"professionalism" is a weird way of describing your gps coordinates

I wonder if this might go the way of my reheating thread. Every job I’ve had I’ve experienced the feedback of “yeah you’re great and you do the work, you just aren’t very punctual.” But this isnt a thread about being in on time, it’s about being somewhere at all.

Because like I understand this as a gripe if I’m late to scheduled meetings and events etc. But we work with computers, we’re expected to have phones for our jobs, we talk on slack and email and literally create a big platform for messaging and commenting and stuff (with an internal staging environment thats totally unused! and usually broken, chickens and eggs). so why, when reachability is a non-issue, do I have to be accountable to people with power over me for where my body is at any given moment? if i’m usually in and I can complete what I’ve said I would and be reached whenever anyone needs me? Especially when we’re trying to grow our team and be better at operating remotely (across 3 offices)?

So this is me complaining about having to be in the office and generally around by a certain time every morning. I understand accountability for my time. Thats what I get paid for. But my physical presence? “perception” is allegedly important aka how my habits are perceived by the rest of the team but I have no idea why that matters. Why do these concepts of perception, professionalism, etc. feel so arbitrary and antagonistic to me when I lack them? Really trying to stretch myself to be empathetic here because if I’m the most personally fulfilled, happiest, invested and productive person on the team maybe i won’t even let myself leave but when I feel like I need to split my presence or whatever from where it is and where I want it to be it doesnt make me jazzed to invest myself into a workplace.


Hrm, if your job is wanting to be better at operating remotely than I have no idea why they’d care of your location. :confused:

I currently have a 100% remote job, and I love it. I’ve had office jobs, and those times I do try to invest myself into the workspace, because life is fleeting and human contact is unique.

That being said, I do totally get your viewpoint.


In the spirit of that thread, let me start waaay over on this side of the fence:

  • I take no more than 2 meetings a week
  • I work no more than four hours a day
  • This morning I asked if Clover wanted to go to school, e said no, and that’s that

We live in a lot of different worlds. We have like, 8 generations working together right now, and everyone is bringing their “professionalism” to work. A lot of these are based on leasing human bodies.

I wish I was super-cool and figured all this out intentionally, but I have mostly failed into my groove. As I can’t easily describe what I do for money, I don’t offer advice.

The nature of my work does benefit from my attitude towards time management though:

  • I am never too busy to talk, and often folks just need to talk
  • When I am at a meeting, I have focus like no one else; I often “run” meetings, simply because I have the most energy and attention
  • I have time to become the most expert me, in whatever thing; one needs time and space to find the essential

On the flipside, while @tim has good experience, working with remote places has not worked out for me. They don’t actually want me to be remote in any meaningful sense (to me, probably very subjective), they want me at a computer, in a chat room, between certain hours.

Gah, this is prompting all these tasks I have to build a better onboarding experience for new clients… freedom has it’s own issues. :slight_smile:

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Would be great as an explanation-- building team camaraderie and stuff-- if teammates at every single one of these jobs weren’t so heads down.

Co-working spaces of a certain angle addresses heads down syndrome. I like spaces that encourage interaction (physical space or strategic events), but folks are free to operate as they wish; Oakland has a few like this.

at last employer i brought up my opposition to synchronous standup-type status update meetings as potential “generational differences”. because i am cheeky :man_shrugging:t4:

There’s plenty incentive and strategy to structure a place like this to foster communication. Buuut there’s plenty of reasons Big AdPlatform Corp. makes that difficult and pulls me away from real investment into the workplace:

