boss wants us to do early-morning and evening meetings so he can attend from his vacation

A reader writes:

I work on a small team that has daily meetings at 10 am, usually lasting 30-60 minutes. I personally don’t think daily meetings are even necessary, but they are my boss’s way of keeping up with our work as he rarely meets with any of us individually and he likes for us to know what everyone else is working on.

My boss’s work is his life, so he frequently will work in the evenings and on weekends. He recently said about Thanksgiving, “It’s another day for me to get some work done.” (Thankfully, he does not outright pressure others to follow his example, although as you’ve noted before it sets a bad example coming from the boss.)

As you can imagine, he has built up a lot of unused vacation leave, and despite our organization’s generous carry-over policy, he was going to start losing hours. His solution was a two-month trip to Asia. The problem is, even though he is going to be using leave, he is planning to keep working the entire time and attending our meetings (we already work remotely). With the time difference, our regular meeting time would be the middle of the night for him, so he proposed the times that have the best overlap between timezones, early morning here (7 am) or evening (5-9 pm).

I typically work an 8:30-5 day and have a fairly rigid schedule outside of that with daycare drop-offs, a toddler to take care of, and regular evening activities. I responded with the following: “I can make the occasional meeting outside of regular working hours, but with my schedule and childcare responsibilities I can’t regularly do so.”

His suggestion was that he attends two meetings a week, one early morning and one evening, and we meet at the regular time the other days and write up a summary to send him.

While I could probably make this work most of the time, it will be a real burden. It would be one thing if my boss was on business travel, or if it was just a week or two, but he’s on two-month vacation leave. I feel like I shouldn’t have to accommodate his travel on principle.

How much should I push back on this? I can’t force him to not work on his leave, but his choice to keep participating in our meetings is putting me in an awkward position. I can probably opt out when it is especially inconvenient, but I will feel bad about it. When I do make it to the meetings, I will feel angry that I have to be there guilty about the extra burden it puts on my husband. Is there any way to say he can’t do this while on leave?

Yeah, that’s ridiculous. If he wants to work through his vacation, that’s his choice, but expecting the rest of you to attend evening and early-morning meetings to accommodate that, especially multiple times a week (!), is absurd. I could see maybe asking for one of those during the two months he’s gone if your work is high-stakes and no one is equipped to fill in for him. But twice a week is bananapants; this is someone who isn’t planning to disconnect from work at all and thinks the rest of you should go unreasonably far out of your way to make that possible.

How does the rest of your team feel about this? I’m guessing other people are annoyed about it too, and you might get some traction by saying as a group, “The meeting times you’re asking for would put a significant burden on us, and while we would try to accommodate that for an emergency, it doesn’t make sense to us to do that just because you’re on vacation. We’d like to continue meeting at our regular times, and we can send you meeting notes if you want.” Ideally someone who has good rapport with him would add, “This seems really contrary to why the company wants people taking vacation time — so they can relax and disconnect from work — and it also makes the rest of us feel uneasy about whether we can really disconnect when we take time off.”

Otherwise, though, do any of you have the ear of someone above him? Or a competent HR department that would be alarmed to hear about this? If you work in a reasonably functional company, there’s a decent chance you could find someone to intervene on this.

If that doesn’t work out, consider simply saying no — no, this isn’t possible for your schedule more than once or twice while he’s gone and you can’t attend more than that — and encouraging your coworkers to do the same.

{ 332 comments… read them below }

  1. BellyButton*

    You know if this would work in your team or with your boss, can you say “With my family obligations I can’t make these hours work. Can someone record the call please?”

    I use an AI notetaker for all my Zoom/Slack calls, and it not only word for word transcribes, it also creates a summary. I send the link to the full recording and summary out to everyone on the invite list after every meeting. *dusts of hands* done.

    1. BellyButton*

      Another suggestion would be to send him the daily transcripts from your regularly scheduled meetings. It sounds like from the letter it is more about him knowing what y’all are doing than offering up any sort of direction or help to you.

      1. Heidi*

        I was going to suggest not having the regular 10am meetings to make up for the inconveniently-timed meetings. It sounds like they’re mostly for the boss’s benefit anyway. Everyone can just send him a summary of whatever they’re doing individually.

      1. BellyButton*

        Fathom notetaker for Zoom, and Fireflies for Slack. The Fathom one for Zoom is better than the one for Slack, but at my company we only use Slack huddle for really short “I have a quick question” calls. So it isn’t as important.

    2. HonorBox*

      Recording/transcription is perfect. It isn’t likely that he’s going to be involved in day-to-day operations in real time so a summary that he can read/watch is going to be best. He can consume that when it works for him without having to upend everyone else’s schedules.

      1. The Circadian Cicada*

        Recording/transcription is perfect.

        Yes, if you live in a one-party consent jurisdiction.

        1. redflagday701*

          I’m sincerely curious about what you mean here, because I don’t understand what bearing one- vs. two-party consent would have on a work call where everyone knew they were being recorded.

            1. Also-ADHD*

              In most meeting apps (Team/Zoom), a pop up comes up specifically for this issue. You can’t record people without their knowledge, but if they know and stay in the meeting, that’s all you need as consent. Is there a reason to believe people would balk at recording the meeting usually? I’ve not really encountered that in a normal meeting.

              1. Phryne*

                I’d say it also depends on how free people are to leave. I’m in Europe, so very strict laws on this, and I work in education. When recording lectures, we cannot record students. That includes their voices when they ask a question, and for online lectures their names if they use the chat. Telling them ‘being here constitutes consent’ is really not good enough because they can’t just opt out and still receive education.
                We can also not use any application that sends data outsite of the EU, so Zoom is very blocked. (We use MS teams, which has servers in the EU, and Skype for Business which is hosted on our own servers)
                Now, obviously an in-company meeting with employees does not have quite the same constraints, but if you cannot opt out of the meeting without negative repercussions to eg your work, than I would imagine that that is not counted as freely given consent everywhere.

              2. Franklin*

                Nope. Just because they “can” record doesn’t mean you “may” record. You also can’t impose consent in a two-state consent state. Add to that any competent IT department blocks that functionality anyway. Phryne has some very legit points as well.

                1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

                  I work for the federal government in a two party consent state and my office does this in meetings all the time. The popup telling us the meeting is being recorded is considered adequate.

        2. Ellie*

          The transcripts would be proprietary as well. Make sure he’s not planning on reading them from some internet cafe.

          If he’s planning on taking his laptop overseas with him, you should also notify IT as it is not unheard of for laptops to get confiscated on the way into or out of various countries. It happened several times at my work until a company directive went out about it.

    3. Ally McBeal*

      This is way off-topic from the post, but how do you reconcile the privacy concerns of AI notetakers? My company handles a lot of non-public information, everyone working on the client side of the business signs NDAs, and we’ve been told explicitly that we shouldn’t use the notetakers, even in internal meetings because we discuss our clients’ business in those meetings. As the person who usually takes notes in said meetings, I would loooooove to figure out a simpler but still secure way to make that happen.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m no expert, but I think the only way to deal with the privacy concerns is to acquire your own internal AI tool. Either by building it yourself or contracting with a company that will set something up that is in-house only.

        My organization recently introduced a generative AI policy and we absolutely cannot put any sensitive information in there. We are also not allowed to be all that specific in the prompts we use to generate text, since there is a risk that a tech company could analyze the prompts that people across the organization were putting in and figure out things our organization is doing that are not publicly known.

    4. Franklin*

      That would be a fantastic way to get fired in my organization. You have no idea where the data is going and what the AI tool is doing with it.

      1. Ellie*

        Mine too. But you can record skype calls and make them available through our internal network. There is probably a way to do this but OP should contact their IT department for advice first.

      2. Sarah in Boston*

        We use Microsoft’s AI for Teams (and other things) but we run a fully hosted MS365 instance, so all our stuff stays “internal”. I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised at how good Copilot is at Teams meetings transcriptions.

    5. medicaladjacent*

      I wish I could do this. We are not allowed to record any of our meetings, since we are medical adjacent and there is always a concern about our materials being subpoenaed.

    6. Tai*

      Yes! My doctoral program records classes, group project teams record meetings, we transcribe and submit original writing. Hands. Washed. The idea that professional adults need to do what this boss is asking is absolutely twisted. This team needs to say a hard No.

  2. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I think it was supposed to say “indisposable” people, i.e. the boss thinks work cannot carry on without him when it absolutely can and he should maybe consider taking a real vacation instead of this fake vacation. I assume the Feinstein joke is about people who refuse to retire because they think no one else can do their job, even though it might be in their best interests to do so.

  3. BubbleTea*

    It’s not within LW’s zone of control so I understand why Alison didn’t address it, but surely working for two months from another country raises liabilities for the employer?

    1. CB212*

      I think that since it’s to use his vacation leave, and since he’s clearly exempt – it isn’t one of those “we have to pay you for any hour you are engaging with work” scenarios – it doesn’t have any tax implications. He can spend his vacation anywhere in the world and it just sucks for everyone *except* the payroll department that his idea of “going on vacation” includes phoning in to 2x/week department meetings.

      1. NYWeasel*

        I know in my company, there were very explicit “No you can’t work remote from your parents’ house in (other country) even if it’s just for a week, because (tax reasons)” emails that were sent out globally bc a lot of our colleagues in Europe wanted to extend vacations etc. While most companies aren’t going to really pay attention to the one week offenders, a two month holiday might get more scrutiny.

        1. soontoberetired*

          Mine, too, and they don’t like the one week offenders either. There’s a lot of security reasons for this from what I understand.

          1. Me, I think*

            Yeah, depending on the industry his company may be very unhappy that he is taking a company laptop, phone, etc., to another country.

            1. Dorothy Zpornak*

              There’s nothing in the post to suggest he won’t just be using his personal laptop/phone.

              1. Dancing Otter*

                Doesn’t matter, if he’s connecting to the company network, he’s jeopardizing their security.

              2. Ellie*

                Company data on a personal laptop and phone will also get him in trouble.

                OP should look into this, it may be the fastest way of shutting it down.

          2. MigraineMonth*

            Yeah, my organization’s firewall blocks all connections from other countries as a security precaution.

            So far as I can tell, the result is that the only way to completely retire from my organization is to move to another country (so that you literally cannot remote in). As long as you’re in the same country they’ll just keep asking you questions two, five or even ten years after you retired.

            1. Owlet 101*

              10 years?! At that point I would be tempted to respond with an email that says I died or something.

        2. The Circadian Cicada*

          Whereas my company is full of digital nomads and international employees. I’m proud of that, and the fact that we’re job creators.

      2. münchner kindl*

        Even if being exempt doesn’t influence his payrol tax, Alison has pointed out over the past years of working from home that companies have to not only pay taxes if people work from a state where the company doesn’t have a branch, but also that local labour laws may apply and that for most companies it’s a huge hassle.

