An open office plan may sound nice in theory — hey, who wouldn’t like more excuses for chatting and brainstorming with your favorite colleagues? But for many people who need quiet to concentrate, the open office plan can turn into an unproductive, time-sucking nightmare. That’s a problem, given that the majority of American offices are designed this way and even more are joining the trend all the time.
So, what can you do to make the best of this (very loud and distracting) situation?
If your company is just switching over to open plan, ask that they buy moveable furniture so that some spaces can be more collaborative while others are a little quieter. If there are a few private spaces for things like conference calls, ask your boss if you can work there on your laptop when it’s otherwise not in use. This is of course made easier if your entire desktop is mobile, including your ergonomic keyboard, so go with one that’s lightweight when making your purchasing decision.
A good pair of noise canceling headphones, of course, are your very best friend. It can also be helpful to devise a signaling system that shows your colleagues when you’re busy. This could simply be a sign that says, “Busy” on your desk, or it could be a green cube for when you’re up for talking and a green cube for when you’d rather be left alone.
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