63

I'm positioned with a window next to me my coworker sits in front but have a wall to their side, then in front of them there is another window:

| <---window
|
|| <-- wall
|| O <--- coworker
|| <-- wall
| <---- window (With blind that they open)
|  O <-- me

The windows are not treated so the sun shines through and makes it hard to see. I've asked management about treating windows but nothing has happened in a few months. For this reason I tend to keep the blind closed when the sun is bright.

My coworker will wait until I'm out of the room and open the blind. I'm only ever away for a maximum of 5 minutes. I've made it clear why I close the blind. They do it anyway.

How to handle this situation?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Apr 5 '18 at 21:06
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    What is the blind situation on the window to the left of the coworker? – mcalex Apr 6 '18 at 8:38
  • Is this one co-worker as in "My coworker will wait ..." or more than one co-worker as in "They do it anyway."? – chux Apr 6 '18 at 12:33
152

The solution would be that when you come back and can't read your screen because the blind is opened, you go to your coworker and ask them whether they opened the blind. If yes, you ask them why they did it. Then you ask them to come to your desk, and notice that your screen is not readable. And that done, you close the blind.

Repeat as often as it needs repeating.

It seems your co-worker has this strange idea that you just don't like opened blinds and therefore doing it behind your back is a safe option. Obviously it's not because you inevitably notice.

  • 122
    Then you ask them to come to your desk, and notice that your screen is not readable. this part is key. Showing why you want the blinds closed helps them understand the situation. – Edwin Lambregts Apr 4 '18 at 9:25
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    @EdwinLambregts The asker has already stated that they have explained to the coworker why they want (need) the blind closed. – Ian Kemp Apr 4 '18 at 12:39
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    @RuiFRibeiro You can also view it as respectful that they wait with opening the blinds until OP leaves - they can enjoy the sun while OP is away and know that OP will close the blinds again when he comes – lucidbrot Apr 4 '18 at 14:23
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    Obviously it's not because you inevitably notice. Although, if OP didn't notice, it wouldn't be a problem! By definition. OP appears to not give a darn about whether the blinds are open, just whether their screen is visble. It just happens when the blinds are open at certain times of the day, it isn't, so it gets noticed. – corsiKa Apr 4 '18 at 17:32
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    @Joshua if they can read the screen fine, switch places and make everyone happy. – Erik Apr 5 '18 at 8:13
126

I had a similar problem as well. In my case, the other employee's reason for opening the blinds was to get a bit more light in their corner, where light was somewhat insufficient.

The solution for me was simple: I would close the blind as far as necessary to make me able to see the screen, but it was still open enough let some light through. The next step was obvious: go to management and ask for better lighting.

The main point in this issue is understanding. They need to understand why you close the blind, but ideally, you should know why they open it, too. Presumably, they don't simply open it to spite you, though I suppose that's possible.

Once you understand each others' motivations, you can work out a solution, and if necessary, request better lighting from management or even (very much dependent on work situation) switch work stations.

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    +1. Communication. OP has stated their case, but has not put any effort (or at least has not mentioned any effort) into understanding their coworker's point of view. – Kevin Apr 4 '18 at 14:18
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    Organizational change management (the art of convincing people to buy into a change) is more important and more difficult than change management (the art of designing a change). Processes are easy - people are hard. – corsiKa Apr 4 '18 at 17:34
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    So much this. I've been the person to open the blinds repeatedly throughout a day, even knowing that either I or my office mate would be closing them when she came back or the sun shifted from her screen to mine. Opening and closing them is close to zero effort, and it was worth it for me to have daylight. My coworker would have been content to have them always closed, but since she knew where I was coming from , she wasn't bothered. – Karen Apr 5 '18 at 15:28
  • I used to have a very similar problem, and this was the solution. After discussion, my co-worker (actually my boss) would only ever open the blinds enough that the sun didn't hit my screen. By the time I got it to work, the sun had risen higher in the sky, so it still didn't hit my screen. In the afternoon, I would be the one closing the blind, as the sun got lower in the sky. – Mark Booth Apr 7 '18 at 11:09
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    Aye, maybe the easiest answer is to swap desks. Incidentally, I've been in this situation, people like looking out the window, but the glare from the sun was right above my monitor. Our solution was to close the blind halfway, which covered the bright sky, but let them gaze lovingly at the car park. – gbjbaanb Apr 7 '18 at 21:21
29

I had a similar problem, in two different offices. That glare on the screen would turn me blind. At the first office, I told the colleague (who would open the blind), upfront that that glare is straining my eyes a lot. She did close it for the first day. Second day, it was back to square one. I repeated it, every single day. One day, she stopped opening it. No cold wars, no passive aggressiveness. Just get straight to the point.

