Office problems..I want to work at home!


Hello all

I've just started my 1+3 route (MSc and PhD in Psychology). So far the Msc is going well, I meet with my supervisor regularly and we seem to be getting on well and progressing with our research ideas.

I have been allocated an office because I am on the 1+3 route, it is a shared office of about 12 people and quite busy, people tend to chat a lot and come in and out constantly. I think its useful to have this office for free printing and also to meet with other people on my Msc and talk to them about assignments etc, however I don't find it the ideal location to study, the noise is too distracting and I tend to concentrate better alone. I have never studied in a busy environment like this, as an undergraduate I always studied alone (in the library or in my room at home).

I assumed that the MSc and PhD would be similar in that respect to undergraduate, I thought I would attend uni for seminars, meetings with my supervisor and sometimes for School social events/coffee mornings but spend a large proportion of time on my own studying at home or in the library. However I feel under pressure from one of the other PhD students to spend more time in the office. Everytime I come in she makes sarcastic comments about how nice it is to see me in the office etc and makes a huge deal about how little I am there. I usually go in a couple of afternoons a week for an hour or two, just to check in with the other Msc students and print things, check emails etc. Sometimes I drop by between meetings or after lectures too. I always make an effort to be nice to everyone but I feel like this PhD student doesn't respect me at all, the way she talks to me makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong by not being there everyday, when in fact I am working just as hard at home and my supervisor is happy for me to work from home as long as I attend meetings and seminars etc and spend a little time in the office to network with other people. Its getting to be awkward with the sarcastic comments she makes to me in front of the others and even though I have explained to her that I concentrate better from home she still keeps hassling me about it. I spoke to another girl in the office today about it and she wasn't supportive at all, she just said maybe I should think about coming to the office everyday!

I really don't want to change my whole way of working just because of this PhD student who is harassing me. I appreciate I need to make effort with others in the department, but I want to do this by attending seminars and social events and networking in my own time. I don't see why I should be forced to do a 9-5 Mon-Fri just because some of the others do, especially when my supervisor has not asked me to do this.

Any advice would be great!


I wouldn't worry too much about it. I can't say I am in a similar situation myself, as I am doing my PhD in genetics. So on that note, there is ALOT of down time in molecular biology where I and many others think, ok well, i'm not staying if I don't have too, so i'm going home. And we go home, especially if we are hanging around for no reason just to drive home in peak hour traffic!

I have the opinion that if you study better alone, then study alone. You are doing the right thing by coming in, networking, attending meetings etc. and if a few other PhD's have a problem with that then so be it. The bottom line is, you feel better working at home, you supervisor knows you work better at home, and they are happy for you to do that, then do it. The people that have a go at you for things like that are often not making progress themselves and are very insecure. However there are some instances where students leave early for no reason and they are just plain lazy so we might say something, BUT you definitely don't sound like one of those people.

If it gets that bad that she keeps saying things to you then say something back. I certainly would but I can be fiery sometimes! Just say something like "I understand where you are coming from, however it is more convenient for me to work at home, and my supervisor does not have a problem with this. I am making progress and I am not lazy, so please, mind your own business".

Hope that helps!


People usually only focus on another's hours when they're feeling guilty or insecure about their own working practices, this girl is just trying to make herself feel better by putting you down. If your supervisor is happy and your work's on track, well done you! You clearly time manage well and have a good work ethic (I'd bet anything you're making better progress than the people hassling you). The only downside you might find is that in the long haul of the PhD years, you could be slightly out of the loop with the other students. That said, you may have friends elsewhere and be quite self sufficient, it's each to their own.

I agree that you're well within your rights to say something to this girl, perhaps something like "my supervisor and I are quite happy with this arrangement, why are you so bothered by how I choose to work? If I'm affecting or disrupting you in some way please do tell me, but otherwise I think this is my business." It won't make her your best buddy, but then she doesn't sound like someone you'd want to form a lasting relationship with anyway!


Hi Minnie, I kind of know how you feel. I'm also doing an ESRC 1 + 3, just started the MA part this year, and I very rarely do work at uni, if at all. Like you, I get similar comments from others on the MA, asking me why I'm not joining them in the library, or saying "oh there's no point inviting you is there, you won't come and join us anyway".

But at the end of the day, I can only work if I'm on my own at home (which is reaaaaallly quiet as I don't live in student accom), with no one to distract me. So this is what I do.

Maybe it's different for me because I don't live by my uni, I live about a 30 minute drive away. I occasionally go in a bit earlier before lectures to talk to other people about assignments etc, and usually go in one morning a week to work with another girl, for a change of scenery. But I will not sacrifice how I work due to the opinions of other people. So you shouldn't either!

The Phd girl sounds like a right cow, and you really don't have to put up with it. Maybe ignore her when you do go in? Or ask for a quiet word with her and explain how she's making you feel? Alternatively speak to your uni's SU or advice centre, they might be able to help. Just don't stand for it!

