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Based in Greater London UK and working in a shared office space where companies can rent desks for individuals or teams. Being two in the same location we have two adjacent desks.

There are many people here from different companies many times answering calls or doing their remote stand ups. Usually things are more "alive" than annoying with noise levels within reasonable levels and quiet conditions in between.

Recently two people moved in who are running a support call business. This means that they are talking to clients ALL the time. This means that one cannot have a call without them in the background - rather on top - nor talk to my colleague as their voice is always on top, them being loud as an added bonus.

Does their behavior break an etiquette of "reasonable"/"fair" use, like it is OK to take an occasional call on top of other people's heads but not call all day on top of people's heads. Does this get covered in contracts with the open space provider? Is it reasonable of me to complain asking them to get a private/two person office as other people who do lots of phone calls in the same floor do?

Thanks to everyone in advance.

Update/Resolution: Decided to wait and see. Seems there was a period with much noise/incidents. After that period things are back to acceptable levels as it seems they focus on deeper support issues that require more thought than talking to 100 people. Also more people came with their calls so nothing to do there.

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    With shared office space, as long as they are operating in accordance with the rules or policies for the space, then I'm not sure you have much to complain about. Have you considered noise cancelling earphones?
    – jwh20
    Oct 20, 2022 at 13:07
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    I use them and use them a lot like everyone these days. The problem happens because I do not want to be with headphones all day plus some times we need to talk Oct 20, 2022 at 13:48
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    Why would anyone rent an office space where other people from other companies are within hearing distance? Is it really that much cheaper than getting a separate room with a door that can be closed? (This is a serious question, not a rant. There must be some advantage that I don't see, or, otherwise, people wouldn't do it.)
    – Heinzi
    Oct 21, 2022 at 8:06
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    "Does this get covered in contracts with the open space provider?" I really don't know why you're asking us. We don't know. You need to check your provider for a copy of the contract. Every place is different. For instance, I know one co-working space that requires all phone calls to be made from specific designated areas for instance. So if you're not currently happy with your shared space, it's time to shop around for others. Oct 21, 2022 at 18:38

3 Answers 3

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Does this get covered in contracts with the open space provider?

Maybe, but what matters is the contracts for your shared workspace. The first step is to review those, and understand what they say.

The best way to deal with this is to have a chat with the new people, explain the issue to them, and see if you can propose a solution - because they may not realise that this behaviour is disruptive to you. Is there somewhere that they (or you?) can go so that you won't be disturbed by them? Can you move to the other side of the workspace? This should be an conversation between adults: don't just go in there citing chapter and verse at them.

If you can't come to an agreement, and they're breaking the rules for your workspace, then talk to the management about it. If you can get other people who use it to agree with you then that'll help a lot. One person complaining is easy to dismiss as just being fussy - but if a load of your regulars are all unhappy about the newcomers then there's a lot more pressure to do something.

But at the end of the day, if they're not breaking any of the rules of the space (or the management won't enforce them), then you either need to put up with it or find a new workspace.

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    "the contracts for your shared workspace" - ie does your contract state your area should be reasonable free of noise? If it does, the management may be in breach of contract (rather than the new clients).
    – freedomn-m
    Oct 21, 2022 at 8:39
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You should query the office space management / representatives.

I work in such a space, and they have rules in the contract regarding using the call booths for long conversations and keeping the shared space relatively quiet.

Check your contract with the shared space to see if they have such rules, if they do, complain to the management about this so they can handle the situation with them.

If the contract does not forbid from speaking in the shared area, and/or management is OK with this support guys talking all the day, I'm afraid all you can do is deal with it or find another space.

Ultimately we can not speak on behalf of this shared office space company.

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Does their behavior break an etiquette of "reasonable"/"fair" use, like it is OK to take an occasional call

No, it doesn't make sense. It's not they're doing calls for fun, they're doing their job! You use phone as much as your work requires!

A shared workspace could explicitly forbid working as call center, but since it's exactly what they're doing, it's unlikely to be the case, it's reasonable to expect they've checked contract for such clauses. And it still wouldn't prevent someone to take part on remote conferences 6 hours a day.

Is it reasonable of me to complain asking them to get a private/two person office

no, because there's no reason for them to pay more for private office when loud environment doesn't disturb them because they sit in headphones the whole day. It's your manager you should complain to. It's him who put you in that situation, for whatever reason, he should know it causes the issues since he is the person that can move you to the private office.

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