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We work in an open office, we didn't have upper neighbours for a few months. They will come soon, as of this moment there are builders constructing their office, and they are loud!

I cannot tell them to quiet down, they have deadlines just as I do and, well, they are builders, I cannot tell them to hammer things with a cusion. This is influenting my work flow. I cannot concentrate with the noise they are producing.

What steps can I take to concentrate with a noisy (temporary) environment?

Things I tried:

  • headphones (not an option, I need to communicate with my co-workers)
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    What does your management say about the issue, or are you the manager looking for a solution? The answer posted here might depend on that. – Masked Man May 1 '15 at 12:15
  • @MaskedMan Cannot do anything about it as it is temporary, Joe Not possible I need licensed software which is installed on a desktop. – Kevin May 1 '15 at 12:35
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    @Ajaxkevi Is it possible to use (noise-cancelling)headphones, whilst everybody uses Skype, Lync, or any other professional communcation tool during this period? It's not ideal, but I think you're running out of options here. – Edwin Lambregts May 1 '15 at 12:37
  • I'd also suggest that you try headphones/hearing protection before discarding the idea. You can take them off when necessary, and if it's loud enough to be a problem health concerns trump convenience. – keshlam May 1 '15 at 12:49
  • @keshlam I didn't discard the idea, it unfortunately just didn't work. – Kevin May 1 '15 at 13:00
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What steps can I take to concentrate with a noisy (temporary) environment?

Some possibilities (in general, you've said some won't work for you specifically):

  • Work from home (you can remote desktop into your machine)
  • Everyone on your team get headsets with quality headphones and open a group chat instead of talking outloud (this is unlikely to be well received by everyone)
  • Work different hours (if construction is 7-3, work 9-5 or 10-6)
  • See if your team can relocate elsewhere temporarily
  • Talk with your facilities people and determine if your companies lease says anything about this
  • Headphones/earplugs
  • Talk with the builders and determine their schedule and adjust your breaks/lunch accordingly (ie work when they are on lunch)
  • Take time off (vacation, unpaid potentially)
  • Relocate within your office (perhaps some areas are quieter?)

Unfortunately, there's not really a whole ton of good options.


HLGEM made a good point in a comment - you might take care to adjust any deadlines or future estimates you have based on the distractions and reduced productivity.

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    Since your office chose not to provide you a way to avoid this temporary distraction, I might also suggest that you amend deadlines and any time estimates you give to account for the reduced productivity. – HLGEM May 1 '15 at 14:29
  • @HLGEM great point, I added it to the answer – enderland May 1 '15 at 15:26

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