how can I make our on-site perks fair for our remote employees?

A reader writes:

I manage a team that’s a mix of on-site employees and remote workers. I’m intentional about keeping my remote workers included in both regular work-related and social/sidebar conversations.

However, we’ll sometimes order lunch for everyone in the office or have an occasional pizza party. What’s something related I can do for my remote workers if I’m going to feed the crew on-site? I don’t want to leave them out if I’m announcing in chat that there’s pizza and snacks in the central conference room. Do you have advice on something thoughtful I can do in these situations?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Employee says she got “yelled at” when I give her feedback
  • How can I get candidates to submit good cover letters?
  • Using an email auto-reply to tell people I’m not on email that day, even though I’m working

{ 232 comments… read them below }

  1. E*

    As someone who is remote 90% of the time, I do not care if the in office people get perks like pizza lunch. I would much rather be at my house than drive to the office everyday and sometimes get free lunch. However, it is annoying to see 15 emails about lunch status updates – we’re having pizza today; pizza comes at noon; pizza will be here in 15 min; it’s here now; etc so keep that in mind when sending lunch info.

    1. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. I think for holidays it’s nice to send a gift card but I certainly wasn’t expecting the equivalent of the company holiday party sent to my house when I worked on the opposite coast. I wouldn’t overthink this.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Yeah, I wonder if it’s worth having an “In Office” chat that’s separate from the main chat. If I’m at home I don’t need to know about the pizza, but I also don’t need to know if the heat is off, the kitchen sink is flooded, there’s a fire alarm, there’s free food in the kitchen, etc.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Precisely everything in this comment chain.

        Very few people are thinking “I wish I worked in the office because of the monthly pizza party and weekly donuts.”

        But if you’re celebrating a success or rewarding a win, you should try to come up with something comparable if possible so remote workers don’t miss out on that.

        1. JR 17*

          Exactly this – if it’s a gift or reward, try to make it equal. (Hard, because one person’s share of an office pizza lunch might be like $8, but an individual employee can’t buy a whole lunch for that, but figure something out.) General perk with the goal of making a nice office environment? No need to replicate, there are pros and cons of working from home and in-office.

      2. Antilles*

        It’s absolutely worth doing and most offices I’ve worked at have in fact done that. Either with an Outlook “group” for emails and/or a separate Teams group for the in-person staff.

      3. Dinwar*

        While I agree in principle, I’m worried it may become an issue when it comes time to give out bonuses, raises, and promotions. In-office workers are already going to have more opportunities to build themselves up to other in-office workers and having a separate chat for that group could every easily slip into creating a clique. Humans naturally give priority to those they see every day, all else being equal. Further, the common advice on this forum is to treat all IMs, emails, and other electronic communications as if you’re on a witness stand and being cross-examined by a hostile attorney, so it’s going to be constrained in ways that in-person communication isn’t.

        This isn’t mere theory, either. I’ve heard more than a few junior staff working remotely, in a number of companies, complain about lack of networking opportunities, being passed over for promotions, and the like. Adding an avenue of communication that they are intentionally blocked out of is only going to make this worse.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          I think if you can’t have a separate low-volume chat for things like announcing “pizza’s here!” then there are probably bigger management issues at play.

          1. wordswords*

            Agreed. If the worry is that it’ll spill over into being the general water cooler chat that remote workers are excluded from, then tap a few people (officially or unofficially, depending on your office culture and personalities) to keep an eye out and steer any discussions that break out into a general chat instead of the office-announcements-only chat. Maybe also a few people to breathe life into the general chat with occasional posting to make it more approachable, if that’s a concern.

            Or, depending on your chat set-up and company size, you could designate a couple of people to be the only ones allowed to post in that channel. The building manager says “hey the pizza’s here” or “fyi, the water in Building will be out tomorrow from 7 to 10 pm” or “Florinda Warblesworth asked me to tell everyone that there are brownies in the break room” or whatever, and nobody else can (metaphorically) reply-all about it. This would work for some offices and less for others, but it cuts down the potential for water cooler networking in that chat.

            Either way, I agree that if there aren’t other communication channels for remote employees to tap into, then that’s its own problem, and if you can’t possibly create a separate low-volume chat that will work as such, that’s a different problem. And, speaking as a remote worker, I am grateful every day to not be getting constant updates about the office space’s logistics. (And we don’t get free pizza, but if we did I wouldn’t resent it — unless I was getting bombarded with announcements about it!)

        2. kodachrome*

          I think that’s the tradeoff you make when remote, though. Remote inherently means less water cooler chatter and less face time. For some people, it’s worth it because they get to stay home, avoid the commute, reduce costs, etc. While obviously you should try to be inclusive, ultimately, trying to level the playing field by watering down the in-office employees’ experience doesn’t address the real driver (people have better relationships and opportunities when they can develop a personal rapport), but it does make the in-person experience more sterile.

          1. Brent*

            I’m a remote employee who has seen the announcement for food, parties and hte like and – for me anyhow – I don’t feel the slightest bit deprived. If I get to miss hokey ‘team building’ activities, I’m fine with someone else getting my two slice of pepperoni pizza from a chain I wouldn’t order from in the first place.

        3. Runcible Wintergreen*

          You’re making 2 contradicting points. If chat/email/virtual interactions don’t replace in-person interaction because people feel constrained, people who work in the office will always have an advantage regardless of what chat groups exist. If a remote worker feels excluded or overlooked for consequential work things, getting notifications that there’s pizza in the kitchen will not help that.

          I think a better answer is to create a list of “physical” people and designate a building manager/admin/office manager type person to send updates that are relevant only to the building. Make this list boring and “update only” and maybe BCC it so that only the “designated announcement person” can use that list.
          Create a separate “All Users” list or encourage the use of team chat groups that include both remote/in person people, and use them regularly to encourage communication between everyone. Start by supporting remote/in person communication and creating an inclusive feel for remote workers, and then they won’t care if they get updates about ice in the parking lot or whatever.

          1. Dinwar*

            “You’re making 2 contradicting points.”

            Not really. Remote workers are limited to communicating with their colleagues via electronic (read: monitored) channels. In-office workers have that, plus face-t0-face meetings. Assuming that all communications are equal (ie, the in-office group isn’t allowed to get away with things in IMs that the remote people can’t and vice versa), it seems pretty obvious that the group that has more ways to communicate is going to develop deeper relationships. To further restrict the already constrained communications channels (which is how being left out of an office chat will feel to remote workers) will only exacerbate this.

            Further, there’s the perception issue. If someone is a remote worker and I find out that there’s an office-only group chat that they are purposely excluded from, the inevitable first reaction is going to be annoyance. If it’s limited to things like “They’re testing the fire alarms next Wednesday”, that’s one thing–the typical response will be gratitude that they’re not being bothered. But if that group chat includes discussions of the office Fantasy Football league, or PTO requests, or other stuff not specifically related to the physical office, it will absolutely send the message that remote workers are not part of the team. In person these sorts of slights are easier to manage, as we have far more tools at our disposal (body language, a quick chat at someone’s desk, etc; we evolved to do this). In electronic communications we’re limited to text and a handful of emojis.

            I think you hit on the correct solutions. But I also think those solutions acknowledge the risk that I pointed out–they all amount to policing the discussion to ensure it only involves those things that are specific to the physical office, the stuff the remote workers won’t want to hear about.

        4. L-squared*

          You aren’t wrong, but the idea is how its applied.

          You can have a “Midwest” group, a “Wisconsin” group, and a “Milwaukee office” group. And make sure you are using them for the correct things. So that things like “pizza in the office” or “elevator broken” messages go out in that. Whereas you may say “we are having an office happy hour on Friday” in the Wisconsin chat, so if anyone is close enough and inclined to, they can join.

        5. Bitte Meddler*

          If they have Teams or Slack, you can create a group / channel called “In-Office Pizza”. And then if someone who is in-office says, “Who wants to sign up to be on a team with me for the Step Count Challenge?” someone else can say, “Hey, Joe, this is the Pizza chat; you want General Chat.”

          1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            Some of y’all have never worked for a company with multiple locations, and it shows. Stuff specific to one location – pizza, a broken elevator, whatever – goes in the location specific chat. Creating that Slack channel or email list or whatever doesn’t take anything away from other places for work discussion or social chitchat.

      4. Cruciatus*

        OMG, yes. It wasn’t even a remote situation, but I worked at a university that had many campuses. I didn’t work at the “mothership” yet our department was based there so every time they had elevator issues, free food in the break room, whatever work order, we had to get those! It never occurred to them that they should focus those emails to just the people at that campus!

        1. can relate*

          I will never not respond to messages like this with “great, I’ll look for my slice in the mail” or “I agree with joe, we need more couch pillows”, “Yeah I have a drill the office can borrow, but you’ll need to pick it up” despite being thousands of miles away.

          Yeah, the jokes are dumb, but if they dont want to give me pitty laugh emojis, they can can make a channel where I dont get the notifications XD

          1. TeaCoziesRUs*

            I’d be tempted to send you a small throw pillow from Amazon with some pithy quip on it… (and a gift receipt, so you can get something that would bring you joy if this didn’t hit your funny bone).

            Return pillow to Sender! It’s better than returning awkward. ;)

    3. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Ditto – the perk is working from home. Our office is more hybrid so when something like this happens sometimes people choose to come in that day to get the perks. Otherwise, nope. I work from home once a week on the day that most perks happen to get scheduled. I do not come in for them and I live 1 mile away.

      1. Grace*

        Same. I work from home one day a week. It’s the day our director likes to sometimes bring donuts. I have never seen the “donuts in the break room” email and regretted not driving the 20 minutes to the office that morning.