At another office, I had no option; I requested for a cubicle change stating glare as the reason and it was granted.

If you want something, ask, stating the right reasons.

15

Move your monitor. Angle it differently on the desk. Get anti-glare covers or an anti-glare monitor. My coworker complains about this all the time, yet he chooses to place his monitors so they face towards the window when he has the option to have them face away from the window. He throws huge tantrums if someone opens the blinds.

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    His post history has nothing to do with anything. He's asked the coworker not to, coworker persists. "Stop bitching, whiner" is not a solution. – monsto Apr 7 '18 at 0:28
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    Requiring your co-workers to adjust their working environment to suit your preferences is not acceptable. Your co-worker may have good reasons why they position their monitors the way that they do. Many people dislike people 'hovering' behind them, so sitting with their back to a window helps prevent that. Also, you are being very judgemental about blargs other posts. – Mark Booth Apr 7 '18 at 11:15
  • @Monica Cellio All three questions are related to the same person. – blarg Apr 20 '18 at 8:09
14

Well, I cannot say if mine could be a viable solution, but since something like that happened to me some 15 years ago...

First of all, this is a management problem. I don't know how is the situation in your country, but here in Italy the work environment must respect some level of ergonomy. That's part of the legislation on workplace safety. Not complying could cost an employer a fine.

At the time I worked as a SW developer for a medium size research institution (~150 employees IIRC). I worked, together with other 5 or 6 colleagues, in an open space area all surrounded by glass walls in a position very exposed to sunshine.

There were blinds but they weren't very effective, even when completely shut. We had been complaining to management for about 6~7 months, but we received only vague answers.

It came the day when even some blinds broke (they were external to the building and somewhat exposed to weather), and the situation got fairly worse. Another month of complaints and nothing happened.

Then I did something you usually aren't entitled to do by usual internal network policy: I sent a mail to the internal broadcast address, i.e. I sent a mail to each and every member of the institution, management included!

This mail was written in a very informal (but neutral) tone, with the classic "internal info" format. It explained, citing several scientific and medical articles, the short and long term consequences of eye strain, glare and so on. In no way I mentioned the situation in our office. :-)

Some of those articles were also a bit scary (IIRC, they mentioned chronic retinitis or some other nasty eye-affecting syndrome), but they were very carefully selected and they came from extremely reputable sources (that is, they couldn't be dismissed as "paranoid" or urban myths, especially in an institution where almost 100% of the employees had a master degree and 50% a PhD!).

After two hours the IT manager called me in his office and mildly scolded me.

After two days the maintenance manager came to our office to examine the situation.

After a week we had some sort of cubicle walls installed that screened our work area and workstations from direct sunlight and glare.

After 10 days, top management sent us a mail in which they apologized for the "delays" in solving the issue and gave each one of us a ticket for a fairly expensive free lunch at the internal restaurant!

Bottom line:

I don't know if this anecdote could help you, but sometimes simple complaints are not enough: you must "convince" the management that solving the issue is in the company's best interest.

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    @MHH Please, reread the OP question before objecting: I've asked management about treating windows but nothing has happened in a few months. This is explicitly a management problem. IANAL, but In some legislation you could sue an employer for letting you work in an health-impacting environment without proper protections, which must be provided by them. – Lorenzo Donati Apr 7 '18 at 10:18
7

It is not a problem between you and your coworker. The setup of your screen related to the window is not right. In Europe exists laws against placing screens as you have it. The must be orthogonal to the windows. Not sure whether similar laws exist in your country.

Talk to your company or ask a worker representative, they have to fix this problem.

