sharing a house with the boss, paid intern can’t do the job, and more

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

1. Sharing a house with the boss on a work trip

I work for a small company of four people, including our boss. We are all remote. There is an upcoming conference in my city where the three of them are flying in. We have several similar trips a year, and our boss has always booked individual hotel rooms.

For this trip, she announced she was booking the three of them a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house. The other two employees are male. Personally I thought it was weird, and I would not be comfortable staying in a shared house on a work trip, but didn’t say anything since I’m not staying there.

Then the house fell through and she has now booked one with three bedrooms but only two bathrooms. Am I wrong to think this is inappropriate? Having to coordinate shower schedules, etc. with your boss and coworker?

I expressed my concern to one of the other employees, and he asked her in our team group chat if we could look into hotel alternatives. I backed him up and said that although I’m not staying there, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with it. She said, “No, unless you want to pay for a hotel yourself.”

This kind of behavior is pretty unlike her and felt very hostile. I also feel like if it were a male boss with two women, this would never fly.

We normally all have very open and good relationships, and this is leaving a horrible taste for me. I want to ask her privately for the rationale of this decision and also to emphasize again that this is not something I’d be okay with when the conference isn’t in my city next year.

To me, it’s less that the arrangement is inherently outrageous and more that if someone who’s expected to stay there isn’t comfortable with the set-up, they should be given alternatives — at the company’s expense, not “you can pay for a hotel room yourself.” House-shares are sometimes a thing that happen on work trips, and some people are perfectly comfortable with that. But people who aren’t need to be able to opt out without personal expense to themselves, and without having to fight a major battle over it.

As for what to do, if your sense is that your coworkers are uncomfortable with the plan, you could encourage them to push back — and you could add your voice as someone who doesn’t have a stake on this particular trip but does have a stake in how the team is handling travel in general, since it will affect you next time. And, since it sounds like you normally have a good relationship with your boss where you can speak your mind, you can talk to her privately as well. Point out that one person has already expressed discomfort and been shut down — but since she knows someone is uncomfortable, that shouldn’t just be ignored. Maybe spell out exactly why someone might not be comfortable with this set-up. You can also ask for assurance that this won’t be expected in the future.

2. My friend keeps texting me work questions after work hours

My close friend recently began working with me. She has since started texting me non-stop questions outside of work hours which she should be able to source answers to herself (e.g., do we get paid this week?). How do I maintain boundaries without jeopardizing our friendship? Previous attempts (like saying “questions about X topic need to go to Boss as I don’t work in X department”) have not worked.

This is a close friend, so talk to her! “I really need to disconnect from work after work hours, and when you text me work questions, it makes it impossible to do that. I know that wasn’t your intent! But please don’t send me work stuff outside of work hours, so that I can unwind and not turn into a wreck.”

It’s up to you whether you want to add something like, “Obviously if something is truly an emergency and you can’t figure it out on your own, you can check with me.” Whether or not to do that depends on what you know of your friend and how likely she is to use that judiciously or excessively.

3. Paid intern can’t do the job

I’m working with a paid intern on a project. Our interns are university-qualified and go through a very competitive recruitment process. I’m not their overall supervisor but need to train them and do some supervision.

Although I’ve gone over things several times and shown them where back-up instructions are kept, this intern isn’t completing the work they have agreed to complete. Then I must come in and put out the spot fires. It’s easier to just do the work, not even bringing them over to do it together as I’ve already tried that. They’ve been there several months.

I feel some of this is a recording of instructions/task and time management issue. However, they have made comments indicating it could be stemming from not wanting to do the not-so-interesting work we all have to do; they just don’t appear that interested (although I’ve advised them they will be given more interesting work). We have little to no administrative staff who can take on this work. Other staff have independently come to the same conclusion as me. I’ve trained other interns in this work and within a few weeks they were pulling their weight and making a real difference.

I’m having trouble keeping up with my work while picking up the intern’s work too, as we need two staff members on this project since we all have other work. I’ve had to request extensions for a couple of deadlines. I’m concerned this reflects badly on me, so I’d like to raise this with our supervisor. Do you have any suggestions on how I can approach this conversation with our supervisor?

You definitely need to talk to your boss! That’s essential for two reasons: First, your boss needs to know about the problems with the intern’s work; she can’t manage them effectively if she’s not aware of the issues you’re encountering, and the extent of them. In fact, as a staff member overseeing some of their work, your boss is almost certainly assuming you’ll keep her in the loop on any problems and that if she’s not hearing about any, everything is fine. Second, this is affecting your own work! If you needed to request deadline extensions because of some other external problem (like, say, a vendor delay or a massive power outage), wouldn’t you give your boss that context, rather than keeping it from her? This intern is causing significant workflow issues; that’s something your boss needs to know about.

Approach it this way: “I’ve run into some pretty serious problems with Jane’s work. She’s not finishing work she’s agreed to do, doesn’t appear that interested in learning, and is working at a much lower level than past interns we’ve had on similar projects. I’m having trouble keeping up with my own responsibilities while also taking on her work, and it’s starting to affect deadlines. How do you want me to navigate this?”

I do want to note that “it’s easier to just do the work myself” isn’t necessarily an indictment of the intern; generally speaking, interns are there to learn and managing them effectively will often take more time than just doing the work yourself. However, if this intern is paid a fair amount for what you expect of them (not just a stipend) and other interns have performed significantly better, it’s a problem. Either way, it’s time to loop in your boss.

4. Negotiating my last day at work after a long notice period

I’ve been working at an organization for the last three and a half years and will be leaving this summer to start grad school. Since starting here, I’ve had several bosses and our department has grown significantly. I’ve navigated lots of turnover and upheaval, and the organization is in a better position than ever. Last summer I was given the responsibility to hire my own replacement, who I have been training for the last year with the knowledge that I would be leaving. I recently announced my plans to attend grad school, which gives my manager and coworkers over four months to plan my exit.

I have tried to stay flexible with my leave date considering my unused PTO, but I was recently told that I have not been budgeted into the next fiscal year, which starts two months before I start school. On top of this, the staff always is given a week off in the summer where the office is closed, but this week off would be after the new fiscal year starts, and my manager has casually mentioned a desire that I leave before this week-long paid vacation.

I was hoping to leave after the week of paid vacation because it falls right at the end of a very busy time of work for me and I feel that I’ve earned it even though I’m about to leave. I’m not sure how to negotiate my last day because I want to balance maintaining a good relationship with my former employer while still taking the time I feel I deserve. I would love some advice on how to communicate my wishes while staying in good standing with my soon-to-be former employer.

Yeah, if they haven’t budgeted for your role past the end of the fiscal year, they haven’t budgeted for you to get that paid week off that falls in the new fiscal year. And that’s because you were honest with them about your plans to leave and gave them generous notice — which was for their benefit, not yours, and now you’re being penalized for it. If you’d given them a standard two weeks notice, you would have gotten that paid week off first — and they would have been a worse, less prepared place.

Point that out! Say this: “I gave you a lot of extra notice because I thought it would help with the transition. If I hadn’t done that and had given you a standard two weeks notice, I would have received the paid week off along with everyone else. It feels like I’m being penalized for giving generous notice, so I’m asking that you reconsider, especially since other people are less likely to give this kind of early heads-up themselves if they see me being pushed out early because of it.”

They might not budge, but it’s a reasonable thing to say. And if they don’t budge, they’re forfeiting any right to expect you to go above and beyond doing your remaining time there.

5. Severance when a new company wins our contract

I am a defense contractor who has been supporting a government client for 10 years. My coworkers and I were recently notified that our company (Company X) lost the recompete to continue doing this work, so we will be out of work in six weeks. Many of us anticipate being offered positions with the new company (Company Y) that won the contract to continue doing the same work. Company X’s severance policy says if we were to move over and take essentially the same position with Company Y, they will not pay severance. Is this legal? How do they even enforce that?

Yes, it’s legal. No law requires them to offer you severance at all (unless the layoff is large enough to fall under the WARN Act, in which case they can offer 60 days notice in lieu of severance). It’s also not that illogical, in the specific context of government contracting; severance is for when you lose your job and in this case you’ll be doing the same job, just via a different contracting company.

{ 433 comments… read them below }

  1. Maz*

    #3 “However, they have made comments indicating it could be stemming from not wanting to do the not-so-interesting work we all have to do; they just don’t appear that interested (although I’ve advised them they will be given more interesting work).”

    Perhaps you might need to explain clearly to your intern that we all have aspects of our job that aren’t particularly interesting or we don’t necessarily enjoy but we have to do them, because that’s part of the job. We can’t just opt out or keep procrastinating until someone finally picks up the work else out of exasperation because there’s a deadline. If your intern wants to be employable, then this is something they need to learn for the sake of their future working life.

    1. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, I’ve seen this a few times with entry-level employees rather than interns. I work at a competitive prestigious company and sometimes people will take any job available just to get into the company and hope for a transfer down the line. (When I’m hiring I try to screen out these people, but I’m not always the one doing the hiring.)

      I’ve had to explain a few times that it’s clear they don’t like the work, but their strategy can NOT be to half-ass it until something better falls into their lap (using more professional words, of course). It just doesn’t work because the other groups they work with tangentially can see them slacking off, which makes them never want to hire that person. The way to move on to more interesting work is to do a good job with the current work so others will actually want you working for them.

      FWIW, the people who do this tend to either leave the company or end up finding a transfer to a different department that is so far removed from ours that they’re unfamiliar with the person’s poor work quality.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Not interns, but we tell the entry-level hires this in interviews. There is definitely a perception of the type of work one would do at an organization like mine, and it does not always match the reality of the entry-level work – so I tell them that in the interview and give a few examples of the less glamorous, routine work they will have to do. I also tell them, both in the interview and during onboarding, that doing these less interesting tasks just as well as tasks that may be of more interest to them is critical because if you can’t be trusted, for example, to enter data into a spreadsheet accurately, you’re not going to be given any higher-level research or analysis work because your work product isn’t trusted.

      2. Galadriel's Garden*

        Right – if you want to be eligible to transfer into more interesting, better work after getting your foot in the door somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to be a standout employee in your lower-level role, and prove yourself capable of doing higher-level work?

    2. cabbagepants*

      I came to say this!

      I get the intern’s perspective. You will have to explicitly communicate what your expectations are, to a degree that might feel awkward if other interns have gotten it intuitively. Probably the recruiter really sold the “interesting” aspect of the work (curing cancer, saving baby seals, launching rockets) and glossed over the paperwork and filing. Also, if they’re coming straight from a degree program, then they’re used to 1) partial work being good enough (C- is still passing); 2) paying for the privilege of learning, as opposed to being paid to do stuff for the benefit of the company.

      The words I have used with my own interns is that they are expected to “complete tasks as assigned.” Basically, if I tell you to do something, you have to do it without arguing with me about it. Depending on the intern, you can tell them about the role of trust and reputation — if you forget to rinse out the coffee maker then we definitely are not going to trust you to remember all the pre-flight checks on the 747.

      1. Simona*

        I had an intern respond to me as if I were a professor and he did the assignment but figured he could get a C and move on. I asked him to do some research for me (that I was going to use to help me make a decision) and it was…embarassing. It wasn’t even organized but my main point is that he didn’t seem to realize that it would be used for ACTUAL reason for a business decision, not an exercise in “can you use google.” Like the quality of the information actually did matter, because it wasn’t a check box and then you can move on. He had more issues than that, but that really stuck out.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I find increasingly that that sort of thing has to be explicitly stated. I was just discussing this with another of my colleagues that there is some middle ground between the way we learned (figured it out, negative feedback) and the way we feel we’re having to do things now (explain every little step, repeat for every variant of task). But I do think that explaining the why behind assignments is really helpful for people making the transition for academic work (I’m doing this to learn and get a job) to business work (business purposes may be less clear and more diverse). We advise managers to start off with a very short explanation of why the work is being done/how it will be used, both to help people understand their work better and to help them see that mundane tasks are used in mission-critical work and if they half-ass it, it affects real, final work product. (When I managed paralegals, they made a lot of binders – not glamorous or fun, but no one wants their briefing binder to be a mess when they’re standing up at the podium in front of the judge. If the paralegal biffed the basic task, it had real consequences.)

          1. MigraineMonth*

            To be fair, there are quite a few tasks at my job which seem to serve no real business purpose and should be half-assed to focus on the more important things. It’s not just a school/”real world” split.

            1. Reebee*

              If some of your responsibilities don’t “seem to” have a purpose, shouldn’t you find out what those purposes are?

              1. Michelle Smith*

                To be fair, sometimes the answer to that question really is “because we’ve always done it this way,” even though the task is no longer relevant or helpful to be performed in that manner for whatever reason (technology updates, changes in legal requirements, etc.).

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Yup, and it’s one of the other reasons why I want the managers to be able to articulate the purpose/value of the task. If it’s nothing but “we’ve always done it this way” and you don’t know what current purpose it’s serving, that’s ripe for a second look. But I have a lot of early career people who will decide to half-ass or neglect to do something because they don’t see how it fits into the machine, and getting in front of that helps both with the task and with their overall professional growth.

                  And, also to be fair, sometimes the business reason is that some VIP thinks it’s important and it’s not worth the political capital to push back or it gives an additional touchpoint with a decision maker (“Here’s your TPS report, and by the way, did you see that cool new software and can we catch up about upgrading next week?”).

        2. Artemesia*

          My first intern helped me develop a new course; it was in any area which was not my greatest strength then and so I was doing a lot of reading and research to prepare and needed a lot of specific work done. She was fabulous and made the whole process so much easier. And went on to have a great career herself.

          My second intern produced sloppy work that was almost useless to me. when I asked her about it and stressed the need for X Y and Z quality changes; she said ‘oh it is just a draft.’ I want the best work they can do so I can go ahead from there; I don’t want to be redoing mediocre work.

          An intern like the OP’s should be terminated if they don’t shape up. It is one thing to have someone a bit slow to come up to speed; a person who isn’t making the effort is just a time suck and is useless.

          1. Cabbagepants*

            Ugh, the sending over of slapdash work. I truly believe this comes from having very forgiving TA’s who do read over drafts with a fine tooth comb.

            I was eventually able to teach my intern to not do this but I had to be very direct.

      2. Knittercubed*

        We often had interns and were told to download tasks that they could do. Many interns don’t understand that a lot of offices no longer have a cache of admin staff. My 60 person office had one admin person who ran the front desk and also doubled as security.

        I had an intern push back at admin tasks saying:” Isn’t there someone who does that?”. Yeah…. you.

      3. Freya*

        My friend group refers to that particular attitude as “P’s (passes) make degrees”. Which works fine if there’s no consequences to the work – if your degree is a piece of paper that you need to go the next step, or any other situation where you’re looking for ‘good enough’ rather than ‘good’. One of my uni subjects referred to it as ‘satisficing’, a portmanteau of suffice and satisfactory – they were arguing that not everything has to be perfect, especially if there’s no consequences. But incomplete is not a pass, it’s a fail. You still have to submit something.

        And if your work is being evaluated to see if you have the qualities needed for something else, then you need to display those qualities, ‘good enough’ is just not good enough if they’re looking for ‘good’.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      Some of this depends on how they recruit interns and what the work is (though if other interns have done better, that does suggest an intern issue), but having no admins and filling that with even paid interns might be problematic. It depends a bit, but for example if they want interns to do primarily office admin work but advertise it as an internship in their field/area, that’s not great. This is especially true if it’s paid more like a stipend and less like a full hourly wage. The way companies handle internships is often not great. Generally, they shouldn’t actually be a labor solution and should take more time to manage than doing it yourself but the idea is to build talent pipelines, not offload much work. Hiring an admin and hiring an intern are two different things even if the interns could do the admin work—I know it doesn’t always work that way in practice (though it has maybe gotten better/been more enforced than decades ago) but an intern isn’t a temp, an admin, etc. and even paid internships are generally supposed to be structured around learning. So it depends if the “not so interesting work” is actually field relevant (totally possible, for example documentation doesn’t light up many people’s eyes) or unrelated admin work—that line about no admins being dropped in stood out and I couldn’t tell if LW was just saying “we all do this stuff, there’s no admin staff” (fine) or “we hire interns because we have no admin” (not okay).

      1. Colette*

        Admin roles are much scarcer than they used to be, so admin work is baked in to a lot of roles that aren’t standard admin roles. If someone in that role as a full time employee has to do that work, it’s reasonable to expect the interns to do it as well, as long as they are also getting exposure to the rest of the job.

        1. DawnShadow*

          Heh, yeah that is true. Your comment made me remember a time VERY long ago (mid 90s) when as a first year grad student on rotation the major professor airily told me “oh you don’t have to worry about typing anything up; when you’ve written your section just hand the pages to the secretary.”

          Even – jeez 30 years ago – I was *very* uncomfortable with this and did my own keyboarding/printing thank you very much (remember when there was one central printing location on campus that spat out reams of dot matrix paper?) and I cannot even imagine anyone trying to do this today! But apparently typing up the chicken scratch from everyone else in the department used to be the admin job.

          1. Birdie*

            I just interviewed for a role in a large consulting organization–I come from the world of small nonprofits. They very apologetically told me, “we have very little administrative support these days, although we hope to be able to hire for those roles soon. But for now, that means you would have to type up your own meeting notes, draft correspondence to clients, create your own decks, that sort of thing.”

            I thanked them for letting me know and that I had no problem doing that work. The idea that someone else would type up my notes or create presentations blew my mind, admittedly.

          2. Emmy Noether*

            There are a few enclaves where this kind of thing still exists today. I know a very few patent lawyers that still do dictation, for example (as in, record themselves speaking, then give the recording to an assistant for typing). Most don’t, or at least they use machine voice recognition, not human. I also know a few that prefer sending an email to their assistant to print out the attachment instead of printing themselves, that kind of thing.

