they lived far away. It’s that they lived far away on a hybrid job, not a 100% WFH job. And then expected OP to take care of their in-office chores.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes. My job has rules that I need to live within x miles of the office and work a hybrid routine with a certain percentage of time in the office. I am not allowed to move to Italy and decide to work from there and never come into work. The trick is to know the rules for the company you are working for and the job you’re accepting and abide by them.

        1. Becky*

          My job is 100% work from home and I am looking to move states (because I want to buy a house but where I currently live I 1) don’t want to stay and 2) can’t afford the houses). I mentioned it to my boss months ago and she said it shouldn’t be a problem but there was an approvals process. My boss’s boss just told me recently that we can pretty much do anywhere in the US – just don’t try it internationally.

        2. londonedit*

          Yep. We don’t have the tax implications here in the UK (income tax is the same wherever you live, it’s a percentage of your salary, and you pay council tax on the home you live in rather than state taxes) but many companies still have rules about how far one can live from the main office, and many companies are expecting people to come in a certain number of days per week. It’s definitely caused a few issues – I know a couple of people who took the opportunity to move out of London in 2020, probably assuming we’d never go back to the office, and now where I work we’re supposed to be in-house two days a week, so all of a sudden they’re dealing with long train journeys and expensive tickets etc. It was a bigger trend, too – in 2020 tons of people left London for more rural areas, and then firstly realised that rural areas don’t have the sort of amenities and easy access to things that London has, and secondly had a bit of a shock when their employers started saying OK, you’ve got to be in the office two or three days a week. And now the London rental market is insane because people are having to come back and no one can afford to buy anything, so you have 20 people fighting over each flat that comes up for rent.

          1. perstreperous*

            And, also, people who moved to rural areas were caught out when they had to, or wanted to, change job and the potential job said “hybrid working”, so the choice was either remain unemployed/at a job they disliked or move back.

            (I know of a case where someone moved to a remote part of the North of England then had to return to South East England after a couple of years for that reason).

            Why people thought, in 2020, that they would never work in an office again is beyond me …

          2. Iain C*

            There are the same tax issues for UK people, when you remember how big states actually are and realise the equivalent is not Bucks -> Herts, but Carlisle to Dumfries, or even Canterbury to Calais (even pre-Brexit).

            I live in Sweden now, and each kommum (county) has slightly different income tax (*) but because that’s such fine scale, salary software is already set up for it.

            People living in Sweden and working in Norway or Denmark is not weird either. I had a cousin who lived in Antwerp and worked in Rotterdam similarly.

    2. MaryB*

      As long as you choose a job that doesn’t have in-office tasks, that should be fine. I think it’s incredibly unfair for someone to make their own job fully remote by offloading their in-office tasks onto another coworker. This isn’t a case of “evil, controlling employer wants butts in seats,” it’s a perfectly legitimate expectation that people do their entire job, including the parts that necessarily happen in the office.

    3. One HR Opinion*

      There are more of them out there than you may think because of potential tax issues.

    4. Trout ‘Waver*

      Where you live can affect tax liability and legal compliance. So a company is always going to have a stake in where you live. They’re at least always going to want to know.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Yep, this. I work on a WFH team and the number of times I’ve had to explain that people just can pull up stakes and move to Nebraska or Hawaii because our company doesn’t have any legal presence there is much higher than zero.

        Work From Home does not mean “work from anywhere”.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Digital nomads is the term for the type of jobs that have 0 requirements on locations

    6. biobotb*

      It seems unlikely that there are lots of jobs out there that are set up to let employees live literally anywhere, even for jobs that are designed to be fully remote from the beginning.

    7. Kevin Sours*

      As someone who’s work full time at home for most of his career if you can pull it off more power to you. But most jobs don’t let you live where ever you choose — even some full time WFH jobs — and if the requirement is that you be in the office as needed you have to show up or negotiate an exception.

    8. not nice, don't care*

      Smells like a sovereign citizen problem to me. Or a hormonal tween. Maybe figure out how long of a commute you can handle and choose a job in that range, instead of complaining about mean ol employers.

