my coworker’s obsession with coffee is an all-day distraction

A reader writes:

This is probably going to be more venting. It is bugging me, but I don’t want to risk being the office jerk.

I work in an office setting. Bill from another department is a really nice guy. Probably to an obnoxious level. I really am not big on small talk, but usually keep things to a brief, friendly conversation. I think my team is mostly the same way. We have good working relationships, just not big talkers. Bill used to be located one hallway over. I know he’s always been a talker, but we’ve had some distance so it’s usually been limited to passing in the hall or in the break room.

Our office took an old computer room and decided to convert it into two offices to make more space. Bill’s office is now on my hallway, almost directly across from me. So now, I hear every word from every conversation he has. He is very obsessed with baseball, soccer, and a few other topics. He has really long conversations several times a week on those.

He also loves coffee. He had always kept a few special blends in his office and would share them sometimes. Well, I think he really decided to lean into this. He put a sign on his door about his coffee shop and now has a stream of people coming by every day to try the cup of the day. Very nice thing to do in an office. I feel like a jerk for being bugged by this. The problem is, every one of these people stopping by is a 30-minute conversation about how he likes a Columbian vs another country, the taste notes, roasting critiques, and on and on. Multiple this same conversation by four or five times a day.

It drives me nuts for another reason too. He has absolutely terrible time management skills. He talks endlessly about how he is so loaded up and he can’t believe how is expected to handle so many things. I’ve worked on projects with him and have had to hear about it when I have a similar workload, just in a different expertise.

I’ve closed my door on a few occasions when I just had to concentrate or not snap. Generally don’t like doing that cause I’m a team lead and prefer an open door policy. His boss is a co-lead in our department, we’ve talked shop a few times just about our teams and challenges and I know he’s been working with him on some of this. I’m not sure I want to be the office jerk and bring it up with either his boss or him. I can’t really move offices because this is the hallway most of my team is on.

Do I just suck it up and listen to it? Buy some headphones? What would be likely outcome of dropping a hint to him or his boss? He seems to be a pretty sensitive guy who is a people pleaser. If I bring it up with him, I wouldn’t want him to drop it entirely. I just don’t want to hear three hours of coffee talk a day.

It’s lovely to offer a rotating selection of freshly brewed coffee to one’s office mates. It is not lovely to spend hours a day discussing coffee while other people are trying to work nearby (and that’s before we even get into Bill’s complaints about his workload, which he’s apparently trying to fit into, what, four hours of work time a day?).

If Bill were just having a typical amount of office chit chat and it bothered you because you were used to a quieter team, I’d say it was on you to learn to work around (or to try headphones some of the time). But four to five half-hour conversations about coffee per day — plus the rest of his socializing — is over the top and it’s reasonable to say something to him.

I’d say it this way: “Hey Bill, it can be hard to focus over here when the coffee talk goes so long. Could you keep it down or even close your door when people come by for coffee?”

You say you don’t want him to drop the “coffee shop” entirely but … well, that wouldn’t be the worst outcome. What he’s doing is excessive. As someone who clearly has trouble cutting conversations short, he probably should drop it entirely. But either way, the above language is reasonable to use.

If that doesn’t work, it’s reasonable to mention it to his boss. The two of you already have touched on the challenges with Bill previously, and I’d sure as hell want a fellow manager to let me know if one my employees were disrupting people like this, especially if we’d already talked in confidence about issues with them and especially if I weren’t well positioned to see the extent of it firsthand. (At some point having someone spend hours a day on coffee reflects on the manager too, which is another reason they should want to know.)

You asked what outcome is likely from that, and it depends on Bill’s manager. A decent manager would find ways to observe it themselves after you tip them off and then would talk with Bill, explaining that it’s taking up too much of his time and disturbing others working around him (without naming you). Ideally they’d take a closer look at what’s going on with Bill’s work overall, too.

{ 202 comments… read them below }

  1. New Senior Mgr*

    Sorry, OP, but I’d love to have a Jim in my office. For entertainment value if not much else. I think you may need your office door closed or almost closed.

    1. Spencer Hastings*

      Maybe, but this is difficult — closing the door may be what she needs to be able to concentrate on her own work, but it seems like it will affect her ability to be accessible to her team, which is also important.

      1. Goldie*

        You can always inform you team they are welcome to come in and even put a sign on your door

        1. amoeba*

          Or, you know, Bill could do that? Like, keep the coffee shop but close his door so he doesn’t disturb others? Have a sign with “come in for coffee”?
          Why on earth should his coffee club take precedence over LW’s legitimate business needs?

          Honestly, I’m a quite social person and like my chit-chat at work but that would drive me nuts.

          1. Medusa*

            I’m the same. I have a few Jims in my office. Fortunately, we hotdesk, so I can just avoid sitting with them.

            1. a good mouse*

              I think this is the first time I’ve ever heard someone say “fortunately we hotdesk”!

    2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

      Sure it sounds great, until you have to hear the same conversation multiple times a day, every day, week in and week out. Not to mention all the other chitchat. The entertainment value quickly reaches zero when you are, you know, actually trying to get your job done and go to home to the things you enjoy doing.

      1. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Yep. I get to listen to what might be amusing nonsense from a conspiracy theorist next to me. In that it might be amusing if I didn’t have to hear variations of the same five things every single day….

      2. ferrina*


        If hearing the same conversation several times a day, every day, week in and week out sounds enjoyable, may I recommend either customer service or working with 4-year-olds? It’s cute the first time, but not 4-hours a day cute. I mean, Pokemon is awesome, but if I have to hear one more debate over whether Pikachu or Charmander is cooler, I might start sobbing.

      3. Stop talking already!*

        Agree. The husband of my best friend is like this. I did some work qith him through a non-profit. Drove me crazy.

    3. Jennifer Strange*

      Why should the LW close their door instead of Jim closing his door? The LW’s right to be able to work trounces Jim’s right to run a coffee shop out of his office.

      1. Heart&Vine*

        The part about not liking all the socializing sounds more like an OP issue. I can understand why hearing the same conversation five times a day can get tiresome but might creep into the “office jerk” area if OP complained about it. But that doesn’t mean they have to just put up with it or close their door. They could play music (soft enough as to not disturb others but loud enough to drown out noise across the hall). They could invest in some headphones. They could turn on a white noise machine.

        However, if Bill’s inability to manage his time/workload affects OP, they should absolutely say something. If Bill’s socializing causes him to miss deadlines/work late often/have to recruit others to help him/etc. then I think OP would be right to either address him directly (“I’ve noticed you take regular breaks to talk to people and this might be what’s sucking up all the time you’d be spending on Project X. Maybe keeping your conversations to a quick 5-10 minutes would help you manage your workload better.”) or mention it to his boss.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          But the issue here isn’t that the OP doesn’t like socializing, it’s that the socializing is interfering with their ability to concentrate on work and is lasting an extremely long amount of time. They are well within their right to ask Bill to close his door while having non-work discussions that last 30 minutes.

