My Loud Coworker Is Distracting Me in Our Open Office

Q: I work in an open office and a loud coworker always comes by to sit near me. What should I do?

Where I work we, unfortunately, have an open office floorplan. I hate it. It is much of the time impossible to have a long stretch of quiet time to accomplish anything. I come in very early only to beat the pack and snare a precious few quiet hours.

One coworker who is quite a nice person and has a private office in another area has recently been coming over to my desk to work. He talks excessively loudly even when no one is speaking to him. I’ve even caught him singing a time or two. However this person has also been extremely helpful to me in my duties in the past so I don’t want to offend him by saying anything. I know others are disturbed as well but are too nice to say anything.

When I questioned why he was leaving his spot to come work by me, he claimed he needed the company. Our manager does not have much sympathy. And there is no other quiet spot to move to. Headphones and earplugs do little. I’m contemplating sneaking into the colleague’s office to work now just to save my sanity. What should I do?

Read More: Telling your boss she talks too loudly

A: Say something to him! You can’t worry so much about offending him that you’re not willing to speak up about a very reasonable thing — and since you describe him as a nice person, he would probably be mortified if you allowed him to continue bothering you without clueing him in.

Say this: “Bob, I love working with you, but working near you can be challenging when I’m trying to focus because you talk while you work. Would you mind giving me back my quiet space so I can get my focus back?”

Otherwise, yes, tell him you’re going to borrow his office while he’s borrowing yours, “because I need quiet to work.”

Read More: Why do the extroverts run the show at work — at the expense of introverts?

Q: When to disclose Parkinson’s during a job search

My husband has early-onset, early-stage Parkinson’s. This means that he stared showing symptoms much earlier than average, and he is still in the early stages of the disease. He is as sharp as ever mentally and can do all the things he’s always done. He’s a software engineer and using his computer is not a problem. However, even with the proper medication, his tremor is visible.

This was not a problem at his last job, since he began years ago when the tremor was less noticeable and was able to tell people about his condition once they already knew and liked him and his work. But now he’s looking for a new job.

When’s the best time to tell potential employers about his condition? A few opinions:

  • Husband: Disclose during any phone screen so that employers will know what to expect when they meet me.
  • Career counselor: Don’t mention it at all on the phone or in person since hiring managers are looking at your skills, not your physical condition.
  • Wife: Don’t mention during phone screen and give a brief explanation when you meet any potential employer in person, showing through your physical presence and matter-of-fact attitude that your condition is not a blocker to working and putting a stop to any worst-case-scenario speculation.

It’s pretty clear where I stand, but husband is giving serious consideration to the first and second options, so I’d love to know what you — and readers who may have had experience with this sort of thing on either side of the hiring table — would advise.

Read More: When does an employer need to make accommodations for a disability?

A: I agree with you. I’d wait until the in-person interview and just say matter-of-factly at the start of it, “I should mention I have a condition that can cause a tremor — nothing to worry about if you notice it!”

These questions are adapted from ones that originally appeared on Ask a Manager. Some have been edited for length.

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