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My fiancée has recently had some major issues with family, and she's finding it hard to be on her own. We recently moved to a new city and she hasn't started university yet, and as such hasn't got any friends locally.

She needs to stay in Leeds during the week, and while I took yesterday off to look after her, it's impractical to do this as it counts as normal holidays as opposed to sick leave or compassionate leave.

She's suggested that she'd like to come to work with me and sit quietly, as the issue for her is that if she's left in the house on her own she tends to dwell on the problem and that doesn't lead to a good place. How should I approach my manager to ask him if it would be okay?

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closed as off-topic by David, Garrison Neely, alroc, Lego Stormtroopr, gnat Sep 4 at 7:58

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This question appears to be off-topic because it is about how to keep a fiancée happy. –  Garrison Neely Sep 3 at 14:53
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@GarrisonNeely I suppose, but since it was more directly related to approaching my manager with a specific request I thought it was okay. –  Yann Sep 3 at 14:54
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I think "how do I ask my manager about this thing that affects the workplace" is on-topic. Most of us are probably fortunate enough to have not had this particular problem, but that doesn't make it off-topic. Answers (and any other discussion) should focus on the workplace aspects, not the fiancee's condition. –  Monica Cellio Sep 3 at 15:28
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@Yann4, could you edit into the question a brief description of your workplace? Would she be joining you in your office, in a cube farm, on an assembly line (presumably not :-) ), etc? How unobtrusive is it possible to be? What's the environment like -- lots of discussions at people's desks, quiet, cramped, etc? –  Monica Cellio Sep 3 at 15:31
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@Yann4 You should still edit the information into your question. It's relevant to the question, and without it you get very vague answers. Both of the highly voted answers below indicate that they're not very specific, and request that information. You'd get a better answer with more detailed information in your question. –  Joe Sep 3 at 16:42

8 Answers 8

up vote 40 down vote accepted

A lot will depend on your working environment... If you're in an informal set up, you could raise the issue but if not, I'm not sure that there is a good way to broach this subject. Whilst I sympathise with your situation, this is simply not a professional thing to do.

Were you to ask it, it would put your boss in a difficult situation as to refuse (which is what they -should- do) would cause problems for your fiancée.

I would suggest instead that you request some additional leave and/or find ways for your fiancée to occupy herself in your absence.

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+1 - Unless the company is particularly relaxed (In which case, I'd suggest you wouldn't need to ask this question), the answer is simply there's no way to do this professionally simply because it's not a work matter. –  Dan Sep 3 at 15:19

How should I approach my manager to ask him if it would be okay?

You just ask for a few minutes of his time, and then ask him if this would be okay. It's as simple as that - nothing more complicated.

Depending on your work environment, your role, and the company culture, this might be perceived to be a very odd request. So you would be best to be prepared to explain how this won't get in the way of other folks' work and won't distract you from the work you are hired to do.

In my shop, we have cases where parents need to bring their child into work with them due to illness or school/daycare issues. The child usually sits quietly and reads.

That seems to be an accepted part of the culture at my company. But I've never honestly heard this extended to adults who just don't want to stay home alone.

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As a manager, here is how I would want a staff member of mine to approach this. Use a tone that you am confiding in your boss, and that you are offering a solution to a problem the boss has. Say something like this:

I'm sorry again for the short notice using a vacation day [yesterday, Friday, whenever.] The thing is, [name], my fiancée, has suffered a [loss, shock, devastation] in her family. [Possibly a single sentence here like "her mother has died" or "her brother has been arrested" or whatever. It will help if your boss realizes this is not an overreaction.] She is in very bad shape as a result and wants me to stay home with her so she is not alone. I can actually work, she doesn't need anyone talking to her, she just can't be alone right now. I know you don't want me off for many days over this, and I don't want to use up my vacation. I wanted to talk to you about options. I could work from home, or she could come and sit in my office or the breakroom or those chairs in the hallway, and read a book or something, as long as she is not at home alone. Do you think there is something we can work out?

Then wait and listen. Maybe your boss can grant you compassionate leave, maybe you can work from home, maybe your fiancée can come hang out for a while. Wording it this way makes it less of a favour and more you trying to ensure you're available to him during this very hard time for what is now your family as well as hers. Your boss may have a solution that hasn't occurred to you, or may agree with your solution.

It's pretty unlikely that your boss will say "no full grown adult ever suffers a shock or tragedy that makes being alone unbearable, suck it up and get out of my office". I know some other answerers are saying those sorts of things: my guess is that some life experiences are still awaiting those answerers. I will also note that a large part of the work around arranging funerals and the like serves a highly useful purpose of giving people something to do. You haven't specified what's happened, but if there's something your fiancée needs to do, encourage her to get doing it - it will help.

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The first thing you should do (and this is before you ask anyone anything) is put yourself in your manager's chair and pretend that someone is asking you this question. What do you expect his response to be? If you've been there a while, you probably have a good idea about what he will say.

