How to Survive in an Open Office: Susan Cain

Photograph by Armin Zogbaum/Gallery Stock

I am very skeptical of open office plans. Research suggests they make people less productive and more hostile and anxious. If your office provides private spaces that you can escape to—a cafe or library or nook or cranny—take full advantage of them. If your office doesn’t have private spaces, you need to make your own version. This is critical. Go to the park or a nearby coffee shop. And you have to take away the feeling of guilt—you’re clearing your head. Control whatever stimuli you can to reduce the sense of bombardment. Some people send their phone calls to voice mail or turn off the ping on their e-mail. Others wear noise-canceling headphones, if this is socially acceptable in their office. Even if they’re not noise-canceling, it’s a signal that you’re focused. You have to find ways to draw physical boundaries.

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