        1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

          I wouldn’t care about donuts in general, but if they only showed up on the day of the week I’m not there…I would get a little annoyed after awhile. But only a little, because WFH is better than donuts–the annoyance would be more concern that the director might be picking that day on purpose so I don’t get any.

            1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Yeah, I didn’t work Wednesdays and that was the day the boss took staff out to lunch. When I changed to have Friday as my off day, the boss started taking staff out on Friday. Because it was to celebrate the end of the week, of course, me thinking he didn’t want to bother finding a place with veggie food, or that he didn’t want to pay for me because I didn’t actually report to him, of course that’s paranoid.

      2. Artemesia*

        I would think of separate perks for WFH staff. Occasional gift boxes but not worrying about the donuts and pizza that occur often in the office. The perk is not having to commute, buy lunch, buy lots more expensive clothes etc. But the occasional reasonably well thought out goody delivery is great.

        My husband is paid in bacon for a blog he writes on and it is a real treat when the quarterly specialty bacon arrives. (obviously WHAT the gift box is will depend on the people involved, but there are lots of wonderful fruit boxes, nut gifts, fabulous cookies and chocolates, and cheeses and of course bacon.)

    4. THAT girl*

      We are 50/50 remote/in office and we have our ‘All Staff’ email and Teams thread and then we have ones that are just for people who work from the main office. Those are reserved for things that pertain to building related stuff or office schedules and logistics that don’t apply to the staff as a whole and only clogs up their inboxes unnecessarily.

    5. Also-ADHD*

      I feel like even when I worked on site, those kinds of emails were insane. I’ve worked in corporate, nonprofit, and school districts, and one school district I worked at constantly sent emails like this (I worked at the district office, and many of us might not even be at the particular worksite, but if I was, I still didn’t appreciate the 3-5 emails about food coming around the time food was expected—just order enough that no one has to make a mad dash, or don’t bother, etc).

    6. OMG, Bees!*

      Places I’ve worked handled that by providing lunch Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (with the idea that people are working from home Monday and Friday) and thus don’t need to send any reminder for food since it’s a given. Of course, that is a bigger perk than the occasional pizza day, but still a bigger perk to work remote.

    7. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Agreed. I’m 99% remote and, personally, have no issue with in-office folks getting some perks that I don’t. My perk is working from home! I don’t have to spend 90 minutes commuting and I get to sleep in later than if I was going in.

      The key thing I want is to make sure that I have opportunities to get to know my colleagues and supervisors and that there’s no effect on assessments of my work / promotion opportunities. Sounds like you’ve got the first one covered and I imagine you’re mindful about the second, too.

  2. Cold and Tired*

    I’m a remote employee working with mainly in person employees. I don’t expect to be included in a lot of things like dinners and other office perks because I get the perk of no commute, doing laundry during the day, etc by working from home. I feel like if it’s a big celebration occasion them doing something for remote employees can be nice (but not expected), but for the rest it’s just an expected thing you miss when you’re remote and it’s ok.

    1. lilsheba*

      Yup agreed! I really don’t miss the “office pizza party” lol! Working from home is so much better than that!

    2. Abundant Shrimp*

      All of this. With the money I save on gas, wear and tear on my car, business clothes, work lunches and so on by working remotely, I can buy myself a whole stack of pizzas if I am so inclined. (Plus, pizza doesn’t really agree with me and I always felt weird about being gently prodded into eating it as a team activity when I was in the office.) Totally an expected thing for me to miss.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I like the distinction between “company-wide celebration/reward” vs “perk for being in-office”!

    4. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      This x1000. I’m hybrid at a satellite office. Do I mind missing pizza or donuts at my office if I’m not in that day? Not in the slightest. Do I resent when my office doesn’t have a holiday party and everyone at the larger offices talks about how awesome theirs was? You’d better believe it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Very true. I have a private bathroom and a private kitchen. Definitely worth the free pizza once every three months.

  3. CommanderBanana*

    I think being remote IS the perk, but if it were up to me, I’d be inclined to send something like a DoorDash, UberEats, or whatever gift cert to remote workers at the beginning of the quarter and being like, this is the equivalent of the perk of free pizza for those that are here.

    There’s no way to make all the perks of being remote and being in person always come out even, but TBH, if I were remote, I’d be saving so much in commute, food, etc., costs that I absolutely wouldn’t care that the in-office people got pizza a few times a year.

    1. HonorBox*

      I wouldn’t care either, but I would feel appreciated differently if a manager was proactively sending a food delivery gift card. The perks of WFH are awfully nice, but having a manager see that you’re not just some invisible person is great, too.

    2. Rosemary*

      Right?! I can buy myself lots of pizza with the money I am saving not commuting, or buying lunch multiple times a week, etc.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Yeah, we went to one more day in the office recently, and just in subway card costs, going one more day a week averages out to $370ish per year for me. ONE DAY. I’d gladly take having no mediocre pizza a few times a year to save $370.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Although cost wise this may be a bit silly. The company might be spending about $5pp on monthly pizza. An ubereats GC for $15 might not even buy one lunch.

    4. SpaceySteph*

      My boss is remote (I am not, I am loaned from my regular group to her fully remote team) and she recently sent me a pack of macarons through Uber Eats, and I thought that was super fun.

      But I also know Uber Eats is expensive, so the budget may not support doing it as often as in-person pizza. Even if you do it once or twice a year though, I’d say its a very welcome gesture.

      1. Your Mate in Oz*

        It depends on scale and frequency. A monthly pizza in the office vs an annual gift basket is likely cost equivalent (and avoids problems with people who can’t get food delivered).

        Amusingly the one time I was properly remote my manager’s attempt to smuggle a gift onto the supply boat failed horribly (think chocolate in the tropics, not a baby elephant in a cardboard box) but the boat crew detected the problem and ate it while it was still edible. I was known as “the chocolate guy” for a month despite having basically nothing to do with the problem (it was all good natured, just tedious). A classic case of “it’s the thought that counts” and I did appreciate it. So did the supply boat folk :)

    5. Dell*

      Maybe this isn’t a concern everywhere, but lots of our employees live in rural areas where DoorDash and UberEats are not options. I would be really tone-deaf if management gave us a gift certificate to a meal delivery service.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I think this goes to the “but not everyone can have sandwiches!!” rule of commenting, right? I mean, substitute Uber Eats gift card with whatever you think would be the equivalent of missing out on in-office free food for whatever area you’re in.

        1. Betty*

          I think it’s more of the “not everyone appreciates a bottle of wine as a holiday gift” kind of comment. When the question is coming from a place of “what can I do to be inclusive and supportive of remote workers”, the advice “be mindful that food delivery may not be inclusive of everyone” is actually quite relevant.

          1. Bitte Meddler*

            But this seems like a self-evident problem? As in, the manager(s) of those rural employees know that they are rural, so they would get them a gift card to the local Piggly-Wiggly or whatever.

            Because the suggestion of Uber Eats or Doordash is just short-hand for “Do something every now and then to include your remote employees.”

            Pushing back against it would be like me refusing to hand someone with a runny nose a tissue because they asked if I had any Kleenex.

            1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

              Honestly, if the rural employees are remote and the managers aren’t? The managers may very well not realize what that means in regards to UberEats/DoorDash/GrubHub. I know plenty of people who live in major metro areas who don’t get this about rural places *they grew up in*.

              A lot of people are wildly unaware of the realities of other people’s lives.

            2. CommanderBanana*

              ^^ Thank you. Substitute “Uber Eats or Doordash” for whatever works in your particular area, whether that’s sending a gift basket or a card to a local restaurant or grocery store or whatever.

              Honestly, after all the But Not Everyone Can Have Sandwiches threads on other corporate gift questions, I wouldn’t blame management for just being like, screw it, no one gets anything or everyone gets a prepaid Visa gift card or whatever.

              If I get a corporate gift (and as someone who doesn’t drink coffee, like chocolate, or eat meat, this happens to me a lot!) that I personally don’t want to can’t use or eat, I pass it on to someone who can, bring it into work and leave it on the communal food table, or drop it off at our local food pantry and I appreciate the sentiment behind it. I don’t flip out because it wasn’t something that wasn’t tailored to my personal, rather specific tastes.

    6. Calpurrnia*

      Just one small thing: if you’re going to send out gift certs, do check with people what works for them. If I got a DoorDash or UberEats card it would do absolutely nothing for me because I live in a rural area where nobody delivers (not even the place we buy our firewood!). $10 on a Visa gift card, or to Safeway or something, I could actually use.

    7. The Original K.*

      My boss did this for me when I was sick and couldn’t attend an in-person staff meeting with lunch provided. I wasn’t expecting it – it was a nice gesture.

    8. I Have RBF*

      My employer gives our mostly remote team an occasional Door Dash credit to be used within a certain week, coinciding with the in-office stuff over the holiday. It works well.

  4. Heidi*

    Is “I got smacked” a regional turn of phrase? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that, especially when referring to critical feedback or getting in trouble for breaking rules at school.

    1. JP*

      I don’t know about regional, but I’ve heard it before. I don’t know if it’s a play on getting smacked on the hand, or smacked down, or something like that?

    2. WellRed*

      Maybe a variation on “smacked down” or “got my hand slapped?” At any rate, it’s a silly and kind of juvenile way of thinking.

      1. potat*

        In the UK it’s quite common in informal conversations, when referring to minor-to-moderate tellings-off by management (not usually leading to formal disciplinary proceedings), as “getting a slap on the wrist”.

        1. Antilles*

          Slap on the wrist is a common phrase in the US here too. It’s also often carries an implication that you sort of got off easy in terms of punishment, e.g., “Bobby was expecting to get fired for stealing and crashing the company truck, but boss gave him a slap on the wrist paid suspension instead.”