            1. Dictation Decoder's Partner*

              Interesting, my partner is a legal assistant at an estate law firm and they still do dictations after meeting with a client. It’s part of his job to type them up and then get the documents ready. Actually, he complains (to me) if they don’t do a dictation (it is true that the younger attorney doesn’t like to do them as much), because that means the admin staff often don’t get enough lead time on what needs to be ready for the next meeting/document signing. Because it takes more time to type everything up compared to just giving the short notes in a dictation, the lawyer who doesn’t like dictation ends up spending more time on each case and is often behind on their paperwork. It’s more cost effective because even a well-paid admin’s time is much cheaper than the lawyer’s time, and the admin staff are happier that they’re not scrambling.

            2. Freya*

              I’ve had doctors do their dictation in front of me – they knew their typing was slow, their handwriting was appalling, and they wanted me to hear what they were putting in the letter they were writing on my behalf so that I could correct anything they’d got wrong before they signed it and made it official. Their admin people were paid to take the dictation and plonk it in the correct template previously set up with the doctor’s input, then get the doc to sign off on it so that it could be sent to the right people on my behalf. This meant that the doctor could spend more time talking to patients and less time trying to do admin stuff that they knew they weren’t the best at and were willing to pay for someone to take it off their hands.

          3. Knittercubed*

            At my first professional job in the 1970s, there was a secretarial pool and we were not allowed to type our own letters or use the copy machine. People still smoked at their desk too. The pendulum has swung!

          4. FG*

            I actually was a research asst / secretary for a prominent prof in the late 80s/ into the 90s. That is exactly how it worked. By then we had PCs – WordPerfect for DOS! – but the prof didn’t type – wouldn’t have known how to turn the computer on. In grad school, & up until I came in board, his wife did all his typing.

            I also had jobs where I typed from dictation. I segued into IT training, and lord! Those mid- to-late 90s beginning Windows classes were salesmen & other guys were having secretaries taken away & would have computers in their place was … let’s just say “a hoot.”

            As to the intern question – I do see the logic of interns doing more subject-oriented-work vs admin. But honestly, doing admin work – and doing it well without bitching – will always benefit a person. Precisely because I did that sort of work I understand the role & its issues, and it made my software training 100% better than it would have been otherwise. I can give a million examples.

            The world would be a better place if everyone worked in food service and office admin for a year at the start of their work life.

          5. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            In the 80s I worked at a school with a revolutionary machine (a very primitive computer, but we didn’t tell students that because they thought computers were very complex) to learn touch typing. You saw a picture of your hands on the keyboard and had to imitate the movement of the hands to type the letters shown. Men from companies were sent to us to learn to type so that their bosses could get rid of the typists in the typing pool. The men hated it, and there was a lot of weaponised incompetence. One guy, a journalist, told me *I* was as stupid as a donkey because *he* didn’t understand my explanation. I’m still laughing, maybe like a donkey!

        2. MassMatt*

          “ Admin roles are much scarcer than they used to be, so admin work is baked in to a lot of roles that aren’t standard admin roles”

          And often that work falls to the least senior person, whether or not they are suited for it. It’s sort of similar to how management roles often go to the people who are best as individual contributors, despite the skills for management and individual contributor being completely different.

      2. ghostlight*

        Yeah, “We have little to no administrative staff who can take on this work… I’ve trained other interns in this work and within a few weeks they were pulling their weight and making a real difference” REALLY stood out to me. I think you can and should hold interns to a high standard for their work, but if they’re exclusively the person doing a job that has that much of an impact? You probably need a staff member doing it.

        1. bamcheeks*

          If this is a paid internship of around 6-12 months, would you not consider them part of the staff? It would be normal to expect an intern on a long-term paid internship to be producing substantive work and held to the same standards as a junior staff member in the UK, but perhaps that is a difference in how “internship” is used in the US?

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. There is real benefit to the intern to having done substantive work, and it’s normal for paid interns to be, essentially, an employee with who will be leaving on a set date.

          2. bzh*

            I think interns (and our company only has paid internships) should be more about creating a pipeline of talent. I look for intern projects that fulfill a low priority, future need. I also want the project to have a marketable skill that the intern can put on their resume. I think you are taking on too much risk putting high priority tasks on the shoulders of an intern. If you have unmet capability for that kind of work, you should be hiring an employee; not an intern. If you have an intern with proven capability and an unexpected, emergent need, then using the intern makes sense.

            1. bamcheeks*

              That’s kind of how I expect 6-8 week internships to function, but if it’s more like 6-12 months, then only doing low-priority projects sounds honestly kind of deadly to me! I would much rather be doing lower-level work that really adds value than work that is mostly of benefit to me.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              At the agency where I worked, there were no “low priority future needs”. Interns were given the same work as the employees. As far as possible, they would be given the easiest and least urgent work, and their work would be checked thoroughly and their mistakes would be explained. They were not held to the same productivity levels as employees and had a supervisor they could ask questions of. Our agency was considered one of the best places for interns because they really did see the workings of the agency, and got very real practice doing the job they were training for. They were only paid a stipend (the legal minimum) but the experience they gained was precious.

            3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              Reading Bamcheeks’ reply, I’ll just add that we had interns for 3-6 months and if they proved competent and we had enough work to justify hiring, we would hire them (this happened several times).

          3. B*

            It depends on the field, but in my line of work a person with a paid, post-graduate job for a set term of months would probably be called a fellow, not an intern. (U.S./legal industry.) And we would absolutely expect that person to produce substantive and useful work (commensurate with their experience). So yes, it’s definitely possible there’s a disconnect about nomenclature here.

          4. doreen*

            I’m in the US and I always wonder what the difference is – unpaid internships I understand, internships for college credit I understand but I don’t understand what exactly is the difference between a paid 6-12 month internship and an employee hired for 6-12 months.

            1. basically functional*

              A paid internship is temporary by nature and the intern may be paid as a contractor, or given a stipend, or some other arrangement that makes them less expensive than staff (and doesn’t provide benefits). Typically the intern would also be receiving course credit or fulfilling a degree requirement through the internship.

            2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

              We would not expect the same productivity of an intern, and would give them the easiest jobs at least to start with. An employee would be expected to get up to speed within a couple of weeks. We would perhaps spend longer explaining the ins and outs of their mistakes too, while I would expect an employee to realise why I had underlined something, without me going into detail.

      3. Smithy*

        This leapt out to me.

        And I think for the OP, while it’s not uncommon to see interns more so as student workers/surge admin support – I think it’s only smart practice to accept that the interns hired may react to this differently. Where instead of the hiring weakness being hiring someone uncapable – but rather recruiting someone very capable who just doesn’t want to do the assigned work.

        Some will just accept that’s the reality and do the work at a high level – and others will treat it like a course where they’ve accepted they’re just going to treat it Pass/Fail. But where that “Pass” work may be at a C/D level that flirts with failing.

        Being mindful that the OP likely isn’t in a place to hire admins or redesign the internship program – I do think that finding a way to be more proactive about interns who are performing poorly or struggling makes sense.

      4. Heathcliff*

        “even paid internships are generally supposed to be structured around learning”

        Exactly. A lot of employers will falsely claim to offer internships when they’re actually trying to cheaply acquire someone to do administration work and not put in any effort to provide the education that an actual internship is supposed to have.

        Can’t blame OP’s intern for not going along with this bait-and-switch.

        1. Reebee*

          What “bait-and-switch”? Where is the proof of that, and why have past interns been successful but this one not so?


      5. MCMonkeybean*

        They do literally say it’s work they all have to do, not just the interns.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Also: you’re not going to get to do the interesting parts if they don’t trust that you can handle the boring parts.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        Exactly this! They have to prove they can be relied upon to do the basic work and do it at an acceptable level before they can be given the more interesting (and likely complex) work.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I thought this, too.

      I’m in archives, which is a discipline that has a high percentage of boring work even at higher levels. Our interns are typically given a discreet project–usually a small unprocessed collection–that they do from beginning to end (or as near to end as possible; occasionally time runs out through no fault of the intern’s), so that they get a taste of the whole process from super-boring ground work to the skilled part of formatting a finding aid and putting it online. But the boring groundwork is unavoidable. In real life, a lot of it is done by assistants (me, usually) in the form of an inventory, but that’s kind of waste of time with a small collection and also the point of an internship is to teach them how to do this, so they all start with the boring part. The fact that they are technically more qualified than I am is irrelevant in this specific [internship] context–they’re here to learn and get class credit and I am not. So far we’ve only had one intern that balked at doing their own boring groundwork, and our supervisor straightened them out.

      (That said, I’m going to assume that your organization is not one that uses interns when they should be hiring admin staff, although it’s maybe worth double-checking on that. Internships are for teaching, not reducing your backlog of grunt work that should actually be going to real employees.)

    6. K in Boston*

      +1! Was coming here to comment something similar (though likely less succinctly and eloquently), and pleased to see it’s the first thing here.

      It feels embarrassing to admit now that I’m on the other side of the fence, but I really did need someone to spell out for me when I was an intern that “everyone does at least some work that they don’t like.” I’d actually been fully ready to do all sorts of work when I’d first started (I didn’t like coffee and thus had never made it, so was nervous about that…thankfully no one ever asked!), but to my supervisor’s credit, she really wanted to help me figure out what it was that I wanted to do and how I could spend more time in those areas. At some point I corrupted this kindness in my mind to “They are clearly saying I should be spending 100% of my time on whatever I’m passionate about!” I continued doing my assigned work to the best of my ability, but for whatever reason thought that come review time I could make an argument to get all that off my plate. It was at that point that my supervisor very politely let me know the reality of the working world.

  2. Nodramalama*

    Im a bit confused by the wording of the letter whether the people staying in the house are uncomfortable or if it’s just LW

    1. English Rose*

      Yes me too. It seemed like the co-worker only raised it after LW had pointed it out.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        it could easily be that coworker felt uncomfortable but was not going to raise the issue, once OP brought it up they felt e.boldoned to bring it up themselves.

        1. kalli*

          It could easily be anything, hence pointing it out. It could easily be that trying to find new accommodation this close to the conference means that this is a one-off incident and there isn’t an alternative, or the conference could require the team to have a space to work outside actually attending, so a house is better than disparate hotel rooms and a private dwelling, or that someone’s assuming that since some hotels and a lot of caravan parks and campgrounds require people to share more facilities than just a shower, and most in-person offices require people to share toilet and shower facilities (if showers are present) having two people share for a couple of days isn’t as horrifying as LW thinks it is. We don’t know, but assuming how a person who isn’t the letter writer feels is only relevant if it changes someone’s advice – in this case Alison’s suggestion rests on LW’s colleague having discomfort themselves, but that’s not present in the letter and since LW’s not affected this time their standing is limited.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            “I expressed my concern to one of the other employees, and he asked her in our team group chat if we could look into hotel alternatives. ”

            I took “he” meaning the coworker who is staying in the house/Airbnb spoke up. You are right that we can’t know for sure what that person was thinking but someone pushing back on something even if slight, likely means they are against it/uncomfortable.

            It would be strange (not impossible) that he/coworker pushed back solely on OPs behalf even though she is not staying there.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          This. The coworker probably thought it was just them and they would have to just live with it. By hearing someone else also finds it odd, they felt comfortable raising it.

          This is why Alison suggests pushing back in groups. People might think that as the only one there is nothing they can do. Knowing its not just them makes it easier. And more likely the boss will listen, if the boss is somewhat reasonable.

        3. AngryOctopus*

          Yeah, I can see the coworker thinking “well the other two are OK with this, so I’m not going to rock the boat”, but then when LW mentioned that it’s not a great system, they felt empowered to speak up as well.

    2. Yup*

      This. Why is the coworker who’s not going on the trip so concerned and trying to argue the others should be too? I guess in case it happens in future and they’re affected? Trying to convince the others it’s an issue is kind of odd.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The letter-writer is concerned because in future years the conference won’t be in their city, and they do not want to stay in a house with their boss when they have to travel in the future. From the end of the letter:

        I want to ask [my boss] privately for the rationale of this decision and also to emphasize again that this is not something I’d be okay with when the conference isn’t in my city next year.

        I think the talking to other coworkers and trying to get accommodations changed this year is the letter-writer trying to avoid a precedent of “we’ve stayed in a house before when travelling and it was fine.”

        1. Office Lobster DJ*

          I can sympathize with trying to prevent a precedent, but I worry LW will come off poorly if they make this into a big issue. If they get perceived as pushing into something that’s not their business and fighting their co-worker’s battles for them (or stirring up their co-workers), it would be easier to disregard their perspective entirely.

          Maybe let this year’s attendees handle this year, and LW waits until after the trip to speak to the boss about future accommodations. I can see the boss having a sour taste since this year’s plans have been known for awhile and are suddenly getting pushback. They may be more open to discuss things after the fact.

      2. münchner kindl*

        First, it’s not a sector where shared rooms are normal (some non-profits or college students); before, boss booked and paid individual hotel rooms.

        LW said that she is uncomfortable with sharing rooms, that next year the conference will be in another city so she will be impacted.

        If LW keeps silent now, then it will be much harder to push back next time. Also, one coworker was uncomfortable!

        Also, to me this is a serious alarm bell that the very small company is in financial trouble, and therefore LW should update their resume and use the conference for networking.

        Because before the company had enough money for hotel rooms, and now they don’t, and the aggressive way boss pushed back on the issue by wanting employees to pay for their own rooms! – makes most sense to me if boss knows that money is tight. And with such a small company, it can fold very quickly.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          My colleagues and I (by our own choice, not financial pressure from company) have started doing shared ABnB when we travel to same cities because we like having a kitchen/lounge area that isn’t a hotel room where we can be in our PJs. HOWEVER, and I think this is an important one, we all talked about it and came to the conclusion. We didn’t just book without discussion. And none of us is the boss, and we are all women.

        2. Butterfly Counter*

          But they’re not sharing rooms. They’re sharing a house and two coworkers will be sharing a bathroom. OP is uncomfortable that they might have to talk to a coworker about when they want to shower.

          To me, this does not rise to the level of concern OP is showing. I don’t think things are getting too personal if I know my coworker prefers to bathe in the evenings vs. mornings or if I see a damp washcloth they’ve used.

        1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          Me neither! We’ve had people balking at sharing rooms (fair enough) and beds (eeek!). Worrying about having to negotiate a sharing a bathroom when there are two for three people… OP doesn’t mention any issues like IBS or doing work that requires showering as soon as you get in.
          If they don’t trust that there’ll be a lock on their bedroom door, they can bring a wedge to prevent someone else coming in.

    3. Also-ADHD*

      Is seems like LW was always fully uncomfortable with the house share, but the coworker might have been comfortable with the house share until they moved to one without their own bathrooms? I’m unclear on that. It might also be that now there’s less good options in the budget and that’s why the move to the share that’s less than ideal, but if it’s mandatory to go, I do think you need to make sure everyone is comfortable.

      1. Cat*

        I don’t get what the issue is with a house share (sounds like LW didnt like it before the shared bathrooms became an issue). If bathrooms aren’t shared, how is it different than a hotel?

        1. Cormorant*

          In my opinion there’s something about a hotel being (1) generally much more public, and (2) administered by a neutral 3rd party that makes it a lot less weird.

          In a house share, you’re not sure that your door will lock, locking yourself in your room and avoiding interaction comes across as a lot more antisocial/unexpected, and if worst comes to worst there’s no real witnesses to keep a cap on your boss’s bad behavior. And you might need to fight about who does the dishes and takes out the trash.

          1. Birb*

            Also, LOTS of them have hidden cameras placed by the homeowner, even if it breaks policy.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          A hotel gives you more of a remove from the other people you’re traveling with. (This is exactly why I prefer a 3 bedroom AirBnB for family trips: it gives everyone a private spot around a shared gathering space.)

          If you do need to gather the travelers together, in hotels that can default to storing everything in the lowest ranked person’s room, and to having meetings sitting on the bed and floor of someone’s room. So if the hotel rooms aren’t suites, there can be real benefits to a rented house instead. (Also some people really value a full kitchen, or being in a neighborhood where you can go for walks or runs.)

        3. Colette*

          I wouldn’t love a house share on a work trip. In a hotel room, you have the entire space to yourself – you don’t have to run into colleagues on the way to the bathroom, for example. Even a house with the same number of bathrooms as bedrooms is unlikely to have all of the bathrooms inside the bedroom – it’s likely that at least some people have to cross common areas to get to the bathroom.

          It’s also more likely that you’ll be exposed to things you don’t need to know about your colleagues (such as who leaves the room a mess, who leaves dishes on the counter and expects magical elves to put them in the dishwasher, etc.).

          Spending your evening in your bedroom when there is a living room available feels more anti-social than hanging out in your hotel room.

          Also, a house is less likely to be sound-proofed than a hotel, so you’ll hear your coworkers calling other people, talking in the other room, etc.

          1. HonorBox*

            I like to retreat to my own hotel room on a work trip, but I think if boss proposed a house share, I could see value in that. There is something to be said for having more than a microwave and a fridge that may or may not keep things cold. There is something to be said for not hearing the elevator ding all night, or drunk guests trapsing by your room at 1am. Maybe this is a reaction to the six nights I spent in a hotel for work last week, but having a little more “home” feeling would have been OK.

            1. Colette*

              For me, it would depend on who the other people in the house were. (Do I generally get along with them? Do they respect boundaries? Do they do their share of the work in general? Will they expect me to hang out in the evening, or will they entertain themselves?)

              But I wouldn’t want to open the door to doing it, even if the other people were people I wouldn’t mind sharing with, because it sets a precedent that might cause problems if there is someone in the future I don’t want to share with?

        4. AngryOctopus*

          In a hotel I have my own space, behind a locked door, with a bathroom. I can order room service. I can walk around naked if I want to. I can keep snacks in my mini fridge and nobody else will eat them. I can take 30′ showers or spend the whole evening in the bathtub. I can watch whatever TV I want. I can go out clubbing and come home at 2AM and nobody will know. With a house share, you’re much more up in everyone’s business just by virtue of all being in the same space, and presumably sharing the living area/kitchen as well. It’s much less private. I’d push back too. House shares are for me travelling with my family or friends, not colleagues.

