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A few years back I found I was struggling mentally in work with various issues, one of which was being around people all day (my issue and I accept that). Having been with the company a very long time I was able to ask to start a few hours earlier than everyone else which also meant I took my lunch at a different time. I was only around others for 1/2 my working day, and it also meant I had more of the "day" to spend at home which has made me a happier person (my work people are not bad people, it's me and too much to explain here). My work is not aware that one of the main reasons for changing was to avoid people... clearly not in my best interests to say.

Once I changed hours, I became aware that some people are coming in earlier than normal. Generally, that doesn't affect me as they work on the other side of the office, but one works in the desk across from me. When I started the new hours these people came in only about 30 minutes at most before a shift, so I didn't really care. I come in around 15 minutes early myself... but over the years I noticed that two individuals have started to come in earlier and earlier to the point they both coming in about 90 minutes early. I casually checked with both of their managers what hours they work (as I know some people in the workplace do extra hours and their boss never knows). Both managers were quite surprised and the upshot was neither employee wanted to alter hours, one even said they didn't want to leave early as people would think they were "part-time".

To add to this, the one opposite me doesn't take lunch, so it has scuppered my plans really.

I am aware it's up to the individual what they do and it's really none of my business what they do with their spare time, but my question is if there are any subtle ways I can perhaps convince them to not come in early or not have a lunch? I have tried saying, "oh you're keen today" or such joking remarks, but it's made no difference. I accept it's just how it is and I know it's not a big issue really, but it makes me feel a bit deflated when they come in not long after me. I wondered what to do; as mentioned, I spoke to their line managers and joked about it with them. What more things could I try?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Mister Positive Sep 3 at 21:12
  • "To add to this the one opposite me doesn't take lunch, so its scuppered my plans really. ... my question is if there are any subtle ways I can perhaps convince them to not come in early or not have a lunch?" Are you asking for ways to convince someone to stop doing something they're not doing, or have I misunderstood something? – Peter Taylor Sep 5 at 10:23
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    Are you aware that, if you company had four employees like you, it would be completely impossible to make the schedules work? Why do you feel more entitled than your co-workers to choose your work hours? – David Sep 5 at 10:33

10 Answers 10

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You've already raised this with their managers, so nothing really will change here.

You can't do much about this. At least it's only a couple of people and not the entire office, so all you can really do is deal with it or arrange some remote working.

I personally get into the office over 2 hours early to beat the traffic and get some peace and quiet before the madness descends. A couple of other people also turn up early, but they generally stay relatively quiet.

There's not much you can do about this I'm afraid.

  • Thank you. I think that is the case, i wondered if something i might be missing, I have a small worry that its spreading, most the company used to come in 8.30 and now am seeing people in at 7.50... its like a culture is starting – Bob Sep 3 at 7:10
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    I used to get to work early (1 hour) to avoid traffic, if I left 10 minutes too late I would be 30 minutes late for work (this was the M25...) So, people will do things to avoid traffic, just because you were doing it for different reasons does not stop them having the right to come in early... – Solar Mike Sep 3 at 9:04
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    @Bob "... its like a culture is starting." Maybe YOU started this and now you have followers. The very people you dislike is the people that have you as a role model and guru. – Henrique Sep 3 at 17:42
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    consider that people who come in early may be like-minded. They also just want to put their heads down and get their work done. – LeLetter Sep 3 at 21:56
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    @ribs2spare you are right and maybe I was waaaay out of line. And introversion is something that most people will never understand. Being mildly introverted myself, I can feel Bob's pain at least a little. BUT.... one can't expect to change the whole world to acomodate one's own condition. Bob has a problem, he has to solve it somehow. Working from home maybe. But asking everybody else to leave is not an option, I'm afraid. – Henrique Sep 16 at 22:24
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I am aware its up to the individual what they do and its really none of my business really what they do with their spare time,

So you're fully aware that what you want to do is out of line and you have no business controlling other people's working hours?

but my question is if there are any subtle ways i can perhaps convince them to not come in early or not have a lunch?

