There are no advantages in a meeting at 8 am

I was incredibly exhausted coming into my current position, and Covid only made things worse. Every piece of news consumed in the last two years has slowly deflated me. I have little energy left. When I should have been cheering myself up—wide vaccinations for all, possible return to normal—I began to lose faith even more. I have never wanted to quit anymore, and not even for another job, but to take a good breather and reevaluate my career. I have a good safety net: emergency savings of $40k, savings and retirement of about a quarter of a million, and parents I can move back in with. I’m so afraid to stray from the routine. What happens when I decide to return and nobody accepts me? What if I went back to school to pursue a completely different passion and can’t find my footing?

I’m also thinking of moving out of the country and to one of the ones I grew up in, where the cost of living would be much lower. I have no loans, no debts, no obligations, no dependents, and yet so, so much fear. This plague reminds me that life is short. But I also can’t help but think about all the sacrifices I made to get to my current position: the scholarships, the salary negotiations, the ups and downs of having to learn to defend myself in this country, the United States, where they have lived for more than 15 years. I came here as a refugee, but I feel that people care very little about my well-being, even in the industry that pretends to care more about refugee issues. I’m tired of being underestimated, never really being heard or used as influence or “street cred” by the places that employ me.

— Anonymous, Seattle

Oh dear, you are exhausted and depressed. I highly recommend that you go into therapy, immediately, twice a week if you can afford it. Making career changes of any kind at this time will only provide a temporary respite until you deal with underlying emotional issues. I can’t tell you what to do, but you have the resources, so by all means, yes, take some time off. Restock. Try to figure out what you want to do with your professional life. Get in touch with your friends and share how you feel. Surround yourself with people who care about your well-being.

Think about your options—whether it’s grad school, a new job, moving to another country, or some combination of the two—and start making a plan for how you can get from where you are, now, to a better place.

But first, deal with depression. You’ll be in a much better position to make sound decisions when you address the fear, anger, and alienation you’re understandably experiencing. Routine is not your friend, so don’t worry about leaving it behind. The last two years have been incredibly challenging. Be kind to yourself and good luck. I trust that you will find your balance and a renewed sense of purpose no matter what you choose.

My company’s head of sales promotion is a self-proclaimed Early Bird. He proudly states that he got up with the birds at 5:30am, and since he lives near our office, he’s behind his desk, emailing at 7am. Even while we were closed, he walked into the office with Zoom in hand. . calls from the empty conference room. While he says there’s no pressure to respond to those first missives, we all feel compelled to do so. He also holds weekly meetings with all staff at 8am on Monday mornings, which had been remote but are now in person, with attendance required.

There is no formally established core hours policy, but I have noticed that some of my colleagues drag themselves into the office at 7:30. Before Covid we were a normal office, from 9 to 5, and being New York, most of us worked until almost 6.

While I understand that many employees called back to offices are struggling to readjust to commuting and in-person work, many of our employees are actively looking for remote jobs. The Early Bird leaves at 3 or 3:30, leaving the staff to stay until 6 to complete the tasks he left behind along with our daily tasks. I have a small team of four and they have been open about being unhappy with what they legitimately see as extended hours. I don’t want to lose them. Should I talk to the boss and risk losing his consideration, or accept that I will lose my staff?

—SK, New York

I’m not a morning person. In fact, I’m more likely to go to sleep at 5:30 am than to wake up at such a nightmarish hour. You are not doctors or health workers or morning show hosts. It is absolutely unreasonable for your boss to expect work before 8 a.m. and, dare I say, 9 a.m. Although you may not set that expectation explicitly, you do set it implicitly with all your emails at 7 a.m. Your personal preferences for early morning should not be company policy.

I know I’ll get dozens of emails extolling the virtues of morning meetings, but seriously, save it. I will never ever think that an 8 am meeting is necessary unless we are talking about the medical profession. I don’t think you lose your boss’s consideration if you tell him that excessively early hours are affecting morale. There is no reason for someone to come into the office at 7:30 am, and he needs to make that clear.

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