6 Ways To Thrive In An Open Plan Office

  | 5 min read
Open plan office

Staying productive in an open office

Open plan offices denote large office spaces where people sit together in rows of desks with minimal or no partitioning. They became popular in the 1960s, where they replaced cubicles, which were thought to reduce efficiency. In modern times, open plan offices have become popular in many industries, especially tech industries. This is especially because tech industries tend to have a laid back organisation culture and encourage close working relationships.

Of course, they have come with their fair share of criticism as they are thought to be distracting, noisy, and lower productivity. Introverts are especially not fond of open-plan offices as they seem to have too much going on. But, with teamwork becoming more popular, they have become more popular and some people can actually not work well in cubicles where they have to be alone. Additionally, companies love them as they maximise the use of the available space.

The truth is, they are here to stay, so here is how to thrive in them and stay productive despite the loud music being played by Mark, or the loud laughter from the next team’s table.

  1. Make use of private meeting rooms

Private space

Every office, even those with open plans, have private meeting rooms. If you are looking for some time alone where you can be at your best, them these private meeting rooms are your secret weapon. Of course, once in awhile, people need to have meetings in the meeting rooms but generally, people sit at their desks if they have no meetings. Find out when the meeting rooms are free and go in there for some quality time with your work. This way, you will get a lot of work done within a short period of time and you will get to unplug from the distracting environment.

  1. Use noise-cancellation devices

Noise cancellation

In an open office plan, there are people playing music loudly, others sharing stories about their weekend, and others discussing proposals. It is very easy to get distracted and this only lowers your productivity. To stay focused, use headphones to play music or simply block out the noise. This way, you will have your own private time, devoid of distractions, where you can be your best and achieve the most.

  1. Create some form of privacy

Quality time

Even in open offices, everyone has a desk or a working space. This space can be your own private working facility and can help you get the feeling of familiarity and privacy you need to work well. You can customise your working space by arranging your desk according to your preference. This gives you a sense of familiarity and helps you settle down faster and can be helpful in blocking out the distraction around.

  1. Create a no-disturbance signal

Do not disturb

Another problem with open office spaces is that people tend to interfere with your concentration all the time. Due to the ease of accessibility, someone can simply walk up to you for whatever reason, pulling you out of your work for a few minutes. To ensure that people don’t walk up to you every time for short chats, create a signal which shows that you wish not to be disturbed unless it is absolutely necessary.

It could be anything, from wearing a pair of headsets to sitting in a certain way which shows that you are into serious business. This way, no one will be inclined to just distract you unless it is very important.

  1. Make use of the quietest times of the day or week

Busy times

Human nature is such that concentration is only possible within certain time limits after which people need to take short breaks, during which there will be sudden noise in the office. Or, in some instances, certain days of the week, such as Monday tend to be very busy so there is minimal noise as people are trying to get the most amount of work done.

Well, take note of when people are most quiet and the office is calm to do those tasks that require lots of concentration. By the time the distraction begins, you will have been able to get the most out of your way, and you will also be ready to take a break.

  1. Don’t distract others

Open office plan etiquette

At the end of the day, this goes two way. If you find certain activities distracting, it is almost certain that they also distract others. Therefore, don’t do those things that you find distracting, as a way of respecting others. Do not pick phone calls loudly or within the office, do not walk around in noisy shoes, and do not shout as all these activities result in noise and distraction for others and it with time, if everyone does this, it creates a culture which will be hard to do away with. Respect others and you will be respected in turn. Avoid doing things that cause a distraction if you wish to get the same from others.

An open plan office is ideal in situations where lose team relations are ideal. The truth is, however, that they have become very common nowadays, thanks to their ability to save on space. If you find yourself working in such an environment, do not panic, make the most out of it as it can be a truly rewarding working environment as it removes unnecessary barriers.

Njeri Karanja
Njeri is a reading and creative writing enthusiast who is neck-deep in research writing. She is well versed in researching and writing on various topics.


  1. This is really helpful. I have been using the second way of putting on headphones. On my side it has helped.
    Thank you BM!!

    • You’re welcome Charles.
      We are pleased that this information was helpful to you.
      Stay tuned for more.


  2. Working with people can be quite hard if they noisy but with good coordination among employees in the open office great productivity can be achieved great advice.

    • Hi Ann,
      Thank you for your views and we do agree, with your statement about coordination because, if it lacks then there is no team spirit and the outcome is obvious.


  3. i have experienced the negatives of an open plan office, it becomes really uncomfortable when u carry packed lunch and the office has no kitchen from where u can eat from, and the aroma of my delicious food drove colleagues to go for early lunch. while i hate making others uncomfortable, with many bills to pay and a low salary i find carrying lunch a way of saving, not to mention that most hotels dont offer tasty meals and variety

    • Hi zwa,
      nothing like a home cooked meal…serves you good, you dont get to spend much and more importantly you eat healthy. Those around you will get used to you so dont let that worry you.


      • Hi Joe,
        Thank you reading and sharing your thoughts.
        Keep it here for more tips and advice.


  4. I read it, and for sure it helpful to me. Thank u so much Brighter Monday for awaken my attitude.
    Keep it up!!!!!

    • Hi Masila,
      Kindly write to us your field of profession and we will link you with the latest jobs we have posted that matches.


  5. Good morning Brighter Monday.
    Am so glad you posted this article, it has helped me a great deal. I work in an open plan office, and am an introvert. I used to find it so hard for the first time, to have my own silent moments but am now able to cope. Been employing some of these tips and I don’t find it a bother anymore.

    • Hi Liz,
      Thank you for such warm feedback. We are happy this information has been significant to you. We agree that one can have it rough the first days in office but if you know the coping strategies then you will adapt. All the best.

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