using tracking software to monitor employees, leading the charge for women’s shorts, and more

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

1. Using tracking software to monitor employees

My employer uses tracking software to track remote workers. If they determine you “worked” less than seven hours in a day, you come up on a bad list and can get in trouble.

Thing is, these are exempt workers — mid and senior managers. And how long your mouse is moving on your laptop does not completely constitute the totality of time worked. Many of us work on our phones — especially after hours — attending calls, answering texts and emails and the like … and none of that is counted because there’s no tracking software on our phones.

What do you think of tracking hours “worked” for exempt employees in this manner?

That’s ridiculous. It makes no sense for any job that isn’t entirely focused around typing all day long. And even for those jobs, that kind of monitoring usually means you have management that doesn’t know how to manage; the way you know if people are working or not is by looking at their output, not by monitoring their every movement.

You should ask your manager how they’ll be accounting for the significant portions of your work that don’t take place on a computer.

2. Communicating with a coworker who works a different shift

I’m hoping to get your advice about communicating with coworkers who work different schedules. I’m in a team with two other people, one of whom works a completely opposite shift most of the time. She’s mainly assigned to the team to help when projects get really busy and has other duties that she also works on in the evenings.

Communicating with her can be hard because of the shift differences. Her shift starts a full hour after we’ve already left for the day, so we mostly have to rely on email or Teams messages for communication. Occasionally I’ll stay later to talk with her in person about what’s going on, but we’re paid hourly so have to get any schedule changes approved before doing so.

The issue is that she waits a day before reading and responding to emails or Teams messages. Due to our different schedules, this means that communicating with her takes a minimum of three days. This isn’t great when we’re deep in project season and our tasks are more time-sensitive. I’m not her supervisor so I’m unsure of how to approach this issue without sounding accusatory and I don’t want to ask her to just do the less interesting and less time-sensitive “clean up” parts of the projects, as that seems demoralizing.

Be matter-of-fact about it — treat it as a workflow issue, not a “you’re slacking” issue. For example: “Because our separate shifts mean we rarely get to talk in person, could you try to respond to email and Teams messages the day you receive them? Otherwise our schedules mean that it takes several days to communicate, which is really slowing down time-sensitive projects.”

If that doesn’t work, talk to your manager about what’s going on, since (a) it’s important that she know this is happening and (b) she can exercise authority that you can’t.

3. Time zone etiquette when interviewing

I work as a recruiter for a company based on the east coast of the U.S. We offer remote work and, for most positions, we will consider applicants from anywhere in the country. However, the majority of our employees are based out of our east coast office, and the company operates within east coast business hours.

Is it a red flag when candidates give their availability for interviews in a different time zone? I will frequently get candidates telling me they are available for an interview “any time after 3 pm PST” (i.e., after east coat business hours) or something similar. I can get past having to do the time zone switching (although truth be told, I do find it a bit off-putting), but I find it’s a bigger concern when candidates don’t take into account when their interviewers will likely be available. Among other things, we are looking for candidates who have good interpersonal and communication skills, and candidates who are actually okay with working east coast hours. Someone living in, say, Oregon, who doesn’t want to show up to a meeting because it’s at 6 or 7 am their local time is not going to work out, and I worry that not showing awareness of the time difference during the interview process might be a warning sign of this. Would love to know your thoughts.

I don’t think it’s a big red flag. People are used to giving times in their own time zones, and they don’t work for you yet. Plus, with the increase in remote work, they may not know that the people they’ll be meeting with are all on the east coast; after all, you’re interviewing them to work from the west coast, so it’s not implausible that you’d have other people around the country too. It would be better if they said something like, “Depending on what time zone the people I’m interviewing with are in, that may be too late in the day, in which case I could do XYZ instead” (and if they were writing to me, that’s what I’d recommend). But it’s not terribly worrisome that they’re not, as long as you don’t see other signs that they’ll resist working east coast hours.

Of course, you do need to be very explicit about the hours they’ll be expected to work in their time zone — and their reaction to that is where you should focus your assessment of how okay they are with that schedule.

4. Leading the charge for women’s shorts

I recently started working in an office that’s very casual for the first time as a mid-career employee. If someone showed up here in flannel pajama pants, it might be noteworthy, but it wouldn’t be a problem. It took me a few weeks to notice an unspoken rule — women do not wear shorts. Men wear shorts. Cargo shorts, mostly, but the occasional basketball shorts or more form-fitting shorts. But none of the women wear shorts. If I asked my manager about it, I’m sure he would say it was fine. It’s just … not done. It’s 100 degrees in the summer here. Should I lead the charge to bring women’s shorts into the workplace?


5. My company keeps paying us late

I am based out of California. More than once, my work, which pays twice monthly, has been late to pay us. There is little to no notice. We are not high earners and most live paycheck to paycheck. Although I’ve been vocal about how this affects myself and the staff, nothing changes. What are my options moving forward besides finding a new job?

California is probably the most work-friendly state when it comes to enforcing employment laws, and particularly its paycheck law. Your state has — and is very willing to assess — strict penalties and fines on employers who pay employees late. You can file a complaint with the state department of labor here.

{ 393 comments… read them below }

  1. Eliot Waugh*

    There’s literally never a reason to use that kind of invasive tracking software. As noted in the response, work should be evaluated by output, not tracking software. If there’s a concern about a particular person’s work it should be addressed with them, not used as an excuse for this kind of hall monitor BS.

    If I was able to, I’d quit if I was OP.

    1. Lynn*

      My employer does not use tracking software where I work at, but they use cameras to find out whether or not you are at your assigned location.

      I work for a *major grocery store chain* at one of their fuel centers.

      We are short handed at the fuel center since there are only 3 of us working there.

      Part of our job is replenishing products we sell on a daily basis.

      According to our employer, replenishment must be done 7 days a week, preferably by someone else so the fuel center kiosk is manned in the morning.

      But we are short handed inside the grocery store as well.

      So, that means the fuel center opener has to do replenishment as soon as possible after arriving at 6 a.m.

      That means the fuel center clerk has to close the kiosk window while they are inside the store collecting the products.

      Our employer also keeps track of which locations do replenishment as well as which locations do not do replenishment.

      The Corporate office has access to the cameras inside the fuel center, and according to store management, Corporate checks the cameras at various times throughout the day.

      If Corporate notices there is no-one inside the fuel center kiosk, Corporate either calls store management or e-mails them asking why is the fuel center clerk not inside the kiosk.

      Corporate cannot have it both ways.

      1. Leave hummus alone*

        You’d think that Corporate would be better off spending money on hiring more people so you’re not short-staffed instead of paying someone to look at cameras and complain. I’m sorry that they don’t have more common sense to fix the issue!

        1. Chirpy*

          If corporate in retail was in touch with reality anywhere, we wouldn’t have staffing shortages across the entire retail industry.

          1. Laser99*

            Agreed 100%. According employees at my local Tarjay, corporate is constantly pushing them to reduce payroll. Meanwhile merchandise is being ripped off constantly, there’s no one available to help you, and a forth. I will never understand this mindset.

              1. Laser99*

                “So forth”. Speaking of Tarjay, I’m going to run down there and get a coffee, I seem to need one!

        1. Lynn*

          The district manager over the fuel centers located where I live sends out an e-mail usually every Monday that includes all sorts of information pertaining to the fuel centers including 1) the locations that did not do replenishment and 2) the locations where the fuel center kiosk was closed in the morning for an extended time period *more than how long it takes to do replenishment*

          He mentions that when the locations are not staffed, there are thousands of dollars in lost sales.

          Plus according to store management, every manned fuel center that our employer owns received 3 big reach in merchandisers that the first week of November must be stocked on a daily bases with products.

          The merchandisers were delivered to the manned fuel centers the first week of November.

          Our location received them the first week of November.

          This is in addition to the tobacco products and other products inside the fuel center kiosk that must be stocked every day.

          1. Antilles*

            He mentions that when the locations are not staffed, there are thousands of dollars in lost sales.
            Yeah, I’m sure you’re missing an absolute flood of customers who would be buying Twix bars from a gas station kiosk at 6:07 AM on a Wednesday if you were just more efficient at re-stocking. Just an endless line of lost revenue from people who would normally be flinging money at the Grocery Corporation during that exact 15-minute window who instead end up walking away disappointed.

          2. Chirpy*

            At my store, it’s “we want to be known for excellent customer service”, “we are tracking the number of shelf replenishments but doing multiple trucks of freight doesn’t count if it all fits directly on the sales floor because you didn’t scan it” and “no, we will not be hiring enough people to prevent repetitive stress injuries/exhaustion related illnesses, so the existing staff is all trying to leave”

            …these are not compatible goals….

            Also, in the latest corporate newsletter for management (which was “cascaded down” to store associates), it had a section on “keep an eye out for employee burnout” which did list the actual signs of burnout (including low staffing levels as a factor) but then, I kid you not, said “burnt out employees need to socialize more. When was the last time you held a potluck?” ?!?

            We’ve also been emphatically told there will be no raises. I wish we could all just walk out on Friday, but honestly, the people who would have done it already left or are looking (and I certainly can’t afford to miss a single paycheck, so I hope we all find something sooner rather than later.)

      2. Anon for this*

        Ha! I work part time in the evenings at a retail store that has a big push both to get customers through the registers quickly, so there’s not a line, and *also* to sell them the retail store’s credit card/reward program, which of course delays the time it takes to get them checked out. These are diametrically opposed goals, but you get dinged if you don’t manage to hit both of them. WTAF.

    2. Kella*

      Corporate performance metrics that are completely disconnected from what they claim to be measuring (See also, getting punished/skipped over for promotions for getting less than 5 star ratings for customer service, time limits at drive-throughs etc.) is one of my absolute least favorite things. I don’t understand why so many companies use such terrible metrics given that the conclusions they draw from the data are entirely inaccurate.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Ah yes, often something easily measurable is chosen as a metric, and no-one gives any thought as to what incentives that creates.

        I once worked in a place where the percentage run time of a production machine was used as a metric (as in, it ran for a total of 6 hours in an 8 hour shift for example). This is an easy readout from the machine software. Until people discovered they could lower the speed of the machine… which of course increases the runtime, but slows down actual production. It was a big thing when it came out, write-ups etc., but also, that’s the incentive that was there! Now, decreasing the speed was obviously not an ok thing to do. But there are less clearly wrong things that people will do, for example trying to load quicker and more sloppily, or not triple checking the right program was loaded, which will all lead to better runtimes but more wastage.

        Want me to push a mouse around? I’ll push a mouse around and stop responding to emails on my phone. Responses will be slower, but that’s what they asked for.

        You put a metric, people will work to the metric and only the metric. Gotta think through where that will lead.

        1. bamcheeks*

          I’ve heard it described as the metric half-life— to begin with, people will do the actual useful stuff to meet the metric, but at some point all the easy stuff will be done, and the you either need a strong leadership which is committed to doing the expensive, difficult stuff, or everyone starts doing stuff to game the metric rather than the actual task.

          I used to teach leadership and management to doctors, and everyone had really fantastic examples of what their hospitals had done in the first few months of the four-hour waiting time targets, which had really made a difference to patient care. But after six months or a year, when all the signage had been cleaned up and the cubicles were being cleared and re-used quicker and they’d really optimised the split of triage nursing time to other duties and had a really well-trained reception, hospitals started doing things like creating a Decision Making Unit, where patients weren’t counted for the wait-time target, but also weren’t getting treated!

          1. RVA Cat*

            This. All the metrics and KPIs make employees switch from doing our jobs well to getting points on the board. It’s just like how politicians rant about teachers “teaching to the test” after putting in high-stakes testing regimes that tied all their performance metrics to it. Well, duh.

            Very few jobs are as simple as Moneyball’s “getting on base”.

          2. Captain Swan*

            That first sentence reminded me of the book The Goal, which is an often read text in management and/operations classes.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Written in a fast-paced thriller style, The Goal is the gripping novel which is transforming management thinking throughout the Western world.

              OK I can’t decide if I’m fascinated or horrified. But this might be the solution to my “what do I do whilst I wait for my project to be approved” problem described in my 04:39 am comment!

          3. Antilles*

            It’s basically the 80/20 principle being applied to business metrics.

            The company realizes they suck at doing X and come up with a metric to measure that. So you make some changes to go from horrible to “reasonably competent” and these sorts of changes are often pretty simple and straightforward. But then the metric plateaus and corporate still wants to improve the metric, but going from “reasonably competent” to “stellar” is a LOT more work.

        2. amoeba*

          Hah. Reminds me of when the safety team wanted to decrease the number of incidents and near misses and did so by setting a goal to decrease the number reported in the system. Obviously, that resulted in people not reporting things they should have reported, so not a great thing for safety, right? They realised that and… changed it to literally exactly the opposite: now the goal is to report as many near misses etc. as possible or rather, to increase the number every year. Now, I’m sure that actually worked the first year, but how do you keep increasing the numbers every year?
          I think they’ve actually realised neither of those is a great approach, but there’s been a number of jokes like “that glass is dangerously close to the edge, I think that’s a near miss!”…

          1. Nynaeve*

            I’ve worked exactly one place that did this properly, and the solution was to report as many near misses as possible so that they could say the ratio of near misses to incidents looked as good as possible. Encouraging people to both think about the things that are near misses, and therefore making them top of mind throughout the day, means that they are paying closer attention to what they are doing. But, the ratio is the important thing. If they could say 1/1000 potential incidents actually became a problem, vs. 1/100 in years prior, that was the goal.

          2. Annie*

            I worked at a place in which everyone was required to report a certain number of near misses a month, even if they had none to report! Several of these people worked in the office, not on the shop floor, so really had very little access to the area in which you’d see a near miss. And if they couldn’t come up with a near miss every month, they got in trouble for not meeting the metric.
            So of course they would come up with the worst near miss metrics possible.

        3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          This is something often pointed out for software development (where it’s well enough known it’s actually not as much of a problem as it once was. People will optimize what you measure them on. Lines of code? They’ll change style – put parentheses on lines of their own, split up functions differently, etc – to pad the code. Bugs fixed? They’ll be less careful about releasing bug-free code if fixing them once released is the goal.

          1. Heffalump*

            There’s actually a “Dilbert” episode about that. The pointy-haired boss says developers will get a payment for every bug they fix, and Wally says, “I think I’ll write myself a new minivan.”

            1. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

              I recall reading a story where supposedly a company actually created such a policy, except testers would get a bounty for finding bugs and developers for fixing them. Soon pairs of tester+developer started meeting in secret (to presumably plant, find, and fix bugs), and the program didn’t last long at all.

              1. Chirpy*

                I remember hearing a story about a Soviet lamp factory that measured output by weight…so the employees started filling the lamp bases with cement to make them heavier.

                Use silly metrics to measure productivity, and people will come up with ways to meet that silly metric.