But of course you want to do it anyway.

i have tried saying "oh your keen today" or such joking remarks, but its made no difference. I accept its just how it is and i know its not a big issue really, but makes me feel a bit deflated when they come in not long after me so wondered what to do, as mentioned i spoken to their line managers and joked about it with them,

So you're harassing them about their working hours and trying to undermine them with their line managers.

what more things could i try?

Nothing. Stop it. This is really toxic behavior - look, I get it. I'm not good with people either and much prefer to be able to get on with my work without others around. But dealing with other people is going to be a fact of life in many, many jobs and situations. You just need to grit your teeth and find other coping mechanisms that allow you to keep your sanity without trying to control other people's lives and getting in their business. Not only is it wrong morally it's also (as you've discovered) woefully ineffective. Try other, self-contained methods instead - good quality noise-cancelling headphones, go for a walk by yourself when you have your lunch break, plan in some "you" time to decompress either after or before work.

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    +1 for the last paragraph. This is a typical XY Problem - the issue isn't the coworkers, it's the ability to cope. – David K Sep 3 at 12:23
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    +1 for the last paragrapho too. I'm really sorry if @Bob feels bad about human interaction, but it's his problem, not others, and he should find a way to cope. Harassing coworkers is unpleasant, rude, unprofessional and illegal. If I were Bob's manager and something like this came to my knowledge, I'd fire him on the spot. – Henrique Sep 3 at 17:44
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    +1 along with the others. Exactly this. Others are just as entitled to come early as @Bob is. – Kaleb Sep 3 at 17:52
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    Great answer. Talk about entitlement. – Gregory Currie Sep 4 at 0:24
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I am aware its up to the individual what they do and its really none of my business really what they do with their spare time, but my question is if there are any subtle ways i can perhaps convince them to not come in early or not have a lunch? i have tried saying "oh your keen today" or such joking remarks, but its made no difference. I accept its just how it is and i know its not a big issue really, but makes me feel a bit deflated when they come in not long after me so wondered what to do, as mentioned i spoken to their line managers and joked about it with them, what more things could i try?

It's a mistake to try and get others to come in later so that you can be alone while you work. Push too hard and you may get yourself fired.

Your best bet is one of two paths:

  1. Work on yourself. Find ways to avoid the necessity to work alone. That might involve some behavioral therapy, or just pushing yourself out of your comfort zone until you no longer feel such a strong need to be alone

  2. Accept that you really do want to work alone and find a fully work-from-home job.

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    +1 for Work on yourself - always good advice regardless of the circumstances! – JMK Sep 3 at 14:48
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You're focusing on the wrong area

I know its tough and the easiest path seems to be to change other people but that fix will always be temporary. The problem you have with people, whatever it may be, will effect all areas of your life. I'd recommend seeking professional help from a therapist or other suitable professional (I don't know the problem so can't recommend more).

To better understand this approach imagine, instead, you're on the receiving end of something like this - a co-worker asking how they can stop you coming in early or make you attend social events. At the end of the day the actions of others are always less controllable than your own feelings and actions.

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A few years back I found I was struggling mentally in work with various issues, one of which was being around people all day (my issue and I accept that).

This may be your issue in that sense, but you don't have to face it alone.

@Mawg i know how i sound,. It is me and i know it, but part of my coping mechanism was to remove my self. I do work remotely for 1/2 the week, so it is only a small inconvenience, but as this forum is for workplace issues i thought it acceptable to ask and be judged on the work aspect and not my own character

There is a lot of posturing in your question and in some of your followup responses that is impossible to decipher as pointing to deeper coping strategy issues or perhaps a bit of defensiveness on simply feeling like you're being unfairly cornered/treated in response to your question. I'm not going to judge on either.

Either way, I'd highly recommend you consider seeing a clinical Psychologist. There are multiple forms of psychotherapy, but any decent Psychologist can:

  1. Help work with you on finding coping strategies that ease whatever issues are causing you to have trouble being around people at work for so much of the day.

  2. Refer you to a different Psychologist if the first one you see or their therapy methods are not working for you.

  3. If the underlying issues in relation to your discomfort are at the level of a disability that cannot be resolved in other ways, a Psychologist can document it as such and you can decide if you want to seek a related accommodation formally (under the ADA).

