Ahh, the open office plan! It’s beautiful to look at, great for encouraging collaboration and very trendy. However, it’s not always conducive to getting employees to sit down and focus. In order to help your business and employees thrive, you must create an environment that seamlessly combines collaboration with focus.

Allow Employees to Use Headphones 

The human brain is designed to take in 1.6 conversations at a time. While that means that a little background chatter is perfectly fine, a lot of discussions going on at the same time can derail any productivity. Offering noise-canceling headphones or playing music without vocals will help employees to stay focused and on task. Make sure that employees do not listen to podcasts or music with vocals, as they use up part of the brain space that can handle those 1.6 conversations.

Designate a Collaboration Table

Providing a variety of working areas will allow employees to be happy and work as they like to. Most workers spend 50% of the day in deep focus, 25% of the day collaborating and the rest completing other tasks. A collaboration table is a space where the employees who are collaborating can go to converse and brainstorm freely without bothering the employees who are in deep focus. Keep loud machines like the copy machine and gathering spaces like the coffee machine away from deep focus work areas.

 Set Ground Rules

When employees do not have independently defined spaces like cubicles, it’s easy for private conversations, loud lunches and break-time activities to ruin the focus of everyone else. Defining office etiquette might seem nitpicky, but your employees will appreciate knowing the rules. Placing a simple red or green post-it on the back of a laptop can signal whether or not a person is open to being approached to collaborate. Your office could also have designated quiet times for a certain number of hours a day.

Resist the Temptation to Peek

Finally, as a business owner, it can be tempting to constantly monitor what your employees are up to and watch them too closely. Over time, this leads to resentment and mistrust, aside from distracting you from your to-do list. Your open office design will not allow anyone to focus if workers feel like you are waiting to swoop in and point out an error. Practice respecting the members of your team while also proactively monitoring for potential issues.  

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