        4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Ah yes. Project Managers at the agency had to make sure of a certain margin overall. They could lose money on the occasional small project, but make sure to get more elsewhere to keep their average up.
          One of them realised that if he “forgot” to designate me as doing the actual work, there were no immediate consequences. If a freelancer did the work, they sent in a bill, but I didn’t since I was on a salary. So by forgetting to input my name, they showed a 100% margin and was congratulated by the boss for his higher average.
          Of course there was a consequence later on: when the boss ran my numbers, it looked like I was goofing off when in fact I was the most productive employee. I got into trouble. Luckily I had kept my own records of the work I had completed and they finally found out what was going on, and the project manager disappeared without saying good-bye to anyone (this kind of firing is very rare in France).

          1. RVA Cat*

            As an American, I find it interesting how our sister democracies developed such opposite work cultures. But we Yanks are re-learning how to strike (and win, like the actors and autoworkers just did).

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            If someone did tracking metrics on my computer, I would ask them to stop making me check through deadtree invoices. Pick one!

      2. Selena81*

        I worked in a Bussiness Intelligence team that had to keep track of these silly KPI measurements: the whole trick was to make impressive-looking dashboards while we knew performance wasn’t really improving. And promising management there would come room to downsize any day now.

        And for doing that invasive nonsense we got paid 2-3 times as much as regular employees.
        Such a waste. SMH.

      3. münchner kindl*

        I assume because people who study Economics at college don’t learn how to actually manage a business; given eg the enduring belief that there is no difference between managing different sectors like retail and production, because there’s one principle of management that fits all.

        If management is hired only among college graduates with MBAs in economics, then they either don’t notice why they’re measuring the wrong things, and of course also never learned to listen to actual employees or subject matter experts.
        Or they notice, but don’t know enough to look for experts, so with only a hammer in their tool-box, they do same thing, but harder, to get different results.

        1. ticktick*

          I read somewhere (so possibly not backed up by any facts) that stage managers that were used to working in the theatre world made the best managers in a corporate environment, because they had to get everything ready to a strict deadline, were used to working with a wide variety of different personalities, and needed to be flexible to come up with solutions on the fly, while still working within strict parameters. Sounds plausible to me.

          1. bamcheeks*

            I say this a lot, but is absolutely the case that theatre, dance, music and other performance graduates are often the best team-workers straight out of university. Because they’ve all been working on *real* projects where the objective wasn’t “get good grade by easiest means possible”, but “do what it takes to put on an amazing show, using everyone’s talents to the best possible effect”.

            1. RVA Cat*

              That’s a great insight. It also makes sense how all those “herding cats” skills translate to whole other careers. Like how the realtor who showed us over a dozen houses before we found the right one just before kiddo started school has a side job as lead guitarist in several local bands.

            2. Lore*

              Producing no budget theater is 100 percent responsible for all the project management skills I use in my job. All of us are good with the language end of production editing, but I get way less stressed by the kinds of complex projects with many moving parts and many cooks in the kitchen than some on my colleagues and that’s all down to theater.

          2. Stacy Fakename*

            No specific data, but this absolutely matches my experience. Theatre (and arts in general) production requires conflict and people management, strict timelines with seriously limited budgets, and deep collaborative work as a baseline, so much so that theatre people often don’t recognize that as specific skills!

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              Jaycee projects are like that too, especially the egg roll planned for 1 pm that was listed in the newspaper the night before to start at 11 am. One of our people practically had to do a fan dance for the security office so he would unlock the office where all the prizes were because of course the managers had not read the paper and weren’t there yet.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          In one of my economics classes, we actually looked at management by objectives and how people gamed the objectives in the real world so some profs have a clue.

      4. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

        Yes, these kind of short sighted systems reward and therefore encourage only what’s easily measurable, not what’s good.

      5. Monday blues*

        The corporate multi-point rating system really irks me. if you design a scale with 5 star service, or 1 through 10 points, but the only acceptable grade to your employer is a perfect 10, then you have actually created only a pass/fail rating with 9 possible options for failure, and only 1 for passing. You can only be setting up your employees for failure, and it’s impossible to get actionable data.

        I try to keep that in mind when given the opportunity to rate someone’s service, when in doubt, if it wasn’t really bad, it’s a 10.

      1. Mister_L*

        I think recently there was either a letter or a story in the comments by someone who got into trouble for using one.

        1. Mongrel*

          That was probably a software version, it can be detected by IT.
          There are hardware solutions available that can only be detected visually

          1. Myrin*

            No, that OP specified in the update (and in comments on the post itself as well, IIRC) that it was a physical/manual contraption.

          2. lemon*

            I think some tracking software can actually keep track of the patterns that your mouse movements make. So even if you have a physical hardware solution, it’s possible that could be detected this way.

    3. amoeba*

      Yeah. Also, honestly, if I’m actually slacking at work, I’m probably doing it at my computer, reading askamanager or whatever. So if they literally only track mouse movement and typing, well, I probably look more productive when I’m not actually working! (Yes, I know they can also track website usage etc. and probably do. But I do find that image funny.)

      1. bamcheeks*

        Normally I am too, but last week and this week I’m waiting for a project plan that I submitted last week to be approved, and there is NOTHING I can start until I know. I have about 20 minutes work a day maintenance work on the existing project, but I am not supposed to start any preparations for the new project until it’s been approved. It’s one thing to “look busy” and stay at your desk with no actual work to do when I’m in the office, but I can’t decide whether it’s OK to just go and sit in a chair and read my kindle on my WFH days!

        1. Emmy Noether*

          Can you compromise by doing work-relevant things part of the time? Like cleaning up the filing structure, reading industry news, brushing up on excel skills, whatever? If all those options have been exhausted or don’t make sense, you have this internet stranger’s approval to go read all day with a clear conscience ;-)

          1. bamcheeks*

            I’m saving those jobs for my in-office days when I really need to look busy!

            It’s also a weird structure of the team we’re in– in previous jobs it would be pretty straight forward to ask the rest of my team if they’ve got any discrete jobs that need doing, and just pick up a bit of filing or typing or tidying up a database or doing the first draft of something. But we’re a team of “people who don’t quite fit somewhere else”, with almost no overlap in responsibilities or projects, so there’s not much that I could do without needing so much orientation and explanation that it wouldn’t be worth it. C’est la vie!

            1. amoeba*

              For me that’s usually the time for any kind of interesting-looking thing on Udemy, whether it’s actually useful for my work or not. Like, “oh, learning JavaScript looks cool”, not like “this might help with my projects”.

              In general, yeah, I’d absolutely go and read my book though! Probably with my laptop next to me on the couch and checking it every 15 min or so in case something pops up…

    4. MsMaryMary*

      I think it’s time for a little malicious compliance from OP and her coworkers. All work needs to be done via their company computer. No texts, calls need to go through Teams or whatever software they use, no answering emails through their phones. Of course, that would mean they might be less responsive during off hours, while traveling, etc. But if only work done via laptop is “work,” then it seems like this is what the company expects.

      1. Aziraphale the Car*

        My company just rolled this out and this is so true. Officially we were told to we shouldn’t use Teams or check email on our phones, but I can only imagine the outcry from management if suddenly we can only be reached during our official office hours. Most of our teams have people who are in at least 5 different time zones so too bad for that critical question when I’m just killing time in a waiting room somewhere.

    5. AnonInCanada*

      But but but then upper management can’t be the megalomaniacs they want to be! With their whips and bullhorns uttering “The beatings will continue until employee morale improves 200%.” What will they occupy their lives with?

      /s of course

    6. Random Dice*

      Agree – a company that uses invasive monitoring software for jobs that require heavy thought and collaboration are stupid, and offensive, and incentivizing failure. Quit.

  2. Reaganomics Lamborghini*

    I’ve always wanted a monosyllabic answer to a question, and today’s finally the day.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Update: Well, I wore my booty shorts with BOSS B**** across the back in rhinestones, and I got fired! Thanks a lot AAM.

        (I’m fully in support of LW leading the charge in women’s office comfort but it’s fun to imagine the worst shorts choices she could use to do so, lol)

        1. Jolene*

          This is not far off from what my client wore to a “zoom” trial. I spent 45% of my mental energy focused on case…and 55% worried client would stand up with camera on

      2. AcademiaNut*

        It can be surprisingly hard to find women’s shorts that are appropriate for work even in a casual office. I want something that comes to just above the knee, is not skin tight or artfully ripped and has pockets and belt loops. Even in shorts made for very small children, the ones for boys are much longer than the ones for girls, come with more pockets, and are much less likely to have stuff spelled across the butt.

        1. Annika Hansen*

          I have found that, too. I also hate the ones that are that weird length so that the leg rides up when you walk.

        2. amoeba*

          I feel that this year they came a bit into fashion, at least here! Were called “Mom shorts” or similar – a bit shorter than just above the knee, though. More like mid-thigh. But definitely not hot pants, cut like jeans with pockets and belt loops, relaxed fit… found a few nice ones from COS and Zara.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            Yep. Meghan Markle has been wearing them all over Montecito lately, so they’ll probably pick up in popularity in warm climates. To me they just look like culottes, and I prefer the skorts that are available these days, but this kind of short is perfect for the office.

        3. Janne*

          My friend wears a lot of culottes. Most of those are a bit longer (midway calf) but there are some that just hit the knee. Some are wide enough that from far away it nearly looks like she is wearing a skirt. I think they can be a very elegant and breezy type of women’s shorts. Note that culotte is a French word for a type of underwear so the google results are mixed.

          I don’t have experience wearing shorts to work myself, because I work in a lab where long pants and closed shoes are mandatory. :)

            1. Justme, The OG*

              I wouldn’t call those skorts. To me those are a skirt-shorts combination, usually with shorts under the skirt.

              1. Charlotte Lucas*

                And usually much shorter.

                If you want something a little more flowing, gauchos hit around knee length (usually just below the knee).

                I always liked the way gauchos look, as the can be dressed up or down and are very comfortable, but the attempt to bring them back into style about 15 years ago seems to have been a flop.

                1. Generic Name*

                  Ahhhh, Gauchos. It was 17 years ago to be precise, as I remember wearing some very comfy knit ones when I was pregnant with my son, who is about to turn 17. :)

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Skorts was my thought of how to break people in gently. There are versions that are much longer than the skorts made famous by Serena Williams. Still above the knee, but the men in this office are wearing form fitting shorts! I think a Lands End woven skort is more professional even if 2 – 3″ above the knee.

                1. AnotherOne*

                  skorts make me think of being in the 3rd grade and wanting something to wear that was both girly and would work on the playground.

                  i had a full complement of skorts in elementary school.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            I personally have found that basically as soon as your ankle is exposed there is a huge impact to comfort in the heat. I can be pretty self conscious about how I look in shorts so I have a lot of cropped pants that stop a couple inches below the knee and I am very comfortable in them all summer long. And I also felt they looked professional enough to wear to the office on “jeans days” on Fridays!

            But if OP wants to lead the charge for actual shorts for women becoming more normal in the workplace I’m all for it! Especially in an office so casual that pajamas might be fine.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              I live in muumuus and sandals in summer (so of the A/C is so cranked we all go back to long johns).

          1. Laser99*

            When my twin nephews were born my dad couldn’t get over how their tiny pants had pockets. “What are they gonna carry in there? Bus tickets? Bookie slips, maybe, or cigarette cases? Haw, haw, haw!” It still makes me smile to think about it.

        4. Queer Earthling*

          I’m AFAB and curvy, and I’ve found a fair amount of men’s shorts that are both comfortable and covering! (And have POCKETS for days.) You can also find shorts that look less casual in terms of fabric, especially if they’re meant for golfing or whatever, if that’s a concern.

        5. Slartibartfast*

          You want hiking shorts. Mine have pockets with ZIPPERS that my cell phone will fit in completely!

        6. Distracted Procrastinator*

          High fashion has been trying to make short suits a *thing* for a couple of years now. Suit jackets with knee length trouser shorts. Done right, it looks nice. Done wrong, it makes grown women look like British private school boys.

        7. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I’ve had success searching for walking shorts, hiking shorts, or golf shorts, which are longer than regular casual shorts for women and can come in any degree of formality.

        8. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          If the men in the office are wearing basketball shorts, I think women could wear normal 5″ inseam shorts.

          1. amoeba*

            Yup, that’s where I land. I don’t like the look of most (almost) knee-length ones/bermudas, and I think my colleagues will be able to not faint if they see half of my thigh exposed!

            However, unfortunately it’s all a moot point as we have a lab and anything but long trousers is out for safety reasons. Oh well.

        9. mlem*

          The brand “prAna” used to make a men’s short that was *perfect* for me. (I’ve found men’s shorts and sweatpants to have much better options than women’s do — like real length and real pockets!) I bought nine pair and they lasted me for well over a decade. I wish they’d bring them back!

        10. KateM*

          Yep. Girls’ shorts are basically “wear under skirt so as not to expose underwear accidentally” size.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Yup – been buying both of my girls boys shorts for years now. Longer length, actual pockets, and better odds of those adjustable waist tabs……

            Why can’t we just have girls clothing that assumes girls need pockets and the ability to not accidentally expose themselves?

        11. morethantired*

          This was my thought — it’s most likely that the women in the office just don’t feel comfortable wearing shorts to the office. I wouldn’t wear a skirt to an office that was as short as most of my shorts are. I think I’d also be really cold. But I’m sure that if LW feels comfortable wearing shorts that no one is going to care as long as they’re not hot pants or butt-revealing in any way.

        12. Quinalla*

          It can be yes, I’ve found some brands carrying bermuda shorts that generally fit all the criteria, still always have to watch for no pockets cause women’s pants are the worst, but those generally work. Sometimes I give up and just get capris since at least they are long, but I don’t really like over the knee when I’m hot :)

        13. RedinSC*

          Not everyone can do this, BUT I’ve turned pants I really like into shorts. I control the length and they’re totally work appropriate.

          If you know how to sew, just cut them and hem them and there you have shorts. If you don’t, there might be a seamstress or tailor around that can do the alterations for you, but that also costs money, which many might not have to spare.

      3. Cat Tree*

        Eh, if men are wearing basketball shorts, which are notoriously revealing, booty shorts shouldn’t be a problem for women. Of course double standards exist but it’s worth pushing back on them.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          Wait, are there more than one type of men’s basketball shorts? The ones I’m familiar with (ie, that all the men in my orbit wear) are like knee length and not fitted. I would never call them “notoriously revealing.”

          1. Oldster*

            Men’s basketball shorts used to be way shorter. Pretty close to booty shorts. Check out some pictures from the ’80s.

            1. Sneaky Squirrel*

              Okay but not many people are wearing fashion from the 80s anymore, and I doubt many people were wearing those in the office in the 80s?

