coworker keeps sending out questionable Covid advice, a director’s out-of-tune guitar, and more

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

1. My coworker keeps sending out questionable Covid advice

I work for a completely remote team but we have our annual all-staff retreat coming up next month, and with Covid cases rising again, it’s been coming up in conversation. For context, we are not in the medical field and no one I work with has any medical training. I’m also fully vaxxed and boosted and completely support Covid safety measures, including masking when needed and frequent testing.

But a coworker of mine, Lee, has taken it upon themself to be the Covid advice person, sending recommendations and reminders in both our team and all-staff Teams chats in advance of the retreat. They’ve recommended folks get their bivalent booster if they haven’t gotten one recently, getting their flu shot in August, using nasal sprays and taking zinc to prevent Covid spread. I have a few issues with this!

1. They’re recommending folks who haven’t gotten another bivalent vax in the last six months get one now, without acknowledging it is less effective than the monovalent vax that could be made available as soon as this week! And that may limit people from getting a more effective vax this season. (Note from Alison so this doesn’t confuse anyone: The CDC did announce a new booster shot on Tuesday; this letter was received before that happened.)
2. The largely accepted medical guidance recommends getting your flu shot at the end of September/October to be most effective.
3. Nasal sprays and zinc have been found effective at preventing Covid in a few small studies, but neither the FDA nor the CDC have officially recommended these because there is simply not enough evidence.

What really threw me off was that today, the head of my department said, “Listen to Lee on all things Covid prevention and health guidance!” It came off as a joke but just like — no! I think Lee might be high-risk or live with high-risk family, so I completely understand taking as many precautions as possible. But that is a personal decision and I don’t think I should be encouraged to take measures that aren’t currently FDA- or CDC-approved. How can I bring this up and with who, without sounding like I’m resistant to safety measures? FWIW, we are required to test before arriving at the retreat, and every day before activities. Masks are optional but I plan on masking!

Two options: The first, and best, is to talk to whoever’s in a position to intervene (and who you trust to have the judgment to do it well). That might be your boss, Lee’s boss, or an HR type, depending on your workplace. Say something like, “I strongly support Covid safety measures, but some of the recommendations Lee has been sending out contradict the advice from the FDA and CDC, and some could even make people less safe, like recommending they get vaxxed last week, which could have made them ineligible for the more effective vax that’s about to be released. I think we’d be better off limiting all-staff medical advice to what’s being put out by official sources, rather than letting one person send out their own medical advice to the whole staff. It’s starting to feel like what Lee sends is semi-sanctioned by the company and I don’t think the company would actually stand behind some of it.”

If that doesn’t work or doesn’t feel like an option, the other option is to say something similar to Lee themself. In theory you could also reply to some of the most egregious messages (“getting boosted right now may make people ineligible for the updated vax that’s coming out this month”) … but it shouldn’t be your job to do that and it risks getting into a war of facts, which isn’t what you want.

2. I play in a church band and the director’s guitar is always out of tune

I have a problem that has never ceased to perplex and torment me. I volunteer as an instrumentalist in a relatively small church band. I love playing in it, but I am defeated by one issue: The band’s director (my boss — he gets paid, I volunteer) has an electric guitar that is ALWAYS out of tune. And not in an ordinary way. It’s so noticeable that I sometimes glance at the congregation as he hits a chord, only to see looks of barely stifled horror on some faces. I don’t really know what to do. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes. Everyone knows how bad the guitar sounds, but nobody says anything. It’s not my place to tell him that his guitar regularly tortures people (including myself), but we simply cannot go on like this. Any ideas?

I don’t know, I think this is awesome and would leave it alone just to watch people’s faces and to see how long it would take someone in the congregation to speak up.

But if you do want to address it, just being really straightforward is the way to go: “Hey, I think your guitar needs to be tuned.”

I suspect you’re making it more complicated than that in your head, because you know how ridiculously bad the guitar sounds and so it feels like you can’t bring it up without including “the congregation is literally in physical pain from your instrument” and implying “it’s astonishing that you yourself don’t hear this” … but really, you can just keep it quick and matter-of-fact, similar to the way you could say “there’s something on your shoe” without adding “and the smell is making everyone hate you.”

Updated to add: Musicians on Twitter suggest, “Something sounds off” or “Do you have a tuning app on your phone?” or “Can we check our tuning?”

Read an update to this letter

3. How to describe mostly remote work in job postings

You’ve answered several questions about remote jobs that aren’t really remote. I am struggling with how to describe the opposite situation in my job postings — jobs that are in-substance fully remote, but where we want candidates to live within 1-2 hours of our headquarters and reserve the right to ask people to come in occasionally.

Most of our experienced staff members on our team of 12 only come to the office once every few months. We have some folks who haven’t been to anything in-person in over a year! At the same time, there are some tasks that require in-office work such as checking the mail each week, but we have always had several employees who prefer a hybrid format who handle that when they are in the office. Also, when we hire new staff, in-person training for the first few weeks is often more effective than remote training over screenshare, so the team will usually rotate who comes in each day to work with the new staff, with each experienced staff member spending 1-2 days with the new hire.

It seems misleading and harmful to our recruiting efforts to describe the position as “hybrid” in the job posting when most of the team is in-person less than five business days a year. Candidates would read the posting, assume the in person requirement is closer to a specific days per week requirement, and pass on applying. In my mind, the job is accurately described as remote, in the same way that I wouldn’t feel the need to disclose in a job posting that a job required visiting a nearby warehouse every December for year-end inventory. At the same time, I don’t want to have candidates apply from out of the area or have them feel misled when we do ask for a few in-person days per year.

What is the best way to describe a job that is in-substance remote, where the term hybrid would be misleading?

“Mostly remote” — and then explain what you mean. “While this position is mostly remote, we’re seeking candidates based within two hours of our headquarters in Souptown because of occasional in-office work (including your initial training and occasionally training others — generally about five days per year).” If you’re advertising somewhere that only offers remote/hybrid/on-site as options for categorizing the job, pick “remote” and then include the explanatory text in the posting itself.

4. When does “this fell in my lap” not work?

I know you’ve frequently recommended using the “this fell in my lap and was too good of an opportunity to pass up” phrasing when you are resigning for a new job at a time that’s inconvenient for your employer or soon after accepting a promotion/raise/big new project/etc. at work. I’ve always assumed that the unspoken subtext is that “this fell in my lap [since I accepted that promotion/raise/project].”

Does this work, or is there another formula you’d suggest, in cases when, for whatever reason, people will know that you must have been in the hiring process for the new position for longer than that? I’m thinking small industries where everyone knows what jobs are posted when, or something like higher ed where everyone knows that a hiring process will have taken months.

It still works! You’re not really saying, “I was just minding my own business, not interviewing at all, when a stranger on the street walked up to me and offered me a job.” The implication is more, “I wasn’t actively looking but an opportunity came across my path and it made sense for me to talk with them, and they ended up offering it to me.” The idea is, “I wasn’t actively doing everything in my power to leave, but this specific job was too compelling for me to pass up” and a bit of “and I didn’t know they’d offer it to me when I accepted the promotion with you” (which might be especially plausible in fields with long hiring processes).

5. How much do I need to suffer before an accommodation is considered ineffective?

I have a disability that cannot be objectively measured. At what point can I tell my employer that the accommodation they’ve offered me is ineffective? I’ve lived most of my life with pain and fatigue, so I am used to pushing myself to the point of making me miserable, but I would much rather not.

Related to that, is it my responsibility to come up with an accommodation they like? What happens if we can’t come up with one that is both effective and that they approve of? Can they fire me or refuse to let me come back to work until I and/or a doctor says that it’s fine?

Ideally, employers would want to work together to find the most effective one, but we all know that often doesn’t happen in real life. For this question, please assume a hostile HR and upper management, because that’s what many of us people with disabilities deal with.

The law says your employer needs to engage in an “interactive dialogue” with you, meaning that they can propose an accommodation and you can say “that won’t work because of X, but what about Y” (and vice versa) and they need to engage in that process in good faith. The law also says they can’t simply reject all the accommodations that would work (or fire you over it or refuse you let you return to work) unless they can show accepting would cause them “undue hardship” (the bar for which is pretty high and the burden of proof for which is on the employer).

Now, obviously in real life things don’t always work the way the law says they need to — and if they’re not working that way, that’s a good time to talk to a lawyer, who can do anything from advising you behind-the-scenes to negotiating with the company on your behalf to pursuing legal action if that becomes necessary.

There’s no clearly defined answer to “how much do I need to suffer before an accommodation is considered ineffective?” but in general the law doesn’t say you need to suffer at all. You might need to tolerate a little inconvenience (for example, a shift that isn’t your ideal but doesn’t aggravate your condition) but that’s a different thing than pain and suffering.

{ 417 comments… read them below }

  1. Leo*

    I’m sorry for laughing, LW2, but I can’t imagine a good band director not knowing his guitar is out of tune! But Alison is right, it shouldn’t upset him if you suggest that it doesn’t sound right.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Honestly I would see if you could get one of those people in the congregation who you can tell from their expression know/hear how badly he’s out of tune and get them to comment. It may come better for your ability to continue to play peacefully if the “you are really out of tune” message comes from someone else.

      1. GuITarHub*

        Eh, it carries a lot more weight if you’re hearing it from someone who is actually near and noticing it.

        Especially when it comes to church music; you tend to get a lot of different feedback about things depending on the congregation. Some people will complain the drums are too loud (they just don’t like drums) or say the guitars sound bad or out of tune because they don’t like any of the FX layered over the top. At a camp I volunteer at, we once played for a congregation that was mostly old people. I think I killed a few by induced heart attack when they saw me bring in an electric guitar.

        For what it’s worth, those on the music team at church *should* be open to correction. It’s a serious sign of dysfunction if that causes alienation, which means the church itself has further issues than that. If politely/tactfully saying “I’ve noticed your guitar is out of tune a lot, do you think maybe there’s something that needs looking at?” causes friction that can’t be resolved (and biblically speaking there are a lot of good ways of addressing such friction), I don’t think this is the church LW2 wants to be at.

        1. Not This Again!*

          Re: Old people and electric guitars, check out Sister Rosetta Tharpe, electric guitarist extraordinaire, born in 1915 who got her start in the black church. She was so good that many rock and roll musicians imitated her including Elvis. Tsk tsk to casual ageism. Some young folks don’t thing electric guitars belong in a church service.

          1. Chirpy*

            Eh, I always found that it was the Boomers complaining about “we don’t want to scare off the old people”. The actual “old people” in question were mostly really supportive of whatever the youth were doing musically.

          2. Heffalump*

            As an introduction to Sister Rosetta, I recommend her 1945 hit “Strange Things Happening Every Day.” You can find it easily on Youtube.

      2. This_is_Todays_Name*

        “I’m thinking small industries where everyone knows what jobs are posted when, or something like higher ed where everyone knows that a hiring process will have taken months.”

        You could be talking about being offered a federal civilian job. When someone here quits and says, “I’ve accepted a civilian position as a GS-12” or whatever, we all know that means it’s been in the works for up to 6 months (or more sometimes!). Nobody begrudges that, and I’m sure it’s the same in smaller fields, too. We all know that just because a job is posted, offered, and accepted doesn’t mean it’ll always come through. Funding gets yanked; an offer gets pulled because a background or drug test was failed; someone internal decided THEY wanted the role after all, etc… So, I’d just say “this came up a while ago, but the process was so stalled, I didn’t want to make waves until I knew it was a sure thing” or something along those lines….and that’s assuming you feel the NEED to say anything at all, beyond, “Please accept my notice of resignation from Head Llama Trainer, effective XYZ. Thank you for this opportunity.” Even if they KNEW the job was posted 5 months ago, doesn’t mean it was a “done deal” until you get the offer and a start date. Don’t overthink it!

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      As a musician, I concur with the suggestion that everyone tune up before starting. LW2, for me it would be worth it to invest in a portable tuner that everyone could pass around. (I love mine that runs on a small battery.) You can bring it and present it as a weekly favor for everyone. Certainly everyone else in your band knows the guitar is out of tune and I’m sure they would back you up, especially if you give them a heads-up in advance.

      1. Zelda*

        There’s a quip about “If someone offers you a breath mint, say yes. The musical circles in which I hang out have expanded that to “If someone offers you a breath mint or a tuner, SAY YES!” There are enough of those little electronic tuners among us that, as needed during a session, someone will just wordlessly hand a tuner to whoever needs it.

      2. SopranoH*

        I’m surprised the director isn’t already using a portable tuner. I just jam with people every now and again and they are pretty de rigueur when playing with other people because it is harder to tell who is out of tune in a group.

        I played with a double bass player once who had inadvertently gotten a tuner that used 432 Hz as the standard instead of the more common 440. His tuner kept reading that he was in tune, but he sounded flat with the rest of us.

        Kind of a wild theory, but if he is using a tuner, it would be worthwhile to find out if it was the right kind.

        1. Jackalope*

          I would also add if it’s an option that the band director tune the guitar the first time to an in-tune piano or someone else’s guitar in the group or something. My experience with tuners is that if you’re pretty close they’re great, but if you’re off more significantly (which I suspect this guitar might be) then they oscillate around enough that it’s hard to tell, including not always knowing which string you’re trying to tune. Of course it’s been a little while since I did that so electronic tuners may have gotten better in the meantime.

          1. Chirpy*

            Tuners that can clip onto the guitar itself (usually right up by the pegs) and find pitch via vibrations are absolutely fantastic for echo-y spaces like churches, or when multiple people are tuning at once. They don’t pick up ambient noise, so they’re only registering the guitar itself. They’re pretty cheap, and most music stores should have them.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Right? [Very] amateur musician here: I have never, ever, witnessed even the most informal jam session where everybody didn’t check their tuning before we started. Ever. I am devoted to my tuner but I also have a tuner app on my phone as backup. And then we check tunings against each other just in case.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            I was in orchestra in junior high and the first thing we did every single day was tune our instruments!

        3. Beth*

          It’s amazing how many people I have met who are active performing musicians who also happen to be too tone-deaf to tune their instruments.

          1. Zelda*

            I’m not tone-deaf, but my pitch-sense is entirely relative. As in, I can tell if two tones match or if the interval from one note to the next in a tune is right. My sense of absolute pitch (is this A432 or A440?) is crap. So if I’ve learned a vocal piece on my own, there’s every chance I’ve trained my muscle memory to a quarter-tone off the rest of the Western world. So I have a baseline competence and can produce an acceptable performance, as long as no one tries to accompany me on a “properly” tuned instrument… (Other vocalists can and do improvise harmonies that sound great, because they can just slide over a little bit into the space I’m in, but nobody’s retuning their guitar for me! And yes, I have now bought myself a pitch-pipe.)

          2. Dust Bunny*

            Literally the point of a tuner, though, is that you can be tone-deaf and still tune. Some tuners have you tune to a tone, but many have a needle or digital pointer that tells you when you’re on the note. You could be stone deaf and still tune as long as you followed the needle.

        4. Polaris*

          It makes sense though. I have the Fender Tune app on my phone (it works in a pinch) and I can set it to electric, acoustic, bass, and ukulele (!). There’s also a few other settings that are available to those with subscriptions, which I don’t use. We noticed it was a little different than a manual hand tuner.

          I once had a youth church music director who insisted on hand-tuning the guitar by ear for choir class. Ooooooof. If that first string was off, it was PAINFUL.

        5. BubbleTea*

          Yes, I’m baffled by the idea that tuning up together wouldn’t be a standard, routine part of preparing every time.

      3. Chirpy*

        This is a great idea. Try to find one that’s easy to use/obvious – I’ve seen some that light up green when you hit the right tuning. Some people are just phenomenally bad at tuning by ear. And particularly if they were self-taught or had limited practice playing with others in a formal setting, they may have never been taught how to do it, or the importance of tuning to others.

        If it keeps happening after that, and you’re sure they know how to tune, I’d also suggest getting the guitar looked at- the front face can warp if they’re stored badly, or the tuning pegs can strip threads over time, and both can cause problems.

      4. But what to call me?*

        This is reminding me of middle school band class where we were all supposed to tune our instruments by listening to the note the teacher played and then somehow determining whether our own instruments matched it while the whole out-of-tune class played that note at once. I always wondered whether real musicians had magical listening powers or whether it was just a stupid method that real musicians wouldn’t use.

        Turns out actually passing around a tuner is a thing? Meaning that, presumably, 30 people aren’t all trying to use it at the same time? Good to know.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Amateur violinist here. This is how we tune in my orchestra, though we get the note three times (winds and brass, lower strings, higher strings). It’s a skill you get better at. And we’re probably mostly starting closer to the right note than a middle school band!

        2. TyphoidMary*

          It’s literally exactly how professional musicians tune. I personally can’t imagine *not* being able to hear my individual instrument even while playing in an ensemble. But yes, it is definitely more difficult for young musicians who are still learning (although that’s partially how I learned to do it).

          1. Nobby Nobbs*

            You’re supposed to do it until you can listen to the shared note and go, “oh, that sounds wrong,” and adjust your own pitch until it’s right. I (very amateur) never got the truck until I joined a tiny church brass ensemble.