        2. The Prettiest Curse*

          Americans (or at least, my American husband) don’t seem to have the phrase “getting carpeted” for being told off at work. I’ve always thought it had military origins (as in, you stand still on a specific square of carpet while your superior yells at you), but I could be wrong.

          1. Macca*

            Maybe that’s similar to getting “called on the carpet”, which is a phrase I (in the American south) know but not sure how often it’s actually used.

          2. Colleen Whitley*

            I read that “getting carpeted” referred to being called up by the Jockey Club to explain why a horse didn’t’t perform as expected. They went from the uncarpeted stables to the carpeted office.

          3. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

            Better than my first thought of a connotation, which was getting carpet bombed (which feels painfully American to automatically think of violence!)

    3. Dorothy Zpornak*

      I guess so, because it seemed totally normal to me. I’ve definitely heard it before.
      I actually came here to ask about the “yelled at” phrase, because I grew up using this and hearing it used figuratively to mean ‘chastised’ or ‘corrected’. If I said someone “yelled at” me, that referred to the content of their speech, that the person was telling me I did something wrong, not whether they actually physically yelled. But later (after moving away) I was surprised to find that if I said someone yelled at me, people thought I meant they were literally raising their voice to me. So now I’m wondering if that turn of phrase is regional, or some weird thing within my family.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Native west coaster here and I too grew up with the figurative “yelled at”. (I think I would used the term “screamed at” to impart a literal “yelled at” with raised voice.) And could easily see myself saying the manager called me into her office and yelled at me, meaning the manager called me into her office to lecture or admonish me. No intent or thought to volume of voice.

        1. thats just me*

          I’m from the Midwest so not sure about the regionality of things but I have definitely had to work on my tendency to say “yelled at” to describe being reprimanded or otherwise getting negative feedback at a normal volume. My concern for that OP, though, is that the employee may be taking that feedback very personally, and that’s being reflected in the language she’s using. So it’s worth approaching this with some curiosity to see if there’s a deeper problem.

          1. Anon for This*

            Ditto – grew up in the Midwest. “yelled at” means I was chastised in some way. Slap on the wrist or smacked down, same thing. Doesn’t mean a loud voice, doesn’t mean physical violence. However, I feel the opposite about your comment about the employee taking it very personally – to my ear, from where I was raised, that sounded dismissive – yeah I got yelled at (eye roll). But how the employee took it would depend on context clues, so defer to OP on what that meant. And I agree that OP should talk to the employee about the word usage, and indeed confirm with HR the content of the discussion/interaction in case the the employee did mean it the way I would have, and it gets reported as if it were taken literally.

        2. WillowSunstar*

          Some people may have had also a toxic parent or 2 who did frequently raise their voice at them. But yes I can see why it’s good to separate “yelled at” from merely being given a firm talking to. There is a difference between verbally abusive people and a manager trying to correct something with feedback, and if not, there needs to be.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Before my spouse retired, he was talked to by HR because someone reported that “he had yelled at her”. He hadn’t raised his voice, but he had given her negative feedback. When you say someone yells at you, they can get in trouble for actual yelling, when all they were doing was giving normal feedback.

      3. AF Vet*

        Grew up in the US Army and served in the US Air Force. Of course we have a hierarchy:

        Chewed out – just another day

        Got yelled at – ehh, not a big deal. I screwed up, they called me out.

        Got screamed at – dude, boss lost their mind.

        We need to chat – you screwed up, and it’s minor.
        Called on the carpet – you screwed up, and it’s mid-level
        We need a “Come to Jesus” – you done messed up… huge.
        Get in your Blues (Class As, whatever Navy calls them) – you screwed up badly enough that you, supervisor, First Sergeant (acting HR / morale), and possibly highest enlisted or officer (depending on rank) all get to spend a few hours in the commander’s office. You’re probably getting paperwork, maybe busted down a rank, might even be getting kicked out or forced to separate rather than retire. If you’re a high-enough rank, then local or military newspapers might enjoy highlighting your mistake.

        Gotta love military hierarchies.

      4. Artemesia*

        As a manager this used to infuriate me. I remember asking an admin to redo something that was sloppy and unusable. She was newish and so I walked her through what it should look like. I am not mad. It was just one of those things. And I did not raise my voice or chastise her — just provided feedback and instructions. I then later her talking about how ‘She was furious and yelled at me.’

        For immature people who relate to authority as children, the notion of ‘being in trouble’ and ‘being spanked’ seems to be how they frame managerial feedback.

        I liked Alison’s phrasing that ‘grownups don’t ‘get in trouble’ when they get routine feedback on their work.

        1. Titos and Burritos*

          Sadly, this is an inevitable byproduct of growing up in a culture that normalizes and even lionizes dealing with mistakes made by children via anger, judgement, adult-level expectations and punishment for “failure” to achieve those expectations, rather than a proper understanding developmental limitations, loving feedback and correction, and collaborative problem-solving.

          See also: chronic lying, inauthentic “fronting” or projecting an idealized persona you can’t keep up sustainably, and the widespread and devastating population-level mental dysfunction created by struggles with perfectionism and imposter syndrome.

  5. Yup*

    I think the LW is asking about how to make people feel included and part of a team, which is a fair question. Remote employees are going to miss these perks, of course, but they will also miss the sense of camaraderie around these perks–which can be problematic when you want all team members to feel valued. The perks may not need to look the same, but being remembered and thought of is important across the team.

    1. Mim*

      This is my take, too. As a hybrid employee, I don’t mind missing stuff like that. One could say that hybrid isn’t the same, because it’s usually easy to just come in on a WFH day to not miss out on a perk like that. But the reality is that I don’t do that, either.

      I have been remote/hybrid on two different teams at my same employer, and can honestly say that how bonded I feel with my team has nothing to do with things like pizza parties and stuff. It’s some combo of chemistry (which can’t really be controlled) and clear expectations/leadership when it comes to communication. And there really is only so much one can do to overcome the latter, because you just don’t know what you don’t know. (I’ll also say that in my current situation, I don’t even think that the lapse in communication/inclusion has to do with me being hybrid. As much as it bugs me that my supervisor is not nearly as effective and responsive as needed, I know it’s in large part because they are under-resourced, too. I could go on for pages, but I’ll leave it at that. ugh.)

    2. Cherrytree*

      I came here to say this. It really disturbs me that people think all remote work is a perk. It’s not always. My head offices are in the US, India and Ukraine and I’m in the UK. I don’t work less hard because I physically can’t go to the offices once a week, and remote work has a big downside of potential isolation and loneliness. And I deserve to be included and allowed to feel part of a team too – rather than excluded when the “pizza!” and “ice cream” emails and messages go round. I’m not saying those perks should never happen for in-office workers, just that remote workers also need to be remembered (as you said.)

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        IDK, not saying it is impossible for someone to get stuck in a remote job when they don’t want to be in. But my general thought would be is you don’t like/want/see remote option as a perk, don’t accept a remote job.

        Not saying you should be overlooked, I do think doing something like sending a $10/15 gift card once a quarter or something is good. But it does not have to be equal to the in office perks. If the company spends say $30/40 a quarter for each in office employee (food/perks) it does not need to match that same amount for the remote employees.

        Personally I don’t think I would enjoy a fully remote job, I don’t think I would go back to fully in person, I think hybrid is the way to go for me.

      2. Tiger Snake*

        That sounds like you’re mixing up “perk” with “personally I don’t enjoy it” to some extent, though. And those are meant to be different things.

        If you’re at home, you don’t need to worry about transport and the cost of that. What you get paid doesn’t change because work doesn’t pay for your travel and parking – you have a very real and tangible perk that more ‘fun time’ budget coming out of your salary. Regardless of whether you take advantage of it, you still do have more ability to clock off at a reasonable time than when everyone in the office is All Hands On Deck Long Night Everyone, Etc.

        Things like “I like the social aspect of the office” and “I like not having to wear work pants at home” are preferences. Preferences are valid and are very, very important – they help us decide what types of jobs we want to have. But just because you end up with a job that doesn’t suit all your preferences doesn’t mean the perks and other benefits went away.

        1. LJ*

          Do you also think it’s a perk if someone happens to live next to the office and doesn’t have to commute?

          It’s a beneficial situation no doubt, but “perk” to me sounds like a reward (well more generally HR seem to use “perks” to refer to a discount portal, but that aside), whereas working for home is just another working condition

  6. Caroline*

    I work remotely (as in, several states away) for a small company who occasionally will go out and treat for lunch or bring in coffee/donuts/etc. Every now and then, I’ll get surprised with a card in the mail with a cute “we appreciate you” design and message, and a gift card to my favorite coffee shop or lunch place. I would never “expect” it of them, and I’m not insulted that it’s a sporadic occurrence, since I understand that remote work is simply going to be a different experience. But it’s a lovely small gesture that goes a long way towards making me feel valued and part of the team.

    (And the fact that they remember how much I dislike [insert common coffee provider here] and will send me a gift card for my favorite local cafe instead? AMAZING.)

  7. Echo*

    On the cover letter front: I’ve recently seen a lot of discussions about applicant tracking systems. There’s a pervasive sense that an algorithm will auto-reject cover letters that aren’t full of specific keywords from the position description.

    I know there have been posts on AAM about the role of these in reviewing resumes, but not cover letters as far as I remember.

    I feel like it would be helpful for hiring teams to include an explicit statement about how they do or don’t use automated review. Something like this: “We don’t use automation or AI to review cover letters and there are no specific key words we are looking for. We want to get to know you better and learn about the nuances of your experiences your resume doesn’t capture!”

    1. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think I’ve seen the idea that a cover letter specifically will get you auto-rejected — if the system is scanning for keywords, it’ll scan your resume. If anything, the cover letter is a chance to work in more keywords, it’s not going to trigger new requirements that weren’t already applied to the resume.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        There was also that trend recently which was telling people to copy and paste the entire job description into their cover letter (then turn the text colour to white and make the font tiny so it was invisible) in order to get past automated screening. It apparently doesn’t work, and some systems are set up to reject cover letters that just repeat the job description verbatim.

