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Dear family members-turned-office mates: Please read the updated HR handbook

Ally Rzesa

Dear family members-turned-office mates,

Since it’s looking ever more certain that we’ll all be working from home, and going to college and kindergarten from here, and eating every meal onsite, and vacationing and exercising in place, too, until Q1 2021 at least, Human Resources has issued an updated handbook.

Please take the time to familiarize yourselves with it by the close of business Friday, and in the meantime, thank you for not touching the framed photos on the kitchen table (a.k.a. my desk). They remind me of distant loved ones.

In case you’re curious, the group photo was taken at a colleague’s baby shower in a conference room I may never see again. The selfie shows me and the woman who runs the lobby news shop sharing a laugh over my daily purchase of a single, individually wrapped piece of red licorice. The shot of the copy machine is the copy machine. I miss it.

The Handbook


Maternal Harassment: Maternal harassment is unwelcome conduct that is persistent and interferes with Mom’s ability to do her job, or creates an exhausting work environment. Such behaviors include but are (certainly) not limited to:

  • Texting from your room to have breakfast brought up (at noon).
  • Sibling warfare during an important Zoom meeting that requires repeated muting during the call, three verbal warnings (“Don’t make me come up there”), and an in-person visit.
  • Bringing all requests/gripes to Mom, when Dad is right there.
Ally Rzesa

Maintaining a professional and respectful workplace: Managers will meet with direct reports who self-identify as “babies” or “toddlers” to discuss incidents of irrational workplace rage. Unfamiliarity with office norms will be considered when determining disciplinary measures, but please note that ineffective burping efforts on the part of your supervisor, or being served a shape of pasta different than the one expected, do not constitute a “hostile work environment.” To answer your question, no, your age does not put you in a federally protected class.

Pet policy: We are pleased to be able to offer a “pet friendly” workspace, but if you are not the main caregiver (defined as the person who feeds and walks Bailey even when it’s hot, and who notices when his water bowl is empty), please refrain from slipping him treats to win his favor. True love is keeping him at a healthy weight.


Ally Rzesa

Off-site mask-wearing and social distancing: As shared in yesterday’s Town Hall, the following do not qualify as accepted reasons to violate previously negotiated and agreed-upon coronavirus-safe rules:

  • “Everyone else’s parents let them eat in restaurants.”
  • “My mask slipped off while I was playing flag football and even though I didn’t realize it, and in fact returned home without the mask, I made sure to keep a safe six-foot distance from the 10 friends I was playing with.”
  • “Why do you have to be so uptight about everything?”

Dress code: With hot summer days here we’re happy to accommodate a more “relaxed” look. That being said, employees are expected to maintain proper oral hygiene and to keep themselves free of offensive odors. Per the contract, the laundry allotment is two outfits per day per person (one for exercise and one for day/night wear). Individuals with wardrobe needs that exceed allowable limits are reminded that not long ago — like early March — they were doing their own laundry in college. If this skill has been forgotten due to lack of use, please request retraining. As a reminder: The “hamper” is the woven basket in your closet, not your floor.

Ally Rzesa
Ally Rzesa

The lunchroom: The rules regarding appropriate kitchen usage have not changed from the last handbook, or the one before that, but will be repeated here in hopes of increased compliance.

  • Milk, juice, and other beverages in multi-serve containers are to be poured into glasses and not consumed directly from the carton. Glasses, once used, are to be placed, facing down, in the dishwasher.
  • We are so glad you’re making fun recipes from Youtube! Taco meatloaf! Monte Cristo sandwiches! Swedish meatballs! In these challenging times, please understand that cleaning staff finds it disheartening to come downstairs in the morning to a sink full of dirty dishes.
  • The fridge: In response to feedback, and because the “keep your hands off my yogurt” notes didn’t work anyway, we have gone to a shared-food model. Even so, please consume “normal” amounts of food and drink so as not to leave coworkers unexpectedly without milk for cereal or coffee.
Ally Rzesa

Office perks: Management would like to remind employees that the Ping-Pong table dominating the living room and the 1,000-piece puzzle in 1,000 pieces on the dining room table — purchased at the suggestion of the chief happiness officer — will be removed by EOD (end of day) Thursday unless a ball is hit back and forth at least twice, or a single puzzle piece is placed.


Performance reviews: As always, these will be ongoing and constant. It’s because management loves you.

Beth Teitell can be reached at beth.teitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.