Ultimately, the things you are asking for all revolve around requiring others to change their behavior simply to suit you. You are already working remotely for half the week. I think it is important that short of a formal diagnosis that results in a workplace accommodation, you are shifting things into a territory that is unreasonable to expect of others not only voluntarily but also without any disclosure as to why on your part, whether those others are your coworkers or your employer.

You can bring your issues up with your coworkers or your employer without seeking professional help, but this can turn into a thorny issue and if you do end up being discriminated against based on revealing your condition, it may be difficult to prove, and very difficult to prevail on. Starting by seeing a therapist before pursuing any formal--or even informal--routes at work that involve disclosure helps with documenting. Also, a Pscyhologist can help you with strategies for discussing your issues and seeking compromises or help with dealing with them at work outside of simply seeking a formal accommodation, if you choose to go a related route.

The ideal outcome from therapy would of course be to either reduce whatever issues are causing the presumably otherwise "normative" work environment to be a problem for you, or with having someone who can now work with you more directly on stepping through other ways to ameliorate your distress and provide better coping mechanisms.

Your other option would obviously be to start looking for purely remote work. Perhaps you could seek to have your current work moved to less time in the office on the days you are in, or less days in, but that seems unlikely (based on the assumption that if you could be in less days you presumably already would be), and either way it seems that it would be better to seek something that can perhaps help you address the underlying issues more directly or form broader coping mechanisms for dealing with them.

The APA maintains a Psychologist Locator if you need help finding a therapist. I'm more comfortable generally recommending that you seek help from an actual Psychologist (psyD or PhD), as they will be able to definitively diagnose you in terms that would meet any ADA requirements, beyond being relatively uniformly heavily trained and effectively screened in these areas. Other licensed therapists/counselors vary state by state in terms of what they can do, how much training they are required to have, and other details.

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[coming in about 90 minutes early]

[one even said they didn't want to leave early as people would think they were "part time]

[their spare time]

It's not their spare time. Those people prefer to start their "overtime" an hour and a half before everyone leaves.
The thing you could to is to talk with their managers and suggest they should hire extra person so there would be no need for overtime. OR to ask for a remote work.

And yes, more people will start coming in early. They don't do now because probably they don't know it's possible. Everyone want to be home early and use as much of a daylight for their private time.

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Generally that doesn't affect me as they work on the other side of the office, but one works in the desk across from me.

If the problem isn't that they're coming in early, but that they're in 'your quiet zone' when you want to be alone, then its time to ask your manager for a new desk (or preferably, given the secrecy, a whole new seating plan - managers love doing that, they adore the power over employees it gives them).

Then they can give you a desk near to the people who like to come in and work late, possibly with your back to those who also come in early, and everyone will be happy.

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Ask to work from home

As mentioned in other answers, there's no good way to get others not to come in early, and it's not appropriate for you to try to do so, but working from home sounds like it could be a perfect solution for you if you can swing it. Why not ask your manager if you can work from home?

It doesn't have to be a full-time gig

It depends on your manager, your own preferences, and the type of work you do whether you should ask for full-time work from home, or whether you should aim for a compromise where you work a few days a week from home. I'm not sure you'd be able to get an arrangement to work a partial day from home without explaining why, as a cynical manager is likely to assume you just want to sleep in or to get off work early. But working part of a week from home is quite common, and full-time telework is growing in popularity. So why not see if it's an option at your current employer? If not, then try to find an employer that will allow it.

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You are right, this is a "you" issue.

The only possible solution which I can think of would be for you to come in early by an additional 90 minutes.

I have no idea if management would approve my suggestion but working among people is a fact of the working world.

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If you are in USA and have a diagnosed A.D.D. that makes you unable to resist distraction, then you might have a case for ADA accommodation. Unlikely, but maybe. Otherwise, everyone else is right: live with it or get a different job.

I was in that position, but the red tape for getting accommodation wasn’t worth it. My boss was willing to put me in a corner with no window, and that turned out to be sufficient.

protected by motosubatsu Sep 4 at 13:41

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