For many agencies and organizations, open-plan office spaces have become all the rage. The idea behind this design is that when the walls come down, coworkers can easily help one another and have more conversations that inspire new ideas.
However, if you’ve ever worked in an open office space, you may have found it a bit difficult to stay on task. Whether it’s the pinging of someone’s incoming emails or nearby conversations, when there are no dividers between you and your coworkers it opens you up to more distractions.
Here at 321, we definitely enjoy our open office space and how easy it is to collaborate and communicate. But, I think we can all admit that we have trouble focusing from time to time. And, since things move at an extremely fast pace around here, we can’t exactly afford to waste much time.
That’s why we’re sharing five of the ways we stay focused and productive in our open office space:
UTILIZE MEETING SPACES
Whether it’s a brainstorming session, phone call or in-depth conversation, move it out of the normal office space. Not only does this give you the chance to speak without feeling like the whole office is listening, it also keeps you from distracting your coworkers.
If your office has meeting spaces, utilize them. If not, consider taking a phone call or conversation to the hallway, stairwell or even outside. Your conversations will be much more productive and insightful, plus it will help keep everyone else from trying to tune in.
CANCEL OUT THE NOISE
Investing in a pair of noise cancelling headphones can do wonders for your focus at work. Not only will it block out office noise, wearing them can be an effective signal to your coworkers that you’re honed in on a task.
And, once you have your headphones to block out office distractions, make sure to find the right kind of music to play that won’t distract you. From classical to acoustic and even white noise, putting together your perfect focus playlist will put you in a personal bubble of silence.
While this may seem counter productive, taking breaks has actually been proven to increase productivity. Rather than coming into work and approaching tasks like a marathon, learn how to effectively take breaks and accomplish tasks in quick sprints.
Previous studies have shown that prolonged work causes your brain to become numb, keeping you from treating the task as important. By taking breaks, it allows us to come back to the job at hand with renewed energy and creativity. So, take a stroll around the office, step outside or go grab a snack or cup of coffee.
If your work space has no dividers between you and your coworkers – make some. Even if it doesn’t actually give you any privacy, creating the illusion can help you stay focused. Simply decorating your space with a tall plant, shelving or picture frames can keep you from staring at your neighbors.
And finally, open offices require everyone to be mindful of their co-workers. Be respectful with noise levels, perfume and strong-smelling food. And, if someone is being disruptive, politely speak up about it. Chances are, they may not even know they’re being disruptive.
If your coworker is wearing their headphones, they’re probably trying to concentrate so – if your questions or comments aren’t urgent – save them for a later time.
Have you found other ways to thrive in an open office space? Comment below with other tips and tricks!