A 47-year-old remote worker found himself entangled in a work conference, a departure from his usual work-from-home routine. He reluctantly attended due to the critical role he played in this year’s presentation.
The All-Consuming Conference
The remote worker had limited personal connections with his coworkers and boss, maintaining a strictly professional demeanour. This made things tough when he realized just how social these events could be.
Dinners After Hours
During the conference, he discovered that in addition to the daytime sessions, there were obligatory dinners scheduled for the first 3 nights. These dinners extended his work-related obligations well past typical working hours, leaving him disgruntled.
Work vs. Personal Time
His primary gripe centred around the expectation of spending excessive time with colleagues after official work hours. To him, once the clock struck 5, the conference was over, and personal time should begin. This departure from his initial expectations irked him.
Dinner Plans With His Wife
The remote worker had planned a special evening with his wife for the final night of the conference. They agreed to have a virtual dinner and cherished the opportunity to spend quality time together, even if it was through a screen.
At lunch on the last day of the conference, his co-workers, including his boss, casually mentioned going to a specific restaurant for dinner. They assumed he was excited to join them, but he told them he already had plans.
The co-workers were shocked, informing him about an unspoken tradition: everyone dined together on the final night. He respectfully declined again, explaining his prior commitment to have dinner with his wife.
This refusal to participate in the impromptu dinner plan led to tension. His co-workers and boss were taken aback and did not sympathize with him for wanting to spend personal time with his wife.
The man was not happy with being expected to attend work events outside of paid hours. He explained: “I told my boss and co-workers that it was outside work hours, unpaid, and not scheduled”
A Reluctant Attendance
Eventually, faced with mounting pressure and the implication of potential repercussions from his boss, the remote worker reluctantly chose to attend the dinner, apologizing to his wife.
Unfortunately, the mood had already been soured: “They told me I was being rude and that I should have expected that we would all dine together the final night”, he recounted.
The man questioned his decision, seeking the verdict of an online community. One community member sympathized with the man: “People need to accept that these workplace “bonding” experiences are painful for some people. I don’t owe you my time, you’re not paying me”
New To The Industry
One commenter also took the man’s side, but pointed out that more of this would be expected in his job: “Incredibly naïve… That’s how conferences go. More career moves are made at those dinners than in the conference room believe it or not”.
Many other commenters felt that the man was acting irresponsibly: “You’re slowly burning bridges and causing dramas that may impact your professional career all for the sake of 1 evening”, one person noted. “Suck it up, you are a remote worker so you barely have to deal with colleagues except for these rare occasions.”
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