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Disclaimer: I ask this one anonymously, because I don't want to have issues if some of my collegues will find it. I have some tens of thousands rep on my main account, but I'd rather ask this question without using such benefits than get exposed. Some details are obscured or changed to prevent identification without changing the issue in any meaningful way.

The story is quite simple and brutal. I live in a country where the tax office can just take money from a company without a trial, and if the company will ever win a trial, it'll be years later, and the tax office can refuse to give the money back without any real consequences anyway. That's what happened to my employer, bringing the company on the verge of bankrupcy. Now the company is getting close to finalize restructuring, but was forced to do some budget cuts, by decision of court-appointed "overseer". Many people got their contracts terminated. The team I'm part of was quite safe from that fate, luckily.

Sadly, we got hit in a different way. Previously we used to have a room for four micro-teams, 2 or 3 people each. Room was divided in two, providing comfort, but allowing "asking he room" when neccecary - because each team manages one stage of the data flow. And because flow of the data (and with it - flow of goods and services) should be uninterrupted, we had our own coffee machine. It's not like we were the only ones to use it, and we did buy coffee out of our own pockets, but we got our coffee fast, without waiting for it in the cafeteria, and it was gentle on the stomach.

Now, changes required that some of the space was let to a 3rd party, and we got moved to another room. There is twice as many people there now. People who didn't sit with us previously are loud, in two ways:

  1. Some of them have to be on the phone a lot, and have to see their screens when they talk, so no way around it.

  2. One of them is disabled and while I can't complain on his work, he laughs a lot, quite often about things that are work-related and shouldn't be laughed about. Never sexist, racist or any other "protected class" stuff, rather about how people can't do their jobs. And it is especially painful laughter for me, because it reminds me of the times when I was psychiatric patient - in a way that brings me quite close to a panic attack (bad memories). But not only I am uncomfortable with it, if I can guess from the looks on other people faces.

Our room is open, without cabinets etc, so everything just echoes around. And we were told that fire department forbade adding any obstacles.

To add an insult to an injury we lost our coffee machine. Now we are only allowed to have one coffee machine per floor. There is many people here, like almost three dozens in just the one room next to the coffee machine on our floor. Imagine the waiting line! And I won't tell you about the quality of the coffee. Anything more than it is free for us, and not much more expensive for the company. After almost a decade I started to drink coffee with sugar just to make it passable.

Now the company expects efficiency will increase, and we know it'll drop. How to prepare for the fallout, when it will get noticed?

Of course I'll start using headphones whenever feasible, but our computers are monitored and entertainment is banned. And of course I'll polish my CV, but I quite like working here - decent pay, good boss, good boss of my boss, opportunity to learn and grow… So yea, I'd rather stay here.


Last but not least, these concerns are not only mine. About half of our previous room expressed similar thoughts.

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There's not much you can do. You can raise all these concerns up the food chain so you have a record of them, but that's not really going to have much effect other than (maybe) putting a target on your back of the next unsatisfied employee to be let go.

And of course I'll polish my CV, but I quite like working here - decent pay, good boss, good boss of my boss, opportunity to learn and grow

I'd be doing more than just polishing my CV, I'd be actively job hunting - anything else is trying to patch the titanic with sellotape. Good pay and decent management can be found elsewhere, too, and your current management are likely also looking elsewhere for the same reason.

Even ignoring the work environment difficulties, your company is clearly making significant cutbacks in the hope that it can turn around. There's no guarantee that will be successful (and they may get landed with another sudden and unexpected tax bill anyway) - so there's every likelihood it could tank sooner rather than later.

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And of course I'll polish my CV, but I quite like working here - decent pay, good boss, good boss of my boss, opportunity to learn and grow

How many of these will still be true in 1-3 months?

  • The pay might stay, but the company could be forced to cut costs again. And there is a good chance that raises will not be available.

  • Your boss may stay. Or he could see himself being blamed for the upcoming drop in productivity and be looking at the exit.

  • The boss of your boss could be in the same situation. Does he plan on staying, especially if "fallout" is coming?

  • Your working conditions are annoying now, just as the changes start in. These are relatively easy to brush off now. 3 months from now? Will you still be as willing to let them go?

  • Will the opportunity to learn and grow in the same way still be there? Will you be driven to meet ever tighter deadlines (greater efficiency), crimping your learning time? Have the financial issues of your company gone away so that there is actually an opportunity to grow your career upward?

After such a dramatic change, it is a very bold thing to assume that what makes you currently want to stay will remain untouched. "Fallout" has a tendency to cause people (like bosses and co-workers) to leave, eliminate training and development opportunities, and lead to changes in pay. Unless you are a manager or a star who can somehow save the company with a brand new product, there isn't much you can do to prevent that fallout.

There are small things you can do to mitigate the problems like buying your own coffee machine for your desk, purchasing noise cancelling headphones, and getting HR to talk to the loud laugher, but that is about it. The challenges facing your company appear to be the kinds largely beyond the control of a day to day line employee.

Your only choice in this case is to be ready to leave or to just accept whatever fallout occurs.

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I would focus on one thing an one thing only

Now the company expects efficiency will increase

Who told you that? Your company just took a big financial blow (as I assume) there is an overseer that is there to "FIX" the company and company finances.
That fact alone have large impact on employees, their willingness to work for such company and general motivation.

I would tackle this problem mainly. And explain what such assumption is not only wrong but it can hurt everyone even worse. After all if managment think they effinency should go up they would blame quitting employees and not the company situation. Hence they wouldn't feel to fix the issue.

Then you (as in everyone) can suggest some other solutions:

  • remote work (so less people getin into each other way)
  • flexible working hours (so less people at coffe machine at one time)
  • some sort of declaration from company that what is happening is only temporary (if company will have financial up due to cuts why it would change it behaviour if they will go in hand with same efficency and profits).

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