8 Ways To Stay Sane In Your Open Office
It's 2015 and—whether we like it or not—the open-space office has taken over America's workforce by storm. A few of the culprits behind this tempest of loud music, eavesdropping, and restrictive movements are the websites we use most: Google, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, eBay, and American Express to name a few.
A recent article in The Washington Post has denounced the modern workplace, reporting that "open-plan layouts are widely acknowledged to be more disruptive due to uncontrollable noise and loss of privacy."
So, because we personally work in an open-space office and have to actually publish articles in a timely manner without distractions, we've come up with some tips—for both ourselves and our loyal readers—so we can all get some f*cking work done.
1. Wear headphones
Listening to (your own) music can help you clear your mind. But more importantly wearing headphones isolates yourself from noise and lets nosey buggers know that you're busy and aren't in the mood for a convo. Designed for the open-office worker, these Master & Dynamic headphones are one of the best options.
2. Isolate yourself
If you're sitting at a table of twelve, it's inevitable that you'll get caught in one of those cylindrical conversation vortexes. Maybe it's a pressing matter, but usually the unimportant quips about puppies and television will suck you in and take you away from your job. So, simply take yourself out of the conversation by moving to somewhere private. If anyone berates you for being antisocial, just tell them you have scabies—works like a charm.
3. Build borders
So maybe you want to stand your ground and refuse to work from anywhere aside from the comfort of your own chair, but the local social coordinator guru ninja won't stop spitting out buzzwords like "reach" and "engagement." You need your own space. If your job is at all similar to mine, you have literally hundreds of dollars worth of alcohol at your disposal that you can use to craft a makeshift table separator. Other desk supplies work too, but a stapler won't get you buzzed at nine in the morning.
4. Set standards
A friendly conversation goes a long way if you're upfront and cool with your coworkers. It wouldn't kill you to turn to the people to your direct left or right and say: "hey guys, gotta finish up something big, so I'm gonna tune out for a while." No one's going to give you sh*t if you''re nice about it. Let everyone know that you're unavailable when you're listening to your headphones—it's not unreasonable.
5. Take it easy on Slack
If you've not yet joined the Slack train, it's perhaps the greatest group communication tool since AIM. However, it's also the perfect platform for distraction—private chat channels, Giphy integration, and so many emojis. Every once in a while just sign out or mute notifications so you can fully concentrate on your work. Inside jokes and GIFs can wait—except this one.
6. Eat at a communal area
This honestly goes for anyone in an open-office setting or even a regular office setting. Stand up, move, talk, chat, live damn it! Don't eat at your desk, The Atlantic says you'll go crazy. Chat with your co-workers, ask them about their lives, and watch 'em chew.
7. Book a conference room
One perk about the open-office layout is that they're not completely devoid of the attributes of your typical office. So, more likely than not, you're going to have access to a water cooler, couch area, and conference room. If you can, book a conference room to escape the noise and loud music. Take an hour to yourself and work in solitude—plus—in a conference room, there is no NSFW. Hehehe.
8. Work from home
If you can't take the noise and the people, seriously consider working from home. The whole idea of an open-office is to provide a laid-back atmosphere in which an employee can feel comfortable doing their work. What's more laid back than creating a spreadsheet from the comfort of your couch? If your boss is cool, just inquire. If you are the boss, do whatever the hell you want...because you're the boss.