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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

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Joined: 26 Nov 2013
Age: 33
Gender: Male
Posts: 1

27 Nov 2013, 2:28 am

Hi all. First time poster here. I am experiencing a certain kind of hell in my work environment and was wondering if anyone had a similar experience.

I was diagnosed last year (in my 20's!) and work as a software developer. Last year, we moved offices and I was assigned a space right next to the corridor, far away from the windows. The office is one of those terrible "open plan" layouts with no walls. It is quickly becoming unbearable for me.

First there is absolutely no privacy. I cannot even quickly print out a personal document or check my e-mail without having this paranoia about someone peering into my monitor from behind. On more than one occasion some obnoxious coworker has snuck up to me and commented (loudly, I might add) on whatever was on my screen. It is very annoying and unnecessary. Just leave me alone.

Second there is the noise.
-Since I'm next to the corridor and the bathroom, people are passing by my desk constantly, all day long. And due to my high noise sensitivity, it completely breaks my concentration when someone stomps by or decides to talk to me about some (usually superficial) thing.
-People are talking all day and I can hear conversations from the other side of the floor. I do not understand why people do this, or how everyone else can stand working in the noise. Everyone else doesn't seem to mind that much. Or do they? Plus, the topics of conversation are usually the most superficial / small talk thing possible: last night's game, Fantasy Baseball, the lottery results, weather, etc. When someone talks about what their kid did last night for the 10238234729th time I almost feel like snapping.

Finally I do not want to risk disclosing Aspergers to my company or talking to managers about the noise/lack of privacy. People can do nasty things with this sort of information and I do not want to be seen as not being a "team player" or singled out as the whining little kid. I have mentioned the distractions and noise, indirectly, in my conversations with managers but they don't seem to care or understand. Other employees don't seem to mind it either. Or are they too afraid to speak their true opinions?

There is no way the office layout is going to change just for the sake of one person, and in fact we wouldn't have enough room on the floor if we gave everyone more private space. This 'open' office is a cruel, obvious cost cutting measure.

I don't see myself adjusting to this office, ever. What can I do? Sound-isolating earphones do wonders to drown out the noise but sometimes I want silence. And earphones make the privacy even worse, because I can't sense when others are nearby (especially behind me). Where did real offices go? You know, with doors that close? Why is it necessary to dump everyone but top executives (who, by the way, sit comfortably in their private offices with nice window views) into a chaotic environment like this, and especially software developers? Has anyone experienced anything similar?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.


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Joined: 31 Dec 2011
Gender: Male
Posts: 12,183
Location: A swiftly tilting planet

27 Nov 2013, 4:09 am

I spent a month contracting in a tiny shared office, back then I was doing mobile SQA. It's not just you, there was only one guy there out of five of us who I wouldn't characterize as prickly. In my experience, all the conclusions you can draw from your physical environment merit significant consideration. Those guys fired me the day before their public beta release, I might've been sweating the pressure too much, but that conclusion seems shortsighted as I filed over 100 issue tickets per week. Since I stopped letting my family and living arrangements force me into jobs that ill suited me, I've joined a successful hackathon team, continued expanding my language repertoire, sharpened my resume and I'm being emailed nonstop by the likes of Intel, Google, HP and such. I think you'll find that balancing your own interests against those of multinational corporations is a better use of time than any form of corporate subjugation.

edit: I've never disclosed Aspergers at work either. Judging by your post's tone, I think your late diagnosis likely has a certain 'placebo' effect on your perception. Naturally, your brain tries to fill in for where you were told the diagnosis might affect your life. I just think you should try to avoid changing the outcome by having measured it.

"Standing on a well-chilled cinder, we see the fading of the suns, and try to recall the vanished brilliance of the origin of the worlds."
-Georges Lemaitre
"I fly through hyperspace, in my green computer interface"
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