          1. Bill’s boss*

            op’s hatred of socializing is undermining the rest of the office’s efforts at team building and camaraderie facilitated by coffee

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Team building does not equate to avoiding actually doing the work you are paid to do.

            2. Katsi Souza*

              OP never said she hated socializing. She said she wasn’t big on small talk, which isn’t the same. A lot of people can’t stand small talk but have no issue with socializing with people. And the problem here isn’t that this guy is social. It’s that he prioritizes talking to people over getting his work done (then complains about his workload) and he does it in a loud and distracting way that affects OP (and likely others who just haven’t spoken up about it).

            3. Zelda*

              Camaraderie should happen in a break room, not along a hallway full of people who are trying to work, and each person should get a reasonable amount of it per day. Unless Bill was hired to be the cruise director, he is wasting the company’s money, and his boss should sit in OP’s office for a day and observe just what his employee is really up to.

              1. Just Another Cog*

                I have to agree. I enjoy chatting with co-workers to get updates on their lives outside of work and their opinions on coffee, etc., but I really dislike constant non-work chatting in the working area. If it’s a hall of individual offices, it means that the work is such that people need a certain amount of quiet to do their jobs. Bill and his visitors know their voices carry and that others can hear the conversation, but don’t care. His boss really needs to be more involved.

            4. amoeba*

              What? I feel like this is such an absurd statement that I’m honestly wondering whether you are just trying to wind people up.

              Pretty sure absolutely nobody, even the most social of extroverts, would enjoy having that level of socialising right next to their desk all day while trying to work. Coffee club sounds great, but it should either happen in a dedicated area or, if that’s impossible, the noise needs to be contained (just close the door, Bill!)

              That’s all apart from the fact that Bill is obviously using, like, 50% of his work time for socialising – which isn’t the LW’s issue but if I were his boss, I definitely wouldn’t be happy.

        2. ferrina*

          I like dogs. Does that mean I should always let a dog lick me? Even when I’m trying to eat my lunch? There are limits to everything, and Jim is going beyond the normal limit.

          OP’s personal opinion about socializing is irrelevant, because this is not a normal level of socializing. It sounds like this is a constant stream of distraction. It’s not several 15 minute conversations or even a couple buddies hanging out for lunch time- this is constant non-work talk that is happening at a volume which is disruptive to those around them. It’s pretty reasonable to expect that avoidable, non-work distractions are not happening 4 hours a day.

          1. Heart&Vine*

            Then I guess I’d just ask them to make sure to keep it down. If OP can’t hear them talking then the problem is solved. And I think it can work for everybody without anyone having to close their doors as long as everyone agrees to a “good neighbor” policy, i.e. you keep your volume down and I’ll find ways to mute out any residual noise.

            1. Mongrel*

              My experience has always been that the volume will go down at first, it’ll always creep up again, OP will mention it again and the cycle repeats.

              Often, after a couple of iterations, OP will get a label from the social club as being a snitch, spoilsport or nag because they’re raining on the coffee parade

        3. samwise*

          No, it’s not an OP problem. It’s a Jim problem because it’s loud, frequent, and for long stretches. It’s a Jim problem because all this loud, frequent, and lengthy yapping is ** not work related **

          OP’s need to have the door open for work-related reasons trumps Jim’s desire to have his door open for socializing.

          And as I noted above, I betcha OP is not the only one disturbed by Jim’s noise and socializing.

      2. Big Texan*

        Because OP forcing Bill to stop the coffee is denying her coworkers the opportuntiy to enjoy coffee. If she cares so much let her move to a
        different office!!!

        1. amoeba*

          What? I seriously cannot tell if this is sarcasm or not, but I hope it is.

          The coworkers could also, you know, get their coffee without the half hour chats, problem solved… (or, yes, keep the noise down.)
          Nobody even wants to get rid of the coffee.

        2. Jennifer Strange*

          OP is doing no such thing. OP would be asking Bill to close his door when running a coffee shop.

    4. samwise*

      Pretty likely OP is not the only one disturbed by Jim’s loud talking about non-work topics and by the parade of coffee drinkers walking up and down the hallway for a good chunk of the day.

      I am sympathetic to OP’s irritation over Jim’s frequent moaning about his workload when he so obviously spends a lot of time not-working.

      It’s not reasonable that Jim’s loudness forces others to close their doors on the regular and for long stretches.

    5. Broomhilde*

      Perhaps put a sign on the door? “Enter” written on one side, “Do not disturb” at the other? Change if applicable. This way, you have an open door while the door for the team, while the office door remains closed to coffee-gossip.

    6. Cat Tree*

      I’m not really at work to be entertained though. I need to be able to focus and complete the work which is my paid job.

      The *only* upside to hot-desking is that no one person gets stuck right next to our Bill day after day.

    7. Pumpkin215*

      Right? I’d give anything for an office with a DOOR.

      I’d let me team know my “open door” policy still stood, even if the actual door was closed.

      Problem solved.

    8. Fikly*

      Sorry New Senior Mgr, but you are Jim, putting your desires above everyone else in the office, thus being a terrible coworker.

    9. New Jack Karyn*

      I love how New Senior Manager mistakenly put “Jim” instead of “Bill”, and many replies just roll with it.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I don’t think so? I think we’ve had two different letters today, one about a Jim and one about a Bill. Wires got crossed in the comment section.

    10. Roland*

      Would you love to visit once a week, or would you love to have him across the hallway at all times?

      People’s ability to work trumps the desire to run a coffeeshop in your office.

  2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    Does Bill actually do anything? He’s in detailed extracurricular discussions for 4+ hours a day – can he do his work in the other 4 hours, or is his job such that he can polish teapots while he’s chit-chatting?

    1. OP*

      The coffee pots stay immaculate in the common area for the people that just drink the company supplied Folger’s.

      1. Kaden Lee*

        I think what ABET is asking is can Bill’s work (metaphorically “polishing teapots” but realistically accounting work, CAD drawings, whatever) be done while chatting?

    2. InterPlanetJanet*

      The next time Bill complains about being overwhelmed with work, LW should suggest to Bill that he offer ‘coffee hours’ rather than have policy of any-time coffee. This way Bill can still have his coffee shop, but it would be condensed to a limited time frame, say 2x a day = “3 o’clock brew” and “9:00 Coffee Jump Start”. This would allow the LW to keep their door open throughout the day, with designated closed door times.

      1. All things operations*

        this is my favorite comment/suggestion. if the coffee shop was open at certain hours then there could be an expectation. this way OP can plan around it and it also could limit the multiple convos and randomness of people stopping by during the day.

  3. Bunny Girl*

    Just want to say – I totally can relate to this one. Right down to being friendly and warm with colleagues but not being super chatty.

    At an old job whenever people brought treats in, they would be placed at an open desk next to mine. It apparently was the only place for them. Not the breakroom or anywhere else I suggested. And people would stop by and either try to talk to me or each other about the treats for an eternity. It was so disruptive. I couldn’t wait to move offices, where I very pointedly brought in treats the first week and put them as far away from my office as possible to set up a new “treat area.”