  11. Frickityfrack*

    Honestly, I kind of can’t believe the stones on OP’s coworkers. My job during the peak of the pandemic had a few things that had to be done in person. For a while, a couple of staff members would go in to do those things but no one ever asked them to do anything else because we knew they were doing us a huge favor already. Once we all went back to the office a couple of days a week, someone might occasionally ask an in-office person for a very minor assist (think, signing a form or mailing a letter), but I don’t think it would’ve occurred to any of us to ask for something that would take more than a couple of minutes. Those people should be ashamed of themselves.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I don’t think my manager would **allow** me to spend that much time on someone else’s task unless it was urgent and all above-board.

    1. DD*

      Not defending the needy coworkers but what might take them 10 minutes to do because they are already signed into all the right systems, know exactly where things are located, have deep familiarity with the data, systems, etc likely takes someone else multiple times longer.

      A quick “can you update the file with the latest sales numbers and print off 5 copies” is quick to them. The poor person in the office has to sign off their share drive and sign into the drive where the file is located buried five folders deep (the asker has a quick link to the location). She has to locate the new sales numbers, verify they’re the right sales numbers, figure out where in the presentation they’re referenced by looking at every page (the asker works with the file often and just knows they are on pages 2, 6, 11-14, and 17). When she updates the graph on page 12 it always messes up the legend which she doesn’t notice until she’s printed all 5 copies and now has to go back. You get the idea.

      1. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

        All this. A chemist once asked me to update an Excel sheet for her and FedEx it out while she was on vacation. I input some numbers and–things happened. Were those things supposed to happen? I didn’t know. Not being a chemist, I had no way to verify that the numbers were correct. I nabbed another chemist and asked for help. She looked at the form and all she had to say was, “What.” Needless to say, it didn’t get updated, it didn’t go out, and Vacation Chemist told everyone it was because I was a dolt. To which my boss said, “Mark isn’t stupid enough to send something to engineers they can’t be sure is correct. But you were stupid enough to fob that job off on a non-chemist.”

    2. Fish*

      Many of my former colleagues had no such reservations or shame. As long as by God they didn’t have to haul themselves into the office, they didn’t care who they imposed on or how.

  12. Observer*

    Unfortunately for my teammate, layoffs were happening and he found himself being the sacrificial lamb to the budgeting gods from my team.

    I don’t think he was a “sacrificial lamb” at all. Cuts needed to be made, but what he pulled could have been a firing offense on its own anyway.

    I’m glad your manager realized what was going on and took care of it.

    1. Zarniwoop*

      One of those times when asking for forgiveness instead of permission doesn’t work out.

  13. Sara*

    I love this outcome. The boss taking over the tasks for one day leading to a complete overhaul of the system – that’s like a dream ‘I told you so’. I’m sorry it had to come to a boiling point for OP but I’d still consider it a win overall.

  14. B*

    Definitely easier said than done, especially because the trend is to move somewhere cheaper and more remote, where there will be fewer jobs. A lot of these places are (or were) cheap because the local economy isn’t strong.

    1. Picket*

      I’ve seen a number of news stories about tech workers who were laid off after moving to cheaper areas and then realizing that it was difficult to find (a) work in their field at all in their location, since there simply aren’t a lot of jobs period, and (b) work in their field in their location that paid even close to what their previous jobs paid.

      It’s a high-reward but high-risk choice.

      1. Bruce*

        When I moved my pay was reduced significantly because my company pays a premium for workers in the high priced area. I did not realize this when I first asked about it, but it was all made clear before I moved, and my boss went to bat to keep my cut as small as possible and did some other things that helped make it up. I’m fairly close to retirement, if I was younger I’d have had more reservations about moving away from the center of my industry…

  15. cncx*

    As someone who did what OP did, the problem is the Asks stack up and I can’t believe the boss didn’t realize until they did it. Five minutes or two minutes for literally every coworker can be a day, and was for me. I had two jobs during the pandemic. Job one, management realized early on that Going In was a whole separate set of tasks, and my deliverables the days I was in office shifted to Doing All the In Person Things and only that.

    Job two, I got all the side quests and none of the other tasks shifted off of my plate and I was about as frustrated as OP when I quit. The difference to me was the recognition. Also the boss would have never helped anyone out lol

    Now at job three where again, the days I am in office my deliverables are front facing tasks and admin for home office peeps ONLY and that makes a world of difference. No other meetings or deadlines. A friend of mine has a similar deal where their “helping out their coworkers” day means comped gas, comped lunch, mail, scanning/photocopies and go home.

