Are you one of the unfortunate victims of a business that decided to "modernize" their office by switching to an open-plan layout? Designers, managers, and business owners are worshiping the trending, cost-saving open office plan, however, they are not the ones working in a crammed, loud, distracting environment for eight hours a day. How is this system going to encourage teamwork and collaboration if everyone immediately puts headphones over their ears as soon as they sit down in their office chair? So, really this genius solution is backfiring and creating exactly the opposite of collaboration. People are uncomfortable and inefficient in this type of floor plan.
However, if the office transformation has already been completed and youíre stuck at a long, crowded table of employees where the only space that you can call yours is your desk chair, then youíll just have to make the most of it. After all, this seems like a better solution than spending every single work day moping around and miserable over something that you canít change.
First of all, maybe try making it through an entire work day without the headphones. Collaborate with your coworkers, take advantage of what the open floor plan was meant to do. There must be a reason that your managers or business owners want you to collaborate with each other; I hope. If you have similar job positions with your coworkers or youíre all working on the same project, working together may generate a better result. So, give it a try. But, have a quiet business discussion. Donít yell over each other because you are still working in a shared space with other people trying to get work done.
If you do need a quiet space to work individually, hopefully your company has at least created a quiet area, silent working room, or a few individual pods or offices to be used when necessary. But, make sure what youíre working on really is an individual project before you seclude yourself for no reason. Either way, try your hardest to avoid using headphones for a whole day. Who knows, it may actually pay off.
As you already know if you work in an open-plan office, storage space is limited. Youíre not in your own private cubicle where it doesnít matter if your desk is a total mess as long as you can function and get your work done in it. Youíre in a shared space now. You canít throw crumbled up sticky notes and file folders all over the shared table. So, do everyone a favor and throw away old papers and notes that you no longer need. Make sure your folders organized and in a work bag. Do majority of your work online, if possible. The least amount of paper and office materials you use, the better. Youíll have less to carry around and your small amount of desk space wonít be as crowded and disorganized. Plus, youíll be doing all your coworkers a favor as well.
Please take this opportunity to get to know your coworkers. You may only know them by which cubicle or department they work in. You might enjoy your job more and get more work done with better quality if you share some chemistry with your coworkers and can productively work together. Your work wonít feel as much like work, but more of a social gathering with productive results. You might actually begin to enjoy your job and maybe even hang out with these people outside of work.
When all else fails, you could always try to convince your boss to switch back to office cubicles. Turns out, people actually do prefer to work in a quiet, secluded cubicle where they can focus on their own work and not have to deal with any unnecessary distractions. And if youíre a manager or business owner reading this, please donít torture your employees with an open-plan office.