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    Have you got a source for this? Directive 90/270/EEC only requires that light from the window doesn't harm the readability of the screen. There is no prescription of whether this is achieved through positioning of the screen or covering of the windows. Yes, @blarg has the right to be able to see the screen clearly, but that can just as well be a right to work with the blinds closed if that's how their employer chooses to handle this requirement. – Will Apr 5 '18 at 10:13
  • @will: You are right, the European law does not explicitly state what I mentioned. I couldn't find a national law doing so. Some norms are behind pay walls and I couldn't check them. – usr1234567 Apr 5 '18 at 19:37
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    Nevertheless, if OPs request for the blind to be closed is backed up by a line manager stating it's a legal requirement that the light does not affect their screen, that's going to add a lot more weight. – delinear Apr 6 '18 at 12:57
  • Screens orthogonal to the windows won't help in all situations, though. If the sun light comes diagonally (and it likely some times will), it will still hit the screens and make them unreadable. – Paŭlo Ebermann Apr 6 '18 at 23:49
4

Did you ask your coworker or did you tell him or just start closing the blinds without asking? Most people would be a little put-off you they thought you demanded it and didn't have the courtesy to ask. It's obvious when the sun shines through, you can't see your screen. Most reasonable people would have no problem with this request, but do not assume you have some sort of right to have the blinds drawn.

Did you offer to keep them open when the sun isn't an issue? Many people benefit from exposure to some sunlight.

If you're going to be away from your desk for an extended period of time, open the blinds.

Work something out and confront them if they don't meet their end of the agreement. And it is an agreement.

2

I would just get really riled with the coworker and tell them loud and plain that you can't work with the blind open and to damn well shut it when I come back in the room.

If this doesn't work, get hold of a big mirror, preferably a fresnel lens, and point it so when s/he opens the blind,their monitor melts.

This would be an interim fix until I boot management up the backside with a 'fix this before I call health and safety inspectors' warning.

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    This reads like something from a xkcd webcomic, however I love it ;) – djsmiley2k - CoW Apr 5 '18 at 9:46
  • So I guess beating him about the head & shoulders is not really a politically correct option? – CrossRoads Apr 5 '18 at 17:10
  • @CrossRoads Unfortunately SE frowns upon the usual schoolboy antics, eg thumbtack hidden in office chair, itching powder, etc . Otherwise, yeah a dark alley and blunt object could be suggested as a viable option by some. – Sentinel Apr 5 '18 at 17:30
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    Mirror might be too obvious. Perhaps a photo in a frame with very shiny glass? – Will Crawford Apr 6 '18 at 2:45
  • @Will Crawford That's the spirit! Perhaps an A1 sized poster with a glass frame. And ever so slightly convex with a focal point about head height. Ha! The sound of sizzling and the pungent aroma of toasting colleague! – Sentinel Apr 6 '18 at 4:46
1

As per your second-last paragraph, you have already explained why you want (need) the blind closed to this coworker, yet they persist in opening it. This implies malicious intent, hence I would recommend escalating this issue to management in the hope that you or the coworker can be moved.

You don't even need to mention the coworker and the blind to management - just say that there is too much glare where you're sitting and that since requests to treat the windows have not had a result, you have no other option but to move as your productivity is impacted in your current location.

You manager may be nosy and/or decide to see the problem for themselves and head over to your desk, at which point they will probably notice the blind and ask about it. At this point you can simply state the fact - in a completely non-accusatory way - that the blind isn't a solution because your coworker keeps interfering with it. If your manager isn't completely useless, they should be aware of previous similarly malicious behaviour from the coworker, in which case they will immediately understand the underlying problem and act to solve it (either move one of you, or reprimand the coworker).

If your manager is one of the wishy-washy types who expects everyone to sort things out between themselves "like adults", simply find an empty desk in a better location and move your stuff there. Should your manager object, simply mention "productivity" a few times (maybe throw in hints of going to a higher authority regarding the blind issue) and they will either fold and let you keep your new spot, or actually do something useful about this issue. Either way, you're sorted.

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    "This implies malicious intent" - citation needed. SandyC's answer provides a case where there was no malicious intent. Unless the OP has asked why, then there is no reason to assume maliciousness. – Martin Bonner Apr 4 '18 at 15:50
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    What is malicious? OP is bothered by the light. So what's malicious in letting some light in while he is away? – Džuris Apr 4 '18 at 18:01
  • If the coworker was being considerate, s/he would close the blind again when the asker returns. S/he might forget a few times, but there's a line between "forget" and "not care" and the asker's tone implies that the second is the case. – Ian Kemp Apr 5 '18 at 11:52

protected by Jane S Apr 7 '18 at 2:07

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