My company has last week switched to an Activity Based Workplace. Meaning; no solitary offices, huge open spaces, no assigned desks, and the cubicles aren't even cubicles (the dividers are waist-level...).

As a big introvert, I can't focus like this. I need "tethering" in the form of having my own desk to return to every day, and I need a distraction-less environment (music in headphones only do so much - I still have people in my visual periphery at all times, as well as people walking up to me at any time during the day). My actual time spent working now is maybe 2-3 hours out of my 8 hour day. Which is insane.

How can I best address my need to have a "static" space that I can call my own in an environment like this?

EDIT: the question referenced above is not a duplicate of this one, but they overlap to such an extent that this specific question (mine) might be hard to answer better than the comments and answers that have been posted thus far.

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    I think this has the core of a good question but we need to focus it on one aspect of your issue with the activity based work-space. For that reason I focused the question on the grounding part. There is already the linked question on staying on task or that would have been another option Nov 27, 2017 at 14:03
  • For coping strategies the linked question seems like a rather complete duplicate. If your work is so affected that you can't even handle people being within view or having people ask you stuff, perhaps that's grounds for a different question though I'm struggling to see a real answer to that other than "You'll have to fix that."
    – Lilienthal
    Nov 27, 2017 at 16:09
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    @JoeStrazzere, as an introvert, I would have quit the day they announced this horrible situation. It doesn't take a week to know that this is an unacceptable way to work when you are stressed by being around people.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 27, 2017 at 16:12
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    @JoeStrazzere We're all different, noises around me can't do anything to me (and I don't have headphones), if I'am really into something, I don't see people passing. However I would be quite annoyed to have to setup my desk everyday in a different place. I strongly like the idea to own a bit of place for myself . For the sake of objectivity and avoiding useless debate, I think we should remove the fact that OP supposed it is because of it's introvert side. That situation annoy him, what can he do ? That is enough to make a proper question.
    – Walfrat
    Nov 28, 2017 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


I also work in an activity based workplace, and I have noticed that early birds tend to occupy the same spot every day, while late comers have to deal with the leftovers.

In your case, check first your office layout: you will surely find a few spots that are suitable to your needs.

Then strive to be in the office as one of the first: you will be able to pick your spot when still plenty of them are empty.

  • So if you come in late you are entitled to worse space than an early riser? How disgusting.
    – HLGEM
    Nov 28, 2017 at 16:26
  • @HLGEM, at least in my workplace late comers takes the desks closer to the coffee machine
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 28, 2017 at 18:51
  • Yes, I try to come in early. I am usually one of the first 10 people which helps a bundle. Nov 28, 2017 at 23:13

If you need (not want) an accommodation, then you will need a medical excuse. This is clearly causing you anxiety. I would talk first to a therapist about the problem and see if you can get him to write a note explaining that this environment is not good for you and that you need an assigned desk. By law (in the US and most probably in much of Europe) they cannot deny you a medical accommodation that is not too disruptive of the workplace.

BTW only stupid companies use this type of seating. Personally I would move on to some place that respects the needs of employees to be able to do their jobs in an environment that allows concentration and doesn't treat them as interchangeable parts.

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    BTW only stupid companies use this type of seating - Citation needed. Nov 27, 2017 at 17:03
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    I'll back HLGEM up on the stupidity assignment. Nov 27, 2017 at 17:12
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    Add my vote to the stupidity assignment. I would bet good money that overall productivity drops like a rock with these seating plans.
    – 17 of 26
    Nov 27, 2017 at 21:25
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    @JoeStrazzere I think the therapist might suggest changing to a better employer Nov 27, 2017 at 23:15
  • The stupidity assignment feels more like a personal complaint for a situation than a fact checked statement. I would love to see studies or any source that proves that this kind of environment is stupid.
    – everyone
    Nov 28, 2017 at 13:33

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