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I work as a Junior Developer in a relatively small company, around 8 people. 4 developers, 2 support/project managers. 2 bosses with varying roles.

Every Tuesday the support team who also manage projects leave for 4-7 hours to have a meeting about upcoming work and current issues. During this time the support desk is left unattended. Me and another developer have picked up tickets and live chats while they are away which is fine. It's on the computer and doesn't distract too far from my work.

I'm worried that having to get up from my desk, answer phone calls about anything will interrupt my focus during development.

A big issue for me is my Anxiety, which in the past has flared up during phone calls and is something that is worrying me, especially if I have to speak to clients.

How can I talk to my Boss/Co-Workers about this without sounding like I want to get out of work, especially in a small company where manpower is limited.

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  • Is your employer aware of your anxiety? – morsor Oct 19 '16 at 8:57
  • @morsor No, I didn't want to cause any issues as it's usually something I can manage. – S.Wessels Oct 19 '16 at 9:01
  • Have them forward the calls to your desk, that way at least you don't have to get up. If not, work at their desk and remote login to your computer. At any rate sit where the phone is ringing. When you are covering for support, this is your highest priority task, you need to be available. – HLGEM Oct 19 '16 at 18:31
  • @HLGEM I don't think getting up is the problem, it's the interruption of taking the call and the anxiety of dealing with possibly upset customers. OP, care to clarify? – user30031 Oct 19 '16 at 22:32
  • @DoritoStyle I don't have a phone at my desk, I'm a Junior Developer, a lot of my work is an internal plus, it's a small company so emails and desk side conversations are enough to communicate. I would have to go to the support desk (opposite my desk) and pick up the call every time it rings which seems like somewhat of a flaw in the plan. It's a hassle but it's do-able. I think the main issue is the anxiety and I'm working up the courage to discuss it with my Boss. – S.Wessels Oct 20 '16 at 8:17
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In general, no, you don't get to avoid answering phone calls in a small company. When there aren't specialised people available to do a task, then you just need to pitch in and help out. If a small amount of being a generalist isn't something you want in your job, then a small company isn't the place for you.

However, there are exceptions to the rule. As you have an anxiety issue, it's reasonable that you shouldn't have to do stuff which exacerbates that issue - but you're going to have to mention this to your manager; you need to make it clear that it's not the case that you "don't want" to answer the phone, but instead that your are not able to answer the phone due to a medical issue.

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    If possible I'd offer some other thing you can do to pick up the slack too, so it doesn't look like you're just trying to get out of work. – Andrew Whatever Oct 19 '16 at 21:10
  • In any case, OP should bring up the issue as there's at least some chance that the other developer doesn't mind taking calls at all. – user30031 Oct 19 '16 at 22:33
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First off, 4-7 hours a week of meetings for a support team is ridiculous...

Now onto how to handle this. Just explain to your boss that doing one day of support (answering phones/tickets/etc) is going to mean one day a week where you will not be doing dev work. Explain that when doing dev work you get "in the zone" and anything that interrupts this is more than a minor distraction. Devs generally cost more than support, so to have you doing support 1 day a week is not cost-effective.

As a solution, perhaps suggeest that calls in that period are sent to a mailbox, or that a message is put on the phone during meetings to prevent it ringing.

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  • I've updated my question to reflect this, but I'm a junior developer who was hired after an apprenticeship so I'm pretty sure I get paid least in the office. The issue they flagged was the lack of support available for the duration of their meeting so mailbox or a message likely won't solve the issue for them. – S.Wessels Oct 19 '16 at 9:06
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    @JoeStrazzere I would hope that the boss does know, but I've encountered many that don't realise. – JohnHC Oct 19 '16 at 11:14
  • @JoeStrazzere the boss may have simply overlooked the entire issue at hand, especially if none brings it up. – user30031 Oct 19 '16 at 22:35

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