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Published: Nov 02, 2016 5 min read
Frustrated businessman with head down next to stack of reports on desk
Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch—Getty Images

Q: Should I say something to my coworker who keeps falling asleep at his desk?

I work at a software development group and one of my colleagues occasionally falls asleep at his desk. He’ll be asleep anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes. We work at cubicles in an open-ish concept office, so it’s not like he can hide behind an office door. It doesn’t happen every day, but it’s happened at least five times over the past two months and I’m concerned that someone (our manager) will come by and see him.

Is the best approach to pretend like it’s not happening? I’ve always ignored it. I have no authority over him and it’s not my place to call him out. However, is there a better response when I see he’s sleeping at work? (Aside from “accidentally” creating a loud noise to wake him.) It’s getting increasingly weird to work near someone who is sleeping.

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A: If he’s falling asleep that often, he probably has some idea that it’s happening. I don’t think you need to alert him or wake him each time it happens. If you were senior to him, you’d have an obligation to say something to his boss. If he were a peer, I’d suggest you first talk to him (“I noticed you’ve been falling asleep at your desk — is everything okay?”). But given that he’s senior to you, yeah, I’d go on ignoring it. (The other option would be to say something to your boss — “hey, I’ve noticed Fergus falling asleep at his desk a lot and I’m worried about whether he’s okay” — but it sounds like you specifically want to avoid that.)

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Q: If I think I’m being fired, should I just stop going in?

When I started my job, training was very foggy. I had the training pay rate, which was minimum wage. For the longest time I had no idea if I was off training, so I asked after two months and was told I had to do training in another location.

I completed my training and went back to my old location. About three months later, the manager said to me very indirectly that she was putting me on probation and she had to take me off training because she could not keep on training forever. That was all she said, with no feedback on what I could improve on.

That was two months ago and now I see that she took me off the schedule as of November 4th, but I am still working opening and closings until then. She has said nothing; she just took me off the schedule, no feedback, no being direct, and everything all over the place.

I do not feel like going in to work tomorrow. Should I write her an email saying that if I am terminated, it makes no sense to still go in? Or should I just go in and complete my work? I have felt disrespected here and that this has been handled very unprofessionally.

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A: It’s not how professional jobs typically work, but it’s definitely true that some retail and food service jobs will just take people off the schedule rather than having a direct conversation. That might be what’s happening here — or there could be some other reason for it, like a simple mistake.

Emailing your boss to say that it doesn’t make sense to work the rest of the week if she’s firing you is a pretty aggressive move, especially if it turns out that that’s not what she’s doing. Why don’t you just ask her directly? When you see her next at work, say this: “I noticed that I’m not on the schedule after the 4th. Do you still plan on scheduling me?” (And if you won’t see her in the next day, call or email to say that instead.)

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.