My office has a bed bug problem which seems unlikely to be resolved.  I have only been with this company 15 months.  Is it okay to change jobs now?  Can I mention "office hygiene" as a reason why I'm looking again so soon?


4 months ago we had our first confirmed beg bug.  Since then four building-wide treatments, two firings of suspected bed bug carriers, and several spot treatments have failed to resolve the issue.  The number of confirmed sightings has actually increased (but of course we're all on high alert too).  One was found in the next cubicle over from me.

I came to this company only 15 months ago.  In 12 years this is already job number 5.  Jobs 1 and 3 were around 1 year in duration.  Jobs 2 and 4 were at 4 years.  I'm self-conscious about the short durations as-is.


Leaderships response to the bed bugs is to downplay it all and only issue terse two sentence notices which appear to have been written by legal (which sits at HQs, a bed bug-free office a thousand kilometers away).  The company had looked at temporarily relocating us while the building was gutted and remodeled, but that plan has been delayed indefinately.  There has been no allowance made for working remotely from home or any other location.  Leadership continues to host clients, vendors, and interviewees at our building, and asks us to please keep our mouths shut about the bed bugs.

Meanwhile at home I fastiduously follow the exterminator's recommendations: Upon arriving home, all clothing goes straight to the dryer on high heat, then I take a scalding hot shower.  My wife and kids can't hug me until after the shower and even after that there's still some apprehension.  For 4 months.  It's getting old.

I'm having trouble balancing all the above to decide whether to stay or find another job.  And when finding a job, how much honesty is too much?  I don't want to drag the current employer through the mud, and I also want to make it clear that it's not my first choice to be leaving.  So what does the M-T community have to say?

[Edited for grammar.]

jeniqdickens's picture

Wow. No advice, but wow. 

SemperUbiSubUbi's picture

5 months in, we are still having bug sightings every week.  Management's focus appears to be on controlling who knows about it rather than getting rid of problem.

Still hoping for some opinions on mentioning this as a reason for seeking a new job so soon. 


What would you do if a candidate said they are looking for a job because...

"My current employer's office is old and unsanitary."

LOLOL's picture

It sounds pretentious on the surface, so I'd figure out a different reason to claim your leave.  Get some accomplishments and prepare, prepare, prepare.  Don't talk about the bed bug issue, I've found in the past when an interviewer delved into a "problem" I lost composure and spilled the beans because it felt great to talk about the issue but (in hindsight) I see it would have just looked like whining/complaining.

The situation sounds like it sucks, but I fear if someone got you talking you might sound like a complainer, and you don't want that.  Figure out a different reason why you're ready to move on is what I'd suggest.

fabeli's picture

Not sure if this post is still timely... 

What happens if you look at the issue of the bed bugs within the "bigger picture" of the job? What are you getting in return for the inconvienience (and overall "yucky") aspects of your job - i.e. the bed bugs?

I have never been in a similar situation, but I think for the "perfect" job, I would be able to handle the "bed bug" situation (that means development opportunities, pay, location, etc. are all great). If there are big advantages to your job, is that perhaps the reason you are/were still there after so many months? I could understand that.

My thoughts are rather obvious, please repost your question if you are still interested in more specific thoughts on how to handle interview questions on "why do you want to leave".

All the best!

SemperUbiSubUbi's picture

Situation resolved... for me anyway.  I got a new, better job in a better building.


The saga continues for the old company though.  After 9 months of dealing with the bed bugs, that company temporarily moved everyone across town so that they could gut and renovate the permanent building.  They are 3 months in to that 6 month process.


Now there is a bed bug infestation at the temporary building.  I'm glad I didn't stick around.


So if anyone happens to stumble upon this thread in the future because your workplace has a bed bug problem, my advice is to give the building management 6-10 weeks to address the issue before you decide whether to stay or go.  Hopefully they aggressively treat the building rather than taking half measures like my employer's building manager did.  If your building management is unable or unwilling to resolve the problem in that 10 weeks, you could be in for a long term on-again-off-again problem.

NLewis's picture

Would "My employer's environment presents me with certain health concerns that can only be resolved by changing positions." been an acceptable answer?

Mentioning the bed bugs directly would definitely be unwise.  A potential employer might avoid you for that reason alone.

 We had an employee with bed bugs.  Management gave him a few weeks to resolve it and when he was unable to they had to let him go.  To this day I bring my own chair to meetings out of habit.

So glad you are in a better place.  Life is too short to spend in any situation you find intolerable!