        1. Ink*

          I remember seeing that! And thinking it was very “bump all the periods up a font size to sneakily make your essay longer!” of them. Teachers have been onto that one for years, so I don’t know why they thought this would work.

    2. Lauren19*

      I whole heartedly agree. I used to tailor my cover letters but found that to be a HUGE waste of time. I either got rejected through automation, or I got an interview and neither the recruiter nor hiring manager had read my resume.

      If the job posting made it clear that a human being would read my cover letter and you were looking for specifc things (passion for the industry, how you’d apply your skills to this role, etc.), then I’d tailor a cover letter for it. But please understand the candidate POV as well.

      Lastly, I’m in comms so the cover letter can also serve as a writing sample. If this is the case please just give a writing assignment to folks who make it to a certain point in the interview process.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, from the candidate side it’s a black box. so it seems like no one reads the letters. People say it only takes 15 minutes ( lol nope) but if you need to do a 100 applications to get 4 interviews…

      2. Anon in Canada*

        I never understood the idea that “the cover letter is a writing sample”.

        Even if a job is writing-intensive, you won’t be writing cover letters as part of the job. Requiring a writing assignment about a situation that could happen in the job makes more sense.

        1. Lauren19*

          Re cover letter as writing sample, it’s the idea that if you can write you can write. If you have a terrible cover letter I’m probably not going to trust you can write a press release or CEO speech. It also doesn’t mean you CAN write job-specific stuff, but it will show if you understand your audience, can be concise and have a point of view.

          1. THAT girl*

            THIS. As someone who reads hundreds if not thousands of cover letter/resumes a year (and who has degrees in English and Journalism), you might be surprised how much I can assess your writing skills from a cover letter.

            1. GythaOgden*

              It’s the show don’t tell philosophy. A resume/CV is lots of short bullet points and can be cribbed from others’ templates. A cover letter shows the way you write prose, choose content, write for an audience and far more tangible aspects of your general articulacy.

      3. Tabihabibi*

        Early after college and during a recession I put a LOT into cover letters, and I did get lots of interviews. As in, I spent a lot of my time interviewing and didn’t get the jobs. Some of that was down to luck and recession times, but at some point I realized I could downscale my cover letter effort so I didn’t just disappoint in person by comparison I guess.

      4. Miette*

        Can I offer you this round of applause?

        As a current job seeker, I have to say I found OP’s letter completely unrealistic. I’m already tailoring my resume for each job, and I do make job-specific additions to cover letters anyway, but are they really looking for some dedicated pitch when they haven’t asked for it in the JD? On top of all the 500-word answer questionnaires, tests, videos, and other crap hiring firms insist on these days (before they offer even a screening call!), forgive me my extreme side eye, OP.

    3. Anon in Canada*

      In my industry, many companies have set up their ATSs so that there is no way of submitting a cover letter. They have been phased out! (probably because the people in charge of setting up the ATS understood that most interviewers/hiring managers weren’t reading them)

      1. Combinatorialist*

        I just put mine at the end of the document that has my resume. If they don’t want to read it, they don’t have to but I have had it positively referenced by interviewers even though the system wasn’t set up to receive it. This has been particularly true at large corporations where there is a centralized ATS but individual hiring managers might still appreciate the letter.

      2. Relentlessly Socratic*

        This is an especially fun ‘feature’ when the JD explicitly says that a cover letter is required with the application (and, I really don’t mind doing cover letters all that much). In those cases, I save a single document with the cover letter then the resume.

    4. Beth*

      Algorithmic elimination isn’t on my radar for cover letters as much as resumes, but I agree that explicitly calling out what you want in a cover letter is the way to go. I like Alison’s suggestion for that.

      But OP3, what you’re looking for might also just be unreasonable. You have to remember that many job hunters are applying to dozens or hundreds of jobs before they find one, these days. In that context, it’s simply not possible to write a high-quality, custom, tailored cover letter for every role–you might do it for a few that you’re extra excited about or feel like you have an extra good shot at, but most of them are going to get a template with the company name copy-pasted in and a sentence or two tweaked. Your high-quality candidates with the good cover letters are probably in that bucket of extra-excited people! But there are also probably good-fit candidates outside that bucket.

    5. Goldie*

      I ask for a cover letter and resume combined into a single pdf and get it about 1/3 of the time. Otherwise I get a cover letter in the email, two word docs or even a link to a protected Google doc.

      And we end of hiring the people who can’t follow direction’s sometimes because the are great in other ways.

        1. Goldie*

          Late to reply–because I have to send the selection committee all of the information and its much nicer to have each candidate’s information in one document. Now I have to do a bunch of configuring to make that happen. Its not a good use of my time.

  8. in brief*

    #3 – in our requirements for any of our positions, we have listed “Excellent written and oral communication skills as demonstrated in part by your cover letter”.

    1. the Viking Diva*

      We do something similar: “The cover letter serves as a writing sample and as evidence of the required skills.”

      Our intent is to signal that the letter should not just be a recap of your resume (the history, what you did) but of your expertise (evidence that you have the skills and capacities listed in the ad). The cover letter should link to the resume but it fills a different role: there are lots of ways people may have acquired these skills and capacities, so tell us about where YOU got them or give us an example. And our language also seeks to alert folks that we will be looking at their writing, as communication figures heavily in most of our job descriptions. It seems that AAM readers who work in technical fields feel like their qualifications speak for themselves; in our field, we are looking for a skills fit more often than a content fit.

      I am not so concerned about the cover letter being customized – I have no way of knowing what people send others – but I do look for signals that they have read our website and know what we do. I’d call that mild customization. And I do notice if there are errors such as the name of the company or unit or job posting, especially when other parts of the ad indicate the need for attention to detail.

  9. WellRed*

    I don’t care about those perks for the most part (though I envy onsite clinic and gym) but I would love it if they could maybe stop sending the remote employees invitations and reminders

    1. Ashley*

      It really is amazing how people haven’t figured out email lists for this sort of thing. I worked at a place with two sites and found it extra amusing for all the people who would get the emails about not replacing the paper towels or leaving food in the microwave when they where miles away. (And yes the all employees happened a lot for those things complete with the over use of reply all.)

      1. Abundant Shrimp*

        Same, but the other site never copied us on any of theirs, but they received all of ours! (and would sometimes reply with a peeved “and what am I supposed to do about donuts in the (our state) location’s breakroom when I’m X states away?”)

  10. JP*

    I sympathize so much with the “she’s going to yell at me” hyperbole with my coworkers. I do not raise my voice, ever. But, one coworker in particular likes to describe any feedback or concern on something that’s not working as me “yelling.” Like, make sure you get this right so that JP doesn’t yell at you. It’s starting to grate on my nerves. I’m constantly asked to provide feedback if I see errors coming through, but that characterization makes me feel like I’m short tempered or unreasonable.

  11. LinesInTheSand*

    I have a friend who describes all feedback she receives as “getting yelled at” because she’s really out of touch with workplace norms and she honestly doesn’t know the difference between feedback and scolding. As someone else put it, she “wears her feelings 3 inches above her skin.” I pity her boss.

  12. AndersonDarling*

    The only time I’m jealous of the in office crew is when they have a big event then take the rest of the day off. I don’t mind missing the big luncheon, but I wish someone would say, “Hey, the team is taking the day off after the luncheon. You should finish up your day at noon and take the whole afternoon off.”

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*


      I can only speak for myself, but as a remote missing out on pizza or bagels or the like is just part & parcel of being a remote worker. The time I get back for my life more than balances that out.

      But getting an afternoon off when the on-site folks do would also be a morale boost.

    2. Phryne*

      I work hybrid, and I find it a lot easier to take some time off on WFH days. On the days I am in the office, my colleagues are there to add we tend to have lost of meetings and informal work interactions and we are there all day. In days I WFH no one really cares if I spend all day behind my computer or take a couple of hours to go to the gym, the hairdresser’s it take a walk by daylight (it gets dark early here in winter). As long as I reply to urgent stuff the same day, make my deadlines and drive I good quality, not even my boss cares where or when I do it.

  13. Hiring Mgr*

    Have the employees you’ve hired with the great cover letters been on the whole any different than the ones without? If not, your instincts might be right about weighing them less.

    1. spcepickle*

      Yes – I hire lots of interns. Across the board interns who write specific cover letters for the position (as required in the job posting) are 100% better then those who either submit no cover letter or have very poor cover letters. Because we hire so many interns we normally interview everyone who applies, and it is a 1 to 1 correlation that if you do not write a cover letter your interview is terrible and we are going to pass (I am working to change our interview process).

  14. ZugTheMegasaurus*

    #3 – I have a hard time figuring out exactly what customizing the letter for each company is supposed to look like. I have slightly different cover letters for different job titles and industries, but when I have a cover letter for “contract management @ SaaS security company,” I’m sorry, but there is not a hell of a lot of uniqueness in that narrow subset of employers. They all talk about how different they are in the exact same way. So like, yeah, I end up just swapping out the company name a lot of the time because I don’t know how I can tailor it any more without literally copy/pasting phrases from the job description.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Right. I have a strong cover letter that describes my expertise as an event planner with a wealth of experience across different industries and events. But as an outsider, I simply do not know your company well enough to know how it’s different in my role’s day-to-day to include that in a cover letter.

      You’re a professional services firm? I’ll probably be planning events for clients with the goal of business generation. But how your events differ from your competitors’ is something I simply have no insight into, and my skillset is the same regardless.

