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Closing Down the Open Office

Bob Goldman on

Who needs privacy? Who needs peace and quiet?

You do, that's who.

But I wouldn't count on getting these needs met any time soon. We live and work in the era of the open office. No walls. No barriers. Nothing between you and your closest co-worker but a steely stare of contempt and an occasional snarl.

If you don't work in an open office environment now, you can certainly expect to do so in the future. As Caroline Ceniza-Levine explains in her recent Forbes article, "Open office spaces enable companies to fit more staff in less space, so I don't see these environments disappearing anytime soon."

Me neither. I know you long ago gave up the dream of having a private office, but a few hours in a noisy, hectic, disorientating open office space and you'll start missing your cubical.

Unlike me, Ceniza-Levine thinks positive. Rather than bemoan the loss of that cozy cube, her Forbes article teaches you "How To Stay Focused In An Open Office Environment."

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Her No. 1 recommendation is to "use common spaces away from your desk." She continues, "This could be the lunch area, a different floor, or an empty desk in a department unrelated to yours."

This is good stuff as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough. Instead of taking up residence in a department unrelated to yours, I recommend you stake out a few square feet of personal space in a company unrelated to yours.

It could be the insurance agency on the floor above or the nail salon on the floor below. If your company is the sole occupant in your building, how about setting up shop in one of the food trucks that shows up in the parking lot at lunchtime?

You'll enjoy working a food truck much more than selling insurance or doing mani-pedis; plus, the intoxicating aroma that comes from spending time in close proximity to deep-fried samosas and falafels will surely keep people far, far away from you when you finally return to the office.

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