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How to survive in an open plan office

Using headphones and earplugs in an open plan office


 - Using headphones and earplugs in an open plan office
The situation:
It's not easy to concentrate on the task in hand when John and Daniel are cracking jokes right next to your desk. The ideal solution in an open plan office is to be able to isolate yourself when you need to really concentrate on something important.

The solution: "When I really need some calm, I put my headphones on and listen to chill-out or classical music. Nothing that's going to make me want to sing along and get distracted!" explains Claire, an agricultural engineer. Earplugs are another option. Chris Ryan, an American with a sense of humour, has come up with a Cubicle Survival Kit that contains all the essential accessories for surviving in an open plan office: earplugs for the noise, a clothes peg for the odour of smelly food wafting your way from your neighbour's lunch and a rear-view mirror to see any colleagues creeping up from behind. The kit is available for $19.99 (around £15) from

Don't shut yourself away in your own little bubble! "Headphones and earplugs are obstacles to communication and not always suitable for the work ethic of an open plan environment", warns our expert. So use them in moderation, only when you've got something really urgent to work on.

Other work-related articles:
30 ways to make life happier at work
Test: How do your colleagues see you?
Overrun at work? 8 ways to get organised

Do you work in an open plan office?
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