The open-plan office layout rose to prominence for its ability to facilitate the flow of communication and to offer increased working flexibility with hot-desking and other such ideas.
However, as time has gone on, we have discovered the many downsides of the open-plan office including noise (or deathly silence just when you need it to be loud), constant distraction; lack of privacy and the increased mobility of our old nemesis– the flu.
This inevitably means that productivity can suffer in open-plan offices; hence, we have put together a list showing you ways to stay on-task and screen out the distractions of the open-plan environment.
1. Use your lunch breaks to do all of your socialising
In some offices, your chit-chat will only be adding to the noise and potentially distracting colleagues, while in others, the deathly silence means your little secrets will be heard by almost everyone.
Therefore, as much as it sounds like school all over again, it’s simply best to save private chatter for lunchtime. This means you can be super-productive during working hours and have more reasons to look forward to lunch.
2. Show others you are in ‘full focus mode’ by putting earphones in
If you’re working to a deadline, you don’t want people coming over starting conversations because you simply don’t have the time. It’s best to stick some earphones in, put on some music to get you focussed and let that be your sanctuary. All background noise will be drowned out and no one will disturb you. Don't worry about being seen as anti-social; as long as you don’t start doing it all day every day, your rep will be just fine.
3. Allocate yourself some short breaks to grab a coffee or some fresh air throughout the day
Having just one lunch break isn’t going to be good for your productivity. If you were to compare two workers’ productivity levels when one had been working solidly for 4 hours and the other has been going for 30 minutes after a quick burst of fresh air and a snack, who do you think will be the better performer?
Break up your day with some little breaks that get you up and moving, and away from your computer screen for a few minutes.
4. Make use of your environment. Find spaces to work in peace.
The very best modern offices have a mixture of environments, spaces or zones (call them what you will) which cater for different uses and applications. We often fit out offices with modular sofa breakout areas to be used for casual meetings and collaborative tasks. Alternatively, we get asked for booth areas that can give employees acoustic privacy allowing for extra focus and concentration away from the hussle and bussle of the open-plan office.
The key is to make the most of these spaces. After all, they are purpose-built to benefit you, the employee, and boost productivity.