        5. Office Lobster DJ*

          We’ve had enough letters from folks that are expected to share hotel rooms that a house share didn’t sound awful to me, either.

          LW, if you do bring this up, make sure the alternative wouldn’t be shared rooms!

        6. münchner kindl*

          The LW doesn’t want to share. That’s her right, especially since she’s not in a sector where it’s accepted as normal.

          That you aren’t bothered by it is not helpful for the LW.

          1. Nodramalama*

            LW doesn’t haven’t to share. That they’re not bothered by it IS helpful because it’s a signal that not everyone finds this situation so outrageous that they would push it when they’re not even involved.

        7. It Might Be Me*

          Interestingly I’ve worked with people who prefer a house share with a private bathroom to a hotel. I was told by one person that she felt safer. She didn’t like walking alone in hotel hallways and encountering random people.

          Perhaps it was helpful that people were free to NOT hang in the house common areas. They could go to their rooms and decompress.

          1. Not on board*

            yes, you share washrooms – not bathrooms. You typically don’t shower in the same bathroom as your coworker, and early morning or evening toilet habits.
            I personally don’t think a shared house is egregious but I definitely understand people being uncomfortable not having their own private bathroom on a work trip. Plus, as people mentioned, there could be an expectation to hang out in the living room, and the walls are thinner in a house than they are in a hotel.

        8. Debby*

          Cat, I think the issue LW is having is that the Boss is female and the 2 others are male-and are not the Boss’ peer. She is their Boss. Too many things can happen when it is mixed genders, as well as when it’s a Boss sharing with their employees. Sooo much can go wrong!

    4. kiki*

      Yeah, I wasn’t clear on that either. If I were LW, I might step back and double check if LW is the only one who really cares about this issue or if the coworkers do actually feel the same, just less empowered to speak up.

  3. TheBunny*

    I’m the person in the room most likely to be bothered…pretty much all the time.

    The 3 bedroom/3 bathroom house wouldn’t have bothered me at all. The 2 bathroom is a little odd…but I would probably also not be that annoyed as it’s still separate sleeping areas.

    I guess speak up if it bothers you is valid here, but I do kind of wonder if LW being so bothered by something they aren’t experiencing is making the others feel like they SHOULD be bothered.

    1. Nodramalama*

      Yeah I have to be honest I was also a bit confused why LW was so distributed by sleeping arrangements on a trip they’re not involved in.

      But I’ve also stayed in plenty of hotels and accommodation with shared bathrooms so maybe I just don’t think it’s that weird

      1. kalli*

        I’ve stayed in hospitals with shared bathrooms and no, they weren’t cleaned in between every use.

        It’s up to the individual people if they’re okay with it and how they manage it on a case by case basis.

      2. aimee jay*

        the LW isn’t involved in this trip, but she will on the next trip and next time there will be precedent of staying in a shared house, so I think it makes sense for her to speak up now.

        1. Celeste*

          I think the time to speak up is early on in the planning process for the next trip. The accommodations for this trip have already been arranged, and they’re unlikely to be exactly the same for the next trip anyway.

      3. AngryOctopus*

        LW doesn’t want a precedent set that they just get a house with the right number of bedrooms for work trips.
        Also, I think sharing bathrooms and common spaces with coworkers is very different than being expected to share with friends/family, or even strangers (if you like staying in hostels). I’m friendly with my coworkers and friends with some of them, and yet I would not want to share living space on a trip. That’s too close.

      4. Abundant Shrimp*

        I’m here racking my brain trying to remember when I shared a bathroom and shower with a guy that I hadn’t at some past point given birth to, wasn’t married to, or wasn’t in a romantic relationship with, and I’ve got nothing. Maybe in college? but even then, they weren’t my coworkers and my boss.

        1. Nodramalama*

          Ok, many, many people have. Hotels, hostels, dorms, housemates. Plenty of people have written in about attending a conference with their colleagues in a hotel suite with multiple rooms.

          1. Abundant Shrimp*

            Opposite-sex coworkers though? Even for all the people that wrote in (because they were upset about it), that had to be pretty rare.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              There’s 2 bathrooms. 2 male coworkers and 1 female. So its still highly possible that they will have gender-specific bathrooms for the stay.

              If one of the men being asked to share is uncomfortable then it’s still fair game for him to raise it, but I’m unsure that he was bothered until the LW said something.

              1. Abundant Shrimp*

                Fair point and now I understand why the boss is more comfortable with it than the coworkers… she’ll be getting her own bathroom no matter what. For now! Next year, she’ll share with OP though.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, it doesn’t seem odd for a microbusiness, where this kind of cost-saving would be a far more significant chunk of the travel budget than for an organisation of say 100+

      1. münchner kindl*

        It is a significant warning bell because the business could afford hotel rooms before.

        Changing now and the boss being aggressive towards normal accomodation sounds like financial problems to me, so LW should also job-search in addition to standing up.

          1. Celeste*

            That was my thought. It’s not clear exactly when the conference is, but changing now may be a hassle and may be costly.

              1. Abundant Shrimp*

                Yeah but then why did the boss book another house when the first one fell through? she didn’t have to and could’ve backed out at that point.

                1. Office Lobster DJ*

                  Sounded to me like the timeline was the first house was booked, fell through (who knows what happened to any deposit), second house was booked, and then LW/the attendee brought up their concerns about the whole arrangement, to which the boss got kind of uncharacteristically snippy.

                  Could be the boss was just frustrated with the situation already and wasn’t open to incurring more expense or hassle in the moment. That’s why my advice upthread was for LW to let this year’s attendees worry about themselves and revisit the general practice with the boss later.

                2. linger*

                  Possibly hotel rates are more time-sensitive than house rentals? If so, rebooking closer to the conference time, within roughly the same budget, would have forced similar accommodation choices. (Presumably the 2-bathroom layout would have been cheaper than the 3-bathroom layout if booked at the same time.) Or this conference venue (unlike former conferences) is not near enough to hotels in the budgeted price range? Or there is some work outside the conference venue that would be harder to coordinate across isolated hotel rooms?

        1. Medicated Ginzo*

          Maybe, but it could be that hotels in this particular city are especially expensive compared to house shares. The ratio can vary a lot and it sounds like the conference moves every year.

    3. Leenie*

      I got the same sense, that the LW was spurring some level of concern in at least one of her coworkers, that wouldn’t necessarily have been there without the LW’s input. I don’t think the 3-bed/3-bath situation was at all problematic, and I cherish my privacy. Once there’s bathroom sharing, I’d be significantly less comfortable. I don’t think it would be inappropriate, but it would give me a bit of pause, just because I like my own space. I’m not sure I’m buying the “if genders were reversed” argument here, either. Unless the theoretical male boss was known to be sleazy.

      1. Starfish*

        I think the problem is that if this is a habit for the company, then you’re basically forcing someone to speak up and say ‘well, my boss/coworker (of any gender) is a sex pest’.

        Which is a problem, especially in situations where it hasn’t risen to the level of proof where the company would actually *do* anything about it yet. Because you’re basically putting someone in a position where they need to either speak up and put their career in serious jeopardy, or go into a situation where they’re living with someone they know will cause much bigger problems.

        Much better to spring for the hotel room.

    4. Michigander*

      I don’t think it would bother me, unless I knew things about these particular coworkers that would make sharing a bathroom awkward, like if one was a giant slob. I’d say the LW shouldn’t push back this year as she’s not actually affected and the other coworkers might not actually care enough to make it a hill to die on. If it happens again next year when she’s the one traveling, then it would be time to get into it with her boss.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        If we physically shared a physical office, we’d presumably physically share the bathrooms there.

        I guess you wouldn’t want to wander around in just a towel and wouldn’t want to bother giving packing space to a thick robe, so I can see some logistics arising.

        I suppose I can see “I will only share a living space with Fergus if there is daily maid service. Because the daily maid service is not me.”

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Sharing a bathroom at work, where a professional cleaning service is here every day to clean (disclaimer: valid at my place of business, I actually don’t care if that’s not the case for you), is very different from having to spend three nights sharing a bathroom with someone you work with.

          1. nutella fitzgerald*

            Because everyone else surely cares about the restroom maintenance at your workplace. Yikes.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              My point is that the bathroom here is cleaned every day by a neutral third party. In a house share, the bathroom is NOT going to be cleaned by anyone neutral. There is no daily maid service. It’s just the people there, so if you’re bothered by a mess, ain’t nobody there to clean it up but you (assuming the other person isn’t bothered). That’s got the potential to breed resentment and bad feelings pretty fast.

          2. Baunilha*

            Also, I don’t shower at my workplace. I can’t imagine having to coordinate showering schedules, or having to deal with other people’s hair on the drain, and so on.

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              I just don’t understand how this is so unthinkable?

              Hey, Bob? What time are you getting up to use the shower? 6am? Okay, I’ll make the coffee then and hop in after you’re done.

              Just, like, communicate? And, like with shared toilets and showers anywhere else, including hotels, pretend you’re the only one who has ever used them if that’s how you get by.

              1. AngryOctopus*

                In this case it can be “Oh, gross, Bob left his hair in the drain. His towel is just chucked on the floor. Why are all the washcloths sopping wet and on the tub floor?”. It’s not that other people have used them before you got there. It’s that you’re actively sharing with someone who may not have the same hygiene standards as you, and there’s no maid service to clear up on a daily basis. Pretty sure that a good chunk of people here who think it’s no big deal would also not appreciate the scenario above being left for them in a shared bathroom.

      2. münchner kindl*

        There will always be people here, who either work in industries where shared rooms are normal, or who don’t mind sharing rooms.

        I don’t see how this is helpful to the LW who is bothered by it, and thus has to deal with the situation. She can’t swap her job with you just because you aren’t bothered.

    5. Kitters*

      Or, because the LW was able to express this aloud the other worker felt empowered to say something.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Exactly. I suspect the other coworker was like “I can’t believe the other two are OK with this but I don’t want to rock the boat and be labelled the complainer”. Then when LW pushed back they felt good about having backup and safe to voice their opinion as well.

    6. Chas*

      This is where I’d fall on it as well, I’ve shared a hotel suite (2 bedroom, 1 bathroom) with 1 other female coworker before and it worked out perfectly fine for us (we just had to have a brief conversation about who was going to take a shower first, and make sure to lock the bathroom when we needed to use the toilet).

      I would be a little more weirded out if I had to share a bathroom with someone of the opposite gender, or my boss, but probably wouldn’t complain if it was someone I knew well enough to feel like they wouldn’t be weird about it. And besides, with 2 bathrooms, that isn’t happening here as the boss will presumably take one bathroom and the 2 male coworkers will share the other one.

    7. amoeba*

      Yeah, for the 3/3 situation I don’t even get why anybody would be hypothetically uncomfortable with it! And the bathroom sharing also seems super normal to me – to the extent that I’d happily offer to share if one of the three preferred their own.

      1. AngryOctopus*

        I mean, I’d be uncomfortable sharing with coworkers in the 3/3 situation. You still have to share living/kitchen areas. What if I want to be alone so I go in my room, but one of them decides that we should be together and comes knocking? What if I want to keep snacks in the fridge for me and someone else decides they look good and eats them? What if I want to just relax and watch some TV show but there’s only one TV in the common space and the other two want to watch something else (or nobody can agree) (yes i could stream something in my room, see point 1)? What if my coworkers a just noisy people and I don’t want to listen to them? What if they stay up late and I can hear them because the house isn’t soundproofed? Etc. Etc. Etc. There are SO MANY valid reasons to be uncomfortable sharing a house with coworkers.

        1. Baunilha*

          I agree with everything you said, AngryOctopus, but I think we are the minority here.

        2. Starbuck*

          Those are valid reasons to be uncomfortable since everyone has their own standards of comfort, but the business might decide that what sounds (to most) like pretty minor discomfort isn’t worth the added expense of three individual hotel rooms. Most workplaces don’t really recognize a right to be perfectly comfortable at all times and will expect some degree of just sucking it up, especially for a temporary stay. The line varies, for sure, but what you describe sounds on the pretty extreme end of unwillingness to tolerate even mild issues. Someone eating your snacks from the fridge, for example, is not really any different than a shared workplace kitchen so if someone brought that to me as a manager…. honestly I’d be questioning their judgement a little! Or just assume they are really not up for travel in general.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Almost sure you wouldn’t say that if someone took your snacks out of the fridge and ate them. And it shouldn’t be happening in a shared workspace kitchen either.

            1. Starbuck*

              I agree it shouldn’t happen in either place; my point is why does it feel more likely in the AirBnB fridge vs the workplace fridge? It’s no different, that’s why pointing it out as a unique inconvenience in this arrangement seems odd.

      2. Abundant Shrimp*

        To me it depends on the layout. Are there three suites in the house? Great. Are there three bedrooms on second floor, one bathroom on second, one on first, and one in the basement? A bit problematic.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          and 1:1 bathrooms doesn’t mean 1:1 showers. I have three bathrooms, which among them contain three toilets, three sinks, one walk-in shower stall and one shower/tub combo. So y’all are still having to negotiate shower turns.

          1. Abundant Shrimp*

            Oh good point! Stayed at a house last summer that had three bathrooms and only one shower between the three (the other two were half-baths, so toilet and sink).

    8. Ophelia*

      Yeah, I work in an industry where odd accommodations are just sort of par for the course, and my standard baseline is that shared rooms are gender-segregated, shared bathrooms are not the norm, but sometimes are necessary, and a shared house with a 1:1 bedroom/bathroom ratio would be fine? (For context, I have actually had work trips to locations where shared staff housing was like, a room with four twin beds, because due to security situations it was more like a very comfy barracks rather than a hotel. Or times when the accommodation is a guest house with single rooms but shared bathrooms, etc.) I think context matters a lot here, and I do kind of feel like OP is having a pretty strong reaction to something that feels like maybe not the IDEAL, but isn’t so far beyond the pale as to be unacceptable.

    9. STG*

      It would bother me if for no other reason that I can’t get away from my coworkers after the work day is done.

    1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking. Time for LW1 to start looking around for a new job, and if their pay is delayed for any reason they need to get out asap.

      1. amoeba*

        Huh? That’s pretty far-fetched. Just because a company is possibly a bit stingy on travel cost *definitely* doesn’t mean they’re about to go out of business? Basically any company I or my friends have worked in has *some* kind of cost-saving measures for travel, sometimes more, sometimes less, sometimes an all-out travel ban. But none of that means they’ll stop paying your salary any time soon or it’s time so jump ship.
        And we don’t even know that! Maybe the boss just thought, hey, cool, this house is conveniently located and ideal for our purposes!

        1. StressedButOkay*

          Agree! Ever since Covid hit, we’ve had to drastically tighten our belt around travel expenses. It’s not at all a sign of our going out of business but, rather, a sign of trying to keep overhead and general costs down. If there are other red flags, yeah, maybe LW should be concerned but cutting back on travel expense alone isn’t enough.

        2. münchner kindl*

          First, company used to pay for hotel rooms, now they don’t. And the shared house is downgraded (= cheaper).

          Second, boss got aggressive instead of giving a valid reason for the change or taking employee’s discomfort seriously.

          Third, a small company with only 4 employees can crash easily.

          I agree that LW should update their resume and if possible use the conference to network and search.
          Searching low-key doesn’t require the LW to quit, after all! But it gives her a head start if the company closes in a few months, or paychecks get delayed and she decides to leave.

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            I don’t know how you figure renting a house is a downgrade from a hotel room?
            For the same or less money per night as staying in a hotel room with a bed, TV, bathroom, and – if you are lucky – a minifridge and microwave, you can stay in a house with a full living room, full kitchen with cooking appliances, outdoor space to relax in, private bedrooms, and (usually) a private bathroom.
            My wife and I went on a vacation with two other couples two summers ago and each couple paid per night the same as a chain-brand motel room for so many more amenities. I would recommend VRBO over a chain motel if you plan on staying anywhere more than two nights.

            1. doreen*

              Because not every one values what you do – I couldn’t care less about a full kitchen or outdoor space and although I would like a living room and a second TV, I don’t want them badly enough to put up with the downsides of renting a house which includes everything from daily housekeeping service not being available to feeling uncomfortable about going to my room if the family/friends I’m sharing with are still hanging out in the living room. I’d actually feel way more comfortable retreating to my room if I was sharing the house with co-workers ( although I wouldn’t want to do that either)

                1. Peter the Bubblehead*

                  Everyone did their own shopping. I did the majority of the cooking.

          2. e271828*

            It sure looks like running out of ready cash and floating credit maxed. I’ve seen this with very small firms. If it’s an LLC in the US, the founder-owner-boss is feeling the pain personally.

            Agree with advising LW to do some low-key job market scanning.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Not necessarily. Most businesses of any size will cut costs when they see the opportunity.
      From AAM I’ve learned that some US non-profits even expect people to share bedrooms (UGH!), which would have brought my immediate resignation.

      It sounds like the owner – like many people – doesn’t see an issue with AirBnB, whereas the OP – and many others – would be vaguely uncomfortable.
      If the cost difference is substantial, then I’d regard it like choosing economy or business class on flights: unless there is a disability reason, then it is up to the person travelling to bear the cost of the upgrade

      1. CTT*

        Yeah, this feels more like a “let’s do something different for fun!” thing then cost-related.

