sleeping coworker’s snores are disrupting my work

A reader writes:

What do I say to a woman I work with who is constantly falling asleep at her desk, in her office with the door wide open? She snores so loudly that it disrupts my work, and at first it scared me.  I have told the manager and his suggestion was to drop a big book and make a loud noise to wake her up. He even witnessed her sleeping too. Our Executive Director does nothing either. I am so sick of working my butt off while she snores like a buzz saw because she has nothing to do. They are not addressing the situation at all!  By the way, I would not be so upset if she would just shut her door!! She has an office, so I don’t understand why she just won’t shut her door.

I have resorted to documenting her naps with pictures and video. Would it be totally wrong to upload them to YouTube?

Yes, it would be wrong, which I’m pretty sure you already know. Uploading videos of people without their permission isn’t a nice thing to do, and moreover, uploading videos taken in your workplace could get you fired.

Look, your manager is the big problem here. The fact that both your manager and the executive director know that this woman is sleeping at work and don’t do anything about it is pretty damning. I’m going to take a wild guess here that this organization isn’t exactly run like a well-oiled machine, right?

So you’ve got management that sucks, all the way up to the highest levels. Your choices in that situation are to accept it or leave.  I’d vote for leaving, because I’m a big believer that if you work in an environment like that long enough, it will start to bring your own work down too. Get out before that happens to you. (Frankly, it’s probably already happened if you’re spending your time videotaping her naps.)

But if you really mean it that you wouldn’t care as much if only she’d shut her door, then why not just ask her to? Or, even easier, just go over there and shut her door for her. I’ve certainly shut other people’s doors when they were having an especially loud phone conversation that was disrupting others’ ability to focus — and it’s hard to say that doing that would be more obnoxious than what she’s doing.

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I agree, close the door yourself if no one will speak to her about this.

    Also, I used to fall asleep at work ALL the time, and not because I was out partying the night before. I finally asked my doctor about it and turns out that I have a mild sleep disorder. This woman might have the same problem.

    1. Anonymous*

      I work with the writer of this problem and I must add that the “sleeper” also smells of alcohol on many an occasion, so I don’t believe she has a medical problem.

      1. Anonymous J*

        Actually, alcoholism IS a medical condition.

        That said, if she’s drinking on the job, management needs to know about it.

  2. Natalie*

    Definitely shut the door. I’ve shut doors both because they were being super load or because something else was happening in the office that was incredibly loud. Most people don’t mind.

    Since she’s asleep, she might not even notice.

    1. Cassie*

      I guess I would just close the door, but would probably be afraid that she’d wake up and ask what I was doing.

      By the way, is it acceptable to close the door of someone’s office if they’re being loud? I’ve done it once, when my boss had visitors. Of course, I just walked up to the door and pulled it closed. I didn’t slam it or anything.

      On the other hand, the manager in our dept was chatting and cackling with another employee one day (she has a pretty loud laugh, which she is aware of), and one of my other bosses went and yanked the door shut. Needless to say, this created a whole feud between the two of them – she thought it was totally disrespectful that he shut her door. Then again, she would have been offended if anyone had shut her door.

      I’m actually not sure if there would be a polite way to do this. I’m assuming asking if someone would close their door would be more appropriate but even that is awkward.

      1. Anonymous*

        Excuse me? You’re worried that if the OP shut the door then the lazy, sleeping employee would ask her what she is doing or would be offended? Her coworker is snoring on the job! Someone needs to sort this person out and if a slammed door does the trick, great!

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Cassie, I think it depends on culture. Well, in a situation like the OP’s, I actually don’t think it depends on culture — closing the door would be appropriate in any office. But in a situation like what you described, usually the culture of the office will tell you if you can do that in a matter-of-fact way or if someone will take offense. (In a GOOD culture, you should be able to do it with no problem.)

      3. Natalie*

        Office culture aside, it probably also matters how heavily the woman sleeps. I wouldn’t slam the door ever since it’s rude, but some people are more sensitive to noise while sleeping than others.