      My cover letter is a template for a reason. I don’t know enough about you to tailor it the way it sounds like OP3 is looking for.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Same in science. You’re looking for a senior scientist position? Great, I can tell you all my generic experience that makes me great at this general job level. But I don’t know anything about your actual work and target that would allow me to truly customize a cover letter. That’s a fool’s errand.

    2. BubbleTea*

      You respond to the job description and person specification in the advert. So if it says “experience of working with diverse communities required”, you write about how your work as a llama interpreter allowed you to work with a diverse range of communities and that you received an award for inter-llama communication.

      I go through the advert line by line, highlighting the key points and noting which of my previous roles demonstrates my ability to do X. Then I make sure it’s clearly reflected in the letter.

      Even two very similar roles at very similar organisations will be described and speced differently in the advert. You basically need to show you read the advert carefully.

    3. works with realtors*

      I struggle with understanding it too – unless the job is explicitly public facing and easily accessible to check your accomplishments against, how can you possibly know exactly how your skill set will benefit an employer? Most of the time you’re not privy to internal details even in a well fleshed out JD, so the best that can be done is “my experience with X relates to Y.”

    4. JR 17*

      In the past, I’ve had a base letter that I could adapt, or a longer version I can could down. Most of the jobs I would apply for are looking for the same general things, but the job descriptions would emphasize a different set of those attributes. So maybe I have six or so topic paragraphs, and I’d pick the ~3 that are the best fit for this particular company, or adjust the examples to be relevant to their industry, etc. But mostly, it sounds like you’re already doing the customizing that they’re looking for, by adjusting for the job title and type of employer.

  15. Momma Bear*

    RE: LW #4, I think LW can just either start replying when they can, “Sorry for the delayed response – I had a deadline to meet today,” or tell them in person, “I saw your email but I’m swamped this week. If this becomes a greater priority, call me.” It also starts to set the expectation that not everything will be instantly answered.

  16. McFizzle*

    As an employee fully in the office, I see those “perks” are for us, not the remote employees. That others are (can be) remote is already their perk, and quite a huge one.

    I’d be more concerned if remote employees aren’t getting valuable time with other coworkers who might be eating together or otherwise forming connections by sharing space.

  17. Dinwar*

    I had a good friend at work that went fully remote, and I used to send an IM or text saying “Hey, free food in the break room!” just to mess with her. Then again, our entire communication style is counter-signaling, so she appreciated it for the joke it was.

    The reality is there’s no way to treat remote workers equally. Remote vs. onsite work is structured so differently that what works for one simply won’t work for the other. Even what counts as a perk is going to be different. My recommendation (for what it’s worth) is to ask your remote workers 1) if they feel that they’re included as part of the team, and 2) what perks they want. Then make a decision on what’s reasonable for your specific team.

    For example: Our main office gets smoothies and lunches fairly frequently. Which is nice when you’re in the office. But us field folks eat out all the time, and we’re on expense accounts, so it’s actually a detriment because we need to remember how to expense it. On the flip side, providing a few outdated (but still very functional) monitors that would otherwise be thrown away was a game changer for all of us, despite it being baseline for the office folks.

  18. HonorBox*

    OP1 – I think it is kind of you to think about your remote team. I agree that you don’t need to do something for the remote team every time you do something for the in-office team. Things do have a tendency to balance out. There may be a “need” to bring in pizza or sandwiches because a deadline is keeping people from going out to grab lunch. But those who are WFH don’t have the same setup and can slip to the kitchen to grab some food. However, it is nice to make an offer from time to time. The suggestion of a food delivery gift card would be awesome, and I would very much appreciate that if I were to receive it.

    OP4 – If you’ve become that person who is always very responsive and who does so in a timely fashion, yeah the auto-response is a great way to set people’s expectations. The only thing I would have changed in the script is I would not suggest putting your extension in the message for urgent matters. You’re going to get interrupted more by those who think they have something urgent to discuss than you would if you just didn’t open your email program and let everyone wonder.

    Having said that, I’d tell you that if people wonder about you after a few hours or a single day, let them. Even though you’ve built a reputation of being responsive, you can reply to any emails the next day and just tell whoever is inquiring that you were working on multiple articles that had a deadline and you needed to focus on getting those things complete. If someone doesn’t understand or is miffed then that tells you everything you need to know about them.

  19. You want to marry Anne? Whatever for?*

    I don’t require cover letters (but I always read any that are submitted), and I’m surprised at how many people submit bad ones. If you’re going to write a cover letter, take the time to do it right.

  20. bamcheeks*

    Oh I feel like, “got yelled at” is one of those things managers can just very sensibly choose not to hear! I just think it’s a way of e pressing the discomfort of being corrected, and if it’s just a comment to a colleague that you happen to overhear you can just pretend you didn’t!

    1. WorkerDrone*

      Oof, I wouldn’t ignore this or pretend I didn’t hear it. I’ve worked at enough toxic or bad work environments that it is deeply, horribly plausible that someone was literally YELLED AT by their boss. I don’t think I would at all automatically assume it was hyperbole depending on how it was delivered – if the employee wasn’t very clearly signaling this was hyperbole or a joke, I’d assume that the boss actually raised their voice aggressive and yelled at the employee.

  21. Lucia Pacciola*

    WFH is the perk.

    Ultimately, the goal of an employer is not to be “fair”. It’s to get good performance from employees, and retain good employees. Almost always, showing appreciation and respect to employees is going to be a big part of achieving those goals. But showing appreciation and respect doesn’t necessarily mean doing the exact same thing for everyone. It also doesn’t necessarily mean getting an exact equal weight of perks and benefits for each employee.

    LW is overthinking it. If the WFH employees are performing well, and sticking around, there’s no need to make things “fair” for them. They’re already happy with the current arrangement. Their employer is already getting everything they want from the current arrangement.

    And if they’re not? That’s a question of appreciation and respect, not “fairness”. Talk to the WFH employees, figure out what’s missing from the professional relationship, and correct course. Maybe that’s a more equitable perk system. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe remote work just isn’t something that engenders performance and retention, for this organization.

    1. HonorBox*

      While I agree that fairness isn’t the objective, I think it says a lot for the manager to consider some ways to offer WFH employees a little bit of what the in-office folks get, too. That goes a long way to keeping people. Maybe they are already happy… but having a manager show some additional appreciation rather than just resting on the idea that not having to commute is a perk is quite nice. WFH does include quite a number of perks. But a manager actually trying to find additional connection points means something too.

      1. Lucia Pacciola*

        I’m sure LW’s heart is in the right place, but not everything this says about LW is flattering. This is a workplace advice blog, with a focus on management perspectives. The manager needs to think about what engenders good performance and good retention, not what’s most “fair and balanced”. A manager needs to understand that in-office workers and remote workers are two different populations, with different concerns, priorities, and perspectives. Trying to make things more “fair”, when fairness isn’t actually a problem, is a waste of the employer’s resources.

        1. HonorBox*

          Sure. But with the details we know – the LW wanted to be fair, not that there was some other concern that was raised by staff – just show that LW was looking for a way to be appreciative of the remote staff. My word, not theirs. How to show some similar appreciation is a great thing. It is more than just sending a gift card, but the fact that someone is trying to find ways to remember those who are remote is great. Because I’m guessing they’re the type of manager who is also checking in on the needs of their remote workers, not just assuming everything is great, which is going to promote good performance and retention.

          1. Lucia Pacciola*

            “Do you feel appreciated?”

            “What would make you feel more appreciated?”

            A manager should ask these questions, if they are concerned about this issue. Wondering how to solve this problem, without first finding out if it even is a problem, is a management blind spot that LW should try to correct.

  22. Dulcinea47*

    I’ve found that most people, when you tell them they need to write better cover letters, don’t want to and don’t care. The level of resistance to learning or changing is reallllll high. So they continue bashing cover letters and writing crap ones instead of writing ones that will get them interviews & jobs.

    1. Anon in Canada*

      We “bash” cover letters for three reasons:

      1) There is overwhelming evidence that huge numbers of interviewers aren’t reading cover letters, as proven when they ask questions where the answer was in the cover letter.
      2) The nature of the job-hunting market (driven by online applications and ATSs) means that candidates have to apply for 100s of jobs to even get a handful of interviews, if even that. It’s not realistic to expect candidates to spend huge amounts of time writing customized cover letters for each of those 100s of applications… especially when most of them will be rejected by the ATS and never seen by human eyes anyway.
      3) Cover letters may be relevant in higher-level positions, but no one really understands why requiring them morphed into standard practice for entry-level jobs. They rarely serve any purpose in low-level jobs.

      1. Wednesday*

        I agree with number 3, think 2 is case dependent, but disagree with number 1. I often ask about things that may be answered in the cover letter because there are many times that cover letters are so exaggerated, don’t match with the resume, or just sound off that I need to dig. I just received a cover letter that obviously had a heavy ChatGPT assist. It was a beautiful letter, but I know this (internal) candidate and there is no way they wrote it in the 2 hour timeframe since the position was posted.

        1. Anon in Canada*

          Sorry, but a candidate being told “Sorry, we don’t have a budget to bring in out-of-area candidates to interview” in a rejection, when the cover letter explicitly said that the candidate was willing to travel at their own expense to interview, means the cover letter was never read.

          This has not happened to me, but I have read about cases of this happening.

          1. Wednesday*

            Okay, yeah. That is definitely a problem and different from the sorts of situations I was talking about. I would be very peeved as the candidate in that situation as well!

      2. BubbleTea*

        The reason they ask questions that were answered in the cover letter isn’t that they didn’t read the letter, that’s a really odd conclusion to draw. It’s an opportunity to delve deeper and learn more about it.