        1. ThistlePig*

          I’m not sure why that’s the assumption, especially when the boss’s response was “No, unless you want to pay for a hotel yourself.” There isn’t anything to indicate that this is for fun

    3. Dr. Rebecca*

      I mean, that’s really REALLY not something that the boss should make the concern of the employee, in the same way that not having enough for payroll isn’t something employees should need to be part of a conversation about. If you can’t fulfill the needs of the business, you need to go out of business.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        “If you can’t fulfill the needs of the business, you need to go out of business.”

        sure but everyone getting an individual hotel room is not a NEED, people should have their own private space, and they do their own bedroom. yeah the bathroom situation isn’t ideal, but 3 people sharing 2 bathrooms isn’t the end of the world.

        If you use public bathrooms you are sharing with soooo many more people.

        A hotel is just one massive house with 150 bedrooms.

        it would be different the business was trying to get them to share rooms.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Sharing a public bathroom in a building is not the same as sharing a bathroom with someone for a few nights. A hotel is a massive house with 150 private bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and is completely your own space, in a way that a house is not.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That just made me think of discovering that your Obscure Boutique Conference is at the same time and location as Dentists of the World and there are no more hotel rooms.

        I needed to go to North Carolina during furniture week, and I was being offered accommodations in other states.

        I have twice managed to wind up competing for rooms with the Little League World Series.

        1. nutella fitzgerald*

          Your comment reminds me of the time the Milwaukee Brewers were at a hotel where a furry convention was taking place.

          “How much are the furries bothering you? Where are they bothering you?”
          “Just a bit. Outside”

    4. HonorBox*

      Or (saying this as someone who just paid deposit on a vacation rental) there may be costs already sunk into this rental. Perhaps the boss thought that saving a few bucks on housing made sense because, like a hotel, everyone has their own private space. And now the push back isn’t something they can fix without losing money already invested.

      1. Starbuck*

        Or they thought having a kitchen would be nice! Prices vary but I’d imagine a 3bd house with a kitchen is cheaper than 3 hotel suites with kitchens.

    5. Abundant Shrimp*

      Would a house be that much cheaper than three rooms in a Holiday inn though? My first thought was that the boss has some kind of a relationship with the person renting out the house. That it’s a favor to them that the boss does not want to back out of. Or that it’s nonrefundable.

      1. e271828*

        Yes, using AirBnB for a house is likely to be much cheaper than three hotel rooms. Especially if there is a conference on and the boss missed on booking reduced rate rooms. Even more so, if the boss figures in savings on dining out (breakfast “at home”). Hotels have jumped in price and even the suite types with a kitchenette (I know someone is going to what-if with that) are very expensive.

  4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP3 (intern won’t do the work) – oh dear, the “junior person only wants to work on the interesting things” is almost a trope, as it seems to happen so often. I expect the intern sees those tasks as a bore and not really the core of what the job/industry is ‘about’ (are those tasks part of the job the intern has, or are they being used to offload lower-level stuff no one wants to do, actually?) And there’s probably an element of wanting more ‘relevant’ experiences to add to their resume.

    And the intern has got OP well trained… as now intern doesn’t have to do those tasks, OP will just do the tasks themselves and not even bother asking the intern! Result!

    Someone, probably the main supervisor of the intern although it could also be OP if they have that kind of authority, needs to have a conversation with the intern like “sorry, that’s not how it works pal. Part of the job is doing x, so you also need go do x. You cannot just cherry pick the exciting bits you want to work on”.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      BTW, the headline characterised this as “can’t” do the job but I feel like it’s more a case of won’t / doesn’t want to (even if OP suspects part of the problem is not writing down tasks etc – I bet the intern doesn’t have a problem remembering the tasks for the interesting stuff, right?) – in any situation where you have “someone isn’t performing the job in the way it needs to be” the first thing to establish is whether it’s a case of can’t or won’t.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I’m curious whether the intern is bad at doing the more boring tasks or is just bad across the board.

    2. bamcheeks*

      It’s not so much a trope as a normal developmental stage that internships are there to mitigate! Some people instinctively get that every achievement I’d made up of exciting dynamic work and boring grunt work, and enjoy stuffing envelopes because they happy to be doing something which is making a genuine contribution to the successful outcome and see it a great opportunity to ask questions like, “so where did we get the mailing list?” Some people dont get until it’s explicitly pointed out to them. Some people frankly never get it. But the point of an internship should definitely be to turn as many of the second group into the first as possible!

      1. AngryOctopus*

        Yeah, I see a lot of college students going into my field (research science) thinking that they’re going to Make Discoveries and Cure Disease! That’s not really how it works. Research can be a long slog. But the good ones (most of them, TBH) quickly realize that reality doesn’t match the TV shows or the labs they did in school, and pick up things quickly. There’s always going to be that small cohort that doesn’t want to do the everyday work because they think they have great ideas, but those kids either leave or decide to take their “talents” to grad school/academia.

        1. londonedit*

          Same in publishing. Everyone wants what they view as a glitzy editorial job, and it’s easy for young people to assume they’ll be reading submissions and editing proofs and going to book launches. Turns out most editorial jobs aren’t remotely glitzy anyway, we don’t really do many book launches anymore (and if we do, the junior staff are tasked with manning the bar/selling books/running to the supermarket to buy crisps) and everything is on a deadline so we can’t trust someone on work experience to actually handle anything critical. We tend to do shorter work experience stints rather than longer-term internships, so unfortunately there will be a lot of things like photocopying and packaging up books to send out and making tea for meetings. But the key thing is, if someone comes in and is happy to help out and does those things well, then yes we will give them some cover copy to proofread or we’ll ask them to draft some website copy or we’ll invite them to sit in on an author meeting. We won’t do that if they’re complaining about not getting to do any of the ‘exciting’ work.

          1. Scholarly Publisher*

            Back when I started in publishing as an assistant, and back when far more was done on paper than is now, my job was filing, photocopying, and data entry.

            While filing correspondence, I read it, and I learned how to write a professional letter to an author. While filing rejected proposals, I read the proposals, and I learned what fits our list, what doesn’t, and what’s so far out there it’s in the Andromeda Galaxy.

            While photocopying dockets for meetings, I read the summaries and readers’ reports. I learned about the review process and how the acquisitions editors handled Reviewer #2.

            While doing data entry, I learned about our books and authors, as well as our database.

            Gruntwork can be boring, but depending on the kind, it can also give you a chance to really learn the inner workings of a business.

            1. scholarly editor*

              Same. And I try to impress this on my interns too. Is it tedious to go through the contract to load the details into the database? Well it’s no one’s idea of a good time, sure, but also you learn what the key points of a contract are and how they vary across projects. Is looking up comp sales figures what you envisioned an EA doing? Probably not, but you start out looking up what the editor gives you, then you start suggesting additional titles, then you realize that you have built up a pretty good knowledge of the competing books in your niche subfield. The grunt work isn’t glamorous, but it builds knowledge of how books/departments/presses actually work.

    3. Cmdrshprd*

      “are they being used to offload lower-level stuff no one wants to do, actually?)”

      To me that is kinda the definition of an internship mostly.
      if it is offloading lower level stuff that staff do, I think it is valuable for the intern to learn it from the ground up and do those tasks over and over to master and learn them.

      kinda like a wax on was off type of thing.

      If it’s something like cleaning the kitchen that’s a different story. but stuff like making copies, filing docs away, stuffing envelopes, mail merged, data entry, etc… are all great office skills to learn.

      1. r.*

        No, that is the definition of admin staff.

        Yes, there’s a valuable lesson for interns that not all tasks in a work environment will be interesting or fun. But if you reduce an entire internship to those tasks, especially for university-educated interns, then you’re frankly not providing an internship, you’re just using them for cheap labor.

        Considering that LW is writing about interns who already have completed university, or are about to complete it, you’ll also write yourself out of the competition both for the best interns and the best fresh graduates for the current year.

        Do you think someone with a, say, BSc in civil engineering, is going to be interested in an internship that amounts to solely being the office assistant? Do you not think that graduates who know that this your idea won’t also consider the possibility that this isn’tt he only potential … interesting choice your company is making, and that hence candidates with options to choose will price this risk into their decision?

        1. bamcheeks*

          This depends very much on the field and type of work you’re doing. In engineering and certain other specialised subjects, the “gruntwork” is often still specialised things. There are loads of other roles where an internship– and also the professional role! — is very typically a mixture of admin work as well as more specialised work, some of it observed rather than performed, and it’s incredibly helpful for interns to see and perform that entire process in the round and *not* just see the higher level work. Personally, I like it that way, and did when I was new to the workplace: it was great to be able to sit in on higher-level meetings and understand what was going on, but there was a limited amount I could contribute there. Whereas things like stuffing envelopes, typing up minutes, and figuring out how to set out chairs and tables for an event was solid work that I knew was making a direct contribution to the success of the activity.

          1. r.*

            Yes, I am quite aware of that. I have a degree in computer science myself; I also know about a lot clercial work (why hello there, grant applications) that can also be part of those roles. ;-)

            And as long as your internship exposes you to a broad spectrum of what you’d be expected to do in your job, even if some of that is boring, not particularly challenging, or just plain unpleasant for whatever reason, that is perfectly fine.

            But this isn’t what the comment I replied wrote about the core of an internship. They wrote about the core of an internship being mostly a sink those undesireable tasks can be offloaded to, and that’s a entirely different matter.

            There’s a difference between, besides other duties, having to set up chairs and tables for a professional event because its what you sometimes also have to do, and having duties assigned solely along things like setting up chairs and tables.

            1. bamcheeks*

              But in a lot of office-heavy, non-technical roles, that is what an internship will be. I’m not quite sure what you are saying is wrong! I’ve worked with and managed paid interns, and our interns did not deliver training or coaching, write policy, organise large-scale events, create business development strategies, hire new people, sign contracts, make strategic decisions, manage stakeholders, account-manage clients or deliver programmes. They did things like send out marketing information, staff reception, answer or escalate queries, check and update contact lists, check and edit documents, minute committee meetings, book rooms, manage attendee lists and send updates, type up evaluations, and through that they were exposed to all the higher-level work and got the experience and understanding they needed to move into professional-level roles. That’s a very normal way for an internship in an office-based non-technical role to function IME.

              1. Cabbagepants*

                this is such a great comment. I will save it to link whenever there is a discussion of internships and what kind of work is suitable (and not suitable) for them to do.

            2. Cmdrshprd*

              I can see how it might have been unclear, but I mentioned:

              “if it is offloading lower level stuff that staff do,”

              and meant staff to be the staff at the equivalent level the internship is for, computer engineer intern and computer engineer staff, accounting staff and accounting intern, marketing staff and marketing intern etc…

              the tasks I listed wasn’t meant to be comprehensive, it was just the general boring routine tasks I could think of.

              But will clarify that I think off loading the lower level tasks for computer engineers to the computer engineer intern is okay, or the lower level boring tasks of the staff accountants to their intern etc… if the subject matter staff do those tasks I think it’s fine to offload them onto on intern because they will end up doing those when they start in that job.

              1. bamcheeks*

                Yeah, it sounds to me like r. is thinking of technical jobs where it’s quite clear that administrative tasks are outside the scope of the role. But for sectors like mine, things like minuting meetings, stuffing envelopes, updating contact lists, staffing reception, managing inboxes, answering and escalating queries, booking rooms, emailing details of the time and venue to attendees, typing up evaluation sheets — that is within the scope of the professional level job, and it’s all stuff I do as a project lead with 15 years’ experience. All of that stuff also exposes you to the higher-level work that’s going on, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that means you can go for the “must have experience” jobs.

                1. Cabbagepants*

                  I have a technical role and it’s still full of administrative stuff. Interface with the metrology vendor, analyze the data, abd compile it into a report. File requests to use shared lab tools, which includes writing up the experiment, motivation, and data collection plan, as well as having discussions with internal stakeholders and addressing their concerns. Expense reports for the tool time (oh shit I just spent the equivalent of my entire years salary on this data). etc etc.

        2. I Have RBF*

          The modern office has very little admin staff. Admins are a thing of yesteryear in many places. So now, it’s the juniormost person who gets the admin work. That’s usually an intern, but sometimes an RCG.

          New grads get the grunt work. Interns need to learn the grunt work too. If there are not any interns or new grads, it still goes to the juniormost on the team.

          Boring grunt work is part of any professional job now. So yes, someone working on a BS in Civil Engineering needs to lean to do data entry, copying (especially copying blueprints), and filing. They also need to learn to take and distribute meeting notes and handle scheduling for themselves and their team. Guaranteed, unless they manage to land a post at a really stodgy old company, they will have to do all of that shit with their shiny new degree, too.

      2. bamcheeks*

        To me that is kinda the definition of an internship mostly.
        if it is offloading lower level stuff that staff do, I think it is valuable for the intern to learn it from the ground up and do those tasks over and over to master and learn them.

        I absolutely agree with this, though I would also say that employers often need to work a bit harder to sell this as an advantage to the interns. Highly competitive internships often do a lot of “look how glamorous and amazing this work is! Here’s the image of someone in a smart suit at a glitzy event! Here they are looking serious meeting an important client! Here they are pieing Oscar de la Renta in the face!” Understanding that all that high-visibility, high impact work is made possible because someone cleaned the database, someone stuffed the envelopes, someone went to WalMart to buy the whipped cream, etc and getting that kind of context and a picture of all the work that goes into a successful happening is exactly the kind of knowledge that an internship is there to impart. But it is really common for employers to just assume that obviously the intern should know that, and if they don’t it’s Gen X / Millenial / Gen Z entitlement.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          And was before that these darn punk kids, dadgummed hippies, unserious bobby soxers, jazz aficionados, etc.

          Someone drew together a list of “people these days don’t want to work” headlines. It went back to the 1800s. Included the 1930s.

      3. Also-ADHD*

        It shouldn’t be the definition of an internship though—interns are primarily there to learn (paid, if full pay not stipend, it’s not so bad to mix a few low level tasks in), and if they’re not learning in the domain promised—ie you hire engineering interns to do your office admin work—it’s a problem. If you have engineering interns do more documentation reviews, Q/A, and low level engineering work, that’s normal, but if you have them doing office admin tasks outside their domain, that’s not an internship. You’re not training them in the domain. (This could get in to other fussy territory depending on how you hire and pay your interns, how you treat similarly situated, etc.)

        1. Healthcliff*

          I should have read farther before writing my comment to your earlier comment above. This comment I am replying to is all that needs to be said on the matter. The company is not treating the internship as an internship, while the intern is trying to have it treated an internship. The behavior being dismissively described as “not wanting to do the not-so-interesting work we all have to do” is valid pushback against an attempt to use an intern as low-paid admin work instead of providing the training and opportunities that make up an internship.

        2. I Have RBF*

          If your junior engineers do admin work, then so do your interns. Because schools teach how to design the bridge, they don’t teach you how to copy the blueprints, file the RFQs, file permit requests with city hall, and all the grunt work that goes with moving the bridge from design to actually being built. Yes, scheduling meetings with the team is part of the domain. So is assembling and copying bids, researching permit requirements, etc.

          At one firm in my prior career, I started as a temp clerical worker – literally an admin assistant. But I had a background in laboratory work in the same field. So I got the admin grunt work. Then I proved I could do that work in that field. I got hired perm, as a junior engineer. As I learned, I got more complex tasks. But even my boss, a PhD in Chemistry, did his own spreadsheets. Sure, some of it he passed to me, because I was faster with a spreadsheet.

          This idea that engineers and lawyers are too good to do their own grunt work needs to die. Even in the 90s, when we still had a publishing pool, admin work was slowly coming back to the engineers. When we lost a document processor, we just didn’t replace them. All except the most senior engineers had computers on their desk, and were expected to type up their own results. Now, when a team had data but had to turn around and go back into the field, I created a lot of reports, but only because I was in the office, not in the field climbing a smoke stack. The only thing the publishing group did was print and bind the reports.

    4. r.*

      Yes, and the ability of the intern to train the boss like this is a result of using interns for tasks that have too tight a deadline to be distributed to interns.

      If the intern doesn’t want to do the job assigned there needs to be enough time to 1) notice this, 2) have a talk with the intern about this not being acceptable, and that they need to complete this by or face the consequences, and 3) institute plan B — likely along the lines of instituting the consequences and giving out the work to someone who can do it — if it still isn’t done by the revised deadline.

      Working with this type of deadlines is essential to actually provide worthwhile training exercises, and if there are not enough tasks of those types availalbe for interns then that could suggest that LW’s place should review their intern programs. They may rely a little bit too much on interns pulling their weight than is good for either them or the interns.

      1. MassMatt*

        I think the issue is more to do with the fact that the LW trains the intern and is (or at least, thinks they are) responsible for completion and correction of the intern’s work, yet is not the intern’s supervisor. This sort of fuzzy chain of command is a recipe for dysfunction.

        Where is the intern’s actual boss in all of this? Are they aware that the intern is not doing the work, or doing it so poorly that LW has to put their own work on the back burner to pick up the slack? I’m amazed the LW has not brought this issue to their boss at the first or at least second occurrence.

    5. Nomic*

      Captain, you have a valid point, but don’t forget the purpose of (typically grossly underpaid) internships is that they get valuable experience. If they get stuck being an admin, then they are not getting the benefits that should come with an internship.

  5. Dina*

    This is an odd perspective, I know, but… I recently found out that one of my childhood homes, which is conveniently located between the main campus of a major software company and a large satellite campus of another major software company, is currently up on Airbnb. I’m pretty sure the main audience for using it is groups travelling for business.

    I feel awful about this, tbh. I hate that the place where I spent my teenage years is not being used to house people but instead being used as a form of short-term accommodation, likely at high profit for the current owner. (And possibly illegally – but that’s another story.)

    Airbnb and private rental sites like it decrease the available housing in high cost of living areas, further exacerbating the problem.

    So even if everyone is reasonably comfortable with sharing space with colleagues like that, there are plenty more reasons to be uncomfortable.

    1. Nodramalama*

      Hotels knock down houses, local businesses and parkland to build their hotels for significant profit, so I’m not really sure how that is relevant to what accommodation people choose to stay in

      1. Dina*

        I mean, I guess you could say the same about any building. But the fact that short-term non-hotel accommodation takes housing out of the market is pretty well established.

