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How long is a 'conversation' in an open office/floorplan?

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How long is a 'conversation' in an open office/floorplan?

Absolutely
How long does etiquette dictate that it is a 'meeting' instead?

There are no offices or walls, even for the top managers in my building. Four clowns with exceptionally loud voices insist on holding conversations at full volume, all day long, about every triviality of their 'work' and personal lives. How long is it reasonable to consult, and after how long should they adjourn to a meeting room?

There is never any shortage of meeting rooms in this building, just inconsiderate, obnoxious unprofessionals.
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    Absolutely

    The plethora of meeting rooms include ethernet connections in each, full access to the corporate network, and all of the offenders have notebook workstations. There is just no excuse, and no explanation except for being desperate for attention.

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    w2ktechman

    There really is no excuse except that their manager is failing to inform them. That is why you need to complain to your manager, and state that distractions cause a lot of delays, and quality of work can suffer.

    Then ask your manager if it is OK to print up signs and/or a memo for the area. If worst comes to worst, go to HR and explain the problem, they will certainly contact these employees managers and inform of the prblem. Sometimes it takes a complaint on ones desk to decide to address issues.

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    w2ktechman

    What we do is post signs all over stating to be quiet and considerate of everyone working in the area.
    These are in the aisles every 8-10 cubicles.

    If someone is constantly interrupting the work of others, such as these people, then it should be brought to their managers attention. Their manager should ask them to keep it down, or keep their personal conversations to a minimum while in the work area. Then bring up that they can use a meeting room if they need to converse.

    Other thoughts would be to get them onto instant messaging for those short outbursts and trivial matters.

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    dawgit

    Money talks. Lost business, loss in productivity, increase in absences, do to the noise and non-work related distractions. That costs companies Money. If you could find a way to demonstrate that, it would certainly get managements attention. (It sees they all like to make money for some reason)
    -Or- get some noise canceling earphones.
    -d
    edited, oh just because....

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    willjamr

    dawgit wrote: "-Or- get some noise canceling earphones."

    I tried that at work once. Unfortunately they were designed to pass voice. :-(

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    Absolutely

    Sometimes I forget them, but they really are wonderful.

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    breadtrk

    that is why you are in an open office environment. Get with the program or get some skillz so that you can have a closed office. I swear, some folks would complain if the toilets were gold plated but not heated.

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    van_eric

    No manager(s) wants their office to be like fish market. Individual skills is not a passes to be exempted from the bad environment. Unprofessional, unethical and immoral personnel(s) should be placed in the box with out ventilation and let us see if they will not complain. The magic word here is "RESPECT". And as a general rule "Do unto others what you don't want to do unto you". I swear, those stubborn guys are the number one obnoxious in this kind of environment. Be factual.

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    mleeseberg

    Most of the 'open office' situations I have found are due to cost considerations or people who design the space without really understanding what happens there, such as the level of noise generated by an office full of people trying to do phone support next to programmers who would like some quiet.

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    RNR1995

    Just start commenting on their conversation
    Generally mocking it and making them realize how trivial they are being.If they have a clue they will be quiet. Never go to a manager, unless the culture at your work dictates it.... what are we three?
    Thank GOD I no longer work for a corporation

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    Ian Gregory

    I had a similar problem when I worked in a large "open-plan" office, my solution ws to take in a small personal battery-powered tape recorder, then to record these individuals.

    This tape was then take to my manager, who then took me to the mager of these individuals - result, no more noise!

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    drowningnotwaving

    Water pistols.

    Don't do any real damage - get small "soft spray" and resist the urge to include ink in the mix (and don't use the nitro/solar/nuke-powered versions some imps seem to have these days - Heck, you might not like your marketing or sales director that much but removing his left eye-ball could be interpreted as an over-reaction).

    What will happen?

    You'll get in arguments. You'll get verbally abused. You'll get a "please explain" from the boss or bossette.

    But most importantly you'll get your win in under two working days. Guaranteed.

    Alternately of course you'll get sacked really quickly in which case you just found out your true value and position.

    It's a solution that works on many levels.

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    stress junkie

    That's why I hate managers. The manager either does already know or should already know about this. Therefore the lack of management intervention so far says that you are SOL.

    In a situation like that I just like to imagine taking an oak axe handle and firmly applying it to the skulls of the offenders. Unfortunately daydreaming is as far as you can go with that solution.

