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I currently work (as a developer) for a company where I am involved in pretty awesome projects. In general, I have fun and the projects are challenging enough, so nothing wrong there.

We currently have an open-office setup and everybody sits in a single room, including product management. In total this is about 6 people, 7 including myself. Product managers are loud, picking up phones, having small meetings, and people constantly walk in. The overall setup is pretty good, we all have 2 screens and powerful computers.

The problem is, that lately I been having trouble concentrating during the day. I really like to be productive and be in the zone and stuff, but I just can't get into it. Our team is under constant pressure and I would really like to get some work done. Because I am having trouble concentrating, I slack off during the day. When I come home, after dinner I just sit behind my computer and suddenly I am on a rampage and shooting code out of my fingertips and I finally get some work done.

The problem is, of course, that this is eating up my spare time and I am tired the next day because I have been working hard in the evening.

So, my question is:

Should I ask for more silence in the room, by for example moving out product managers? Or should I ask to work more from home?

marked as duplicate by Jim G., gnat, jcmeloni, Michael Grubey, IDrinkandIKnowThings May 27 '14 at 13:42

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • This question appears to be off-topic because we cannot decide what will make you happiest or the most productive in the workplace. – Jim G. May 23 '14 at 23:05
  • We have a similar situation, our entire office is one big room with about 40 people in there. So it can get loud sometimes. Headphones with music on work very well for me, have you tried it ? – Radu Murzea May 25 '14 at 20:06
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If it's the noise that bothers you, get a good set of headphones and some good music. If it's people walking around too much, turn your workstation to face the wall side. If those don't work, then ask for work from home.

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    Closed headphones, possibly noise cancelling. Check that they are very quick to turn off if someone needs to talk to you. Some people (me) prefer having their back to the wall in that kind of environment (subconscious fear that someone could sneak up on you). Find what works best for you. – gnasher729 Jul 10 '14 at 13:40
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Some people thrive in a noisy environment and if you ask for silence or the product managers to leave, it may harm you.

What about getting headphones and listen to white noise?

  • Or ear professional quality ear plugs. I would however communicate this to everyone else as you might be a little unreachable when wearing them. – Paul Hiemstra May 24 '14 at 7:28
  • Some people thrive in a noisy environment and others don't. Many answers suggest separating the two groups, I'm under the impression that there isn't another room available. In any case, what if the entire dev team were to ask the PrMs to be more quiet? – rath May 24 '14 at 8:06
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You are potentially putting yourself in a vicious circle: you are tired and can't work in the noise, so you work at home and then get more tired.

One option is to try to get to work very refreshed. Skip working at home for a few evenings, so that you can get plenty of sleep. Then, see if you are able to concentrate better, in spite of the noise. That will allow you to continue not working at home, and not getting so tired.

If you used to be productive and the working situation itself has not changed, then this could be the reason. If the working situation used to be quieter or has changed in other ways, it may be way off base. Nonetheless, it is often harder to concentrate when you are tired.

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Although wearing ear plugs, or a headset with music is a way to treat the symptoms, I would also try and start a discussion at work. Explain how for you to be efficient at programming, you need space to concentrate. Not being able to concentrate because of noise seriously decreases the amount of work you can get done. This effectively makes the hours you get paid to work useless.

I think good management should be inclined to listen to this, if not for your sake, then for their profits sake. Try not to turn this into a he-is-always-talking-so-I-cannot-get-anything-done shouting match, but into a constructive discussion.

Some options you could discuss during this discussion:

  • Company provides ear plugs / headsets.
  • A separate meeting room is set up for people to meet, this is no longer done in the general space.
  • Separate spaces for calling / teleconfs are created, this no longer happens in the general space.
  • Product managers and programmers are put into separate offices.
  • Programmers are allowed to work from home some part of the week. They stay in contact via chat and skype.

This discussion might not lead to anything, but you can surely give it a try. Fixing the situation sure beats working every evening to pick up the slack (which you should stop doing by-the-way, working more than 40 hours doesn't really work in the long run).

Note: I work a lot from home, and my boss supports that. He is happy when I get work done, not when I fill a chair in the office. Sometimes there is no replacement for being at the office, but being there for all 40 hours is not needed imo.

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