        3. Kali*

          Some musicians have perfect pitch – they know if a note is out of tune and (the part that blows my mind, even with my many years as a musician) know what note it is, even in isolation. Some people have relative pitch, where they can spot a note that’s out of tune relative to other instruments/voices. I have relative pitch, so I could tune off another instrument easily. (I also know my four strings’ notes so well that I can tune completely independently, but I do want to make sure my ear is not off in relation to the rest of the orchestra.)

          That’s what musicians do in professional orchestras right before playing – a full orchestra will generally tune off the oboe’s A, or a string orchestra will tune off the concertmaster’s A. These days, they’ve already all checked their instruments against a tuner beforehand, of course. The tuning right before playing or practicing is usually a last check, since some instruments are notoriously sensitive to movement and temperature changes.

          1. BubbleTea*

            I have good relative pitch, but I’m usually a tone off from what note it is if asked. My friend at university has true perfect pitch and it was VERY confusing for her when we sang with a church organ in an old tuning (I don’t fully understand it but it wasn’t 440 it was… something else close). The rest of us just sang in tune with the organ but she kept trying to sing the notes on the page.

            1. Kali*

              Yes! I’ve always said that while relative pitch can be a pain (literally – it is like nails on a chalkboard for me when someone is out of tune with a group), I can’t imagine how people with perfect pitch must feel on a frequent basis. A lot of recorded music is slightly off the true pitch because of how it’s processed, for instance.

        4. bamcheeks*

          I was like that as a teenager, and started to get it in my late teens. And when I did, it was so cool, because it’s almost like you’re not “hearing” it be right, you’re hearing the absence of wrong. Your note disappears into the everyone else’s and doesn’t sound like it’s slightly too dark or too light or too shrill or at the wrong angle or the wrong colour, it just doesn’t sound at all. It still feels kind of magic to me.

          1. Chirpy*

            When I tune a guitar, I usually start with a tuner, but then tune/ check the strings to each other, and I don’t quite know how to explain it but when two strings are in tune, there’s just this perfect match in oscillation where it just resolves magically when you hit the right tuning.

        5. MusicTeacher732*

          Musicians work to train their ears to be able to tell when in tune or not. It’s part of the skills you learn…though that’s hard for young kids and some adults never took the time to learn that skill either. Unless you have a neurological reason you can’t hear pitch, learning to be in tune or tune your instrument or identify notes is a learned skill-not usually an inherent gift most musicians are born with.

      5. Anonymous Musician*

        Yes, the church band in question (mine) tunes up before playing. Sadly, the director’s guitar seems to have issues that go beyond tuning. Even when it’s in tune, when he plays a chord, it sounds just so OFF. I think there is some fundamental issue with the guitar itself, as it is fairly cheap and was ordered online…
        The director himself is a nice person who just isn’t innately musical. However I do think the guitar warrants an intervention, so I’ll send an update when I do something about it.

        1. tangerineRose*

          In a church I used to go to, one of the singers on the stage was off key. I guess not everyone could tell, but I kept trying not to cringe too obviously. I never knew what to do about it, so I didn’t do anything.

    3. NAL-NYL*

      I would definitely use any situations where you can’t bring attention to an issue that affects work quality as a flag to question whether everything is healthy in a given organization. Certainly an ego-driven music minister could be a sign that a church is not fostering an accountable leadership structure.

      Then again, it could just be one of those goofy things that happens, and nothing more is awry than a music minister who needs to brush up on his guitar skills.

    4. Richard Hershberger*

      He might be good at the directing part, but I can’t imagine a good musician now knowing his guitar is out of tune. That being said, the suggestion to put this in the first person plural is sound. I still wonder about his musical chops, but unless he is aggressively clueless, this should solve the immediate problem.

      And seriously, why isn’t a band in any context routinely tuning up constantly? This is basic.

      1. Chirpy*

        I’ve been to several churches where bad musicians are encouraged, because participation is more important than quality. However, in a good church, those people don’t get made director.

    5. Ex-Teacher*

      >but I can’t imagine a good band director not knowing his guitar is out of tune!

      there’s your mistake, you’re assuming that someone who is a band director must be a good musician. particularly with church music.

      I was part of a church band where the paid music director literally could not read music, and multiple of us in the band had actual music degrees. she refused to listen to anyone other than herself.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Exactly. Church musician roles, paid or not, are frequently filled by very… “inspired” people of the congregation who want to participate in some fashion and their faith/enthusiasm may outpace their talent.

        At least this problem can be easily fixed. I used to live next door to a large church that would broadcast their music outside via loudspeaker on Sunday mornings. There was a particular woman who was NOT good at singing, and either she always stood near a mic or was very good at projecting. We would wince every time the songs would start up and we could hear her contributions, and we lived there for years…

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I’m going to put in a plug for old-school church organs. My church has a conservatory-trained organist. The down side is that it can be hard to find a good church organist. It isn’t a growth industry. But when you get a good one, you hold onto him. Ours has been here about half a century now.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Anna Lapwood is a young British organist who has a pretty impressive social media following! She was appointed Director of Music at a college at Cambridge at age 21 and she is great at promotion of organ music. I’m hopeful she’s going to inspire a new generation to try it.

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            My parents church is not far from a fairly large state university that includes a music graduate program; they hire music doctoral students as their organists/choir directors! Usually the students are not specialists in the organ, but they have enough skill and interest that they can figure it out, they can do great things with the choir, and we get a bonus of occasional phenomenal concerts on the instruments that they’re focusing in. We’ve had a cellist, a jazz pianist, and a harpsichordist who actually once had a harpsichord delivered to the church for a fundraiser concert

        2. SopranoH*

          That church sounds deeply obnoxious. How is that not violating some noise ordinance? If I wanted to listen, I’d go inside.

          1. Jackalope*

            That reminds me of one of my most miserable church visits. I was trying someplace new and the music was so loud I couldn’t stand it. The sanctuary was large, and behind it was a wall that was part wall, part large windows. Beyond that was a wide hallway. On the other side of the hallway was another wall, this one with no windows, and a closed door. I fled into the room on the other side of the hallway, and even with earplugs in the music was still so loud it was causing me pain. Why, oh why, did they think they needed the music to be that loud??

          2. But what to call me?*

            Indeed, although not that much more obnoxious than the restaurant about half a mile away from me that hires what I’m guessing must be local bands to play covers of popular songs (good for them) and then blasts them loud enough to be heard inside the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. This is not an area with any nightlife to speak of. And also, Thursdays?

            I would think there would be some kind of rule against lulling everyone to sleep on work/school nights to the dulcet sounds of off-beat and out of tune Shut Up and Dance, but apparently not.

        3. Ex-Teacher*

          My situation was us hiring an outside person, and that makes it even worse.

          Leadership started to take notice, not after being told explicitly about the problems, but only when the actual professional musicians started quitting.

        4. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

          I ran sound in a very large church once, where the new worship leader was unable to remove a supposedly classically-trained vocalist from the ensemble for political reasons. Unfortunately, to be kind, her vocal style did not fit well with others’ on the team.

          There is a lovely, simple solution: her mic? Very low, compared to others. Our sound board was so old it was ridiculous, so this meant adjusting it every Sunday she sang. It was better than listening to her overpower the rest of the group.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m going to go into left field here…. OP, do you know if the guitarist has changed his strings? When they start to wear out it’s a subtle wrongness… and if someone is on a tight budget it may seem an avoidable expense. Does the church have a budget to help musicians with consumables like guitar strings, violin rosin, oboe reeds,
      etc? Is there a thank-you gift occasion you could use? (In some places they buy flowers for a music director…. costs arent that different. )

      I’ll add it is also possible for tuning pegs to wear out, but that’s not as easily fixed.

      1. Never the Twain*

        Another left-field possibility – if the tuning is really so out (like a whole tone or more) it would be interesting to know what instrument OP is playing, as the fault might be in the sheet music.
        I play trumpet/cornet/flugel which are B flat instruments, meaning that if you play a C (no valves pressed) it sounds like a B flat on a piano. Tenor horns are E flat instruments and I think a French horn is F. The parts are usually written out in the appropriate key so that everyone plays the same note, even though they look different on paper.
        This is OK, but once I was spending some time in Germany and played with the brass ensemble of the local church, called a Posaunenchor. It turns out that all their parts are written in the same key, and when e.g. a trumpeter in one of these learns to play, they see a C and play it with valves 1&3 down, which 99.9% of trumpeters would call D but does in fact sound C. It took me about three bars of trying to bend the notes to fit in, after which I shut up and waited till the end of the piece when I realised what was happening. After that, it was a case of ‘play everything as if it were a line higher and with two flats less/two sharps more’.
        That having been said, if the director really doesn’t hear the discord, then you have bigger problems than can be fixed by writing out the music in a different key.

        1. Lisa*

          Guitarists are usually reading tab, not traditional sheet music (otherwise I would agree). My first thought was could his capo be in the wrong place? But I do think a guitarist playing in an entirely different key from where he was supposed to be would sound markedly different to most musicians than an out-of-tune guitar.

      2. An oboist*

        I’m sure there are churches who would give money towards occasional expenses for their musicians, but the idea of them being able to supply their oboist with reeds is making me laugh! I’m sorry, I just have to comment in case any oboe students ever see this that your ensemble, even a passion project, will not have a fund to maintain your reed supply and it would be unreasonable to assume that they would buy you reeds or other instrumental supplies.

    7. AnonInCanada*

      That would certainly make me cringe as well, kind of like how drunken “singers” at a karaoke bar think they’re the next Taylor Swift/Olivia Rodrigo/[insert 70s rock band lead vocalist here]. I’d rather endure Chinese water torture. And yes, OP#2, speak up to your tone-deaf lead guitarist. I’m sure if you’re noticing it, so is everyone else in the congregation.

    8. DJ Hymnotic*

      I’ve spent a lot of time around worship musicians (note my screen name!) and I am here to say that this director is straight out of central casting. I laughed as well–out of recognition!

      (Also, you’re right that it *shouldn’t* upset him, but church egos can be notoriously fragile, and I don’t blame LW one bit for feeling some hesitation here.)

    9. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Alternately, see if you can surreptitiously tune his guitar. That’s what we have to do with my dad.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        LOL! My husband is horribly tone deaf and when he and my son would try to play guitar together, my son and I would be writhing in agony due to how out of tune my husband’s guitar was. And he would INSIST it wasn’t out of tune. Finally my son would just grab it and tune it himself.
        My husband appreciates good, in tune music, but can’t hear it when he is producing it.

        1. jellied brains*

          Sounds like my friend’s husband. His passion is music & collecting guitars, but he can’t play to save his life. It’s like having your very own Dave Lister in concert in your living room. (Minus the smell of curry)

    10. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, most musicians have a pretty thick skin about tuning – telling others, and being told about themselves. It’s not a stylistic choice, it’s an objective measure of a tool. Like telling a fellow chef “this knife is dull” or a carpenter “you need to replace your drill bit”.

    11. This_is_Todays_Name*

      I disagree. I play no instruments, and I suspect if I told someone who did they’d be like “WTF do YOU know?” But if the comment comes from fellow musician who presumably has “an ear” for it, it’d carry more weight. I think the LW is overthinking it. “That last hymn sounded off, let’s take 5 and tune our instruments and see if that solves it,” is fine … and honestly I find it weird that this group that plays together isn’t comfy enough to mention something so obvious to everyone else. Sounds like the director’s gotten so used to the sound he just doesn’t “hear it” anymore.

    12. Decima Dewey*

      Thinking about Sir Thomas Beecham’s comment to an offkey soprano: “I fear we are not together. Do you mind giving us your A?”

    13. thelettermegan*

      I was going to suggest: ‘Hey let’s make sure we’re all in tune with each other’ as a script and then guiding him to the piano.

    14. Marna Nightingale*

      I’m not a musician but I used to work with musicians and a terrible possibility occurs to me.

      Actually I think it’s a probability, unfortunately, given that he’s a good enough musician to have become a band director.

      Musicians, especially those who play electrified instruments, are extremely prone to hearing loss.

      So he may well get upset, but he still needs to know. Even more urgently in that case, as if he can’t hear that he’s badly out of tune the guitar needs tuning and he needs an audiologist.

      1. Marna Nightingale*

        (Reading some other comments, this does assume he is a decent musician, which I gather isn’t always the case in church music directors. Also LW didn’t mention whether the problem has been consistent over a long period or is getting worse).

        1. Anonymous Musician (Lw2)*

          The music director in question actually does not have much of a music background. As far as I know, he picked up the guitar when he was hired as music director and has never been seriously invested in the instrument.

          1. tamarack etc.*

            Yeah, you gotta teach him how musicians make music and what the “done things” are. Tuning is generally accepted as something musicians do whenever necessary. (Also, if, as someone suggested, his strings are seriously old and can’t hold a tuning, you can point it out and suggest he visits his guitar shop for new strings and a setup.)

    15. run mad; don't faint*

      If more than one person has an instrument, suggesting that you all check to make sure they’re tuned to each other will probably work. I seem to recall telling someone that the air conditioning had probably affected their tuning once when they were a little resistant to checking. Temperature changes can affect tuning, but usually only if the changes are sudden. But that person was responsive because the a/c excuse didn’t place any sort of blame on them or their skill.
      Another thing the LW might want to keep in mind is that the strings may need to be replaced. Older strings are less likely to keep tune. So if they bring this up to the director but retuning doesn’t help (for long), then that should be the next suggestion.

      1. Lisa*

        I don’t see why not to take it a step further and make tuning a normal part of the routine. Just keep a tuner on the shelf and “okay let’s quickly tune” before every practice. This is fairly common for bands.

        1. run mad; don't faint*

          I agree; that makes the most sense and has been standard for pretty much all the church groups I’ve sung or played in.

        2. iglwif*

          It’s extremely common for bands. I would say it’s actually essential.

          We don’t have a lot of instruments at services in my congregation, but sometimes more than one service leader has brought their guitar, and I know they tune them together before the service starts.

          You can’t fix this stuff ahead of time for vocal music — sometimes Person A is going to end the last thing in a key that Person B, on guitar, isn’t prepared for, and then there’s just a very quick and slightly awkward adjustment to the guitarist’s key for the next thing — but you can and should pre-empt it for instruments playing together.

    16. I Have RBF*


      Every guitarist I know, whether acoustic or electric, has the first song they play in a day be the immortal “Tu Ning” rifs.

      I can’t imagine a guitarist who doesn’t regularly tune and/or check the tuning of their instrument. If he can’t hear that he is out of tune, why is he playing a guitar? Yikes!

    17. Nina*

      A church band does uh… not imply in any way that the band director is anywhere on the spectrum of ‘good’.

    18. tamarack etc.*

      I think this emperor’s new clothes situation needs to be handled the way any emperor’s new clothes situation needs to be handled: you fix the offender , or the whole band, and just say the truth in a low-key, no-extra-drama way. The Twitter suggestions are great! Any band / ensemble I’ve played with is perfectly fine with “Hey, let’s tune” (hand them a tuner / app if they don’t have one).

    19. TillyTambo*

      Absolutely! If you play in a band, you have to be able to communicate with each other, even if it’s the band leader who is out of tune. “Something sounds off” is a perfectly helpful and appropriate thing to say, and follow it with a brief pause so he’ll take the cue to check his instrument. And if he’s off key during rehearsal, that’s a perfect time to bring it up, so hopefully he’ll be more mindful of his tuning during performances going forward.

  2. nnn*

    Extrapolating from #3, I’d strongly encourage employers – and anyone else discussing remote or hybrid work – to explicitly state what in-office norms for the position actually are!

    I’ve been allowed to work remotely whenever I want for years (since long before the pandemic), with the caveat that I have to report into the office as and when needed. Sometimes when I’ve mention this to people socially, they’ve been like “Oh, so you go into the office like once a week?” but in reality it’s like 3 times a year. There’s so much room for misunderstanding in there!

    Also, it’s worth being clear about whether the in-office requirements mean working a full day in the office, or if you can just go in for a couple of hours for ad hoc tasks. There’s a huge difference between having to wake up earlier and deal with rush hour and make arrangements for the kids after school vs. waking up at the same time as usual and commuting during non-peak hours. (I know some people prefer to work the full day in the office if they’ve gone to the trouble of commuting, but that’s almost always an option even if it isn’t a requirement)

    1. Green great dragon*

      Agreed – go for maximum clarity. And in that spirit, I’d talk about what’s required in terms of attendance and whether they need to be in-state, not specifying a maximum distance. Many people would be fine with a much longer commute than 2 hours if it was only a few times a year plus initial training, especially if they know people in the area.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Also, for a five times a year job, why limit the geographical range to two hours? There are parts of the country where that is a routine daily commute. My personal upper limit for daily is about an hour, give or take, but opinions vary. But for five times a year? Three hours.

      1. Hey hey shirt brother*

        I am wondering if the LW has more ad hoc in person requirements in mind than what are listed. I know someone who worked in the patent office years ago, and after the first year or two you could live anywhere. The in person requirements were 2 days a month, and people just booked hotels bimonthly for the days covering the end of one month and the beginning of the next.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yes, this is a tricky but not uncommon situation. My office describes our postings as “remote in the DMV region” because my boss wouldn’t be willing to hire someone who had to fly in, and they need to be reasonably able to come on a day’s notice sometimes, or at least strong preference would be given to someone who could do that as opposed to someone who lived in the very outer fringes of the region and never could (in part because that would dump all in-office-tasks on fewer and fewer stalwarts who do live closer). We are fully remote but also have to be available to attend external meetings all over the region. It does come up because our region is quite pricey, so a good number of applicants are eying the higher salary from a lower-cost-of-living area, understandably.