        1. Testing*

          Do you ever stay in a hotel or any kind of short-term accommodation (which hotels also are — it’s a sliding scale). Do you feel bad about doing so?

          1. Dina*

            I do – I prefer hotels but have stayed in Airbnbs in the past. Their business model now gives me pause.

          2. Dina*

            Yes, I do. Hotels, no. Airbnbs? I don’t think I’d ever stay at one that wasn’t some kind of homeshare anymore.

        2. Tiger Snake*

          But buildings and city areas also get zoned. Hotels do not get zoned the same way as houses – they cannot simply knock houses down to build a hotel. And then beyond that, residual zoning gets divided even further based on density.

          That puts very large restrictions on where and how you can build hotels, which helps protect local residents and make sure that there is housing avaliable. You can’t simply knock it down to build a hotel.
          AirBnB removes the house from being available to locals or being looking to actually rent, while not having to accomodate those zoning restrictions.

        3. Starbuck*

          This is a really silly argument as hotels do this at a much, much greater density than SFHs so the impact is obviously drastically less. It sounds like you don’t really understand the issue here.

      2. LaurCha*

        AirBnB is absolutely decimating historic neighborhoods because investors come in, flip the houses into all-gray horrors, and then book in bachelor parties, etc. who treat what once was a perfectly nice residential neighborhood like their own personal litterbox. This also drives rental prices up for locals because it’s removing rental properties from the long-term rental ecosystem.

        So it’s absolutely relevant for people who care about cities, neighborhoods, history, and local economies.

    2. Tau*

      I share your ethical concerns about AirBnb etc. in areas with a housing shortage, but this discussion doesn’t feel particularly relevant to OP. Well, unless you’re suggesting she should argue against the house share with her boss by pointing out the negative impact on the rental market. I wouldn’t advise doing that myself.

      1. Dina*

        Yep, that is what I’m saying. I’m coming from the perspective of someone who works at non-profits where this kind of ethics is an important consideration, though.

        1. kalli*

          You can be ethically opposed to something and realise that making the best of an imperfect situation (e.g. getting what accommodation you can when there’s a last minute accommodation fail) doesn’t change what you think of a larger social issue, and that there are better ways to advocate for change than limiting ones options based on a perception of non-local socioeconomics.

          1. bamcheeks*

            But this might be a useful tack for LW to take! Their organisation might also care about stuff like this.

    3. Mouse named Anon*

      I know a ton of people that do airbnbs. They aren’t big businesses, they are regular people who use it as a side income. I know that this in an issue in bigger cities for sure, but it’s def not always the case.
      As a person with 3 kids, we almost always stay in AirBNBs or VRBOs. I have a night owl teen and husband, and 2 little kids. Its a huge pain to all stay in one room, with one set of people going to be at 8 and the other set wanting to stay up til 1 am watching tv.

      1. Ms. Elaneous*

        Thank you, Mouse.

        Times are tough for homeowners, too. I have a friend who rents their guesthouse to help pay their mortgage. Many regular middle class people do this.
        I don’t think you can lay a rental housing shortage at Air BnB’s door.

          1. Different Experience For Sure*

            Yeah, really. I’m a regular middle class homeowner and there’s no guest house here, LOL.

          2. Cabbagepants*

            yes? especially if you live in a rural-ish area, lots of people built small guest houses in their back yards.

          3. I Have RBF*

            My city is housing impacted, so they are trying to get more ADUs built. So yes, even middle class houses sometimes have guest houses/granny flats/ADUs in what used to be a garage or workshop.

            But the idea is to get new long term housing, not add AirBnB nights.

          4. doreen*

            I think a lot of times “guest house” is a sort of exaggeration, it’s more like a basement/attic/garage apartment at best and it’s not that uncommon for middle class people to have those. (legal or not)

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              I think ‘guest house’ is more specific, and means a stand-alone building. Finished basement or attic, garage apartments, those are different. I’ve often seen them called ‘mother-in-law’ units.

          5. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

            I once rented (for a few years, not a short-term thing) a “mother-in-law cottage” which is the same sort of thing. Small house the size of a 1-BR apartment built in someone’s backyard. They’re common in some areas, and generally the homeowner lives in the “front house” which is a totally typical house (our landlord’s was 3 BR). This was in the LA suburbs and they couldn’t have afforded the mortgage otherwise, and they were definitely middle class. Don’t let the term make you think of a grand estate.

      2. metadata minion*

        From the perspective of someone who does not own any houses, hearing that “regular people” own multiple houses to make a side income does not actually make me feel any better about them.

        1. My Brain is Exploding*

          Some – in fact, many – people use their own homes for Airbnb – homes they live in – and move out for the time it’s rented. We’ve stayed in one like that, and there was an article in the local paper about people who do that (think – for things like college football games, big local events, etc.) and just go stay with their folks while they’re renting out their house.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Sure, but plenty of people don’t have this set-up. Where I live, there are condo buildings that have so many spaces up on AirBnB that they’re called ghost hotels.

          2. Starbuck*

            This is a different dimension of the issue because no one is actually being permanently displaced from housing in that scenario. Even so, in my city that’s one of the rules actually – the owner is required to be on site during the rental when guests are there. Otherwise, there is no one around to manage guests behavior and it helps prevent the noisy ‘tourist party house’ situation and makes it easier to know that capacity limits are being followed as well.

        2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Yup, especially when they could be providing long-term rentals for someone to live in those spaces.

          1. Mouse named Anon*

            Several of the AirBnbs I have rented over the years have been in converted attics, or basements. My favorite AirBnb was converted Attic in Asheville. So cute and gracious host. It was a modest home all around.

    4. Double A*

      I prefer a lot of things about hotels, but I have found vacation rentals with multiple bedrooms are the much better arrangement for my family when we travel together. My husband basically needs his own room, or he gets terrible sleep and it nearly ruins the vacation. It really a medical issue. So we could rent two hotel rooms for double the price with far less convenience of otherwise shared spaces, or we can have a vacation rental that works much better for us.

      I know vacation rentals have done a lot of bad things, but there are reasons that hotels are not the universal best lodging option at all times for all people.

      1. Mouse named Anon*

        Yes and often the house rental is the same price per night as one hotel room. I don’t understand how one hotel room costs $200 a night for 2 double beds and bathroom and 3 bedroom house down the road is $185 per night. I know their are issues with hotels and airbnbs, but for some of people airbnbs are just the better option.

  6. DorothyGale*

    I really don’t see the big deal about the shared house. You share a bathroom at work, right? It’s not like you’re sharing a bedroom.

          1. Nodramalama*

            Yes and these bathrooms presumably have a lock. Which effectively makes it an individual stall.

            I’m not quite sure how sharing a bathroom becomes LITERALLY sharing. You just don’t use it when it’s in use.

            1. amoeba*

              Yup, if anything, this would be much more private than the showers/toilets at work…

            2. Happy meal with extra happy*

              It’s not about physically sharing the same place; it’s about coordinating the sharing. I don’t want to have to coordinate poop times with my coworkers.

              1. Double A*

                But…lots of people do that at work? You see the bathroom is occupied so you come back later. Or use a different one. As one could likely do in an accommodation with 2 bathrooms.

              2. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

                So don’t? You come back later if it’s occupied? Barring digestive issues already discussed this is something most people do all the time, either at home or in public facilities of one kind or another.

          1. amoeba*

            Well, sure, but it’s still considered a pretty normal thing if you do (or have to, for your job) and not in any way inappropriate.

          2. Nodramalama*

            I think you will find many people use showers and change rooms at offices that provide them.

          1. Nodramalama*

            And as it is not a cubicle a bathroom is seperated by gender by the very fact that only one person can use it at a time.

            1. amoeba*

              This. Also, it’s 2024 – gender-neutral bathrooms exist! (Although they shouldn’t be crappy cubicles, but this goes back to your point….)

        1. Different Experience For Sure*

          Not typical unless there’s a separate workout facility, also not typical.

      1. Celeste*

        No, but they do some other intimate stuff in the bathroom. No one is saying they need to shower while their coworker is in the bathroom with them.

        1. Different Experience For Sure*

          Good grief, just no. Not sharing bathroom on official travel. At least the Feds don’t require this nonsense.

    1. Not Australian*

      Sharing a bathroom at work usually doesn’t involve – for example – being in one’s underwear or nightwear at 4 a.m. (Even if you’re only using ‘bathroom’ to mean a room with a toilet in it, as opposed to a ‘full bathroom’.) Sharing an actual bathroom – as in, a place where one gets naked to shower – with a work colleague, involves a level of vulnerability many people wouldn’t be comfortable with at all. Sharing it with someone of the same gender is just about tolerable over a short period, but in a house with more than one bathroom – and more than one gender – the potential for chaos is magnified. People aren’t always respectful about such things – and I speak as one who once entered a female-only bathroom at 5 a.m. only to find a man naked from the waist down sitting on a toilet reading, with the cubicle door open. N.B. he was an oaf, rather than a pervert, but that doesn’t improve the situation.

      1. Nodramalama*

        I’m not quite understanding how sharing a bathroom meaning sometimes somebody else will be in there and you don’t use it, ends up with sharing an actual space with someone half dressed.

        You go into the bathroom dressed and you leave the bathroom dressed. It the issue is that you might see someone in pyjamas I don’t know how the number of bathrooms solves that.

        1. TechWorker*

          Agree – it means you have to plan ahead to have particularly appropriate nightwear (or, hell put on jeans and a shirt if you want to wee in the night). And it means you need to trust your coworkers to do the same and not wander around in boxers. But it is perfectly possible for it to be just an inconvenience and not horrifically inappropriate.

          A 3 bed 3 bath place might be all en-suites which *does* resolve the issues, but then again it may well not be!

          1. Testing*

            I always have appropriate nightwear when staying in hotels, as opposed to when sleeping at home. This has saved me at least once from looking like a flasher in my coat in the street when the whole place was evacuated due to a fire alarm in the middle of the night.

            1. bamcheeks*

              Yeah, sleeping in anything that you wouldn’t want to be seen if there was an emergency is really living dangerously! Even if it’s just having a pair of sweatpants and a jumper next to the bed that you can pull on quickly.

            2. animorph*

              Exactly – I would always wear night clothes in hotels for the same reason. I don’t want to be finding clothes in an emergency.

            3. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              Exact same – I’ve never actually been evacuated from a hotel but share the concern. This is a bit far afield from “is a house with private bathrooms different from a hotel” though!

            4. Oops*

              I’ll always remember the tangentially-school trip I took as an early teenager where our hotel in London had the fire alarm go off at about 3 am. All of us were, of course, wearing appropriate pajamas (seeing as we were children) as were our parents/chaperones. But there was more than one guest strategically wrapped in a bedsheet.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          I don’t see any issue at all with people who get along and are civil enough to be short term housemates. The problem is that you don’t get to choose your workmates. It wasn’t that long ago we had a letter about a male boss who serenaded and stripped for his female report while in a shared property. She had felt perfectly comfortable to share general living spaces with him beforehand, too.

            1. Ellis Bell*

              Link pending! To be fair, it was a weekend trip rather than a work trip, but it went from “The outing was justified by claiming we could save money if we split the cost of lodging” to “But ever since this incident, he has completely ignored me at work.”

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        Everyone in a houseshare should lock the bathroom door when using it. Gross behaviour not to, which any boss should tackle immediately.

          1. Starbuck*

            I’ve never visited anyone’s house that didn’t have locks on all the bathroom doors?? Of course you can assume it’s a given that bathrooms have locks!

      3. kalli*

        There are two bathrooms, two men and one woman, staying there for the period of the conference. One bathroom for each gender present, short term.

        You will have people being twadwaddles wherever you go. If you only engage in society when you are protected from twadwaddles by society conforming to you at all times, then sure, you’re safe from people but you also can’t go to this conference.

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yeah, I am HORRIFIED by the idea of sharing rooms, but sharing two bathrooms between three doesn’t even register as a concern for me. It’s not even three-between-one, where you’d have the slight awkwardness of “if one person showers, nobody else can go to the loo or clean their teeth til they’ve finished”.

      I mean, if someone’s uncomfortable with it, fair enough. But I think it’s a long way from “this is obviously unacceptable”.

      1. amoeba*

        Probably also my time with housemates (both male and female, shared bathrooms every time) colours my opinion here, but yeah, that’s just such a normal thing for me. Never ever encountered any weird situation there, except possibly having to wait for a few minutes – and that’s not an issue as soon as there’s two for three, generally.

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Yes, when I was at college, we had two bathroom for each corridor, so for about 8 people and I was surprised at how much less hassle 2 between 8 was as opposed to one between five of us at home. Because it was rare that two people were showering or whatever at the same time.

        And I know most of us tend to tolerate more inconvenience in our ‘teens and early 20s than we would later in life, but it still doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

      3. londonedit*

        It really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, either. Sharing rooms would be an absolute no, but I don’t think it’s terrible to have two bathrooms between three people. As long as everyone has their own private room to sleep in, what’s the problem? There might need to be a brief ‘does anyone mind if I get in the shower first thing tomorrow? It takes me forever to dry my hair’ discussion, but that’s it really.

        1. Lexi Vipond*

          I think there might just be fewer bathrooms around in the UK (and Ireland, which I haven’t experienced myself), which is where this little cluster of comments seem to be coming from, than in the US – en-suite bathrooms in houses still feel like a fairly recent new-build thing to me, and I know plenty of people whose (usually tiny) second bathroom only came about as part of an extension or attic conversion.

          The idea that people in a house share isn’t odd to me, and I’ve stayed in plenty of hostels, and even occasionally old rural hotels, with single toilets and shower rooms accessed from the landing. But it’s obviously odd to some people.

    3. This Is a Username*

      One more consideration: As someone with celiac disease, sharing a bathroom on a work trip would make me pretty uncomfortable. If I got exposed to gluten during the trip (which has happened on 1/3 of my work trips so far this year), I would need the bathroom a lot for the next 24-48 hours, and I expect I would feel pretty self-conscious about a) my colleagues noticing that, and/or b) colleagues using the bathroom(s) when I am sick and urgently need it.

      This situation doesn’t apply to a lot of people, but I would feel so awkward and like my disease is a big burden if I had to spell this out to my boss.

      1. MsM*

        As other posts have made clear, I think there are any number of reasons people might not want their coworkers quite so aware of what’s going on with their internal plumbing.

    4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      At work you also leave and can use your own bathroom. On a work trip, where you are house sharing, you have very little privacy/down time.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I think they mean at the end of the day you go home and have your own bathroom, whereas on this work trip you come “home” and surprise you’re still there with your colleagues sharing space!!

    5. Texan In Exile*

      At work, I am not peeing up to ten times a night (thank you painful badder), worrying that the sound of the flushing toilet is going to wake my co-workers and dreading someone asking in the morning, “Who was flushing the toilet all night? I couldn’t sleep!”

      At work, I don’t have to pack a bathrobe or very modest pajamas so I can get from the bedroom to the shower.

      At work, I don’t have to see someone’s whiskers in the sink.

    6. Abundant Shrimp*

      Why is everybody saying that OP and OP’s boss share a bathroom at work with the other two male coworkers? Wouldn’t there be a men’s and a ladies’? Plus OP said they’re all remote.

      1. Nightengale*

        I share a bathroom at work with one male and 4 other female co-workers. We have a staff bathroom in the medical office where I work. It’s a one person at a time bathroom – I don’t think that’s terribly unusual for small offices/businesses? We do have gendered multi-stall bathrooms elsewhere in the building that I guess someone could use if they really wanted.

      2. Starbuck*

        In so many offices and buildings that aren’t large enough for that kind of bathroom, they’re just gender neutral single-user rooms. It’s not a big deal to use the same bathroom as someone of a different gender, especially if you’re not going to ever be in there at the same time. This fear-mongering is getting a little…off.

          1. Starbuck*

            Throughout this thread, people are talking about the idea of potentially having to be in a bathroom after a coworker of a ~different gender~ used it as some obvious threat/privacy issue/huge inconvenience. It’s really bizarre.

    7. Anna*

      The things I do in my home bathroom are very different than work bathroom. I have colitis so I am always very embarrassed and uncomfortable using a work bathroom. Home or hotel bathrooms are a private oasis at the end of a work day. It would me mortifying for a colleague to see/hear/smell how many times I use the bathroom before and after work. I also have a complex set of medications that are easier to administer if they are organized and easily accessible evenings and weekends. A shared bathroom means colleagues would see my meds unless I spend extra time hiding the meds morning and evening.

    8. Not on board*

      What if you suffer from ibs or colitis and your morning or evening toilet habits as a result are embarrassing? What if you have to pee in the middle of the night? Now you probably have to get dressed before going to the bathroom. Also, walls in houses are thinner so presumably your coworkers can also hear you in your bedroom and in the bathroom.
      And if you work in an office, it’s unlikely you’ve ever showered in the same house or office. The fact that there are opposite sexes involved here makes it even more awkward. Many people have never pooped in their office bathroom.

  7. chrisl*

    LW 4 if they won’t budge would you consider giving them 2 weeks notice now? Or would that end up punishing you more than them? As the standard notice they have no reason to complain or consider the bridge burned.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If LW4 can find a job that would work with their grad school schedule, maybe they could switch to that early. It would give them a partial schedule to sort out accommoddation etc and relax a little in the interim before starting school

      I agree that she is completely within her rights to give 2 weeks notice if they won’t budge and to stick to her minimum hours.

      Do tell all your coworkers if you are penalised for beingg considerate and giving a longer notice.
      So petty & short-sighted of them to risk losing goodwill of all their employees, not just the OP, just to save 1 week’s pay.

      1. Chriama*

        I didn’t understand it to be just a week’s pay, though. OP gave 4 months’ notice and it sounds like they feel they can do without her in 2 months. If she’s been training her replacement for the last year already, that’s not an unreasonable position to take.

