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For the Writers Who Are Forced to Work in Cubicles: I Need to Vent

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
For those of you who spend a lot of time writng at work AND have open-air cubicle space, how do you deal with endless office noise and intrusions? This assumes you are like me: You need to have some level of quiet while you think and write. In the past month, I have been working my booty off to crank out the final drafts of about four plans. When I am in the office, 8 - 5 Monday through Friday, I find I am not that productive and I get irritable when I am interrupted while I write. Headphones with the Chemical Brothers don't always work. But when I come in on the week-ends to write, when no one is here, I am much more productive. Wow! What a difference! I have talked to our HR director about dealing with the office noise and getting work done, but essentially, I was told, in a very nice way, that I have to deal with it because everyone else does. My company doesn't have any private workstations in an office where I can close the door. Becuase I work at an enginerring firm, I am afraid the writing aspect of my work is quite unusual compared to the designers who use CAD all day long. I am an anomoly, in the minority, and will never be able to convice the company that a private work area would be a good thing for certain employees at certain times. Other than stabbing your eyes with sharp pencils, how do you write while there is so much background noise?
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Scheudle an open conference room, close the door, and give 'er.
 

Floridays

Cyburbian
Messages
769
Points
21
Right now I'm fortunate to have an office. However, in my last job, I had a cube. And they were small and very close together. I also did a lot of writing and the surrounding noise (phone calls, conversations) drove me nuts. I'd finish a phone call and a co-worker would ask, '"oh, was that so-and-so." You can overhear everyone's business! Sometimes the sound of other people's KEYBOARDS were enough to send me towards the edge. Needless to say, I spent a lot of weekends working at home which was much more productive.

Our offices will be moving next year and it will be cube city for everyone. Although I'm not looking forward to the noise and other distractions, at least we were able to choose our own cube. I got as far away from the "louder" staff members as I could. If there is ANY area in your office that is a bit more peaceful, perhaps you could relocate your cube.
 

jestes

Cyburbian
Messages
230
Points
9
:-# I can relate. Dragon and I both work in cubicles that happen to also be located within a larger room that the County has dubbed, "the Community Room". The larger room is about 4000 square feet with about 2500 of that open for community meetings, etc. A couple of months ago the county was preparing for elections. All of the poll workers gathered here through the course of two days to pick up their instructions and ballot boxes. The noise level with anywhere from 18-35 people in the room all carrying on conversations at once got to a point where Dragon and I had to leave.

I have discussed privacy, noise and other issues related to cubicles with our bosses to no avail. My solution when things are too noisy in here for me to get my office work done is simply to leave for a while. If the Supervisors get concerned about a general lack of productivity that results then they can fix the problem. Otherwise there are times when I will simply be "out in the county" and away from the noise.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
Headphones and music. I can work with music, which sounds like not your case. Plus, my cowrokers get irritated when I "ignore" them.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
my problems don't stem from noise, but from interruptions. With counter and duty 4 of 5 days a week, training a new employee, and enforcement I get crap done.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Man, I know so much I could write a book 8-!. I once listened to the girl in the cubicle next door plan her entire wedding on the phone one day (die). Then there is this old guy behind me who has a hearing problem who talks loud as hell when he stands up. I swear one of these days I'm going to snap :eek:|.
 

Plannerbabs

Cyburbian
Messages
1,037
Points
23
"Corporate accounts payable, Mina speaking, how can I help you? Corporate accounts payable, Mina speaking, how can I help you? Corporate accounts payable, Mina speaking, how can I help you? Corporate accounts payable, Mina speaking, how can I help you?" said ad nauseum in a perky voice. Just bring in a drill. That should take care of the cubicle, and improve your view! Especially if you're near the window, and can watch the squirrel family.... ;-)
 

Zoning Goddess

Cyburbian
Messages
13,852
Points
39
I must be fortunate. I learned to tune it all out years ago. I only get annoyed when my cubicle-mate hears me talking on the phone to one of our citizen activist a$$holes and starts making goofy faces to try to make me laugh.
 

PlannerGirl

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
6,377
Points
29
Ive always worked in cubes and never had a problem with it, you just learn to tune it out. I would dare say most larger gov offices and companies have cube farms.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
I have my own large office but I still have no privacy with 3 doors. My office serves as a shortcut between 2 halves of the building so people use it as a hallway. If I close the doors I disrupt the flow of traffic within the building. I used to literally be in the basement hallway of an 11 story public housing tower (where a roach ran out of my desk) so this isn't bad.

A used to be in a cube at another job. The guy next to me would blatantly call to set up interviews for new jobs. Not really paying attention I just thought he shopping for used cars or something.
 

Duke Of Dystopia

Cyburbian
Messages
2,713
Points
24
Wanigas? said:
..... This assumes you are like me: You need to have some level of quiet while you think and write....
Same problem on the flip side. I need lots of noise and action to block out. If alone I create noise and it makes me focus. Unfortunatly, open air cubicles with other people in them don't provide the right mix of noise to block out. unfortunatly, nothing else you can do.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
I have a friend who takes his laptop to a quiet bar, where he is way more productive than in an office. I sometimes to the same with a picnic table somewhere quiet. My productivity would be below zero in a cubicle.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
Lee Nellis said:
My productivity would be below zero in a cubicle.
...which raises the question of why companies decide to demean their workforce by allocating worker space by way of cheap and disposable cubicle fiberboard.
 

SGB

Cyburbian
Messages
3,388
Points
26
Wanigas? said:
...which raises the question of why companies decide to demean their workforce by allocating worker space by way of cheap and disposable cubicle fiberboard.
It seems pretty clear to me: it's a matter of [misplaced] priorities. :-\
 

SkeLeton

Cyburbian
Messages
4,853
Points
26
Even though, I don't work and hence never been in a cubicle farm, I do use music to isolate distracting noises when studying, specially in the Library of my Faculty, that is basically still under construction, so I use music to isolate the construction noises :)
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,176
Points
51
Our office has a significant about of noise. I am lucky though. I only have two cubicle walls, and two “Real” walls. The break room is on one side of me, and Maister is on the other. BUT there is still allot of noise, so I put plants in my cubicle, I have a small lamp for added light, and a small clock radio. With all this stuff it helps to absorb the other noise, and balance things out.

BUT, I have a case that is going on its 9th year. Yesterday I sat down to arrange the file into a chronological order so I could give the Attorney a comprehensive timeline. For this, I used the a conference room so I could spread the papers over the table, relax, and it was done in to time at all.

Suggestions, make your cubicle as nice as possible, (if you are permitted) and plants can make a world of difference.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,217
Points
29
michaelskis said:
and plants can make a world of difference.
Thanks for the suggestion. But I don't think more plants will cure my problem. I need less noise, not an attractive cubicle. I think the best solution came from Chet: schedule a meeting room and spend lots of time there with the door closed.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I recently interviewed with a firm with a cubicle farm. If I were to get the job, I would be in a cubicle. I'll pass on that (for other reasons as well). Cubicles have a place for some workers. At a certain level, or in certain positions, an office is really a much better set-up. I have always thought that planners should have a degree of privacy, given the situations they need to deal with and the complexity of the work. Perhaps senior planners get a private office while junior planners are grouped into studios of no more than 4-6 people in a room. A big, open space filled with cubes is simply not the right environment.
 
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