          1. Smithy*

            Yes, the DMV came to mind specifically with this question. Pragmatically, a lot of jobs are hq’ed in DC or in MD or VA suburbs very close to DC. However, exactly due to COL reasons mentioned, choosing to live further and further away from those core business clusters has become increasing common.

            However, while my DMV employer and a bunch of others I know aren’t pushing for one mandatory day a week in the office or similar – there is a desire to emphasize employees who can make it into the office that 4-6 times a year without it posing significant hardship or advance notice.

            When there was a set number of days a week someone had to be in the office, I think it was more common to know someone who’d travel close to 3 hours one way from places like Delaware, Pennsylvania or way far out VA/MD to get to the office. They did it regularly, so whether or not someone else who lived closer wouldn’t do it – that person had a record of making the choice to commit to it. However, asking someone to come into the office on 1-3 days notice with a 3-hour one way commute, is understandably more challenging. And if that meeting has a valid reason to start at 9am….

            All to say, for jobs like that, I think for these “mostly” remote jobs in the DMV – employers are actually showing more hesitancy to candidates who live further and further away. Because inevitably the reasons they’ll want to come into the office need to be more substantial and notice needs to be further and further in advance, and that ends up being a greater inconvenience. Whereas a job when that requires someone show up one day a week to the office – if that person is living in western VA and fine with making that journey once a week, they’ll have a regular opportunity to prove it.

            1. cheapeats*

              Piling on to the DMV uniqueness- not that we’re all that special, but so much of the area’s work is tied to federal government contracts. Travel has to be specifically bid in many contracts and the government customer may not have a large appetite for covering travel for remote employees on a regular basis. We’ve had to part with employees who decided unilaterally that they could move out of the area when our contract really can’t support hat.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          That’s a sweet gig, if the weekend doesn’t get in the way. Or if it is a city you might want to spend a weekend in.

        3. Filosofickle*

          That’s always my concern with listings like this — that onsite ad hoc stuff could be a lot more than they are saying. I’d be fine coming in once or twice a month (max) but as soon as I see a requirement about being reasonably local and “occasional” visits, my radar pings. And even if their intentions are clear today, priorities could change. Personally I appreciate that my company has no local office, that protects me from my remote status changing.

        4. Anax*

          Yep, my partner is required to be within 2 hours of the office just in case of some crazy pants-on-fire emergency. In practice, that never happens, but since my partner’s job is safety-adjacent, they want the option just in case.

          (Let’s say… Partner works at an alpaca farm, putting cute alpaca photos online. This is normally not urgent and can be done remotely. But in the exceedingly unlikely case that one of the alpacas is stolen and they have to make Missing Alpaca posters, they might need to come in – like, ‘get your butt in the car and drive to HQ NOW’.

          This probably will never happen, but work wants the CYA. And since that very unlikely emergency would be a ‘human lives at risk’ situation, I can’t blame them.)

      2. Sparkle Llama*

        I think that limit can be helpful for situations where there are tasks that require someone in the office but it doesn’t necessarily matter who, since many mangers seem to default to having the closest people do that and would likely feel guilty asking the 3 hour person to do it.

        Could be fixed with an appropriate policy and good management but as one of the two “close people” in my team of six, I have about had it on how much more I have to come in than my peer who lives 3x as far as me. I am also more concerned about my career advancement than she is, so some of it may be self inflicted since I don’t want to miss out on opportunities to broaden my experience, but not a once has one of the far away people had to come in on a WFH day for team lunch when close coworker and I have a couple times a year.

      3. H3llifIknow*

        I feel like that requirement is for a “we need to have a quick meeting after lunch today, so we’ll need you to come in” last minute thing, and/or to ensure they don’t get someone living far enough away that they’d expect the employer to reimburse flights/hotels when they come in. Even 3 hours, round trip, plus a meeting could put someone over 8 for the day and in a position to request a hotel for the night and per diem. 2 makes sense to me here, although I’d put a miles limit rather than a time limit on it, since 2 hours in DC vs 2 hours in say, Ohio gets you widely different distances away!

    3. Baby Yoda*

      That’s a good point. I only go in a few times a year, and usually it’s for lunch with an investor. So I don’t go for the whole day, avoiding rush hour traffic, and that makes a huge difference.

    4. Lauren*

      I found that LinkedIn also is bad for how they filter remote jobs, I change US to Chicago for remote and suddenly see all these jobs that I would not have seen / applied for and gotten my current one had I not been more specific in choosing a location in some of these apps.

    5. JustaTech*

      Yes for hybrid!
      I have two friends who work for Big Tech companies that have had a big Return to Office push recently. Their experiences have been very different because Company 1 has provided very little detail or clarity on the RTO while Company 2 is very specific.
      Are required in-office days pro-rated for holidays? C2 – yes. C1 – don’t know.
      If you are too contagious to come into the office but well enough to work, is it acceptable to work or must you use sick days? (Like, if you’ve got COVID but feel fine.) C2 – yes, those count as “excused WFH days”. C1 – don’t know.
      C2 – Last minute emergency WFH is acceptable (plumbing emergency, for example), but planned WFH must fit into your standard schedule.
      C1 – in the first week several people got notices from HR sent to their managers for not coming into the office, but they were on vacation.

      The upshot is, plan ahead and clearly communicate.

  3. Rose*

    Wait am I not supposed to get a Covid booster this week? I thought the FDA recommended it, was all set to get it, now I’m confused….

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — they announced the new boosters today but this letter was sent in before that. Let me think about how to reword the letter and response to make sure it doesn’t confuse anyone else!

    2. PollyQ*

      I was at my PPO today, and was told that although they’ve been approved, they won’t be ready for a couple of weeks.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve been a bit uncertain how to ensure I get the new one? The CVSs near me all have vaccines available but I assume that’s the prior one, which they’ve had available all along.

        1. No Longer Working*

          I saw a note on the CVS page – updated yesterday 9/12 – that they no longer have any past formulations available and all shots will be the new one. And like Megster, did see appointments available starting Monday.

          1. Phony Genius*

            Yes, according to the article I read, the FDA disapproved the old shot at the same time as they approved the new one. So there will be a short gap in time where nobody can get vaccinated until the new one is distributed.

            1. Aerin*

              I’m guessing they started distributing ahead of approval, at least to the megachains, so they could be ready to go as soon as approval went through.

          2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Thanks for this! Normally I’d wait until mid-October or so for that + my flu shot, but we are planning international travel early next month so I want to have as much protection as possible!

        2. Aerin*

          When I booked my appointment at CVS it specified that I was booking for the 2023-2024 Covid vax. Getting mine Monday!

        3. Daisy-dog*

          I made an appointment because I wasn’t following this and thought the new one was available already. My pharmacist told me the new one was coming soon, but still offered me the old one if I wanted/needed to get it that day.

        4. DD*

          As soon as the new one was FDA approved, they withdrew approval for the old vaccine to make sure no one will get the older version going forward. All available shots will be the new version.

        5. Orange You Glad*

          I just scheduled mine at a CVS today for next week. They were marked as “COVID-19 2023-2024 (Moderna)” in the app.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I just got a booster because I am traveling extensively next week, and again a few weeks after that (vacation, then work trip). I knew the updated booster was coming, but not when. So I went ahead and got the older one. I figure some protection is better than none. I have masks and plenty of unexpired test kits.

      Advice for OP1: I would talk to your manager about how the company handles COVID and health information in general. My company only allows HR to put out announcements (re: masking policies, remote work, links to CDC or other vetted info). “To avoid confusion and retain health privacy among team members, please refrain from discussing medical practices for disease prevention. Please consult HR for company-wide policy (link here) and your own medical practitioner for your individual needs.” Something along those lines. Likely your company already has a policy from the pandemic; dust it off. Also, check AAM archives; this situation was discussed frequently during that time.

    4. I forget my handle here*

      These new boosters were approved by the FDA Mon 9/11, and the CDC recommended who to get them (everyone over 6 mo old who hadn’t gotten a shot in the last 2 months) on Tuesday 9/12.

      These new boosters are going to start being administered next week – I have a CVS appt for next Monday Sept 18th.

      These are monovalent vaccines designed for a more recent covid strain, and were labeled “2023-2024” in CVS’s sign up interface last night

    5. Lauren*

      Wait until your pharmacy / doctors office gets the new one! You have to call and before they prick you, definitely confirm again. Some places don’t get them immediately and try to use the old stuff vs. tossing it.

  4. Blue Horizon*

    #1 is especially problematic as all of the advice is in the Covid-as-personal-responsibility school. Even if the advice was sensible for individuals (and I agree much of it isn’t) the biggest factors in whether (or how much) Covid spreads at the venue are going to be the quality of ventilation and filtering, presence/absence of air quality monitoring, how much of the time you all spend in large groups and/or crowded rooms, whether people who have the sniffles or think they might be coming down with something are asked to say home or pushed to attend…

    Stuff that the company has control over, in other words. They chose the venue, they decide on leave policy. Pushing it all onto Lee, with their zinc and flu shots and nasal sprays, is tantamount to saying they (the company) don’t care, and intend to do nothing to protect employees. That, not Lee, is your biggest problem here.

    1. amoeba*

      Eh, at least they require testing (which is a lot more than anybody in my European country has done for the past 2 years!)

      1. Wisconsin*

        Letter #1 really surprised me. I’m working fully in person, attending events, and aside from getting boosters or testing when I have symptoms, COVID isn’t impacting my work in any way. We also refer to the previous few years mostly in the past tense “During Covid….”

        This was eye opening to me that some employers are in a very different place.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup, same here. I got the impression it’s more present in the US (at least I still see many people talking about it on social media, much more than hereabouts), but if it’s the same for you, that probably doesn’t cover all of it?

          1. novid no more...*

            There’s been a mini surge in the US this summer. The situation sounds annoying but I’m surprised LW #1 is harping on getting the new vaccine.
            I just got covid after never having it. The updated boosters keep getting pushed back. I was going to get the old one anyways, because I’m in education and the students would be back in school about 2 weeks from when I was looking into it.
            It’s been a year since my last booster, and I just got actual covid before I could get the booster scheduled. I’d rather have a booster that is available when I need it than the magical one that doesn’t exist yet. If I hadn’t gotten covid and waited for the new one, being around a bunch of students would hugely increase my risk of getting it during the busiest time of year. I can’t take 2 weeks off during the academic year to recover.

            1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              I think OP would be equally concerned if coworker sent an email stating not to get the current vaccine, but to wait for the next one.
              It’s about coworker setting herself up as the de facto COVID information center. OP is at the BEC level with this person’s need to comment on all things COVID.

              1. Anna*

                Hm, I am not OP but I do agree with OP on the specific facts and interpretation and I would not be equally concerned if the coworker said to wait. It’s not ideal that the coworker is claiming the COVID advisor role, but if they were doing that and giving advice I agreed with, I wouldn’t mind. I don’t see evidence that OP is at the BEC level. Just that they’re looking for a way to disagree on specific recommendations without 1) starting a big argument and 2) coming across as antivax or unsympathetic to the coworker’s COVID concerns.

              2. MigraineMonth*

                That seems really uncharitable. It sounds like the coworker was telling people to get the old vaccine just two weeks before the new one became available. Which would be fine, except it might disqualify them from getting the new one for a number of months. I’d probably push back on that too.

                By definition, BEC is when everything another person does bothers you, not one or two specific instances of spreading dubious health info.

          1. Anya Lastnerve*

            IDK. I live in one of the most solidly blue northeastern states in the country and people aren’t really talking about Covid much here – I see very few people with masks and events and festivals etc have gone back to normal pre-2020 status. It’s not like only Florida and Texas have moved on.

            1. Thatoneoverthere*

              I live in the Midwest, and almost everyone is working some sort of hybrid schedule. Most people don’t mask. Although I am thinking about masking up, now that Cold/Flu season is here. COVID is going to be like the flu. Of course we need to take it seriously still. Get vaxxed, stay home when you are sick and wash your hands. Mask if you want to or need to. In fact my oldest has a bad cold and we made him stay home from school today, just in case. We may test him later too, if he’s still really sick.

              My sister lives in Europe and lots of places there have moved onto a pre-2020 life status as well.

              1. I forget my handle here*

                except the flu doesn’t cause brain damage, increase your risk for stroke, and generally damage your immune and vascular systems

                1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

                  Your point is well-made, but this was also true (maybe not the specifically same long term effects) of the flu 100 years ago after the Spanish Flu pandemic eased into endemic mode. I believe Thatoneoneoverthere meant that this is going to be something we’ll need to live with long term as we do the current flu strains (which can still make people – especially elderly and immunocompromised – very sick if they don’t or can’t get a yearly vaccine to mitigate the effects).

                2. SpaceySteph*

                  There’s is such a thing as long flu. Flu also kills about 36k people a year in the US. It is not trivial, we’re just used to it.

                3. Maggie*

                  Well…. It can kill you! And people
                  Do absolutely suffer long term effects from it. I know a previously healthy 40 year old that died from it. It’s a part of life, just like Covid, but it’s not nothing and staying home when sick and getting vaccinated is the best thing to do for both so it’s easy to group that advice together.

              2. Ann*

                I’m sure the hybrid schedule is not just about covid by now. People are saving on commute, not traveling to work is giving them back a couple of hours in their day, and caregiver responsibilities are easier to deal with if the schedule is more flexible.

                1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

                  Oh, 100 percent. There’s a LOT of pushback on fully remote (some reasons I agree with, many I do not), but hybrid is here to stay and I think most are in favor of that generally. Being able to tell someone to keep their germs at home (COVID, flu, your kids’ daycare Plague of the Week, etc.) for a day or two and work remotely is infinitely better than the alternative!

            1. MigraineMonth*

              That’s where I’m at these days. I’m not out French-kissing strangers or coughing in others’ faces, but COVID is now with us forever. I’m hoping to put off catching my first case until after we have better ways of preventing/treating long COVID, but it’s going to happen eventually.

              We’re going to need to find ways to have a good life in spite of COVID, to balance risk with reward, and to consider COVID risks in the same context as other risks we take.

          1. iglwif*

            Yes, this.

            And the harder people pretend, the longer it’s going to go on, because we will never get a handle on the spread.

          2. Cassandra*

            If only there was very simple physical barrier of some sort that could cover a person’s breathing/face-holes and also filters out airborne virus particles that everyone could commit to wearing for a set, finite period of time until it goes away? Oh, wait…*stares over the Kn95 that hasn’t left my face whenever I’m out in public since March 2020*

            …that would be asking too much of people, of course. Silly me. I’ll just resign myself to catching a *preventable* and debilitating disease over and over again every year that will increase my risk of stroke and heart attack until I eventually kick the bucket. /sarcasm. Yeah, no thank you. I’m keeping my mask on, and I wish the people around me with all their persistent “cold/allergy” symptoms would do it, too.

            Did able-bodied people go through a collective amnesia in 2021 when they decided that disabled and high-risk people were worth sacrificing so they could return to brunches and sporting events and whatever it is people have decided is more important than their community’s collective health? I feel like I missed that memo, and now I’m helping my partner’s mom schedule an open heart surgery that she had zero signs of needing pre-COVID. *massive side-eye*

        2. Antilles*

          OP’s employer is very much in the minority.
          In the past year, I’ve traveled through a variety of states all across the political spectrum and my experience is exactly like yours. Nobody’s asked about my vaccine status, nobody’s asked about my testing status, the topic never comes up when I’m visiting someone’s office, the overwhelming majority of people aren’t wearing masks, and I can’t remember the last time I had to take a pre-emptive Covid test like OP’s company requires.

        3. I forget my handle here*

          Covid is still disabling millions of people. I think people have ‘moved on’ because the US government has decided to stop issuing appropriate guidance, due to pressure from business leaders.

          If you look at the science, Covid boosters are only effective for ~6 month. That’s probably contributing to the big ‘surge’ and the generally elevated baseline for prevalence of covid this summer. Everyone who go the bivalent booster last Sept/Oct were effectively unprotected for this summer. I don’t want my comment to go into moderation, so I’m not including links, but you can find the relevant studies on People’s CDC’s website.

          1. Katara's side braids*

            Seriously. “No one thinks about it anymore” does not mean “it isn’t dangerous anymore”, unless we’re okay shifting the entire burden of mitigation onto the disabled and immunocompromised as “personal responsibility.”

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              And “no one thinks about it anymore” is closer to “the people I know don’t talk about it anymore” than it is to an absolute. As you note, it’s still a very active area of concern for some demographics/communities, and we’re talking about it plenty.

          2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            TBH many people assume everyone has the same health status but that’s not true. you don’t stop working just because you have health issues.

            1. I Have RBF*

              This. Disability insurance (SSDI) in the US is a recipe for poverty. They don’t let you have any more than $2000 in assets, and barely pay you enough to rent a room and take the crappy bus.

              1. enon*

                So, just to be clear – SSDI is disability insurance benefits – an individual becomes insured when they work and enough taxes taken out of their paychecks (basically). The amount an individual can receive is based on their prior earnings. There are NO asset limitations associated with SSDI.

                SSI or Supplemental Security Income is the other version of the disability program. Generally, SSI is for people who have not worked or who have not worked enough to become insured to receive SSDI benefits. That program has income and asset limitations associated with it.

