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A buzzing phone and the impact on colleagues

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Pattie Hunt Sinacole explains how to deal with a noisy co-worker

A buzzing phone and the impact on colleagues

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Q: I work in an open office at a technology company. We have one person who is louder than the rest of us. Most of her noises are related to her makeup, flossing, chewing gum, etc. We get to hear about her new mascara, what kind of floss she likes to use, and she constantly breaks her gum. His cell phone is never muted, so we hear all the beeps and buzzes. She gets very defensive if someone makes a comment about her desk, which is also messy. What can I do? I usually try to escape to another area of ​​the building, but it doesn’t feel right. I should be able to sit at my desk.

A: Yeah! This situation seems difficult. Beeping, clicking gums, and watching a coworker put on makeup seem like a lot, especially if you’re in close proximity to your coworker.

Confronting a colleague is difficult. Dealing with a defensive colleague is even more difficult. The reality is that if you confront her, she will probably be offended and hurt.

We all spend a lot of time working. However, most employees appreciate a reasonably quiet workspace. When I’ve been asked this type of question in the past, I usually suggest mentioning my concerns to the person. But you might be reluctant, which I understand. One solution might be to suddenly use headphones. You can explain that you wear headphones because there are a lot of distractions and noises that interfere with your ability to be productive. She could “get it,” which would be ideal. Perhaps this allusion could restrict his behavior. You can also ask him to silence his phone, especially if other people are silencing their phones. This is a very reasonable request. Sometimes it’s easier to start with gentle requests than to have a full-blown confrontational conversation. It may also be helpful if other colleagues make similar requests. “Hey Jessica, I don’t know if you know this, but your phone beeps a lot during the workday. Maybe you’re used to the noise, but most of us silence our phones. Sometimes the noises from our phones are annoying.

If she isn’t able to hear your feedback, you may need to reach out to your manager. Ultimately, it’s your manager’s responsibility to address the concerns you’ve shared. Your manager will likely have a more direct conversation. If your manager has observed this behavior, it may be easier for them to provide feedback.

This is one of the downsides of an open floor plan. Many employers have opted for an open floor plan to improve collaboration. Some data suggests that open floor plans have both strengths and weaknesses. For more information, there are many articles discussing the effectiveness of open floor plans.

Read an article on open floor plans that might help you better understand the goals and results of open floor plans. https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-truth-about-open-offices

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