  16. lunchtime caller*

    It is a little wild to me that this guy apparently said “I can’t come in twice a month because I’m two hours away” because if I knew I was stretching a perk of the job that much then you better believe I’d be showing up for those two monthly visits with a smile on my face. But I also work in NYC where some people choose commutes that long way more often than just twice a month in order to live where they want (and at a company where some well paid people FLY in and out weekly for their commute).

    1. Elle*

      I have someone on my team like this. Moved a couple of hours away and assumed they’d be granted an exception to not come in. There’s no exceptions being given and everyone from the directors down comes in once a week. My team member frequently complains about it but that’s our policy and if you want to work here you have to follow it.

    2. anon24*

      I used to commute an hour daily for a job that paid $12 an hour in 2016 and (sort of) paid my rent. I hated it, but it was what needed to be done. If I got to mostly work from home at a job that paid for me to have a house and I only had to commute 2 hours twice a month I’d think I died and went to heaven.

    3. Gyne*

      Heh, yeah I lived in LA long enough to think a two hour one way commute is… Normal. For some people, anyway.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        I lived in LA for a long while and… never thought that. I mean a know people did it but that’s farking nuts. The longest commute I ever had was about an hour and a half each way but that was via train so I could sleep or read and I was only willing to do it twice a week.

    4. UKDancer*

      Yes, we have to be in at least 2 days per week for our hybrid working pattern, that’s the rule in my company. I know one person who lives on the south coast 3 hours train ride away and comes in to London and stays in a very cheap hotel for 2 nights each week because he says it’s actually cheaper to live in a seaside town and stay up in London for work (which also allows him to enjoy social activities. It wouldn’t be my choice but it works for him.

    5. JustMe*

      Same–I have one friend who works remote for a major corporation and actually does a 4 hour drive or one hour flight once a month to work with the rest of her team in-person. I’m in a major US city on the opposite coast and people do things like that all the time.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        That was SOP for my team in the Before Times. People were allowed to work remotely, so long as they came in at least one day per month to get some face time. (We’re now mostly back to butts-in-seats mode, but they haven’t officially reinstated this requirement.) Some people moved for their partner’s job, but a lot of them were just tired of making six figures and still living in a crappy apartment, because Silicon Valley.

    6. I Have RBF*

      I knew a guy who commuted an hour and a half or more each way, every day to an in-office job. I could never do it.

      My max was one hour in to work, and even then I hated it. A bad wreck could stretch it to two hours with no warning, and that just sucked. Plus, going home always took longer.

      I work full time remote now. While I would be willing to fly down to the head office once a quarter, I haven’t had to yet.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yup, I live in the DMV, and it’s not unusual to have people commuting insane lengths, even before WFH, especially if they were close to retirement. I had several coworkers who had bought places they intended to retire in that were in far-flung locations. I even interviewed a woman whose commute would have been THREE HOURS. EACH WAY. By car. She didn’t take the job, but said she was ok with the commute when we interviewed her.

        1. SHEILA, the co-host*

          I interned for an organization one summer in the DMV. One of the employees was out on personal leave for a month, and her fill-in was someone who usually worked out of the New York office. She flew to NYC and back twice times a week, and stayed with a friend when she did stay overnight in town. Claimed it was cheaper than trying to get a sublet for a month – and this was 25 years ago.

          1. KateM*

            Shouldn’t employer pay for accommodiation in such a case??n That was basically work trip, after all.

    7. Delta Delta*

      There was a recent news story about a grad student who either lived near Los Angeles or San Fransisco and went to school in the opposite city, and with creative scheduling, was able to figure out how to fly back and forth a few times a week so he wouldn’t have to move, and it was less expensive than living in the other city. Yikes.

      1. LJ*

        It was less expensive because he had a stack of frequent flyer miles and (implicit but likely) was living at home in Los Angeles. He was also a grad student studying transportation engineering (i.e. super into transit and it was almost like a personal challenge to do it). Otherwise the math wouldn’t have penciled out compared to a student roommate situation near campus.