      3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        Unless you expect all hiring managers to have perfect recall, it’s quite reasonable that they might read a cover letter – one of a dozen they read that day – and decide to bring someone in for an interview, and then not remember the details a week later. Or they have a set of fixed questions they ask all candidates. There are lots of other reasons why someone might ask about something covered in a letter they already read

    2. Stipes*

      I just… really don’t get them. It’s frustrating to me how little I get them, which probably comes across as stubbornness.

      I want to work for Company A because I need money to live, and my skillsets fit the job description in Company A’s job description. It’s the same with all the jobs I’m applying to this year. They all have very similar job descriptions because I’m applying for a certain type of role that best fits my current skillset and career progression.

      I’m incapable of disguising the disingenuity inherent in claiming I specifically dream of working for THIS company (in this letter, and a different company in a different letter). The common advice is to start by writing what you’d tell a friend about why you’re a good fit for that job. But after the first one of those, the answer to that would be the same every time, because my strengths and weaknesses aren’t changing. The thing I’d actually tell a friend is “hey, I found a [role] opening at Company B, I’ll apply to them too. Looks like it pays relatively well.”

      I mean, of course doing this job for Company A will be meaningfully different than doing it for Company B, but only in ways that I’m going to learn during the interview process. I could definitely write a decent cover letter after an interview or two.

      1. Stipes*

        Oops, wish I could edit that one line, meant to say “my skillsets fit the job description in Company A’s job posting.”

      2. I should really pick a name*

        I think what you might be running into is that there is a lot of conflicting info out there about what should be in a cover letter.

        Think of a cover letter as a way to distinguish yourself from others with similar qualifications.
        If they have five people applying with similar backgrounds to you, why should they hire you? The answer to that is often what goes in a cover letter.

    3. Media Monkey*

      or input the job spec into Chat GPT and C&P it into the cover letter (including the Chat GPT prompts) as one recent candidate of ours did (no, they didn’t get an interview!)

  23. BellyButton*

    We are 100% remote, we have company celebrations once a month via Zoom. We give everyone a $30 budget to order lunch – either expense it or through Uber Eats (the credit expires at 6 pm that day)

    Also, I don’t think most people who are fully remote care that they miss out on the occasional ordered lunch.

  24. NotARealManager*

    We have some remote employees and for some things (like big holiday meals) we include them by sending them a Doordash gift card or a Thnks gift card. But at our company, working remote is a perk in itself. Most of our remote employees are in total agreement and don’t expect their own treat every time there’s pizza or donuts in the office.

  25. MsM*

    This is very industry and role-specific. For me, a cover letter is an excellent example of the kind of writing I’ll be asking entry-level employees to do: if you can’t prove to me you’ve at least done enough research and thinking about the work the organization does to communicate why you want to work here, I have no way of knowing how well you’re going to be able to communicate that in notes to stakeholders.

    1. Helewise*

      Yes, this. It also tells me that they actually meant to apply for THIS job, rather than just scattering their resume all over Indeed.

      1. kupo*

        Can I ask what’s wrong with scattering one’s resume all over indeed, especially given maybe 10% of the time the resume even gets seen by human eyes? Why is THIS job so important that I need to spend an extra hour* detailing exactly why I’m perfect for this role when the hiring manager hasn’t updated the job description since 2012?

        *I’m thorough and do multiple edits; also most job postings are really difficult to pull enough detail to determine what they *actually* want in a candidate and not fluff or boilerplate HR wording, and it takes time to do that.

    2. Prof*

      sure….but you’d be paying me for that work! And meanwhile, I as a job applicant need to apply to dozens of jobs. That’s at least part of the reason for crappy cover letters

  26. MAW*

    My office uses to give people (employees, virtual conference attendees) money that they can use towards the food delivery service of their choice (GrubHub, UberEats, other services). We do that for the staff holiday party, for conferences where if it had been in-person we would have fed people, etc.

  27. Sunflower*

    We just got the order to go back to the office after four years of WFH and none of us are happy. We’d all rather continue WFH than have any on-site parties or perks.

    1. Anon in Canada*


      That’s hard to believe. Believe it or not, there are people who hate WFH (especially young/early-career people). Even though some may grudgingly WFH because there’s no point in going to the office if you’ll be alone there, doesn’t mean they actually like WFH.

      1. Sunflower*

        My department at least. My manager held a meeting about this development and we all took turns expressing out feelings. Big Mistake. Oh the venting. My manager looked like she was about to cry listening to the bitching. We also message each other without the prying eyes of management. We know it’s not our manager’s decision (it’s corporate’s) so I mostly kept my mouth shut around her.

        1. Sunflower*

          I forgot to say the desks are there. When Covid slowed down, anyone can go back to the office. Nobody who didn’t need to be there took up that offer.

  28. Thistle Pie*

    I’m not sure if it’s a regional thing or just a familial use of the term but to me “I got yelled at for doing X” is equivalent to saying “I was scolded/told not to do X”, not actual yelling. I can see how if it was part of a larger hyperbolic pattern it would be inappropriate, but if it’s a one off I’d let it go assuming it’s just how someone talks.

    1. Lurch*

      Interesting take, but I think I veer the opposite way.

      Yelling is so touchy, especially around these parts. There have been letters talking about yelling, how bosses yell, how coworkers yell, etc etc etc. I dislike seeing accusations of yelling because people feel like what is said doesn’t matter because they were “yelled” at.

      Being passionate is different from yelling. Neutral-negative words is not yelling. Having a loud voice is not yelling. A loud voice and negative words, negative feelings, directed at someone, and with a purpose to overpower the other person’s voice is yelling. ‘

      People who dislike yelling seem to always have the upper hand if they pull out that word, even and especially when it is not appropriate.

      If the employee working had written in complaining about their boss “yelling” at them, many people would have fully believed them. But it’s clearly not true!

      I appreciate this other side of the conversation.

  29. Lola*

    Do people who get to work from home really care that they are missing out on a pizza party or free bagels? I can’t imagine caring about that when I have all the perks of working remotely. Frankly, the people who are having to get out of bed at the crack of dawn and drive in inclement weather for a long commute can have that perk and I will not resent them getting that little treat.

    1. AnonAnon*

      I don’t care at all!! LOL My office gets free lunch twice a week and I am happy for them.
      100% remote worker, here.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Yes I never go to the office for the bagels or smoothies or whatever. I used to use the office as a free WeWork but driving 15 minutes to get a smoothie and end up being perceived? no.

    3. Caramel & Cheddar*

      There is always at least one person who does care about this stuff. A friend’s org had an all staff that had coffee and donuts for the people in person, and several people who were attending virtually complained that they didn’t get free coffee. Next meeting, they sent the virtual people gift cards for Big Coffee Chain that everyone has access to and there were still complaints that it wasn’t a gift card for Other Coffee Chain. There is no pleasing some people, but I’d argue that policies and perks shouldn’t necessarily be designed for those folks.

    4. Relentlessly Socratic*

      TBH when I was in-office, I didn’t care about the free bagels and such. Usually whenever someone had sent out the announcement, I’d already eaten.

      Free pizza is, of course, its own food group.

  30. NCA*

    As a hybrid employee who can’t sit with my team anyway due to them wearing scents that trigger my migraines, and therefore can’t get the perks of EITHER WFH or being in-office, I’d much rather just be remote and go without. Maybe send your remote employees a card, even an e-card, once a year with real, sincere thank you feedback. But remote is it’s own perk :)

  31. BellyButton*

    I often book Focus Time in 2-4 hr segments. Then I take 30-60 min to check to see what came in while I had notifications turned off. I announce it in Slack “I am going on focus time with notifications paused. If something urgent comes up please select ‘ notify anyway.”

  32. mcm*

    Re: the cover letter question — I understand what this person is saying, and I do customize my cover letters personally, but given how difficult/dehumanizing/impersonal the job search process has become for job seekers, I find myself bristling at any suggestion that job seekers need to be putting more time in per application. The insane number of jobs that I was very qualified for that I applied for the last time I was job searching to only hear back from at most 10% of them at all, and only get something that was not a form letter from less than 5% — to say that people are not spending ENOUGH time on those application makes my blood boil a little.
    I totally understand feeling like, I didn’t learn anything/I’d like to learn more, etc. from the cover letter, but any hiring manager asking that ALSO needs to ask themselves, “what am I doing to honor the level of work that I’m hoping goes into these applications?” Obviously you’re not going to hire everyone, but first remove ghosting from your process entirely, and consider building in time to give feedback when asked for to anyone you actually interview. If you have a form where people upload their resume and then have to type in the information from their resume? absolutely not.
    Cover letters should absolutely be useful. But the balance has shifted so far in the direction of applicants spending So. Much. Time. that I can’t blame folks for re-using their letters when they are likely to never hear anything back at all regardless.

  33. Who Am I*

    I work from home 100% and consider that the biggest perk of all. I know I’m missing out on a lot of free food, the free pop that’s always on hand, and some impromptu late afternoon social sessions and, while it’d be nice to have them, I’d rather work from home. I don’t expect to be provided the equivalent. I do expect to get the same holiday gift cards and year end bonuses as in-office employees but I’m uncertain if I’d say something if I didn’t get them. As far as office parties, I’m invited to all of them and go or not as I choose. (The office is 20 miles away so attending isn’t a big deal if I do decide to.) I’d be annoyed if I weren’t invited but again, not sure if I’d say anything. Bear in mind that, if remote work had a target demographic I’d be the bullseye and that my company handles perks and benefits really well. Other people in other circumstances might not agree with me at all! But if I were you, I wouldn’t worry about free food or the occasional, impromptu, end of day happy hour. Definitely make sure your remote employees get the same holiday gifts or bonuses as your in-office ones and that they’re invited to whatever social and/or networking events their in-office peers are invited to.

