unhappy with changes at work, asking to unblock a website, and more — Ask a Manager

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager and I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. If you’re unhappy with a change at work, should you bring it up before you start job-searching?

It hasn’t been that long since I sent my question, but I wanted to send an update now that the situation is at least partially resolved.

First, I noticed several people in the comments wondering about the 10am-6pm hours of Jim’s workplace, so I wanted to clarify that one of the primary functions of the non-profit he works for is running an after-school program, so obviously all the staff running those programs have to have later hours. Jim doesn’t work with the kids, and he’s not support staff for the teachers; he’s a database admin, which is why there’s not much reason for his hours to line up with everyone else’s. There were also some questions about whether Jim had brought up feeling negatively about any of the changes leading up to the working hour changes, and as far as I know, he hadn’t. Since he was one of the last people to start working from the office part of the time, he didn’t feel like he had much standing to push back on that, and it was more an annoyance than a major problem, at least until his hours were changing. Anyway, onto the update:

My fiance decided he liked his job enough that he wanted to see if he could stay. We were also right in the beginning of buying a house, so it wasn’t an ideal time to be changing jobs, which might’ve provided a bit of extra motivation. The reorg originally happened because his previous boss (and the one who had hired him for his role) left the organization for a great opportunity elsewhere, and Jim wasn’t sure how much of the things he’d negotiated when he started were things he could expect to continue as conditions of his employment there, or whether they were more informal agreements that just stood with her. He ended up having a meeting with HR to get clarification, and they told him that given he is the head of a department (even though he doesn’t have any direct reports because his department is only him), he has a fair amount of autonomy and should expect to keep the things he negotiated for unless there’s a clear and compelling reason to change them. So he went back to his boss prepared to fight to keep his current hours, and then it turned out he didn’t have to. Apparently his boss had gotten confused about what Jim does and was also very stressed about other aspects of the reorg, but had realized on his own after a couple days that it didn’t make any sense to change the hours of the few people who were different from everyone else. So it turned out to be a pretty easy resolution!

Except… just a couple weeks after that, his boss, citing the stress from earlier, quit without notice and without a job lined up because he was so frustrated with the leadership. So Jim is in the middle of yet another reorg. Currently he answers to the CEO who has too much on her plate to really be involved with his job day to day, so he’s down to once a week in office and basically whatever hours he wants so long as his tasks get done. Also, apparently over the last couple months, the entire finance department has also left one by one, and the leadership is scrambling to get those positions filled. Because Jim collaborates with several departments, but is his own separate department, he’s pretty isolated from whatever leadership problems are causing a lot of people to leave and is still really enjoying his job. There’s bound to be more reorganization in his future since there are vacancies to fill and nobody is sure who Jim should really be reporting to, but he’s feeling a lot more secure in his position after that conversation with HR. Plus, he’s been here longer than most other people at this point, so he’s doing a lot of training newbies on the systems they use and being very visibly useful to the organization, which gives him a fair amount of bargaining power when they can’t really afford to lose more people right now. He did just get a tip-off from one of the board members that there’s a push within the board to bring everybody back to the office full time, but now he knows that he has the standing to push back on that if he wants to. And, with our house purchased and no more major purchases in our immediate future, he’s free to search for a new job with no worries if he decides it’s time to move on.

2. I’m not productive every single minute of every day (first update; second update)

I just wanted to write and say that the new job is going very well. I’ve been here about two months now, and I’m enjoying it. Management here is a lot more consistent and I’m much happier in the role.

The irony? They have a time tracking system! We log our time in 15-minute increments and it needs to add up to eight hours. But they’ve been very clear that it’s meant to be a fairly rough estimate and that things like breaks and mental downtime should get rolled into the nearest category. I still don’t love time tracking, but they at least have a good reason for it: the hours are used for grant reporting purposes and being able to say how much time we spent on specific projects is valuable to our funders.

The positive side to the time tracking is that they don’t want you to work more than eight hours a day, and in the rare cases that I do work overtime, the time-tracking system is used to award time in lieu. Interestingly, this even applies to management, despite it not being legally required.

It’s been a very good fit so far, even with the time tracking! There are a few little oddities, part of working at a small non-profit, but no major red flags. The overall culture is much more relaxed and there’s a definite sense that upper management cares about the staff as people, not just productivity robots. Many of the other employees have been here 10 or even 20 years, just because it’s actually a good place to work.

Thank you to you and your readers for the advice, support and encouragement. It helped me get through a very difficult time, and I’m happy to be settling in at the new job.

3. Asking my office to unblock an “adult content” website (#3 at the link)

I asked the IT guy around the corner casually how hard it would be for him to unblock a site and tried to be pretty matter-of-fact about it, without saying Autostraddle’s name up front. The IT people in the comments had the next part right: he said I’d need to put in a ticket and he’d have to escalate it to his boss (at the director level). He said it wouldn’t be a problem if I needed it for work, I said I didn’t, and we left it there. It’s definitely not worth the effort that would entail, though I’m considering bringing it up with HR as a DEI issue (because, as many commenters wondered, we do not block any other remotely comparable content). Instead, I’ll be saving articles – the obviously safe for work ones – to Instapaper to read offline.

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