              1. not nice, don't care*

                In 2020s America, yes they are wearing 80s fashion. Inspired by the 80s anyway, including basketball booty shorts.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            There’s a whole episode of Friends about this. They’re fine when men are standing, but OH DEAR NOT FINE when they casually rest an ankle on a knee, or climb stairs, etc.

            The usual “Your underwear should not be visible, nor any body part typically covered by underwear” rule applies.

            1. Insert Clever Name Here*

              Sure, but the exact same thing can be said about skirts and dresses. If I’m wearing a knee-length skirt and pop my foot up on my coworker’s desk to tie my shoe (similar to what Phoebe’s boyfriend did in that episode), then obviously that’s a problem. But I wouldn’t then say my knee-length skirt is “notoriously revealing.”

          3. thatmarketingchick*

            “Notoriously revealing” does not refer to the length. It refers to the… drape… at the area between the waistband and the thigh. I really don’t want to explain this further.

          4. Nephron*

            A friend has a company owner who wears them on video calls with computer on a coffee table at home. My friend spends meeting in fear of a free show.

            Many people, and many men, are completely unaware of how their clothing looks when viewed from different angles.

        2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

          What is your image of “basketball shorts”? I think of almost knee-length, loose shorts in an athletic fabric – no more revealing than cargo shorts.

          1. amoeba*

            Yeah, but for me the point would be that they’re super informal. So nice mid-thigh jeans shorts or those kind of flowy fabric ones would still look much more dressed up to me than what’s basically a gym outfit.

            (But then athleisure isn’t really a thing here in Europe, so I’d also much rather wear those short-ish trousers than yoga pants at the office!)

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              The poster I was responding to called basketball shorts “notoriously revealing”. Super-casual, definitely. Revealing? Hardly.

      4. MicroManagered*

        I think we can assume that OP knows not to wear “shorts that are basically strings” since she’s conscientious enough to write to an advice column about it first.

        This comment isn’t really constructive or necessary, so it reads to me as more body policing and slut-shaming toward women for how they dress.

      5. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        Why would they mean shorts that are strings? They mention men wearing cargo shorts. They also mention it being a very casual office. So if the “string” shorts *are* OK, then meh. But I doubt that’s what they mean. They’d probably say so if they did.

    1. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

      My office gets pretty warm in the summer, and I work in a pretty casual department. I noticed the same thing this summer regarding men wearing shorts (my first in this particular job), so I started wearing them on particularly hot days. I highly recommend Old Navy’s pixie short. They’re the same cut and fabric as the pixie pant and read more business casual than something like cutoffs.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I hadn’t really noticed this, but now that I think about it it’s the same in my workplace, which has a casual dress code. The men often wear shorts but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the women wear them – but I know my company would be OK with women wearing them! I do wonder if men just wear shorts more often in general actually…

        1. MK*

          I think it’s a combination of shorts for women tending to be less work-appropriate (shorter, more tight, etc.) and women having the option of wearing dresses and skirts in hot weather. Personally I never wear them because the reason I find pants uncomfortable in the summer isn’t that they cover me below the knee, it’s that they get too warm from the waist to the thighs, and shorts don’t solve that issue.

          1. Angstrom*

            I’m old enough to remember when men’s and women’s shorts were both typically mid-thigh and loose but not baggy. Now…men’s “shorts” are huge and often below the knee, and women’s tend towards skin-tight and microscopic.
            For hot weather I’d much rather have something that allows a bit of airflow.

            1. bamcheeks*

              There’s been a definite surge in skinny-jean style shorts in the UK– basically skinny jeans / skinny khakis style, but kneelength and usually with a turn-up hem.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Linen is the winner in heat. Give me washable linen trousers with some structure and I’d be happy.

              I’ve had too many bad experiences with shorts and short skirts and hot sitting surfaces.

              1. UKDancer*

                Definitely linen is the best. I’d rather have a loose pair of linen trousers or a cotton skirt than anything else. Natural fibres are so much better in hot conditions in my opinion.

        2. English Rose*

          Same here re casual, but honestly if you could see the shorts (and other garments) some of the men in our office wear, you might think that women shouldn’t descend to the lowest common denominator!
          That said, Zara had some lovely linen shorts for women this year.

        3. Distracted Procrastinator*

          my office has men wearing shorts in the summer and women not following suit. It’s mostly because the men wearing shorts work in the warehouse where the a/c doesn’t work very well and the women are all in the office side and dealing with second winter (the over active a/c. We all have heaters under our desks with full approval of the higher ups.)

          1. MamboNumberClive*

            Oddly enough, my office is the exact opposite. Shorts and mid-thigh skirts are permissible for women (and often worn in the summer), but god forbid if men show the slightest bit of skin! Full trousers and long sleeves at all times, regardless of the temperature.

            Once we had to all go in to head office for a conference. Three hours on a shuttle bus with dodgy AC between cities in a heatwave, all the men in trousers and rolled up sleeves. I’m surprised no one quit.

          2. Kara*

            I know it’s not the focus of your post, but how did it happen that all the men are in one role and the women in another? You’d think there’d be at least one or two people on the other side!

    2. lyonite*

      Honestly, from the letter it doesn’t really sound like there’s any charge that needs to be led. Just show up in shorts that are appropriate to the workplace and enjoy your new, shorts-rific lifestyle.

      1. Allonge*

        No, no, see, this should be a well-planned, strategic operation. OP needs to get one of those pants where you can zip off parts of the legs (preferably a 2-step one), and also one where you can make it a capri by rolling the leg up.

        The plan is as follows: day 1. go in long pants, roll up to a 7/8. Day 2: go in pants reaching halfway between knee and ankle, by the end of the day, zip it to capri. Day 3: wear skirts / a dress to confuse enemy agents. Day 4: capri, rolled up to juuust knee-length. In less than a week, with appropriate intervals, they will always have worn shorts at the office, and nobody the wiser.

        1. Grace*

          I broke the women’s trousers ban in the 1990s by wearing culottes. Apparently before that, someone called Ann once wore a trouser suit in the 1960s and was still remembered for it.

          1. Lila*

            lol, several years ago I was working with a big law firm on an exhibition marking their founding and we had wanted to include a memo from the 1970s re women wearing pants in the office since it had been a big shift to allow it. unfortunately they ultimately balked at including the memo since they wanted to highlight positive things.

        2. Perfectly Particular*

          Hahaha – you must be tall! Pants reaching 1/2 way from knee to ankle is the same thing as a capri for me! And then the idea of still having 2 more levels before I get to my knee is hilarious.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I once tried on capri pants at GAP that comfortably reached my ankles. I know I’m short, but that was brutal.

            1. Jackalope*

              I have a store I used to shop at all the time but they decided to a) make all of their pants 4 inches too long for me, and b) have their petite cuts offered only online. (For those who haven’t had to shop the petite or tall cuts, the changes generally aren’t just making the hem longer or shorter; there are other changes in how everything is put together, so you can’t just try on a regular length pair and be certain that the petite or tall will fit properly.) I finally found that the only way I could buy pants from them anymore is to wait until the summer and buy their capris, which are the perfect length for me to wear as pants.

            2. TeaCoziesRUs*

              I have your opposite problem. I try on “regular” women’s jeans and they’re capris. 35 inch inseam is a killer!

          2. Allonge*

            Not that tall, just self-centred enough that I count as a capri what fits me as a capri, regardless of the original intention of its maker :) Capri is as capri does!

      2. Sneaky Squirrel*

        Yes, this was my thought. LW should absolutely wear shorts if LW wants to wear shorts. There may/may not be a big shift in women wearing shorts. Traditionally labeled women’s clothing tends to offer a bit more variety in the summer options department. The women may just prefer to wear skirts, dresses, or capris more?

    3. Elle by the sea*

      Short answer to the question about shorts.

      If your dress code allows them, go ahead and wear them. But the question cracked me up a bit – “lead the change”. It’s won’t necessarily make other women wear shorts to work. I wouldn’t wear shorts even if all women did, simply because I hate shorts – they look good on others, but they make me feel terribly awkward and uncomfortable. In the summer, I wear long dresses, skirts and loose trousers. Everyone has their own preference. Why not ask: can I wear shorts if no other woman does? And the answer is “yes, of course”.

      1. Selena81*

        I also prefer skirts and dresses in the heat.
        But you might be underestimating how much subconscious influence LW can have on other women in her office: a lot of dresscode is unspoken, is about not looking weird.

      2. UKDancer*

        OP should absolutely wear shorts if they want. I agree though it might not change others behaviour. I hate shorts on me and in summer much prefer a floaty skirt or wide legged floaty trousers because it feels cooler and more comfortable. Shorts always feel tight and constrictive to me.

        So OP you should do this if you want but I wouldn’t expect everyone to follow.

      3. Loredena*

        It really varies! I have quite a few longer and looser shorts, some with belts, that I bought at Costco of all places. I prefer them to skirts because I don’t like my thighs touching.

    4. Minerva*


      Also I hope OP4 gives us a follow up, because it will either be “I broke the shorts glass ceiling and now women wear shorts all the time” or “I FOUND A SEXISM WHAT THE HELL?”

    5. Don't Hate The Office*

      Our Corporate office is anti-shorts for anyone. But they’re based in one of the Great Lakes states. We are in the desert southwest. Shorts are the norm. Unless it is a safety issue (like chemical splash back or something) shorts should be allowed.

  3. Siege*

    LW 3, are you explicit that people your company hires are able to work anywhere but (my read of it) must work East Coast hours? I would be pretty peeved to interview for a remote job that didn’t explicitly communicate that. You say you’re looking for “candidates who are actually okay with working east coast hours” and getting people who are trying to schedule outside that so how clearly are you saying that?

    I feel like that would be a nightmare for a lot of employees – parents who need to get kids to daycare leap instantly to mind; I’m sure there are others.

    1. Double A*

      Ending by 2 or 3pm could actually be ideal for a lot of parents; school/daycare logistics can be a challenge no matter what your timezone.

      I mean, not me. I cannot be functional by 6am. But you know, some people.

      But the upshot is: Yes, LW, be very clear on your work hours!! It will be appealing to some and a deal breaker for others, but regardless it’s useful information for them to have before they apply.

      1. Coverage Associate*

        I am one of those people who couldn’t work ET and live in the PT zone. I have a friend who did it for most of his career and seemed to like it. He lived alone so didn’t have to worry about school drop offs or anything.

        Stock broker and other jobs in finance are industries where the norm is to work the hours the exchange is open. That will be 9 to 4pm ET for the New York exchanges, but my husband used to work in Asian markets from San Francisco and would finish before an early lunch.

        There are disadvantages to working your western hours for an eastern employer. I just left a job where I worked normal hours on the West Coast, but headquarters was on the East Coast. It wasn’t until I started my new job with only California offices before I realized how stressed I felt waking up “behind” every day. Even if I wasn’t expected to respond to emails until a reasonable hour, knowing that there would always be something as soon as I woke up took its toll. (Headquarters couldn’t time the emails to arrive later because most offices were ET. Maybe core hours for business wide communications too?)

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          If you are in one of those industries tied to something tangible like when the stock exchange is open, then it makes sense to have those hours. But if it is not, consider why you are insisting on east coast hours for someone living in the west coast?

          As remote work rises, companies are going to need to change what is considered office hours. You will miss out on candidates with options if you are too rigid on what the office hours must be. Its not just school and daycare, even the single person might hesistate because having to be work at 6 am. means getting up early which means going to bed early. There goes going out in the evening because the East Coast HQ cannot fathom working another time. The ocassional 6 or 7 am meeting sure. But expecting people to re-arrange their entire life around an office 3000 miles away is a big ask.

          1. Gemstones*

            Eh, unless it’s really that niche of a role, I’m sure they can find someone on the East Coast (or in a different time zone who’s willing to adjust). If they’re open to anyone anywhere willing to work their hours, there’s probably going to be someone out there who fits the bill.

          2. Nancy*

            They can probably just find someone closer or more flexible with time. I mean, I know someone who works likes to start work at 6am, while I prefer 10:30.

            If you are open to anyone, anywhere then it is not really impossible to find someone.

          3. Neutral Janet*

            Another letter in this roundup is about how it is difficult to communicate with people who work different shifts. Sometimes it is helpful for everyone to work at the same time!

            1. amoeba*

              Sure, if there’s no overlap, it can suck. But if you have, like, 5 h overlap in an 8/9 h day, I’ve really never experienced any problems… probably really depends on how much instant communication you need in any position!

              1. Victoria*

                Eh, if the role involves meetings, losing 3-4 hours a day of availability is a pretty big deal. In a remote world everyone (in all time zones) needs to have a little more flexibility — like maybe meeting an hour earlier or later than they would typically — but it’s not reasonable to consistently ask six East Coasters to work late to accommodate one West Coaster.

              2. Piscera*

                Agree with @Victoria. I’ve heard that for multiple meetings across far-apart time zones, to be fair the participants should take turns being the one who has the early or late time.

                Thus it isn’t London always being stuck with a 5:00 pm start, which is 9:00 am in the California head office.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              It’s not completely the same thing. That person is taking over twenty four hours to answer an email. That delay would be a problem even in the same office at the same time.

          4. Dorothea Vincy*

            If the company really needs someone who can work East Coast hours- though I agree they should announce that in the job ad- then the best candidate is the one who can work those hours. Candidates who are absolutely rigid about working their own time zone’s hours will indeed choose something else, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best for this particular role or that the company can’t find someone just as good who meets their requirements.

            Recently I hired for a role where public speaking was a huge part of the job (doing presentations to clients, both Zoom and in-person). I had a few candidates who looked great on paper but in their first-round interviews said, in response to questions about their public speaking skills, that they hated it and wouldn’t do it. When I told them that public speaking was a part of the job- as stated in the posting- they repeated that they wouldn’t do it; one said we should just end the interview there, which was fine with me, and another asked that the job be changed so she could avoid something that was a core responsibility. We rejected her. A “rockstar” can’t be a rockstar in all times and all places, and especially not when they want the company to make a huge undesirable change to the job just for them.

      2. Bast*

        I am one of those people! I am very much a get in early to leave early type of person, and do my best work in the morning. 6 to 2 or 7 to 3 is my ideal schedule.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I can work early in the morning, but I am not ready for meetings (and actual people, as opposed to screen people) until after 9.

          Even if I were willing to work east coast hours (not hard for me on Central Time), I still am not rearranging my life to interview at 6 or 7 in the morning, unless the opportunity is pretty incredible.

          1. Bast*

            Fair point. I usually am doing emails/paperwork early in the morning, as it gives me a chance to catch up before others start coming in. I’d be okay with an interview early because it’s a one off thing, but if I were regularly supposed to make myself available for meetings at 7 AM, I wouldn’t be too thrilled.

          2. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

            I am usually up by 6:30 PT. I could get up at 5:50 and meet at 6, but only once in a while. It would have to be an exception, not the rule.

