How to stay focused and productive in an open office environment

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“How can I focus without walls around me?” The perils of an open office!

I’m here in Zurich, Switzerland, speaking to executives from a pharmaceutical company. Weeks before the event, I asked them: “What is the most common cause of interruptions in your day?”

They mentioned emails, meetings, and instant messages, of course. Yet, the most common issue revolved around one thing: the open office. Open offices create distractions and a near-constant temptation to switchtask.

While I don’t recommend an open office, there are a few ways you can improve productivity in this setting:

  • Establish a quiet, focusing area for your team.
  • Set clear ground rules for communication.
  • Create visual boundaries.
  • Consider using a white noise machine or headphones to minimize noise.

The key is communication. Start a conversation within your office. Help each other come up with a solid plan to boost productivity and minimize distractions together.

If you’ve ever worked in an open office environment, what helped you stay focused and productive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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