        1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

          It’s mean and the consequence is still to warn all her coworkers not to give more than 2 weeks notice – which would mean they never in future have a trained person ready to step in when someone leaves.

          1. Chriama*

            And I think that’s really how it should be in most cases. I agree it sucks for OP, but I’m curious about if the long notice period was asked for or OP just did it because they felt it was the “right” thing to do.

            Honestly a super-long notice period really only makes sense to me when talking about succession planning for very high level employees, and the timeline should be agreed upon and documented in writing. Otherwise I’d say 1 month is generous and 2 is exceedingly generous, with anything more than that being excessive.

            I would never advise anyone in at will employment to give a super-long notice period even if their employer is the best. It’s just too difficult to expect people not to act on information they already have, when waiting would be detrimental.

            1. Anon Just for This*

              I agree with you for most circumstances. Especially with at-will employment and/or a company you’re not sure will handle it well.

              That being said, I work in government and the hiring process takes MONTHS. My group has been without a manager since October, though we’ve kinda hit a perfect storm of obstacles. Long notice can really help in shortening the gaps to bring someone new on after somebody leaves. Though our collective agreement also requires the employer to give 16 weeks notice if they want to end / not renew our contracts. And I haven’t heard of anyone being pushed out earlier than they wanted after saying they’re leaving a position. But this is all an exception to the rule.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Because it all benefitted them. They got the replacement well trained, they got plenty of time for hand over. Now its, oh hey, this one thing that would benefit you, nope, you don’t get it.

          Loyalty goes both ways. The company gets as much as they give.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Honestly, I get that a small company would say “oh, we can save by not budgeting X and Y into the budget for LW”, BUT that is something they need to discuss with LW, not just spring it on them as a done deal.

        3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          The LW probably planned to get paid for those 2 months, though, and now won’t be. That’s a tough financial hit, especially for someone starting grad school. All because she was being considerate of the disruption her departure was going to cause.

      2. Malarkey01*

        I’ve also seen the other side of this where we have hired a replacement, gotten them trained, and then the prior person is sticking around double encumbering a position way longer than we anticipated or needed. Yes it was to our benefit to get a replacement trained but we’ve also kept the departing person on longer than expected to not short them either and at a certain point you do need to call it. If they didn’t budget for her it seems like there was a real expectation on their part that she’d be gone.

        I know every business and industry is different but when you start crossing over fiscal years with budgets a hard stop does become more important.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Sure, but I imagine here the LW was pretty clear about the timeline. Grad school semesters start at predictable times. There isn’t really a risk that the LW is going to stick around after the semester starts.

          1. AngryOctopus*

            Which is why they should have had a discussion with the LW about this, not just sprung it on them as a done deal. Saying “you’ve trained your replacement and they’re ready to go. We have budget concerns about keeping this position doubled up for X more months. Can we work something out where you’re leaving earlier in the fiscal year so this works out for both of us?” would have been a courtesy. I’m a little unclear on why the 4 month notice period–if LW has been training the replacement for a year, it’s been very clear that they’re leaving. A 4 month notice period seems excessive in that they’re ALREADY well invested in training the replacement, so it’s not like the company is gaining anything. I can see them being sick of paying double for the position, although again, prediscussion about when it makes sense for LW to leave for both sides would have been much nicer.

            1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              But why should the LW take a financial hit because the company decided to bring on a replacement for her to train so early?

              1. MassMatt*

                I’m a little confused by the timeline. LW says they gave 4 months notice, but also started training their replacement a year ago. If the company didn’t know LW was leaving a year ago, then it wasn’t a replacement as far as they were concerned, I would assume rather it was due to business need.

                In any event, it’s a clear case of the employer punishing an employee for being generous with their notice for leaving, and all future employees should be sure they are not put in the same position.

                For true pettiness, coworkers could give NO notice and just explain “oh, I haven’t budgeted you any of my time after today. Bye!”

                1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

                  That interpretation makes sense. The LW has been training the person who, it has not been determined, will be the replacement.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Yes, and we’ve certainly also had letters about that from the side of the replacement (“I was hired to replace this person who was supposedly leaving and they are STILL HERE”). I see that the OP says they’ve “tried to stay flexible” about when their last day will be; from the employer’s perspective, I think that’s less likely to be seen as helpful flexibility and more likely to be seen as ambiguity that’s difficult to plan around. Basically, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the OP to want to stay on until closer to the start of their school year, but I also don’t think it’s unreasonable for the employer to suggest “how about if X is your last day” if the OP isn’t naming a date themselves; I would treat that date as a starting point for negotiations, and emphasize wanting to stay on through the busy period and make sure everything is fully wrapped up, which sounds like it will then naturally put your end date after the paid week off.

      3. sdog*

        LW4, if they don’t budge, would you be able to take your unused PTO during the busy period? Or, if you have a lot of it, take multiple weeks off now and then come back just before the end of the fiscal year? There’s no reason for you to be around for that busy period and go all out, knowing that you won’t have the paid downtime at the end to decompress. I know it still sucks since you were likely expecting to get paid until you start school. . .

  8. Msd*

    The “sharing a bathroom is no big deal” and “sharing a bathroom is totally unacceptable” discussion is interesting. Obviously people have very strong opinions and each camp thinks the other is out of their minds. I’m in the “totally unacceptable” camp if for no other reason than I don’t want to smell/hear my boss’s poo.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      One of many reasons I avoided working for a very small employer is that accommodating preferences is a much bigger % of their budget and hence much more likely to be refused.

      1. urguncle*

        Every letter that’s “I work for a business of [less than 50] employees” cements that I will not work for a small business again.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      especially more likely to be refused if paid by the owner

    3. nodramalama*

      If youve ever worked in an office with toilet cubicles in all likelihood you have heard and smelled both.

      1. Tippy*

        Seriously. It’s been my experience that coworkers know way more about each other’s business than they think. Bathroom habits/issues included.

      2. Starbuck*

        Yeah individual bathrooms / single user bathrooms seems vastly preferable to a multi-stall situation which a lot of people seem to be treating as the workplace norm. It’s weird!

    4. TechWorker*

      Do you think your boss and coworkers never poo in the bathrooms at work?

      Yes, it’s awkward if you use a bathroom immediately after someone and it smells terrible but like… everyone is human everyone poops..

      1. amoeba*

        I mean, I share the bathroom with my coworkers at work every day, so that’s really not something I can avoid anyway…

        1. This Is a Username*

          Yes, in the office, there’s often more anonymity, AND there’s an escape. For example, if someone with a digestive illness gets sick during the work day, they can potentially go home to the privacy of their own bathroom. If someone is sick in a shared house during a work trip, their illness is center stage.

          (And note that people with digestive illnesses might be more likely than usual to get sick during a conference, since they may not have as much control over their diet as usual.)

        2. AnonORama*

          Dance like no one’s watching
          Laugh like no one’s listening
          Poop like your coworker in the next stall can’t easily identify you by your shoes

    5. Michigander*

      I think it’s interesting (I personally don’t think I’d care much) but since everyone will have different opinions on it I think the most relevant point is really whether the LW should push back on it or not. I’d say not this year, since it doesn’t actually affect her, but next year she can refuse to go if her boss wants to do an Airbnb instead of a hotel again.

      1. HonorBox*

        I think the conversation should be less push back and more of an inquiry. As in, rather than saying “I refuse to go” I’d go with “This makes me uncomfortable, and I’d much prefer a hotel because I can disconnect and not feel like I’m having to be ‘on’ around my coworkers at every point in the trip. Is this something we can discuss?”

    6. Also-ADHD*

      Wait, but people poop in work bathrooms—and if it’s this small a company, you might know who was in there last. What is the difference?

      I’ll be honest—not that small a company, but I’ve definitely pooped at work in my life. I’d possibly poop at the conference at some point too. I’m remote now so I mostly poop at home, but when I’m out of the house the full day, it’s possible I’m going to poop somewhere. Everybody poops.

    7. Anon Just for This*

      My view is a bit skewed, since in grad school, the students usually shared a room at conferences to keep costs down. This usually involved sharing beds. Though it was with people I spent many, many hours with in a very small, windowless room. And now, I work in the public service. I haven’t traveled for work, but since we’re spending public money, I wonder if there are expectations that people will room together.

      But I recognize that my experience is very much not the norm and am not going to get judgy that other people would find this uncomfortable and unacceptable. And I can see how people would want to have some time and space away from colleagues to decompress after work.

    8. Msd*

      So everyone seemed to focus on my poo comment but at the end of the day I don’t want to see my coworkers/boss in a setting that would normally be just for my family. And I don’t want them to see me either. These people aren’t my family.

    9. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      For me personally, it’s “how do the people so adamantly against sharing a bathroom get along in life?” Obviously if they can afford it they can try never to live anywhere with fewer bathrooms than residents, but they still have to leave the house. The horror about using a bathroom someone else has previously pooped in is just weird to me.

    10. Msd*

      Well I’ll try one more time. it’s not just about the bathroom. At home or in a hotel room I don’t wear underwear. I watch trash tv. I stuff my face with chips and dip. I wear sloppy clothes. I burp and pick my nose. I may not feel like talking. I’m comfortable. So I’ll say it again. Coworkers are not family. They are not friends. I don’t want to stay in a house as roommates with them.

      1. Starbuck*

        Being asked to go without / not do some of those things for a mere 3 days doesn’t seem like that wild of an ask for a business trip, though, where at least some degree of discomfort is expected since you’re not at home. Just pick your nose in the bathroom??

        1. Msd*

          Sure but staying in a hotel would be better. And frankly once you add in the service fees, cleaning fees, host fees, etc then hotels are about the same or cheaper.

  9. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    #3 You should always inform your manager if an intern is avoiding / incapable of the planned work.
    It is information she needs as a manager, to do her job, and providing this to her is an important part of your job when working with an intern

    1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Exactly. Right now supervisor has no idea the intern is not doing what is expected because OP is covering for her. The biggest favor you can do the intern is stop covering for her.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Agreed. Only thing I’d add to the advice is that the LW should come in to that conversation prepared to talk about what she has done to try to teach the intern. One of the “key messages” for her here is that she has done a lot of training and coaching, so that’s not the reason there are issues.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes! And the LW should note that previous interns were more productive without as much previous training and coaching, as this illustrates that the problem is with this particular intern and not with the LW’s supervision or training.

        Also want to add – the LW mentioned “university qualified.” If this means that the university had a role in selecting or placing the intern, there is probably some sort of internship coordinator or faculty member who is helping ensure good internship experiences for both the students and employers. It’s even more important that the manager is looped in about performance issues so they can pass those on to the university partner.

  10. Lionheart26*

    I’m a bit confused by the idea that the business should pay if OP1 is uncomfortable.
    I’ve worked for organisations with big conferences that everyone wants to go to. To stretch the budget further (and allow more people to attend), the default accommodation is shared hotel rooms, but if you’re not comfortable with that you can pay the extra for a single room. This has always struck me as fair, but maybe I’m off base?

    1. Empress Ki*

      Sharing a hotel room with a coworker ? Yes I think you are off base. What if your coworker snores heavily or if she has a medical condition they don’t want to disclose ? This has been discussed many times here.

    2. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

      People shouldn’t have to spend their own money to do their jobs. Having privacy when I am off the clock during work travel is a reasonable expectation.

      1. Cmdrshprd*

        “People shouldn’t have to spend their own money to do their jobs.”

        work travel entirely for the companies benefit I agree, but I do think a conference is a gray situation in that it is not only a benefit to the company but also the employee. I would say 50% company makes the person a better employee, but also 50% for the employees benefit it gives them experience and makes them more marketable, and is good networking.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          The company wouldn’t be sending anyone if the company wasn’t the main beneficiary. You want to go to something for yourself, the company may give you paid time off not from your PTO, but you pay for everything else. Company wants me to go, then they pay for it.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            Sure and in the OP and the mai. post on this thread the company was paying for it.

            the main point is that hotel room is more of a want/business class flight, where an individual room in an air BNB is the economy/coach flight option.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Doing your job anywhere gives you more experience and makes you more marketable. In some fields it also provides networking.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        It’s spending their own money to upgrade beyond what the organisation’s basic travel policy is – and shared accommodation with own bedroom sounds reasonable for a microbusiness, although definitely nok for a tech giant / Fortune 200.

        If the employee has a specific need for the upgrade, e.g. IBS, then imo they need to say so when something is going to increase costs a significant amount. Even if that just means supplying documentation from a doctor that states the accommodation and omits the reason.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I would consider a shared room to be Not Off The Clock and therefore that I’d be racking up overtime or time in lieu. This is similar to how a more expensive direct flight can be cheaper than a cheaper but slower layover option.

        I’m not sure my work on the second day would be worth much if I’d had to share a room overnight.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          this too. People need their downtime to recharge. Conferences are a lot of energy. Never giving people a chance to really relax just makes the whole conference less productive for them.

          1. Cmdrshprd*

            “People need their downtime to recharge.”

            I’m an air BNB with their own room, people would have time to relax. if boss wanted to make people be on all the time, dinner drinks etc… they could request/demand that even in. a hotel, boss could just go up to the room door.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              If I’m in a hotel my boss isn’t going to know my room number (and the desk staff should not be giving out room numbers to anyone).

              1. Cmdrshprd*

                “If I’m in a hotel my boss isn’t going to know my room number (and the desk staff should not be giving out room numbers to anyone).”

                Maybe your field/company is different, but from what I have seen your boss knowing your room number is very common. Boss would t even have to ask the front desk, boss would just ask you “angry octopus what room are you in?” it would come of strange if you refused to provide your room number on a work trip.

                1. basically functional*

                  I’ve been on many work trips with coworkers and none of them have ever asked me for my room number. Why would they?

    3. Abundant Shrimp*

      Off base. It’s been discussed here over the years. There are industries where it is the norm for people to share rooms and even beds on business trips, but they are outliers.

      The one place I worked at where we had to travel, we traveled to do work at the company’s other locations and no one ever even doubted that everyone needed their own room. I mean, they wanted us to get the work done, not to sleepwalk around the shop floor because their roommate snored all night.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      Business wants to send people to a conference that’s a business expense that should not in any way be passed on to the employee. If they can’t afford to pay for separate rooms, they can’t really afford to send that many people. If someone volunteered to share a room in order to get to go, that’s their prerogative but if the employer is making people go and not paying for unshared accommodations, that’s crap.
      Super common in academia. So potentially no point in pushing back in that context. But still crap.

  11. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    OP4, your employer really stinks. You were counting on this money and probably the health insurance. They treated you badly. It will only be a portion of your salary, but you should be eligible for unemployment benefits because they let you go early.
    Maybe karma will kick in, too. The person you are training could lose faith in the agency and maybe they will leave, too.
    Sounds like you have a lot of PTO banked. Could you use that now rather than training and documenting or is it better to not if they will pay it out when you leave?
    You referred to your employer as an organization. If that means it is a nonprofit, could you go to the board and let them know how damaging this will be to the organization’s reputation? Any chance that firing you after you have generous notice goes against their mission? I’d be on the warpath, kindly telling the funders you are leaving, planned to stay until X date but are being pushed out.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Yes, if you can, use all the PTO you have banked, even if that uses up all your 2 weeks notice. And don’t answer any questions even 5 minutes after your last day

    2. MsM*

      I would not recommend getting the board or funders involved in this. Odds are they won’t see the problem and will be annoyed at being dragged into it. Plus, it just gives the organization cause to let LW go sooner and the opportunity to paint them as a disgruntled former employee.

      1. I can read anything except the room*

        I agree. This doesn’t rise to the level of something the board or funders need to be brought in on. Honestly it’s very likely the funders would agree with the decision to save money by not keeping OP on longer than necessary, since they’re the ones whose money would be paying for it and donors more often than not are obsessed with seeing the orgs they support have a “low overhead ratio.”

        Meanwhile the board consists of volunteers (who are often also the major funders) who are enjoying their retirement or have other full-time jobs and typically only want to be brought in when there’s going to be legal liability or catastrophic fallout. One employee being pushed out early isn’t usually going to have catastrophic fallout unless that employee is unusually influential.

        None of that is to say it doesn’t suck for LW, or that it’s not a crappy move from the org management. Just that board and major donors are not usually a receptive audience if employees go over the Executive Director/President’s head for anything short of law-breaking and major abuse.

      2. SnowyRose*

        It could likely be outside their area of control. I work for a non-profit and the only employee the Board has say over is the executive director–that’s it. All other organization staff are the responsibility of the executive director and the deputy executive director. Any attempt to influence, meddle in, or otherwise impede personnel decisions would be grounds for a board member’s removal.

    3. AnonInCanada*

      And also tell all your colleagues, OP. If this is the payback for OP giving the company that much notice of their leaving, then these colleagues should be forewarned of the potential consequences of that action. What’s the company going to do, fire OP?

  12. Honey cocoa*

    My husband has been a contractor for the fun government agency for a little over 15 years now. In that time he’s done essentially the same job for four different companies. The benefits change a little, sometimes his PTO gets paid off and sometimes they’ve just carried it over to the new companies. He has co workers who’ve been there 25 years and worked for seven different companies. The change over are usually pretty smooth and he gets new company swag. It happens every five years or so.

    1. AnonInCanada*

      fun government agency

      If this isn’t the textbook definition of an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. :-D.

      But I wonder how would transferring benefits from Company X to Company Y would work, especially if the two companies are both still in business and competitors?

      1. A Significant Tree*

        I’m assuming that it’s not formally transferring, but more like the new company would grant the switching contractors a matching level of seniority rather than starting them at the “new employee” level of PTO – can’t imagine having to reset PTO for every contract switch would keep many people around.

