I'm growing concerned that only one of two options can be true: (a) working conditions that studies such as those from the book Peopleware (summary) would condemn are actually fair, appropriate, and must be tolerated, or else (b) there is a climate of gaslighting among hiring managers and HR geared towards making a recruit feel bad about requesting certain environmental conditions in the workplace.
My questions is whether (a) or (b) is more likely (clearly reality is probably some mixture of the two, but only one can be the predominate phenomenon and I am not sure how to properly learn which is more true).
The short version of my explanation is:
After being stuck with projects that fall very far outside of my job description and my education domain / prior experience, I took it upon myself to learn best practices in those project areas. This was viewed as threatening by management. Most ideas have been squelched, and I am often required to perform tasks I was not trained for and to perform them in ways that are obviously not best practice, and to raise no complaints about the lowered quality or my dissatisfaction about the situation.
I have been repeatedly rated as one of the best employees in my level in the company, and so it is not very tractable for management to dismiss me without a good reason. Yet I am also genuinely prevented from steering my own work, either in quality or topical area. I figured it was a good time to begin a new job search. I have a very strong resume, with an advanced degree from a respected university and around 5 years of experience, great references, high GPA and test scores, etc. Despite this, I have been job searching for 8 months with absolutely zero luck.
Most often here is what happens. Someone initially phone screens me or has a short in-person interview, centering on technical knowledge. I usually do very well and the hiring manager becomes excited. There is frequent contact, frequent follow-up interviews, most of which center more on technical skills, and I generally tend to do very well. Then, after they have decided to make job offers, they reach out to ask me about salary requirements and other desires. This is usually where it goes bad. As soon as I mention, from e.g. Peopleware, that I feel it is a basic requirement of the job that I am given a suitably quiet and private working space, and access to the specific computer technology that I am most productive with, everything derails. The frequent and positive exchanges all subside. Long delays happen.
And then, gaslighting. Bothing within my current company (where I sit in a loud cubicle in an open floor plan) and coming from the recruiters at all of the other firms that have made offers, folks spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to convince me that my standards are not just regrettably too hard for them to meet, but in fact that my desire for an office is "flippant" and "intransigent" and shows that I am not a "team player." All of the classic excuses (which have been debunked with credible studies that I will often cite) are proferred, and when I won't accept them, then either a nasty final offer is made to me (which I have turned down) or else I get terse rejections such as "you are not a good cultural fit" or "we are going to move forward with other candidates."
I know that readers have no reason to trust me when I say that I carry myself well in interviews and that I know how to politely talk about my workplace needs without seeming "flippant." Sure, maybe I could use some work improving that skill, but I don't suspect that my tone of voice or demeanor during the discussion is the problem.
And further, friends and family have supported me by saying "you really dodged a bullet" when this kind of behavior has led to a possible job offer being rejected or withdrawn. But after 8 months? After 4 distinct final job offers and a half dozen late stage interviews all going down the tubes because I feel that a quiet office is as basic a need as a keyboard or mouse (given that many studies have shown this). I don't want to leave my current (dysfunctional) job just to enter into another job that is equally as dysfunctional. But it's starting to look like the very definition of "having a job" is that I must put up with not just some mildly unpleasant parts, but to simply redefine my entire perspective on what the very most basic elements of a functional workplace even are.
So back to the question. Is it gaslighting, and if so, how does one find jobs at places that don't behave this way? If it's not gaslighting, what are concrete steps to sort of "lifehack" in such a way as to turn my deeply held beliefs about basic workplace conditions on their head and come to some resignation that it's just impossible to have these kinds of workplace conditions?
One clarifying point following jcmeloni's answer. This issue is perhaps much more about who I would be working for and what do they value as opposed to what are the exact conditions I will work in. Of course, I want good working conditions. But the bigger problem is that if a company chooses to ignore 30+ years of cost/benefit analysis, productivity studies, and best practices, all in favor of shaping up a particular "fun" environment (as in the tech start-up example) or in favor of using quality-of-tools (including office space) as an expression of status or rank, then I profoundly want to avoid working for or with such people because I feel it would be dysfunctional to a degree that is harmful to my cognitive health and career development. I don't want to orient myself with their company because they don't have congruent professional or work-space values. I don't come right out and say this in an interview, of course, but it's a deeply held personal value.
The problem is that (1) I believe this is a basic, sane, and obvious value more or less objectively flowing from decades of studies, and (2) 8 months worth of companies that I've interfaced with believe it is a "flippant" and "intransigent" value that makes me "not a team player." How do I reconcile the two?
It's not just that some hiring managers have said something like, "Well, I can appreciate your desire for quiet space but we just don't work that way here. We'd be happy to try to do XYZ to either compromise or offset the workplace incompatibility." They don't say that. They say, "Your unwillingness to work in the office layout that we have dictated is flippant and instransigent, and frankly indicates that you might not be a 'team player' so either you accept our offer with no compromises, or we will simply find a different candidate."
Again, if it was just one or two companies, I might understand that sometimes compromises can't happen -- or that some companies are just especially set in their ways. But this actively antagonistic response has happened everywhere and I am at a loss for reconciling it.