                Not saying that either program is a sufficient social safety net, but they are different.

        4. londonedit*

          Yeah, same in the UK. There’s been a mini surge here (I’ve just had it) and an outbreak of the new variant, so they’re bringing forward the autumn flu and Covid boosters, but the NHS are only providing them for over-65s, people in care homes, healthcare workers and those who are clinically vulnerable. There’s talk of private vaccines being available next year, but in the meantime no one else is being vaccinated for Covid. That said, there doesn’t seem to have been a huge uptick in hospitalisations and deaths – most people are getting mild cases (mine was like a bad head cold with some tiredness) and the general scenario is that we’re living with Covid just as you’d live with flu or norovirus or any of the other things that can pop up.

          1. COVID Cautious Employee*

            Even the idea that this is a “mini” surge as some of the commenters are saying shows how much the “COVID is over” storyline has taken hold. If you look at wastewater treatment in the US, we are on par with the highest levels we have had during the pandemic.

            I’m not picking on you specifically londonedit, but using your comment to show that there is a common mindset that people think that if things were really bad, governments would intervene. They will not. It would have to be severely disrupting businesses cash flow for them to issue any new protective guidance, rather than put it all on the individual.

            They have just successfully convinced people to keep working and keep spending when we are facing levels of illness that in the past people would have wanted protection against.

            1. londonedit*

              I wasn’t trying to imply that I think ‘if it’s bad enough, the government will intervene’. I think very few people in Britain who have lived through the last three+ years have any faith that the government will do anything to help the general population.

              But the fact is that Covid has become one of those things that we’re having to live with. NHS advice is ‘try to stay at home if you feel unwell’, which I know is only because big business has put pressure on the government to allow them to force workers to turn up even if they have Covid. But that’s where we are. Sensible people, like me and most others who have the option, still isolate with Covid until we get a negative test. But there are no free tests available anymore so most people aren’t testing (though the government has said that they will increase testing this autumn in response to rising levels). You just hope that most people will stay at home if they’re ill, and you accept that for the majority of people a case of Covid isn’t going to cause much more disruption or illness than a bad cold.

            2. amoeba*

              At least hereabouts (Switzerland, Germany), there are not a lot of severe cases and death, whereas in the earlier waves, the hospital system was at the brink of collapse. I don’t want to say COVID is harmless! But it has become much less dangerous for most people – which is a normal thing for any virus, as the first time(s) around it met a completely immunologically naïve population.

              (Also, here, the wastewater monitoring still shows much lower levels than in previous surges – 16% of samples compared to a maximum of 100% in 2022. But even in previous surges, which were higher, the number of severe cases and deaths has been decoupled from the total number of cases due to the increasing immunity.)

              Again, of course COVID is not “over” – but I think saying it’s just as bad as in 2020 or 2021 really doesn’t help, either. The situation is very different.

            3. Bee*

              Ok, that’s not true either. The wastewater levels nationally (per Biobot) are almost exactly mirroring the Delta wave in September 2021, which wasn’t nothing but was also nowhere close to as devastating as the first wave in 2020 or the Omicron wave that came a few months later in 2021. And it remains lower than it was for the entirety of April 2022 through April 2023. I’ve increased my levels of precaution (and I was already masking on the subway & in stores etc), especially since it remains to be seen whether this will follow Delta and start tapering off in the next few weeks or keep growing, but saying it’s at the highest levels when people can clearly see that’s not the case decreases trust in all statements about its prevalence and what level of precautions people should be taking.

              1. Parakeet*

                Yeah, I still mask in many indoor environments (and always in ones with poor ventilation, like the subway), look regularly at the wastewater data and hospitalization rates, and get my vaccines. And I also understand that I benefit from living in a state with one of the highest vaccination rates. But I’m in one of the hardest-hit areas of the initial wave of the pandemic, and pretending that now is anything at all like then simply makes people look like they have no sense of perspective.

                1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

                  “… pretending that now is anything at all like then simply makes people look like they have no sense of perspective.”

                  I think this is the crux of it right here, and what I’ve been struggling with for some time when I see posts like this.

                  I also think, from the flipside of this, anyone who is either immunocompromised or has a loved one who is, simply do not trust people to do the right thing with regards to the (very simple, reasonable, and socially conscious) precautions you state. And they aren’t wrong to lack trust for this, as we’ve seen!

                  Circling back to LW1’s question, honestly this reads to me like a situation where someone has been self-isolating for some time – probably, as you said, because she has a loved one who is vulnerable – and the idea of meeting in person is making her understandably anxious. It sounds like your company is going above and beyond to make this work, and make it work as safely as possible, which tells me that most of the employees would generally be inclined to do the right thing. Now, I realize, this isn’t an absolute, but people tend to self-select employers that share their values when they are able to do so, especially on this end of the spectrum.

                2. Katara's side braids*

                  I agree it’s counterproductive to insist that things have not improved. I think some of it may be a misguided reaction to the all-or-nothing thinking some Covid cautious people encounter (“It’s not as bad as March 2020, so now I don’t have to care at all.”) It can be tempting to insist that it IS that bad, rather than wading into the many reasons the virus is still dangerous and worth avoiding.

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yeah, I was thinking maybe Lee was told by their doctor to get the covid vax and flu vax sooner and to do the supplements because of their medical needs and they thought that was just general information. Or they read old information and didn’t know about the new vax coming out (i didn’t until reading this!)

  5. theothermadeline*

    Alison, in your #2 response I believe the accepted language is “the artist formerly known as Twitter”

    1. Pennyworth*

      I’ve been wondering what tweets should be called now Twitter has become X? Kisses? I like the idea of sending out kisses and being kissed back or re-kissed.

      1. KateM*

        On the other side, I’m creeped out by that idea.

        Isn’t X the common notation for when you want to cancel, reject or just close your window?

      2. College Career Counselor*

        I’ve seen “Xitter,” pronounced exactly the way you’d think, based on the way Elon Musk is going with the platform.

        1. Nina*

          See, that’s the only way I hadn’t been pronouncing it.

          X can reasonably be pronounced as a hard ‘Ch’ or soft ‘Sh’, either of those is appropriate under the circumstances.

  6. Kella*

    OP1, speaking as a high-risk person, a lot of high-risk folks are not waiting on CDC or FDA to give their blessing on things like nasal sprays for prevention because we feel their safety measures are no longer aggressive enough to protect us.

    I disagree with Alison here. I would ask your coworker if she’d be up for sharing your sources, or giving more information since you’d heard differently. It is possible she knows something you don’t. And from the research I’ve done, none of the pieces of info you’ve quoted here are incorrect. Health experts are not united in recommending to wait until the new booster is available, I’ve seen dozens of COVID experts recommending the nasal spray for prevention, and even the CDC says to get your flu shot “as early as possible.”

    Regardless, I would not assume that your coworker’s information is wrong and I would instead be interested in comparing notes with her.

    1. third sarah*

      Even if that’s the case, does the company want people sending out their own medical advice to all employees? It’s one thing to send out health agency recommendations but going beyond that opens the door to sending advice that could be wrong, controversial or even dangerous. I’m not saying that’s the case with Lee but the company has a legitimate interest in setting boundaries on medical advice being sent to their all staff list.

    2. Allonge*

      Would you be ok with a random coworker consistently speading health info to everyone on anything else? Diabetes, polio, pink eye, rheumatism? Carpal tunnel?

      The point is not that Lee is incorrect, the point is that this is not an appropriate way for an org to handle this. Precautions for the event should be (and looks like they are) communicated to everyone by HR or a manager.

      And in addition to that, everyone who is interested to learn more should be able to talk to each other.

      1. ferrina*

        Should be? Sure. But HR is limited by legal liability- if you are speaking for the company, you need to be really careful what you recommend.

        If you are not speaking for the company, you have more wiggle room. You can share health care information that has not been FDA approved, which can be especially helpful when it comes to diet and non-pharmaceutical treatments. A lot of online health communities like to share tips along these lines because it’s stuff that our doctors often don’t know and that the FDA won’t study because pharma isn’t putting money toward things like testing the impact of sugar consumption on ADHD (cuz pharma won’t make money on that).

        Obviously no one should be hassling their colleagues on medical practices or health care. But this sounds like Lee is putting out some FYIs. Lee is not singling out any one person or trying to require any particular practice, they are enthusiastically sharing information. While Lee may not be sharing the absolute best practice for everyone, it’s not a big deal if someone gets their flu shot in early September vs late September. If you don’t like the emails, you can delete them. You can also ask that Lee add a caveat onto the emails, like “medical needs will vary by individual; talk to your healthcare provider for questions and recommendations” and position it as “so that HR or legal don’t get testy”.

        1. Allonge*

          No, sorry.

          Lee does not get to decide that this is ok just because some other people also like to hear about anything COVID-related. Some people like to hear diet talk, how would a weekly email on weight management work?

          1. I Have RBF*

            So, everybody is at risk for Covid. Anybody can get it if they are not careful. Not everybody is on a diet. The two are not equivalent.

            1. Also RBF*

              You’re right, getting COVID isn’t a good analogy to being on a diet. A better analogy would be that everyone is at risk of COVID and should take precautions, just like everybody eats and should choose nutritious foods and limit non-nutritious foods. Therefore, Allonge’s analogy stands and your’s does not.

      2. ariel*

        +1. I appreciate that there’s information out there that the long covid/covid aware community shares, but medical conversations are for me and my doctor, I’m not going to take advice from Lee Not A Doctor and I shouldn’t! My brother takes “medical” advice from his neighbors and…. no.

    3. Sleve*

      I wish we had more context here. To me it would paint a different picture knowing if the coworker was recommending, say, ivermectin, as opposed to something with scientific backing like heparin.

      There’s “Here’s the latest research if anyone’s interested.” and there’s “Here’s a random collection of stuff that my local Covid-19 Warriors tribe posted on Facebook!!! Stay bug smart and don’t forget to sanitise your groceries <3<3".

      1. Sloanicota*

        I guess the issue is, once you open the medical-advice-giving position to amateurs, it’s harder to explain to the ivermectin crowd why you’re not going to be sharing their suggestions along with Lee’s suggestions. That’s why most places are still defaulting to some sort of officially sanctioned platform and closing further debate.

        1. Beany*

          I agree. I don’t want interested amateurs — right or wrong — interpreting the official guidelines for me. Even if they don’t have some conspiracy theory axe to grind, they’re essentially playing telephone, and likely to introduce errors along the way.

        2. Smithy*

          I think this is the point right here.

          I will also note that since the return of office retreats/large meetings – some of the ones my office has held have ended up feeling like “super spreader events” while most others have not. However, a bigger reality with these events and meetings is that not only are they business critical but often getting invited to them or participating is considered valuable to the organization and to individuals’ careers and professional development.

          I put this out there to say that for those who are high risk and these events continue to remain riskier to their health than others – I think that advocating for venues and practices to increase safety should it be very important they do attend – but also to advocate for high quality remote participation options. A huge reason for the return of in-person events, was that doing them remotely was not found to work as well. And honestly, I think part of that was that it was rare they were invested in well. Whether it was the right platform, the right moderation, the right planning, etc.

          So instead of aiming for 100% healthy staff members – which will never happen. Make joining remotely an actual high quality possibility really gives people choices.

        3. Lisa*

          This is the main issue I think. It is better to just limit this kind of talk at work than to have to sort through why you endorse Lee’s zinc advice but not Bob and his ivermectin.

      2. Aerin*

        I only found out the nasal sprays were a thing when someone on one of my Discords posted it along with links to some of the related studies. Of course, that was a small group of like-minded people on a channel where people had opted in to hearing about covid stuff (because a lot of people get quite enough of that elsewhere).

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “As early as possible” is probably for last-minute Loui(s)es like me who sometimes forget until late.

    5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Really? I thought they usually recommend waiting until October, to provide coverage through the end of the flu season. That’s what my doctor says, anyway. ( Which reminds me I need to ask if I should get the new COVID shot immediately or wait so it has better protection over the winter.)

      1. Lalchi11*

        I actually brought my son in for his annual visit yesterday, and the doctor said they’re recommending it in September/early October this year because of how hard it hit in September and October last year.

        1. amoeba*

          The advice here is apparently that you should consult with your doctor, as it’s hard to foresee when cases will start to go up. Typically, it used to be in the new year, but last year, for instance, flu season started super early. The article recommended waiting and getting the shot as soon as the cases start going up, as the protection kicks in pretty quickly.
          No idea how sound that is – will get mine whenever my employer organises the flu vaccination, as every year.

        2. Dek*

          I had strep a couple weeks back (so glad it wasn’t covid), and when I picked up my meds, the pharmacist said she’s never seen so many people sick in the summer before.

          1. Cassandra*

            Your pharmacist is observing the impact/fallout of the general public deciding they were over masking/taking community-centered precautions against an airborne virus, and are now in the “find out stage.”

            Catching Sars-Cov-2 (Covid) actively damages the immune system by reducing T-cell count, which is a finite resource. You can not grow back your immune system. It is not a muscle. Catching Sars-2 multiple times increases chances of longCovid (do not want) and also a whole range of other illnesses that your immune system is not capable of fending off if it is too damaged/weakened.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Because I am high risk for respiratory complications and my husband is a teacher, my doctor usually says to get it when school starts. In particularly bad years they’ve given me two, one in late October. But it’ll vary by person.

      3. Double A*

        My approach is to get the flu shot whenever I get the opportunity. My daughter has an October bday so we’re often seeing the doctor in early September, and we get it then because we’re both there. Kaiser only pays for the shot at their locations, and it’s a 30 minute drive from us, so the most important thing is doing it when we have the opportunity.

        Of course we all got flu shots last year and she ended up in hospital anyway. But maybe it would have been worse without the shots.

    6. Keymaster of Gozer*

      From my perspective I’d prefer coworkers don’t send mass emails regarding medical advice. If it’s a link to official medical reviews and practices then by all means send that. If it’s immediate safety critical stuff like ‘just wear a mask and get a vaccine’ during 2021 then yes that’s fine.

      But ‘take xyz now’ when X is stuff people need to judge for themselves is a bit off centre. I’d be highly insulted if someone told me to take zinc or vitamin C or whatever to alleviate me being high risk. That’s a little too close to the ‘oh you should try x food or medicine’ statement we disabled people get to hear far too often.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah I wouldn’t advise coworkers beyond “hey, the new booster just got approved.” Because of what you said and also because I don’t want to spend any time arguing with Mindfulness Melody or Essential Oils Elanor at work. I already spend enough time explaining to relatives who vaguely trust that I got educated about this stuff that not all viruses are the same, see why we get new vaccines for flu all the time but rabies vaccines last much longer.

        (Also bothering my parents about getting their vaccines genuinely works and bothering coworkers tends to… not do that.)

    7. Lilo*

      My kid was absolutely whammied by the flu in early September last year (I usually get his flu shot in late September/early October, my work doesn’tstart the flu shot clinic until October 1).

    8. Rose*

      I’m sorry but there are so many things wrong here. As a high risk person who works in public health, and who’s job at one time was very Covid and flu focused:

      1) The CDC absolutely does not recommend getting your flu shot as early as possible. September and October or recommended months, and you should aim to get it by the end of October. This is right on their website.

      Getting the vaccine too early reduces the chance that you’re vaccinated against the most prevalent strains and increases the chance that your immunity wears off by the time flu season is peeking.

      2) Like many high-risk people, I stopped taking the CDC Covid recommendations seriously at some point because they got pretty lax. But that doesn’t mean that doing everything anyone has ever suggested might decrease the likelihood of getting Covid is the cautious approach. There’s a huge difference between things that are not recommended because of more lax rules, and things that are not recommended because they haven’t been proven. Some of the things suggested fall into the latter category.

      3) As others have pointed out, it doesn’t really matter whether most of this is correct or incorrect. OPs work should not be encouraging people to take medical advice from a layperson coworker, or relying on said coworker to disseminate information as they see fit. It’s a dangerous path.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        3) if it was a big business they should have a HR health person who sends emails out like ‘ get your covid/ flu shot! ‘ gym memberships are discounted etc. ( by should I mean that would be a good idea)

  7. GuITarHub*

    #2 – while it’s entirely possible he hasn’t tuned, I would think it’s incredibly unlikely (unless he really is just bad at it). The intonation may actually be off, especially if it’s okay sometimes and really out at other times (if you’re not a guitarist; ideally the 12th fret (octave) matches the open string in tuning, but can be out by a wide margin).

    And seriously, being direct is often the best way to handle these sorts of things (especially since the Bible does outright say to be direct to people when issues need to be addressed). Just because you’re a volunteer doesn’t mean you have absolutely no standing to say to him “Hey, I’ve noticed your guitar has been sounding out of tune lately. You may need to get it looked at.”

    For what it’s worth, I used to play in a youth group band where the leader’s acoustic guitar regularly went out of tune and I didn’t really say a lot because it was usually fine for small stints. I only ever really noticed if I visited that church for other events. I think I did mention a few times and she was like “Oh. Is it?” (which completely baffles me that some people don’t even notice these things sometimes)

    1. Angstrom*

      Good point. If the intonation is off the strings can be in tune when played open and go out of tune as he moves down the fretboard.
      If the bridge is adjustable, he may be able to fix that himself. If not, the guitar may need a setup.
      Asking for a tuning check should be normal in any musical group.

