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5 Top Tips for Working in an Open Plan Office


Say goodbye to dreams of the fabled corner office - the open plan workspace has never been more popular. Following the lead of wildly successful companies such as Google, it is estimated that up to 80% of offices have adopted an open plan style in which dozens of employees can share one large space with no cubicle or office divisions. While the benefits of this seating plan are often cited as including freer communication amongst colleagues, less hierarchy between different positions and a dynamic, fun environment, it can present its own challenges.

Here are five helpful tips to help you make the most of your open plan office and thrive - instead of merely survive.

Keep your space neat and tidy

It may seem like a no-brainer, but keeping your workspace free of debris and clutter will go a long way in promoting office harmony. Nothing is worse than a colleague who stockpiles empty coffee cups and smelly food leftovers or builds small towers of papers on their desk – it’s unsightly, distracting and disrespectful. Keeping your desk clean will help ease the stress of cramped quarters and set a good example for all.

Keep your volume to a minimum

The increased decibel level of an open plan office can be one of its most challenging aspects. Chattering loudly on the phone, message alerts dinging and gossip between colleagues can make concentration almost impossible – try lowering your tone, silencing all unnecessary ringers and avoid the dreaded speakerphone at all costs!

Find your own niche

If you have an extremely time sensitive project underway and the office is particularly loud, see if there is another space that you can utilise for the day. A nearby coffee shop? An unused boardroom? Even the communal kitchen or lunchroom at off-peak times can be an oasis in a sea of distraction. Obviously this cannot become a regular occurrence, but in rare instances it pays to check with your manager and move that office chair to a quiet space.

Be friendly – but not too friendly

You may be seated a few metres away from your best friend, but try to remember to keep loud conversation and raucous laughter to a dull roar, particularly if not everyone nearby is engaged in the exchange. Conversely, office niceties are of the utmost importance in an open plan office – polite salutations and friendly chitchat can help ease the tensions of a communal space.

Don’t be a nosy Nellie

Your colleague may be working on something that is interesting to you, a personal document may be lying on their desk or they may be having what sounds like a juicy verbal exchange on the telephone – but you need to resist the urge to snoop! If you value your own privacy and don’t want the office ablaze with gossip about your personal or professional life, pay the same respect to the others in the office.

Pros and cons aside, it seems that the open plan office trend is here to stay. Do you have any tips or suggestions you can add? Leave them in the comments below.

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