Top tips for working in an open plan office.

The thing is, as well as being distracting, open plan offices can also be great. The sense of camaraderie and social interaction to be had is usually a worthwhile bonus, but sometimes you just need to be able to tune it all out and get on with your work.

So here are some top tips to help you do just that, and with a bit of luck get the best of both worlds.

  • If you can, try and negotiate the opportunity to work from home at times. Just make sure that you’re not just as distracted there, and can be equally, if not more, productive.
  • Find a conference room or equivalent and book it for a couple of hours if you know you’re going to need to be distraction free. Just keep it to yourself so that you don’t find everyone’s doing it.
  • Find a secret hideout – anywhere that you can log in will do. You can work in splendid isolation whilst still being ‘in the office’. Just make sure that people, and in particular your boss, don’t think that they have to be able to see you to believe that you’re working.
  • Take regular breaks – just like when you were revising for exams. A quick walk round the office or breath of fresh air to get away from immediate distractions can work wonders to refocus the mind. And if it gets busy in your area at a particular time of day, try to schedule other meetings for then so you can avoid the hubbub.
  • If you really struggle at your current desk, see if it would be possible to swap to somewhere preferable – maybe a corner, or part of the office with less footfall. It’s worth a try.
  • This is a tricky one, but sometimes you need actually to talk to a colleague who’s disturbing you – they may not even realise that they shout on the phone or eat and drink noisily. If you try to do it diplomatically rather than accusingly, a little bit of embarrassment may be a small price to pay for a lot more peace and quiet.
  • And the big one – talk to management. But think it through. This is not an opportunity for a personal attack on any individual nor is it a general – and therefore difficult to tackle – moan. If you can be specific, rational and have concrete examples to show them the negative impact of where you sit on your work then you’ve got more chance of them listening and even implementing some of your solutions.

Or even coming up with some of their own…



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