        If she’s like me, the sound of a door being closed gently won’t wake her up. But if she’s like my boyfriend, literally any noise will wake her.

  3. Mischievous*

    Shut door, lock door.

    Unplug her computer, shut door.

    Any meeting you have with anyone inside the company should be in your office, do not shut door.

    Have the receptionist route all general inquiry phone calls or walk-in visitors to her office. (She signed that memo but she doesn’t remember because she was asleep.)

  4. Anon y. mouse*

    It’s clearly time for an annoy-a-tron: Perhaps the intermittent beeping will set her on edge enough to keep her from falling asleep.

    Okay, that’s probably not such a great idea.

    If closing the door is enough to keep you happy, by all means close the door. Otherwise, it’s probably time to reassess the pros and cons of your job.

    1. Anonymous*

      Seriously considering this, thank you!! If they can sleep openly at their desk and not get in trouble, I can play a lil ol harmless prank ;)

      1. Anon y. mouse*

        The consequences are on you!

        (It’s supposed to be a pretty subtle beep, so if the lady in question is 74, it’s possible that her hearing will be too far gone for her to be bothered by it. But if it works, totally let us know. )

  5. Anonymous*

    AAM continues to amaze me. You NEVER insist on anyone being held accountable. This woman is _sleeping_, and you just tell her incensed coworker to get another job? In this economy? That’s your answer to everything – “just leave” – never to hold any wrongdoer accountable. Do you honestly believe that victims should be continually punished like this, while slackers, bullies and nappers go unpunished? Really?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m sorry, what exactly would you suggest she do? She’s already alerted her boss and her boss’s boss, and they’ve made it clear that they don’t care. The other options are what, exactly? You obviously have some sort of bone to pick here, but this makes zero sense. What would you have her do?

      And yes, I do think that if you’re working somewhere so poorly managed, your best option is to leave. Believe me, allowing someone to sleep on the job isn’t the only way that that poor management is manifesting.

      1. Anonymous*

        I beg to differ. I think AAM does hold people accountable, but I think she also has a great sense of when something is practically within one’s power to change and when it is not.

      2. Joe*

        Clearly, if you really cared, you would get a job at this company, work your way up to becoming the sleeper’s manager, and fire her. Since you’re not doing this, you obviously don’t want to help the OP.

      3. Anonymous*

        Go up to the boss’ boss’ boss. Take it to HR. Every day, if necessary. Complain at a board meeting. Put up posters. Take pictures of the napper at 10 minute intervals and email them to everyone in the company. I mean, these might be absurd examples, but the concept is the same – why give up? Why let this sort of injustice go on? Why let this sleeper basically steal a job from someone who needs it and would be happy to actually work? I’m just continually discouraged by your “roll over and take it” advice to exploited employees.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          My advice isn’t roll over and take it. My advice is to leave if you can. Your advice would have this person on a list to be fired. I assume one of the reasons people read me is because I give them practical advice rooted in the real world, rather than some fairyland.

          1. Joe*

            Not me. I read you because I want to live in a fairyland where kitchens are huge and amazing, managers are competent, and there are cats and redheads everywhere. :-)

          2. Anonymous*

            Ok, let’s say the pursuit of justice does get the OP “on a list to be fired”…how would the company explain that, that they were fine with someone sleeping on donors’ time and money, but fired the person who pointed it out and tried to fix the problem? How would that go over with the donors/board/general public? If the company gets that weird about protecting the sleeper, it’ll only help the OP’s cause – the company will be taking a completely indefensible position.

        2. Liz in a library*

          Because, frankly, several of those actions are more likely to get YOU fired than to take care of your co-worker issues.

          If you feel exploited by management decisions that you disagree with, and you don’t think reasonable discourse will solve the issue, you can leave and go somewhere where you feel respected. That DOES send a message.

    2. Nathan A.*

      Managers are the ones that would hold the sleeper accountable, not the OP. The OP is the one bothered with the problem, not management. The OP does not have the authority to hold the sleeper accountable.

      So what are your alternatives?