        In addition, he’s leaving the US. While I don’t know about the law in Asian countries, in the years since Brexit many experts have pointed out that if a person travels to a foreign country and uses a computer and internet to work there, they need a work visa for that foreign country.

        While technology makes it easy to work from everywhere, laws regulations make it difficult.

        In addition to visa problems, I was wondering about insurance and similar if he’s working while on vacation, but that’s another reason why talking to HR is a good idea – they should be the experts on all the legal hassle that might be involved, and also have the most reason to therefore shut this down to avoid any potential problems for the company growing out of this.

        1. Amy the Rev*

          Haha whoops- one time I (US citizen) was on vacation in the UK and I was scheduled to preach a few days after I got back, so I got a head start on writing my sermon in the mornings while I waited for my friends to wake up at our airbnb… does that *technically* mean I was breaking the law? How rebellious of me!

      3. Freya*

        It’s a quirk of Australian payroll tax law that if an employee works 100% of the month in one state, then that is where the employer is liable for payroll tax. BUT: if they work part of the month in any other state, then the next test is the employee’s principal place of residence for that month, and if they are overseas then it’s where the employer’s ABN address or principal place of business is.

        Which leads to the (not hypothetical, I’ve had to do this calculation) situation where an employee normally works in the ACT, but lives just over the border in NSW, and the ABN address is in Queensland. Ordinarily, the employer has to pay ACT payroll tax, but if the employee works for a week in Victoria, then that month they have to pay NSW payroll tax, and if the employee was working from New Zealand during that week instead of Victoria then that month the employer would be paying Queensland payroll tax. Fun times.

      1. old curmudgeon*

        Same with my employer. We’re not even supposed to access the VPN from a different state, and if we access it from outside the U.S., our network security folks have seventeen kinds of a conniption fit.

        Of course, if Boss is high enough on the food chain, he’s probably already giving the security people at the OP’s company conniption fits by breaking all sorts of other rules with complete impunity. Because “rules are for the little people,” after all.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Same here. We’re OK to work temporarily from anywhere in our country, but another country is probably not allowed. At minimum, there would be a security assessment. Which would probably get denied a lot of the time.

    2. thelettermegan*

      I think a lot of countries will look away if someone declares they are a tourist on vacation but occasionally checks their emails, but if he does declare as a tourist and then proceeds to work like normal, and he gets caught, then there might be a problem. Daily meetings could be considered above and beyond normal american workaholic vacation behavior.

      But there might also be a problem for the company if he has to take his work laptop, with sensitive information, overseas, on what is supposed to be a vacation. What happens if it’s lost, hacked, or stolen?

      If he gets told he has to leave the laptop someplace secure stateside, that might be what finally forces him to log off.

      1. EmF*

        Data residency is a thing, too. Some of my company’s clients have “I do not want my data accessed from outside of (country)” clauses in their contracts.

        1. Student*

          Your company paid vacation days are essentially a paid benefit. He’ll be paid on the days he is on vacation, and working on the days he is on vacation, so the “vacation” is basically a pretense anyway. You can’t just say the word “vacation” to magically waive laws.

      2. AnonInCanada*

        But there might also be a problem for the company if he has to take his work laptop, with sensitive information, overseas, on what is supposed to be a vacation. What happens if it’s lost, hacked, or stolen?

        Or confiscated by the foreign country’s border patrol, and they’ll want your password to get in or you’re spending time in some jail cell until you cooperate? Remember: your rights as a citizen of your free nation ends at the border point of another’s.

        1. Joron Twiner*

          What in the fanfiction…

          Immigration officers are not stopping tourists and demanding they open their company-issued laptops. Governments with this level of disregard for private property and desire for corporate secrets would just hack/phish you from overseas, not tell immigration to randomly arrest business people and hope they catch someone worth blackmailing.

          Even if this happened, the boss’s embassy would get involved once the arrest happened and it would be a whole thing.

          1. Mister_L*

            A teen on vacation was denied entry into the US because she would occasionally babysit for her cousin, so the immigration officer might just ask the boss what he is doing with his work laptop before sending him back home.

            1. Never Boring*

              People have been detained and refused entry to the U.S. on confessing that they planned to cat-sit in exchange for lodging, for that matter.

          2. LifeBeforeCorona*

            People are regularly detained entering other countries because of suspicion that they are coming for work instead of tourism. It can be cleared up but it means hours spent detained at the border and possible inspection of your work devices to ensure that you are not planning on working. If you refuse they can turn you away. Other countries operate under different rules and regulations and can refuse entry for any reason.

          3. münchner kindl*

            Actually, US immigration officials/ border control have stopped non-US citizens who had legal visas to enter the US, and have asked for passwords to facebook to find if the person had written “critical” about the US/ US government.

            People who work for Human Rights NGOs, critical journalists and people who work for companies with proprietary information on their laptops have many years ago stopped taking their laptops into US because the laptops were seized at the airport, taken away for hours and then data had been copied, endangering sources of journalists or information been stolen.

            Both foreign EU media and US media have reported on this.

            1. Sister George Michael*

              Not only that, but border patrol was forcing _US citizens_ to open their phones and laptops until the ACLU sued. Not ‘fan fiction’ at all.

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I remember that one scientist from NASA who refused on the account of the data on his phone required a security clearance the border agents didn’t have.

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Heck, my understanding is that US customs is basically allowed to access whatever they want on people’s devices at the border. And save copies to browse through at their leisure. They’re probably not the only country that allows this.

    3. WonderEA*

      My IT guys would have a stroke if I tried to VPN/access work email from another country while on vacation. Yikes! I can’t imagine this being at all acceptable.

      1. Neil Strickland*

        I’m not currently working (very long story) but I used to work from home using two laptops and a VPN – I was living in Ontario, Canada and managed to work while on vacation in another province. Like you, my IT contacts would have a fit if I had tried working from Berlin or anywhere else. The company in this story should have cracked down on the boss (and anyone else who tried this) and told him: “due to multiple security concerns, we will not allow you to work while on vacation”. Details on what everyone is doing at the office while he is away would keep until he returns!

      1. BubbleTea*

        I’m also thinking about visa issues – there’s a big difference between visiting as a tourist and visiting as a remote worker.

      2. Michelle Smith*

        Maybe not just the employer, but the country too as mentioned above. There may be a different kind of visa he needs if he’s planning to work from a country rather than just be a tourist.

        1. Starbuck*

          There’s no way this guy is applying for a work visa though. I have to imagine he’s doing what most do in this scenario, go as a tourist and assume you’re not going to get caught doing a few hours of work while on vacation. Realistically, how would they know.

    4. BottleBlonde*

      It probably depends on the employer. Even though I work in a fairly regulated industry, it’s pretty common in my organization to work from other countries (people tend to do so while visiting family that lives far away). That being said, doing so does require prior approval from HR.

    5. Leenie*

      We have to check with HR and IT for clearance, but I’ve gotten authorization for people on my team to work from their families’ homes in other countries for a few weeks at a time. HR gives us a max amount of time when they approve (it varies by country). It’s my job as a manager to make sure that my direct reports are getting correct permissions. But I wouldn’t necessarily make it my business to make sure my boss was following protocols. My current boss is one level below C, works at the corporate headquarters, and has an executive assistant, so I would absolutely assume that he’s authorized. My previous boss was in a different situation, so I would have flagged it for him. Not sure what the LW’s relationship with her boss is. But if what he’s doing runs afoul of policy, it might make his plan moot, and any argument about it irrelevant. Sounds like my dude could really use the time offline anyway.

    6. Oh, just me again!*

      They made him take vacation; they didn’t make him go to Asia. He could have gone to South America (or Canada) and stayed in same time zone. Mexico, Caribbean, even western Europe/Africa (depending on where the other workers are) might have been a few hours different, not complete opposite. He chose Asia, and he chose to work through vaycay, he should be the one to suffer. Hold those meeting during your regular hours and let him schedule HIS butt around them, if he thinks they are so crucial!

    7. B*

      It’s possible it would cause work authorization issues if the boss doesn’t have the right to work there (if he’s visiting his ‘home’ country where he’s a citizen and has a right to when then that won’t be an issue but for many travelers it would be)

      1. Orv*

        That varies a lot from country to country. Some don’t care if you’re working for a foreign employer because you’re not displacing a local worker; others are much stricter about it. Some have specific business holiday or “digital nomad” visas for just this scenario, too.

    8. abca*

      That’s true for smaller companies, but a lot of large companies have locations all around the world and this is not an issue at all. Many large companies even offer this as a perk (“remote from anywhere for up to X weeks/year”).

    9. zoomzoomies*

      I think this kind of thing really varies by company.

      When I worked for a non-regulated company, they didn’t care.

      Now that I work in a highly regulated space (banking) IT rules are much more stringent, we also are not allowed to use any IT tools and our admin policy on our computers doesn’t allow us to install anything on our own anyway.

  4. Feral Humanist*

    This is clearly an outrageous thing to ask of one’s coworkers/staff, but also… people like this are like aliens to me. A two-month trip to Asia and he plans to work the entire time??? I’m guessing he doesn’t own the company or he wouldn’t be losing vacation hours! So really –– WHAT IS LIVING FOR? Is it really to spend every waking hour making money for someone else???? Is that your actual purpose in life??? I am so saddened and baffled by it. Find some other meaning and purpose in your life. Work will never love you back, and it won’t hold your hand on your deathbed, either.

    1. juliebulie*

      Yeah. Someone needs to teach this boss to bowl. Or get him a stamp collection. How does he not know about all the great non-work things in the world??

      1. Ink*

        Maybe this is the cliche, reductive ~*enlightenment*~ inducing trip that answers that question for him :/

          1. JustaTech*

            I briefly worked with someone who had ended a previous job that way.
            She was a nightmare – we called her the Tornado, or the Hand Grenade. Swoop by, blow up years of work, just keep moving without offering any solutions.

            She did have a lot of great stories about her previous jobs, but they were all the kind of story where you think “gee, I’m glad I wasn’t there”.

            1. La Triviata*

              I once worked for someone who practiced what I called “hit and run management” – he’d get hired for a management-level position, come in, disrupt everything (new policies, procedures, revised organization) and once he’d have everyone so uncertain and everything changed, he’d go off to another job to do the same to someone else. It took us months to get everything running smoothly again.

              1. Former Young Lady*

                My team is in the aftermath of such a manager now. She lasted eight months in the role and it will take twice that to clean up her mess.

      2. Feral Humanist*

        Seriously. He is going on a two-month trip to Asia. I realize that advice is for the LW, but I want to grab this guy and shake him. Go eat something incredible, dude. Or walk somewhere beautiful. Sit on a beach with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other. Do not waste this opportunity, which so few people will ever have, on continuing to work when you are literally being paid NOT TO WORK.

      3. JB*

        If all else fails, how about a subscription to a streaming service? That’s an easy time suck, and only paying the monthly subscription fee. Or making sure he gets a library card, start reading.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      “Do not try to do everything. Do one thing well.”
      The irony with this guy is that he is doing neither well. He’s making the worst of both worlds.

