Surviving Open Office Environments

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  • #1009268 Reply

    I recently started working at an open office environment. It wasn’t my choice, but now I’m stuck with it. I can’t afford noise cancelling headphones, and even though my boss said they were going to get some for staff, that hasn’t happened and I don’t know how long it will take for them to finally get ordered and arrive.

    I hear so much and I’m so exhausted. Winter sicknesses are going around right now and people are practically hacking up a lung in the office constantly. I feel bad for them, but I also feel deep rage towards them. I also have a coworker who speaks loudly and in a really….angry way. It’s weird, they’re not actually angry, but they say everything with a tone of voice that just is like nails on a chalkboard to me. It’s like they’re whining and scolding at the same time. To everyone. And they’re always on a call. So I never know who they’re talking to, but they’re constantly talking to someone and simultaneously shaming that person and whining.

    I’m having such a hard time holding back the anger. I find myself just sitting at my desk sometimes with my head in my hands, just trying to survive and focus. I know I’m the problem and not them. I feel terrible! The other day someone with a cold was chewing on something for like 20 minutes, something crunchy that I couldn’t identify. I couldn’t fathom what they could possibly have in their mouth for so long that was crunchy, except maybe ice, and I didn’t see any ice, so I finally just asked them what they were chewing on. It was a cough drop. I felt so bad!!!

    Fortunately, I haven’t lashed out yet any worse than asking what people are doing. But I know I give people the stink eye and they see it. I know I look tense and angry and they see it. I just can’t seem to soothe myself enough to stop looking angry, even if I’m not acting on that anger.

    Any suggestions? How do you put on a happy face?

    #1009274 Reply

    Hi Truus,

    I suffer from similar problems when sitting on public transport. People eating, coughing, sneezing, making phonecalls etc. Horse stables…
    I also live close to a flight paths and almost went completely mad.

    BUT…. I found one type of ear protection that’s very powerful. It’s not active but the insolation is soo good in it. Actually they use these on airports 3M Peltor X5.
    Go buy one on ebay it will cost you 25 GBP and you will find yourself very very comfortable in the office from then on.
    If they actually buy the noise cancelling ones for you you can still use the 3M for commuting or anything else.
    Pls don’t hesitate buying them….
    Let me know how they work out for you.


    #1009300 Reply

    You shouldn’t feel bad. You can suck a cough sweet and can do it quietly! I’ve started to have more courage to approach people, but sometimes mentioning it to others helps. With office gossip, the person usually doing it finds out soon enough! An approach to at least consider. I have a tin of coppers with notices on it with triggers and rattle it when triggered. I can now cope finally. Last few years have been an absolute torture. I forget how bad it was!

    #1009394 Reply

    There is a white noise app that you can download via playstore. It’s called “White noise lite”
    You can use normal earphones to play the app while working. There are many different types of white noise on the app.
    Really Worth it.

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