      1. Armchair Analyst*

        I was still thinking about the reply above that says the Bible says to be direct, and I ready this reply and I thought it said “turning cheek”

        it does not.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, my daily driver guitar is, um, not a precision instrument and the low E string is never reliably in tune. But it’s not so bad that people are recoiling, and I’m not playing on stage as a band director.

      I could see that someone might not notice it when they’re playing at home by themselves, but I’m mystified that they wouldn’t notice it as soon as they started playing with other people. (Although I did used to play regularly with a guy who couldn’t hear different time signatures. Reel? Waltz? He played in 2/4 no matter what.)

      1. Angstrom*

        Cheap tuners(on the guitar) can slip, or have a lot of slop that makes tuning difficult. Always starting flat and tuning up usually works better than coming at it from both directions.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          This is a wonky-neck situation, I’m afraid. Part of the scale is in tune and then it becomes less so as you play higher. But, as I said, it’s not audience-cringing bad and I have no real aspirations to perform, anyway.

          But you’d still hear it, no?

  8. bunniferous*

    Re letter #2: I too play in a small church band (I play keys but am NOT the leader.)

    It is not, I repeat, NOT insubordination to tell the leader his guitar is out of tune (or alternatively something sounds wonky.) I’m wondering just why the writer hasn’t felt comfortable to say it before now.

    Fellow musician, SPEAK UP. Believe me, when something doesn’t sound right, I certainly do. And we fix it, and life goes on, and we sound much better.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This. Just tell him. It’s completely reasonable to ask people to check tuning before they play. If the dynamic here is such that it seems unsafe to do this, there is a much bigger problem than an out-of-tune guitar.

    2. Or your typical admin*

      This! From a fellow small church keys player, speaking up is key. Our worship band has A LOT of teens, so we do a lot of figuring out where different problems are coming from when things seem off.

  9. Snoozing not schmoozing*

    I thought all music groups did a tuning check before performing. if #2’s group doesn’t, why not suggest that as something to be done from now on, which would avoid pointing out the sour pitch of one person’s instrument. You could blame the weather: “I’ve been having issues with keeping tuned in this high/low humidity, can we do regular pitch checks before starting?”

    1. GuITarHub*

      Depends on the group. Concert/orchestral bands will generally tune to a reference pitch. A lot of church bands will generally tune independently at their own pace before service (sometimes phone app, built-in tuner, guitar plugged into pedal, whatever).

      All *diligent* musicians will ensure they’re tuned up until the performance starts (at church, if there’s enough space between going on stage and playing, I will generally double check). But there are a lot of people that don’t put in that care, OR have faulty instruments that won’t keep tuning properly.

    2. Sleve*

      I don’t know much about tuning instruments, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought tuning instruments as a group was useful twice over because a) it prevents one person from being way out of tune, and also b) it’s much less noticeable if every instrument is slightly off together. So if one instrument is impossible to get perfectly in tune everyone can adjust slightly to make the whole group sound cohesive. That would be another excuse to tune together.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I’ve been in groups where we all tune to the piano, because re-tuning a piano is a big project best scheduled separately and tuning a guitar to agree with whatever the piano thinks is an A and the rest of the strings to be the right intervals from that is the work of minutes.

        It seems like a lot of people with a folk or rock background rather than a classical one tune independently, though. I suppose as long as the guitar player’s tuner and the bass player’s tuner are both well-calibrated there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I’m definitely of the “everyone will tune by ear from an agreed-upon reference pitch” training style myself.

        1. amoeba*

          Yup. You don’t tune a piano by yourself at all, usually! Standard here is to have a professional come in once a year. In addition to that, for instance old instruments aren’t even tuned to the standard 440 Hz but slightly lower to prevent the strings from rupturing. As most people’s hearing isn’t absolute, either, that’s usually not a problem – but if you play together with others, they need to tune accordingly! (Unless it’s two pianos, obviously. Then you just… have a problem.)

          Anyway, even if everybody is pretty well tuned to 440 Hz, I’d say it makes a ton of sense to tune together again! The most important bit is the relative tuning with each other (and the different strings on one instrument, of course). If one person tunes to 441 and one to 338, that’s all still pretty close to correct, but will be quite dissonant together. If everybody tunes together in a way it sounds harmonious, it doesn’t matter whether it’s 435 or 450.

          Caveat: I come from classical music land, where that’s the absolute standard, was surprised to learn it’s not that common in bands!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            If by old instruments we are talking centuries rather than decades, they were built to tune lower because everything tuned lower. A 440 as the standard is quite recent, even stipulating that there is in fact a universal standard.

            1. An oboist*

              Well, lower or higher! Pitch varied quite a lot in both directions in past centuries, whether we’re talking 19th century or well before.

      2. Or your typical admin*

        It’s very useful – but not always practical. Just because of timing, we don’t have time to tune as a group in our worship band. I play keyboard, so I don’t have to worry about that, but our guitarists tune individually with their own tuners. This is probably a case of a faulty tuner, or an instrument that can’t hold a time for whatever reason.

    3. bamcheeks*

      I think one of the unique things about church music groups is that there can a LOT of variety in everyone’s standard. There aren’t many other settings where it’s completely normal to have a professional or semi-professional musician with third-level training, a couple of decent amateurs, someone who is fine on the twenty songs you sing regularly but extremely wobbly on anything else, and someone who bashes the tambourine and is sometimes in time purely by chance. You definitely can’t assume that everyone knows how to tune their instrument, or even understands, “here’s an A, everyone tune up”. You can’t necessarily assume the director knows that: it says he’s being paid, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s being paid to be a musician: he might be a youth or pastoral or activities lead who has “can play the guitar” on his CV, but he’s actually in the “fine on the twenty songs we play regularly” category.

      The flipside of that variety, though, is that it’s usually ok for the better musicians to make helpful suggestions, as long as you’re tactful and kind about it, regardless of where you are in the “hierarchy”. If he’s not really a trained musician, I would start from the assumption that he may not know he needs to tune his guitar, or doesn’t know how to tune his guitar, and just have a conversation about it: “John, I’m not sure the tuning on your guitar is quite right. Would you like some help with it? I know a bit about tuning guitars / there are apps for it nowadays / maybe you could ask Claire for help / as a group we could spend some time working on it?” I would be a bit diagnostic here, and try and figure out whether it is that he can’t hear it, doesn’t know how to do it, or there is actually a problem with his guitar staying in tune, and then come up with appropriate suggestions.

      If he is a musician but just seems to have weird pitch-blindness, it’s a bit trickier, But in that case, I would go with, “are you having a problem with your guitar? Do you think you might need to get it looked at?” or “I have been struggling with tuning a bit recently, could we all have a tuning session” suggestions.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Very thoughtful comment, with which I agree.

        I’m in a good position with my director-equivalent in that he has lots of band experience and is a skilled guitarist, and I can’t even hold a guitar the right way up but have lots of formal classical training. So sometimes he’ll say “hey let’s modulate up, which means we need a bridging chord which would be … General?” and I say “oh yeah D to E means B7.”

        But yes church bands are A Whole Thing and respectfully I think a lot of the suggestions for indirect correction offered in the comments in good faith won’t work in this circumstance. “Let’s all tune” meaning “Susan wtf” too frequently leads to Susan going “yep, OK here, I tuned at home before I left” and maybe strumming open strings once to *prove it*.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          “It’s pretty hot and humid today, Susan–I think we should definitely take a minute to recheck.”

          I am also not against wearing my “Tune it or Die” shirt.

        2. Chirpy*

          That’s when you need to tell Susan “Let’s tune again together before we start just to be sure the heat/humidity/ acoustics aren’t affecting anyone”.

          …because people need to learn that good musicians always warm up, then tune, ideally in the space they’ll be performing….and to check that nothing was damaged/affected in transit…

          1. bamcheeks*

            This all assumes that Susan knows how to tune her instrument, and I just don’t know if that’s a safe assumption. A church band really does attract people who love making a noise but do not necessarily have the skills to make sure it’s a nice noise, and whether or not you have a director who is capable of taking the less-accomplished musicians to the next level or not is also very variable.

            1. Chirpy*

              If they doesn’t know how to tune, it’s going to be more work to tactfully point that out, yes. Perhaps then it needs to be a private conversation.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              Look, if Susan is going to perform, Susan needs to learn the basics, and tuning is very definitely one of them.

  10. Coverage Associate*

    In addition to “mostly remote,” employers should consider how much advance warning they will give for an in office day. If it’s only a few times a year with sufficient notice, why require that the employee be in commute distance, rather than just saying that the employer won’t reimburse travel for the in office days?

    I understand about not offering literal “work from anywhere,” but I think plenty of people would accept a job that required them to travel a few times per year at their own expense from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or whatever the Texas equivalent is. Honestly , in my industry, the employer would cover the travel expenses too. There’s advantages to the employer having an employee regularly in my location, even if there’s no formal office here, and not having employees all residing within commute distance. (Not 100% sure on the legalities of not paying travel, but I think this would just be the employer not paying commute costs. It’s just a really long commute.)

    It’s only if the employer needs the employee in office on short notice that a commute distance requirement makes sense to me.

    1. Allonge*

      I would assume OP and their org took this into consideration when defining their ‘almost completely remote’ and concluded it’s not a workable solution.

      Let’s say they reimburse travel. Next thing you know that is a consideration, because John coming in from the next town pays for their own gas and gets there in 30 minutes but Jenny, flying in from the other end of the state, is a cost element and travel time means she is tired by the time she gets to the office never mind back home etc. So she is asked less often and John more often.

      Anyway, my point is, if there is an infrequent but consistent in-office part of a job, setting a maximum distance is reasonable (unless they are having trouble hiring of course).

    2. ecnaseener*

      I agree that they don’t need to set it at exactly 2 hours, but it probably does need to be possible to come in on short notice if the company provides necessary equipment like computers. Your laptop stops working one day and IT can’t fix it remotely, you don’t want to be unable to work while you wait for them to ship you a replacement.

    3. mlem*

      It’s also possible that the organization is set up legally for any state(s) within a 1-2 hour drive but not for every state/country someone might be willing to fly from.

      1. turquoisecow*

        oh yeah the legal/tax implications might be playing a part here. if so I think OP could say something like “must live in (state),” unless it’s a big state where it’s possible they might hire someone from the other side which would be more than a 2 hour drive.

    4. turquoisecow*

      yeah, if it’s a “we need you to come in for training/meeting/etc TOMORROW” then yeah it definitely helps that they’re in a 2 hour radius.

      but if it’s like “oh next month we’re having a big important thing we’d like you there,” then you have time to rearrange your schedule and potentially book hotels/flights/etc.

      we live in NY and my husband works remote for a company in California. they have offices all over but their HQ is in CA and so every so often there’s a big meeting of the minds that it benefits him to attend. We are definitely not within 2 hours, but since he usually finds out about this stuff a month or more in advance, he can arrange travel.

      i work about an hour or so from my office and I’m considered fully remote. When I tell people that, I also mention that I go in occasionally. Usually people ask what “occasionally means,” and in the beginning i used to go every few weeks for an in-person meeting. After some structural changes and the pandemic making remote meetings more acceptable (I used to call into a conference bridge and yell into a phone when I couldn’t be there, now the meetings are on Teams anyway because the others are more hybrid and half of them are working from home also), it’s now closer to once every 6 months, at most.

      So OP should be super clear about how often these visits are required and how much notice there is.

      1. SpaceySteph*

        Definitely agree it needs to be clear what the in-person requirement is (like Alison’s example “5 days a year). I’m not sure exactly what the number is, but there’s definitely a tipping point of days/year where advertising it as remote with caveat is pretty disingenuous.

  11. Tiger Snake*

    #5 – I’m concerned at the language you use for your question title, because it makes me feel like you’re coming into the negotiative with a pre-existing negative and hostile lens.

    Its an optics thing from where we’re sitting with only your letter go go by. I also recognise I am fortunate to be in a position where my accommodations are easily accommodatable, so I cannot discount your past experiences. But if the idea of reasonable accommodations is its meant to be a negotiation to find a solution that will work for both parties – then if you’re starting perspective is “how much do I need to sufferhere already?!”, that’s going to come through in how you communicate, and it’s going to come through in the negotiation process.

    Yes, the company is a big terrible machine, but you’ll still be speaking with people. And when people have someone coming in upset and hostile at the word go, they’re going to come in defensive. Coming in frank, but clear on what your limitations are and being open and friendly to negotiation is important for you to get what you need – you catch more flies with honey and all that.

    1. Myrin*

      FWIW, the letters’ titles are mostly written by Alison, not the OPs (whose email subject lines are mostly variants of “Question”).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! Although in this case it actually happens that the subject line is the OP’s subject line, which is semi-rare. (I hate writing headlines so if someone submits one that works, I take it!)

    2. Bit o' Brit*

      I think that’s a very uncharitable interpretation of the title. I read it as “I have an accommodation, but I’m still suffering, is there a minimum trial limit before I can ask for a different accommodation?”

    3. LW5*

      I asked the question that way because HR is rejecting my suggested accommodations and offering ineffective ones. I came into the conversation naïvely expecting them to want to work with me to find something that works for both parties, but they came in with their minds made up before even talking to me.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        I would say there’s no reason to accept an accommodation you know will be ineffective. If, for example, you have back pain and they suggest a standing desk but you know that will aggravate an ankle injury, you can say that and propose something else. They may also have seen a similar case before and are making assumptions that your symptoms/needed accommodations are the same—calling that out can be helpful too.

        1. LW5*

          I think they’re making a lot of assumptions. They told me the HR director has *one* of my symptoms and he’s fine, so I should be too. They keep suggesting it’s a psychiatric problem. (I’m not at all suggesting psychiatric problems are not as valid and should not be accommodated, but my problem is primarily physical.)

          1. Observer*

            They told me the HR director has *one* of my symptoms and he’s fine, so I should be too

            That’s non *necessarily* bad intentions, but rather stupidity of the kind that crops up all the time. Of course that doesn’t make it less exhausting, but it does make it easier to keep up the cheerful obtuseness.

            The response to a statement like that is really “I understand, but this does not take into account my other issues x, y and z.”

            1. Davida Steinberg*

              Strong disagree here.

              The response to a statement like, “They told me the HR director has *one* of my symptoms and he’s fine, so I should be too” should be, “That’s not relevant. I am diagnosed with that condition and others by my own doctors, and I am asking for a reasonable accommodation for my condition, and the ADA act requires that covered employers provide reasonable accommodations for their employees. Other employers provide reasonable accommodations as required by law – why doesn’t this one?” OK, don’t do that last sentence/rhetorical question but seriously, do not engage on other people’s disability status and accommodations. Focus on you.

          2. Observer*

            Sorry, I hit submit too soon.

            They keep suggesting it’s a psychiatric problem.

            This is why documentation from your doctor is so useful. Because they can think what they want, but although they don’t have to give you the specific accommodation your doctor, they simply cannot dismiss your doctor’s conclusion that you have a physical problem that needs accommodation in physical ways that are similar to what they suggest.

            1. ferrina*

              LW5, if they imply that this is a psychiatric issue, this could run afoul of the ADA. ADA applies to perceived conditions, and if they perceive you to have a psychiatric condition and are refusing to enter into good faith accommodation discussions for your physical conditions due to that perception, that could be useful for your lawyer to know.

              Talk to a lawyer about this. Proceed with caution. If you have a chance to document this type of conversation without it sounding stilted, do so. Take notes for your reference on what conversations you had, what was said, and who was there.

          3. A Poster Has No Name*

            If this is their attitude, then I agree with Alison that talking to a lawyer might be the next step. They’re not reasonable or engaging in good faith, and it’s unlikely you get further on your own.

          4. bird*

            That’s SUPER brave of them to suggest your physical medical issues are in your head. I’d document that REALLY thoroughly.

          5. I'm just here for the cats*

            WOW! Based on what you are saying I think you need to get a lawyer. Not necessarily to sue or anything, but to help you with this process. Check your area for any disability advocates who may be able to help you. And please write back to let us know how it works out! Good luck!

      2. Ellis Bell*

        I’m so sorry you’re going through that. Even if you are picking up on a dismissive or lazy vibe, one tactic is to be wilfully obtuse – as though you are just not able to pick up on those sorts of ‘stop asking’ hints because you simply can’t imagine that they don’t want to help make an employee happier. Things like saying: “Thank you for these jumping off points, but those don’t actually cover the problem. I enclose some follow up ideas which all work from my end. If these don’t work from yours, of course I will be happy to redraft, or to look at another set of your suggestions. Thanks!” And then when they shoot down your ideas OF COURSE they are just telling you that something doesn’t work! They are not actually saying ‘negotation over’ …. are they? I suggest keeping it cheerful and obtuse up the actual point that they shut you down and literally tell you to go away. If that is where you think it is headed, make them say it out loud, preferably in writing, for your lawyer.

        1. LW5*

          Thank you. I think this is a good way of approaching it.

          I am a very literal person, and since pain is one of the main symptoms I deal with, I struggle to understand what it means to say I “can’t” do something. I can and do often push through it, even if it means the quality of my work is diminished, but I really don’t want to have to suffer like that.

          1. ecnaseener*

            In this context, you should absolutely feel free to interpret “can’t” as “can’t without adding to my pain.”

          2. mlem*

            Agreed with ecnascreener — it’s reasonable to read “can’t” as meaning “can’t without causing myself pain/discomfort/harm”.

