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Employers claim that open office plans enhance collaboration and cross-interaction. Maybe this is true, or maybe it’s just that they’re less expensive to build, but the fact remains that they are extremely popular. You may well be working in one right now. Which means you know how noisy they are. Also cluttered. To think people used to complain about working in cubicles. What to do?

open office

Use noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are a popular solution. Some employers will supply them on request. Sound-generator or white-noise apps (often free) can also help to muffle distracting noises.

Identify which times of the day are the quietest

You should identify which times of the day are the quietest and try to schedule your most difficult work for those hours. When energy is high and everyone is chattering, that’s a good time for simpler tasks.

Arrive a little earlier

If workspaces are on a first-come, first served basis, try arriving a little earlier than everyone else so you can claim a spot as far as possible from the kitchen area and restrooms. Unless of course, you enjoy the aroma of microwave popcorn and the sound of flushing toilets.

Request your employer to establish quiet periods

First set times when conversation, interruptions or mingling is discouraged. Once bosses see work output shoot up, they may even set aside some valuable office for private phone booths or dedicated rooms for one-on-one meetings. In cases where management is just not willing to help, you can try instituting your own “don’t-bug-me-I-have-a-deadline” hours by putting up a sign or flag.

Take advantage of messaging tool like Skype

It’s amazing how many questions and conversations can be conducted silently, via text or group messaging tools such as Skype or WhatsApp. Virtual communication is not only less intrusive for those around you, but it also improves your own focus, too, because you can respond when you’re ready.

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