My New Hire Is Frequently In My Way

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about interpersonal distance:

I own a small biz, recently hired someone. This person always needs to be walking in the same path as me, which means she walks into me or has a near miss, at least 5-6 times per day. We work in an open space (2200 sq ft) yet if I am in one area, she needs to be in same area at the same time, and wants me to get out of her way. For example I was making something and she wanted to pass a rolling ladder that would run over my work. All she needed to do was go around another way. But I had to stop what I was doing and explain that if she did this she would destroy my work. Which she did the day before. So she stood there waiting until I told her to do something else. 

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Cramped Cubicle

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about cubicles:

My department was recently moved to a new cubicle row that hadn’t been utilized much prior. The reason it wasn’t used before is because there’s not enough space in the aisle. I sit in the middle and even with asking people to squeeze in to their desks, I still have to squeeze through to leave the row and they want to fill the remaining empty desks. I’m fairly thin and I have difficulty. I don’t even know how our larger people manage.

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Should I Quit This Dirty, Cramped Workplace?

A Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about working in a dirty and cramped workplace


I joined a new office in January of this year, but I am finding it very difficult to continue here. It is a windowless office and I sit at a cramped desk with huge electronic equipment on one side and a colleague sitting so close that whenever I move my hand it touches her arm. To add to it, the office is dirty and dimly lit, strewn with piles of documents, the ceiling is low, the toilet stinks and the corridor is strewn with bird droppings. In fact, things are so bad here that it is forbidden to bring clients to this office.

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Office Is A Hell Hole

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about being trapped in a small noisy office:

How can I say to my boss that I can’t stand this office? My problem is that I hate my job because of the office. It is constantly noisy and distracting. There are constant noise from outside where they organise ‘events’, from the hall and from the next offices where people talk on the phone and I can really hear everything. Sometimes it helps to close windows and doors but this is not accepted by all my colleagues (I also share the tiny office with 3 other people). Sometimes I try to dampen the noise with music but I can’t work all time with music. I also tried ear plugs but won’t help.

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People Walk Behind My Receptionist Desk

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about invasion of work space:

I am the receptionist. People in the office use the back of my desk as a walk way. The back of my desk is not a walkway. How can I stop them from doing this?

Signed, Uncomfortable

Dear Uncomfortable:

I’m picturing your workspace and think you mean that employees use the space that is behind your desk and also behind your back, to walk from one part of the office to another, rather than walking in front of your desk and around. Talk to your manager about this concern and ask her (could be a him, but I’ll say “her” to make it easier to write) to do some thinking with you about how to stop the traffic behind your desk. Your workspace is part of her responsibility and your work effectiveness is as well. Have a few points about why you don’t like the traffic (it distracts you from work, it startles you on occasion, the noise disrupts phone calls, it allows people to see your computer screen, which may contain private information, etc.

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How To Tell Manager He’s Crowding My Space?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about crowding:

My senior manager is using my cubicle. How can I ask him to leave my cubicle.?

Signed, Hesitant But Frustrated

Dear Hesitant But Frustrated:

The biggest issue is why he is using your cubicle. If that is where specific equipment is or if he has better access to files, he may feel he has to work there. But, if he is simply using it because it’s a convenient place to sit, I can well understand how frustrating it would be. Or, if he is there because he wants to converse with you to an unusual extent, that would be a big problem too. Could you ask him if he would rather you work in another area, so he could use your cubicle easier? Or, is it possible for you to make it a bit more obvious that you cannot get your own work done while he is using your space?

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Sick Because of My Workplace

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about pest infestation:

Over the winter my workplace became infested with mice. We found droppings, nests and dead mice in our store. I was conducting inventory in our offsite storage unit on aged merchandise that was in our store for a long time and moved to storage. This smelled horrible and took my breath away and I was bit by something. Days later I became irritable developed a cough the bite became worse so did the cough. My energy depleted; 25 days later I was peeing my pants and developed pneumonia. My sick days are used up and I need to know how to and who to report this to, in Nova Scotia,Canada

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How To Handle Distractions When I’m Working

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about distractions: Did I do the right thing by walking away?

Yesterday in work, I was on the phone with someone in reference to a change in one of my duties when there was a conversation going on in my other ear. In order to hear the phone conversation better, I put my hand on the free ear. After the phone conversation, I walked away for a while and came back. Twice after that, I was not on the phone, but was concentrating on something that I was working on for my supervisor and there was a conversation going on, making me lose my concentration. Therefore, twice I walked away and came back after a while. First and second times,conversation was work related. Third time, conversation was not work related. My question is: Did I do the right thing by walking away? I might also add that my supervisor was part of all three conversations.

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Problems With Shared Work Space

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about shared work space: My role as a supervisor requires I fix this problem.

Two of my employees share a desk (common in our work place). Each one of them has different standards to what “clean” is. Employee “A” thinks the desk should be wiped down to perfection, everything put away neatly and no remnants of a person’s day should be viewable. Employee “B” is more relaxed and maybe to a fault. She’ll leave a small pile of papers on her side of the desk, leave her salt/pepper shaker there and will move the phone to better suit what’s more comfortable to her. Employee “A” does the same with the phone. Employee “A” has become hyper-sensitive and scours her desk when she comes in. If she finds a crumb, she gets mad, vents to other co-workers and sends an email to employee “B”. Employee “B” feels constantly picked on.

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Research on Lawyers In Open Plan Offices?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about open plan office:

Is there any research on the productivity of in-house attorneys in open plan office environments versus traditional closed offices?

Signed, Planning

Dear Planning:

There are a number of sites that refer to one or two studies and studied opinions about open plan offices. You can find them in a quick search. However, none seem to refer to attorneys specifically. A legal secretary asked me the same question the other day, since her office is switching to open plans for secretaries and smaller offices for attorneys. I couldn’t find anything specifically about that either.There might be some information through national organizations in the legal field. Or, you may be able to find unscientific but real-world information by contacting some of the larger law offices with which you’re familiar. Writing to a magazine that serves the profession may produce some information as well.

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