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    Hutch IT Mgr

    I went through this a few years ago and the method used was direct communication to the individuals explaining what the issue was, how it could be corrected, use a conference room, and why it was distruptive. Our team was about 22 people all in a bull-pen style cube arrangement. We had 2 offenders of the speakerphone and loud discussions of little or no relevance to work. Several of the team members brought of the issue in open discussion during a team meeting. No one was singled out during the meeting however, the manager of the team was aware who the offenders were and talked to them individually after the meeting. The rule became speakerphone conversations had to be taken in a conference room, and any conversation longer that 3 minutes was to move to a non-work area, either a conference room or break area.

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    Ashby

    Try meeting with your manager and explain that you can't get your work done because the work area has become a discussion room and ask him/her if you can compensate by using a small conference room to work in.

    You'll either get a nice little "office" of your own or the manager will fix the problem.

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    Qantm

    ...or the manager will acknowledge the situation and ignore it. leaving you exactly where you were from the start as has happened to me.

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    Wamari

    Truly your colleagues are being unprofessional. My take is that you need to have a discussion probably on mail on norms within working areas such as yours. I have tried it and normally there is little results but you have to keep at it and things will change albeit gradually. The norms should be discussed openly (e-mail) and could cover a wider range of issues include mobile-phone, guests, eating and many other issues.

    Good luck

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    JohnnySacks

    I picture myself jumping in every time at the most inopportune moment and steering the discussion so far off track that they start avoiding me the plague.

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    Qantm

    Hehe.. this is probably the funniest and most interesting solution i've seen here so far.

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    RogieM

    We have a cube farm here as well and while there are only four of us, we also have the local printer. We all try to keep it down, but it's not always easy. I have had to stop a conversation and shush my co-workers a time or two. I always appologise after, but I figure I'm paid to get work done, not be popular. I've also warned them that I would do this and told them to feel free to do it as well. You get a shock the first couple of times it happens, but unless the company plans on springing for higher walls, we're pretty much SOL.

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    cathy.odom

    You're damned if you damned if you don't.

    The best non-confronational way is to get an ipod and keep the music up in your headphones.

    Other than that, you'll get in trouble for complaining.

    Best bet: jump up when they're yacking, walk over there, and take a break, yack with them. Get others to do so. Maybe if 20 or 100 of you are doing it, management will come over. Then there will be too many of you to censure and get in trouble so then management will post signs up to be quiet, and you won't be the bad guy.

  • +
    0 Votes
    Absolutely

    The plethora of meeting rooms include ethernet connections in each, full access to the corporate network, and all of the offenders have notebook workstations. There is just no excuse, and no explanation except for being desperate for attention.

    +
    0 Votes
    w2ktechman

    There really is no excuse except that their manager is failing to inform them. That is why you need to complain to your manager, and state that distractions cause a lot of delays, and quality of work can suffer.

    Then ask your manager if it is OK to print up signs and/or a memo for the area. If worst comes to worst, go to HR and explain the problem, they will certainly contact these employees managers and inform of the prblem. Sometimes it takes a complaint on ones desk to decide to address issues.

    +
    0 Votes
    w2ktechman

    What we do is post signs all over stating to be quiet and considerate of everyone working in the area.
    These are in the aisles every 8-10 cubicles.

    If someone is constantly interrupting the work of others, such as these people, then it should be brought to their managers attention. Their manager should ask them to keep it down, or keep their personal conversations to a minimum while in the work area. Then bring up that they can use a meeting room if they need to converse.

    Other thoughts would be to get them onto instant messaging for those short outbursts and trivial matters.

    +
    0 Votes
    dawgit

    Money talks. Lost business, loss in productivity, increase in absences, do to the noise and non-work related distractions. That costs companies Money. If you could find a way to demonstrate that, it would certainly get managements attention. (It sees they all like to make money for some reason)
    -Or- get some noise canceling earphones.
    -d
    edited, oh just because....

    +
    0 Votes
    willjamr

    dawgit wrote: "-Or- get some noise canceling earphones."

    I tried that at work once. Unfortunately they were designed to pass voice. :-(

    +
    0 Votes
    Absolutely

    Sometimes I forget them, but they really are wonderful.

    +
    0 Votes
    breadtrk

    that is why you are in an open office environment. Get with the program or get some skillz so that you can have a closed office. I swear, some folks would complain if the toilets were gold plated but not heated.

    +
    0 Votes
    van_eric

    No manager(s) wants their office to be like fish market. Individual skills is not a passes to be exempted from the bad environment. Unprofessional, unethical and immoral personnel(s) should be placed in the box with out ventilation and let us see if they will not complain. The magic word here is "RESPECT". And as a general rule "Do unto others what you don't want to do unto you". I swear, those stubborn guys are the number one obnoxious in this kind of environment. Be factual.

