I'm sharing an open-space office with around ten other software developers and a few other colleagues. A fellow developer is frequently complaining about the noise in the office. I quite agree with him, it is not optimal conditions for software development.

Some of the other developers do not really care, they are fine with the noise. We've found this Workplace Stack Exchange answer with a "Do not disturb" time between 14:00 and 17:00 and suggested the same to our boss. (If anyone needs help or wants to discuss something they should do in a meeting room or somewhere else in this time frame.)

The boss says that we (developers and other employees without the boss) should talk about it during lunch whether the whole room would like or not something like this and present him a common point of view/consensus.

I don't think that any of us has the ability (and power) to get this consensus.

I know that these conditions are not the best and I could be more productive in a more quiet office but I knew the environment when I was applying for this job and accepted that. I just don't want this battle since I can't see any chance that I could win.

Is it unprofessonal to refuse this assignment (=getting a common point of view and present it)? How should I refuse that in a polite way?

Edit: the noise is usually work-related but there too many running projects by other developers/people which is irrelevant to us.

  • 1
    What is "this assignment" that you mention? What happens if you refuse this "assignment"?
    – Alnitak
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:03
  • 1
    When you say noise, are you talking about non-work related noise? Is it the same group of people or person? I'm not a fan of the dedicated DND time as people's schedules may ebb and flow waiting for followups and completing tasks. (at least in my shop). I may get a break early in the day, or later in the day depending.
    – Bmo
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:08
  • 1
    I assume by 'assignment' he means "asking everyone what they think at lunchtime"
    – occulus
    Jul 17, 2014 at 10:11
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    My biggest objection isn't that he wants a consensus, but that he thinks you shoudl use lunch time to talk about it. This is a work function, it should take place on work time.
    – HLGEM
    Jul 17, 2014 at 13:40

3 Answers 3


I would take this as a positive personal development opportunity. You are being given the chance to drive forward change. At the end of the process you'll not need your boss's permission since you have a consensus, in a similar way to a union.

As someone with a bias on the matter you also have the opportunity to place emphasis on the positive outcomes of changing things to your desired outcome.

The hard part is that as a developer you are probably not used to selling/pitching an idea. For this I would recommend you read someone like Napoleon Hill, his books are about personal development but reading between the lines they are about selling yourself and your ideas to others. For example:

Quieter office means more productivity, more productivity means a more successful company, a more successful company means better job security and justification for pay raises.

  • Some one said to be bosses don't want "problems" they want "solutions to problems" - you have been an opportunity to take charge of a situation and show leadership - what exactly is the problem with holding a meeting with one item on the agenda and collectively coming to an agreement
    – Pepone
    Jul 17, 2014 at 19:52

Your boss has apparently provided an avenue to allow some sort of change to happen, so I don't think it's very productive to just refuse that opportunity.

Are you wanting to refuse having the discussion because you think asking for consensus will result in no overall decision, or will result in an answer you won't like? I don't think that's a great reason to not have the discussion.

What's so bad about just putting the case across to the others? And why is it a "battle"?

I'm curious as to what response from your boss would have made you happy. Suppose he said, "I agree with that idea, let's just do it." That's ideal from your perspective, but the other employees then didn't really get a say, which doesn't seem very fair.


The boss wants or wishes, for a consensus because the be boss seems to show every inclination to go along with whatever the consensus is.

You can refuse to play the game but then, the outcome is "no change"

If you want some kind of agreement that you and your co-workers, you are going to hammer it with them. For you, the hammering process will include taking their point of view into consideration. It's a battle if you choose to make it into one. Make it into a battle and you will most likely lose, as indicated in your own post.

It is the boss's responsibility to provide a productive professional environment. In this case, the boss chose to discharge their responsibility by telling you to come back to the boss with a consensus.

The ball is in your court. It's no skin off the boss's nose if you choose not to go after that ball.

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