Surviving an Open-Plan Office: It’s Easier than You Think

office fit outsIt’s a regular day at work. You hear your boss reprimanding the intern. Your colleague on your right side smashes the keyboard heavily, while the other munches on his chips noisily. On top of that, the endless ringing of phones wafts throughout the office and you find it extremely awkward to continue composing your e-mail with someone peeking behind your back. Will you ever finish your work without stressing over these things? The answer is ‘yes,’ if get yourself used to open-plan offices.

Office interiors experts, such as, explain that open plans are popular because managers consider them a breakthrough in workplace design. They believe that this setup fosters communication and collaboration, which are important in increasing productivity. While this is true for some businesses, such as advertising agencies, open plans undeniably carry a string of distractions, all of which can affect productivity. This may be ironic, but it’s true, especially for businesses, like engineering and accounting firms. If you’re not in the position to suggest changing the setup, there are some simple things you can do to survive this type of workplace.

Put Up a Sign

This idea may sound ill-advised or whatnot, but it works! If you make your red flags known, you will get things done faster. You may choose to put a small sign stand on your table that says “Working” to indicate that you’re busy. Put it down when it’s okay to socialise with you.

Use Your Earphones

Open plans are noisy. Other than ringing phones, there will be occasions when colleagues will come close to your workstation and start chattering; they may even invite you in. Put on your noise-cancelling headphones to show that it’s not yet time to speak to you. Choose relaxing and upbeat songs to keep your focus.

Get Out

Sometimes, it’s not the noise or the workload that gets you down. It’s the underlying stress and internal distractions. Maximise your break time and take a walk to refresh your perspective. You may choose to go to the rooftop or take a lunch break alone.

Open plans are full of distractions. But, you can’t deny that staying in this kind of workplace can be fun at times. Keep these tips in mind to reduce the amount of stress you’re enduring and become more productive.

About the Author

As a New York-based psychologist. Thelma Scott has conducted several seminars tackling adult autism.