Open Plan Office Survival Kit
Have you ever found yourself unable to concentrate whilst working in an open plan office? The answer for most of us is probably yes. A lot of employees find that open plan offices, can have adverse effects on their concentration, productivity, and can even reduce face-to-face interactions.
Employees with a neurodiverse condition can find concentrating itself to be a challenge, with open plan offices adding to this difficulty. The sources of noise and disruptions are varied - office conversations, machines working, phones ringing…
At Lexxic, we support neurodivergents who struggle to concentrate and reach their peak productivity when working in an open plan office.
If you’re lucky, quiet rooms or a desk in a quieter area may be an option for you. However, you, as many other employees, may not have this opportunity and will need find alternative ways to survive in an open plan office.
What can you do to minimise the effects of an open plan office?
Consider getting good quality noise-cancelling headphones. They not only minimise the office noise, but they also prevent people from interrupting you whilst you’re working. It may be possible to access these through your HR department, or alternatively, using simple headphones can support to minimise background noise.
Listen to music of your choice in order to concentrate on your tasks and block out any noise. Preferably, this would be non-lyrical music, such as ‘concentration’ music, for example, rain sound, white noise or classical music. Check these free apps for more inspiration: Rain Rain; Nature Sounds; White Noise Generator.
Move to a quieter area of the office. Thankfully, many open plan offices have quieter areas, for example, cubicles where you can work on your tasks without experiencing too much background noise. If you’re most alert in the morning, move to a cubicle in the morning to do the most difficult tasks of the day first.
Minimise interruptions from your colleagues. One of the advantages of open plan offices is that people can be more accessible. However, this isn’t ideal when you want to concentrate on a demanding task. Therefore, identify which colleagues frequently interrupt you by asking questions and arrange regular catch ups with them. This way, they won’t interrupt you in the middle of a task.
Equip your colleagues who sit around you with sound dampening pads for their drawers. If your colleagues have the habit of closing their drawers loudly, have a conversation with them to explain how this affects your concentration. If you have a friendly chat with them, it is likely they won’t mind using sound dampening pads in their drawers.
Working in an open plan office is the current reality for many organisations. However, these strategies can help you enhance your concentration and minimise the detrimental effects such offices can have on your productivity. We’d love to hear your own strategies you use to help you stay focused!
If you want to learn more about Lexxic’s services supporting employees with neurodiverse conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ASC and ADHD, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out our online modules on neurotalentunlocked.com for more tips on a range of topics, including concentration, organisation, reading and writing.
Written by Pinelopi Kopala