      He has daily meetings with his team for the purpose of feeling like he’s on top of everything.

      Now he’s going away. His staff was relieved these would be shelved while he was away and they can focus on work.

      Now he’s going away. His traveling companions/family are happy that he can focus on the moment and be with them.

      He announces that “he HAS to attend these meetings” that nobody wants, his staff, his family.

      It’s all for him. And I still don’t think he will be content, not feel FOMO.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        There was a poem I had to memorize in school:

        Work while you work,
        play while you play.
        One thing each time,
        that is the way.

        All that you do,
        do with your might.
        Things done by halves
        are not done right.

        1. Science Bob (not that one)*

          Oh, it goes on!

          One Thing at a Time
          by M. A. Stodart
          Work while you work,
          —Play while you play;
          That is the way
          —To be cheerful and gay.

          All that you do,
          —Do with your might;
          Things done by halves
          —Are never done right.

          One thing each time,
          —And that done well,
          Is a very good rule,
          —As many can tell.

          Moments are useless
          —Trifled away;
          So work while you work,
          —And play while you play.

          Work while you work,
          —Play while you play;
          That is the way
          —To be cheerful and gay.

          All that you do,
          —Do with your might;
          Things done by halves
          —Are never done right.

          One thing each time,
          —And that done well,
          Is a very good rule,
          —As many can tell.

          Moments are useless
          —Trifled away;
          So work while you work,
          —And play while you play.

          1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

            His head isn’t filled with meeting schedules. He just puts them all on March 31, and gets on with his life.

    3. Cat Tree*

      Of the two most extreme workaholics I have known, they both used work to avoid their families. One guy just outright complained about his wife and young son to the extent that I often wondered (to myself) why they didn’t just get a divorce. The other case was a little more nuanced but seemed to be a combination of a coping mechanism and weaponized incompetence. He had a young child with special needs and I think he felt stressed out being around her. Plus his wife was a SAHM so already doing the vast majority of childcare, and I think he didn’t want to be home and take the risk that any fathering would be expected of him.

      1. kitkat*

        I had a workaholic colleague who openly admitted the reason he arrived in the office at 7.30am was because he wanted to leave early enough to avoid the ‘morning chaos’ as his wife (who worked full time in a professional job!) and children got ready for the day. I wish I’d said at the time that maybe it wouldn’t be so chaotic if he actually helped instead of just absenting himself.

      2. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

        Spouse’s former boss sat him down one day and explained that the hours Boss put in had resulted in alienating his wife who was technically still his wife but lived in another state and his children not speaking to him once they left home.

        This was not meant to be a warning story, this was a “and that is the level of committment required for this job” story. Hence FORMER boss.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This reminds me of a plotline on Mad Men, where the main characters attend the funeral of “legend” in the industry who defined workaholic. All the guy’s colleagues reminisced about how he’d travel anywhere, anytime–and was “such a good husband/father” because he brought back a souvenir spoon for his wife and daughters from every trip. Never forgot the spoon!

          Meanwhile, said wife/daughters are sitting there stone-faced and radiating resentment of this man who was literally never around and being feted beyond the grave for it. You know they hurled every single one of those damn spoons down the garbage disposal the minute the last shovelful of dirt hit the casket.

    4. Despairingly unemployed*

      One of my family members is very much the same, their job is basically their personality, pretty frugal considering the income and not really spending any time enjoying… anything. I’m still baffled by it, and it’s been like this my whole life.

    5. WillowSunstar*

      He’s clearly a workaholic. What I’m concerned about is, depending on the boss, some will strongly reprimand employees who say no to things, even unreasonable things. So if he insists, it might take going up a level or 2 over his head. And then if it’s only 1 or 2 people protesting, it’ll probably wind up in their reviews that they went against boss’s orders.

    6. Prismatic Garnet*

      Yeah this is truly sad, this guy seems to have no life. I don’t care how meaningful this company is, this is someone squandering the point of being alive.

    7. Slow Gin Lizz*

      And why does he care about losing vacation hours if he never uses them anyway???? Is the company forcing him to use them or something? And if that is the case, then it wouldn’t be the worst idea for OP to tell his boss or HR what he’s planning on doing because it completely defeats the purpose of them requiring him to take vacation.

      And also, this guy needs some major management training. That’s probably not something OP can control, of course, although I suppose if his boss found out that he is having daily team meetings and no one-on-ones with his direct reports, they might realize that he doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing. (Unless that is the way all the managers do it there, in which case I’d recommend polishing up your resume and interviewing skills, OP.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Payroll probably is forcing him to use them, yeah. Losing hours sounds like a lot of paperwork for them.

      2. coffee*

        Sometimes companies force you to take vacation as an anti-fraud measure – it’s harder to keep covering up fraud if you’re not there to do so.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      I mentioned this in the Friday thread–some people are extremely wrapped up in their work identities, to the point they’re afraid they don’t exist without them.

      I think of the movie About Schmidt, where Jack Nicholson’s character retires. At loose ends, he swings back to “visit” his old place of business, where so much of his self image still resides, to face a series of befuddled “what are you doing here?” stares. He goes to his old office and offers to “show the new guy around;” said new guy has no idea how to respond. Schmidt spent a good forty years here and it’s like he never existed.

      I think people like this LW’s boss are truly fearful of just withering up and disintegrating without the structure and focus of their job.

    9. Caliente Papillon*

      Sometimes o think people like this only feel relevant when they’re doing this. Bossing. For no real reason, it seems, just wants to hear what people are doing. And the onus should be on him, if it’s so urgent get your butt up in the middle of the night to get on the call, Boss.

    10. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      His living is for desperately avoiding something or desperately pursuing something that feels like it will break him if he doesn’t work all the time (such as to prove himself or to avoid facing something or both).

    11. AnonForThis*

      I doubt this is this guy’s deal, but I will say – I do actually love my job, and when I’m really into a project, there’s nothing I would rather be doing. I don’t want to do it every second of every day, but I’m often very absorbed in my projects to the point it is hard to pull myself away, even for more traditionally “fun” things. It’s no different to me than any other hobby.

      I’m a family law trial lawyer. There is a lot of detective work, story building, crazy facts. At any time, I usually have 1-2 pet cases, that are complete obsessions. I often want to spend more time on these pet cases than I can reasonably bill the client, so I dig into issues in my spare time and don’t bill the client. What really hooks me is when I have a client I really like and someone on the other side that I can catch in lies.

      It’s really no different than if I spent my spare time internet sleuthing cold cases, or writing screenplays, or whatever.

      It has nothing to do with money for me. At all.

      1. Boof*

        I just want to say that’s really sweet. That you still have the passion/drive/curiosity, and work a little on the stuff that drives you in a hobby fashion; but also sounds like in a way that’s better work life balance than LWs boss seems to be displaying XD
        I get really loving work etc but contorting onself and the team to continue meetings multiple times a week while officially on vacation? NO STHAP BAD BOSS

      2. Also Anon*

        Oh man, I have a friend who you’d love and who needs someone like you desperately. Counterparty is so far involved with their own bs I don’t think they know they’re lying half the time. My friend is lovely, brilliant, funny and doesn’t deserve any of this baffling looney tunes saga.

        I think my friend’s actual lawyer is on top of it (thank goodness), but I’m glad to know you exist in the world. Your clients are very lucky.

        Please keep track of if you start to get burned out and address it seriously and immediately – your future clients will also need all of you. You’re a gift.

    12. Mister_L*

      Maybe I’m cynical because of all the horrible bosses we get here, but I could think of a few reasons why. None of them shine a positive light on the boss.

    13. Owlet 101*

      Yeah. My sibling is in Asia right now (for a year long work contract) and is having the time of their life. I couldn’t imagine wanting to work when you only have 2 months over there. Judging by their pictures there is so much going on over there to do.

  5. NameRequired*

    Why is he going to Asia if he wants to keep meeting with his team? Why is he taking 2 months in a row?

    To me it looks like he’s taking his leave in the most “fuck you” way possible, except of course it’s his team that suffers for it, not whoever wrote the policy

    1. mcm*

      This was my thought as well. Like, why does this guy who clearly does not have any desire to go on vacation care if he’s losing vacation days? He clearly doesn’t want to actually disconnect and have a vacation so why does he care if he loses some? Weird all around.

      1. Coverage Associate*

        I am thinking that the in laws are in Asia and the spouse is insisting that the employee actually use the vacation time.

        1. WillowSunstar*

          Depends where in Asia, some countries are stricter than others. I would not take a company laptop to China, for example, unless given no choice. You know the govt. will be looking at the data.

          1. Bear Expert*

            My last company had burner laptops for travel to China. Limited access, load with only the data you need to take with you, drop in a shredder on your way home.

  6. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    So not only is he not disconnecting from work on his vacation, he is adding to the burden* he leaves behind by creating a new workday paradigm? He’s choosing to go to Asia. If he is so concerned, stay in the same time zone.

    *he probably isn’t leaving the vacuum he thinks he is because his contribution seems largely to micromanage.**

    **Nevetmind. His main concern is that he is not able to micromanage, rather than not being available to manage for two months.

      1. lost academic*

        I think both of these statements are likely a little unfair – we don’t know. My initial assumption was that this is someone with a lot of anxiety around not being fully plugged into his role and very devoted to it. It’s still a problem but it’s not the same.

        1. Quantum Possum*

          If he were a nonsupervisory employee, it would be different. As a manager, a big part of his role is delegation and empowerment of subordinates. He’s obviously not succeeding in these areas.

  7. Momma Bear*

    This is unreasonable. He should either shift to make the meeting everyone else can attend, or he should accept the follow up memos. His inability to shut off work should not upend the entire department. I think everyone needs to hold together on keeping the meeting times. I wonder, too, if this could help you make the case that these daily meetings really aren’t necessary. It’s easier for him, but is it really the most efficient way for the department to run? Who is the acting in his absence? I’d talk to them about the idea.

    1. ferrina*

      Follow-up memos are the way to go.

      I worked with a boss that wanted to know every projects status at all times, but we didn’t have a PM software. I just wrote up a list of all projects and updated their status. It was a short sentence on the current phase, the next step, and if there were any concerns. I highlighted things I needed the boss’s input on. It was great, and I would sometimes reference the old docs myself if I needed to look back at the timeline.

      Bonus for OP- they can keep the meeting on the calendar, but asynchronously update the doc. So the meeting goes: “Did everyone update the doc? Yes? Great, have a great day.”

    2. Boof*

      I agree it’s unreasonable, but he just shouldn’t have the meeting period. There’s no juggling that doesn’t make frequent meetings while on vacation not weird.

    3. Starbuck*

      “Who is the acting in his absence?”

      Haha, I doubt there is one! This guy’s just gonna keep doing it all on “vacation”

    4. tangerineRose*

      I came here to say, since the boss is clearly a workaholic, why doesn’t he just get up in the middle of the night and attend their meeting?