  34. AnonAnon*

    The cover letter.
    I am in the process of hiring right now and in my industry, it is not typical to submit a cover letter. But I really like when I get them because it tells me if the person understands the job they are applying for or if they are just throwing their resume into the pot to see what happens.

    I got a cover letter this week that was for a completely different job at my company. It specifically called out that position. To me that was a red flag because this job has QA responsibilities, and they didn’t check their submission.

    I also got a cover letter that was dated before the job even posted. That made it even more obvious it was generic before I even started reading.

    My partner recently applied for a job and in the job posting they required a cover letter and asked him to address 3 specific questions/topics in his cover letter. I thought that was awesome because he could showcase his experience for those things specifically.

  35. Ssssssssssssssssssssss*

    I knew a woman that got louder the more excited she got. It bordered on yelling and she was completely unaware of it. Plus she was 5’11” and not fine boned like a model so already her more imposing body shape/height and her tendency to get louder when excited put off a lot of ppl and she was accused more than once of yelling at people.

    Her daughter tended to do the same and for both of them, if in the case, I used to say, “Car is little, no need for big voices!” It worked for her kid; never for my friend.

    1. Tall one*

      I have no idea which letter this is supposed to be in reply to as none mention loud voices, but I guess it is the one were OP is accused of yelling even though they absolutely are not doing it? Whichever it is, what a weird thing to take away from that age what a weird thing to say to an adult. I can tell you, if someone were to shush me like a toddler like that, I’d consider just ignoring you the friendly option. And as a tall woman, your discomfort over what my body looks like to you is absolutely not my problem.

  36. Olive*

    I like having food when I’m at the office.
    I don’t care about missing out on food when I’m not at the office.
    But the one thing I absolutely hate is being pushed to join a lunch/coffee/happy hour meeting remotely – not like an all-hands meeting where lunch happens to be served in person, but a meeting whose purpose is to all each lunch “together”.

  37. Yes And*

    I have mixed feelings about individualized cover letters. On the one hand, if my qualifications aren’t an obvious perfect match for the position, a cover letter is the opportunity to fill in the gaps. (You’re looking for a teapot marketer, here’s why my experience in marketing coffee pots is transferrable and why I’m looking to switch to teapots.)

    On the other hand, some jobs just aren’t that special. If you’re looking for an HR Specialist in benefits administration, and my resume lays out that I’m an HR Specialist in benefits administration, what is there really to say? What is the purpose of the cover letter except to fawn over the company in probably disingenuous ways?

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      My industry doesn’t use cover letters, and this is exactly what I was wondering also. It just seems like many times there isn’t much to be added that isn’t already on the resume.

      1. Billy Preston*

        For libraries, it’s pretty important from my experience in the past as part of the hiring process. It would help explain why you are interested in that particular job and library, and showing enthusiasm for a role was important. But libraries do get lots of applications that are from people who don’t have an idea of what actual library work is, so it’s necessary to explain a bit, especially if your resume doesn’t show you’ve had experience in that kind of work/environment before.

  38. WantonSeedStitch*

    I work remotely about 95% of the time. Most folks in my workplace are hybrid in some form, coming in anywhere from 2-3 times a quarter to 2-3 times a week. My workplace has monthly free food available for anyone who’s in the office, and doesn’t do anything similar for remote employees. What they do do, however, is make a point of letting everyone know the schedule of free food event days in advance, so that people can choose to make that one of the days they go into the office if they want. Most of us live close enough that coming into the office on occasion, even if it’s a pain to do often, is possible. That gives us the opportunity to go in and get some free food and see colleagues in person. It’s a nice incentive!

  39. zebra*

    There’s no way to make perks equal among everyone. But if people aren’t already doing this, there should be a separate Slack channel/email list/whatever for people who are in the office. That way the remote people don’t need to see 35 messages about pizza or fire alarm drills or an overflowing toilet that don’t apply to them. And depending on your office culture, maybe have a separate channel for remote folks as well so they can talk about home office setups or whatever else they want.

  40. Formerly*

    I work for an organization that has one main office and many tiny offices in different time zones. There are regular little gatherings that we in the satellite offices miss out on, but also one or two yearly bigger staff events where we will get a budget to get some nice food or go out together, to match the in-person party at the main office. This works well.

  41. BellyButton*

    Cover Letters: I have a fairly generic one I use, but customize a bit for each job posting. I get what the LW is saying, but c’mon, we need to stop being so stuffy about these things. When I was laid off in 2022, I was applying to hundreds of jobs a month, and for most you get nothing back. Not even an auto response saying they aren’t moving forward with your application.

    And let’s be real, most hiring managers aren’t even reading the cover letter, unless they are in an industry that really focuses on writing. I guarantee that the engineers/programmers at my last company did not care a bit about the cover letter. It was mostly for benefit of the recruiters.

    Also, in this day and age most are going to be written by AI anyway.

    1. Anon in Canada*


      Being asked a question in an interview – where the answer was in the cover letter – is extremely common, because the interviewers never read the cover letter.

      1. mcm*

        Yes! I’ll commit to a personalized cover letter when y’all start doing personalized interview questions — as in, questions that are not already answered in the materials YOU asked me to provide!

      2. Relentlessly Socratic*

        At OldJob, I was hiring and the resumes were easy to find in the system, but for some reason it would store the cover letters somewhere else. I finally asked the recruiter why no one was sending in cover letters and we BOTH had to dig and find them.

        I have no idea if this is common across submission systems, as when I was at other places HR would send me all submission materials together, and at CurrentJob, the hiring manager under me takes first review, but HR only sends me resumes if I’m interviewing.

    2. Former Retail Lifer*

      Agreed. I can’t commit to a personalized cover letter when I’m applying to hundreds of jobs when I know that even if my cover letter was stellar, there’s such a small chance I’ll hear back. It’s different when I’m casually looking and only applying to jobs I think I really want, but not when there’s an urgent need. The end result just doesn’t change enough to make it worth it.

    3. FrivYeti*

      I still remember clearly the time that I was in a class of post-graduate students learning about job applications, and we had three people come in to give a joint presentation. Someone asked about the importance of cover letters, and:
      * One presenter said that he never read cover letters because they weren’t important
      * One presenter said that she *only* read cover letters, and expected anything useful from the resume to be in them
      * One presenter said that she read both cover letters and resumes to see what each one was highlighting that the other wasn’t.

      And that was three people from the same organization, presenting together. Really drove home how unwinnable the cover letter situation is.

  42. Been There Done That*

    #2: Are you assessing how you are coming across? My supervisor does not yell but there is a visible bias between how female and male staff are treated. Men are “trying their best” and women “might not have the skill it takes”.

    1. Dinwar*

      There are also regional variations and other issues with communications styles that come into play. For some “You totally screwed this up, now we’ve got to spend two weeks fixing this mess, do you have any idea how much this is going to cost?” would be a statement that something went wrong and we need to fix it (every driller I know would view it as such). For others, that exact statement would be viewed as an extremely harsh personal attack. If your manager is the former, and you’re the latter, it can easily come across as being yelled at when the manager had no intention of doing so.

  43. Brooklyn*

    Counter-point: I hate auto-reply emails. I vaguely tolerate them when it tells me someone will be out for a week, but… just please think about how many email chains you’re on. Every person who replies to a conversation you’re CC’ed on will get your reply that you won’t read their email until the morning.

    I get that there are some positions where replying within ~hours is part of the job, but email is by its nature an asynchronous communication method. For most people, not hearing back until the morning on an email is expected behavior, even in Coms.

  44. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

    I made sure to follow Alison’s cover letter guidance on my last cover letter–and I got the job! I would recommend that to anyone. It wasn’t overly specific, but specific enough to the job.

  45. Mostly Lurker*

    #4, can your auto-reply say that you are currently on deadline and will respond as promptly as possible on (date)?

  46. LCH*

    this is not at all a good ongoing solution, but once when i worked offsite with two other people, the main office had cake to celebrate something major (not just an office birthday), and they messengered us some :) it was really nice. we were far enough away that going into the main office was actually a pain, but not too onerous for a messenger service.

  47. Shannon*

    #4 – I plan events in the development world and have worked with many MarComm colleagues who simply put up an out of office that says, thanks for your email, I’m on deadline and will respond to you as soon as I am able. Similarly, I do this with events I manage and support, especially if there’s another project coming up quickly where someone might not realize I’m scrambling to close something out. I have even done this in the day(s) prior to executing so no one is left hanging. I feel like this is normal and generally understood by everyone, including those whose work is not as project-based.

  48. Managercanuck*

    We have a small team of 6. Of that 2 are full-time remote and don’t live anywhere near us. The other 4 are hybrid.

    We also don’t generally have food delivered to the office, but when we do, it’s usually a coordinated effort: the folks in the office order in, and the remote workers order in as well and submit a receipt for reimbursement. It works out really well and no one feels left out.

    Heck, our holiday lunch was 100% virtual because we were all working from home that day!

  49. Semi-retired admin*

    Re: the cover letter. I think for entry level roles (which the LW does mention), the expectation needs to be lowered, if not dropped altogether. I recently was searching for a low level, fun, time-filling type of job. One job I applied for (barely above minimum wage and part time) wanted a cover letter. I absolutely couldn’t be bothered writing one for it. I did apply, and received an email back telling me they won’t be interviewing me because I didn’t submit one. I didn’t care in the least.

  50. workfromhome*

    #3 Its hard to ask for something like a cover letter when you are reading them is accepted as such a rarity.

    you don’t want generic ones but unfortunately the hiring process has made the “request for a cover latter” generic. Companies might have postings for 100 positions ranging from floor sweper, to data analyst to copywriter. All the postings are generic saying “included a cover letter”. Now any same person knows that no one is reading 100 cover lteers from people applying for floor sweeper. what would you even put in one? (I have a real passion for the various colors of dirt on floors?

    even the assumption might be logically incorrect I you apply for 1000 jobs with a custom cover letter and get ghosted for all of them you might assume that cover letters don’t keep you from getting ghosted so why bother?