          3. Boof*

            I think the phrase “That won’t work for me [because it will still leave me in pain]” is a reasonable, indeed more accurate, thing to say than “I can’t”. Can say the [because] part if necessary.

          4. Ellis Bell*

            I don’t think you have to even say whether it’s physically possible, or whether you can/can’t do something you find problematic and painful. You finding it problematic is reason enough to raise it. Sure it’s an option to suffer personally and professionally without ever bothering people to trouble themselves for a moment, but you need more options and more eyes on the issue than that! Unless you’re satisfied that they are the ones who literally ‘can’t’ do it, that the business would collapse at the very attempt to help you, why not just tell them it’s a serious problem which needs at least a good faith brainstorm? But I strongly suspect you’re setting yourself on fire to stop other people from the trouble of picking up a match.

          5. hayling*

            I also have chronic pain (and migraine) and I know what you mean…but in my experience, if I work for too long in a way that is not accommodating because I technically “can” but it’s killing me physically, eventually I will be so dysfunctional that I literally will not be able to work.

        2. Sloanicota*

          FWIW I’ve seen decent success even in lousy orgs if you can reflect on any accommodations that work for you that are, for want of a better term, not the extremely popular ones that a lot of people are trying to get. I saw some nasty cases of interactive process when the applicant requested a) window seating or private office or b) remote/flex work accommodations out of step with the office culture. The reason HR balked at these was because they get a lot of requests for these specific things for lots of different reasons, so they begin to see these as “perks” people want and are less likely to be supportive. OTOH, they were much more supportive of other accommodations that didn’t seem as in-demand to all staff members, like intermittent FMLA, headphones, special equipment, etc. It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s what I’ve observed. Good luck OP!

          1. LW5*

            Thank you. I think this is part of it. I get the sense that they think I’m faking it to get more favorable working conditions. I’ve been talking to other people with the same conditions online, but because of the limitations, it’s hard to come up with alternatives.

            HR has told me that I just need to take FMLA instead, but I want and need to work. FMLA is limited and unpaid, and one of my conditions tends to be progressive, so I feel like I need to make and save as much money as possible while I still can. I am unlikely to ever be married and don’t have family who are able to help me, so if I become unable to work, I’m on my own.

            1. Engineer*

              It sounds like it may be time to talk with a lawyer, at least to get sense of what language to use when pushing back. You’re not moving to legal action yet, if that worries you, but are gaining a more thorough understanding of your rights and your company’s obligations.

              1. LW5*

                Unfortunately, I think it might come to that. I’m terrified of confrontation and making people mad at me, so this whole experience has been extra stressful.

            2. ferrina*

              Have you gotten a doctor to write in on your behalf? It sounds like HR decided that they aren’t going to listen to you about your own health, and they may listen to Official Documentation from an Official Healthcare Provider saying the same thing in fancier words (see also: comments around yesterday’s letter about “pregnancy brain”- folks react differently if your doctor says have “minor cognitive impairment due to acute hormonal fluctuations”)

                1. ferrina*

                  Several?! One, maaaaaaybe two letters should have been enough. I feel like this tells me all I need to know about the HR you’re dealing with.

                  I’m so sorry. Good luck!

                2. Ellis Bell*

                  Oh wow, they suuuuck. Do speak to a lawyer, at least which in itself is not a confrontation at all! You never know they may have something reassuring to say.

          2. Feckless Rando*

            I experienced this as a college dining hall worker. When I was stationed on the grill I would overheat and nearly faint. It happened twice, once on my first day. The third time they told me my shift assignment was the grill I told the supervisor that I couldn’t do that, I would overheat and be out sick within the hour. The supervisor looked pained and skeptical, hemmed and hawed and then finally said “well the only other position I need covered today is dishwasher…” and let me tell you he looked SHOCKED when I jumped at the opportunity to wash dishes.

      3. ferrina*

        I was originally on HR’s side for this, but I’m changing my mind based on the additional info in your comments.

        Companies aren’t obligated to meet whatever accommodations you want or need. Sometimes it changes the balance of the role so much that the company isn’t getting the value that they need from that role (for example, I worked with a client liaison who had poor communication skills and wanted her manager to review every communication- that’s not doable). But they do need to have a good faith conversation. I’ve met the kind of person you’re talking about- they assume they know all there is to know about your condition/symptoms and it’s not as bad as you are saying. Usually they have a story about how they went through something entirely different and they pulled themself up by their bootstraps. These people suck.

        Some tips:
        1. Don’t justify your health condition to them. I have ADHD and I find myself trying to explain it to folks. Don’t. Just say “I’ve consulted with my healthcare provider (HCP); this is a chronic condition and we have taken the available treatment steps.” Full stop. No one needs to know what the treatment steps were- you and your HCP know what’s available and what’s a realistic option for you.
        2. Have someone help you with the phrasing. Preferably someone that works in legal and/or medicine. When we’re the ones living with a condition, we feel the emotional exhaustion of having to live with our symptoms every day. That comes out in how we talk about it. But this isn’t an emotional issue- it’s a factual and logistical one. Medical terms do a great job of being impartial (sometimes too good a job). It can help dispel the accusations of “dramatic”. “I am suffering acute pain from the seating options currently provided. How can we reconcile this?”
        3. Treat HR accommodations as step therapy. For those that haven’t had to do step therapy, the worst form of step therapy comes from U.S. insurance companies that require a certain series of treatment options before they will provide coveraage for the next one. They will actually require patients to go on treatments that the patients previously tried and know do not work, just so the patient can re-prove that it still doesn’t work and the patient can move on to the more expensive treatment that does work. It’s awful, it sucks, but sometimes you need to jump through the hoops that the system has set up.
        Set a date for when you will circle back about the efficacy of accommodations (use that term- it’s delightfully clinical). Try the thing for a month, then report back to HR. Be precise and annoying. Doesn’t work? Great, you’re sure that HR doesn’t want to provide accommodations that are unsuccessful, so let’s talk about the next option.
        4. Document everything. Get all the things in email. If you have a casual conversation, email HR to confirm. If HR emails something inaccurate, immediately respond back in email. If it wasn’t documented, it didn’t happen. HR knows what this means- you have proof for a lawyer if it comes to that. It will either motivate HR to do their job, or make your eventual court case easier (I hope it doesn’t come to that, but if it does, advocate for yourself! If enough people do this, it makes it better for all of us.)

        Sorry for the long response. Good luck!

          1. bat*

            Totally agree with #1, 2, and 4! However, I want to push back on some parts of this, specifically:

            -“Companies aren’t obligated to meet whatever accommodations you want or need. Sometimes it changes the balance of the role so much that the company isn’t getting the value that they need from that role.” As Alison noted, the company IS obligated to meet the obligations you need, unless they can prove an ‘undue hardship’. That burden of proof is on them, and likely a higher standard than ‘not getting the value they need’.

            -Alison’s advice is that you DON’T need to accept step therapy, ie, accommodations that you know will not work: “There’s no clearly defined answer to “how much do I need to suffer before an accommodation is considered ineffective?” but in general the law doesn’t say you need to suffer at all.” You don’t need to try them and prove they don’t work. Step therapy is hell and there’s no reason to do it if you don’t have to.

            Lawyer up and good luck!

            1. Darren*

              They are required to accommodate your condition. That doesn’t mean they have to do it in the way you want.

              Say you have a medical condition and can’t deal with heat. Your preference is the thermosat is set to a suitably low number (say 18C or 65F) that means you won’t have a problem with that.

              They don’t agree (it’ll increase cooling costs significantly) so they can a portable unit that needs to be refilled with water every couple of hours to be effective.

              Ultimately the accommodation meets what you need (a cooler environment) although does so in a way that will require effort on your part (to refill the water) and keeps the increase in cost lower to them.

              Now the issue here seems to be that is the kind of thing HR has proposed, but in addition to not dealing well with heat, you also can’t refill the water easily (maybe you have issues walking back and forth the full distance to the tap every couple of hours) so while this accommodation would be fine for part of your condition it’s not for all of it.

              They still don’t have to switch to your preferred accommodation they can look at other options to make it suitable (a portable unit that doesn’t need water, or has a bigger tank so it doesn’t need to be filled as often).

              This is why it’s meant to be a collaborative process, where you are proposing things you think could work, and they are proposing things they honestly believe could work with feedback from both sides on why specific options aren’t suitable. From the company side this might be cost, the inability to offer things like remote work because they aren’t setup for it. From the side of the person seeking the accommodation it’s always going to be about the effectiveness of the accommodation at resolving the issues you are facing.

    4. Aerin*

      LW, have you talked to your manager at all? I know that in some cases you want them to know as little as possible, but if your HR is being intransigent, your manager might be more open and better positioned to know what’s feasible for your role. They might also be willing/able to let you try out an accommodation temporarily, which could help you argue for it with HR.

      (In my case, my HR contact is a saint but it was my doctor who was hemming and hawing about letting me WFH. I kinda had to push and say “my employer is perfectly happy to do this for me, they just need the supporting paperwork” before they would submit it.)

      1. LW5*

        Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, my manager is supportive of my request, but HR stepped in and said she cannot accommodate in any of the ways that I suggested. The company is very strict that accommodations have to go through HR. The very few things HR has offered are bizarrely unrelated to my problem.

        1. ferrina*

          Is there anything your manager can offer that is technically not an accommodation? If HR demands all accommodations go through them, can your manager just offer a certain degree of flexibility (or whatever would help you) to the whole team? That way it’s not an accommodation (so no HR necessary), but you still get some of the support you need.

          1. LW5*

            Unfortunately, no. She thinks it’s a stupid rule but is ultimately a rule follower. She’s not willing to risk her own job, and I can’t blame her at all for that.

    5. There You Are*

      If anyone is still reading this thread, I could use some help in how to find a lawyer to talk to that doesn’t involve giving my local bar association $50 for the “privilege” of them giving me the name of newbie lawyer in my ZIP code.

      Because I am in the same situation as the OP. All accommodations must go through HR and they have not, from what I’ve seen in my situation and heard about others, accommodated anything other than “Take a long lunch for a doctor’s appointment,” which is something we’ve been able to do for the entire history of our company until we got a new CEO.

      So I could use some lawyer-y help. I just don’t know how to find one.

      1. LW5*

        I’d love to know how to find one too. I contacted some a few months ago, but as soon as I said I’m not ready to sue, they acted like I was insane for even contacting them.

        Sorry you’re dealing with this too.

  12. Sharpie*

    LW2, all the church music groups I’ve known have set aside time to practise together, even if it’s running through a song or two before the service on Sunday morning. That might be a good time to check everyone’s tuning as well as the timing of whatever song/s and other things.

    If you’re not getting together as a group (I know it’s not always easy to find the time!) that might help explain the out of tune-ness… or rather, how it’s staying out of tune, especially if your sound system doesn’t allow you to actually listen to what you’re playing via a feedback monitor system.

    You shouldn’t feel as if you don’t have standing to address it, though, just adopt some of Alyson’s excellent advice for sticky situations… ‘I don’t know if you realise your guitar’s slipped out of tune lately, there some really great tuning apps available for your phone if you haven’t got one. Maybe we could meet earlier/at some point this week to go over the song list for next week, and we can all make sure we’re tuned together? After all, we want to really be leading the congregation the best way we can.’

  13. amoeba*

    LW3: I think you’re correct that hybrid would be a bad description for that role. In addition to people passing over the job because they want to be fully remote, I’d also add that it would be quite misleading for people who don’t like WFH. I am one of them and would never, ever apply for a fully remote position, and if a position is hybrid on paper but then nobody’s ever in the office (even though I might be allowed to go in), I’d be miserable. You’re doing everybody a favour by making that as clear as possible!

    1. I should be working*

      I was actually thinking the opposite interestingly. To me, “remote” means that the company would cover my expenses if I needed to travel for work (i.e. to the office). I might apply to a “remote” job at a company based in a city 4-5 hours away from me. But I would not apply for a “hybrid” job that far away.

      Another solution on a site like LinkedIn is to use the location along with the classification. I have seen some jobs posted that say “remote – Canada wide”, vs. “Remote – Vancouver area”. That way as a person who lives nowhere near Vancouver I could filter out “those jobs”.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        That’s how I think of it, too.

        Hybrid means I’m liable for being in the office on my employer’s schedule or frequency. Remote means that being in the office is business travel.

    2. Daisy-dog*

      The way I saw it when I was job-searching last year was: Remote in Flavortown, USA (or just in one state). This could be for tax/other legal purposes, but I always guessed it was because rare in-person things were needed though not as frequent as a Hybrid role. Some of them did expand on what the role entailed, but I usually didn’t read the posting if I wasn’t in the specified location.

    3. vincent*

      See, I really disagree, unless there’s an option for “remote in (location).” I HATE how many postings are listed under “remote” and then it turns out there are geographic limitations. It’s going to come up in a lot of people’s searches when it shouldn’t.

  14. Introvert girl*

    OP 3, you really need to use correct language for this one, as it is tricky. A lot of companies are forcing their staff back into office, which means that some candidates might think you’ll do that too after a while. Especially when you want people living max 1-2 hours away. It would be good if you stipulate the max. amount of days a year you need your employees to be in the office.

  15. Melissa*

    #2, Alison is right— you’re imagining that you have to tell this leader that his guitar has been horribly out of tune for the last six months! But you don’t. You can act like you just noticed, it’s mild, and you just want to him to tune real quick before practice continues.

  16. Ally McBeal*

    LW3: Is there any specific reason that the employee needs to live, at most, 2 hours away from the office? If you’re able to give sufficient notice when in-office presence is required, I think it’s reasonable to say “employees must be able to travel to the office at their own expense, whether that’s by car or by plane or by canoe.” With flight prices being what they are, some people may make the calculation that living nearby is easier & more cost-efficient, but others (like me) wouldn’t mind flying a couple times a year.

    1. amoeba*

      That… would be highly problematic from a climate change point of view though, I’d be quite shocked if my company endorsed that!

      1. Heather*

        Do you not fly, though? I know some people choose not to, but that’s honestly a pretty minority opinion.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Is it? I’d say it’s more like ethical vegetarianism and veganism: certainly not the majority, but common enough that I’d be surprised at someone being surprised by it.

          1. Antilles*

            It’s decently common among individuals, but I *do* find it pretty surprising that amoeba “would be shocked if my company endorsed that because of climate change” because that’s just not how companies usually make decisions. Even if the company talks a big game about climate change, when push comes to shove, if the best business operation involves flights, that is what it is.

            Now, if you told me your company didn’t want to hire an employee outside of driving distance because of cost or logistics or hassles? Sure, I wouldn’t blink at that. But the idea your company would opt out because of climate change is just not the way most companies operate.

            1. amoeba*

              Eh, I would think factoring in which kind of travel would be reasonable to set the radius where employees are allowed to live! And I’d hope my company would not include air travel in those reasonable ways.

              1. Antilles*

                But would they make that decision based on the climate change impact of a handful of flights per year? I just honestly don’t see many companies (at least in the US) treating climate change as a particularly notable factor in their decision making.
                Or to put it differently: If we made a ranked list of every potential item a company takes into account while defining their hiring radius (#1: cost, #2: logistics, #3: practicality, #4…), the climate change impacts are going to be pretty far down on that list and well below the level where it’s make-or-break.

          2. amoeba*

            I’d say in Europe it’s at least getting less common to say “you can just fly” without any kind of ecological consideration, and I know quite a few people who avoid it whenever possible! My company also discourages people from taking the car to work (by offering incentives if you use public transport and limiting parking space), so to have an entire workforce of people who have to fly in on a regular basis would certainly go against the values they preach…
            (Of course, the higher ups still fly around quite regularly, because, you know, Important Management Things. Sigh.)

            My old university just introduced a new travel policy, which explicitly forbids any business travel by plane for <800 (?) km. I think that's great and I hope more companies follow with similar schemes!

            (Personally, I only fly when I cannot avoid it – unfortunately had to this year because of a last minute schedule change because all trains were fully booked. And no, I'm not motivated enough to cancel my holiday to avoid flying yet!)

            Of course, Europe is different, anyway, because generally, you can get around extremely well by train if you invest a little more time. I'm sure that changes people's perception.

            1. Parakeet*

              Yes, I think the train systems in most of Europe are extremely relevant here. On the very rare occasions (once a year max) when I have to go to my organization’s physical office, I can take a two-hour flight, or a nine-hour train ride that costs more than the plane flight (I like taking the train a lot more than I like flying, but that’s just not usually feasible). And that’s a relatively easy one as there’s a direct train route – it would take far more train time than that for some of my colleagues.

          3. Eliot Waugh*

            I doubt it’s as common as veganism or vegetarianism. Never flying, especially in the US, can be an extremely difficult proposition.

          4. Gerri’s Jaunty Hat*

            In the US at least, where trains are practically nonexistent for personal travel, it is vanishingly rare or impractical to just never fly.

            1. amoeba*

              Well, the point in question here isn’t about never flying, but about jobs that would require you to fly multiple times a year just to get to the office. That would be on top of whatever business travel or holiday you’re doing otherwise – and that’s certainly something that can be avoided!

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Between cost-cutting and packing passengers in like cattle, flying has become a pretty miserable experience. Given the overhead (TSA, arrive early, taxicab on arrival), the time savings are hard to bank on as well. I’d estimate it’s 50/50 among my acquaintances whether a <300 mi trip would be a <5-hour drive or a short flight, split largely on management/pleb lines.