  8. Annony*

    It seems like the real solution (other than the obvious of him not attending meetings while on vacation) is that he be the one with the inconvenient meeting time. He can stay up late to attend a meeting at 8:30 or get up early for a 4pm meeting twice a week if it is really that important to him. I know that the OP can’t actually point that out, but this guy is ridiculous.

    1. sparkle emoji*

      That seems like a much more reasonable solution than making a whole team accommodate his preferences. I would love to hear if he can even keep up with the times he proposed though. IME with travel to timezones that are the opposite of my own the jet lag was so brutal that I was tired by the afternoon. I wonder if he goes on vacation and scraps the meetings because they’re more challenging for him than he expected.

    2. RIP Pillowfort*

      Honestly I would point that out.

      The level of meetings is ridiculous but if he wants to be a micromanager- flat out don’t entertain accommodating the time difference. We’re meeting at 10 and you can either be there or get the minutes.

    3. Pretty as a Princess*

      This is the *full on expectation* where I work. Sometimes we have folks keynoting or attending international conferences. They will zoom in to a meeting back here at whatever inconvenient hour it is for them. We do not move regular meetings to accommodate someone being overseas temporarily.

      (This is of course after all the approvals for taking devices overseas etc etc – that’s all a very clear and straightforward process.)

    4. Alice in Spreadsheetland*

      Absolutely. While personally I’d be very annoyed at a 7am meeting (as someone who’s also fully remote, 8-4) I could at least use it as a reason to cut my day off at 3pm those days and I’m generally awake and preparing to be at work anyway. But as late as 9 pm? Boss must be out of his gourd. I’m fully in bed and ready to fall asleep by then, and even people who don’t have an early bedtime surely aren’t in the frame of mind to log back in and talk about work after dinnertime.

      (And I don’t have any childcare responsibilities and live alone with just my pet. I still have a social life and value my free time like anyone else, but I’m definitely able to be more flexible than the LW- and I still wouldn’t agree to it.)

  9. PJM*

    I think a fair compromise would be to forget the morning meetings but do the evening meeting for one hour once per week, but on those days, go into work on hour late to make up for it?

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This isn’t a situation that requires a compromise, though, because he’s being 100% unreasonable. If they were trying to bridge a gap between a team based in Hong Kong while they’re in New York City or whatever, it would be one thing to try and find an equitable way of spreading out who is being inconvenienced by meeting times. But this guy is on vacation and shouldn’t even be working, so no one else should be inconvenienced by the choices he’s making just because he’s a workaholic.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yuuuup. When I have a meeting that includes other offices, it is sometimes at an inconvenient time for me and sometimes for them, and that’s just life in a multi-national. But if someone is *going on vacation* somewhere and trying to change a significant meeting to be inconvenient for everyone but the vacationing person, that’s just ridiculous and rude. (Not that my boss never connects when on vacation – but he does it at the usual times here, and as it’s convenient for him. Which is still a poor use of vacation in my opinion, but he’s not changing everyone’s schedule either.)

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      OP can’t She has daycare obligation and evening committments. So it would be easier to make the morning ones than the evening ones.

      The best option is to show these meetings are really unnecessary to start with. An HOUR every day just to meet? Because he can’t be bothered to actually meet with his people individually to find out what is going on. That is literally almost an entire lost day of work every week.

    3. Anna*

      This isn’t remotely fair. People have schedules. It’s not a “fair compromise“ for one unreasonable person who 1) doesn’t even need to be working and 2) doesn’t even need to be having these kind of frequent meetings anyway to upset everyone else’s establish schedules just because he doesn’t know what vacation is. I can’t help but think that HR would really like to hear about this.

    4. constant_craving*

      No, that’s not fair. This is routine business, not anything unusual, and it’s a huge inconvenience for anyone with any commitments outside of work hours.

      I can’t drop my kid off late to daycare- they won’t accept him. And I still have to pick him up on time. And that’s just one example. For people with very flexible lives, going in late and leaving late may not be a huge deal. But for people with kids or other people they provide care for, people with family they want to see outside of work hours, clubs or sports teams with set meeting times, etc. just shifting hours doesn’t work. That happens on occasion, but nothing here justifies that kind of disruption for months.

      1. Elsa*

        I agree with your approach to the boss, but I’m horrified that your daycare won’t accept your kid if you drop him off late! How is that a thing? As if life isn’t difficult enough for working parents!!

        1. constant_craving*

          Extremely common. They try to get the kids on a routine, and it’s disruptive to your kid and the others if parents are coming and going randomly. I don’t love it, but I understand it.

            1. Momma Bear*

              Same. If we didn’t arrive as early as expected (say, there was a doctor’s appointment or traffic) it wasn’t a problem, but it was very much a problem if I was late. I owed the person who stayed $1 per minute and 3 instances (or one very grievous one) would get you kicked out permanently. If your kid is in a school-ish setting and you’re late, they may miss a field trip or similar activity for being late. My bigger problem would have been at 7AM the daycare wasn’t open. They opened at 7:30 and for early meetings I had to punt her like a football and run to the office. This was before ubiquitous use of Teams.

              Childcare/family schedule concerns can be significant. He’s the one on vacation. He should just focus on his vacation.

        2. Kyrielle*

          I no longer have kids in day care, but when I did, there would sometimes be outings and in those cases it really was ‘get there on time’. But we knew when those were and it wasn’t every day.

          The bigger issue with stay-late work-late, even with flexible day care drop off times, is that they may close before you can get there and no one except the vacationing boss wins if someone at the day care has to stay late, kid has to stay past close, and parent has to pay the late pickup fee. Heck, some day cares, do that 2-3 times with no good reason* and you’ll need to find a new day care, because they’ll fire you and go down their waiting list, per policy.

          * And no, your boss wanting a meeting at that hour isn’t a good enough reason. The horrible and unexpected ice storm we had last year, where it took people hours to go a few miles, would have been – in fact an equivalent when my kids were in day care only saw me picking up on time because the power went out at our office and so I’d left early…and I barely picked them up before the time, and bunches of kids were still there. They understand you can’t make the weather not doing what the forecasters said – it was supposed to arrive about 7-8 pm! – bow to your will.

      2. Lenora Rose*

        Huh; our kids’ daycare is a befre and after school with very set hour but on the school inservice and holidays (including the whole summer) it turns into an all day daycare to accommodate. And they’re *happy* when kids are dropped off later on those full days, because the first 2 hours are the hardest to staff, so fewer kids are better.

        They DO still end at the same time, though.

    5. biobotb*

      The fair compromise would be for the boss to actually take the vacation he’s supposed to be taking.

    6. JustaTech*

      If there were a genuine business need, sure. When my SO’s team needed to meet with their quality testers on the other side of the world they either did very early morning meetings or late evening meetings (from home, before anyone in their office did WFH).
      But that’s a business need, based on the location of the other team, not the boss’s inability to let go.

    7. NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys*

      I agree. This seems reasonable. If my boss wanted to meet outside of normal hours for work (for WHATEVER reason…..I don’t have to approve of the reason, whether she is on vacation or a client site), 1-2 times per week for several weeks? I’d simply find a way to make it work. This is really not that much of an imposition (and yes, I have children).

      And If I requested this of my subordinates? And they refused? I’d have some concerns about their commitment to work, which would probably be reflected in my consideration of any promotions.

      Now, a caveat. This *may* be highly dependent on the roles. I’m pretty senior and report to a C-level. She asks for a few meetings at 9 PM? The response is “Yes ma’am. See you at 9.”.The folks who report to me are mostly directors and one VP. If the director came out and told me “No, I can’t make 7 PM meetings to accommodate you for a few weeks.” It’s very unlikely they’d be at the top of my list for the next VP slot that came open.

      If the OP is fine with that, then by all means push back – just be aware that the optics will likely be noticed. And it may not seem “fair”, but I think that is the way many bosses, at many companies, would approach it.

      Honestly, this seems like a pretty small sacrifice to get upset about. If it happens all the time? That’s a different decision. But one or twice per week for a couple of months? Pretty minor.

      1. Kaitlyn*

        This is complicated by the fact that, for most people, vacations aren’t supposed to be work times at all. So not only is this boss making things more challenging for the home team, it’s happening during a window where they aren’t even supposed to be there.

      2. RIP Pillowfort*

        I’d say it’s absolutely dependent on the roles. If you’re at a director level position you’re presumably adequately compensated and have a clear understanding of being available after standard hours as part of the job.

        Where I work- that’s part of being upper management. We’re the people flexing that schedule to fit in the after-hours meetings and it’s completely understood that’s part of the package. It’s not expected of the people we’re managing at a lower level and definitely not for something you do for something like a daily meeting to update statuses.

      3. Beth*

        This is absolutely dependent on the roles. A CEO or VP or even director is generally expected to have more flexibility–and they’re generally paid enough to make it worth their while. A lower-level manager or individual contributor, on the other hand, probably isn’t well enough paid to justify adjusting their entire life to accommodate something like this. It’s not a small ask for a lot of people! For someone with a kid in daycare, for example, it probably means finding an alternate adult to drop off/pick up the kid–daycare doesn’t necessarily open an hour earlier or later just because your boss wants a meeting. Plenty of people don’t pursue upper management roles because they need the work-life balance more than they need the money.

        1. Coverage Associate*

          Just agreeing with everyone that changed or extended hours are reasonable when sufficient notice is given, usually at hiring. And, yes, people working those jobs are compensated for the flexibility, which allows them to arrange for maybe a nanny instead of daycare, or a stay at home parent, or commuting by car instead of public transit etc etc.

          A real example is pre pandemic big firms in NYC raised salaries for junior associates because firms wanted to shorten associates’ commutes so they could work more.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          And it’s not even one time–like, this was a big, important meeting that could only be held on X date at Y time and people knew in enough time to arrange their schedules. Even for C Suite and their support staff, they’d want ample time to plan something like that.
          This is this guy who isn’t supposed to be working at all expecting bi-weekly disruptions for his entire team so he can feel “in touch” with their normal workload.

          1. Tally miss*

            He gets a vacation to Asia and is demanding that his team work extended work hours/give up their personal commitments) on 40% of their work days for the next 2 months? Ridiculous – worst case, give HR an update.

      4. anecdata*

        I work at a F500 company and have a lot of exposure to our directors and VPs, and I do see them take early morning/late night calls, but when there’s a legitimate business need – a critical project requires overtime, a server blew up and we’re in crisis mode, the meeting needs teams/vendors/regulators/clients in a different time zone. A higher exec is really busy and can only slot in important-meeting at 7am or at night or whatever would count, but it would not be done just because exec kind of prefers the strange thing. The situation above would have everyone questioning the guy’s judgement (and his leadership, if he hasn’t set up his team such that he can take vacation without calling in every day!)

