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I work at a business who has a software side and manufacturing side. The software we write is sold as a package along with other hardware that our customers purchase. I basically work in a warehouse. There is one door that seperates the engineers from the warehouse noise. I have asked for noise cancelling walls to be put in. I have asked multiple times over 6 months to be moved up front to one of two vacant sales offices, but they seem reluctant to let an Engineer move into a sales office. In fact, sales are the only ones with windows and they get commission though they make mistakes or overpromise to the customer.

So, my question is how can I get better working conditions without necessarily having to leave my current job? It is very hard to work and concentrate.


I think I can finally close this chapter in my life. I have moved on to a large corporation which follows CMMI religiously and has even started using Agile in many of its projects. Nevertheless, there is organization, respect, and genuine care for the engineers and scientists that work for them. Pierre was right - quitting was the right answer. My life does not nearly have the amount of stress it used to have because I now work for a place that is organized and knows what it wants its engineers to do along with treating them like they should be treated.

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Jun 20 '12 at 11:49

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Managers typically look at engineering as an expense these days, not a "profit center" like sales. And typically, it's the sales or marketing guy who moves into the c-suite, not some nerd from engineering. So even if your boss were willing to move his guys (into a place even he doesn't have), the sales department very likely would not tolerate it. Would he even risk his reputation among managers by going to bat for you? Not if he's a manager who understands politics. Especially in this economy when HR is getting X resumes per week. –  Huperniketes Oct 12 '10 at 9:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 24 down vote accepted


This will make things move.

They will eventually try to keep you by giving you what you need.


You will leave and find a job with better working conditions.

I bet 4039 reputation points that the solution 1 is going to happen

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+1: They need an incentive to make your life better. Changing your conditions or buying you noise cancelling headphones are usually a lot less expensive than trying to hire a new developer and train them to get them up to speed. –  Ryan Hayes Oct 11 '10 at 20:35
+1, just to make Pierre keep editing his post with his new rep total :-) –  GrandmasterB Oct 11 '10 at 20:50
You have to ask yourself if you want to work for a place that would make you quit to get something you need. –  bigtang Oct 11 '10 at 20:50
GrandmasterB I'm happy someone noticed that. It's a lot of work :) –  user2567 Oct 11 '10 at 20:51
Is Pierre also willing to pay 0A0D when they call his bluff???? –  Walter Oct 11 '10 at 20:55

I would invest in noise canceling headphones while I looked for another job.

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While I agree (and upvoted) the two options above, one other option is to ask if you can work from home.

If you think you can accomplish the same amount of work (or more) from home and your employer balks, ask for one or two days a week on a trial basis; then, if(when) they notice the productivity gains, ask for a few more days a week.

If they still say no, I'd either buy my own headphones or get a new job.

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working from home required a lot of motivation and concentration just because there is likely more to play with. –  WalterJ89 Oct 11 '10 at 20:46
I have to agree with WalterJ89 - it's not as easy as it sounds. Some people can pull it off, but some (me included) have a tendency to get distracted. But it's worth a shot if it's possible for the original poster. –  MetalMikester Oct 11 '10 at 20:48
I just asked to work from home and received a Resounding NO, even if it was only a few days a week –  staticx Oct 11 '10 at 20:55
@0A0D, If they refuse to accommodate you in any way, then find a new job. As I say, if you are good at what you do, finding a job is not challenging. –  Stargazer712 Oct 11 '10 at 21:36
@0A0D "Resounding NO" = go with Rex Logan's suggestion: invest in noise canceling headphones while you look for another job. –  Carson63000 Oct 11 '10 at 22:01

Without having to leave your job? Check with laws in your state regarding the establishment of collective bargaining in your workplace. Then follow those laws in determining whether your co-workers feel the same way regarding working conditions and their interest in organizing at your workplace.

Or see if you can find another local employer who could provide a more agreeable arrangement and would be willing to hire several members of your group. Such a would-be employer should not be one who could be considered a competitor as there are significant legal considerations and they might cause more problems if you even approach them.

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bleh, don't go the union way. That'll destroy the company and your job both. Rather research workplace environment/conditions laws. Could well be they're in violation of those and would rather fix things rather than face potential legal trouble. Worked in environments that weren't in compliance several times, just pointing out the non-compliance without even being threatening about it is usually enough to get change (as frequently departments aren't even aware of compliance issues). –  jwenting Mar 31 '11 at 12:13
actually, no. Unions are destructive overall, causing work environments where performance is punished, laziness rewarded, quality irrelevant, company success disregarded. See the US auto industry for example. –  jwenting Jun 4 '11 at 12:39
those don't necessarilly "improve the workplace". Most "athletes" are working as their own companies, hiring out their services to teams and sponsors for example. No unions involved. I give you one extreme example, but it's the same everywhere. Boeing suffers major financial losses due to the unionised facilities they operate in Washington state. So bad they want to create a new factory in a non-unionised state, a move the unions want to ban (they want to make it illegal for companies in a unionised state to start a branch in a non-unionised state, should tell you everything). –  jwenting Jun 6 '11 at 3:34
the sole difference of unions now is as a political pressure group, and the political agenda they support is anti-business and thrives on high unemployment numbers. Another example: airlines. Pilot unions call for 30-40% wage increase for pilots at times airlines are struggling to survive, then call for strikes when airlines don't cave in because it'd bankrupt them. For wanting to give a few hundred already lavishly paid people a massive increase at a time most of the population gets nothing, they're willing to risk the jobs of tens of thousands. How's that help employees? –  jwenting Jun 6 '11 at 3:37
you're the one who's out of touch, as is common with union flunkies. Boeing suffers losses due to regular walkouts in their Washington state facilities which lead to massive damage claims from customers, not bad management (of course the unions will claim everything on bad management). –  jwenting Jun 8 '11 at 5:19

a) Get your manager/employer to read a copy of PeopleWare by DeMarco & Lister - there's a whole chapter in there about how these kinds of working conditions are disastrous for software development productivity. b) Leave for somewhere with better conditions

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