    +
    0 Votes
    mleeseberg

    Most of the 'open office' situations I have found are due to cost considerations or people who design the space without really understanding what happens there, such as the level of noise generated by an office full of people trying to do phone support next to programmers who would like some quiet.

    +
    0 Votes
    RNR1995

    Just start commenting on their conversation
    Generally mocking it and making them realize how trivial they are being.If they have a clue they will be quiet. Never go to a manager, unless the culture at your work dictates it.... what are we three?
    Thank GOD I no longer work for a corporation

    +
    0 Votes
    Ian Gregory

    I had a similar problem when I worked in a large "open-plan" office, my solution ws to take in a small personal battery-powered tape recorder, then to record these individuals.

    This tape was then take to my manager, who then took me to the mager of these individuals - result, no more noise!

    +
    0 Votes
    drowningnotwaving

    Water pistols.

    Don't do any real damage - get small "soft spray" and resist the urge to include ink in the mix (and don't use the nitro/solar/nuke-powered versions some imps seem to have these days - Heck, you might not like your marketing or sales director that much but removing his left eye-ball could be interpreted as an over-reaction).

    What will happen?

    You'll get in arguments. You'll get verbally abused. You'll get a "please explain" from the boss or bossette.

    But most importantly you'll get your win in under two working days. Guaranteed.

    Alternately of course you'll get sacked really quickly in which case you just found out your true value and position.

    It's a solution that works on many levels.

    +
    0 Votes
    stress junkie

    That's why I hate managers. The manager either does already know or should already know about this. Therefore the lack of management intervention so far says that you are SOL.

    In a situation like that I just like to imagine taking an oak axe handle and firmly applying it to the skulls of the offenders. Unfortunately daydreaming is as far as you can go with that solution.

    +
    0 Votes
    Hutch IT Mgr

    I went through this a few years ago and the method used was direct communication to the individuals explaining what the issue was, how it could be corrected, use a conference room, and why it was distruptive. Our team was about 22 people all in a bull-pen style cube arrangement. We had 2 offenders of the speakerphone and loud discussions of little or no relevance to work. Several of the team members brought of the issue in open discussion during a team meeting. No one was singled out during the meeting however, the manager of the team was aware who the offenders were and talked to them individually after the meeting. The rule became speakerphone conversations had to be taken in a conference room, and any conversation longer that 3 minutes was to move to a non-work area, either a conference room or break area.

    +
    0 Votes
    Ashby

    Try meeting with your manager and explain that you can't get your work done because the work area has become a discussion room and ask him/her if you can compensate by using a small conference room to work in.

    You'll either get a nice little "office" of your own or the manager will fix the problem.

    +
    0 Votes
    Qantm

    ...or the manager will acknowledge the situation and ignore it. leaving you exactly where you were from the start as has happened to me.

    +
    0 Votes
    Wamari

    Truly your colleagues are being unprofessional. My take is that you need to have a discussion probably on mail on norms within working areas such as yours. I have tried it and normally there is little results but you have to keep at it and things will change albeit gradually. The norms should be discussed openly (e-mail) and could cover a wider range of issues include mobile-phone, guests, eating and many other issues.

    Good luck

    +
    0 Votes
    JohnnySacks

    I picture myself jumping in every time at the most inopportune moment and steering the discussion so far off track that they start avoiding me the plague.

    +
    0 Votes
    Qantm

    Hehe.. this is probably the funniest and most interesting solution i've seen here so far.

    +
    0 Votes
    RogieM

    We have a cube farm here as well and while there are only four of us, we also have the local printer. We all try to keep it down, but it's not always easy. I have had to stop a conversation and shush my co-workers a time or two. I always appologise after, but I figure I'm paid to get work done, not be popular. I've also warned them that I would do this and told them to feel free to do it as well. You get a shock the first couple of times it happens, but unless the company plans on springing for higher walls, we're pretty much SOL.

    +
    0 Votes
    cathy.odom

    You're damned if you damned if you don't.

    The best non-confronational way is to get an ipod and keep the music up in your headphones.

    Other than that, you'll get in trouble for complaining.

    Best bet: jump up when they're yacking, walk over there, and take a break, yack with them. Get others to do so. Maybe if 20 or 100 of you are doing it, management will come over. Then there will be too many of you to censure and get in trouble so then management will post signs up to be quiet, and you won't be the bad guy.