      5. Non-prophet*

        I am someone who is very committed to my work and routinely goes above and beyond…I’m happy to do so because my boss is reasonable and respects our time. If there was a time sensitive request that requires immediate action? Yep, I’m happy to meet after hours. But a weekly status meeting during bosses vacation just for regular business while boss is supposed to be on PTO?! Nope.

        And this WOULD be a significant imposition for me. My kids are young enough that we need to keep a very predictable evening schedule. Given my spouse’s hours, this type of arrangement would require us to hire a babysitter for $30+/hr. Not to mention the burden of training/arranging wraparound care, preparing kids for a change in their routine, etc. Sure, I could “make it work“ but I would really resent the expectation to modify my schedule in this way, unless there were a time sensitive need to do so.

      6. The Circadian Cicada*

        When I saw the headline, I was expecting to read that the boss wanted her to meet at 2am or something, and I was prepared to be sympathetic.

        But the boss is asking for a meeting at 5pm. This does not strike me as unreasonable, and indeed in many places standard working hours are 9-6. OP should agree to one-hour meetings at 5pm, and perhaps inquire whether she could start an hour later on those days.

        Whether the boss is a workaholic, or whether the company ought to permit him to work in Asia, is none of our business. (BTW, plenty of countries including some in Asia offer digital nomad visas.)

        1. HonorBox*

          If the boss was asking for it once, then I’d be more willing to be sympathetic to the boss’s request. But just because standard working hours are 9-6 for some doesn’t mean it is perfectly simple to adjust schedules when you have a routine. The real issue here is that the boss is asking EVERYONE to rearrange schedules more than once, and for a simple regular meeting. Not because important client needs something. Not one person to touch base about a project. Everyone. And many times.

          Most people would have flexibility to change schedules once or twice. But with kids, that can come at a cost to cover childcare. Once or twice might be reasonable. But this is multiple times over the course of two months. The boss can feel free to tune in if he wants, but because he feels the need, he can do it at the regular time.

      7. HonorBox*

        I don’t think that what you’re stating is even close to reasonable. While I’m happy to answer my phone if my boss calls me before or after hours, it is quite rare that it happens. But having regular meetings outside of business hours to accommodate a boss being on the other side of the world ON VACATION, not because they’re working in a different office, is a great way to push people away. You say that it would be noticed if someone pushed back and it would be unlikely that someone would be at the top of your list for a VP slot… but what does it say to employees when the boss is cavalier about their personal time and not willing to understand that what they’re asking is bananas.

        I would agree that if there was an all-hands project that was critical to the mission of the organization, or would wind up netting everyone their yearly bonus because it was successful, we could have some early morning or later evening meetings. Or we should expect to see everyone working late. But this is simply a boss who can’t allow himself to get away on vacation without having to stay in contact. He’s making the choice to take vacation where he’s taking vacation. He’s making the choice to stay connected. That means he needs to be the one to be inconvenienced as far as time is concerned. If he wants to attend a 10am meeting and it is 2am his time… so be it. You don’t need to change schedules for the rest of the team when it is not actually important to the function of the business. That ain’t reasonable.

      8. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        But we know these meetings are happening in the first place because the boss doesn’t want to do actual 1-2-1s like he should. The need to have these meetings is a result of his lack of commitment to doing his job properly.

        He’s demonstrating appalling judgement and very poor management skills. The idea that this reflects badly on the LW at all is baffling (unless you work in an extremely badly-run organisation).

    8. BubbleTea*

      I’m not LW, but I’m even less able to work an hour later in the evening than I am to start early. From the minute I stop work for the day through to about 9pm, I am parenting. I can’t just leave my toddler at nursery an extra hour to accommodate an awkward meeting. (Fortunately, being self-employed, I simply don’t take meetings at awkward times!)

    9. Beth*

      If they were trying to schedule a necessary meeting to get Boss’s input or signoff on a high-priority project, or coordinating with an overseas client, I’d absolutely say to do this.

      For routine meetings? That Boss doesn’t need to attend while he’s on vacation? And that have meeting notes he can read on his own schedule if he really wants to? That’s not enough of a priority to ask your team to adjust their childcare and personal lives to accommodate. “I’ll make it work if an emergency comes up that we need your input on, of course, but this conflicts with my daycare schedule. I can’t accommodate routine meetings outside my usual hours.” is a perfectly reasonable response.

    10. Prismatic Garnet*

      This isn’t a situation requiring any compromise. OP works OP’s hours, and that should be that. If this boss wants to ruin his life, he can get up at weird times (or maybe even keep working but skip the meetings?) Or he can take a real vacation, during which someone does not work or even know what’s going on at work.

      I hope HR shuts this down and says that boss can’t work at all during the vacation.

    11. Slartibartfast*

      An hour late would likely mean daycare will close before LW gets there. And will really mess up the dinner to bedtime routine too.

  10. SheLooksFamiliar*

    I don’t like to go over anyone’s head, especially when it’s my boss. And I don’t think there IS a way to respectfully go over my boss’s head. But I admit I’m trying to find a way to craft a message to a grandboss, as in ‘Can you help us with managing this kind of meeting schedule?’ I would think – hope? – that a grandboss would want to know if someone was on vacation, or ‘on vacation’, and also the extreme level of micromanaging on the part of their report.

      1. NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys*

        And destroying your career at the company. Just how well do you think a discussion with a grandboss will go when it starts out: “Hey grandboss? I’m going over my boss’s head here because my boss is on vacation and wants to coordinate meetings with us to make sure everything stays on track while he’s gone. We don’t want to have to come in an hour early or late once or twice a week to make that happen. Could you either excuse us from having to comply with our boss’s directives, or tell our boss that he isn’t allowed to work as hard as he does by checking in during vacations?”

        Think that will resonate with a senior manager who has likely put in plenty of 70-hour weeks over her career to get to where she’s at? Think that will be received warmly by the boss when they get back from vacation?

        1. Nope*

          This entirely depends on the industry/company/role. I’m a middle manager and can say with total confidence that my entire supervisory chain, all the way up to the top, would be horrified by a supervisor acting this way and would quickly put an end to this with no consequences to the reporting employee.

        2. StephChi*

          He’s not at a remote office doing his regular job for the next two months, he’s on vacation. Therefore the onus is on him to find a time that works for everyone else, not for them to accommodate him. He also is choosing to go to Asia, no one is making him go there. If he’s so into being in every meeting then maybe he should have picked a place in a timezone with more overlap with the office.

          Also as others have pointed out, why can’t he just read a daily report about what’s going on? He can stay on top of things that way. He doesn’t need to be in those meetings. They could even record the meetings so he could watch them asynchronously, then ask is reports any questions he might have about them via email.

        3. Quantum Possum*

          First of all, if LW’s boss were my employee, I’d absolutely want to do what he’s been up to – because all indications are that he is a terrible manager. There are several clues to this in the letter, with the first being that he has hour-long daily meetings because he can’t be bothered to talk 1:1 with his employees. If one of my mid-level managers is incapable of managing, please someone tell me.

          Second, if what you describe is what the LW’s company’s culture is like, then I personally recommend LW start job searching, like, yesterday. I can’t imagine, as a manager, ever putting such expectations onto my employees. I can’t imagine feeling resentful of them for having healthy boundaries.

          1. Quantum Possum*

            * correction: I’d absolutely want to do know what he’s been up to

            (I absolutely do NOT want to do what he’s doing, lol.)

          2. Pickwick*

            +1. Unless this company is paying all of its employees through the nose to sacrifice their work-life balances, there’s just nothing reasonable about this situation.

        4. Beth*

          I think your workplace’s culture is really out of sync with the norm. I’ve never been super close with my skip-level managers, but I’ve also never had concerns about going to them with questions or concerns while my manager was out of town. “I saw the team meeting just got moved to 7am on Tuesday? That’s outside my work hours and conflicts with my childcare responsibilities–is it ok if I bow out that day?” is not a combative or unreasonable question to ask your interim manager.

        5. House On The Rock*

          I’d absolutely want to know if one of my subordinates was asking this of his staff. He’d be the one risking his position, not them.

          Honestly it’s a weird take that just because a higher level exec works longer hours they expect that from staff and would penalize them for pushing back on an unreasonable boss. I’m truly sorry if that’s the norm where you work!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Out of the country, as well; as many posters have pointed out, there could be a whole rat’s condominium of issues around this.

    2. Starbuck*

      I personally would push harder on the “I’m simply not available outside business hours that often” before I went up a level. The evening time window he suggested goes until 9pm, for goodness sake! For an internal meeting, not anything even close to an emergency. No.

  11. Engineer*

    At my company, working at all from another country is pretty much only allowed for family emergencies/death, and I only know of a couple of times that exception has been granted in the time I’ve been here. I do know that several people got write ups and warnings for logging on for a meeting while traveling abroad, because it hadn’t been cleared and so IT hadn’t installed some additional security ware to their devices. And I also know that there are a handful of countries that are completely blacklisted, to the point that we will be fired for logging onto a work device if we’re in one of the those countries without a valid, preapproved by the top, work reason for being there.

    So if the LW’s company has any kind of rules like that, try to tip them off to the boss’s plan.

    1. WonderEA*

      This was my thought as well – there are significant IT questions around this, unrelated to the ridiculous meeting requests.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Assuming I take my work laptop to another country, even if I don’t plan to turn it on, that would be enough to invoke our rules in some cases. Just had to do the training on that again last year. (My job involves no out-of-country travel, and very little out-of-state travel, but that’s not true for all my peers and we all do the training.) I don’t know if it also applies to company phones – probably, but I don’t have one.

    3. Oh, just me again!*

      They made him go on vacation, they didn’t make him choose Asia. there are oodles of places (South America, Canada) where he could have stayed in the same time zone, and lots more where it could have been close if not the same (Mexico, Caribbean, etc depending on where main works items is). Hold those meetings during normal working hours and let him schedule HIS fanny around them, if he thinks his attendance is so crucial. His choice, his inconvenience.

  12. Phony Genius*

    The way the writer wrote this letter suggests that the boss is not the owner. Yet, he seems to be acting like it. I can (maybe) imagine an owner or CEO acting this way, as far as the constantly working on vacation part. But not the part where they ask the employees to change their hours to accommodate it. The lower down the organization chart that the boss is, the less sense this makes, and even the top is near zero.

  13. Just a Manager*

    The other option is for him to get up in the middle of the night and attend the normal ones.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      THIS. If he feels he absolutely MUST keep working during his vacation, he can take on the burden of getting to the meetings at their normally scheduled time. I’m not going to give you HOURS of my off the clock personal time every week for 2 months just so you can indulge your dysfunction.

    2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      Yeah, my boss recently took a month-long trip to Australia and worked PST hours (midnight to 8am) almost the whole time she was there. If you’re travelling for your own enjoyment, it’s on you to accommodate your team, not the other way around.