    2. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Being available to *work* east coast hours is much easier once you’ve quit another job.
      Interviewing while still employed requires more flexibility. I wouldn’t assume that requesting to interview at another time means they’re not willing to work east coast hours.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yes, as a hiring manager and interviewer I have done a fair number of interviews (remote/call and in person) at “odd” times, because the person couldn’t get time away from work or whatever. I think flexibility on the side of the employer/interviewer is sort of a corollary to the “an interview is a 2 way thing, not just an interrogation” viewpoint.

        1. HonorBox*

          My wife did recruiting for awhile and was routinely conducting calls at 6 or 7 pm Eastern because the candidates she was talking to had jobs and it was more important to talk to them than it was to be able to close her laptop at 5pm.

          1. Bast*

            For a recruiter role this makes sense. I’ve found that I have been contacted/scheduled things with recruiters on weekends and what I would consider beyond a standard business day (5 or 6 PM) because they make themselves available when the potential hires are available. I think this is one of those roles where working a standard 9 to 5 might prove tricky.

        2. Kelly*

          Exactly this. My current employer offered me an evening interview because I couldn’t get out of my toxic job during work hours and drive an hour each day to interview without being HIGHLY suspect. I’ve been there for 5 years and been promoted so I think it worked out!

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        But that would go the other way round, wouldn’t it? 7am PST before work, 11am EST at work? At 3pm PST the west coat person would probably be in the middle of their working day, and the east coast person finished.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Not necessarily. I would assume they would usually be in the middle of their working day at 3pm PST but could arrange to leave early whereas interviewing before work would be risky as it’s hard to know how long an interview would take. If they offered to interview before 7:30am and the interviewer chose the latest possible time and the interview lasted an hour, then if the interview started late, it could be difficult to get to work on time and it’s more difficult to explain why you need to turn up maybe an hour late than it is to explain that you need to leave early.

          1. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

            Also, just anecdotally from the many interviews I’ve been on over the years, more interviewers are willing to stay late to interview than to get there early. I would always ask to interview either as early as possible or as late as possible to make it so I was coming in late to my current job or leave early from my current job. Most people chose the late afternoon instead of early morning. Very very rarely would I have someone ask if I could get in before hours.

            LW, if you’re interviewing people in different time zones, please give them leeway on that and realize their CURRENT schedules might not align very well. They’re interviewing you as well- the companies that ate my time (canceling an interview upon arriving when I had taken off work and therefore lost money that day, keeping me three hours!) or scheduled inconvenient interviews, when they knew I was currently working, started out on the wrong foot with me. It wasn’t that I wasn’t planning on showing up on time if I got the job- I was diligent about my current job and needed to prioritize what my current livelihood over an interview.

      3. Selena81*

        Yeah, that was also my assumption: they might be limited in interview-times because of their current job.

      4. kiki*

        Yeah, I feel like LW may be trying to read to much into interview timing availability when that doesn’t necessarily correlate to what times the employee is willing and ready to work. The issue may be that the interviewee isn’t available at those times because they already work East Coast hours and those are their earliest.

        I also think LW may be reading too much into the candidate giving their own time zone as well. They’re applying at a company they know hires remote workers– the interviewee doesn’t know where their interviewers are necessarily located.

        1. Tally miss*

          I think the OP needs to rethink their assumption that ET is the only real time zone and someone who uses other time zones is doing it wrong. Get over your entitlement and learn 4 time zones, its not a huge ask.

      5. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Accurate. Even in the “before times” when it wasn’t Zoom or whatever, I had no problem telling recruiters that I was unavailable for anything (at the early stages of job searching and interviewing) until 3:30 at the earliest. It may be industry specific, but there were zero issues with holding interviews after “standard industry hours”. I’m not director level or anything either.

      6. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

        Lots of employers will only interview during business hours (i.e. when their existing employees are working). Honestly, the ability to interview on East Coast hours and not interfere with your West Coast Hours existing job sounds like a good deal to me. I know I am lucky to have a flexible job where I am not expected until 10, and even if I don’t make that it’s not a big deal once in a while.

    3. Cascadia*

      Yes, it should be listed in the job description! Something like, remote work is possible, but all employees are expected to work core hours of 9am-3pm eastern time, or whatever the expectation is. If they can work whenever, but may have occasional meetings on eastern time, then say that instead. But definitely put it in the job description. Some people would love it, and some would hate it – might as well be very upfront from the beginning.

      1. A Person*

        Adding to the chorus, but I definitely want to call out that while I’d expect someone interviewing with an East Coast company to be thoughtful about the interview hours they suggest, I would NOT assume as the interviewee that I should be “ok” with a 6 AM or 7 AM timeslot. Plenty of companies with employees on either coast (mine included) still let people work “core hours” in their time zone and I wouldn’t assume I need to work Eastern unless you call it out explicitly.

        1. Selena81*

          All people at my job are in the same time-zone, but work very different hours (depending on childcare and personal preference).
          If LW’s company wants their staff to be available at specific times they should be very clear about that. And definitely not rely on ‘well, they know we are on the east coast….’

      2. mli25*

        Echoing putting the expected hours and time zones in the job description. I had the opposite problem: I am on the East Coast and turned out the job wanted me to work West Coast hours. That meant wrapping up at 8pm EST/5pm PST. It would be different if it was 1 day a week, but not 5 days a week. I believe the job description got updated after I declined their offer. It’s also a question I ask when talking to anyone on the other coast about a job.

        1. Roland*

          Yes! I don’t understand why expected hours aren’t listed in all remote job postings. It’s really common to not mention it at all. I would be open to working for a company with mostly East Coasters if they had core hours that didn’t start 6am my time, but otherwise it’s a waste of an application.

        2. Gumby*

          To make this even worse, in my experience in tech companies in CA, it’s not unusual for many employees to work 10 – 7 PT or thereabouts. Companies don’t require that schedule (mostly our core hours were 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at those jobs) but if you are on the East Coast and none of your co-workers amble into the office until 1 p.m. your time, that does present some difficulties.

    4. amoeba*

      I do have colleagues with kids who explicitly start at 6.30 or something because of that! (Staggered start times with their partners, obviously, but seems to be quite popular, I guess to have more time in the afternoon?)

      But yeah, being explicit about the strict time requirements would make sense, because people might indeed reasonably expect different schedules to be acceptable. They definitely are in many larger companies, and as soon as you have international teams, it gets complex, anyway. (Worst case in Europe is teams that have both people in China and people in the US! So it’s either super late for the Chinese, super early for the US people, or right over lunch for us…)

      1. WS*

        Yes, my brother and his wife do this – he goes in early and does the after school pickup, she does the morning drop off and works later in the evening. Very occasionally one of them has to work different hours due to a meeting but generally it works very well for them.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Yeah, when I worked retail, we had this guy who had primary school aged kids and he worked something like 7am to 12 midday Monday to Friday and then a full day Sunday. I assume his wife worked 9-5 Monday to Friday, so she was there to bring them to school in the morning and he was there when they got home.

          The store opened at 9, but there was work to be done before work, refilling the shelves and so on.

      2. Bast*

        My spouse and I did this — I typically worked 7-3 and would be back in time to get them off the bus. My spouse worked 9-5 to get them on the bus.

      3. JamieG*

        Yeah, I do this with my husband. When I was looking for a job, it was important that it either started at 9 or later, or ended before 3; his hours are flexible, so when I got an offer for 9-5 I took it, and now I get kiddo on the bus in the morning and he goes in early to be home in time for dropoff.

    5. Phryne*

      Could be a bonus too. My brother and SIL have staggered working times (not because of timezones but because brother works morning shifts) and it works quite well.
      Brother wakes up, feeds cat, goes to work.
      SIL wakes up, clothes and feeds kid, gets tricked by cat into feeding it again, drops kid at daycare, goes to work
      Brother ends work, picks up kid from daycare and does shopping for dinner, cooks
      SIL comes home, familiy dinner on table, cat gets fed again.
      Brother puts kid to bed.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Looks like the cat slacks off in the afternoon! Or did SIL call Brother to let him know not to feed it?

        1. Phryne*

          I believe the cat does get fed (small portions) 3 times a day. It’s a Maine Coon, it has standards.

          1. Phryne*

            The feeding is supposed to be morning, afternoon, night though. Second breakfast is cat’s own addition to the cyclus.

    6. Also-ADHD*

      And even if they can work EST, they probably aren’t currently, and for interviews, it also makes sense they may request later in the day (generally that might be when they can duck out of a current job, and many remote interviews I had were pretty flexible) if the recruiter hasn’t specified a window. It might also be that they could do early morning, but if they don’t think about the interviewers being available at say 6am PST before they go to work, that’s pretty normal. An application like Calendly would fix all that—I really preferred when job hunting a few years ago the majority seemed to have that or similar I could just select times from.

    7. Jamjari*

      Currently job searching, and I’ve applied for jobs that were remote and seemed as if they were ET (I’m in PT). I am an early riser and I’ve mentioned that in my application. However, there are many posting where the expectation or location of the role is not clear – just because HQ is in the east doesn’t mean the job is – in which case there’s no reason the applicant should assume hours. That said, it’s always good to provide a variety of hours if possible, both earlier and later.

    8. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree, that would not at all be my assumption if I was responding to a posting for remote work in the US unless it was explicitly stated (and I would certainly take myself out of the running because yeah I will not be showing up to a meeting at 6am lol)

    9. iglwif*

      You say you’re looking for “candidates who are actually okay with working east coast hours” and getting people who are trying to schedule outside that so how clearly are you saying that?


      Though also: someone who wants to interview at a time outside their current work hours is not necessarily someone who wouldn’t be willing & able to work different hours! I’ve done interviews at some pretty weird times (both as interviewer and interviewee) in order to get around current work hours, without that having anything to do with the hours of the job the interview was for.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yes! This was my first thought.

        I’ve been in situations in which I can leave work early, but I cannot come in late. Or other parts of my morning schedule are more inflexible or harder to arrange (drop-off at school, for example, when pickup is already arranged for later anyway)

    10. Web of Pies*

      Yes, be super clear about it! I work at a remote company with frequent 9am EST meetings. For every interview I do with a non-Eastern candidate, I make sure to point that out this major quality of life factor, and that they should consider that carefully, as I myself am not a morning person, and even though I’m only one time zone away, I find the 8am meetings to be pretty brutal.

    11. TootsNYC*

      it’s one thing to be available to interview in West Coast hours, and another to be available to work in East Coast hours.

      If someone isn’t available until after 3pm, I’m thinking:
      Few people want to interview extra early in the morning, and morning commutes and getting to work are often inflexible schedules.
      It’s not uncommon for people to be able to leave work early, or to have a workflow that calms down right about then, so they could step out without being noticed.

      None of the interview availability ever says anything to me about WORK HOURS availability for a NEW job.

      So yes—be explicit about how the time zone affects what hours they would need to work. But don’t assume that their interview availability is any reflection on their work availability.

    12. Beth*

      For most work conditions, there are people that would find them a nightmare and people who love them and a lot of people in between. I’m a west coaster who works something pretty close to east coast hours, and I love it–I start work basically as soon as I wake up, finish when it’s still light out even at this time of year, get my afternoon walk every day, and then have hours of evening time ahead of me to live my life. This definitely wouldn’t work for everyone but it’s great for me.

      But OP3, when I was interviewing for this job, I gave times in my local time zone for the first round of interviews. I knew it was a remote company with people scattered in different states, and I wasn’t sure what time zone they usually scheduled in until I’d met with them. If you interpret people initially referring to their own time zone as a red flag, you’re going to rule out a lot of people who might be a great fit. Instead, maybe add it as a discussion point for your HR phone screening.

    13. Not a morning person*

      As a West Coaster who was job hunting recently, this is one of the first questions I asked East Coast companies, because starting my workday at 6 am was a definite dealbreaker.

  4. Double A*

    It’s really satisfying when a company who is doing something bad is based in California and the letter writer actually has a strongly enforced law protecting them.

    1. serenity*

      Yes, I agree. Alison is right that the CA DOL will be on it. However, I would also advise the OP that late payroll is a red flag about the company’s finances as well. Might be a good idea to dust off the resume.

    2. Katie*

      I work in payroll but in accounting side so I don’t really know the laws but this one’s a big deal and reading this I was going ‘oh oh I know the answer!!’

      1. SarahKay*

        I work in the UK, and even I know enough (admittedly mostly from AAM) to know that this is indeed a Very Bad Thing in the US.

        1. Random Dice*

          Especially it’s a very bad thing in California. California thinks that workers should have rights, and it’s a big bother to corporations.

    3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      It doesn’t quite make up for all the “is this legal” questions that are answered with “yes sorry” on this website, but it is great nonetheless! GO OP!

    4. Observer*

      The truth is that this is a major problem in any state. There may be a bit more or less wiggle room, but ultimately, you *cannot* just delay pay without warning or for more than a certain amount of time.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Having lived in California for a very long time, I can say that the labor board does not care any more about employees than any other state.

        But they buy nails by the train car load to nail employers to crosses with. It seems to be all they live for. Employees get the benefit.

  5. Scottie Teapot*

    LW 3 could you put on the job sf the times interviews are likely to take place? If it’s up front then people would know in advance what to expect. I’ve seen ads here in the uk egucgvsay “interviews will take place on (insert date). “. You could add times in ET of your availability.

    1. The Week Ends*

      I think LW3 also need to consider how many people truly don’t understand time zones! It’s been easy for me, live in a state that had 2 time zones and didn’t recognize DST except in a few counties until recently, so I became proficient. But the amount of confusion that people have is pretty common. You should not only explicitly state East zone but spell it out very specifically.

    2. Bostonboston*

      this! if LW wants interviews to take place within a specific window, they should tell candidates that when asking for their availability. Could be a simple: “Please let me know your availability for interviews between 9am and 5pm ET”

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        This. It’s so easy to solve this particular problem!

        I might make myself available at 6a for an interview (and I have in the past) but I’m sure as hell not going to offer that first.

    3. So they all cheap ass-rolled over and one fell out*

      You don’t understand, interviewers have to use little gotcha tricks like this to weed out candidates who don’t think exactly like them (or at least have mind reading powers).

      It’s a virtual interview, so the interviewer can’t do a trick that only works in person like leave a piece of trash in the lobby and only consider candidates who pick it up.

  6. Certaintroublemaker*

    In LW2’s situation, with a team working over separate shifts, my expectation would be that each person’s end of shift would be writing a hand-off of where things are / any questions, and that each person’s start of shift would be reviewing and acting on the previous shift’s hand-off. I might just go to the supervisor and clarify whether that’s their expectation, too.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      The firm I work at has an overseas department where we basically work opposite hours, and this is how many teams work! Other times people will shift their hours either late or early to get a half hour overlap for a daily handoff meeting. I don’t know how else working with such a drastic time difference would work.