    3. Satan's Little Helper*

      Um, been there. A whole FTE utilized to hold down a giant granite desk. And nothing else. This woman did absolutely nothing while the rest of us worked our tails off and begged for more help. Of course, no manager would challenge her about it because she was two years from retirement, had been getting away with this behavior for at least a decade, and was the textbook definition of the unmarried crazy cat lady in her personal life. Nobody wanted her to get fired, we just wanted her to work. Like the rest of us.

      AAM is right on about this. The OP has absolutely no control over management’s actions, or lack thereof. She’s done pretty much everything she can do. Managers everywhere need a constant reminder that good employees have other options besides worshiping at their temples of incompetence.

      I, for one, have derived a great deal of value out of AAM’s blog. It is about making the most out of workplaces filled with despotic managers and nincompoopic co-workers. And about surviving. And about possibly stringing enough of these survival stories together to create something resembling a career.

      Leaving IS holding management accountable.

      “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” ~Some Really Smart Person

      1. Anonymous*

        “Managers everywhere need a constant reminder that good employees have other options besides worshiping at their temples of incompetence.” Perhaps that USED to be true, but in today’s post-employment economy, try telling that to an uninsured worker facing foreclosure. The old reality where employees could get the last laugh by going elsewhere is over. There is no elsewhere anymore.

  6. Anonymous*

    Hi, I’m the reader that wrote in. Thanks for the advise, everyone. Great suggestions but I forgot a few minor details.

    1st off I love my job, I am grateful for it and I thank the Lord for it everyday.

    My situation is almost identical to the post, your manager is the big problem here.

    We are a non-profit.

    This type of sleepiness has been going on for almost 2 years. In the last 3-6 months the naps have become more frequent through out the day 2-3 time a day and with the loud snoring. In the very beginning when it was once a day, I went to management and asked if this person was sick or maybe on some type of meds because I was concerned but they said not as far as they knew.

    I have caught this person snooping in my paper/work on my desk and when I confronted them,they lied right to my face. My husband even seen her snooping in my stuff. This is not the only lie they have tried to shovel on to me. In my book I feel you can’t reason with crazy, and if your lying about something I seen with my 4 eyes (my husbands too, lol) and something so silly, minor, little in the big scheme of things, well that is sad.

    I tried to talk to this person about there naps, in a place of love, light and kindness and they totally freaked out started screaming and pacing, yelling “I am not having this conversation with you” & other immature things not appropriate for a work/professional setting while storming down the hall way and out of the facility.

    This person is 74 years old.

    Due to the fact that the sleeping was happening so MUCH, I just decided I was going to start documenting it for my self. So if I had to get up to make copies, leave, use restroom, fax, mail stuff, whatever, I would just put my camera/video on and see what we get. I never go out of my way to get these or waste my time.

    I have some things to think and pray about. Thanks, for all the great suggestions and ideas.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If this is happening at a nonprofit, the lack of management is even more concerning, since that’s donors’ money that’s being wasted. That’s infuriating to hear.

      1. Anonymous*

        It is SooOoooO infuriating and to witness it and no one says or does anything is VERY infuriating.

    2. Anon y. mouse*

      For what it’s worth, a non-profit that I worked at had a similar employee. She didn’t sleep at her desk, but I couldn’t tell you what kind of work she did, either. It turned out that her father had made a number of very large donations (considerably larger than her salary) to the organization. From her behavior I suspect that she was mildly mentally impaired, and this was his way of making sure his daughter was employed and safe. Since she didn’t cause problems and presumably did at least some work (she was extremely set in her routines), the non-profit was happy to play along.

      Given your coworker’s snooping habits it doesn’t sound like you’ve got the same situation going on there, but it’s food for thought.

    3. Satan's Little Helper*

      I totally understand your frustration about this, OP (see above comment).

      Really, though, there’s probably not much you can do about this. I wouldn’t waste another moment trying to document the sleeping or snoring. (Now, the snooping around on your desk is another matter entirely. If you have an office with a door, close it and lock it every time you leave your office.) It’s not fair and it stinks, but instead of worrying about this person wasting time, focus on making the most of your own time. Learn to do pivot tables in excel or something…

      Frankly, if I heard a co-worker snoring at their desk, I would probably burst into laughter that would be loud enough to wake them.