  14. NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys*

    Depending on the industry, this may not be that outrageous. I spent many years in consulting, and part of being a consultant is attending meetings when the client needs you to. That’s just the way it is. The client is in Japan? OK…..that means an 8 PM EST meeting twice a week for the next two months. There are plenty of other industries where this wouldn’t be *that* out of the ordinary; think a Fortune 100 company with locations all over the world.

    I don’t find this that terribly unusual or outrageous, but I would try to talk the boss into one meeting per week, or once every other week, and make sure he understands that comp time will be taken for those days when the meeting happens.

    1. online millenial*

      But this isn’t for a client. This is an internal employee who has refused to take vacation and now that he has to, is continuing to work and expecting everyone to contort themselves for his convenience. He shouldn’t be on these meetings at all because *he is on vacation.* There’s plenty of companies where yes, this would be a normal part of working, but this isn’t one of them AND this isn’t even a normal global workforce situation.

      1. Antilles*

        But those circumstances don’t apply. This isn’t a demanding external client. This isn’t trying to coordinate with a client who’s in Japan. This isn’t being part of a Fortune 100 project team where you happen to be on a project team with people halfway across the world. It also doesn’t matter what “other industries do”.
        The only thing that matters here is whether it’s necessary for OP’s industry. And absolutely nothing in the email indicates that there’s any business requirement whatsoever for these meetings to keep happening (or to happen at ridiculous times) except for the Boss’ weirdness.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly this. None of what this guy wants is required even one time, let alone twice weekly for two months! The entire team will need vacations to recover from his!

      3. Oh, just me again!*

        And he didn’t have to go to Asia for Vaycay. (No indication there were family reasons, so must assume that choice was entirely his!)

    2. Velawciraptor*

      If this were typical/expected for this office, I doubt LW would be writing. If LW perceives this as outside of the norm, we need to trust them.

    3. Feral Humanist*

      From what the LW said about their own schedule, it does not sound like it is one of those industries. This just seems like one guy who can’t handle the idea of not working… or that his team might function just fine in his absence.

    4. Parlez Vous Francais*

      Yes in some industries this is normal, but the people in those industries typically know what they’re getting into or it’s part of the hiring process, “oh we want to make you aware that we do a lot of business with Korea, so the hours are sometimes outside the norm and may involve meetings at 7pm” or whatever. That’s super normal.

      The letter writer’s scenario is not that. This is a manager deciding that they want to change everyone’s work hours on a temporary basis to accommodate their vacation. It would be one thing if the team was on the east coast and the boss was going to California and said “Hey can we push the 10:00 meeting to 2:00 while I’m away” but to expect your whole team to adjust for you for a two month vacation is insane.

      1. Rose*

        Also when you go into consulting (or banking, or big law, or wtv) your comp is proportionate to those expectations.

    5. biobotb*

      Whether this is the norm in some industries is immaterial. If the LW were in one of those industries, she would know, and her life would be arranged to accommodate it. She is not, and it is not. Plus, the boss is not a client, so again, your industry norms don’t apply.

    6. sulky-anne*

      It sounds like the meetings mostly exist to fulfill the boss’s emotional needs. I think it’s reasonable to be annoyed that multiple people have to rearrange their schedules just because the boss starts to feel existential dread if something happens at work without him.

      1. BellsBellsBells*

        This is a good point. Again reflecting on my boss he does the same. Does all the talking in meetings and does not ever delegate and recently decided being a martyr for a medical thing was another reason to gain validation and emotional fulfillment of being centre of attention.

    7. Roland*

      But this isn’t what’s happening here. It’s not a “should I take a job with 7am meetings” question, it’s “the boss at my normal hours job wants me to take regular 7am meetings”. Some jobs are 75% travel jobs but if I was suddenly expected to travel 75% for the next 2 months, I wouldn’t do it

      1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

        Yes, especially if the travel wasn’t even needed for a business reason, but was simply because a colleague wanted to take a holiday so you had to go and meet in a random place.

    8. Laura*

      There’s no client here. The boss isn’t traveling for business, he’s on vacation. This is absurd.

    9. Dinwar*

      I work consulting as well. A 7 am meeting would be out–I have to lead mandatory safety meetings at 07:00. 07:30 my crews are in the field and I’m already an hour into my day (I like having a quiet half-hour to plan), so sure, a meeting is fine.

      On the flip side, consulting–especially environmental–is so different from what most people on this blog do for a living that the norms of the consulting industry are so different as to be inapplicable outside the consulting industry.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        consulting–especially environmental–is so different from what most people on this blog do for a living that the norms of the consulting industry are so different as to be inapplicable outside the consulting industry

        That’s assuming quite a bit.

        Also, plenty of non-consultant jobs have to deal with multiple time zones and meetings at unnatural hours. I work for the military, and we never close up shop – accommodating people’s schedules is a must.

        But accommodating a vacationing employee’s desire to be part of every meeting – but only at the vacationing employee’s convenience? That’s outside of any corporate norm.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      I work in a field where this is normal (widely dispersed international projects), but it sounds like the OP does not. And in my case, there would be flexibility around school pickup and drop-off, and the ability to attend meetings remotely outside of office hours, even before COVID make remote work more common.

      However, if someone is travelling they either opt out of the meetings during the trip, or get up at weird hours to attend – they don’t insist everyone back home attend meetings outside of office hours so they don’t have to. That would be considered outrageous.

    11. Starbuck*

      It’s outrageous for an internal meeting when there’s no emergency or timeliness issue at play. Not normal at all for many fields. LW said nothing about their work requiring this sort of contact beyond business hours; indeed based on her regular hours we can pretty confidently assume that’s not in play here.

  15. The dark months*

    It’s not OP’s fault the boss is unreasonable. Just don’t attend. Read the meeting summary, send your boss a weekly update and don’t stress about it.

  16. Dust Bunny*

    We did this once–once–for a supervisor who was on his way out of town due to a family emergency. But it was a) once, b) a family emergency, and c) for a guy who had built up a lot of well-deserved political capital and who go out of his way for us if we needed it.

  17. r.*

    Your boss needs to let go and trust that things will work out without him. He needs to do that for your sake, for his sake — and also for the company’s and his grandboss’s sake.

    The reason is business continuity, or more precisely as ‘key person risk’. This is sometimes also known as the ‘bus factor’, or ‘how many key personnel of your company can be run over by a bus on their way to work before your company is faced with existential difficulties?’

    Either things will work acceptably in his absence, or they won’t; both possibilities are important for your grandboss to know.

    You and your boss might see a two-month long vacation; were I your grandboss, I would instead *also* see a particularly polite business continuity exercise that announces itself months in advance and can be cancelled at any time.

    1. B*

      Further to your point, two months is quite a long time away for someone who is truly a “key person” in the business. I wonder if the boss is insisting on attending meetings to show how “key” he is — whether consciously or not, for his own self-image or to impress on others. This is a person whose identity is bound up in work. If he really unplugged for two whole months and returned to find the business works fine without him, it might trigger an existential crisis.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Exactly, someone needs to push him to delegate NOW, now is the time, no more waiting. No reason to be having “general update” meetings from across the globe on vacation unless OP forgot to tell us they run a government agency or are the c-suite

    3. Dinwar*

      The other thing it does is force people to step up. As long as this boss is there at least some people will let him take up the load they drop. I’m not necessarily saying that the group has slackers in it–even if everyone’s doing what they see as their job, workaholics tend to grow their roles, and it’s human nature that if someone’s going to do the task you don’t worry about it. It’s useful to shake up that dynamic and make people take on more responsibility (or fully take on what should be their responsibility in the first place). And with workaholics, the only way to ensure that is to cut them off from the team and let the team stumble a bit.

      Source: Self-admitted workaholic here….My boss has made these exact comments to me as to why I need to pull back more.

    4. Quantum Possum*

      Where I work, we call it “single point failure” or SPF.

      Delegation is a vital part of being a good boss. I think some managers don’t realize how much better it reflects on them if they can turn over their duties to someone in their absence. This shows that they’re actually developing their team and providing their employees with appropriate resources and support.

    1. Blinx*

      This!! An easy way to stay updated. If he has input, he can put it in the chat for the meeting or send an email.

  18. Mark This Confidential And Leave It Laying Around*

    I’ve traveled to Asia. He will be up in the middle of the night, at least at first. So he can meet at the usual time. One hopes that as time goes on he exhausts himself out of participation.

  19. JSPA*

    Meetings without boss, MWF mornings, regular time. Record them. He records his responses Tu & Thurs. The W and F meetings start by listening to his feedback, with pauses to discuss.

    You drop down to 3 meetings a week; he in essence still has the 5 meetings he craves. Nobody is working on someone else’s clock.

  20. N*

    He lost me at “daily meetings lasting 30-60 minutes”. Nothing after that had any chance of being reasonable.

    1. EA*

      Yeah, oof, daily hour-long meetings – and at 10am, to really kill your flow every morning!

      For OP – I think your response was good to set the stage that you’re not going to make most meetings. Honestly, I would just… not go. Say you can’t make most of the meetings and send detailed notes – maybe join one evening meeting a month, if you can swing it. Daycare pickup and childcare are pretty rock solid excuses, and I doubt your boss can do much about it if you can’t join. I also think offering to record your meetings is a good idea.

    2. Quantum Possum*

      Right?? How does he even have the time?? He can’t be doing that much actual work.

      I have a “12-minute meeting” rule with my team – i.e., they can consistently expect to be out of our status meetings in under 12 minutes. If we need to have a longer meeting, I give them as much advance warning as possible.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seriously. My record for a team meeting is 15 minutes, so I am the queen of “this can just be an email.”

    3. LCH*

      right? like what am i working on since this time yesterday? does every person have to go for every meeting? it sounds horrible.

      1. Anonymous Source*

        Just a note that this is, like most things, industry dependent. (I work in news! The whole point of our job is working on the things that are different today than they were yesterday, so, yes… daily meetings.)

  21. happyhoodies*

    I think a big part of this that wasn’t addressed in the actual letter is who is taking over management of the team/organization while this person is out of the office. Whoever is “in charge” in the boss’ stead should be running the meetings, delivering notes, and generally managing the team’s goings-on. If the boss doesn’t trust whomever is temporarily in charge to keep things running, that should be the real issue at hand, and they can ask for a more general summary for how things are going from the person. Without this, nothing has truly been delegated for this person to be out of the office.

    1. Kristin*

      Yeah, “filling in when the boss is on vacation” is a good leadership development opportunity! This boss is not just micromanaging, he is sabotaging his team’s chances to grow.

  22. VisaOfficer*

    if he works from a different country for two months, wont there be tax implications? For him AND the company? Some countries allow work to be done for X number of days without taxation on specific visas. Some outright forbid working on tourist visa.

    What about Data protection policies, he could expose customer or sensitive data by logging in from an unsecure network or be subjected to MITM attack.

    Both the finance and IT dept would be curious to know if this was officially approved.

