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Dear Anna,

I’ve recently moved into open plan after many years in an office and I’m finding it hard to concentrate. What can I do to adjust to this new arrangement?


Open-plan offices have obvious cost savings for firms and were sold on the promise of increased communication and collaboration. Unfortunately, this was more hope than evidence-based, with the ability of professionals to concentrate strongly influenced by noise and physical proximity. The good news is there are steps you can take to work effectively in open plan. 

Match task to place

Align the level of concentration needed with the best place to work. Take advantage of quiet spaces and drop-in areas where you can work for a couple of hours away from crowds. Try to find two or three options and use them regularly for different types of tasks so they start to feel comfortable. You can also include working flexibly from a home office, quiet garden or train trip home to match your task list to physical noise and distractions. Open-plan spaces were designed for people to move around and use different areas, but it’s a big change if you are used to working in the same place each day – walls or not.

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