    8. Kevin Sours*

      Yeah. I get to commute to LA every quarter or so and that’s an hour and a half in good traffic. And the route goes through the Sepulveda pass.

    9. zuzu*

      When I lived in Sacramento, I knew someone who used to drive from Roseville (which is a good half-hour east of Sacramento) to San Francisco.

      EVERY DAY.

      You could not pay me enough.

      1. SHEILA, the co-host*

        OMG. Just no. That’s 2 hours assuming no traffic. Which is not an assumption one makes about the Bay Area.

    10. Ally McBeal*

      When I left NYC (during the pandemic but not because of the pandemic) I begged my nonprofit job to keep me on – it was a golden handcuffs gig even though it was severely burning me out – and offered to travel back to HQ once a month at my own expense. I was frustrated when they said no, even though my role could easily be switched to remote with only a little reshuffling of duties for one of my coworkers… so I decided to move anyway and, importantly, deal with the consequences of moving. We agreed on an end date ~6 months post-move, which gave me time to settle in and start rebuilding my savings (cross-country moves are so expensive), and gave them time to start the hiring process.

      I genuinely can’t imagine lying to my employer about where I live. What was OP’s ex-coworker’s plan for, say, getting his W2 statement at the end of the year?

    11. Van Wilder*

      That was weird to me too.

      I work in NYC and my commute is 2 hours, door-to-door, each way. Before the pandemic, I did it 3-4x/ week. Now, that is absolutely not happening. But once a month for an important meeting? Not a deal breaker.

    12. Jaid*

      I have a person on my team who lives in VA and stays two days a week in Philly as part of their WFH deal.

      This guy was an idiot.

  17. Mitford*

    I once had to do a proposal for a particular city, where one of the questions was to provide a list of the employees who lived in that city. Many cities like to give work to companies with a presence in their city and who are providing jobs for city residents.

    I duly requested a list of such employees from Human Resources, finished the proposal, and then sent it off to our Legal and Compliance for final review before submitting. Inadvertently, I’d outed one of the attorneys who lived in the suburbs but was using her in-laws’ address in order to get her child into a particular school.

    I’m told there were quite the discussion upstairs about that one.

    1. Van Wilder*

      Ugh the idea of that makes me so nervous. What if they catch on when your kid years into schooling?

    2. Random Academic Cog*

      But probably no real consequences, unlike the poor people who go to jail when they get caught trying to put their children in resourced, non-failing schools.

  18. Choggy*

    We are all back in the office on a hybrid schedule, except for one due to a chronic illness. We are always asking each other for small favors when the others are in the office, and vice versa. This should never have been a one person does all the in-office work for the others because they are the only one going in. Boss should have nipped this in the bud by looking into this further when OP brought it up initially. Let’s hope what happened is a wake-up call for the rest of the team.

  19. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    “Naturally, he did not want to four hours of commuting every couple of weeks.”

    I mean, if you moved two hours away from the office, being asked to drive in ONE DAY every few weeks isn’t really all that unreasonable. They probably should’ve stayed quiet about it and sucked it up.

    I sometimes had two hour commutes home every day when I was in-office pre-pandemic.

    1. DD*

      Yeah, I’m not feeling much sympathy for that guy, he pretty much volunteered to be the budget god’s sacrifice . I would shut up and suck it up and drive the extra few hours and figure that’s the price I pay.

    2. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

      Yeah, I have zero sympathy for this guy because his “naturally” doesn’t want that commute also came with “naturally I will dump a not-insignificant part of my workload on a coworker in perpetuity.” That is a jerk move.

    3. CommanderBanana*

      I don’t think it’s unreasonable at all. I would happily move to a city 2 hours south of here if I knew I would only have to come in 2x a month.

    4. KateM*

      4 hours of commute for 10 working days, that’s 24 minute commute per day – same amount of time would be spent in commuting if you had 12 minutes one-way commute. Doesn’t sound bad to me at all.

  20. Catabouda*

    It was discovered during the full remote has ended/let’s go with hybrid phase that a coworker moved a 14~ hour flight away. Like, we’re on the east coast of the US and they moved to Hawaii, but were using their mom’s address for official purposes. Amazing.

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