Embracing the Open-plan Office
It’s really fortunate for me to say this given my situation, but I love my job. Yeah, I’m not working for a passion like a brewery, or the Reds, the parks, etc., but I enjoy my work. I have had to set some boundaries though over the past several months though to get it to where it is today. I’ve had to shut some people out, step on some toes, and even get mad; but in the end it has given me more comfort, productivity, and sheer joy to just do my job and go home. Simple wants/needs that makes work a pleasure. Almost.
There is always room for tweaking. [redacted] I’m facing away from the general activity going on in the office, so I want to face the other way since I like being observant. Fortunately it came up the other day when we thought we were going to have a down day to take some time to move desks. That day was today, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully it will tomorrow as I got approval to move from my director today. It is moving dangerously close to the door where there is a lot of traffic, but still, given the boundaries and unwritten rules I mentioned I think most will pass without bothering me.
Upon reading a recent article from one of my most influential introvert writers/leaders, Susan Cain, it motivated me to make this move and find ways to make my open-plan office even better. It had some good points, and I wanted to expand on them from my personal experience.
- Take more lunches and coffee breaks by yourself. This one has been the biggest changes for me. My break and lunch time has become a valuable resource to catch up on Facebook, Twitter, and answer texts. I used to get so distracted and not get my work done at previous jobs to the point it likely attributed to losing my job in Milwaukee. Now I’m very strict about checking my phone while I’m working. This makes my 15 minute breaks very important. My lunches even more so. I get errands done, read, write, etc., so taking MY time to go to lunch, especially co-workers, is usually off the table. I need the downtime, and the ME time to get through the next few hours, or just get those important things done.
- Create a signal to let others know you’re concentrating. Once I moved away from a co-worker that I talked to quite often and my position changed that required less phone interaction, my ear buds became a permanent fixture to my head. Strangely enough it hasn’t been enough of a signal/buffer to avoid the small talk and interruptions. Small talk by the way is “the weather”, “its Wednesday”, a simple “how are you?”. If it’s not pertinent to the company/job or life saving/altering please don’t talk to me. It’s rude. I’m sorry. No I’m not.
- Book a small meeting room on a semi-regular basis, but don’t invite anyone else. I’m kinda sad about this idea because I don’t have a company issued laptop. Maybe I could ask for one, but I LOVE this idea of being able to just reserve myself a conference room and getting away for a few hours. Really, as long the interruptions remain at a minimum with this possible move tomorrow, #5 will be a moot point. But either way I feel like (with some collateral damage perhaps) I’ve made headway (winning) with dealing with the obnoxious open-plan office.