      Actually, it might be a good thing that you can hear this woman snoring. Once in a while I do hear a story about some elderly office worker that has been dead at their desk for two or three days before any of their co-workers notice. You might want to hold a mirror in front of her face once in a while just to make sure.

    4. Heather B*

      If she is 74 and exhibiting this kind of erratic, antisocial, angry, generally bizarre behavior… maybe the onset of some sort of dementia?

      Not to imply that all old people acting bizarrely are senile, but really weird behavior, especially if it is of relatively recent onset, combined with old age suggests there may be something more than just craziness. Or… could be she’s just obnoxious.

  7. JT*

    “I’ve certainly shut other people’s doors when they were having an especially loud phone conversation that was disrupting others’ ability to focus ”

    This is badass. Very cool.

    1. Anonymous*

      Maybe we are less sensitive and “corporate” in my workplace, but we do that all the time. I’m always amazed by how delicate and emotional people are in some workplaces.

      1. James*

        I work at a non-profit that is mostly open office, with just a handful of managers having private offices. Two of them listen to their voicemail on speakerphone at max volume and watch videos etc with the sound enabled on their computers. Anyone who gets up and closes their door (especially during loud/emotional personal calls) gets dirty looks from the door-havers and “I can’t believe you did that!”/”Thank you!!” from the rest of the staff. Unbelievable.

  8. Nathan A.*

    I would honestly not do anything passive aggressive. I find anything that falls under that kind of behavior as immature (to say the very least).

    If management is not stepping in, I would actually try to rouse her, and if she seems alarmed or bothered, you can say that you thought she was having a medical problem and wanted to see if she was still alive. Since she is 74 years old, this would not be far fetched.

    I would walk in every time I see her asleep and wake her up. Then I would ask her if she needs medical attention (I would assume that she has an illness). If its not medical and you actively come in to keep waking her up, she won’t fall asleep. Keep going in there and give her things to do. You are addressing the problem (her being asleep) without being confrontational (by giving her work to do).

    1. Kelli*

      Best response out of the lot…I can’t believe people are so worried about offending someone that they’re afraid to shut a door (never mind that their workday is being disrupted by the snoring). Wow, political correctness has gone way too far. And if this is a not-for-profit, the wasting of peoples’ hard-earned money on this woman’s salary is the most infuriating thing of all. You’re worried about her feelings when she’s wasting money given to help those less-fortunate? You really need to realign your priorities!

    2. arm2008*

      If you were to look up “passive aggressive” in the dictionary I think you might find “I would walk in every time I see her asleep and wake her up” listed right there.

      Closing the door to avoid hearing the snoring – totally appropriate if done without attitude. Waking the sleeping coworker would be OK if she had information the OP needs to complete her work. Beyond that, the OP needs to do her own work. Since management has been non-responsive the choice is either to stay and live with it or leave.

      1. Nathan A.*

        I don’t know what office environment you work in, but even peers share work in most places I’ve seen. That being said, if I am overloaded, and my peer is sleeping on the job, I’m gonna wake her up and tell her I need some support with the work I am doing. I’d sure like to know how that is passive aggressive.

        That isn’t passive aggressive. Passive aggressive is closing the door to avoid the noise (this would be excusing the behavior, would it not)? Leaving the company or ignoring it in some other manner is also passive aggressive (because it is still excusing the behavior).

        Just in case you’re lost on definition, here’s something you might find useful:

        1. Kathy*

          Nathan – I agree and like your answer. that’s what I was thinking this whole time, but thought I’d read through the comments first. I think kindly and gently waking her is the most direct thing OP can do in this situation.

  9. Lina*

    Perhaps she’s been with the company for 50 years so they want to give her a pass? Maybe she’s just a figure head. 74 is way past retirement, so I think this is a possible reason.

    1. Lina*

      I think ’74’ is a red flag. Perhaps she ‘lies’ because she’s suffering from dementia? Her experience in the organization may be important so the managers allow the poor lady to sleep.