    If talking to your co-lead doesn’t work – I’d suggest closing your office but putting a cheerful note on your door for your team so they still have access to you.

    1. Yup*

      At my first office job, my desk was in the hall next to the printer. Luckily I had very little work to do (it was an odd job!), because I ended up in dozens of conversations a day!

      1. fpg*

        I once had a desk near the kitchen. People would always gather at my desk and JUST MEET WITH ONE ANOTHER! It was so aggravating. I was constantly shooing them away.

      2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

        In a previous position, we were in temporary space and had no good place to put the departmental fax machine, so it had to be on my desk. Not next to me, but in my actual cubicle. So not only did people interrupt me multiple times a day when sending or receiving faxes, they came into my personal space to do so. The worst instance was someone waiting for a fax to arrive who chose to complain about the new space that was being built and how everyone would be in cubicles; she said that I had absolutely no idea how awful it was to have such a lack of privacy. While standing inside my 7×7 cubicle.

    2. Rick Tq*

      As soon as the treats hit the desk I’d have moved them to the breakroom. Every time, and after the 3rd or 4th time right out of the hands of the person dropping them off.

      No reason beyond sheer laziness to drop food off at a desk and not in the kitchen.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Their reasoning is they wanted the treats to be for the division, not for the entire department. Which I guess I understood but man it was annoying. I also was the lowest on the totem pole so couldn’t really say too much.

        1. Cicely*

          Makes me even more grateful for my boss. Someone wanted to bring in a microwave for our office of ~20 employees, but the only place to put the microwave was in a kitchen cubby within feet from someone’s office doorway. Boss said “Nope, too disruptive to Office Person,” and we were all like “omg, you’re right!” So we good-naturedly resigned ourselves to going back to taking the elevator three floors down to the all-building microwaves.

          Boss was totally right, and her objectively seeing the situation for what it could turn into is just one more quality that makes her a great boss!

    3. ferrina*

      I would happily designate my desk as the treat area!

      But man, this sounds like a tricky line to walk- you don’t want to discourage treats or socializing, but you don’t want to be disrupted all the time! I love your solution by deliberately setting the precedent of a treat area away from you- brilliant! That should have been in the Machiavellian week- the Machiavellian Cookie Trick!

  4. Nekussa*

    I imagine that for each of those visitors to the coffee shop, this is just a nice break from their work. They get up from their desk, get a cup of nice coffee, spend a little time chitchatting, and then go back to their desk. But for the keeper of the coffee shop, hosting all of everyone else’s break times is adding up.

    1. JayNay*

      i think Bill *wants* those chit-chats to add up though. At least that’s my read – he brings in different coffee blends and even named his office a “coffee shop”. It’s deliberate.

      1. Annony*

        But it is something his boss can talk to him about. If he is complaining about his workload but spending three hours talking about, brewing and serving coffee, maybe the coffee shop needs to close or only be available at a predetermined half hour.

        1. Bast*

          This would be reasonable for Bill’s manager to ask. After X time, the coffee goes away. I still think Bill has poor time management and talks excessively, which needs to be addressed, so I think it merits a broader discussion of cutting conversations short and having others not be afraid to say, “Well, it’s been nice Bill, but I’ve got to get back to doing ABC” and then actually walking away. Not sure how high Bill is in the hierarchy, but if he’s higher than the people he is holding captive or even just a senior employee who tends to trap junior employees into a conversation, they may not feel comfortable just walking away.

      2. Star Trek Nutcase*

        Employees like him can be extremely good at avoiding work and banking on his “niceness” to keep his job. I consider them morale killers.

        1. Laser99*

          I agree completely. If an employee is slacking off and getting away with it, everyone else becomes resentful. “Why should I bust my butt when JimBill spends all day blabbing about coffee?”

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      He absolutely WANTS these chats to add up. The coffee is an intentional draw for as many people as possible to come by and interact with JimBill. JimBill is a person for whom work is a primary social outlet (sometimes to the exclusion of doing actual work).

      1. allathian*

        In this case, it’s definitely to the exclusion of doing actual work.

        I work for a governmental agency in Finland. My job’s officially hybrid now, and we’re expected to go to the office at least once a week. Some people go more often, but there’s been a few who haven’t been seen at the office since March 2020, so at least for now it’s a recommendation rather than an obligation to go to the office.

        My job requires almost no synchronous collaboration and a minor amount of asynchronous collaboration that can be done remotely, so I generally go to the office when I have a specific reason to do so, such as a team development day, or something mundane like a dental appointments (building across the street) or a haircut (the salon’s at street level in my office building). Once a month my coworker and I have a 2:1 with our manager, and we always schedule in-office days for those.

        Because my employer’s trying to attract people to the office for community building and collaboration, I have my manager’s explicit permission to “network” with my coworkers, i.e. socialize, when I do go to the office. So on office days I socialize a lot more than I did when I went to the office almost every day (I’ve been allowed to WFH occasionally since 2014). Officially I have two paid 15-minute coffee breaks per day, but typically I take 30 minutes twice a day. When I WFH, I tend to drink coffee at my desk, or take a short break on the deck if the weather’s nice. I also tend to take longer lunch breaks than I did before the pandemic, although those are unpaid.

        But even with all that socializing, I stick to the break room and talk to other people who are there, I don’t walk from desk to desk bugging those who are busy working!

    3. Sleeve McQueen*

      yeah I feel like there needs to be some sort of guardrails in place around coffee shop. It’s 10.30am to 11am on a Friday or something

    4. Miette*

      If this were me, I’d suggest Bill move the coffee shop to the break room, where he can hold forth during a specific time each day, rename it as the office fika or kaffeeklatsch or whatever, and people can participate as and when they like. Imagine his productivity improvements!

  5. LisaD*

    It sounds like he really wants to quit this job and open a coffee shop and maybe he should do that! Sounds like he has a real passion for serving coffee to others. You could surreptitiously leave information about local spaces suitable for coffee shops available for rent on his desk… or circulate a petition to make Bill’s Coffee Shop a real thing…

  6. Telephone Sanitizer, Third Class*

    I think you’re using two names for the same character/person? Is the coffee guy Bill or Jim?

      1. Kyrielle*

        Jim heard there was great coffee to be had and wandered down for a while, but has since been rerouted back to his own desk? :)

      2. 1-800-BrownCow*

        OHHHHH!!! I’m just reading this now and the first comment and replies were all talking about Jim and I’m like, “Who the heck is Jim?” I thought the first commenter used the wrong name but then replies kept mentioning Jim. I was wondering what the heck was going on with my reading skills…..OY! Lol.

  7. Zona the Great*

    I had a Bill. He didn’t offer fancy things to trap people in his web but he was still successful at ensnaring you nonetheless. We all began rescuing each other from his grasp so when we would see that a fallen soldier was being talked at and clearly desperate for a rescue, we’d pop in and say, “Say soldier, aren’t you late for that meeting?!”.

