Many of us have to try and survive an open plan office every day when we go to work. But open plan offices can be very loud and there is a real lack of privacy, which can lead to a great deal of stress. It is possible to work in an open plan office without ending up seriously stressed out though, if you know how to handle it. Here are some ways to survive an open plan office.
The advantage of an open plan office is that it’s easier to communicate with coworkers, and this human contact can definitely help you to survive an open plan office. Emails are dehumanizing, so make the most of the fact that in an open plan office it’s easier for you to go and speak to someone in person. It also breaks up the constant tapping of the keyboard, and avoids the annoying ring of the phone.
2. Have Some Quiet Time
Open plan offices can get very noisy, so if the people next to you are continually cracking bad jokes or playing rubbish music, put some headphones on and listen to some chilled out music. If you can’t listen to music for whatever reason, try earplugs instead.
3. Personalize Your Space
Open plan offices can often feel very soulless and impersonal, with you not having as defined a space as you would in your own private office. However, you can still personalize your own work area to help you work better in an open plan office. Not only will this help you to feel more relaxed, but it also marks your own boundaries so people are less likely to encroach on your space. Bring some photos, a calendar and even cushion of your own, as a starting point.
4. Establish Rules
Rules can help everyone to survive an open plan office. Employees don’t tend to get a choice as to whether they work in a private or open plan office, so everyone getting a say when it comes to office rules will help to diffuse some frustration. Everyone should be able to make suggestions, and things covered need to be temperature, open or closed windows, sound levels and music, and eating in the office.
5. Keep Your Desk Tidy
The trouble with an open plan office is that everyone has to see everyone else’s mess. You certainly don’t want your things beginning to clutter up your colleagues’ spaces because you’re so disorganized, and no-one wants to see leftover food and mounds of paperwork in their field of vision. Keep your work area neat and tidy.
6. Have Fun
If you think this will get you into trouble, it’s worth bringing up with the management that you should all have a short period of downtime once a week. Open plan offices are ideal spaces for paper aeroplane throwing and elastic band flinging contests. 15 minutes of silly fun every Friday afternoon will help keep you all sane.
7. Plan for the Unexpected
One thing that makes it hard to survive an open plan office is that it’s far too easy for people to come up and bombard you with problems and questions. You don’t want twenty people crowded around you when you’re trying to tackle something important, so set aside a time slot each day when you will attend to people’s last minute requests.
There’s no denying that working in an open plan office can be stressful for everyone. If you’re able to put at least a few of these ideas into practice, it should certainly help you to survive an open plan office. If you work in an open plan office, how do you survive, and what tips would you share with others?