    2. Awkwardness*

      Or the shift supervisor would write a summary that would be passed to the next shift (if it can’t be expected from the employees themselves to write this kind of report)

    3. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Something like that. Because this person is brought on to help on projects when busiest — then communication takes 3 days. It seems like the opposite of helping out. Which might not be the person’s fault, but something needs to be conveyed that things need to be moved along.

    4. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      That’s what I did with my opposite number who I never met unless he stayed late on Thursday and I sacrificed my lunch hour. We always left each other notes, in the three different locations we had to work at.
      It didn’t stop our immediate boss from putting together a dossier for the big boss accusing us of lack of communication (he didn’t see the notes we left, except for those left in the office).
      All he had to do was build a couple of lapovers in our schedules and we’d be happy to meet and discuss stuff, it was much more pleasant than scribbling notes.

    5. iglwif*

      Came here to say this. In jobs where multiple shifts are routine, an end-of-shift hand-off is also routine, and there’s no reason OP’s workplace couldn’t do the same!

  7. Spacedog*

    #3. I’m a PST candidate who commonly encounters this situation, and I will say that in my industry it is common for companies to work “local hours”, meaning that companies who hire remote workers will have a core set of hours (like 9 – 3 PST) that are considered meeting times, and the recruiters I work with have expressed as much. Candidates may not be aware that the OP / recruiter is explicitly expecting EST hours and it would be helpful to clarify that expectation. Not everyone is available for 6 a.m. meetings, whether for personal, family or health reasons.

    Additionally, if a candidate is in a different time zone, they may not feel that they would be their best presenting or having an important interview at 6 a.m. in the morning; it’s not a common time for people to be expected to meet. I speak with many recruiters on the East Coast who have never requested an interview time prior to 8 a.m. out of respect for their candidates, and that should be an ample overlap time with other timezones.

    The OP’s comment seems laden with bias against people in PST, and it might be nice to consider what the team or manager’s ultimate preference is in working with the candidate before being dismissive or judging a PST candidate. Ultimately, although the recruiter has expressed a bias, managers and their teams are the ones to determine what the working hours would be, and I’ve found that many EST teams are very flexible around their team schedules (with infrequent exceptions of early mandatory meetings). It seems pretty dismissive and shortsighted to think that a candidate would be a bad fit simply for not wanting to have an important interview at 6 a.m.

    1. anywhere but here*

      You are conflating two things here – requesting an interview outside of the interviewer’s business hours, and the business need to be available as early as 9am Eastern for meetings once they are in the role, even if it is 6am Pacific. The person suggesting interview times outside of the other’s reasonable working hours is NOT the LW- it is the interviewee(s).

      Let’s take the LW at their word that there is a legitimate business need for whoever they hire to be at meetings as early as 9am.

      1. DisgruntledPelican*

        There may be a legitimate business need for that. That’s fine. But since that is outside of a lot of people’s experience with remote work, they need to be explicit about what they’re looking for in their job postings.

    2. Jan Levinson Gould*

      I am a remote PST employee for an East Coast based company. Plus many of my colleagues are in Europe. I try to start my day at 10:30 EST, but make myself available for 10:00 calls when needed which is usually a few days a week. I block my calendar off from 7:00 – 10:00 EST, but will make an occasional early morning exception for an important call or with someone that is difficult to catch. My husband also works for an East Coast employer.

      Mornings are intense in our house. We’ve made it work for years and though I’m not a morning person by nature, the schedule has nudged me into becoming one. But I don’t think I would agree to an interview much before 11:30 EST / 8:30 PST to ensure that I am sharp enough. If a recruiter dismissed me because I’m not willing to interview at 6am my time, then that’s a red flag for me and I’d probably end the exchange unless I were unemployed and needing to be less picky.

      I’ve dealt with a tiny bit of timezone bias from colleagues over the years, but I figure they’re just jealous that I got the heck out of the NY-Metro area and live someplace I enjoy much more with a lower cost of living :) Frequent early morning calls are worth the trade off and then by 2pm my day becomes quiet.

    3. BreadBurglar*

      the interviewer isnt asking them to interview at 6am. Just asking if its a red flag that candidates arent available until after the EST interviewer would be done for the day and arent considering this when suggesting times.

      You don’t want to do interviews out of hours and they dont either. I am not reading a lot of PST bias in that letter. It seems more like you’re projecting your frustrations onto it.

      There could be reasons that they need people available for EST hours. Such as if there is a lot of overlap with international offices. Without knowing the companies needs from the outside its unfair to say its biased against PST. Frankly the fact that they consider PST employees shows unbias. They are aware of their own business needs but want to give their employees a chance to live in the place they prefer.

      1. Jackalope*

        The bias part is coming from the fact that the interviewer is considering eliminating people from the interviewing process simply because they proposed an interview time at 3 PST. Alison pointed out various reasons that someone might do that and still be willing to work hours that align better with EST, and that’s something that can be discussed during the interview. But wanting to eliminate someone from the interview process solely because of when they suggested that they could meet, when they have no idea of what the new company’s working hours are (I’ve heard from places that prefer evening interviews so it doesn’t interfere with regular business, and many places that work until after 6), that’s the part that’s discriminating.

    4. Also-ADHD*

      It’s not a bias to have the set operating hours. Many teams don’t (mine doesn’t, I get that’s a thing) but some do, even if remote and hiring elsewhere. But not being explicit and not understanding that interviews might be slightly different is an issue. Still, it seems like you’re saying the company is “wrong” to have operations in a particular time zone, and that’s not really fair. If that’s what works for them, they just need to be clear in the job ads/process.

    5. Cj*

      you said you work with East Coast recruiters that haven’t ever requested an interview before 8:00 a.m. eastern out of respect for their candidates. 8:00 a.m. eastern is 5:00 a.m. Pacific, which is extremely early for an interview.

      you might be willing to work eastern time if you were hired, and woold adjust to getting up that early and be fine with it.
      but holy cow would that be really for me for an interview. I need to get up at 3:30 that morning in order to eat, shower, dress, to my hair, and all that. I would most definitely not be at my best.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I read it as “are based in EST but haven’t requested a meeting earlier than 8am candidate’s time”, rather than 8am EST.

        buuuuut this is once again showing how complicated expectations and communication around timezones can be!

      2. Spacedog*

        I said:

        “I speak with many recruiters on the East Coast who have never requested an interview time prior to 8 a.m. out of respect for their candidates, and that should be an ample overlap time with other timezones.”

        I meant that as 8 a.m. PST. (I did not say EST)

        I hope that clarifies things for you.

  8. Definitely not your time zone*

    #3: my company’s main office is on the east coast, so all official correspondence contains that office’s address. But, of my immediate team of five, zero of us are in that time zone! Across the company, I believe we’re pretty evenly spread across all US (and some folks are abroad). So, if someone were setting up an interview to work with us, there’d be a decent chance *no one* on the interview panel is on the east coast. All of that is to say, I think it’s extremely normal to not put times in EST by default. It shouldn’t raise even a tiny red flag, in my mind. Of course, the internal workings of your company may be different, but it’s unlikely an applicant would know in advance if they’re talking to a company like yours or like mine.

    1. Sally*

      And if the LW and their colleagues work with people in other time zones, they should bookmark a handy dandy time zone converter. I have one on my browser’s bookmarks bar because my direct report is in India, and I’m on the east coast of the US. Neither one of us can’t keep the time difference straight by doing the math in our heads.

      1. Testing*

        Also, Outlook allows you to have more than one timezone in the calendar view.

        I work in an organization that has staff all over the world, and am one hour ahead of our head office. I’m used to people never, ever mentioning which time zone they mean, and just assume they mean their own and/or mention the time zone myself. Whenever someone does mention the time zone straight away, they get a big plus in my mental image of them!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Absolutely. I want to be kind about this, but it needs to be said bluntly: the LW is 100% wrong in expecting others to guess their time zone. I would never do that and risk getting it wrong, I would just put my time zone by at least my first mention of times, exactly as the interviewee did. Unless they’re applying for, say, a retail job at a specific outlet and are talking to the staff at that location, assuming someone’s time zone is just asking for confusion and misunderstandings.

      And, as someone said earlier, if the issue is that the hours are outside of core business hours by east coast standards, then the limited availability could be addressed; they could be more flexible if that’s the only way to agree on a time, but the LW seemed mostly put out by the time zone assumption.

    3. iglwif*

      My company encourages us to include our country (and state/province if applicable), time zone, and usual working hours in our email signature, because we are spread all across the world and our customers and partners are too. It’s very helpful!

      I also have a time zone converter bookmarked, though. I once accidentally invited somebody to a meeting that was at 6am his time, and he showed up and didn’t complain but I felt TERRIBLE.

    4. Onomatopoeia Cornucopia*

      True, and also, it’s probably wise if the candidate to put availability in their own time zone- it reduces the chances the interviewer will forget or mix up where the candidate is, and show up at the wrong time. The candidate did it right here.

  9. Red*

    LW#5 As soon as you said California I was like you. are. covered. Had a company try something similar and just the polite mention they might run afoul of the DOL had them suddenly paying VERY timely.

    LW#4 I recommend those high waisted Meg Ryan kinda shorts that were popular earlier this year! They’re comfortable, office friendly (read modest), and the high waist I think in general is more flattering then hip huggers. Plus the pockets are deeper on a high waisted pair of shorts. :D

    1. nodramalama*

      It’s interesting I was just having a conversation about this at work the other day. We’re on the casual side of work attire but still very much officey. And we were almost universal that for some reason we can’t really identify, women’s shorts read as less work appropriate than skirts. We couldn’t really pin point a reason except that usually shorts sit a bit higher on the leg than work skirts. But most of us agreed that we wouldn’t be comfortable wearing shorts to work

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Tradition – a lot of what is or is not considered proper attire is arbitrary and only due to how things developed historically.

        An obvious example are ties for men. There is no objective reason that tying a particularly shaped strip of silk around one’s neck should be considered business attire (and gendered), but here we are.

        Skirts were the *only* acceptable attire for women in our culture for a long time, so they stayed acceptable. We fought for trousers/pants, so those were added (and they were already business appropriate for men), but didn’t put a lot of effort into fighting for shorts. It may slowly change as offices continue being more casual.

        What looks “right” or appropriate to us is purely a function of what we are used to seeing, not logic.

        1. bamcheeks*

          yeah, I don’t know how this works in the US where it seems to be more usual for men to wear shorts to work, but I think if you’re just thinking about temperature, comfort and level of casualness, mid-length skirts mostly fit the same ecological niche for most fem-presenting people as shorts do for masc-presenting people. The women I know who wear shorts either wear them as the equivalent of very short miniskirts, or because they lean towards butch/masc presenting and aren’t comfortable wearing skirts. (Not necessarily full-on butch or trans, but definitely less comfortable in obviously femme-gendered clothing.) I don’t think there’s the same kind of evolutionary pressure towards shorts because the first group doesn’t really want to wear micro-mini equivalents to work, and the second group mostly wouldn’t, at least here in the UK, because it’s also pretty unusual for men to wear shorts to work. Wearing shorts to work is a kind of “IT team does not recognise the concept of a dress codes” for men and women here, I think!

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Thank you for calling out that not all women’s gender presentation includes skirts! The last time I wore a skirt was 20 years ago when I was a bridesmaid. The weddings since then where I was an attendant let me wear pants. It’s maddening to see so much “well women can just wear skirts!” So can men, that doesn’t mean all of us are comfortable doing so.

            1. Chirpy*

              Yes, this. “Femme presenting” isn’t a monolith of “is comfortable in a skirt”.

              (nor should masc presenting mean uncomfortable in a skirt, either. It’s only modern western culture’s current idea of gender that puts skirts “for women”, other cultures have always had kilts, sarongs, dishdasha, tunics, etc for men, and women have worn pants since the invention of pants. )

      2. BubbleTea*

        The reason is sexism and ingrained patriarchy. That doesn’t mean the consequences of choosing to wear shorts as a woman are any less real, but if someone has the capital to challenge that status quo and is willing to spend it, overturning pointless and arbitrary gender rules is a good thing to do.

            1. SarahKay*

              Google for images of “men’s business suits in Bermuda” if you want to see examples. The look is both fascinating and (at least to me) somehow deeply weird.

        1. Celeste*

          Well, maybe – but I think part of the reason is just that women have more choices (skirts, dresses, capris, skorts, shorts) and men have two choices, pants and shorts. I never choose shorts, even at home, because I like the other choices better.

  10. nodramalama*

    LW1 I am very anti it but unfortunately im seeing more and more news stories about companies downloading mouse clicker trackers on their employees’ work computers and using that to measure productivity. It’s not a great fix but I think there’s an app or something you can download that clicks the mouse for you

    1. Emmy Noether*

      There was a letter here a while ago about someone who was fired for using some kind of mouse clicker, so I would not recommend that strategy.

      I’d be tempted to read AAM on my phone and job search while occasionally hitting random keys or pushing the mouse around, though. If pushing a mouse is what counts (more than actual work output), that is exactly what they’ll get from me. But I have a tendency to react very badly to this kind of thing – I don’t actually recommend this either. I do recommed the job searching, but maybe not on work time.

      1. Thomas*

        Yeah. Working in ICT, if I catch someone using a mouse jiggler I’ll be pushing for disciplinary action. Not because I care about their work level but because it circumvents the screen lock policy, which itself is imposed on us by clients, regulators, etc. In my last job if the company were to lose its main contract through not completing with cybersec policies and auditors, that’s half our staff losing their jobs.

        1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

          Thomas, do staff members know that a mouse jiggler has the implications for the business? Wouldn’t the first step be to make sure they’re aware of this rather than disciplinary action?

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I think by the time you reach the “arms race” of increasingly intelligent monitoring software vs devices that defeat it, the relationship between employer and employee must be irreversibly broken down.

      1. el l*

        Best comment on the issue.

        Not only is tracking software a very blunt instrument – as this letter shows – it sends a message to employees of distrust in their professionalism. (Only exception to that would be if management has a particular reason to distrust an employee’s output and they don’t want to fire them – but for anything else it’s troubling) I say get out – on principle.

        As with remote work – management has the right to say where workers can work, and management also has the right to say how they measure productivity. And workers have the right to vote with their feet if management’s wishes don’t make sense.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          It’s ridiculous that most managers would rather alienate all of their direct reports rather than actually manage, but that’s what usually happens.

          You need to monitor work output, not mouse clicks. I can confirm that the people who slack off working from home are the same people who slack off in the office.

      2. Pizza Rat*

        If someone wants to monitor my computer and my mouse clicks they’ve already broken the relationship.

        I’d be canned for spending long periods of time without mouse movement because I often make notes on paper.

