Open offices are the worst, right? Even though some signs point to them going away as a trend, most of us are still stuck in a giant former warehouse with some half-high cube walls. So if you’re still looking to find some peace in a sea of humanity, here are some hopefully easy solutions.
Problem: You’ve Run Out of Podcasts to Drown Out Your Neighbors
Solution: Try Some Ambient Apps
Using an app or website that offers continual (or timed) ambient music helps you find focus in the storm of your open office. Try a few today and keep things fresh by switching up where your input is coming from. Sea sounds today might change to some noodly electronic grooves tomorrow.
Problem: You Feel Like You Work in a Warehouse
Solution: Add Some Green (or Fuzz)
Soften an open office’s often sterile lines (hello, formerly abandoned warehouse space?) with plants, carpet (in moderation), or even some more interesting textural elements that speak to company culture. You can even go ahead and make walls out of all these things, if your boss will let you. Walls of plants? Not a bad idea to inspire minds with some pops of green and much-needed oxygen, too!
Problem: Hey Can I Bug You For a Second?
Solution: Big Red Lights Show You’re Busy
Think a Post-it is going to keep Chatty Kevin from asking about Game of Thrones? No way. Get a little more extreme with some kind of big light on your desk or cube wall to let the whole office that they’re not to disturb you. Or if you want to go small, try this little guy that affixes to your laptop.
Think a Post-it is going to keep Chatty Kevin from asking about Game of Thrones? No way.
Problem: No Place to Talk Quietly
Solution: Some Sort of Phone Booth?
This seems to be a problem that Silicon Valley both created and solved. When you want to talk to a doctor, a family member, or just pay a bill and call out your credit card number, an open office is your worst enemy. Some solutions include a series of quirky “privacy booths” (also known in the past as “rooms” before open office plans made walls passé) or fancy acoustic tiles.
This one is on your company. Really, employers need to dedicate some soundproofing attention to work spaces, so that employees can say something out loud that they’d rather not share with the entire department.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you fixed an annoying open office problem? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.