  • Title-Weighted Stress-Driven Distributed Power Clusters (people call them “management hierarchies” but i feel like that’s kind of anachronistic)
    • Contribution is self-effacing, so that credit can be traded as currency
    • The bureaucratic hurdles to change create clusters of people who are frustrated and burned out and people who have advocates and feedback loops and thrive on navigating the structure.
    • People don’t care. They get paid, they put in the work they have to. The emotional labor required to grease the wheels of interpersonal dynamics, if considered at all, are not considered in terms of “engineer hours” the way technical tasks are.
  • What are we even making? Are we building a dystopia just to make people click on ads? (Yes) Are we perpetuating The Internet’s Unholy Marriage To Capitalism? (Yes) Am I effectively a cog being withheld from the market by one of several monopolistic, resource-extracting antimarkets that have the cash to throw at completely legal anti-competitive practices like this? yepppp

so anyways it’s probably pretty clear that eventually I want to Stop Selling Ads and Do Something Useful. I would adore a life that let me keep meetings at low frequencies, certain times, during or after lunch, and that gave my space to find my best me. For the Time Being*, my goal is to cut my teeth here for a few moments longer. So I need to find equilibrium in this presence-punctuality thing, or devise a compelling plan to cut loose.



“Perception” is the core of “professionalism” which is the mechanism by which bosses control white collar workers. They’re intentionally arbitrary because if you knew what the expectations were then you’d merely meet them, but the deal that bosses make with “professionals” is that they get better treatment and pay in exchange for definitely surpassing expectations because they’ll never know what the expectations actually are. This is enforced by occasionally reprimanding or firing people over “perception”. Arbitrary punishment causes constant fear and enforces much better behavior than consistent punishment. You may be amused to sometime read my PIP which uses the word “perception” in almost every bullet point.


this sounds delightful

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What’s a PIP?

Performance improvement plan. An HR flag that either provides concrete requirements for you to make behavioral change and hopes that you’ll meet them or provides vague or impossible requirements and hopes that you won’t.


I have so many coworkers who have said things along the lines of “i mean, you gotta be at work on time” with no real followup beyond “that’s just how it is” and no real grievances of their own. I also hear managers give me a lot of “you’ll make your teammates feel like you think you can get special treatment or that you’re above the rules.” “have you heard anything like that?” “nobody’s complained yet but you don’t want them to feel that way” :thinking:

Honestly all of this sounds like one of those implicit social contracts that kind of just latently exists in a lot of office culture that you can trace back to industrial-era Taylorism. It’s weird. I know other people at this company who have teammates that don’t roll in until noon, their time isn’t accounted for stringently at all.

I’m really surprised and confused when people in this field feel like they can just do their job and that’s it. I’ve never had that experience, like, I literally don’t even know what my job is. It’s all implicit and perception-based and so the rules are totally different for each person and they’re constantly changing. Like one day your boss doesn’t like the way you used italics on slack so now you’re not allowed to work from home anymore but the way they communicate that is by saying “people have a perception that your attitude is not enthusiastic enough” or some shit. Separates workers, too, because nobody can even pin down their own expectations or grievances, much less identify with someone else’s. And it means you’re constantly being compared to your coworkers and that’s what the perception of you and therefore your treatment is based on.


A PIP sounds like a plot point in Brazil. I mean, just the term sounds fascist and crafted to make one paranoid.

Thanks for sharing, peeps! :slight_smile:


today i found out that i am “at the end of this particular rope” because the problem is outside of my managers control and other people have noticed and are having conversations above him. so he informed me i’d get a letter to sign from HR (this would be the PIP) and further infractions would be grounds for dismissal. i did try and foster some empathy for why this is important but turns out it’s really just as simple as “it’s the job” and everyone else in the org is held to these same expectations :man_shrugging:t4:

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What is their problem exactly? Or, supposedly? Just not being in the office at a certain time?

It seems like something they should be up front about during the hiring. “We expect you to be in the office from X to Y mon-fri”.


Yeah especially for an engineering job in tech, they should. They’re so passive aggressive about expectations though, and liable to lie since that would certainly be a dealbreaker for many engineers since it’s not industry standard.


Just to add a data point here, I’ve worked at 5 engineering places over last 10 years, and they all expected me to be working during certain business hours. They were up front about it, however. Also, none were in Silicon Valley, if that’s where you are.


They aren’t up front about stuff like that during the hiring process since it’s a per-manager thing.

I just have to be in on time and communicate when I wont be and keep those incidents to a minimum, which will probably be fine if I can keep the deadinsideitis at bay


Yeah I mean standards vary hugely depending on subtype of company etc. And flexible hours doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations, they’re just fuzzy and/or enforced passive-aggressively through means like standup.