  10. Laura*

    I’m a little surprised that no one has posited that this is a medical condition that her managers are aware of and accommodating. If that’s the case, they *can’t* tell you, and she doesn’t have to. That would also explain her sensitivity to being asked about it — you’re clearly not close, so if it’s a problem she’s embarrassed about to begin with then of course she doesn’t want to share her personal details with you, no matter how much “love, light, and kindness” you bring to the conversation. Unless it’s directly affecting you from a work-flow perspective, let it go. It’s not your business. If the snoring bothers you, get up and shut the door.

    1. Anonymous*

      Not trying to be confrontational here, but Laura, there is a good reason no one has brought that up. The OP said “I have told the manager and his suggestion was to drop a big book and make a loud noise to wake her up.” Clearly, this is NOT a medical problem that the manager is aware of. In other cases, this may have been a totally appropriate approach, but that is not the case here at all.

      1. fposte*

        And there’s no law that would require them to let an employee sleep through their workday. That is not a reasonable accommodation. Nor would it be good management to ignore the effect such a decision has on the morale of other employees, so the management would still suck even if the worker were unwell.

  11. Rose*

    How about headphones for working (they can play white noise)/headset for calls? You can buy drawer locks to install in your drawers and set all electronics with passwords. If she has mental issues, any confrontation is going to make things worse. The one exception, if the snooping is that she is stealing things, I would be very tempted to rig your iPhone/cheap camera up secretly and leave a valuable item out on the desk, and then call the police. If you are genuinely concerned about theft and your work will not assist you, you need to protect yourself and you can easily say that things had gone missing from your desk and you wanted to see who was doing it before calling authorities.

    direct threat to your personal safety and security – take full action
    anything else – ignore her

    Finally, my husband is a bit of a workaholic and he loves his job and it drives him crazy when other people slack. But I am slowly convincing him to go from 110% effort at work to maybe 80%, and devote the extra time to hobbies, networking, and personal life. For instance, he used to work overtime on deadline projects no matter what. But now he takes it case-by-case, a lot of those projects are down to the wire because of slackers in the office, so he just doesn’t cover for them any longer and devotes the time to other pursuits. Like you he has gone to management and the owners many, many times with his concerns and they don’t care, so why kill yourself over it? Do your work well, but balance it out for sanity’s sake. If this woman is snoring away and you’ve got the option to take a half-day or duck out, do it, have some retail therapy or a long lunch, and I think you will feel a lot better.

  12. Anonymous*

    I agree that if management doesn’t do anything there isn’t much the OP can do about this situation. Unfortunately I also feel that this leads to situations like Rose is talking about where a dedicated worker starts easing up because “everyone else is”. I think we are all guilty of it when management sucks at their jobs.

    Can the OP request to have their desk moved so the snoring doesn’t affect their ability to concentrate?

  13. Anony Mouse*

    If you can’t beat her, then JOIN HER! You already have documented evidence that she sleeps and gets away with it, so save it and – just to make a point – prented to be sleeping in your work area at a time when you know managment will see you. In fact, you may want to have one or two other colleagues also “sleeping” at the same time. Management can’t say a word to any of you without addressing the problem with all of you or it can be considered disparate treatment. Sooner or later they will have to address the issue or have the whole office on nap break several times a day!
    I know its silly, but its a passive-agressive approach to a ridiculous situation.

    1. Anonymous*

      As I wrote earlier, there’s more to this story. Not only does this woman sleep, she smells of alcohol, takes countless cigarette breaks, and, her workload is almost nill. My question is, since office management refuses to dicipline this woman, should the Board of Trustees be notified? I, and the original writer, do not want to lose our jobs for “snitching”, but we and many other co-workers are beside ourselves with frustration. Also, besides the aforementioned comments, she also finds any reason to complain about others in the office. She has even call a co-worker an a**-hole. She even went as far as chastising the ED, to his face! Please help. We LOVE our jobs here and everyone else is a pleasure to work with. Would going to the Board be out of bounds?

