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I got my degree last year and currently work as a junior analyst. I like my new job but we work in an open space and the culture is that of intensive communication. This is expected of us. There are also plenty of meetings.

I can never work uninterrupted (by meetings or people coming to me - I don't mean emails) for more than an hour and normally it's much less than that.

I'm a person who works best when he's "in the flow". The constant communication makes it super difficult for me to create anything of value. Sure, I can do some data preprocessing or play with visualizations, but the core of the process requires concentration and is very difficult for me to do.

I feel like I'm never really focused. So I go home and then work several more hours, which are the only hours of productive work I have in a day.

Do you know any solutions to that? There are no additional rooms I could sit in and nobody listens to music. Also, it's not about noise, it's about too much communication.

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    Is working from home an option? Have you discussed your inability to be productive with anyone? – Erik Feb 2 at 14:53
  • upvoting just for using 'ubercommunicative' and 'super difficult' – Kilisi Feb 2 at 20:54
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That's a tough situation. I would find a more sensible workplace, but if you intend to stay, a suggestion would be to get a good set of headphones and tape a sign to the back of your chair indicating something to the effect that you have a deadline and won't be able to corroborate between 10am and 3pm or something. If working from home is an option, do that. Getting work done off hours is costing you wages and enabling a poorly managed work environment. I'll bet the guy who came up with that layout has an office with a door they can shut.

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    +1 for the office door. Much too common. – Roman Feb 2 at 15:30
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    In my experience, signs on chairs and headphones (no matter how large) rarely if ever work. People simply do not pick up on these cues. The only solution I've found is to become invisible - find an unused office, book a conference room, etc. Assuming you have a laptop, that is. – alroc Feb 2 at 15:58
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I would call your environment "interrupt driven" one and I faced a similar situation working in product strategy. I just couldn't think strategy in an environment with full day meetings and people constantly interrupting my thoughts.

Here are some suggestions to cope with your environment:

  • Schedule working blocks in your calendar. Allocate time to do actual work. I recommend continuous blocks of times such as 9am-12pm Mondays is only for project work.
  • Make sure every meeting you're attending has an agenda and a clear purpose. One problem with a meeting heavy culture is that people schedule meetings instead of writing an email.
  • Make yourself harder to find. As someone noted in the comments, many people ignore the headphone rule, so your only other choice is make yourself scarce. It's harder for people to interrupt you if they can't find you. Take up residence somewhere other than your normal desk or even better work from home.
  • Communicate with your manager! Part of your manager's job is to protect your time. Make sure they're aware of what's going and how you're trying to mitigate the problem. Have they prioritize your projects and help push off non-prioritized work. This way if people start to complain to your manager that you're difficult to find, but it's a project that's not prioritized, the manager knows that tell that person accordingly.

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