Dear J.T. & Dale: My company is moving, and the new office is going to add 20 minutes to my commute. I’m willing to make the switch, but I feel that my company should compensate me. Can I ask for a raise to cover the cost of the additional drive? — Jason
J.T.: Set a meeting with your boss, and share your concern. Be sure to stress your enthusiasm for the new facility. You need to show that you are onboard and not planning to quit: If they think you’re not moving with them, they’ll start looking for your replacement. Next, share the additional commute cost and politely ask, “Do you think there might be a way I can get compensated for this?” The worst they can say is “no,” but it will make them consider what can be done to help employees make the transition.
DALE: I’m going to go the other way: Do not ask them to cover your extra costs. No manager or HR person wants to set that precedent. If the office is 20 minutes farther away from you, it’s probably 20 minutes closer to other commuters. Should management ask those closer employees to give up some pay and give it to you? Of course not. All you will do by asking is to say, in effect, “Here’s my problem, and I want you to solve it.” This could lead them to assume that the new location is going to make you unhappy, and they could “help you out” by replacing you.
J.T.: I hope that Jason has a better relationship with his managers than that. However, you have a point, and this would be a good opportunity to broaden the discussion. After all, it isn’t just the expense of commuting — you are adding 40 minutes to your workday. So this is a good time to reassess your compensation. Start keeping a list of your career progress and your contributions. Build your case. I don’t see any reason not to mention that the new commuting time/cost started you thinking, but I like the idea of a full discussion of a raise. Perhaps you’ll end up getting more than just auto expenses.
Dear J.T. & Dale: My co-worker just started a new diet and fitness routine. I am happy for her, but now it’s all she talks about at work. Overnight, she has become some kind of expert on everything that we put in our mouths. I’m sick of it! Can I tell her to cool it? She is more senior, and I fear she could hurt my chances of getting promoted if I upset her. — Natalie
DALE: Three solutions come to mind:
First, if you and your colleague have that much time for personal conversations, either management is so inept that the company will soon go out of business, or one of you two will soon be laid off.
Second, you could be happy for her and join in. Maybe you’ll learn something that will support your own fitness goals.
Third, you could just smile and wait. Thornton Wilder once said, “I count the month lost when I am not swept up in a new enthusiasm.” Your colleague has been swept up in an enthusiasm, which only makes her more susceptible to the next one.
What am I leaving out, J.T.?
J.T.: A direct answer to Natalie’s question: Can she tell her co-worker to cool it? I think she can. One way would be to tactfully point out to your colleague that she is making you self-conscious. Something like: “I’m so impressed with all you’re doing, but it’s a little intimidating. I’m not there yet with my own wellness regimen, but it’s good to know that if I need some advice, I can reach out to you.” This might help her to see that she is talking too much about it without making her feel like you are putting her down. That might at least balance the conversation a bit as you wait for her interest to fade, as it inevitably will.