        1. Anonymous*

          We love out jobs, not the ED in a business setting. Outside of work he’s a lot of fun to be around. This is why it’s difficult to go above his head.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Ah, but his job isn’t to be fun. It’s to run the organization in an effective, responsible way, and to use donors’ money in the best way possible. He might be a nice guy, but he shouldn’t be managing an organization. He’s the real problem, not the coworker.

  14. Charles*

    Aside from leaving your job; then AAM’s answer to (quietly, and not in a passsive-agressive way) close the door is your best bet.

    Depending upon your work, headphones are another option.

    But, whatever you do, do not be unprofessional about it. Slamming the door, dropping a book loudly, etc., are, in my mind, childish and unprofessional. There is really little to gain by acting in such a manner – really nothing to gain except a reputation of engaging in a “feud.” Do you really want that?

    Keep this in mind; there is perhaps more to this story then you, the OP, really know about. Perhaps, this person contributes to the organization in other ways, unseen by you. Perhaps it is her connections that help to bring in donor money, etc.

    You love your job?! Then make it work for you by being professional. I know it is hard to soar like an eagle when all you work with are turkeys; but it is still possible to fly.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Charles is absolutely right here. It may be satisfying to think about taking a different approach, but ultimately you’re judged by your own behavior. You want a reputation as someone who’s professional, not someone who’s petty.

    2. Anonymous*

      Can I just say I absolutely loved your last words? I know it is hard to soar like an eagle when all you work with are turkeys.

      That certainly hit home, and I am going to borrow it for life! Hope you don’t mind.

  15. Savvy Working Gal*

    I work with an employee who used to fall asleep all the time. It really irked the gal who sat next to him. I am sure she documented his naps and went to management several times. She would make loud noises to wake him up. I don’t think he snored though; she was annoyed that he was getting paid to sleep.

    If I walked by and saw him sleeping I’d go up to him and say hey Joe wake up. He was always embarrassed. I was more concerned that he would fall asleep while driving and would cause a serious accident. Eventually management addressed the situation and he sought medical attention. It turned out he has sleep apnea. He now sleeps with a sleep apnea machine and stays awake at work.

    In this situation I would mention to management one more time that perhaps the sleeping employee has a medical condition. If they again choose to ignore it; either wake her up in a professional manner or close her door.

  16. Anonymous*

    [donning my devil’s advocate hat]

    Is the OP sure she knows the whole story? We had a similar complaint at work. Complainer felt she was carrying the load. Well, yes, she was. Sleepy was on chemo and pain meds made her sleepy. Complainer did not know the whole story, she just thought she did.

    Sometimes, we have to cowgirl up, and pay it forward.

    [now I am donning my flame-retardant hat]

    1. Anonymous*

      Then management’s response to her shouldn’t have been to “drop a book”, rather “we are aware of the situation” and told the OP to drop it or addressed her concern about the interruption she was enduring due to an issue they were aware of.

      Reasonable accommodations are one thing, if you are paying an employee to sleep through their day then you at least owe it to your staff to let them know you are “aware” of it. You don’t have to give details or anything else. The “drop a book” response is telling I believe that there isn’t some secret reason for allowing this other than wimpy management.

  17. Anonymous*

    Recently, I heard there was going to be a posting for a new position within my department that I am very interested in applying for. The posting hasn’t went up yet, however the manager has already interviewed a person for the position. Is this a case of descrimination? I am a woman over 40.

    1. Anonymous*

      Is it discrimination that you didn’t get a job that isn’t posted and that you haven’t applied for? No.

    2. Heather B*

      You should probably e-mail Alison your question to see if she wants to address it on the blog instead of posting it as a comment to an unrelated post…

  18. Ladies' Sewing Circle*

    We have such a woman at our office. Late 60’s, diabetic, doesn’t really take care of herself as well as she ought. She’s prone to falling asleep at her desk (or almost anywhere in the office where’s she not interrupted). Most of the time I’ll gently call to her and tell her she’s fallen asleep, whether she’s snoring or not. She does work hard at her job, though. It’s become a sort of comic relief at times, and fortunately she’s got a fairly good sense of humor about it even when she’s blushing over it. Again, as some have mentioned, it could well be a medical condition that she doesn’t want to disclose and that management, if they know about it, can’t disclose.