Hope this helps!


Hi! I agree with the others- you should be free to work wherever you work best. So long as the work is getting done then there is no reason why anyone should be worried about where it is getting done. I always work in the office but I am in a small office with just 3 of us and a lot of the time the other 2 are out testing so I have it to myself, but I don't think I would be able to work in a big noisy office either. Just ignore them, in the end they will see that you are obviously working as you get through your exams and upgrade etc, so they will probably let it drop eventually. Good luck with it! KB


Thank you so much for all the supportive replies! :)

I think I will just try and rise above it and perhaps send an email to the phd student who is making my life difficult - as talking to her face to face obviously hasn't worked so far! I just felt quite upset yesterday and it has distracted me from my studies the last day or so :( Its just I want to make a good impression so early on in my research career and I worry that this phd student will bad mouth me, although hopefully anyone half decent will be able to see it is more her issue than mine.

I am very self-sufficient and motivated, I just need people to trust me and have faith that I can work well, rather than hassle me or question my methods of working, you know?


Hi, I totally agree with everyone else - and don't worry, what matters is what your supervisor thinks and that your studies are up to date! I too find I simply can't work in noise and a crowded office - I have to be in complete silence (can't even listen to the radio) or I completely lose what I was thinking. I'll end up part way through a sentence, I'll get distracted and can't get it back - so frustrating!

Ignore the silly moo - she can't badmouth you - well she can, but if you're studying well nobody will listen! This is YOUR Masters and PhD and YOU work it the way that suits YOU best and stuff everyone else. We have a postgrad office - I've been in there once lol - its a nightmare - but then most of the PhD students work from home anyway so we're all much the same. You'll probably find that those that hang around there all day get very little done, but like to 'look' busy ;-) The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say and you'll prove that you work hard and well with no distractions and bitchy cows putting you off ;-)


If I was a supervisor I would rather my student work wherever they can get most of their work done. Try and ignore this PhD student, it's none of her business anyway.

Is your supervisor happy with your work?
can you work better at home than in the office?

If you answered yes to these questions, then work at home. And why would you want to socialise with someone so rude? :-)


What you do has nothing to do with some other student. Tell that person to "fcuk off" and mind their own business, I know I would.


I know how you feel on this, I am better off working at home as well, just come in and do the labwork and printing, get papers etc.

Works for me, plus you have a coffee/tea on top and in my old department, I had to take my drinks downstairs as you had to go through the lab to my office.

If I was a supervisor, I'd have words with that girl, if you work better at home, then do your typing at home. I had people in/out my office and speaking foreign languages as well, they seem to like shouting while they are at it! :-(

Good luck! (up)


Hi Minnie, I think if she makes sarcastic comments again, just give her a friendly smile but say, "I love to work from home, by the way, do you have a problem with that? If you do, please let me know? as my supervisor doesn't have a problem with me whether i am working from home or in the office". I hope that would shut her mouth off. Good Luck!


In some programs in the other countries' system, there is no legal distinction between "undergraduate" and "postgraduate". In such programs, all education aims towards the Master's degree, whether introductory (Bachelor's level) or advanced (Master's level). The aim of the Bologna process is to abolish this system.


======= Date Modified 15 Sep 2010 09:34:33 =======
Thank you for the wonderful news. I have only one quick topic related question, is it really truth that there is some kind of “legal thesis” between "undergraduate" and "research paper" in some countries ? I heard that in that kind a programs the education process and even term paper writing assignments is pointed towards the Master's degree, regardless the Bachelor's level is that true as well ?


Hi Minnie

I just wanted to say that I'm also ona 1+3 programme, and was in exactly the same situation when i did my MSc. It was a large busy office, and I pretty much just went in when I had to, to many glares and similar sarcastic comments to what you've had! I think there are always phd students who spend almost all their time working in uni, for a variety of reasons, and kind of resent those who don't, or at least don't appreciate that we're working just as hard at home.

the good news is that once you start the phd part, you'll be moved to a different office, which is generally a lot quieter. My office holds 5 people, but there are only two of us in there at the moment. Even when there was 5 of us in there, it was very rare for us all to be in at the same time, and even when in on the same day, we all come and go at different hours. So people don't really keep track anymore when you're in and when you're not but more importantly, it's not something they're really interested in!

and also, there were 3 other students on my MSc who were staying on to do phd's in the department, and we are all in different offices now. one of them i see sometimes as we teach on the same module, but the others I very rarely see. so the bottom line is that I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about what others think of you, you should always work how you want to, and wherever works best for you. Being able to make your own hours and working environment is one of the key benefits of doing a phd, and I wouldn't let that go for anything!


sorry, i just seen the 'posted 307 days ago' bit after i sent the reply! so apologies that this is irrelevant now! Minnie, if you're reading this, then I hope everything worked out well for you, and you're now enjoying your phd without this kind of hassle.