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How to Keep Productive When Work in an Open Office

Open officeIt is very likely that you have worked in an open-plan office if you’ve worked in an office at all. Open office is now commonly used as a reaction against hierarchical workplace structures and an approach to move employees away from working in boxes.

However, they are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, open-plan offices create a more collaborative, social and innovative environment where members from different departments and teams can easily transfer ideas. On the other hand, open-plan workplaces are considered to be a wildly distracting environment to work in, where, workers are 66 percent less productive, according to a study by The Sound Agency.

If you work in an open floor plan day in and day out, how to enhance working efficiency and foster productive collaboration? The following tactics might be able to help you stay sane and efficient.

Is it possible to foster productive collaboration in an open floor plan day in and day out? If so, the following tactics will help you stay sane and efficient.

Create a “virtual wall”

When it comes to open-plan offices, hell can be other people. According to Julian Treasure, TED speaker and the author of Sound Business, the human brain only has the capacity for 1.6 conversations and if your mind wanders to a nearby discussion, you won’t have enough brain power left to work with.

If the voices and antics of your colleagues make you have trouble concentrating, you can try to create a “virtual wall” between yourself and the rest of the office. How to do that? It is easier than you think – headphones!

Even when we retreat to our own worlds, it is often with music that neither helps productivity nor concentration. If you want to keep productive, you should not play music with vocals, such as podcasts, radio or even lyric-filled songs, since these stuffs will only further use up your brain space.

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“If you put music on top of noise, it is like putting icing on top of mud; it may look like a cake, but in fact it doesn’t taste like one,” says Treasure. *Image source: 15five.com

The best sounds to help your concentrate are natural and unpredictable. Ambient electronic music works well at blocking out noise but it does not create a distraction. You can also try binaural beats in stereo headphones – neurophysiologist believe that these sounds can induce our brains into a deep state of relaxation, concentration and creativity.

Have a “collaboration table” delegated

The key to keeping employees happy and productive is to have a mmix of spaces for various activities. Based on a new study by design firm Gensler, workers spend more than half of their time at work in deep focus and around one-fourth in collaboration, with the rest split between learning, socializing and other tasks.

Of course, people who work in offices still spend most of their time of the day at their desks, however, when it is time to do some hard-core collaborating or learning, it’s a good idea to move to a different environment to help shift gears. Delegate a larger central “community” table where ideas and conversations can flow freely. And encourage an environment of mindful chatter among neighboring

Put high tables in conference rooms where everyone needs to stand and the walls should be floor to ceiling whiteboard. Such arrangement prompts presence and participation. Or, you can also have isolation rooms where people can go to be alone and silent. It’s also recommended to put a chalkboard on the outside of the door so people can write what they are working on inside. In this way, the rest of the team can understand why their colleagues are heading down and can leave them in peace to achieve what they need.

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If there is enough space, keep the machines that contribute to high noise levels, such as photocopiers and printers, in rooms away from the working area. Moreover, the walk away from the desk can be an added benefit since it helps employees stand up and walk around to regain concentration and perspective. *Image source: TheNextWeb.

Adopt a “do not disturb” attitude

The journal Applied Psychology once published a study: People seeking help performed better at work, whereas people offering help in fact performed worse. Researchers determined that switching from helping others and doing your own job imposes a heavy “cognitive load” as you have to reacquaint yourself with your project details each time you return to it. Not to mention – multitasking is a fallacy.

To cope with this, set aside a block of several hours each day when you are not to be disturbed so you can focus on what you do without distraction. Insist to your colleagues that it’s important you not be disturbed during the allocated period of time, unless there is an emergency of course. You can collaborate with and help coworkers during a later part of the day once you have given sufficient focus to your top priorities.

Although open offices don’t work for everyone, they have great impact on collaboration, culture and innovation. But like all good things, must be kept in balance.

Source: TheNextWeb

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