        3. mlem*

          I don’t fly if I have the option not to; I last flew in 2014. Some people might take a job that requires them to fly periodically, but that’s certainly not something I would choose to add to my life, and I’m confident I’m not alone in that.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Same, haven’t flown since 2014. I’m not quite at the point where I can say I’ll never fly again, but I’m kind of hoping that the train and ferry services improve in line with my ambitions!

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        A lot of people have to travel by plane for work, for various reasons. Those include but are not limited to semi-regular visits to a central hub.

      3. Peanut Hamper*

        Yeah, this is really dependent on the situation. Please tell me the difference between getting into a car, driving for two hours to get to the office and then driving for another two hours to get home and getting onto a plane that is already going in that direction regardless of whether I’m on it or not.

        Climate change is a thing to be worried about, but “don’t get on a plane ever” is not the solution you are looking for.

        1. bamcheeks*

          The fact that the plane is only going in that direction because the demand created by businesses and private consumers, and you’d probably end up driving pretty close to two hours anyway to get to and from the airport at either end?

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            Like I said, this is highly dependent on the situation. I’ve been on a lot of planes that were less than full, and I’m fifteen minutes away from an airport if I drive my car and an hour away if I take the bus.

            The solution to climate change is definitely not a one-size-fits-all answer.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I’ve been on a lot of planes that were less than full

              That’s … worse? I mean, I’m not saying you personally are responsible for this, but from an environmental point of view, the economics that allow plane companies to operate routes which aren’t even heavily used are frankly appalling. And businesses have far more power to institute change than individual consumers.

          2. turquoisecow*

            this is kind of similar to blaming climate change on individual consumers for not recycling enough while corporations do very little to help. you can’t blame someone for purchasing a plastic soda bottle when that’s all that’s offered in the store.

            1. bamcheeks*

              The context here is explicitly about the *company* deciding not to try and attract employees who will have to fly to come to work. Like, it’s exactly the thing that should be happening instead of individuals being blamed.

        2. amoeba*


          Even for the same distance, flying is significantly worse for the environment than driving. Will post link below – domestic flight is around 250 g of CO2 equivalents per km, a car 170.

          And obviously, a 2 h flight would be a lot more km than a 2 h drive! Let’s say a 2 h flight is around 2000 km while a 2 h car ride is maybe 200 – that would give you 5 kg of CO2 equivalents for the 2 h flight, 10 kg round trip. For the 2 h car ride it would be 340 g, 680 round trip. More than 10x as much CO2 for the flight. And that’s for a fully booked plane because obviously the per capita emissions are much higher if it’s half empty.

          As for “the plane is already going in that direction”, that is… not how supply and demand work? Planes are not some unchangeable natural phenomenon, if people stop using them, they stop flying. Simple as that.

          In addition to that, fossil-powered cars are obviously also really bad for climate, which is why they’re being phased out. A train trip has just 6 g of CO2/km.

          The amount of air travel we have currently is a disaster for the environment and if we want to have any chance at all at avoiding the worst effects, this is certainly one sector where things need to change.

          1. Chirpy*

            It is something that needs to change, but at least in the US, if you want to get from, say, Chicago to Portland, it’s two days whether you drive or take the train (and the train actually is slower, 46 hours instead of 31 in a car, though at least you save on a hotel), or like a 4 hour flight.

            Until we get quality high speed rail, people are still going to fly, especially for business.

            1. amoeba*

              Yes, but then it’s already very easy to not take a job in Portland if you want to live in Chicago? Which is what the point was originally about…

          2. Liz Lemon*

            I’m confused by the comparison of 2hr flight to 2hr drive, which are, as you say, totally different km. We should be comparing one distance to two modes, no? i.e. I need to get from LA to New York, is the impact better or worse to drive vs to fly. and the impact of a flight should be divided by the number of passengers.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Because the context here isn’t how to get from one specified place to another, it’s whether a company can say that they want people to live within a 2-3 hour drive or whether they should extend that to include people who are several hours’ flight away. And the answer is that in terms of carbon it’s practically orders of magnitude worse to have people flying from the other side of the country compared to driving from the other side of the state.

              1. Liz Lemon*

                Ah I see, thanks. I thought it was whether individuals can/should avoid flying altogether, since some people were talking about that.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A few reasons I can think of:

      – employees flying in (or driving more than 2 hrs, or canoeing down the river, etc.) are more likely to be affected by flight delays/cancellations and other travel mishaps (delayed from traffic jam, from canoe tipping over, etc.) than employees driving from <2 hrs are
      – employees flying in are more likely to be tired/jet-lagged from their travel than employees driving <2 hrs are
      – employees flying in are more likely to be tired the day after their in-office day than employees driving <2 hrs are (or, worded a slightly different way, are likely to be more tired than the employees who traveled less)
      – employees flying in may build resentment that they have to shell out for flights, hotels, meals away from home, etc. and their coworker in the cubical next store only spent $2 on the gasoline for their drive

      Of course, these are generalizations and will not be true for every person in every single configuration of one person drives less than 2 hrs and one person takes a flight. But they are true in enough cases that it strikes me as reasonable the company puts a limit on the location of their employees.

    3. Lily Potter*

      Is there any specific reason that the employee needs to live, at most, 2 hours away from the office?

      It’s possible that LW3’s office wants to keep all of their employees located in a single state for tax purposes, and saying “2 hours from the office” keeps everyone from the state line. It might be easier to say “must be a resident of the State of Colorado” when the office is located in Denver, but then you could run into the person who’s technically a resident of Colorado but spends four months a year as a snowbird in Arizona……

    4. Allonge*

      Maybe OP’s company does not have an airport handy.

      Maybe they would prefer to have workers for whom going to the office does not require a month’s notice.

      Maybe it would be illegal for them not to reimburse travel costs, or not to consider travel time as working time.

      Maybe they want to avoid to hire someone who in prinicple does not mind flying in realizing that they do mind it in particular seasons.

  17. I should really pick a name*


    I think you’re getting into the weeds a bit too much.

    Lee should not be providing medical advice to the company. Period.

    The specific advice that Lee is providing isn’t terrible. It’s an area in which reasonable people can disagree. For example, taking a less effective, but approved vaccine before a planned gathering might make more sense for someone than waiting for a better one that might not be available until after the gathering.

    So if you bring this up to someone, I suggest limiting it to pointing out that an employee without training in that area shouldn’t be providing medical advice to the company. Otherwise, you risk getting bogged down in a debate about the quality of the advice.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes that’s where I landed as well. The fact that it’s about covid (or about any specific condition) is immaterial, compared to the fact that Lee is dispensing medical advice and the company is sanctioning it. The easiest way to get this to stop is probably pointing out the possible liability aspect of an unqualified employee providing medical advice. If Lee has concerns about the way the company is handling it, they should address that with management / HR.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Right. It would be better to have the company always directing to official platforms, not having personal ‘interpretation’ unless it’s to express the company’s clear requirement like “company X is asking everyone to test first.’

    3. EA*

      I agree. Covid emotions are clouding this issue, but the company should shut down any medical advice coming from a single employee.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Good point. Now that you mention it, what IS the legal definition of “practicing medicine without a license”?
      Though there are crackpots in any profession, it doesn’t sound from the letter like Lee is an actual doctor.

    5. Observer*

      Lee should not be providing medical advice to the company. Period.

      Yes. The company needs to find a (few?) trusted and reputable sources of information, and work from there. No one else should be providing this kind of information. And *no one* should be implying that they should “listen to Lee” or anyone else who has not been assigned the job of vetting sources and information based on the company’s standards. And if they don’t want to / cannot do that, then the *only* official advice is “please talk to your healthcare provider”.

      Especially since the CDC and FDA *legitimately* have a significant communications gap. For example, the CDC’s guidance on masking is basically useless. The pages that normal people are going to see are way to general – and the page was last in August of *2021*! That’s 2 years ago. At least the vaccination page was updated as soon as the vaccines were officially cleared.

      I know this because I just went to the CDC site and searched for Covid. The I clicked on “How to protect yourself and others” If you almost all the way down, you’ll see their “additional actions” where you can click on a link for wearing masks or respirators. All you get there is a &very basic explanation of what a mask is supposed to o, and what a respirator is. Absolutely nothing about when to wear one and what are good signals that you should be masking. Zero discussion of what “As needed” might look like. The Masks page you get by clicking the left side page was the useless page that hasn’t been updated in 2 years.

      It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between the FDA not recommending something and actually recommending *against* something. Not recommending something just means that the FDA (or CDC) hasn’t looked at the evidence- and it’s not always a matter of the evidence not being there. Which is different from the FDA saying that they actually recommend against something, or (as in something that just happened) they declare a drug ineffective (Oral Phenylephrine). *That* is serious stuff, and needs to be acted on.

      https *colon* //www *dot* fda *dot* gov/media/171915/download (replace the punctuation words)

      1. Gumby*

        I mostly feel vindicated by this. I’ve been hitting up pharmacy counters since shortly after 2006 asking for “real sudafed.” I mean, only when I have a cold or something so not really that often. But I knew almost immediately the fake stuff wasn’t nearly as effective as pseudoephedrine. Didn’t know it was entirely ineffective but it was obvious that it was notably less effective and not worth taking.

    6. LHOI*

      Agreed; I have no idea why anything beyond “masks are still good individual-level protection in group settings” is allowed. Having once been yelled at for suggesting a coworker take ibuprofen for a headache–good heavens, the liability!!

    7. iglwif*

      This is the way.

      As COVID advice goes, this is not the worst. Lee is not hawking ivermectin, talking about “clot shots”, or suggesting that masks prevent children from learning to talk. Would it be more useful to advocate for cleaner air and company-provided N95s? Yes, but there is much, much worse amateur medical advice floating around out there.

      BUT a random employee should be sending out medical advice to everyone, irrespective of what the advice is. That definitely seems like the angle to take here.

  18. Delta Delta*

    #4 – You can say “fell into my lap” without also saying “when I applied for it and sixteen other jobs.” All that needs to be said is that the opportunity presented itself (after five interviews and a writing sample).

  19. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Trying again x 3 with some tweaks. My comments keep getting rejected. What gives? I was trying to post…

    OP 1 … or you can just ignore Lee as it seems you have (and probably others) done enough C O V I D homework to know what’s best. If Lee chooses disinformation, that’s on them. Also, can you please provide an alternate link to that vaccine article? Can’t get behind the pay wall. I get writers need to be paid for their work but please consider this is for the public good. Thanks.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      For the article, all you have to do is create an account at WP to read it. You don’t have to pay anything.

      You can also just google those terms (“CDC new booster shot”) to get a list or related articles.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      If I was the LW, I’d be worried about a couple of things. First, that someone else hadn’t done their homework and was happy to take any confident-sounding advice from someone they knew, or that looked even semi-official.

      Second, right now a conversation about what people or the company should do, or what I’m doing, might start from “well, Lee says….” That means I’d have to waste time and energy explaining why I disagreed, rather than starting with “I am doing X because $reasons” or “I think the company should do Y and Z because covid is still a danger.” And my Y and Z would include better ventilation and/or air filtering in the office, which individual employees can’t do on their own, and a pro-masking policy, including supplying good masks rather than expecting people to bring their own. (And someone else might, equally, not want the conversation to start from “Well, the Gollux says…and she’s usually a sensible person so let’s just do that.”)

      1. GarlicMicrowaver*

        I just don’t think it’s their problem to solve. They even said the company took a joking stance when telling everyone to consult Lee. To me, that translates to, “This is nothing new, here’s another surge. You all know how to stay informed at this point.” I actually disagree with Allison on this one as her advice implies Lee is posing some kind of danger.

        1. Allonge*

          I think it poses danger. Not necessarily because Lee will eventually get something wrong, but:
          – medical information is sensitive for a reason. Anyone inviting discussions on this in a not-sanctioned-by-management manner at a workplace is inviting conflict. This may be for a good cause (OSHA matters) but it may just be to ‘share info’ and frankly, we have more than enough info.
          – it is dangerous to accept information on health topics from non-experts and it’s dangerous to think of this as good practice. What is Lee’s liability if something goes wrong? How many people will believe that what Lee sends out is company policy?
          – it’s a precedent. Does Larry get to decide to share weekly updates on preventing burnout? Windy on weight loss? Keisha on migraines?
          – it’s also someone using working time for a task that they just chosen to do. Does Lee not have enough work?

          1. GarlicMicrowaver*

            I mean, I agree Lee needs to find actual work to do and that the company could have handled this better by quietly thanking Lee for his opinion, and not making the joke announcement. But I wouldn’t jump to using the words “danger” and “liability.” If anything, I question the judgment of those who choose to trust Lee as a professional resource to make decisions about their health.

            1. Allonge*

              The fact that someone can start a TikTok or YouTube channel and without having any expertise, share random information on matters that take years to really learn about is one of the most dangerous developments of the last decade, in my view.

              Giving a platform for this at work is just as dangerous – even without jokes it will be seen as endorsed by management, otherwise they would stop it.

    3. Observer*

      If Lee chooses disinformation, that’s on them.

      Well, no. What Lee chooses to do as an individual is on them. What they choose to tell others is a different thing. What the company allows, and what they imply (as in the joking “listen to Lee”) should be done are a very different thing.

      And the fundamental issue is not about Covid, per se, but that someone is spreading information and recommendations that are questionable. Would you be OK with someone giving people incorrect information about other vaccines or best practices for limiting the spread of other illnesses?

      What people choose to do for themselves and discuss as individuals is one thing. What they choose to send out over company resources as a “general directive” is a very different issue.

      1. GarlicMicrowaver*

        Replace the COVID scenario with politics. I choose to ignore all political discourse, debate or swaying in a work environment regardless of stance. A company can easily say, “Listen to Lee, vote X for president” and that could even be construed as “danger.” It does not have to be interpreted as a general directive is what I am saying

        1. Allonge*

          Of course not, but you know, if you have seen anything in the last years that people will accept information as true from questionable sources even if it’s against their own self-interest.

          Good for you for being able to ignore all that. Some are more easily swayed and in a workplace, management has a responsibility to stop questionable information – if for nothing else, to get people to actually work.

          Easiest is to say we don’t allow this on company email on company time.

  20. Fernie*

    #2, we had this same issue in an informal jamming group I’m in, and discovered that the guitarist in question had his tuner set to 432 hz instead of the usual 440 hz. He didn’t even realize there was this switch on the tuner, but once he set it back to standard we’ve been making sweet music ever since!

  21. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Genuine question — for job ads is there a cost per word?

    I know in the old days, the newspaper charges per word so ads were necessarily light on details. But in the age of online job ads, is there some reason that the situation can’t be described a little more fully? Of course, you don’t want a long description that no one is going to read. But surely you can give more detail than a newspaper ad.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I’ve found that being able to look a situation as an outsider, being able to divorce yourself from the background information you bring to it as context, is a skill like any other rare skill. For the most part, I’d chalk up the gaps and omissions in job listings to the absence and/or underdevelopment of that skill.

    2. Sneaky Squirrel*

      It varies by job posting site but generally no to a cost per word. For many job posting sites there is a cost associated with it but it’s usually a flat rate or you pay more if prioritize the post (e.g. do you want your ad on page 1 or page 10?). It’s possible that some sites have character limits though.

    3. kiki*

      I think the issue is that LW wants to find the right words to concisely capture the situation in the initial blurb for the posting. They can give more exact details deeper in the body of the posting but they want to make sure the right people who are interested in this kind of set-up actually get far enough along in the posting to read the additional details. Saying hybrid may lose the attention of folks who want to be remote but probably wouldn’t mind stopping by the office a handful of times per year. Saying remote may make applicants from outside a 2 hour range of the office may feel like the listing wasted their time.

      So the suggestion to say ‘mostly remote,’ if it’s an option, sounds like a perfect balance to me. And then LW can specify more details about what that looks like further down in the listing.

    4. amoeba*

      I think a lot of job sites (LinkedIn, for one) also require you to classify the job as on-site, hybrid, or remote. If people pre-filter by these criteria, it may not matter how well you describe the situation in the free text because they never even find the job.

      Would agree that “remote” would be the best category in this case, with a more detailed description in the text!

  22. NYNY*

    LW5, I do not mean to ask a personal question, but the question is not do you have to suffer, but is the accomodation you want reasonable. You say you are frequently fatigued. Are you asking for PT schedule? If your employer does not normally have PT or remote people, this may be difficult.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      That’s a weird jump to make. There is no reason to start from a place of assuming what they asked for is unreasonable.

      1. Lily Potter*

        NYNY was not jumping to a conclusion. S/he was asking a clarifying question, and it’s an on-point question. LW5 is entitled to reasonable accommodations but not any accommodation s/he wants.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I don’t agree. There are one million different accomodations in the world and I think it is weird to pull one totally out of the air and ask if that’s what they were asking for. How is that a clarifying question? How is that helpful to OP?

          1. NYNY*

            My point is that if her present employer cannot reasonably accomadate PT or remote work, she may be better off looking for another job.