    1. RLC*

      We had a Bill too – with a bread machine (Bill the Baker?). Bill was Boss’s favorite so no action on Bill the Distracting Baker. (I was on a different floor and sometimes staff who had too much of Bill would come to work in my quiet area.) Even when Bill’s lack of focus on work led to a huge error (regulatory agency action against a customer!) Bill’s boss didn’t take action. Demoralizing for the diligent workers.

  8. Just a PSA*

    This is just a pet peeve. The coffee is probably “Colombian” from Colombia, not “Columbian” from Columbia, SC or Columbia University.

    Also, this guy should probably find some time in his day to work. Alison’s advice is very on point.

    1. LGC*

      OMG thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one with a COLOMBIAN thing.

      And also yes, this would drive me nuts, but mostly because it would be frustrating to watch someone not working all day.

    2. Op*

      Thank you! Much needed correction. Won’t make that mistake again. Honestly never noticed.

      1. Babyfaced Crone*

        No exaggeration, this Columbia vs. Colombia distinction is how my brother almost ended up with a whole raft of unnecessary vaccinations for South American diseases before moving to NYC to get his MBA. It matters, people!

        1. amoeba*

          It gets even more confusing for German speakers – where Colombia is actually called “Kolumbien”…

  9. Yup*

    Oof. I was just thinking about how to handle people who don’t talk to have conversations so much as to hand you endless information because they enjoy hearing themselves speak. I never, ever know how to handle that. It just makes me feel like I need to run away. I can only imagine having to head this verbiage dump all day, every day and still get work done. It is distracting beyond measure and I would definitely have a private chat with Jim’s manager to see how to mitigate this situation (for your sanity, and for the work that needs to be done).

    To be honest, I don’t really know if it’s possible to find real ways to help people who talk endlessly like this find a way to curb it. Finding tactics to walk away is usually best, but that doesn’t help here. Jim needs to know his behaviour is bothering people and affecting work, and that will probaly require a manager to be on this for a while. Good luck!

  10. frenchblue*

    That’s a crazy amount of time to spend chatting. Every single time I’ve worked with someone like that (who socializes at least half of their time), they have been universally regarded as extremely disruptive, irritating, and in some cases, really slacking.
    That being said, I don’t think the coffee idea itself is horrible – it’s just the conversations that come with it. I wonder if you could compromise with Jim: talk to him first, be kind and clear, and then maybe shut your door some of the time. I totally understand wanting an open-door policy, so maybe speak to each of your team members first and say something like “Hey, I’ve been finding that I work a lot better with my door closed to keep out some of the office noise, so I might be shutting it a bit more. But PLEASE know that it does not change my practices in any way – always feel free to knock and come in whenever you need.” It might not be perfect, but it could be a way for you both to compromise. As long as Jim truly cuts back on the chats.

    1. Lime green Pacer*

      If only the “coffee shop” was a Friday afternoon thing (or Monday mornings, or whatever), instead of all day, every day!

    2. 1-800-BrownCow*

      We have an annoying social talker at work. To the point that people have walked into bathrooms to get away from her (only works for the men, she follows the women) or closed office doors in her face. She’s even followed people out the door to their vehicles after work to keep her end of a conversation going (while being ignored by the person trying to leave). It does no good to complain to her manager because he avoids confrontation like the plague. What also doesn’t help is despite all her chatting throughout the day, she gets her work all done. Basically, she’s single and has no kids, so she does most her work at home in the evenings. Because she chooses to do that, her manager thinks her endless non-work chatter is not an issue, despite everyone else complaining how it keeps them from doing their job. .

      1. Lenora Rose*

        Has anyone told her in as many words, “Sophie, you need to stop talking to me now.”

  11. Office Drone*

    Reminds me of the pillow fort. Lovely, seemingly innocuous, the thing you become “known for”… and something that regrettably must stop.

    Jim Bill’s manager might want to try the advice given the manager of the pillow fort employee: sympathy for the idea, which is cool; regret that it must go; and perhaps suggested alternatives (an ergonomic chair instead of a pillow fort, and maybe a “coffee bar” in the break room that Jim Bill can stock at his expense and on his breaks).

    1. Bast*

      I don’t think the coffee has to stop and or that the coffee itself is the issue. It seems like Bill is a talker who has several other “obsessive” interests, as OP points out. Take away the coffee, and Bill will just talk about baseball, soccer, or one of the other topics he seems fond of with anyone who happens to pass by/he passes somewhere else. Yes, cutting the coffee might limit the stream of people in and out of his office, but the real take away is that Bill needs to curb his conversations, no matter what they are about, and others need to know they are not obligated to stand and listen to Bill drone on and on for half an hour about anything. That seems to be the root issue. I know a Bill in our building, and he will talk about anything with anyone, and needs absolutely no encouragement. In the last week alone, our Bill has had extensive conversations with various others about — Bewitched, politics, Teslas, the eclipse, and various bands from the 60s. Our Bill does not take hints. You can not engage him at all and he will keep talking. I have to very bluntly tell him, “That’s interesting. I really need to get back and finish up ABC.” Someone needs to tell Bill to tone it down (maybe set a timer for 5 minutes?) and meanwhile let others know that sometimes they may need to cut Bill off if he really gets going.

    2. Banana Pyjamas*

      I agree. The onus is not on LW here to close their door or use headphones or whatever because Jim Bill is wasting nearly half of his workday on coffee chat alone.

      In my field it wouldn’t be appropriate for LW to talk to Jim Bill directly, LW would need to speak with his manager.

  12. Ohlalalalalalalala*

    Just buy headphones if you can’t close your door. This sounds hilarious tho

      1. Ohlalalalalalalala*

        No I would find this hilarious if it happened to me. This seems more of a personality conflict than a work one since it isn’t really affecting him.. I would find a solution first (headphones, or closing the doors) than disturb someone else bc I am not crazy about it.

  13. Nat20*

    I disagree slightly – personally I’d start with other solutions before talking to him. He sounds lovely, and it sounds like a lot of others love his coffee thing too. Also unless I’m missing something, his workload & time management problems aren’t your concern whatsoever, so that seems like a moot point here.

    I just think that if someone is doing something that personally annoys you but isn’t actually a problem otherwise, then it’s a “you problem” & it’s your responsibility to at least start with yourself and find a way to not be annoyed. Get some good headphones and let people know they’re welcome to interrupt you when you’re wearing them. Or, start closing your door and get a sign you can easily put up and down that says “I’m here, please come in!” or something. If those kinds of things don’t work out, THEN you can approach him (cheerfully and cordially & without asking him to stop entirely, like Alison suggested).

    1. Not the only one*

      I kept thinking that OP is a Team Lead whose team members are also on this hallway. I would presume others are probably frustrated and distracted by this as well. But I could understand how an employee would feel like they couldn’t speak up because their Team Lead is also experiencing this.