    3. Bast*

      My old company used some fairly decent software to manage WFH, as in, it wasn’t just measuring mouse clicks. At any given time, it was possible to see what someone was working on and how long they had been in it, complete with screenshots, so just having a mouse clicker wouldn’t work, because I’d still be able to see that you had been on the Google homepage for an hour doing nothing. To be frank, it was the SAME PEOPLE that were never productive in or out of the office that caused upper management to purchase the software, instead of simply saying, “Sarah, the last two times you worked from home we noticed that you disappeared for upwards of 3 hours a day and sent every call to voicemail. If this happens again, you will not be allowed to work from home.” Instead, the entire team would be monitored and we would have useless productivity meetings because, “it wasn’t fair to single someone out.” It was a way for upper management to conveniently avoid having difficult conversations, and waste more of my mid level manager time by having to watch everyone’s every move when they were remote.

    4. Jane Bingley*

      My vote would be to explain to your boss that your work includes being on the phone, and you’ll be using a mouse mover or similar tool to track your time when you’re away from the computer, so that it has accurate data. I’d put this in writing (email). Hopefully it drives home the absurdity of this monitoring, but if your boss can’t decide to ignore the software, being up front and honest might be a workaround.

  11. Coverage Associate*

    More re #3: I am just awful about Outlook and time zones. I always correct the wrong way. For example, I would set a 6pm ET / 3pm PT meeting at 9pm and 6pm. As someone fairly senior, I have an assistant who does such things more often prepare and send the Outlook invites. If I didn’t have an assistant, for example for an interview, I would probably just stick to my own time zone so I didn’t mess it up.

    I don’t think I have poor interpersonal skills otherwise. I just can’t remember whether to add or subtract 3, which is actually a computer thing, not a soft skills thing. (I usually get it right in planning communications. It’s just converting the decision to a calendar entry…)

    1. BubbleTea*

      I prefer software that converts the meeting time to the individual’s local time. I just enter the appointment in my time zone and it does the calculation for me. That works best when the calendars of all parties are visible though, otherwise you’re guessing what times they might be available.

    2. jane's nemesis*

      I have the WORST time with converting time zones in my head, same as you. I can never remember which way it goes or what the difference is between different time zones – and this is not the kind of thing I normally struggle with. It’s like a block. I just google it every time and shake my head at myself.

    3. Rick Tq*

      If you are always booking meetings in the same time zones Outlook lets you display two more time zones to your calendar so you see the equivalents instead of trying to calculate things.

  12. Decidedly Me*

    LW3 – if you want candidates to consider a different time zone when providing availability, at a minimum you should ask them to give it in that time zone. Even better, though, would be to give the specific time frame (with time zone!) that you’re asking for availability within. You could also just use a booking calendar instead of asking for availability.

    As others have mentioned, it’s also worth making sure that the job ad is explicit about hours, but that still won’t remove the need to do what I mentioned earlier. I interviewed with a company in EST and was called from a number with an area code in that time zone. However, my interviewer was not in that time zone. Personally, I’ve interviewed people while I’ve been in at least 4 different time zones, so being explicit about timeframes or providing an accurate calendar link has been a must.

    1. Rainy*

      I agree. I understand that LW3 has probably had this happen enough that they’re miffed and that’s accounting for the tone of the letter, but also…if you have an expectation, SPELL IT OUT. Having an expectation is fine as long as the other person knows it’s an expectation, but if you won’t spell it out (which honestly it sort of feels like LW3 isn’t spelling it out on purpose as some kind of bullshit secret test of candidates), you absolutely cannot get mad at people for not meeting it. Furthermore, if I was asked for my availability with no parameters and gave my availability and then had someone get snitty with me about it, forget your red flag that I didn’t meet your dumb secret expectation, that’s a red flag for *me* that this person/organization is not going to evaluate my performance according to reasonable measures expressed at the outset.

      TL;DR: dumb secret tests are dumb, stop it.

  13. Coyote River*

    LW4, if the workplace is as casual as you say then I doubt there would be any push back to you wearing shorts. As long as you’re not turning up to work in Daisy Dukes, you should be fine.

    1. Whyamihere*

      I work in an office this causal and no one batted an eye at me wearing shorts in the summer. In fact it is in the 40’s right now and my coworker is wearing flip flops and he gets comments about that.

      1. Rainy*

        I live in a state people from warmer climes want to move to, in a university town (so a lot of kids who are not here long enough to really acclimate properly), and you can always tell the people who are from here because they will do things like get out in the middle of a blizzard to shovel the walk wearing running shorts and flip-flops, and the sole concession to the fact that it is *actively blizzing* will be that they threw on a hoodie and actually put the hood up. Most of the time they are using the cuffs of their hoodie as makeshift mittens while shoveling.

        The people who are not from here start wearing puffer jackets the second it dips below 60F. If you’re outdoors and it’s in the 40s, a crowded sidewalk is the weirdest mix of people slouching along in Birkenstocks and running shorts and people dressed like they’re off to rescue Shackleton.

        As a culture we are very casual in general when it comes to dress, and during the summer men in my office wear cargo shorts but woe betide a woman who tries to wear shorts to work. We had an AD years back who did it but she wore those silly suit shorts with kitten heels, so not really the example I want!

  14. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (tracking software for remote workers) – handle the wording of this very carefully, imo (especually if you are using a personal device to do the out of hours work) because there’s a chance the employer will respond with “those calls and emails need to be done from your computer, not a phone, so that they get tracked as productive time” – or investigate the use of tracking software for a mobile device…

    I would probably go about my normal work pattern for, say, a week. Keep a detailed record of what I did during that time (not necessarily a load of detail about the work itself, but more about the time and whether it was on the computer/”offline” like on paper/on a phone etc) and take that to management with the question about “how should all this be accounted for, because I suspect the tracking software is significantly under-reporting these hours”.

    Do you know that people get “in trouble” over this? – it may be that it generates some kind of report, but then it gets disregarded for most people and is only used if someone is suspected of actually slacking off.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I think that even if the reports are disregarded for now, people should dispute them being generated. I mean, it’s not dangerous until it isn’t, and by the time it isn’t, it’s too late to do anything about it.

  15. AcademiaNut*

    For letter three – in this case, it makes more sense for the interviewee to specify their own time zone and let you convert. Your business hires across the country for remote work, so they don’t actually know what time zone you are in, as you could be a remote position working on the West Coast. The fact that they are giving a time zone with the time is an indication that they are aware that time differences exist (ie, not just saying “3pm”)

    Regarding the actual time – as others have said, it should be made clear in the ad that the job working keeping Eastern time, but I wouldn’t take indicating availability outside of that as a red flag, because you don’t know what the current demands on their time are, that could change if they got a new job. If you only do interviews inside 9-5 Eastern time, then say that up front.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Yes, and of course the interviewer / internal recruiter etc could also be remote and working from anywhere…so it makes sense that the person gives the time in their own time zone, and then the other person can “translate” it as needed. I hope it isn’t indicative of a “HQ / on site bias” where the East Coast people are treated more favorably and remote people as second-class, as you see sometimes.

  16. Allonge*

    LW3 – we had discussions about time zone awareness here before – do check them out, but until then, believe me: the fact that people refer to time zones at all is already showing some awareness, as lots of people are not used to thinking about time zone differences at all.

    I work for an org that works with people all over the globe, and every day we support meetings taking place over minimum 3 different time zones, and we still had to put time zone as part of the meeting agenda template to remind people to indicate it when we went mostly-online in 2020. Of course people indicate their availability in their own time zone.

    And for the other thing: are you asking people to indicate their availability? Because, if I was asked to do that and then I was dismissed for not considering what that means for the interviewers, I would be a bit peeved. If you want to interview me in a specific timeslot, let me know, I will make msyelf available. But this feels a bit like mind games to me, even if the job requires a lot of guesswork. Would I say ‘I hope that is ok’ at the end of my availability indication? Probably. But it’s such a small thing.

  17. learnedthehardway*

    OP#3 – I wouldn’t read anything into it. I’m also in recruitment. People who live in other time zones THINK in terms of those time zones. They don’t do the mental arithmetic that entails converting their time zone to your time zone. It’s not personal and it’s not that they’re less interested or trying to be difficult. They just live in their time zone, and not in yours (yet).

    I am always meticulous to specify which time zone a meeting will be in. In fact, I will put “12:00 noon Eastern / 9:00 AM Pacific” in the body of the invitation. Thankfully, MS Outlook does the time zone calculation so the appointments end up on calendars at the right time.

    If you have candidates who are in PST saying that they can meet after 3:00 PM their time, just remind them that that’s 6:00 PM EST, and ask them to specify an early morning time instead, if the middle of their workday doesn’t work for them.

  18. Emmy Noether*

    #1 about tracking software:

    One of our outside counsel bragged to my boss that they were going 100% remote in his law office, but it wasn’t a problem, because he was tracking everyone’s activity all the time. My boss, who is a normal, smart person, was unconvinced. When she told me about the conversation, I blurted out “I’d quit”, and I stand by that.

    All the other lawyers and all the competent paralegals quit that law office within a year. I’ve rarely witnessed such a rapid implosion, but that guy still pretends all is hunky dory.

    1. r.*

      That’s even more weird for a law office.

      Lawyers and paralegals regularly need to view privileged information, and such tracking software will by necessity also give whoever has access to the screen/keyboard captures and logs access to that information. There are certain problems that flow from this practice.

      Speaking from a client’s perspective, the information security risks imposed by this would almost certainly be unacceptable to us. We require that all confidential or privileged information we communicate to counsel are to be strictly limited to the individuals named by counsel, and the possibility of that type of leak beyond the named individuals would be unacceptable to us.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Unsurprisingly, there are a bunch of issues with this guy and his firm, information security concerns being one of them. Believe me, I’m working hard on yeeting him entirely (into the sun, preferably), but the higher ups are slow to move.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Information security and tracking applications are at continual loggerheads with each other. There’s firms that’ll install them and then handle confidential information without realising that it’s a problem.

          Or, more prevalent, they say “well, we don’t have anyone working here who’s a criminal so nobody would sell that information or leak it”. But what they fail to realise is that it doesn’t take a criminal to have a lapse of concentration that leads to a data leak and massive fines.

          (Won’t name names but we once dealt with a banking firm who sent us credit card numbers, cvv details, names etc. in an unsecured spreadsheet over unencrypted email. When we complained they said ‘well, we know you’re trustworthy’. NOT the point)

    2. Uisce Chick*

      Plus the lawyers I know spend so much time staring into space (ie thinking) and it still ends up being billable.

    3. Nodramalama*

      For a legal workplace I find this so odd. If I’m reading legislation or researching a matter it’s entirely possible I’ll be looking at a print out or reading a text book. Obviously the tracker is going to think I’m doing nothing

      1. Emmy Noether*

        Yes! So odd. Lots of people also review things better on paper, and do their best deep thinking taking a walk or looking out the window. So he was really asking for unresearched, un-thought-out, unproofread work.

        1. Avery*

          Yep. This also ignores the existence of physical documents. Sometimes you need to go through papers. Sometimes you need to mail out papers. My paralegal job’s digital-heavy, but even then there’s times that my work involves things like getting a document ready to be mailed out, and a computer-based tracker would never catch that.
          Also, you know, calls with clients, opposing counsel, court systems, third parties we’re subpoenaing… phone conversations are a significant part of the work as well, and again, computer-based trackers won’t catch any of that!

      2. Snow Globe*

        I believe there was a letter on AAM awhile ago about a company that required staff to turn on their webcam during the day, so that the boss could see what they were doing. I can’t help but think that if someone pointed out that they spend time reading papers/books, that would be the next step.

    4. Observer*

      but it wasn’t a problem, because he was tracking everyone’s activity all the time

      The other thing that people like this forget is the amount of time that you wind up spending on this “monitoring”.

  19. Adam*

    LW3 – In my industry, it’s pretty routine that interviewers will make accommodations for candidates’ schedules. After all, most candidates already have a job, and we’re frequently competing with other companies for the best employees. It’s one thing if you need people to be available during Eastern time working hours (and you should be clear and up front about that, it’s not a given), but I think being accommodating to candidates’ schedule for interviews, where you’re basically asking them to do something for you for free, you should be more flexible.

  20. Chad H.*

    The time zone one is just made up, right? If someone is so petty to think it’s ok to reject a candidate because the candidate didn’t use their preferred time zone when stating their availability, what other petty nonsense are they rejecting people for? I cannot accept any such person could be effective in their role.

    1. BreadBurglar*

      No. They didnt say reject they asked if its a red flag. And it wasnt because they didnt use the preferred time zone. It was because the candidate advised they would only be available outside of the interviewers working hours and seemed to not be considerate of that.

      The question was more if they should consider that a sign that the candidate is not considerate of others and if so that would be a red flag. Its like someone being rude to the reception staff is a red flag.

      1. Awkwardness*

        But you could clearly see that LW was biased against candidates they have to spend this “additional” work of time zone switching for when in reality they might have a huge knowledge advantage compared to some candidates with completely no awareness (see the last letter here with regard to time zone awareness).

        I have worked with this party recruiters before and even there you have those that work regular hours and those that prefer to work in the evening hours when candidates are more likely to be available. And even with recruitment directly employed at the company they do not necessarily have to be situated at the headquarter but may be processed remotely too.
        The candidate also may currently work shifts and clearly restrict their availability.
        All to say: does the candidate know where his recruiter is situated, so they even have a chance in adressing the issue correctly? Does the candidate know that they should state their availability within a certain frame that works for the recruiter?

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        OP said they found it off-putting because a candidate wrote PST instead of EST. Think about how petty that is.

        I know we need to be kind to the LW and maybe she’s just trying to filter candidates, but I think that attitude is much more of a flag than the time zone switching.

        1. This_is_Todays_Name*

          Yeah I think it’s actually helpful to know what time zone someone is referring to. I often work with contractors in the Pacific Northwest, or even Hawaii etc… and unless they tell me, I don’t always KNOW what time zone they’re in until after we start trying to coordinate. What a weird thing to get huffy about.

        2. Champagne Cocktail*

          It is petty and I really don’t get why it’s off-putting. There are website that will show you what time it is in other parts of the world if you don’t want to do the calculations in your head.

          Personally, I would like to know what time zones my candidates are in. Even if they don’t have kids to wrangle in the morning, who’s at their best at 7:00 a.m.?

          When I was customer-facing, I always used the times in the customer’s time zone when we were scheduling meetings. Now, I just do “10:00 my time 11:00 your time” to be extra clear.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Did the candidate KNOW the interviewer’s working hours? If the interview is for a remote position why couldn’t the interviewer be remote as well (and working in their own time zone, as the vast majority of companies with people in multiple time zones does – nobody’s requiring people in the Seattle office to work Eastern hours if headquarters is in NYC, or vice versa).

        1. Pita Chips*

          nobody’s requiring people in the Seattle office to work Eastern hours if headquarters is in NYC, or vice versa).

          Not true, and it’s not a new thing either. Just once example, and this was over twenty years ago: I worked for a brokerage firm in Mountain Time that kept Eastern Hours so they were by the phone when the opening bell rang on the US Stock Exchange.