    If you really want them then you are going to need to demonstrate that their work will be rewarded. I’m not talking about them getting the job. Im talking about some indication that if they do the work to write it you’ll do the work to read it.

    Please submit your resume. we also require a cover letter that clearly shows us why you would fit the job. We know a cover letter takes effort so we promise if you write a cover letter you will receive a response from us within x days if we want to move to the next step and a comment on your specific cover letter.

    And then actually do it!
    If your industry is small enough word will get around that “Hey I sent an ABC a cover letter taking about how my rock collection inspired me to apply. I didn’t get an interview but they a least responded and mentioned my rock collection. sucks I didn’t get it but at least they read it and acknowledged I exist”

    Job seekers have no reason to believe you are different from th 1000s of other companies that will not read their effort and just ghost them. So give them a reason to believe.

    1. Former Retail Lifer*

      YES. When I was actively job-hunting and applying to hundreds of jobs, I got no better response rate from jobs I submitted a personalized, meaningful cover letter than to those I sent a generic cover letter to. Unless there’s something really special about the job, I just can’t take that kind of time when I know I am unlikely to receive any response.

  51. Dido*

    Remote employees get the biggest perk of all – they don’t need incentives or rewards for coming into the office (which is what a pizza party is) when they don’t come into the office. They could throw many pizza parties for themselves with all the time and money they save from not commuting. And this is coming from a remote employee.

  52. Statler von Waldorf*

    Ok, I’ve got a story that’s very similar to question #2. I was the employee, and I was working in a legal office. I was a former blue-collar worker (oilfield worker FWIW) and this was my first office job, which was a major culture shock. About six weeks in, I made an error. It was nothing major, but I did get called into the boss’s office and was disciplined for it.

    Later, when talking to the other admin, I used the phrase “slapped down hard” to describe the experience. I did not realize that my manager (not the big boss, his #2 man) was in earshot.

    Five minutes later, I was led back into boss’s office, and my manager and the HR person were there as well. I was informed that by stating that my boss had “slapped” me that I was committing slander, and they fired me on the spot for it. This was in Canada, so I got two weeks pay in lieu of notice and I was escorted out of the building. It was less than 30 minutes from my hyperbole to my firing.

    Many business owners value their reputations quite highly, and for good reasons. A reputation can be a very expensive thing to lose. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I learned it. Now decades later, if one of my employees did the same thing to me, I’d be willing to fire them over it too.

    1. Bob-White of the Glen*

      Oh wow, that seems harsh for a new employee who doesn’t know the culture, and comes from a different background (the skills from which I am assuming were wanted in this position.)

      I hope you’re less reactive and use it as a teachable moment to discuss cultures, reputations, and the importance of being thoughtful when relating job situations.

      To many people “slapped down hard” or “yelled at” have a much lighter meaning than to others. I use “yelled at” (west coast thing?) to mean corrected. I use “screamed at” to literally mean someone raised their voice to an unacceptable/unprofessional level with me. I can totally see being called on the carpet for “yelled at” when the person was just correcting me, and I would learn to use more appropriate language. But few of us behave perfectly all the time, and allowing one chance to change a behavior seems like much better management, than firing someone over a (probably meaningless) phrase that was more common in their last position.

      Also, expecting people to know and use your terminology, with no chance for correction, can also be a way to discriminate against “others” while not actually having to admit you are discriminating, and this can include class.

  53. Some Dude*

    While I didn’t have time to expand and read every comment to see if this was brought up, keep in mind that “remote” does not always mean WFH. It could also mean field employees. I work at a software and services company. The office is filled with standard office folks and developers. Your remote workers could be people who work from home most of the time, or they could be spending a majority of their time on the road.

    There was a real us vs them mentality over a decade ago. The office was always stocked with free snacks and just had fountain machines installed for free soda. Meanwhile they were telling people who spent a lot of time driving across the state (gas was not cheap), flying to other states, and spending nights away from their families to limit their meal spending to $X/day. They did an about face on that after getting blasted in an all staff meeting.

  54. Peanut Hamper*

    I work from home four days a week. All four of those days are pizza days. I’m good with that.

  55. TeaCoziesRUs*

    Cover Letter: I’d say something like, “We value when you take time to write a job-specific cover letter! If you would like guidelines, this website has an excellent guide: insert AAM link here.”

    Not only are you advocating for a better letter, especially to those from less privileged backgrounds, you’re introducing them to an incredible overall resource for workplace stuff. :)

  56. Have you had enough water today?*

    Assuming that remote work in this instance means WFH…Working from home IS the perk here.

  57. DJ*

    I think all that is needed is for remote workers to have the voluntary option to come in. How that can happen can be decided through consultation on what works best.
    I am more than happy to miss such occasions to WFH.

  58. HiHello*

    I wonder how the whole application looks like for OP3. Because if it’s a workday application where I have to type again everything that’s on my resume plus some extras, I am not doing a cover letter. I am not spending two hours on one job application. By the time I get to the cover letter after putting in all that info, I am so annoyed and fed up, that I refuse to do more.

  59. Your Mate in Oz*

    The cover letter goes both ways. I’ve had far too many interviewers who clearly have not read my cover letter, or don’t remember it. Typically it will have a line like “riding my bicycle to work is important to me” and I’ve had everything from being told that bicycles are not permitted on site to being told a company car is a non-negotiable part of the remuneration package (that would cost me money so the salary would need to rise if I had one).

    I still put a note in our jobs ads that a cover letter is required and must answer some trivial question (like “which version of {programming language} you most recently used”) partly to filter out people who are spamming applications.

    1. CoverLettersNotSeen*

      I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidates at multiple different companies and I’ve never seen a single cover letter. Not once.

  60. JaneDough(not)*

    LW, as someone who has WFH and who prefers it, I’d feel *better* knowing that the office-based workers are getting a little something to compensate for their commute and for giving up (or being forced to give up) the many conveniences that accrue to those who work from home.

    The goal is to make sure that the perks for both groups are roughly equal — not identical or even nearly identical. And, thanks for being sensitive to this.

  61. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #1 wfh generally has greater inherent perks.
    If those chosing in-office work often don’t receive an extra allowance for transport time and costs, parking, office clothing etc then if I were remote I’d not expect any food perks that the office gets –

    except at Christmas and their own birthday if the office does food then.

    #2 An employee describing normal feedback as “yelling” is being very immature. It might also be a learned tactic to make the manager feel guilty and to look the bad guy to the team.

  62. 19Bee63*

    As someone who worked in the office before the pandemic and has been working from home since (and will be permanently, hooray!) I think Allison is 100% correct that working from home is a huge benefit in itself.
    If they want to occasionally send me a gift card, great! I’d be very happy with that, but if not I wouldn’t feel slighted in the least.
    Heck, back the food truck up to the office and feed the onsite workers for free every day!

    1. Your Mate in Oz*

      Where I work the “free food” is often not something I can eat and I’m not really interested in pushing a change through. I’ve tried polite requests but it’s not important enough to me to do more than that. Luckily the snacks in the kitchen suit me.

      Then I switched to WFH and one of the benefits is no longer having to explain why I’m not eating the company BBQ and don’t RSVP to the company xmas dinner at a restaurant (that I wouldn’t eat at if you paid me. Oh, wait…)

      It’s an edge case for sure, but “free food in the office” isn’t always a benefit. (Alison has various posts on this topic that always generate long “you’ll never believe what my company did” threads)

  63. Lizzianna*

    The reason I bring in donuts or pizza is to show appreciation to the team, but also to help build a team by giving people a reason to stop working for a few minutes and eat together in the conference room. So instead of thinking about how to be “fair” in terms of how much you spend on the remote vs in person teams, I’d make sure remote employees are also getting opportunities to connect with their teammates. We do a virtual coffee break a few times a month, where I open up a Teams meeting from the conference room, and people in the office can stop by, and people who are remote can drop in. I’m trying to be cognizant that my remote team members don’t get the same opportunities to casually interact with me the way the people in the office can walk to the cafeteria or stop by my office to say hello.

    I bring in donuts and coffee for the people who are in the office, I don’t provide coffee for the people who aren’t here (government, so it’s all out of my pocket), but people still seem to appreciate it.

  64. Goldie*

    If I sent remote employees gift cards in exchange for missing donuts in the office, the in-person folks would complain that they would prefer a gift cards.

    But we have no budget for office treats. The are paid for by anyone who brings them in. As the manager, occasionally I offer to pick up lunch, but most people are following specific diets or have other plans.

  65. Just My Two Cents*

    I appreciate the concern to make things fair for remote employees. My office is generally very good to remote employees, but there definitely are times when remote employees are left out. For example, for Employee Appreciation, there are often on site rewards, but those of us who are remote don’t even get an email thanking us for the hard work we do. Another example is giveaways for attending optional events that are hybrid. People who are onsite get entered into a raffle for a gift card but those who join remotely are not entered – even though the time we spend at this event and the participation is just about equal.

  66. H3llifIknow*

    I’ve now worked from home for 4 years. Many of my colleagues have returned to the office anywhere from 2-5 days a week. Yes, they get donuts frequently, they get food trucks daily, they often do happy hours, (I’m invited, of course) but *I* get to work at home in pajamas with my pets and eat whatever I want to whenever I want to. It doesn’t bother me AT ALL. I would say though, it is SO easy to set up distro lists, that having an admin or someone set up an “In Office” list and using that one for things like “pizza today at 1:00” etc… so that it’s not 1) cluttering up remote workers inboxes and 2) causing any hurt feelings might be a good idea.

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