      I think before someone decided this is a “me” problem and to wear headphones, close the door. It is worth doing a check in with the team members and see if any others are bothered by this. If so, it doesn’t make sense for EVERYONE to be inconvenienced by this person and they should shut their coffee shop down.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      Why start with other solutions rather than asking him to close his door when he’s having conversations? The problem isn’t just that the LW is annoyed by it, it’s that it’s actively distracting them from their work. It’s completely valid for them to talk to Bill about it.

    3. Op*

      Yes. We do work together on many things. Our groups all work on the same things together with different specialties. So many of the things that slip are things that effect my groups work.

      1. allathian*

        Have you talked to Bill’s manager about how Bill’s failure to deliver what you need is affecting your team’s work? I’d start there.

    4. Cicely*

      Right from the letter:

      “Bill’s office is now on my hallway, almost directly across from me. So now, I hear every word from every conversation he has…He put a sign on his door about his coffee shop and now has a stream of people coming by every day to try the cup of the day…The problem is, every one of these people stopping by is a 30-minute conversation…I’ve closed my door on a few occasions when I just had to concentrate…”

      This is both an annoyance and a problem. How is that fact lost?

  14. That Closed Door is Really Open...*

    I have a medical condition that makes me cold all the time. In order to take off my coat, it really needs to be about 80 degrees (F). My solution was to keep my door closed all the time and the heater on. Then I made a set of color-coded signs for my door that I could swap out “Come on In” (green), “In a Meeting” (red),”Running an Errand.”(blue) My team got used to just coming in when the sign was green. So, if you can’t get Mr. Coffee Sommelier to stop, maybe just changing the meaning of a closed door with your team will fix it! :)

    1. allathian*

      That helps some, but I suspect that the continuous talk would be less annoying if the OP’s team actually got the work product they needed from Bill.

  15. take the money and buy headphones*

    Not coffee thankfully, but I had a coworker who loves to chat to everyone, would have lots of long personal conversations all the time, take long lunches with friends… and was constantly behind on her work and complaining about having to work late and how much she had to do.

    It was frustrating, but she’s not my toddler, it’s not my job to explain cause and effect to her.

    1. allathian*

      Perhaps not your job, but a slightly snarky “maybe if you socialized less and worked more you wouldn’t be so far behind” would at least have got her out of *your* hair.

      I don’t go out of my way to antagonize people on purpose, but as I’ve grown older I’ve shed most of my people-pleasing tendencies, and if someone who has no power over me dislikes me because they learn that I disapprove of their behavior, I honestly couldn’t care less. Thankfully I work with professionals so this situation hasn’t come up since about 2010.

      I’m officially hybrid, but when I do go to the office I socialize quite a bit, with my manager’s approval. If I’m particularly busy, I don’t go to the office at all unless I absolutely have to because I get so much more done WFH, even if I wouldn’t want to work fully remotely. That said, I stick to socializing in the break room and let others focus on their work.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Not a big fan of the passive-aggressive approach in general, but I especially don’t think this is good advice for the LW, who is higher in the hierarchy than Bill.

        If Bill’s behavior or performance is an issue, LW should either speak to Bill directly (without the snark) or tell Bill’s manager.

  16. Michelle Smith*

    If closing your own door would solve the problem, that’s what I’d do. I would also let my team know I was doing it, but that it didn’t mean they couldn’t come in. If I was concerned that other people from other departments would turn around and walk away without knocking to come in, I might even put up a lighthearted sign that said something about my closed but open door policy.

    1. Looper*

      This seems like the way to go. I get that LW is annoyed by this person, but I feel like finding your own solution to the issue will go smoother than telling this person who clearly has many friends in the office that he’s annoying.

  17. OP*

    Oh! I am so honored to have the letter printed. Thanks for the encouragement. Bill can do fantastic work. I’ve been on some things with him and he has some types of very detailed oriented work he excels on. If you need someone to do detailed stuff in exhaustive detail he nails it. Balancing a ton of small things, answering quick requests for urgent things…. not so much. You usually get an earful about how many meetings he has had today…. how many projects he has on his plate. I probably should talk to him more and get to know him better. We just have differents levels that we like to interact.

    1. Happy meal with extra happy*

      The coworker who used to sit outside of my office at my old job was one of the loudest, most annoying people I’ve worked with. A constant stream of noise. Sometimes, she would sing a song stuck in her head, but only like a partial line of it, over and over.

      Eventually, my job changed a bit, and I started working with her more often. It was fascinating how our increased relationship improved my thoughts about her. She was still annoying, but I could tolerate it more, and I also felt more comfortable asking her to be quiet when she got really loud.

    2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Oh, I know people like this–they’re great at details but that means all the details all the time whether it’s warranted or not. They can’t figure out a way of the weeds.

        1. OP*

          Yes. And there is also a whole tangential string of conversations that are work related, but they are usually on something he heard someone else was having a problem with and wanted to help. He did a bunch of research into getting into the details of what the problem was and by the time he sorts out the details the person who’s job it was to deal with the problem had already dealt with it. So its basically “work gossip” but its actually about real work, but just not work you need or want to be involved in…. that also distracts from the “million things you need to do”.

    3. JayNay*

      it’s very kind of you to go out of your way to compliment Bill, but you really don’t need to! It’s ok to say that he has a quirk that has got a bit out of hand. That doesn’t make him a bad human, and it doesn’t make you a bad coworker if you don’t want multiple hours a day of coffee chatter right outside your door. It’s ok to expect him to dial down the coffee-shop-cosplay. Hope you have luck with Alison’s suggestions!

    4. Llama Llama*

      Honestly this is what is getting me is his claims that he doesn’t have time for stuff. It’s annoying and frustrating and as a manager I would want to know from another manager that he is wasting half is day socializing.

    5. el l*

      Look, he sounds nice and capable at some important tasks. He also sounds misguided and useless on other tasks. There’s a place for people like him in most companies, and that’s fine.

      Where it becomes a problem is when he gets in the way of getting your work done – and from what it sounds like, it’s important to have a culture where you’re not going to be on head phones all day. Which is great! But that choice does mean that distracting chitchat is only permitted up to a point, and he’s well past it.

      Yes, talk with him about it – your standing is about your own work. If that doesn’t get you much joy go to his boss (your peer). Policing his time management isn’t really your job, but as a performance issue it is part of his boss’.

    6. MsMaryMary*

      I was just discussing a couple of my coworkers who somehow have work expand to fit their preferred timeframe. They are *so busy* but spend a lot of time posting to LinkedIn (or Facebook) or fussing with powerpoint formatting or wordsmithing emails or chatting about coffee. Somehow they are not too busy for the parts of their job they enjoy. A subset conspicuously work late or on weekends so everyone knows how hard they work.

      Time management might be the way to approach this with Bill’s manager.

    7. LinesInTheSand*

      If you didn’t want to make waves but did want to get the point across, you could, the next time Bill has a guest, walk over to *his* office and close *his* door with an apologetic smile and maybe a quip about how you “don’t want to evesdrop”. This will appropriately mortify most people.