      2. Peter the Bubblehead*

        I have been working in a similar situation for 16 years now. I have worked in the same building on the same government contract but have worked under five private companies. We are what are termed SCA employees (Service Contract Act), under which our ‘seniority’ and some benefits are determined by how long we have worked under a specific government contract. For example, I get a certain amount of PTO per year based on the number of years since I was first hired under the contract (1-3 years, 4 to 8 years, 9 to 12 years, etc), and I receive my PTO as a lump drop on the anniversary of when I started on the contract and unused PTO is paid out on the paycheck immediately following my anniversary. The government also required a certain amount of sick time be accrued each year but that is earned at the same rate for every employee no matter seniority. Other benefits such as health care and 401k are at the discretion of the contract winner.
        Another benefit of falling under SCA is when a new company wins the contract, they are required to offer a similar position at similar pay to existing employees. If you have left for any period of time or do not fall under SCA, you may have to start out at entry-level again with each new contract award. Often company management will change with the awarding of a new contract, but the workers on the deckplate tend to remain the same.
        But there is no severance between contracts. An expiring contract ends on one day, the new contract begins on the next day. We often (but not always) get ‘new’ equipment as the new contractor must supply their own office equipment (work computers, servers, IT support) – and I put ‘new’ because our last contract change the new company had to issue all the employees with laptops that (from the markings on them) had formally belonged to some school district and the company bought them bulk wholesale used. Otherwise it seems like I have worked the same job with most of the same people with little change for the last 16 years.

      3. Random Bystander*

        Having been through that (twice–once going to new company, then returning to original company), it is usually something that is negotiated between Company X and Company Y–“all transferring employees keep seniority from original date of hire”, “40 hours of PTO will transfer” or whatever terms are set up. Usually, this also includes negotiation regarding the exact date of the switchover so that things like insurance rolls over seamlessly even if Company X uses InsuranceA and Company Y uses InsuranceB.

        What really gets to be a PITA is managing retirement accounts when you’ve got things like ‘after x years, you get 4% matching; after y years, it goes up to 6%’.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yep, it’s a totally normal thing. In one instance, I was the program manager for the new company, so although I had no say in what the old company was doing, I got briefed on it in case the employees got confused. No severance offered, except for the 3 people whose tasks were not in the new contract.

      1. EngineeringFun*

        Yep, so very common. I once negotiated a 10 k raise because another contracting company offered me a job. But I got my current company to increase my salary to keep me. The government needed my skills and didn’t care who the contract was with.

    3. LW5*

      Thank you! That’s reassuring. Does your husband normally get offered severance? This is the first time we have gone through this process and are nervous and stressed.

      As a clarification, I’m curious why my current company (Company X) would have this specific type of employment as a contingency, but not other forms of employment (if I started working at Company A or Z or Seuss). How does this kind of contingency get enforced? Would they ask for the severance to be repaid if they learn we moved over to the other company? Is there normally a waiting period? For example, if our severance were to last 3 weeks, and we start a position at Company Y after 5 weeks, would we likely be in the clear to keep the severance?

      1. StressedButOkay*

        Generally, the only employees who are offered severance are the ones who aren’t picked up with the new contract. The reason is that there are never supposed to be periods of time where you are without pay. Company X will pay you until May 31 and then Company Y will start paying you on June 1.

        Contract companies confirm who will and will not be picked up with the new contract, so Company X would know who would and would not need a severance. Or what happens a lot is that if someone isn’t picked up by the new company, Company X keeps them onboard and finds another contract they have to put them on.

      2. Pretty as a Princess*

        This is SO routine, on a government support contract and it’s atypical for anyone to actually lose a job, because the support contractors are bidding to fill *positions identified by the government*. (It sounds like you are on what is generally referred to as a SETA contract?) the salaries will be nearly identical – because they are, again, bidding to fill specific positions – and the benefits are generally pretty comparable. I have known people who have held the same position for decades and yet been an employee of 7-8 different contractors.

        The thought process behind this contingency is basically “if you accept the literal same job from the new contract awardee, your job hasn’t been terminated.” The way they enforce the contingency is generally something like:

        – the new company offers you a position, and tells the old company who they are extending offers to to continue those positions

        – the new company tells the government org and the old company who has accepted offers and will need credentials for the facilities, email addresses, etc

        These contracts generally have conditions that require minimal to no downtime in between. Unless someone has been a poor performer or the government has eliminated its requirement for a position, everyone in place is most likely to receive an offer from the new awardee.

        1. Different Experience For Sure*

          Fed CO here, contractors on services such as the IT help desk are actually required to carry over existing employees, we don’t want people losing jobs because the new contractor underbid on labor. There are folks who have worked the help desk for years under multiple employers.

      3. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        I was in your situation a few years back and can offer a different perspective.

        In my particular case, I was *not* offered a position with the incoming company – most likely due to the enormous pay cut that would mean, since Incoming Co. had to bid crazy-low to win the contract. They already had someone with no experience lined up to take the position that I had occupied, at a much lower rate of pay.

        My employer (Outgoing Co.) had some other gov contracting positions open that I could’ve potentially taken. But – they involved a very long commute, and they were actually outside my areas of experience. So those didn’t seem to be a good solution. After about a month and a half — during which the gov client kept me on as a bridge solution until Incoming Co’s person could take my place — Outgoing Co. laid me off. I was given severance (about a month’s worth, I think, due to my overall years of experience with Outgoing Co.) and they also paid for a month of COBRA for me.

        I know it *is* for typical for incumbents to get offered positions with the company that takes over a contract, but it doesn’t always happen that way. And also, any offers made by the incoming company could be a bad deal. I know people who have been offered significant pay cuts, to which they just said “pass” and went on to find better gigs.

        Good luck to you! I hope everything works out for the good!

    4. Mockingjay*

      Note that OP5 can file for unemployment, if New Contract Company doesn’t offer salary and benefits commensurate with Prior Company. Rare, but does happen.

    5. Generic Name*

      Yup. I was on the other side of this working for the company that won the contract and the on-site workers were seen as *really* working for the agency that held the contract even though they were legally employed by my company, which I found odd. It was especially weird because the cheap company branded water bottle filled with candy was filled with even cheaper candy (jolly ranchers versus mini snickers) for the on-site workers.

    6. Parenthesis Guy*

      That’s potentially problematic for your husband because he theoretically loses seniority each time. For example, if his 401k needs five years to vest, then he has to start over each time he gets a new job. Or if the new company offers more leave the longer you are there, then that can be bad news also.

      1. The Coolest Clown Around*

        While that’s true in GENERAL, government contract work is its own special world. Some companies will carry your leave balance over, while others won’t- but this kind of changeover is so common that there are generally systems in place for handling thins like 401Ks and retirement benefits, or no one would ever take these slots. Ask your contracting company (old or new, whichever makes sense) about the benefits changes, but likely almost everything will stay pretty close to the “position baseline”

        1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

          I’ve been doing on-site contracting work for well over a decade and I have never seen this.

          Every changeover – whether voluntary (leaving for a different position/company) or contract changeover – has involved starting with a new 401(k), new insurance, and a zero PTO balance. It’s possibly that I’m just the shittiest negotiator ever, but everyone I’ve worked with has had a similar experience.

          I have gotten REALLY good at rolling over 401(k)s though.

          1. Peter the Bubblehead*

            A lot will depend on whether the contract you are working under falls under SCA or not. If it falls under SCA, your earned PTO will stay the same (although I have seen contract changes where everyone was paid out their accrued PTO on the last day of the contract and had 0 PTO until the bank refilled on their next anniversary, which for someone like me when the contract changed over in December and my PTO refilled in mid-September really sucked that summer) and pay bands are dictated by the government through regional wage determination charts (which prevents bidding competitors from unrealistically under-bidding a new contract).

          2. Jen*

            SLEB you should absolutely be negotiating! My company will work with incumbents and their needs all the time. More PTO or a sign-on bonus are the most common things we give incumbents. You should always ask!

      2. doreen*

        401K vesting only matters if the employer contributes to it – not all employers do. You are always 100% vested in your own contributions.

  13. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

    I’m surprised at the lack of support for the OP who does not want to share a house with her boss and coworkers. A shared living space is very intimate, there is the power dynamic and no downtime away from the boss and coworkers. I would hate it and feel restricted to my bedroom. The first thing I do when get home or to my hotel room is take off my bra and get into comfortable clothes, like a big cotton shirt and sweats. No way am I doing that with people I work with. So I’m stuck in my bedroom and have to change to use the bathoom or make coffee in the morning. If my my boss is watching a loud movie when I am trying to sleep, it’s risky to ask them to turn it down. So much can go wrong. Someone getting drunk. Boundary problems. Private medical issues.
    Like Alison frequently says, if the company can’t afford private hotel rooms for each person, then they can’t afford to send them.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Depends on the size of the firm. This is only a microbusiness
      The choice may be between booking a house or sending fewer people

        1. Peter the Bubblehead*

          It sounds like all four employees are needed to attend this conference. Since this business is so small, it may require all four to be there to attend different elements of the conference and cover all their bases.

          In this case you have three people sharing a house. One is female and (especially since she is the boss/business owner) will likely get the bedroom with the private bath. The other two are male. I can’t think of any two men who would not be able to share the use of a single bathroom without clashing. Yeah, it might mean they need to establish beforehand who has use of the bathroom for their morning/evening routines (one has from 7-7:30am/7-7:30pm and the other 7:30-8am/7:30-8pm) but as someone who used to share a two bedroom one bath apartment with a male friend for roughly a year early in my adult life I can remember clashing over the bathroom exactly no times.

    2. 34avemovieguy*

      What do you do if you are a house guest? I can empathize with the inconvenience of changing your routine and navigating this college dorm redo. But I don’t think it’s impossible to figure out solutions for the 2 days or so. Would it be my preference? No, but I also don’t think it’s worth using capital on

      1. I'm the Phoebe in Any Group*

        Staying with friends or relatives is very different than living with a boss and coworkers up and down the food chain for several days.

      1. basically functional*

        Yes, but you don’t have to leave your hotel room to use the bathroom or get coffee.

  14. Lady Lessa*

    For a view from someone who was in LW4’s replacement. It happened to me, we overlapped for about a month or two. I had to bring in my own computer to do any work on safety documents, and I was NOT trained in the area where I had zero experience. (we had basically 3 main chemistries, and I was/am experienced in 2 of the 3; finding someone with all 3 is almost unicorn hunting).

    I was also uncomfortable because the woman I was replacing and her technician were the same ethnic group and often spoke their native language. Awkward. Due to proprietary formulations, the lab was locked and we didn’t spend much time outside of the lab.

    Not surprising this was one of the jobs I didn’t do very well.

    1. ecnaseener*

      It actually doesn’t sound like your experience has much in common with that of LW4’s replacement. LW has been training them for a year already. So we know they’re getting trained unlike you, and there’s no indication that the replacement doesn’t have any resources, or that they’re twiddling their thumbs waiting for LW to leave, or that there’s a language barrier, or, uh, whatever ethnicity-related awkwardness you felt.

  15. Red5*

    LW #2: I had a friend like this (note the past tense, unfortunately). In my situation, my job generally requires me to be reachable after hours unless on vacation, so I have a work cell for that and then a personal cell as well. My friend started calling me on my personal cell after hours for work-related things. Most of the things she called me about were things that other people in our shared department were responsible for, or things she needed to work out with our shared boss. Instead of going to them, she seemed to see me as an “easy button” and started trying to use our friendship to make solving her work challenges easier for her. So, I would see her number pop up on my personal phone and answer expecting to make fun plans or talk with my friend and get a work problem that wasn’t even mine dumped on me. I told her repeatedly that if she needed to call me about work things after hours to call my work cell number and not my personal. She persisted. It all finally came to a head when she called me right after I’d gotten home after working 24 hours in about a 30 hour period and insisted I drive back to the office sleep-deprived to take care of something for her that wasn’t mine to take care of. In a not-proud-of-myself moment, I told her off and blocked her number on my personal cell.

    This effectively ended our friendship, but there were other contributing factors that made that a necessity. She still occassionaly mentions that she tried to call me over the weekend and I always ask if she called my work number. The answer is always “no”, but that’s no longer my problem.

  16. Just Me*

    I had a “friend” like LW #2 once. They refused to accept or acknowledge any kind of boundary, and it got worse and worse over time (well beyond work-related communication). They finally left the organization we worked at and I seized the opportunity to leave the “friendship” as well. I hadn’t realized how stinkin’ exhausting it was until I no longer had to deal with it. Good riddance!

  17. woops*

    for negotiating – if they won’t budge, and won’t pay the vacation time, consider adjusting your last day to be before that “really busy time” right before when you’d take off. if you can afford it. why bust your butt if they’re going to penalize you for giving long notice?

  18. Hyaline*

    LW1: it feels like part of the problem here is that the house is already booked. It may be that your boss would be unable to recoup a deposit or even the entire cost if she canceled now (hence why she might be short or curt about continuing the conversation—if she sees it as a done deal). So if you’re truly uncomfortable with the idea of a house share, it might make more sense to have a conversation about norms and practices moving forward when it comes to travel instead of continuing the discussion about this particular trip.

    1. HonorBox*

      Totally agree with this.

      Also, I think that conversation should include all members of the team at the same time. I understand why LW1 is uncomfortable and wants to ensure this doesn’t happen to them in the future BUT I think this is a battle I wouldn’t suggest leading because it doesn’t impact them right now. The optics might not be great if boss sees LW leading the charge.

  19. Person from the Resume*

    For LW #1: I challenge this: “I also feel like if it were a male boss with two women, this would never fly.”

    If you search AAM for shared accommodations on work trips, you will find shared hotel rooms, beds, houses, tents.

    You may be uncomfortable with such a thing. Many people are not. Two genders; two bathrooms. 1 bathroom for female boss; 1 bathroom for male employees.

    My major point is that YOU are not being asked to stay here. If your concern is that you may asked to do so in the future determine your boundaries and prepare your argument for your self. This is not a travesty that you need to help defend your coworkers from this mistreatment. Many people do not consider this mistreatment at all. Everyone gets a private room.

    I once stayed in a hotel that shared a bathroom between two rooms. No consideration for gender. Bathrooms had locks on both sides so you could lock the other occupant out of the bathroom when you were using it and lock him out of your room when you were not using the bathroom. FYI: This was a US military “hotel” so perhaps we just accepted more than the regular person.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Yes. I am trusting the LW’s description that the boss is female and the other employees are male so there are only 2 genders in this situation.

    2. MsM*

      “If you search AAM for shared accommodations on work trips, you will find shared hotel rooms, beds, houses, tents.”

      Yes, but…most of those people were writing in for confirmation that they weren’t wrong to feel uncomfortable about that, and got it?

      1. Person from the Resume*

        True, but those people were sharing bedrooms and beds. This letter is not about bed or bedroom sharing. Not sharing a bedroom is a the expected standard.

        Sharing a common bathroom (but not at the same time) is something a lot of coworkers do every day. Whereas other employees share public bathrooms but with stalls with members of the same gender everyday.

        1. linger*

          There’s sharing bathrooms, and sharing bathrooms. Recently stayed in a hostel laid out with one bathroom shared between two bedrooms. Unfortunately, the other occupant somehow had never learned to use a shower curtain properly, and left the entire room flooded, thus rendering the toilet unusable.

  20. I should really pick a name*

    I get that LW1 wants to discuss this now in case the next conference is in another city, but I really don’t think they should be leading the charge on this since they’re not actually affected.

  21. HonorBox*

    OP3 – Your boss needs to know. You had me there when I read that you had to move a deadline. That’s a big deal. Just because the intern doesn’t “want” to do some things doesn’t mean they don’t “have” to do those things. It sounds like there’s a pretty fair balance where everyone has to do some of the less desirable tasks, so no one is dumping crappy jobs on the interns just because they’re lower paid. This is affecting your productivity and affecting the business’s ability to deliver to your customers. You’re paying someone to be there to learn… but also to actually do work. And they’re not doing the work, so they’re not actually getting the full learning experience either.

  22. Nancy*

    LW1: this doesn’t affect you and you have no idea whether it will affect you in the future. It’s really not difficult at all to coordinate 2 bathrooms among 3 people. Many people lived in dorms, had roommates, stayed in hotels with shared hall bathrooms, etc and so it’s not a big deal to them.
    when it’s time to plan for your travel, you can make a suggestion then.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        SAME. I only share space with my spouse because I’m exceedingly fond of him and would not voluntarily live in a dorm or stay at a hotel with a shared hall bathroom at this stage of my life. By the time I show up at work, I’m showered, groomed, and presentable. I don’t need to see my coworkers in my lounge pants brushing my teeth. I will stay in the tiniest hotel room ever if it’s private and has an attached bath.

        1. Abundant Shrimp*

          When I was 15, a group of us from math camp were referred for admission to a prep-type boarding school, and all but myself got in (long story) so over the last two years of high school, I would visit my friends there on weekends and crash in their dorm rooms, that had something like 8-10 people to a room, either on someone’s empty bed or maybe I shared a bed with a friend? can’t remember. Then I’d wake up Sunday morning and arrive home rested, refreshed, and ready to face the schoolweek. I think of it now and am like HOW DID WE ALL DO IT? or, later in college, going camping with same friends and crashing 4-5 people to a tent. HOW…. you’ve got to be in your late teens and early 20s to be okay with it, and even my kids are long past that age. Not to mention the power dynamics introduced by one of the people you’re crashing with being your boss, and all of them being your coworkers.

  23. Dedicated1776*

    LW5: This is so common in defense contracting that it has a term: flipping shirts. You don’t get severance because you basically have the same job, your paychecks just come from a different company. Especially if they are keeping your pay steady. (A family member in the space once flipped shirts and took a 40% pay cut but that’s a story for a different day…)

    1. LW5*

      Yikes! Yes, we haven’t heard anything about what pay would be like. We’ve heard the term rebadging, so similar idea, but we’ve collectively not gone through this process before. How long does it normally take for the job offers to come through? (looks at calendar anxiously) I’m very much a rule follower, but I am curious how they enforce this policy. Is it honor system?