If the question is accepted (as in, it ins't a flat out "no") you should be prepared to answer a few questions:

  1. What will she be doing?
  2. What will the impact of her being here be on you?
  3. What will the impact of her being here be on the crew?
  4. What benefit will this bring the company?
  5. Are there any insurance concerns to having a non-work visitor?
  6. Who is responsible for managing her if you are busy in a meeting?
  7. What do you think I as the manager should do if someone else wants to bring their wife in?
  8. Depending on your field of work, what security measures need to be taken? I used to work for the US DoD and had to get special permission to show my wife (a Canadian citizen) my cubicle.

And that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure there's many more questions your manager will have. He may also inquire about what you've tried to remedy this situation outside of work. I remember when my wife moved to the states to live with me, she played a lot of online games until she got her green-card/work permit (of course, we got pregnant before she got those, so she didn't even use them anyway...). Of course, we met on an online game to begin with, so she was used to having friends over the internet. Any friends she makes there will be easy to find again when she goes to university, too. So that's a plus.

Another way to approach your manager would be the prospect of her employment. I know a lot of people at my company get their kids, spouses, and other relatives employment here. Even if she doesn't have technical skills, if she was accepted into university she must have some viable skills that perhaps your company could take advantage of, even on a short term basis. It might not be the most fun she's ever had, pushing paper or pushing brooms or some other boring task, but she'd get to see you a few times a day, she'd be out of the house doing something, probably would make a few friends, and would make a few extra quid to boot!

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This would be an unusual request in most work environments.

How should I approach my manager to ask him if it would be okay?

I would recommend:

  • Explain why/what you are asking for (expect this to be received like "what? no")
  • Explain how arrangement would work (if your manager has to figure this out you basically have no chance of it getting approved)
  • Make it clear how it will not affect your productivity
  • If turned down, ask for alternate resources - perhaps there are local community groups, etc

Honestly though I would expect this to generate some conversation. Be prepared to answer a lot of "why?" and "how will this work?" details and realize it's likely to be turned down.

Also keep in mind your manager will then have to figure out how this will work for the rest of your team, too, if they want something like that.

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Since no one's come out and said it plainly (yet), I'm going to come out and say that this is a request you would be well-advised not to make.

Put yourself in your manager's chair, and imagine an employee coming to you with this request. When I do it, the first thought that pops into my mind is wondering what the [expletive] is wrong with the person who wants to come to someone else's workplace and sit quietly. This is followed very quickly by wondering what the [expletive] is wrong with the employee making the request (because there's gotta be something wrong with someone who's with someone like that, right?), and all kinds of scenarios to try to explain or make sense of this extremely odd request come tumbling through my mind, the first one being that this could be a symptom of an extremely abusive and controlling relationship... and I wonder if maybe I ought to put in an anonymous call to the police or a battered women's hotline.

Granted, I am a bit paranoid and cynical, so maybe if you approach your boss, his first thought won't be that you're a wife-beater, but I don't see any way around him thinking you very odd for asking. And then what happens if he agrees to your request and all your coworkers see your fiancee coming in on a regular basis, and sitting quietly in corner? Sounds like a spectacular way to fast-track yourself into the position of the office weirdo and invite all kinds of gossip and the like about you and your fiancee.

And of course, were he to grant your request, what about your co-workers? I'd love to have someone I'm having sex with "sit quietly" in my office with me while I work. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. "I swear, she won't make a sound, and I'll be a much happier employee as a result. No? Well, then why is one of my coworkers getting special treatment and being allowed to hang out with his girlfriend when he's supposed to be working?"

There's just no good way for this to turn out if you make the request, so don't make it.

The better approach would probably be for her to find a hobby, learn a new skill or visit public places, like normal people do when they don't want to sit home alone and be bored or lonely. Libraries, museums, parks, pubs/coffee shops, visiting the local tourist attractions, even something like MeetUp or volunteer work would be normal, healthy reactions to not wanting to be home alone, as opposed to this idea, which at best will only result in people thinking you two are weird, at best.

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This is not the answer that anyone wants to read, the wife-beater rumbling could be stricken off but it's the correct answer. Imagine the gossip. The small talk. I'd say no too. –  Vitor Sep 4 at 1:46

well just approach and tell about this problem Any reasonable manager will understand this situation and unless her presence distract your colleagues or is a security breach whatever he/she will allow

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Hey @Andrei_Latenko, thanks for you answer. Unfortunately it is a bit sparse compared to the answers we usually prefer on The Workplace. Do you think you'd be able to flesh it out a bit? In particular, we like it when answers are backed up, perhaps by personal experience or knowledge of similar situations. –  yochannah Sep 4 at 6:51

She could go to university already now and get familiar with everything, visit the library, read some books, talk to people. Maybe annoy some profs to get a small job to stay busy.

I wouldn't really ask for her to join you at work because of possible legal matters, confidentiality, people get distracted, ...

With the possible psychological issues, let her check vitamin D levels, thyroid and so on, might help, but will give you at least a day off, where you don't need to babysit. ;-)

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This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Sep 3 at 21:05

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