The pandemic has brought about a “new normal” for the workplace. Many offices have found that work from home solutions and more relaxed rules can really help employee morale without reducing productivity.
But that’s not the case everywhere, and as some companies try to return to the office, they’re finding that not everyone is on the same page.
Redditor toebeansandrices experienced this schism when one of his employees had to come back into the office after a very relaxed work-from-home environment. Now they’re asking the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit if they handled it well.
The original poster (OP) asks:
“AITA for handing an employee a lint roller and telling her to use it before heading into a meeting?”
The story goes:
“I supervise 15 employees. Annie got too comfortable WFH. We gave a wide berth for everyone to try to cope, but Annie took a mile.”
“She’d attend meetings in her unmade bed with bed head, let her dogs bark & insist she couldn’t put them in another room, etc. We let it slide because this was an adjustment for all, but did remind her that despite us being on Zoom, we needed to still act and try to look professional.”
“After coming back, it got worse. We don’t expect everyone to be runway ready, but she’ll wear hoodies that have obviously been worn for days, leggings, ratty shoes, hair in a very messy bun, old makeup, etc.”
“Annie came in with a black fleece absolutely covered in dog hair. I pulled her aside, asked if she had a change of clothes for our 11AM meeting. She said no. I asked ‘Then do you have a lint roller?’ She again said no and looked down and asked what was wrong with what she was wearing.”
“At this point I’d had enough and said ‘Dude, you’re covered in dog hair.’”
“She giggled and said ‘I gave the doggies extra snuggles before work.’”
“I tried my best to be gentle, saying she had to either change or take off the jacket. 11 comes around, I’m greeting clients, she comes in, still covered in nasty dog hair. I pulled her out of the room saying we forgot her USB, went to my office and handed her a lint brush. “
“I told her to get as much of the dog hair off her jacket as she could, and we’d have a talk later.”
“Annie stomped off instead and said she was using her sick time for the rest of the day. I handled the meeting.”
“She threw a fit all over social media about her Oppressive Employer who just doesn’t understand what depression or anxiety are, how hard she worked just to get out of bed, etc.”
“She said I shamed her publicly, made her feel lower than low, all because she was experiencing separation anxiety from her dogs while she was at work and was struggling with depression dealing with everything. I have an outdated idea of being ‘office-ready.’”
“The comments were what made me come here to post. Pretty much everyone siding with her on our archaic ideas of working in offices, how we obviously don’t care about our employees’ mental health, etc.”
“I know we’re facing ‘a new normal’ kind of situation where things are rapidly changing. We are not the kind of business where everything can be done remotely forever, and I don’t think that it’s a stretch to request someone use a f***ing lint roller before a meeting.”
“But that’s why I’m here. AITA?”
OP also added some context for how they came across the social media posts, and why they didn’t go to their human resources.
“Edited to add: Thanks for the feedback, everyone. A few notes as they have come up in comments: I don’t follow her on social media, others do, and I had another employee show me her breakdown because she was concerned.”
“We don’t use HR to police employees/use them as ‘school principals’ in that sense. ‘Going to HR’ is a last-ditch thing here.”
“Finally, I did not post this so people could gatekeep how depression presents in people. Please stop telling me what people with depression are ‘really’ like because it comes in many shapes and forms.”