      1. Pretty as a Princess*

        No, they literally tell each other who they will be extending offers to for retention.

        1. Pretty as a Princess*

          ETA: I should have said “to fill the positions under the new contract.” From the customer office day to day side it’s basically seen like retention of staff. (Because the company issuing the paycheck to the contractors does not matter at all to the government team members in the office.)

      2. Person from the Resume*

        From the government side when this happens there’s usually only a small hiccup in service.

        The new company will want you hired to start on X-date (usually the very first day of their contract). You would have no loss of job or income.

        The point about severance. Companies do not have to legally offer severance. In this case, “severance” is to help the person out of a job since your own company has nowhere to put you without that government contract … BUT it is also to keep you onboard until the last date of their contract versus you starting a new job before the contract end. Your current company needs some/most of you (depending on the type of contract) to continue working to the end of their contract. They pay severance to those people to stay until the end and only start a new job after the contract ends. But since it standard in government contract for the new company to hire the old company’s employees, your company doesn’t need severance to keep on those guys who are jumping to the new contract.

  24. HailRobonia*

    #3: If your interns come from a particular source or program (such as a university internship placement program) you may want to consider contacting them about this intern if they don’t improve. Perhaps there is something that organization could do to set better expectations of what an internship entails (thought it does seem you’ve been quite clear with this intern – maybe there is no getting through to them).

  25. Nancy*

    LW4: I don’t understand, they knew a year ahead of time you were leaving? If so, then if course they wouldn’t budget for you in the next year. From their perspective, you also had a year to plan what to do after you left. I think you have a better chance asking for a vacation before the new fiscal year starts, but since it’s only one week you are asking for in the new year that may be ok.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yeah, I’m confused with the timeline–you’ve been training your replacement for a year, but just now gave a 4 month notice? I’m not surprised the company didn’t budget for the overlap in the new fiscal year. There should have been a lot more talking between LW and the company, but the company also has an interest in not double paying anymore, so they needed to sit down and come to a better agreement.

    2. Chriama*

      I’m also confused by the timeline, and it sounds like neither OP nor her employer confirmed any details? For my part I can’t imagine a role that needs a year of training your replacement that is not c-suite succession planning, and those jobs often *do* have specific contracts. And it kind of seems like OP’s employer assumed that of course OP would leave at the end of the fiscal year, while OP assumed that of course she’d leave when she was good and ready to. Poor communication all around.

      I hope OP gets her to stay for those last 2 months if she needs the income, but I wouldn’t expect to get that extra paid week off. If her current PTO balance isn’t getting paid out I’d say start using it up now.

  26. Generic Name*

    #1 I love how OP is like “I’m uncomfortable with this situation on behalf of my coworkers and my future self. How do I advocate for myself and others?” and tons of people are popping up saying that since they personally wouldn’t feel uncomfortable, the OP (and therefore nobody else) shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. Maybe get some empathy folks? Your feelings aren’t universal. If you have no advice because you don’t have the same concerns as OP, perhaps sit this one out.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      Seriously. At least half the company (of 4 people, but still) is uncomfortable. Heck, boss might be the only one comfortable with it for all we know. And Boss may change her mind after the actual stay in the shared house. It’s great that half the commenters would be just fine in this setting, but they are not the ones going to this conference.

      1. Nodramalama*

        No, LW, a bystander, is uncomfortable and one other person after being prompted by LW asked if it could be discussed. It’s not even clear if the colleague actually has an issue with it in the first place. LW didn’t start the letter with “my colleague told me they felt uncomfortable and I decided to go to bat for them”

        1. AngryOctopus*

          So? LW recognizes that this situation could impact them down the road, and wishes to proactively bring it up. The colleague is likely thinking “oh, I’m not the only one! I agree with LW!”.

      2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        We don’t know that the other coworker was personally concerned or just trying to help the OP. I’ve raised issues before where I’m not personally bothered, but I know a colleague is

    2. bamcheeks*

      I don’t know, I think the difference between “this is obviously an unacceptable situation” and “many people would be fine with this but you’re not and that’s OK” is an important one to know when you’re trying to advocate for yourself.

    3. Nodramalama*

      No, people are popping up because LW is not affected by this situation and is basically saying that nobody would think this situation is ok. Pointing out that actually many people don’t have an issue with it at all may out it in perspective that this is not something to continue agitating about considering they are not staying there.

    4. Snarky McSnarkson*

      And what the LW is really concerned about is the precedent being set this year that will affect HER next year. If the renting of a house/sharing bathrooms works out this year, then she will be in the same boat at next year’s conference, only that time, maybe it will be all 4 people sharing one bathroom.

    5. Hrodvitnir*

      I agree. My personal comfort level with coworkers is so, so much more informal than average on this site – now we have a situation the majority(ish) isn’t viscerally upset by, there are altogether too many people telling the LW they don’t have the right to be uncomfortable.

      I think Alison’s take was reasonable, as usual.

  27. Rebecca*

    “It’s also not that illogical, in the specific context of government contracting; severance is for when you lose your job and in this case you’ll be doing the same job, just via a different contracting company.”

    No. If you lose your job at LM and take a new job at NG, you have still lost your job and gotten a new job. Supporting the same contract at both companies does not change this.

    LW5, you don’t say what kind of defense contractor. It matters a little if it’s a place like LM or if it’s a place like MTSI. The nature of the contract is a little different, however, both types of employers will first try move employees to a different programs if they lose a program. So see whether that plays out before making a decision about changing employers. If your husband can’t be placed on a new program at his existing employer fairly quickly, then start to worry and strategize finding new work.

    1. Just Thinkin' Here*

      The government requires that the winning contractor either hire from the existing personnel or hire people who have very specific skillsets, that essentially requires the current personnel. This happens a lot in the engineering, logistics, and cyber security areas. This started with the Obama administration and became a rule passed by the Labor Department in 2011, so this is nothing new. It’s to minimize disruption to the government. Companies that bid on government work have to play by government rules, as do their employees. A losing incumbent can’t just shuffle all their personnel to other projects to avoid losing people. An employee who doesn’t want to work for the new company can find another employer, and having clearance makes them very valuable. Yes, companies that win the bid can get rid of poor performers and/or employees who don’t have the skills needed for the new contract. But typically the winner needs the same or similar folks. Severance is to cover periods of unemployment, not job changes, and is voluntary benefit by the employer.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Government contracting is it’s own beast. You know (or should know) that if you are contract-specific support, you employment is tied to that contract. (Some businesses exist only to service a specific contract and fold if/when they lose it.) Some larger or specialty contractors offer retention incentives or guaranteed severance if the employer loses the contract because, when that happens, even if you stay with your contractor employer, your entire work situation changes – could be a different worksite, all new team, different responsibilities, basically just like having a new job except the paychecks come from the same place. If you like your job, you’ve got more incentive to get onboard with the new contractor, assuming pay and benefits are comparable, to have the least impact on your day-to-day.

      Severance is supposed to cushion the blow of having to find a new job and bridge you through to your next job. If you stay in the same job but someone else is issuing your paychecks, it’s a nice-to-have. In DC, land of the contractors, I know people who’ve stuck with the same position through 2-4 different contractors because they liked the work and their team (and several who’ve ended up being employed by the government entity serviced by the contract). It’s very common to get resumes here that list the job with multiple employers under it, based on who was running the show at the time. Government contracting is one of those industries that plays by its own rules.

  28. CTA*

    LW #3

    Definitely follow Alison’s advice to talk to your boss.

    I was in a similar situation many years ago. I was managing interns for the first time, though my boss was spending a little time with them and giving them a few assignments. I thought my boss would ask for updates about the interns since I was the one interacting with them more and giving most of the assignments. Nope. My boss expected me to take the initiative and tell her. Lesson learned.

    One day, my boss says she was going to ask the interns if they wanted to extend their internships. I didn’t hide my look of horror. At this point, I had been working with the interns for about two months and I had concerns. I told my boss about what was happening. The interns were having trouble with small tasks (such as attention to detail) and I was hesitant to give them anything more complex until they improved these skills.

    Fortunately for me, the interns started making mistakes that were more visible to my boss. Unfortunately, these mistakes were pretty major, such as tweeting out the wrong date for an event and the event’s honoree seeing it and telling us about it. Luckily, my boss did not blame me for not reviewing the tweet ahead of time. In my boss’s opinion, it was a task that didn’t need me to double check for accuracy because the intern had been here for 2-3 months already, the intern had scheduled tweets before, and the intern only had to look at our event calendar and put down the right date. My boss had to have a serious talk with the interns about the internship’s expectations.

  29. BellyButton*

    My company is 100% remote, and for many many of our meetings they will rent a giant house. However, if anyone isn’t comfortable staying there (ME ME ME ME) they will absolutely pay for a hotel room. I have tried to talk to my boss about the liabilities and the dangers of all these people staying together, but he won’t hear it. He is usually so open and we have such a good relationship, I can’t figure out why this is a sticking point for him. He says he 100000% trusts the employees and their judgment. Yeah, I am a bit more cynical than he is. I think it started long ago when there were only about 4-5 employees and they had all known each other forever and worked closely together for years before the company began. They also stock the houses with food and alcohol.

    I don’t stay at at the houses, ever. I have been there for dinners and for meetings, but I leave as soon as the “official” socializing is done and I never drink.

    My company is amazing, but this is the one area I really disagree with.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      If all the others are happy staying together and you can have your own hotel room, let them be.
      You are likely trying to stop something they enjoy

      1. BellyButton*

        But my job is to overall protect our employees and the company in my HR adjacent role. So my preferences don’t really matter, it is about health and safety.

    2. Leenie*

      Honestly, since your boss is willing to provide alternative accommodations for you and others who are uncomfortable with it, I think you can stop reading this as a “sticking point” for him, or an example of him not being open. He just has a different opinion or different priorities than you do on this particular issue. He could very well choose to read you as being stuck or closed minded here. But, he’s willing to provide the accommodations that you need to be comfortable, instead of putting pressure on you to stay with the group. It’s ok that he doesn’t also agree with you, as long as he’s respecting your boundaries.

      1. BellyButton*

        Except I am HR adjacent and my job is the well being of the company and organization.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I just don’t see employers staying together as a threat, unless you specifically know something about one of them – in which case exclude that individual.

      After all, what about “retreats” that are so popular with some companies? They usually are in a rental place, or even the owner’s property.

  30. Colorado Winters*

    LW5 – Years back, I worked for a Sears affiliate called The Great Indoors. When the store liquidated, I’d worked there for 12 years, with many of my coworkers having worked for Sears in some capacity for 20+ years. We were offered severance packages based on years of service, but there were conditions. If someone wanted to interview with a Sears store and were offered the job, whether they took it or not, they’d lose their severance. And if they were hired anywhere else, they were supposed to report it and, again, would lose their severance. I’m pretty sure nobody opted to go to a Sears store, and everyone played it close to the vest so they would receive their severance. The situation sucked. And Sears sucks.

    1. BellyButton*

      Yeah, that sucks! The ONLY way something like that should work is if you accept the job and are able to transfer your years of service and all the benefits of being somewhere that long. Otherwise, it is no different than starting over at a new company. And losing the severance if you chose not accept the job? What if it was a sucky offer?? Which I imagine it was.

  31. Lily Potter*

    #1 – as others have noted, the boss may be doing the AirBnB thing instead of hotel rooms due to financial considerations. One thing to think about – if you and your co-workers push back and insist on hotels in the future – the boss may decide that only two people will be attending future conferences rather than three. Make sure you’re okay with that potential consequence when deciding how much of a fuss to make about this. Oh, and for the record, I think it would be weird for you to lead the charge on this particular instance, when you’re not even attending this time.

    1. linger*

      More exactly, OP1 may be attending this conference, but (by chance) she is not directly affected by the accommodation arrangements, since the venue is in OP1’s own home city. Hence OP1 does have some standing to ask about arrangements for future conferences in other locations, which she may also expect to be attending. But yes, rather more limited scope to weigh in on this occasion.

  32. BellyButton*

    The discussions around sharing a house/bathroom are interesting. I have always hated sharing a bathroom with anyone- even partners! Recently, my BF and I moved in together into his 1 bathroom condo, and with 3 mo I was house hunting for a place with 2. When I travel with friends I even get my own hotel room or if we are booking an AirBnB I always offer to pay more so I can have the primary bedroom with it’s own bathroom.

    The only time in recent years, I have shared a bathroom with a non-partner was in 2019. I went on a woman’s retreat. I didn’t know anyone except for the leader/organizer of it. We stayed in a giant AirBnB. I had my own room with a Jack and Jill style bathroom attached to another woman’s room. I asked her if she preferred morning or evening showers, and I said I would take the opposite.

    I posted above that my company often books huge houses for multiple to stay in when we have company events. I have asked other’s if they are comfortable staying there and sharing bathrooms and they think it is all perfectly fine and normal. Maybe it is me and being old, they are all under 40, with most being early to mid-40s. They don’t seem to think being in the bathroom doing your hair and makeup with your coworker is weird. But I do. LOL

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Yeah, the other day I was watching TV, and there was an ad for Air BnB that was basically “why stay in separate rooms when you can spend all your time together?” I turned to my husband and was like “because some people like their space?!?”

  33. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    Another possibility why the boss is doing an AirBnB instead of individual hotels rooms: given you’re all remote, maybe she is one of those people who really looks forward to the socializing aspect of these conferences, and the shared AirBnB is a way for her to get more of that? Not saying whether it’s right or wrong, but it could explain why she’s trying it this time. Some people also just *really* like AirBnBs (my family loves them; I hate them), and maybe she thought everyone else would think this was an improvement over hotel rooms.

    I’m guessing that the sharp response to the coworker objecting was probably more about the fact that it’s already been booked; it might be too late to change it this time, but definitely bring it up again before stuff gets booked for the next conference.

    1. Abundant Shrimp*

      “but definitely bring it up again before stuff gets booked for the next conference.”

      This*100. The people who say this will create a precedent and next year it will be “oh we are definitely doing the AirBnB again, we did last year and no one complained” are probably speaking from experience. I learned this important life lesson when I lived, ironically, in the dorm. We had suites and my three roommates and I lived in one room of ours, and a male foreign student 13 years our senior lived in the other, with all of us sharing a bathroom. We were miserable with that arrangement, but for whatever reason just smiled and carried on. After three years he left and we were excited to never have to share the bathroom with a random older man again. Then came home from class one day to find not one but TWO older male foreign students moving into our suite! WTH? Asked around and found out that it had been brought up at the residence council meeting and the discussion went like this: “Shrimp and her two roommates shared the suite with an older guy for three years AND NEVER COMPLAINED, WHICH MEANS THEY LIKED IT. so let’s send these two guys to live with them too!” (yes that was verbatim what had been said. we never complained so that could only mean that we liked it and wanted more.) Absolutely bring it up again, and if the coworkers that go find it uncomfortable, they’ve got to speak out soon after the conference. Otherwise it’ll keep happening.

  34. Safely Retired*

    Not on point to the discussion, but I had a severance experience that was a bit unusual. I’d worked for the company for 28 years, same department (IT) and location. During that time there were eight transitions of ownership, most of which didn’t have too much impact on the work. Over the years I had risen as far as possible as a non-manager, and had even hit the top of my pay grade. When I was no longer needed I was laid off. BUT, this was shortly after the last corporate transition, which was from an owner that treated employees well to one that was known for being paternalistic. There must have been a provision in the agreement of that acquisition for generous severance based on years of service, because I received 39 weeks of severance pay with full benefits. Yes, I do appreciate how fortunate I was.

  35. SusieQQ*

    I went on a business trip a few years ago where I shared a house with co-workers. I thought it was a lot of fun, actually! (But I can see how others might not be comfortable with it). I was the only woman and the other 3 co-workers were men. I was completely fine with it, but they took the initiative to invite me to take the master suite for myself so I wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with them. I really appreciated their proactive sensitivity to the situation.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Always included in the rent, unless the tenants leave vomit / smeared excrement / graffiti etc.
      BnB owner / their agency normally clean after each tenant.

      1. CV*

        I have read a many articles in the past year about how Airbnbs are now requiring tenants to clean thoroughly, and often also charging for professional cleaning afterwards on top of that.
        I would hope what you say is accurate but I have doubts.

  36. 1 Non Blonde*

    I once had a project on a small Door County, WI island in Lake Michigan. Accommodations were…interesting, from campsites to B&Bs to motels with shared restroom facilities that only took payment with a check. None of these places were reservable online. Because I went with a large group of male coworkers the first few times (I am female), I made sure I was booking a place with individual bathroom facilities. Had there been none available on the island, I would have stayed a ferry ride away, but no way in heck was I sharing a bathroom with coworkers. Interestingly, the workers that we met up with (same organization, different office) lived on the island in the summer and shared an old camping trailer. Which I would never have done either. They also sometimes slept on a different island in sleeping bags without access to running water or “regular” bathroom facilities. That…was not the life for me.

  37. HotelsAllTheWay*

    I left a long comment earlier which seems to have disappeared. I don’t have the energy to fully recreate and share a full anecdote, but the upshot is the Airbnb is likely a major accessibility problem and may cause folks to reveal more than they’d like to a boss if they’re suddenly expected to use one. Just don’t.

  38. Cheshire Cat*

    For LW3, in addition to the suggestions above, when the intern messes up, let them flounder. Don’t put out their fires! You are only encouraging them to be incompetent if you are always covering for them.

  39. HermiaDCA*

    LW#4 If the company is being honest about not having budgeted for OP’s position for the next fiscal year – OP is not losing out on anything – they would have let her go before the new fiscal year (and the paid week off) would have ever happened. They would have been calling OP in to tell them, “We are eliminating your position for the next fiscal year, so your position will be ending on the last day of this fiscal year – X date.” OP just beat them to the punch by giving lots of notice.

Comments are closed.