          I’m sure other readers can supply more.

  21. Filicophyta*

    Surprisingly perhaps, you can sometimes find suitable shorts in a hiking store. Ones made for hiking are loose enough to allow movement.
    This link is too a co-op store I belong to but it gives you an idea; they are tailored, longish, pleated, and have pockets and beltloops.

    Also, shop online with some Australian stores, where you may find more choices that North American ones.

  22. birch*

    LW3, how would the candidate know what your hours are?! 9-5 is not the universal default even for office jobs. You’re expecting them to read your mind both about the job’s hours and your personal working hours and then holding it against them when they communicate in the clearest way what their availability is. All before they’re even considered for the job.

    1. BreadBurglar*

      They are applying to an EST based job. Its not unusual to think the interviewer might be in EST.

      Its an accepted norm that interviewing for office roles usually takes place between 9-5 and that candidates will sometimes have to take time off work to accomodate that. There are a lot of letter writers on AAM with questions about that.

      The interviewee was saying they would only be available from 6pm EST or later. If this was in the same time zone the advice would be the candidate may need to make themself available other daytimes or risk losing the chance to interview if the company cant make that work.

      The OP is just asking if the fact that the interviewee hasnt considered the time difference in stating availability should be viewed as a sign of lack of consideration which would be a red flag. Or not. That isnt asking for mind reading.

      1. bamcheeks*

        It does depend how clear the fact that it’s EST is in the job advert or job description, though. LW says they keep EST business hours, but doesn’t anywhere say “which is made clear to candidates in the job information”, or whether it’s clear that they also expect to interview within EST business hours.

        I think it’s quite hard to tell whether this is “candidates are ignoring something which is clearly spelled out in the job description”, or whether LW is doing the equivalent of thinking that everyone speaks English *really*, and they’re just being difficult by pretending to speak another language.

      2. Allonge*

        I guess for me it’s like this: if people ask me for my availability for interviews, I will say (that I would prefer) after hours in my current job.

        If they tell me the interview will be at 10 am or 2pm my time, I will do my utmost to be available on that particular day for that.

        What I don’t like in OP’s approach is that in principle they are asking me for my availability, but for real they are testing whether or not I can guess when they would like to interview me, and they don’t seem to actually care when I am available. It’s really ok to have set interview times! But no mind games on top, please.

        1. Awkwardness*

          “What I don’t like in OP’s approach is that in principle they are asking me for my availability, but for real they are testing whether or not I can guess when they would like to interview me, and they don’t seem to actually care when I am available. It’s really ok to have set interview times! But no mind games on top, please.”

          That’s how I feel too.

      3. rollyex*

        “Its an accepted norm that interviewing for office roles usually takes place between 9-5 ”

        Oh, at my organization we certainly go an hour or so outside that there’s a big time difference. Certainly to 6pm or starting at 8am if it works.

        “and that candidates will sometimes have to take time off work to accomodate that.”

        Sure, but expecting this is a good way to reduce your candidate pool. They’re taking time off work for the interview itself. Wanting them to take a half day off or whatever is not great.

      4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        They’re not applying to an EST-based job, though. They’re applying to a remote job. We know that this particular job expects people to keep Eastern Time hours regardless of where they’re working from because LW told us, but that’s far from universal for remote jobs and it’s not at all clear that it was made obvious to the candidate.

  23. Green great dragon*

    I always struggle a bit about the right level of detail to give when asked for availability. Do I say I’m usually available after 3pm, or do I give every possible hour-long slot over the next three weeks? What about the slots that I can probably make but I’d have to double-check with my dad he can pick up the kids? But I’m very flexible for my own work, because I arrange my childcare to fit my working hours and 9 times out of 10 I can rearrange it if they want something outside of normal hours.

    So yes, if their initial offer doesn’t work for you, tell them what you need and have a conversation about it. And maybe you don’t need to hear this but – this is for your benefit as well, right? An interview isn’t a gift you’re offering the candidate, it’s for you to find the best person for your job.

    1. Bast*

      I’ve struggled with this when coordinating interviews as well when asked for specific time slots. I CAN make myself available at most given times provided I have notice, but the notice is key because I would need to either go on my lunch break (and potentially take a long lunch) or put in for PTO if interviewing during standard work hours. So sure, Wednesday the 22nd at 2:30 PM works for me IF you tell me on Friday the 17th, but not if you tell me the day before. My availability is entirely contingent on at least a little notice.

  24. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

    Mouse movement/clicker software is horribly invasive, a pain to uninstall in most cases and guaranteed your IT department hates it.

    Even those of us who fix computers for a living don’t move our mouses (mice?) all day. In fact I can’t think of a job that does.

    Definitely point out to management that this really isn’t a good measurement and would actually encourage bad behaviour. Humans are naturally curious and faced with an unreasonable situation will try to find ways around it – whether they be logical or not.

    Don’t install any applications that mimic mouse movement or clicks – if your firm has installed monitoring software on your PC they’ll definitely see that. (There’s a low tech solution we tried out here which was a vibrating personal device..ahem..taped to the mouse. That fooled the software but was a bit noisy).

    On a much lesser note – bandwidth/storage. Those logs have to go somewhere and while this isn’t as much of an issue as video/audio recording logs it’s still another pointless drain on system resources.

    If you have an IT department that you have a contact in I’d recommend talking to them first. A group pushback from you, other workers and the IT department would be more effective than one person.

    And IT departments in general HATE monitoring users. We’d rather be checking up on the servers.

    1. Awkwardness*

      (There’s a low tech solution we tried out here which was a vibrating personal device..ahem..taped to the mouse. That fooled the software but was a bit noisy).

      Haha, this…instantly lifted my mood. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #4 Loud cheer for shorts at work.
    I’m retired, in my 60s and since the age of 18 I have worn a skirt or dress on maybe 5 occasions; I’ve always hated wearing them and I despise any gender-based clothing rules. I always dress androgenously. I chose my jobs accordingly so that jeans & tee were the norm.

    My field is 95% male and some wore (knee-length) cargo/sport shorts, tank tops and sandals in summer. So I wore the same, no problem and that was from about 1990.
    I found XS unisex shorts fit me perfectly, even as a small woman. I wear unisex tops too, for the longer length and good fit for my weightlifter shoulders & biceps.

    I think shorts need to be knee-length though, because I’d find it icky to see a lot of bare skin on a conference chair that other people will be using afterwards (same for very short skirts)

    1. Transatlantic*

      I agree with you on making sure the shorts (and skirts) are long enough to cover the legs from the chairs when sitting. It’s not a modesty thing, like cover your thighs, jezebel! But rather, some shorts are so short that actual butt cheeks are on chairs when sitting.

      1. Delta Delta*

        I have a vivid memory of another attorney I know wearing a summer dress (entirely appropriate for work and court), who sat down in a courthouse chair, and when she did, her skirt sort of rode up a bit so most of the backs of her thighs were touching the chair. She didn’t then adjust it so the skirt was under her thighs (it was about knee-length, so she could have done that). And all I could think was that thousands of other people had sat in that chair and now the chair was touching her skin in the summer time and I kind of gagged a little bit. And I’m not at all one to get squicked out by stuff, but that did it to me.

      2. Jezebella*

        I feel like a grump when I mention this, but when I see the kiddos in the super-short skirts that are on trend right now, I’m thinking: aren’t your buttcheeks touching chairs and whatnot when you sit down? EW. Just, ew. That’s not sanitary for the skirt-wearer or anybody else.

    2. lilsheba*

      Same here! I hate dresses and skirts and would much prefer t shirts and shorts and will wear them whenever possible. I also agree they should be on the longer side, I don’t like super short shorts, they feel gross to me.

  26. Irish Teacher*

    LW3, I think you need to take into account that for interviews, people are working around their work schedule in a way they wouldn’t be when working. A person might have difficulty interviewing within east coast business hours but no problem working them because then they wouldn’t be juggling your hours with the hours their current employer needs them.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      And I think I used the word “working” so often in the first sentence there that it ceases to make sense.

  27. r.*

    I love the brief and pointed answer to LW4.

    Definitely wear the shorts, gender-specific dress codes, even informal ones, that impose inconveniences only on one gender need to go.

  28. Hiring Mgr*

    I don’t think the time zone thing is a red flag at all. LW says they find the time zone switching off putting. Seriously? Think about that for a minute- what possible difference could that make in someone’s fitness for the role.

    If it’s really that much of an issue, just use calendly or similar. And 6pm is hardly out of bounds for a call regardless of time zone

  29. I should really pick a name*

    Do you want to wear shorts?
    Go for it!

    Are you just thinking about wearing shorts because no one else does?
    Then I wouldn’t bother.

  30. Corrigan*

    #3: As someone who recently interviewed at several companies for remote work, I echo everything Alison said. There are many many different ways that companies manage this.

    I’m on the east coast and work for a east coast based company…but my boss is in the northwest (Something I would not have known until after I interviewed.) You should also be clear (and the candidate should ask) what’s the time expectation. I interviewed with several places in PST and they both had different core hours that I was expected to work. I wasn’t expected to work 9-5 PST. At other places, like a place I left this summer, there really are no core hours. We try to schedule our important meetings so they’re not at unreasonable hours for everyone, but otherwise people can pretty much work when they want and the time zone thing isn’t an issue.

  31. Trawna*

    L2 – If the issue can be resolved by asking ‘her to just do the less interesting and less time-sensitive “clean up” parts of the projects’, why not just do that? It makes perfect sense to me to utilize her that way given the circumstances.

  32. Lily Potter*

    Go ahead and wear shorts in the office, but I would start out wearing the same styles that the guys wear. Even if that’s not your preferred style, it’s the best place starting point. You’re much less likely to get a reaction if you’re just wearing what the guys have been wearing. You can move on to more feminine, form fitting styles in time. Once you’ve broken the initial invisible barrier on this, I’ll bet other gals follow your lead and you’ll be able to collectively ditch the cargo style if you like.

  33. AthenaC*

    OP1 – This situation seems ripe for malicious compliance – everyone ensures they do 7 hours of work at their desks per day and then disconnects, ignoring all fires until the next day.

    Of course, that has to be balanced with any blowback for the employee; for example, I would never do this because it would damage my reputation with my external clients, but if that situation doesn’t apply, then maybe see how management responds if everyone does it, too? And it would have to be everyone or nearly everyone. If it’s just one person then they will probably stick out and get put on a PIP or something.

  34. DrSalty*

    If you expect remote applicants to work traditional east coast hours, put that explicitly in the job ad so people can make informed decisions early.

    1. Generic Name*

      Exactly. And if preference is given to candidates who reside in eastern time zone/east coast/whatever region you are favoring, it’s only fair to include that on the posting as well. But if it’s truly a remote job, consider the needs of the position and if it’s truly necessary for a person in the role to work that particular set of hours. Many people who are looking for remote roles are desiring flexibility in their work hours. Demanding they work a particular slot of time is the opposite of that.

  35. AthenaC*

    OP3 – If I were you I would let go of the expectation that people can read your mind. I work across time zones all the time and it’s so, so, common for people to communicate in their “native” timezone. Plus – you say your office works East Coast hours but I still don’t totally know what that means; it’s very common in professional jobs for people to take calls / meetings at different hours, particularly if you need someone in a different timezone. That being said, if you’re not available, then you’re not available, and the conversation around finding a time that works for you both should be a neutral conversation. They are not existing in PST “at” you.

  36. Nancy*

    LW3: another time zone question? People are just giving their availability in their own time, that’s all.

    LW4: if your workplace is that casual, no one will care. Many women don’t wear shorts because they don’t like them, that’s all.

  37. Lily Potter*

    I’m with Allison on #3 (time zone). I don’t think you “black mark” a candidate who gives their preferred interview time (e.g. 3 pm PST). However, it is more impressive for a candidate to recognize that their west coast preferences may be a hardship for an interview or interview committee. An ideal reply would be “my preferred time would be after 3 pm PST but I know that west coast time gets late for some. Please let me know what’s possible and I’ll rearrange things on this end”.

    I suspect that the interviewer’s organization is open to remote work but expects its remote workers to keep to eastern hours. It would be ideal if this were mentioned in the job posting but if it’s not, it should be something discussed in an initial phone screen. It could be a real deal breaker, especially for night owls living on the west coast.

  38. Oryx*

    LW #3, you say you are looking for candidates “who are actually okay with working east coast hours” which makes sense given you are an east coast company.

    Only you haven’t hired these people yet. They aren’t working east coast hours so of course they are listing their availability in whatever time zone they live in. It’s also not clear if you are being explicit when you reach out about it being east coast.

    As someone who used to have to schedule a lot of interviews with folks across multiple time zones, including international, I’m also not sure what is off-putting about needing to do the time zone switching yourself. You seem perfectly okay asking them to have to be the ones to do it. And as the one setting up the interview, it’s always made more sense to me to communicate in their time zone so there is on confusion in their end.

    1. Phyllis Refrigeration*

      Generally recruiters are used to interviewing at interesting hours due to constraints on a candidates time as well. Never met a successful recruiter that only worked 9-5 their own time.

  39. rollyex*

    @3 Is it a red flag when recruiters and interviewers give their availability for interviews in a different time zone?

  40. This_is_Todays_Name*

    LW4: Ummmm you’re interviewing people who presumably already have a job and need to work interview times around it. You want THEM to make themselves available at 6 or 7am when they may be commuting, or taking kids to school on their way to an 8am job, etc.. but YOU resent having to stay a little later at your office, when it’s possible you could interview from home, no? It’s a bit of a hypocritical stance, IMHO. Maybe meet in the middle? Ask if they’re available to take an interview during their lunch hour *if they can leave the office to do it*, etc… But mornings can be difficult for people with kids, and/or complicated/lengthy commutes to deal with.

  41. Menace to Sobriety*

    For LW4: Go for it! I have worn “shorts suits” to work, and I’ve worn shorts with tights, etc… BUT, if guys are wearing cargo/basketball shorts, those tend to be longer, so I wouldn’t try to lead a charge for “daisy dukes” or short shorts or anything that’s going to get you the side eye, but I kinda look at it like “If it’s the same length as a skirt or dress I would comfortably wear, it’s okay.” Also, capris are a nice compromise between full length pants and shorts if you want to “ease into it”, and many of them are quite nice looking. Just my two cents. Good Luck charging on!

  42. HonorBox*

    OP2 – I’d agree that you need to start with being more explicit with your timing expectations. We don’t know how clearly you’re stating things in your messages to your coworker, but given your question, I’ll assume you’re not being extremely direct with what you need and when. I do think stating your expectations clearly is the right start. Then you can take it to your manager if things don’t get better, because clearly what you’re expecting isn’t abnormal, and it is slowing down your processes.

