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How to elegantly to tell my manager to not to come to office when he has the flu?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

Last Thursday, my manager and a senior engineer were sick and still went to the office. Friday, I felt a strong itchiness in my throat. Saturday I started coughing. The timeline really suggests I'm infected by my manager. My spouse is probably going to get infected as well. Luckily we are healthy in general and not immunocompromised. I really want to tell my manager in the face that he infected me, but that doesn't seem like a good way to express my thoughts.

Maybe I can also try to write something anonymously in the weekly Signal survey. How can I best approach this?

Appendix:

A few more quotes from my manager and my senior on Thursday:

  • The sick senior: "if it were covid, I would have not come office today"
  • The sick manager in the morning: "I should probably go home in the afternoon to not get your guys infected". Then at 3pm in the afternoon, he said "I'm sorry I really need to go home" and then he left.

On Thursday, 6 teammates were in the office. On Friday, only the sick senior and the sick manager were in the office :)

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Discussion

(3 comments)
  • 2
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    Staff Eng @ Google, Ex-Meta SWE, Ex-Amazon SDM/SDE
    a month ago

    Them getting you sick with something you’ll recover from is sort of a personal thing you are mad about, and acting from there is not going to go well.

    The bigger picture is that, when sick, people can work from home. There is no reason to come in sick. If you have to (but you don’t), wear a mask (did they? Did you?).

    I will further state, though, that while them coming in sick was irresponsible, you were likely already infected from earlier in the week but were asymptomatic. Yes, they may have been infected first as their symptoms started first, but if your symptoms started Friday you were likely infected on Wednesday or earlier. Not saying this excuses them, but might reframe that while you disagree with their choice, you were likely infected before they made that choice.

    I don’t think you’re in a state of mind to have a blameless postmortem on this and derive any useful action items, because you are completely in a blaming mode. If you can move past that, I think action items should align with your employers guidance. If it encourages staying home when sick, that should be honored. If they come in, I think wearing a mask AND staying away from people would be a respectful approach. Go to a separate room or stay at your desk for meetings, even if everyone else is in the office and has a room.

    In general I don’t think you will alter other people’s behavior here, though. I think “I am very concerned about getting sick and infecting my partner” without stressing if there’s any heightened risks, etc and saying you’ll work from home while folks are sick in the office is the best thing you can do personally. If you don’t have the autonomy for this and will get in trouble for not being in person, you may be out of luck. You could subtly start leaving a box of disposable masks in the team area, making sure there’s hand sanitizer and use it frequently (there is pretty intense peer pressure for things like that), using hand sanitizer when entering or leaving any conference room, etc. If you just make these all-the-time habits, it doesn’t single any person out, leading to conflict.

    • 1
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      Mid-Level Software Engineer [OP]
      Taro Community
      a month ago

      Thanks for the reminder to calm down. It’s appreciated

  • 0
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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Yeah, you should 100% not bring this up as Lee mentioned. From the title, I thought the manager was still coming in to work despite being sick - In that case, we have a much different problem.

    It looks like your manager realized their mistake and even apologized. You totally deserve to be mad about this, but it's important to remember that for the sake of the team, it's always best to be constructive. If someone already realizes the error of their ways and you come in to just pile on, that's not constructive.

    We're all human and make silly incorrect decisions, and this one is very common given the overworking culture in tech. The good humans will realize their mistakes after and feel bad about it on their own - They don't need someone else to reinforce that.

    Also, if your manager sees you coughing on a Zoom call or something, they'll probably put 2 and 2 together and realize anyways, haha.

    Now if you have a situation where someone is making bad mistakes and not realizing that/feeling any guilt about it, definitely bring it up here in the Taro forum, and we're happy to help!