If anyone has any ideas on how to share an office I'd really appreciate it. Up until recently I've had my own office but now have to share (there are no other options). I find it harder to concentrate and buckle down with someone else there (even though we don't waste time chatting etc.). Just the fact that she's there is off-putting to me. I'm the same with housework in school holidays when the kids are around! Help!
Jeni in West Australia
I've been sharing an office with another woman for three years now. My solution to getting work done while she is there is to put a walkman over my ears. I can still hear her, but it's at a distance, and the headphones tell her when I'm not to be disturbed. Of course, this requires that you be able to work with music playing!
As for getting along with your office-mate, it's important to choose your battles. The fact that she takes supplies like paper-clips from my desk is annoying, but a small thing to me. A bigger issue was the fact that she left half-full coffee mugs on my desk, which, since I didn't know they were there, tended to spill all over my papers. I told her again and again not to do this, and kept saying it until she did stop. Since it was the only thing I was nagging her about, she gave it higher priority than if I had complained about everything.
Lastly, I want to point out that having an office-mate can be beneficial to your work. Having someone to bounce ideas off of helps you develop those ideas more fully before you tell your boss about them. Just be sure that you are not interrupting her work time when you tell her your ideas.
Read your query about keeping productivity up while sharing space. I have a few suggestions that have worked for me. You may or not be able to use them.
I have had to share many-a-space with many-a-people... office and at home.
Get some dividers. You can usually pick these up cheap at an auction sale, etc. I'm thinking about the ones covered in fabric with metal 'feet' that support them. They are a bit heavy to move but they deaden the sound. In effect, you're creating two offices in one.
You might be a very visual person and seeing the movements of someone else in 'your' office could be what is distracting you. That's where the room dividers come in. Some people can work in a noisy environment, but as soon as they see others walking past or moving, they can't concentrate.
I shared an office with a good friend and every time she walked in the room, it was a trigger for us to talk. Room dividers sure would have helped.
I once had the same problem when "thrown" into an office with someone else after having my own my entire working career. It's not just the extra person there, but the extra traffic, phone calls etc. that the other person generates. I finally broke down and asked if she would mind if we rearranged the office. I put my desk on the back wall facing the back of the office so she was to my back. I explained to her it was not her I was trying to get away from, just the extra noise etc. so I could concentrate on my work more. Not only did she agree to it, but had been trying to think of a way to ask me about the same thing. Since we had the same idea, we put the file cabinets in-between us in the middle of the room to create a sort of divider. This also gave us more privacy when on the phone or when we had others there for whatever the reason.
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