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What To Do When Your Office Gets Overcrowded

by Johnny Bravo · 7 comments

What To Do When Your Office Gets OvercrowdedI’ve recently found myself in a situation that many fast growing companies experience.

An overcrowded work-space.

What was once the perfect sized space quickly became too little too late.

And for companies that don’t have the available capital to adjust to this change, it creates a unique challenge for those working there where distraction and congestion become a daily fact of life.

Am I talking about my own company’s corporate office? No not at all, our office is huge. I’m talking about my home office here in San Diego.

You see before my son was born my wife went to work and was gone most of the day. I had our wonderful two bedroom all to myself for at least 8 hours. It was great. It was quiet. And it was productive.

Things have definitely changed. Bailey is now 3 weeks old and we’re just starting to figure out how to adjust to the many changes involved in starting a family. For the first week my mother stayed with us in the “office” and the last two weeks has been my mother-in-law.

It takes a village to raise a child. I get that. I love seeing my wife so much. I love my baby. And I am grateful for the help and experience my mother and mother-in-law have provided.

But I am not happy about 3 new people in what was once MY office space. Adjusting has not be easy but below are some of the things I’ve done which has helped me. And these things can help you deal with an overcrowded office too.

Find A Space You Can Concentrate

MRI Software HQ is a pretty vast office. It was a huge building with 95% of our workforce there (most Account Executives like me work from home) but there were times where I simply didn’t want to be bothered by anyone while I prep’d for a demo or had a project coming up. I had everything I needed at my desk except peace and quiet.

I needed a place where I could concentrate. I know this is not always the case but I was able to simply go to a different area of the office or take over an available conference room.

I wasn’t disappearing or going into hiding. If  it was important an email or call could still reach me. But I wanted to eliminate the physical distractions that were happening around me.

Since Grandma as been in the 2nd bedroom aka “the office” I have had to find other arrangements for those early morning, 6am (9am EST) conference calls. Since I don’t want to wake her up, or my wife and the baby, I’ve come to find a new appreciation for Starbucks and my living room table.

This is not rocket science. I am merely adapting to the situation and finding out what works best. For example, the dinner table is much better for me then the couch or rocking chair. I’m more comfortable and more focused. Starbucks is better for me then the bookstore or local bagel shop. Better coffee and quieter people.

For you one conference room may be better than others. A bookstore might be more convenient than a coffee shop. Find a place, at your office or not, that works for you.

Figure Out What Your Distracters Are

When I am in the home office I don’t usually have a problem when someone needs to come in and get something. We are also in the process of moving so boxes are going in an out of the room.

Doesn’t bother me for some reason. Kid in the other room? Doesn’t bother me. Dishwasher running? Doesn’t bother me.

Laundry being done? Drives me CRAZY!!!

Figure out what it is in the office that really distracts you and you’ll be able to avoid them or minimize their impact.

Set Boundaries

When I figured out that the laundry machine drives me crazy while I’m trying to work I asked my wife to give me ample warning that it was going to be a big laundry day.

Or if I had a demonstration that I needed a good amount of quiet time I’d let her know so that she wouldn’t accidentally come in starting talking to me, not realizing that I was in the middle of a phone conversation that everyone could hear about our lack of baby wipes.

At work, set boundaries by asking those around you to be respectful and considerate to you and everyone around them. As long as you do the same there shouldn’t be any problem with this.

I understand this can’t always be avoided. If you have someone next to you who laughs really loud it’s hard to say, “hey can you lower your laugh volume”. But for situations like that see the first tip. If the situation can’t move, move from the situation.

Be Ready With Back Up Options

Things happen. Your first option for Starbucks, the corner conference room, or your favorite chair may not be available.

In addition to having alternative work areas, have multiple options in case something isn’t working out.

Situations can change, especially if new employees are coming in before a move is possible.

In summary remember that its more important for you to be productive in your work environment. Things can happen that make that all but impossible. It’s your job to recognize that and make the changes you can to fix it.

Good luck.

~ Johnny Bravo

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina March 14, 2014 at 11:43 am

Congrats on your new family! Your story is a good reminder of how important it is to create a working space where you feel comfortable and can be efficient.

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Paul Graham March 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Hi Johnny. Good common sense on dealing with overcrowding. Most of it would also apply even when not working from home. Certainly a regular office can have its share of distractions

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Niekka McDonald March 14, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Congrats on the new addition to the family. I like the tips they work will for the office too. I’m unable to change my location but I can identify the distractions and change how I work. Maybe do my reports in the morning when it is quiet and the phone is not ringing. Thanks for the tips.

P.S. I use MRI software

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Becc March 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Congratulations – 3 weeks old, now that is a distraction!
I am lucky to have my house to myself so distractions are minimal until the husband and Mr4 ambush the place. So I can feel you pain. I have used some of your techniques and they do work well.

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Jeannette Paladino March 18, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Congratulations on having Bailey! Some people are lucky and are able to tune out noises and other distractions. I worked in an office where someone played his radio all day. It was soft music and didn’t seem to bother anybody but me. You’ve got to know what your boundaries are, as you say. If you’re in an office environment it’s perfectly OK to ask someone to turn down the music or to stop shouting on his phone calls. Good luck!

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