    OP3 – First, the job description should definitely state the time expectations. If you’re hiring remotely and expecting that people will all work 9-5 EST, you’re doing everyone (yourself and candidates) a kindness by being clear about that up front.

    As to your question about it being a red flag: No, it shouldn’t be considered a red flag, even if someone opts in to 9-5 EST and they’re located on the west coast. They may be more than happy to work 6-2 PST, but they may not be able to be available to interview during that time presently. I’m not suggesting someone shouldn’t be willing to make arrangements to be available for an interview – especially a second interview with higher ups – but if you’re talking to someone on the west coast, you should be willing to be flexible with your time to an extent too.

    Even when we’ve interviewed people locally, I’ve suggested potential times but have always included “if those times don’t work for you, please let me know and we can make arrangements.” That has meant staying after hours to talk to someone because they couldn’t get away from their work easily. That has meant moving a couple of things on my schedule so we could accommodate someone’s availability. If you’re too rigid with your time, you’re also going to throw up red flags to a candidate too.

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      If a recruiter I worked with told me they were hesitant on moving candidates through because of the time zones, I would wonder what other irrelevant things they’ve been evaluating candidates on and their judgment would come into question.

      I would be very reluctant to have them continue screening for me without some further discussion on what’s important

      1. Another hiring manager*


        This isn’t even a yellowish flag.

        I think the recruiter is being downright silly. Offputting to calculate time zones within the US?

        Seriously, the candidate *should* be sharing their time zone, from where I sit.

        1. Orv*

          This reads as “I work on the east coast, where we have the one true time zone, and people are offending me by referring to these parochial time zones out in the sticks.”

          1. Another hiring manager*

            I hadn’t considered that, but reading the letter over again, I totally see your point.

  43. Penny Hartz*

    I think the answer to shorts is an athletic skort! I have [a very comfortable] one that is made of breathable, quick-drying material that passes as a black skirt.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I have to disagree with this on all fronts. If OP wanted to wear a skirt they could presumably already do so, so wearing something that *looks* like a skirt doesn’t actually change anything. You could just wear shorts under literally any skirt for the same effect.

      Also, it may be a casual office but in general I would say athletic wear is the maximum possible amount of casual. So it may be fine, but I think denim shorts of a reasonable length or those suit-style shorts in a nice looking fabric are generally better than an athletic skort if OP is worried about taking the casual thing too far.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It all depends on the garment. If it looks businesslike, despite the material, especially on pants/shorts/skirts, it may well fly under the radar and be fine.

        No sports attire usually is trying to stamp out the gaudy, ostentatious, attention-seeking stuff.

    2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Not everyone wants to wear something that looks like or “passes as” a skirt. If the OP asking about shorts wanted to wear a skirt she would have done so.

      (rolls eyes in butch lesbian)

      1. Random Dice*

        Yup that was my read as well – she’s annoyed by a cultural tic that reeks of sexism, so “more skirt” isn’t the answer.

  44. Observer*

    #5 – Late pay.

    Please start looking for another job. If you know that you are lacking specific skills to make that practical, work on somehow getting those skills. You are dealing with an employer that is unstable and likely to go out of business at any time – and I’d be willing to be that they will stiff you at least one paycheck.

    That’s a high risk to take. Do what you can to get out of there. I’m not suggesting just walking off the job, as that doesn’t leave you any better off. But finding another job *will* leave you better off.

  45. Sneaky Squirrel*

    #3 – Is it a red flag that a company that allows for remote work won’t even take consideration of time zones for its candidates? Even in the east coast, you may find that candidates have jobs and may suggest 6pm. Do you automatically flag those as red flags? Recruiting is a two way street. The candidate is interviewing you as much as you’re interviewing them and you’re their first impression of the company. Right now the candidate doesn’t work for you. You need to find a way to meet them in the middle.

    Also, if the job really requires someone to work east coast hours regardless of location, make sure you explicitly tell them that! My company operates out of the east coast and has staff remotely and those remote staff are free to set their own schedules (within reason). It isn’t a ‘standard practice’ to follow one set of times.

  46. PB Bunny Watson*

    Shorts in the workplace… as someone from Louisiana, which had a week or two of record breaking temperatures day after day this summer, I would love to see people shift the norm on this. How can we get to a place where shorts (of a reasonable length, of course) become part of business casual?

  47. Nameless*

    LW #3: As a California resident, I do basically what these applicants do and call out very clearly that I’m in Pacific Time. While you might be headquartered on the East Coast, many, many companies are spread out enough that I wouldn’t assume everyone I’m talking to was there. In interviewing for my current job I spoke with people in California, New York, Switzerland, Germany, and London. It can be extremely hard to guess where someone is over Zoom or the phone!

  48. Wearing gloves rn*

    I am shocked to learn that there are offices where it’s warm enough to wear shorts! ;) Every office I’ve worked in, the a/c was cranked so high that it was colder in the summer than in the winter.

    But, yes, wear shorts if you like .

    1. Orv*

      Not every workplace has A/C! It’s especially common for older university office buildings on the west coast to not have it.

    2. Cute As Cymraeg*

      Very, very few UK businesses have air conditioning, and I think it’s the same for much of Europe. I’ve been working for over 20 years, and the job I’ve had since April is in the first air-conditioned office I’ve ever worked in.

    3. TooDarnHot*

      and most places I’ve worked are jeot blazingly hot, to the point where I’ve gotten sick from the heat.

  49. Addison DeWitt*

    It’s funny to have an interviewer complaining about people not being more considerate of his time zone. In my experience it’s much more common that you tell them you can do anytime except 10 am because you’ll be at a funeral and they’re like “Well, that’s the only time Bob from Corporate can do it, can you do your mom’s funeral another time?”

  50. Addison DeWitt*

    If a paycheck is late, the day is coming when the paycheck doesn’t come at all. Get out of there now.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      x100000. The threat of legal consequences might get their butt in gear for a while but sooner or later they will start coming up with new and exciting excuses for not paying you. Get out get out get out.

      Signed, a guy who used to work for a boss who frequently “forgot” to come back to the office to do payroll on Fridays.

    2. Observer*


      It can’t be said too often. Find another job. It doesn’t matter how much you love your work or coworkers.

      Not getting pain on time, every time, is a perfect reason to leave a job.

  51. Phyllis Refrigeration*

    #3 is weird. It is polite to say what time zone you are in. They are assuming you will respond with availability that works for you. If it doesn’t then find another time. They also don’t have the job yet, so when they are available for interviews is pretty irrelevant to when they may work FOR you because presumably they are currently working the hours they aren’t available to interview.

    If you are used to working with remote employees this is extra weird to me. You asked them the availability – they told you.

  52. All.Is.On.*

    Years ago I worked in an office with a very casual dress code. A newer coworker asked me if we could wear shorts, and I said yes, of course. The next day she came in wearing denim hot pants with a generous amount of cheek hanging out. Oops. My bad. I probably should have been more specific about what ‘shorts’ meant to her!

    1. Piscera*

      Sometimes one does have to be very specific, or people will wear anything.

      I’ve seen a woman whose business suit would have been fine, if the pencil skirt hadn’t been a near-micro mini with a dangerously high walking slit to boot.

      Also a colleague whose silky lacy spaghetti strap top looked like lingerie.

  53. BellyButton*

    #2, I would talk to your manager and ask that you be allowed to stay 30 min late, coworker arrive 30 min early 1 day a week so you can have a weekly meeting. What is being done now is so inefficient, and it can’t be all that effective.

  54. BellyButton*

    #3, Something about the tone of this letter really bothered me. It came across as “they should be thankful I am interviewing them.” Is that just me?

    When asking for their availability do you specifically say you are EST? If you don’t, then how would they know? If your company is hybrid/remote and you are interviewing for a remote position the candidate wouldn’t know what time zone you are in.

    My company is 100% remote, when I am interviewing people I put my availability (in my time zone and theirs) and ask them to pick from those times, instead of having them give me some random times that might not work for me.

  55. Mermaid of the Lunacy*

    I hope no one tries to “lead a charge” to get women to wear shorts in my workplace! For starters, I hate my knees so it’s long pants or really long capris and nothing shorter than that. Secondly, our office blasts the A/C and I have to wear sweaters in July. It’s not that I wouldn’t support other women who want to do it, I just don’t want to be accused of not supporting “the charge.” LOL

    1. UKDancer*

      Agreed. I think OP should absolutely wear shorts if that’s the preference, just don’t expect others to follow automatically or try and change what they wear. Some may, if they want to wear shorts, but others may not for various reasons (comfort, modesty, fit etc).

      I think it may also depend on the weather. I mean at very few points in the UK is it warm enough for me to want to wear very light clothes. If it’s very hot (which is on average 1 week per year) I wear a loose skirt or loose floaty or linen trousers. If you work in a warmer climate you might find shorts more appealing.

  56. Delphine*

    #3: If *you* are asking them for *their* availability, then they are within their rights to give you whatever their availability is and to state it in their time zone. What you can do is say something like, “Would you be available for an interview this week, anytime between 9 AM and 5 PM PST (our office hours)?” The awareness and communication skills you expect from candidates should be reflected in you.

  57. Itwasacopiercompany*

    25 years ago I worked in a office job but we had to into the hot warehouse often (Texas is so hot in summer) so they allowed us to wear shorts but us women were constantly being policed about it. Our male evangelical management had us stand before them and make sure our shorts were longer than our fingertips on our legs. It was ridiculous. That place was a trip, I also had a married man (whose wife also worked there) comment on my breast size all the time. One summer we went on a work tubing trip several hours away and I show up in a tankini and he was like “they’re even bigger than I thought”, I wore a minimizer bra to work every day. Thankfully things are a lot better for women in the workforce now

    1. Rainy*

      I’m pretty tall (5’9″ and a bit) but I have really short arms, and the fingertip rule allows me shorts with a 1″ or 1 1/2″ inseam. (I’m currently wearing a pair of casual jersey shorts with a 2″ inseam and the hem is more than an inch past where my fingertips hit my thighs.)

      Lots of women who are several inches shorter than me still have much longer arms. I was talking with a pal once about things we got in trouble for in junior high and high school and she literally couldn’t find shorts that passed the fingertip rule because her fingertips hit her legs less than an inch above her knees, and longer shorts weren’t in style when she was in high school.

  58. CSRoadWarrior*

    #5 – As soon as I saw that California was mentioned, it got to my attention. Because I am also based in California. And I am aware of how strict employment laws are here. Please file a complaint with the state department of labor ASAP. And leave as soon as you can.

  59. Chria*

    #4 – women’s shorts

    I don’t know if anyone else has mentioned but one thing I notice about women’s shorts is they’re often cut really short. I have so much frustration with women’s clothing in general — I can’t find knee-length skirts that are not pencil skirts. A-line skirts are all mini skirts or calf length or longer. And shorts always roll up because they don’t hit long enough on my thigh.

    Anyway, just saying that I think women’s shorts are fine but be judicious about which ones you choose to wear. It’s frustrating that men’s shorts never seem to be cut too short.

    1. Rainy*

      Bermuda shorts and walking shorts will usually be cut knee-length or just an inch or two above the knee (unless the manufacturer doesn’t know what words mean). Walking shorts are usually a little fuller and Bermudas are cut a little closer to the leg.

      Clamdiggers strictly speaking are cut just below the knee, and capri pants should be three inches below the knee, but I’ve noticed a tendency to call anything that’s not full length a capri, and I’ve seen Bermudas mislabeled as clamdiggers, so you do have to be careful, but it’s possible searching for specific short styles would get you more acceptable results.

  60. Silicon Valley Girl*

    #3 – As a recruiter, you should be thankful folks are letting you know when they’re available & that they note their time zone. Why is that any kind of red flag? Yes, further down the road, the employer & candidate will need to figure out what work hours are relevant. But when interviewing, everyone’s time is limited.

    1. Pizza Rat*

      I really didn’t care for the recruiter’s casual, “of course they’re expected to take time off for interviews.” For some people that costs money. Most people’s PTO is limited and some don’t have it at all.

    2. CSRoadWarrior*

      I agree. I live and work in California, I have interviewed for remote positions as far as the east coast in the past when I was on the market, and the employer has always done the same. It has never been an issue.

      1. CSRoadWarrior*

        To clarify, I meant I mentioned the time zone I was in and the employer has also brought it up during the interview process. Not sure how I missed that detail lol.

  61. Addison DeWitt*

    My hardest time zone experience was dealing with a project where the scientists involved—I had to interview them and write up something about their work for laymen—were all in China. There is NO good time that works for both people in the midwest and people in Shenzhen; it was pretty much exactly at the opposite of my day. So I could call them early in my morning and catch them late at night, or the reverse.

  62. Data Bear*

    Re: LW3 — There are a number of comments that have danced around this aspect of the issue, but just (in the spirit of Alison’s answer) to be explicit about it:

    There are a lot of people on the East Coast who are real jerks about time zones.

    They won’t hesitate to schedule a zoom call at 8:30 am Eastern time, but *god forbid* that you suggest they stay in the office even a minute past 5 pm their time. The very idea!

    This is, as one might imagine, pretty darn obnoxious for the 174 million Americans who live in the western 4/5ths of the country. (Especially for those who aren’t morning people.)

    So I would encourage to you reflect about whether or not you’re being one of those jerks, and if you are… maybe don’t do that? Scheduling is always a pain for everyone, and the more flexibility and grace we can show one another, the nicer things will be…

    1. Rainy*

      I went to a conference in Atlantic time some years back when I was a grad student living in Pacific time, and the sessions started at 8am.

      Which was 4am my time. I don’t think anyone from the Pacific or Mountain time zones made it to the first session the whole week. It was *so* early. And all the Atlantic and Eastern folks acted like we were lazy!

  63. Dawn*

    LW#3: please also remember that the majority of people you are interviewing already have existing jobs.

    Just because they are unwilling to meet until after 3pm now doesn’t say anything about in the future, because if you hire them, they will be working for you and not their current jobs which have different schedules.

  64. Clara Mandrake*

    I’m confused why #3 thinks a person’s availability to interview means they won’t be able to work the preferred hours. They probably aren’t available earlier because they’re currently working. Scheduling interviews around a current job is always a hassle.

  65. Healthcare Manager*

    LW 2 –

    Project manager here. Recommend setting a deadline in your emails with a rationale explaining why.

    Why does she need to reply her same business day just because you want her to? There needs to be a reason, and don’t assume it’s obvious. Be clear about the timescale and deadlines so that she can prioritise accordingly.

    ‘Can you please do X and get it back to me by your end of work day today, so that I can look at it first thing beginning my work day and get report ready by to send to A who needs Y number of days to review’

  66. Free Meerkats*

    My go to when I had to offer my availability for a multi-time zone meeting was to use Zulu time. As in, ” I’m available between 1900 and 2100 Zulu.” No confusion as Zulu time is universal around the world and used in many industries.

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