      1. Op*

        Seriously considering. We had a visitor one time who was very hard of hearing and had trouble with noise levels and would take Zoom calls that you could hear through a closed door. He was in a nearby unoccupied office during his stay.

    8. PK*

      I’m someone who can spend an excessive amount of time discussing my special interest topic, is a little socially clueless, and has time blindness… it’s possible that Bill genuinely doesn’t realize how much time he is spending talking to others, nor does he realize his impact on others. Most of his issues like his overwhelm at small tasks and perception of his workload are something to be addressed by his manager, but if you find a good way to let him know the conversations are a distraction to you, he may try to change. If he’s anything like me, he may disagree in the moment or have a reaction to feedback, but then when my brain calms down, it processes this and I can see, “Oh, ok, they’re right, I do need to make a change” and then I do work on that change consciously.

      1. PK*

        Oh, and sometimes I don’t get subtle hints. I have to be told pretty directly how I’m being perceived by others and what the impact is.

        1. Workerbee*

          Well, tbh, that sounds like a lot more work on OP’s already stressed out & busy self, especially if, even with the person knowing that they are a little socially clueless with time blindness, that person will also react adversely when told about it directly as you suggest.

          1. amoeba*

            Eh. Telling him once “Bill, your coffee is lovely, but the noise is really a distraction because there are people chatting there multiple hours a day – could you please close your door when you’re having a longer conversation?” doesn’t seem like a horrible burden.

  18. Peanut Hamper*

    Yes, please bring this to his boss’s attention if you can’t refocus him so that you can concentrate. His boss can’t manage a problem if he doesn’t realize how much of a problem it is. And seriously, Bill is impacting the performance of everybody who comes into his office.

    It honestly sounds like Bill needs to be on a PIP of some sort. This might be the thing that his boss needs to know in order to make that decision.

      1. Op*

        Yea tend to agree with the way I’ve seen around here. It would be coaching vs PIP. You are usually pretty bad before we let you go. Very flagrant violations. Mediocre people tend to coast until they get a new manager then the clock starts anew….

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        No, it’s not on his own, but he’s having other performance issues, which, when put all together, could mean a PIP.

    1. Hendry*

      “It honestly sounds like Bill needs to be on a PIP of some sort.”

      Did you mean something else besides PIP? Because that would be absurd for this “offense”

    2. Lenora Rose*

      “Bill is impacting the performance of everybody who comes into his office.”

      Not necessarily; for them it’s one 15-30 minute break once. There’s a lot of people where that kind of break once is no big deal as the rest of their work time is focused; if a few people come in per each of those coffee servings, they might each individually only be taking their normal break time. Only Bill is in on every single coffee conversation.

    3. Looper*

      I’d find it rather unreasonable that LW should advocate for a PIP but can’t just close their office door?

      1. Cicely*

        But LW is a project manager. The door should stay open, as LW says. Why should LW have to align to a slacker?

  19. DenimChicken*

    Distractions aside, I’d love to work with (but maybe not next to) Bill and the coffee shop is adorable.

  20. Umiel12*

    It does sound annoying. The only advice I have is to be grateful he isn’t also biting his nails.

  21. Oh and also definitely get headphones*

    LW sounds like they are being extreme in their assessment of the time (Alison’s analysis is about 4 hours but I think you mentioned 2-2.5?) this takes out of the day. It seems strange to me that their boss has not noticed 2 – 4 hours a day of work not being done? No one else on this team has spoken about him dropping the ball on projects because he’s doing so much coffee-related chit chat and not enough work? It seems unlikely that you are the only one with your finger on the pulse here.

    I agree with Alison’s advice that you should definitely ask him to close his door or be quieter if it is bugging you. There is no harm/no foul in asking a colleague to be quieter or to cut their chit-chat short. Also, when Bill complains about time management issues to you it is totally acceptable to suggest something such as he limit the hours the special coffee is available (in the morning, break, lunch etc.) if he needs to spend more time on work, or to suggest taking this feedback about his “overwork” to his own boss.

    Having said that, I do think you have different communication styles and that you have no interest in these topics so hearing them on repeat is grating on your nerves and assessing them as worse than they (maybe!) are. You may want to ask other people in your vicinity what they think (as neutrally as possible) to get more of a read on the overall situation.

    I would also be cautious of going to Bill’s boss and mentioning that he is not doing work 2-4 hours a day. Just stick to how disturbing the chit chat is. At worse, it could be misinterpreted as an accusation that the boss isn’t reigning in their employees well enough to have noticed the amount of time he is wasting – ESPECIALLY if the boss had been previously closer to Bill and was ok with the amount of time he spent on this project.

    1. Czhorat*

      Yes. I know we always take letter writers at their word, but it’s VERY easy to overestimate the duration of something that annoys you; if a coworker chats for five minutes it might *feel* like a half hour.

    2. ferrina*

      It can be pretty easy for lack of work to fly under the radar. If someone is “busy”, bosses usually assume that they’re busy. Or Bill says that something took him an hour when it actually took him 30 minutes + 30 minutes of talking. I’ve had weeks where I worked maybe 30 hours, then at the end of it my boss thanked me for working extra (I think she assumed that because she was busy and because she saw me checking stuff off the list that I was also as busy and she could see stuff was getting done- she didn’t realize it took me less time and my other project was really quiet).

      I bet Bill’s boss suspects something, but isn’t sure how to prove it. I like the suggestion another commentor had about moving Bill’s office next to Bill’s manager- that could be very amusing! (yes, I know, not likely to happen)

    3. OP*

      Yeah. From my time here we rarely, rarely fire for mild incompetence. You basically have to be a jerk and you tick off the wrong people, you screw up everything in egregious ways, or you make a serious safety violation or try to cover up one. If you are do get stuff done consistently and keep it above average, your boss usually gets changed enough that there is never enough time to go after the mediocre but dropping a lot of stuff.

      1. allathian*

        I’m sorry, that’s really unfortunate. It’s pretty awful that there are no consequences for slacking. I can understand that Bill’s constant socializing gets annoying on its own. That goes double for all the ways his failure to do his job affects your work and that of your team.

        In a functional organization you should be able to talk to Bill’s manager/your peer about the way Bill’s failure to perform is affecting your team’s ability to do good work. No need to speculate why that might be the case, just talk about how it affects you and your team. Unless Bill’s manager is utterly incompetent, he should be able to link cause and effect just by observing Bill’s constant socializing for a day or two.

        Maybe building a better personal relationship with Bill would help, too. At the very least, it’d probably annoy you a bit less. In my experience, some people do significantly better work when the request is made by someone they like personally. Sure, most people are affected by this to some extent, including me. I always strive to provide good service to all my internal customers, but there are some I’m more willing to go the extra mile for than others, largely based on how they treat me. (I don’t ask for the moon, just some acknowledgment that I’m a human, not a robot.)

        Taken to extremes it’s not particularly professional behavior, but Bill isn’t exhibiting particularly professional behavior as it is.