  23. lost academic*

    I’ve got a lot of people in my professional life like this. It’s a foreign concept to many job sectors, but not one thing about this letter surprised me in the least except for the length of the vacation (definitely unheard of for us but we’d never bank that much leave). He’ll be burning his leave so there’s no work/tax issue officially but he’s also not being particularly reasonable and the only person that’s going to change anything will be his manager (and those on up).

    I do agree about the laptop security issue thing – unless he’s not taking one – and not all Asian countries have the same risks – and that might be something to float to IT if you have a good IT department.

    Someone’s going to have to recalibrate him but it can’t be the OP.

  24. Kitano*

    So, working with Asian partners is a key element of my job and thus evening meetings with Asia are also part of the package. Even so, I have never ONCE needed multiple meetings a week with our Asian partners, even during incredibly complex projects. I would shrivel up and die if I were asked to follow the schedule your boss is proposing, and working with people in Asia is LITERALLY part of my job!

    All of that to say, you’re the normal one and your boss is unreasonable. My once-a-week evening Asia meeting schedule is tough and I don’t even have kids, so don’t feel like you being a parent is the problem here (spoiler: your boss is the problem here). I would suggest combining the ‘speak as a group’ and the ‘appeal to a higher authority’ options and just go straight to your boss’s boss as a group. As a micromanager, your boss derives a lot of comfort from the feeling of control these unreasonable meeting schedules give him, and in my experience the only thing that can override that comfort is pressure from above.

    This is all based on my own experiences, so your mileage may vary, but I hope this info is a helpful data point. Good luck!

  25. BellsBellsBells*

    Been thru this with a boss who was in hospital in a foreign country he travelled to against advice and ended up in a hospital and on pain killers. He made sure join the team meeting while complaining and playing martyr. So, this boss of yours is just as bad OP and asking for this outside of normal hours is ridiculous. Do you get to be offline when on holiday or does he insist people call in too? His lck of boundaries sets a bad example for all just like my boss did too. Good luck

  26. Future*

    This guy is the worst. I think bosses who are workaholics are bad at their job even if they don’t expect the same from their employees, because they’re still setting a bad example. Him making his lack of a life/anxiety/whatever is making him like this everyone else’s problem just makes him terrible

  27. WantonSeedStitch*

    Ooof. In my workplace, deciding to both work and take vacation at the same time, and especially to do so from a foreign country when being in the foreign country isn’t a requirement of the work (e.g., meeting with people who are located there)? That’s a big no-no. Has the boss’s boss OK’d this?

  28. Nomadsansplan*

    I worked in Asia for 8 months in as many countries while working for a company operating in EST. I made it work by working 11pm until 7am. If his work is his life this shouldn’t be a problem for him.

    For the record regarding taxes (In East and Southeast asia), there is generally a minimum amount of time you have to be in a country before you are eligible to pay tax there, and even then there is often only one form you need to fill out to avoid double taxation, depending on the agreement between your country and their country (I am not American). This is google-able information. Often times I was told it wasn’t even necessary for the amount of time I would be there. (1-3 months).

    That said, I don’t think speculating on the bosses ability to work abroad is really even useful here, for all we know he could be a resident of the country he is going. I just include this information to say that it is very easy to work from abroad legally for short periods of time. Many tourist visas even include work so long as its for a foreign company.

  29. Hiring Mgr*

    This might be one of those “push back as a group” scenarios. If he’s that much of a workaholic he might not even realize this request is inappropriate.

    Another option besides the summaries is to record the meetings via Zoom or whatever and send to him.

    It could also be an idea he came up with in the Heat of the Moment, and that when he gets to Asia he’ll abandon this idea. Only Time Will Tell

    1. Oh, just me again!*

      That’s a thought. since work is his life, he might indeed not appreciate that this is indecent. Best person to explain that to him is grand-boss.

  30. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    This might be a weird shape of malicious compliance: “Yes you can make me go away on vacation, but you can’t make me like it, and I’m not going to make it easy for you.”

    If someone just wanted to go away for two months but attend some meetings from vacation, he could pick a destination with a less-inconvenient time zone relative to when those meetings are normally scheduled. South America comes immediately to mind.

    1. Yours sincerely, Raymond Holt*

      Malicious compliance is supposed to be directed towards your employer, not something bosses do to the people they manage!

  31. Common Taters on the Ax*

    Can you record meetings in whatever meeting system you use? It sounds like he just wants to know what’s going on, and that would take care of it. If he typically contributes somehow and can’t let go of that, and there are others on the team who are cool with early morning and/or evenings, maybe part of the team could attend the normal (hopefully shorter) meeting and record, and those who want to could get together with him to watch the recording and then add their own recorded meeting part 2 of the same duration at the end.

    If he can’t agree to that, it sounds like he is trying to divide the team into those who are willing to make work their life like him and those who aren’t. I’d pick my side very firmly in a situation like that, because that could easily start creeping over into the regular pattern once he’s back.

    1. Quantum Possum*

      I agree. He’s either a good/OK manager just out of touch with reality on this one issue – or a not-so-good manager who judges his employees harshly. Give him the chance to show which is true.

      it sounds like he is trying to divide the team into those who are willing to make work their life like him and those who aren’t

      My personal experience has been that similar management shenanigans are often (but not always) about this…which can then lead to management treating the non-workaholics with disdain or disrespect. My most toxic two workplaces were led by that sort of manager. It’s definitely something to monitor.

  32. Lucia Pacciola*

    I dunno. Allison’s advice makes sense from a basic etiquette viewpoint, but without knowing a lot more about the team and workplace dynamics, it all seems likely to be career-limiting.

    Take the “vacation” out of the problem, and what’s left? Your boss has requested a temporary accommodation from the team, as he has a personal situation that interferes with his normal management approach.

    This seems like a good candidate for a compromise solution. Is there a team lead? Maybe they can offer to summarize the daily meetings, in a 1:1 with the boss on the boss’s schedule. Or maybe LW can volunteer to make that offer.

    1. Lobstermn*

      On the other hand, because this company is clearly bananapants on every level, how much career is there to limit? Claim that you’re busy, request transcripts, and update the ol’ resume.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      Why would you take the vacation out of the problem though? Then it’s a completely different question. It’s valid to be willing to accommodate something in one circumstance but not in others.

      He chose to put off taking vacation for years and then take two months at once. He chose to take his vacation in pretty much as mismatched a timezone as you can get. No one else at the company should have to go in early or stay late to accommodate those choices! Especially for meetings that sound pretty unnecessary to begin with.

  33. Quantum Possum*

    Nope, nope, nope, nope.

    I’ve worked for workaholics who expect everyone else to be a workaholic. This is Very Uncool, and it usually ends up with festering resentment on all sides. Your boss’s inability to have healthy work-life boundaries is HIS problem, not anyone else’s.

    Also, doesn’t he realize how poorly it reflects on his management skills if he can’t even delegate running a daily status meeting to someone else in his absence???

    I genuinely don’t know what’s wrong with people like this. One of my friends is Senior Executive Service (SES) (equivalent to a General) at the Pentagon, and he loves to say, “No one puts ‘SES’ on their tombstone.” He has a super healthy work-life balance and is one of the happiest civil servants I’ve ever known, lol.

  34. Saturday*

    You said you could make occasional meetings outside of normal hours – twice a week isn’t occasional, it’s frequent. If the meeting time doesn’t change, I vote for skipping the meetings and doing your best to not feel guilty. It’s a ridiculous burden to place on you!

  35. Sparkles McFadden*

    How much should you push back on this? A lot! A lot because your boss is being overly demanding, inconsiderate, and just plain ridiculous.

    You have to push back as a group, so meet with your group to decide on what solutions you will offer. Why not have the regular (sort of useless) meetings and record them for the boss? Maybe weekly updates via email? Maybe offer him a weird timed meeting once a month? I think you can tell him that he really should disconnect for a bit and trust you all to do your jobs, and add that his decision to work while on vacation should not put an extra burden on everyone else. This is really hard to do but maybe you and your group can come up with a way to soften this. If you have a decent grandboss it might pay to bring that person into the conversation. I, personally, would avoid HR. In my experience they are not helpful in these situations, but maybe your HR is OK.

      1. Oh, just me again!*

        Was going to say: maybe get him fired, but realized this just reaffirm his conviction that he mustn’t ever take vacation.

  36. sofar*

    I once had a boss who couldn’t get childcare for several months (daycare shortages and her nanny got poached) and she therefore had to work weird hours (after kid bedtime and on weekends). Yes, awful and unfair.

    I just kept repeating, “Sorry, I have commitments after work and cannot do a meeting at 9 p.m. The latest I can meet is 6 p.m.” Others did the same. Some people met with her and the meetings were not productive, as half the attendees were missing. If she Slacked me on a Saturday and asked, “Do you have a moment?” I ignored and answered her on Monday at 9 a.m.

    It wasn’t so much the imposition as the lack of acknowledgement that it WAS an imposition.

    If she’d talked to me like a person and said, “Look I know this is a lot to ask, is there any way we can do a monthly night call and then you comp those hours on a day of your choice?” or “We have a Monday deadline, is there any way I can ask you to look at the changes on Saturday a.m. ?” or “Let’s figure out a line of a-sync communication and documentation so you’re not working all hours,” I’d have met her half way.

    But, just like this boss, she treated this like a matter-of-fact “of COURSE my employees will work a full work day doing the stuff that needs to get done and then ALSO work outside of those hours.”

    I just kept saying, “No, sorry” and she kept asking and I kept saying “no” and eventually we it became a non-issue and we worked a-sync. (I think that she never pushed the issue because she knew I’d probably run to HR and she didn’t want to kick that hornets’ nest, as it could backfire on her for not being around during core hours).

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      9pm is a hard pass for me. I am an early to bed person and I rarely stay up much past 9:30! I am more willing to hop on an early morning call* than I am something that late.

      *If I know in advance. I tend to work out in the mornings, so if someone cold-calls me in the middle of a workout they’re going on read until I finish!

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Well put. Yes, it’s that idea of of entitlement that’s particularly galling: “This is what I want, peons. You will just have to adjust accordingly to fulfill my wishes.”

  37. Rick Tq*

    Something is badly off if this manager can’t drop the reins for more that a few days at a time and has refused to take time off for this long.

    He needs to be placed on paid leave (not just vacation) and locked out of all business systems while auditors go thru things with a microscope.

    I’ve seen this where ‘key players’ have been preventing Best Practices from being implemented and hording access and information to ensure their job security.

  38. Karma is my Boyfriend*

    A follow up question: is there another manager checking in with this team in their boss’s absence? The only way vacations like this are approved in my organization is if there’s backups for anything that may arise.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Great point. It’s similar in my organization. When someone in management is away, even for a day or two, they designate someone to act in their role.

  39. Prismatic Garnet*

    Love how the boss is such a sick workaholic as to pull this stunt, but not enough of a one to bother just having 1:1s with each direct report, instead wasting everybody’s time at unnecessary group meetings.

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Isn’t it funny how you can almost smell the secondhand desperation sweat wafting from the letter? (Not from the LW themselves.)

