Recently my team was moved to a tiny office, about 3x3 meters. There were 3 of us, but now an ex employee has been hired again. He was annoying before he resigned, and he is still annoying today.

I used to be in charge of music (we have speakers in the office). Most of the time we work in silence but from time to time someone asks to listen to some music. This new employee wants to listen to music all the time. He just went and unplugged the speakers from my computer and moved them to his. I leave 1 hour after everyone so I take my speakers back, only to find them the next day plugged to his computer. He can be very annoying with his music choices, the remaining 3 of us are always complaining. He's a "music worker" and he can't grasp the concept of someone needing actual silence to concentrate.

Yesterday he had a meeting. He just took the webcam from a developer's computer for no reason. He didn't need a camera for the meet. And the developer uses the computer because he is developing a video chat software. He actually needs said camera.

He seems bored. He will randomly just start talking (especially to another coworker who he is "slightly" closer with), but this person is already getting annoyed by his constant chatter, showing of memes, etc.

He also starts displaying HIGHLY inappropriate content in his computer, that he finds amusing. Just the other day he started playing a song, to the tunne of Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" with the lyrics changed to "a d*ck after midnight". A couple of days before he played a video of some instagrammer who described, graphically, "how to give a ball massage". We told him "dude, that's a bit too much" and he said "haha sorry i just find these funny.. but i will make you like it too!!!".

He is also a very loud typist, and he vocalizes everything: he's constantly reading his screen and saying "eh!" "oops!" "what??". We ask him not to do that, but he says "oh, sorry, I just don't realize I do that".

Other than escalating this to our boss (who is 700km away because we're a satellite office), how can we address this with him?

  • 2
    "time to time someone asks to listen to some music" Sounds like you all need headphones?
    – dustytrash
    Dec 11, 2019 at 14:05
  • @JoeStrazzere Only that new colleague using headphones will not solve this entirely, since they are also claimed to be "vocal", all of them need to use headphones. Dec 11, 2019 at 14:08
  • 1
    @hjf he could have a PhD that wouldn't change the situation, there's certainly some kind of leading your team, no? Or someone you've been with the company for longer than the others?
    – Laurent S.
    Dec 11, 2019 at 14:43
  • 1
    can you add a country tag as in some countries there are rules on how much office space should be per one employee. Dec 11, 2019 at 15:09
  • 1
    Why did this person even get rehired?
    – AsheraH
    Dec 11, 2019 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Establish shared office rules

  • Rules of property. He shouldn't be allowed to take items that do not belong to him without asking. That is common courtesy.
  • He also should not be allowed to mess with anyones work setup. Plugging/unplugging stuff may render them unable to work or at the very least annoy them. It could also be a security risk if he plugs stuff into your computers. So in case all other things fail, your boss might be interested in that.
  • Commonly accepted noise level. He should be using headphones. Obviously. As should you all, unless otherwise agreed.

Maybe it is best to have a sit-down in the office and talk about the things that chip away the work atmosphere.

Escalating to your boss This might be an option in theory. But provided that he already placed you in an office with 4 people (probably to save money), he wont care too much unless you can provide some proof that the annoyance does actually affect your work output.

Passive aggressiveness It is also an option to shun him. This might not be the most social alternative, but it might give him a hint. Buy headphones and put them on. Ignore all his meme messages and whenever he tries to bother you. Just work as 3 and cut him out until he falls back in line.

Befriend what cannot be defeated The last option is to befriend the guy and thereby make him search for your approval.

  • Secururity is an important issue. I have a computer with only 4 USB ports ON. They are monitored. When using USB I need to use company issue secure ones. I needed to write a ticket for using USB speakers. Unplugging thing sna sticking in your computer might alert the IT and be considered as risky (if not dangerous) behaviour. Dec 11, 2019 at 15:14
  • OP has already tried the passive aggressive option, and it seems the co-worker either doesn't get the hint or simply doesn't care. So that may not be very effective in this case.
    – MikeQ
    Dec 11, 2019 at 18:23

Ya know, that sucks. I'm sorry you're dealing with it and, honestly having tried, I don't see many ways you can succeed in garnering your quiet.

We went through similar episodes with a couple of individuals doing that. Ours would be on telecons on speaker phone, would then dial his daughter on his cell, (on speakerphone), and be having conversations tutoring her. He'd also sing religious folk music (He did have a nice voice)- but still.

Someone ended up gluing his speakerphone button. A huge blowup happened. Said glue-ee ended up retiring shortly thereafter.

We tried giving him headphones, earbuds, microphones- nothing worked. Blunt conversations didn't work. Discussions with his management didn't work.

If you all can't sit down and bring him a list of things you need to succeed, it won't get better.

It's best perhaps if all of you approach him individually. You can all reference you'd heard it 'from someone else' if you'd like to be circumspect, but he'll get the point that if all of you are complaining perhaps behaviour needs to change.

Lastly, if it doesn't, then you need to involve your management some 700km away. From what you're describing that's fraudulent charging which (in my industry) is a huge flag.

Good luck.

  • 1
    Glue! That was a genius of an idea! I guess I would have gotten fired too. Dec 11, 2019 at 19:06
  • Actually, it wasn't- it was horribly childish. The person that got their button 'glued' blew up- dragged security up, it was awful. He went off on people and, as I said, the person that did it retired shortly.
    – J.Hirsch
    Dec 11, 2019 at 20:49

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