(Original post from Career Contessa ):
People are often surprised to hear that the Career Contessa team is made up of only five full-time employees.
The CC office may be atypical of most offices in that it’s basically miniature. The open floor plan, however, has been on the upswing since around 2009 according to Fortune, so it’s likely that if you’re reading this, you or someone you know works in an open office similar to ours. Open office plans are an affordable option and can foster collaboration when done right. In fact, we often find that problems are most easily solved when we’re all in the same room.
Open office spaces are not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Various think pieces across the internet argue that the laid-back setting can contribute to a lack of space and difficulty with concentrating among employees. Employers are starting to listen to this backlash, and Fortune predicts that an ideal office set up, including a mix of open areas and soundproof rooms, is on the way.
In the meantime, you’re stuck in an open office. Maybe you’re pulling your hair out. That’s where we come in. We’re sharing our best tips for surviving and thriving in an open office plan. After all, we do it every day.
Buy a Good Pair of Headphones
Implement a “Do Not Disturb” System
Especially if you’re at a smaller company, you could take a shot at asking management to implement some sort of Do Not Disturb system. The concept works like this: employees place a sign or other visual indicator (it could even be headphones) that OFFICIALLY signals to coworkers that they should wait or send an email rather than interrupt. Download the free Do Not Disturb cutout we made below. You can hang it over your desktop computer or cubicle wall.
Ask for Flex Hours
Maybe you get more work done at home, or at a coffee shop, and being chained to a desk surrounded by others is slowly sucking your soul away. Ask if you can work remotely. If you don’t feel comfortable just getting up and leaving in the middle of the day, work out a schedule with your boss beforehand, so your team knows when they can find you online versus IRL.
Think Before You Speak—And Slack
This goes for Slack and Google Hangouts, too. You might think your “quick q” is no big deal, but it’s actually bringing your coworker away from the task she is immersed in, making it more difficult for her to return to that task. And it’s likely one of many repetitive questions, chats, emails and check-ins that person will receive throughout the day. So before you ask, see if you can find the answer yourself.
Was it worth interrupting my coworkers to let them know I am hungry, which is the case 99% of the time? Probably not.
Step Away from the Computer
Being in one room all day kind of sucks. I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s the ideal situation for me as a creative person. Yet I often let it happen, even though Lauren encourages us to get up and go for walks or relocate. Sometimes I’m just chugging along, crossing things off my list, and taking a break seems like so. much. work. When I purposefully go out of the office to sit down and have lunch, however, I notice an enormous boost in my happiness. And at the end of the day, I’m never so behind that I regret it. Actually, I’m usually more productive when I get back in my chair because I’ve had some room to breathe, and I remember that the outside world exists. Stepping away from the computer is important in any office setting, obviously, but is especially relevant to the open office situation because it affords privacy and a break from being “on” in front of your whole team.
Do you work in an open office environment? What do you love about it? What do you hate? Share your survival tips in the comments.