  40. Oh, just me again!*

    They made him go on vacation, they didn’t make him choose Asia. there are oodles of places (South America, Canada) where he could have stayed in the same time zone, and lots more where it could have been close if not the same (Mexico, Caribbean, etc depending on where main works items is). Hold those meetings during normal working hours and let him schedule HIS fanny around them, if he thinks his attendance is so crucial. His choice, his inconvenience.

  41. MB*

    What a self absorbed suggestion – because having to be work ready for a meeting 90 minutes before your work start time hugely impacts the amount of sleep you would loose not to mention impacting daycare drop off, imperative so you can work. OBLIVIOUS! “Unfortunately, there is no way for me to function with a 14 hour range of work hours, I won’t be able to participate.”

  42. girlie_pop*

    This reminds me of my boss who was on Teams answering (non-urgent, not-specific-to-her) questions and reminding us of tasks (that we didn’t need reminding of) on the day of her son’s wedding. When I told her she should log off and enjoy the day she said, “We’re just taking pictures right now, it’s not a big deal”!!!

    I can’t even imagine the number of incredible things he could be seeing/doing/eating while in Asia for TWO MONTHS and instead he wants to be in meetings! Yeesh.

      1. Laser99*

        Some people are so weirdly proud of overworking. I’m guessing it’s a strong desire to feel needed/important?

  43. Raida*

    honestly my gut instinct is…

    “TAKE THE BLOODY VACATION. You are NOT at work, and we are NOT going to do EXTRA WORK to support you REFUSING to take a vacation, ESPECIALLY outside of regular working hours.
    So I propose: We will all drop a one-line summary on the work planned for the week at the end of the Monday meeting into a document/spreadsheet you can access externally.
    That’s it.
    If you don’t like this, then go complain to your manager, and you’ll see your bloody access cut for two months mate.”

  44. Zombeyonce*

    I would propose that, instead of meetings where everyone updates the boss on what they’re doing, they just put those updates in text somewhere. They could just use whatever messaging program their company uses and put in a status once a day for anyone to look at. No more meetings, no time zone problems, everyone (including the boss whenever they log in) is informed.

      1. Pickwick*

        What he needs is for his team to have a custom Zoom background that’s a picture of a meeting table with him sitting next to the person. That way, he’s included in every meeting, whether or not he’s actually there!

  45. Lisa*

    I had a manager want to do this and it only took two meetings with me pretending to freeze, stuttering, and repeating “sorry, what?” before she said just to send her a regular summary.
    And the Oscar for Best Lying Employee goes to… me!
    To this day she talks about how bad the wifi was in China but how weird – only with Zoom.

    1. Quantum Possum*

      I love this. You would fit in with my team, lol.

      I have Meniere’s disease, and one of our inside jokes is that, on a given sign, I’ll fake an attack to end a meeting that’s gotten too tedious. We’ve never actually done this, of course, but it’s a fun little moment when we’re stuck in bad meetings, make the sign to each other, and grin.

      1. Lisa*

        Ooooh I would love to see that! I’m picturing some kind of Victorian-era swooning, clutching at the table edge as you fall to the floor.

  46. Thomas Merton*

    I was really expecting the first sentence of Alison’s reply would be her patented “Your boss is an ass.” Because he is.

    1. Petty_Boop*

      Would that be “patented” “trademarked” or “copyrighted”? Yep. These are the weird things I think about.

  47. Warrior Princess Xena*

    I want to be clear that I’m not trying for advice column fanfic here, but I will note that one of the most recommended anti-fraud measures for companies is to make sure that finance staff, especially senior finance staff, take a vacation for at least two week at least once a year. This is because a pattern of someone up to no good is to not want to go on vacation, because that will result in their house of cards crumbling down. Two months *is* a very long time, but if he’s been unable/unwilling to take a shorter one before, that to me speaks to a lack of willingness to give up control that is at best unhealthy.

  48. MCMonkeyBean*

    “I can probably opt out when it is especially inconvenient, but I will feel bad about it.”

    Is the only fallout that you’ll feel bad? And nothing else would be a problem? If so I vote you try to just give yourself permission not to feel bad because this is seriously beyond ridiculous for him to suggest.

    I think I’d try to get the team to push back, but if people are unwilling to then just miss most of the meetings and send your status updates via email instead or something.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      This. You have absolutely no reason to feel guilty, LW! What the boss is asking for is objectively bonkers.

  49. Settlethescone*

    I strongly suspect that these weekly team meetings could possibly be an email update, but that is tangential to the writers immediate predicament. At the very least, weekly updates sh/could be provided by email for the duration of the boss’ vacation so that both the boss and the team can determine their own work life balance (or lack thereoff). If there’s any type of actual emergency or snafu on a project, you could set up a one time call (again….of it can’t be an email).

  50. Franklin*

    I see people being fired for this if you follow the guidance suggested.

    And I don’t mean the boss in question.

    1. Quantum Possum*

      Why do you say that?

      A company that would fire people for following Alison’s advice here would be a Very Bad Company Indeed.

  51. Bookworm*

    I have to admit, I’m actively searching for others jobs (using Alison’s advice). I’m also being fairly picky because I have truly learned to believe that interviews go both ways and I don’t want to leave a job that I just don’t like (which is currentky) to a job I absolutely hate (which I’ve worked before). But I am also at the of dregs imof my willingness to put up wit insanity and bananapants behavior. So, I feel like my answer would just be “No.”. Now if he’s done what Alison suggested as reasonable, I would say “of course.” Because it’s reasonable. But I also recognize that it is significantly easier to SAY this than actually do it.

  52. Carol the happy elf*

    Boss must instead schedule any meetings to match the TEAM’s 10:00 LOCAL time. If he’s having a blast in Asia, this will play delightful wreckage with his vacation.

    (Please tell me you’re on the East Coast? That will complete my delight at twisting this type of boss! And tell him that you’re doing this to make it easy for him to return straight to work in 2 months without debilitating jet-lag because he’ll spend 2 months not getting over his jet-lag.)

    Also, as has been commented on already- ASIA ISN’T GOOD AT CYBERSECURITY.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      As a cybersecurity analyst for the DoD; that is wildly incorrect. Asia is sadly, very good at (breaching) our cybersecurity, so it is not a good place for Americans, other foreign people etc… to do any sensitive work/communications, even thru a VPN over there.

  53. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I can’t get past the daily all staff (team) meetings. What are you supposed to say? I am going to edit pages 37-74 of the document, return 17 emails and connect with Juan Carlos on the print schedule?
    I don’t know how many people are on the team, but the number of lost work hours is insane. Doesn’t this guy understand that his staff members talk to each other (or email or Slack or meet when necessary)? He reminds me of the bosses during Covid that made their remote employees make lists of every single task they did during the day.

    1. Franklin*

      Google SCRUM. Perfectly reasonable every day all team meeting process. Not that that’s necessarily happening here, but it’s a thing. And it works.

  54. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Who even approved a 2-month vacation? that wouldn’t fly pretty much anywhere else. I appreciate the circumstances, that he had accrued the max amount and needed to take it. But in that case they (HR or his boss) should have encouraged him to take a week or 2 weeks to get back under the “cap” and then more regularly going forward. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had already discussed the “meetings 2 times a week” with those people (boss/HR) and that was the compromise agreed on. It does feel like he and someone else have fiddled things to “keep the paperwork happy” on a technicality. I would love to know if he initiated the “taking 2 months off in a block” or if that’s what HR etc pushed him to take. If it’s the latter I could see (but not justify) his worry that this will demonstrate that he isn’t really needed at all, what better than a 2 month “trial period” without him…

  55. anononon*

    No no, if he is the one overseas then he is the one to adjust his schedule. Meetings remain at 10am in the US, and he’s the one to get up early or stay late. You do not all adjust your schedules to appease him. He’s deeply shortsighted if he can’t see this.

      1. Mister_L*

        Boss doesn’t equal big boss / owner / CEO.
        If OP asks any of them whether the time outside of the normal hours counts as overtime or they are allowed flexible hours, it might solve the problem.

    1. H3llifIknow*

      Agreed. He can choose to be workaholic even on his vacay (although I believe his superiors should nix that posthaste!) but then he’s the one who has to suffer through it. I’ll adjust to meetings with my colleagues in CST, MST, PST, etc… on occasion when NECESSARY, but this just sounds like someone who’s afraid to find out he’s really not all THAT necessary!

  56. HonorBox*

    Your boss is the person in the office (or at home) who will inconvenience everyone else because they’re hot or cold.

    Boss (wearing sweatpants and sweatshirt): Wow is it hot in here. I’m going to turn on the air conditioner.
    Everyone else in the family (wearing similar): We’re actually fine, or a little cool. Maybe you could just wear a tee shirt?
    Boss: No. I want to wear what I want to wear and still feel comfortable. Never mind how that impacts the rest of you.

    If Boss wants to ruin his vacation by staying THAT plugged in to work, then it is on him to make accommodations to attend a regular meeting. He shouldn’t force everyone else to change their lives around to accommodate him being half a world away.

  57. Nina_B*

    Not sure what you use for your meetings, but Teams and Zoom should have functionality to record sessions that could be sent to your boss to look at in his own time? Maybe he doesn’t want summaries because he’d rather hear it/see it directly from people?

  58. Elizabeth West*

    What was that wording from the old Etiquette Hell site? — “I’m sorry, I am unable to accommodate your request.” That started running through my head as soon as I read the post title.

  59. OMG It's 2024*

    This may be a dumb question, for Alison but–you often propose something along these lines, “I’m guessing other people are annoyed about it too, and you might get some traction by saying as a group, “The meeting times you’re asking for would put a significant burden on us, …” ” What do you MEAN when you say that? As in one person should speak for the group? That each person in the group should send an email saying essentially the same thing? How do you envision this “group” approach working? Personally, I’ve tried just getting more than 4 people to agree where to order lunch from, and trying to get our team to band together on a workplace problem sounds like an insurmountable task…. So, how does a person go from “I cannot….” to “We, as a team are not comfortable doing…”?

      1. OMG It's 2024*

        Thank you so much! I hadn’t yet stumbled onto this site in 2018 so wasn’t aware you’d already (quite fully) addressed my (admittedly dumb) question!! :)

  60. SleeplessKJ*

    What about compensation for the time you’re being asked to meet outside of your normal hours? Will he be approving overtime for all of you?

  61. Bravo*

    Any bets on whether the boss is embezzling or otherwise messing with the company?

    Asking because one of the red flags are people who won’t take vacation time.

  62. SpicySpice*

    What would be an amazing update would be if Boss just assumed he would be working from Asia, and didn’t bother to verify that it would work. The family packs up and flies out, settles in at the hotel, and he fires up the laptop only to discover that the VPN does not, in fact, let him log in from outside the country, and he’s now networkless and away for 2 months.

    I wonder how long he’d last before the vacation was cut short and they’d head home. I say 10-14 days.

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