    As for dropping a book loudly, be prepared for any reaction a rude action like that could provoke. If I fall asleep in the middle of the day (haven’t done it at the office) and someone wakes me like that, I am positively vile and once did take a swing at someone as I woke. And believe me, I haven’t a violent bone in my body.

    1. Kathy*

      You’re probably lucky that the lady at your office is mature about it and takes it well. Sounds like OP’s person is belligerent and difficult to deal with. That makes it even worse!

  19. Marie-Christine*

    If the poor woman snores that loudly and falls asleep repeatedly in daytime, she’s most likely suffering from a bad case of sleep apnea. Instead of getting so worked up about her laziness, you might try saving her life by urging her to get tested?

  20. Anonyduck*

    We have a woman like this where I work. Except she’s in her mid-20’s, and her reason for sleeping is because she’s lazy. I personally brought it up to management last year, and she claimed she took medication that caused her to fall asleep. She got away with it, and continues to sleep almost daily at her desk. She’s been caught reading at her desk by managers, sleeping by co-workers, taking excessive breaks, and management does nothing. So, OP, I feel your pain.

  21. Anonymous*

    Fortunately and unfortunately, we cannot manage our coworkers. Fortunately, because we all screw up from time to time and do not need to be embarrassingly reprimanded. Unfortunately, because there are times like this when we feel our managers just don’t give a flying you-know-what and either turn a blind eye or make it our problem instead of dealing with the real problematic person.

    For different reasons, I would absolutely love right now to tell a coworker off, but alas, that is the manager’s job. In the meantime, I feel your pain, even if it’s for different reasons, but I need to learn to play the game instead of being an adversary to it. I just need to find the player’s manual…

  22. Long Time Admin*

    After reading all the comments, including the one by the OP, I think the best action is to simply close the woman’s office door when she starts snoring.

    OP, there is nothing more you can do about this situation. You’ve gone to management with good, letigimate concerns and have been brushed off with a childish passive/aggressive suggestion to drop a heavy book to wake her up.

    Leave it, and pray that you’re never the one annoying others in your office. Time and circumstances can do very unexpected things to us all.

  23. Jamie*

    This is ridiculous that you should even have to deal with this.

    For the record I vote for closing the door on her snoring and looking for a job where the management isn’t completely incompetent.

    Regarding medical issue – maybe…but it’s certainly not the OPs problem or responsibility to intervene. If I fall asleep at work ONCE I would know I have an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. If the co-worker is functional enough to get herself to work each day, she should be functional enough to get herself to a doctor. If she’s not functional then management should deal with how that relates to the workplace…and we’re back to crappy management.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can’t have someone not working, so you’d need to address it like any other performance problem — address is straightforwardly the first time it happens, get more serious if it happens again, lay out consequences for repeated occurrences and stick to them. If there’s a medical issue, she needs to raise it and work with her doctor and employer to figure out if there’s a reasonable accommodation that can be made that allows her to do the work of her role without causing undue hardship (that’s the legal term) to the employer.

  24. Hypatia*

    I have a colleague who falls asleep inappropriately… She even fell asleep twice while we were interviewing candidates for a position which didn’t look good.

    Well, my boss talked to her boss and it turns out the woman suffers from narcolepsy. She’s been trying medications to control it, but nothing is working so far. She’s otherwise a good employee… So, you never know. Just because your boss doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it doesn’t mean there isn’t more behind the scenes.

  25. Anonymous*

    This is obviously a different issue but a funny aside. I relocated via internal transfer to Hong Kong from the US about 4 years ago. Imagine my shock and surprise when i realised that people take naps almost daily at their desks! It took a good few months to adjust – unfortunately i can’t bring myself to join in sleepy time!

  26. Jeff @ stop snoring*

    I think closing the door should be enough – hopefully her snoring is not that loud :) I have had similar problem with loud phone calls and i am closing doors from other offices all the time…


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