  23. Sloanicota*

    Yes, with some accommodations like going remote in an office that is vehemently anti-remote (when everyone and their mother is also probably requesting to be remote right now) it may honestly be easier to use your time to find a new, fully-remote role versus try to get this specific permission. If it’s something a lot of people want and they routinely decline, they may also have a standard documented answer for why it’s not possible for the company / undue hardship for them, and they will say you can use FMLA already. You also aren’t going to have an easy time at the company even if they very resentfully and reluctantly gave you something they don’t actually support, TBH.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Oop sorry that was supposed to be a reply to NYNY, above. Got diverted by the McAfee ad again *shakes fist*

  24. CommanderBanana*

    I will never forget(tm) the HR director at my last organization sending out a mass email about “how to prevent COVID” to the entire staff that was from a hoax online post, including such gems as “drink warm water to flush the germs into your stomach which will then kill them.”*

    *This was the HR director who routinely got people’s names wrong in the emails announcing they were leaving and whose HR “degree” came from a for-profit diploma mill, so.

    1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I think it is yourHR director who has earned the title of Commander Banana(pants) there omg

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Oh, there are so many stories I could tell about this person. She’s been there foreverrrrrrr and will never leave (until she retires, if that ever happens) and as far as I can tell, does nothing except make situations worse. They also keep having to pay people off to avoid lawsuits, so.

  25. ReallyBadPerson*

    LW2, I would have found your experience impossible to relate to had I not experienced it myself. I mean, how can a musician not know when they are out of tune? But I have come to realize that some musicians play by reading the music and still don’t have the ear for it.

    1. bamcheeks*

      It took me a really long time to get used to when I started playing a woodwind instrument in my teens, with about 7 years’ experience as a pianist and choral singer. As a singer I tuned naturally without knowing I was doing it, and as a pianist the instrument did it for me. Listening and adapting my embouchure to tune was a new thing to think about!

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s amazing how many amateur musicians have a tin hear. Some of them are in it for the melody, others are in it for the beat.

    3. metadata minion*

      I’m not completely tone-deaf or anything, but I have a kind of terrible ear and definitely rely on reading music. The only way I can stay on-key when singing is by matching pitch to someone else, unless it’s a song I know *very* well. I also have the problem that I’ll be able to tell that I’m off, but not whether I’m sharp or flat, and so I usually just make the problem worse when I try to adjust.

  26. Lilo*

    I know the coworker sending out medical advice is problematic but given how bad misinformation is, I was expecting something like recommending essential oils or homeopathy. So I’m relieved they’re at least telling people to get vaccinated.

    1. Ann*

      They’re also arguing whether the old or new booster is more effective, which opens both of them up to potentially spreading misinformation because there’s precious little actual testing of the new one. They would do well to leave medical advice to actual MDs.

      1. cabbagepants*

        agree. company emails are the wrong forum to duke out COVID protocols. If I were at this company I’d just set up an Outlook filter to auto delete these emails.

  27. This_is_Todays_Name*

    “I’m thinking small industries where everyone knows what jobs are posted when, or something like higher ed where everyone knows that a hiring process will have taken months.”

    You could be talking about being offered a federal civilian job. When someone here quits and says, “I’ve accepted a civilian position as a GS-12” or whatever, we all know that means it’s been in the works for up to 6 months (or more sometimes!). Nobody begrudges that, and I’m sure it’s the same in smaller fields, too. We all know that just because a job is posted, offered, and accepted doesn’t mean it’ll always come through. Funding gets yanked; an offer gets pulled because a background or drug test was failed; someone internal decided THEY wanted the role after all, etc… So, I’d just say “this came up a while ago, but the process was so stalled, I didn’t want to make waves until I knew it was a sure thing” or something along those lines….and that’s assuming you feel the NEED to say anything at all, beyond, “Please accept my notice of resignation from Head Llama Trainer, effective XYZ. Thank you for this opportunity.” Even if they KNEW the job was posted 5 months ago, doesn’t mean it was a “done deal” until you get the offer and a start date. Don’t overthink it!

    1. daeranilen*

      Exactly. Speaking as an ex-academic, it’s well understood in academia just how competitive the market is. I was told during my graduate program before I was even remotely ready to begin preparing for an academic job search that if I applied to 40 positions and heard back in ANY way from 4, I was excelling. That’s not to say everyone in academia would be reasonable about a person leaving at a bad time, of course – but they’d be EXTREMELY unreasonable to think you should have disclosed anything earlier than when you had your new position locked in.

  28. Lobsterman*

    LW1: the CDC and FDA are pursuing an antiscientific repeated infections strategy, so there’s no good answer here. I’d say let it go.

    LW3: make the position fully remote with a hybrid option.

    1. Observer*

      the CDC and FDA are pursuing an antiscientific repeated infections strategy, so there’s no good answer here. I’d say let it go

      That’s a good reason to NOT “let it go” and to have the company either find a source of information that is trustworthy or to shut the whole thing down.

      Lee is not giving the worst possible advice, but it’s a real problem when someone who is not an expert at this starts giving advice on behalf of the company. And I would say this even if it weren’t about Covid.

      I don’t want to have people push Dr. Sarno for back problems, or garlic oil for earaches if the problem is an actual infection, etc. If the company doesn’t have the expertise and doesn’t want to / can’t pay to get it, then they should just shut this down and not make recommendations.

  29. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #3 – I’m going to disagree a bit here and caution against calling the job remote (as opposed to hybrid). LW says there are some jobs that require in-office work but there’s always a few people who prefer the hybrid format to handle those tasks. To me this sounds like the job would require some on site work if there wasn’t a peer volunteering to cover the work. But what happens if those volunteers quit or say that they’re tired of handling those office tasks for everyone else? Would the role be required to go in more regularly to take care of the duties? If so, then it’s more misleading & harmful to call the job remote if the arrangement could reasonably be expected to change and require more frequent onsite visits.

  30. Happily Retired*

    Re: #2

    I’m surprised that I haven’t seen (maybe I missed it, but I was looking) the possibility that the out-of-tune band leader is starting to lose their hearing, and subtleties of consonance and pitch are not being heard.

    As an older musician (singer) I greatly fear hearing loss, although so far, I’m fine with pitch perception. Just losing the ability to understand speech in a loud, acoustically noisy room. So far…

    LW#2, you have my sympathies. Out-of-tune players and singers drive me screaming out of my mind.

  31. Saddy Hour*

    #3 – I’ve been looking for remote work for several months now, and I have seen a lot of “Remote in [Specific Area]” listed in the location field on Indeed and LinkedIn. Almost all of those listings include something to the effect of what you’re asking for. Listings that are truly 100% remote-from-anywhere just said “Remote” in the location field. I caught on to the distinction as a candidate pretty quickly, and although I still looked at ones with a specific location, I immediately looked for the exact caveat that you’ve listed. It helped me a lot on the job-seeking side!

  32. cabbagepants*

    #1 — my company communicates all COVID-related guidance through its EHS (environment, health, and safety) office. Booster information is given in the same figurative breath as information on getting reimbursed for steel-toed boots. I think this is the best way: treat it like any health issue, devoid of speculation and politics.

    1. Observer*

      Yes. This is *exactly* how this should be handled. Because ultimately, this is a health issue, regardless of your politics.

    2. J*

      I suspect the reason LW is dealing with an employee trying to fill in the gaps is that employer isn’t communicating anything ahead of a retreat and making it all about the individual choosing any protections they want. My husband’s employer didn’t specifically list Covid precautions ahead of their retreat but they did say 1) we’ll have all meals except breakfast outside for safety purposes and 2) please do not attend if you feel sick and we will not require any out of pocket expense on your part to cancel. And it was held in Spring 2023 when they still treated in-office covid spread as a workplace safety event so it showed on their dashboard. If employers treat the pandemic as over, people will step up and you can’t ensure that information is close to accurate.

      1. Katara's side braids*

        Exactly. I agree that Lee shouldn’t be able to appoint themself the Covid Communications Person, as it sets a dangerous precedent for other, similarly unqualified laypeople to do the same.

        BUT, as a Covid cautious person, I understand why they may feel the impulse. If they do have some kind of vulnerability as LW suspects, the “official” company precautions may not be enough to keep them safe. In our single-minded determination to get “back to normal,” we’ve completely shifted the burden of Covid safety onto the vulnerable. When governments and employers allow people to act individually based on their “personal risk tolerance,” vulnerable people are left to decide whether to take it upon themselves to encourage more community-based precautions. As we can see here, that doesn’t always lead to the best outcomes.

    3. I Have RBF*


      Covid prevention is just another health and safety issue, and company Covid guidance should come through the EHS department. Steel toed shoes, vaccinations (I had one job that involved sewage and wastewater, so they wanted certain vaccinations), PPE, and when to stay home when sick are all EHS issues.

  33. zelavie*

    #3 – as a job seeker who is looking for fully remote, PLEASE list this job as hybrid. If there is an expectation to be in the office at all, then it’s hybrid. If I have to live in XX city, it’s not truly fully remote. It’s beyond frustrating to be scrolling the job boards, see the **perfect** role and then find that I have to live in San Antonio or come in to the office in Tulsa once a month or something.

    1. remote job seeker*

      Totally agree with this. I’m looking for a fully remote job because of health, family, and other life circumstances. I applied for one job that was advertised as fully remote, and the in-house recruiter assured me that it was fully remote. During the interview, the manager remarked on how I live “only” five hours away, so it wouldn’t be hard to me to drive in once or twice a month for team building activities. Um, no. I’m applying for fully remote jobs for a reason. Please don’t waste my time if that’s not what you’re actually offering.

    2. bamcheeks*

      I appreciate this is frustrating for you personally, but I don’t think you can speak for everyone! I would interpret “hybrid” to mean close to half-and-half or 60/40, not “live within a couple of hundred miles and come in a couple of times a year”. There are plenty of people looking for remote work who would be fine with going to the office a few times a year, or are looking for remote/WFH roles within their own state or area, who would be interested in this role but wouldn’t click on a role marked “hybrid”.

    3. ?*

      On the flip side, as someone who is open to hybrid jobs but hates remote work, I would be upset to see a great hybrid job and then realize people only came in 5 days a year! This job is 95% remote.

      1. J*

        Then say that in the posting or subheader “Hybrid (5%)/Remote (95%) – Dallas Metro-TX Resident” and include a breakdown of what that means in the description itself.

        1. I Have RBF*

          This is actually a good idea. State the percentage of remote – 95%, 80%, or 40%.

          I don’t object to traveling once a quarter to the head office 800 miles away, but I would get cranky if I had to pay for it myself.

          What a lot of people looking for remote jobs are worried about nowadays is how many companies are deciding to RTO, when they hired fully remote positions and now want to unilaterally change the working location. Sure, if a person worked for the office prior to Covid, they might reasonably be asked to RTO, but if they were hired as fully remote, not “Remote until RTO”, it is a nasty, vicious thing to do to ask them to RTO when they were never hired for in-office to start with. There is no “return” for them, they were hired remote, it’s just a rug pull.

    4. Lily Potter*

      If I have to live in XX city, it’s not truly fully remote

      Residency and remote are really two different things.

      Example: I have a business near the California-Oregon state line. I have no issue with my employees never setting foot in my offices (so 100% remote) but I do not want to deal with California employment law. So my post says “100% remote – must be a resident of the State of Oregon”.

      1. zelavie*

        I probably should have distinguished my comment – I absolutely understand state-by-state employment because of wildly different laws. It’s the ones that require someone to live in a specific city that are baffling to me.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      Fully remote does not mean you can live wherever you want and I’m confused why so many people in this comment section think it does. There are plenty of jobs where that may be the case, but also plenty where it is not.

      This is not a hybrid role and listing it as such would be a mistake.

      1. zelavie*

        I get the state-specific employment requirements. But if someone is expected to live within 20 minutes of a city, then they won’t be 100% remote, will they? That type of requirement clearly implies that they will be expected to be in the office enough to require a short commute. Remote means remote – if someone is expected to be in the office, it’s not remote. Simple as.

    6. Quill*

      Yeah, it seriously clogs up job board ads when you say something is “remote” but you only intend to hire people in a certain metro area. I guarantee you’re not getting good candidates when you advertise “remote” and it gets served up to me in the middle of the rocky mountains and you’re only taking people in South Carolina.

      1. nnn*

        You’re wrong on this. Many companies that hire remote positions can only hire in some taxes because they only have business nexus in those.

  34. Furious*

    “Mostly remote” is misleading and shouldn’t be used in the job posting at all. It will show up in candidate searches for 100% remote jobs and make people think less of your company.

    If there’s regular required in-office time, hybrid shouuld be used in the job ad and expectations set up front. Otherwise you’re going to have candidates drop out of the interview process because they had their own expectation of just what “mostly remote” means. That wastes everyone’s time.

    “Candidate should live within Xtime/distance of the office and should expect to be in the office five days a week for X weeks for orientation and training before setting up their hybrid schedule.” Not hard.

    1. bamcheeks*

      I really wouldn’t think less of a company which had described the job as “Remote” in the posting and clarified they expected you to be within a certain distance or able to travel 3-4 times a year in the Further Details.

      If I didn’t find out until interview or after I’d spent time writing an application, I would be cross. But loads of stuff shows up at the search stage that turns out to be inappropriate when I click on the link and read the detailed information. That doesn’t mean the employer’s done anything wrong.

      1. Furious*

        I would think less of them. I consider it a bait & switch tactic, especially if there wasn’t detailed information.

        I’m glad the LW wrote in because she obviously cares about sharing the correct information. I disagree that using “mostly remote” is the way to go.

        LinkedIn and the link don’t have a filter for “mostly remote.” Several job boards have the filter for hybrid. Searching for a remote job and getting something that isn’t is a great way to alienate people.

        1. Allonge*

          You would think less of a company for the five minutes you spent reading the full job ad? I mean, you do you, but sometimes we lose five minutes on a job ad that looked ok and turns out to be not ok.

          1. Quill*

            I more often lose time on jobs that do not specify right up front that your degree has to be in ENGINEERING, like, if you only want chemical engineers and you won’t take a bachelor’s of science in chemistry, that should be made very very obvious in your ad copy, not at the end of your employer questions section on indeed.

  35. I'm just here for the cats*

    Yeah, I wonder if Lee’s doctor said they should get the flu shot earlier because of specific risks for them and they just think that it’s advice for everyone.

  36. spcepickle*

    #5 – I manage a group that has several ADA accommodations. I need the employee to speak up. I don’t know / don’t want to know the details of people’s medical conditions. But I do need to know a) if you need an accommodation, b) what accommodation you need, and c) if that accommodation no longer works or needs to be tweaked.

    You say to assume a hostile environment and I fully believe that you have experienced that, but I also know that the law is on your side and there are those of us out there that will fight for you.

    Things my office has done: allowed flexible schedules (we do this for everyone but we codify a split shift), moved people’s cubes around to help with noise, purchased an air filter, purchased different seat cushions for vehicles, pulled the middle seats out of a mini-van so someone could do stretches because of an injury, accommodated a service dog.

    Also I did have to let someone go – we have positions that require driving, the person could no longer drive. That was not something I could accommodate, so we had to lay him off. It sucked as I really liked the guy and he was hardworking. Best I could do was help him identify other jobs and be a good reference.

    Please enter into the discussion with your HR / supervisor, please come with idea of what can help, but do know that if you can’t do the core job duties of the position it is not the right position for you right now – even if that is sucky.

    1. Anon for this one*

      Thank you for sharing this, especially the part about having to lay someone off. ADA is a very misunderstood law. Many people think it means the employer has to do whatever you want them to including changing certain parameters of their job. We are not privy to the type of job the OP has or the accommodation they are requesting. For instance you were able to accommodate a service dog; in my line of work we can’t. Some employers could allow someone to take extended breaks, while it would be unreasonable at other employers.

      OP, I’m assuming you have done this, but if you haven’t – come to HR with multiple suggestions that you think could be successful. Sometimes this can be helpful in showing that you are trying to be flexible as well and not laser focused on one accommodation.

  37. J*

    LW1: If your company does not acknowledge the risk being put on employees traveling during a pandemic, then workers will step up, either with good or bad information. Communicating proactively about safety measures and ensuring smart planning by adding outdoor dining options and talking about not traveling when sick/what happens if they get sick is smart. Leaving a vacuum will mean anyone can fill in the gaps. This isn’t an issue with just one employee, it’s that the company sees themselves as outside the “personal responsibility” idea while still demanding employees accept personal risk.

    1. Katara's side braids*

      LW’s wording was “using nasal sprays and taking zinc”. To my knowledge, most of the popular nasal sprays are xylitol-based, so I assume the zinc supplements would be oral. Either way, not something Lee should be recommending as a layperson.

  38. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    LW2: this reminds me of when I was in middle school and was dragged to church by my parents so I could get confirmed, much to my chagrin. I said I wanted to go the service that had modern music, basically a full band with guitarist, drummer, etc. The drummer was extremely loud and enthusiastic, so much so that they eventually put a plexiglass enclosure around him. In the interim, my poor mother got many migraines as a result. I still chuckle about it to this day.

  39. TimeTraveledIsPoorIndicator*

    OP3, 2 hours away is completely variable and very dependent on the mode of travel. For example, it might take me 2.5-3 hours to get somewhere by bus but 20 minutes by car. If getting there by a specific time ifessential, that could add another 1.5-2 hours to public transit if I have multiple connections or a leg that only runs once an hour or even less frequently. It’s really none if your business as an employer how long it takes me to get somewhere provided I commit to doing it.

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