        I’d also apply the Sheelzebub principle here, as in, if things don’t change for the better, how long are you willing to tolerate this? Even if you otherwise love your job, will you ever be able to thrive in an organization where some people can make life difficult for others by not doing their jobs as expected without facing any consequences?

  22. teensyslews*

    No productive office advice, just here to say that if you take a cup of his specialty coffee, take a big sip, and say “yep tastes like coffee!” and walk away you will deal 5 points of psychological damage to him.

    1. HailRobonia*

      In one of my old jobs, one of my “other duties as required” was to restock the coffee vending machine bins (or whatever they are called… the big containers in the machine that hold the grounds). I also had to order the various kinds of coffee… I think there were 3 regular and 2 decaff. I got tired of keeping stock of all those different varieties, so reduced it to 2 kinds: regular and decaff.

      Nobody complained to me that their shade-grown Columbian coffee tastes like mountain-grown Ecuadoran blend.

  23. BellyButton*

    LW, I felt my stress, annoyance, frustration, and eye rolling building through your whole letter! Just reading it made me feel all you are feeling.

    First, I would get a white noise machine, so you don’t have to close your door or wear headphones all day. It is surprising how much noise they block without disturbing you. Second, I would speak to him using the script given. And third, I probably wouldn’t say anything to your boss or his unless you are working on a project with him again where he complains about being swamp or begins missing deadlines again.

    Good luck, don’t stab him!

  24. Whoa Nelly*

    Jim sounds incredibly distracting. I think you could bring up things he does that make it hard to concentrate, like lots of people milling around, the loud, long conversations. Or see if your desk can be moved elsewhere.

  25. Tea Time*

    Another angle to consider is the impact on the rest of OP’s team, who share the same hallway. They may not be directly opposite, but I bet they are also disrupted. I think this takes it out of “would I be the office jerk” territory and puts it into “there’s an obligation to address this for the sake of the team.”

      1. Nope™*

        They might have a buffer, but from your phrasing it sounds like even then, they are affected by it, just not as much as you. If nothing else, your team deserves to be able to come talk to you without needing to worry that they’ll be subjected to a half hour discussion of Sportsball-of-the-day when trying to get answers to their questions for you.

  26. Goldenrod*

    Aaaaand, this dilemma is yet another problem that remote work solves!

    Sorry, OP, I don’t have any solutions but I do have sympathy. This part particularly resonates for me:

    “He has absolutely terrible time management skills. He talks endlessly about how he is so loaded up and he can’t believe how is expected to handle so many things.”

    Without exception, I’ve noticed this pattern over & over in various offices over the years – the people who complain the most about being so busy and overworked are usually the same people who spend all day chatting!

  27. HonorBox*

    I think it is too much of a distraction not to address. It would be one thing if you heard some occasional chatting. But this is multiple times a day for longer periods of time than general office chit-chat time. You could certainly talk to Jim Bill’s boss just as a heads up that this is occurring and you’re concerned about the amount of time your team is getting dragged into conversations. Then it is less about Jim Bill and more about the overall productivity. But I’d also suggest that you have absolute standing to tell your team that while you’re fine with them stopping for a cup of the day, you can’t have them chatting with Jim Bill for the amount of time you’re overhearing people chatting. I think both routes probably help with the situation.

    You’re not stopping coffee talk, but you’re limiting it to what is a more reasonable amount of time.

  28. Brain the Brian*

    We had a Bill in my office for years, except she talked endlessly about a specific brand of shoes she liked. Hours of discussion about the designer of these shoes. Showing of social media posts from the shoe brand’s account. At least a hour at the start of every day showing off the shoes she was wearing that day. Two straight days of chatter after she went to event the designer was attending and *gasp* saw him in person.

    Oh my God, I wanted to hit her over the head with one of those damned shoes. Thank heavens she moved on to greener pastures a couple of years ago.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        No comment. (Heh! Yes, of course. I could go my whole life without seeing any of those things again and be perfectly happy.)

      2. Brain the Brian*

        (They are fun shoes. I’ve just heard waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much about them.)

  29. Betsy S*

    Suggest to Bill’s Manager that they move Bill’s desk so he’s within earshot of his boss.
    Problem might solve itself.

  30. Maple Lead*

    I would find the smell of coffee brewing all day as unpleasant as the non-stop chatting. Too much noise and scent pollution for me.

  31. Sean*

    I really dislike Bills. I had one a few years ago, and when he wasn’t talking to someone he was WHISTLING. I decided to wear headphones all day and it was annoying, but it was fine.

    1. CatWoman*

      Still better than the sales guy who came into his office (right outside mine) and clipped his nails EVERY SINGLE DAY. Sheesh.

      Got to the point where, as soon as he went into his office, I just got up and closed his door.

      1. allathian*

        Ugh, how annoying. If you absolutely have to clip your nails at work, do it in the bathroom, please!

        That said, some people keep their nails really, really short, to the point that you can’t see the dead nail at all, as a means to stop biting their nails. I bit my nails in my teens, and I was finally able to quit by clipping my nails very short and using a very foul-tasting clear nail polish to stop the unconscious biting reflex. But I did it in my room or the bathroom, not at the breakfast table.

        That said, I hate the feeling of a nailbrush against my fingertips, so my preferred method of cleaning under my nails, if simply washing my hair doesn’t get rid of all the gunk, is to use my teeth. But I don’t do it where other people can see me, I do it in the shower where my hands are guaranteed to be clean.

        You don’t specify, but at least I assume that he’s only cutting his fingernails at the office. There’s been at least one letter about someone who cut their toenails at their desk… So I guess it could be worse!

    2. Billy Preston*

      omg I used to work with someone like this. Whistling is awful indoors even when it’s infrequent, but all the time is so frustrating.

  32. learnedthehardway*

    I got my spouse a set of bone-conducting headphones, so that he can listen to music, not hear the person in the office next to him (who drives him up a wall with their non-work personal calls all day long), and yet still look like he is approachable (because the headphones just hook on your ears, not cover them). Bonus points that the headphones emit a tinny sounding version of the music, if the volume is loud. You don’t notice it, as the wearer of the headphones, but it is very annoying for anyone within about 10 feet. Spouse is attempting to use aversion training to discourage his co-irker from personal calls, basically.

  33. HailRobonia*

    Perhaps the coffee is the CAUSE of his chattiness! When I have had slightly-too-much caffeine I need to resist the urge to turn into that annoying guy who walks around the office starting up conversations.

  34. Elizabeth West*

    I’m just amazed that people get away with this kind of stuff in their offices.

  35. Amber Rose*

    If there’s one thing I learned from having my office in the middle of Sales Alley for a year, where all the sales people are talking loudly all the time and/or not realizing how loud their music is, it’s that sometimes you can force yourself to choose not to be annoyed.

    You absolutely should speak up and ask for it to be toned down a bit, but there’s also some value in occasionally just taking a deep breath, laughing and letting it roll off and away.

    They just aren’t worth the spike in blood pressure.

  36. Bill’s boss*

    Bill’s coffee is great, and his laid back leadership style is a boon to the office. The coffee shop promotes socializing and teamwork. What a killjoy!

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Does it really promote teamwork, if all the chit-chat is super distracting to others? He’s complaining about being behind, while dropping 2-3 hours a day on discussions of coffee and other non-work stuff.

      No one is saying, “No socializing, ever!” There’s a limit, and Bill has way overshot it.

  37. morethantired*

    I feel for Bill in that I think his manager needs to step in. He seems like the kind of guy who gets so excited about his specific areas of interest that he can’t help himself and isn’t putting 2 + 2 together in terms of his time management issues + excessive chat times.

    I feel for OP because hearing the same conversation 4 times a day would drive me nuts.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Yeah, he’s not malicious! Or even really incompetent. He just needs coaching on this. His manager needs to work with him on it. Setting firm 10-minute limits on coffee talks? Checklists or more frequent updates on projects?

      As others have noted above, it’s not really PIP-worthy, but it sounds like he’d really benefit from more guidance and structure from his boss.

      1. morethantired*

        It’s not a daily occurrence for me, but I’ve been in Bill’s shoes before in terms of numerous coworkers stopping by to talk about a recent TV episode or something and suddenly what was one 10 minute chat with one person is suddenly 40 minutes of the day wasted. It can be easy to get sucked into that kind of thing, especially if you really enjoy talking about it. I’m glad that working remotely means people can’t pop by for a chat so I can better control my distractions.

  38. AppleStan*

    OP…you’re stance is totally valid. I refuse to give up my office by the coffee maker/lunch area even though I could my position “warrants” a much bigger office…but I also paradoxically get frustrated when there’s too much convo outside my door. I also hated shutting my door because I wanted to maintain that open door policy you were speaking of.

    This $8 item became my lifesaver: — I didn’t feel guilty about closing my door, it looks neat and professional, and the sign is green when the door is closed because of “noise” and the sign is red when I truly don’t want to or shouldn’t be disturbed because I need to concentrate.

    It’s not a solution to the situation the way that Alison’s answer is a true solution, but I honestly have found it to be so helpful even when I’m not frustrated by having to close my door because of noise.

    Good luck, OP. Let us know how it goes.

    (I know my situation is different in the sense that I remain here voluntarily…you don’t have a choice. Also, you shouldn’t *have* to move because someone ELSE decided that their office needs to become coffee central.)

  39. LunaLena*

    Totally understand not wanting to have to keep the door closed all the time so that Team can have access, but would it be possible for Team communicate in another way? Would the nature of your work allow you to communicate mostly on a Teams/Discord/Slack channel, and if something needs to be discussed in person, just have a quick “can I come over for a sec?” “sure/not now but in a minute” convo? That way you can keep the door closed, but Team still has access whenever needed.

  40. Bern Notice*

    I really want to hear an update on this one. Bill would drive me absolutely bonkers if he was my ‘across the hall mate’ and I’d love to hear if anything is done to get him back to focusing on his own workload vs. spending hours of every day pontificating about coffee!

  41. Coyote River*

    Hah! If Bill was an ex-serviceman I’d offer him a job. I can always appreciate a coffee connoisseur.

  42. Katsi Souza*

    Am willing to bet OP is not the only one in the office who feels this way about Bill’s all-play-no-work style. If there are, maybe they, as a group, could approach Bill or his manager about it. Need to be careful not to appear like they are ganging up on him. But maybe if multiple people talk to him about it, it will really click that he is distracting his coworkers and try to tone down the Coffee Club Social Hours. And having multiple people addressing this issue, no one will be singled out as the office “bad guy”.

  43. Constable George Crabtree*

    I work in a hybrid-schedule office with about 200 people. A few of my tea-loving coworkers kicked off Tea Time – once a month, they hold the break room for an hour on our highest in-office day to brew and serve a few teas. Folks can swing through to pick up a cup, or sit down and take a break. It’s been hugely popular, enough that management is factoring it into the budget next year. Maybe Dave might be able to do something like this? Set up his Coffee Shop in a break room for an hour or so each day? Folks could get their coffee, have their chat, reduce the neighborly noise and amount of time sunk into it? It sounds like an exceptionally cool idea, just not well thought-out just yet!

    1. Cathie from Canada*

      With the added advantage that Bill would be spending at least half of his day setting up his break-room coffee shop, so he would be away from his desk and out of OP’s hair for all of that time.
      And of course his managers might start to notice how much time he is actually spending on this non-work activity…

  44. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    You don’t want to be the jerk. I think you should, regardless. I can almost guarantee you aren’t the only person getting fed up with his coffee shop, and as management yourself (I realise you aren’t his manager) are better placed to speak up. Talk to the co-lead (his boss) ideally with facts and numbers about how long is actually being wasted on this. If it can’t be resolved between you and the other manager, it needs to be escalated.

  45. Ami abroad*

    “A decent manager would find ways to observe it themselves after you tip them off ”
    OP, why don’t you ask Bill’s manager to unobstrusively work in your office for a day or two to observe what’s going on? Then he can form his own opinion.

  46. weckar*

    Would it be possible to arrange for you to work on a project with Bill’s manager in your office for a day? If their manager can experience it first-hand, perhaps you don’t need to say anything at all!

  47. Agent Diane*

    Late to this, but another vote for JimBill to limit the time the coffee shop is open. If he’s open for an hour in the morning then:

    all the coffee fans can chat together about the coffee of the day.

    JimBill gets his fix of enthusing about his passion but also gets an hour of work time back.

    You can close the door without feeling you’re cutting your team off as they’ll know it’s not closed-closed but just closed for the coffee shop open hour.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      Yeah, I think something like this would be a good compromise–a coffee hour in the beginning of the day/right after lunch would help concentrate the discussions happening, save time for Bill, and you could possibly cut out most of the chatter by taking your lunch when the afternoon coffee hour happens. You could try pointing out that the coffee itself will be better if everyone gets it when it’s fresh.

      I’d try phasing it something like “Hey Bill, I don’t want to be the coffee shop police, but it’s really distracting to have it open all day. Could you maybe give your coffee shop a set hour in the morning and a set hour in the afternoon, that way I don’t need to shut my door all day, and everyone can enjoy the conversation and coffee when it’s fresh?”

  48. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    Surely these 30 minute coffee conversations are also impacting anyone who’s visiting Bill’s ‘coffee shop’? If you wanted to bring it up with a manager, that’s what I’d focus on, the constant stream of people who then get roped into spending half an hour chatting instead of doing work.

  49. Diane*

    Suggest moving the coffee from his office to the break room! He can still offer different roasts-post a sign with the blend of the day.

  50. Zip123*

    I don’t understand why Jim’s manager isn’t doing more about Jim’s excessive socializing. Good grief. For the OP, I would either keep your door closed and make it clear to your team they are always free to stop by, or ask Jim to keep his door closed.

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